Timeout for Art: Nature, the Great Listener

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Petite Residents of Palo Santo’s Gardens – 

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

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

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Acrylic – Silent Conversations

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

Nepal Update: Mick Bromley-Wilderness Trekking

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Photo from Wilderness Trekking/Mick Bromley

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

Timeout for Art: Trading Gifts at Hotel Ciragan

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

Ramon touches up the entrance...

Ramon touches up the entrance at Hotel Ciragan…

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

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

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

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The Other Shoe Dropped

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El Matal – Jama/Manabi/Ecuador

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

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

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

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

The rock was completely under water.

The rock was completely under water.

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

April 22, 2015 - The mouth of Rio Jama

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

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

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Ready to go to a fairy-tale reception?

Ready to go to a fairy-tale reception?

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

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

An injection of humor for the BEST bus ride EVER!

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

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

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Dr. Roberto Moreno di Donato – Manta, Ecuador

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View of Bahia de Caraquez  from San Vicente, Ecuador

View of Bahia de Caraquez from San Vicente, Ecuador

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

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

THE UNDERTOW by Carrie B. Morgan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Canary Shouts, “The Sky is Falling!”

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Walden of the Tropics - photo copyright/Lisa Brunetti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

06 CR howlers MOTHER Y BABE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wedding on the Equator – Part Two

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

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

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

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“I think it’s Showtime!”

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Military Green?

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

Student Show and Away We Go!

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Of course I loved the zebra painting!

Of course I loved the zebra painting!

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

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

Michelle’s Timeout from Work!

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Michelle travels with paper and ink pens….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to dash to the museum!
Z

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

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Bus Ride to Quito - ZZZZZZZZ - dawn awakens!

Bus Ride to Quito – ZZZZZZZZ – dawn awakens!

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

The Crazy Hubbub of Santo Domingo de los Colorados

The Crazy Hubbub of Santo Domingo de los Colorados

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

A Wedding on the Line of the Equator!

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

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

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

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

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

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Details, details!

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A Blurrrr of Smoke and Roses!

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

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

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

The Irony of Costume

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Good Friday Purple

Good Friday Purple

Quito Ecuador

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

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

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

Timeout for Art While Traveling

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

Restaurante El Cafecito  front entrance - Quito

Restaurante El Cafecito front entrance – Quito

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

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

Michelle sketched the design on the windows.

Michelle sketched the window design while we waited on dinner.

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Rabbit Rabbit Once More

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(Ecuador) Otavalo Market - Rabbits

(Ecuador) Otavalo Market – Rabbits

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

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

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

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

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

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Opening Inauguration for Legado de Colores

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Exposition - Museeo Bahia de Caraquez

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

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

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

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

Each Day Prepares Presents, but We Must Show Up!

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Michelle – Sunset at Playa Tarqui/Ecuador

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

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

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

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

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

Timeout for Art: Playamart Treasures

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

P8170025 TIMEOUT kitchen sink

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

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

"What are we going to do today?"

“What are we going to do today?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bridges and Boots

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

“Work?”

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

Pelican Drop

Pelican Drop - Rio Jama Ecuador

Pelican Drop – Rio Jama Ecuador

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

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

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

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

Will be back in town sometime next week.
Z

Mending…

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

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

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

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

Snapshot Pictorials – Quito, Cayambe, Otavalo Ecuador

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Otavalo Ecuador

Pictorial: “… feelings presented in a pictorial form.” The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English

Sometimes words fail me; the following images illustrate how Life offers precious rewards throughout the day and night. These images represent volumes of memories from the past few days. Enjoy, Z Continue reading

Quito Newsflash! Bob’s Back!

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Who’s that guy looking down from the Basilica? It’s Bob Ramsak of Piran Cafe!!!!

