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.)

Update from the Cloud Forest

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Sunny Afternoon in the Cloudforest - May 26, 2016

Sunny Afternoon in the Cloudforest – May 26, 2016

Thank you, everyone, for your concern not only for those affected by the earthquake, but also for my friend Julie, who is fighting cancer.   I am watching over their property here in Ecuador’s cloud forest until it sells.

I hope to visit Jama soon, which will be heart wrenching yet necessary to move forward.  It will help to see the damage, visit with loved ones who continue to endure the stress, find out what people need most – and how to help – plus learn what hotels, restaurants might be open.  One friend shared details about the community of Jama:

“You will not recognize Jama. Almost every building is marked as being necessary to be torn down. Doctors Without Borders have donated what looked like hundreds of tents in Matal. However still many people live under makeshift plastic.”

She mentioned other groups/businesses that are helping, but I will wait to share those details after learning more and having photos to pair with the stories.  There are surely many beautiful untold stories worthy of  a larger audience.

Idyllic Jama - from 2012

Idyllic Jama – from 2012

The soundtrack in my head this week is Jack Johnson’s song, “The News.”   He sings, “Why don’t the newscasters cry when they sing about people who die.   The least they can be decent enough to put  just a tear in their eye…”

Linda from The Task at Hand provided a slice of humor between her words of concern last week.   In her comment about last week’s strong earthquakes, she added, “What amazes me is that I hadn’t heard one word about this on the “news.” Everything here was related to the loss of the Egyptair plane, or the interminable, ghastly, insufferable presidential campaign. (Hmmmm… I think my opinions are showing. Remember when we used to worry if our slips were showing?)” Continue reading

More Earthquakes…

Tall building: Museo Bahia de Caraquez - (Ecuador)

Tall building: Museo Bahia de Caraquez – (Ecuador)

May 19, 2016 – Ecuador

The opening exposition for my recent paintings was scheduled for May 18 at the Museo Bahia de Caraquez.   Because of last month’s earthquake, the show was postponed until a later date.

BAHIA DE CARAQUEZ watercolors THUMBNAIL 01

That  original date was the International Day of Museums, and I would have been ‘hanging’ the show on the 17th, spending the night at the museum and preparing for that evening event on the 18th.

On Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, another strong earthquake rattled many Ecuadorians out of a deep sleep. My friend Cynthia was spending a few nights at the Rio Cinto property, and we spent the next hour in the pickup truck as we pieced together live radio reports to find more information. The 6.7 earthquake hit the same area as the one that devastated the coastal area a month ago.

We realized that one’s Spanish skills improve when listening with acute attention to rapid-fire Spanish on late-night radio. Lots of callers were phoning the stations to report their experiences. After listening for over an hour, we decided to retreat to the house and go back to sleep. For the next two days, we hoped that all was OK on the coast. Now online, I see that two more earthquake hit that same day:

Recent Quakes-Bahia de Caraquez —-

I am not sure if the above information is correct, and all’s fine here in Mindo. I send my empathy to those on the coast, as you are surely wondering, ‘When will this end?’

All is fine here in Mindo/Rio Cinto, but wanted to send an update.

Z

Timeout for Art – Let’s Draw a Toucan!

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OK, aspiring artists! Sharpen your pencils and get ready to draw!

Hold that pose!

Hold that pose!

“Drawing is rather like playing chess: your mind races ahead of the moves that you eventually make. “— David Hockney

While scrolling through the photos taken over the past week, I critiqued the series of toucan photos with a disciplined eye.   Four are shown below; “A” shows the personality of the toucan. “B, C and D” were similar with subtle differences, but one seemed stronger to me. Which is your favorite? If you were about to draw one of the four, which would you chose and why?

Which would you chose to draw?

Which would you chose to draw?

Two of the eight or so photos were my favorites, and I toggled between the two to decide which one would be the best candidate for a painting.  The two photos are below:

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Toucan B

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Toucan C

“B” bird seemed relaxed in its environment.   It also seemed heavy on the right side, as if an invisible line was pulling the bird toward the ground.   “C” seemed to tap into its survival sense, and though I was almost hidden from the bird’s view, it seemed to sense a foreign presence. “D” pose amused me; like many humans who are suddenly aware of a photo about to be taken, this bird lifted its beak just a bit and displayed a classic profile. Most likely, it was definitely aware of a foreign presence, and it was preparing to take flight! For a painting, however, it looked too perfect, although I really liked the backwards “S” curve of its throat and neck.

Toucan D held a classic pose, but it seemed too perfect...

Toucan D held a classic pose, but it seemed too perfect…

After appreciating the toucan’s body English, I tried – through a teacher’s eyes – to decide what made “C” more pleasing to my eye. It appeared more balanced.   My analytical skills automatically stripped the images into basic shapes and directions, and I realized that I should slow down, decipher my methods and share a few easy ways to stay on track when drawing. Continue reading

Global Big Day – Let’s Count Birds!

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This little Olive-crowned Yellowthroat allowed an extensive photo session before resuming its day!

Rio Cinto – Mindo Ecuador: This little Olive-crowned Yellowthroat allowed an extensive photo session before resuming its day!

From Ebird:  “All you have to do is submit the birds you see on May 14th to eBird, and you’ll be a part of the global team! Wherever you are, your sightings can make a difference.”

Mindo Ecuador – My friend Cynthia and I were comparing bird stories this past week, and we both agreed that the local birds seem to be in a frenzy of activity!  Maybe they’re excited about the upcoming Ebird – Global Big Day?   Don’t let your own special birds be ignored.  Give them a voice on Saturday, May 14!

The Streak-headed Woodcreeper took a vacation from lower elevations and visted the cooler climate of the Cinto property!

This Streak-headed Woodcreeper took a vacation from lower elevations and visted the cooler climate of the Cinto property!

The Blue and Black Tanager took a vacation from higher elevations and visited the property this week!

The Blue and Black Tanager took a vacation from higher elevations and visited the property this week!  Poor photo, but it documents that the Blue & Black T was definitely on holiday vacation!

You might have a unique species in your backyard;  without taking time to inventory your feathered neighbors, how will they be acknowledged?

The VIP for the week is the Black Solitaire, but its cousin, the Andean Solitaire, hangs around for its daily count!

The VIP for the week is the Black Solitaire, but its cousin the Andean Solitaire hangs around the thrushes and tanagers for its daily count!

The Beryl-Spangled Tanager is a beauty! What special birds lurk in your backyard?

The Beryl-Spangled Tanager is a beauty! What camera-shy birds lurk in the shadows of your area?

Create an Ebird account and get ready for Global Big Day;  start HERE.

Black Solitaire (Bird) – Causes Quite a Buzzzzz

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'Black Solitaire"

Black Solitaire- Entomodestes coracinus

Perhaps it was an omen, because six hours after the bird appeared, the earthquake turned our world upside down.  Aside from a flash of white on the side of its face, the black bird would have passed without catching my attention.

