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

* (Click the sidebar  at the top left to receive updates in your inbox, or scroll to the bottom of this page.)

Timeout for Art: Fishin’ for Time

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Fishin' for Time

Fishin’ for Time – June 21, 2015

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.  I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is.  Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.” – Henry David Thoreau

(And what did you do to record the shadow at noon during the solstice?!)

The fishin’ cat was a gift from my son years ago, and it presently fishes over my kitchen sink.  It’s also posed for a portrait or two. Continue reading

Mindo Cloud Forest -Rio Cinto Botanicals

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Rio Cinto Ecuador

End of Day

End of day  – view from my friends’ front porch…

Subtle moods wash over the cloud forest from hour to hour.  She can be sunny and bright one minute, and mysterious and moody another.  Here is a token sample of specimen and native plants that decorate the landcape and gardens of my friends’ property in Mindo. Getting stronger every day, I’m hopeful to be visiting this lovely area in a few weeks and doing a few nature studies. Which ones do you think might inspire me?
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Tree Fern / Near Mindo Ecuador

Tree fern

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Ginger – Delicate to see,  hardy with the right weather conditions, and these beauties thrive here!

Dawn - Dec. 26, 2013 - Mindo Ecuador

Ahhhh, for sure I will paint these night-blooming angels trumpets, if they are blooming.

For more flowers and foliage, keep scrolling!

Continue reading

Dengue & Chikungunya – What I’ve Learned

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Croaking Ground Dove – Ecuador

(Note: This post addresses the side effects of dengue and chikungunya viruses and would probably bore anyone who is not facing a current or possible infection.  Those not interested have my blessings to cross this page off their screen now!)

Manabi Province – Ecuador

Most every day someone asks me about chikungunya and dengue fever, as the mosquito-born viruses sweep through warmer/tropical areas of the Americas.  Debbie, in Nicaragua is presently experiencing the fickle moods of what she suspects is chikungunya, yet it’s hard to get a firm diagnosis.  My friend Jody and I swapped stories today, and she is also baffled as we wonder, ‘Which symptoms are linked to dengue, and which are linked to chikungunya?”

“Did the skin on your feet peel?” she asked. Continue reading

Dengue’s Notorious Fever

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Sarah y Eloy help with the sunflower painting for their wash room.  June 2013

Sarah y Eloy help with the sunflower painting for their wash room. June 2013

My friend Sarah dropped off a care package last month when I was recovering from dengue. In that thoughtful assortment of goodies was a blister pack of pain relievers. “I’ll bet you’ve taken a lot of these,” she smiled.

Sarah is a nurse, and I squirmed a bit when I answered, “Actually, I haven’t taken anything for the pain.” I added, “If I take medicine for the pain, it will lower my fever, and I feel as if that fever is there to burn out the virus. If I lower the fever, the virus lingers in my body for a longer period of time…”

I also stated that I felt it my duty to keep my infectious disease ‘quarantined’ during the fever stage so that I did not infect other people or other areas. I knew that the clinic was a short distance away in case of an emergency. (After the fever passed and I was stronger, I visited the clinic.)

FIND THE RIGHT MOSQUITO

I would never advise others to avoid pain killers or fever medications, but fifteen years ago I took fever reducers and was sick for two weeks. This time the high fever lasted less than two days, though the evolution of this dengue was totally different from the last.  (There was also an added complication of the tag-along chikungunya virus that was hiding in the background.)

Little Miss Sunshine, my companion on the June Solstice 2013

I suspect there are as many people who believe in the power of a fever, as there are people who think it’s best to lower a high fever as soon as possible. Several reputable sites have published articles about the ‘benefits of fever:
Continue reading

Manta Galeria de Arte – Manta, Ecuador

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I am thrilled to pass along this information!  If you’d like Sharon’s email address, leave a comment, and I will pass it along to you. The gallery is located near the popular “Mama Rosa’s Restaurant” in the port city ofManta Ecuador. -Z

sharon manta gallery art logo

From Artist-Gallery Owner-Art Instructor/Teacher, Sharon Statema:

You and your friends are invited to

Manta Galeria de Arte
for our
Grand Opening Open House

Saturday, June 20, 2015

3 to 6 pm.

Stop in and take a look around. We have lots of artwork in all price ranges.
We look forward to seeing you,
Yours,
Sharon and Marlin

Phone: 0969 667 891, US # 360-371-2496

Timeout for Art: Extended Sick-Leave

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El Museo Bahia de Caraquez- Ecuador

“Okay, write that down,” Hermoine said to Ron, pushing his essay and a sheet covered in her own writing back to Ron, “and then copy out this conclusion that I’ve written for you.”

“Hermoine, you are honestly the most wonderful person I’ve ever met,” said Ron weakly, “and if I’m ever rude to you again –“

“– I’ll know you’re back to normal,” said Hermoine.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Study of Artifact – Watercolor – Museo Bahia de Caraquez-Ecuador

Sometimes ‘it’ is just not there, and until I have recovered from a ‘co-infection’ of dengue and chikungunya, even holding a pencil is difficult.  The fatigue continues as well.

