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! .

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

Barbara, My Hummingbird Friend


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Hmmmm, do we recognize someone in this picture?!  Barb poses in Guayaquil's Malecon Gardens.

Hmmmm, do we recognize someone in this picture?! Barb poses in Guayaquil’s Malecon Gardens.

Barbara Seibel and I have been friends for about fourteen years.  Our paths crossed when I moved to Guanacaste Costa Rica, and we were instant friends.  Over the years I’ve marveled at her perpetual energy, and her ability to stay positive, and her gift of juggling many tasks at the same time while sometimes carrying on several conversations at once – and keeping up with all.  I’m a one-task-at-a-time kind of person, so I admire those traits that she juggles so well.

Barb at Punta Prieta, just up the coast from the town of Jama

Barb at Punta Prieta, just up the coast from the town of Jama (Ecuador)

Small and petite, she zips from task to task while smiling and chatting, though she requires lots of little meals to maintain that energy.  It’s easy to understand why I often call her Hummingbird!  We painted this design last year when she was helping with the bodega floor (magic carpet) and she sent the photo of it hanging in her home in Panama.

A Hummingbird for a Hummingbird!

A Hummingbird for a Hummingbird! – You might be seeing that little bird flitting here and there in the near future on WordPress!

My hummingbird friend has a serious side, and many of us know of the times when her life wasn’t sunshine and flowers and hummingbirds.  Someone once said to me, ‘I try to stay out of other people’s shadows, and I hope that they stay out of mine.”     I try to do the same by not finding fault with others or sharing stories that are painful or open old wounds that have (hopefully) healed.

P1840648 hummingbirds how many mindo

Barbara has chosen to go OUT with one of the most painful chapters of her life, and she speaks to women’s groups about that event.  She has recently uploaded this story to a new website, and I am pleased to share that address with all of you.

Buckle your seat belt; the story ain’t purdy.

You can find it here:

Her main site doesn’t have a comment section, so she and I reactivated a site she started a year ago when she was helping paint the Magic Carpet floor!

After listening to her story, drop her a line and welcome her to WordPress HERE:  forgiveness4healing.

Off she goes!  Parapente Barb in Cruzita Ecuador!

Off she goes! Parapente Barb in Cruzita Ecuador!

Thanks, also for supporting Arash’s petition that addresses the apathy/lack of compassion from insurance providers. I just checked the stats, and it’s down to 9 more signatures needed to reach the goal! Grrrrrrrracias! You’re the best, WordPress world! Z

“51 Needed” – Arash Recovery


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Don's first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean - Playa San Miguel, Costa Rica

Don’s first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean – Playa San Miguel, Costa Rica

At times when Life presents a hurdle or three in my path, instead of allowing a wave of self-pity was over me, I remind myself to be grateful that I am not facing that challenge from the vantage point of a wheelchair.    I am instantly upgraded to a more-positive attitude, and I spend the next few minutes counting my many many blessings.    I remember too well the day that my nephew’s world spun out of control, and that story can be found HERE.

Another hero to many is Arash Bayatmakou, whose determination to walk again is shared through his blog Arash Recovery.  This week he asked for help with a petition by stating:

“Too many paralyzed survivors of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) are abandoned by their insurance companies, not provided with their most basic needs (such as a wheelchair), and told to adapt to their physical limitations despite the possibility for improvement.

This has to change.”

His closing paragraph states, “To learn more about my story (just one of the 12,000 annual cases of SCI in the US), check out:

He’s only 51 signatures short!  Let’s play ball!   Please sign the petition HERE and help bring this need into the spotlight.

Thanks!  Z

Guaranda Bound via Misty Chimborazo


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(Near Volcano Chimborazo and Guaranda Ecuador)

P1580255 guaranda bound burro  fogMy friends Hank and Marie trusted my recommendations and veered off the beaten path to view the lovely snow-capped Volcano Chimborazo.  Beyond “Chimbo” was the quiet Andean city of Guaranda, our destination for the next few days.

