An Artist’s Eyes Never Rest!



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“All artists are a little bit crazy!”   “Artists are different.”

Over the years, I’ve chuckled when someone looked at  my whimsical works and noted the difference in our personalities.

Yes, artists are programmed differently, and most of us rejoice that every waking moment is a gift!  Whether soaking in a sun-drenched street scene or admiring an alignment of  overhead pelicans or noting subtle color differences in a landscape, an artist’s eyes never rest!

When living in Costa Rica, I lived immersed in nature and marveled at the beauty that surrounded me.  I was also intrigued that most of the handmade products I bought were made in Ecuador.  Hammocks, pottery, linens, masks – Ecuador, Ecuador, Ecuador.   From my first exploratory visit,  Ecuador stole my heart!  I now divide my time between Ecuador and Central America, and I look forward to exploring more of South America.

Although you cannot step inside my studio from your vantage point, this site will give you a glimpse into the life of the zeebra.  Hopefully you’ll emerge with a lighter heart!

Thanks for stopping by!  Z

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Various Shades of Green

A walk in the rain; where’s the Gray Hawk?

“Like to do your work as much as a dog likes to gnaw a bone and go at it with equal interest and exclusion of everything else.” – Robert Henri, The Artist’s Spirit

(Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador) Reaching a stopping point, I washed the pigment from the brush in hand and decided to stop for the night. Emerging from a session of painting is a lot like awakening from a deep sleep. I am foggy, though this particular night I remembered the sound of rain – at times intense – but my attention to the painting process had been greater.

The petite Green Thorntail now awaits a final session…

“I wonder what time it is?” I pondered as I eyed my painting and then critiqued the one I’d worked on earlier in the night. “— 10:00 PM? — Midnight?” The night before I stopped painting at one minute before midnight. ” — Could it be as late as 1:00 or even 2:00?-“

Usually my guesses are pretty close, but this night I had lost all concepts of time. I stepped toward the kitchen and squinted at the clock.
“4:00 AM.”

This was one of three that demanded my attention; this one was finished at 4:00 AM.

I chuckled and pondered staying awake for another hour until the roosters announced the start of the day; don’t worry – the need for sleep trumped the soon-awakening day.

(I slept until almost noon!)

As I write, the cicadas join the end-of-day rhythms, which include the melancholy sobs of the Common Potoo. The Becards, now ferrying a supply of insects to the nearby nest, share their joys via their own happy melodies. With a strong and clear catlike ‘Wee-ew,’ an Ecuadorian Thrush punctuates the serenade. A far-away truck throttles down one of the many switchbacks on the gravel road that somewhat circles the reservoir. The precious Peruvian Pygmy Own adds its own sweetness to the live-stream audio; even when not in sight, its message states, “Don’t forget about us!” In another hour, the evening will be almost silent, and that silence will most likely seduce me back to the drawing table, where I will begin a new painting. Continue reading

Not Ready to Climb the Highest Peaks?


Mighty Chimborazo

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way! ” ( Dr. Seuss)

Ecuador – Mark your calendars for February 16, 2018, the date two intrepid women kick off a mountain-climbing/fund-raising journey along Ecuador’s mountains and glacier-topped peaks.  (I think I might want to toast my toes on a nearby hearth, drink hot chocolate and watch via webcam!)   For more information about Nicole Morse and Marelise Bardenhorst, visit Liz Hardman’s Nature on the Edge post: “An Invitation”

P1580373 chimbo thru binoculars
(I will be off line when this post is published, but thanks in advance for being part of their cheering squad! Check out some of Liz’s amazing wildlife photography while you’re on her website.)

“Are you a Vaquero?”


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Jama Ecuador – once upon a time before ‘the earthquake.’

“A man is getting old when he walks around a puddle instead of through it.” -R. C. Ferguson

Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador –  With great pleasure I bring updates on the nesting Becards!  The rainy season has arrived, so my footware of choice is much like the ones pictured above.  This past week I met a new neighbor who lives a few kilometers away; Nancy looked at my boots and asked, “Are you a vaquero?”  (A rancher/cowboy/cowgirl)

I laughed and explained that I’m an artist.   The locals have been curious about the gringa that stands on the roadside and gapes skyward.  Some stop and inquire, and most appear interested to learn about the little black bird and its ‘canela’ mate.  I explain in my butchered Spanish that the Slaty Becard only lives in their area of Ecuador and a small part of Peru – and that it’s approaching extinction – yet one pair is nesting, and I point to the nest.

Photo taken Jan 31, 2018

This couple lives on the other side of the reservoir, but they seemed very interested in the little bird and its story.

Nursing an ‘over-doer’s backache,’ I’ve shifted my activities down to ‘first gear,’ though I feel no pain while walking and watching birds.  The arrival of the rainy season has presented its own challenges, and I’m seasoned enough to navigate those mud boots in extra-slow 4WD mode.

The gravel road had a thick layer of sediment, which turned to oozy slippery mud after the first life-giving rains arrived.   Within a week, the landscape transformed from dull greens and browns to an explosion of variants of green.  It also kicked off a nesting frenzy, and the area songbirds burst into melodies of happiness.

Shhhh! Cacique, Hornero and Becard nests overhead; Barbets and Trogons to the right; Motmot straight ahead and to the right!

The Whooping Motmot on a branch of Yuca-ratón (Gliricidia sepium)

Many birds favor this thick area of vegetation; almost daily one can watch the handsome Orange-crowned Barbets forage in total harmony with other feathered members of the neighborhood.  One day while walking back from the Becard’s nest, I heard a familiar faint ‘tweEEEET’ overhead.   Wow!  Straight up, and very near the Scarlet-rumped Caciques’ nest was a second pair of nesting Becards Continue reading

The Becard Couple Sends Thanks!

