An Artist’s Eyes Never Rest!

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for stopping by!  Z

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Timeout for Art – Art Makes Us See

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Petite Morning Glory w/watercolor in background…

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

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

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Watercolor

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

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Watercolor – Blue Morning Glory

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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

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Timeout for Art: Remembering Mosquitoes

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Pencil drawing with Gold Metallic Color Effects…

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

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

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

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The mirror photographed best in the gardens!

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

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

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

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

The Force of a Tiny Insect

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"I'm not afraid of skeeters!"

“I’m not afraid of skeeters!”

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

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

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

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

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

“What medications are you taking?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I smiled.

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

Timeout for Art: The Gift of Friendship

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

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

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

(Grandson is hiding!)

(Grandson Justin is hiding!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Find the Right Mosquito”*

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“You look awful,” were his first words.

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

“You’re skinny as a rail.”

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

*-The Testament – John Grisham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yow!”

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

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

Weak but Improving

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

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

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

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

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

Dengue Postscript

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

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

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

I love you all!
Z

The Dreaded Dengue

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It hurts only if I move.

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

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

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

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

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

Timeout for Art: Nature, the Great Listener

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Petite Residents of Palo Santo’s Gardens – 

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

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

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Acrylic – Silent Conversations

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

Nepal Update: Mick Bromley-Wilderness Trekking

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Photo from Wilderness Trekking/Mick Bromley

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

Timeout for Art: Trading Gifts at Hotel Ciragan

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

Ramon touches up the entrance...

Ramon touches up the entrance at Hotel Ciragan…

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

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

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

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The Other Shoe Dropped

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El Matal – Jama/Manabi/Ecuador

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

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

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

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

The rock was completely under water.

The rock was completely under water.

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

April 22, 2015 - The mouth of Rio Jama

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

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

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Ready to go to a fairy-tale reception?

Ready to go to a fairy-tale reception?

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

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

An injection of humor for the BEST bus ride EVER!

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

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

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Dr. Roberto Moreno di Donato – Manta, Ecuador

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View of Bahia de Caraquez  from San Vicente, Ecuador

View of Bahia de Caraquez from San Vicente, Ecuador

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

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

THE UNDERTOW by Carrie B. Morgan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Canary Shouts, “The Sky is Falling!”

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Walden of the Tropics - photo copyright/Lisa Brunetti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

06 CR howlers MOTHER Y BABE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Timeout for Art – Flying Joyfully Through My Days

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

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

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

The Wedding on the Equator – Part Two

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

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

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

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“I think it’s Showtime!”

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Military Green?

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

Student Show and Away We Go!

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Of course I loved the zebra painting!

Of course I loved the zebra painting!

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

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

Michelle’s Timeout from Work!

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Michelle travels with paper and ink pens….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to dash to the museum!
Z

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

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Bus Ride to Quito - ZZZZZZZZ - dawn awakens!

Bus Ride to Quito – ZZZZZZZZ – dawn awakens!

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

The Crazy Hubbub of Santo Domingo de los Colorados

The Crazy Hubbub of Santo Domingo de los Colorados

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

A Wedding on the Line of the Equator!

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

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

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

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

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

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Details, details!

Continue reading

A Blurrrr of Smoke and Roses!

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

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

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

The Irony of Costume

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Good Friday Purple

Good Friday Purple

Quito Ecuador

Good Friday will never be the same for me after yesterday’s  “Procesion Jesus del Gran Poder” in Quito.   Raised in Mississippi and aware of the negative associations of Mississippi to the Ku Klux Klan, I looked forward to seeing the purple-tunic version with pointed hats used in their proper and rightful place in history.Cariote

The positive associations with these costumes trump the KKK’s negative one.

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Although many friends had told me that this would be a huge event, I was not prepared for the masses that crowded the streets to observe the procession. Continue reading

Timeout for Art While Traveling

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El Cafecito Restaurant in Quito gave us blank-paper placemats and a shotglass of colored chalk the minute we sat down. These were the first words of our conversation!

