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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Honoring our Planet

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The El Lechero Tree – Sacred Site overlooking Lago San Pablo, Ecuador

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson

When the health of our planet suffers, we suffer as well.   May we all take time to appreciate our natural resources and work together to be guardians of Mother Earth. She will might survive without us, but how much longer can we survive if the delicate balance is tipped too far?

Join me via cyber visit to check on some of my favorite locations.

Vicunas near Chimborazo

Chimborazo – Brrrrrrrr!

Between Otavalo and Volcano Imbabura (Ecuador)

Quinoa – near Otavalo Ecuador.

Lago San Pablo 0 Near Otavalo Ecuador

Shrimp pond – Jama Ecuador

Amtrack – somewhere between New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta…

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Unconditional Acts of Kindness

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A nocturnal beach performance – Bellavista /Don Juan/Ecuador

From the acoustic-friendly cushioned experience at Quito’s National Theater to a rustic sea-level setting on the beach at Bellavista/Don Juan, ArtesXManabi left a trail of beautiful memories.   Please visit their website and facebook pages, and give them a ‘thumbs up’ for their kind and generous efforts.  If you live in Ecuador, perhaps you can coax them to continue their show in your community!

The slideshows showcase the events, including one dance workshop – on the beach – with the children!
ArtesxManabi – Slideshows

ArtesxManabi Facebook

Thank you, ArtesXManabi for your display of unconditional love for your fellow man.

Lisa

Timeout for Barter!

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An old painted wall needed a facelift…

Quito Ecuador –  “Lisa, how much does it cost to stay at Hotel Andino?”  my friend Stephen asked a few weeks ago.

“I don’t know – I don’t remember,” I replied, “It’s been a long time since I paid to stay there…”

He laughed, and I gave a quick summary.   Their sweet hotel has many opportunities for touches of art, and we trade art for the hotel costs.

While guests were sleeping, I painted this ginger in the breakfast room.

Recently I stayed in room #5 which is quite lovely, and there were several areas that seemed perfect for original splashes of art.   Years ago another artist painted the hummingbird and flower in the bathroom, but the hotel’s well-scrubbed maintenance and new applications of white paint slowly altered the design.  A bit of mildew also lurked around and beneath the pale colors. Continue reading

Candles and Lanterns – One Year Later

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Playa El Matal, Jama Ecuador — 7:00 PM  16/April/2017 –   Locals gathered at Playa El Matal  just past sunset to release hand-made lanterns on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake.  For half an hour, I enjoyed the low-light show before saying a quick goodbye and driving to attend the mass at the Catholic church in Jama.

Please take my seat and join the locals of El Matal via the photos below!

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Remembering 6:58 P.M. — April 16, 2016

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Please join the sparrows in one minute of reflection…

“The earthquake was presaged by a magnitude 4.8 foreshock eleven minutes before the main quake struck,[19] and followed by over fifty-five aftershocks in the first twenty-four hours.[20]” – Wilkipedia

Jama/Manabi/Ecuador — This post is scheduled to be published on the one-year anniversary of the 4.8 earthquake that preceded the historic one that hit 11 minutes later.    Imagine what it must have been like to wonder, “Did we just have an earthquake?” as the twilight faded into the night, and then be jolted into a nightmare that shattered the coastline.

El Matal – April 2015- destructive waves

April 2015 – end of day El Matal

This year, at 6:58 pm, the people of El Matal and Jama will release hand-made lanterns at the time the earthquake hit a year ago.   I will witness the lantern release at El Matal and then attend the mass that follows in Jama.

Please join the sparrows in a moment of reflection, not only for those who are opening tender year-long wounds, but also in support for closing those wounds.   May this also extend to all who are suffering worldwide, as love for our fellow man is greatly needed.

Below are images taken yesterday and last night at various events in honor of those affected in the Canton of Jama.

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Timeout for Art – The Muir Tree

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The trees are watching!  Near Rio Cinto-Mindo Ecuador

“Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed — chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. .” — John Muir

Sometimes a work of art ‘just happens’ as if some invisible hand guides the process.  Everything aligns as if magically orchestrated.

Watercolor  by Lisa Brunetti –  With no pencil prep, I focused on one part of the flower then went straight to painting; the initials strokes of paint slowly evolved into the study of the Thunbergia flowers.

Othertimes a work of art requires preparation and homework, which starts as a spacial gathering of information and honing that data until clarity guides the artist forward.

The Muir quote has always fired my imagination, and I pictured trees frowning in disgust or wide-eyed with fear of being felled or even timidly hiding and peering from behind rocky facades. While pondering ways to illustrate the quote, I began seeking out and studying the twisted growth of mature guava trees – cousins to crepe myrtles – to merge the illusion of limbs and antlers. Continue reading

Yachana Bound!

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Photo courtesy of Yachana Lodge – Napo Province – Ecuador

“Yachana?”

With painting supplies, boots and flashlight already tucked into my bag, I’ll be Yachana bound soon!

“Boots? Raincoat? Flashlight?”

