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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The baby birds

On Friday, Camillo and I went to the fish market west of Centro Nova Friburgo and bought a Namorado (just like boyfriend). It was a good sized fish and rumored to be good for MUQUECA. On Saturday, Terazinha our neighbor from Bahia cooked lunch for us….

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Fish/ red and yellow peppers/cherry tomatoes / onion/ lete de coco and a touch of dende oil and a pinch of salsa, Served with rice and forofa, caipirinhas and smiling faces.

While sitting in the dining room at Terazinha’s, a bird kept flying onto the patio and zooming back out. She (they including the father) had built a nest just outside the window and they were feeding the babies. I got some photos – not exceptional – but I was thrilled and totally entertained throughout the complete meal.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

"blinded by the light"

GringoGene (http://expatbrazil.wordpress.com/) has made several comments to me about how ‘dark and dreary Nova Friburgo’ is. Well it is. I have no argument there. The summer, or the rainy season and its days upon days of clouds and fog and monsoon like downpours can bring your spirits down – that is for sure. BUT! when you wake up one morning and the sun IS shining, the air is clear and bright (the birds are squawking in the attic), the sunlight is the most glorious site you can see. Course if you've driven up here for a 3 or 4 day weekend to escape Rio’s heat and noise and you have to spend all the whole time in the pousada (B&B), watching the TV’s farmer’s channel because cable TV (local basic channels only) is the only thing working – No cell phone service in these mountains and Internet service is down after most heavy rains – IF you are lucky the electricity will stay on so you can relax and watch TV or play cards with your kids or 'whatever'. If you live up here, though, you know that if you can hold out for the inevitable you will end up with 2 or 3 hours or maybe even a day of being ‘blinded by the light’

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Organization - Tags and other issues

No pictures today, today is a clean house day and I have a lot of that to do. Aparently I have not been very good at tagging (labeling) my blogs in a way that will make sense to you, my reader or to those searching information about Brasil and therefore finding my blog by accident.
I have been putting tags such as aggressive green in Brasil which has a lot of meaning to me, but may not help you find anything if you are searching..... Camillo's father came to visit a long time ago and as he stepped off the plane said, 'the greens in Brasil are so aggressive'. Being from Italy, a country of the drab gray-green of an olive tree, and the light browns of limestone clifts, the colors of Brasil are agressive. So I used this tag (label) when I was writing about the forest, about color, about landscapes and as I looked back, aggressive thoughts and a hodge-podge of other entries. Well it must have made a lot of sense at the time. (I'm sorry!)
Over the past few days I have tried to go back and edit the blog entries and put in tags that would make sense to my readers and potential future readers. Let me tell you this is a JOB. There is no way to sort, add a tag and then save. NO! I had to go through the list of posts (185 of them), find one I wanted, enter additional tags, re-publish, the go back to the beginning of the list and start searching again..... Just so you'll know - I do not have the type of patience it takes to do this task... so I will just make you a promise that from now on I will do better and you can, in a spirit of adventure, go through my labels and see what they mean - good luck to all of us.
By the way photos of Carnival are under colors of Brasil not under Carnival in general - there is also a Carnival revival.....which is about the city going back to the street carnivals of old - okay so being organized is not one of my strong suits..... just work with me a bit.....

Friday, January 23, 2009

“…. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet ….”

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No matter where we are traveling, when I see a rose growing on a fence, in a private garden or in formal gardens I cannot resist taking a photo.DSC_2059%255B2%255D

I do not have a favorite color, although to me the Hybrid Tea is the most elegant. I never see the flaws. Sometimes after downloading I will notice a bug, or bee or a petal that a bug has enjoyed – but when confronted by their beauty I never see these things – and I don’t use any fancy editing programs to remove them later …. their natural beauty is without flaw.

DSC02069%255B2%255DFor some reason I have trouble getting a good photo of pure red or pure white. The camera just cannot pick enough variation to give good detail.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Ready for a shock?

