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Saturday, February 28, 2009

"followers"

DSC_1386 Is anyone else irritated by the 'new' way that the gadget 'follower's' works (or doesn't)?   I like very much having the list of those who follow my blog as it was.  I could get to you easily, read what you have to say and was happy.  Now it takes up too much space on the page and if I click your icon I get a drop down with your bio - and list of your blogs - AND a list of blogs you follow. Then I have to click your blog name again - anyway what is irritating is NO ONE ASK ME IF I WANTED THESE CHANGES.......   If they wanted to improve their gadget they should have made it easier to work with it, edit it etc.:   for example while trying to get rid of the 'Aron' gadget that doesn't have his picture, I ended up with my own on the list and can not remove it.... does anyone know how to remove an icon from the list?

Anyway, I am thinking about eliminating it and have only the list of "My Favorite Blogs" like I did originally. Not all change is for the better.

Friday, February 27, 2009

It’s a small world

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The world is shrinking; aided by cable TV, Internet, and Internet phone services such as Skype and BLOGGING.   It is possible to watch international news programs, see how the weather is in Singapore, talk daily if you wish to your mother or sisters or, thank goodness, to your grandchildren and to meet people from all over the world. Several weeks ago I received an email from a man in England (UK). He was searching the Net looking for information about Brazil and more specifically about Mury and he found ‘flowers’. He has a friend here, a woman that has retired back in Brazil and is now living in Mury. He is planning on visiting her during the next few months and wanted to know more about the area. I replied and ask him to have his friend contact me. Whoopee another possible friend who speaks English!

Within 24 hours I had an email from Wendy – How Delightful! (I wrote that to sound British, do I?)

Wendy (on the left in the photo above) now a resident of Mury is Brazilian/English but has lived in the UK for many years. She has returned with many skills such as making an afternoon tea. British tea time. Within another 24 hours I was having tea with Wendy and meeting her friends from Niteroi. Besides speaking ‘very good king’s English’ Wendy also speaks Portuguese. She already knows the local names for birds and other animals in the forest.  I will start going to her home with a note pad so I can remember what she calls them; it is so great to be able to say, ‘wait, repeat that, what?’ and to use other normal communication aids.

Welcome home Wendy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Carnaval 2009 – Nova Friburgo Part 2 - the VILAGE samba school

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Let the photos speak for themselves.
There was NOTHING home grown about the costumes, the floats, the music or the organization as they marched down the main street. The colors, the smiling faces and the total enjoyment are all Brasil. Wish you’d been here.   
 
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Carnaval 2009 – Nova Friburgo

I know you must be Carnaval(ed) out but I wanted to share my photos – maybe you will feel you were there.

I have been to the BIG parade in Rio, Carnival Revival.   I even marched in 2004. I have also been to several Blocos or street parties in Rio, but I had never seen the parade in Nova Friburgo. This year I wanted to go Sunday night to the opening parade of the samba schools in Nova Friburgo. Sunday night’s parade had three separate Samba Schools marching.

I have to admit my expectations were not very high. Friburgo is a relatively small town of about 250K residents and it does not appear to be affluent, so I expected a ‘home grown’ quality and I was wrong.   I arrived in Centro by taxi at 9pm and arrived home at 2:30 am. Each Samba School took close to an hour to complete their part of the show and there was about 35 minutes between each one. The time between was the hardest for me but the Brazilians are great about taking delays in stride. The children got out in the street, played soccer with plastic bottles, practiced their samba steps and generally acted like children left with no adult supervision.

The first samba school sang and danced with enthusiasm, pulling the crowd into their samba music, pleasing the children. Their floats were made of simple materials, had great imagination. It was ‘nice’ and after the first show I was ready to go home….. Thank goodness I waited around. My feet hurt, my ears hurt, it was past my bedtime but I waited.

