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Thursday, April 29, 2010

My town Friday Shoot-out / Sports

Rio is a soccer (futebol) city. This whole country goes crazy whether it is during local or international tournaments. They yell and scream, cheer and dance when the favorite team wins. Little boys learn the foot skills necessary to play even as they learn to walk. There are informal games played on every beach and formal ones in every little town along the road. Do you know I do not have even one photo of a soccer match – if the words get out I will be banned from this country.
I have photos of swimmers, skaters and rowers, fishermen and bikers

people walking, walking alone, walking their kids or walking their dogs,

Young and old riding the waves or even making a tail, (isn’t that called making a rooster tail?), people bathing in the sun or in the sea


or hiking to the top of the hill – the top of the world 
but I don’t have even one photo of soccer for either fun nor fame.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Town Friday Shoot-out / trees

I've had a fascination with trees since I was small. When very young, we lived in Cottonwood Arizona where there are some trees but mainly along the river banks. The family had a huge - well it seemed huge to me then - mulberry tree in the front yard.  My father surrounded the base of the mulberry with a sand pile and all (7) of us kids used to play for hours making roads, neighborhoods and houses with rooms filled with cardboard box furniture.  The sand on the ground floor could be changed according to the game played that day, and the upstairs was in the branches of the mulberry tree. I loved to be sent to my room by ‘mother’ or ‘father’ and I would climb high into the branches and sit, or lie out along the branch and look up into the sky. When really being bad, I would climb up onto the tips of the branches and jump onto the roof of the house – My mother would come out in her apron and with the broom and yell for me to ‘get down!’ I had my secret ways down so she couldn’t catch me with her broom when I hit the ground…. But this tree was the start of my love affair with all trees …..

Today Camillo and I live in the Serra do Mar (mountain range of the sea), in a reserve of the Atlantic forest (Mata Atlantica) that encompasses the city of Nova Friburgo and its surrounding metropolitan area.   I have written and shown photos of the trees in our part of the forest both for spring and for the  fall & winter colors many times, so for this week's shoot-out I have tried to find a few new ones for you to enjoy.  


Our garden – the area that surrounds the house - is mostly pine trees which are not native to this area. They line the properties and fill the gardens but I have never seen them in the actual forest. There you see banana trees, beautiful puffy clusters of bamboo, deep purple quaresmeira, silver topped Embaúva- preta.   There are also -  bright yellow or pink ipē-da-serra, and the common Embaúva soaring tall, straight, elegantly above the forest.

And the hundreds of other unidentifiable but beautiful trees none the less. They grow in the same space or out in the wide open, adding color and texture for me to see everyday.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

FSO on Saturday and smiles

I was supposed to travel back to Brasil on Friday and if that had happened I would be arriving about now and getting settled in. Camillo had promised me a lunch of picanha and a Caiprinha…. (like having a good rib eye and a margarita). Mid week my mother seemed to be in a health crisis and I changed my schedule so I’d not be traveling if the situation escalated. It didn’t and I will now be traveling on Sunday night arriving Monday morning and having my promised lunch on Monday afternoon. Tax day for Camillo and I is a somewhat remote concept. In mid February I submit a spreadsheet to an accountant in Houston, he makes sure everything is in order and sends us forms to sign by mid march – we generally owe more to the accountant than we do to the government and the whole process slips quietly and painlessly into our history.
But my mother (88 in July) showing signs of recovery if not bounding back to full health is an occasion to smile about so here is my one photos (of hundreds) that made me smile. Don’t know if you remember but when I came to Houston for my visit I didn’t bring my external disc… no archives - but while sorting through things in my room (yes my daughter keeps a room in her house for my visits) I found a few CDs of photos from past times. This photo was taken while at the beach house in Macae, Brasil with Carl and Marissa when they were 9 & 15 (now 14 & 20 – WOW!). The smile really comes from the memories evoked by looking through old photos – but this little guy – all two inches or so of him – seems more curious about the person with a big black box attached to her face than startled by coming up for lunch and finding humans on its beach….. by the way those little eyes move independently of each other and can swivel what seems to be 360 degrees.
Have a great week.
(Please email me with ONE favorite from this week’s MYTownFriday Shoot-out so I can do the spotlight photos on Monday when back in Rio…. this week all help is especially appreciated.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Texas wild flower season

