An Artist’s Eyes Never Rest!

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for stopping by!  Z

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Timeout for Art? 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

…Delicate and Fleeting as a Life in the Universe…

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Selenicereus megalanthus, better known as ‘Dragon Fruit’ – or ‘Pitahaya’ in Ecuador.

“And I think of the night-blooming cereus, a plant that looks like a leathery weed most of the year.

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But for one night each summer its flower opens to reveal silky white petals, which encircle yellow lacelike threads,

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and another whole flower like a tiny sea anemone within the outer flower.

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By morning, the flower has shriveled. One night of the year, as delicate and fleeting as a life in the universe.” —Alan Lightman – The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew

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Mindo Ecuador –  Dec. 01, 2016  (Rabbit-rabbit!)

Yesterday morning my friend Clemencia emailed to say, “We are having some flowering in the pitahaya, if you would like to come tonight… if you want to invite Cynthia, please do; she wanted to see the flowers too. It is not a big flowering, but the nights have been beautiful so even with a few it will be nice.” Continue reading

Hurricanes & Earthquakes?

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(Mindo Ecuador) Dedicated artists continue working on murals….

” …heavy rain induces thousands of landslides and severe erosion, which removes ground material from the Earth’s surface, releasing the stress load and encouraging movement along faults … the reduced load (can) unclamp the faults, which can promote an earthquake.”  – Shimon Wdowinski, associate research professor at the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Several days ago as Otto began creeping toward Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama, I remembered noting that strong earthquakes seem connected not only to full and new moons, but also to Hurricanes and periods of heavy rains.   Doing a bit of homework, I opened two sites that discussed the earthquake-hurricane connection.

Working by phone and flashlight!

Working by phone and flashlight!

Working late with the mural-painting projects, I intended to read the stories with more focus when I had more time; the page was still on the screen when the 7.0+ quake hit El Salvador.

Here’s the link if anyone’s interested in post-turkey dinner reading material:  Hurricanes-Typhoons May Trigger Earthquakes.

Meanwhile, many are watching Otto’s trek across southern Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica.   May all of you have a safe evening.

Is anyone ready to stop for the day?!

 

A-typical Thanksgivings

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Tent Community between Jama and Playa El Matal (Ecuador)

Tent Community between Jama and Playa El Matal (Ecuador)

Greetings to all on this USA day of Thanksgiving.    In strong contrast to those affected by world-wide unstable weather, I spent the early morning helping with finishing touches on a mural-painting “minga” near Mindo’s central park.   Students, teachers and artists worked in easy harmony over the past few days while all-but perfect sunny skies smiled upon us.

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Although the experience filled me with gratitude for these lovely people who embrace foreigners into their culture, my thoughts have also been tweaked to equally-loving people in Central America who are and will be affected by Otto’s late-November visit to the area. Continue reading

Late-November Otto & Central America

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Thinking of all of you that are affected by Otto’s late-November surprise.

When I scan maps of Central America, I always spot that large Lake Nicaragua- Cocibolca (Ometepe is home to Debbie and Ron, who – ironically- were in New Zealand and experienced the recent 7.8 earthquake…)  Then I look due south to find the Nicoya Penisula where many of my friends live…. and now due east to Barra Colorado on the north-east border with Nicaragua, where my friend Dan has Rio Colorado Lodge.   Hang in there everyone…  Many will be watching from afar.

Kris out of Panama posted an update on weather in the David area. ‘Otto is Soaking Us”

(To anyone with internet there, updates are appreciated…)

Lessons to all:  Keep your homes well stocked – disasters seem to be surprising people world wide….

Love,
Z

Reminiscing

Playa El Matal/Jama/Ecuador – Pat Godkin’s home will most likely be demolished today.

“We are all such escape artists, you and I. We don’t like to get too serious about things, especially about ourselves. When we are with other people, we are apt to talk about almost anything under the sun except for what really matters to us, except for our own lives, except for what is going on inside our own skins. We pass the time of day. We chatter. We hold each other at bay, keep our distance from each other even when God knows it is precisely each other that we desperately need.” Frederick Buechner

Jama Ecuador – Buechner’s words articulate this past week’s experience as I’ve taken a slower & meandering trail through earthquake-ravaged Jama.    Those that I’ve spoken with have learned the above lessons, and circumstances have steered our conversations to tones of sobering seriousness.  We also find humor, though a heavy undercurrent flows through the entire area.

