Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers
For Sale

Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas in Brasil, The Sequel.

Tomorrow we go back to Friburgo.  Today it is again cloudy and threatening heavy rain just like every other day this week, rainy season in full swing.  Today there will be another drive out to the Barra for a birthday / graduation party for the twins.  They are 18 today and have graduated from high school and are looking forward to their university studies. 
I was with Camillo in Houston when they were born.  Just at the beginning of our time together.  They are not my grandsons, they are Camillo’s but I was around at the time of their birth, have followed their first steps, first school days, first party as teenagers, now their first party as MEN.  In my heart, if not in theirs, I am their grandmother.
SAM_3286At this point I can take this post several different directions.  What it means to be a foreigner in a close nit family – which is likely to take me to very heights of ragging, expressing anger and frustrations, or I can talk about the related topic of being a grandmother in your heart but not in the eyes of the family – this is likely to take me back into my depression state, not a good place to start a new year or I could even start asking questions with no answers like can you be a part of a family that speaks a different language? 
Today I think something more nuetral is needed so I want to talk more about Christmas traditions in Brasil..... A couple days ago there was a post by Mallory Elise @ http://www.saltycod.blogspot.com/, she speaks eloquently about her feelings about the Brasilian's and their seeming lack of Christmas traditions.  I can't help but feel that this is a normal state, like America this country is made up with many nationalities, each bringing its traditions, merging and mixing until they have become a homogeneous, uninteresting mixture.    

OH dear I am out of Battery - I left my power pack in RIO - Drat double drat, i hate it when I do that.  Will finish this as soon as I can figure out what to do .....
I am now working from Camillo's desktop and direct from Blogspot - so forgive my spelling and my lack of photos.

I can only see the outward signs of Chrismas in Brasil.  My world, my neighborhood is of expats not of the average Brasilian family so I don't see the inside.  More and more Brasil seems Americanized: cartoon like caricatures of Santa riding on the hoods of cars, pasted on store window, and just this past two years costumed Santas listening to little children’s wishes and sitting for photos for sale to adoring parents.  Even while the rest of the world prepared for Christmas with elaborate celebrations, decorations and family gatherings, Christmas caroling on the streets, Brasil seems so sedate, waiting.   What does seem Brasilian is that in the store windows are not dresses and blouses in beautiful shades of red, satins of royal blue but complete windows and shops oufitted in white. 

The preparations here are not for Christmas but for New Years.  Now here is a celebration, a tradition that Brasilians throw themselves into 110%. Noise and confusion in the streets, fireworks thrown from car windows, men walking through the super market with a can of beer in their hands, small children dressed in costumes prancing about happily.  Between Christmas day and January first, the emotion in the air begins to build.  Bars along the streets are full of the young singing and swaying.  Brasilians love New Years Eve, and then following the first day in January the excitement continues to build, all their collective expectations raging -  CARNIVAL is merely weeks away.   Now this is Brasil. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas From Nova Friburgo

SAM_3228As I sit here listening to the heavy, tropical rains outside,  thinking about the summer time Christmas in Brasil, missing my children and grandchildren and the winter time Christmas in the USA, and knowing what I do about how the different branches of mine and Camillo’s families celebrate the holidays, I realize that Christmas here is the same that it is worldwide.  There is not anything spectacularly different with Christmas in Brasilian to show you.  There is just the knowledge that wherever Christmas is celebrated, be it in the North or the South, the East or the West, that the celebration is about families.  

As the years pass, and I am more and more familiar with the holidays here in Brasil, I have notices that the outward signs: the decorated trees, the streets lined in bright lights, the gifts wrapped in increasingly more elaborate, more expensive papers, have become more commercial, but the core celebration here is still about families gathering, eating traditional meals, playing holiday music, and keeping the children occupied with games that all the family members play. 