“What in the world was that?” I wondered, and as soon as the bird perched in the Bromeliad Tree straight in front of me, it soared away to a lower level on the property.  Club winged Manakins and half a dozen species of Tanagers kept me entertained from the nearby canopy until that flash of white caught my eye again. Catching it via a few poor faraway shots with the camera, I wondered what in the world bird that could be

That evening I studied the reference books and thought, “Hmmmm. Black Solitaire… New bird for me.” Continue reading

“Heartache Came to Visit”

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Jama Ecuador
Inspired by Jewel’s song, “Hands,” the video at the bottom of this post honors the beautiful spirit of the people of Jama, El Matal and La Division Ecuador.  Read the lyrics and then experience the essence of the people of the Jama area via the video.

Ximena working during a night shrimp harvest...

Ximena Cevallos Diago checks figures during a night shrimp harvest… (Ximena’s husband Carlos is wearing the white sombrero in the GoFundMe photo.  He is the one who made the drive-through-Jama video, now linked on that site.)

HANDS

If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we’re all ok
And not to worry because worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I will not be made useless
I won’t be idled with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear

My hands are small, I know,
But they’re not yours they are my own
But they’re not yours they are my own
And I am never broken
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Poverty stole your golden shoes
But it didn’t steal your laughter
And heartache came to visit me
But I knew it wasn’t ever after

We will fight, not out of spite
For someone must stand up for what’s right
Cause where there’s a man who has no voice
There ours shall go singing

P1700175 JAMA 3 story house peace white

My hands are small, I know,
But they’re not yours they are my own
But they’re not yours they are my own
And I am never broken

In the end only kindness matters
In the end only kindness matters

I will get down on my knees and I will pray
I will get down on my knees and I will pray
I will get down on my knees and I will pray

My hands are small, I know,
But they’re not yours they are my own
But they’re not yours they are my own
And I am never broken

P7130607 teeth little boys el matal

My hands are small, I know,
But they’re not yours they are my own
But they’re not yours they are my own
And I am never broken
We are never broken

We are God’s eyes God’s hands God’s mind
We are God’s eyes God’s hands God’s heart
We are God’s eyes God’s hands God’s eyes God’s hands
We are God’s hands God’s hands We are God’s hands
Songwriters: Jewel Kilcher,  Patrick Leonard

Some say that the newscasters have already moved to newer stories, but I am greatly  touched by your continued support and empathy for the people of Ecuador.

The internet keeps dropping offline and staying off, so I’m hitting “Publish” while possible.   Until the end of the week, Thank you again!   Lisa

Remembering their Kindness – The People of Jama, El Matal & La Division

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The Quadrado family couldn't hold back the ocean, but they sent workers to help friends at Playa El Matal.

The Cuadrado family couldn’t hold back the ocean, but they sent workers to help friends at Playa El Matal.

Jama Ecuador – When Hurricane Katrina slammed into Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, I was living in a remote area of Costa Rica’s Guanacaste Province. A slow internet connection allowed me to watch the eye’s path, although no one can predict the temperamental whims of a hurricane and it’s final choice for landfall. As with the earthquake in Ecuador on April 16th, gathering information was painfully slow via internet news stories of Katrina’s destruction. The first time I saw live television coverage of Katrina’s wrath, I watched for about thirty seconds before bursting into tears. For that story, see: Ode to 668 East Beach

Christmas Eve in Jama 2012

Christmas Eve in Jama 2012 – The little cowboy didn’t like his pony!

As the days and now weeks go by after the earthquake ripped through a section of “my” beloved Ecuador, I am often reminded of Katrina. I wonder when it will be possible to return, to see the destruction, to visit the many loved ones, hear their stories, give them comfort as they salvage what’s left and bravely move forward. I also have my own personal inventory to face – of all of the items in Casa Loca, most people inquire about ‘the floor.’ Who knows how that Magic Carpet endured the stress of the earthquake and its aftershocks. When I am able to return, I will share those stories. I assume that the exhibition scheduled to open at Museo Bahia de Caraquez in two weeks will be postponed until much later in the year.

If wishes were magic carpets, we would fly!

If wishes were magic carpets, we would fly to help those in the earthquake-damaged areas.

Most likely every single person that experienced this earthquake can recall minute details of the moment the earth began to grumble. As each day comes to an end, I take a fast inventory in my mind, “Where’s the flashlight? My basic essentials? -Contact lenses, saline, hair brush, tooth brush, passport, camera, laptop, chargers…” and I wonder if everyone else anticipates that 7:00 PM hour of remembrance. Continue reading

Polar-Opposite Landscapes

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There’s an awkward feeling while I tend to my friends’ property near Mindo Ecuador while I think about the people not too far away on the coast as they try to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. I worry about their drinking water and a fresh supply of food and of a dry place to sleep at night – and mosquito-free as well. I think about the children, and how they must tremble when another after shock rolls thru the earth. I drink in the visual beauty that surrounds me as my heart aches for those that I love. I wish I could offer comfort and give them silent strength just by being near. The birds seem to be more abundant, or perhaps my focus is more intense on noticing my surroundings and not taking them for granted.

What follows are a few favorites of the 110 birds I’ve spotted on the property. How I wish I could send some of that beauty to help ease their pain.

Scaled Fruiteater?

Scaled Fruiteater?  A first for me, and it flitted from branch to branch a few feet away from where I stood-froze and admired its unique patterns of color.

White-throated Crake

White-throated Crake — There were two foraging in the mid-morning sunlight..

Continue reading

Earthquake Stories – From John & Mary in San Clemente

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John's idyllic coastal bus ride didn't end so pretty...

John’s idyllic coastal bus ride didn’t end so pretty…

John, thank you so much for sharing your story!    I was not only there with you as you found your way through miles and miles of mazes, but I was also enduring the earthquake at San Clemente with dear Mary…

From 2012 - John and Mary in Cruzita Ecuador

From 2012 – John and Mary in Cruzita Ecuador

Mary, even if it’s painful, it might be a catharsis to share your experience.   Sending you both my love and comfort.    Z

Here’s John’s story:  Earthquake First Report

They might not be able to reply, but let them know you appreciated their story.

Z

Angels Watching Over Us – Ecuador Earthquake

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Mother and Daughter, Helene y Lise - I Can Do This! in Costa Rica - 2012

Mother and Daughter, Helene y Lise – I Can Do This! in Costa Rica – 2012

Heart-warming news arrives as through angel couriers, and today two messages arrived from Helene, a dear friend from France.   She wears big shoes at CNES (France’s equal to NASA) and shared some info that touched me greatly. Continue reading

Ecuador Earthquake – No News Might not be Good News

Relief Donations - from Mindo to the Earthquake Victims...

Relief Donations – from Mindo to the Earthquake Victims…

Thank you all for your comments and emails.  You are so kind, and your notes of concern and empathy have touched my heart.  For some reason, most of the emails bounce back as entirely-blank compose pages. I hope that these updates reach most of those who so graciously inquired about my safety and of those who live in Manabi Province, where over the years I’ve posted many stories from Casa Loca.

Nicolas, standing in window seat, first dubbed the name when he exclaimed,  "Esta Casa Es Loca!"

Nicolas, standing in window seat, first dubbed the name when he exclaimed, “Esta Casa Es Loca!”

There is still no news from my friends fromJama, Canoa, Bahia de Caraquez –  and Casa Loca is low on my list of concerns. I wish I could command that Magic Carpet to come get me so I could comfort and help those that I love.  Has anyone heard from John and Mary in San Clemente?  Gonzalo, how are you and your family in Manta/Montechristi?

