“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.” – Loren Eiseley
The residents of El Matal surely feel as if they are veterans of an ongoing war and continue to search for a way to make peace with Mother Ocean. The photo above is not of an Ecuadorian beach, but of one in Costa Rica during the rainy season.
In Costa Rica and also now in Ecuador, my friends sometimes surprise me with unique pieces that the high tides wash ashore. When I see a pile of debris waiting to be burned on Playamart’s beaches, I often exclaim, “NOOOOOOO! Don’t burn the sofa… or the bed… or the bench!”
My friends usually laugh, but know that I am serious! Some transformations take a short time, and others need a period of incubation, but eventually, I reach for the stockpile of beach treasures. Continue reading
This has been a popular post and illustrates things that can go wrong when buying real estate in foreign countries. . Many more tales have reached me since this was published, but for now, this might be helpful. There are many great people out there and there are great stories, but there are also booby traps for unsuspecting buyers. Enjoy the reblog. Z
Originally posted on Zeebra Designs & Destinations:
Due Diligence: “Research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction’ (Merriam-Webster) ” Due diligence is the process of systematically researching and verifying the accuracy of a statement.”(WhatIs.techtarget)
I love a good fixer-upper, and I’ve also learned that the best part of a property might be the gnarled tree that guards the entrance! I’ve learned to spot potential problems, and I’ve also learned how to see past the neglect and find an ugly duckling waiting to transform into a swan.
With a dozen years of living in second and third-world countries, I’ve learned from trial and error and have also learned by watching others. We applaud anyone who embraces a new life, but when things go wrong, often times those new transplants find they’re playing David against Goliath.
View original 1,925 more words
The Claro USB Modem works well in cities, and by the graph above, it appears to work well at the riverhouse. But when you compare the signal strength from the house to the one near Canoa Ecuador… and then compare Canoa’s to San Vicente-Bahia de Caraquez, you can understand why it takes half an hour to reach the inbox and sometimes half an hour more to send an email. Ditto for viewing posts, images or opening a “New Post” page.
The Timeout for Art post waits in queue to fire out in the morning, Ecuador Time Zone, and for the next week I’ll be re-posting a few of the popular posts from archives. Thanks, as always, for your amazing support!
“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
El Matal (Manabi Province) Ecuador
A big “Thanks” goes to all of you for your concern and support for the people who are facing the ocean’s wrath at the little fishing village of El Matal, Ecuador. Your comments are appreciated not only by me but also by my friends who live or own property there. With slow internet, this has been difficult to write and proof, so all mistakes are definitely mine. Thanks again, everyone… Z
We can talk about what has happened in the past, and what might have been (So easy to say on hindsight!) but the community now faces the ‘What can we do about this?’ dilemma. No single person or even a collective group of property owners can afford the expense* for the options that have proven successful in other coastal areas of the world. (*If by chance you CAN afford the expense, would you please take one giant step forward NOW?!) Continue reading
“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
― Winston S. Churchill
Monday, October 27, 2014 – As the sun settled behind Punta Ballena, the ocean slammed El Matal.
Walk with me in the twilight and whisper a quiet request to Mother Ocean, “Shhhhhhh; go back to sleep and leave these dear people alone…” Continue reading
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
― Dale Carnegie
El Matal, Ecuador – (Manabi Province)
Words fail me.
Several people said that strong waves rolled in at high tide late yesterday afternoon (Sunday Oct. 26) and assaulted the beach in sets of five or six at a time. Several more said that the worst happened at dawn this morning, when another high tide brought more angry waves.
70 or 80 locals crowded into the corner restaurant, where Mayor Angel Rojas discussed options and patiently listened to feedback from the crowd. As one person said, “Too little too late,” there are few options.
