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.)

Upside Down


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Upside down!

Upside down!

(MINDO, Ecuador)The view of the bamboo was as lovely upside down as it was right-side up! I am in town to get a few supplies and head back to the property before dark catches me on the road. Will be back next week, but wanted to send a smoke signal that all’s fine in the cloud forest!

Aracari landed at the front of the house as if to ask, "What in the word are you doing, Gringita?"

Aracari landed at the front of the house as if to ask, “What in the word are you doing, Gringita?”

Enjoy the song (below) and a sample of photos taken this week.

Suffice to know that all’s going well, the weather’s been absolutly perfect, and I’m squeezing the most from each day. Whoever buys this property is going to gain a gem! Continue reading



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Rio Cinto

Rio Cinto borders the property… how’s this for peaceful?

(Mindo-Rio Cinto- Ecuador)    Last week’s Timeout for Art was published through the magic of “Publish at a later date” option, so I was immersed in the cloud forest when “Timeout” rolled out last Thursday morning.    Suspecting that my buddy-support system might be worried, I drove into town this afternoon to buy a few supplies, check emails and return before dark.

Look who came for breakfast chats1

Look who came for breakfast chats1

Your comments gave me grand smiles, and I’ll be back online at the end of the week to properly thank all of you.  Ann, I’ll dust off the magic carpet and catch those magical full-moon-eclipse beams for a fast kitchen makeover!   Karen, thanks for your beautiful comment – you are an extremely-talented artist, and I’m glad that my unique life gives you such pleasure!

How's this for whirrrrrring of wings?  Where's Barb, btw?

How’s this for whirrrrrring of wings? Where’s Barb, btw?

Photos won’t upload, emails won’t open – the internet keeps ‘dropping’ the signal, so I’ll publish this and scram home just ahead of the rising moon! After a restart, it would not connect to any network. I selected, “Cannot Connect, Help” and was given this message: You are not connected to the Internet. To get online Help, which shows you the latest help content, you need to be connected to the Internet.”

Always lovely flowers - this orchid was especially lovely!

Always lovely flowers – this orchid was especially lovely!

Thanks again, everyone!  See you at the end of the week, weather and internet permitting!


Timeout for Art: Collective Intentions


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Say, "Good Morning!" to a Happy Kitchen!

Say, “Good Morning!” to a Happy Kitchen!

“When women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.”
Phylicia Rashad

Mindo Ecuador –   Cutting a few old boards to custom fit the sink area of the kitchen, Barbara and I enjoyed a 2-day Timeout for Art this past weekend. We took turns with the hand saw then checked to be sure the boards fit the spaces.  After being sanded, the boards were then prepped with white paint. Mixing paints to match the yellow and green kitchen tiles, we sat on the front porch and painted while hummingbirds critiqued our progress. Adding cup hooks and an under-the-counter light helped pull together a photo-worthy kitchen!

Step inside and join us for a cup of coffee; or perhaps you’d prefer a cup of hot chocolate instead?! Continue reading

“It’s Like A War Zone.”


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September 17, 2015 Coco Beach Village - El Matal/Jama - Ecuador

September 17, 2015 Coco Beach Village – El Matal/Jama – Ecuador

(Playa El Matal/Jama/Manabi/Ecuador)

“It’s like a war zone,” I said more to myself than to my friend Barbara as we approached where the entrance to Coco Beach Village once stood.


The cluster of palm trees that anchored and framed the classic postcard view was no longer there.  A lone sentinal remained, and its leafless trunk stretched skyward like a tattered symbol of a battle-weary war zone.  Its neighbor across the concrete wall leaned dramatically toward the ground as if to echo the posture of discouraged homeowners.

December 24 2014

December 24 2014

September 2014

September 2015


September 2015

The sand bags held for almost 2 years...

The sand bags held for almost 2 years…

Stephen Hopkins and Pat Godkin inspect the changes in late June 2015.

Stephen Hopkins and Pat Godkin inspect the changes on June 25th 2015.

The last time I walked this section of beach was in late June (photo above), and seeing the accelerated damage twisted an invisible knife in my stomach.  The changes in June were alarming, and I stared in numbed silence as Barbara and I walked the same route two months later.

Flash back to February 2014, two months after the residents living on the beach first sounded the alarm.  (See:  It’s Devastating) There’s a vast difference between the people who observe the daily changes and those who second guess that feedback – yet don’t step onto the battlefield and witness those destructive waves from the front line.

