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Friday, October 30, 2009

Weekend plans

Camillo and I are off to Bahia again today. We will spend the weekend on an island off the coast of Salvador. I am hoping for some photos to share at the first of the week. As this is at a private beach house, we are not anticipating Internet connection until we go into the city late Monday afternoon. 'Ya'all have a great weekend, ya hear.'
Marina - Salvador, Bahia, Brasil
(I have 20 minutes for comments on 'landscapes' then I am out of here - catch everyone else on Monday and Tuesday. )

‘My Town’ Friday Shoot-out / Park Landscapes

DSC00771In the Ipanema / Leblon region of Rio de Janeiro the streets are lined with large trees. During the different ‘seasons’ in Rio these trees bloom, fruit and have subtle changes in leaf colors that lends a park like feeling on the very streets where you walk. There are also praças (plaza or parks) large and small, some take up complete city blocks and others fit snuggly into street crossings and unused, hidden corners. About 10 years ago, a few of the larger praças were enclosed in high fences that are closed at night keeping out the homeless and other unpleasant activities, and leaving these areas (relatively) clean and accessible to the locals for sitting in the sun, playing chess or just enjoying the feel of natural surroundings during the day.
DSC00783  DSC00785
DSC00773 On the north side of the Lagoa is a small but interesting park called the Parque da Catacumba. Once a favela that wound itself up the hills, spilling over into Botafogo – the home of thousands that supplied labor in the expensive high-rise buildings sprouting along the beach and around the lagoa. The name of the parque comes from the Indian burial grounds that lie beneath the remnants of the favela.   
By tearing down the slum and moving all the families to city built housing on the outskirts of the city, the Prefecture has made the area a beautiful place to walk (easy climb) the quiet trails. [the sentence left unsaid – leaving the area nice for the rich – yes I think this drastic and unfair, but can’t help enjoying the park nonetheless.] Once you enter the park and start the climb to the top, you become surrounded by natural vegetation and only at one point can you look out and see the area of Ipanema crowding the shore on the other side of the Lagoa. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Today I have an appointment

Camillo and I are in Rio for this week. Usually when we come into the city it is because Camillo has appointments and I am not an enthusiast of staying alone in our (super) quiet house on the hill, so I come. You have to remember that these appointments of his are not for doctors or other things you would imagine an 83 year old would need but to talk to company/area managers/geophysicist of oil companies here in Brasil.
And this week isn't any different. This week while he is thinking and planning and making presentations on the computer I also have a plan..... Well it is simple and not time consuming and definitely not something I have to prepare for - other than a good shower and putting on cloths a little more formal than gym cloths - but I have an appointment.
This morning I am going around the corner - literally - to talk with the coordinator of the Britannia School of English. They offer a course that certifies English teachers. The CELTA.
I have been told I can teach English Second Language (ESL) because I am a native speaker, but I have my doubts. How does a bookkeeper/auditor, office manager, and mother experience help you teach English? Trying to learn Portuguese gives me empathy, but what do I know about teaching methods and process? I don't even know if my natural temperament is good for teaching. I am pretty much a, 'I'll show you 3 times, and if you don't get by then...' type of person. In other words impatient. I know I can 'be there' and 'collect the check' but can I teach. Camillo thinks I am just trying to come with reason why I won't do this but I know myself quite well and I have not been sure that teaching is for me.
This course is also R$3600.00. Hummmm!  At today's exchange rate that is US$2055.00 and some change. For one month in the classroom. I can take one year towards a master in Linguistic at the University of Houston for the same US dollars.  Of course I am not in Houston, I am in Rio SO this is my option. This is really the issue here. I feel this is my only option if I want to work, to do SOMETHING in Brasil. My Portuguese is so limited that I am limited. But after my meltdown a few weeks ago I know I need to try to pursue something.... Okay, today I at least talk to someone about taking a step.  Wish me luck.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Shoot Out - Classics of childhood

Oops, I went to bed last night not remembering that today was Friday.... I've spent so many days lying on the sofa under doctors care and under the influence of drugs that I didn't realize the amount of time going by. Am feeling better, today I went to the gym, made it through a spinning class, bought groceries and ran home to look through my archives for something representing childhood - making memories in Nova Friburgo.