Thumbing through a little notebook, I came across a sketch of an artifact that’s in the Jama Museum.  With paper and watercolors and pencils in hand this morning, I had hoped to spend an hour in the airconditioned museum and move forward with a more-seriuos study.  It’s just not going to happen – not until I am stronger!

Pencil sketch of artifact in Jama/Ecuador museum.

Pencil sketch of artifact in Jama/Ecuador museum.

Continue reading

Every Grain of Sand

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA “In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.” Rachael Carson El Matal Ecuador – June 6 – 11, 2015 The coastline along Playa El Matal continues to change daily.  This post will show images taken on June 9th and 11th, 2015.   Before seeing this week’s changes, let’s turn back time and take a peek at this beach as it was in June 2012. 0 P1530456 GOT PAINT

One of the prettiest posts painted in 2012 anchored the end of the road...

One of the prettiest posts painted in 2012 anchored the end of the road. near the Coco Beach entrance…

2012

2012

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Maestro painting the light post. June 2012

From 2012.. Coco Beach entrance ahead... (From post-painting competition)

From 2012.. Coco Beach entrance ahead… (From post-painting competition)

Let’s move forward to images from this week;  the image below shows the Coco Beach entrance at the end of the road:

Entrance to Coco Beach- June 8, 2015

Entrance to Coco Beach- June 8, 2015

Continue reading

Offense and Defense

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El Matal, Jama, Manabi, Ecuador

El Matal-Manabi Province- Ecuador

Once upon a time, a friend of mine gave me some advice that I carry with me every day. He said, “Lisa, remember to be on the offensive, so that you never find yourself in the defensive mode.” That advice from my Episcopalian priest-friend has been some of the best advice I’ve ever received.

I have watched my friends take a proactive role after Mother Ocean took her first big bites from El Matal 18 months ago. They researched, brought in engineers and specialists and selected the sand-bag approach based on the advice they were given.

From 2014:   One line of bags below ground level and a second half in and half out...

From 2014: One line of bags below ground level and a second half in and half out…

“The sand bags will buy you time to put a more long-term solution in place,” Engineer Daniel Santana suggested at a public meeting in March 2014.

A summary of those meetings and work done on the bags can be found HERE.

How well I remember the beauty of this beach.   Look at the image taken in June of 2012 during the post-painting competition…

From 2012.. Coco Beach entrance ahead... (From post-painting competition)

From 2012.. Coco Beach entrance ahead… (From post-painting competition)

 

Mother Ocean played a sadistic card this past weekend, and the people of El Matal do not appreciate her sense of humor. The critical window during the high tides passed, and when everyone assumed there would be two weeks of relief, she played her trump card.  Most of the following images were taken at the same spot as the image above.

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Looking ‘down’ the beach…

Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Muses of Inspiration and Realization

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Paddling Against the Current

‘Cesar’ Paddling Against the Current – Rio Jama – June 2015

“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form.    

It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
― Wendell Berry

Frigates practice touch-and-go aerobatics --- Thursday morning, June 5

Magnificent Frigates practice touch-and-go aerobatics — Thursday morning, June 4

Fatigue and sore joints linger as I slowly reclaim my normal life ‘after dengue.’   Painting presents some new challenges; one is an unpredictable shake that suddenly takes control of my hand and then vanishes just as quickly.  I ignore it and assume it will eventually grow bored and vanish.   The fatigue affects my ability to stick with the painting, and after an hour’s session, I usually stop and rest for another hour.   The birds provide excellent distraction for those commercial breaks.

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The watercolor study ‘Before Dengue” —

Painting this watercolor has been work.   It has also provided a necessary discipline for me to show up for work even if I feel like playing hooky.   I stare at the painting and nudge myself to move forward.   Losing electricity hasn’t helped, but I moved my work area to a window and cut fresh flowers for reference.

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The first few sessions were brief, and I realized that I was not as strong as I thought!

We were without power all day Saturday and most of Sunday. Building a bit more physical strength, I squeezed in several painting sessions and then slept for ten hours.  While painting on Sunday night, we lost power again;  that’s one way to stop progress on a painting! On Monday morning, I could not find the painting.  I eventually found it propped on a shelf, where I had critiqued it the night before by candle light. Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Art Makes Us See

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Petite Morning Glory w/watercolor in background…

“Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see.”
– Paul Klee

This vine grows wild in the nearby landscape and has exploded into bloom from the recent rains. I often arrange the cobalt-blue flowers in nosegays, which perch on shelves or near the kitchen sink and give me little smiles throughout the day.  Planning to add the petite blue morning glory’s likeness to the butterfly study, I admired the sinuous lines and decided that it deserved its own study!