P1690585 MALE BECARD near nest

Which is it? The male One-coled Becard or the endangered Slaty Becard?

Poza Honda/Manabi/Ecuador – Wow! Thanks everyone for the great feedback on the post about the Becards! ‘Cinnamon Becard’ has been ruled out, since the male finally showed up for nest-building duty!   He’s been working for the past two days, and is probably wondering where the paparazzi human is today…

Busted again! The macadamia-eating squirrel!

Yes, I will be happy to take any of you on a birding walk! Or a birding-sketching walk! There’s even a house next door that’s used for tourism – three rooms/two floors and two kitchens! The rooms are $30 per person.  I’ll ask the owner if he might have a ‘Birding Package’  or a ‘Birding/Coffee’ package, as they grow coffee and cacao/chocolate – as well as moringa and papaya.  (I don’t think that the squirrel will share the macadamias!)

A series of photos plus a video caught a home invasion/inspection of the Becard’s nest, but the cowbird moved on within seconds.  The Becards returned several minutes later – do you think they could tell that someone had been tampering with their construction?

“Yikes! I shouldn’t have to lock the door!”

Company will arrive – perhaps in the next hour – to help watch the nest.. I am SO out of my league when it comes to scientifically observing the nest – a second set of eyes will be very helpful.

Jan 13 – good light but no birds….

For any of you interested in what’s happening in Ecuador, I am way overdue in pointing you to Sara Coppler’s Latitude Living, a weekly summary with links to articles written about Ecuador.   There are always topics of interest, from culinary to the arts and of course politics. LATITUDE LIVING Thank you, Sara, for including so many of my posts.

Name that Woodpecker!

Time to pick up a few items at the store and prepare for my assistant!

Thanks again!

In Search of the Endangered Slaty Becard – (and finding so much more!)

P1630072 dec 23 slaty becard

(Photo taken from the kitchen window: – Slaty or One-colored Becard?  The male Slaty Becard has subtle whitish touches along the edges of its wings. The best way for clarification is by voice/song..)

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” — John Muir

P1640571 dec 31 nesting becard

A nesting becard, but which one?

Pachyramphus spodiurus (Slaty Becard) – From the IUCN RED LIST: “… This species qualifies as Endangered as it has a very small and severely fragmented range, which is declining rapidly owing to ongoing habitat loss. Although it may show some tolerance of degraded habitat, the species appears to be genuinely rare and to be undergoing population decline.

Poza Honda/Manabi/Ecuador – With a sense of mysterious expectation, I left on a brisk walk to check on the Becard nest.   It’s located very high in a treetop, and photos taken against the bright sky are very disappointing. Any photo, however, is better than none when trying to confirm that an endangered bird is nesting in the neighborhood!

P1640621 female becard dec 31 walk

Female Becard – Slaty or One-colored?

According to Roger Ahlman of eBird, “…If one gray and one brown then definitely Slaty. If two brown then Cinnamon. And of course the song is different. Try to nail that and then input as many breeding details as possible including pictures in eBird even if it should turn out to be Cinnamon Becard.”


A lovely morning walk with the birds!

The first photo of the day captured the progress of the Scarlet Rumped Cacique’s nest, which pulls the branch of bamboo closer and closer to the road.

P1680255 cacique nest.jpg

Yesterday the Buff-rumped Warblers guarded the pond, but today all was quiet.
Just around the bend are four ‘tunnel’ holes in the hillside, and I’ve been wondering, ‘Whooping Motmot or one of the resident Kingfishers?’  This past week the owner stopped and posed for a photo!

P1670097 ringed kingfisher by tunnel

The kingfisher wasn’t home today…

P1680282 becard nest

Next door to the kingfisher’s quarters was the Becard’s nest; the entire area, quite active 24 hours ago, seemed to be taking a morning siesta – or maybe they were having a fiesta elsewhere! With mostly-blue skies overhead, I headed for the next lookout point for a good image of ‘The Poza.’


View to the West/Northwest. In the distance you can see the dam, which serves as the bridge to reach this side of the lake. Today the water-hyacinths have allowed a lovely view, though some days the reservoir is clogged with the aquatic pest.


The white feather arrow nudged me to go this way!

P1680278 white arrow go this way
The Calabash trees mark ‘Chachalaca Curve,’ which gives a view of the next switchback, home to the Rufous-headed Chacalacas and the empty nest of the Grey Hawk. The hawk always acknowledges my presence with a loud warning, ‘This is MY territory!’


P1680687 chachalaca curve

Three groups of Chachalacas provided backup soundtrack; many people might find this intrusive, but their loud raucous squawking makes me smile! One seems to scream, ‘A-donde esTA?’ and the other replies, “ACA!”  — Here’s a sample, recorded on this outing: Continue reading

Inward Reflections and Retrospections


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Costa Rica aerial image from 2012 – View of Playas San Miguel, Bejuco, Corazalito and Islita.

“TO go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson – from Nature

Today a friend shared news of a New-Year’s Day airline commuter crash in Costa Rica. The Corazalito airstrip was near where I once lived, and there are many great memories of that unique little welcome center, complete with thatched-roof ‘reception shack’ with original art on its facade. I’ve experienced those turbulent winds that often announce the change of the seasons, winds that grasp a pilot’s attention as well as the passengers’ attentions.   Although I did not know any of the 12 people who died this past week, the news makes me reflect on the shattered lives of the families and loved ones – while reminding us that we only have this moment.