Bob, of Piran Cafe, provided an update on Jama. Thanks, Bob, the photos made me cry. They also help to understand how/why reaching Jama is an impossible task. PiranCafe:Images from Jama.

Another friend sent a link from CNN…
From CNN
Here are more images of the relief effort from Mindo:
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Iliana, (in white shirt and black leggings) and family/friends dashed to inquire, “Lisa! Jama?” …………I looked at them and shrugged, “I don’t know.. I need to get online and find out what’s happened.” Iliana often hosts me at Hostal Charrito when I stay in town.

 

(Silvana, thank you again for the updates, which were shared on the previous post.  I am glad that your family is ok, though I am sure you’re worried about all of your loves ones in Manabi Province.  If we can get the Magic Carpet to soar out of Casa Loca, I’ll come get you before returning to the coastal area.)

If wishes were magic carpets, we would fly!

If wishes were magic carpets, we would fly!

Most of you have faster internet and can probably glean more information than I, so I will close and return to the pristine setting of my friends’ property. Weather, roads and electricity willing, I will return on Wednesday.

I wish I could provide some good news, but for now, it looks pretty bleak.

Love, Lisa

Just In: Jama Report (Sent from Silvana in Chile)

1:20 Monday afternoon:

First, Barbara sent an email just after the update was published.   “Please thank Cynthia when you see her for answering my frantic email and letting me know – which, I shared with Marie, Steven, and Karen (and Karen shared with her Mom) ….that Mindo had not been hit real hard.
I am so happy that I remembered I had her email address so I could get in touch with someone in the area.”

Second, Thanks, Cynthia, for updating Barb, who offered words of comfort to my loved ones.

Third:  My friend Serena, who once lived in Manta, sent a brief update from Quito.  She says that Pedernales is “destroyed.”

……………..

Now, for a disturbing comment that our Silvana (writing from  Chile) just shared…  Dear, dear Silvana!  Thank you so much.  I will post this now.Z

Here is the traslation of a newpaper article, this is most clear report of What is happening in Jama so far.

Lisa I am so happy you were in Mindo. My family were mostly in Manta and they are fine, but We didn´t know about Mathias until this morning, He was there with His Dad and They both are fine.
“Jama is like a war zone, there are almost no houses standing in this village, which is located within an hour of Pedernales, Manabi province. According Leonel Zapata, pastor of the population, this earthquake on April 16 killed 12 people and left 15 others in the rubble, but the villagers say the figure is higher. There terror that exists.

Villagers said that south of Jama five hotels collapsed and dozens of people remain trapped. Getting to this town is almost an impossible task, the earthquake of 7.8 degrees on Saturday destroyed several sections of the road. The force of the earthquake left cracks up to a meter deep and slightly less wide. In addition, the mountain is constantly collapses and therefore drivers who choose to travel by these routes must slow down and be very careful. Given this situation and the uncertainty of aftershocks and waves due to earthquakes, the population of over 23 000 inhabitants has chosen to spend the night on the roads to the weather. T

 

he Suarez family said they lost everything in the earthquake and the three of them decided to camp on the road. While others came from different cities of the country in search of their relatives who are believed to be trapped in the area. The health center Jama not cope, it was decided to transfer a person who was in critical condition to the hospital in Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas. The night of Sunday 17 April came a convoy of three trucks with army personnel who are responsible for carrying out the rescue. In addition, they conduct control and security in the area. The whole town looks devastated Jama, has collapsed houses, streetlights on the floor.

There is no electricity, nor telephone signal. They are held incommunicado. In addition there is no water or food for the population requesting urgent assistance from the authorities”

 

Also from Sylvana: Here is a link that Lesli Flaman shared on Facebook saying: “If you want to help Jama, we know this family, it’s legit”
https://www.gofundme.com/gqzxtjus
Please whoever wants to help, people from Jama will be more than thankful for it

Manabi Earthquake – First Report from the Cloudforest

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There were three small landslides between Rio Cinto and Mindo, but this morning the roads were clear. I knew (yesterday) that something was pretty bad for this helicopter to fly along Rio Cinto.

There were three small landslides between Rio Cinto and Mindo, but this morning the roads were clear. I knew (yesterday) that something was pretty bad for this helicopter to fly along Rio Cinto.

OK. I cheated.. I said I would post this and then start wading through the email inbox and the comments, as I knew that my loved ones would be worried. I peeked at the comment bar, which brought tears to my eyes. Thank you all – I am fine and am writing from the cloud forest… Just saw Pedro my electrician friend who is getting his ID badge and paperwork to head to Pedernales on a work mission. He says there is no way to reach Jama…. I will follow up with a report and photos from the people in Mindo assembling care packages for Manabi….

Here’s my post, which I began writing yesterday at 7:00 a.m. — Sunday morning, April 17, 2016

Twelve hours ago, the earth seized control of this house and almost rattled the windows out of their casings. My first thought was, ” Something’s trying to break through the window” until I remembered that I was sitting near the second-floor windows that overlooked the foot of a towering hill.

The windows continued to reverberate, and I thought, “Volcano. A volcano’s about to blow…”

Cotopaxi Volcano started spewing in late September...

Cotopaxi Volcano started spewing in late September…

The rattling continued, and my desktop computer keyboard danced off its perch and leaped to the floor.

I pondered the rain-saturated soil betwen the house and Mindo, and from Mindo west to the coast, and east to Quito.

“Power. We’ll surely lose power,” and I began unhooking the computer speakers from the mini laptop. (I had been transferring photos from little burro computer to the desktop computer.)

What is it about the moment of a power blackout? Aside from the chattering windows and trembling floors, there’s no warning – no flickering. One second the power is working, and the next second, it’s gone. The glow from the mini laptop provided comforting assistance as my next thought reassured me that the flashlight was in its place – on the sideboard near the front door. The laptop would suffice until I retreated downstairs. I noted the time, 7 p.m.

Like a tin lid on a kettle of boiling water, the rattling continued. This wasn’t the typical house-and-landscape-moving earthquake. It was more like someone sifting sand through a screen. I assumed that Mother Earth was diffusing her anger via a violent earth-shaking mood. In the Deep South/USA, we were coached to move to an interior bathroom during tornado warnings, and I rationalized, “What works for tornadoes surely works for earthquakes? ”

I sidled toward the upstairs bathroom, stared up at the framework of the door, then decided that the house would be fine – I would be fine.

The shaking rivaled Shakira’s reverberating hip vibrations as I retrieved the laptop, the camera and the bird-identification reference books. WThe rattling stopped, adn I slowly descended the steps.

Twelve hours before, I’d written about the expectations of the day. Now, twelve hours after, I’ve inspected both houses, greeted the hummingbirds, scanned for new landslides up and down the visual path of the Rio Cinto’s valley, and returned to the house to get fish food for the pond inspection walk.

“Coffee first today!” I defended ith a sense of entitlement I had not truly earned.

While preparing the coffee, I noted a flash of red and photgraphed an unusual petite bird foraging for insects. Probing and pecking, it gave me ample time for photos, but alas, this camera does well in strong light but gets poor ratings in low light. (Scarlet-backed Woodpecker.)

