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 divided my time between Ecuador and Central America and eventually weaned full time to Ecuador.  There have been good times, and there have been bad –  Destructive tides, the evolution of ‘Casa Loca,’ Dengue and Chikungunya epidemics, light-pole painting competitions, impromptu painting sessions, visits to the oldest hacienda in the country, a wedding on the equator, shrimp harvests, floor-painting memories.   The April 16/2016 7.8 earthquake upturned the coastal area, and with a heavy heart I watched the ‘Casa Loca’ chapter come to an end.

Most of my posts feature light-hearted stories, though at times I poke and prod at much-more serious topics.  Deforestation and continued abuse of our planet’s natural resources remind me to speak up for those who have no voice.  Our planet is sick, and we are the ‘predator’ responsible; it’s time for all of us to remember that the other species deserve the right to thrive in their natural ecosystems.

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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A Pencil and a Bit of Encouragement

Watercolor Study

“The first and most important thing an individual can do is to become an individual again, decontrol himself, train himself as to what is going on and win back as much independent ground for himself as possible”
— William S. Burroughs

Artifact from Museo Bahia de Caraquez/Ecuador (This museum is still closed)

Manabi Province/Ecuador –   Every so often a planned event affects me in unexpected ways.   This happened yesterday while giving an art workshop to a group of very-deserving people from the area.  Ranging from 5 or 6 year olds to 40-somethings, some were in small family units, and others were alone.  All I knew was that they were facing some personal challenges,  and an organization sponsors and gives them assistance as they find their way to a better stance in life.  Continue reading

“What’s Happening to My Planet?”


P1370557 morning view

Ah, that cloud-forest view but much lower!

Poza Honda/Santa Ana/Portoviejo Ecuador –  A year ago, the pristine early-morning view across Poza Honda equaled the beauty of Mindo’s cloud forest.  “I’m in Manabi Province?” I thought while considering pinching myself to make sure this was not a dream.

The skies tightened their taps months ago, and this year’s dry season has been exceptionally dry.  That dreamlike-view is still stunning, but the trees show signs of acute thirst. The abundance of last-year’s birds is quite low, and many are absent.  The Scrub Blackbirds hog the banana feeders, and it is rare to see any other species drop in for breakfast.   The Brown Wood Rails have been MIA for almost two months!  I worry if I’m witnessing the beginnings of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. 

P2290949 nov 27 2018 view from house

Nov 2018

Barbara has been here for a month, and there have been few days of sunshine;   the visibility was low, and grayness tainted each day as if someone cast a light-dimming net over the skies.  We wondered, “Is this some kind of fog, or is there a volcano spewing ash in the Andes, or is this some foreboding sign of the beginning of the apocalypse?”

P2280333 ATMOSPHERE ACROSS LAKE view from house at lake

All-day Gray

P2280334 atmosphere view across poza honda from house

Between painting and varnishing and framing and delivering paintings to the museum – and then attending openings, we veered off the beaten path on three different occasions for a ‘Timeout from Art.”  In all three directions, the end-of-dry season ‘landscape desecration’ was sobering. Continue reading

A Lovely Gathering of People!

P2270106 inauguration museo

A special thanks to my friend Barbara Seibel, who arrived two weeks ago to finalize a mountain of details for this Journey show!

Museo Portoviejo – Portoviejo/Manabi/Ecuador –

“Amazing!  Awesome!” my friend Barbara stated when asked what she felt now that the exposition has been formally presented to the public!   She could equally have stated, “Exhausted, depleted, over worked,” as we put in long hours, pushed our physical limits and battled insects if we worked past sunset.   Our self-imposed deadlines were pushed back when we could only work in daylight hours!

P2090879 insects

(From August) They are harmless, but flock to any light and find their way inside the house! Best to use candles, and one cannot paint by candlelight! (Or varnish a floor!) (Linda, you surely laughed?)

Alas! The show does go on – and it did – though we worked until half an hour before time for the inauguration and then dashed to the ladies’ bathroom to change into more-proper attire! Continue reading

Lisa Brunetti – A Journey – Opens 7 PM -Nov 15, 2018

Portoviejo/Manabi/Ecuador —- Mfriend Barbara arrived two weeks ago to help prepare for tomorrow night’s inaguration of “Lisa Brunetti – A Journey.”


Museo Portoviejo’s Carlos Wellington proofs the official invitation while dear Barbara surely ponders, “What was I thinking when I offered to come help?”!!!!!

With the truck loaded with paintings, we stopped to sending this post from a cyber.  The next stop – in 45 minutes – is the Portoviejo Museum.

Here’s a peek of last week’s delivery, when we I looked up and said, “Oh.  No,” – yet I smiled.  We were very tired and a bit ragged!

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Television channel 30/Portoviejo (?) arrived for a behind-the scenes chat!  We had been working for days on the floor, brushed three coats of floor finish on it, then loaded the floor and paintings in the truck…  We were not anticipating a photo session, but were honored to be featured on the local news!!

There are many ‘surprises in the show!  The floor is just one of them!

P2260994 2 munecos painted by barb

Barbara painted two ‘New Year’s Effigies’ which is a story of its own!

Here’s the official invitation:


More soon!

Lisa (y Barb!)




Grounded in Nature

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa

Cocoi Heron y Grebe  – Poza Honda

Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador    — Using a clothes-drying rack as my ‘supply’ table, I spent several hours outside adding details to two paintings. Many times the support-cast of items take more time to paint than the subject of the painting! With my feet propped against the tree trunk, and the painting taped to a drawing board, I added watercolor details to the orchid leaves.

Session One using material inside the house…

Ahhhhh; Session Two – Working from Life!

Sundays are often ‘family days’ when my neighbors visit loved ones, so the neighborhood was extremely quiet. An eclectic chatter of backyard birds provided a calming soundtrack. A Great Antshrike added its chortling rhythm to the afternoon chorus, which made my soul smile; I was painting that same species!

Male and Female Great Antshrikes

Our dry season has been extremely dry this year, and it followed a not-so-wet rainy season.  The landscape is parched, and even the birds display their distress:

Streaked Flycatcher

Barred Puffbird


Even the squirrels are acting strange – or perhaps they often eat grasses?

The watercolor pigments evaporated almost as fast as I mixed them. Reaching a stopping point, I critiqued details and was about to add another layer of depth (darker) to one area when my own counsel to students spoke softly: “Always stop before you think you are finished.”

Great Antshrike Watercolor

No one (except me!) would note or care if one more layer of blue pushed some of the foliage to the back, which nudged other details forward. I rinsed my brush, mixed a new batch of blue-green and signed the painting. Continue reading

How Could 15,000+ Scientists be Wrong?


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Equinox Shadows

Poza Honda/Manabi/Ecuador –  I’m still a big baffled, here just south of the equator. The sun was still in the eastern sky at noon on the September Equinox. It reached ‘zenith’ around nine minutes past noon and began tipping into the western skies around 12 past noon.

“Amigos!” I called a few days later, when the sun repeated its high-noon stage fright. “Check your watches and help me understand why the sun is late for our noon date!” Jorge pulled out his fancy phone then gave everyone a mini-equinox lesson!

It’s easy to rationalize and say well, we’re not exactly on the equator or maybe all world clocks are running fast and should be re-calibrated with the sun!  Continue reading

Two-part Post!