Yes, because I am a seasoned ‘Girl Scout’ and know to be prepared, especially if I’m returning to the gateway to the Amazon.  This time I’ll be even closer than I was on last month’s trip to Cosanga!

I’ll be taking trusted travel ‘needs’ AND a new pad of Canson Watercolor Paper AND very-special brushes! Thanks Pachamamas!

You must be wonderning, “What is Yachana; where is Yachana?”

Don’t worry for even one second that I will be treading in uncharted or unsafe territories! Continue reading

Lenin Moreno – The Celebration Turns up the Volume!

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Mindo Ecuador – Impromptu Street Fiesta! – April 2, 2017 9:00 pm

Mindo Ecuador – A very quiet evening suddenly erupted into a music-filled street fiesta, and the now-familiar Green Party’s music announced the answer to the question of the year, “Moreno or Lasso for President?”       I heard a young child chanting, ‘4 years more! 4 years more!’ in Spanish, which confirmed, Moreno had been declared the winner.

“…With 94,18% of the ballots officially counted, Lenin has a lead of 51,07% against 48,93% of banker Guillermo Lasso, of the coalition CREO-SUMA. On what analysts consider an irreversible trend, the PAIS candidate has so far 4,823,513 votes, a lead of 201,859 over the neoliberal politician.

After the first results were released, Lenin Moreno came out to thank his voters. ‘I thank the millions of Ecuadorian who supported us. Democracy won today; Ecuador won today’, he told a large joyous rally….”  Prensa Latina

Ecuador’s Flag

The exit polls were equally close, with one showing Lasso winning with 53 percent of the votes and another showing Moreno winning 52 percent.  With the official results naming Moreno the winner, one can expect Lasso’s supporters to voice their concerns. If there are protests, hopefully they will be peaceful ones.

The following photos are from January 30, 2017 when the Alianza PAIS “Green Party” #35 rolled into Mindo.   Lenin Moreno wasn’t present, but there were many opportunities to photograph Jorge Glass and the sea of green.   Continue reading

Las Artes por Manabí – Don’t Miss this Event!

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QUITO, Ecuador – Life sometimes gives us sweet little packages wrapped in unique ways.  Because I planned to visit Quito’s Casa de la Cultura regarding the ‘on hold’ exposition of my paintings, I reviewed their website last week:  CASAdelaCULTURA

The ‘Events’ page mentioned a fundraiser for the coastal community of Don Juan, which is 10 kilometers from Jama in Manabi Province.  Casa Loca is about half way between the two areas!

Looking up the coast to Don Juan and Punta Prieta/Punta Blanca

Rio Jama’s “La Boca’ area – before the earthquake:  Can you spot Casa Loca?

A fundraiser for the community of Don Juan?  My imagination raced with possibilities as I tried to connect the WHERE with the WHO. Who inspired this, or was it a random and compassionate person or persons who visited Don Juan and realized they could use some support?

My plans were to be in Quito at Casa de la Cultura the same day the Las Artes por Manabí would be held at the National Theater!  After the meetings – which went very well, I inquired about the event.  Yes! It was scheduled for that night!

Friends Stephen and Xiomara joined me that evening, though we were not quite sure what we would be watching!  We gladly paid our ten dollars to help support the Don Juan community in the canton of Jama.

Don Juan, Punta Prieta – from 2014

The show, which showcases Andean Contemporary Arts, started around 8 pm. Enrique Males, a popular musician, has been creating melodies for 50 years and calls attention to ‘cultural respect.’

Patricia Gutierrez and Enrique Males

“…His songs remember famous people of Andes. For example, the indigenous general Rumiñahui (from spanish conquerors of Quito, 476 years before) or Mama Dolores Cacuango, a political figure of 80’s that talked about human rights, but from the thoughts and traditions of indigenous communities.

With all this context, the performance tries to remind the people to love Allpa-Mama (Mother Earth), to be at peace with themselves and with each other.

The connection with Don Juan’s people is the joy for life, the desire to improve and be more sensitive and creative, using Arts and our ancestral culture to be a big family, from the coast (Jama) to the Andes (Quito). ” – Sayri Wladimir Cabascango – Las Artes por Manabí

Like thrilled children, we sat toward the front of the National Theater and looked forward to the show.

Image in the background is from a preColombian Jama Coaque Sello/Stamp.

Information about the community of Don Juan.

Poet Diego Velasco Andrade

The stage went dark, and as our eyes adjusted, musician Enrique Males swept us into a magical realm.

Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Bringing a Quotation to Life

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“Abuelito Ceibo” The Grandfather Tree Still Stands – One block from the center of Jama Ecuador

“Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed — chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. .” — John Muir

Thank you for your positive feedback on the post, In Celebration of Trees!   The tree theme continues with a rollback to last March when my friend Barbara helped with improving the trails. We selected many nature-related quotes then had fun painting signs on rainy days.

Here are photos from last year’s signs:

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Shhhhh! Don’t wake the duendes!  To learn more about duendes, go here:  Frigates of Isla Corazon

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For the Trails! (Acrylic on old board – words are below)

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

Barbara/aka Hummingbird not only helped with painting signs; she also helped transform some of the trails.

