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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.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

seating…. I mean Chairs ….

These may be a stretch of the imagination for this week’s FSO of Chairs.  I just haven’t seen anything during my travels – well to tell the truth I didn’t even get my camera out of the bag on this last trip.  Because if I had the rows and rows of chairs at the 4 airports I went through to get to Houston would (could/might) have been interesting ….

So I searched and searched and found a ‘sitting on a cloud’ stained glass window and other Etruscan seating (c. 600 BC) from Volterra, Italy.  Taken during last September’s Italy trip - which I have only begun to sort out.     DSC_6466DSC_6462   SAM_2171DSC_6412

I imagined this basic garden bench covered in Marble – turning and facing the view – there are ‘modern’ buildings from the 1400 –1500 right in front, but in its time this bench was likely to have looked out at the valley below and the mountains in the hazy distance.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

MTFSO – Reflections and other shiny things

The last time we did Reflection for the FSO in July of ‘09,  I showed you a few of the reflections of the Lagoa in Rio.  I really don’t have many (0) clever photos of shiny things, maybe a rock or two or a piece of jewelry here or there but not anything to show off things or places specific to Brasil. 

Christmas balls reflecting Paris for example.

Barra stones and gems (40) Or a stone (mineral) that you can buy in Rio.

This time around with reflections, I wanted to highlight Nova Friburgo.  Humm! 

A few weeks (maybe months) ago I took an easy walk around the city park in Friburgo, Parque Sao Clement.  The photos reflect the feeling of nature during the winter and of the forest area around Nova Friburgo while being right in the middle of the city.  The blacktopped trail is only a kilometer or so long, but there are two dirt trails that seem to climb up into the surrounding hills that you can try out if you want more of a challenge for your daily walk.

SAM_1256 SAM_1251




Just a short FYI,  I will be traveling to the USA this next week.  And as usual will visit with my mother – this time in my home town of Adrian Michigan – then returning to Houston spend Thanksgiving with my daughter and her family.  If I am able to get out and take photos I will try to post a couple times about being home – about my other hometowns.  Have a great week.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Thoughts from the Veranda

DSC_4540 Today I feel like pulling my thinning hair out.  I was trying to work via remote server in Oslo and today they seem to be down.  So I have taken my coffee and my computer out on the veranda to relax for a bit, to let my heart rate slow, to calm my stomach, to think about things.
I will start with a recap of the ---- lets just do two weeks otherwise this could take forever.  That time frame will bring us back from our Italian Profunda trip and take us to Macae for the Project Meetings.  And finally it will bring us back to Nova Friburgo.
About six months ago…. no I wont go back that far but you need this information …. about 6 months ago the Unibanco Banks was bought by Itau bank system.  My statements and online banking still look the same – Unibanco - but MY Debit CARD(s), how I access my Money have been canceled without first issuing new ones.  We came back from Italy and had to go immediately to Macae, and had no time to resolve this little problem. 
Once back in Friburgo, we make plans to go into to town and to stand in line – because at Itau you always have to stand in line …. Long Lines that wind along – through yellow dotted lanes from one side of the lobby to the other – winding back and forth, back and forth. 
So off to town we go – I blew dry my hair and put on makeup to look good for the new manager I would meet,  It is the week right before elections and the town is a madhouse.  It is the week that we have to pay the gardener and the woman that keeps our house so clean…. To pay the ones that need their pay just to live, the ones who need their pay in cash, the one that have no bank accounts because bank accounts are so @$&# expensive.  What do we find … THE BANK WORKERS ARE ON STRIKE!  The strikers have all but the teller machines shut down.  We could only draw out 500.00 in cash because the machines are almost out of cash…. R$500 per day if you can find a machine that has cash. 
For us it is just an irritant, a mosquito bite that keeps itching.  We can go online and transfer to pay bills.  For the bills that you have to pay in the bank you will be given more time…. with late fees attached of course.  We can use our debit cards…. wait my debit card has been canceled and not replaced by Itau … Okay, not to panic we can still use our international cards to buy groceries if this stretches on for too long.
Now I am even more irritated because I now know that whenever we use our international bank card through CHASE at teller machines not in the states, we are charged a transaction fee, an international transaction fee for taking cash, and a misc fee like .09 or .10 cents…. for each purchase.  WHAT is that about?  Not flat rate fees either but a percentage of the cash withdrawal.  So why have an international card?  Oh, I forgot so that we can buy groceries when the local banks strike. 
So really I am really more than a little irritated.  Even with some sympathy with the workers, the non-inflated prices…. the government swears there is no inflation here …. the non-inflated prices have gone so high that Brasil is now one of the most expensive places to live IN THE WORLD.  I am in sympathy with the workers, I really am.  But this is likely to go on for a while, the raise offer by the the National Bank Federation of 4.3 “inflation rate” was rejected, the bank workers’ union wants 11% plus additional benefits.  I am in sympathy but wait…. their pay increase will be passed down to me by way of higher fees – increasing my expenses … making it necessary for the workers union that I belong to, to ask for more money for me…. which causes the company I work for to raise their prices …. so that…..  
Is that the definition of inflation? Check out this link for a better understanding of what inflation really is.  According to this definition the increase in prices without an increase in efficiency (reduction of long lines?) is a good thing and is anti-inflationary in its self.  Did I understand that correctly?  Probably not – Macro economics was one of the 3 Cs I received at University – (macro economics / statistics / college algebra) it is just beyond my comprehension of how all the components fit together.  But I do understand that I can’t use my money that is in the bank to pay those that need their cash pay every month …. this small fact I can understand.