Time slows while white-knuckle driving through dangerous cloud-shrouded mountain switchbacks.  I had traveled that road ten years earlier, and at times I wondered if I had pointed us in the wrong direction!   Continue reading

Little Wing, Butterflies and Zebras


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"...I know I saw it somewhere around here... There!  There you are!... "

“…I know I saw it somewhere around here… There! There you are!… “

Manabi Province/Ecuador -

Yesterday while pulling tender rank growth in the shady recesses of the gardens, I noted an abnormal splash of electric color near ground level.  Pausing for a closer look, this Zeebra allowed a psychedelic caterpillar to alter the next ten or so minutes of my day! Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Staying Young at Heart!


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“It takes a very long time to become young.”
― Pablo Picasso

This Timeout for Art project was simple and easy! The design, inspired by a pre-Columbian artifact, was painted on a pillow to bridge the painting on the wall (below) with the fabrics on the sofa and chair. Continue reading

Dodging Bullets


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April 1, 2014 - Did the sun know of the upcoming earthquake?

April 1, 2014 – Did the sun know of the upcoming earthquake?

At sunset yesterday, I noted that the tidal waters seemed a bit different – I could not articulate why, but there was something strange or surreal about the way the water was moving;  the birds used different flight patterns as well, and many more egrets and herons roosted in the mangroves; the pelicans were absent.  (That happened last year a few days before bad weather approached.)

After sunset, I came inside and followed a random ‘tweet……. tweet……………….. tweet…………….’ to its source and welcomed a frightened nomad for a B&B night at Casa Loca!  Last year I flunked Baby Bird Rescue, so this year I tried a different menu.

Look who came for dinner!  (I fed it aloe vera water and mashed aloe vera pulp!

Look who came for dinner! (I fed it aloe vera water and mashed aloe vera pulp!

Continue reading

She Moves On


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Silvana enjoys a last sunset at the riverhouse.

Silvana enjoys a last sunset at the riverhouse.

Today one of Jama’s bright young shining stars soars out of Ecuadorian airspace and lands in a most unpredictable spot for the next nine or so months of her life! If you started guessing right now, my money says that you won’t guess her destination! Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Living a Life


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I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living. (Robert Henri)
Reaching far back into childhood memories, I fondly recall a fishing moment with my sister Helen. Eight years older than I, she was the master fisherwoman, and I was the novice.  In order to secure the john boat against the outgoing current of an oxbow lake, she leaped from the bow of the boat to the muddy bank where the oxbow lake joined the Mighty Mississippi River. Instantly, her feet and lower legs vanished into the icky muddy bank.

She didn’t chuckle. She laughed. An uninhibited belly laugh emerged from her soul as she attempted to pull her feet from the muck!

Would you care to guess what this moment was about?

Would you care to guess what this moment was about?  (I helped him un-stick the electrical tape!)

I often find myself knee deep in surprise moments here in Ecuador, and following Helen’s example, I try to embrace those experiences. Trading the quiet backdrop of the river for a forlorn third-floor fixer-upper in the middle of town, I’ve been busy living a life while making a living this past week! Continue reading

Who Has The Right-of-Way?


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Wait!  Where's the road?!

Wait! Where’s the road?!

Manabi Province, Ecuador

This past weekend I visited the fishing village of  El Matal and found ample material for this week’s Photo Challenge of ‘STREET LIFE.’   On Saturday, the high tide washed across areas of the front street, where fishing boats trumped automobiles for use of the road!

P1960289 hibiscus post el matal y boats

P1960979  el matal end of march 2014

First-aid options for the vanishing beach are tied up in red tape.  Concerned locals watch as each wave brings the next spring tide a bit closer.    How much longer will there be room for boats and autos? Continue reading

Where Time Slows to an Easy Pace


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RAMON PAINTS P1970078 URBAN photos shoes bamboo ladder

Jama Ecuador (Manabi Province)
Only one street back from the center of town, Hostal Ciragan provides a quiet respite – unless there’s an all-night fiesta nearby!
RAMON PAINTS P1970070 HOSTAL CIRAGAN  bamboo ladder urban art yellow alamanda

Mid-morning on Saturday, I walked down the quiet street near Ciragan and pondered my good fortune to have my health, happiness, and many talents to keep me happy; I also felt lucky to have a large support system of people who care about me. I noted wild tobacco in bloom near the sidewalk, and then I noted always-smiling Ramon painting the sign to the hostal! Continue reading

Are You Ready for Earth Hour?