    Brasillians over all are family oriented. The ones with small children eat at restaurant that cater to the children, have play yards and special menus and no one minds if after the meal the little ones run up and down the rows of tables, being watched over by the waiters and the other diners.   We no longer have little ones here in Brasil. We have 3 grandchildren remaining here now but one is married and the other two - the twins - are 17 with friends and activities that keep them from visiting with Vovo and Vovó. So all my fotos are of other peoples children enjoying what Nova Friburgo has to offer. (I am also limited in my knowledge of what little one do here)
Up in the hills above the city the children play football, I am sorry, SOCCER out in the streets, and they are more than happy to pose for a Gringa with a camera as long as she lets them look at the photo on the view screen after.
On Saturdays and Sundays down in the praça below, there are pony cart rides and ponies with and without guides, and there are often clowns, and games, and ice cream for kids of all ages to enjoy.    
and for those just a little bigger and braver there is cable car ride up to the peek above the city. There you can find a bowling alley, video games (uck!) and hamburgers (uck uck!). And if really, really brave you can take the cable car to the very top and see a 360 degree view of the mountains surrounding Friburgo.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cooking in the Kitchen

I don't know what I will use for a photo in this entry but maybe I'll be inspired by the time I get to the end.   Coming up in April 2010 I will have been in Brazil for 7 years.  Can you believe it?   In a movie we were watching a couple nights ago the main character, a prisoner in prison for a crime he didn't commit ( of course) said, 'each day seems to drag by then you realized 15 years have passed.' I understood exactly what he was saying. Time in the moment moves slow, time over time zaps by leaving me flabbergasted at what I haven't done, about how did my body get so old.
Boy did I get off topic....   So I have been here 7 years. It is hard for a person who has always lived in the same town, the same State, or even the same Country to know how different just the day to day things are when you live in a new Country. Just an example - here powdered cinnamon is 'Canela oa China em ' and basil is manjericão, and those are the easy things.
I have been striving (finally) to expand the type of meal I cook here. Tired of chicken and, well, chicken and fish. I had Camillo take me to a butcher shop and we decided on several different meat types. Meat here is very lean, and the names of the cuts not recognizable. First I did leg of lamb. Camillo thought it great but hated the mess I made in the kitchen. No pan with rack so I cooked it on the oven's rack with a drip pan underneath.....(when I cook he cleans up, when he cooks I clean up). Even with the mess it was so good we went back for more. (meats)
I came away with what they called (translated) an American roast. Not all stories can be a success. This ended up being a very thin piece of dry meat wrapped around a SAUSAGE! Camillo great and supportive husband that he is, ate it with gusto.... but was pretty bad.
Lesson learned:  never buy what they call TIPO (type) Americano or Italiano.….anything. is not what you expect.  It is something someone imagines to be American or Italian but I suspect they have never been further than their mother's back door.
I have done Salmon with honey mustard marinade - Salmon is good here, and this was delicious and now am trying pork chops, which tend to be dry, very dry with no marbling of fat, using the same marinate. In just a few minutes I will put it in the oven and bake them. Am going to add a side of risotto with fresh mushrooms......
I am willing to listen to any and all suggestions. Remember that recipes that call for specifics, like cream by your local Farmer or like sour cream which I have never found here, might be difficult for me to find equivalents and I do not have fancy pans and can not get them without waiting for a trip to the USA. But give me your ideas or what you have learned - and we will see.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coping Skills

