Thursday, December 28

Special Visitors

Here is a picture I took a few days ago of one of the many large flocks of birds that can be seen often during this time of year. At the time I had finished milking one goat and was about to walk the next goat over to the milking station when I saw the flock flying over our house. So I ran into the house to get my camera as quickly as possible. The birds had landed in our central pasture and when I had come too close for their comfort they all took flight ... my camera was ready.
Today the monks came to our property on their weekly walk . We met them halfway across our 220 acres and had such a great time talking to them and answering their many questions. They especially enjoy talking to my little sister and petting our dogs. We escorted them to the end of our driveway and waved goodbye. Having them over is such a rare treat but we always look forward to when we can have them here again.

Sunday, December 24

Christmas Eve!

Staying close to Our Blessed Mother as Christmas approaches
Merry Christmas Eve!
From the Introit of today's mass:
This day ye shall know that the Lord will come,
and in the morning ye shall see his glory.

Here is more dust art for you to enjoy. I know the picture does not show much of the car but this was done on the back of our excursion. Just in case it is not obvious this is a picture of the angel appearing to the shepards to announce the glad tidings of Christ's birth. I did this piece a week or so ago and it has through natural circumstances been destroyed (rain does things like

Tuesday, December 12

New Grotto for Our Lady

Here is the new statue and grotto at our beloved CC monastery. I was very privileged to help in repairing the face of the statue with a special putty that hardened like concrete. Today Fr. Prior gave the statue a special blessing in the presence of all the monks. It was a joy to watch. I was not planning on posting during advent but this was a very special event for me (not to mention I did not like having a picture of me at the top of the blog … Our lady deserves that place). I hope you are all having a blessed advent. To all my friends who are working through finals: I have been praying for you every day!

Sunday, December 3

Our first snow fall of winter 2006!

Here are a few pictures of the first snow fall here in CC this winter. Snow is just so beautiful! I wish there was a way to capture the way it sparkles in the sunlight like so many diamonds ...
Only a week or so until we hit the one year anniversary of actually moving onto our property. I remember driving to our house that first day almost a year ago and seeing snow melting away in small patches along the road - so I guess the weather is right on schedule. We did have fun in the snow (sorry I don't have any pictures to prove) - Tom and Kateri built a snowman, Joe and Tommy had a mini snow fight, even mom had fun sharing how she loved trying to find the deepest drift of snow and make her foot print in it. As for me ... I love walking (or running where I can) through the snow and finding the most beautiful places to look at the winter landscape (and take pictures if I have my camera with me). Maybe next snowfall we will have a sled ready and I would enjoy putting that to use!

Saturday, November 18

Year in pictures!

(click image below to enlarge)
Here is a fun poster with lots of pictures taken from our first year here in Oklahoma. Today is the date that we actually signed papers and became owners of our beloved 'Vita Bella Ranch' as we affectionately call it (a special thanks to the inventer of that title ;-). I thank God every day for all the blessings he has showered upon us since our move to the country ... there are so many! I guess we were just meant to live in the country - we love it! Here's to our first year! Yee Ha!

Wednesday, November 15

What can happen on a rainy day?

Well the answer in this case is a complete blog makeover =) The whole family has been taking the day easy staying dry and warm inside the house ... just the opportunity I was waiting for. I had been hoping to take some time decoding my blog html and playing around with different designs. BTW if you had subscribed to my RSS feed you probably got some funny post with all sorts of different images (dated from '05) ...well just ingnore that. I was just uploading images to use in my template. Anway, I hope that you all enjoy the new design!

Saturday, November 11

Do you have an ear for music?