And it seems to me that the traditions are not so different from place to place, country to country.  Whether it be at my sister’s in Michigan or Camillo’s sister’s in Rome, my daughter’s in Houston or the apartment of Camillo’s son in Rio there will be a decorated tree, maybe it’s a (an artificial) pine tree in the front window or a grand pine planted by your great grand parents in the front yard;  maybe the tradition is the heirloom nativity scene on the fireplace mantle, or your favorite father Christmas from Germany or the elaborate angel sewn by your mother, these symbols of our families’ love for one another, surviving over time and distance, will be throughout all our home, around the world.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year



To Your Family


From Mine!    

Friday, December 17, 2010

Back in Rio–My Town Friday Shoot-out RED

SAM_3267Finally I am Home  Today I arrive back in Friburgo.   I got into Rio @ 10am Sunday morning and got out of the Airport @ 12:20 – YES! 2 hours 20 minutes to pick up bags and to go through the NOTHING to declare line in customs – that is a laugh to even divide into declare / no declare.  There is not a Brasilian entering the country that will give an honest declaration of taxable items / the customs police should know better.   Believe me when I say I WAS SEEING RED!  There is no way they will be able to handle the world cup and the Olympics which anticipated an influx of a million visitors. 

The last time MTFSO did SAM_3255RED, I was in Houston. I started out with the intent to see if I could find comparable reds in Rio but I believe  orange and yellow are more common here.  There are red accent walls in restaurants and stores, red signs to catch your eye, to sell you something but the majority of red was Christmas type stuff…  and isn’t Christmas next week?

This years tree in the Lagoa did have a RED in its cycle, along with a blue and a gold.  (only this one Christmas item will be shown.)


SAM_3248 SAM_3247 SAM_3246

Under fluorescents, which have a blue color the reds turn to pick, but I swear, cross my heart all of these items were RED.  Loja Americanas is a Brasilian version  -  what they think is a version - of Kmart or Target department stores -  except the isles are congested with piles of STUFF and there is no way to figure out how to find things.  They do have plenty of cosmetics and, can you believe it, glass pie pans.  But I’ve never figured out anything else.  (don’t tell Camillo, they also have easy to find chocolates!)

SAM_3218 SAM_3242 SAM_3231 SAM_3236

There are floors painted RED in the school yard, and Store fronts with RED awnings, intersections painted RED and commuters turning RED trying to get home for the night.

SAM_3243   There is even a RED surfboard for the chicest of surfers….. SAM_3164oops what is that….?  How did that photo get slipped in here?   Has Bagman been in my computer?  It looks like there isn’t any red in that photos…. just a special little baby girl being held by a proud GGramma – maybe gramma has redeye from her long trip & arrival back from the states that morning.   

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday My Town Shootout / 10 minutes from Home.

Several points before getting down to this week’s shootout. 

Today is my last day in Houston.  I have been here two months and I doubt that I have taken 25 photos.  (Not including my photos in Adrian, Mi. while visiting my mother)   I haven’t even had my Nikon out of its bag.  So bad.  Several walks in the park, several times to the gym and a resulting ‘several’ pounds of weight gain, and no new Houston photos for my archives.  This trip has been different for me.  It is usual for me to have projects, remodels and such on our rental homes while here, but this trip I bought a new unit, started on a simple touch-up and have ended up with a total redo.  Lots of time and even more money than budgeted spent.  Also on this trip I have been more active in my granddaughter’s daily life;  taking and delivery from school, volleyball practice and games and a couple Christmas shopping expeditions.  And the real time burner, trips several times a week into the READ office to cover the front desk while meetings were going on. 

It would have been better for me if this week’s topic had happened in Rio.  With in ten minutes of the apartment are hundreds of interesting things, that is if I haven’t already shown them to you.  But from my daughter’s home driving ten minute to the west takes me to the intersection of Murphy road and Cartwright; a gas station, a tip of a golf course, an empty lot, some new and fancy stop SAM_3127lights – not any really revved my photo juices. 

To the south, an eleven minute drive took me almost to Marissa’s high school.  Actually to a road that runs through an empty field on one side and a high blank wall on the other – boring!

