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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“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

Wonder Warriors


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Remember those Q-tip arrowheads from last week? They are much more believable this week!  Comparing the images, you can probably spot many subtle changes.

There were many Timeouts for Art this past week.  This post, however, addresses the concept of “Warrior.”

Ecuador —   “I have a confession to make,” I said to my friends, “I did not give that little doll to a child in Jama.  I kept it.”

My two friends looked at me and waited for the rest of the story.

It represents the challenges we’ve faced over the years, especially the most-recent one.  It will always connect me back to that day.”

“That day” started when I took the 7-hour bus to Quito to meet three friends.   One would be leaving the country – hopefully with one of her precious little dogs if all of the hurdles could be cleared at the airport.   Continue reading

“All the Music and the Women”


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“…Sweepin’ the floors, open up the doors
Yeah – turn on the lights, getting ready for the night …” – Rodeo Clowns by Jack Johnson

Fernando Cevallos – juggling tasks for opening night.

Jama Ecuador – Grand re-opening of Kahlua Discoteque – July 15, 2017

Heartwarming; it was absolutely heartwarming to witness so many people helping Fernando Cevallos Sabando prepare for the grand opening of Kahlua K 7.8.  Equally heartwarming was seeing those same workers dashing home to clean up, change into evening attire and return to celebrate the many months of hard work.  Everyone hoped that the community would be equally thrilled to stop by and show off their dancing skills!

Fernando asked if I would take some photos to help record this happy event; hopefully the following pictorial will transport you to Kahlua via the magic of cyberspace.   Pick up a paintbrush or help carry the heavy items upstairs, and your cover charge is free!  Pack your work clothes and your party clothes and prepare for a festive evening!

Don’t be bashful; step inside and join us!  It’s ladies’ night – no cover for you gals who like to dance! Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Kahlua 7.8!


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Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’   Source: Lao Tzu   —

Thanks TWICE to Eddie Two Hawks for two inspirational quotes in a row!

The owners of the cabanas probably think I am sleeping, but in fact, I’m following the above advice to write today’s Timeout Post. After selecting, “Publish” I’ll return to the project.

Project?  What project?

Ladies and Gentlemen; step inside!

Fernando Cevallos Sabando and his assistant Gatito work on the upstairs DJ section of Kahlua 7.8.

Jama Ecuador    “Leeee-sah!” Fernando quietly called from outside my cabana door.  “Do you have the key?” 

Approaching the 8 A.M. work hour, Fernando needed the key to open the gates to Kahlua 7.8, a discotheque he is bringing out of hibernation.  The disco was always called, “Kahlua,” but the 7.8 links all comrades who experienced last year’s earthquake.

I opened the door, smiled and replied, “It’s hanging on the hot-water spigot on the water machine.’  

“Oh!” He chuckled; the first person in the outdoor kitchen usually turns on the hot water option for tea or coffee…  With his always-present smile, he added, “Excuse me – now go back to sleep!”

Fernando at work at Kahlua 7.8

Five hours earlier under a stunning Carl-Sagan sky, I drove into the hostal parking lot just before the roosters announced the approaching dawn.  Before retreating to my cabana,  I pondered the best place to leave the key.

I had last seen Fernando the night before at his brother’s Palo Santo Cafe.   We failed to discuss that detail when he handed me the key and said, “We are finished for the night.  The lights are set up for you.  Paint as long as you’d like.”

Perhaps the locals need a vibrant social spot for jazzing them out of their phone daze!

With a mischievous grin I replied, “You’re giving me the keys?  And I have all night to paint?  Oh my, you might be in for a shock when you show up for work in the morning!” Continue reading

Spanish 101 – Please Pronounce “Santa Ana”


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Santa Ana, Manabi Province, Ecuador – The maps and online information spell this small city’s name with two words.  Last week at high noon in the very-busy city of Portoviejo when I asked directions for Santa Ana, the locals asked back, “Donde?”

I repeated as clearly as possible, “Santa. Ana.”

You won’t find Santa Ana on this tourism map…

“Arrrrrrriba Rio Portoviejo,” I described with hands and body English illustrating ‘up the Portoviejo River.’

“Oh!” one nice guard outside a bank smiled, “Santana!” and then walked me to the street, pointed left, told me to drive two blocks, take another left, then drive ‘muy largo’ —a long distance and —

A bus might have been the better choice!

I made an unspoken decision to drive that far and stop again to ask for directions. Continue reading

Where Am I?


