Timeout FROM Art! End-of-Day Tranquility

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P1230013 solomons knot plywood rio jama

One of nine panels, this 2′ x 4′ section will be part of the border. (Acrylic on plywood)

Hola Sports Fans; I’m writing via off-line mode while taking a break from a floor project. Black paint is drying, so it’s best to take ten or more giant steps away from the work and enjoy a break!  Nine pieces of plywood make up this large jigsaw floor puzzle that will upgrade an 8-foot area that overlooks the river. Clear thick plastic protects each finished panel until all are fine-tuned and adjusted to merge with the others.  The design should be ready for varnish on Tuesday.  It’s been a challenging and rewarding project, and you’ll see the entire floor on the next Timeout for Art.

Center 4' x 4' Section - detail

Center 4′ x 4′ Section – detail

Border Detail

Border Detail

Yesterday my dear friend Silvana, back from her internship in Minnesota, dropped by the house and happily accepted the task of filling in areas with color. We set up a work area on the balcony and watched the birds and fishermen as we painted. Time flew, and at sunset we stopped to take photos from a slightly-different vantage point before she returned to Jama.

P1230038 late jan birds in breeding foliage

Although the rainy season is quite late, many birds are displaying breeding plumage.

Silvana gazes toward the boca as the fisherman snags another fish!

Silvana gazes toward the boca as the fisherman snags another fish!

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WordPress Notifications – Can You Find Them?

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"I've looked up, down, and all around and still cannot find ----"

“I’ve looked up, down, and all around and still cannot find —-“

Many of us are creatures of comfort, and we like “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Sometimes our brains need little hurdles that test our abilities to ace unexpected road blocks.

However; why is it that many times things are fixed that are not broken?!

I am trying to adapt to the Windows 8 changes, but I’m not very impressed with the unnecessary steps I sometimes have to take to find something’s that’s out of sight. I join many people in a collective disgust with the continued changes over at Yahoo. This post is about WordPress glitches, so bail out now if you’re not experiencing any! Continue reading

One Man’s Peaceful Sunrise is Another’s Very-Bad Day

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The tropical king bird's morning song is as lovely as the royal poinciana's blossoms.

The tropical king bird’s morning serenade is as lovely as the royal poinciana’s blossoms.

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Tropical Kingbird – Jama (Manabi Province) Ecuador

 

Casa Loca’s windows are made of solid wood, and I enjoy opening those weathered panels at first light to embrace the awakening day.   I usually open the kitchen window first to confirm that the daylight serenade was indeed given by the lovely kingbird.  The wrens and seedeaters dart and forage in the dense foliage along the fence, while Amazilia hummingbirds search for the life-sustaining nectar of the opening flowers.  Kingfishers awaken the riverside with nonstop chattering about the first catch of the morning.

Female Variable Seedeater

Female Seedeater

Variable Seedeater forages throughout the day

Variable Seedeater forages throughout the day

Look!  There's a huge hummingbird checking out the Playamart treasures!

(from 2013) – Look! There’s a huge hummingbird checking out the Playamart treasures!

P1010059 KINGFISHER Cropped P6030071 GREEN KINGFISHER DOS

"I think that middle guy in the boat has been hooked before... what do you think_?"

The petite green kingfisher asks the heron, “I think it’s going to be a calm day… what do you think_?”

Most mornings provide a feast of calming views as I open the windows and gaze outside.  Every so often the view jolts me into a higher state of attention.

First Light - Quite Lovely ... or not?

First Light – Quite Lovely … or not?

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The presence of thousands of birds announces, “Urgent! Urgent! Something’s wrong with this picture!”  On this sixth dawn of the new year, I scanned to see if my friend’s truck was home (yes) so I knew he had spotted the same view and had sounded the alarm.  I grabbed my camera and bolted out the door. Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Balancing Seriousness with Whimsy

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There are few blooming flowers in the garden, so a little paint washes those areas with color.

There are few blooming flowers in the garden, so a little paint washes those areas with color.

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”
Mark Twain

With so much sadness in the world events, hopefully the above quote made you smile!  While playing tag with the electricity and internet (two days with power, yay!) I’ve enjoyed switching between precision work on a floor project to fun garden art.    Painting straight lines fatigues my arms and shoulders, so my muscles appreciated the time out in the garden.

It's a little hostal for duendes and fairies!  It's free if they watch over the house and gardens!

It’s a little hostal for duendes and fairies! It’s free if they watch over the house and gardens!

I’ll be on the road today and with a tour group until Sunday.   Enjoy the images of the floor in progress! Continue reading

Candle Power Update

Candle Power

Candle Power

How do I lasso the swirling and overlapping stories of this new year as I type in the dark and race the laptop’s remaining battery life?

Casa Loca and seven other houses share a petite circuit of electricity near the mouth of Rio Jama and the Pacific Ocean. During the 8 months of ‘Dry Season,’ we have few problems, but almost every drizzle short circuits our power.   La Division to the north east is rarely affected, and Jama to the southwest is  rarely affected.  Sometimes the problem is repaired in a few hours; sometimes it’s fixed in 24 hours, but it’s not unusual to be without power for three days. In December, the house was without power for ten days, and the New Year’s present was a 6-day outage!