Northeast along Texas Parkway …. a couple bars, a lot of strip malls, a new subdivision of cheap homes……

This part of town, of Houston, of the state of Texas is so automobile driven.  A lot of  4, 5, & six lane roads, moving fast, huge parking lots, long distances to shop, to see the movies, to go to work.  For me nothing that makes me want to stop – pulling out of traffic and back in again – and take a photo.  So my first thought was 10 minutes driving from home, and after much driving around looking for a nice photo,  I thought the shoot out is about ten minutes from home  NOT necessarily driving, why not a ten minute walk.

A ten minute walk to the east took me to a local neighborhood park.  A walk around the running track, a view of the soccer fields, the fishing pier, the duck pond…… here you go a walk in the park.


SAM_3128 DSC_2570 DSC_2582

DSC_2575 DSC_2566 DSC_2550

see you next week from Rio!

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Town Friday Shoot-out / overhead

SAM_3043I am still in Houston.  That is Houston!, Texas! and to write about overhead, over my head, above my head or looking up, I have to mention the Texas sky.  Today driving home, mid-afternoon, it was cloudy and trying to rain.  But as I sat at a stop light looking around, above my head, and I thought, in Texas from the ground it seems you are in a flat bottomed pie pan covered with a huge dome.  On a clear day you can stand in the center of the pan, make a 360* turn and see only deep blue SKY.DSC_7340

In Rio, the sky is limited by the width of the street and the tall trees that line them.  Even in Friburgo, as beautiful as the view can be, the sky is limited. In Arizona, the sky is the same deep blue but with its tall mountains it is a tall sided bowl covered with with what appears to be a flat blue lid.

SAM_3057Here in Houston, especially out here in west Houston, the high dome of the sky sits low on a fuzzy haired, fringe of tree tops.  So high is the dome that even large birds are dwarfed.  Man and his impact in this world seems dwarfed.  No matter the time of day, or the weather the view from your point on earth is dominated by the sky. 




SAM_3070  As I took Marissa to volley ball practice this week, every evening had a glorious sunset just to emphasized my thoughts that the sky dominates our days here in Texas. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

Houston Parks

I love walking and taking photos.  While in Houston I usually buy a temporary gym membership and this time is no exception, but walking out of doors (with my camera) is my exercise of preference.  I don’t think I realized in the 30 years that I lived here that this area, Houston and its surrounding counties, has so many parks.  I used a few of the larger ones when I live here; Herman park that houses the Zoo, Museum of Natural science and the rose garden and is right beside the Medical center where I used to work (jeez – 20 years ago), Memorial Park just west of downtown – a good place to stop off after work for a quick 3 mile walk around after a long day in the office and Bear Creek Park in far west Houston where in my single years (pre-Camillo) I played women’s soccer every Sunday.   Only since I have been coming back to ‘visit’ from Brasil have I started hunting smaller, close to Missouri City Parks and find myself pleasantly surprised. 

SAM_3040Last spring while here I walked in the Brazos Bend State park.  If you didn’t follow my ‘Walking with Alligators’ posts then check the link to catch up on that park area.  I also have posted about ‘Kitty Hollow’ here in Missouri city and need to go back to see how it looks one year later.  On my walk yesterday morning I thought that in the next few weeks, maybe, I could find a few more small, secret parks that the locals enjoy, taking the opportunity to feel more connected and knowledgeable about this specific area. 

Yesterday I walked in the Oyster Creek Park of Sugarland.  Like Memorial and Bear Creek parks, Oyster Creek has walking / bike trails and soccer fields.  With this action all around you don’t get the feeling of being out in nature, but you do feel that you are an area important to the community.  There seems to be 3 interlocking walkways each covering about 2 miles.  There is a small pond with fountains and dark water creeks wind along side the path.  There are the requisite warning signs posted to give way to the alligators.  I suppose that all these creeks and ponds connect and if one has an alligator then they all have alligators.  