One of those front-line people is a Pat Godkin, who allowed me to use her photo from when she first purchased her lot and slowly watched as her dream slowly evolved into a nightmare.

Pat Godkin with a vast beach between her lot and the ocean.

Pat Godkin with a vast beach between her lot and the ocean in February 2011.  (Stay tuned: Pat’s story will follow in a few days in a guest post.)

The Ocean devoured this post that marked the entrance to Coco Beach Village. (June 2012)

The ocean devoured  the beach, the palms, the boat sheds and even this light post that marked the entrance to Coco Beach Village. (Photo taken: June 2012)

The same post sometimes vanishes beneath the sand, and sometimes it's totally covered. June 2015.

That same post sometimes vanishes beneath the sand, and sometimes it reappears as if to say, ‘Don’t turn your back on the ocean.” (Photo: June 2015.)

Continue reading

Timeout for Baskets – Timeout for Art!


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“The House of Baskets”

“If we know exactly where we’re going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we’ll see along the way, we won’t learn anything. ”
― M. Scott Peck

(La Concordia Ecuador)- Several years ago while riding a bus from the cloud forest of Mindo to the Pacific coast, I spotted a simple tin-roofed home with a variety of baskets displayed out front. The sight intrigued me, and I watched with wistful eyes each time I zoomed past in transit.

This past week as Barbara and I drove from Mindo to the coast, I watched for the “House of Baskets” as we reached the ‘rotunda’ at La Concordia. We parked just past the house and crossed a primitive footbridge that delivered us to the yard. Two smiling women immediately greeted us, and Barbara and I stepped into a beautiful cultural exchange.

Never sure if I’d be targeted as a tourist willing to pay twice the normal price, I bashfully asked, “Quanto cuesta?” and pointed to one of the larger baskets to define a starting point.

Continue reading

Meet Some Great Birds


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Buenos dias!

“Buenos dias! We wondered if anyone would ever awaken this morning!”

Mindo Ecuador –     My friend “Hummingbird” Barb calls my friends’ property a bird sanctuary.   Join us in a cyber birding tour and let us know if you agree with her description! Sometimes words are an intrusion, especially when watching  birds, so we’ll save the stories for another post!

Yes, I'm pretty, but would you like for me to sing for you?

“Yes, I’m pretty, but would you like for me to sing for you?”

I like - BIRDS!

“I like – BIRDS!”

A little music might be appropriate if we keep the volume low!

Let’s start in the ginger gardens near Casa Colibri! (Hummingbird House) Continue reading

Timeout for Art & Friendship


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Guess who flew in LAST NIGHT to help Zeebra?

Guess who flew in LAST NIGHT to help Zeebra?

Seeing Cotopaxi blowing off steam was quite sobering. (Taken from airport.)

Seeing Cotopaxi blowing off steam was quite sobering. (Photo taken from airport.

Standing at the arrivals gate, I held a sign that said, “Hummingbird.”  – Many of you will know what this means! (The following photo was taken when she helped design the magic carpet;  we had just finished painting the hummingbird for her home.)

Barbara and Lisa critique hummingbird

(I forget how much taller I am than she is until I see a photo like this!)

Yes, my dear friend Barbara flew in from Panama last night and will be helping with various tasks in Mindo.   I handed her a new pair of work gloves last night, and we’ll purchase the mandatory boots in Mindo!   It will be fun to see what creative projects we tackle while she is here; for those interested, here’s a link to my friends’ property: A Little Bird Told Me

Speaking of gates, the all-seeing eye that watches over Casa Loca did not do the best job while I was in Mindo. My friends on the farm were trying to make the ‘bridge’ easier to use, but the workers forgot to clean up when finished! Continue reading

Buckle Up for the Butterfly Safari!


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(Ecuador) – Last call to board the Magic Carpet for the Butterfly Safari!   The gate’s about to close!  Please have your cameras in hand and batteries charged!  Volcano Cotopaxi released a bit of stress, but she’s quiet again.  The clouds and volcanic ash have gone back to sleep, and we’ve been cleared for takeoff!



All ropes are secured; all systems on go!

All ropes are secured; all systems on go!

Wait.. There's a touch of a repair --- we don't want any threads to ravel on this journey!

Wait.. There’s a touch of a repair — we don’t want any threads to ravel on this journey!

The full moon will be escorting us around the globe, with stops in South America, Central America, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and North America.  Put on the headphones for in-flight music and prepare for the most unique safari you’ve ever experienced.
Ready?  Set… Let’s Go!