With each Samba School it just got better and better. Before the third one, Tatiana and Paulista begged me to wait – the third one was a group of people they knew and they didn’t want to miss the show. The third samba school was fantastic!  (See part 2)

[I have had almost 12 hours trying to download this blog – I decided to break it into pieces…. stay connected for part two]

Off Line - two days W/O internet

Thank you all for your comments and emails. Sorry it took so long for me to get them posted. I will give you a blog worth reading later tonight. My Internet went down mid-afternoon Saturday and was down until late afternoon today - Tuesday. When called Gigalink said, "... cause of Carnaval.... blah, blah, blah - I get really tired of hearing this - this excuse for not doing what you pay them to do.... Later!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rewards

I have been so good this last week getting a long list of needed chores done, including cleaning the greenhouse (estufa). During the rainy season the inside of the estufa’s plastic walls become covered with mildew. About twice a year I go in and move all the plants around, wash down their leaves with clear water and wash the wall and ceiling with a combination soap and bleach. AS I was moving the plants this time I found one orchid in bloom and one sending buds out from two different leaves…… I thought it would be great to follow the opening of the buds. You have to go to ‘view full Album’ link above, click to open then click view as slide show. There is also a bottom at the bottom to view in full screen. I am hoping that by doing this you can see these orchids opening in my estufa over the past 5 days.
The actual color of this orchid is more towards lavender than shows in these photos, but you can definitely get the idea of the joy they produce.

Learning to fetch

Today Spritzer has been really quiet – I think there was an emotional set back at finding himself outside the yard in the dark last night – don’t know how long he’d been out there.  Like most teenagers he just thinks he wants to be free, but likes knowing that we are here watching out for him. Yesterday, Camillo played with him about 2 hours tossing him a tennis ball that he would pounce on and run off down the hill, then drop it and run around the hill and come back up a different set of steps, Camillo would patiently go down to find the ball and fetch it back. Camillo got very good at fetching a ball. They are teaching each other and they both took a long nap at the end of the afternoon.

Today Camillo will travel to the USA and because we are now responsible parents I will stay at the house. I hope this time will allow Spritzer and I to fully bond. I don't know how good I will be at fetching the ball, I am not very patient. I'll let you know.

The Saga of the little dog and other Follies

After nearly 17 years together Camillo and I finally decided to adopt. Meet Spritzer, soon to be big and ferocious guard dog and companion. He is 5 months old and I suspect has not had much human contact or attention. We adopted Spritzer from the veterinary clinic in Muri. He is purported to be a pure German Shepherd but his two brothers, that we had to leave at the Vet’s, had some pretty unusual shepherd markings. We had to pay R$300.00 which was for his shots-to-date, and a general medical check-up and whatever - they did bath him for us which was a god-send. Of course, the costs don’t stop there, a dog house and paint (which is VERY expensive in Brazil) R$280.00, several bags of reward biscuits and a bag of food (only the best available for our dog!) R$75.00, a couple of toys, food and water dish, some wood to fill in a gate to the garage which it took him about 6 hours to figure out how to jump through, and name tag (s) & etching of name on the tag, collar and leash, R$150.00 (probably closer to 200.00 but I am being nice). Tomorrow, two men will come to put a higher iron gate by the drive and a net up on a retainer wall…. because last night at midnight he cried from OUTSIDE the gate to come in. We can’t figure out how he got out so we are ‘improving’ our new fence for his protections (so he can protect us later). Camillo isn’t telling me how much this will be …. he likes the dog and we will “put it behind us”

He has been with us for 5 days and is still rolling the white of his eyes if we try to touch him, jumping at loud sounds, and generally ignoring us – his companions - unless we have a reward biscuits in our hand. We are told this is normal for a 5 month old that has lost his family. He will follow us if he thinks we are not looking and we take this as an improvement in attitude.