I decided that I would try and re-organize my photos.  I have them all saved on an external hard drive which holds 232 GB and has only 48.7 GB remaining. (of course there are also back up files, this is not just photos)   I have been told about several online storage places but am not able to bring myself to ‘trust’ them.   So I need to either organize and delete, or buy a bigger storage drive.

For the first time ever I looked at my pictures folder’s properties. Are you ready for this? There are over 27 thousand files in the picture folder, a total of 57 GB. The folders are organized by Trips (Spain, France, Italy, Iguacu falls, ETC.) And Family/friends/and other special folders.

One of the folders is ‘Condominium Stucky’ with 4294 items, which includes ‘Around Friburgo’, ‘Friburgo Garden’, ‘Inside Friburgo’ and others. One of the folders is ‘Sunsets Sunrise sky and Fog’. For this blog I started looking at this folder because it really defines my dilemma. These photos are exclusively of our view off the veranda. It has 1390 items. How can one view have 1390 different looks? I went through it (2 hours of time) and deleted many questionable photos, most of the of the moon which never turn out the way I want. After this clean-up, I still had 1369 photos. How can I delete more? {Just in case your good at math this is only a net of 21 photos because I found more sunset etc. photos in other folders – I actually managed to delete nearly 100 photos}

I have put a sample of 20 photos in the album above.   Basically they are of the same view. Look at them, which one would you delete? What I need is someone impartial to go through my photos and delete as many as possible. Then go away, so I can restore them…. I can not delete photos that is my dilemma. Everyone has something I like about it – of course it does – why else would I have taken it?

Note that in the album you can look at the photos in a slideshow – and enlarged, that is very nice.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

They’re Back!


During the 80s when our house was new, Camillo used it only on weekends. Whenever possible. He traveled extensively but when home he came up to enjoy the silence, the solitude. No telephones, no TV, few neighbors, few cars (the road to Lumiar was still a dirt road used only by the local farmers), no one from his office even knew where to find him.

During the 90s we were living in Houston and came to Brazil only once a year or so, but always spent several weeks here at the house. There were no lights in the valley and we would sit out on the balcony with our drinks and watch the bright clear sky. Listening to the Silence.

In late 2003, we moved to Brazil and began living up here more than we were any place else. But now the modern world has moved in. The houses below have lights – lots of lights. The condominium now has street lights and the dirt road across the valley has streetlights. Not only did we have phones, but cell phones, Internet connections, cable TV, few stars and Parrots! living in the attic.

Not just one, but a family – and extended family by the sounds of it. They were having domestic arguments and fighting about where to put the furniture, screeching at one another for hours. The racket would start at sunrise, and again at dusk. We have called in specialist to rid the house of these noisy neighbors.

One year we put wire mesh under the eaves and over the water spouts – they tore it to shreds. One year we re-tied down the tiles, they found new ways in. We put in plywood walls in the closet and we could hear them come in at the chimney and scoot along under the tiles until they were back in the attic space. One of the workers put a rubber snake on the roof….. hum. We have had to patch the roof and re-run wires.

This last year we have watched them watch us. They sit on the top of the roof, along the window frames, on our bedroom window sill looking into the house but never entering our space. They watch from the trees. When we sit on the balcony they fly by in groups of 10 or 12 screeching at us, scolding or sit over our heads on the rain gutters and talk back and forth trying to decide what to do with us. Now they’re back! More of them than ever. We can hear them in the attic, in the eaves over the closet, and they seem to be remodeling the roof beside the chimney maybe enlarging the babies’ room. We can hear the babies crying for breakfast - a new generation that will think of our house as home….

I have suggested that we build an opening in the roof line, a dormer window with their own veranda. We could enclose the attic in wood and all the wires in PVC pipes and we just let them be there – Camillo doesn’t like the idea. Tomorrow another man will come and check to see if the babies are gone then we will re-wire with stronger wire – but I feel bad - this has been their ancestral home for more generations then it has been ours. What are we to do ?