Large rocks, which the mayor really didn’t want to use, seem to be the only immediate choice. The rocks and debris would prevent the fishermen from launching their boats and returning home each day. Building a pier is one option for the long-term plan, yet it doesn’t help anyone now. Continue reading
After a fast trip to the Andes, I returned home on the river late yesterday afternoon. My friend Xavier and I stood on the back balcony and watched the river ‘jump’ faster than usual.
“Is there an aguaji?” I asked as we admired the idyllic mangrove-studded river. A haze shrouded the end-of-day scene as the incoming waters surged higher. Sunday fishermen cast their nets and hand lines from the bank and canoes.
“Yes,” he replied. (Shrimp ponds are usually harvested during new and full-moon aguajis…)
We watched in silence, and I wondered why a place that I knew so well suddenly seemed foreign.
“Something feels wrong,” I added. “This feels eerie, like a storm is approaching. There’s something different; something’s wrong.”
My internet did not work at all last night, and this morning I was greeted with a message from Becky and Lesli with the subject, ‘Matal.’
Not, “El Matal” or “The Tides” or “Meeting at El Matal.” Just one word, “Matal,” and I braced myself for bad news. Continue reading
“Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
El Matal (Manabi Province) Ecuador
Life planted a subtle surprise in my path last week when I visited El Matal’s quickly-vanishing beach. After walking the low-tide line from one end to the other, I turned around and walked back along the boat-crammed street. Almost instantly, a flash of just-painted color caught my eye, and my serious mood (see:Esperanza-Hope) transformed into one of joy.
The bystanders confirmed my suspicions: Yes; “Maestro” painted the post. They seemed baffled at my enthusiasm. I pointed out that he painted the post out of the joy of his heart and not because he was competing in another post-painting competition! I took a few photos, retrieved a 4 x 6″ card of Diablo Uma and asked if they’d give it to him as a token ‘Thank You’ prize.
As walked away, they called me back; a surprised Maestro stood there buttoning his shirt and wondering what had triggered the infectious enthusiasm that domino-ed along the neighbors until the card reached his hands! I congratulated him on his kind and giving spirit and said that the freshly-painted post represented hope – esperanza – for the residents of El Matal. (See previous post) Continue reading
(Ecuador) After a month in the USA and another five days searching for missing luggage, I reached home sweet Jama last week. Before making that last five-kilometer trip to the riverhouse, I visited the fishing village of El Matal to photograph the changes in the beach. Instead of taking a quick ten-minute tour, I spent hours and juggled emotions that ranged from sadness to anger and also hope.
The photos need little explanation. Continue reading
I will always remember the year that Guanacaste Costa Rica recieved 50 inches of rainfall in three weeks. The third week brought torrents, and the 7-inch rain gauge overflowed night after night. I wasn’t surprised when Rio Bejuco jumped its banks and flooded the small valley. Landslides and swollen rivers blocked all roads, and we were without power as well. Unless one has a well-stocked pantry, supplies are often difficult to find. After helping friends shovel mud from their homes, I was brought to tears when the first Red Cross vehicle delivered foam mattresses and basic food to my rain-soaked and less-fortunate friends.
Bonny Raitt sings, “That was then and this is now,” and this week my attention has been on Nicaragua. My friend Debbie at Isla Ometepe blogs with professionalism and knits well-researched facts with poignant stories about her beloved Isla Ometepe. Not only are there concerns about the proposed canal that will surely desecrate that unique area, but this past week brought earthquakes, torrential rainfall and mudslides as well.
Please take a few minutes to read her posts, and perhaps some of you can help with with donations (candles anyone?) for the little village of Los Ramos, destroyed by this week’s mudslides. The last satellite check (10:00 pm Tuesday night) showed rain over Nicaragua and most of Central America.
This one’s for you and your friends, Debbie (and Ron!):
Thanks for whatever you can do to help; leaving a comment on Debbie’s posts will give a boost in morale! Z
Have you ever had moments when your hands were full of tasks, your mind full of ideas, yet your transmission stalled and refused to move forward?