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Watercolor

There are times, when my eye-hand-brain connection is so in sync, that using a pencil before painting would seem redundant. There are other times when that faint map of pencil simplifies the process and strengthens the end result.  After studying the lines of the trailing  vine, I began to paint without the aid of a pencil.

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Watercolor – Blue Morning Glory

Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Scientific Accuracy

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‘We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.’- Maya Angelou

The watercolor (above) patiently waited for three weeks while I waded through dengue-clouded sleep and dog-paddled back to the land of the living. Like trying to remember a dream, I now recall details of the illness that return in little snippets, “Oh, the exceptional pull of gravity on my hands and arms felt as if heavy chains kept them cemented to the mattress.”  I remember seeing my puffy face in the mirror and wondering, “Who are you?”  After the fever left, I walked with a touch of vertigo and often listed to the left like an injured fish swimming in circles.  I walked little, as my blood pressure fell if I stood too long, so returning to the bed with easy sleep was a gift.

The butterflies and flowers from a year ago

The butterflies and flowers from a year ago

At times I forced myself to sit up, take my temperature, pulse, drink more liquids, and then I collapsed back into the world of dreams. Oh, the places I went in that dream-packed sleep, and though my dreams I could fly! I could roam the world and other worlds and spend time with a new cast of people! On awakening, the vivid recall kept me entertained, and I rolled back after a brief commercial break and returned a the marathon of dreams.

I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man. ~Chuang Tzu

Two days ago I peered at the watercolor in limbo and pondered the wildflowers in bloom outside. They were at their peak a month ago, and they were now going to seed and would soon be gone for another year. I could rely on reference photos, but there’s nothing (for me) better than working from life. I retrieved some flowers, revived the dried watercolor palette and began painting. Continue reading

National Geographic’s Great Nature Project: May 15-May 25, 2015

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Sunday Social Hour

 The global snapshot of biodiversity is a specific window of time when we especially encourage people to get outside and share photos of their encounters with plants, animals, and fungi. This year, the global snapshot is happening over 11 days, from May 15 to 25, 2015. The goal is to document biodiversity all over the world during this time period.” (from: Great Nature Project FAQ)

Name that bird!

Name that bird!

Why shrimp-pond owners dislike egrets, herons and ibis!

All-you-can-eat shrimp buffet for egrets, herons and ibis!

It’s late at night, and I’m feeling better but am itching, a side effect from dengue fever. Slowly regaining my strength, I look forward to photographing the flora and fauna at Casa Loca and contributing to the Great Nature Project. This is a great opportunity to involve the younger generation and get them interested in their natural world.  The deadline is Monday; for more information, start here:

Pelican Cheering Section

Pelican Cheering Section

Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Remembering Mosquitoes

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Pencil drawing with Gold Metallic Color Effects…

“Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.”
Mark Twain

(I needed a chuckle and hope that the above quote gave you one as well!)

(Jama Ecuador)  Half of the month of May has passed, and I am just emerging from this mosquito-induced fog.   My friend Cesar complained of a tightness in his neck today, and later he mentioned an ache in his foot.  I remembered well the first arthritic aches, the ones that began a few days after I finished the mosaic mirror for the ladies’ room at Palo Santo.

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The mirror photographed best in the gardens!

Luchi’s mother (Nieve) helped with the task, and she later said, “When you asked if you could paint something, I thought you were just going to paint the mirror a different color!”  Nieve helped paint many layers of precise color that created the mosaic effect. Continue reading

“Dengue or Chikunguya?” An Epidemic and the Local Clinic

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(Jama, Ecuador)—“Dengue or Chikunguya?” — In the evolution of getting well from this mosquito-inflicted illness, I’ve visited the local clinic four times in the past two weeks.   Although I have used the ER room before, it has been a different experience this time.   First, the clinic was filled with people tormented with physical pain, and second was the extreme empathy the sick ones received from their loved ones as they waited to see the doctor.

This past weekend after a three-day respite, I faced new symptoms.  There was a low fever, and muscle pain replaced the bone and joint pain.  Weakness returned,  my blood pressure was low, and a painful rash dotted my chest.   On Sunday night I found no relief from the discomfort, and as I awakened for surely the 100th time, I sat on the edge of the bed and peered out into the darkness.  I thought of the people in the world who are fighting daily pain, and that my pain would soon be gone.  I thought of Rob Thomas’s song, Her Diamonds, which describes his love and empathy for his wife and her battle with autoimmune pain.   I planned to return to the clinic for another round of blood tests, but I did not realize I’d be witnessing many illustrations of “Her Diamonds.” Continue reading

The Force of a Tiny Insect

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"I'm not afraid of skeeters!"

“I’m not afraid of skeeters!”

(Jama Ecuador) – I remain humbled by a tiny insect.  How many of you have ever been resting comfortably until the hummming sound of a nearby mosquito suddenly went silent?   We wonder where it landed, and if it’s about to take a blood sample!   If there’s a mosquito-borne epidemic in your area, you’ll dart for the repellent!  Oh, I marvel at the power of a tiny mosquito!