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People are smiling, people have hope, yet there is a different energy of emotional heaviness, of unspoken weariness. Continue reading

Jama Ecuador – Before & After

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“Wherever there are birds, there is hope.”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

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Jama, Ecuador –  Arriving in Jama just before dark, I was happy to see Luchy Cevallos unloading items from his car at Palo Santo Cafe.  “Lisa!!” he smiled, “Come in and have a cafe!”   I accepted on the condition that I share the tasks before they opened at 7.     He also prepared a pizza that we shared, and then he dashed to the cabanas to prepare #3 for me to spend the night.  Yay!

Business was brisk, and I suspected that each dime would help with repairs on his hostal.   When I left at ten, people were still visiting while enjoying good food at a very fair price.

I also took photos to compare before and after, so here’s an ‘after’ photo taken in front of Palo Santo…

Jama - in front of Palo Santo Cafe - Nov 2016 What's missing?

Jama – in front of Palo Santo Cafe – Nov 2016 What’s missing?

Compare the photo above with one taken a few years earlier:

Jama Before -

Jama Before –

More before/after comparasons:

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Jama before – (Wear White for Peace)

Jama after earthquake – Luchy’s brother’s house is gone (to the right) as is a two-story house to the left…

Turning back time to 2008:  How well I remember walking the lazy streets of Jama as if I’d stepped into a time warp from my childhood.  Cowboys nudged their cattle along the streets at the end of the day.     The town slowly changed over the past seven years, but the April 16th earthquake turned Jama and neighboring areas upside down.

Many have shared their stories.

“…It began like the usual earthquakes – starting slowly, and we became aware – Earthquake – and assumed it would be finished in a few seconds. But it didn’t, and the slow subtle start sort of tricked us…   I was in the street outside my house when it happened… first it wasn’t scary – it was like a normal earthquake and then it got stronger. One house fell and then another and another… and I looked at our house and thought, “Please don’t fall…” – and it didn’t….   A few more minutes, and I think the house would have fallen down.”
Continue reading

Weather, Extinctions and Round-the-World Deforestations

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Ecuador's Powerful Woodpecker closely resembles North America's lost Ivorybill. Will mankind learn that preserving and restoring the habitat has reached critical importance?

Ecuador’s Powerful Woodpecker (Campephilus pollens) resembles North America’s possibly-extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker.  What will it take to awaken mankind that preserving and restoring the habitat has reached critical importance?

” The ivory-bill is so iconic: big, beautiful, mysterious—a symbol of everything that’s gone wrong with our relationship to the environment. I thought if someone could just locate an ivory-bill, could prove that this remarkable species still exists, it would be the most hopeful event imaginable. We would have one final chance to save this bird and the bottomland swamp forests it needs to survive.”  From Surfbirds.com – interview with Tim Gallagher, author of The Grail Bird.

While working, I noted a new bird sound and was rewarded by seeing this magnificent woodpecker!

While working, I  was rewarded by first hearing and then seeing this magnificent Powerful Woodpecker!

“Earth’s population of wild vertebrates — all mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish — declined 58 percent from 1970 to 2012. (That’s up from 52 percent in the 2014 report, which spanned 1970 to 2010.) In other words, the total number of wild animals with backbones has fallen by more than half within one human lifetime.”   Russell McClendon – Mother Nature Network (Oct 27/2016)

Mindo Ecuador –   Something happened last month that had a profound effect on me.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach it, how to share it with you – with those who might be interested – but even more for those who are not. Continue reading

Art? My Mother Didn’t Tell Me about Art…

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Detail/ Tres Manos Copyright Lisa Brunetti

Detail/ Tres Manos Copyright Lisa Brunetti 2012

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” – Mary Lou Cook

Once upon a time, long long ago, a precious four-year old burst into tears when the art teacher stepped into his classroom on the second week of school.   “Art?” little Sam whimpered, “My mother didn’t tell me about art….”   He cried and cried and eventually stopped — about the time class was over for the day.

Students love to inspect my basket of art materials...