We will lavish him with love as soon as he will let us.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

From the veranda - Dedicated to the Owl

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Great_Horned_Owl_dtl.html#sound I have spent almost two days pondering. I got such concern over the injured owl entry. I thank everyone for their comments. For these two days I’ve been frozen with no words to say. I was unsure whether to say more or to just let the story pass…. Then I decided that being a coward was no way to be. I am not sorry that I wrote about the owl in the blog even though now I must also share the death with you. Yesterday, Camillo and I went over to the veterinarian’s clinic to see the owl. He did not make it. Apparently his right wing was nearly severed up in his shoulder. I don’t know if this is the right terminology or anatomy while talking about a bird, but bottom line, he had internal injuries and refused to eat. The day I wrote my blog entry he was already gone. I am not one for weeping, sitting and crying about what I can’t change - instead I spent several hours on the net yesterday looking for information about owls. The one I took pictures of seems to be a great horned owl and is one of our endangered species. The encroachment of man on their habitat is one of the major causes of threat to them. This question of animal / nature / versus man is too large for me to answer but I think we should at least put some of our energy into respecting the life of all the other animals within OUR habitat. If you are interested in learning more about this beautiful animal here are some links for you to visit to learn the basics. Know about Owls http://www.tooter4kids.com/owls/owl_links.htm http://domains.similarbase.com/owls.html

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Injured Owl

In Muri there is a small Veterinary clinic. The veterinarian, a young woman, collects stray dogs and helps local people find homes for extra puppies. We go into the yard often and see what puppies are being given (sold!) away. Last week while there, a couple Bombeiros (firemen) brought in a box. They were holding it with extreme caution. Finally the contents were transferred to a cage and I got to stick my head in the room to see. It was an owl with a broken wing. It had been hit by a car on the road to Friburgo. The owl was hissing and clicking its beak in warning to an assistant that got too close, but I was able to snap a couple of shots…. What a beautiful and elegant creature. He (she?) would turn his head towards me and exam what I was doing but showed no fear of me, just curiosity. I will try to get by again today to see how the wing repair is going and give you an update…

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The lunchtime show (Edited and Improved)

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There is a small store near the bus station in Nova Friburgo that sells handmade bird houses and feeders. Each one is individual and unique. I finally convinced Camillo that we needed one and so I bought two…. well you know how it is… it is hard to chose just one and they were only R$30.00 each. They are both hooked directly to a tree on either side of our patio (piazzetta – or the little Plaça) The blue one may be too low because the food will set there several days but the yellow one is about 20 ft from the table and very popular.

I could easily fill it 3 times a day. We have gotten so we put fresh feed out right before we bring out our own lunch and it takes about 15 minutes for the birds to start stopping by. First the little ones come. It is interesting because they seem to wait their turn, only one small bird in the feeder at a time… one will wait on the tree trunk or branch and if someone takes too long the fly in and make a challenge, but usually not two at a time are in the feeder (Probably these are daddy birds) These little birds are about 3-5 inches from beak to tail, with chipmunk like stripes on the back of the head and a red-brown collar around the neck. I don’t have a bird book so I can’t give you any idea of the names for any of these birds.

There is a yellow breasted bird that sits up in the tree – he is quite a distance and my 135 doesn’t get a good shot – but his colors are apparent. We hear him but have not yet seen him at the feeder, may be a night raider.

After the little birds show them the way, our guest parrots from the attic come in. So far they always come in 3s, two in the feeder and on one the branch as watchdog. These guys are messy eaters, they sort through, taking what they want and spitting onto the ground what they don’t like. This sound wasteful but then the little sparrows come and yesterday what we were told is a forest pigeon to clean the ground. All of this show with our lunch

Friday, February 13, 2009

Update : Books in English

I think I should write an update for my entry The problem of Books in May of 2007. Can you imagine almost 2 years ago?
I still read ferociously but not anything like when I first arrived here and I would hide in the house and read - read- read for weeks at a time.
I still prefer a good book to a movie for entertainment and finding a selection of books here is really a problem. The prices had fallen when the dollar was so low (the only advantage was lower import prices) BUT we're still talking on a conversion to dollars - US$17.00 instead of US$27.00 for a US$7.99 new paperpack. This is not any real improvement. As you can imagine, I buy books in English in Brasil only when desperate.
My sorce for used books dried up about a year ago. http://www.1stchoiceusedbooks.com/index.htm is still in business and I still order books by the boxfull from them, but the US postal service discontinued the 'land' shipment and to send a box 'air' all of a sudden was US$100.00 - so now when I know someone is coming from the states I make an order and ask a friend to put the books in their suitcase. It leaves me owing a favor but HEY what are friends for?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Just for the fun of it!