As I entered the clinic yesterday, another friend was leaving.

“Dengue,” Patricia smiled.
Patricia works at the corner grocery store, and I wondered if her coworkers were sweating out the same illness.   There seem to be just as many people sick with dengue as they are with Chikungunya.

Most any person in town seems to enjoy saying this new word, Chikungunya.  (Repeat After Me: “Chee-Koon-Goon-Yah.”)

As for my recent illness, it’s not dengue, but it might be Chikungunya, though the doctor seemed surprised that I am now free of all symptoms.

“What medications are you taking?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I smiled.

She looked at me as if I’d just told her that I’d cut off my fingers to stop the pain. Continue reading

Timeout for Art: The Gift of Friendship

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P1850448 good morning smiles

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. – William A. Ward

(Ecuador) – Located on the outskirts of Jama, the petite community of ‘Verdum’ is barely noted by those who race to the beach near La Division or to return. The owners of the shrimp farms and their workers ebb and flow throughout the day, but Verdum is a sleepy little hiccup along the route.

I often stop at the little tienda when I walk to town, and if I am going home, that’s my ‘last stop’ to buy something cold to drink or pick up a few odds and ends for the kitchen. Partly hidden beneath an almendra tree, the inconspicuous wooden structure suggests a life of eclectic construction. Half of the tin-roofed building sits in the open, where a walk-up window receives all-day use; the other nestles beneath the almendra tree, where locals sometimes swap stories while sharing bottles of cold cerveza at the end of the day.

(Grandson is hiding!)

(Grandson Justin is hiding!)

What I like most are the salt-of-the-earth people who live here. If Zoila is shelling peas or beans, I smile and pull up a chair and happily reach for a handful of legumes as we discuss the weather or the dust or the mud or what color paint I am wearing. Cars and trucks zoom past, leaving a cloud of dust in their wake; the drivers rarely stop to buy anything from the tienda.

Shelling "Lima" beans here is like being back in a syrupy-slow Mississippi of my childhood!

Shelling “Lima” beans here is like being back in a syrupy slow-paced Mississippi of my childhood!

Zoila and her husband Marco have lived in Verdum about 40 years.  I asked her how they met, and she said (with a coyish smile) that he worked for her father on his farm in the mountains!  Marco now drives a mototaxi and delivers people and cargo throughout the day.  He often parks beneath the almendra and waits until someone calls for a driver.

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After receiving a call, Marco dashed away faster than I could retrieve my camera!

One day I presented an idea of painting the facade of their little tienda. Continue reading

“Find the Right Mosquito”*

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P6030254 STILT EGRET

“You look awful,” were his first words.

“Thanks.” Nate grabbed the coat and put it on.

“You’re skinny as a rail.”

“You wanna lose fifteen pounds, find the right mosquito.”

*-The Testament – John Grisham

The houses in this image share the same power 'grid.'  Can you spot Casa Loca?

The houses in this image share the same power ‘grid.’ Can you spot Casa Loca?

(Jama/Manabi/ Ecuador)    We lost power last night, first here in this 7-house circuit and later during the night, the entire area went black.   I’m placing my bets that power will be restored to all areas except this one. We seem to be the power company’s step children!

I am elated to announce that today I feel 100 percent well – yee-HA!

Until today, one would have thought I had anorexia, as all possible food options turned my stomach. At one this morning, when I found myself dicing a ripe plantain and simmering it in a bit of water with lemon and cinnamon, I thought, “You’re on your way back to wellness!”

I sat on the deck and peered out into the cloud-filtered moonscape and enjoyed my warm, comforting snack. The simmered plantains are a bit like having fruit cobbler filling without the pastry!

Can you tell that I’m better? I am still weak but can now stand for more than five minutes without feeing faint. I can go up and down the stairs without having to stop and sit. The worst part of the sickness was the extreme fatigue, as if strong G forces had me strapped in a prone position that seemed impossible to break. Just lifting my hands took extreme effort. A bonus was that the sleep was deep, intense and easy. I rolled out of a dream-filled sleep just long enough to take my temperature , check my pulse, drink my water and roll right back into more vivid dreams.

On Saturday I was aware of dangerous high waves that would be assaulting the Pacific Coast, and at times I heard the waves ripping upriver.   The deep sleep often trumped my will to look out the window, but several times I pulled free of the fog, retrieved my camera and caught a few unique moments.  (Photos won’t upload here.)    Before fainting, I dashed back to bed and into instant slumber.   The sleep was a gift, thank you dear dengue.