Sitting on the deck and comparing photos to the book, I was interrupted again by another flash or color near the pond. I froze. Moving only my eyes, I admired a toucan perched in “The Swallow Tree.” the camera captured the moment, but still not in “National Geographic” quality. After Lovely Toucan soared over the roof to its next perch, a hermit hummingbird hovered several feet in front of me and stared into my scarf-shrouded face. “Remember us? Sugar? Yes, we’re addicted to our morning sugar fix.”

I smiled, “Hey there. Yes, I’ll fix it now.”
The sun burned off the mist, and the pond mirrors a lovely day. The power remains off; there are no sounds of traffic on the road; my mind wonders, “What was that last night? What direction was that? Was it a nearby landslide? Are the roads clear? Blocked? Is this a small power outage? Large? Is Mindo blocked? Does Mindo have power? How many slides between here and Mindo? Betwen Mindo and Quito? Was it a volcano blowing? An earthquake? If so, where? The last big one to shake Casa Loca had its epicenter in Columbia. I remembered stories of the last El Nino and the epic earthquake that hit Bahia de Caraquez. The country has suffered with El Nino rains. Could this earthquake have hit the coast? Surely it made headlines.

My coffee’s cold; the fish are waiting; toucans are croaking. No news will fall from the sky, and the morning becons. The mystery bird chirps from across the pond. Like a pied piper, it teases me into countless games of Hide & Seek. It’s led me to new trophies, so I’ll close, retrieve the fish food, work tools for the day and allow all of the unanswered questions to take a back seat to the tasks of the day.

…………….

24 hours later…
As I worked n a stubborn area of weeds and grass yesterday afternoon, the thump-thump-thump sound of a distant helicopter nudged me from my work. I peered upriver while trying to coordinate the sound with my vision. A speck slowly came into closer view as the small blue helicopter followed the Rio Cinto’s topography. Retrieving the camera, I photographed it as it passed low and close, and then I watched as it sailed out of view. Hitting the review button, I sort of gasped when I read the words, “Policia.”

Pichincha. I’ve been told not to worry about this river or area unless Volcano Pichincha blows. Could Pichincha have blown? No, surely I would be able to see a column of ash. Cotopaxi? If they were patrlling this river, surely Mindo was affected as well. No, the road to town would not be open today… I resumed work until rain forced me to a grateful end to my day of work.

After cleaning up and enjoying a fresh batch of guayusa-ginger tea, the lightbulb flashed in my mind. The truck. The truck has a radio. AM and FM. Retrieving the keys, I stepped into the misting outdoors, unlocked the truck and began scanning the channels. Reception is poor in this isolated mountain-surrounded valley, though many static-filled and afew strong stations came through. Almost all were broadcasting emergency information, and I was grateful that my
Spanish skills had improved. There were lists of towns, provinces, streets, as well as bus termindals and airports mentioned. Every so often certain words came through more often. Esmeraldes. Pedernales. Manabi. Jama. (gulp – Jama). Canoa. San Vicente. Santo Domingo. Chone. Manta. Tsunami. Tsunami – Panama – Costa Rica. Hmmm, they must have put out a tsunami warning for high-risk coastlines.

Several times I heard the word, Terremoto -(Big earthquake) and I always heard, “punto ocho – point eight,” but never the first part. I think they said that the coastal highway between Pedernales and San Vicente was basically destroyed, and I pondered the history of sand mining and the beach sand that was used in construction of that section of highway. They mentioned bridges destroyed. One broadcaster mentioned a ‘loma’ (hill) that had collapsed along the highway. Over an hour later after switching channels, I deducted that the epicenter was near Pedernales, which is about 30 miles north of Jama.

Knowing I could easily become obsessed with the thirst for more information, I turned off the radio, locked the truck as the last light of the day escorted me back to the house… I lit three candles and bagan preparing an early dinner, when – with even less lack of warning than 24 hours before – the power returned!

It is now 9 AM Monday morning, and I have finished transcribing my notes. White fluffy clouds stud a pristine-blue sky, and the sun promises a morning of pretty weather. I will drive toward town and ask a neighbor if the road is clear, then will either drive to town or until an obstacle blocks the way. If the latter, I’ll park in a safe place the walk to town to find out more as well as to let everyone know that Z’s fine – though she is profoundly concerned for her loved ones in Manabi.

Thanks for sticking with this epistle. Without proofing, I’ll publish this and will update as soon as more information is gathered.  If you’re wondering what the Jama locals are like, start here:  The Lovely Women of Jama     and here:  More Lovely Women of Jama.

I speak for all of my friends in Manabi, thank you so much for your concern. Presently, you know more about what happened than I…

Love,
Lisa

Timeout for Updates!

The birds daily designs are drawn with cracked corn, and the birds slowly erase the designs! Can hyou guess what this image in the foreground is about?

The daily designs are drawn on the boulders with cracked corn, and the birds slowly erase the designs! Can you guess what this image in the foreground is about? (Will this work as a Timeout for Art?)

Several people have recently written to be sure all’s fine, as I’m not usually so silent.  Thanks, amigos – the past few weeks have been busy, and I also dedicated some extra quiet time for remembering Joe.

The flowers were rescued from a fallen tree in the public road. The painting makes a fun backdrop! Will this work for a Timeout for Art?!!

The flowers were rescued from a fallen tree in the public road. The painting makes a fun backdrop! Will this work for a Timeout for Art?!!

Last week brought an assortment of ‘helpers’ to the property.  Pedro, the all-in-one great kind of assistant, helped with some electrical repairs and then put on his birding sombrero and helped identify some birds.  Here’s Pedro/Peter at his top form — the fact that he’s also a rapelling guide might explain how he so easily accomplished the task.  I tipped him twenty dollars for his heroic efforts… Continue reading

Joe “Bass” Skyward

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Uniquely Joe

Uniquely Joe – “Hey Dudes!  Hey Dudettes!  You won’t believe what’s next! “

“Unique –  Being the only one; being without a like or equal”  Merriam-webster.com

Joe and I met in front of a cattle chute in the little village of Pueblo Nuevo de Bejuco – Guanacaste, Costa Rica.   Knowing that the noon bus would soon be careening around the curve, I walked to the corral where another person was standing near the dusty intersection.

(Joe emailed this cattle-chute photo several years ago.)

(Joe emailed this cattle-chute photo several years ago.)

“Are you waiting for the bus?”  I asked the tourist that seemed a bit out of place.

Bus?  There’s a bus?” he replied with wide-eyed wonder.

“Yes,”  I smiled, “it should be rolling through any minute.”

I don’t recall exactly how Joe mysteriously landed smack in the middle of the dusty cowboy pueblito, but he happily climbed aboard the “Bejuco-Jicaral Express,” the only public-transportation option for the rest of the day.

Playa San Miguel, Costa Rica

Playa San Miguel, Costa Rica

I was traveling a short distance to Playa San Miguel, and in the ten-minute ride Joe decided to bail out and experience what is often called one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica.

As the cliché goes, “The rest is history.”    Joe’s unique personality warmed the hearts of the people in the area;  one only had to mention his name, and others smiled.  Wanting a part-time respite from his California life, Joe purchased a parcel of land and built a retreat where he embraced Costa Rica’s ‘Pura Vida’ culture.

