Who’s The Boss on this Shrimp Farm?


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Life on a Cameronera (Shrimp Farm)

Life on a Cameronera (Shrimp Farm)

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.

P7150817 quadrado shrimp harvest july 2014 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.

P7100345 storks  CROPPED

Storks clean up the leftovers after a harvest!

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

Not-Quite Summer?


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Peeling Shrimp - La Division, Manabi, Ecuador

Peeling Shrimp -”I LOVE my job!’ –  La Division, Manabi, Ecuador

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!”

P7190099 sunset pelican

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!

P7130424 little boys in w

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.

La Division Ecuador - Nelly took a rare break from her restaurant for Mother's Day 2013.

La Division Ecuador – Nelly took a rare break from her restaurant for Mother’s Day 2013.

La Boca - Rio Jama

La Boca – Rio Jama


playamart la boca

Once upon a time when the beach was much wider: “The Boca” with El Matal and Punta Ballena in the background. (Image from 2011)

"Where's the beach?" - A concerned visitor assesses the vanishing beach.

Playa El Matal – “Where’s the beach?” – A concerned visitor assesses the vanishing beach.

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

Timeout for Art: Runaway!


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To enter, please pull cord!

To enter, please pull cord!

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”  Thyla Harp

Taped on the ugliest wall of the riverhouse is a growing assortment of clippings, scribblings and quotes, and the above quote always makes me smile. Today’s post gives you a little peek into the gates at the riverhouse, where the internet crawls slower than today’s low tide! Continue reading

TIMEOUT FOR ART: Be Still, Seek and Find


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Pencil (Continued from earlier post)

Pencil (Continued from earlier post)

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!
P7170001 ceibo pencil

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!


One Wave at a Time


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(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)

Emma Lewis
@Petchary @ZeebraDesigns @PanosCaribbean “That sounds poetic, but sad… Will be thinking of you.”


With little room between the high-tide mark and the buildings, Playa El Matal’s front street is choked with boats, fishermen, tourists and locals.

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

Timeout for Art: So Many Colors!


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Oops, the sun turned into a flower, and the flower turned into — what?— fireworks? Who cares? It was fun to paint!

“If you could paint your current mood onto a canvas, what would that painting look like? What would it depict?” Ben Huberman –  WordPress – The Daily Prompt Continue reading

Fighting the Good Fight


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P1140840 ocean waves

“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

Late afternoon - Feb 02, 2014 - El Matal Ecuador - Homeowner photo

Late afternoon – Feb 02, 2014 – El Matal Ecuador – Homeowner photo

screen shot from video

screen shot from video

Coco Beach Village/El Matal Ecuador

Coco Beach Village/El Matal Ecuador

The good fight is the one that we fight in the name of our dreams.  - Paulo Coelho (The Pilgrimage)

P1140725 rolling waves z

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.

Will this woman's home survive the high tides?

Will this woman’s home survive the high tides?

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.

Continue reading

Full-Moon Vigil


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Will this street remain after Mother Nature's high tides recede after the full-moon weekend?

El Matal – Ecuador — What will remain after this weekend’s full-moon high tides?

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 

High tides affect many areas - Bahia de Caraquez - February 2014

High tides affect many areas – Bahia de Caraquez- ECUADOR – February 2014

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

Coco Beach Village/El Matal Ecuador

Coco Beach Village/El Matal Ecuador

Goodnight Moon

Goodnight Moon – Pre-dawn at Playa San Miguel Costa Rica

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

Staying Well


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P1690121 wine

A Toast to Good Health! (Can you see the sun through the stem of this glass?!)

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.

Check That Hot Sauce Label for MSG

Check That Hot Sauce Label for MSG

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.

MSG and Aspartame

Beware!  MSG and Aspartame

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…”

Continue reading

A Salute to the Red, White & Blue!


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Red Hibiscus and Quinoa "Quinouli"

Red Hibiscus and Quinoa “Quinouli”

"Red Capes" in progress;  Watercolor by Lisa Brunetti

“Red Capes” in progress; Watercolor by Lisa Brunetti

Red Coffee Cherries!

Red Coffee Cherries!


White scorpion's tail - Ecuador

White scorpion’s tail – Ecuador

White for Peace - Jama Ecuador

White for Peace – Jama Ecuador


WHITE EGRET – “Have a great day, wherever you are!”