Silvana of Monoaullador and I were delighted to say “WELCOME BACK!”  to our WordPress pal, Bob Ramsak (Piran Cafe)  today in Quito.      Bob’s trail brought him through the Jama area two years ago as he traveled (overland) from Argentina to Chile, Bolivia, Peru and on to Ecuador on his way through the Americas.   The following post summarized WEEK 18 as he finished the Ecuador leg of his journey: BOOTLEg BARBIES, AN INAUGURATION, A MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO, AND THE COOLEST FLOOR IN THE WORLD.

So who is Bob?  His “About Page”  offers a great summary:  “I’ve visited 54 countries and roam often as a writer, editor and translator, but Piran Café is not a travel blog. It’s evolved into a notebook, a collection of experiences and moments, long and short, connected and propelled by my primary passions: travel, art, culture and justice. When they and I cross paths, you’ll find some of the results here.”

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The true gift is to visit with Bob in person, where he taps into his thought-provoking reservoir of knowledge and shares stories that range from world-class sporting events to the dangers of street photography.   SURVIVING A STREET ASSAULT IN POTOSI or THE DANGERS OF STREET PHOTOGRAPHY  The posts are great, but the stories in person are even better! Continue reading

When I Grow Up…

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Nandayure/Guanacaste/ COSTA RICA

Nandayure/Guanacaste/ COSTA RICA

“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him. We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children.   Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate.” Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist

Years ago while I was visiting with expat friends and their on-vacation friends in Costa Rica, someone asked, “Did you ever dream when you were growing up that you’d live somewhere like this?”

Turning back time: Costa Rica - After the Competition

Turning back time: Costa Rica – After the Competition

My mind peddled backwards, and within seconds I recalled a wanderlust dream from grammar school. I smiled wistfully and answered, “When I was in 5th grade, I wanted to live in Argentina and raise quarter horses.” Continue reading

13636 – Whoops, Timeout for Art – Simply Drawing

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If many of you are suffering from cabin fever in below-freezing weather, why not pass some of your time with pencil and paper? Drawing can be very relaxing, if you can endure the first five or ten minutes of frustrations and keep working, you might be very pleased with your results.

Go ahead; pick one up and have fun!

Go ahead; pick one up and have fun!

While staying at my friends’ home, I gave a drawing lesson, and after a few warm-up exercises, we drew sea shells. I worked earlier in the day on a study to lllustrate the stages of the drawing. Sometimes a simple line drawing needs few details after the dark background is added. Continue reading

Sunshine and Shadows from the Middle of the World

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Hurriedly I share these images of sunshine and shadows from El Matal (Manabi) Ecuador.  The tides are reaching their highest for the month, and we’ll be watching closely for the next two days.

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So far so good, but today we feared one boater might grind into the rocks. Continue reading

Pacific-Coast Ecuador: Booby Count

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Peruvian Boobies – References list the Peruvian Booby ‘as far as SW Ecuador,” but they now populate many areas up the coastline.

Last week I helped my Ecuador Expat Journeys friends on their Coastal Tour.  Near Salinas, we spotted flamingos and black-necked stilts wading the shallows of the salt ponds.  Upriver from Bahia de Caraquez, we toured Isla Corazon and marveled at thousands of magnificent frigates that shared the unique island with great egrets, snowy egrets, cattle egrets, tricolored herons, cormorants and cocoi herons.  Cute little saffron finches decorated Canoa Beach Hotel’s tropical gardens.

Isla Corazon - Rio Chone

Isla Corazon – Rio Chone

On my way home on Thursday, I said, “Hello” to the Peruvian boobies in San Vicente and reached Casa Loca in time for the late-afternoon finale on the river.

Gasp!  How does one count so many birds?!

Gasp! How does one count so many birds?!

This morning while reporting a thirty-minute bird-watching session on the Backyard Bird Count stats page, I scanned the online queue of species for Ecuador.   The Peruvian Boobies! Their presence along the Ecuadorian coast should be reported, but they are not in my backyard!

"What are you waiting for?"  Please let the world know we're alive and ready for Carnival!

“What are you waiting for?” Please let the world know we’re alive and ready for Carnival!”

If any of you have boobies in your neighborhood, please take time to add them to the online form! BACKYARD BIRD COUNT/Get Started.

