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.

Continue reading

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.

P7100345 storks  CROPPED

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

Timeout for Art: Painting for the Joy of Painting!

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“Yes, I’ve made a great deal of dough from my fiction, but I never set a single word down on paper with the thought of being paid for it … I have written because it fulfilled me … I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.”

Stephen King

I’ve spent months painting the floors where I live, and I often chuckle and say, “I spent X-amount of time on a painting I can never sell!” That’s OK, because working out the design, the correct proportions and building layers of colors are all important challenges, and I learn what works and what does not work. Continue reading

“WordPress for Old Folks”

The wee hours of the  full-moon morning provide the anticipation of  dawn.

The wee hours of the full-moon morning provide the anticipation of dawn.

During the late-night hours when the internet works slightly faster, I read posts via email notifications and can sometimes follow those links to the proper webpage.   Lynda (Pixilatedtoo) called our attention to several bloggers who join the verbal protests regarding changes in WordPress.  I commented via email, which now drags lots of clutter from the email post.  Six months ago those comments were clean and without baggage when they reached their destination.

Lynda nudged us to GrahamInHat’s well-researched post About WordPress Changes-What We Can Do  and also “An Open Letter to WordPress” over at Fishofgold.  These recent posts reflect that we are not alone in our grumblings, especially if you read the comments! Graham in Hats stated, “If we get up on our hind legs and howl for the pack to pay attention then we stand a good chance of putting more sensible people in charge.”    Take time to scan the comments as well;  I also enjoyed Jessee’s comment on Fish of Gold, “It’s Not WordPress. It’s been renamed WORSTPress”

Airing Laundry?

Airing Laundry?

His comment fits well with today’s Daily Prompt: Play Lexicographer…   How about it, Jessee?  You should submit your suggestion via post and pingbck!   The Weekly Challenge arrives soon, so I’m hoping that many people will design their post to address these WordPress changes.   Will any of you join me?!  Say, “Bah, Humbug,” if you’re not pleased with the new obstacle course.

People who don’t cook shouldn’t design kitchens.  People who cannot draw shouldn’t be working on an expensive art-design project.  Do any of the people that make these WordPress changes write blogs on computers or have a queue of comments to read and answer when they log onto their account?  If so, let’s play, “Swamp them with comments!” and see if they can teach us the art of finding them!

Of course I can do that job for you!

Of course I can do that job for you!

Years ago I worked in a design studio with a dozen other artists, and the younger ones worked circles around me via computer.  If they had to hand-draw a design, they turned almost white with fear.    These designs were to be drawn on huge stretched pieces of fabric to be made into hand-woven rugs, and I often checked on my younger peers’ progress.  Once I told the director, “You’d better tell Marriott that their hand-made rug will be late…” 

Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

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.)

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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!)

P7120166 BOOBIES EL MATAL 2014

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!

Continue reading

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

PC170706 NOON TIDES  EL MATAL DEC 2014

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.
Continue reading

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

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