New Year's Day - La Division Ecuador - When there's no power at the house - go to the beach!

New Year’s Day – La Division Ecuador – When there’s no power at the house – go to the closest beach!

Jan 2 -- 2015- La Division Ecuador

Jan 2 — 2015- La Division Ecuador

This past Saturday, Carlos the ‘technician’ told me that we needed certain parts to fix the problem, and the electric company was not responsible for those costs. He said that it was an expensive repair and wrote down the parts needed (voltage regulator…) and gave me the name and phone number of the person in Pedernales that sells those parts. He recommended that the 8 houses share the costs.

Without consulting the neighbors, I prepared to travel 4 or more hours (one way) on Monday to get the money from my account… My attitude was, “They will either reimburse me for their shares, or they will not! The problem needs to be repaired sooner and not later!”

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

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

On Monday, plans changed when I looked out the kitchen window and saw an all-you-can-eat buffet in progress in a shrimp farm. (See images HERE National Geographic Your Shot.)   (Those images are on my big computer, which is null and void until power is restored!)    For the next few hours, I walked along the edges of the pond to help spook the birds.      By mid morning, I headed the 5K to town to discuss the electricity dilemma with the owners of the shrimp farm. Xavier phoned for a quote on the costs ($350.00) and l headed to Manta after paying a $50.00 deposit for the parts, which would be delivered the next day.

Returning late that night, I checked into the hostal, slept until daylight, went home to Casa Loca and – surprise surprise – we had power!   Xavier dropped by to say that the parts would be delivered to his house in town in 45 minutes, but he was about to leave for the day. Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Be Yourself

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“Don’t be afraid to be yourself; because people are waiting for you to be yourself… its your responsibility to be all you can be…”  Keb Mo (from video clip below)

While waiting for power to be restored at Casa Loca, I painted this sea horse with the intention of pairing the little mirrors against the dark blue swirls of color. Am writing this while a drama worthy of ‘sitcom’ viewing swirls around me concerning the electricity problems at Casa Loca…  Will schedule this to post on Thursday morning! Tune in later for updates on the drama!

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Ah.. I need a bit of soothing music to offset the drama;  enjoy this Keb Mo song as a finale!

Z

Timeout for Art: Always Looking Ahead

Madam Valdivia - Acrylic - Lisa Brunetti

Madam Valdivia – Acrylic – Lisa Brunetti

“The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they’re always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.”
― Norman Rockwell

Madam Valdivia helped me move from 2014 and into 2015 with a positive creative leap. I first painted her portrait in watercolor in 2012 and used a one inch by four inch reproduction to paint a larger image with acrylic paints.

With a very low laptop battery, I am selecting an assortment of Valdivia women, often referred to as “Venus” women, associated with fertility from the ancient Pacific culture located near Valdivia Ecuador.  (The Valdivia culture dates from 3800 B.C. – 1500 B.C.)

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Between Holiday Events & Between High Tides

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After high tide - Entrance to Coco Beach Village - no longer serviceable...

After high tide – Entrance to Coco Beach Village – no longer serviceable…

El Matal Ecuador – Dec 26, 2014

When living on the front line of a beach threatened by spring tides, most people stay home during that critical high-tide hour to be sure there is no threat of flooding.  The high tides usually arrive with the new or full moon and hang around for a few days.   The first high tide of each month usually arrives in the pre-dawn hours and then at sunset; it arrives a bit later each day.  When staying at my friends’ home, I usually start peering outside around 4:30 in the morning.  By 5:30 I am able photograph what’s happening at sea level.

Dec 25, 2014 "Buenos Dias" -  5:58 in the morning!

Dec 26, 2014 “Buenos Dias” – 5:58 in the morning!

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6:11 a.m. Dec. 26 2014

While working on a holiday art project,  my friends and I kept a close eye on the waves.  On the second day of painting, I took a low-tide break and walked to the center area of El Matal.  Life goes on, and the spirit of the fishermen remains strong.  I was told, however, that “the people of El Matal are scared.”

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Timeout for Art: Color the World with Imagination

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King Kong Sighted in Jama Ecuador!

King Kong Sighted in Jama Ecuador! December 2014 Bamboo and Palm Sculpture by Rycardo Alcivar.

Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air – explode softly – and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth – boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either – not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination. ~Robert Fulghum

We all rejoice in watching children opening presents with wild abandon, and today while basking in whatever way you’re spending Christmas, glimpse your surroundings as if first seeing them as a child. I’ll be watching the ocean’s waves as they rip along the shoreline at dawn. Wouldn’t it be fun if all beaches and lakesides were littered with crayolas today instead of remnants of man’s discarded plastics?

All children (and young-at-heart adults) should be reminded to watch the shadows as they change throughout the year. High noon is an easy time to experiment with shadows; I enjoyed photographing these shadows with props that were close at hand!

High noon on the December Solstice - Ecuador

High noon on the December Solstice – Ecuador

Aligning the compass (poster) with the east/west direction, I was surprised to see the shadow point directly to the north.  It's time I stopped for a refresher course in basic directions!