Though I have a great appreciation for music, I readily admit that music is not one of my strong areas. Music (that is good music) is very important for the development of the brain. I have listened with great interest to Andrew Pudewa's 'The Profound Effects of Music on Life' in which he highlights research regarding the profound neurological benefits of playing a musical instrument at a young age and the advantages of having the right kind of music in the child's environment (I guess it is too late for me ;-). What we listen to also has a big impact on us. My friend has a great post from awhile back which he explores what part music should play in one's life. The main reason that I wanted to create this post is to share a fun music test which I found via The Dawn Patrol. It was apparently developed by Harvard Medical School researchers to test one's ear for music. I am embarrassed to say I only scored 66.7% on the test (it was my little humility pill for the day), but I hope that in the future when life slows down a bit (if it ever does) I can 'up' those scores by picking up an instrument and playing around with my bro David (who I am sure if he took the test would be up somewhere between 90 and 100%).
So without further ado, here is the test : Free online music test

Friday, November 10

Sunrise, Sunset, and what happened in-between

Yesterday Gem and I woke early to finish our routine farm chores so we could head to Tulsa with enough time to accomplish our list of errands. I was walking down the stairs to get breakfast cooking when I looked out the sliding door window and saw the beautiful sunrise coming through the morning fog down in the pecan grove. I just had to take a little extra time to get the camera and take a few pictures.
Once we finally were out the door we headed in the direction of Gilcrease Museum where the homeschoolers of Tulsa were having a mini field trip of the special exhibit of the artist John James Audubon (a naturalist who devoted much of his life to drawing the birds of America). As an artist I did enjoy learning about his life and his art, however his style is very detailed and flat and I love art that almost emerges from the frame because it is so dynamic (detail does not matter so much to me). I knew that some of my favorite artist’s painting were in another part of the museum so as soon as we could, Gem and I split for the back gallery. We spent a few hours walking through the many rooms examining and talking about the different art pieces displayed. Gem is also very artistic and so together we were almost bubbling over (in hushed voices of course) with how funny one piece was, or how amazing another was, etc.
After the museum we spent a few hours at one of our favorite thrift stores looking for white clothing which we needed for our next stop : our bee-teachers bee yard (for another little field trip). For those who are wondering - Gem and I are taking an 8 week bee keeping class in Tulsa (we plan to start our first hive in the spring). Since bees strongly dislike dark colors we were instructed to come wearing white clothing.
Rich (our bee teacher) keeps bees in his backyard in a very simple open shed like structure. He led our small party of 6 students (all equipped with white clothes and the all important "bee hat") to his hives and demonstrated opening and checking the hives. He pulled out many of the frames (which were covered with bees) and allowed us to hold them and examine the tiny cells. I readily admit that I was a little nervous about holding something covered with bees but I had nothing to fear since the bees were very calm. Rich's wife sent us home with candy she had made using the honey from their bee hives. It was delicious .... certainly a nice incentive.
The sun was setting on downtown Tulsa as we drove home. The colors of the sunset reflecting off the buildings brought back the memory of my last day in San Diego: It was less than a year ago (for my birthday) my parents and I watched the sun as it was setting on downtown and the lights of the city began to appear like fire-flies that come out at dusk.

Gem riding out to our barn to feed the goats

Monday, November 6

Hey! More kids have arrived

Though Sunday is normally more of a kick-back and relax day on our ranch, yesterday was spent taking care of the new additions to our goat herd. We now have a total of 9 baby boer goats; we would have had 10 if one had not died.

It was after mass when we came home to see that 2 goats had already had their kids, and 1 was in labor. I would have liked to just stop and watch, but I did not have much time to enjoy the whole process because I was busy moving the other mothers and their babies into the barn because the weather was very drizzly and I did not want the babies getting cold (the baby that did not make it had become too wet). Most of the babies were easily re-located with their mothers and dried off, and the ones that needed a little more attention were brought inside and warmed by our fire. Thanks Lizzy for your help!

The little kids are all doing fine now and are nursing well (some needed a little help finding their food ). It is really fun to walk into the barn and see lots of little kids running around on their wobbly little legs. They are very friendly and inquisitive little creatures.

We are still waiting on a few more mothers who should "kid" any day now - and when the new kids arrive they will have a whole bunch of buddies to play with.

