Timeout: Difficult Lessons


“That’s the thing about lessons, you always learn them when you don’t expect them or want them.”
― Cecelia Ahern, If You Could See Me Now

Crimes of opportunity. We should have known better than to leave our Brazilian hammock swinging on the second story porch of our casita. Rain pounded on our tin roof muffling all sounds, our hammock swayed lazily in an unprotected and dark area, our dog too was sick to bark at intruders…all were signals for an opportunistic ladrón (thief).

We should have known better. In a three-year period, we’ve lost a bunch of bananas (over 50 pounds of bananas), a long hose snaking through Ron’s garden, a sharp machete, Ron’s new hiking boots, an iPhone, and now our Brazilian hammock. These petty crimes of opportunity make me want to cry!

IMG_3425Though, we should have known better. We installed a bright light on the casita porch, took down our rope swing hanging from a mango tree, rolled up the remaining hose, and stored assorted rakes and our kayak on the gated porch of our main house….a real fortress. “What about this old mop and the broken plastic bucket?” I asked Ron. “Debbie, if some thief wants that old mop and bucket..let them have it,” he laughed.

I’ve followed trails of bananas and washed out partial footprints in the sand…all leading to a dead-end. I’ve warned all the neighbors that a ladrón is in our neighborhood. They have all had experiences with petty crime, too. In a way, it reassures me that we aren’t targeted because we are foreigners. Yet, it infuriates me that a stranger invades our private property.

The advice from the locals is to: get a mean dog or two or three, lock everything up at night, and spotlight the property with bright lights. It won’t help to install a high razor topped fence around our property. First, it is too expensive, and second, if a thief wants something bad enough, they’ll find a way. If they can easily shimmy up a coconut tree, a fence will not deter them.

We should have known better. But, we got lazy and didn’t expect a ladrón. That’s when things happen…when you least expect them. Lesson learned…again and again. It could have been worse. I won’t live in fear, but I’ll sure keep everything locked up tightly in our house from now on.

I still want to cry. The hammock was given to us as a gift when we visited Brazil. In Zeebra Designs and Destinations this week, Lisa quoted Kahlil Gibran, “I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind;  yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.”

I’m working on learning to be grateful for these lessons…but, sometimes you just gotta cry.
A friend sent me a picture she took of her toddler when she laid her down for her nap. Her expression is priceless and demonstrates the feelings I had last week. I’m practicing sketching hair..I still have more practice to get it lifelike. YouTube had some excellent lessons on drawing hair.

Timeout for Art: Teachers


“Because teachers, no matter how kind, no matter how friendly, are sadistic and evil to the core.”
― Heather Brewer, Eighth Grade Bites

Normally, I wouldn’t post a sarcastic quote about teachers, but this is different. Walter White was a milquetoast chemistry teacher who broke bad when he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He turned to crime by producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student in order to leave his family financially secure when he died.

Breaking Bad is a popular television drama series, and I am addicted to this show. Walter is: a protagonist turned antagonist, a nerdy middle-aged high school Chemistry teacher turned murderous drug lord, a villain seeking redemption by ignoring his past sins, and a monster because he has rationalized it all.

Shrouded in his crystal meth, Walter represents our dark sides. I often ask myself, “What would it take to break bad?” A terminal illness? A diseased brain? A fight with a family member? Do we all have the potential to break bad? How would I respond if I was diagnosed with a terminal illness?

IMG_3388 2 Breaking Bad brings out the best and the worst in me. The best, in that I can ponder the philosophical questions about life….the really important questions like; Are we human only because of chemical equations in our brains? When is it justified to kill another human being? What baggage do we carry on the road to redemption? What governs my life choices? Is it emotions, personal motives, or consequences of my actions? Without memories are we still human?

On the other hand, Breaking Bad can bring out the worst in me. I can rationalize poor decisions, react impulsively out of revenge, justify my wicked thoughts by blaming others, and cuss like a hurracca when my feathers are ruffled.

Simply put, I’m human. My dark side stays safely tucked away most of the time. Unlike Walter White, I don’t expect to break bad anytime soon. But, the potential is there. When Hank (Walter’s brother-in-law) confronted Walter and said, “I don’t know who you are anymore.” Walter responded, “If you don’t know who I am, then maybe the best course would be to tread lightly.”

Here’s to treading lightly, enjoying each day as it comes, living fully and compassionately, and keeping that dark side safely tucked away!

 

 

Timeout for Art: Drawing


I just returned from the states…another long, strange adventure trying to get back to Nicaragua, but that’s a story for another post. I didn’t have time to draw this week, so I’m posting a pen sketch I did eight years ago. What makes this sketch so unique is that I found it in my old sketch pad, tucked between worn, moldy pages. I’m surprised that it survived the ravages of the tropics.

This was the first wedding we attended on Ometepe Island. I wanted to give Eric and Danellia a portrait, but I couldn’t capture the beauty of Danellia. Portraits are very difficult!

IMG_3183Below is the first pencil sketch I did for Timeout for Art…a sand dollar I found on the beach.