“Well she’s walking through the clouds
With a circus mind
That’s running wild
Butterflies and zebras and moonbeams
And fairy tales,
That’s all she ever thinks about
Riding with the wind”  – (Jimmie Hendrix)

We have nets, but a camera's a more respectful way to capture butterflies!

We have nets, but using a camera is a more respectful way to capture butterflies!

Prepare for the first landing; it might be rough because this flight is loaded to full capacity. Oh goodness – excuse the turbulence — we veered beyond the landing spot!!! Our apologies – complimentary drinks will be provided!

Now where in the world are we? My navigator is checking the GPS…. Continue reading

Reserve Your Seat! – Butterflies and Zebras

Butterfly Safari - Reserve your seat!

Butterfly Safari – Reserve your seat!

Last-minute booking!  Many people are signing up for the Butterfly Safari, so my navigator suggests we embark at midnight tonight beneath the full moon.

Norway, Prague (Sorry Lynn, but we have to at least buzz you and Ron while you’re on the river cruise!);  Babs in the California foothills made a request, “Then let us land at that spot on that quiet lake, near the lily pads and reeds to watch the flitting around of the very colorful dragonflies.”
Barb, who is pondering flying here to help with some projects, will hop on in Panama and maybe she’ll stay onboard until we return the magic carpet to Casa Loca.     We’ll pick up Wendy in Costa Rica and Debbie (and Ron too?) in Nicaragua and – wait, there’s John and Mary in Ecuador!  So much planning, but hey, it’s a magic carpet Butterfly Safari!

Maurine in New Zealand, Maurine (and Jack) in Australia- boodness, we definitely have a magical ride on the wind as we chase butterflies around the world!

Leave a comment with the names of passengers (many of you will be bringing a guest?) and the location, and the navigator will get busy plotting the new itinerary!  Wait, is there a lepidopterist in the house?


Thanks, everyone! It’s good being back online if only for a few days!  What a finale, a moon-light Butterfly Safari!

It’s Luchy’s birthday, so I’m making a detour thru the middle of the day.  I look forward to seeing the final passenger list.  Will be  back late afternoon to coordinate the flight.

See you tonight!


Timeout for Art: New Endings?


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Angels Trumpet 01 - Detail

Angels Trumpet 01 – Detail

One can almost smell the fragrance!

Angels Trumpet 02 – Acrylic Detail —One can almost smell the fragrance!

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
– Carl Bard

Although they 'match,' I'm pondering changing the one on the left to a night image, appropriate to the true nature of these flowers.

Although they ‘match,’ I’m pondering changing the one on the left to a night image, appropriate to the true nature of these flowers.

In order to make the dark painting work, I should probably start one more study and make this a triplet series!

Hope to be back tomorrow with a butterfly safari!  Would anyone like to book a seat?  The magic carpet will leave around noon, Ecuador time!   Z

Timeout for Art and for Updates and for Cats!

Wildflowers facing north! (Acrylic)

Wildflowers facing north! (Acrylic)

Hello All!
I’m alive and taking timeouts for Art. The post was written, as were the final parts for Flying Solo with Cats, but alas, the documents are now mysteriuosly absent after an update and restart. The power has been off each day from morning until 4 in the afternoon. Going to Mindo was not an option, as they would nhot have power or internet either!

Jim has flown to the USA and took one cat, Magpie, with him. Magpie is now in Colorado, and Jim is with Julie in Nebraska. Julie is doing better but has a long way to go before she regains her health.

Here are a few more images.. See you next week!

Preparing for a flight to the USA. Yaros helped with the cats!

Preparing for a flight to the USA. Yaros helped with the cats!

Tramites! Paperwork all approved for sending two cats via Cargo/United.

Tramites! Paperwork all approved for sending two cats via Cargo/United.

One sweetie remains at the property to keep me company!

One sweetie remains at the property to keep me company!

Mindo has been without power during the week days as they change power lines and posts. There have been few options for using the internet.

Suffice to say that all’s going well, and I’ll be back next week, power willing!




After leaving AllPets Vet Hospital, Jim and I followed their directions to find a pet-supply store near Quitcentro. We had already checked a pet shop in a mall in north Quito, and the carriers were too small. We searched for a second ‘big store’ that someone predicted would have three ‘kennels’ large enough for the airline requirements.

View of Cotopaxi Volcano (Tuesday August 11, 2015) two days before she started blowing off steam!