Playamart - Zeebra Designs:

Balancing a metal colander to double the usb internet reception on the laptop’s left, and using an external keyboard on the right, I’m nudging you to read who what when where and how to prepare for earth hour. Many of you have already seen that hour come and go, but we can start planning to make next year’s event a grand one!!

8:30 – 9:30 tonight – your local time – please: EXTINGUISH YOUR LIGHTS, turn off your chargers, and bask in the darkness. in honor of earth hour!
Spread the word!
yikes! it’s too slow for a reblog prompt!

Originally posted on Petchary's Blog:

Tomorrow – Saturday, March 29, 2014 – lights will go out across the globe from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., local time. It’s just over 17 hours away in New Zealand.

Earth Hour 2014.

Earth Hour 2014.

Earth Hour is about much more than “lights out.” It is a global movement that aims to create an inter-connected global community that will create opportunities to create a sustainable world (and face the challenges, too!) This year Spiderman has just zoomed in as Special Ambassador for Earth Hour.

How did Earth Hour get started? It started with one city – the beautiful city of Sydney. Then Communications Director with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia Andy Ridley convened a think tank in 2004 to discuss one simple action that would turn the spotlight on climate change. On March 31, 2007, over two million households and 2,000 businesses in Sydney turned their lights out for the inaugural Earth…

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End-of-Day Reflections


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P1960914 weird sunset rio jama

Manabi Province – Ecuador
As if to announce a change in our ‘rainy season’ drought, this sunset cast an eerie glow across the entire landscape.  Still muddy from early February rains, the river seemed to bounce the colors back into the sky.  That night the heavens soaked the parched earth with an inch of rainfall.  We received another inch of rain the following night.

A similar color returned to the end-of-day skies three days later.  My friends were draining the shrimp pond, and the surreal colors played well against the lone canoe.   Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Sharing Your World with Others


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P1920021 botanical

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. (Georgia O’Keeffe)

Inspired by my friends’ gardens in Mindo Ecuador, this evolving make-believe garden of acrylic paint has grown one flower at a time! Gingers and heliconias make excellent subject matter for botanical studies, but it’s been about ten years since I painted the lovely queen of the night.

A fringe benefit of working from life is the fragrance of the flowers!

A fringe benefit of working from life is the fragrance of the flowers!

Capturing the essence of the elegant datura (brugmansia) raised the bar and challenged me to transport the viewer into the mysteries of a nocturnal cloud-forest scene.  Datura, a bewitching queen of the evening,  opens at dusk and releases her intoxicating fragrance throughout the night.   A dangerous hallucinogen, it is used by shamans in ayahuasca ceremonies and is also abused by criminals to drug unsuspecting victims.  Devoted gardeners cultivate it for the beauty of its flowers and the delicate lemony aroma.

After working inside during the night, I worked briefly the new morning before the flowers closed.

After working inside during the night, I moved to the garden and painted briefly the next morning.

The daturas preside over shade loving plants, and each compliments the other.  Deep crimson king’s torch gingers dig their toes into the cool soil and stretch skyward toward the datura.  Flaming-orange heliconias squeeze between available gaps and fill in the middle ground.   At night, I sometimes wonder what creature might be lurking in the shadows only a few feet away!

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Idle, Neutral, Forward and Reverse!


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P1500457 happy horns

A few of my WordPress friends will relate to the following message that often appears at the top of an “Add New Post’ page:  “Connection lost. Saving has been disabled until you’re reconnected. We’re backing up this post in your browser, just in case.” 

Slow connections can test the patience of Job!   Sometimes the above message remains on the screen for hours as images upload or backfire with snitty red Error messages.  Last night’s “pink”  images took three hours to upload, and I worked on Thursday’s Timeout for Art in another window while battling with the uploads.     Emails loaded slowly, comment and like options failed to load.  Notification stars blinked in the upper right corner, yet the drop-down box revealed a white field.

Although I had typed several hundred words, the Timeout for Art/Save material was still idling with a 31 word count from hours before!

This beauty parades through Jama (Ecuador)

The headlights work; I wonder if the clutch and brakes are dependable!   Slow internet is like an ancient vehicle!