Aligning the compass (poster) with a guesstimate of the east/west direction, I was surprised to see the shadow point directly to the north. It’s time I stopped for a refresher course in basic directions!  James (and Terri) at Gallivance keep track of the earth’s pulse, and their recent post mentions not only sun dials and solstices, but also Poseidon.  Let the Celebrations Begin (More on Poseidon at the end of this post.)

The candle holder doubles as a little nosegay vase;  it came from nearby playamart and quickly transformed with a few coats of acrylic paint.

The candle holder doubles as a little nosegay vase; it came from nearby Playamart and quickly transformed with a few coats of acrylic paint.

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The abandoned chairs are a bit happier, but they are patiently awaiting more attention. Here’s the progress: Continue reading

A Celebration of Birds – El Matal (Ecuador)

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PC170454 EL MATAL HIGH NOON MID DECEl Matal, Ecuador (and Jama)
In contrast to the previous post that illustrates the vanishing beach and the work to protect the front line, these images showcase the amazing beauty of the frigates, pelicans, gulls and boobies of the area. (Yes, boobies!)

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Pelican, Seagull and Frigate

Pelican, Seagull and Frigate

(These photos were uploaded on Friday and scheduled to fly to you on the day of the December Solstice.   Enjoy!)  Z

PC170568 EL MATAL LITTLE BOATS

Let’s crank the boats and fly with the birds!

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End-of-Year Spring Tides Approach – El Matal Ecuador

PC170312 EL MATAL HIGH NOON MID DEC

El Matal/Jama Canton/Manabi Province/Ecuador

December Solstice – 2014 from the Middle of the World/Ecuador!

As you dash between social engagements during this holiday season, take a quiet respite and think about where you are on the planet as the sun reaches the northernmost point in its yearly cycle.  Tomorrow it begins its journey to its June reunion in the southern hemisphere, while reminding us that we also make progress – a little each day.

Yoga alignment!

Yoga alignment!

Ponder where you are in Life and if you awaken with a smile in your heart.  If you don’t have that smile, try to figure out why and what can make your spiritual life happier.  Surround yourself with happy people, and reach out to others who are less fortunate than you.  If you’re facing challenges, send a quiet “Thanks’ that you have intelligence and the ability to find creative alternatives to the ones that have proven to be ineffective.  As my nephew Don stated, “We make choices every day…”   (See: When the World Outside my Window Goes Insane.)

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Although some challenges all but break us, we realize later that they formed us into stronger and wiser people.   I’ve witnessed many positive results from the ongoing crisis at nearby El Matal, and the biggest one for me is getting to know many of the locals who live at their own Ground Zero.  If one steps into the arena with empathy and an open heart, the social barriers are dissolved.  Those who are actively addressing the problems are ‘one’ in spirit, and they embrace all who show their support.

As most people prepare for the festive holiday gatherings, traditions and feasts, the people of El Matal are anticipating the approaching spring tide of December 24th.   I visted El Matal this past Wednesday and took photos as the municipality resorted to emergency measures to protect the thin necktie of land that remains.

The next four images illustrate the changes from June 2012 until December 2014:

Across the road from Hibiscus Post - June 2012

Across the road from Hibiscus Post – June 2012

From 2012 - Post Painting Competition

From 2012 – Post Painting Competition

(March 2014 - my favorite hibiscus post!)

(March 2014 – my favorite hibiscus post!)

PC170262 EL MATAL HIGH NOON MID DEC

December 2014 – Same hibiscus post

Although they are not pretty – and I have witnessed how unstable these boulders can be when they shift and fall near my house on the river – they will help protect the front-line properties.

PC170758 NOON TIDES  EL MATAL DEC 2014

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PC170733 NOON TIDES  EL MATAL DEC 2014 rest victor

Victor’s restaurant looks abandoned, but they were open for lunch a few hours before this image was taken. I worry about the loss of revenue during this ongoing crisis.

PC170731 NOON TIDES  EL MATAL DEC 2014 3 girls rest punto victor

I also worry about the safety of unsuspecting people who assume that the rocks are stable. The waves erode the underlying sand, and the boulders shift and sometimes tumble.

Hurried for time, I will leave these images in the ‘Pending’ folder and hope that they reach you tomorrow/Saturday.     (I gave those exhausted gerbils and hamsters a day off while I went to town for faster internet!)   I will be home at Casa Loca until early next week.

Warning:  The rest of this post is very image heavy!   Z Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Mosaics and Beyond

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Hmmm; what do we have staring back at us?

Hmmm; what do we have staring back at us?

As I look back upon my life, I see that every part of it was a preparation for the next. The most trivial of incidents fits into the larger pattern like a mosaic in a preconceived design.
Margaret Sanger

Last week during the 10-day power outage, I worked on several different projects.    The mosaic border demanded many more hours’ attention than I had planned, but the end result might fool most people who view it from six or eight feet.     Here is how it looked last week:

In progress - Mosaic Mirror

In progress – Mosaic Mirror

After about four layers of paint on each piece of the mosaic, much of the grout area was painted a second time.   Thick and a bit-sloppy paint gave the illusion of true grout.  When that dried, the edges were strengthened with straight, confident strokes and highlights were added along the top edges.
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Timeout for Art: Little Ideas that Explode!