View of Cotopaxi Volcano from the Quito airport – (Tuesday August 11, 2015) two days before she started blowing off steam!  Yes, the ash reached Mindo, and I wondered this morning how the truck got so gray and dirty!  Now I know!  Read more HERE.

Surely there's a pet store out there that has four kennels in stock!

Surely there’s a pet store out there that has four kennels in stock!

After a maze of wrong turns and being pointed in different directions by various people along the streets, we found the pet store with the big spotted dog sculpture outside the entrance. The very-nice man showed us one kennel that was large enough for a whopping price of almost 200 dollars. (This was on a Monday.) They only had one but could have three more for us by Thursday. We thanked him and said we would try to find more. He recommended we try a pet store in the nearby Quicentro mall.

I am dreaming about my cozy kennel they will surely find for me! (Ha!)

I am dreaming about my cozy kennel they will surely find for me! (Ha!)

Five or so minutes later we reached the shopping mall, and after several trips up and down escalators, out the doors and through an underground parking lot, we found the pet store tucked around a corner at below-ground level! Yes, they had one kennel that would work, and it was not as expensive as the one at the other store. He said that he’d call to see if he could get three more and to come back in five or so minutes. In search of white acrylic paint (for the Angels Trumpet painting) we went up one level to the art-supply store (No white paint!) then returned to the pet store. “Yes, we can get the kennels delivered here today. They will be here after six.”

(Ugh. The drive from Quito to their property in Mindo takes three hours! ) I politely explained and asked if it were possible for us to go to the supplier and pick them up there. He phoned someone and then said they would have them at the store at five. “Yes! Thank you so much! We will return at five!”

I wonder if the kennels will be there as promised...

I wonder if the kennels will be there as promised…

Continue reading




(Part One)

"Flying? I don't think so!"

“Flying? I don’t think so!”

(Ecuador) Most of you know that my friend Julie is battling cancer in the USA, and I’m helping her husband Jim as he moves their home contents, personal belongings and 4 cats back to the USA. I am also helping him prepare to sell their 100+ hectare property near Mindo. After we waved ‘Goodbye’ to the moving company crew and their trucks, we began gathering information about sending the four feline members of the family to the USA. Before purchasing appropriate cat carriers/kennels, we needed the specs. Jim checked with USDA websites as well as the airlines. We also asked various friends and professionals, and we received conflicting information.

“It’s easy to send pets back to the USA.”

“Just be sure the vaccinations are up to date.”

“Any sturdy pet carrier will work.”

“All you need to do is show up with your pet and up-to-date paperwork, and fly the pet as carry on.”

“Measure the height of the pet, from the floor to the cat’s head or tail when it’s sitting or standing, and add two inches to that…”

"Quick! What's the distance between the ground on the tip of my tail?""

“Quick! What’s the distance between the ground on the tip of my tail?””

“Ventilation on three sides of carrier/kennel.”

“Ventilation on four sides.”

“No vent holes on top.”

“Container for food and water must be attached to the inside of the carrier/kennel and accessible to the outside so that the food and water can be provided without opening the door.”

"I'm not so sure about this concept!"

“I’m not so sure about this concept!”

Every airline’s website seemed to have different online information, so we drove to the Quito airport (3 hours on a good day!) in hopes of finding the most reliable information. Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Conversations with Nature


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“When one is alone at night in the depths of these woods, the stillness is at once awful and sublime. Every leaf seems to speak.”  – – John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938)


From the 2nd-floor balcony – The tree is loaded, but for only ten days or so….

The days have been full helping Jim (and the cats) prepare to fly to the USA, but there are flowers in the garden that awaken when I am normally sleeping! The blooming period is quite sort, so at night I work on the studies while most people in Ecuador are sleeping!  Nearby Rio Cinto provides a subtle backdrop of sound, though there is a hushed stillness aside from random moths fluttering at the windows.    Every so often an insect finds its way to my work area – maybe in hopes of having its portrait made with the flowers?

Look who came to critique!  A lightning bug!

Look who came to critique! A lightning bug!

Before focusing on the main subject, I usually work on a smaller study.   The upper and lower views of a  black/brown and white butterfly provided perfect challenges on different evenings. Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Painting in Mindo

Working from life... bringing the outdoors inside...

Working from life… bringing the outdoors inside…

“Nature did all things well” – Michelangelo

(Mindo Ecuador)-  The Angels Trumpet painting continues to grow!  The design evolves depending on which flowers open each night.  Because their peak bloom is at night, I bring one or two blossoms inside, where I arrange them to hang beside the canvas.  (Their intoxicating fragrance is a grand bonus!)