Restaurante El Cafecito  front entrance - Quito

Restaurante El Cafecito front entrance – Quito

“I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Instead of focusing on art this week, I’m sharing photos that record a tiny slice of Michelle’s 8-day visit to Ecuador.  My multi-talented young friend managed to find timeout for art between various outings.  Enjoy the photos and marvel at the use she made of her time!

Michelle sketched the design on the windows.

Michelle sketched the window design while we waited on dinner.

Continue reading

Rabbit Rabbit Once More

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(Ecuador) Otavalo Market - Rabbits

(Ecuador) Otavalo Market – Rabbits

Late last night as I was painting, I remembered we were approaching another Rabbit-Rabbit Day, and I visualized writing a post with a picture of a rabbit.   (See Rabbit Rabbit May Day.)  

While guests were sleeping, I painted this ginger in the breakfast room of Hotel Andino in Quito.

While guests were sleeping, I painted this ginger in the breakfast room of Hotel Andino in Quito. (No, I did not drink four bottles of wine!)

Because I painted late, and because I get weary arguing with the WordPress ‘Improved’ Write-New-Post options, I selected slumber over writing this post. Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Impromptu Art Class – Museo Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador

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Opening Inauguration for Legado de Colores

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin

(Ecuador 2015)  Back in February, I dropped by Museo Bahia de Caraquez and enjoyed reminiscing with the staff about the Mola Series Exhibition the museum sponsored back in 2012.  Ready to work on a new series of museum artifacts, I asked permission to take a few photos.  With a bit of red-tape, the director Sixtina Ureta authorized me to photograph a few of my favorite pieces.  She also told me that my “Spiral” painting in their collection would be included in an upcoming show.

From 2013:  Imagine my surprise when the guide at the Bahia de Caraquez Museum told me that my painting was in a new exhibit upstairs!

From 2013: Imagine my surprise when the guide at the Bahia de Caraquez Museum told me that my painting was in a new exhibit upstairs!

After a few delays, the museum’s most-recent show opened this morning for the viewing pleasure of a group of students.  I knew there would be students, but I did not realize that they were students of art!    Many wanted their photos taken with me in front of the spiral painting, and we had several laughs – especially when I crouched down with my back against the wall to be the same height as Sixtina.  Several other artists and supporters of the arts attended the formal presentation – it’s always a special honor to witness extranjeros who attend the local events.

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There were young artists and older students, so I sat on the floor to be closer in height with the younger ones.

New Exposition - Museeo Bahia de Caraquez

Sixtina discusses the museum’s colorful paintings for the Legado de Colores exposition at Museo Bahia de Caraquez

from 2012 "The Mola Series" - Painting pictured at Portoviejo Museum

from 2012 “The Mola Series” – Painting pictured at Portoviejo Museum before it reached its permanent home at Museo Bahia de Caraquez.

“My teacher would like for you to come downstairs,” one student said as the gathering ended.  I followed Sixtina and others down the stairs to a level below the main floor.  A second art event was about to begin! Continue reading

Each Day Prepares Presents, but We Must Show Up!

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Michelle – Sunset at Playa Tarqui/Ecuador

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Dr. Suess

Click your heels together and get moving! Otherwise you might miss amazing experiences that await you!

About ten years ago while spending a week in the San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua area, I met a perpetually-cheerful university student who became an instant friend.  From New York, multi-talented Michelle was on vacation,  and we shared mutual interests in horseback riding, art and music.  She later spent time with me in Costa Rica, and we’ve kept in close contact over the years.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

After coordinating plans via email for her first trip to Ecuador, Michelle arrived in Guayaquil on Saturday night for an 8-day visit.    We spent Sunday morning saying, “Hello-Hola” to the resident reptiles and pigeons at ‘IGUANA PARK’ before touring Guayaquil’s Malecon 2000 area. Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Playamart Treasures

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“Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.”
― Oscar Wilde

P8170025 TIMEOUT kitchen sink

Pictured: Random pieces of bamboo, driftood/towel hanger, old bottle painted blue for nosegays, old ruined pan (I was painting and burned the food and the pan!) painted new colors and transformed into planter.