Friday, January 16, 2009

The collapse of the Mury-Lumiar Road

Today it is raining again. This rain, at this time of year, always brings back to me with some trepidation the landslides that we often have during the summer months and how it is possible for whatever man has built below goes right along under a massive pile of mud and boulders. For example in late summer 2005, it rained continuously for days on end and the mountainsides started sliding and about 4 km from the house a portion of the road to Lumiar came down – I mean a crater of about 200 meters across opened up in the middle of the night – taking with it about 8 homes and a good chunk of road. That same weekend along the road to Lumiar 3 other spots opened or threatened too, and the complete road was closed to traffic. All the farmers and other country people that depend on this road to get to market and to buy supplies had to walk miles to catch the busses that were unable to go past the first slide.

Camillo and I (and our grandchildren for the USA) were fascinated with the construction to replace the road. It was completed within four months. Considering how badly the roads are normally built and maintained this repair was top notch engineering. (We won’t say it should have been done this way to begin with) It has to instill admiration, the determination and quick action that the government of the State of Rio de Janeiro brought to this project.

In less than a month the remaining parts of homes had been removed, (much of it by the owners who hauled it away on carts to use in their next house), and high retainer wall with a temporary bypass was completed. One lane of traffic could pass, allowing the much needed busses to get by while the new road was being completed. We watched it go up and I would say that it will not come down again for a few 100 years.

[I have been reassured that our house which sits on the side of a pretty awesome hillside, WILL NOT come down – something about piles that were driven down to bed rock……hum… that was a very big hole which could easily swallow house, piles and all]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

On the Veranda – Nova Friburgo

We arrived back in Friburgo this afternoon after nearly a month in Rio. The silence here almost hurts your ears. No, maybe it was the noise in Rio that hurts your ears and the silence here is a shock after all the noise. When up here in the mountains we eat breakfast out on the balcony, I cook instead of so much eating out in restaurants, we wear sweaters in the evening, sometimes we put a fire in the fireplace even when it is ‘summer’ and listen to classical music, life is different here. No six year old playing his DRUMS that Santa brought while we are trying to nap. No construction that vibrates through the apartment and leaves dust on everything. Just silence (and the barking of dogs across the valley)

Driving up today included the same problems that we always encounter on Rota 116. I am the only one that drives within 10 miles (above) of the speed ‘limit’. I really think that no Brazilian driver understands that those numbers posted along the road represent the max you are to drive not the minimum. They don’t understand that a double yellow line means ‘it is not safe to pass’. No mater what the risk a Brazilian driver MUST be in front – if I am driving 85 in an 80 they still must pass. They don’t understand that around the next bend in the road will be a large truck lumbering up the steep grades and those cars you just risk your life, and everyone else's, to pass will now want to pass you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Learning new things


After more than two years ‘blogging’, I have been having some fun trying new programs. The one I am trying today is Windows live Writer. It will possibly solve some problems I have with inserting photos along with my text. In the normal ‘Blogger’ create window I have been setting up the text, dragging and dropping photos, and then fighting with margins, extra lines and hanging letters once the entry is published.

Be prepared in case this doesn’t work out – lets see what happens

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Semiannual walk to the Botanical Gardens

The past few days have been really beautiful in Rio and I woke this morning thinking it was too nice to go to the gym so I walked to the Jardim Botanico (Botanical Gardens). I make it over to the gardens at least two times a year and even though I always say I will go right at the main gate I always go left to my two favorite places inside the gardens, the orchid and the Bromeliad houses.
Today I left the apartment before 10am and by walking along the lagoa then cutting over to the gardens at the canal, I made it over there in 35 minutes. I arrived back at just short of 2 pm with sore feet and a full memory stick.

I am not sure how I ended up walking a different path this time within the gardens. I have been to the gardens at least 10 times and have never run across cactus and I don't know how I found the cactus gardens this visit. They are either new or tucked away with the intention of surprising the visitors and I have just missed them before. They were beautiful. Surrounded by forest and waterfalls it is completely unexpected to run into a piece of desert landscape.