video (disclaimer - not all these drivers are Brasilian - But they could be.) Camillo sent this to me - He wasn't impling anything because we both know that our car has been repaired 3 times for him and once for me. I swear that here in Brazil the parking spaces are exactly the width of a car - no room for error. I have to admit that I laughed the hardest at the woman who paid the parking then took the whole side of her car out driving out of the parking - I did that with my little z3 at work one day in Houston..... because the z was only about 10 foot long in the 3 seconds it took to get stopped, the whole passenger side of the car was caved.... the worst part was that there were 2 cars just behind me that saw the whole thing.... probably men! laughing! HARD!

Organization - Labels part 2

I have been working diligently to clean up my labels (tags), to help you all have an easier experience searching through the archives - two years worth of my blogging. (see part one Organization - Tags and other issues)  There ends up being several ways to find what interests you.   Blogs about travel outside of Brasil are also labeled by the specific places (Spain, Italy , Chile , etc.) and blogs about travel inside of Brasil also can be found under the city or area visited (Iguacu Falls or Curitiba ). Photography will also take you to some of these same entries but the entries include a large number of my photos.  My favorites are within Culture Shock which is were I have talked about my thoughts /feelings about living outside of my country, as opposed to culture (31)  which talks about things that happen that seem more cultural here in Brasil than human nature in general.
 
I also added a search this blog area at the very beginning just incase you can remember something VERY profound that I said but can't remember where I said it. Let me know if you have trouble getting any of this to work.   Anyway, do a little looking and see if all my work has helped.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

No Internet connection

Am suffering from withdrawal symptoms.... have not had any internet since Saturday morning, that mean no Skype / no Blogging / no comments to other blogs.... am in an Internet store in Friburgo and making contact with everyone.... the internet is supposed to be up and running again this afternoon but then we will have thunderstorms again this afternoon ..... Makes ME CRAZY!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dateline : January 03, 2006 - Volcano Villarrica

Once again sitting out on the veranda – thinking – there is a rain storm way at the end of the Vale Stucky with great white/gray/dark gray clouds rising above the rain storm. The colors reminded me of our trip to Pucon Chile in late 2005 – instead of rewriting about the trip I thought I could share with you a letter I sent to friends and family upon our arrival back in Rio. It should give you a feeling of being there with me.

Jan. 03, 2006

I have talked for the past 6 months – big talk – about climbing the Volcano Villarrica in Pucon Chile. I have mentioned to each of you how I was training really hard in Rio – long walks, weights, and some hiking with groups from the gym. I wanted to tell all of you at the same time the same story so I won’t have to relive this more than once.

To set this up properly you have to know the sequence of events:

Camillo and I were in Houston during the month of November (2005). We went to the SEG convention, eating and drinking every lunch and dinner for the 10 days. I tried to keep up my training for the volcano. I really did. After returning to Rio, we had one week in Friburgo to try to recover from the eating and drinking in Houston. I basically sat around that week in a coma.

The first leg of the VACATION was 3 days in Buenos Aires. Camillo wanted to (you will start to see a pattern) revisit some of his favorite places. The restaurant Los Chileans, the bar and restaurant Café Tortoni, The restaurant La Estancia, and dinner and tango show at the La Ventana. Both Argentina and Chile have very good red wines to try when you eat at his favorite places.  In BA, we ate, drank, and slept. After this marathon down memory lane, we flew to Santiago Chile and then went by car to Viña Del Mar on the Pacific coast of Chile.

There we walked on the beach and along the tree lined streets, visited a natural history museum and ate only two dinners in the two days we were there, no lunches but to be totally honest the hotel left a chocolate on the bed each night so we only had dinner but two deserts a day. The restaurant that we enjoyed the most was the La Dolce Vita. Italian owned and operated, Chilean wines and waiters that speak Italian. Camillo was in seventh heaven.  I was having trouble eating anything else.  On the last night, I had only Caprese, tomato slices with mozzarella cheese and capers and one glass of wine.  So much for my prior volcano climbing training.