Students loved inspecting my basket of art materials…

A week passed, and I again disrupted his normal routine, and he cried again.. Not so much, but my presence made him uncomfortable…  He cried during the first part of class, but then calmed.  I think by the third week he accepted this strange interuption and in another month, he embraced the concept of art and all of the surprises that the art teacher shared with his four-year old peers.   I often said that teaching those four-year olds was a bit like jugging one too many balls; their attention spans were short, so I tried to provide many options each week to hold their interests …

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Four years later when that same cluster of students was drawing one of their classmates who sat in one lone chair in the middle of the room, I silently marveled, “Wow.. they are getting a likeness, not just an icon, and they probably should not have the skills to do this at this age – but no one has told them that they couldn’t… and Mrs. B believes in them – therefore they did it – and did it well!” Continue reading

Latitude Zero and Holding

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Hola Ground Control, this is Zeebra on the Magic Carpet, presently in a Holding Pattern over Latitude Zero, though we are veering slightly north and slightly south.  Skies have been clear with no turbulence, and presently we have one passenger who seems to be content with her travels so far.

Marie balanced the egg with record speed!

Marie balanced the egg with record speed!

Maintaining zero turbulence at Latitude Zero has required a bit of focus, so I will divert my attention back to my passenger and continue searching for unique destinations for her Cloud Forest experience.

We dropped in to experience the magic of Angel Paz and his feathered friends' private performances.

We dropped in to experience the magic of Angel Paz and his feathered friends’ private performances.

Would you like to see a bit of what we’ve done so far?

Continue reading

Did you Miss the Mindo Bird Fair? (Oct. 08)

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Sandra Patino - (Bird of Paradise Tours/Mindo Ecuador)

Sandra  Patiño – (Bird of Paradise Tours/Mindo Ecuador)

(Mindo/Pichincha/Ecuador) -Observing the day of October 08 to acknowledge our feathered neighbors on this planet, the Mindo Bird Guide Association (Asociación de Guías Naturalistas de Mindo) partnered with local, national and international sponsors and hosted their second Bird Fair.   Of course I jumped at the opportunity to participate, starting at dawn yesterday, October 08!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarly-birders gathered for a dawn bird trek, and depending on which birds we hoped to see, our groups split in different directions.    I shadowed my friend Sandra Patiño, who guided us along a high ridge where hummingbirds, barbets and toucanets shared the spotlight while toucans and pygmy tyrants provided the live soundtrack! Continue reading

ArtAZ-Surprise Quito

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P1680845 paints in squeeze bottles i can do this

Follow the link below to view the paintings submitted for the SURPRISE Quito benefit that opens on the 22nd of this month….Can you figure out which painting is mine?

Surprise Quito – Benefit

From their website: SURPRISE Quito, artAZ’s inaugural benefit exhibition for the support of Desafio Ecuador’s work for the relief of the Ecuador earthquake victims, will open at Galeria Artik, between 22-24 September 2016. A

There is still time for any artist in Ecuador to submit a 20 x 25 (8 x 10) painting – just remember to sign it on the back so the creator remains a surprise…   The link above gives the info for submitting the image via email and also for details for sending the art to Quito asap!

The weeks continue to be busy, and the new owners of the property will arrive at the end of this month!

Signing off til later this week,

Z

Timeout for Ballet?

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“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.” – Mary Oliver

A small poster in dramatic reds and blacks caught my attention last weekend; a stunning photo showcased a cluster of performers for the National Ballet, scheduled to perform on Tuesday September 6th. Taped to the door of the closed tourism office, the poster radiated a mystical allure. “Lazos de Tierra – Fiesta en el Mar” – A Free Event – Ballet Nacional de Ecuador.”
“Oh well,” I mused, “It would be nice to attend, though I don’t plan to go to Quito.”

Before resuming my errands, I decided to check the fine print for the location. Otavalo and Cuenca often have cultural events, and I was curious about what city would be hosting the performance.

Mindo! A ballet in petite Mindo?

I looked again to be sure I had read it correctly.

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Yes, the National Ballet would be performing on Tuesday night! I enthusiastically passed the information to friends, and they seemed as surprised as I!

……. Fast forward to “Hora:  19:30 — Martes 6 de Septiembre”…..

Since my camera does not work well in low light, I wasn’t expecting to take many photos. Cynthia pointed out that the entire front row of chairs was basically empty, so we scampered forward and claimed a prime vantage point!!!