Part One: Reception Saturday Sept 29, 2018 – Museo Portoviejo/Manabi/Ecuador – Noon – 4 pm.

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Part Two:

We are often advised to focus on one particular task – to pay complete attention without allowing our minds to wander. When drawing or painting or even when gardening, I easily veer into an intense focus, and the outside world fades away. I am unable to read or write (well) if someone is in the room; it is not my nature to ignore another person in order to focus on my own tasks. I usually close the book or shut down the computer until a later time. Sometimes while reading, I realize that my wandering mind is recalling a conversation or is pondering tasks for the day. Exasperated, I shut down what some people call the monkey mind, and start reading again – from the beginning. (I think that’s called going through life in the ‘right-brain’ mode!) Other times I pay attention to the monkey mind’s voice so that it has my complete attention and hopefully dismiss it for the day!

A well-written novel lassos me with the opening sentence, and I am one-hundred percent attentive to that story until the final sentence. I inhabit that world of fiction and am entertained by the story; I also admire and appreciate the writer’s gift.

An excellent storyteller, Don Ostertag shares true stories from his years at the Guthrie Theater. He has been in silent mode, one that cycles through many writer’s lives, and he explains his 5-month absence through this new post. From the opening sentence to the final one, “THE FALL -Act 1” held my complete attention and reminds us that we only have today.

I am writing this while offline and will publish later. Comments will be off, since it seems unfair to all of you who offer ongoing support – while I remain mostly offline and silent. There’s lots to share, but for now, enjoy Don’s post.

Go here: THE FALL – Act I — Please give him a well-deserved standing ovation! He – and his wife – deserve it!

Green or Red?

Semi-frozen pureed beets, carrots, guayusa-stevia tea and lemon. Garnish is Blue Porterweed, which ‘tastes like mushrooms’ (It really does!)

Red as cranberries, the beets give the above ‘drink’ an eye-popping color.  The carrots add to the sweetness.  But how does it taste?

“It tastes like green things,” my friend Dady said last year when she sampled the beet-carrot-apple-orange drink at Hostal Palo Santo.    Every time I make a similar drink, I recall her words – and everyone’s laughter – as she politely drank the raspberry-colored juice.

The resident squirrel has been nibbling grass this past week.

“It tastes like green things!”

The Blue Porterweed is an edible plant of interest and has promising medicinal properties.

The Amazalia Hummingbird has few flowers at this time of year, but the Porterweed provides a daily supply!  The flowers also make a lovely garnish!

The past few weeks have been busy, and the next few months will be even busier, but I wanted to share that little chuckle and hope that you in the USA have a nice holiday weekend.

If you make a similar blend, let us know if it tastes like green things!


Thank you, Mueso Portoviejo!

Museo Portoviejo – back left in this view (Image taken from Ceibo Dorado Restaurant)

Museo Portoviejo y Archivo Historico – Manabi Province – Ecuador
“Exposicion Artistica – Nomadas”

Alfonso Endaram – Ecuador
Lisa Brunetti – USA
Sigrid Tidmore – USA
Crystal Hayes – Canada
Yuliana Shevchuk – Russia
Abigail Herrera – Venezuela

Thank you, Mueso Portoviejo!

 Hildale de Ávila (left) and Alexandra Cevallos Castro (right)

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” – William Butler Yeats

A big ‘Thank you” goes to Museo Portoviejo and its director Jacqueline Álvarez for the Nomadas show that opened last week.  An extra-special “Thank you” goes to Alexandra Cevallos and Hildale de Ávila,  who lassoed these nomads (scattered through the province of Manabi) and showcased their works in this exposition! This is the first show EVER (for me) when all details were tended by others, and all I had to do was show up in time for the opening!

The museum provided lodging at nearby Ceibo Dorado Hotel and also honored the artists with a pre-opening dinner at the hotel’s top-floor restaurant.

Sunset view from the hotel restaurant.

View of the cathedral from the elevator!  (leaving the restaurant and heading to the musuem….)

The show was well received, and the Facebook crowd seemed delighted for photo ops with the artists! The arrangement of the paintings flowed well, with each artist’s work prominently displayed. It would be impossible for me to select a favorite painting – or even a favorite artist! The slideshow provides a sneak peek:

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Some of us were able to visit at breakfast the next morning; we discussed challenges as well as the benefits of creating art in Manabi.   We also hope to have a weekend aternoon ‘reception’ at the museum – so out-of-town friends can visit, meet the artists, view the show.   We learned a lot from each other, but also discovered that we need more ‘reunions’ to swap stories!  Hopefully we’ll get that chance later in September!

We arrived as strangers, but we parted as friends!

Timeout for Art – About that Feather…

Hola All!
The opening reception for Nomadas en Manabi went well. Thank you for your lovely support!  I am writing from the hotel and will be returning to the museum to admire each painting in the exhibit. (All photos from last night are still in the camera!)   The Museum gets high marks for this show and deserves a post of its own.  Meeting and interacting with the other artists was a lovely fringe benefit, and we depart as kindred spirits.

In the last post, the image of the feather was labeled as acrylic; it was painted with watercolor… Blame the editor of the post (me) for that ‘typo’ mistake!

While ‘the feather’ is still fresh in your collective memories, here’s a step-by-step watercolor slide show.
Continue reading

Nomadas en Manabi – Opens Tonight at Museo Portoviejo!



P2110231 MUSEO PORTOVIEJO AUGUST 2018Portoviejo/Manabi Province/Ecuador – Thanks to the magic of scheduling a post to be published at a specified date and time, this should reach you when the inauguration  of Nomadas en Ecuador begins.    What follows is my ‘Artist’s Statement’ written specifically for this event.  Enjoy! Continue reading

Orchestrated Timelines?


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Museo Portoviejo sponsors and encourages the arts. (Image from 2012)

El Ministerio de Cultura y Patrimonio
a traves del Museo Portoviejo y Archivo Historico
(Portoviejo Ecuador)
Invita a la inauguracion de la exposicion
Sigrid Tidmore (Estados Unidos)
Alfonso Endara (Quito)
Crystal Hayes (Canada)
Lisa Brunetti (Estados Unidos)
Yuliana Shevchuk (Rusia)
Abigail Herrera (Venezuela)
Direccion: Calle Olmedo entre Sucre y Cordova (Edificio la Previsora)
Fecha: Agosto 15 de 2018
Hora: 19h30
(05) 2652235 – 2652279

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once. ” – Albert Einstein

When one steps into a gallery or museum, they probably don’t think about the stories behind the paintings. Painting can be hard work, especially when ‘the good brushes’ no longer hold a point, and locally-purchased new ones make poor replacements. It is difficult to ‘nail’ the snippet of light on a bird’s eye or sign one’s name when using a brush that flares at the point! Even one AWOL hair on that brush will leave its renegade signature where it doesn’t belong!  Aside from my friends and family in the USA, I also miss the convenience of buying my favorite art supplies!

Painting for me is easy when compared to the next step of matting and framing those works – and having places to store the paintings. There are no ‘Michaels’ or ‘Fads and Frames’ that offer good quality brushes, paints, mats, ready-made or custom-made frames. The larger cities have better options, but what if those cities are hours and hours away? Over the years I’ve adapted, and now use thin plywood as ‘mats,’ which I sand and paint. Just like selecting custom mats at a frame shop, I usually draw and hand paint those windows; when the paint is dry, the original is carefully taped in place.