Between the first of April and tax day is the peak wild flower season in Texas. The best time for driving the highways here varies from year to year but the first part of April is the standard. This year our drive to Dallas on the 8th was good and after four days of warm sunshine the drive home on the GLORIOUS.
Our (Texan’s) beautiful highways are the direct result of Lady Bird Johnson’s efforts on The Beautification Act of 1965. She is called the environmental first lady because of her longstanding interest in keeping America beautiful. It is because of her love of native plants, wild flowers that Texas began allowing the native flowers to spread across the highway landscape. Now the hills become purple with the fields of Bluebonnets. And if you are really lucky you will pass by a field with bluebonnets mixed with Indian paintbrush or buttercups, daisies, purple poppies, and button bush. My photos are just an example – to see this beauty you have to come a drive from Houston to Austin to Bryan-College station to Dallas and back to Houston.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Competing Cities

Before moving to Houston in the mid 70s we (myself,1st hubby, son Marty and daughter Patty) lived in Dallas for a little more than 2 years. Even then Houston and Dallas were in competition with each other for the spot of ‘TOP’ Texas city. The Oilers against the Cowboys , the Rangers versus the Astros, oil versus cattle, Top TV show versus man walking on the moon, and this is probably just a modified list of the most obvious competitive issues.
As the years passed and I became more ‘Houstonian’, my memories of Dallas faded and it began to seem that Dallas was smaller, more provincial, more country, their accents more SOUTHERN –they wore bigger belt buckles, bigger hats and taller boots. And in comparison Houston was more cosmopolitan, had more arts and museums, and a broader mixture of people from different countries and home states. Sophisticated.
This weekend Patty, Marissa and I drove to Dallas for a 3 day Volley ball tournament. I spent the weekend wondering if I had ever been downtown Dallas. We lived and worked in Irving. Did we ever drive downtown to see the sites? Did we ever go to a play or a concert or even a movie while living in Dallas? I suspect not. I can remember going to a ‘titty bar’ (yes topless waitresses) and one time a football game – but I am sure there was never money for theater or a concert. Leads me to a conclusion that my memories of Dallas are a direct result of who WE were at the time not what the city was like in the 70s.
Well no matter what it was, now , today downtown Dallas is a beautiful, modern, clean, well proportioned city. The streets are full of art, and gardens, the sidewalks wide and complete with designs. and Dallas has surpassed Houston in planning its downtown traffic control by adding a light rail system that is easy to use, quiet and attractive, and can take you anywhere you want to go.
dartrailmapsept2009large In 2008, Dallas had a population of 1.2 million with a metropolitan population of 6.3 million and Houston had a population of 2.2 million with a metropolitan population of 5.9 million. All of these statistics just proves how far behind Houston is in doing what is important to keep up with its neighbors.
In 2009, Houston finally opened one light rail line. It runs from the Astrodome area south of the medical center to just north of downtown. Which unless you want to go to a baseball and a football game on the same day does nothing for daily traffic problems.
Dallas has 4 lines (if I counted them right). When we arrived late afternoon on Thursday the streets and freeways seemed almost deserted. Today as I drove downtown Houston for lunch the traffic was a snarled mess on the 610 loop and stayed that way for my return trip in the afternoon. the city planners just finished adding more lanes to the I-10 as it passes through Houston – it is now – lets see – 3 lanes of access each direction (6), and SIX lanes on the freeway each direction (12) that is EIGHTEEN lanes wide And in order to get downtown I had to get off the freeway and take back streets – it was just a big, high speedscreech to a halt mess. AND yes if I could have gotten on a light rail out in Missouri City and gone down to the city center I would have.
click below to see a few photos of downtown Dallas today.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

My Town FSO – Country Roads


DSC_2980Once again this week I am in Houston, Texas and this week I am wishing I was in Nova Friburgo. There the country roads a small, winding, often dirt roads with small narrow bridges – here a country road looks very much like a city road. Often straight, wider than the narrow I am now used to, with two lanes marked with dividing and edging lines. Even the FM (farm to market) roads can be two side lanes with an extra turn lane, plus a nice flat emergency lane. When I was out exploring this last week, they didn’t feel ‘country’ to me. Houston has gotten to be so large a city that its country side is being absorbed into urban. I was a good 30 miles outside the city limits and still seeing large subdivisions with the corner KROGER (supermarket), and Bed Bath & Beyond super stores, four corners with a gas station on each, and strip centers with ‘dunk-n-donuts’ and hair salons – where are the mom & pop country stores?

So I finally turned off onto what is called a county road to see what I could see – this one was CO 52. In the USA there are interstate highways – State roads – Farm to Market roads and then finally county roads…. which in south Texas are straight, narrow, in good repair, with a drainage ditch along each side, followed with barbed wire fences, cattle grazing, small houses in need of repair, and from time to time with wild flowers growing with abandon.