Comments in moderation arrive in the inbox, and the final jump to approval rolls to a dead end!   Other comments that I attempt to answer often swirl for a minute or two before either leaping to the proper place, or they vanish – poof! – or I can sometimes hit the ‘back’ button and return to my comment, let the page load again, then send it a second, third,fourth, and hopefully it reaches its destination!

Today as I watch my comments swirl in neutral space before they sail into a dead zone, I reflect on the time spent trying to move forward.  It’s like having a road-weary vehicle that’s lost its transmission fluid or gets stuck in neutral!   The blank screen reminds me of the odometer stuck on zero!  Instead of raising the hood and searching for solutions, I place the USB modem in a stainless steel bowl or metal colander, and the speed usually doubles…  juggling that with an external keyboard while trying to keep the homing device on the cell tower is a balancing act,  but it’s still too slow in daylight hours.

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A Bouquet of Pink


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P1950962 for KATHY  pink flamingo

Almost twenty years ago, a friend sneaked this flamingo into my gardens in Natchez, Mississippi. Kathy’s calling card moves with me, and it still triggers a smile. Presently it watches over a young ceibo tree that was rescued from the blade of an excavator.

P1950962 pink flamingo for kathy

The pink flamingo proudly watches over this assortment of flowers in honor of Ailsa’s travel theme, PINK!
P1750556 saritas hibiscus pink

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Timeout for Art: Timeout for Equinox!



P1960726 march 20 2014 equinox

Maracuya fruit marks high noon on the equator – March 20, 20140 equinox

“There are times when we stop, we sit still. We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper.”  James Carroll

There are also times that beg for a fast timeout for art;  the above image illustrates one minute’s prep in the kitchen, a dash outside to record the sun’s shadow at high noon, and a few minutes of doodling with a paint program for a hand-drawn smile!

Compare today’s shadow with the image from last June’s solstice, when the sun stretched as far north as the celestial laws permit! Continue reading



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Brilliant Sunset March 12 - Jama Central

Brilliant Sunset March 12 – Jama Central

Could this March 12 sunset have been an omen for an unusual upcoming day?

March 13 began with an early-morning walk to town…  I spotted the first Peruvian Meadowlark for the year, then stopped and admired a smooth-billed ani.  The black and white stilts, herons, ibis and egrets are perennial bonuses!

Some days the walk is muddy; other days it's dry and dusty.  There are always interesting fora and fauna waiting to be discovered!

Some days the walk is muddy; other days it’s dry and dusty. There are always interesting fora and fauna waiting to be discovered!

Grabbing a drink and banana bread on the run, I hopped in a collectivo pickup bound for El Matal….

P1960289 hibiscus post el matal y boats

After a brief check at El Matal, where Project Sandbag is underway, I returned to Jama for lunch and Timout for Art post then home to resume work on the painting…
But wait! The sound of a helicopter veered me off course, and to the airstrip I went! Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Aim High!


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2012 Watercolor by Lisa Brunetti

2009 Watercolor by Lisa Brunetti

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

P1920043 botanical

Datura-Ginger-Heliconia from Mindo Cloud Forest (Ecuador) Acrylic detal

There are times when, with sensitivity, I instruct my students, “Always stop before you think you are finished.”   Sometimes we can overwork a painting, and in search of precision, we lose the spontaneity and freshness.  It becomes overworked and heavy.

There are other times when I nudge my students to stick with the work a bit longer.  I remind them, “The difference in an amateur and a professional, is that the professional takes it a few steps more and puts in a few more hours…’

P1920046 lllli

This painting held its own with the background left stark white. The colors sing against the white background.  Shadows could be added, and it would fool the eye, as it was already fooling mine!   My friend Xavier often walks into the studio and says, “I can never tell what’s painted and what’s real!”  and when this painting was flat on the magic-carpet floor, I often forgot that it was not part of the floor!

When a painting is 35 inches by 48, it’s taking a few more weeks to finish! After several moments of self doubt, I  ‘soiled’ the white background with a medium value wash of dark blues and purples and greens.  I knew there was no option to return to the original white background!!!  I continued adding layers of paint… Continue reading


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