With about 12G of images to sort and a month’s worth of new stories, I find myself a little bit trapped in “Groundhog Day” as I embark on my third day of trips from my hotel to the airport (across the street) in search of MIA baggage.
The trip to the USA went well, although a detective would have had a difficult time tracking me! Thanks to my dear friends and family who shared the duty of escorting the Zeebra up and down and up that Mississippi River and back once more —all the way to New Orleans!
More soon when I can sort through the whirlpool of stories and decide where to start!
Yes, it’s time to say, “Good Morning-Buenos Dias” to those golden koi!
“Time is but the stream I go fishing in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”–Henry David Thoreau
My oldest sister’s family and I took a Timeout for Art two weekends ago. Retreating to their cabin on Lake Chicot near Lake Village, Arkansas, we threw our energies into a collective painting project. My sister Kate retrieved some of her favorite lures that provided inspiration for the design.
We took turns drawing lures, while I urged them to draw and paint with the spirit of a child so that accuracy played little importance. (Serious fisher-persons sometimes have trouble altering the colors of authentic lures!)
Time flew as we swapped colors, admired each other’s work and urged the bashful ones to ‘paint for just five minutes.‘ Once Dana quietly asked, “How did you mix that color?’ and she watched a silent demonstration and then replicated the chartreuse color. Continue reading
“Welcome back,” a straight-faced immigration officer often says when he returns my just-stamped passport.
Those two unexpected words always touch my heart, and I reply with a heartfelt, ‘Thank you’ and legally enter the United States of America.
Are the agents required to say that to all returning citizens, or am I just lucky to be greeted with those words?
After placing my passport back in its proper place and double checking the boarding pass gate details for my connecting flight, I proceed to baggage claim – if needed – and then follow the maze of signs.
While preoccupied with flight arrivals and departures, one rarely has time to notice the other travelers and workers in the airport setting. Many times when I step on that ‘this will get you there a bit faster’ moving-floor option, I always look at my fellow travelers. Few people are smiling. When eye contact is made, I quickly smile or grin before they have a chance to look away, as if one might be arrested if caught interacting with a stranger!
There are other reasons to stay serious while navigating airports; those little bullet trams demand intense focus – to confirm you’re getting on the right one as a computerized voice reminds you to stand away from the door. Most of the people seem catatonic, as if any personal interaction might cause them to fall from the tram or miss their flight.
Realizing that I am also caught up in the hamster cage, I release that clenched-jaw tension and smile. I smile to remind myself that the world will not stop if I miss my flight. I then try to pass that smile to others and remind them to savor the moment. To watch someone’s tightened expression suddenly transform into a light-hearted smile touches my heart. There are times when a tired irritable toddler refuses to stop crying. When possible, I look into his/her eyes and ask, ‘Hey! What’s wrong? I’ll bet you are tired. Or hungry.’ That almost always halts the crying, and the child adjusts to the unexpected encounter (distraction!) with the stranger.
If English is not their primary language, I then start chattering in English, and the child looks at me as if I am the star attraction of the circus! I talk for about a minute, then tell the child, ‘Goodbye!’ and go on my way. Almost always, the tears and heavy heart are forgotten, and the airwaves remain blissfully peaceful as the child and baffled parents wonder, ‘Who was that grinning woman?”
Some days my inner smile expands so much that I wonder if my heart might burst, and during those times of self-inspection, I worry that I might cry. Why is it so easy for me to find joy in the everyday experience of Life, and why is it so difficult for others? I do not know why, but I am grateful that through the random luck of the genes that make me ‘Z’ – I have evolved into a very happy person.
This next month I will be traveling back to the alluvial flatlands of my childhood – the Mississippi Delta and surrounding area.