That news put me in a deeper reflective mood than normal, one that prompted this poor attempt to explain what’s been percolating in my psyche over the past few months.

(You have the right to excuse yourself from this reading room; those who choose to hang with me, I hope that the following makes sense…)
.. Continue reading

About those Tropical Fruits!


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CarambolaAverrhoa carambola

Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador – A row of Carambola (Starfruit) trees lines one side of the house where I live, and a bumper crop has just reached maturity.  Admiring the sunlight on the yellow-orange fruits, I pondered taking a photo but decided it would be boring – even though the tree almost glowed with color.

I reasoned, “It will just be a pretty image you’ll never use,” and returned to my task of applying new colors to a sun-faded straw bird.

Just starting to paint the weary old bird, I remembered to take a photo!

The Carambola trees start at the left of the image. The straw bird, however, would like to know if you like its new colors!

Timeout for consultations about its belly-paint colors! Suggestions are encouraged!

Several days later …. Wading through the photos taken from December 23rd – 26th, I decided that one of the creatures of the ever-changing cast must have read my mind and decided to spread the word: Continue reading

Christmas Red!


The landscape needs no improvement for festive holiday colors!

P1370132 double hibiscus
P1580127 heliconia
P1610862 red morning glory


P1610467 ARACARI IN 3rd tree feb 17 912 am

P1610469 ARACARI IN 3rd tree feb 17 912 am
P1470772 ecuadorian trogon sept 17 7 am poza honda

P1610527 YELLOW RUMPED CACIQUE dec 17 9 30 am

How about ‘Christmas Yellow’ for those who don’t see red or green very well?!!!

P1610677 7 30 dec 18 squirrel and balsa pod small

‘How about ‘Christmas White’ for those who enjoy tasty holiday treats?’ (Kapok from a Balsa-tree pod.)

The final image takes us back to the start…

P1620317 nativity scene

My neighbors focus on the true meaning of Christmas!

Merry Christmas to All!

A Can of Paint and a Kilo of Nails

P1450775 15 minutes away ayacucho park

Ayacucho Ecuador – While visiting with my friend Jody via email, I mentioned a stop at the hardware store after I finished at the cyber shop. With Christmas being only a few days away, I smiled and thought, “Dear Santa, Would you please bring me a quart of high-quality white paint and a kilo of nails?!!!”

That thought triggered a memory from another Christmas when I was living in Costa Rica. Marie’s daughter and granddaughters were visiting, and I planned to stop in and say ‘Hi” to them on Christmas morning. I suspected that the oldest granddaughter might ask what Santa brought me, so I first went to the little hardware store and bought a much-needed item – a hammer!

zoe y lisa one good friend

From 2012 – Quiet early-morning visit w/Zoe

As predicted, Sweet Zoe greeted me and asked what Santa brought me.
“A hammer!” I exclaimed.
Her face fell. ‘Oh.”

I explained that someone must have needed my old one more than I, as it had been stolen, and I use a hammer often. I was very happy to have a new one!
Now I try to brand my hammers, so if they happen to walk away, they will hopefully find their way back to Z’s workshop!
P1630103 hammer y projectsP1630105 hammer w paint

Will Santa be bringing you anything that most people would consider unusual?!

Just when I thought that ‘All I could want is that bag of paint and nails,”  a lovely new friend left an amazing gift post…  Morning with Lisa Brunetti –  Thank you, Cheryl!

  •  Thank you – EVERYONE – for the lovely comments over the past few weeks;  yesterday the battery died on the computer just as I published the Cause and Effect, and today I’m about to dash to a church communion service for the youth of the area…  Will be back online most likely on Tuesday…   Happy Holidays!

Cause and Effect

post P1560381 vasquez parade
“…We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” – Herman Melville

P1340791 outskirts of santa ana

Approaching the town of Santa Ana….

Santa Ana-Manabi Province – Ecuador – Several days ago I witnessed a subtle-but-noteworthy interaction that illustrates Melville’s statement. The three people involved will never know how their actions affected me:

Four days before Christmas and half an hour from home, I dashed into a store to buy a few essentials and hoped there would be a special cashier for shoppers with ten items or less.

The store was not crowded, and I quickly retrieved the items then waited in the checkout line behind a middle-aged couple. I did not notice the gangly pre-teen lad until words were whispered, and he dashed back to the aisles and returned with a plastic soccer ball. His sparkling blue eyes illustrated pure joy, and his smile seemed to brighten the entire store! His close-cropped hair showcased his eyes, while well-defined dark brows offset a sprinkling of freckles that peppered his ivory skin.

The cashier scanned the ball, but there was no data; they nodded, and the young man bolted to the store a second time. I’m not sure if the adults were his parents or grandparents, but the love that ebbed between the three of them was obvious. While Tall Young Lad was sprinting the aisles, I mentioned his captivating eyes and his sweet soul, and I predicted that he had a very special future. He returned with a different ball and presented it to the cashier. The scan worked, and the six-dollar ball was placed in the hands of an exceptionally-thrilled young man. I needed no photo to capture the joy on his face; it’s burned in my memory!

A six-dollar ball.

Sometimes less is so much more.


The following images show some of the children participating in a nearby parade.  Can you spot my precious neighbors? !

post P1560121 parade poza honda little boy

You’ve not met this young man, but he recognized me before I did him!

post P1370240 boy clearning water hyacinths

There he is in normal attire –  trying to help the adults clear the invasive water hyacinths! – Let’s go back to the parade!


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I hope that this story and images left a smile in your heart. Hang on to that smile, and if you have the opportunity, buy a youngster a six-dollar ball and pass along the smile!


