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Friday, May 27, 2011

Spin – Fall - Rest

well its not Rio and its not Friburgo but it is in Brasil.

the Iguaçu Fall, Brasilian side.

“spin, drop, rest”


just in case you don’t believe the rest part....

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well it looks like it is somewhat at rest before it tumbles again and its way down stream

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flowers in Brasil

When you live in a country that blooms, blooming in all seasons, with different trees blooming bright orange or soft delicate pinks or vibrant yellow flowers and you love to take photos of flowers, it is difficult to choose favorites.  But, when I think of flowers in Brasil there are two that come to mind more often than any other.  Whether I am at home in Nova Friburgo where they grow naturally in the forest, or in Rio where the trees lining the streets are home to many and the small gardens in front of most buildings usually have one or more species, and best of all when I take my semi-annual walk to the Botanical Gardens, I can take photos to my heart’s content, never finding the exact same combination on display – this is when I know that flowers in Brasil mean orchids and bromeliads

For this post I want to show you some of the smallest Orchids and the most unusual bromeliads I have found in bloom both here in Rio and up in the forest that surrounds our home.  Enjoy.

these first little babies are about the size of my thumb nail and the rest are no bigger than my thumb......  DSC_1815



And the bromeliads....

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

catching up

Watching the newest world disaster, the annual flooding of the Mississippi Valley, made me think again of the flooding and landslides in Nova Friburgo early this year. I want to tell briefly what is happening here, even as the story unfolds in the USA.

The view of slides just from our veranda – about 20 degrees of the total 360 in our community.DSC_7467

Back in February, I wrote about Lucia and her daughter, and the loss of their homes in the area landslides in the early morning hours of the 13th of January. I don’t have the final numbers of loss of life or of number of homes lost, but I know that loss of life across this mountain region was over 1000 and homes lost over 12 thousand. For me though, the loss of life here in our small community was the most personal. Six people were lost here in this little community of 1500 or so. (Who knows – who has counted) and the homes both damaged and destroyed – now I am guessing – 25 or so. I guess this number because of the brothers, or cousins, or aunts of people we know personally, and have been told directly of these losses. This is not information to be found on the ‘prefeitura's’ (mayor’s) website, and definitely not to be found in the international or national news that were so hot on the stories up to the earthquake in New Zealand in the next month and went completely off the radar after the big quake in Japan last month. After that first month of shocking news, there hasn’t been much interest in how the little guy, the little stories are still unfolding.

Lucia and her daughter’s stories I do know. Lucia’s little house sat on a piece of land owned by her husband’s family. This house is where they lived during the raising of their 4 children. They started small, like most do around here, and added on as the family grew. The house, though solidly built, was never registered with the government. So is considered ‘illegal’. To register a house here costs between 3 and 5 thousand Reais, for someone like Lucia about a year’s salary. Her daughter’s home sat adjacent to her home.... I imagine the land was given to the daughter by Lucia and her husband, more than likely there was no paperwork done .... who need paperwork between family. Lucia’s husband died about 4 years ago at Christmas and the paperwork to put the house in her name has never been completed. She lost all her documents along with the house.

The civil police have declared her house completely destroyed, and the land, ‘unusable’, or in an area of high risk for homes. It can be used for a garden, for a business, but not a home. The government will not buy the lot. She can not sell it to another ‘forest’ family. To build again, she will need to try and find another piece of land.

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Land starts at around R$15,000.00 for about 500 sq. meters. - 5 year’s salary - plus to build another very simple home – 100 sq. meters or so (around 900 sq. ft.) another 20 thousand. Because her home was ‘illegal’ and without documents there will not likely be help from the government. With help from some of our family and friends, both here and in the USA, we started a fund for her and were able to help her replace the basics of her household – beds and bedding, cooking and serving dishes, clothing and shoes, and to help pay some of the travel back and forth to Rio while here daughter was in the hospital, going through multiple surgeries and being treated for major infections. The daughter is finally home (a rented house) with her family.