Pucon: we were there for two days before I was able to sign up to join a group of eight others going up the volcano. It rained the first two days and no groups go up if raining. Our day dawned clear and bright. There were clouds lying across the top of Villarrica but the day held promise of sunshine.  I was picked up at the hotel at 7 am. We went to the tour office and dressed out in the special gear; calf high waterproof hiking boots, (I swear each weighed about 5 lbs.) a backpack with a meter long ICE PICK (iron), coveralls, some sort of leg wrap to make sure your waterproof boot stayed dry, and wind breaker over two sweaters, etc. (The windbreaker was also, “for keeping your cloths from ripping if you slid down coming back”.) In the backpack were three bottles of water, a jar of fruit juice, a sandwich, a snickers bar, etc. I, of course, had my big camera and just in case, the small one.  NOW, I was also carrying two weeks of eating good food and drinking at least several bottles of wine and, I estimate, about 20-30 lbs. in equipment.

The drive up to the base of the Volcano was fantastic. Dr. Nye you should see this. Lava flows as far as the eye can see, lush, rich vegetation, flowering brush along the edge and breaking through the old flows. My first glimpse of Villarrica was breathtaking. There was a healthy puff of smoke blowing across the top, sparkling snow and high white clouds. We arrived at the base of the ski lift, there must have been 50 people waiting. Let me insert here that I had decided to pay the four peso to go up the worst of the climb by ski lift. This saves about an hour of the 4-5 hour climb. The ski lift wasn’t operating – too much wind. Get this, SO we are told to lighten our load by putting some of our outer wear in the backpack. Instead of on our backs it is in the backpack???. My backpack was already full but I took off and wadded up a sweater and a jacket anyway and was ready to go.

I am embarrassed and saddened to tell you I made it only the first hour. My group moved on without me. I pooped out; sat down on one of the ski lift supports and the guides wouldn’t let me get back up. Apparently, you have to keep up a steady climb or you get cold and have too much problem later. One of the young (cute) guides walked me back down and the WENT UP AGAIN to join the group – taking my camera with him. Thanks to Philip I got pictures of the crater and the view from the top. [the photo album includes photos from both my big camera and the little one carried to the top by the guide]

Lessons learned:

1. don’t train for mountain climbing in the gym or on the beach,

2. don’t carry more fluid/camera than you really need cause it weighs more the higher you get,

3. train carrying at least 20 pounds of canned goods,

4. don’t party to much the week before - keep up the training instead,

5. and don’t tell anyone you are going to try something like this until you have succeeded.

Love you all, ginger

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Thoughts from the Veranda

An inch of common ground

DSC_2760For the past week I have been DEEP into blogging.
I now have 9 ‘followers’ and I have visited each of their blogs. From those blogs I have gone to THEIR followers’ blogs and onward until I was lost in cyberspace. I have left comments whenever moved to comment, sat in silent contemplation at others, and at times been overjoyed by what was being said – thought – shared and the connection to my thoughts shared or not.
 
I can remember what I have read and the thoughts provoked – but not necessarily where I found those words.  I cannot call those that have touched me with their thoughts ‘friends’ – I don’t know if I will ever touch them again. There are so many bloggers out there with something to share.
It is incredible - this special group of people. Even with just a moment spent with each of you, I could never read all of what is being said.
 
DSC08376%255B8%255DToday sitting on the veranda, my feet propped on the railing in our warm sunshine, I was thinking WHY all these strangers? What is happening here that I find touching them for only one moment feels so good?
 
Do I not have friends or family to meet my social needs? Well no I don’t. All these strangers, no matter how distant, no matter their land of origin or their native tongue, have something in common with me.
It may be that they are strangers in a foreign land, or they are grandparents far from their grandchildren, or they like to cook or to take photos outside their homes, or that they are women raised in the 50s still trying to find their way out into the modern world.  Maybe they see in a poem what I see in the camera. We all share just an inch of common ground that added up allows us to be a part of the patchwork of a very lonely and complex world. Thank you all for allowing me to share, to be a part of the world OUT THERE, outside of my veranda.