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Thursday, January 28, 2010

FSO - Look up / Look down

I took pictures with this post in mind for over 3 weeks, a snap here and a snap there - then the hard part comes, how to put some of them together to tell you a coherent story about Rio or Friburgo - I've ended up with a somewhat eclectic post including a bit from each city.   
In Rio there is a new building near the division between Leblon and Ipanema, from the street level is just an ordinary building but if you look up it becomes a visual pleasure as it shines blue against the blue-gray sky, reflecting the gentle wisp of clouds in the sky behind me.
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I also took many shots of the sidewalks and entranceways of Ipanema. It is common in Rio to use white / black stones in curving or geometric design. Photo 2 is a simple example.


But as you walk along the sidewalks, you have to take special care with the breaks, holes or piles of stones that may lay in wait to halt your feet, twist your ankle, challenge your balance. It is always astonishing to me that the women of Rio wear high, pointed heeled shoes - however do they stay upright on these stone walkways.

DSC09134  In Friburgo it is a normal that the streets, both public and private, are made of granite stones. They are a bit rough on the car shocks but seem to last forever.


My favorite shots though are those from our veranda looking down the valley, whether it be in the yellow of early morning light or the last gray/pink rays of the late afternoon sun.
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and the last, standing in the garden looking down on the old steps now covered in moss and slowly breaking up, and up above them the house rising high above the trees.
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

FSO - on Saturday - the sounds of Rio

I have blogged about noise, I mean sounds before; one of my favorite complaints about Rio de Janeiro is its sounds. Sounds that combine, build, becoming a cacophony of noise, unpleasant and hurtful to the ear. Yesterday, I sat at my computer, well mine and Camillo's, trying to get mine to work, downloading from the net on Camillo's, moving to mine and etc. All day. While waiting for the downloads, I listened through my open window - sounds. The fan moving hot air form side to side, a happy bird singing from his cage, a newborn baby crying (again!), and TRAFFIC, constant, 24/7 traffic: gear shifting buses, cars, horns, breaks, cars with loud speakers, traffic. And more, glass breaking, someone sweeping glass, maids calling to each other through open window to open window; cacophony of sounds.

Last night, having given up on my computer, I began to try and give you what I really wanted to do this week, Brazilian Music. This is the best sound Brazil has to offer. It is under sold, under appreciated by the rest of the world. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7mHf-UCZp0] I wanted to bring you the sound of Carnival and Samba... After much trying, I decided to leave this for a later time. After all Carnival is mid-February so I have time to figure out how to do a slide show of prior year's photos with music - not as easy as they make it sound.....

Finally giving up, walking out into the rain for a beer and french fries at our favorite place, DeVassa, I thought maybe the sound of night on our street could give you a glimpse of what Sound means here in Rio.... the following video is not altered, this is real..... enjoy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

200 and counting......

The only sounds you may hear (see) coming from Friburgo this week is the sound weeping and screeching, and ripping of hair from the roots. I am at over 200 update downloads, plus restarting of the computer when it just stops AND the download of a temporary office program (because I think my Office 2007 disc is in Rio) AND its updates to make it work properly, and my Internet link stopping .... and the fix needing to be download (my wireless adapter not working, needing to be updated because the operating system is updated???) If going crazy burned calories I would be wasted away to the bone. I fear though that this stress makes me hungry for cookies .... the old viscous circle. did you know that the auto backup only backs up data files, no programs? Did you know that if you replace the hard drive the auto backup thinks it is a new computer? Did you know that when you start up a new hard drive with a new download of Vista and the user name / computer name is different than the old - the auto backup thinks that you don't have permission do import the files..... ?   Did you know that if you follow the instruction and create a user by the 'other' name - those files are private and can't be shared by the user with the 'new' name.... ????? the nest sound you hear may be my patience exploding.....

Monday, January 18, 2010

computer woes.....