Friday, November 3


FYI : You may have noticed that my profile image has changed a few times today (back and forth). I think I will go with the current one (my parents voted it in) though I was leaning toward the one you may have seen earlier. As much as I liked the orginal image it seemed more appropriate for a blog that consists of almost all pictures that I should have an actual picture for the profile. Regarding privacy : I do try to keep all traffic limited to those referred directly to the site through word of mouth - I have blocked search engine traffic to my site. So anyway, any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 31

First of many to come

Here is the proud momma of our first three baby Boer goats. There are many more to come since we have (let's see 1,2, .... I think about 19) goats who are all expecting between 1-3 kids. These three kids were born yesterday sometime in the afternoon. They are soooo cute! The Pyrenese puppies so badly want to play with them but they will have to wait a little while.

Monday, October 30

Renew your prayers for an end to abortion!

The Novena for Life for upcoming Elections begins today. - From my Aunt over at Studeo

This year's election offers another opportunity to further the Culture of Life. Please join us in praying a novena for the victory of the Culture of Life at all levels in the upcoming elections, and in the Supreme Court decision on the federal Partial-Birth Abortion ban (hearing scheduled for Nov 8).

The suggested prayer is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, but feel free to substitute the Rosary, daily Mass, or another prayer of your choice. The novena begins on Monday, October 30, and ends election day, November 7, 2006.

Pro-life Video: To those who choose to abort because of serious birth defects or problems - you don't know what you are missing. Hat-tip Dawn Patrol

Rachel's Story
Video sent by voteyesforlife

We should also continue to thank God for those who are fighting for life

Here are two amazing articles about Gianna, a woman who actually survived an abortion:

You have no right to live
Testimony of Gianna Jessen

Sunday, October 29

Solemn Profession - A life dedicated only to God

Yesterday Br. Morey made his solemn profession in the crypt of the future church. The Abbot from Fontgombault and the Bishop were both present. I was able to spend some time with Br. Morey's wonderful family who flew out from the west coast for the event - though we don't spend much time with the monks (after all they are cloistered) you can really tell alot about them when you meet their families. Enjoy the pictures ... though pictures really cannot capture how totally amazing and special it was:

Here's more about CC Monastery

Thursday, October 26

Flickr Poster

Why the country?
Well here are a few visual reasons you might enjoy.
Don't worry - River does get attention too.
Close-up: calves checking out the camera
It's the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas - it is Fall!

Saturday, October 21

Anybody want a chicken?

When we lived back in California we ate meat like anyone would … steak for dinner, chicken sandwiches for lunch, the list goes on. But when we moved out here to the country we talked about raising our own meat. As a girl (and I believe most girls would support me on this one) the idea of slaughtering animals is not very appealing … would it not be so much better to buy a nice neat package from the shelf? Though many would probably answer yes now I would say no. This brings me to the point.


-You are either a vegetarian and don’t meat
-Or you eat meat that was raised by a factory somewhere
-Or you raise and slaughter your own meat

Well we opted for raising our own meat and then we spent two days processing all of the 160 birds. We made it into a whole event – several of the families in the area came to help out and everyone went home with a few chickens for their labor. It was not a serious event by any stretch of the word, in fact it was a great time to work together as a community - to create a bond - and to actually have fun being together … even amidst the dismal task at hand. We had both boys and girls helping out … in fact the teens in the group ran the whole thing. Though I was not actually involved in the processing I spent most of the time cooking in the kitchen, carrying big tubs of hot chocolate, and passing out warm jackets (it was very cold) and helping to package the meat at the end (I had the best job in my opinion). Some of the girls were naturally not all that thrilled about helping to slaughter chickens, however after they watched the meatrix, they felt much better about the whole process. It was a long two days. But when it was all over everyone was so excited – they all just started playing games in our big field and then came inside for a pizza party. In all it was a long two day party even while processing chickens.

Is there anything else in here?

yuck! yuck! yuck!

Ooooh - so that's how the feather plucker works

Get on your gloves because Drew is ready to rock'n'roll

Don't worry Michaela, I won't get myself stuck in the scalder

See - this is how you gut a chicken

Chicken Fight!


