The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where everyone is trying to make you be somebody else.
~E. E. Cummings
Watch the frog come to life! These photos show how a subject can seize control and affect the mood. Continue reading
“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” Camille Pissarro
Hacienda Guachala, the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, provides endless subject matter, especially when the early-morning sun warms the gardens. Although dramatic shadows showcased the architecture of the two churches, my attention wavered to the subtle voice of the agaves.
Walk with me through the gardens, and hopefully you’ll agree with my choice for this (above) watercolor study. Continue reading
(Webster’s II – Office Edition 1984)
Incongruent – adj. 1. Not congruent. 2. Incongruous
Incongruous – adj – 1. Not corresponding: disagreeing 2. Made up of diverse or discordant elements. 3. Unsuited to the surroundings or settings.
Congruent – adj. 1. Corresponding: congruous.
Congruous – adj – 1. /Corresponding in nature or kind.
Jama & El Matal Ecuador – February 2014
If this last bend of Rio Jama were populated with thousands of Cocoi Herons and few egrets, a different species might be featured above! There’s something special about close encounters with elusive species. On the first day of this year, the distinct call of the lone osprey whispered, ‘I’m back; did you miss me?” (Yes, I did!)
Equally elusive is the lone Cocoi Heron, a pearl of a recluse that dodges society. At times this feathered beauty stands guard in the mud flats upriver, or it edges closer to the ibis and egrets that forage beneath the blue-green mangroves. Quite shy and untrusting, it soars away at the slightest hint of human presence. Today, however, this closest neighbor of mine stood guard slightly downriver from the house while rough-winged swallows flitted nearby!
Gazing out the other windows, I’ve observed a different scene for over a month. I’ve briefly mentioned this new activity, though I’ve tried to dismiss it; this daily intrusion sometimes lasts into the night. Continue reading
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El Matal (Manabi) Ecuador
Residents of El Matal and concerned citizens from nearby areas displayed a united front at the public meeting to discuss the critical status of the eroding beach. Engineer Daniel Santata, a coastal specialist, joined the Minister of Pescadores and the Director of Risk (Portoviejo), though the meeting began without the presence of Mayor/Alcade Alex Cevallos.
Because of difficulty in understanding sometimes rapid-fire Spanish, and straining to grasp what I heard through the outdoor acoustics, I apologize in advance for errors in translation. The essence of the meeting follows. Z Continue reading
El Matal (Manabi) Ecuador – February 2014
While waiting for a bus connection, I’m pulling these photos out of draft status before rolling to home sweet jama! These photos were taken one week after the destructive tides that washed away most of the remaining beach. (See It’s Devastating)
Gallivanta continues her support with helpful feedback from across the Pacific (New Zealand) – i am especially grateful for this radio interview with coastal scientist Jim Dahm: http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/2585167
The bus just rolled into town, so without any captions added to the photos, I share the images taken in front of El Matal “proper, past Coco Beach Village, and along a natural area. Continue reading
El Matal Ecuador – This past Friday, I walked almost the entire stretch of El Matal’s beach, from the southern end closest to the landmark of Punta Ballena to El Matal “Proper” and Coco Beach Village, past the site of the new Punta Ballena Development, through the river mouth (low tide) and stopped for a very late lunch at the community of La Division. I’ve surely earned the title of “Beach Inspector” for this past week!
Although I missed seeing the devastating high tides, the beach wears its scars from its battle with Mother Ocean. The powerful waves stripped the sand beneath the thatched-roof bamboo structures that once sheltered the boats. In the next assault, will she devour the road and advance to the houses and restaurants?
Overwhelmed with hundreds of photos, I’ll start with the southern end of the beach. Walk with me and enjoy the beauty while pondering the dilemma of the vanishing coastline. Continue reading
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Degas
A random conversation inspired this whimsical illustration. Sketched and painted between a hurried breakfast and a check-out departure via tour bus, this illustration will provide a big smile to a friend’s friend – who requested, ‘Bring me a feather from a blue-footed booby!”
Since we didn’t cross paths with a blue-footed booby, we hope that the image (at the top) will give her a grand smile!
Ironically, Jonathan, the director/operator of this coastal tour, looked at the image and remarked, ‘A blue-footed owl!” Immediately an entire series of blue-footed creatures raced through my mind!