P1570870 nov 25 morning squirrel
“Howdy and Happy Holidays” from a generic restaurant in the city of Portoviejo!      (The squirrel prefers its holiday feasts at home in Poza Honda!)   Much-needed rain is falling outside, and I’m taking a timeout to say “Hi” before making the hour drive home – and offline again.

Good news – in a few months the internet problems should be solved, and if so – who knows, perhaps we’ll put a webcam for live views of the squirrel and other residents in the neighborhood!

P1600109 brown wood rail dec 4 dawn

Shopping for breakfast… – Dawn finds the Brown Wood Rail on an early-morning shopping spree!

P1570712 nov 24 squirrel

Look who’s raiding the banana feeder!

P1600285 dragonfy

While photographing this dragonfly from the window, I noted a second one a few feet away:

P1600288 2 dragonflies

Hmmmm; sometimes it’s a good practice to view the images… as this one had interesting features…

P1600302 closer look dragonfly orange stripes and big teeth

Grandmother, what big eyes you have.. and what big teeth you have! “The better to munch the holiday feast, my dear!”

More outside the window than inside, I kept trying for a better image of the striped dragonfly.. and then noted a new forager only a few feet away.  Barely breathing, I tweaked the camera in the other direction and managed to get several good photos…..

P1600331 squirrel

Raiding the Star-fruit tree!

Tis the season for holiday feasting! Happy Holidays to all!

P1580247 squirrel

Aha! A baby squirrel! Well, I suppose it’s OK for the parent to raid the feeder! (Note to self: Buy lots more bananas!)



Channeling da Vinci – Timeout for Art


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45. – “The painter should be solitary, and take note of what he sees and
reason with himself, making a choice of the more excellent details of
the character of any object he sees; he should be like unto the mirror,
which takes the colours of the objects it reflects. And this proceeding will seem to him to be a second nature.” – Leonardi da Vinci  Thoughts on Art and Life – Translator/Maurice Baring via

Manabi Province- Ecuador – The past few weeks have been physically demanding as I’ve worked on renewing my passport and getting it ‘in hand’ (10 more years – yes!) and also finished the move from Casa Loca.   Since the Dengue/chikungunya illness, my body needs more attentive time for recovering from these trips – as well as unpacking and resuming projects.  Of course it could also be that I am not as young as I once was, and it’s part of the cycle of growing older!

My new home offers an amazing immersion in nature – with wrap-around windows with tree-top views like this:

Yellow-rumped Cacique

Scarlet-rumped Cacique

Look who raids the feeder!

First to feed at dawn and the last to feed at dusk… Whooping Motmot

The Slaty Becards are listed as Endangered, but they are the little starlets at Casa Poza Honda. (female)

Male Slaty Becard – “Howdy!”

Great Antshrike

Staining frames, painting ‘mats’ – there are always tasks to fill each day.

There are always tasks at hand, so every day or so I take a timeout and walk the very-short distance to a little roadside pond.  Sitting there, I quickly merge with nature and leave all thoughts behind… I do not think of the past or of tasks in the future.  The surroundings bestow me with an acute attention to what’s in front of me – and behind me – and overhead!

Rufous-headed Chachalaca

The Chachalacas often lure me away from the house with their raucous calls that sometimes last for hours!   There at the pond I often illustrate Leonardo’s approach (see above quote) for observing nature.  I sit on one of two rocks and observe the subtle changes from day to day.    Not only is my body recharging its batteries, but I am also engaging in a task that Leonardo describes as essential to the seriousness of an artist’s work.  It’s also essential to the health of my soul!

What WAS that flash of red – and blue – and yellow?

The lovely Ecuadorian Trogon, attired in bold colors as well as a fashionable circle of red eyeliner!

Do you see two birds?

The Ecuadorian Trogon and the Whooping Motmot provide eye-candy rewards for my quiet disconnect at the pond.  They are two of a revolving cast of unique birds that visit this pond.

Detail of Motmot’s tail feathers – Photo taken from a more-convenient ‘perch’ from the house….

One can work from photos and capture a strong likeness to the birds, but when one studies the birds in their natural surroundings, it’s easier to capture the true essence.  This is true for any slice of nature… only through hours of observation will one grasp the nuances of each subject.

There are nuggets of discovery everywhere, even underfoot.

Recently, through the gift of the online site, I downloaded and enjoyed reading Leonardo da Vinci’s “Thoughts on Art and Life” — it was as if I had been channeling his advice during my visits to the nearby pond!   Here are more of Leonardo’s words paired with images from the little ‘healing pond’ at Casa Poza Honda. Continue reading

The Art of Books


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A well-designed book is a 3-D work of art.  Jude Thompson, a multi-talented WP friend, not only writes but also illustrates her very-original line of books.      This paperback, The Sleigh Riders, looks like a great option for young readers on anyone’s Christmas list.  Here’s a peek via Amazon:


On her blog, she shared some of the challenges of designing her books; here’s an example for designing the cover for   A Red Waterproof Jacket.  

More soon!  Z


About those Spirals…


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Nicolas critiques the energy of the swirl…

Inspired by an artifact in Casa del Alabado/Quito Ecuador

Creative Ops with Corn – Feed the Birds!

“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.” -Hermann Hesse

The spiral design is one we’ve all drawn or doodled at one time or another.  When I share with others the joy of drawing, we often start with drawing ‘tornadoes’ – a repetitive round and round and round type motion that helps us adjust to the pencil as well as slowing down our thoughts in an almost-hypnotic approach.   After going around and round countless times, it’s almost effortless to then – with the same light touch –  draw an ellipse.