Today the orchids where not at their best they were only a few and those had some mildew on their blossoms. The Bromeliad brought me their usual pleasure with some unusual blossoms and new colors.
Put Rio's Jardim Botanico on your list of must see list.

Friday, January 09, 2009

I promised you flowers

Single lilies line the lower walkway at the house in Friburgo (Muri-Condominium Stucky)      We have never bought any of these lilies, Manuel, our 'jardineiro', trades with other gardeners for bulbs and cuttings and also from time to time brings flowers from the forest. We don't talk about that though because for some of them it may be illegal to take them from the forest.

Double day lily - from a neighbors yard. Colors are not edited but I cropped all of these photos to bring the Flower to our complete attention. Double (or triple?) day lily - taken April 2005, Nova Friburgo - lining the entrance of a local Pousada. The photo has been cropped but not edited. Many of our flowers bloom in late fall (April/May). During the summer (December - March) there is too much rain and clouds which makes for a lot of growth and a lot of green but no flowers. It takes the sunshine of fall and winter to bring out the flowers in both the garden and in the forest's trees.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


This was quite a process, shifting (importing) my blog entries from 'notamissionary' to 'Flowers' I hope that it ends the confusion about who is GingerV and who is Rosemary. I imported all my blog entries from 'notamissionary' and after a month or so I will close down that site. Rosemary began 'notamissionary' to express her concerned about living in Brasil. I began writing for her blog shifting more to photos and travel entries, and then she quit writing, left it all in my hands and moved to Portugal. It was time to become independent, to focus on my interests, to be me.... I hope to hear from you all as you read about life as I see it in Brasil and in the USA and abroad. Ginger Vanstaveren (gingerv)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The wrecking Ball (part 2) [see Wednesday December 31st blog entry]

DSC07265Except for a half day on New Year’s Eve and all of the 1st of January the noise of destruction has been coming through my window - every day from 8 in the morning until around 3 in the afternoon. No one is really complaining, this mess has to come down and there is no other way to do it but to ram it to pieces. We all realize that in order to have the improvement we must live the next year or so with the sounds and the dirt of construction. Knowing this and living with it, of course, are two different things. The restaurant (Brambini) right next door is already suffering because its customers don't like the dirt or the noise but as one of our favorite places to eat we hope they can hold on until the new neighbors (and customers) arrive. This morning when the noise started I went down to see what progress is being made. The two houses in the front are now gone and they are working diligently (it is now 3:30 and the pounding continues) to bring down the classroom building. I am using my new found skill at inserting video to let you hear (if not feel) the sounds of the destruction of the old.
As Camillo says, "for a short time we will have a view of the sea" this is an attempt at humor because we just see more buildings, but it reminds us that when we were looking to buy this apartment the realtor stuck her head out the window and said, "you have a view of the sea - IF - those buildings were not there" Well they aren't and we don't. 

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Things to do in Rio IV : Hidden Gems

IMS - Instituto Moreira Salles, Rua Manqués de São Vicente 476, Gavea (tele 21-3284-7400) 
On Saturday, just wanting to get out of the apartment for a while, Camillo invited me to walk with him to Gavea. "Walk over to Gavea Shopping and take a bus back - to look at a small institute that has a special show of Lasar Segall paintings."
(for more information see http://www.museusegall.org.br/ 
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 Walking may not have been our best idea, IMS was about 2 kilometers past Gavea shopping and pretty much straight uphill.   We arrived hot and sweaty and hungry, but we found the institute to be well air conditioned, spotlessly clean, with good bathrooms, a sweet cafe with excellent sandwiches and to top it off it had an excellent show of Segall paintings and sketches that spanned over 30 years of his works. (on loan from private collections and from São Paulo's Lasar Segall Museum)

All of this for FREE. We would have gladly paid for the walk through the well lit interior and its natural gardens. This was one of those gems that are found randomly, by accident in many large cities. Hidden, out of the way, quiet and an absolute joy to see. Lasar Segall