I join many who are sobered by the news of his death.

Eclipse Sunset

Costa Rica Eclipse Sunset

From Loudwire:  “The music world has lost another talent as bassist Joe Skyward, best known for his work with Sunny Day Real Estate and the Posies has passed away at the age of 57.
The rocker, born Joe Howard and also known as Joe Bass, had been fighting cancer over the last two years. The Posies alerted fans to Joe Skyward’s passing via a Facebook posting. ”  

For the rest of Loudwire’s obituary, go HERE

A more-worthy tribute will take time to gather information, photos and perhaps some testimonials from those who knew him.   My deepest condolences go to his family and loved ones.

Z

Ecuadorian Birds – Name that Bird!

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The female racquet-tail hummingbird usually doesn't have the 'tail' and the male usually doesn't have the white.. Thanks in advance for a proper ID!

Reference material for the female racket-tail hummingbird doesn’t show a racket ‘tail,’ and the male doesn’t have the white breast… Thanks in advance for a proper ID!   When illustrated reference books seem lacking for details,  I often check Nick Athanas’ Antpitta site.. Check out his magnificent portraits of Neotropical birds.  (Antpitta.com – Booted Racket-tailed Hummingbird)

While updating the bird list for the property, I was pleased to count over 90 species of birds – and the ones that live on the other 95 hectares are still unrecorded!

Calling all birders – can you help with identification for any of these UFBS – Unidentified Flying Birds?    I will be offline until next week but look forward to your feedback.

Let’s look at those birds!

Continue reading

Costumes of a Different Color

Capes of a Different Color - Acrylic by Lisa Brunetti

Capes of a Different Color – Acrylic by Lisa Brunetti

“It gripped him: that cross was not the cross of Christ, but the cross of the Ku Klux Klan. He had a cross of salvation round his throat and they were burning one to tell him that they hated him! No! He did not want that! ”  Richard Wright – Native Son,  Pubished 1940

(Ecuador) – As various towns and cities throughout Ecuador prepare for tomorrow’s Good Friday Procession, I will be tucked away in the cloud forest and hope to finish the above painting.

Re: 2015 Procession —  Although I had read and admired photos of Quito’s parade, I experienced a visual shock from seeing thousands of capes and pointed hats/masks that reminded me of Mississippi’s KKK dark history.   Continue reading

Timeout for Painting Signs!

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Why is Barb chuckling as she sits on the bench?

Why is Barb chuckling as she sits on the bench?

(Rio Cinto/Mindo Ecuador) As Barbara’s “work visit” comes to an end, we’re reflecting on how much we packed into this past month.  She can now add sign painting, wildlife guide and landscape design to her resume!

Thanks to a guide's visit to the property, Barb has been officially infected with the birding bug!

Thanks to a guide’s visit to the property, Barb has been officially infected with the birding bug!

Join us for a walk along the pond to critique the signs!   If we’re lucky (and quiet) we might spot an otter!   Adding Whimsy to the Trails 

 

Lisa & Barb

Timeout for Art – Cattle Roundup!

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Would this make you smile?

“Some little thing in my brain stretched, and twisted, and turned until I was pulling all kinds of things from the dark corners of my studio, and this was the result.” Karen (of Stone Soup- KarenSameNow)

(Mindo Ecuador) One can allow unexpected challenges to ruin one’s day (or night) or one can try to find the humor in frustrating moments. With Barbara around, it’s easy to burst out laughing instead of wanting to shout with frustration! My friend Peter (bird guide and electrician) saw my hand-scrawled note and burst out laughing!

"Does she really expect me to move when there's such delicious grass on the property?"

“Does she really expect me to move when there’s delicious grass on the property?”

Yes, my brain stretched and twisted and decided that a quickly-drawn illustration might best describe the cattle’s destructive tour of the gardens and trails! The note needed few words to deliver the message to the owner of the cows.

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Every time we tried to herd the cows back to the gate, where they’d found a weak part in the barbed-wire fence, they bolted to deeper and difficult-areas to reach in the old pasture areas. At night they tipped back to the yard in order to raid the hibiscus, the orchids and the impatiens.

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The Scout

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At one in the morning, we were sitting in the truck waiting to ambush them if they returned, as they had sent a scout to see if we were sleeping. Half an hour earlier, I peered out the bedroom window to see a peeping-cow staring back at me!

They finally gave up, but at 7 in the morning they were back.   We herded them toward the gate, where I had taped a note to the owner of the cattle.  One cow inspected the note and sampled it – YOW!  STOP THAT, SILLY COW! Continue reading

Road Minga

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Water gushing past front gates!

Water gushing past front gates!

Roads turned into mini rivers

Roads turned into mini rivers

(Mindo Ecuador)  – Many locals tell me that the extreme rains we’ve been receiving are due to the El Nino weather.    When the road along Rio Cinto almost washed away, Barbara and I were part of an impromptu “Minga” where locals work together for the benefit of a community project.   After about fifteen minutes, we were able to drive through the ‘rock bridge’ that crossed the washout.

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Wait, I think I know that worker in the blue jacket! And that’s the lady that drives the milk truck in the white shirt!

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I tried to move this stone, and the gallant neighbor volunteered to help!

Continue reading

Timeout for Trails!

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For the Trails! (Acrylic on old board)

For the Trails! (Acrylic on old board)

“Hummingbird teaches us… what has happened in the past, and what might happen in the future is not nearly as important as what we are experiencing now.  It teaches us to hover in the moment, to appreciate the sweetness.”  Constance Barrett Sohodski

Mindo Ecuador – Barbara’s visit is zipping by way too fast, but we stay busy with many creative tasks.    The sun peers from behind the clouds for a few hours each day, and we work on various outdoor projects until the rains run us inside!  We then switch to other projects – like creating signs for the trails!

There are many beautiful places.. a new spot to sit and relax is on the far side of the pond and beneath that tall tree...

We’ll be working on a new spot to sit and relax on the far side of the pond… Stay tuned for updates featuring that tall tree…

Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Taking Time for the Younger Ones

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(Mindo Ecuador) – An impromptu meeting redirected one of my afternoons last week, and I embraced the opportunity to work with a small group of students that are preparing for an art competition. We met this past Tuesday, and they will bring sketches to the next meeting on Monday!

Every single student is precious, and they all seem thrilled that I will be helping.
6 of 10 students

This week’s Timeout is short and sweet, and will hopefully be delivered to your doorstep via ‘Publish later’ option. Barbara arrived this past Saturday, and – aside from lots of rain – all’s fine at beautiful Rio Cinto. (It was nice of the otter to drop by and say “Welcome Back!”)
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More next week! Z

“I Think You Lied to Me…”

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A lovely day for a swim?

A lovely day for a swim?

 

“I think you lied to me,” she said as they swam to the shallow end of the private lake.  “You told me that story just to pull me away from my friends and take me here… They are probably catching lots of fish in the river right now…”

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“I promise, I told you the truth!   Just wait and you’ll see for yourself!”   Continue reading

Birds Birds Birds!

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“Goodness, someone left mystery flowers— are they for me?”

"Will you be my valentine?"

“Will you be my valentine?”