If this was dengue, it was the fastest surgical strike I’ve ever known.  As if driving along on cruise control and suddenly you have a blowout.   Wham!  After the fever peaked at 39.5, each day it was down one degree.  As the fever lowered, my symptoms also lessened.   I kept waiting for that other shoe to drop, but it never did, grrrrrrracias a-Dios.    The weakness had the most endurance of all symptoms, but that’s probably Nature making sure that one doesn’t try to spring back too fast.  It’s hard to believe that this time last week I felt 100-percent well with no clue of the approaching train wreck!

I will be going by the clinic sometime today to get my platelets checked and to report my dengue — or whatever it was — and look forward to taking it easy and getting a little stronger each day. “Poco a poco.”

Last night I found myself irritated by the sounds of the pumps and aerators on the shrimp farms.  I couldn’t sleep, which is why I cooked the plantains.   I chuckled and knew that I was getting better!!

“Yow!”

I think that sometimes we need to experience illness so that we can appreciate wellness.

Thank you all for your beautiful outpouring of love!
Love,
Lees/Z

Weak but Improving

Grrr! This has taken hours to post! I select ‘Publish’ and it rolls around and goes to a blank page.. if I hit the back button, it’s also a blank page. Here’s the fifth or maybe sixth attempt:(Hee-hee, because the ‘update post’ often loses my work, and the publish keeps going AWOL, I outsmarted it and scheduled it to be published six minutes from now!)

Just a quick postscript before I nod off to sleep (again!) –

It would be very insensitive of me to go to sleep without giving an update, as I don’t want anyone to lose sleep while worrying about me!
The day has gone well, and my temperature is lower, today staying around 38 instead of yesterday’s 39. The aching joints are not so bad now, and my grip is stronger than those first days when I could barely shake the thermometer or hold a drinking glass.

My gift for the day was a young egret fledgling – or perhaps an immature blue heron – that was inspecting the Casa Loca gardens at ground level. Not wearing my contact lenses, I could only detect its fuzzy juvenile appearance as it quickly darted for cover. Since my stamina is still horrid, I did not allow it to lead me astray. Perhaps tomorrow if I’m stronger I’ll do my own garden inspection and see if there’s a new squatter in the neighborhood!

Good night, everyone, and thank you so much for the outpouring of love! I should sleep all night with zero problems, and hope to awaken feeling much much stronger!
Siempre,
Z

Dengue Postscript

My dear friends; as I stated, I am usually unable to reply to comments but can email. Many friends have emailed, and I promised, most all want to do the same thing – come get me. I mentioned in the post that I had emailed Xavier and told him to stay away, but I didn’t add that I told him to keep it quiet or half of Jama would be coming to my rescue. Sometimes the quiet and serenity of one’s own home and bed is the best medicine. There are others on standby, and they know if I start feeling more serious complications, I will let them know. As the saying goes, I might be crazy but I’m not stupid!

I am very comfortable and am feeling pretty good considering that I have dengue. This case is much easier than the first. My temp is much lower, my pulse, which was up a bit one day, is now back to its 50 or so beats per minute.

Believe me, from year to year I keep up with dengue stats and the warnings. I wrote this so that others could understand what it’s like to have dengue. Don’t make me regret that I wrote this post! I am touched by your comments… I’d best publish this before the marines show up on my doorstep!

I love you all!
Z

The Dreaded Dengue

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It hurts only if I move.

On the first night, I rolled over in my sleep and was aware of a stiffness in a few of my fingers.
“Potatoes. I haven’t been eating lots of potatoes.  Why are my joints hurting?”

Years ago I figured out a trigger for arthritis-like pain in my hands; some people are sensitive to foods in the nightshade family, and eliminating potatoes from my diet eliminated the painful joints.

I flexed my fingers; one was especially sensitive, like an embedded and festering thorn had lodged beneath the skin. Could the many hours of holding an extra-large paint brush had caused this pain?

Never having problems going to sleep, I rolled over and quickly resumed my dreams.

My hands still hurt in the morning, and when I took my first step, my ankle protested, “Yow!” The other mocked the first. Uh-oh. I suspected that this bout with joint pain would not be as simple as eliminating potatoes from my diet. As I mentioned in the last post, I had spent time with a friend last week who came down with dengue.  Most likely the dreaded dengue virus had climbed aboard via a teeny-weeny mosquito, and if so, it would probably torment me for several weeks before giving up. Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Nature, the Great Listener

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Petite Residents of Palo Santo’s Gardens – 

“Lose yourself in nature and find peace.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Jama Ecuador –  This week’s work was painted in the serenity of the outdoors. The image below was started in the calm stillness of a late afternoon at Hostal Palo Santo, where I stayed this past Sunday night.  I worked until almost dark and was amused when two of the leaves nodded their heads back and forth as if to say, “We know you’re studying us and just wanted to say, ‘Thanks!’”   I acknowledged their subtle gestures, smiled and continued painting.  They resumed their poses as the silent communication between us remained strong.