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PC130014 painted computer cover

“When I have an idea, I turn down the flame, as if it were a little alcohol stove, as low as it will go. Then it explodes and that is my idea.”   Ernest Hemingway

(Why didn’t I do this years ago?)  Th colorized version replaces the generic silver design of the mini-laptop!  With a little leftover paint, I also brightened the facade of my silver-colored camera!

Now if I can figure out a way to improve the internet signal strength!  John and Mary McDonald recommended that I upgrade from gerbil power to hamster. The hamsters, I’ve found, are a bit lazy and would rather eat than run that wheel round and round. With gerbil power, only this image uploaded.   Its been a busy week!  Part two should arrive tomorrow!

(Now it’s time to prompt those little gerbils into another power-up marathon!)

Z

Turn Up The Volume?

Chris Cardman - Lead Guitarist - County Line Road - 2013

Chris Cardman – Lead Guitarist – County Line Road – 2013

Over a year ago I wrote about my friend Chris Cardman, a former neighbor in Costa Rica.  Chris and I faced many challenges while living in a remote area of the Nicoya Penisula.  (Playa San Miguel)   He sometimes came to my house to brainstorm a particular problem, or I often stormed into the restaurant/bar that he managed, and I would wait until all got quiet to discuss a particularly challenging day.   Some days the sound of the guitar coaxed me from my project, and I followed the pied piper’s acoustic sound and shattered Chris’s quiet respite.

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Classic Playa San Miguel, Costa Rica

Classic Playa San Miguel, Costa Rica

Many days and nights were busy at the Blue Pelican, and I usually dodged the crowds and waited to visit when the beach was quiet.  When the customers left for the evening, Chris often retrieved the guitar from the wall and played music, shared some original tunes, or we listened to our favorite tunes and ‘talked music.’   He sometimes said if all else failed in his life, he knew he’d be happy strumming the guitar. Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Painting by Candlelight!

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Small acrylic exercise in color (detail)

 

“…If the stories are true, van Gogh would seek out cafes at night to paint, wearing his candlelit straw hat beside other customers. (The Huffington Post- By Todd Van Luling)

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After ten days of using flashlights and candles to read – and sometimes to finish a painting session, I am pleased to announce that power has been restored at Casa Loca! I inquired (complained?) last Friday, and again this past Tuesday, and again today. Today the owner of the shrimp farm was with me, and for some reason Xavier’s presence made a difference! Two men drove to the house within half an hour, and  ten minutes later, the power problem had been found and repaired! Continue reading

Why Not?

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Near Rivas Nicaragua

Near Rivas Nicaragua

Debbie of Retired & Rewired in Nicaragua recently posted The Decay of Dignity and triggered a memory from four or more years ago when I was passing through Rivas Nicaragua.    Rivas was my timeout spot, where I threw on the brakes and rested while making the required 72-hour ‘border exits’ out of Costa Rica to keep my passport in good standing.

Rivas Nicaragua - the Bustling Morning Market

Rivas Nicaragua – the Bustling Morning Market

I often chose Rivas over the highly-popular San Juan Del Sur because I wanted to immerse myself in a typical Nicaraguan town untainted by tourists. I usually rested the first day, ventured around the town on the second day, took the ferry to Debbie’s beloved Isla Ometepe on the third day (for lunch and to see the museum!) then prepared to return to Costa Rica on the fourth or fifth day.    Most every morning I arose with the chickens and explored the streets in search of photo moments in the early-morning light.

rivas he says

(Note the shoe-shine guy that’s sitting on the wooden stool.)

On several previous trips to Rivas, I crossed paths with a weathered man with a perpetual ‘fool-on-the-hill’ manner that made me wonder what drug had fried his brain, or if a lifetime of drinking home-brewed sugar cane liquor destroyed his mind a little at a time. I don’t enjoy photographing misery or the dark side of a man’s character, but this man photographed well;  he had presence!  Perhaps there was more to this man with the foolish smile?

One morning I spotted him walking up the sunny side of the street, and I stopped (on the shadow side) and prepared to photograph him as he passed.   Continue reading

Approaching Strangers & Making Friends

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Quite talented and perpetually happy, Miguel upgraded my choice of a petite five-dollar rain stick to a much larger one! He also had some amazing pre-Columbian artifacts.

Ecuador – Lately I’ve been home just long enough to say, “Ahhh,” before leaving on another journey.  This week I’ve been incubating at the Riverhouse/Casa Loca but have been totally off the grid, great for my creative focus.  An ill-tempered scorpion also set me back for a few days, but I’ve recovered and am proud to send a smoke signal that all’s great in Z’s world.

These beautiful faces have been in limbo since before Thanksgiving, so with a hiccup of on-line time, I’d like to introduce you to some of the beautiful people of Otavalo Ecuador. Continue reading

Timeout for Art – Bringing Nature Inside

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

My friends’ Mindo garden inspired this Timeout for Art, although the true inspiration came from two forlorn vinyl “For Sale” signs that cluttered their storage room.