Atypical of my usual WordPress writing style, I will be observing and recording my thoughts with pen and paper and will pause every so often to transcribe and share with you. A month is not a long time when the circle of my loved ones stretches from the Gulf Coast to Memphis, across the Mississippi River to Little Rock Arkansas and back down to Natchez. Continue reading
“Little by little does the trick.” Aesop’s Fables – The Crow and the Pitcher
When traveling, I always yearn to stop when I see roadside stands. Watching a skilled machete artist whack open a chilled coconut is a bonus for the one-dollar orb that holds nutrient-rich water.
Sometimes I give a wistful look toward the pottery stands if I am traveling via bus.
No matter what mode of travel, I ponder how much an item will weigh before I add it to my growing load of loot! Pottery’s weight makes it hard to justify when using public transportation. If I take that fateful first step into the pottery scene, a few new pieces will have a new home!
After getting those items home, I never regret the extra burden, although I have moments of self doubt when I’m in transit!
Sometimes I wonder why road trips exhaust me, and then I ponder the items purchased (ahem – gallons of paint and varnish; quarts of special-colors of paint, plywood, items for the kitchen…) A day after the human burro unloads the parcels, hibernates and incubates a plan for the materials, she’s ready to proceed! As stated with last week’s post, the difficult part is wading through that invasion of ideas and focusing on one.
Sometimes a dollop of unused acrylic paint prompts me into a ‘seek and find’ mission, and I walk through the house with paintbrush loaded with pigment! Too much black paint prompted the painting of the mask on the door! (Below) It seemed a waste to wash that black paint down the drain – one learns to be frugal when good acrylic paints are not available in the area. Continue reading
The third eye icon, often associated with the pineal gland and the sixth chakra, dates back to early Egyptian times. Long ago, the amulets represented protection, power and good health, and the designs were sometimes painted on ships for protection at sea.
Prompted by a desire to find creative ways to deter the neighborhood thief, I mischievously painted an all-seeing eye on the gate to Casa Loca. (An amulet from the treasures of King Tut served as the model.)
From New Zealand, Gallivanta shared an article that supports the theory that the All-Watching Eye helps to prevent theft. ( Bike thefts slashed by 50% at University after scientists install a picture of a pair of EYES above the cycle racks) ` I am hopeful that the giant eye on the gate will have the same effect on the shrimp farm.
While the monochromatic art transformed the gate, a second, more-serious design evolved in the studio.
When one focuses on a particular subject, more images seem to pop up in unexpected places. While showing students my museum/archaeology sketchbook, I viewed this old sketch (below) with wonder. I never realized how this tiny detail resembles the Egyptian-Eye Icon:
Compare the pencil sketch to the eye of the coconut head (below) which was painted about ten years ago. Continue reading
The problem isn’t coming up with ideas, it is how to contain the invasion. My ideas are like uninvited guests. They don’t knock on the door; they climb in through the windows like burglars who show up in the middle of the night and make a racket in the kitchen as they raid the fridge. I don’t sit and ponder which one I should deal with first. The one to be wrestled to the floor before all others is the one coming at me with the most vehemence. Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed — from Brain Pickings
Sundays at Casa Loca are deliciously serene. The workers on the shrimp farms go to town or to the beach or family gatherings on their day of rest, and the pumping stations (supplying fresh water to the shrimp ponds) stay mute. Aside from a random car or motorcycle passing on the road, the riverside’s background music comes from the whisperings of birds.
The internet signal often works well enough to open emails in the early-morning hours, and most web pages show the text but drop the images. Comments and emails that I write are often missing in action when I check later to see if they reached their destinations. Brain Pickings, a once-a-week tonic written by Maria Popova, arrives on the Day of Rest and delivers an insightful and comforting assortment of reading material that rivals the Sunday edition of one’s favorite newspaper. Not seeing a Sunday newspaper for a fortnight of years, I look forward to the visual and intellectual tonic that Brain Pickings delivers to my remote location.