We pulled grass and pulled grass and pulled grass…

But the efforts were rewarding!

Painted by Barbara!

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Before selecting a board for the John Muir quote, I tossed around ideas for illustrating the message then decided that a board was too small.  It deserved to be a more-serious work of art.
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In Celebration of Trees

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The other creatures with which we share this world have their rights too, but not speaking our language, they have no voice, no vote; it is our moral duty to take care of them. –  Roger Tory Peterson

Mindo Ecuador –    Sentinels of our communties, trees posses a strong power.   They plant their feet firmly and stretch their arms toward the heavens as if tickling the sky.  Horizontal branches provide support for a child’s  dreamy afternoon respite or a house cat or even a jaguar! In the Neotropics, trees provide a unique ecosytem, where bromeliads, orchids, vines and ferns provide food and shelter for insects, birds, reptiles, mammals, etc.    The dense shade cloaks the ground with welcome relief from extreme heat.  Ah, who hasn’t expressed gratitude when stepping beneath the canopy of a large tree on a sultry day?

The people in the tree had the best seats for the game!  The ones on the ground clustered beneath any shade! Jama Ecuador

One friend long ago mentioned ‘custom harvesting’ a tract of land, and he knew that it bothered me.    He explained, “But the trees are going to die anyway, so we might as well harvest them while the wood can be used. ”

I mentioned the dead trees’ importance and reminded him that dead trees were important habitat for the presumed-extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker.  “Where will YOUR chidren take their children to see a really-big tree?”  

This past week while sorthing through old drawings and sketches, I paused when reviewing three or four pages of attempts to illustrate a quote.    Then Rebecca Budd /Clanmother shared a quote about trees, which nudged me into bringing that sketch to life.

Those lovely sentinels watch over us, yet many times we forget to acknowledge their presence or worth.

Join me in this celebration of trees! Continue reading

Eleven Months and Counting…

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JAMA – MANABI – ECUADOR –  Young Valentina sits in the doorway while her Aunt Marie and Uncle Edgar show cracks in what I thought was their temporary home.  Marie and Edgar, I discovered, live elsewhere.

“When we feel weak, we drop our heads on the shoulders of others. Don’t get mad when someone does that. Be honored. For that person trusted you enough to, even if subtly, ask you for help.”
― Lori Goodwin

Ecuador – There seems to be a running clock/calendar that keeps track of the days and months since the earthquake destroyed much of Ecuador’s central and northern coast.  Each month when the calendar approaches ’16,’  I note the time and remember the 7.8 earthquake that hit just after 7 pm on April 16th.     Does anyone ever get past that feeling of premonition – or wondering if it might hit again?

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A Sweet and Distracting Melody

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Mindo Ecuador –  Garbed in raincoat and mud boots this past Saturday around dark, I trekked past Mindo’s  Catholic Church on my way to the market.  Through the whoosh-whoosh sound of my rain gear and the drizzle hitting the roofs and sidewalk, a stronger much-sweeter sound brought me to a halt.  

Mindo’s Main Street

“Is that a violin?” I wondered, then followed the beckoning music until I stood in the doorway of the church.    The church was empty aside for one lone figure standing to the side near the front row.  In formal attire, perfect posture and with violin at his chin, he seemed like a mirage.  Or was he a life-sized poster?  No, that was a real person standing there, and his music was pure and sweet.

Captivated, I listened for a very short time, and decided that my presence was most likely an intrusion.  I bowed slightly and backed away, all the time wondering who was this person and why was he in this empty church?   I resumed my trek, bought my token items and returned for one more discreet glance before going home.

A second person was peering inside, and this younger woman and I exchanged mystified expressions.  Who was this person, and why was he there? Continue reading

Timeout for Art: A Child’s First Drawing Lesson

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The Texas Pachamama Christmas Fairies brought a huge assortment of art supplies. The airlines might have taxed them for extra weight!

“It was amazing what an hour with her sketchpad could do for her mood. She was sure that the lines she drew with her black marker were going to save her years of worry lines in the future.” ― Victoria Kahler, Their Friend Scarlet

Cosanga Ecuador – Napo Province – See Map

The Pachamama Birding Group also brought treats for the teacher… Really really really-nice treats!  Watercolor paper!  Brushes! Sharpie Markers – not used ones like at my drawing table, but brand-new ones with precise points!!!!  But that’s for another post.   Check below to see the view from the table where I took a 30-minute personal timeout for art:

The Pachamama Christmas Fairies delivered high-quality art materials 8 months early!!! Thank you Pachamamas!

… While the ladies were out birding, the two boys and I sat on the front porch for an impromptu art lesson.

Remember Jordan and Rudy?

Please join me as they experience a fresh pad of drawing paper while they discover the magic of a well-sharpened pencil. Continue reading

Exploring New Horizons

When setting out on a journey, do not seek advice from those who have never left home. ~ Rumi

Ecuador’s Andes:  Eastern Slope – Cosanga – Western Slope -Mindo — Having just returned from a ten-day trip to the eastern side of Ecuador, I chuckled when I read Judy Edwards Thought For the Day, shared above.