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Acrylic – Silent Conversations

Working outdoors presents its problems.   The sun and heat dry the pigments a bit too fast, and the wind scatters papers or flips through pages of sketchbooks.   Large works, taped or clipped to panels, often attempt to take flight and soar away on strong breezes.  Foliage flutters in the wind, so keeping an eye on a moving target presents its own set of problems. Continue reading

Nepal Update: Mick Bromley-Wilderness Trekking

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Photo from Wilderness Trekking/Mick Bromley

My friend Mick Bromley of Wilderness Trekking specializes in treks to the Himalayas, and he often talks lovingly of Nepal.   I enjoy receiving his newsletter, The Dirty Sock, which is like having a visit with him in person. This past Sunday I was relieved to see a special edition titled: Nepal Earthquake Message.    I was glad to know that Mick was ok,  but he confirmed what many readers feared, “The epicenter of the earthquake appears to have been very close to the Tsum and Manaslu regions, where we have been trekking extensively over the past 5 years.” With his permission, here is that newsletter and a second update which arrived yesterday. Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Trading Gifts at Hotel Ciragan

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“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” ― Maya Angelou”

Ramon touches up the entrance...

Ramon touches up the entrance at Hotel Ciragan…

My dear friend, Gloria, who owns Hotel Ciragan, often refuses my money when I stay at her place in town. “You owe me nothing,” she smiles in her elegant style. “That’s OK,” I accept with a smile, “Two can play this game…”

Sometimes it's very easy to dress up a plain wall...

Sometimes it’s very easy to dress up a plain wall…

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The Other Shoe Dropped

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El Matal – Jama/Manabi/Ecuador

Limbo: “An uncertain situation that you cannot control and in which there is no progress or improvement” (Dictionary/Cambridge.org)

The spring tides usually stop at the height of this rock. (Southern rough-wing swallows in photo)

The spring tides usually stop at the height of this rock at Casa Loca. (Southern rough-wing swallows in photo)

Two nights ago, the sound of thundering waves triggered my concern for nearby El Matal; I did not sleep well and was dressed and outside at dawn.  The day before, Rio Jama seemed to creep higher than normal.

The rock was completely under water.

The rock was completely under water.

A view of the mouth of the river confirmed my suspicions – after a year of good behavior, Mother Ocean was throwing a tantrum.

April 22, 2015 - The mouth of Rio Jama

April 22, 2015 –  6 a.m. – Strong waves leaped across the sandbar at the mouth of Rio Jama

My friends’ father/grandfather, Senor Jose Nestor Cevallos, died three days ago at the age of 103; after the services yesterday, I reached El Matal just before sunset and high tide. Some locals stood in clusters and watched the thundering waves while others watched stoically from their properties. The mood was somber.
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A Fairy-Tale Wedding Reception (Hacienda Guachala)

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Ready to go to a fairy-tale reception?

Ready to go to a fairy-tale reception?

(Cayambe Ecuador) Climb aboard the wedding-party bus!  We’ll drive about three kilometers from the Mitad de Mundo site (of the wedding) to Hacienda Guachala, one of my favorite places in the Andes.

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Elvis leads the way.. Have any of you ever been to Hacienda Guachala?

An injection of humor for the BEST bus ride EVER!

An injection of humor contributes to the BEST bus ride EVER!

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Ahhh; I know where we are, and the entrance is a magical one!  Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present to you, Hacienda Guachala!

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Dr. Roberto Moreno di Donato – Manta, Ecuador

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ICEIBO Roberto Moreno Law Firm“LEEE-sah,” he would say, “Allow me to introduce to you a very special person..”

I credit Roberto Moreno for introducing me to many wonderful people here in Ecuador. Many of them are now dear friends.   He was a gifted net worker, and I sometimes said that he was in the wrong profession.  Instead of being an attorney, he would have been great in the tourism or PR fields.  He was always introducing like-minded people.

Friends helped work on 'Tres Manos" in the library conference area."

Rpberto’s friends  and clients helped work on ‘Tres Manos” in the library conference area.

My best memory of him was when I was working on a large painting for his office.  A new person was tending the front desk when an older man arrived and said that his wife had food poisoning and was in the hospital.  The gentleman had a hearing problem and could not understand what the new gal was saying.   Roberto had clients in his office, so I left the library/conference area, introduced myself to the gentleman and asked for details.   I told him that I would be sure that Roberto received his message, which I did.

For the rest of the day, I often worried about the stranger and his sick wife.   Because I was a guest of the Moreno’s, I worked late on the painting while Roberto worked late in his office.   When he finished, he stated, “Lisa.  I’d like to go check on the lady in the hospital.  Would you mind if we drove over there?”

I was so relieved, and through Roberto, I gleaned two new lovely friends.

View of Bahia de Caraquez  from San Vicente, Ecuador

View of Bahia de Caraquez from San Vicente, Ecuador

Roberto helped with another medical emergency when a person on a tour collapsed one morning at the hotel in San Vicente.   He coordinated an ambulance to take the lady to specialists in Guayaquil much sooner than through the public health procedures.  She had surgery for a brain aneurysm, so his help most likely saved her life. (She recovered and is doing quite well.)