Birds, birds and more birds! This is the Backyard Birdcount Weekend! Give your feathered friends a voice and put your backyard on the map! Yesterday I counted a few, and today I’ve been in transit, but tomorrow will be dedicated not only to identifying each species, but also to counting howw many drop by to say, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Bird ID Please?

This one dropped by yesterday — Bird ID Please?

This is the Backyard Birdcount Weekend! I hope that many of you will give your feathered friends a voice and put your backyard on the map!

Thank you for your enthusiastic feedback on the last post! The Neotropical otter is called a “Nutria” here in Ecuador, and it visited for just that morning and has gone back into hiding. It must be playing tag with the cormorant, which returned and is again gobbling the tilapia! By combining photos, audio extractions of camera videos and music snippets, I found creative ways to tell the story via Windows Movie Maker 2012.

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Rufous-tailed hummingbird and wild bromeliad – (Photo taken during yesterday’s bird count.)

Today I am in Quito, and sitting across the table from me is our very special friend “Hummingbird” Barbara, who arrived from Panama this morning! We are about to travel to Mindo, and tomorrow we’ll try to document as many birds as possible there on my friends’ property.

Here’s a bird that landed near the house yesterday. Can anyone help identify this raptor?

Raptor - Is this a Gray Hawk?

Raptor – Is this a Gray Hawk?

It will be fun to swap bird stories later this week!

Here’s the link to the “Get Started” page for the birdcount:

Get Started

Something’s OUT THERE!

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Something's out there, but where did it go?

Something’s out there, but where did it go?

Something was out there.

My breathing paused while my eyes switched from the well-thumbed Birds of Northwest Ecuador to the reflective waters of the pond. Subtle ripples confirmed that something was there, though there were many possibilities.
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The masked water tyrants were nesting again, and they often patrol that section of the pond. I did not think that those birds were responsible for those ripples.
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The white-ringed flycatchers were absent this week; their nesting cycle ended when the small bush holding their life’s work toppled into the pond during heavy rains. Hopefully the fledglings had fled before the nest’s baptism. Maybe they relocated to a favorite perch, the red ginger at the edge of the pond.

A striated heron stops in every so often, though it usually perches on dead limbs and waits in stealth mode. I quickly dismissed the heron from my list of suspects. Cute little swallows gather insects while practicing touch and gos during the last few hours of each day, but this was a sunny morning. Swallows were also quickly ruled out.

Ah! The blue-winged teal! They stopped by for a visit in December. Maybe they were back? Their presence added a touch of grace to the landscape.
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The neotropical cormorant had been absent for a few days, thank goodness, as it gorges on tilapia throughout the day. I checked its usual spot – empty – and shifted my eyes to the mirror-like waters. Most likely the cormorant had returned. If so, it would surface soon.
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My eyes darted to new ripples along the grasses, and the swift movement jolted me into action.
Continue reading

Between Rains – From the Cloudforest

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Between Rains

Between Rains

(Mindo Ecuador) – The rainy season has definitely returned here in the cloud forest, and the rain guage has ‘caught’ at least 20 inches of rain since the new year began! The rains continue to purge the normally-tranquil Rio Cinto, that has lost its temper twice and roared as it passed (in its bounds) through the valley.

This past Sunday/Sunday night - I suspected there would be minor landslides, and I was right!

This past Sunday/Sunday night the Rio Cinto roared like the ocean, and I suspected there would be minor landslides in the area.  I was right!

Monday morning brought clear skies, yet theh road was eerily silent/void of traffic. While inspecting Rio Cinto, I met this one neighbor who was also inspecting the changes.

Monday morning brought clear skies, yet the road was eerily silent/void of traffic. While inspecting Rio Cinto, I met this one neighbor who was also inspecting the changes.

With two workers waiting for me to retrieve them at 8 sharp, i drove until this new roadblock changed my mind!

With two workers waiting for me to retrieve them at 8 sharp, I drove until this new roadblock changed my mind!

On Tuesday the sound of traffic returned, and I drove to town with no problems. A very large landslide had been cleared, and the municipality deserves recognition for their prompt action.  I did not take my hands off the wheel in order to photograph the mud and muck!

Rio Cinto stayed angry for several days...

Rio Cinto stayed angry for several days…

Between rains, the days are beautiful and the mornings often seem as if rain is the least-expected item on the day’s menu. By noon or one, the clouds return, and light showers prompt a change in plans.

My friend Cynthia invited me to participate in a guided tour of a private reserve, where we learned about the local plants and their medicinal uses. (Gilberto, our guide in the photo)

My friend Cynthia invited me to participate in a guided tour of a private reserve, where we learned about the local plants and their medicinal uses. (Gilberto, our guide in the photo)

Continue reading

The Drive to Town

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"Did you see that flash of yellow? What's there? "

“Did you see that flash of yellow? What’s there? “

Mindo, Ecuador –   The little Burrito Laptop displayed a stubborn temperament yesterday and refused to respond to any keyboard prompt.    Photos were waiting to be uploaded, and stories were waiting to be shared, and I could open pages via touch screen, but nothing else worked!   A cybercafe helped me connect to the world and send a fast email to say, “I’m fine – all’s well aside from lots of rain here in the cloud forest.”    I am learning to dodge the roadblocks the computer places in my way and can do basic typing.  Pardon the generic presentation of this and future posts!

Drive with me past Rio Cinto and examine the range of the moods!

Rio Cinto always offers a different mood and another facet of beauty.

Rio Cinto always offers a different mood and another facet of beauty.  This is the normal mood!

Rio Cinto

Rio Cinto after 3 inches of rain…

Rio Cinto

Rio Cinto showed a rare bad temperament this past week!  Twelve hours later, it was back to normal…

1Ker Splash

Ker-Splash

Hey, there is a new Playamart shopping center on Rio Cinto!

After the bad mood; hey, there is a new Playamart shopping center on Rio Cinto!

My drive to town was a bit longer than norm this week;   I stopped and photographed Rio Cinto’s rare bad mood, and then braked for a great photo session with two toucans that foraged near the road. Continue reading

*It Started with One Light Switch

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"What started with a light switch?"

“What started with a light switch?”

“The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood-shed with them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Urcuqui Ecuador – Sarah Dettman invited me to visit Urcuqui over a year ago to look at a renovation project of an old adobe property. Sarah and her husband Eloy planned to convert the space into a coffee shop with an apartment on the first level and the owners’ living quarters on the second floor. This past March between Semana Santa and a friend’s wedding, we drove to the site and tossed around creative ideas.

The name of the cafe, Arbol de la Vida, provided endless ideas for artistic touches, and Sarah and another friend Linnda visioned a giant tree on the wall to greet people when they stepped into the cafe. Beyond that wall was a neutral area between the bathrooms, and we discussed hanging a framed painting of a tree in that space.

Blending the actual tree with the wall via paint....

Blending the actual tree with the wall via paint….

When I returned this past week for a three-day “Time for Art!” session with the family, I was pleased to see that grand tree already taking shape on the adobe wall. The maestro had fashioned a believable tree trunk and limbs from parts of trees, and the effect was strong and powerful.