I finally got my computer back - but it has only the operating system and its tag-alongs..... I have to rebuild completely starting with the updates to Vista so it quits dropping off - this morning got internet configured and will start the update cycle - hope to be up and running by thursday or so. I do have a back up of date files on 11-18 = as soon as I figure out how to restore from backups I can get my computer looking like normal....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Town Friday Shoot-out - Birds

I am still working on Camillo’s older computer, mine had a hard drive crash the first day of 2010 – and because I didn’t want a pirated version of Windows Vista (64 bit) on the new hard drive – and I wanted the program in English, it has taken now over 2 weeks and still no computer and no reassurance that the data can be recovered…. Thank goodness my photos were almost totally moved to the external drive. Only my last trip to Salvador, Bahia was on the hard drive.
Now to this week's Friday Shoot-out - Birds.
I have done photos and posts of the few birds that we see at the house in Nova Friburgo before, in fact there are 11 posts noted on the side panel’s label list under Brasil-Birds. I didn’t want to tell those same stories again and had one other idea that didn’t pan out. I don’t know if it a custom in other areas of Brasil but in the state of Rio de Janeiro it is a common site to see small bird cages hanging outside of stores, riding on bicycles handlebars, being carried along by laborers on their way to work. I wasn’t able to get any photos of this and didn’t get a chance to ask for the story of why, so I will save that post for later.
From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (16)
For this week’s FSO – Birds, I am going into my archive for the photos from a trip we took several years ago to Iguaçu falls. Across the street from the entrance to the Brazilian side of the falls was a small bird sanctuary. I use the word sanctuary loosely because most of the birds were behind wire mesh fences – more of a bird prison as far as I could see. I hope I have picked a nice cross-section of these birds to show you.

The first 'Birds' is a sculpture on the grounds of the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba, and the second a lone crane at the base of the Falls on the Brazilian side.     I am sorry I have no names or guarantees that the rest of these birds are native to Brasil, but the shots are nice.    The last two birds were drawing a crowd on the trail along the Argentina side of the falls. They were out in the open, in the wild and singing for those stopping to watch and take photos.  Don't have the names, but definitely native - oops to Argentina although there is no way for them to know they were on the Argentina side of the falls.... so lets just agree they are Brazilian. 

From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (252) 

From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (210) From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (222)  From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (211)

From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (217)  From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (214)  From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (219)

From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (207)    From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (209)    From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (206)

  From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (204)   From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (205)  From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (221)

From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (288)   From Curitiba to Iguacu Falls (289)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

My Town Friday Shoot-out / Fences

DSC_0832 This week’s shoot-out is fences. In the beginning, way at the beginning when I was logging in everyone’s ideas, I thought ‘fences’?  How do they spotlight our towns?

But thinking back, thinking about all the places, the towns large and small, that I have visited I began to see that FENCES are one of the details about towns that give it its distinctive flavor. Fences reflect base cultures. The designs reflect the personalities of its inhabitants. They show how the town’s people relate to others, its neighbors and its visitors. Even no fences tells us something about the towns and its people.

This area of Brasil, the state of Rio de Janeiro, consists of mostly multi family housing. High rise apartments, converted buildings and apartments built above the commercial streets. There are small gardens or more basic entry areas that are usually fenced – some are ornamental, some barely functional.
In Friburgo, if you go out of the center area to barrios like Conégo or private condominiums like where we live, there are many versions of ‘privacy’ fences. These often have a second or even third function of providing an illusion of security and/or retainer walls holding back water or possible mudslides.  If there is no need of a retainer wall then the fences of preference here are made of small cedar bushes or other flowering shrubs.  What this ends up showing us is the need for privacy in an area where too many people live and the basic cultural habit of keeping family close and ‘others’ at arm length.  From the roads houses are hidden, only the roof lines and the gates hint at the size or the wealth that may be hidden behind the fence.
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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Thoughts From the Veranda

Camillo has left for two days in Macae. He has barely walked out the door when the silence of the house on the hill surrounds me, a silence so profound that I can hear my own heartbeat in my ears, the soft splat, splat of the moisture from the fog hitting the roof, a lone bird calling, a clock ticking.  I have a second cup of coffee.  I make the bed.  I load the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher.  I have a load of laundry to do. Fifteen minutes has passed.  A day less 15 minutes is in front of me.