Blue Swirl!

Blue Swirl!

P1940183 blue footed booby 2




Red, White and blue!

Red, White and Blue!

Check out Steve Schwartzman’s Portraits of Wildflowers post for another dose of patriotic colors! (For anone interested in technical details and trivia about the Spanish language, see his Spanish-English Word Connections.)

Sandia anyone?

Sandia anyone?

P1690891 sandia for sale jama watermelon red

Happy Fourth of July!


Timeout for Art: Pencil Practice!


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Go ahead; pick one up and have fun!

Go ahead; pick up a pencil and have fun!

“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!

Lapiz - Pencil Punta- Point

Shading the background made the bamboo come forward (Lapiz – Pencil Punta- Point

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?)

P7030582 ceibo pencil

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.

Someone requested a pencil drawing of a ceibo tree, so i'm having fun with a series of small drawings!

Someone requested a pencil drawing of a ceibo tree, so i’m having fun with a series of small drawings!

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.

Continue reading

Slaying Dragons – The Copyright Demon Strikes Again


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Images copyright - Lisa Brunetti

Mirror Border (left) and WHO’S SLAYING THE DRAGONS (right) Images copyright – Lisa Brunetti

Join me in being baffled at a story about YOUTUBE and copyrights.   How can Google strip away the intellectual property rights/ownership of instructional videos that were obviously and rightfully owned by Paul Taggart?

Visit Oil Pastels by Mary for the story:    http://oilpastelsbymary.com/2014/07/02/youtube-copyright-and-piracy-concerns/

In the above copyright/piracy post Mary notes that Paul, “…  has generously shared over 260 art tutorials via YouTube, where he earned YouTube Partner status…” 

Yet go to his Youtube site, and this is what one finds:

screen shot paul taggart

PaulTaggart YouTubeChannel

Take a cyber trip to Scotland and visit a delightful, kind and highly-talented artist who shares his story about this YOUTUBE nightmare HERE:

PAUL TAGGART (Paul shares his story via video.)

Continue reading

There’s No Place Like Home!


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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

Timeout for Art: Sharing Talents and Helping Friends


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Hank and Marie, a dear couple that I nicknamed 'The Swans."

Hank and Marie, a dear couple that I nicknamed ‘The Swans.”

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)

Who wouldn't want to step into this sunset dining scene?

Who wouldn’t want to step into this sunset dining scene?

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.

We embraced a new challenge - the art of mosaic tile!

We embraced a new challenge – the art of mosaic tile!

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!  

Hank and Marie help with a tear-down project - Team Zeebra!

Hank and Marie help with a tear-down project – Team Zeebra!

(Above photo:  see Construction in Reverse.)

Always-patient Hank

Always-patient Hank

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!

June Solstice Sunset - One Day Early!

From the outdoor pavilion – June Solstice Sunset – One Day Early!

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

Timeout for Art – Having Fun While Working!


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Come see the evolving mosaic border!

Come see the evolving mosaic border!

As you grow in self-esteem, your face, manner, way of talking and moving will tend naturally to project the pleasure you take in being alive. ~Nathaniel Branden

Do you see these two pieces of tiles?  They need to be a little smaller!

Do you see these two pieces of tiles? They need to be a little smaller!

Two sets of eye wear work better than one!

Two sets of eye wear work better than one!

The strong and mighty Z pulverizes the ceramic tile!

The strong and mighty Z pulverizes the ceramic tile, and work halts until we regain control of our giggle boxes!

Because Marie took so many photos, today’s Timeout for Art will be split into two posts.

Yes, this is a fun project!  Marie shares the tile-splitting tasks!

Yes, this is a fun project! Marie shares the tile-splitting tasks!

It’s ok to have fun while working!

Honestly, it’s back-breaking work, but the many laughs have trumped the fatigue!

Before Grout...

Before Grout…

After grout (Ahem; that's agua quinada -tonic water in the can!)

After grout (Ahem; that’s agua quinada -tonic water in the can!)


(A much-larger post will follow after the final section of grout is finished!)


Do you like the progress?


In Between Showers – A Mosaic Challenge


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This week’s WordPress Challenge is ‘Between.”