Angels Trumpet Acrylic

from last week:  Angels Trumpet Acrylic

There are four or five more evening painting sessions before the 3′ x 42″painting is finished.  My internet time is limited, so enjoy watching these flowers come to life, and stay tuned for a more-technical post next week!
Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Hurried


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 Angel's Trumpet, acrylic in progress

Angel’s Trumpet, acrylic in progress

The week has been busy and very full, but I have managed to take some timeouts for art.  Enjoy the photos, and forgive me for this hurried post.

The week has been full;   prep for moving my friends and then the Global Transport crew arrived for three days of intense work.   They were so nice and respectful!

The week has been full; prep for moving my friends and then the Global Transport crew arrived for three days of intense work. They were so nice and respectful!

Continue reading

TIMEOUT FOR ART: The Beauty of Grass


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“To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature.” – August Rodin

Remembering my promise to draw a blade of grass or two, I searched for worthy specimens of dried grass and worked a little each night before going to sleep. Missing the ‘Thursday Timeout for Art,’ I pondered waiting until next week to share the drawings. Ailsa’s travel theme for the week is GRASS, the perfect nudge to share these quite-tardy images.

Take your pick; one blade, two blades, three blades... It's your choice!

Take your pick; one blade, two blades, three blades… It’s your choice!

I enjoyed limiting myself to one blade per session, and I spent half an hour to an hour on each one.  After sharpening my pencils (I keep four or five handy so that I don’t have to stop often to sharpen the points.)

I selected this one and taped it to the surface to keep it in place.

I selected this one and taped it to the surface to keep it in place.

It looks a bit flat... What's missing?

It looks a bit flat… What’s missing?

Continue reading

Update – With a Little Help from Friends


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My friends' Property near Mindo Ecuador

(Watercolor) My Friends’ Property near Mindo Ecuador

My Friends and WordPress Family:

The dengue and chikungunya side effects have all packed their bags and have left me in good health! Thank you so much for your support and concern as I regained my health. I am almost ready for the hurdles and am pain free. Yay!

Unfortunately, my Mindo friends are now the ones facing unexpected medical challenges, and I am in the cloud forest helping and will be mostly offline for the next few weeks.  Julie is undergoing chemotherapy in Nebraska now, and I am helping Jim prepare to ship their belongings back to the USA. I will oversee their amazing property until it sells.   It is with great sadness that I witness their dilemma, yet I am glad to be of help.

Will be online soon with details, but I will based in Mindo for the next few months and online briefly.   I will leave you with sample images of the beauty of this area. Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Beauty Everywhere


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Foliage - Pencil

Foliage – Pencil

“If you truly love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”
– Vincent Van Gogh

When given a sharp pencil, a blank piece of paper, and ten minutes or more of quiet time, I can usually find subject matter close at hand to occupy my attention.    I have learned to admire the simplest of plants.  A desiccated blade of grass can transform into an object of beauty via a finely-honed drawing.

The meandering philodendrom makes, for me, a fairly easy study.    The basic shape and details of the leaves are forgiving and can be lightly drawn without too much fuss.  The shading can be added later.  This drawing is an unfinished work, though I am hesitant to continue.

My critical eye goes to the two simple leaves in the middle of the drawing.  They seem to have a push-pull effect as if they’re not sure where they belong. Ten or so minutes of subtle shading will place them more firmly in the background.   But wait -overworking a picture often ruins it.

The decision belongs to all of you; should I continue shading and adding depth, or is it time to stop? Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Foliage Pencil

Would any of you consider drawing a blade of grass or three?  I will try to do several studies of grass and will share those results next Thursday.

Sharpen that pencil and start drawing!  :)  Z

The Island of the Magnificent Frigates


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Isla Corazon, Rio Chone/Manabi Province, Ecuador

With a potential El Nino Phenomenom percoluting along the equator, many locals along the Pacific coast reach back and share stories of the El Nino of 1997 and ’98.    One veteran of that extended season of torrential rains and mudslides is “Don Francisco”  from the petite community of Puerto Portobelo on the north-east side of Rio Chone.  The mangroves on the upper half of Isla Corazon washed away during the 1997/8 disaster, and silt from landslides and farmlands destroyed more trees and altered river channels.   Francisco Reyes, who worked on a farm before the upper half of the island washed away, dedicated his time to replanting and restoring this heart-shaped island.