I've not read much about it but it became apparent this week just how linked our physical condition is to our coping abilities. My post this past week showed I am caving a bit under the pressure of my unanswered questions. None of the questions are new ones, they have been with me at least for the past 5 years. Sometimes they are just a mildly sore places where if I probe at them them become inflamed, but if ignored, well they are under control.
I go about my business, doing my exercising, trying to speak Portuguese, testing my skill at being independent in a dependent situation. Sometimes the soreness gets to be unbearable and I make an extended trip to Houston, cook for my daughter's family, visit my mother, drive, talk, handle problems, start to feel like me again, and become renewed in my resolves to make it in Brazil.
This past 10 days (or more) I have had what I finally determined is an inner ear infection. I haven't run a fever so didn't think it could be inner ear. A trip to the Internet last night assured me that I either have an incurable disease or my inner ear is messed up. There were about 3 days where I could barely walk the vertigo and nausea were so bad. There is a cracking and popping, feeling of stuffiness in both ears and my eyesight is blurred. I finally laid down on the sofa with a book, a blanket and a hot water bottle and allowed all the bad feelings, and the unanswered questions to come the surface. I thought that this had to be psychological I felt so bad. Unfortunately it was during this time that I wrote my blog post.
My eyesight had to be blurred because I spent so much time on the Internet. My life is being wasted.  I needed to drop out. It is probably good at this time to explain to you that I am hardly ever sick. I get an upset stomach from time to time, and generally have two sinus headaches a year - I am a very bad sick person.  No, I think I need to deal with my unanswered questions but definitely don't need to drop out.  Cutting myself off from my limited human contact will not solve anything. Like the photo insert, I need to allow some rays of sun to shine in the dark places. Now I need to go back to the sofa and rest my eyes some more.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Shoot Out - Sunrise / Sunset

Red sky in the morning sailor take warning
Red sky at nite sailor delight
My archive folder for Sunrise/sunset/fog holds 1462 photots, almost without exception all were taken off our balcony. I give you only 3 as a sample. The valley off our balcony runs NW - SW as does the valley that runs through Nova Friburgo. For some reason we seldom have colored sunsets. There are long shadow on the opposite hills then it is dark. To be
totally honest I am seldom up for a sunrise, but in both sunrise and sunsets, the beauty here is how the sun shines across the clouds in the valley and how the last rays of sun light the rain clouds. Any pink on the horizon turns the tops of the clouds in the valley in to pink cotton.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chin hair and other unanswered questions


003 Since early of 2007 when I started blogging as a guest writer for notamissionary by Riorose and then creating “Flowers’ in January of 2009, I have been using blogging as a means of expressing myself as a foreigner in a foreign land, showing my photos (hopefully as they have improved), and as a means of talking about places I have traveled.

Lately I began to interact more in cyberspace. Looking at other’s blogs and photos, and reading their thoughts and making comments that do not really constitute conversation. It is like that game often played at New Year’s Eve parties where you attach your wish to a balloon and with the help of some hot air, send it up into space – will it land where it is valued or be found and entertain?

I have found that the more I look and read other blogs, the less I write on my own. My head has become full of questions and confusion, full of sadness and feelings of loss. I have been afraid to write about what is bothering me. Afraid that I would be read by this large group of cyber writers/thinkers, I would be found whiny and negative. Unpleasant. They all seem so bright and poetic, so talented. Their lives so full of family and fun. Their problems when mentioned seem to be real problems. Mine have become insignificant, superficial by comparison in my own mind.

I am exhausted by the effort. The effort to stand straight, to be in balance, to always see the world as a beautiful place. This is not natural. There are bad days, there is sadness, graffiti, trash, loss, hunger – why are my feelings less because they are mine? Because I live in a nice house with a beautiful view, and I take no pills for a major illness, because (pray) Camillo and my families are well and prospering, why can I not talk about what does bother me? Why is it not important that I feel thick and stiff, and hate the face hair that has taken over as I age? Why isn’t it important that I am not where I need to be to help with my mother and my granddaughter? Why isn’t important the I feel life ebbing away as I sit in this house on the hill? Why isn’t it important that I fear losing Camillo who is only 4 years younger than Luisa?

This past month I have missed my friend Luisa who passed last month. I miss her for many reasons, but the most because she was my sounding board. With real and immediate feedback about what I was saying. She was always without fail on my side. I did not need to be perfect in front of her, over the 20 years of our friendship she had heard it all. I have been told that she is in a better place now. We would like to think and believe that, but no one really knows, and for me having her here was the best place.