The above quote struck a strong chord as I peered into Herzog’s psyche. He summarized and eloquently nailed how many artists approach their work. It’s often difficult to explain the creative process to others. There are times when one of my paintings is going really well, and after a break, I detour in a totally different direction with a new project! I often create several small paintings while working on a more-challenging one.
Those small exercises in spontaneity are like little appetizers that sustain me and provide a little kick of energy to resume the larger work. “The one to be wrestled to the floor before all others is the one coming at me with the most vehemence.”
Jama Ecuador (Manabi Province)
Last Saturday when I was running a new water line to the kitchen sink, a friend stopped by with a message, “Lisa, President Correa will be speaking in Jama at ten o’clock this morning.” Abandoning my task, I focused on getting to town in time to witness the event!
Five minutes later, the owner of the pond gave me a ride to town, and I took one grand total-immersion step into the crowd.
Click your heels together…
Step into the scene and join me in a people-watching session:
The past few weeks have offered so many impromptu photo ops, and most of the photos are self explanatory!
(Jama-El Matal-Manabi Ecuador) August 2014
Are you ready for a feeling-alright-unique scene here at latitude zero? Climb aboard! (Sun shades optional.)
Ahem, well the past week has been in-cre-EE-ble, so I thought, “Maybe I should wear shades for this visit…”
In my haste to leave the house, I forgot to wear shades… Continue reading
The previous post, Timeout for Art Start Small, gleaned a WordPress notice ´Congratulations on writing 500 total posts on Zeebra Designs & Destinations.´
Before logging off at the cybercafe, I checked the stats. In the history of those posts, there have been 107,225 views, 1,494 followers and 17,792 comments. With apologies, I am far behind on replying to your amazing comments. I will blame the burrito computer, may he rest in peace!
Without your approval, encouragement and support, I would never have reached those numbers. Thank you, thank you and thank you even more. Because of your support, my life is blessed!
Through the wonders of ´Schedule to Publish’ options, this will hopefully reach you on Friday!
“If I had my life to live over again, I would elect to be a trader of goods rather than a student of science. I think barter is a noble thing.” – Albert Einstein
Last Wednesday and Thursday I walked to nearby La Division to give drawing lessons. When asked what I would charge, I said, “One dollar per class, but you don’t have to pay with a dollar. You can pay with eggs or plantains or lemons or yucca, etc.” Many people do not appreciate something that’s free – they don’t show up or they talk during the class, and there had to be some sort of exchange. I supplied the pencils and drawing pads, and they could pay me however they’d like and whenever they’d like.
On the first day, I pointed out that a pencil and paper cost very little money, and the pencil could be a good friend to them. They could pull out the pencil and practice while waiting on the bus or an appointment. They only needed the discipline to practice and they would improve each day. If they wanted to paint well, they should first master drawing and shading. Continue reading
Jama-Manabi-Ecuador - July 2014
The shrimp ponds along Rio Jama are owned by a handful of families, and each one has a modest headquarters where pumps, feed and supplies are stored. Life is usually quiet on these cameroneras; the pumps run when fresh ocean water ebbs upriver each day, and they are quiet when the river is low.
Many times a modest living area is located on the second floor above the bodega. (My house is this type of design.) Having someone watching over the ponds day and night helps protect against theft (yes- thieves sneak in at night and steal shrimp!). The employee also turns the pumps on and keeps an ear tuned for signs of mechanical problems. When the river water levels get low, the pumps are turned off.
The health of the ponds is closely monitored from the time the tiny larvae are delivered to a small nursery pond until the day of harvest. Oxygen levels are important, and sunny conditions produce healthier ponds than cloudy ones. The ponds are deep enough that herons and egrets are not tempted by the shrimp that stay near the bottom. If the birds line the edges, it’s a sign that something’s wrong – perhaps the shrimp need more oxygen, and they’re coming to the surface. Continue reading
Summer – “The warmest season of the year, following spring and preceding autumn.” (Webster’s II New Riverside Dictionary” 1984)
Krista at WordPress prompted us to share images of ‘Summer Lovin”, and she mentioned southern vs northern hemispheres. I snickered and thought, ‘- Summer? What about those lucky ones who straddle the equator?! We don’t really have a summer on this part of Ecuador’s coast!”