My friend Susana had often mentioned their ‘little cabaña’ tucked in a quiet area somewhere on the ‘Eastern Slope” of the Andes in the Napo Province, gateway to the Amazon.  Over the past year, she’s been fine-tuning details for a birding tour for a group of ladies from the USA and had asked if I’d help during their time at their Cabana El Aliso.  The tour would start on March 1st in Quito, end on March 10th in Mindo, with lots of great experiences in between.

Cosanga area landscape

Of course!  I would love to help!  I looked forward to seeing their cabaña and the surrounding landscape, but first needed to take care of my life on the Pacific side.  While in Jama, I received an email from Susana regarding plans for the week before the birding tour.

“…hopefully we can travel to la Cabaña El Aliso. How about Friday, Feb. 24th? This weekend (25-28) is Carnaval and I would like to spend these days in the Cabaña. Can you come with us.”  – Continue reading

Closures at the Cemetery

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Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve. – Earl Grollman

Jama Ecuador – There was something in his eyes, or perhaps in his voice when Marcos spoke to me on the busy street corner.  He had never asked me for anything except for an exchange of smiles during the many years I’ve known him. I knew little about his personal life; he was the smiling person who helped in his sister’s store, who sold colas and ice cream at the corner, and who made New Year effigies to sell during the final week of each year.

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Marcos Cevallos crossing the street – From once upon a time years before the earthquake…

I knew he had lost famiy in the earthquake, but I knew few details.   When he spoke to me in the street, he was worried about his 12-year old son and  mentioned a lack of money for food.  Planning to be out of town for a few days, I promised to return on Saturday.  Over those next few days, I often reflected on his somber tone;  I thought of Phil Colin’s song, Another Day in Paradise.   How difficult it must be for someone like Marcos to ask, ‘Sir, Can you help me?’    I’m glad he found the faith and comfort to approach me.

When I returned on Saturday, finding Marcos was no easy task on the weekend of Ecuador’s Presidential elections; I was determined to follow through with my promise and found him one day after the elections when the mass of people had gone home.    A friend tended the ice-cream box  while Marcos shared the story of losing his wife and three children during the earthquake.   See: The End of the World.

He invited me to go to the cemetery the next morning..
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…THE END OF THE WORLD…

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“I thought it was the end of the world,”  – Marcos Cevallos

Jama, Ecuador – When people  share their stories of the 7.8 earthquake that struck 10 months ago, many use the same description as Marcos: “I thought it was the end of the world.”

With no electricity, there were few options for connecting the desecrated zones with the outside world.   Many kept cyber vigils in hopes of gleaning tidbits of information and passing that information to others.   News reports illustrated the devastation and provided interviews with people who survived the terremoto.   Many people from around the world met Marcos via the following news clip, beginning at minute 2:20: Continue reading

Private Sanctuaries

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“…you should never have to watch your only children lowered in the ground — I mean you should never have to bury your own babies…” –  (From the song Gravedigger ) –  Dave Matthews Band

Jama Ecuador –  Recently many people opened their doors and hearts and invited me into their private sanctuaries; they shared stories of the night of the earthquake and the days that followed.  One person, Marcos Cevallos Mendoza, seemed more affected than most, and I was eager to find him again and listen to what he had to share.   One person pointed me to one corner;  another said, ‘No, I saw him about ten minutes ago near the new market. ‘

The buildings are gone, but spirit remains....

Almost sunset – the buildings are gone, but spirit remains….

As I stopped at random places to ask for Marcos, heart-wrenching stories added more frayed threads to this town’s patchwork tapestry.  Some suggested that I check the cemetery, which offered an instant solace from the reconstruction chaos in the center of town.

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Just to the right of the entrance.. Seven people who shared the same day of death: April 16, 2016

Just to the right of the entrance, seven people share the same day of death: April 16, 2016.  Four of those were Marcos’ wife and three of their four children.

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Resilience – Ten Month Anniversary of Ecuador’s 7.8 Earthquake – Part Two

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Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles. — Alex Karras

Jama Ecuador – Taking a timeout from the earthquake-recovery zone.  I watched my friends harvest a shrimp pond about a kilometer from town.   It seemed surreal to be surrounded by stunning landscapes under the influence of a pristine sunny morning while the nearby town provided little aesthetic beauty.

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8 am Harvest Underway…

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This Snowy Egret swallowed this entire fish in a few gulps!

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The landscape frames haunting beauty in one view and a devastated community in another.

After harvest, my friends and I enjoyed a hearty brunch, said our “Goodbyes,” and I stopped to check the progress on the ‘kit’ house. Continue reading

Resilience – Ten Month Anniversary of Ecuador’s 7.8 Earthquake – Part One

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The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance. – Jodi Picoult

Jama Ecuador – Every so often, void of pomp and circumstance, a large truck backs onto the eastern end of a small vacant block and unloads organized piles of boards, bamboo and roofing materials. The truck then drives away.