With sudden alertness, Celeste snapped out of her dream, though she did not remember going to sleep. She opened her eyes and stared at the built-in bookcase near the bed.
“I don’t have a bookcase…” – from scribblings

I’ve never seen this view or this glass-topped table for two…

There’s a magical arch sculpted through a red-hibiscus hedge…. Continue reading

“…To be Sure of Tomorrow’s Tomorrow…”


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Enrique Males shares his concerns for Mother Earth via musical & theater presentations.

“…Don’t they know that there’s something going on?
What they’re harming with their indecision
But who will be left standing when I’m gone?
There’ll be nothing left but a vision

It’s too easy to turn a blind eye to the light
It’s too easy to bow your head and pray

But there are some times
When you should try to find your voice
This is one voice that you must find today..”

– Lyrics from Above & Beyond’s  song, ‘Miracle,” featured at the end of this post.

This song touches my heart in many ways.  There are times when prayer alone isn’t enough; we have to become proactive, to learn to find our voice – to speak up, especially to speak up for those who have no voice – like our planet…  There’s a July 10th deadline approaching for feedback about some of the USA’s National Monuments.

Just like adding a few cents to a piggy bank, our voice doesn’t seem like much, but when combined with a much-larger pool, our comments make important contributions.

Here’s one friend who has no problem finding her voice.  Follow Rangewriter’s example:  Throwing a Bomb at the Heart of a Nation.

Speak up and personalize your concerns here… Monuments for All

and here:    Continue reading

All’s OK – Re: Coastal Earthquakes



June 30 – 2017 Jama Ecuador –   You might see where several earthquakes rattled Ecuador’s Coastal area today, and several hit very close to Jama.   One 6.0 rattled buildings and shook the landscape, which prompted many to bolt for the streets.     Another milder one followed about ten minutes later.

All’s fine in Jama; another small quake just gave a subtle reminder that Mother Earth continues to flex her joints.

A dance is presently in progress across town.  Perhaps the subtle quake was not a quake at all, but the vibrations from a foot-stomping ground-shaking fiesta!

Last night’s San Pedro-San Pablo fiesta

If a future quake should take out the power or internet, don’t worry; I’m in a bamboo hostal and surrounded with kind sweet friends!

Thanks, Debbie, for your concerns!

More info:  Quake report from ElDiario – Manabi Online Newspaper

Old Fashioned Reading


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Before the Inti Raymi-San Pedro parade – Cayambe Ecuador

“Haven’t seen people reading newspapers like they used to,” Amy stated in a recent post.  – The World is a Book  

The above image was taken the week before she published two photos of people reading in public areas.  The comment thread supports that reading ‘hard copy’ is a vanishing art.

In contrast, here’s an image from last night’s San Pedro-San Pablo event on the Pacific Coast.

Jama Ecuador – Waiting for Showtime!

Continue reading

Touch the Sky!


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Cayambe Ecuador – From one side of the country to the other and halfway back again, I’ve been in transit a lot and online a little. On June 21, I reached Cayambe Ecuador after dark and decided to stay in the city instead of my normal stopover at Hacienda Guachala.

Map from Flor de Valle “Ofelia’ bus terminal-Quito.

This alignment of choices placed me square in the middle of a June Solstice event, where the locals still honor Pachamama, known to others as our dear Mother Earth.

This event is part of a month-long celebration called the Fiestas de San Pedro* y del Sol, which bridges the Catholic religion with the ancient Indigenous customs.  –  *This year’s festivities will continue until July 8, but the San Pedro customs are observed throughout the country, sometimes for several more months.  On June 28, I will be attending Jama’s on the coast.

San Pedro/Inti Raymi

Hostal Cayambe, between the main square and Cayambe’s most-famous Bizcochos cafe.

The night manager of Hostal Cayambe told me of a ‘children’s parade’ that would start at nine in the morning. Her description was quite modest, and the extremely-colorful parade lasted several hours! Continue reading

Going, Going, Gone!


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Jama Ecuador –  Each week oversees the repair or slow destruction of earthquake-damaged buildings in the area.  A few buildings worthy of saving now have stronger spines and will preside over the newbies.  Some city blocks are almost empty, and one adjusts to seeing open skies where two-story buildings once stood. Some might see an empty lot, but many ‘ghost buildings’ still reside in the memories of many.

Before the earthquake: Once upon a time sun-loving plants welcomed visitors to the central park.

The old park in the center of town was razed, and a new ‘historic’ one will replace it.  Less than two blocks away, a second much-larger park will have areas for strolling, sitting, exercise, skateboards, as well as providing public bathrooms and a little sandwich shop.   Progress throughout town is slow, and the incoming and outgoing streets serve as dump sites for construction materials like gravel or sand or are littered with debris waiting to be hauled to a landfill.