It takes little effort to be creative, but I think that many people say, “I have no talent,” and rarely attempt to create art for the joy of the moment.  They have not given themselves permission to loosen their inhibitions and play!   Have you ever asked, “What am I going to do today?” while wishing some magic genie would pop out of a bottle and transform a boring day into a more-enriching one?

"What are we going to do today?"

“What are we going to do today?”

Sometimes it’s a fear of being critiqued.  Sometimes it’s fear of failure; sure failure feels pretty horrible, but we learn what NOT to do again!  Sometimes there’s not enough time in the day, but I say, “Basura! If you have time to watch a sitcom or read the newspaper, then you can make time to create something that enhances the quality of your day!’  If someone gives you a negative critique, tell them, “Lisa likes it!”

An old headboard destined for the trash heap now sports new colors and purpose.  Does anyone volunteer to help shell the peas? ( I promise not to burn them this time!)

An old headboard destined for the trash heap now sports new colors and purpose. Does anyone volunteer to help shell the peas? ( I promise not to burn them this time!)

Adding just a touch of color can transform a boring corner of the garden. Go ahead – paint a little bitty something on a scrap of wood and attach it to an old broomstick and place it in your garden – or take an old broomstick and paint it many colors and use it to support a climbing plant.

A slim section of bamboo retrieved from the nearby beach serves as a support for the young thumbergia.  Playamart uses material from the beach - and it's free!

A slim section of bamboo retrieved from the nearby beach serves as a support for the young thumbergia. Playamart uses material from the beach – and it’s free!

I’m nudging you!  Step into the picture; take a walk on the wild side, and you might find it wasn’t as scary as you thought! Continue reading

Bridges and Boots

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On the day I was leaving for Quito, Xavier dropped by and said, “Lisa; we’re about to do a little work by the house.”

“Work?”

“Yes;  we’re going to make a little road on the other side of the canal  and build a little puente for you.” Continue reading

Pelican Drop

Pelican Drop - Rio Jama Ecuador

Pelican Drop – Rio Jama Ecuador

Hi from Jama/Ecuador! I’m taking a fast timeout while in town getting supplies; we received about half an inch of rain last night – Ya-HOO – and the humid air suggests more rain.

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words and for your feedback/advice; I’m still baffled why the ‘allergy’ seems to be returning – only the allergy tests were normal.  After four days’ solitude at Casa Loca, I was doing fine, but while in town and TALKING to people (!) I realized that my cough was returning. What is my body trying to tell me? “Stay home, stay quiet, watch birds and paint!”

So I’m heading home (internet is too slow there to post) so I will ‘Shut up and paint!’

I hoped to upload a series of shots of this “Pelican Drop,” but the Claro connection is slow here in town as well!

Will be back in town sometime next week.
Z

Mending…

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Once uponce a time in a world far away (Mississippi!), November delivered a nagging cough, and it stayed with me until about March of each year. It arrived with the package of cold weather. Many people scoff and state, “Mississippi doesn’t have cold weather!” – but it does.

Late Februry 2015 - New Albany Mississippi - Photo by Charles Brunetti

Late Februry 2015 – New Albany Mississippi – Photo by Charles Brunetti

Memories of ice storms and snow-swept landscapes marry well with other memories of burst water pipes that matched countless others when temperatures dropped below ten degrees Fahrenheit. I remember Mother awakening me with the words, “Look out your window,” and with joy in my heart I thought, “No school!” as I peered outside and admired the beauty of the snow.  I often caught my horse and rode through snow-covered landscape. Continue reading

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