After scrubbing the panels with soapy water, we prepped them with a white acrylic sealer for a clean painting surface then went to the gardens for inspiration.   Contemplating the beauty of the garden plants, we set the panels near the orchids and zebra plants.  Julie watched as I drew the basic shapes.   Tiny biting insects and not-so-tiny mosquitoes prompted us to clip some of foliage for reference material and move the panels inside. Continue reading

Timeout for Art – A Measure of Thanksgiving

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. ~W.T. Purkiser

Rosa sets up her booth in the early-morning sunshine.

Rosa sets up her booth in the early-morning sunshine.

This dear woman, Rosa, patiently set her hand-made items in front of the restaurant where I enjoyed breakfast each morning.  With a smile, she tolerated the many photos I took while she flashed in and out of the early-morning sun.   I bought a small handbag and  a smaller zipper bag to hold my pens and pencils.

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On the third morning I invited her for a hot chocolate, which she drank while setting up the morning’s display.  I handed her a little scrambled egg sandwich from some petite rounds of toast and took more photos as she worked.  Continue reading

Ecuador’s Colourful Andes

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Stained glass artwork scrapes the skies over Otavalo.

Stained glass artwork scrapes the skies over Otavalo Ecuador.

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The Aya Uma mask is an important icon for the June Solstice Festival.

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There are subtle colors and explosions of colors in the Otavalo Ecuador area;  one can sample the quiet hues of the landscape or take a giant immersion in the Saturday market in town.  There are colors to suit all moods and personalities!

Let’s start with a leisurely walk in the mountains that overlook Otavalo. Continue reading

Timeout for Art: “Just Being & Growing”

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Oswaldo Guayasamin Sculpture - Overlooking Quito Ecuador

Oswaldo Guayasamin Sculpture – Overlooking Quito Ecuador

Guayasamin Bird-Sculpture

Guayasamin Bird-Sculpture

“Genius is not a possession of the limited few, but exists in some degree in everyone…

…To be an artist is to construct, and to whatever degree one shows the genius for construction in work of any sort, he is that much an artist.” –  Robert Henri – The Art Spirit

With slow and deliberate patience, this lady displayed each bag with loving attention to its best presentation.

With slow and deliberate patience, this lady displayed each bag with loving attention to its best presentation.

“…I think the real artists are too busy with just being and growing and acting (on canvas or however) like themselves to worry about the end.  The end will be what it will be.  The object is intense living, fulfillment; the great happiness in creation.  People sometimes phrase about the joy of work.  It is only  in creative work that joy may be found.  

… the object is not to make art, but to be in the wonderful state which makes art inevitable.  

 The artist life is therefore the desirable life, and it is possible to all.”

  Robert Henri  – The Art Spirit

Waiting on the 11 p.m. bus (left) and a hurried sketch in the Guayasamin Museum private collection of pre-Columbian art.

Waiting on the 11 p.m. bus (left) and a hurried sketch in the Guayasamin Museum private collection of pre-Columbian art.

The past few weeks have found me on the road with tour groups and with friends.  While embracing each moment, I have also dedicated time for sketching.

Friends have nudged me into a skull/bone series, and now cow skulls seem to wave to me most anywhere I travel!

Friends have nudged me into a skull/bone series, and now cow skulls seem to wave to me most anywhere I travel!

Robert Henri’s words resonate when I reflect on the interactions between strangers – how chance interactions open the doors to rich experiences.  I treasure my time alone when I can focus 100 percent on creating art, yet opportunities for cultural exchange inject amazing energy into my life.

Many times I stop and quietly ask, “What is your name?” and the person reflexively slaps his/her chest and replies, “Me?”

“Yes.  You,” I smile, and they immediately stand a bit prouder and hurriedly rattle their entire name.

Jose , with cataract-clouded eyes, appreciates  the chance to boast his age;  92.  He smiles, yet yearns for interaction with others.   "Hola," makes him proud to alive.

Jose, with cataract-clouded eyes, appreciates the chance to boast his age; 92. He smiles as tourists walk past his house at the Bahia de Caraquez lookout, yet he yearns for interaction with others. “Hola,” makes him proud to be alive.

Many times a tourist forgets that the experience is not all about being a tourist, but about slowing down and telling a local what’s great about his/her community.

This gentleman has taken photos at the same park location in Quito for over 70 years.  At age 90, he says that he has never been sick or in the hospital.

This gentleman has taken photos at the same park location in Quito for over 70 years. At age 90, he says that he has never been sick or in the hospital.

Traveling opens that wonderful state of being that Henri mentions.  From the flower markets throughout the country to the pastoral landscapes of the Andes, one’s day is enriched by slowing down and appreciating the local color. Continue reading

Magic Carpet Airlines – Special for Subscribers Only

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Good morning, buenos dias & welcome aboard all galactic travelers!

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As a token of appreciation, we’re offering you a free mini escape on the magic carpet!  You will be transported to a magical land, one that will help you connect to the person you might have lost somewhere along the labyrinth of life.

Did you ever pick wild berries when you were growing up?

Did you ever pick wild berries when you were growing up?