Ready to paint that window!

“Tres Toucanes”

Because many panes of glass have broken over the years (ha, and in earthquakes!) I now use very-thick clear plastic, which protects the paintings from dust and fingerprints. The curious public can sometimes damage a drawing or painting by touching it…

Ugh; I often forget to photograph the work until it’s beneath the plastic.!

Frames are made by local carpenters; I dole out the requests a few at a time, and almost always they are ready when promised. I sand and varnish or paint them, and finally secure the painting into its frame.

Brothers Amable and Luis helped when I lived in Jama…

The nearest cyber/wifi op is in the town of Ayacucho, where I am writing this post!

Now Franklin, who lives half an hour away in Ayacucho, makes most of my frames.

Sometimes the frames are a little too small, so back to the workshop we go!

Back to the workshop!

Ah. thanks, Franklin! (The small frames cost two to three dollars; the large ones are five to seven!)

Painting at night continues to present its challenges; the biggest one is the insects. In the daytime, those panoramic-view windows bring the outdoors inside; at night the lights invite the insects to come see the art in progress! They are tiny wispy little insects, but they are SO drawn to the lights!

5:15 AM after an all night-painting session; they were like fans at a sold-out event, crowding the gates in hopes of being admitted!

The next morning….

The work area now has blue curtains, but the insects seemed to say, “Ha! You have to do better than this!’ — Now blankets and sheets add to my very-eccentric indoor tent!

Insect hieroglyphics!  Don’t worry, this was not in the house; photographed while watching bats and swallows at the dam…

“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.” Jean Paul

For obvious reasons, most of my ‘night work’ has ceased.  That is why I was running two hours late to deliver two paintings to Museo Portoviejo earlier this week; I had only driven a few kilometers when I stopped to photograph a raptor. It possessed a strong presence, and I sensed that I was viewing another VIP bird. It allowed ample time for photos, and I scolded myself for not taking the bird identification guide book with me! Does anyone know – at a glance – the name of this raptor?

From my limited guide-book options, this appears to be another VIP bird for Poza Honda.

It was hanging out on a cecropria limb!

After posting this, I’ll upload the data to ebird and hope that my identification (below) is correct…

One would think that a bird on the endangered list would be quite skittish of a person’s presence, but it seemed totally relaxed. I rationalized that if I had left at 11 instead of 1, I would have missed this photo session with the majestic Grey-backed Hawk!  Could Life have orchestrated that delay so that I was rewarded with this lovely encounter with the raptor?

From the IUCN RED LIST:     The population density in the Northwest Peru Biosphere Reserve was calculated to be 0.65 individuals per km2, with the population of the study area estimated at 136 individuals (Piana 2016). The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Cornell offers more information: “Global population size of the species has been established between 250 to 999 mature individuals, based on assesment of known records, description of abundance and range size. This is equivalent to 350 to 1500 individuals (BirdLife International 2016). However, a rapid and ongoing population decline is suspected given the acelerated rate of habitat destruction and fragmentation, particullarly in Ecuador.”

After reading the above information, I realize what a special and important sighting this was!  Note to self, “It’s OK to be tardy; perhaps Life has orchestrated a special detour for your viewing pleasure!” 

Grey-backed Hawk – Poza Honda – August 7, 2018

That’s all for today’s ramblings;  if you find yourself running late or navigating Life’s detours, smile and look for the hidden prizes!

Why Environment is Cherished

Smooth-billed Ani

Identification of this lovely flowering tree?

Poza Honda Ecuador

Poza Honda/ Manabi Province – Ecuador   — Thank you all for your continued support and comments! When online I’m reading/loading other posts, emails, etc then heading home before the computer battery dies and loses it all! It was another week of listening to the chain saws, some distant and some close, but now I think I hope that all will be quiet for a very long time.

I hope to be online for a longer stretch on Tuesday…. Until then, enjoy some not-so painful images of the beauty of this area!

Balsa near top of hill; I always hoped to find what used that hidey hole!

A vine wrapped its base and was making a lovely natural bouquet…

It provided balsa fluff for many species…

And served as a lookout for creatures great and small; the kinkajou loves to eat balsa flowers.

What’s a kinkajou?

This is a cute Kinkajou!

Several days ago that balsa tree was felled, with four others that enhanced that stretch of road.

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This Chestnut-headed Oropendola should not be here; but it is!

I’d like to introduce you to what is surely the most-precious ‘rat’ species on the planet! Isn’t it adorable?

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There are positive things happening, and hopefully new species will be planted when the next rainy season begins. (Xiomara has been very helpful.)
And with that, I’ll select ‘Publish’ before the battery dies, and I groan!

Keep smiling!

Where to Start?


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P2040684 marcos mural the frog before

Nice idea, but the legs seemed way too weak to support the big frog. It just needed some TLC!

“But I did not want art like this;  I asked for green things and frogs and butterflies….”

That’s what my friend and former neighbor Marcos said when I congratulated him on the new art on their garden wall.

The art was much better than what was previously there – a sterile concrete wall;  he explained that he wanted to bring the outdoors inside, and he was disappointed in the results.

I normally dodge a request to repaint what another artist painted, but after listening to his story, and witnessing his somber mood when critiquing the art, I agreed to help via compromise;  working with what was there, I’d take the art a few more steps forward.

As I worked, I shared with Marcos and Juanita that it’s often difficult for an artist to grasp what the other person wants.. it’s like stepping into a dream that belongs to someone else.   If the artist has never painted life-like images, and they specialize in another style, it’s difficult to do the work.  No longer is the art springing forth from the soul; it’s tempered by thinking about what the other person wants.  With one eye on the work, the other is tweaked toward the ‘client’ – so there’s already a problem to stay focused and dedicated to the best job.

It was well done – well painted, and the colors were pleasant;   the person who painted it was no longer in the country and he doubted if she’d be back.

P2040691 marcos mural the bird window during

While working on the frog, I noted that Marcos had other plans; he wanted the ‘window’ to be wider, and with a few swipes of paint, the old image vanished…  uh-oh, my tasks just doubled in size!  He seemed thrilled with the progress, I handed him brushes and paint, and slowly his entire spirit transformed.    Enjoy the slide show:

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I helped until time to leave with the final load of items from the apartment and make that seven-hour drive back to Poza Honda.    Unfortunately the trees had not magically grown back, and the  area had been somewhat cleared; every so often someone burned piles of debris, and each time I was lucky to be upwind from the burns.

P2030799 july 10 smoke before the fire

One burn went out of control and came very close to where I live. The image below was taken from the dam as I drove for an internet session. Want to find the house? Just follow the smoke. 😦
P2030815 smoke fire viewd from represa

When I returned, a young man stopped me at the dam gates. He showed me a video on his phone and explained that it was his mother’s property. He seemed quite remorseful about the fire that continued to burn – and creep closer to the house. Continue reading

Life in the Campo


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P1370056 july 22 melissa and flowers

One year ago – my closest neighbor Melissa

Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador – One year ago I first visited this little coffee farm, inhabited by one family of five, one young married couple, the owner, three dogs, two cats, an always-changing number of free-range chickens, several squirrels, a micro-community of Howler monkeys – and thousands of birds.  Rosa, a single ‘older lady,’ lives in her authentic campo house on several acres which this property surrounds. These lovely inhabitants of this ultra-petite community graciously allowed one artist to wean into their neighborhood.