In December I witnessed this for the first time and noticed random clusters of people loading the materials into smaller trucks. One of the people watching over this process was one of Chana’s sons. I approached him, gave my condolences regarding his mother’s death (See Angels Watching over Us) and asked about the mystery event. He told me that a church from another area was the benefactor of these ‘kit houses’ – donated to those in the campo/country who were receiving no help. Feeling a bit like an intruder, I refrained from sticking my camera into the lives of strangers.  With patience, I hoped to learn more when a more-appropriate time presented itself.

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We are stronger than we think. We have emotional, spiritual and even physical resources at our disposal. We may get knocked down, but we don’t have to stay down.”  – Steve Goodier

This month, my first time back since the December visit, I was again walking past when a truck unloaded another cluster of kit houses. I felt stronger, more ‘entitled’ to learn more in order to share this story with a larger audience. I took a few photos from the far side of the block then cautiously approached from a corner tangent.

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“Leeee-SAH!” someone called from a mototaxi that was parked near one of the stacks of supplies. I waved, aimed my camera in that direction and wondered who was greeting me with obvious affection… I looked at the lady standing near a stack and thought, “I’ve never seen this lady before..” I smiled,  asked her name, permission to take her photo and closed the gap between the taxi and me.

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Her name is Iliana, and she lives about 10 kilometers ‘up the coastline.

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“Leeeee-SAH!” exclaimed a second person, one with an armload of boards. He stretched one of his long spindly arms with a heartfelt greeting. Ah.. the puzzle pieces were falling in place. His brother and father and I have many ties through various people. I think that the brother Carlos was in the room long ago when a mouse ran in my direction, and I screamed and flat jumped high onto a chair!  They later commented, ‘You screamed like a girl.”

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After a heart-warming reunion with the cluster of happy people, I was invited to go to the site where the house would be built.  Yes, Giddyup!  Let’s finish loading this truck and roll forward! Continue reading

The Ten Month Anniversary of Ecuador’s 7.8 Earthquake

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Minutes from Jama – A Serene Respite from the Earthquake Recovery Efforts.

February 16, 2017

Ten months ago,  a subtle 4.8 ‘bump’ gave no fair warning of the 7.8 nightmare that would soon turn Ecuador’s northern coastline upside down.   No one suspected that in ten minutes, they’d be scrambling for safety as the earth rolled in spasms and tossed people across rooms like a cat toying with a mouse.   From Catholic News.com   story about Jama, “The ground moved like waves on the ocean,” he recalls, while a pall of sulfurous-smelling haze rose over the town.”

“The earthquake was presaged by a magnitude 4.8 foreshock eleven minutes before the main quake struck,[19] and followed by over fifty-five aftershocks in the first twenty-four hours.” — Wilkipedia

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“We will never lose hope.”

Over the months, various people described that terrifying minute and its after effects:

“My sister was outside, and she wrapped her arms around a light pole and hung tight until it stopped.”

“From the upstairs window it looked very black to the north, and then the house started shaking.  I ran to the kitchen and turned off the gas.”   She choked back tears and told how the house rocked back and forth before starting to fall.

One man described how the earth pulled apart and  a geyser of black water (?) shot skyward behind his shattered home.

“I don’t know how I got out alive.  Things were falling, crashing, and I had to crawl…”

“I reached town, and everyone was gone.  I did not know where they were.”

“There was a tsunami warning, but I first checked on my parents and then went to the hills.  We spent the night on the hillside.”

“We swam across the river to get to town.”

“Thieves stole from the pharmacy after we left for the tsunami warning.”

“We were too scared to go back inside.  We sat in the street until morning.”

“Look;  I lost everything.  I don’t have any clothes.”  she frowned at her hand-made blouse and shrugged.

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“Lee-sah!’ One person called from the far side of  the street yesterday.  A look of desperation bled through his attempted smile.   This man with the perpetually-happy personality seemed broken; he explained that his family was still living in a tent, and he was concerned about providing food for them.

I’ve been working on posts to share stories of different people who have opened their hearts and invited me into their make-shift homes.   Two posts will follow today, and  more as time permits.

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Thank you in advance for reading with an open and loving heart.

Lisa

 

Do You Truly Know Your Neighbors?

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Jama Ecuador - Little-dog Candy barked and barked and barked at the Gringita, to the family's amusement....

Jama Ecuador – Little-dog Candy barked and barked and barked at the Gringita, to the family’s amusement….

 “Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How well do you know your neighbors; your neighborhood?  If you live in a petite town, you probably know them on a personal level.  Hopefully they are ‘good neighbors,’ ones who make you smile, and if they are lucky, your presence makes them smile as well!  Once when visiting a friend in a larger city (in Mississippi) I asked about the next-door neighbors.  He shrugged and said he didn’t know them.  In disbelief I made some general exclamation but kept my stonger reaction in check.  Just because a neighbor doesn’t extend the first token gesture — doesn’t mean that you cannot!