One friend pointed to a well-built two-story house that appeared to have few structural problems.   “See that little house in the back?”  She pointed and then added, “They live there because they are too scared to live in the big house.”   Continue reading

Wish Man & 21 Wishes


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ceibo P1300995

I wish… I could climb that tree!

Ecuador –  A search for lupine images took me back to a post, Twenty-One Wishes, which I wrote last year while helping friends in Mindo’s cloud forest.    The title referred to the 21 shooting stars that blessed my pre-dawn hours in August.    Seeing the post allowed me to reflect on images – from the handsome Black-Striped Sparrow to the lupines near Chimborazo, Ecuador’s highest peak and to the memorial for my dear friend Marta.  I also noted the comments, which were unanswered but greatly appreciated during that time.

Thanks to all of you who faithfully followed those stories during that 15-month period – especially when the earthquake hit – and I was offline most of that time.  I apologize again for causing great worry when your queries went unanswered, until I was able to send a smoke signal that I was hundreds of kilometers from the epicenter.   Manabi Earthquake -First Report

What burned strongest today when I pondered the post and the word ‘Wish,’ was a song by Trevor Hall called Wish Man.

Enjoy the story he tells before singing the song, and ponder, ‘What’s your wish?”

“Down by the bayou,
Down by the bayou, I saw
Good things inside you
Good things inside you, they call
Into my memories of old,
Tell me what you know!
I saw a man there,
I saw a man and sat down
I shook his hand there
I shook his hand,
he laughed loud
And put a question to my heart
A question, oh, so sharp”

I marveled at his story, as he could have ignored the man when asked, “Hey Wish Man, what’s your wish?’ – but he didn’t.  He stopped and gave the man respect, which prompted a profound interaction – one that inspired a great song. Continue reading

WordPress Email Subscriptions


As the Pink Floyd song goes, “Is anybody OUT THERE?”  :))

Recently there have been glitches in the WordPress Notification system;   just-published posts land in the WordPress ‘Reader’ but they oftentimes don’t reach the email subscribers.     It seems to be a hit or miss option…

The Reader works well for at-a-glance updates, but that option often fails to load when the internet is slow.  I rarely use the reader, especially now that posts are condensed to postage-stamp glimpses.    I subscribe by email to bloggers, and I am especially respectful to those who take the time to read- as well as comment – on my posts.  They represent real people in my network of friends.  It’s nice to receive their posts via email, and then lob to their sites.

Every so often I’ll check when one goes silent, and sometimes there are new posts that never reached the inbox.  An expanded search finds them in the reader.  When I share that info with them, the replies are similar, “I thought that maybe no one liked the post,” or “That might explain why no one seems to read or comment on my posts any more.”

I subscribe to my own posts by email, and the most recent one, published about 15 hours ago, never reached the inbox.     Thanks, Gwen, for your comment, which confirmed that it reached at least one regular email subscriber!  Thanks, as well, for being such a loyal reader and cheerleader!

The ‘pingbacks’ are not reaching the inbox either, though the drop-down comment notification works well for those messages.

If you have a wordpress account, and your feedback seems low, it might be that people like me are not receiving the notifications!  I use Yahoo mail, btw, and this is the feedback from WordPress: “…In your case, Yahoo is intermittently rejecting mail sent to your address. Please contact them to work that out, since it’s likely affecting other mail as well. “

I’ve written Yahoo.  Place your bets; do you think that Yahoo will say the problem is with WordPress?

Stay tuned!


Timeout- Creative Incubation


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Incubating – Croaking Ground Dove

“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers this morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth, what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation….” — Joseph Campbell

Ecuador – Every so often someone offers a mirror, and we see ourselves through another’s eyes. That happened this week via Dennis Koenig aka Balsamean’s  blog.   Thank you again, Dennis, for an exceptionally-written ‘About the Artist’ review; I remain humbled.

Here’s his post


“Is that ME he’s talking about?”

His kind words inspired me to finish organizing words and images on an incubating website that showcases my art.

Fledgling’s first flight!

‘There was an ole artist who lived in a canoe… she had so many paintings, she didn’t know what to do!’    Pencil, Museum Studies, Flora, Fauna, Whimsical, Contemporary, Hand-painted Floors –  it will take a while to lasso the offspring and tweak their placement in this eclectic family tree of art!