The curtain rose in almost total darkness, and the audience peered with collective expectations. As the lighting increased, the darkened forms of dancers began to rise from prone positions. I groped for my camera and managed to get a few blurred shots. The scene quickly morphed to full throttle, and as dramatic lighting showcased these talented dancers in stunning costumes, the camera performed quite well!

(A grayscale version of the top image is a bit easier to decipher...)

(A grayscale version of the top image is a bit easier to decipher…)

What follows is a pictorial summary of the event.

Ladies and gentlemen – please take your seats; the lights have dimmed!   Enjoy the show! Continue reading

Esperanza – Hope

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Manos Arrrrriba!

“Manos Arrrrriba!”        Esperanza – Hope. Without hope, people’s souls would atrophy. My friends and I witnessed esperanza in most every place we stopped.

Jama-El Matal (Manabi Province) Ecuador

Having just returned from a visit to the coast (Jama) where the earthquake turned my friends’ worlds upside down then slammed them to the ground, I would like to share what burns strongest in my mind and soul. Yes, some friends cried when they shared their stories, but their tears also released a bit of grief.  More than tears, I saw smiles. Proud brave smiles that burned as bright and strong as the brilliant sunlight on their altered landscape.

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Esperanza – Hope. Without hope, people’s souls would atrophy. My friends and I witnessed esperanza in most every place we stopped.

A buzz of activity kept the center of town in perpetual motion. A steady stream of people puchased ten-cent servings  of fresh rolls at the open-air panaderia, relocated only a slight distance from its original place on the block. The vegetable vendor location shadowed the panaderia, just like it did before the earthquake, and a second one held its usual spot on the other side of the one-way street. There was comfort in walking up to the glass-fronted bakery counter and requesting caramel-colored cubes of banana bread for my travel companions and me – and oh yes, delicate rolls of chocolate bread and — ‘look at those fresh orbs of bread that are still cooling – we’ll take some of those too.’ Continue reading

Enduring Difficult Times

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Earthquake-damaged Manabi Province ahead.

Earthquake-damaged Manabi Province ahead.

“We warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how.”    Paulo Coelho- The Alchemist

Manabi Province/Jama Ecuador

Friends Cynthia, Luis and Pedro agreed to make a very-fast trip with me to the coast on Tuesday to check on Casa Loca, to visit with friends who are enduring difficult times in the Jama area, and to listen to what’s in their minds and hearts.  We hoped to return to Mindo with a better idea of what was needed and share that information with others who might be able to help.    Leaving before sunrise, I reached my first road block only a few minutes after leaving the property!

(Pardon me, but who has the right-of-way when cattle are still sleeping?)

(Pardon me, but who has the right-of-way when cattle are still sleeping?)

Five or six cows were sleeping in the road; several reluctantly moved out of the way after I rolled closer and closer while blowing the horn.  Others played ‘possum and remained in place.   After five or more minutes, I got out of the truck and found a remnant of a tree limb. I whacked several of the stubborn cows on their rumps and demanded, ‘Get up!’

Some were compliant and eventually ambled to the side.

Some were compliant and eventually ambled to the side.

They obeyed!

My friends were ready when I reached Mindo, and our first stop was about an hour later near the town of San Vicente Maldonado.   Peter had recently attended a 2-week appreticeship at Cenba, a bamboo processing center that produces an alternative to using lumber from trees. The stop was an eye-opener for Cynthia and me!

Cemba - What's behind the gate?

Cemba – What’s behind the gate?

Continue reading

Sign Sign Everywhere a Sign!

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Have a seat!

Have a seat!

Ecuador – A few weekends ago while in Riobamba, I noted a simple-yet attractive sign inside a small cafe across the street from my hostal. White chalk on a large blackboard, it nudged the reader to take a seat. Perky hummingbirds hovered around the letters while whimsical lightbulbs illustrated the decor. How could one not stop and give them a little business?

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The petite cafe was well scrubbed and inviting, and a soundtrack of unobtrusive music added to the atmosphere. The sign made me smile as I sipped what might have been the worst moccachino I’ve ever had as I waited on friends! The grilled cheese sandwich, however, was well made, and the owners were kind and attentive. In time, they’ll work out a better option for the coffee; my entire breakfast was an whopping three dollars! I marvel and often wonder how Ecuadorian restauranteurs can survive on such low prices!