After meeting this gentleman, I was invited to the back of the house, where water was stored in a bucket, they cooked on an old tree stump yet had dignity and strong spirit. he showed me a snake skin, and we discussed a little snake that they call a 'bejuco' becuase it looks like a litte vine..

After meeting this gentleman, I was invited to the back of the house, where water was stored in a bucket;  they cooked on an old tree stump Even though the earthquake stripped them of their belongings, it did not rob them of their dignity and strong spirit.  He showed me this snake skin, and we discussed a little snake locally called, ‘.___-bejuco’ becuase it looks like a litte bejuco/vine.

Challenging neighbors have sometimes dotted my past, but I eventually realized they had extreme personal burdens or wounds, which had nothing to do with me.  By being neutral, many times I witnessed the softer side emerge.   We as humans often don’t take time to consider how uncomfortable the other person’s shoes might be.

After visiting the family with the dog, and the family that cooked on the tree stump, I saw this person across the street. With a pinch of guilt, I 'only' waved, but plan to go visit this person soon.

After visiting the family with the dog, and the family that cooked on the tree stump, I saw this person across the street. With a pinch of guilt, I ‘only’ waved, but plan to go visit this person soon.

There are many people still in recovery mode on Ecuador’s earthquake-ravaged coastline.   I’ve had time to walk slowly through neighborhoods and talk with friends, talk with strangers, and to marvel (and laugh) at children’s natural gift of inner joy.  I realized that in good times we often don’t stop to exchange greetings with strangers, and in bad times, we’re so busy trying to survive, that we also forget that others are doing the same.  In good times or in bad, we sometimes forget to take time to listen – truly listen… Continue reading

Happy Flowers!

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Jama Ecuador – This sweet token of affection was perched on my balcony this morning, and the Valentine’s Rabbit was still in sight on the grounds of Hostal Palo Santo!

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She and her dear mother worked yesterday on arrangements for this special day.  They set up in a little space near the center of town and graciouslly allowed me to take photos. Continue reading

Hobbling Along

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“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” ― Abraham H. Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being

Even the tin roof and nails came with the donated house!

Even the tin roof and nails came with the donated house!

Jama Ecuador – Lots of stories and images are in queue here on the Pacific coast. There’s a very special bird sighting – awaiting confirmation on its identity, and there are encouraging stories of those moving forward, poco a poco now ten months after the earthquake. The rains have been heavy, and many streets are more dirt than gravel, so mud boots are almost mandatory in some towns!

What follows is a ditty that will explain why future correspondence might be brief!
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Timeout for Art: Whimsical Endemic Species

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Endemics at the Artist's Nest --- Acrylic

Endemics at the Artist’s Nest — Acrylic

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.”  Steve Jobs

With great pleasure, I’d like to introduce you to seven new feathered friends that have given me great joy!   They can definitely be classified as ‘endemic” and are quite rare;  they thrive in a very petite ecosystem in Mindo Ecuador.

Only one of these hybrid species has a name;  the Purple-crested Puffball might be petite, but it is a bundle of perpetual energy.   The rest are waiting for names, and I hope that some of you will help with suggestions!

This little stinker started it all! The original plan was for a simple design of whimsical hummingbirds. The firstborn insisted it was worthy of a life of glamour!

1.  This little blue and green stinker started it all! The original plan was for a simple design of whimsical cartoon hummingbirds spaced along a straight limb.   Simple.  Fast.  The firstborn quickly morphed from a basic shape with colors to a perky bird in a sparkling costume!     2. The little bird that anchors the corner has the body of a sparrow, and a beak designed for a special yet-to-be-created flower!

Continue reading

Timeout for Art? – What if there were no ‘Arts?’

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My life-long friend the pencil!

My life-long friend the pencil!

“Art is the signature of civilizations.”- Beverly Sills

(Ecuador) Using my.yahoo.com as email provider home page, I view the most-recent emails, the 5 top news stories, news of Ecuador/Latin America,  weather stats for specific locations,  and science and arts stories.  The custom page provides a quick summary of the day’s pulse when I log onto the internet.

One column features amazing works of art, and whenever possible I follow that link and savor Lines & Color’s ‘Eye Candy’...  This week featured a black rectangle to illustrate a more-serious post.     Please take time to read Charley Parker’s  Lines & Colors Is On Strike Today

From Lines & Colors: “…Yes, it’s a small, mostly symbolic gesture, but so are the recently announced plans by the incoming administration to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting…”

This AMAZING group of students repeated every sentence I spoke!

Museo Portoviejo – Ecuador – This AMAZING group of students repeated every sentence I spoke in English!

I pondered how to share my own thoughts regarding the importance the arts play in our world.   The best option seems to illustrate with images from old posts, where art played a large role in bringing people together while introducing them to the magic of self discovery.

We’ll start in Jama Ecuador, where locals are still recovering from the earthquake.  I am not sure if this tree is still there, but in the past, the whimsical art continued to smile at those who considered looking up…. Continue reading

Eye to Eye = Soul to Soul

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(Another photo follows at the bottom of this page.)