I think that I will no longer write comments on other blogs. Maybe I wont even visit them. I need to drop out. I need the feeling of being anonymous, so I can go back to writing out my thoughts as I feel them. It is my only release, my only way to blow away some of the cloud cover and have a chance once again feel like me.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Friday ‘My Town’ Shoot-out - Silhouettes

This topic started out to be a real challenge for me. For the past 3 weeks, everywhere I went I carried my camera, hoping for something spectacular. Nothing, nothing, nothing. While in Rio, 10 full days – it was rainy or if not actually raining, gray with low lying haze. This kind of light does not make for pretty pictures. On Sunday morning Camillo and I walked to the hippy square, I basically have the street fair memorized but I like to go look the art. We passed a vendor whose paintings were of trees and leaves, and I thought I can do that with my camera.

I was quite pleased with myself.

But once I got home and downloaded the photos, I found that the light coming in from the sky’s glare still allowed for to much detail – so I took them all (40) through the editor – darkening the shadows and am quite pleased by the results.

Not classic silhouettes but very much reflecting what you see when walking down Rua Prudente de Morais, Ipanema on your way to the hippy square.


I got so carried away with these few fun photos that I went through my ‘Around Rio’ archives folder and taking random photos already too dark, darkened them some more – WHAT fun! – I ended up spending about 2 hours playing with these results.
(sorry no concerned was taken with rule of 50/50 or rule of thirds – In this case I saw a shape I liked, I snapped the photo with my little Sony (almost worn out) point and shoot camera.)

DSC088584 DSC08853_jpgsilhouette6DSC00958_jpgsilhouette6
DSC05793_jpgsilhouette5 DSC04759_jpgsilhouette7  DSC00769_jpgsilhouette5

Just to prove to myself that I have a sense of adventure I will show you just one more that I really like …..

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Special Affects and other fun things


Last week I put up a photo on the blog banner that I had played with in a photo edit program. Mostly I just wanted to see how it did in the blog format and I thought it looked great. I received a couple comments asking how I had done it – and this blog is to tell you how.

I know everyone in the world that likes to take photos has Photoshop or other less well known programs to play with or to edit out the major mistakes made when out in the world taking quick shots.

But for me this program, costing US$699 (in Brasil is R$900), is too rich just to being playing around. I went on line and searched (not wanting a free program or to hock my first granddaughter to buy it.) and found one for US$170.00 called ADCsee Pro 3.

The only thing that I haven’t liked is that ADC doesn’t have watercolor affects which I used often when I first started using a digital camera. That edit program was an old Microsoft XP add-on photo editor – and was GREAT – FOR free!

When I take a photo of flowers, for example, the best is when I just like the photo as it is, but if the color is good but maybe there is blurring in the wrong place – or like the one above – the flower shows flaws that I don’t notice with my very bad eyesight, then I like to play with an editor. Here are a few examples…

118_jpg-oil-paint4oil paint  -      118_jpg-graniteGranite -

118_jpgold4Old               118_jpgsepia5    Sepia -

118_jpg-sheet-metal  Sheet metal -   118_jpgcolorededges4 Colored edges - 

and finally -  

118_jpgstainedglass5  Stained Glass

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Friday ‘my town’ shoot-out / Photo essay of a building.

This is my third blog in less weeks about the botanical gardens here in Rio.  As you know by now, I love this place and return time after time to walk the trails, wonder off into the wooded areas, visit the books in the gift shop and to take photos.  There are at least 4 historic buildings within the 140 hectare (about 346 acres) grounds so you see I had a full fledged dilemma trying to choose only one to show you.  I ended up choosing based on the amount of information I could gather on each, versus what is the most beautiful or even the most interesting building.
Walking to the left as you enter the main gates of the gardens, passing up the (most handy) restrooms and continuing to bear left, there is a small museum called (only in the Brazilian style of naming buildings!) the Archaeological Site Museum of the Pestle Mill Workshop.
 In 1808, John VI of Portugal founded the Rio botanical gardens  and in 1822 they were opened to the public.   This building began as a pestle mill in 1809 and continued in its intended functions until 1831 – over the next 150 years it was a private residence of Mrs. Pepétua de Cunha (1831-1859), a warehouse for agricultural equipment/residence for workers in the gardens (1859-1934), a seed warehouse (1934-1941), and finally as the residence of Dr. Kuhlmann and the Kuhlmann Botanical museum (1941-1982).   In the subsequent years, up until early 2000s, this building sat empty surrounded by the natural forest and has only recently been protected from the elements with a new roof and opened to the public as a museum.