March 2013 Mangroves washing away in Rio Jama

March 2013 Mangroves washing away in Rio Jama

My friend Stephen visited several weeks ago, and I rode with him to Isla Corazon, where we took the two-hour tour of the island.  Known best for having one of the largest colonies of frigate birds along the Pacific coast, Isla Corazon hosts many other bird species.   I never tire of visiting Isla Corazon, admiring the bird life and hearing new stories.  Each tour is unique, depending on which guide takes you on a special canoe ride and which birds and critters step onto the stage.

Preparing to leave the dock!

From February 2015 – Ecuador Expat Journey tour – Preparing to leave the dock!

Happy work crew heading home.

(High tide last week) Happy crew heading home so the tourists can enjoy the results of their hard work.


As we watch the work crew go back to shore, our boat pulls beside a flat-bottomed canoe. The transfer is quite fun!

P2110628 isla corazon canoes don francisco

Timing is important, and the small window of time changes daily with the tides.  This particular tour was racing the fast-falling tide of a full moon. The trees on the left side of the tunnel are all new-growth and planted by the community; the ones on the right are the older survivors of the flood.

Continue reading

Timeout for Art: The Art of Studying Works of Art


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Detail- Watercolor – Museo Bahia de Caraquez artifact…

There are three things to consider when talking about the fine arts. There is the object itself, say, the painting in the gallery. Next, there is the spectator who is gazing at the painting with varying degrees of attention. And finally there is the interaction between the two — which some insist is the actual “work of art.”

Hugh Curtler/Daily Gadfly-The Eye of the Beholder

Bahia de Caraquez-Ecuador –
This week’s quote came from one of Hugh’s recent posts. I’d like to hear your feedback after reading his post, though Ron Mayhew published a few images that same week that confirm Hugh’s observations. See Ron’s: At The Museum Looking At Art Distracted  (Ron, I’ve been unable to comment, but suffice to know that I enjoyed the photos!)

Museo Bahia de Caraquez down below along Rio Chone...

Museo Bahia de Caraquez down below along Rio Chone…

This finds me writing from Museo Bahia de Caraquez (Ecuador) where I’ve been staying and working on watercolor studies of artifacts this week.   It’s great to work during the public-viewing hours, but it’s blissful when working after hours!  I’m sobered by the staff’s trust in my presence here as I meander between my favorite pieces, settle in and merge psyches with the ancient artifacts!

There are lots of heart-warming stories from my time here at the museum, but it’s time to go to work!  I’ll leave you with a thumbnail sheet of the progress.


Have a good day, and see you again soon with stories and more images!  Z

New Month, New Week & a Bright, Bright Sun-shining Day!


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"Let's get moving!" - Otavalo - Child in Bucket!

“Let’s get moving!” – Otavalo – Child in Bucket!

With great pleasure, I embrace the start of this week feeling much better! I’m not ready for the hurdles or pole-vaulting competitions, but as Johnny Nash’s lyrics state, ‘I think I can make it now, the pain is gone.’

Enjoy Jimmy Cliff’s version of the song while cyber-strolling through Playamart’s Ecuador files.

Pour a cup of coffee or tea – hot or chilled and take a magic trip to the middle of the world.  My neighbor Nelly will lead the parade!

Nelly at La Division

Nelly at La Division

Smiling Nelly gets silly!

Smiling Nelly gets silly!


Jama Parade


Oh, to be tall! (No Chikungunya in those joints!)

P1740800 stilts jama parade

“I can see all obstacles in my way!”

P1600353 hats  I LOVE A PARADE san vicente ecuador


Jama Mermaid

tope P1600414 san vicente little boy on horse

San Vicente Cabalgata

P1600469 san vicente young musicians

Near Montechristi

Near Montechristi


It’s a bird.. it’s a plane.. it’s — SuperBarb!

Photo by Henry Groff

Photo by Henry Groff


Marie Groff, Smiling with new friends in Cuenca!

P1340753 sombrero laughs

Silly moments in Jama

blue END OF DAY TIRED BUT SMILING colors adjusted

End of Day – Tired but Smiling… (Jama)

The rain is gone!

The rain is gone!

It's going to be a bright, bright sun shining day!

It’s going to be a bright, bright sun shining day!

Continue reading

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?
0 julie yellow orchid

P1840117 mindo azalea pink

Tree Fern / Near Mindo Ecuador

Tree fern

P1870443 kings torch ginger

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.)


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,
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…




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.


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.


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.


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!



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.


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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25143348 pencil mosquito gold

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.


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


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