A stroll down the arroyo

An arroyo is a stream bed that only fills up during a flash flood, when the desert gets more rain than the ground can absorb. We’ve had so much rain this year that our little arroyo has deepened by at least a foot. Let’s check it out.

Here is the entrance to the wash, where the water crosses the road and flows between the yards.

To an apartment-dweller these past 15 years, this a magical place. The trees on either side are mesquite, acacia, and Palo Verde.

My daughters join me as we enter a green tunnel. They’re telling me how mosquitoes sound when they buzz around your ears.

Some variety of cholla cactus, these suckers are nasty.

This acacia is so green and fluffy! It hide the thorns that lie in wait on every single twig.

Thornless prickly pear. These are worse than regular prickly pear, because each of those dots are fine hairs that stick in you by the hundreds. A flamethrower is pretty much the only way to deal with them.

Thanks for coming with me for our little walk down the wash! One more weather pic:

Jumping cholla flowers

A walk around the wilderness yard

We’ve now lived in our new house almost six weeks. Due to hot weather and persistent rain, we haven’t been able to do much with our blank slate of a yard. The wilderness has decided that it needs to reclaim the whole thing. Each morning, I go out and do battle with it.

Unchopped broad leaf weeds of unknown species

I don’t know what these weeds will become. Probably they will grow ten feet high and have obnoxious allergy-laden flowers.

Baby mesquite

This is a mesquite tree. I have about 5000 of these coming up. They send down a taproot that is impossible to dig out, so I’m chopping them as fast as I can. I already have multiple mesquites that I’m grooming to be shade trees, and I don’t need 5000 more.

Jumping cholla flower buds
Sweet acacia beginning to bloom
Silky mesquite beginning to bloom
Mud holes where mom tried fruitlessly to dig out a mesquite make for fun places to play.
A horned toad who visited to eat our 10.3 billion ants

Our wilderness yard has no end of things to look at and blog about. Look forward to plenty more updates as we try to tame the wilds of Arizona.

Just a fun Final Fantasy fanart post

I’ve been playing Final Fantasy 14 lately for a change of pace. It’s an MMO like World of Warcraft, and it’s kind of slow and relaxing. I’ve been drawing the adventures of my character Jayesh. Here’s a few:

Jayesh in Conjurer starting gear

I’m getting a bit burned out on Destiny, and I need new clothes and costumes to draw. Final Fantasy has a satisfyingly large amount of both. Plus it’s so dang pretty. Destiny is many things but it’s not exactly pretty.

Various commissions and their painting progress

Had a couple of commissions over the last few weeks. I’m happy with how they turned out. Here’s a peek into the painting process.

Three science fiction warriors on a hilltop in front of a science fiction white city.
Dreaming City Fireteam, commissioned by Wolfram-7

This was a tricky one because it had three characters in complex gear, plus a background I had to paint. I’m not good at architecture (more things to study!) so I had to grab screenshots and meticulously trace them. The rocks and trees were impressionistic painting, just a few colors and shapes to imply trees and rocks. You’re not supposed to look at them, anyway. 😀

(These are both based on the videogame Destiny 2)

Four pictures showing the progress of the science fiction warriors picture, from sketch to painting.
Fireteam painting progress

This pic took a long time to do, and I’m happy with how it turned out. So was my client, which is the best part. 🙂

Next up, another commission. This client gave me the basics of how his character looked, and told me to pick a pose and background myself. I wanted to try drawing the current game season’s TRON look, so I tackled that.

Pretty black girl science fiction warrior uses advanced tech to hack a TRON world.
Hacking the Matrix with a splicer gauntlet
Four pictures showing the hacker girl from sketch to painting
Progress of the splicer gauntlet painting

This one was fun to do because it’s just so colorful. Also, I really love drawing people of different ethnicities. The features, hair, and skin tones endlessly fascinate me, and they’re just so pretty. 🙂

Adventures in monsoon season

Here in the American Southwest, we’re right in the middle of a robust monsoon season. Yesterday it was cloudy all day, giving us a break from the 100+ degree heat.

That afternoon, I stepped outside for a look at the sky and saw a huge dark storm heading toward us from the east. It was dark clouds and a solid wall of rain. What was even more fun was that my poor husband was due to be driving home from work. Nothing to do but wait it out.

Soon the rain began, quickly flooding our little desert landscape. The river in the top left used to be our road.

Over the course of an hour, visibility dropped. We could barely see out of our windows. It was like being submerged in an upright ocean.

The rain slackened, and we began looking around to see what had changed. First thing we noticed was bugs pouring out of holes in the ground. These mayfly things were pouring out like smoke and flying away. It was weird and creepy. I tried to get a picture, but it didn’t turn out. We also saw at least one centipede come out.

Then we started seeing spadefoot toads started popping out of the ground. I’d read about them coming out of the ground in the desert after a rain, but seeing them just appear was amazing. They instantly started catching bugs with their tongues. They must have been very hungry after their long hibernation. My kids went crazy trying to catch them.

The water came down from the high desert and flash flooded our little neighborhood. Our tiny wash out back became a raging torrent. So did our street.

The flood branched off and flooded into our already flooded back yard.

Amazingly, the flood abated in just a few hours. My husband came driving up in water up to his hubcaps, but he finally made it home. He said that the water was rushing across the road in multiple places, and there were cars just stopped and waiting for it to go down. It took him an extra hour to get home.

So that was our adventure yesterday! I’m a little concerned about what storms we might have the rest of the weekend, since we have more in the forecast. We haven’t even lived in this house a month, so it’s exciting!