My mind immediately dashed on many thought tangents as I pondered ideas that represent ‘Between.”     The above art project (in progress) keeps getting stalled due to rain showers, so climb aboard and step into a mosaic-filled world! Continue reading

TIMEOUT FOR ART – Vivid Imagination


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(See the model for this character in the next photo!)

Many savage nations worship trees, and I really think my first feeling would be one of delight and interest rather than of surprise, if some day when I am alone in the woods one of the trees were to speak to me. (John Lubbock)
When traveling through Ecuador’s Manabi Province by bus, I sometimes make lightning-fast sketches of the unique ceibo trees. With only a few seconds to observe and capture the essence of individual trees, I scribble details and thoughts until the next sketch-worthy tree captures my attention.

P1110875 ceibo w tongue2 P1110875 ceibo w tongue5EYES

Some of those trees seem to be waltzing across the landscape, and others wear scowls or humorous expressions. I’ve noted trees with amputated limbs or with bellies hacked open (for honey?) while others are burned or felled for farmland. Peer over my shoulder to see a few typical pages of hurried sketches of these areas. Continue reading

An Unexpected Visitor?


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P6090230 sarita crystal palace

Sarah admires the view while coordinating a medical appointment for a friend.

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.”

 P6090211 quito crystal palace P6090232 wheelbarrow shadows

(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!

Come see the soccer images!

Come see the soccer images!

P6090240 crystal palace futbol

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

Surprise Visitors from the Wild


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What's poking out of the pre-Columbian pottery?

What’s poking out of the pre-Columbian pottery?

(Ecuador) – Living totally immersed in nature, I am often treated to unexpected visitors from the wild!   This week’s photo challenge is ‘Extra Extra,‘ and Michelle states, “This week, share a photo that has a little something extra: an unexpected visitor, or a tranquil landscape with a splash of color. A lone carrot in a sea of peas. Draw us in with a humorous detail, or find a photo with an added element that makes it an image only you could capture.” 

I remembered this surprise moment from earlier this year.

Come a little closer?

Come a little closer?

Peering from its hiding place, Mr. Frog startled me one sunny morning!

P1500375 paintbrushes riverhouse frog

Although frogs and geckos ‘creep out’ many of my female friends,  they make me smile and are often used as models for some of my studies!  Here are a few more unexpected guests that arrived with no warning: Continue reading

Timeout for Art: A Magical Room


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“I step into my studio and nothing will be the same ever again.” (Franco Paisio)

This week’s WordPress Challenge is ‘Room,’ and these photos show how a farm bodega transformed into a unique studio space.  Enjoy the pictorial!  Z

riverhouse bamboo ladder

August 2008; the fixer-upper challenge begins!

Let’s peer inside the bodega!


Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Field Work


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Is there a pecking order in the egret family tree?

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”John Muir”

Manabi Province, Ecuador -

Many birds feast in the shrimp ponds; when the water is drained for harvest, the avian telegraph announces the all-you-can-eat buffet!

Yay!  Lunch is ready!/

Yay! Lunch is ready!/

Elusive white ibis flock to the ponds for their ration of shellfish; petite kingfishers perch near the outlet pipes and spear random hors d’oeuvres.  Great egrets tower over snowy egrets and little blue herons as they scramble, squawk and poke for shrimp and fish.

P5250209 snowy egret

Conceited snowy egrets, pairing black leggings with bright-yellow slippers,  fluff their wispy feathers to claim entitlement to the choicest morsels!

One Happy Family...

One Happy Family…

In formal attire, the black-necked stilts add a modest touch of elegance and keep a low profile along the edges of the pond!  Although the stilts have always captured my attention, I realized that I knew little when I began a study based on an old photo. They are black and white and have very long reddish-pink legs. Do they all have pink legs, or do the male and female have different colorations?


“Oh Grandmother; what big eyes you have!”