Let’s decorate that BirdCount map!   Thanks for speaking up for the birds!

Z

“J.L.” – Jose Luis Yllesca Arizaga – Guayaquil Artist

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Jorge Luis Yllescas Arixaga - Guayaquil Ecuador

Jorge Luis Yllescas Arixaga – Guayaquil Ecuador

“Creativity is essentially a lonely art. An even lonelier struggle. To some a blessing. To others a curse. It is in reality the ability to reach inside yourself and drag forth from your very soul an idea.” ~Lou Dorfsman

I traveled to Guayaquil this past Sunday, a day before an Ecuador Expat Journey tour began.  My afternoon was a free one, and I dropped by the Museo Nahim Isaias in hopes there might be an interesting art exhibit.  I was not disappointed.

Museo Nahim Isaias

Museo Nahim Isaias

Located in the Plaza de Administración near Guayaquil’s Malecon 2000, The Museo Nahim Isaias showcases the work of many artists.  This week, after touring a collection of Ila Coronal’s sensitive photographs of rural life,  I spotted two brightly-colored paintings in another area of the museum.  Stepping toward the strong colors, I noted someone sitting to the side with polite attention.

Jorge Luis Yllescas Arrixaga  (Guayaquil, Ecuador)

Jorge Luis Yllescas Arrixaga (Guayaquil, Ecuador)

“I wonder if that’s the artist,” I pondered, and he stood up and approached with sensitive respect. Continue reading

Backyard Bird Count! Ready… Set…

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OK; Not everyone can peer outside and see hundreds of Magnificent Frigates, one of 70 or more species that decorate the landscape around Casa Loca.  Whether you know our feathered neighbors by name or just refer to them as little brown birds, they are our neighbors, and we should acknowledge their presence in our lives.

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Take half an hour or half a day or an entire day or the entire period (February 13 – 16) of this bird count, and share your  inventory with the world!  Learn more HERE: THE GREAT BACKYARD BIRD COUNT 2015.

Magnificent Frigate -  "Don't you think I'm sexy?"

Magnificent Frigate – “Don’t you think I’m sexy?”

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I’m not quite sure how to count all of the birds in my back yard, so excuse me please, while I go back to counting the birds!

Z

How many birds?

How many birds?

How many birds?

How many birds?

Street Photography on a Rainy Day

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Jama (Manabi Province) Ecuador — Yippee! Almost two months overdue, the rains are finally quenching Manabi’s thirst! Dodging lagoons of water at every corner this morning, I assumed that the gray skies would offer few opportunities for good photos.  I was wrong.

Jaime, the fisherman, ignored the sprinkles.

Jaime, the fisherman, ignored the sprinkles.

The rains fell during the night then resumed again mid morning; there are countless music options for these images, but I’ll nudge Eddie Rabbit a bit closer to the equator to kick off these images:

No one seemed discouraged by the mud and water, though without boots, I skirted around mud and leaped across swollen pools of water throughout town.  While enjoying a cup of coffee and an extra sour lemonade “sin azucar” (without sugar – to chase away an allergy)  I was well entertained by Silvana’s nephew who sported a new pair of boots.  He pranced past my table, climbed aboard his cousin’s new motorcycle and stole the show! Continue reading

World Wetlands Day – February 2

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"Catch of the Day!" (They call this a chamy fish.)

“Catch of the Day!”
(They call this a chamy fish.)

Headlines of winter storms make me grateful to live along Ecuador’s Pacific coast.  Those of you who are enduring brutal weather, stay warm and safe and well.   I wish I could send some of this climate in your direction.    Yesterday I pondered how we fell trees for timber or we leave deep scars on Mother Earth so that we can produce concrete – how does one build homes without impacting our planet’s struggling health?

..S.ometimes Mother Nature bites back!!!!

..S.ometimes Mother Nature bites back!!!!

As we peer over the groundhog’s shoulder to see his shadow – or not – take time to peer into Mother Nature’s wetlands and ponder their importance on our planet.