We at MAGIC CARPET AIRLINES think it’s best for our clients to remove their shoes and reconnect with Pachamama – or Mother Earth in the English tongue.  because many of you are not native to planet earth, she can – at times – feel foreign and at other times feel extremely foreign.

What if fish COULD fly?!!!

What if fish COULD fly?!!!

For that reason, we will transport you first to the middle of the world – to walk along an isolated beach, soak in the healing properties of equatorial sunlight and pure unpolluted air while connecting via bare feet with the energizing properties of slightly-wet beach sand.

Zen symbols whispered  in the sand.

Zen symbols whispered in the sand.

Prepare to glow in the darkness as you uptake natural energies from Pachamama. You’ll soon be communicating with the frigates and pelicans who will teach you the art of soaring.

Pelican Harmony

Pelican Harmony

Yoga alignment - Yep; ready to fly!

Yoga alignment – Yep; ready to fly!

Ready?

Click your heels together...

Click your heels together…

P8050145 SUNSET FINERY great egret wings P7190099 sunset pelican

Set?

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Let's soar!

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Let’s go there!

PB060261  boobie el matal

Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Scavenging through the Seaweed

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Costa Rica’s beaches provide an abundance of material for Playamart!

“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.” – Loren Eiseley

Do you see anything useful here?

Do you see anything useful here?

The residents of El Matal surely feel as if they are veterans of an ongoing war and continue to search for a way to make peace with Mother Ocean.   The photo above is not of an Ecuadorian beach, but of one in Costa Rica during the rainy season.

In Costa Rica and also now in Ecuador,  my friends sometimes surprise me with unique pieces that the high tides wash ashore.     When I see a pile of debris waiting to be burned on Playamart’s beaches, I often exclaim, “NOOOOOOO! Don’t burn the sofa… or the bed… or the bench!”

It came from Playamart!

It came from Playamart!

My friends usually laugh, but know that I am serious! Some transformations take a short time, and others need a period of incubation, but eventually, I reach for the stockpile of beach treasures. Continue reading

RED FLAG… “It’ll Never Happen To Me”

Playamart - Zeebra Designs:

This has been a popular post and illustrates things that can go wrong when buying real estate in foreign countries. . Many more tales have reached me since this was published, but for now, this might be helpful. There are many great people out there and there are great stories, but there are also booby traps for unsuspecting buyers. Enjoy the reblog. Z

Originally posted on Zeebra Designs & Destinations:

A true fixer-upper! A true fixer-upper!

Due Diligence: “Research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction’ (Merriam-Webster) ” Due diligence is the process of systematically researching and verifying the accuracy of a statement.”(WhatIs.techtarget)

... But the landscaping has such potential!.. … But the landscaping has such potential!..

I love a good fixer-upper, and I’ve also learned that the best part of a property might be the gnarled tree that guards the entrance!  I’ve learned to spot potential problems, and I’ve also learned how to see past the neglect and find an ugly duckling waiting to transform into a swan.

With a dozen years of living in second and third-world countries, I’ve learned from trial and error and have also learned by watching others.  We applaud anyone who embraces a new life, but when things go wrong, often times those new transplants find they’re playing David against Goliath.

snake vine snake 1030463Over the past several…

View original 1,924 more words

Paradise is not always sunshine and pretty flowers!

from riverhouse claro dud

The Claro USB Modem works well in cities, and by the graph above, it appears to work well at the riverhouse. But when you compare the signal strength from the house to the one near Canoa Ecuador… and then compare Canoa’s to San Vicente-Bahia de Caraquez, you can understand why it takes half an hour to reach the inbox and sometimes half an hour more to send an email. Ditto for viewing posts, images or opening a “New Post” page.

Compare the signal from Jama (far left) to the one in San Vicente /Bahia.   There are times when the Claro comes in handy, like any time I am traveling in the country.

Compare the signal from Jama (far left) to the one in San Vicente /Bahia.
There are times when the Claro comes in handy, like any time I am traveling in the country.

The Timeout for Art post waits in queue to fire out in the morning, Ecuador Time Zone, and for the next week I’ll be re-posting a few of the popular posts from archives. Thanks, as always, for your amazing support!

internet woes 05

Sigh; what one does in order to get an internet signal!

Sigh; what one does in order to get an internet signal!

P1890217 colander internet

Z

Timeout for Art – Drawing & Memories

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“Drawing makes you see things clearer, and clearer, and clearer still. The image is passing through you in a physiological way, into your brain, into your memory – where it stays – it’s transmitted by your hands.”
― Martin Gayford, A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney

"Daddy's Hands" 1990 - pencil - Lisa Brunetti

“Daddy’s Hands” 1990 – pencil – Lisa Brunetti

“Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.”  …

 “You may forget with whom you laughed, but you will never forget with whom you wept. ”
― Khalil Gibran

The pencil drawing captures my father’s love of turkey hunting;  a kind and unique man, he was once described by a lifelong friend as an ‘individual of individuals.’   He died in 1994, but his smile and spirit are still very much alive to all who knew him.

Today’s Timeout for Art is dedicated to my sister, Pat, who has been enduring some difficult times.   Remember, “Older” Sister, that tears can be a catharsis as they purge the soul.