If stories of his death are correct, I fear that Roberto was battling his own personal undertow.   I share this poem from a previous post:  The Undertow

THE UNDERTOW by Carrie B. Morgan

You hadn’t ought to blame a man fer things he hasn’t done,
For books he hasn’t written or fer fights he hasn’t won;
The waters may look placid on the surface all aroun’,
Yet there may be an undertow a-keepin’ of him down.

Since the days of Eve and Adam, when the fight of life began,
It ain’t been safe my bretheren, fer to lightly judge a man;
He may be trying faithful fer to make his life a go,
And yet his feet get tangled in the treacherous undertow.

He may not lack in learnin’ and he may not want for brains;
He may be always workin’ with the patientest of pains,
And yet go unrewarded, an’ my friends, how can we know
What weights he may have climbed to but fer the undertow?.

You’ve heard the Yankee story of the hen’s nest with a hole,
An’ how the hen kept layin’ eggs with all her might and soul,
Yet never got a settin; not a single egg I trow;
The hen was simply kickin’ ‘gainst a hidden undertow.

There’s holes in lots of hen’s nests, and you’ve got to peep below
To see the eggs a-rollin’ where they hadn’t ought to go.
Don’t blame a man fer failin’ to achieve a laurel crown
Until you’re sure the undertow ain’ draggin’ of him down.

(From Tony’s Scrap Book, 1940- 41 edition (Anthony Wons))

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I extend my deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of Dr. Roberto Moreno di Donato.   Z

A Canary Shouts, “The Sky is Falling!”

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Walden of the Tropics - photo copyright/Lisa Brunetti

My “Walden” of the Tropics – photo copyright/Lisa Brunetti

Before moving to Ecuador, I lived along a quiet stream in Costa Rica’s dry rain forest. Jaguars sometimes left their footprints in muddy areas to remind me not to venture out too far at night, and other exotic nocturnal animals allowed fleeting glimpses from time to time.  (Red-eyed Pacas and golden-eyed kinkajous)   Regal morpho butterflies surfed the invisible air currents above the cool waters of the stream while howler monkeys foraged and entertained me from the dense canopy overhead.

After a week of studying petroglyphs, I painted this 'headphone holder' coconut head and was surprised how it all but painted itself!

After a week of studying petroglyphs, I painted this ‘headphone holder’ coconut head and was surprised how it all but painted itself!

Quite at ease, this one often loiters very near where I worked.

Quite at ease, this howler often loitered where I worked.

Almost every day the howler monkeys meandered through the tree tops along a specific-yet-relaxed route which included a stop-and-gawk session at the studio.  Like watchdogs, they often slept in the treetops above the roof.   Some mornings they slipped away silently, and other mornings they roared and howled until I finally opened the door, stepped outside and returned their greeting: “Buenos dias!  Good morning!  Ummmph-ummmph-ummmph-ummmph…”  (Roaring upsets them;  quiet ‘ummmphs’ calm them.)

06 CR howlers MOTHER Y BABE

If one looks up, many times the howlers are quietly observing.

If one remembers to look up, many times the howlers are quietly observing.

They became quite territorial in my behalf and seemed to watch over me.    The ‘little ones’ taught me a few subtle nuances of their language, and I could often call them a bit too close for my comfort!

"Will You Teach Me To Speak English?"   Cultural Exchange - Costa Rica and then a surprise visit to another blog!

“Will You Teach Me To Speak English?” Cultural Exchange – Costa Rica and then a surprise visit to another blog!

While the adult warned, "Don't listen to that gringa loca!"

The adult warned, “Don’t listen to that gringa loca!”

How well I remember a quiet morning in Costa Rica when “my” troop of monkeys raced by without stopping.  “Hmmm,” I thought, “That was strange.  I wonder where they’re going.”   About half an hour later, they raced back in the other direction.  “Yes; that was very strange.”
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Timeout for Art – Flying Joyfully Through My Days

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Just beyond the courtyard area, hummingbirds feed on the extra-tall hibiscus bush at Sarah’s home.

Like the hummingbird sipping nectar from every flower, I fly joyfully through my days, seeing beauty in everything.
– Amethyst Wyldfyre

(Conocoto Ecuador)  Earlier this month, my friend Sarah mentioned that the hummingbirds did not come to the feeder, so she stopped using it. Between the Good Friday parade and Saturday’s wedding, another friend, Lynnda and I added a few creative colors in hopes of luring the hummers to the feeder. Continue reading

The Wedding on the Equator – Part Two

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Ecuador)   My friend Sarah invited me to stay in her home with her beautiful family and attend Jonathan and  Medlin’s wedding last Saturday, April 4, 2015.    The fact that the wedding was held on the line of the equator made it extra special. Wasn’t I the lucky one to be around such happy and beautiful people?!