P1370060 july 22 melissa and flowers

July 22, one year ago – I booked for one night and stayed ‘forever!’

P1370928 rosa july 2017 y brother


P1510126 mother daughter window

Birthdays are quiet events, shared with the immediate neighbors. Period. No aunts, uncles, grandparents or friends from nearby towns are present for these lovely and quiet gatherings.   Lovingly-prepared luncheons are served, and then the cake is presented to the person of honor. Conversations easily roll from random subject to random subject, and I always remark on how fast the pre-teens/teens are growing.  The first gathering was for Melissa’s birthday in October.

P1510064 shoes birthday shoes at melissas door october

Please leave your shoes at the bottom of the steps! Come inside!

Continue reading



P2010305 june 30 whooping motmots in achiote tree small file

Whooping Motmots – Two of three that visit at the end of the day….

“I can write best in the silence and solitude of the night, when everyone has retired.”- Zane Gray

Poza Honda – Manabi Province – Ecuador

Thank you all for your great response to the recent painting of the Green Kingfisher;  it was painted over a series of nights, and the final session lasted until 5 in the morning!   True to most any ‘laborer’ who signs out after a day’s work, I have no problems falling into a deep restorative sleep after those painting sessions.

Mornings are almost always silent, aside from the random sounds from my neighbors the birds.  The Whooping Motmots get their name from a very-low ‘Whoop-whoop-whoop’ sound that might frighten skittish people walking through the woods in the twilight!  They are most vocal in the first hours of the morning, and at the end of the day.

P2010538 whooping motmot sunset

End of Day – all is calm.   Whooping Motmot

When the habitat is almost void of other sounds, one can hear the Motmot’s ‘other’ ultra-quiet whisperings.  Barely-audible to my range of hearing, they utter, “Cluck. Cluck. Cluck.”

Only a few yards from one of the birds, the camera video records the subtle movements but the extracted audio is barely perceived.
P2020024 july 2 5'30 til 6 whooping motmot

P1470811 sept 17 gartered trogon 7 19 am

Gartered Trogon

The Trogons add their own unique sound to this quiet area of the bosque; it’s hard to draw or paint in the daytime when this sound echoes outside my window: Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Green Kingfisher

P1990506 green kingfisher acrylic

Green Kingfisher – Acrylic – image taken late at night!

All’s fine, though the date for the Nomadas en Ecuador show is still ‘pending.’    For sure, it will not open in two days as originally planned!

Meanwhile, I nudge the carpenter to make frames, and I sand them and stain or paint them, or else – usually late at night – I paint!

Deep in the art mode, it’s hard to be ‘chatty’ – it’s as if the word-processing center of my brain is on tranquilizers!   Will be online sometime this weekend!

How do you like the kingfisher?


Wood Rails, Floor Coths & Tinamous


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P1150826 MOONSET august 2010 san miguel Z

Playa San Miguel, Costa Rica

Years and years ago, my friend Dan Wise (Rio Colorado Lodge/Costa Rica Outdoors Magazine – Costa Rica) told me about a high-energy woman who made beautiful floor cloths in Costa Rica. “You should meet her, Lisa,” he urged.

Concrete Floor Andean Rugs and faux tile

Hand-painted Concrete floors by Lisa!

Although we never met, I subscribed to Laurel’s Originals Newsletter and always look forward to seeing new designs and projects. Her June newsletter brought a jolt of a surprise; sometimes Life does indeed grant us very-personal gifts. See if you can spot what placed a huge smile in my heart:

Laurel’s Originals June 2018 Newsletter

Now enjoy some of her designs:

Laurel’s Originals Designs

Here in Ecuador, Museo Portoviejo pushed back the date for the Nomadas en Ecuador Exposition; most likely it will open on July 5, although the showdates are coordinated through the Museum’s home base in Quito.  That’s fine with me, as it gives me more time to work on paintings – or to give an old one a new look!


One night I worked until 5 in the morning and was so absorbed in my work that I did not notice the light-loving insects that were just over my shoulder!

P1960229 5 16 in the morning insects stilts

The work area now has blue curtains to deter the nocturnal insects, but that night they found their way to the source!

Stepping out of my ‘tent’ area, I was greeted by thousands and thousands and thousands of those wispy little insects.    Outside the windows, however, were that many ‘more’ to the 100th power!       These ‘hatches’ (?) have happened twice in the past ten months I’ve lived here, and now the numbers have returned to normal!

P1970797 squirrel on dragonfruit trellis look at its toe foot

The flora and fauna continue to grant lovely moments; the squirrels continue to raid the bananas!  One has now earned my respect and compassion, as it seems to have a deformed front left foot.

P1970447 ground level BROWN WOOD RAIL JUNE 15

Brown Wood Rail at ground level view!

The natural supply of bananas attracts the Brown Wood Rails for some very-easy photo ops, though the rails are pretty predictable to spot during the final half hour of each day. The forage briefly before crossing the yard and entering their private domain of thick cover.

P1950274 BROWN WOOD RAIL how to fly up to the bananas

They are funny when they prepare to jump into the bananas!

P1960257 JUNE 11 BROWN WOOD RAIL ALMOST NOON jumping into bananas

When I first ‘discovered’ that the rarely seen or photographed Brown Wood Rails were my closest neighbors, I thought they were chickens! They often forage near the chickens – the same way that cattle and horses occupy the same tract of pasture. At times the sometimes-territorial chickens chase the Wood Rails, which dart from zero to lightning speed, which always gives me a chuckle! Other times the Wood Rails strut across the yard while pumping their stumpy tails, as if practicing for a parade performance! This area is home to the Brown Wood Rail and five other VIP bird species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

P1900558 may 16 two brown wood rails and one chicken

Two Wood Rails and one Chicken!

Last week while watching the end-of-day activities of the Wood Rails, I suddenly realized that one small brown bird in the cast was not a Wood Rail! Camera – quick! – I managed three not-too-clear images, but good enough for identification.

P1960918 WOW 5 39 JUNE 12 TINAMOU

The Little Tinamou, which often graces the area with its perfect-pitch and projected whistle; several mornings earlier it called from what seemed to be right outside the window.  Usually a second one answers, and sometimes a third.  About every 45 seconds it repeats the same tune, and several minutes later they go mute. Let’s close this post with the audio of of an ultra-strong whistle from a very-timid little bird:

(Tinamou-Sound Cloud)


After I listened to the Tinamou upload, Sound Cloud rolled me to an artist I follow.  Enjoy some of the music that often plays when I paint late at night – if you feel exceptionally creative, start the Maassen tune on the Sound Cloud page, and then add the Tinamou from this one!  Now THAT’s a sample of my work environment!

May your week be a good one!  Thank you all for your support!   Lisa

Tropical Sampler


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P1730825 7 51 am jan 25 motmot after showers

Whooping Motmot

“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.” – Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Poza Honda-Manabi Province-Ecuador –  The handsome Whooping Motmot is often the early bird of each day, though instead of getting worms, it enjoys eating bananas at the breakfast bar!  It – and the Brown Wood Rails – are usually the last birds to visit as dusk fades into night.  One of the Motmots has lost its ‘tip feathers’ on its unique tail!  Even with a short tail, it’s a lovely bird!