Many times I find myself drawing spirals in that same easy-going style; not thinking of anything, I draw those flowing lines that spiral from outside to in – or inside to out. It’s like a form of meditation – no thought involved, just relaxed and soothing lines, a bit like watching a ballet or tapping into the natural flow of music.  Sometimes a second set of lines wraps inside the other.  There are times when my mood or life is less relaxed, and the fluid movements are replaced by geometric grids and cross hatching, as if my internal computer is analyzing every pixel while searching for the ones that need attention!  Continue reading

“With My Own Two Hands”

“I can change the world, with my own two hands
Make a better place, with my own two hands
Make a kinder place, oh with my, oh with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands
I can make peace on earth, with my own two hands
And I can clean up the earth, oh with my own two hands
And I can reach out to you, with my own two hands
With my own, with my own two hands
Oh, with my own, oh with my own two hands
I’m gonna make it a brighter place, (With my own)
I’m gonna make it a safer place, (With my own)
I’m gonna help the human race, (With my own)
(With my own two hands)”
   from: With My Own Two Hands –  Ben Harper

Mother and daughter – Quiet moment

Poza Honda Ecuador –  Meet my very kind and talented neighbors via this pictorial!  There are many stories yet very little internet time, so here’s a ‘tickler’ of images to pair with Ben Harper’s song.

We’ll start in Melissa’s home, where she invited her neighbors ‘for lunch.’  Not until the birthday cake appeared did I realize it was her birthday!

Young neighbors Valentina and Daniela have a bit of fun celebrating Melissa’s birthday.

Melissa demonstrates how they steam/sear the banana leaves before making the ‘tongas.’

Continue reading

This Symphony Called ‘Earth’

Have you ever gazed at a picturesque image, sighed wistfully and dreamed of stepping into that scene? When I see this photo taken from my home, I realize how lucky I am to be free to step into that image – or just open the window and merge with the outdoors.

On the Day of the Dead, I watched the backyard scene while taking a break. For several minutes there was an absence of sound, an absence of wind/subtle breezes – as if time had stopped; even the sunlight was absent on that near-perfect (but cloudy) day. It was as if I were staring at an image – not the real scene, and the awareness seemed surreal. I wondered what it would be like to step into an image yet get no response – as if walking behind the curtain on a life-sized stage.

Actors, take your places….

Continue reading

A Token Orange for Halloween


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A few days ago after a leisurely ‘Birding Walk,’ I noticed several citrus trees that were loaded with small mandarin oranges.   I asked my neighbors why no one was picking them.

P1370056 caretakers house flowers


“They’re too sour,” Melissa said with a dramatic twist of her face; “Nobody likes them.”

“Seriously?”  I marveled, “May I go pick some?  I also would like to get a higher view of the trees where I saw a mystery bird.

P1530104 oranges owl in background limbs

‘Whoo’s Watching?”

P1530097 there is the owl

There’s that sneaky little owl!

The mystery bird was absent, but the Peruvian Pygmy Owl watched from overhead.

The cafe, cacao and citrus area offers a great view of the houses below.   Moringa grows up here, as well as down near the house!

P1530110 mandarinas



There were several ‘mandarina’ trees with the tiny little oranges.  I sampled one, which was almost like eating an extra sour Lifesaver’s mandarin candy!

P1530119 citrus blossoms

Nearby another tree was in full flower.

P1530126 mandarinas

My imagination went a bit crazy as I pondered turning the mandarinas into little Jack-O-Lanterns!

Continue reading

Are Artists & Poets Crazy?!!



“Going back in time at least as far as Plato there have been those who insisted that poets, and artists generally, are mad as hatters. Plato thought they were “inspired” and the Platonic dialogues are full of exchanges between Socrates and assorted poets and artists who are unable to explain to Socrates what exactly it is they do and what it is they claim to know. “ – Hugh Curtler

Well, you see, or maybe you don’t, because I cannot really articulate exactly what it is that I do or do not do – it’s more like asking why a cat suddenly tweaks its attention to an unseen entity two feet to its right – as it leaps skyward and moves laterally three feet to its left – it’s a spacial shift of inspiration that strikes when least expected, Continue reading



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“You’ll have a lot more respect for a bird after you try making a nest.” – Cynthia Lewis

The tropical-foliage fabric (sheets) inspired a new project: curtains for the guest bedroom!  The botanical painting in progress paired well with the fabric…

But those black and white sheets did not belong in the same picture!

So…. Continue reading

Now You See It; Now You Don’t


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“Often, we try to repair broken things in such a way as to conceal the repair and make it “good as new.” But the tea masters understood that by repairing the broken bowl with the distinct beauty of radiant gold, they could create an alternative to “good as new” and instead employ a “better than new” aesthetic. They understood that a conspicuous, artful repair actually adds value. Because after mending, the bowl’s unique fault lines were transformed into little rivers of gold that post repair were even more special because the bowl could then resemble nothing but itself.” – Teresita Fernandez

Panama City-PANAMA –   Like a stepchild that it is not, an impromptu project at Barb’s condo in Panama has been waiting in the queue of stories to share.   After receiving another two-year nonresident visa to work in the arts, I was free to leave Ecuador without a lot of red tape to return.    I first visited Costa Rica for a week, took care of personal business, visited with friends, and then on the return trip to Ecuador, bailed out in Panama to spend a week with Barbara.

Barbara is my amazing and tireless friend who is selfless when it comes to helping others.  Here are images from some of her past visits, starting with when she helped create the Magic Carpet at Casa Loca.

Barb preps border with fresh layer of Agua Stop.

Barbara brushes white over white!