Kris Cunningham, who lives in the Republic of Panama, shared a ‘4-Minutes Experiment’ video that greatly affected me.   Follow the link, open the video in the largest format possible, get still and very quiet, then select ‘play.’

CONNECTION – By Kris Cunningham

“Do not judge—or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:1-4.

Capes of a Different Color - Acrylic by Lisa Brunetti

Holy Week/Quito Ecuador – “Capes of a Different Color” – Acrylic

What surprised me were the negative comments on the video’s Youtube page.   I pondered my own story, one of being embraced by the people of various Latin American countries.   I did not have to prove my worth – they accepted me into their communities with amazing trust.  Thank goodness they have not judged me based on negative PR regarding the USA, whether it’s caused by a single tourist or the military or our administration.

Sometimes we fill our days with too much chatter, when the best way for two people to communicate is eye to eye — or soul to soul. Continue reading

Timeout for Art when there is no Timeout for Art!

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(Accidental swirl while taking a photo!)

(Accidental swirl while taking a photo!)

“…I transferred one large and four small framed paintings to the closet in my bedroom, so I would have room to move. I pulled out painted papers. I sifted through bins and bowls full of scraps. I started shuffling things around. I felt myself grinning…”  Cindy Rickgers – Timeout for Art – Jan. 19, 2017

I don’t think she’s missed one week; dear Cindy, hands full with responsibilities and obligations, finds time week after week after week to post a Timeout for Art.  She often apologizes for lack of material, but she always dedicates a “Timeout” for art every Thursday.    Thank you Cindy!  You inspire me more than you’ll ever realize!

Remember this mosaic in progress?

Remember this mosaic in progress?

My hands have been full with the ‘stairway’ project, and today I am typing with dried varnish on my fingertips.   As soon as this is published, I’ll brush a second coat on the floor.    Are you curious to see the progress?! Continue reading

“Good Game!”

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December 2016 – Mindo Ecuador – End of School Event for the Holiday Break

(Ecuador) – About year ago when my friend Barbara was visiting, we drove to town once or twice each week, checked internet, bought supplies then returned to my friends’ Rio Cinto property. We opened pages of interest while on the internet and then read them offline when time permitted. In the serene first hours of the morning while sitting on the front deck, I sometimes broke the silence to read something of interest to her, or she read something to me. When I read the following (below), she listened patiently and then stated, “I’d like to have that read at my funeral. Who wrote that?”

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Rio Cinto/Mindo Ecuador – View from the deck

“I did,” I smiled, and told her that I’d written it while sick with dengue and chikungunya; though I did not fear I might be dying, these words tumbled out one day as if dictated by a higher source.

Most every time I pondered sharing this, someone died or there was a horrific disaster, and the timing seemed wrong.  It seems like the right time, and I look forward to your feedback.     Lisa

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…………………..

RIP

“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.” Kahlil Gibran

Rest in Peace… A tribute opened with those RIP words, and I pondered that saying and quickly morphed to my own obituary and thought, May they say about me, Continue reading

No Mistakes – Only Lessons

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“You will fail many times but in failing you’ll learn and in learning you’ll find your way. Remember, there are no mistakes in life but only lessons, and lessons will keep on repeating until learned.”  Paulo Coelho

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I’ve been quiet, but that might mean that I’ve been busy!  Are you curious?!

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Mindo Ecuador – The tragedy of last year’s earthquake has had an unusual effect on me;  my patience and tolerance, thanks to several challenging lessons, have strengthened.   A project-in-progress for the ‘Artist’s Nest’ has tested that statement!

Two local workers have been helping with a 3-day project that has stretched into eight.   If I sweep the sawdust and debris five times, there’s always a sixth, and most likely a seventh, though at the end of the day these two sweet workers clean the entire area well before leaving.

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When I grab the broom to sweep the steps yet again, I find that I don’t sigh and say to myself, “Again…” or get frustrated at redundant tasks.  I think, “What those people who have no home would do to have this problem!”       In addition to lessons learned via my nephew Don, “While the Worlld Outside My Window Goes Insane”   , I think of those on the Pacific coast that lost so much, and I ‘Let it go’ instantly.

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Whoosh!  Gone.  Not worth it.  That post (above) connects me back via the photo tribute to Don;   with 124 comments, it’s surely one of the most popular ones for inspiration.

And the lack of stress and frustration is genuine! There’s no psyching myself into trying to dump the stress; it’s never allowed residence or even a Timeout Corner as each day brings new surprises.

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Measure twice – cut once. I watched as they measured, stated outloud the measurement, then the apprentice went outside to cut the section. He returned and —- “Whoops…”  he cut it at ’06’ instead of ’16.’  No problem – he learned an easy lesson! They lengthened it with a second section and wired the two together.

The workers are so kind and sweet, and Perejil (a nickname) does amazing work.  He’s very patient and goes to great details, so the work has taken longer than expected.   It’s worth the extra days, and in the story of my day, my week, my life, what is important is the quality of each day — and each day as been crammed with positive experiences.