IMG_3185While in the states, I bought new sketch pads, pencils, and a few new watercolor brushes. We are remodeling our guest house and transforming the upstairs bedroom into my arts and crafts studio. It will be so nice to spread out my projects.

Timeout for Art is brought to you by: Zeebra Designs and Destinations. Check out the many talented artists on Lisa’s incredible blog.

 

Timeout for Art: Good Bones


Design in art, is a recognition of the relation between various things, various elements in the creative flux. You can’t invent a design. You recognize it, in the fourth dimension. That is, with your blood and your bones, as well as with your eyes.
David Herbert Lawrence

Southern hospitality is the backbone of the Southern United States. For the past two weeks, I accompanied my talented mother to her weekly painting class where I was greeted by an enthusiastic instructor who has a third eye and a creative spirit. As my mother prepared her palette, the instructor invited me to sketch the architecture of the “Old South”, which the class was painting in oils.

IMG_3147Mom reflected on the good bones of the shotgun house, painting the foundation first, before adding the lighter details. The shotgun house was the most popular style of house in the Southern United States from the end of the Civil War to the 1920’s.

IMG_3150Good bones! I think this is a camel-back shotgun house because it has a second story.

IMG_3148I settled into an architectural frame of mind as I attempted to make the shotgun house seem old and well used. Of course, that meant adding lots of winding ivy. After all, you can’t invent a design. It’s just a matter of adding a creative twist with your blood, your bones, and your eyes.

IMG_3170Checkout Lisa’s Timeout for Art: Bones for many creative artists.

 

Timeout for Art: This Little Piggy Went to Market


“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

A good friend of mine in Nicaragua is a pig farmer. Her two sows recently had two litters of 19 piglets in all. When the piglets are six to eight weeks old, she sells them. She invited me to visit her two farrows of piglets the other day. Scrambling on top of one another, bouncing, jumping, playing, napping…I enjoyed every second watching piglet antics.

This quote seemed very appropriate because there are two giant mama pigs, who take turns nursing the 19 piglets. The piglets sidle up, snuggle close, and I think they just want to be sure of each other.

IMG_3135During this video, there was a 6.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Nicaragua. There was plenty of rockin’ and rollin’ going on, but the sweet little piglets didn’t seem to mind one bit. And if you are rooting for the runt (who walks away unable to find a teat), don’t worry. He sidled up with the other mama pig a few minutes later…just to be sure.

Timeout for Art: Happy Trails


This week’s Timeout for Art is all about happy trails and the Chilamate tree. A friend visited us from the states last week, and she had never seen monkeys. Knowing that the Howler monkeys hang out in the Chilamate trees, we went on a quest for the largest and most spectacular trees in tropical forests.

Also known as strangler figs, these majestic trees begin life as an epiphyte in the crotch of another tree, then produce roots that snake to the ground to eventually anchor in the forest floor. Eventually, it strangles the host tree like a boa constricting its prey.  As the support tree decays, some Chilamate trees end up with interior passageways from base to crown, becoming true jungle gyms for the Howler monkeys who like to hang out in the trees snacking on the leaves.

Wandering through happy trails with Chilamate trees shading the worn, dusty paths, we fulfilled our quest. We spotted several Howlers lounging in the treetops lazily sleeping through the heat of the day. By the way, I was going to draw a monkey in the tree, but I wanted to focus on the splendor of the tree itself.

Happy trails to you my friends…. until we meet again.

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Timeout for Art: Death Supports New Life


It’s Timeout for Art from Zebra Designs and Destinations. Every Thursday, we submit our drawings and Lisa tenderly and lovingly supports us in our attempts at pencil sketches and shading.

My goal this week was to improve my shading and highlight the lighter boundaries with a darker background. Every week, I feel like I am improving. But, I still like the feeling I get when sketching, more than the sketch itself. It is a tiny Zen moment in my daily life because there is no past, no future…only the now. My perceptions are keener, and my life is richer when I sketch. Thank you for this, Lisa. You are a great inspiration to me.

This week, I walked the beach and found the skull of the Gar that Julio hit over the head with two rocks. Growing out of its eyeball socket was the sprout of a Jacote tree.

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” ~Edgar Allan Poe

 

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Timeout for Art: Waiting for Mangoes


This week’s Timeout for Art challenge is brought to you by Zeebra Designs and Destinations.  Lisa, I anxiously await your challenge every Thursday. Thank you for the inspiration. I think my waiting for mangoes has come to an end.

Princesa and I share mangoes every morning over the barbed wire fence. She bellows…I respond. She slobbers, then bellows for more. Sometimes she lets me pet her while she’s munching on mangoes.

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While drawing today’s challenge, I was in a contemplative mood, thinking about the cattle and other animals barely surviving on Ometepe Island at the beginning of the rainy season. For six dry months we all endure the heat, dust, and brittle grass. Then…mango season arrives..glorious juicy mangoes enrich all of our lives once again. They nourish our bodies and our souls giving us hope for a prosperous harvest. Princesa and I are both happy….the wait for mangoes has ended.