Inventory from PlayaMart

This is surely the most lovingly-painted bodega door in the country!

Postscript:  Last year’s earthquake altered that Casa Loca chapter.  But let’s move on….

Recycled cans!  Why is Barb chuckling as she sits on the bench?

When the ocean advanced, Barb witnessed the changes.

Barb and I enjoyed a 30-minute detour* through the “Women’s Art Exhibit” in Museo Bahia de Caraquez. – *before the earthquake…

Thanks to Efrain’s visit to the property, Barb was officially infected with the birding bug!

Barbara has helped me with SO MANY projects, and even if it were just a week, it was time to spend time with her.   “I’ll be bringing my paint brushes,” I stated, “so be thinking of a project.” Continue reading

Merging with Nature


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Peruvian Pygmy Owl – 4B Pencil & a Splash of Watercolor

The worse my drawings were, the more beautiful did the originals appear. – John James Audubon

The above sketch, left in Casa Poza Honda’s guest book, seemed appropriate since the owl dropped in to say, “Welcome!” on my first visit to what would become my new home.  This area has yet to be invaded by the snaking tentacles of telephone and broadband cables, which is a blessing, yet it has altered my ability to stay in touch with the outside world.

Pacific Pygmy Owl – Casa Posa Honda – Manabi Province

Since I take great comfort in complete immersion and solitude in nature, I have appreciated the opportunity to apply Thoreau’s attitude, ‘…to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach…’ 

Almost dark, view from the end of the trail…

This beautiful forest, a place to connect deeply with nature, supplies a perfect environment to study the flora and fauna.  As soon as I am settled, I hope to present what affects me strongest via drawings and studies.    That is not easily done when interacting with the world on a daily basis, so I am grateful to reclaim a life that gives me total focus without distractions.

Morning Squirrel

Almost every morning is spent in complete silence as I merge with the rhythms of the natural surroundings.  Before the daylight has wiped all traces of night from the scene, the Whooping Motmots can often be seen perched near the house.   By 6:15, the Brown Wood Rails tip-toe into the yard on their predictable paths.  Photos in such low light are always lacking, so I now watch quietly and appreciate their unique beauty.

After the first hour of absorbing, watching, listening, I usually venture outside and take an extremely-slow amble downhill.  Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Doing Your Own Thing


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We started with a forlorn counter top in need of cosmetic improvements.

“The joy in life comes from doing your own thing.” — Bob Ross

Near Playa San Miguel/Pueblo Nuevo de Bejuco – Costa Rica.

A counter top makeover quickly morphed into a totally-different style for a guest house outdoor-style kitchen.  The original was painted about six or seven years ago and had seen much use.  It deserved a renaissance treatment with fresh paint!  It was easy to spot the areas of heavy use, and we tossed around ideas for dodging similar problems in the future. Hank and Marie have decided to put this part of their property on the market, and the counter top was one of few things that needed attention.   See:A Little Monkey Told Me” for a sneak peek.

We enjoyed passing many tranquil hours – in the zen of painting in harmony and at times making room for others to help as well.   Thanks Patty and Wendy for your help!

With great teamwork, we nudged those painted pieces of ‘mosaic’ beneath the leaves – but the leaves looked lifeless…. ah, but shadows! Shadows would bring them to life!

Continue reading

Ambling Along —


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A frustrated Long-tailed Mockingbird – near Portoviejo, Ecuador

A very contented Toucan in Panama…

A deer in my friends’ yard in Costa Rica…

A very-rare Brown Wood Rail in the yard at the Poza Honda Ecuador house!

From : Amble “verb (used without object), ambled, ambling.
1.    to go at a slow, easy pace; stroll; saunter:
He ambled around the town.

2.   (of a horse) to go at a slow pace with the legs moving in lateral pairs and usually having a four-beat rhythm.
noun ambling gait.
4.a slow, easy walk or gentle pace.
5.a stroll.

Ambling along a shady road with Marie in Costa Rica….

“We ought to take outdoor walks, to refresh and raise our spirits by deep breathing in the open air.” — Seneca

Don’t forget to look up when walking! – Costa Rica

Variegated Squirrel in the park near the Municipality Office – Nandayure Costa Rica

In the past three weeks I’ve been from Ecuador to Costa Rica and back via a stopover in Panama to visit my friend Barb.   These were quick-but-very rewarding  visits that combined ‘business’ with pleasure.  Comparing the three countries, I definitely give Costa Rica and Panama the top scores for quality of internet!

Panama wins on shopping opportunities as well as the dramatic skyline contest…  Continue reading



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Balancing at the top of a palm tree…

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” -Haruki Murakami

Thinking of all of you affected by storms, fires, floods and earthquakes… There’s a lot of universal concern and empathy pouring out in your behalf.    Z

Photo taken from Barb’s condo window – Republic of Panama – Sept 06/2017

Timeout for Art – The Zen of Repetition


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Trompe o’leil – ” an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. Forced perspective is a comparable illusion in architecture. “

Years ago, my friend Xavier Cevallos walked into my studio and stated, “I can never tell what’s real and what’s painted! I’m always afraid I’m going to step on something.” We were looking at a painting in progress, which was on the hand-painted floor – a painted illusion on top of another illusion.

Just recently my friend Dady Quadrado expressed a statement that made me laugh – yet it also made me more sensitive to the subject matter that’s painted. She did not want to sit on a sofa in Cafe Palo Santo because I had painted a little gecko near the top of a big logo painted on the space behind the sofa.

She explained, “I know it’s paint, but it looks so real that I am scared that it might drop off and fall on me!”