Thursday, October 12

Pope rumored to be releasing Motu Proprio permission for Tridentine Rite celebration

Procession before High Mass here in CC
For those not familiar with the Tridentine mass here is a quick summary:

"The Tridentine rite is currently available to groups of Catholics who ask and receive permission for its use from their local bishops. The old rite is celebrated in Latin and follows the Roman Missal of 1962, which was replaced in 1969 with the new Roman Missal." -From Catholic News Service (see Amy Welborn's Post)
*Note: This is the case for us here in CC.
The Rumor is that The new indult would permit any priest to introduce the Tridentine Mass to his church, anywhere in the world, unless his bishop has explicitly forbidden it in writing. - See Jimmy Akin's Blog
Open book - Amy Welborn and her post on the topic
Jimmy Akin also has more on the subject

This would be a big step for the Catholic Church in the modern world. A little more sense of the sacred would be a step in the right direction for our culture. I had never experienced a latin mass before our move out to CC, but now that we have the tridentine mass it is so hard to go back ... the old latin mass is just so beautiful. Even though at first it was difficult to follow the latin, with a little patience and persistence in following along with the missal, it is now very easy to understand, and even to know how to respond in the latin. Looking ahead - this would also be a very big step towards bringing SSPX back into the Catholic Church.

Wednesday, October 11

Create your custom online radio station

It is called Pandora. I have already created several stations ... in only a few minutes =)
It's free and easy to use.

They do ask for a basic registration with your email, zip code, and one other thing I can't remember right now (just be sure to uncheck the checked box to recieve updates)

Tuesday, October 10

The auction is on!

The auction for the monks of Clear Creek is now in progress. If you would like to see my art piece click here. Please pray for the success of the monastery and their new building project.

Tuesday, September 26

It is finished!
(Art is a labor of love)

I was up till midnight last night finishing my art piece. It has been in the works for about 3 months, but now it is finished! I must say that this was the most time intensive piece I have ever done … this is not obvious (in my opinion) when compared with past works. My previous pieces were very often based on other artists work but this piece was done completely on my own - from beginning with the idea in my mind to the last few strokes with my charcoal pencil.

I will humor anyone who has read this far by telling you about that journey from the idea to how I got it on paper.

It started in the front yard with myself, my camera, and my tripod. I would set the automatic timer and then run around in front of the camera and pose for each figure in the picture … any cars driving by must have wondered what was going on.

Then using my favorite program (photoshop) I merged all those pictures of me together. It was kinda scary seeing all those duplicates of myself (artists go to great lengths to create art)

I then created a rough sketch from the photomerge … I was beginning to conceptualize the idea on paper.

Once I had the basic idea I created a small values image. This showed the tones – the lights and the darks, and overall what the picture would look like.

I then transferred the photomerge to a large draft paper using the grid method (breaking the image into squares and drawing the same number of squares [on a larger scale] on the large paper and then copying the image square by square). This is a legal form of cheating in my humble opinion however since this was not a project for self enjoyment but rather an important project with a deadline I made the exeption which helped me on my proportions. Proportions are hard to capture especially after not having done art regularly for over year.
Once the image was transfered I went through several versions and a few sizes. Here are my two first drafts

I then started on what I thought would be my final but when I was nearing completion I was not satisfied with the gray areas of the art … they looked muddled and not clean. I also had some new ideas for the angels which sprung from sculptures I had seen by the artist Bernini.

So I sacrificed my image for the greater good of a new piece which if it turned out like I imagined would be much better than the one I was working on. I decided to try it out on gray paper. This way I would not have to draw the gray tones as much, and I would use white pencil for the highlights and rays of light. BTW the dark tones were done with charcoal pencil. I used ‘transfer paper’ to transfer the old picture to the gray paper. Once I made the leap of faith everything began to take shape like I wanted it to. I spent several very productive late nights to complete the picture. And now it is done! Yeah! And my room is back to normal (instead of the typical artists studio look).

I brought the picture to the monastery today and left it with the monks. Sometime this week it will travel with Br. Jerome up to Tulsa to wait for the auction on October 21. I hope it does well!