What's real and what's paint? (Acrylic)

What’s real and what’s paint? (Acrylic)

My eye went next to the blank wall between the two bathrooms, though there was one little-but important obstacle in the way of placing a painting in that space. The light switch had been placed dead center in the wall. Only a few seconds passed before I suggested a creative compromise: “Let’s paint a big tree and design the light switch into part of the tree… “ Sarah gave me one of her classic, “Are you sure about this?” looks, and I added, “It could be its belly button!” and then she looked even more doubtful. I asked if there was a remnant piece of plywood or some kind of building material that we could use…. (No, but they would buy something) Added to the shopping list were about 100 tiny mirrors…

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Three or four coats of white paint later – and after tossing around ideas with Sarah, I began painting the ‘whimsical’ ceibo tree. Sarah and family were working on a mosaic project in the loft area that overlooked the main area where I was painting. As their mosaic grew, so did the tree.

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After the basic form of the tree was finished, next came the deep blue swirls of color, painted ‘just wide enough’ for the little mirrors. I worked late into the night so that it would be ready for a protective water-based acrylic sealer the next morning. (Sarah’s first task of the day!) Although I slept later than everyone else, it was still fun to witness their reactions to the finished painting!

After coffee, everyone glued mirrors to the swirls of color, which gave the tree a more-powerful presence. The maestro, who was working in another area, fished the wires through the painting and secured the panel to the wall.

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The finale, of course, was placing the light switch and confirming that it worked! The tree represents the combined energies of all who helped, and hopefully it will radiate that good energy to all who pause to admire it!

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The ‘normal’ lens on my camera malfunctioned several months ago, so all photos are taken with the lens used for bringing far-off subjects closer. I stood on the scaffold to take a few photos then took a few more from the loft. With or without a final group photo, everyone was pleased with the results!
(Imagine a group of smiling faces here!)

Would you enjoy using this light switch?!

Would you enjoy using this light switch?!

*The title of this post came from another impromptu project, ‘It Started with one Light Pole.” Hmmmm; I wonder what will come next in this series!

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Leon Rodriguez – A Piano Maestro in Mindo!

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Returning to Mindo after a challening week, I was pleased that I had just enough time to send an email to say, “I reached home plate,” upload photos for the Timeout post, and walk to the church – less than one minute away. Over the past month, I had often touched base with the world via internet as Leon Rodriguez, known to a few extranjeros as George/Jorge, had been practicing for his upcoming piano recital at Hostal & Restaurant Caskaffesu. Although he performs each week with the popular group of Andean artists (Tribus Futuras), this recital would be his local debut of his beloved classical piano.

Still garnished with holiday-season flowers, the church provided a perfect mood and backdrop for Leon’s music. Luis Alban and Susan Hillman accompanied via guitar on the opening, then weaned the spotlight to Jorge.

Luis, a maestro of the guitar...

Luis, a maestro of the guitar…

Susan shares her lovely song...

Susan shares her lovely song…

For the next hour, Leon captivated all as we sat rapt in wonder as this gentle man shared his gift with us.

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Works played in the recital:

Ponchito al hombro – Carlos Bonilla Chavez (Ecuador)
Coqueteos – Fulgencio Garcia (Colombia)
Fon- ron – Ernesto Nazareth (Brazil)
Prelude in C sharp minor – Gnosseinne No 3 – Erik Satie (France)
Moment musicaux No 3 – Franz Schubert (Austria)
Maple leaf rag – Scott Joplin (United States)

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Locally, Leon plays with the group Wed – Saturday evenings at Caskaffesu in Mindo and also gives private piano and voice lessons.

One can reach him via Facebook or email:
http://www.facebook.com/leon.rodriguez.musica
leonrodriguezmusica@gmail.com

Timeout for Art: Mirrors and More

Hmmm.. Are you curious?

Hmmm.. Are you curious?

Mindo, Ecuador —- I am about to attend a concert but wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year and to share a sneak peek at a project from this week in Urcuqui Ecuador.

What's real and what's paint?

What’s real and what’s paint?

Any ideas what object this is?

Any ideas what object this is?

While waiting to leave Quito and its congested traffic, I snapped this image of effigies, sold to burn away the old year and bring in the new. I plan to make my own mosquito effigy and burn away the chikungunya and dengue baggage!

Ready-made effigies for sale for the New Year's Eve tradition.

Ready-made effigies for sale for the New Year’s Eve tradition.

I’ll be back perhaps this weekend.

Clarksdale, Mississippi -Tornado Update

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Leaving Lake Chicot, Arkansas and crossing over to Greenville, Mississippi  (2014)

Being offline most of the time, I usually scan the subject of emails to get a gist of what’s happening in other parts of the world. Headlines of a tornado that hit near Clarsksdale Mississippi got my attention, as I once lived in Clarksdale and several other Delta towns in that area.   John Ruskey at Mississippi River Dispatch/Quepaw Canoe Company sent this report to his subscribers this morning:

Christmas Eve Eve Tornado
Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No 328
Posted Monday, Dec 28, 2015

                             We’re Okay, but Here’s How to Help

“Thanks to everyone who has been calling or writing in concerned about how we’re doing after the Christmas Eve Eve storms, one of which produced an unusually long-lasting tornado that swept a diagonal path 145 miles across northern Mississippi into Tennessee, reportedly staying on the ground the whole way. We are okay in Clarksdale, but outlying areas in the county got hit hard. Homes and airport were damaged near Clarksdale; emergency crews said about 25 homes are severely damaged in Coahoma County, and many more have minor damage. An entire subdivision was wiped out in the Bellevue area. No loss of life reported in Coahoma County, but nearby Benton and Marshall Counties got hit hard with multiple deaths reported.

Several of you have wondered how to help… Thank you! See below news story from CNN for ways to help those who have suffered:

Mississippi communities destroyed: Mississippi was hit just before Christmas and many injuries and deaths were reported. The governor has declared a State of Emergency. Many communities have been damaged and in many cases, families have been left homeless. If you want to help, the Mississippi Emergency Management has ways to donate or volunteer on their website. The small towns of Holly Springs and Clarksdale, Mississippi, are among the hardest hit. The Mississippi Red Cross is providing shelter, food and supplies and you can make a donation here. If you live in the Holly Springs area you can drop off aid at the Eddie Smith Multipurpose Center, 285 North Memphis Street and in Clarksdale at the Civic Auditorium at 506 East 2nd Street.

Direct Relief is sending medical supplies to the region and is just one of many organizations getting ready to respond.

(Click here for story From CNN News)

The tornado was visible from the Hopson Plantation, the Shack Up Inn, and must have come across the Sunflower River somewhere south of there, maybe in the Dublin/Roundaway area. Clarksdale narrowly missed being hit by the tornado. It passed within five miles of town. But nearby communities were hit hard. Belleview especially, we’ve heard that 25 houses were destroyed in the county and many more damaged. And the rain was torrential. We got 6 – 10 inches of rain in a short intense burst of storms, and now all the fields and drainages are full of water, and the Sunflower River rose 10 feet in about 6 hours on Christmas Eve morning, and is now flooding big time, the highest its been since 2011 I think, judging by the muddy water creeping across the parking lot at Quapaw Canoe Company.

Update from John around noon Dec 28th, 2015:

1) I just got a report of one person died in Coahoma County as result of the tornado (details forthcoming)

2) Sen Robert Jackson shared this report from Quitman County: “We also have many families who lost their homes in the Marks area as well and need your prayers and assistance. Call Don Green at Ms Delta Council for Farm Worker Opportunities. 662-627-1122.”