“Younger” Sister – Z

El Matal – Trot Along With All Your Heart

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"Ok.. It's not a sword..."

“Ok.. It’s not a sword…”

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

El Matal (Manabi Province) Ecuador

A big “Thanks” goes to all of you for your concern and support for the people who are facing the ocean’s wrath at the little fishing village of El Matal, Ecuador.  Your comments are appreciated not only by me but also by my friends who live or own property there. With slow internet, this has been difficult to write and proof, so all mistakes are definitely mine. Thanks again, everyone… Z

The waves captivated the dogs' interest as well...

The thundering waves captivated the dogs’ interest…

We can talk about what has happened in the past, and what might have been (So easy to say on hindsight!) but the community now faces the ‘What can we do about this?’ dilemma.   No single person or even a collective group of property owners can afford the expense* for the options that have proven successful in other coastal areas of the world.  (*If by chance you CAN afford the expense, would you please take one giant step forward NOW?!) Continue reading

“If You’re Going Through Hell…”

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“If you are going through hell, keep going.”
― Winston S. Churchill

Monday, October 27, 2014 – As the sun settled behind Punta Ballena, the ocean slammed El Matal.

Walk with me in the twilight and whisper a quiet request to Mother Ocean, “Shhhhhhh;  go back to sleep and leave these dear people alone…” Continue reading

El Matal (Ecuador) – Don’t Give Up!

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Oct. 27, 2014... Will the ocean claim the post?

Oct. 27, 2014… Will the ocean claim the light post in the next few days?

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When the boat returns in 12 hours, will the ocean have gobbled more of the landscape?

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
― Dale Carnegie

El Matal, Ecuador – (Manabi Province)

Words fail me.

Several people said that strong waves rolled in at high tide late yesterday afternoon (Sunday Oct. 26) and assaulted the beach in sets of five or six at a time.   Several more said that the worst happened at dawn this morning, when another high tide brought more angry waves.

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Alcade (Mayor) Angel Rojas visits with locals and inspects the most-recent damage to the beach.

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70 or 80 locals crowded into the corner restaurant, where Mayor Angel Rojas discussed options and patiently listened to feedback from the crowd.  As one person said, “Too little too late,” there are few options.

Alcade Angel Rojas listens to feedback from the crowd.

Alcade Angel Rojas listens to feedback from the crowd.

Large rocks, which the mayor really didn’t want to use, seem to be the only immediate choice.   The rocks and debris would prevent the fishermen from launching their boats and returning home each day.   Building a pier is one option for the long-term plan, yet it doesn’t help anyone now. Continue reading

El Matal – “It’s Bad.”

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Do the oversized sand bags work?   Seeing is believing...

Do the oversized sand bags work? Seeing is believing…

After a fast trip to the Andes, I returned home on the river late yesterday afternoon.  My friend Xavier and I stood on the back balcony and watched the river ‘jump’ faster than usual.

“Is there an aguaji?”  I asked as we admired the idyllic mangrove-studded river.  A haze shrouded the end-of-day scene as the incoming waters surged higher.  Sunday fishermen cast their nets and hand lines from the bank and canoes.

“Yes,” he replied.   (Shrimp ponds are usually harvested during new and full-moon aguajis…)

We watched in silence, and I wondered why a place that I knew so well suddenly seemed foreign.

 “Something feels wrong,”  I added.   “This feels eerie, like a storm is approaching.  There’s something different; something’s wrong.” 

My internet did not work at all last night, and this morning I was greeted with a message from Becky and Lesli with the subject, ‘Matal.’

Not, “El Matal” or “The Tides” or “Meeting at El Matal.”   Just one word, “Matal,” and I braced myself for bad news.    Continue reading

Timeout for Art: Subtle Surprises

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“Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

El Matal (Manabi Province) Ecuador

Life planted a subtle surprise in my path last week when I visited El Matal’s quickly-vanishing beach.  After walking the low-tide line from one end to the other, I turned around and walked back along the boat-crammed street.  Almost instantly, a flash of just-painted color caught my eye, and my serious mood (see:Esperanza-Hope) transformed into one of joy.

Esperanza - Hope -- A subtle message of hope smiled at me along the upper end of El Matal.  (Ecuador)

Esperanza – Hope — A subtle message of hope smiled at me along the upper end of El Matal. (Ecuador)

The bystanders confirmed my suspicions:  Yes; “Maestro” painted the post.   They seemed baffled at my enthusiasm.  I pointed out that he painted the post out of the joy of his heart and not because he was competing in another post-painting competition!    I took a few photos, retrieved a 4 x 6″ card of Diablo Uma and asked if they’d give it to him as a token ‘Thank You’ prize.

They peered at me as if I was the Caped Crusader!

They peered at me as if I was the Caped Crusader!