“Counting prayers while fingering beads is a universal use. The idea behind this lies in the nature of repetition that soothes like a lullaby. It is calming and introspective.” – Manuela Dunn Mascetti

Presently I’m visiting friends in Costa Rica and volunteered to re-work a design that was painted on the guest-house kitchen counter.  They have decided to put part of their property on the market, and this guest house is part of that parcel.   The counter deserved some attention!

My plans were to ‘patch’ the stained and damaged areas, but while scrubbing, sanding, then filling in the lost areas with splotches of white paint, I was inspired with new ideas. One problem with the previous design was that it was unforgiving and showed all stains and wear.    There are now more options for protecting the surface, so the new work should last a very long time.

When Marie finished her other work and walked down to see how I was doing, I presented the “new idea. ”   She wondered if it would consume too much time, but we decided to do a sample. She watched as I mixed dumped red, blue and yellow to the white already in the container and eventually hit a color that matched the hues of the ceramic floor…

Silent Critics/ Acrylic – painted door panel converted to wall art. Other items await attention, but for now, the counter demanded the immediate attention…

Continue reading

I Care


“Anyone who has spent a few nights in a tent during a storm can tell you: The world doesn’t care all that much if you live or die. ”  Anthony Doerr

Pardon me, but I highly disagree with the above quote.  To those of you affected by Hurricane Harvey, I care.

Thinking of so many of you, not only those in the path, but those who have loved ones affected as well.


Eclipse, Inspiration & An Appreciative Mind


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A Bird Watcher’s Adventures in Tropical America – Alexander F. Skutch: 1977

Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador – Searching random books to confirm a bird identification, I appreciated Alexander Skutch’s description of the Streaked Flycatcher.

The mention of an eclipse seemed timely for today’s post:

“…The big Streaked Flycatcher, which closely resembles the Sulphur-bellied in plumage, likewise seeks a high, conspicuous station to deliver his soft, sweet, clear-toned kawe teedly wink, which he may repeat with scarcely a pause for nearly half an hour. Like the Eastern Wood-Pewee, he often sings after sunset in the same pleasant strain, and at times more briefly, in a more subdued voice, in full daylight. One March, a partial eclipse of the sun caused a Streaked Flycatcher to begin his crepuscular song soon after four o’clock in the afternoon.” Alexander F Skutch: 1977 A Bird Watcher’s Adventures in Tropical America “The Dawn Songs of Tropical Birds”

As what often happens when I reach for a favorite book, my attention veers to random samples of those beloved pages. In the epilogue, The Appreciative Mind, Skutch shares a story about sensory overload when migrating birds filled the Costa Rica forest with sights and sounds.

“As I stood enjoying the incomparable spectacle of tropical nature in its blithest mood, my spirit, soaring upward toward the high treetops and the birds that flitted through them, lived and felt with rare intensity. In this exalted state, I began to reflect upon the immensity, in space and in time, of the forces and processes to which I owed my presence here, the multiplicity of circumstances that contributed to my enjoyment. A star that can contain a million earths was sending its rays through ninety three million miles of space to illuminate the woodland for me….without prompting or aid by me, the trees that soared above me had been slowly growing for hundreds of years before I took them under my protection. Some of the birds around me had made long and perilous journeys in order, I could almost believe, to grace my woodland by their presence… – More than this, sunshine, trees, birds – the whole great spectacle of nature – would have meant no more to me than a stone or clod of earth had I not been prepared by a long evolution to perceive and respond to them…”

Continue reading

Leisbert Moreno – Ecuador’s 1st Professional Organista


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“There is nothing to playing the organ. You only have to hit the right notes at the right time and the instrument plays itself.” – Johann Sebastian Bach

POR LA ESPERANZA – ‘de un Pueblo que se levanta’
Catedral/Portoviejo Ecuador

18/08/2017 8:10 pm
Organista: Leisbert Moreno

Portoviejo – Manabi Province, Ecuador –   Letty Quadrado, a dear friend from Jama and Portoviejo exclaimed, “Lisa!  I live here, but you know more about where I live than I do! How did you know about this concert?”

With a smirk I replied, “A little inside information; the owner of the house I am renting is the person who has been repairing the organ for this concert!

I learned more over the past two days and stopped by the cathedral to meet the young maestro in person.  He is not only dedicated to his music, but he has charisma as well!

Organista Leisbert Moreno

So what inspired a young man from Portoviejo Ecuador to devote his life to the discipline and training to become an organista?  The catalyst happened when he was a teenager; Leisbert’s father Pasqual Moreno played the organ in Portoviejo.  When his father was sick and unable to play, Leisbert was the substitute!

With no prior experience for performing in the cathedral, Leisbert pulled the two doors inward for privacy and focused on his task!

The experience propelled him into new directions! Leisbert has been studying for three years in Roma/Rome and has also studied in Germany. He is the only professional ‘organista’ from Ecuador, and will be playing at 8:10 pm on Friday night/tonight in his home city of Portoviejo!

Friday night’s program – with Spanish titles – includes:
Leon Boellmann  – “Suite Gothique”
Paul Barras  – “Meditation Et. Cortege”
Johann Ludwig Krebs  – “Tocata y fuga en la Menor”
Eugene Gigout  – “Tocata en si Menor” Continue reading

Organ Concert – Portoviejo Cathedral – August 18th


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Portoviejo/Manabi Province, Ecuador —    Passing along information from Jurg, owner of Casa Posa Honda, who happens to also be the person who tunes the organ in Portoviejo’s Cathedral!