Sometimes it’s not important to get everything perfect. Allow the mistakes to shine while you capture the memories of the moment!
Place your bets; will more blue-footed creatures parade through future posts?!
I’ve never appreciated misleading headlines, and this one slightly tilts in that direction! The past six months have kept my dance card full, and my slow or no internet has made it difficult to open a compose page or even leave comments (or answer them!) When traveling, I am able to read websites and emails, yet an external keyboard is necessary for replying. My sometimes-cryptic replies are often written with copy/paste functions if retrieving the keyboard is not an option.
The past few months presented unique experiences; I wrestled Diablo Huma into a shipping tube and blasted him into his first international trip in the midst of a winter storm.
I joined others in witnessing the first assault of destructive waves at El Matal Ecuador then felt equally powerless as last week’s sobering battle confirmed that these people deserve national attention and help. While my friends played David and Goliath with Mother Ocean, I spent time with a delightful coastal Ecuador Expat Journeys group.
Behind the scenes on other WordPress channels, many people are fighting their own personal battles. You embraced Jenna’s story, and I suspect this next one will have a profound effect as well. With zero preface about his history, I introduce you to an incredible man who closed his last post with the sentence, ” …As I continue on this wild journey, I maintain the promise I’ve made to many people to…”
Prepare for an amazing journey.
Start here: ArashRecovery Never Satisfied
(Real life trumps fun times; Timeout for Art coming later today!)
In contrast to the previous post, Hello Cruel World, this one features the carefree awakenings of butterflies. The above emerging butterfly is one of many showcased at the Mindo (Ecuador) Butterfly Gardens, where one steps into a magical world of colorful butterflies and equally-colorful flowers.
Witnessing the chrysalis of butterflies awakens a childlike wonder, and I recall a private showing several years ago on the deck of my home! Even though the drab-colored caterpillars stripped the foliage of the passion fruit vines, they later rewarded me with with an unforgettable beginning to my morning! Continue reading
WordPress Photo Challenge theme this week is Beginning, and many images jumped into my mind. Short and sweet, here is one of a very tender moment in Costa Rica:
This little turtle will slowly reach maturity in a dozen or so years, when it will return to its beach of origin to play its role in breeding and keeping its species from becoming extinct. Thanks, all of you who helped the Eastern Hawksbill Turtles win the competition’s grand prize! Ingrid and Alex were thrilled that the turtles’ cheering section kept them in the lead!
For more information about the nesting, hatching, conservation and dangers facing the olive ridley sea turtles, see this post: OLIVE RIDLEY SEA TURTLE.
Happy New Year! Z
“The heart is the thing that matters, the mingling of the heart with the heart of the wild bird:to become one with the thing I see.” Walter Anderson
In late June, when I mentioned Walter Anderson, (Timeout: Happy in Nature) many of you had never heard of him or his brilliant and diverse body of work. Anyone familiar with his paintings and story would probably say that the birds were his favorite subject. (Anderson/Ocean Springs Mississippi 1903 -1965)
At times the birds on the river have such a profound effect on me, that I often compare my experience to Walter Anderson’s joy for the birds. Once while using a friend’s kayak, I paddled up river and eased into a rookery tucked within hearing distance of my house. Continue reading
Alisa’s theme this week is Birds! I smiled when I read her post, and I knew there were a few worthy shots from the thousands of images on my computer! Before pushing off from Point C to return to B and finally home to A, I present to you a collection of bird images from the middle of the world! Continue reading
I first met Ingrid Yañez at Playa San Miguel Costa Rica when she was in charge of the sea turtle project for Pretoma, an organization dedicated to protecting sharks and sea turtles. After few years later, work took her elsewhere, but we have stayed in touch. I sometimes lob updates to her about my sea turtle encounters, and she shares news about her efforts (with her husband Alex Gaos) in saving the rapidly-declining populations of sea turtles. They are presently working diligently in conservation for the highly-endangered hawksbill turtles. (ICAPO)
Their enthusiasm is infectious about recent discoveries: “Prior to 2007 hawksbills were thought to be essentially extinct in the eastern Pacific…they have been documented using cryptic nesting sites, often located inside estuaries, where they come ashore behind stands of mangroves to deposit their eggs. They also use these in-land mangrove waterways to forage. “
Eureka! Mangroves?!!! Could that have been one of the last few hundred hawksbill turtles in front of the house yesterday? Continue reading
So this morning before going downstairs to resume work on the compass, I took my paints to the balcony to splash more colors of the sunset on the wall. Never in my five years (on this river) have I seen this giant of the sea swimming in front of the house, but there it was – bobbing as if to ask, “What took you so long to see me?!” Continue reading
Without underestimating the value of talent, it’s not the most important attribute you need to become a successful artist. It’s not even second. More important than talent is desire. (Harley Brown)
Drawing or painting in the outdoors challenges us to shift gears, absorb what’s in front of us and try to decide what to include and what to omit. One can find many excuses to procrastinate – the weather’s too hot, too cold or too windy. Perhaps there’s no good place to sit, or you’re an insect magnet!