As walked away,  they called me back;  a surprised Maestro stood there buttoning his shirt and wondering what had triggered the infectious enthusiasm that domino-ed along the neighbors until the card reached his hands!  I congratulated him on his kind and giving spirit and said that the freshly-painted post represented hope – esperanza – for the residents of El Matal. (See previous post) Continue reading

Esperanza – Hope for El Matal (Ecuador)

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The Canton of Jama (Manabi Province) steps in to help the fishing village of El Matal. (Ecuador)

The Canton of Jama (Manabi Province) steps in to help the fishing village of El Matal. (Ecuador)

(Ecuador) After a month in the USA and another five days searching for missing luggage, I reached home sweet Jama last week.  Before making that last five-kilometer trip to the riverhouse, I visited the fishing village of El Matal to photograph the changes in the beach. Instead of taking a quick ten-minute tour, I spent hours and juggled emotions that ranged from sadness to anger and also hope.

The photos need little explanation. Continue reading

Timeout for Art – ES Coffee Timeout Project

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“ES Coffee – Be Part of It!”

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Old logo waxing out – New Logo of red coffee cherry waning in…

“It is much more rewarding to get to the top of the mountain and share your experience with others than to show up by yourself, exhausted.” ― -Shandel Slaten

After a three-day search, American Airlines located my missing luggage on Tuesday, and I found myself with a free afternoon in Guayaquil (Ecuador). A quick check with Miguel Rendon of EScoffee confirmed that he was in town, so I popped in to say, “Hi” and talk about coffee and art.

Little did we know that an impromptu art session was in our future! After a quick dash to the local art store, Miguel and I returned with acrylic paints, brushes and two painter’s pallets. Half an hour later, the entire staff took a Timeout for Art! Continue reading

I WILL NOT BE BROKEN – Teamwork

After the deluge.  Where are the low areas, the ditches, the washouts?

After the deluge. Where are the low areas, the ditches, the washouts?

I will always remember the year that Guanacaste Costa Rica recieved 50 inches of rainfall in three weeks.  The third week brought torrents, and the 7-inch rain gauge overflowed night after night.  I wasn’t surprised when Rio Bejuco jumped its banks and flooded the small valley.  Landslides and swollen rivers blocked all roads, and we were without power as well.  Unless one has a well-stocked pantry, supplies are often difficult to find.  After helping friends shovel mud from their homes, I was brought to tears when the first Red Cross vehicle delivered foam mattresses and basic food to my rain-soaked  and less-fortunate friends.

Cecilia - Pueblo Nuevo-Islita Costa Rica- We shoveled mud from her home for hours, but with each hour, more people showed up to help!

Cecilia – Pueblo Nuevo-Islita Costa Rica- We shoveled mud from her home for hours, but with each hour, more people showed up to help!

Bonny Raitt sings, “That was then and this is now,” and this week my attention has been on Nicaragua.    My friend Debbie at Isla Ometepe blogs with professionalism and knits well-researched facts with poignant stories about her beloved Isla Ometepe.   Not only are there concerns about the proposed canal that will surely desecrate that unique area, but this past week brought earthquakes, torrential rainfall and mudslides as well.

Left or Right?

Muddy roads near Limon Nicaragua

Please take a few minutes to read her posts, and perhaps some of you can help with with donations (candles anyone?) for the little village of Los Ramos, destroyed by this week’s mudslides. The last satellite check (10:00 pm Tuesday night) showed rain over Nicaragua and most of Central America.

http://retirenicaragua.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/ometepe-island-mudslides-and-destruction/

http://retirenicaragua.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/we-must-be-living-in-a-vortex/

http://retirenicaragua.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/help-los-ramos-rebuild/

This one’s for you and your friends, Debbie (and Ron!):

Thanks for whatever you can do to help; leaving a comment on Debbie’s posts will give a boost in morale!  Z

2012 flooding - Manabi Ecuador

2012 flooding – Manabi Ecuador

Whirlpools…

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Koi swirl the waters of the Guayaquil (Ecuador) airport pond.

Koi swirl the waters of the Guayaquil (Ecuador) airport pond.

Have you ever had moments when your hands were full of tasks, your mind full of ideas, yet your transmission stalled and refused to move forward?

With about 12G of images to sort and a month’s worth of new stories, I find myself a little bit trapped in “Groundhog Day” as I embark on my third day of trips from my hotel to the airport (across the street) in search of MIA baggage.

I never noticed the new addition to the Guayaquil  airport until something turned my attention in that direction.  Short story coming soon!

I never noticed the new addition to the Guayaquil airport until something turned my attention in that direction. Short story coming soon!

The trip to the USA went well, although a detective would have had a difficult time tracking me!  Thanks to my dear friends and family who shared the duty of escorting the Zeebra up and down and up that Mississippi River and back once more —all the way to New Orleans!

From the waiting room of Dr. Tillman's clinic in Vidalia, Louisiana.  One never wants to be sick, but wow, isn't this a lovely setting  to soothe the soul!

From the waiting room of Dr. Tillman’s clinic in Vidalia, Louisiana. One never wants to be sick, but wow, isn’t this a lovely setting to soothe the soul!

More soon when I can sort through the whirlpool of stories and decide where to start!

Until then, it's time to return to the airport and inquire about those lost bags!   Z

Until then, it’s time to return to the airport and inquire about those lost bags! Z

Yes, it’s time to say, “Good Morning-Buenos Dias” to those golden koi!

Z

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