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Working on photos, I realized the growing number of images I have taken of signs. Here are a few that might make you smile: Continue reading

Cloudforest Ironman (woman) Olympics?

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Would anyone like to swing across the river?!

Open call to anyone who would like to compete in the River-crossing Competition!!

(Rio Cinto – Mindo, Ecuador) —When I learned that a friend planned to trek to the high ridge across Rio Cinto, I asked if I could tag along.  We agreed to meet at ten o’clock this past Saturday morning.   Since the starting point was very near the property, I walked the short distance and arrived a few minutes before the rest of the group.

We planned to go to the top of that hill... well, we thought that was the target!

We planned to go to the top of that high point… well, we thought that might be the target!

...or was it there??

…or was it there??  (Why were we trying to reach the top?)

New friends have a little house somewhere on the ridge, and THEY HAVE GOOD INTERNET reception!  We planned to explore options for bouncing that signal down the property...

New friends have a little vacation house somewhere on the ridge, and they have  GOOD INTERNET reception! We planned to explore options for bouncing that signal down to the property…

The neighbors, who live in Quito, were unable to meet us (car trouble!) but their worker Lenin was there to guide us to their property.

Since I arrived first, Lenin showed me how to cross then patiently waited to help me on the far side.

Since I arrived first, Lenin showed me how to cross, then he patiently waited for my ‘landing’ on the far side.

Here’s a little background music to get us in the mood to swing!

Ready… Set… Let’s Go!!! Continue reading

Twenty One Wishes?

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Full Moon Setting over Cinto Ridge (June 2016)

Full Moon Setting over Cinto Ridge (June 2016)

Rio Cinto – Mindo- Pichincha – Ecuador –

I awakend this morning a little past four and peered outside to find that the clouds had gone to sleep, and the stars were twinkling. A waxing moon nudged toward the zenith of the western ridge as a weak meteor taunted me as if to say, “Here’s a sample of what you’ve been missing!” After preparing a cafe-chocolate con leche and wrapping myself in a second layer of clothing, I stepped outside and peered skyward.

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One hour and 21 meteors later, the night weaned into morning as two Tropical Kingbirds performed their tender wake-up duet. A Black-striped Sparrow joined them about ten minutes later with its song of precise and very-strong chords.

Black-striped Sparrow

Black-striped Sparrow

During that sky-gazing hour, eight subtle flashes – most likely bashful meteors – appeared for brief mini-seconds; I refer to them as hiccups! Three of the stronger meteors all but sizzled across the sky and left lingering trails.

I regretted not preparing a spot to better view the skies, although the small section of unobstructed sky provided more-than-my rightful share of pre-dawn wishes! Every so often I did indeed remember, “Wish! Make a wish!”  Continue reading

30-hour Days?

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View of Chimborazo from Riobamba Ecuador

View of Chimborazo from Riobamba Ecuador

Riobamba Ecuador
This past weekend I made a pilgrimage to Riobamba Ecuador to attend a memorial “Misa” service for my dear friend Marta who died last October. (See:https://playamart.wordpress.com/tag/marta-brito-riobamba-ecuador/ )

I arrived knowing one member of Marta’s family – her lovely granddaughter Rowen, and I left with a huge new circle of ‘extended family.’  Through her beautiful family, Marta lives on through facial expressions and similar voice imprints, especially when they laugh!

Check out those feet!

Check out those feet!

Cayetina Cruz captivated us with a tribute to Marta… Marta was surely dancing beside her!

In order to work on photos, write while the memories are still fresh and share those experiences with you, I need 30-hour days! Since that wish has little chance of being granted, I’ll leave you with photos and promise to follow with stories soon! Continue reading

Short & Sweet – This is a Test!

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Mindo Ecuador –

This is a test – only a test – to see if the video (below) makes you smile!   That’s my friend Cynthia in the center, and she participates in a drumming circle each Saturday night in Mindo.

Cynthia radiates happiness as she interacts with the locals, no matter if she’s on the coast or the highlands or in the cloudforest.   I think that the music is the icing on her happiness cake – what do you think?!

If it’s possible, leave Cynthia and her friends a note on YouTube – or share the link via your social-media options!