SAM_3030Along with the soccer players, there were families with little children, middle aged adults meandering or running, a few walking their dogs, and one young woman walking her grandmother (seeing this made me feel – well happy - that a young, modern women would take the time to slowly walk her grandmother along a half mile or so of nature walkway – dare I think that there is hope for us all)


Thank you for letting my take my photos.  Your Grandmother is beautiful – AND you are too.

SAM_3037My only complaint, if I have to make a complaint is that this park is along the creek but also under the electrical grid.  There are acres and acres of grass land, all neatly mowed and easily accessed, but those walking their dogs had allowed the dogs to ‘do their business’ right on, in the middle of the path.  The walking, jogging, biking path, where children play and elderly women are walked by their families, how can you be a nature lover, an animal lover, a member of a community and not help keep this area beautiful by picking up after your dog, or in the very least walk them up the hill and away from the path until they have done their thing….?   Does the government have to say, ‘keep pets on a leash’ as well as ‘clean up after them’  before these dog lovers behave properly…..?  EEK! makes me so mad I could spit. 

Okay I will go back out and walk another path to calm myself down again. 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

A Brief Celebration – to mark the landmarks

On Friday sometime during the day I passed a blogging landmark.  22,222 visits.  When I opened the blog on Friday morning I saw 22,212 and thought - I have to pay attention, maybe I can see who is the 10th visitor today - but by the time I’d run around all morning and reopened Flowers in the afternoon it was already logging @ 22,235.  As most DSC00102landmarks do these days it just slipped by unappreciated and uncelebrated.  So now I will say in the Texas tradition, “yeah, yippee – yi – yo – kayah” (song sung by Bing Crosby)
I have been in the USA just a few days short of a month.  I’ve seen my mother, had my eyes examined and new glasses are ordered.  I have offered on a new townhome and am in the process of negotiating the cost of the items that are listed on the inspection and am building a budget for the upgrades I will want to do.  I had a very pleasant lunch with my stock fund manager and arranged for the cash I need for the townhome, and this next week I look forward to going into the office a few days and working a bit – it wont be much just filling in at the front – but its with people and I will enjoy that beyond measure.   
Actually this next week will give me a taste of the schedule that an average working mother goes through here in the states.  Patty is taking a 3 day trip out of town and I will get to make sure Marissa’s volleyball practices and other activities are monitored and transportation made available.  The days will be long and happily full.
Also since being here I have gone on a couple of walks in the local parks.  Two different ones that are pretty close to me. (no walking with alligators adventures so far this visit)   I have found 4 different small parks with hike and bike trails where I can get a good 45 minute walk but I will talk in the next couple of days  about just these two.  Great little spaces for the local residents.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Being gNarly in Houston;

All this week I have been driving around saying, “fence, tree, branch, flowers, dry grass, road signs, motor bikes, freeway, overpass, ‘fall festival’ ….  never a ‘N’ noun to be found” in Houston.   So I say to my granddaughter, Marissa, (M was much easier) look for ‘Ns’. 
Ns, I need ‘N’ words in Houston for the FSO.
She quickly rattles off, “Necessary, nada, name, negate, nocturnal, notions, nameless, NO Nouns; don’t see any ‘N’ nouns.” (She is a straight A student and quicker on her feet than Grams)
NEARLY desperate, I go once more through my limited photo folders on the laptop – nada, nothing, zip.  (no photo archives on this laptop just misc. folders that I have been too distracted to move to the external drive.)  Back to the HOUSTON folder from my trip here last March-April.  I see a photo and the word ‘NARLY'’ pops out of my mouth ….. to the internet, Google …  define ‘NARLY’  “you mean gnarled?”   okay gnarled – that’s close isn’t it?  It sounds like an “N” word and gNarled is defined as, “used of old persons or old trees; covered with kNobs or kNots; "gNarled and kNotted hands"; "a kNobbed stick".  Yeah! I can participate this week without driving to NASA or to the Natural History Museum. YEAH!!
So here we are “gNarled from Houston.”
(now that I look closer that could be my arm with its new old age wrinkles and bumps, ick!)
Have a great week. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Settling in for the task at hand

I have already been in the USA for nearly 3 weeks.  Hard to believe isn’t it.  I have a list of tasks that need to be done while I am here, visiting with my mother in Michigan was at the top of the list, and is now complete and marked off.