The ponds are off limits before the harvest. After the harvest, the feathered feast begins with no stress!

Today I’ll be driving along Ecuador’s Pacific coast with a great tour group, but wanted to wave a token banner in honor of our precious wetlands.   Hop over to SerenitySpell for a refresher course! Preserving Our Future – World Wetlands Day.

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Have a good week, everyone! Z

Because I’m HAPPY!

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(Ecuador – Jan. 31, 2015)  Today’s Daily Prompt arrived as I traveled the 7-plus hours between Jama and Guayaquil.  Michelle suggested,  “Tell us how your week went by putting together a playlist of five songs that represent it.”

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Ha!  The week delivered disappointments as well as grand moments, but I managed to keep my sense of humor.   On Monday/Lunas, I painted  until noon, put away my paints and brushes, changed and waited for a driver to take me an hour up the coast to Pedernales.  Rolando and I had talked on Saturday, and I told him about the floor project and the most important item needed was a non-yellowing varnish for floors.   I said that I would be painting all day on Sunday and again on Monday morning and would be ready to go by “…1 or 2 o’clock…”    He didn’t show up!   Welcome to Ecuador!  (Perhaps I absently said, “Martes/Tuesday” instead of “Lunas?”)

I shrugged; it wasn’t important, and I switched back to painting while watching the birds come home to roost.  On Martes, I waited again, and at 2, decided to walk to town (5K) and glare at Rolando with the ‘truck taxi’ and watch his mouth drop when he remembered that he’d forgotten!

Maybe he feared he'd have to help carry heavy items from Playamart!

Maybe he feared he’d have to help carry heavy items from Playamart!

P8180072 little birds algarrobo tree small fileI enjoy the walks to town, and I inspect the birds along the road, in the al-garrobo (mesquite family) trees and in the shrimp ponds.  This week I spotted the Peruvian Meadowlark, a species that’s been absent for months.  About twenty minutes into my trek, a friend drove along at high speed, braked, backed up and gave me a ride to to town!   As he resumed top speed on the gravel road, I didn’t tell him of my two-day wait for the driver!  Instead I smiled after we all but broke the sound barrier and said, “Muchicimas Gracias!”

Some people think that third-word countries are dangerous;  thankfully there are sweet angels who enhance the quality of my days!

(Image from 2013) Some people think that third-word countries are dangerous; thankfully there are sweet angels who enhance the quality of my days! Thanks, Doc Castro!)

Instead of seeing Rolando, I spotted one of his brothers (they have a fleet of pickup truck-taxis.)  He chuckled when I told him the story;  we discussed the fare to Pedernales, my list of things to do there, judged the time, and he said if we left immediately we could be back before dark.  I hopped in the co-pilot seat and said, “VAMOS!”

Squinting at the laptop, I worked on photos for National Geographic’s “Your Shot,” while peering out the window and occasionally snapping photos.

Harvest in progress of a balsa tree farm near Camarones Ecuador.

Harvest in progress of a balsa tree farm near Camarones Ecuador.

We returned just before dark, and he helped carry the items from the road to Casa Loca.  I slept well and started Wednesday in painting mode.

My friends harvested a shrimp pond near the house, but I was very focused on adding details to the floor.  I emerged from my painting fog around dark, looked out and noted that the pond was drained, and the trucks and workers were gone!  Only the birds remained as they foraged the muddy bottom for shrimp.

I painted on Thursday morning as well; my high-energy painting sessions often correlate with strong rain, so I was not surprised when the sound of rain pelted the roof.  The rains strengthened, and I noted one slow drip-drip-drip from the tin roof;  I moved the potted ceibo tree beneath the drip and continued painting for another hour.  That lovely one-plus inch of rain saturated the ground, but it also extinguished the electricity in this 7-house circuit!

The skies cleared slightly, and I painted until almost dark and photographed the details for Timeout for Art.   With an opportunity to try out my new green mud boots, I retrieved my rain coat (just in case of more rain!) and walked to town in the late afternoon.     Continue reading

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