 

Spiraling through Good Times and Bad

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Creative Ops with Corn1

Creative Spirals with Corn

“Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost between two spiral arms in the outskirts of a galaxy, tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.”  Carl Sagan

Hi from Mindo, where I’m here for a short time then back to the property.    Some of you ‘saw’ where Ecaudor was rocked last night by two more back-to-back earthquakes;  yes, the Mindo area rattled, though last night only one radio station mentioned the quakes which were 13 minutes apart.     Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Showing Works in Progress

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Butterflies - Acrylic in Progress

Butterflies – Acrylic in Progress 8.5 x 38″

Some men, like a wet dog, sprinkle a shower of advice over you when you are least prepared for a bath.   AUSTIN O’MALLEY

While perusing lots of serious quotes about advice, this one (above) made me laugh;  I hope that it gave you a chuckle as well!

This painting of local butterflies evolves a little each day.   There are times when I am tired and don’t have 100 percent concentration, but I try to discipline myself to pick up the pencil or brush and dabble.   There are about a dozen paintings in various stages, all waiting for my attention!

This painting evolves without the aid of preliminary pencil – I study the butterfly in hand or else a photo,  dip the paint brush in a watered-down color and wash in the basic areas.   The fine details evolve with each new layer of  washes, starting with watercolor style and then thicker and finally meticulous attention to detail.     Most every evening  when I push back and eye the painting from afar, I think, “There’s no way this is ready to be shown for Timeout for Art!”

Getting reference material can be challenging!

Getting reference material can be challenging!

Even though this will evolve into a strong painting, I know that’s it’s hard for many people to see an unfinished painting and see it as that – a painting in progress.  There are times, like when we look our worst and answer the knock at the door, we wish we’d had had a warning. Continue reading

June Solstice – from the Equator

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Sunrise over the Ridge - Mindo (Rio Cinto) Ecuador

Sunrise over the Ridge – Mindo (Rio Cinto) Ecuador

Have you done anything special for your Monday Solstice? Hop over and enjoy the morning with me at the A Little Blue Bird Told Me site! It’s been a great day, starting with sunshine and finishing with gentle rains.

SUNLIGHT & SHADOWS – JUNE SOLSTICE FROM THE EQUATOR

Thank you so much for such entertaining feedback on the Smiles, Mirror and Serendipidy posts… Your comments warm my heart, and hopefully soon you’re due a worthy reply! For now, I need to return before dark catches me on the muddy roads!

See you later this week!
Z

Timeout for Art: Mirror Mirror on the Wall!

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Mosaic Mirror for Palo Santo Cafe - before the earthquake...

Mosaic Mirror for Palo Santo Cafe – before the earthquake…

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” Looking outside ourselves for our lives to change is like looking into a mirror and waiting for the mirror to make the first move” – Christen Lynn – Sourcing the Life you Love…

Pairing art with mirrors is a fun and rewarding way to inject personality into your home and gardens.  When Barbara and I painted signs for the trails,  the entire process was fun, from discussing possible names for different areas to tossing around ideas for signs.

We had ideas for many more signs, but we were far from the nearest Playamart and scrap pieces of wood for more signs!

Water is the mirror of nature...

Water is the mirror of nature… St. Francis of Assisi

Painted by Barbara!

Painted by Barbara!

Mirror design doesn’t have to be whimsical.   After studying the ceramic designs in the bathroom, I added this border to the mirror. (below)

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Mirror mirror on the wall…

Tromp l'oeil design... Which is real and which is paint?

Tromp l’oeil design… Which is real and which is paint?

The above mirror frame was painted last year when I visited Jim and Julie at their property where I am now living. Not only does the mirror enhance the bathroom area, but I am also transported via memories to our time together.  Julie is still in the hospital in Nebraska and will see this post.  (Hi Julie!  Get well Pronto!)

The following photos represent diverse options for using mirrors in your home and gardens. Enjoy!

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Timeout for Smiles

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Before the Earthquake: Double smiles - He has new boots AND is thrilled to watch over his cousin's new motorcycle!

Before the Earthquake: Double smiles – He had new boots AND was thrilled to watch over his cousin’s new motorcycle!

“If my heart can become pure and simple like that of a child, I think there probably can be no greater happiness than this” Kitaro Nishida (From The Little Zen Companion)

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

The birds daily designs are drawn with cracked corn, and the birds slowly erase the designs! The frog usually hides behind the rain gauge.