“Leisberth Organista”

“It will be the first time for an Ecuadorian organista to play in Portoviejo.” – Jürg Arnet

Organ Concert: 18th of August, 20.00 – Portoviejo – Manabi Province – Ecuador

“Catedral Jesús el Buen Pastor, Alajuela, Portoviejo”

Cathedral’s Website 

Cathedral’s Facebook

Cathedral Google Maps

I hope to update with more details around the 15th or 16th.

See you there?!


Subtle Nudges and Alignments


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“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”  -Paulo Coelho

Manabi Province, Ecuador –   Years ago when making the commuter flight from Quito in the Andes to Portoviejo on the Pacific coast, I often studied the landscape below.  After marveling at the beauty of Chimborazo poking through the clouds, I wondered about the lower elevations as the plane prepared to land.   A large body of water always intrigued me, and I assumed it was ‘never-never land’ – perhaps like the Darien Gap swamp between Panama and Colombia.

Or like a cypress swamp in the Southern USA….

A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

Several months ago, my friend Xiomara helped rekindled that interest when she mentioned she’d be working upriver from Portoviejo.  Deciding to close the chapter of ‘Casa Loca,’  it was time to move forward, and many places held my interest.  I had been combing the Province via Google maps in search of a quiet area with a good source of pure water – away from pollution and surrounded by natural forests.   I did not want to make a temporary move, and I suspected that patience would be rewarded.

Scouting via Google Maps, I was disenchanted – and shocked – at the continued deforestation.  Out of curiosity, I zoomed to the little hamlets where Xio would be working and was delighted to see that large body of water!     We coordinated meeting when she traveled to the area, and while she was working, I scouted around, loved the extremely-peaceful vibe, and returned for a second day of exploring the area.    The locals pointed me to the ‘Swiss cabanas’ which turned out to be so much more than simple structures! Continue reading

Shhhhh! The Birds Also Live Here


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Pacific Pygmy Owl – Casa Posa Honda/ owner’s garden – Manabi Province

“I think the most important quality in a birdwatcher is a willingness to stand quietly and see what comes. Our everyday lives obscure a truth about existence – that at the heart of everything there lies a stillness and a light.”
― Lynn Thomson, Birding with Yeats: A Mother’s Memoir

My new home offers a serene immersion in nature; the birds – many of them new to me – stop by often, as if to pay proper respect to the newcomer. This post shares some of those birds – one species, if the ID is correct, appears to be quite special!

Calling all birders! Is this an Orange-fronted Barbet?

The RED LIST states:
Population: This is a poorly known species and no population estimates are available. It is considered generally uncommon.

Trend Justification: A moderately rapid and on-going population decline is suspected owing to habitat loss.”
And here is its range map: EBIRD-Orange Fronted Barbet

If you like birds, then scroll on down and meet more of the feathered members of the neighborhood!

“The Neighborhood’ is pictured below:

With the truck loaded with large frames, paintings and rolled canvases, I stopped on the dam to photograph the ‘Reservoir Poza Honda.” “Home” is straight across, tucked near the base of the slope.

Home sweet home; this is the yen to Casa Loca, yet it also represents a total immersion in nature.   It provides a perfect setting for the next chapter.

La Casa

Look up…

Look down!

Look out the window:

6:30 am

“There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.” – Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion and Other Essays

There is an impressive buffer of natural and planted vegetation between the house and the lake.  Would you like to walk down to explore the grounds with me?  Perhaps we’ll see a few birds! Continue reading


Knock Knock, who’s there?

This post went out about an hour ago, and it’s on the reader but not in either of my email inboxes…


Pingbacks and ‘New Commments’ for first-time Moderation only show up in the little notification icon in the top right of the screen.  Is anyone else experiencing ongoing gitches?

Until the next online session, sometime tonight –


Visual Hiccups from the Past Month


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Ofelia Bus terminal – Quito Ecuador

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” – Henri Matisse

Casa Loca – Wildflowers – Rio Jama/

“Happiness, not in another place but this place… not for another hour, but this hour.” – Walt Whitman

Andrea – Playa El Matal – Ecuador

“Today: Soak in what’s real and what’s real is unhurried. The ground. The air. The exhale. The planted seed. The shift. The season.” – Victoria Erickson

  • Manabi Ecuador – “Poco a poco” – little by little, I have been weaning away from Casa Loca. Last year’s earthquake altered the lives of many, and my choices and opportunities have been more abundant than many of the locals’ options. With no sense of urgency, I allowed my own internal GPS system to guide me to a new place to call home.

About a month ago, after first scouting an area via Google Maps, I drove along various country roads, exploring with an artist’s curiosity. Great impromptu moments greeted me at each stop, and though I cherished the moments, I knew there was a jewel of a place waiting to be discovered.

This tiny community met almost every “wished for”criteria onmy list. but Life nudged me forward…

Yes, I am in the process of moving,  poco a poco, and I will spend most of this week moving the more difficult-to-transport items. I will not be online often, but will be writing offline to share more information about the new area I will call “Home.” I look forward to sharing the stories!

A pure and abundance source of water was part of that criteria…

Enjoy the random images taken in the past month.  I should be back online tonight. Continue reading

The Yin and the Yang of our Days


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Can you see Hotel Andino down there?

“In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself.”     -J. Krishnamurti

Quito Ecuador – This past week Miguel, owner of Hotel Andino, sent an email to warn me to expect ‘something different’ for my one-night stay.   When I arrived, Miguel explained that they were full with an out-of-town group of business people, but there was one option.  He seemed hesitant, and I said that I loved surprises –“… Show me the space!”

We went into the main part of the house, and I wondered where in the world an extra room could be, and then we stepped toward a petite door located beneath the staircase.    Like a child, I grinned and waited for Miguel to open the door. Continue reading