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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Road Trip - Arizona II

After picking up my sister in Flagstaff, we drove my rented, bright-red Dodge Charger to Phoenix. I don't know if you are supposed to be able to pick your rental car but I generally say "I need enough power to make it up the black canyon highway" and they'll give me a car with reassurances that it will 'make it with ease'. I have learned (finally) that the people at the rental counter really don't listen, or don't care what your issues are, they just pass you down the line. This big, bulky super-duper charger had no GRIT when in competition for road with the big semis. If you travel in the western USA rent a foreign car - American cars Drink gasoline for breakfast with no reserve energy for when it is needed on the steep grades.
But back to my road trip.
I found that I have a really large family in Arizona. Oh, I knew they were there but have not spent time exploring who they are, too keeping in touch, of feeling that I belong with them. Speaking with each of the children, enjoying their enjoyment of the occasion.
I go often to visit my mother but basically stay in Prescott for the week. With Candy along - Candy who remembers everyone and all the streets where they live - urging us along; Mom and I saw my sister Nancy and her two children and their 4 children. I can imagine that Mom's great-grand children will remember the jokes, the laughter - the gathering for lunch and dinner of a family they had never met.

Mom, Candy and I drove into Phoenix proper to see my Aunt Carol - Mom's only living sibling, and Aunt Rosa her one remaining sister-in-law. I haven't seen them since the mid 70's when I lived in Phoenix with my small children. This trip was truly a trip home. (Aren't they all beautiful?)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Road Trip - Arizona

I have written before about being in Arizona (USA) to visit my mother. I come - always once a year and sometimes like this year, I make it for two visits. I love Arizona. I lived here as a child and young a teen and it often feels more like home than Michigan where I was born, Houston where I lived for 30 years or Brazil where I have been for nearly 6 years. Arizona at first glance seems barren, dry and colorless (especially if I compare it to Brazil), but as you travel through the state the seeming barren landscape becomes a land of diverse eco-systems, with a pallet of    muted colors that soothes, calms. This effect may be only for me because of the 'home again' aspect of travel in Arizona, but I think it is the quietness of the colors and the heat of the sun that warms and calms the spirit.   
I flew into Phoenix and drove to Prescott on Monday. Tuesday I collected my mother early and together we drove to Flagstaff to pick up my older sister, Candy. She came across country from Michigan via Amtrak to join us for a week. While Mom and I waited for her arrival, we drove even further north. Taking highway 89 north out of Flagstaff with the intended destination -  
Page at the damn for Lake Powell in the extreme North East corner of Arizona. Highway 89, right after leaving Flagstaff, goes through miles of what appears to be worn down, eroded volcanic ash fields. Sculpted by wind and rain these miles of gray, light pink and purple leave you feeling as though you have left this planet. Any geologist that reads this can correct me if they want - I'll publish any comments - but the look of the landscape was to me of an ancient land. About 35 miles from Page, I saw a sign - 89A to north rim Grand Canyon - I made a last minute, executive decision to go that direction and made a very quick left-hand turn onto the well-maintained, two lane highway, that winds and dips; curving around a long stretch of red cliffs - the road was long the scenery exquisite. To tell the truth we stopped and took photos and then went on, not realizing that we were ON THE NORTH RIM. We ended up almost at the Utah border before realizing that we should turn around and make our way back to Flagstaff.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Supermarkets American Style

DSC_0167Unless you have shopped in a supermarket (groceryDSC00005 store) in Brazil you may not appreciate this blog entry. When in Rio, Camillo and I generally walk about a block and a half to the Zona Sul (South Zone) supermarket. We walk up and down the 8 rows, which includes a cold meat and cheese counter, a fruit and DSC_0168veggies area, a fish area, and a small snack area - then you stand in line that usually twists and turns through the fruit and veggie area, blocking other shoppers to have your veggies weighted, on a good day you then stand in another line of at a minimum 10 people which takes another 15 minutes to work your way to the front, you unload your 10 - 20 items (not many because we are walking back home and carry our sacks and do not have them delivered) from the shopping cart - then we leave the cart in everyone's way because the carts are too big to fit through the checkout lane - on a bad day there are at least 5 carts blocking the people trying to unload their groceries. !total chaos!
DSC_0173Today Patty and I stopped at the FoodAramma supermarket on the way home from work. This 'smallish' market is about 4 miles from her house and the only way to get to the store is by car. The  parking lot in front has wide diagonal parking slots - about 100 of them. This being a Monday and not a peak shopping day, I would say there were only about 50 cars out in front. Inside the store seemed empty - the 50 or more people that belonged to the cars are swallowed up inside. The fruit and veggie department had the most people. It is about the size of the total Ipanema Zona Sul market.
DSC_0175The isles are clear, 001 (3)the checkout quietly going about its business. Like in Zona Sul about half of the checkout stations are closed (off peak days).   But in this case it means 7 of the 14 lanes are open. We enter the checkout lane, put our items on the conveyor belt as the person in front of us pays for his groceries, and in 5 minutes we have paid and are headed for the car. No music was playing - lighting bright, isles wide and clear and clean - checkout painless. This is shopping for dinner groceries in the USA.

Monday, October 06, 2008

first day home -

I arrived in Houston on Friday morning - 5:20am) but really didn't get into 'I am at home mode' until Saturday morning. Patty (my daughter) and I got up at 6:30 to take Marissa to her school to catch the team bus and then we drove into northwest Houston to watch her volley ball (Volie) tournament. This is her first year on a team (7Th grade) and from what I could see really enjoying it. The girls played 4 games!. Unlike most of the teams they played, there were only 7 of them so no rotations out to rest.

My favorite and as far as I am concerned the best player is number 44 - in the very least she is the most beautiful.... (she did not pay me to write this - it is truly how I feel.) All the players improved their serves before our very eyes. As a team they have some work to do on understanding that while the ball is in play you keep trying to hit it back across the net - there were a few 'where did it go?" expressions and boy did we all (the parents watching) have fun with that. By the way they won 1, lost 1, and tied 2 - came in 3rd out of five teams - I would say that was excellent for a first season.