DSC_7062 I enjoyed Michigan immensely, not only the fall colors but the routine that my sister maintains.  She is super organized which is a contrast from me, at least when it comes to housework and all.  I  really have become spoiled in Brasil.  Maybe not SAM_2941just in Brasil but during my 18 years with Camillo.  I very much do as I please, and because Camillo is a super-man about keeping his own things picked up, I really don’t have to be doing the constant picking-up, washing-up and sweeping-up thing.  (To say nothing of the maid that comes once a week)  I just do what pleases me, when it pleases me.  Yes, this is definitely spoiled.  Anyhow, my older sister puts 3 meals a day on the table and is constantly making sure that everyone has what they need.  For example, a dish of ice cream before bed.  Which, of course, means that she washes up the dishes afterward…. definitely not spoiled.  I did try to help but you have to move fast to get to things before she’s on the move again.  Bottom line though, I really enjoyed my visit in her home and seeing how mom is thriving in this setting.  (Mom doesn’t like her picture taken but I did it anyway…. )

SAM_2866On to my list.  I will start next week going into the office – mainly checking in and then going back to Pat’s to work online a few hours each day.  I need to get my usual battery of doctor appointments done.  New glasses are very close to the top of the list.  Also this year is the 3rd year – time for bone a density test, and the annual mammogram – all of this is expensive (self pay) and time consuming.  And not more important but definitely more fun, I am looking for a townhome to buy.  I want to get some money out of the stock market funds and into real property – and a bit more rental income.  I find that I am very risk intolerant – which is probably more about my basic pragmatic personality than about age.  Camillo being MUCH older, has much more tolerance with the wild fluctuations of the past two years and he is a total optimist.   So decided that I will be cashing out my 401K and buying a townhouse. 

After two days looking with my favorite realtor, Charlotte White, after two great lunches of Hamburgers and fries at our favorite place, I think I have found one that I will make an offer for.  I have one other rental property and over the years had two others that I bought, fixed up and sold.  My primary criteria is a place where I would be comfortable living.  A place that I like the floor plan and with a small amount of cash can upgrade it in a way that I would like…..   got to go – going to Sweet Tomatoes for a super salad.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday My Town Shoot-out / Patterns

I sit here in my sister’s home in Adrian Michigan, waiting for inspiration.  I have been waiting a while.  I thought that this week I would have something funny and charming to say.  And I sit here waiting for it to happen. 

I have been in Michigan since midday on Monday.  I came after the peak of fall color but it has still been beyond beautiful.  After nearly 8 years of GREEN, green, green Asymmetric (PSF).pngin Brasil to have this week in COLOR has been absolute joy for me.  If you have followed "’Flowers’ for very long, you know I love color in my photos.  There have been times when we have used black & white photographs for the FSO and I am never happy with the results – I see in color, I feel in color, I want to take photos in color. 

This week while trying to find patterns, I was almost overwhelmed with color.  I have seen patterns everywhere – not any interesting plaids, or geometric patterns of any real interest (for me) but patterns of color and light.

Patterns in nature and those made by man: for me patterns in nature tend to be asymmetric and those designed by man symmetric.  And, you guessed it, I like the natural, the asymmetric best. 

Nature’s veins on a leaf
Nature’s branches on a tree
the leaves as they fall – if you looked and looked would you find a pattern?
The symmetrical blue house flanked by nature’s trees.
DSC_7065  SAM_2886 Man’s neat little rows on the floor       or         siding on a house
DSC_7030 and the Pattern of the RED White and Blue.