The first hours of the morning are sacred to me, and I perfer to spend them in silence as I wean from an active dreamworld to the expectations of the day. An always-changing cast of winged performers flit through the living stage.  This morning, as I write from the comfort of the front balcony, a cheerful wren forages along the branches of a Pico-Pico tree just long enough to have its image caught on camera.

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Hello Wren!

A dozen or more swallows perform an aerial ballet across the pure-blue skies. One crisp-yellow butterfly inspects the landscaped area near the ponnd. At times the butterflies move with such precision that I think they are birds! Scanning the vista below, I spot a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird perusing the morning’s floral department while deciding which will provide the prized nectar for the day.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird takes a timeout from the flowers!

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird takes a timeout from the flowers!

While admiring the hummingbird, I spot a large bird streak past the house and realize it was a Collared Aracari! Continue reading

Serendipity

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Moon over Cinto Ridge

Moon over Cinto Ridge

“Serendipity is the faculty of finding things we did not know we were looking for.” -Glauco Ortolano

( Mindo Ecuador )   –  Just before dusk last Monday, I drove to town to make a very-special telephone call.    Alejandro had urged me to contact him, but until this moment, our communications had only been via internet.

I stepped into the phone ‘cabina’ and placed a call that would greatly alter the rest of my evening.

“Hello Alejandro?   This is Lisa from Mindo-Cinto.”   I wondered if he would remember me, and then I added, “I have a snake in a bucket for you.   Black above and white below.  I just emailed the photos.” Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Intense Concentration

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“Hi!  Remember me?” (See Timeout- Let’s Draw a Toucan)

“It takes 100 per cent of your attention and focus, backed up with years of drawing experience, to train yourself to paint what you see.” Steve Childs

Mindo Ecuador –

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Simple washes of color… Remember when using watercolor to let one area (yellow) to dry before beginning another (black) or they’ll run together and make a big mess!

Sometimes several washes of color are more effective for building texture and depth.   The cecropria limb started with light washes of blues and greens, and the lightest areas were saved while darker pigments brought form and texture to the painting.  The tree limb needs another session when I can work from life and apply the subtle details.

The second application of yellow, appliied after the first had dried overnight, brings more life into the toucan.

The second application of yellow, applied after the first had dried overnight, brings more life into the toucan.

Toucans are quite social, so the study has a few support characters!   The next image shows the small painting.   With watercolor, one tries to save the whites, as in the spots of light on the eyes.   One mistake many people make is to try to rush the painting, and they are rewarded with a dark color running into a lighter one.   Placing the dark pigment (Paynes gray + burnt sienna + ultramarine blue) in the eye area would be a fatal mistake if the green pigment had not dried.    Moving to the tree limbs – or even to a different painting is the best option.   Taking a break or putting the painting in the sun or waiting until the next day are other options. Continue reading

Update from the Cloud Forest

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Sunny Afternoon in the Cloudforest - May 26, 2016

Sunny Afternoon in the Cloudforest – May 26, 2016

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

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

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

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

Idyllic Jama - from 2012

Idyllic Jama – from 2012

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

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

More Earthquakes…

Tall building: Museo Bahia de Caraquez - (Ecuador)

Tall building: Museo Bahia de Caraquez – (Ecuador)

May 19, 2016 – Ecuador

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

BAHIA DE CARAQUEZ watercolors THUMBNAIL 01

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

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

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

Recent Quakes-Bahia de Caraquez —-

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

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

Z

Timeout for Art – Let’s Draw a Toucan!

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

Hold that pose!

Hold that pose!

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

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

Which would you chose to draw?

Which would you chose to draw?

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

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Toucan B

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Toucan C

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

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

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

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

Global Big Day – Let’s Count Birds!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Solitaire (Bird) – Causes Quite a Buzzzzz

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'Black Solitaire"

Black Solitaire- Entomodestes coracinus

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

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

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

“Heartache Came to Visit”

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

Ximena working during a night shrimp harvest...

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

HANDS

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

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

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

P1700175 JAMA 3 story house peace white

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

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

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

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

P7130607 teeth little boys el matal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Eve in Jama 2012

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

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

If wishes were magic carpets, we would fly!

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

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