After enduring Central America’s oppressive Pacific heat for eight years, I remain enchanted by Ecuador’s more-forgiving climate. Just south of the equator on the Pacific coast, the days and nights politely share 12-hour shifts; January escorts us into the rainy season (invierno), and the June solstice weans us into a dry-but-slightly-cooler verano, their version of summer. The low temperatures might bottom out at 70, and the highs rarely hit 90, although the sun can bite very fast! (This past week has been cool, and many people wore long sleeves in the daytime and jackets at night!) When the ocean breezes stop for a rest, and the temperatures rise, the nearby ocean offers instant relief!
My perch on the river is nestled between two rapidly-vanishing beaches; La Division is northeast from the river’s mouth, and Playa El Matal is southwest. The ocean stayed on its best behavior during mid July’s full moon spring/king tides, although another critical high tide will soon arrive in August.
Great illustrations of ‘summer’ can be found at Playa El Matal. As the ocean crowds the fishermen’s boats onto the road, the locals remain unruffled and adapt without any displays of frustration. Let’s go on a beach-inspection walk and search for a sour face! Continue reading
All that you need is deep within you waiting to unfold and reveal itself. All you have to do is be still and take time to seek for what is within and you will surely find it. ~Eileen Caddy
I am writing from La Division, where I hoped to get away from smoke that’s been wafting ‘downwind’ from some sort of burn pile. The smoke seems to have followed me here! I was also hoping for a stronger internet signal. I was not planning to have many distractions, but they are here as the old battery runs down while the upload functions and pages fail to load!
Perdon for this hurried post! The quote is quite ironic for a day when I was unable to be still in order to publish this post! Two of four images loaded, and I am going to call that ‘a good day.’ The battery is now at critical —- some days it’s best to stay home and draw!
(retweeet)@Petchary @PanosCaribbean (ZeebraDesigns said: Beneath full moon will be at front line, feet in sand, staring mother ocean’s eyes (mouth?) one wave at a time. – 11 Jul)
@Petchary @ZeebraDesigns @PanosCaribbean “That sounds poetic, but sad… Will be thinking of you.”
El Matal, Manabi, Jama, Ecuador
Mother Ocean was quite calm last night, and the night weaned into daytime without threatening and dangerous waves. I peered out at the waves about once an hour and was glad to see dawn arrive with a gentle awakening.
With palm trees flanking each side of my friends home, I remained all but incredulous when they told me that in 2010, they could step 54 paces from the end of their lot to the edge of the dry beach that angled to the ocean! I looked at their old photos, and I now sit with jaw agape at how much has been devoured by the ocean. Continue reading
“What if it lines up like it did in the Trojan War … Athena versus Poseidon?”
“I don’t know. But I just know that I’ll be fighting next to you.”
“Because you’re my friend, Seaweed Brain. Any more stupid questions?” ― Rick Riordan- The Lightning Thief
The good fight is the one that we fight in the name of our dreams. - Paulo Coelho (The Pilgrimage)
Imagine having a nightmare where a wall of water threatens to wash you, your friends, your home and your village away. You see it approaching on the horizon. You’re watching as if a voyeur and unable to awaken others who might be able to help. You’re screaming, yet no one hears, as if they are deaf or your voice is muted. There’s only a short amount of time, and a cluster of neighbors and several strangers leap into your nightmare and project a united front as the clock ticks backward.
The monster’s first attack arrived in January, and a diet of sand and driftwood kept it quiet for another month. Developing a taste for a more refined diet, it returned in February and nibbled at the foundations of homes while upending open-air boat shelters and pondering ways to devour the street on its next attack.
Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time. – Paulo Coelho
Tapping into her sensitive powers of observation about her surroundings, Linda of The Task at Hand often trusts her own predictions instead of the local weather forecasts. When not penning poetic salt-of-the earth stories about her life, Linda’s specialty is varnishing boats. An unexpected change in weather can ruin her meticulous work. Enjoy her post about the subtle weather-forecasting hints here: SCHOOLED BY SUMMER .
This past week Linda inquired about my friends at nearby Playa el Matal, where Mother Ocean chomped away the shoreline during the January and February (2014) spring tides. Everyone at El Matal is preparing for the third battle against tides that will barrel ashore beneath this weekend’s full moon. We are hoping there will be no need for new posts titled like the one written in February: It’s Devastating
Each evening when I gaze up at the waxing moon, a heavy sense of foreboding washes over my spirit. I think about the combination of high tides, storms at sea, the direction of winds, and how they affect the fierceness of the waves, especially when they reach the shore at high tide. Like those who live near the ocean, I am aware of the seriousness of the tides that will arrive this weekend.
This full moon brings an extra-high sea, and those who live at or near sea level will surely be participating in sea-watch vigils around the globe, including Panama’s Kuna Indians on the San Blas Islands. Continue reading
Anyone who has hopped from doctor to doctor in search of a diagnosis and cure will agree that one needs to find out what triggered the symptoms. The best treatment whacks at the root of the illness instead of throwing darts at possible reasons, masking the symptoms with temporary solutions and hoping to reclaim your wellness. If your body is retaining fluid, would you rather take a pill to flush your system or try to figure out what’s making you retain that fluid?
Paying attention to diet and the chemicals we put into our bodies might help pinpoint possible triggers. Sometimes those triggers are obvious.
For over thirty years, I’ve dodged MSG (monosodium glutamate) which almost immediately makes my fingers and feet swell. Sometimes if I unknowingly ingest a double dose, my heart starts beating faster, I break out in a sweat and feel weak. If I consume an overload of MSG, my symptoms are similar to being drugged, and I cannot think well. Once several days passed before I emerged from the fog of an accidental MSG “overdose.”
Figuring out my sensitivity to aspartame took longer, although losing one’s vision and then getting it back will get anyone’s attention! Several of these MSG and Aspartame stories are here: G for GALLO, GARZA, GARROBO, GAFAS AND – GASP – GLUTAMOTO MONOSODICO.
This past week during the Ecuador Expat Journey tour, I told this red-wine story to a new friend:“…About four years ago after experiencing MSG sensitivity two different times after drinking red wine, I conducted a random online search: “RED WINE, MSG.” …I was not expecting to find links to stories that linked red wine and MSG with a product called AuxiGro, but they were there staring me in the face! Yes, AuxiGro contains “Glutamic acid” and was used on many food crops in the USA and throughout the world! The product not only helped crops mature at the same time, but it also enhanced the sweetness of grapes! I was stunned…”
“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” Kurt Vonnegut
The ritual of sharpening pencils preps me with anticipation for drawing. Those of you who feel as if the talent fairy passed over you – stop long enough to sharpen a pencil and practice for half an hour per week, and most likely you will spend much more time in communication with your pencil and paper! An extra benefit is blocking out distractions and getting in touch with your true self!
Choose a forgiving subject and sketch the main areas, make very light notations for dark and medium shading, and be very careful around those light areas! Let the bare paper represent the lightest lights. For those of you who are celebrating holidays, try sketching an ear of corn or a wad of firecrackers, then shade the negative space that surrounds them! (Are firecrackers still allowed in the USA?)
The absence of erasers (while drawing) disciplines me to be careful and to think ahead, and the drawing stays fresh. I also use a second sheet of paper to cover my work. If there’s no available sheet around, I’ll use a paper napkin or a thin board – anything to avoid smudges! Students often spend as much time erasing as they do drawing; learning to sketch without the crutch of an eraser will reward you with drawings that are not overworked.