P1920822 whooping motmot thru coffee

The Brown Wood Rails make almost-daily appearances in the yard;  they’re pretty predictable when ripe bananas are available!

P1890120 TWO BROWN WOOD RAILS eating bananas may 11 11 14

The Brown Wood Rails have competition for bananas… see below!

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You coffee lovers out there – how’s this for ‘pick your own’ coffee?  This particular ‘escaped’ coffee tree is growing beside my home!

P1950150 casa poza honda coffee

Upcoming events in Z’s life:

Nomadas en Manabi – a group show at Museo Portoviejo – June 29, 2018 (Portoviejo/Manabi/Ecuador)

Birds, Butterflies and Botanicals – solo show at Museo Portoviejo – October 24, 2018 – date has not been confirmed.

P1820516 Whooping Motmot - Acrylic

Whooping Motmot – Acrylic

P1930538 two cans acrylic 24 x 36

Two Cans – Acrylic – 24″ x 36″

That’s all for this week’s smoke signal!

Timeout for Art? Oh Yes, Art!

P1890465 hermit barons

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Althsuler

This pilota is writing from a cyber, where music blares louder than my thoughts! She’s going to post this and soar back home to the serenity of silence!

What’s happening this week in the bird-crowded neighborhood?  Take a look out the back windows:

P1920615 two scarlet rumped caciques eating oranges

Scarlet-rumped Caciques. Oranges, Starfruit or Bananas? (They prefer the oranges!)

P1920582 where's the owl - may 24 peruvian pygmy owl - small file

Do you see the Peruvian Pygmy Owl? (Photo taken this morning.)

P1920530 may 24 peruvian pygmy owl - do i really have to work day and night for my food

It was snoozing this morning, but then awakened and searched for breakfast!

Photos from this past week:

P1920351 amazilia hummingbird

Amazilia Hummingbird gets a natural source of sugar from Porterweed, Papaya de Monte and Lantana


Amazilia Hummingbird on branch of Palo Santo.

While watching the hummingbird, I did not notice the VIP dining area in the orange tree beside the steps to the house!

P1920391 FEMALE ORANGE FRONTED BARBET in orange tree

Orange-fronted Barbet feasting on oranges!

Back on the other side of the house, the starfruit tree is a popular hangout…





Bananas, Oranges, Macadamias, Starfruit; this food thief is not a picky eater!

P1890465 hermit barons

Baron’s Hermit, a close cousin to the Long-billed Hummingbird

P1910013 cold coffee y art small file

(Thanks L&B for that very-special cup!)

Because the natural world demands my attention in the daylight hours, I prefer to work on serious art at night.  Aside from a random auto/moto or various wildlife sounds – some familiar and some mysterious – there are no distractions.    Here’s a straight-down view of ‘Two Cans’ in its beginning stage: Continue reading

Shazam! A Globally BIG DAY of Birds!


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Sunny Skies at Poza Honda

I consider myself to have been the bridge between the
shotgun and the binoculars in bird watching.
Before I came along, the primary way to observe birds
was to shoot them and stuff them.
– Roger Tory Peterson

May 5/2018 Global Big Day – Manabi Province/Ecuador

Wow – Shazam! A wonderful queue of delightful comments welcomed me back to cyberspace! Thank you all!  The camera is a Panasonic/Lumix DMC-FZ200, which works well most of the time, though is frustrating when it thinks it should focus on a branch in the foreground, when I’m trying to photograph the difficult-to-see bird in the background!  Ah, there is joy in having the ‘delete’ function, and not a worry about wasted film!  There are lots of missed shots, but for the price, I’m very pleased with this ‘mirrorless’ camera.

What Bird? There seems to be a bit of white on its neck, and some light splotches on its breast.  It stayed long enough for a fair image, which is better than none!

How many birds can one see in one day?  How many can one county/province or state or nation see in one day?

How many species?

The eBird stats,  top four countries – as of today:
Colombia 1,548
Peru 1,491
Ecuador 1,156
Brazil 1,038
The USA, reporting 716 species, submitted 43,010 checklists! Congratulations, and #2 w/checklists was Canada with 6,985. (Colombia submitted almost 5,000 checklists! Wow!   Peru submitted a little over 1,500, and Ecuador submitted 419 checklists.)

(The eBird summary page is HERE/ebird.)

La Segua/Chone

After a full day of birding in the Segua, we looked forward to a change in scenery.
We reached the Poza Honda reservoir around 4:30 pm, and almost immediately they started seeing new species for the day!

Look down – just past the shadows of our heads!

Continue reading

Humedal_La_Sabana – La Segua Wetlands


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How many birds?!

“Segua Marsh is an important wetland system in Manabí Province, located just a few minutes southwest of the city of Chone. While the area is intensively farmed for rice and fished for shrimp, there is a remarkable variety of ducks, grebes, shorebirds, and herons to be found here, making it a worthwhile visit for any birder looking to boost his country list.” from Birding Ecuador Blogspot/2009

La Segua/Chone/Ecuador – When friends Luis and Peter invited me to join them for a second Global Big Day at La Segua near Chone, I was a bit torn; “If I spend the day with the two of you in the Segua, then the birds of Poza Honda will miss their chance for the country list.”   Reaching an easy compromise, we spent the morning at La Segua, then traveled two hours east to observe the Poza Honda birds!

At dawn as we loaded the truck, a Tropical Kingbird provided a cheerful ‘Buenos Dias’ greeting, a good omen that almost-clear skies would replace the pre-dawn rains!

Peruvian Meadowlark

We stopped half a dozen times to confirm various species before we reached the Segua headquarters.  Tricolored Heron, Peruvian Meadowlark, Snail Kites, White-cheeked Pintails, Purple Gallinule, Common Gallinule, wow – a Limpkin!

A bad image is better than no image of the Limpkin!

White-cheeked Pintail

Peter and Luis confirmed as I photographed and then scribbled the various species names in a notebook!

Common Gallinule?

Tri-colored Heron

La Segua Welcome Center

“Water which is too pure has no fish.” Ts’ai Ken T’an

“Lisa, you are going to cry,”  Luis warned me before parking at La Segua, a large alluvial flood plain or Rios Chone and Tosagua.

“Thanks for the warning,” I replied, “… but I’ve seen the excavators working in the past… more shrimp ponds?”

Last year water lilies dotted this pond and provided cover and habitat for many species.

6 a.m 2017 -La Segua Parking area

New shrimp ponds claim those water-lily areas, although the tree-lined route to the pier remains bird friendly.   The birds adapt,  and some of the wetland areas are healthy ecosystems.




Last year I photographed waterlilies and a White-throated Crake in this spot.

Wattled Jacana seems happy here!

Snail Kite

Although more-sterile shrimp ponds replaced the water-lily setting, there were many lovely vistas, still-intact wetlands and a great diversity of birds.

Purple Gallinule

Masked Water Tyrant on nest

Snowy-throated Kingbird

What does she see?….