DSC00545All the time I am doing these basic chores, I make an effort to frame a day that will pass filled, happy. No not happy but content.  I can run into Friburgo and do a spinning class.  I can call Tatiana for lunch.  I can work down in the vegetable garden, turn some soil, try to make something grow.  Pull weeds. Take photos. The two days will pass.

But I get dressed, putting on shorts and a work top, no workout cloths and I know this mean I won’t go into town, but I ignore that knaggy little voice that knows I won’t do any of the plan for the day.  I already have my excuses ready. I drove into town two times yesterday and will go tomorrow, why today?  If I want I can go later to bike class but, then it will be raining. I have to wait for the gardener to leave for the day before I can go down and work in the vegetable garden. And by the time he leaves it will be raining.

I have heard all of these before, all the excuses. I know that this indicates a deep depression, one I am able to ignore on a daily basis but one that always comes to the front when alone, in the silence, in the house on the hill. {My computer is in the shop getting a new hard drive} I go upstairs to Camillo’s computer and look at some blogs I follow. I read B&B for my daily dose of humor and write a long comment,  momentary feelings of connection to the real world.  I see one from Texas Heather, I open it. Today she talks of purpose. What she says strikes a deep cord in me. Purpose, purpose is missing. I float from day to day, month to month until another year has passed and then another. If I had a purpose what could it be?  

She asks “… if there were one word that would describe what you want for yourself in the next year what would it be?” I am stymied.  I awake every morning with my first thought being, ‘I want to go home’. I go to sleep each night with the thought, ‘I want to go home’. Camillo’s says if you want to go – GO.  But then what?  Heather has used just the right word.  Purpose.  This is what Camillo is telling me, for what purpose would I go. How would my purpose be different in Houston than it is up here on this hill?  If I don’t have a dream, a plan, A PURPOSE here, will I have one there? The thought that I would have no purpose there stops me, freezes, frightens. Maybe this feeling is not about being here but the lack of purpose in general. 

How has this happened? I have always been motivated, energetic, interested and now I’m floating just to get by, to pass the day, tick tock, tick tock goes the clock.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Return to Normal

We are back safe and sound in Nova Friburgo. After all the excitement and good food and excellent wines in France, we did not stay in Rio for the New Year's celebration on Copacabana beach. As you might imagine we were ready to just be home and to be quiet. Despite the lost luggage, despite the cold winds blowing and despite quite a few days of nasty rain, oh and despite going to the Louvre on two different days and finding it closed, I have no complaints about this trip. We did learn a couple things (subject to being forgotten before the next major trip) that could be useful.
  1. We learned that it is better to be father away from the main tourist centers for sleeping and, especially in Paris, take the subway and busses wherever we want to go. The restaurants in the area of our hotel were pretty much family-tourist places, believe it!, pizza and sandwiches, beer and hot chocolate, and no really good bakeries for a pastry for breakfast, and rap music playing 24/7. My stomach just can not handle rap music at 9 am.
  2. We learned that you should by the subway ticket for one week, you can ride everywhere on the metro system, as many time as you want - on both subway and bus system - and there are times when the ticket windows are not open, or at least no one is manning them and you have to have change to buy from the machines.... anyway do it once and then go where you want.
  3. We think that you should go to Paris when you are young - like 45 or 50, don't wait for your 60s - this is a huge city, fast paced, energy absorbing - don't travel with young children, wait until your children at 10 or more and are really eating table food. It would be a shame to travel there then eat pizza because it is the only thing your kids will eat.
  4. The week before Christmas there were less tourists (it seemed). Starting the day after through, when we left on the 29th there was a horrible mess of traffic and even with some museums closed the crowds walking around became 'confining' for me. So maybe seeing the city between mid November and mid December is a better time.
Paris is a beautiful city. The old and the new architecture are both spectacular. I almost went into visual overload with the beauty around me. And this was in winter with bare-branched trees and no flowers, can you imagine what it must be like spring or fall? Despite all this constant beauty I still found moments of profound joy, moments of pure beauty.  I can see why Paris is known as a city for artists. The colors (when the sun is shining) are soft and luminous. Here are a few shots, just a few to show you what was really beautiful for me.
I hope you enjoyed them.
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