Pencil drawing allows you to stop at any time and resume later. Little by little, the sketch evolves into a stronger work of art. Trees are my favorite subject to sketch, and after working from life, I can complete the drawing days or weeks or months or even years later! Many times my preliminary sketch is filled with notations so that I remember where the lights, darks and middle values are located.
Traveling last night and early this morning, I often noted the contrast between the pastoral beauty of Costa Rica’s rural areas I had left behind and the stark neutral mood inside the San Jose, Bogota and Guayaquil airports. I noted many options during my travels that qualify for this week’s Photo Challenge for CONTRAST.
Taking advantage of fast internet in Guayaquil, -another contrast from the slow connections in the country!- here are a few images from early this morning!
While waiting on luggage, I took a few photos around one thirty this morning in the GYE baggage claim area! Continue reading
A talent is not a talent until it has been shared. If we are so blessed as to be an artist, shouldn’t we help someone just as someone helped us? (Wayne A. Wright)
Years ago when Hank and Marie Groff were distant neighbors in Costa Rica, Marie often invited me to join them for dinner. If I was working on a creative project, I knew that I would have difficulty pulling out of my focus to switch gears, put away my supplies and drive to their home for dinner. Hours later while deep in a painting trance, I often heard Marie return. She quietly came inside, whispered from the doorway, “Don’t stop; your dinner’s here in the kitchen.” With a loving heart, she retreated without another word.
When my vehicle was no longer road worthy, she always asked if I wanted to ride with her to a larger city to buy supplies. When the other option was by bus on bumpy four-wheel-drive roads, I was always grateful to ride in her Isuzu Trooper limousine!
(Above photo: see Construction in Reverse.)
With a background in construction, Hank as been a patient teacher; he’s tutored me about soil samples, engineering reports, concrete finishing and repair. He’s helped solve water-line riddles, and every so often I am able to share my work experience with him. He has explained why the peeling paint on a wall most likely came from a roof leak and has helped with repair on gates and shovels and doors!
They are tireless in their support, and I am blessed to have such loving and helpful friends. It’s quite natural to reciprocate with the same loving spirit!
Their ‘soaking pool’ perches on the corner of their outdoor pavilion, and Hank recently tiled the inner area. The three of us agreed that a mosaic border would enhance the effect, and we approached the challenge at full throttle and worked from mid morning until sunset almost every day until we finished! Continue reading
Hi Amigos! Thanks for your fun comments on the Surprise Visitors from the Wild; internet has been too slow to answer emails or reply to comments, although it’s starting to awaken as we approach the bewitching hour!
I’m back with another post for the WordPress Photo Challenge which states: “This week, share a photo that has a little something extra: an unexpected visitor, or a tranquil landscape with a splash of color…or find a photo with an added element that makes it an image only you could capture.”
(Quito Ecuador) - Returning home after fast trip to Ecuador’s Sierra, I spent many hours wading through an eclectic range of photos which covered visits to pueblitos, museums and even a lending library of books written in English!
The photos from the Crystal Palace included the flaming nasturtiums and geraniums as well as delicate pink hues of taxo – a new species for my eyes. Inside the glass enclosure was an impressive collection of soccer images from Brazil.
Stepping back outside, I took photos of the sweeping view of the city, but the camera caught something extra that I overlooked. Continue reading
With a HUGE smile, I introduce you (again) to my multi-talented friends Luis and Susan (Tribus Futuras) whose original track “Children of the Wind” is featured on Putumayo’s new CD, Music of the Andes! (Hijos del Viento)
Susan and Luis live in Mindo Ecuador, and I mentioned them in last-year’s post Did You Fall off the Milk Truck? I am so proud to share this incredible news, and I look forward to buying a copy and getting their autograph! Enjoy their track here: CHILDREN OF THE WIND!