Continue reading

Global Big Day – 2018


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Manabi Province/Ecuador –  What are your plans for May 5th?   Your local birds deserve a voice! Add their names to Global Big Day’s Bird Census! (Birds of Manabi Ecuador – Ink drawing by Lisa Brunetti)

Ink drawing by Lisa Brunetti

Voice? These Brown Wood Rails give a shrieking end-of-day chorus!

Five fast-growing juveniles now join their parents in the end-of-day foraging in the secluded yard!

(For Linda! Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks- la Segua)

On Saturday, friends and I will divide our time between Poza Honda and la Segua/near Chone.

I’d never seen a Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis)until last year’s trip to the Segua. I’d lived in Manabi for years and never stopped to enjoy this amazing ecosystem!

They definitely live up to their name!

How well do you know the birds of the Segua? Here are some images from last year’s Global Big Day outing – see if you can spot the illegal alien – ‘American Bullfrog.’

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La Segua/Chone/Manabi/Ecuador

For more information on Global Big Day, start here:

Ebird GLOBAL BIG DAY 2018 – MAY 5

Bluebonnets in Ecuador?


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Lupines Between Riobamba and Chimborazo

Splashes of color from quinoa and chochos.  (Near Otavalo)

Ecuador – Since Bluebonnets were not part of the Mississippi Delta’s natural landscape, I never knew much about them. I always admired photos that showcased their lovely sprays of blue that blanketed landscapes different than my own. We had countless lovely compensations – like the delicate pink buttercups and ———— and I draw a blank! Now that I reach back to recall what natural species blanketed the landscape, I realize that more often than not, it was an altered landscape. The Mississippi Delta ‘Flatlands’ were combed with digitally-straight rows of cotton – or were blanketed with wheat or soybeans or rice or even grain sorghum!

Ready-to-harvest Cotton – Clarksdale, Mississippi

Soybeans near Clarksdale Mississippi

Deciduous hardwoods lined streams and lakes or provided borders between properties. Willows sprang up like weeds and grew as fast.  Large tracts of hardwoods provided food and cover for the native flora and fauna and anchored healthy patches of that much-altered landscape.  I recalled many vistas, including the water-loving cypress trees, but remembered no wildflower vistas as lovely as those Bluebonnets.

Near Yazoo City Mississippi

Recently Linda Leinen and Steve Schwartzman both showcased the Bluebonnets in their posts, and as always, I connected those closeup images to the Lupines that grow in Ecuador’s Andean highlands. I consulted a few of my old images, then inspected my friends’ recent posts.  I wondered if their Bluebonnets also produced an edible bean like their Chocho cousins in the Andes.

Packed with 40% protein, chocos are sold in clear plastic tubs and are ready to eat . The cost of this particular tub? $1.00

From Wilkipedia: “Lupinus_mutabilis…The bone-white seed contains more than 40% protein and 20% fat and has been used as a food by Andean people since ancient times, especially in soups, stews, salads and by itself mixed with boiled maize. Like other legumes, its protein is rich in the essential amino acid lysine. The distribution of essential fatty acids is about 28% linoleic acid (omega-6) and 2% linolenic acid (omega-3)…”

Mature quinoa with a few lupine (Chocho) flowers… (Near Otavalo Ecuador)

Steve and Linda are both tireless and diligent researchers and are known to hang with a challenge until the correct answer is found.  I suspected that they might help shed light on this lupine-bean mystery.  Continue reading

Dawn’s Song

Booted Racquettail (Ocreatus underwoodii)

“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves.” – Rabindranath Tagore

Scrolling through old files, I paused and smiled while looking at those fancy boots on the hummingbird; I hope that you smile as well!

Please accept my apologies for closing comments on the last post;  Efrain died from complications of pancreatitis, and just when the family had hopes that he might live, he took a turn for the worse.   A few of us left in the night to go to the hospital, but he died about half an hour after we arrived.

Efran was not part of my blood family, though his parents, siblings, children and cousins embraced me into their lives years ago.  They all appreciated your words of encouragement during these past few weeks.  Thank you again for your around-the-world kindness.

(Image from March 2018 – Poza Honda/Manabi Province)

His service at the cemetery was very serene, where three naturally-sculpted guava trees provided shade and beauty.   Various birds added their own sweet songs while one lone Swallow-tailed Swift soared and swooped in an aerial ballet.

“Perhaps the crescent moon smiles in doubt at being told that it is a fragment awaiting perfection.” – Rabindranath Tagore


“We are immortal until our work on earth is done.” George Whitefield

April 16 marks the second anniversary of the 7.8 earthquake which devastated a section of Ecuador’s Pacific Coast. Many will go through this day in somber recollection of how that day altered their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

This day also marks the end of four days of mourning for Javier Ortega, Paúl Rivas and Efraín Segarra, the three Ecuadian press workers who were recently murdered.

A dear loved one will be buried today; Efrain Cacay’s life journey ended in the wee hours of April 15, 2018.  At 41, he left behind a grieving family, which includes a very-large extended family.


What Happened to Google Earth?


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Google Earth has sent ‘congratulations’ notices to say that a few of my images – like this one of Poza Honda – were very popular.

Poza Honda/ManabiProvince Ecuador – Have any of you ever added images to Google Earth-Maps?   It’s always been interesting to peruse those images and explore areas that we know well or to ‘cyber travel’ to new destinations without leaving home!  The Satellite Image option helped me fine-tune my search for a new place to live, and reference images were very helpful.

This past week on Google Earth, I entered some GPS points for where I live –  before passing them along for scientific reasons; almost immediately I hit a glitch.  I could not find a place to type the coordinates.  Perhaps that option is somewhere on the page, but I did not find it.     Next I looked for my pinned images, and they were gone!  In fact, there were no pinned images to anything on the map.  Towns and places of interest were marked by name only.  The letters were small and difficult to see – and my laptop has a large screen!

Google Chrome browser… note how tiny the bottom right options appear. That’s where one finds the photo options.

Eventually I found the image option, which on my windows browser showed in a long horizontal strip at the bottom of the page.   There were photos from different areas, and mine could not be accessed until scrolling east on the map, leaving the house site out of view.  After I selected and enlarged one of my ‘popular’ images, a little arrow-type bar zipped from the photo and pointed into the middle of the lake!  Ha, I had to laugh – it was several kilometers from the right location and was obviously submerged at the bottom of the reservoir!

Opera browser provided slightly-easier to view options.

The Dec 3rd earthquake, which rattled the house for almost a minute, must have nudged this particular GPS point into the lake!

Unable to drag it back in place via the old system that worked well, I opened a new window and did a search which took me to a Google Earth/Maps forum.  Oh my, demons must have firmly attached themselves to those who make decisions for Google Earth/Maps, and they have made a lovely mess of what was once a well-managed site.

I moved to another quadrant that I know well – the area around Jama, and I remembered that someone had posted a picture of a Royal Poinciana/Flamboyant.  I was curious to see if it still marked the correct spot.  In real life, the tree was within view of where I once lived near the mouth of Rio Jama.

Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia)still stands, though the nearby farmhouse was destroyed in the April 16, 2016 earthquake.

Flamboyant/Royal Poinciana paired with the Green Kingfisher for a great photo op –  The rear balcony of Casa Loca. 2013

There were zero photos of that area, but there were new ones from 2018 of the community of La Division.   Checking various photos in the town a few kilometers inland, I discovered that the lovely flaming Poinciana tree had been magically transplanted to Jama!  (Jama, still recovering from the earthquake, could actually use several dozen of those lovely trees!) Continue reading

¡ Good Morning, Buenos Dias!