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The Mississippi River near Greenville

More from John:  Mississippi River Forecast- The entire Lower Mississippi and Middle Mississippi River Valleys have been experiencing heavy rainfall in these same storms, with flood walls being closed and the big river rising above major flood stage in St. Louis, and forecasted to crest around 48.5 in Cape Girardeau on Jan 2nd (which is at record height — as high as it got in the catastrophic floods of 1993!). The forescast for the Lower Miss is not as dire, 57 feet at the mouth of the Ohio River (Cairo, IL) on the 5th of January. (This is 17 feet above flood stage in Cairo), but it is expected to crest at 41 Memphis (7 feet above flood stage), at 43.5 in Baton Rouge on Jan 19th (8.5 feet above flood stage) and at 17 in New Orleans on the 20th (which is alarmingly high — the levees protect NO only up to 20 feet).

Whew! 2016 is going to be an interesting year on the Lower Miss!

For more photos of the Lower Miss and more reading, go to http://www.rivergator.org

The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
is a service of the Lower Mississippi River Foundation
Clarksdale, Miss ~ Helena, Ark

John Ruskey/ RiverGator.org
Quapaw Canoe Company
Lower Mississippi River Foundation
291 Sunflower Avenue
Clarksdale, MS 38614
http://www.island63.com
cell: 662-902-7841
office: 662-627-4070
john@island63.com

 

HOLIDAY GREETINGS FROM THE CLOUD FOREST!

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FELIZ NAVIDAD!

FELIZ NAVIDAD!

More Holiday Red!

Holiday Red!

Short and sweet, this post spotlights some of my favorite ‘red’ images as I extend my best wishes to all of you for a wonderful holiday season.   Thank you for your support for my drawings, paintings, whimsical art and for my epistles, stories and serious writings as well.

For those who have time to venture back to old posts, here’s how my Ecuadorian friends observe Christmas in the town of Jama.  (Manabi Province/Ecuador)

https://playamart.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/through-foreign-eyes/

and here:

https://playamart.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/christmas-at-latitude-zero/

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clausette!

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clausette!

Siblings Cira and Fernando (Left, Middle) greet their unexpected European friend!

Siblings Cira and Fernando (Left, Middle) greet their ‘surprise’ friend from Europe!

P1620608 christmas eve christ child greeting mama y lider

Un beso para madre!

Now let’s turn back to more images in red! Continue reading

Awakenings…

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Dawn awakenings in Ecuador's cloud forest.

Dawn awakenings in Ecuador’s cloud forest.

Most every morning I awaken with a plate-full of dreams still lingering in my psyche. They war at times with lucid thoughts, and I question, “Where do these thoughts come from?” (Perdon, but “from where do these thoughts arise,” just doesn’t flow well!)

(Ecuadorian Thrush) As I inspect my awakening thoughts, the thrush is the official Inspector of the Gardens.

(Ecuadorian Thrush) As I inspect my awakening thoughts, the thrush is the official Inspector of the Gardens.

This morning a cyber headline from last week played over and over, much like a banner running nonstop across a viewing screen. “Monsanto charged with Crimes Against Humanity” and I wondered just what crimes are named or if it was a headline to prompt visits to the site. Without being online for the ease of a search tool, I decided the most-obvious reason might be connected to Agent Orange and its use in the Vietnam War.

In 2011, Bob Ramsak of Piran Cafe wrote about his visit to “Thanhxuan Peace Village, or Lang Hoa Binh Than Xuan, an orphanage, school and clinic in Hanoi set up specifically for victims of Agent Orange. It was also the last time I sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star before an appreciative audience.” Continue reading

Timeout for Art -“The Chemicals of Inspiration”

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Where's the toucan?

What’s making that croaking sound?  By George, it’s a toucan!

Now that I am living in the cloud forest near Mindo Ecuador, I am distanced from urban areas and spend most of my time in blissful solitude. Every so often someone will ask, “Aren’t you scared?” or “Don’t you get bored?” or even “Are you sure you are happy out there?”

Sometimes I smile  (smirk?) and reply, “I’m not wired like most…”

The toucan calls for me to celebrate the day!

The toucan calls for me to celebrate the day!

Even when very young, I preferred the sky as my roof and a fallen tree as my chosen furniture, and I’d seek out my favorite places in the woods and sit for half an hour or more before moving to another area. I craved the hushed quiet of the wilderness, though the nuances of subtle sounds filled my hours with joy. The wind whispering through the trees provided the most-constant soundtrack as I admired and inspected wildflowers that dotted the landscape. I learned to stomp on the ripened fruit of the ‘Maypop,’ and I sometimes tweaked my attention to a sudden splash in the water, which might have been a fish or a snake or a falling limb. I explored the thickets for Brer Rabbit, though I always failed at sneaking up on prehistoric-looking softshelled turtles basking on sun-drenched banks.

I preferred the quiet solace of tranquil waters - and still do!

I preferred the quiet solace of tranquil waters – and still do!

Rio Cinto always offers a different mood and another facet of beauty.

Rio Cinto always offers a different mood and another facet of beauty.

As an adult, I adapted when necessary, but I have always been my best when alone with nature. My senses come alive, and I merge with the subtle rhythms. Years ago when I spent a month in the city, I asked my birding friend, Michael Godfrey, “If I feel starved for connection with nature, what must the Indians feel when they’ve transplanted to the concrete jungles? How do they survive?”
Michael’s reply was a sobering one, “They don’t. They die a little each day from soul rot.” Continue reading

Sun and Shadows

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This photo freezes a display of stunning light and shadows last year at Canoa Beach Hotel. (Ecuador)

Todays assortment of images reflect my response to Otto Munchow’s post, “Let the Sun In.”       A gifted photographer and teacher, Otto stated, “Light is one of the most important factors that influence the quality of a photo.”  He followed with, “There is no such thing as bad light, only suitable or not suitable light for whatever you are trying to express. ”  His post offers pointers for photographing in the harsh mid-day light.

 

View from the dining room...

View from the dining room… 10 a.m. light…

This plant hitched a ride to the public road via a large limb that fell.  After watching it for several weeks, I decided that the road graders would one day consume it, so with no guilt, I transplanted it to a space where it would be treasured.

This bromeliad hitched a ride to the edge of a public gravel road via a large limb that fell to the ground. After watching it for several weeks, I decided that the road graders would one day consume it, so with no guilt, I transplanted it to a space where it would be treasured.  Several of its canopy mates joined it – friends for life!

As I read his post, I thought of the ‘Plant Rescue Garden’ (pictured above) at my friends’ property in the cloud forest near Mindo.  During certain hours, the sun stretches its fingers into the deep shadowed area and showcases several of the plants.  The light is very dramatic, and I almost always reach for my camera and try to capture what makes it so special.  Just how many photos does one need of the happily-transplanted bromeliads, begonias and orchids?  For me, they serve as reference photos for those rainy days when I’m housebound and looking for inspiration for paintings.

A begonia lived on the tracks of an old excavator that was about to roll for the first time in years.

A begonia lived on the tracks of an old excavator that was about to roll for the first time in years.

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