If you don’t make an effort to start, you’ve forfeited the potential for growth as an artist! There’s a slight chance that your efforts are going to look horrid, and if so, call them exercises and toss them in the trash! There’s a great chance that you’ll be very pleased with the results, and you’ll wonder what took you so long to sharpen that pencil!
A few weeks ago I taped my watercolor paper to a board, gathered my supplies and journeyed into the garden. Continue reading
An Insect's View, details in nature, Large beautiful moth in costa rica, Large beautiful moth in Ecuador, Painting butterflies and moths in watercolor, Painting Flowers in Watercolor, silkmoth, Timeout for Art
“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.” - Henry David Thoreau
One of September’s Timeout for Art posts (Find the Pot of Gold) tapped into the above quote, and hopefully many of you were able to “slow down and inspect what’s lurking nearby.”
This past week presented many opportunities to take an insect’s view of nature, and I never regret time spent at eye level and absorbing those details. Continue reading
Can anyone have too many butterflies or beautiful flowers? When I am not painting, I sometimes work on the surplus of images and wonder what to do with them! When in a serious painting focus, I either tap into the sounds of nature that surround me, or I use a very select playlist.
One of my favorite artists is Dirk Maassen – (Thanks always, Argentina Carlos!) – and this video features one of his songs paired with butterfly images from the Mindo (Ecuador) area.
“Nature has been mastering itself for some time now, and it is an honor to be able to capture its beauty. (Justin eckett)”
In addition to sharing the progress on Trocitos, I thought that a bit of color might jazz up your day! Here are two attempts of capturing the beauty of nature. Continue reading
”Happy are the painters, for they shall not be lonely. Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end of the day.” — Winston Churchill.
Although “Trocitos” has not progressed as much as I had hoped, it has a bit more depth this week. Set up on 2nd floor porch, I encountered a unique problem that forced me to move the table inside. Continue reading
Ecuador – Sept. 21, 2013 – Not only is the sun straight overhead at high noon on the equinox, but today is also World Peace Day. Even if you didn’t mark the sun’s placement in your part of the world, and even if you didn’t make an outward (wear white) statement for world peace, please take a moment to reflect on where we are as a collective whole. Continue reading
“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain” Thoreau
Mindo Ecuador – My friends and I walked part of their property this past week, and we noted a clematis-like vine that sprawled along a damp ditch and climbed across anything in its path. Stopping to inspect a butterfly with delicate glass-like wings, we discovered a treasure of insects we might have otherwise missed. Continue reading
The world’s spotlight continues to shine on Ecuador, that lovely jewel of a country that so captures the hearts of first-time visitors and continues to burn long after that first imprint on the soul. Often listed as one of the most attractive relocation areas for retirement, it has many jewels in its crown.
but there’s trouble in paradise… Continue reading
I devour nature ceaselessly. I exaggerate, sometimes I make changes in the subject; but still I don’t invent the whole picture. On the contrary, I find it already there. It’s a question of picking out what one wants from nature. -Vincent van Gogh
Working from nature marks our drawings and paintings with an original freshness; instead of drawing the forest or the tree, draw a leaf; admire the details in a cluster of bamboo or the delicate tendrils of a vine. Instead of drawing the entire scene, focus on a small area and edit the parts that seem too cluttered or too boring…
Don’t get discouraged; YOU CAN DO THIS!