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An artfully-served cup of Ecuadorian Coffee!

“Good Morning,” I’d say, as I plunked down mugs of hot coffee in front of my regulars as soon as they came in the door. I knew the exceptions that wanted decaf or tea, instead. I knew who might order a little breakfast, after a couple cups of coffee. I knew who needed to get to work quickly, and who would sit for an hour or more. They were friends, sort of, though we only met over morning coffee, and mine was a position of servitude. They felt like family, all of us still groggy from sleep, making conversation in the early morning hours. – (Cindy Ricksgers)

Cindy Ricksgers’ ‘Good Morning’ post reminds us how two simple words have the power to brighten another’s day. The rest of Cindy’s ‘Good Morning’ post is HERE.


“Some days I wake up grumpy; other mornings I let him sleep.”  (From a cocktail napkin)

When I lived in Costa Rica, the howler monkeys often slept in the canopy over the roof of my studio/casita.   Some mornings they awakened quietly, and other mornings they began with pre-dawn guttural sounds that slowly increased into grumpy roars.  On those ‘grumpy’ mornings I would go outside, gape up at them and smile as I replied in my heart-felt “Good Morning!  BuenOs dias – Umph-umph-umph-umph!”   

My attempts to mock their passive ‘we’re happy and content’ sounds seemed to pacify them.  After five or so minutes of quiet time in their presence, I began my day and they began theirs! Like any living being, they just wanted to be acknowledged!

P1630537 mother y son smiles

“…Smiling is infectious, You catch it like the flu. When someone smiled at me today I started smiling too. I passed around the corner And someone saw my grin. When he smiled I realised I’d passed it on to him. I thought about that smile Then I realised its worth…  ”   Enjoy Pommepal’s artful pairing of images to that poem!   – Living in Paradise

P1110423 A Day with Francisca small

My friend Francisca smiles when I walk into her tienda and state, “Good Morning -BuenOs dias!” and she repeats, “Gud morning!”   It’s a ritual that gives us all a refreshing chuckle, especially when she is the one that laughs the most. Ah! The power of a smile!


She’s an archaeologist; he specializes in roasting cafe over a fire. The secret ingredient in their coffee is happiness!


Friends Stephen and Xiomara sample that lovingly-roasted coffee!

BLOG P1330300 cayambe san pedro june 21

An impromptu moment in Cayambe Ecuador…

P1120172 Green Party Jorge Glass in Mindo smiles small

It’s always great to see a familiar face in a crowd of strangers, especially when he gives such a genuine smile!


Birthday Traditions


P1840258 oliver birthday brownies

P1190556 manos where cropped small

(Can you imagine how different our world would be if all scowls were replaced by lighthearted smiles? Would it feel strange if we embraced each day with a heart as happy as his?)

Participants in this week’s WordPress theme helped wrap smiles around the world.


My friends remain in a holding pattern while taking shifts at the hospital.  Even though the patient’s condition is still listed as critical, the doctors say that he is very strong and has an amazing will to live.  The family is finding moments to smile, and at times they laugh.  They send heart-felt thanks to many of you who are sending strong energy and prayers in their direction.  Thanks, also, for your comments, which I’ve passed along while stating the many countries you represent.

Only this Moment

“We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake…” – Francis Bacon

(Ecuador)  Being online so seldom, I greatly appreciate posts that bring me up to date on international stories as well as local ones.  Liz, at Nature on the Edge, published an update which opens with this summary: “At the end of January under the post “An Invitation” two intrepid women, Nicole Morse and Marelise Bardenhorst anticipated a journey climbing high mountains in Ecuador with the goal of raising funds for the “Homes to Grow” project in Masiphumelele, a township in the southern peninsula, Cape Town.”   

She shares a link,  “High Drama On High Mountains”  – Uh oh.. I won’t spoil the story, though one of the participants and I now share a similar health-scare story, although the causes were totally different. Her post is here:  Ecuador – Climbing High Mountains.

That update – plus two traffic accidents I recently witnessed, and a ‘crisis’ which affects a family very close to my heart – reinforce how fragile life can be.

Three people died in one of those accidents, and three others tumbled on their motorcycle just a few nights ago when their motorcycle hit a large hole in an earthquake-scarred section of the remote highway.  How they dodged injury – or death- remains one of those ‘Gracias a-Dios’ miracles, though I also marveled how traffic instantly stopped in both directions, and people came running to help them. No one worried about being sued or about having things stolen from their vehicles; they slammed on brakes, as did I, and rushed to stop other oncoming cars and to help the surely-injured people still rolling with the motorcycle…. With heart in my throat, I held eye contact with the lady as she stood and shook each leg as to confirm they were still there.   Miraculously she and her husband and child were OK.   I resumed my journey, which opened the lane for the rest of the autos behind me.

Hours later, I sat with friends and was updated on the medical crisis of our loved one.  He is still in a coma, though the doctors marvel that he has an amazing stamina and will to live.  At times there are questions difficult to answer, like “Why?” and at other times there are catharsis moments, when today’s tears purge fragments of long-ago grief.  Each day he remains the same – and sometimes shows slight signs of improving – which gives everyone hope.   The vigil also reflects an outpouring of love from their family, friends and even strangers.  That alone strengthens and binds us in this fragile fabric that connects all of us here on earth.

The Tapestry – by Corrie Ten Boom

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.


Approaching the two-year anniversary date of the earthquake, many are acutely aware of how fragile Life can be.  I’ll close with a study of the Peruvian Pygmy Owl, which reminds us that just being present can provide comfort and strength.

May your weekend smile on you and your loved ones.   Z

Slightly Off Balanced on the Equinox


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(Merriam-Webster Dictionary) Off-Balanced – 3b: Into a state of surprise from the unexpected 

Poza Honda Ecuador – Four times each year, the alignments of the earth and sun prompt me to reserve the day – or strategic hours – to observe the sun’s placement. These dates are more important to me than the first day of the new year.

Cayambe Ecuador – Peaceful cultural gatherings in honor of Mother Earth during the equinox and solstice dates.

Being attentive to the subtle rhythms and movements of our planet reminds me of how things change yet remain the same.  It also reminds me of the importance of our planet, our own lives, and our responsibility to be good stewards of this amazing planet.  In many areas, we are failing in the latter category.

High noon shadow – uh-oh, this shadow suggests that the photo was not taken in March or September, but probably inJune or December. (It was the June solstice 2015)

Ah-ha!  This shadow suggests that the photo was taken at high noon during an equinox!  (High noon March 20 2014)

In today’s quickly-changing world, it’s comforting to confirm that the sun is directly overhead at high noon during the March and September equinox dates.   Just like a precisely-tuned clock, the sun continues its daily march until it reaches its June or December solstice date, pauses, then begins back-tracking toward the other hemisphere.  Only twice a year does it visit the same spot, and I enjoy confirming that some things remain the same – no matter what else is happening on our planet!

Quitsato Sundial – near Cayambe Ecuado- The equator and the lines of the solstice and equinox.

Hacienda Guachala’s ancient sundial, located very near Quitsato’s solar calendar near Cayambe Ecuador.

