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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.)


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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!)

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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.


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see you next week from Rio!