Consulting a bird book, I was surprised to learn that stilts have red eyes! (Red eyes?) I looked at photos on the computer. The less-than precise images showed dark eyes. Details were lacking on the bill as well, and I was unsure – was it curved slightly like an ibis, or did it have a slight upturn – or was it straight as a sewing needle? Rather than guess, I waited for an opportunity for field research. Continue reading

TIMEOUT FOR ART – To Live Eternity in an Hour


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“The difference in men does not lie in the size of their hands, nor in the perfection of their bodies, but in this one sublime ability of concentration: to throw the weight in one blow, to live eternity in an hour.” - Elbert Hubbard

bahia P1550133 museo
I had the honor of ‘bunking’ with the ancient artifacts at Museo de Bahia de Caraquez during the Mola Series Exhibition in 2012! The guards, surprised that I was thrilled to be staying there, told a few ghost stories and said that I was very brave!

P1530919 museo bahia de caraquez

After hours, the museum was deliciously quiet, and while reviewing photos in my room, I painted a watercolor of one of the artifacts. Continue reading

Music of the Andes – Children of the Wind


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P1890942 susan y lucho music night

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!  


Twist: Items that Caught My Attention


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Do you remember these posts?

Do you remember these posts?

Krista asks on the WordPress Photo Challenge, “This week, share a photo of something that says “twist” to you. It might be that perfect ice cream cone, a yummy bit of liquorice, or something unexpected that surprised, shocked, or startled you.”

My sister Kate once stated, “Lisa, you never cease to shock me.”    She was totally surprised by a package that a “complete stranger” hand delivered to their pharmacy in Monticello Arkansas – straight from Costa Rica, where I lived at that time!  It was fun to send her a care package that was hand delivered by a just-met person from her town!

Payback usually rolls around, and Life continues to sprinkle unexpected tokens into my life; some of them  have been good, and a few recent ones have been a bit shocking.

One of Luchy's well-designed posts and his lovely assistant!

One of Luchy’s well-designed posts and his lovely assistant!

Many of you remember the story about the post-painting competition and watched the infectious enthusiasm spread through the community. Those original ‘first’ posts, replaced by taller posts,  now gather dust in the electric company’s old-light post purgatory.   (After stewing and incubating, I have a plan!) Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Periods of Incubation


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Across Rio Cinto - An entrance to one's imagination!

Across Rio Cinto – An entrance to one’s imagination!

Wherever I go I need a period of incubation so that I may learn the essence of nature, which never wishes to be understood or yield herself. -Paul Gauguin

(Ecuador) Immersed in Mindo’s cloud forest, I spent more time watching and absorbing the beauty of the area than taking timeouts for art this past week.   Several ‘exercises’ of art were photographed, and a few slipped by (like a weird armadillo rock!) without a photo!  The attempts at serious painting seemed stiff, so I tweaked my attention to the abundance of beauty of the area.

Lunch in the cloud forest comes with lovely feathered surprises!

Lunch in the cloud forest comes with lovely feathered surprises!

While we waited on landslides to be cleared, Julie and I enjoyed a leisurely walk along the road that parallels Rio Cinto.

How's this for an entrance to one's home?  Rio Cinto/Ecuador

How’s this for an entrance? Rio Cinto/Ecuador


We’ll skip the swing today and will stay close to the road!

Rio Cinto - near Mindo Ecuador

Rio Cinto – near Mindo Ecuador

A leisurely walk allows us to discover hidden jewels that we otherwise would not warrant quality time to appreciate.

A leisurely walk allows us to discover hidden jewels.

With no particular destination in mind, we ambled down the deserted road and wondered how many landslides were between us and town!

The stroll rewarded us with an endless bounty of beauty! Continue reading

Cloud Forest Work of Art



WordPress’s Photo Challenge for the week is “Work of Art, and I thought of this cloud-forest scene.

Between rains

Between rains

Between rains and mudslides and power outages, my friends and I enjoyed this end-of-day light just south of the equator near Mindo Ecuador.

Today finds me back on the Pacific coast, and the rains seemed to have tagged along!  After an overnight at Hostal Ciragan, I’ll  be home on the river later this morning.

See you on Thursday!


Timeout for Art: Listen to Yourself!


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Hi from Mindo Proper (Ecuador)

We cleared one small problem while waiting on the road grader to clear beyond their home. 8

We cleared one small problem while waiting on the road grader to clear beyond their home.

Julie and I have made a fast trip to Mindo while the mountain road is open, though the road graders have cleared dozens of mud slides, and many of them were HUGE.  The roads between their home and town are sloppy and un-passable unless one is in a four-wheel drive.  We are in town to buy supplies and return while there is still light.   It’s been raining since noon, and I predict more mudslides.  The roads are ugly, and I am amazed that some of the large landslides have been cleared!