The ‘Portfolio’ site starts HERE: SKETCHBOOK NOTES

This week’s art is still growing, but a new member of the family tree is ready for a pre-party viewing.  Meet “Abuelito” Grandfather Ceibo: Continue reading

Sometimes We Argue – The Muir Tree


In the late hours of the night we fought.   He began asserting his strong will several months ago.  After two clashes of wills, I distanced myself from him and hoped that time might help mend those unspoken words of conflict.

Waving a flag of peace and with a cautious approach, I focused on secondary parts of his character while trying to decide how to move forward without conflict.   I dislike conflict.

Nocturnal battles sometimes continued into the daylight hours.  Paint on, paint it back out, paint on, paint it out.

My hopes were to hide this deer’s face in the trunk, but the hybrid wanted its own voice.
Attempts to sneak the suggestion of ears into the limbs made it look like a fox. When viewed from across the room, the head looked like it was glued to the trunk.  No No No – and in the wee hours of the morning, that version was painted to fade into the trunk.    Better; but no, it needed details, perhaps working gnarls and knots into eyes, so one first saw the tree and later the deer.

No no no.. That didn’t work either.  It looked creepy…. Paint it back out…  strengthen the darks, highlight the brighter side.

It looked very false, back to the effect of a deer’s head glued to the tree.  Add more texture to  the trunk, starting with the hide and making the texture of the hair become the bark.

Yuck.  A furry tree.

“Put a dark wash over it.  tone it down.  work the texture of the tree on into the lower limbs/antlers..”

“It’s just an illustration,” I reasoned with myself.

The fox returned…  NO!  A fox is not the desired effect!

‘Why not?” it seemed to retort, “Why can’t this be a hybrid with a deer’s antlers and a fox’s face?” Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Imagination vs Scientific Seriousness


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“I spread out my map under a tree and made up my mind to go through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia to Florida, thence to Cuba, thence to some part of South America; but it will be only a hasty walk…

I wandered away on a glorious botanical and geological excursion, which has lasted nearly fifty years and is not yet completed, always happy and free, poor and rich, without thought of a diploma or of making a name, urged on and on through endless, inspiring Godful beauty.John Muir — The Story of My Boyhood and Youth (1913),

Like John Muir, I had a childhood dream,  but mine was to live in Argentina’s pastoral Pampas region, painted so lovely in my fifth-grade geography book.  I wanted to raise quarter horses and ride the pampas like those gaucho cowboys!

Those Mississippi-childhood dreams faded, though every so often I was wistful to live in the Neotropics, home to exotic botanical specimens I thirsted to see in person, where locals conveniently used large tropical leaves for impromptu umbrellas and where heliconias soared to the moon.

The road less traveled eventually delivered me to Central America and then Ecuador, places where the temperatures never dipped below freezing – unless I desired to visit the peaks of Chimborazo, Cotopaxi or other high-altitude landmarks that dot South America’s Andean spine.

There are times when I enjoy an eye-to-eye inspection of those exotic plants, and by capturing their likeness with pencil or water media, I discover minute details that otherwise might be missed. I always walk away with deeper respect for the plant and its support cast of companions.

Brugmansia leaf detail – acrylic

Detail: Brugmansia y Ginger – Acrylic

Wildflowers facing north! (Acrylic)

While painting this Thunbergia study, I noticed monarch caterpillars nibbling the leaves of a nearby milkweed!

There are times when I toss the scientific seriousness aside and allow the personality of the subject to emerge. These always bring great mischievous joy, as if freeing a personality that was trapped by a long-ago wicked spell.  Most people can easily spot the human spirit in Ecuador’s Ceibo trees Ceiba trichistandra.

Presently I’m in the tropical dry forest, where for half a year the climate is humid with bi-polar rainfall, depending on moods of the nearby Pacific waters.   The rainy season weans into the dry season, and many trees go into a dormant stage.

It is in this section of Ecuador’s coast where the gigantic Ceibo trees join forces with the much-smaller Palo Santo.   These two trees leave lasting imprints on those who bond with the flora and fauna of the area.

‘What is that unique sweet smell?’ people might ask.   Many times it’s the subtle aroma of a just-bruised branch of Palo Santo.    The dried ‘holy’ wood is burned to repel mosquitoes as well as to clean a room of heavy energies or bad spirits.

Palo Santo tree

Recently my friend Luchi and I began work on a painting of a Palo Santo tree, which grows along Ecuador’s Pacific coast.  He presented some photos he hoped to work with, and we inspected two trees growing in the hostal gardens.  I began the painting as he watched, and then he joined the painting session! Continue reading