Are you curious to see the project in progress?  Put on your hard hat, as there’s no hand rail, the main reason this project began! Continue reading

Starting Fresh While Honoring the Old

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

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

As people around the world honor customs to welcome the new year, I now realize how easy it is to get caught up in festivities while forgetting those who are recovering from somber challenges.   Those people are surely anxious to say “Farewell” to the old year and embrace the new one with hopes for better times.

The word ‘resilient’ has popped up several times in the past week, and I know of no others more resilient than those on Ecuador’s coast who are still recovering from the April 16 earthquake.

End of day break along the cleared banks of Rio Jama. Across the river, a collectivo taxi truck transports people to nearby El Matal.

Dec. 2016 – End-of-day break along the cleared banks of Rio Jama. Across the river, a collectivo taxi truck transports people to nearby El Matal.

The following footage is from a security camera at a cyber cafe in Canoa, Ecuador on April 16, at the moment the earthquake shocked the people of the area and blanketed the coastal-struck zone in darkness.  Canoa is one of many towns between Bahia de Caraquezand Pedernales that received extensive damage from the terremoto.  (Jama is located about midway between the two areas.) Continue reading

Christmas Colors from Ecuador

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Would you believe that Santa found my GPS location?  I tried to outsmart him and went from the coast to the cloud forest and then to Quito – all in one week!   Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!  His elves gathered an amazing assortment of special items including new acrylic paints, REAL drawing pencils, an earthquake-relief T-shirt, chocolates — it’s a miracle,as I am still baffled to how all of those items – and more – fit in one surprise stocking!…

Thanks, Papa Noel y Elves! (— or do duendes help Papa Noel in South America?)

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Merry Christmas to All!

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Z

Wisdom 101 – Jama Ecuador

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Christmas Tree Decorations — Entrance to Hostal Palo Santo (Jama Ecuador)

“Suffering is part of our training program for becoming wise.”  Ram Dass

(Jama Ecuador) After traveling for 5 or more hours, I recently reached Jama in the late afternoon.  Palo Santo Cafe was closed, but someone was inside – preparing for the night.  I knocked on the door and asked if I could use the internet – to send a smoke signal that I’d reached my destination for the day.   “Of course,” lovely Karen smiled as she opened the door and invited me inside.  “Stay as long as you’d like…”

Luchy's girlfriend, Karen...

Luchy’s girlfriend, Karen…

I sat at a table and quickly vanished into cyberworld while they worked in the kitchen.   Just as I was packing my things to leave, young Jesus – Luchy’s nephew, motioned for me to stay.  He pointed to three coffee cups on the counter and whispered, “Shhhhh…”     Smiling, I unpacked the computer and played my role in the coffee break surprise..   Yet ten minutes later, the cups of not-so steaming coffee were still sitting there, and I thought perhaps I misunderstood.   About that time Luchy and Karen emerged from the kitchen with hot ham and cheese sandwiches for everyone!

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Jesus, Luchy's nephew, often helps (with a huge heart and grand smile) at the restaurant.

Jesus, Luchy’s nephew, often helps (with a huge heart and grand smile) at the restaurant.  He prepared the cafe con leche, garnished with an artful swirl on the surface!

These palms line the front of Palo Santo...

These palms line the front of Palo Santo…

I camped at their hostal this past trip and enjoyed more quality time not only with the family, but with many of the locals as well.   One night when I was walking from their restaurant to the hostal (2 blocks) someone called my name.  It was a friend I’d not seen in over a year.  She and her four precious children are living in one of the tent communities.  She looked great and seemed happy, and we both enjoyed the 10-pm exchange on the almost-deserted street.

From better times - before the earthquake

Photo from better times – before the earthquake

“When someone feels particularly isolated or in pain, we don’t need a great deal of information in order to come to his or her aid.”  Ram Dass

Tent Community between Jama and Playa El Matal (Ecuador)

Tent Community between Jama and Playa El Matal (Ecuador)

Another day when going to buy 'takeout' encebollado for breakfast, another person called, "Lisa!" Many times as they share their stories, they release a bit of their noble and very privte pain. It is true that tears are the escape valve for the heart.

Another day when I was buying ‘takeout’ encebollado for breakfast, someone on the street called, “Lisa!”    Many times as they share their stories, they release a bit of their noble and very private pain. It is true that tears are the escape valve for the heart.

Continue reading

Timeout for Art? Siempre-Always!

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Acrylic on Fabric -

Acrylic on Fabric –

There is no surer method of evading the world than by following Art, and no surer method of linking oneself to it than by Art. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

An online ‘special preview’ approaches for all of you who have patiently endured my erratic postings.  My hands have been full with lots of tasks – many of them have been highly-creative ones!   I’ve not had time for full-time painting, but you’ve earned a sneak peek!

Sometimes it’s easy to go into an intense focus, and studies seem to shine best against a stark background.  The butterflies above illustrate when ‘all is calm’ in Zeebra’s life. Other times when distractions nudge me out of focus, I switch to a totally-different style — one that makes me smile and demands a different approach.  An old Artist’s Statement of mine stated, “Two people live inside of me…”  Here’s a sample of that second person: Continue reading