Cayambe’s very-special Solstice Ceremony 2017

Those noon shadows teach easy lessons, especially when someone asks,  ‘Isn’t it always in the same place?”   

“No,” I smile, and demonstrate the natural rhythms between our sun and planet.

The solar calendar at Casa Loca often puzzled first-time visitors, until they witnessed the sun’s ever-changing position on the western horizon.

Marking the equinox – 2013

Recording the sun’s shadow. March 20 and a week later – March 28, 2013 – Casa Loca

Some days the sun hid behind the clouds.

And some days the shadows were strong..

This past week Melissa dropped in for a visit where I now live at Poza Honda. After swapping a few stories, she grew serious and gestured to the floor and asked what was the significance of the items on the floor. I had forgotten about the floor! Continue reading

Various Shades of Green

A walk in the rain; where’s the Gray Hawk?

“Like to do your work as much as a dog likes to gnaw a bone and go at it with equal interest and exclusion of everything else.” – Robert Henri, The Artist’s Spirit

(Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador) Reaching a stopping point, I washed the pigment from the brush in hand and decided to stop for the night. Emerging from a session of painting is a lot like awakening from a deep sleep. I am foggy, though this particular night I remembered the sound of rain – at times intense – but my attention to the painting process had been greater.

The petite Green Thorntail now awaits a final session…

“I wonder what time it is?” I pondered as I eyed my painting and then critiqued the one I’d worked on earlier in the night. “— 10:00 PM? — Midnight?” The night before I stopped painting at one minute before midnight. ” — Could it be as late as 1:00 or even 2:00?-“

Usually my guesses are pretty close, but this night I had lost all concepts of time. I stepped toward the kitchen and squinted at the clock.
“4:00 AM.”

This was one of three that demanded my attention; this one was finished at 4:00 AM.

I chuckled and pondered staying awake for another hour until the roosters announced the start of the day; don’t worry – the need for sleep trumped the soon-awakening day.

(I slept until almost noon!)

As I write, the cicadas join the end-of-day rhythms, which include the melancholy sobs of the Common Potoo. The Becards, now ferrying a supply of insects to the nearby nest, share their joys via their own happy melodies. With a strong and clear catlike ‘Wee-ew,’ an Ecuadorian Thrush punctuates the serenade. A far-away truck throttles down one of the many switchbacks on the gravel road that somewhat circles the reservoir. The precious Peruvian Pygmy Own adds its own sweetness to the live-stream audio; even when not in sight, its message states, “Don’t forget about us!” In another hour, the evening will be almost silent, and that silence will most likely seduce me back to the drawing table, where I will begin a new painting. Continue reading

Not Ready to Climb the Highest Peaks?


Mighty Chimborazo

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way! ” ( Dr. Seuss)

Ecuador – Mark your calendars for February 16, 2018, the date two intrepid women kick off a mountain-climbing/fund-raising journey along Ecuador’s mountains and glacier-topped peaks.  (I think I might want to toast my toes on a nearby hearth, drink hot chocolate and watch via webcam!)   For more information about Nicole Morse and Marelise Bardenhorst, visit Liz Hardman’s Nature on the Edge post: “An Invitation”

P1580373 chimbo thru binoculars
(I will be off line when this post is published, but thanks in advance for being part of their cheering squad! Check out some of Liz’s amazing wildlife photography while you’re on her website.)

“Are you a Vaquero?”


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Jama Ecuador – once upon a time before ‘the earthquake.’

“A man is getting old when he walks around a puddle instead of through it.” -R. C. Ferguson

Poza Honda/Manabi Province/Ecuador –  With great pleasure I bring updates on the nesting Becards!  The rainy season has arrived, so my footware of choice is much like the ones pictured above.  This past week I met a new neighbor who lives a few kilometers away; Nancy looked at my boots and asked, “Are you a vaquero?”  (A rancher/cowboy/cowgirl)

I laughed and explained that I’m an artist.   The locals have been curious about the gringa that stands on the roadside and gapes skyward.  Some stop and inquire, and most appear interested to learn about the little black bird and its ‘canela’ mate.  I explain in my butchered Spanish that the Slaty Becard only lives in their area of Ecuador and a small part of Peru – and that it’s approaching extinction – yet one pair is nesting, and I point to the nest.

Photo taken Jan 31, 2018

This couple lives on the other side of the reservoir, but they seemed very interested in the little bird and its story.

Nursing an ‘over-doer’s backache,’ I’ve shifted my activities down to ‘first gear,’ though I feel no pain while walking and watching birds.  The arrival of the rainy season has presented its own challenges, and I’m seasoned enough to navigate those mud boots in extra-slow 4WD mode.

The gravel road had a thick layer of sediment, which turned to oozy slippery mud after the first life-giving rains arrived.   Within a week, the landscape transformed from dull greens and browns to an explosion of variants of green.  It also kicked off a nesting frenzy, and the area songbirds burst into melodies of happiness.

Shhhh! Cacique, Hornero and Becard nests overhead; Barbets and Trogons to the right; Motmot straight ahead and to the right!

The Whooping Motmot on a branch of Yuca-ratón (Gliricidia sepium)

Many birds favor this thick area of vegetation; almost daily one can watch the handsome Orange-crowned Barbets forage in total harmony with other feathered members of the neighborhood.  One day while walking back from the Becard’s nest, I heard a familiar faint ‘tweEEEET’ overhead.   Wow!  Straight up, and very near the Scarlet-rumped Caciques’ nest was a second pair of nesting Becards Continue reading

The Becard Couple Sends Thanks!

P1690585 MALE BECARD near nest

Which is it? The male One-coled Becard or the endangered Slaty Becard?

Poza Honda/Manabi/Ecuador – Wow! Thanks everyone for the great feedback on the post about the Becards! ‘Cinnamon Becard’ has been ruled out, since the male finally showed up for nest-building duty!   He’s been working for the past two days, and is probably wondering where the paparazzi human is today…

Busted again! The macadamia-eating squirrel!

Yes, I will be happy to take any of you on a birding walk! Or a birding-sketching walk! There’s even a house next door that’s used for tourism – three rooms/two floors and two kitchens! The rooms are $30 per person.  I’ll ask the owner if he might have a ‘Birding Package’  or a ‘Birding/Coffee’ package, as they grow coffee and cacao/chocolate – as well as moringa and papaya.  (I don’t think that the squirrel will share the macadamias!)

A series of photos plus a video caught a home invasion/inspection of the Becard’s nest, but the cowbird moved on within seconds.  The Becards returned several minutes later – do you think they could tell that someone had been tampering with their construction?

“Yikes! I shouldn’t have to lock the door!”

Company will arrive – perhaps in the next hour – to help watch the nest.. I am SO out of my league when it comes to scientifically observing the nest – a second set of eyes will be very helpful.

Jan 13 – good light but no birds….

For any of you interested in what’s happening in Ecuador, I am way overdue in pointing you to Sara Coppler’s Latitude Living, a weekly summary with links to articles written about Ecuador.   There are always topics of interest, from culinary to the arts and of course politics. LATITUDE LIVING Thank you, Sara, for including so many of my posts.

Name that Woodpecker!

Time to pick up a few items at the store and prepare for my assistant!

Thanks again!