Better late than never, this post follows last week’s A Wedding on the Line of the Equator.

*(Shhhhhh! Let’s stop the chit-chat;   we’d best sit down and enjoy the wedding!) (Me?  Sit?  Never!  I’ll take a few more photos!)

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“I think it’s Showtime!”

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Military Green?

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While taking photos of the ‘Good Friday’ crowd, I often loitered a bit too long in places and worried that I’d lose sight of my group.   During one of those ‘catch-up’ moments, I noted several policemen critiquing a military robot that switched positions every few minutes.  Trying to catch up with the group yet also take a photo of the men and the robot,  I didn’t pay much attention to the robot.  Until I focused on its face and realized it was a real person. Continue reading

Student Show and Away We Go!

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Of course I loved the zebra painting!

Of course I loved the zebra painting!

(Ecuador) Almost 200 people attended last night’s Student Exposition at Museo Bahia de Caraquez. Students of drawing, painting, computer, dance and drumming pooled their talents and put on a great show for their families and loved ones!

I still get a bit lost in the museum, which has many floors, starting at below-ground level.  The ground and second floor showcase an impressive collection of artifacts, and the ‘second floor” also has the director’s office, public bathrooms and a cute glassed artifact room not for public use.   Continue reading

Michelle’s Timeout from Work!

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Michelle travels with paper and ink pens….

She also plays polo.. and sings.. and plays the harp!

“The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it. ”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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(Museo Bahia de Caraquez) Tonight the students will step into the spotlight and shine as artists….

The devil’s been after me today; first, the power went off  just when video I was converting to MP4 was 90 percent finished…   The video marries several audio clips from the wedding with images of the bride and groom.  (Coming soon, power willing!)  An hour later – still no power, and it was time to dash to Bahia for tonight’s Student Exposition.

While working on this post, the “Add Media” refused to search for files and left me with few options.  A search for “Michelle” showed zero files – Ha – there are surely fifty images from the past month that feature my beautiful friend!

With perfect timing, sweet Michelle sent a link to a video that her friend uploaded today. Enjoy an impromptu “Timeout from Work” with Michelle and her friend/co-worker. Michelle, perhaps you can comment and explain what inspired this musical moment?

Time to dash to the museum!
Z

Reconciling Life at Sea Level with Life at 9,000-feet

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Bus Ride to Quito - ZZZZZZZZ - dawn awakens!

Bus Ride to Quito – ZZZZZZZZ – dawn awakens!

Last month a large landslide blocked the normal route between Quito and the hub city of Santo Domingo.  The bus detour adds about three hours to the ‘normal’ 7-hour ride between Quito and Jama where I live.   After an overnight stop in Santo Domingo, I reached the Pacific Coast late yesterday and happily checked in to Hostal Ciragan.  I all but collapsed with ‘bus fatigue.’

The Crazy Hubbub of Santo Domingo de los Colorados

The Crazy Hubbub of Santo Domingo de los Colorados

The Jama streets held puddles (lagoons?) of water at every corner, and I was pleased to know that I did not have to race home to water a thirsty garden.  Tapping into a healthy internet system was a second bonus for spending the evening in town.   I remembered what my Colorado friends had mentioned; its nice to get caught in a rain shower and not get cold!   After a few hours’ rest, I tipped out on the almost-deserted streets and enjoyed a quiet visit with my friends at Palo Santo Cafe.  No, I did not get cold; in fact, I jogged there and back and did not get sweaty either!  (My cough is much better!) Continue reading

A Wedding on the Line of the Equator!

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Several months ago, my friend, Jonathan Hall, invited me to attend his wedding and said that it would be at the Mitad del Mundo and Hacienda Guachala.

“Are you serious?” I replied, “That’s one of my favorite places in the country! I love Guachala!”

This past weekend, friends and I basked in the beauty of a unique wedding that we’ll never forget.  Equally memorable was the outpouring of love as we witnessed this beautiful event.  Because Jonathan has a travel agency and often works with tours, he provided a special bus for out-of-town guests. Our tour-director groom gave us several chuckles as we traveled from Quito to Cayambe.

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This post will show the prelude to the actual wedding.   Climb aboard and join us as we await the arrival of the bride!

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Flowers, flowers and more flowers… Why not, since this area of Ecuador produces a large percentage of the world s flowers!  (See:  Ecuador Trivia)

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Details, details!

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A Blurrrr of Smoke and Roses!

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Worthy of a place in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, Ecuador's answer to a fireworks' display ;  a Castillo!

Worthy of a place in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, this ‘Castillo” provided a unique show of fireworks!

(Cayambe Ecuador) – This week’s Daily Prompt nudges us to “find beauty in a blur.”  There were many photos from Saturday night’s wedding reception that were a bit blurred, and I suspect that some of these might give you a smile! Continue reading

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