With a 30-hour power outage, some of the items in the refrigerator/freezer were questionable, and we were out of staples like garlic, onions, spinach, eggs etc.  The kitchens will be well stocked when we return! (Their car had been in the shop for two months, and they had just retrieved it (and me) from Quito and returned Saturday evening.)

And then the rains came pouring down.

And down.

And down.

Most of the timeout for Art was written last week, so now here’s the rest of the post!


P1530424 EL MATAL trees beach y boats

June 2012 – Post Painting Competition at El Matal Ecuador, when trees and boat shelters lined El Matal’s ample beach.

“Someone else’s vision will never be as good as your own vision of your self. Live and die with it ’cause in the end it’s all you have. Lose it and you lose yourself and everything else. I should have listened to myself.”
― Georgia O’Keeffe

P1530422 skull

While I photographed the young artists at work, these skulls caught my attention in 2012. They patiently awaited in incubation…

Thanks for your feedback on the ‘Zebra-Energy’ (ZENnergy) painting! I treasured every comment and critique! While answering the comments, I realized that you’ve all earned a more in-depth explanation of the creative process of this particular painting.

The inspiration has been tap tap tapping at my senses for years at nearby Playa El Matal, where the beach is quickly vanishing. The skulls first tweaked my attention from the young artist who was painting a nearby post, and a year later I photographed them again. I worked out a concept on paper while having lunch in town.

The skulls caught my attention again in July 2013,, and I tossed around ideas on paper while waiting on lunch.

The skulls caught my attention again in July 2013, and I tossed around ideas on paper while waiting on lunch.

Another nine or so months passed, and I sometimes glanced at the sketches and thought, “I really need to bring you to life!” Continue reading

Alive and Well in Mindo

All is well, but we have had extreme rains, landslides and power outages at my friends’ home near Mindo, Ecuador. After 30 hours, power was restored, but we are still waiting for the roads to be cleared.

Through Julie’s help, we are publishing this through painfully-slow iPad connection. We hope to be able to reach town in a couple of days.

The only things we miss are onions!

Timeout for Art: Courage


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“To create one’s own world takes courage.” Georgia O’Keeffe

P5050096 ZENergy acrylic 0

“Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse

This past week I showed a new painting to friends, and I prefaced their first view with, “Look what I birthed this weekend..”  

There were times when I looked at the painting and silently asked, “Where did you come from?” Continue reading

Awakenings on the River


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P1010046 EGRETS F;LYING HOME detail

The Daily Post tossed out a challenge with four options this week; I selected this one: “Take a draft post that you didn’t published because it didn’t turn out as you expected. Change the story, revise it, and publish.”

I found two posts in drafts; one recent post from April 3rd  stalled because of slow internet and low battery:

“…In today’s WP post, Kristin nudges us to, ‘Look out your back window or door — describe what you see, as if you were trying to convey the scene to someone from another country or planet.’

Most sources say that this song was written for Fogerty’s 3-year old son and was inspired a Dr. Seuss book.  I’m quite pleased to introduce you to this cast of characters out my own backdoor!


Reaching back to a post from January 2013, I can finally release these birds from their cyber cages.  May they soar from my back door round the world and lighten your day! Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Solar Calendar


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April 23, 2013 Solar Calendar's first month!

April 23, 2013 Solar Calendar’s first month!

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking,
Racing around to come up behind you again.
– Pink Floyd (Time)

Marking the sun’s shadow during Ecuador’s rainy season depends on the mood of the clouds!  It also requires a bit of discipline to watch for that sunset hour and the presence or absence of light and shadow. 2013 is represented with hit and miss notations across the balcony wall, and the new year is marked with pencil.

This past week I’ve cherished the sunlight a bit more than usual, because the circle of houses near the farm has been without power for four days!  One squeezes the most out of the daylight hours when candle power illuminates the evening! (I’m taking a timeout at Hostal Ciragan in town!)