After 48-hours of travel, I was happy to reach my friends’ home, sleep until 9 (!) and awaken to enjoy an unhurried visit with them. As we walked part of their property, several woodland scenes held my attention; these trees would make great subjects for pencil studies!
A plan incubated! Continue reading
(Ecuador) – My friend Stephen Hopkins is forever playing pranks, so I laughed when I saw this image. “Clever use of perspective! You did a great job making a simple earthworm look like a monster worm!”
But wait; I examined the photos and pondered, “This isn’t a joke, is it? You truly found a worm that big? Tell me more!” Here’s Stephen’s story: Continue reading
(Ecuador) Life on the river often times distracts me from my daily goals. It’s hard to leave scenes like this and focus on my work! - But wait! Part of my work is observing nature! Sigh; it’s a hard job, but someone has to be part of nature’s buddy system!
I enjoy living a tiny slice back from the ocean where the tranquil river mirrors the landscape – or would that be a waterscape?! At high tide, many birds perch in the mangroves and others guard the boulders near the house. At low tide, the pelicans flop flop their wings in the water while the ibis, egrets and herons forage in the shallows.
Several hours down the coast is the petite community of San Clemente. My friends John and Mary emailed two nights ago with breaking news, “They’re hatching!!!!” The Buddy System is alive and well in that community where the locals gave a rare nest of baby turtles a magical bon voyage party!
See their post HERE: Tortuga Birth Announcement
and Dave’s report HERE:Turtles in Town
There were more global nature sightings this week! See Cindy’s great photo story HERE: Baby Hummer Crashes into Window.
The true purpose of this post is to call attention to a friend’s family in southern Mississippi and activate the Buddy System. Please read Joylene’s post and spread the word; I’m hoping there are some groups out there that might help through fundraisers.
Read Joylene’s story about her daughter-in-law HERE: Help Heaven Get Her Life Back and help if possible!
Good luck, Joylene. If I were there we’d auction a painting or get those Steel Magnolias to gather ’round and find new options. Z
Living on a shrimp farm presents many photo opportunities. My friends who own the ponds are not too fond of the egrets, herons, ibis, storks, pelicans, sea gulls, frigates and cormorants that feast on the shrimp. Watching the birds is a feast for my eyes! This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is Fresh, and the shrimp harvest produces lots of fresh shrimp!
The birds flock to the ponds for an all-they-can-eat buffet when the ponds are harvested. Let’s go watch a harvest in progress! Continue reading
Jama Ecuador (Manabi Province) often projects a mellow feeling of yesteryear, and I am pleased to present another post about nostalgia in honor of the Weekly Photo Challenge on WordPress.
My friend Cynthia invited mutual friends Bobby and Jody for dinner last week. (Thanks again, Cynthia! The wahoo was wonderful, as was that decadent cup of coffee with a dollop of ice cream!) Bobby mentioned that he had an abundance of ripening coffee on a finca near Jama, and Cynthia and I quickly volunteered to help!
(Miguel Rendon of ESCoffee and I are reworking the itinerary for a new coffee tour, so I looked forward to playing the role of tourist on a trek to a coffee farm!) This past Sunday we met at Restaurant Exclusivo near the center of town and traveled fifteen or twenty minutes east by mototaxi.
We stepped out of the mototaxi, and Bobby led us “arriba” – up an almost-dry stream. Just a few yards off the gravel road, we left the modern world behind and stepped back in time. Continue reading
Companions come in many forms, and some people often misunderstand my choice not to have a domesticated animal as a pet. A free spirit, I travel too often, and it seems insensitive to delegate the care of an animal to someone else when I am absent. I have the option of distant friendships with companions of the wild. Enjoy many of the creatures that have watched over me during my time in Central and South America! Continue reading
My friends James and Terri posted some images of weddings and mentioned the amazing amount some people spend on flowers. One Jekyll Island wedding cost $100,000 – just on flowers! (See: There Goes The Bride 2) I commented and ‘wondered’ if those flowers came from Ecuador, which prompted the question, “Does Ecuador export a lot of flowers?”
While sipping coffee, eating patacones con queso and drinking a fresh fruit juice at the Hostal Charito in Mindo Ecuador, I did a search and discovered some interesting data. Continue reading