When I noted the end-of-day sunlight earlier this week, I marked the solar calendar and noted that the shadow matched (thank goodness!) last year’s mark! Continue reading

Timeout for Art: The Gift of Uninterrupted Solitude


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P1970879 studio colors painting in progress

“The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. Be alone – that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born.” Nikola Tesla
Although I live five kilometers from town and share the riverbank with my neighbors the birds, an interesting queue of people find their way to my door/gate. As they step into the studio for the first time and touch the tromp l’oeil floor then gaze at the river from the second-floor balcony, I’m humbled with the reality that my life is unique.


The beauty of the river provides a rich environment and incubation chamber for inspiration. One’s pulse naturally slows while watching the frigates spiral to the skies then swoop for touch and go’s on the water while petite wrens and swallows perch on branches near the house. During those times, silence is the best conversation.

Cocoi Heron

Cocoi Heron

For five or six hours each day, the river is not so quiet. Slightly upriver and downriver are oxen-sized pumps that supply the shrimp ponds with fresh water. During those times I often pair painting sessions with a music playlist; meticulous details require subtle piano, and ‘mas alegre’ music nudges me into a faster painting tempo!
Late at night while most of my neighboring world is asleep, the magical world of blissful silence casts its spell over my work environment. Sunset usually signals the end of (very little) traffic on the gravel road, and the pumps cease as the river lowers with the tides. Ahhhh, aside from nature’s whisperings, all is serene and quiet. Music during those times is an intrusion. Continue reading

El Nino Phenomenon

Playamart - Zeebra Designs:

Back flashing through the eyes of an 8-year old, Silvana- in her unique voice – shares what it’s like to wonder if one should be living in an ark during the last ‘super el nino’ that affected ecuador…
After reading this post, please enjoy the previous one where her humor burns through once more as she experiences the difference between the middle of the world and the ‘middle’ of the usa.. brrrrr, you made us laugh, silvana – what a gift! . http://tinasca.wordpress.com/2014/04/07/from-the-middle-of-the-world-to-5216-km-to-the-north/

internet is too slow to open the inbox, much less wrote a post, so timeout for art will arrive tomorrow, weather permitting!


Originally posted on monoaullador.:

A few days ago there was a storm (rain, thunder , lightning ) that prevented me to go out to the fields for working as usual,  I stayed for a moment looking out the window mesmerized while Jackie asked me : Are you nervous? I said -No- but the true is that yes, I was nervous , I must confess!!! YES the heavy rains make me feel a little nervous, when I see it I go back years (1997-1998) when I was 8 years old I experienced one of the worst seasons on the Ecuadorian Coast  (El Niño). Lisa asked in her last post to share our experience about “ El Nino Phenomenon“.  I decided to share mine.

View original 560 more words

El Nino Phenomenon – Yes or No?


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(Written two days ago, and then – poof – no internet until now!)
P1970709 rio jama april 10 11

After punishing the Solomon Islands,  a now-category 5 ITA assaults the Western Pacific and bears down on Australia.  To my friends in Australia, I will be thinking of all of you and your country.  It seems when Mother Nature is swirling bad storms, she often kicks with a strong earthquake as well.  The moon is almost full, so everyone, beware!

(* I see that it downgraded to a category 3 but have not read any reports yet…

* – notices  also show that Nicaragua shook Central America, and there’s a tsunami watch from the Solomon Islands quake.  Goodness, Mother Nature, you’ve been busy, so please sit back and rest for a long while!)

View of Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

View of Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

When I ask people (in Manabi Ecuador) about El Nino of 1997/8, they often add, yes, and a really bad earthquake hit Bahia de Caraquez.

For the past month, I have kept one weather eye on the “Kelvin Wave” – a pocket of warm (hot?) water that’s perculating west of Ecuador. The weather gurus are comparing this year’s charts with the ones from 1997 and ’98 when El Nino focused his wrath on Ecuador and Peru. Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Careful Study


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Detail: Magnificent Frigates - Acrylic

Detail: Magnificent Frigates – Acrylic

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Albert Einstein

This week finds me working on a nine-foot wide painting to be used as a mural on a restaurant wall.  The owner showed me several photos of picturesque palm-lined beaches with tropical water in the background.  I suggested that we dress up the view of the local landscape which is equally as beautiful as the images he provided.  (A week later I questioned my decision, as the seascape required accuracy – or risk every “local” pointing out the mistakes!) Continue reading


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