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For now Lucia is renting. The government will pay a rental allowance for the next year. The rented house is more than an hour away by bus from her work. There was nothing affordable available in this area. She still arrives here every Monday at 7am to clean our home.

We are still committed to helping her where we can, but tread softly as to not make her feel dependent or obligated. If she decides to buy and rebuild someplace, we will contribute as we can, to give her some support but there are so many, there is so much need – we can only help the ones we know the best – and the worlds interest has moved on, the governments seems to have forgotten now that the photo ops are no longer here. The most help will come from neighbor helping neighbor and from their own considerable personal strength.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Accumulated Memories

I woke to blinding sunlight this morning. 

DSC08049 (2)I forgot to close the shutters last night, and as soon as the sun clears the mountain tops to the east, it glares off the top of the clouds in the valley and bounces, sending bright, white light right into our bedroom.  Now at almost noon, the clouds have risen out of the valley and are sitting on the mountain ridges, causing the house to feel damp and cold.  It is probably 70 or so degrees, but feels 50.   With the blinding light, I woke to thoughts of our last trip to Italy in September of 2010.  The past 18 months have been so fast and furious and I have missed telling you about so many happenings that have now come and gone.    This morning after 7 full hours of sleep all of those accumulated memories are swirling around in my head, ready to be talked about.   But where to start.

I sent about 3 hours this morning going back through the blog, skimming through titles and looking at the photos that I shared.  I noted several things.  I’ve not been consistent with labels and my dialog has been very short, stunted even.  Not much fun for you the reader, and I am positive not much fun for me to write.  The labels are not terribly important – used mostly by the search engines and by me when I want to find a topics I’ve done in the past.  I can just imagine that most visitor to ‘Flowers’ are not even aware of the label list, let alone saying, “lets see what Ginger had to say about ‘travel in Brazil’ this morning” and then spending 3 or 4 hours driving the roads of Brasil through my photos.   Hum, just imagine.

But the other problem, the dialog being short and stunted, now that’s a real problem.  That could mean several things: I am bored with the topics, I am bored with blogging in general, I don’t have anything to say – now we know that it isn’t number 3.  I can talk, and talk; talk for hours if only someone would listen.  If I wanted to sit here another hour I could come up with more reason why the writing has gone to the...... dumps.  But If I want to get to the bottom of it – my thoughts have been dark and whiny, and I’ve just not wanted to put on paper.  (SCREEN?)  I’ve gone through these spells before, and they always go away and it seems that with the blinding, white light this morning they have receded back to where they come. 

I know it is May 2011 but today I make my New Years resolutions.   1) to write more about what I find interesting.  2) To put my photos on the computer in order – eek!, I have been downloading onto my laptop for nearly a year without moving them to appropriate folders on the external.... what a mess.  3) to make and send my mother a card with a photo on it a minimum of once a week.  So she receives real mail once a week (letter enclosed, of course).

this week’s flower for my Mom,  wild morning glories.


Friday, May 06, 2011


My mother, mother of seven, grandmother of.... Nineteen, Great-grandmother of..... around 30 and I do believe there is now a Great/great grandchild or two.
Mom will be 89 July 7.  She has days where she understands international politics, and days she forgets to shower and to clean her teeth..... She still takes them out of the cup every morning.....  that is a good thing.
Such a large family and I don’t know all the names of my great nephew and nieces, I have a partial list someplace.   On her good days, Mom remembers most of them.   She is better at remembering when each of us, the original 7, had their chickenpox and their immunizations. 
She always made our cloths.  She made quilts and afghans.  She read constantly, books and daily newspapers.  She worked the daily New York crossword, usually doing it in her head to give my father a chance to enter a few words.  Three years ago she could work half way through, now she doesn’t do them.
She has a friend from when she was 3 – they used to correspond when young adults, and later to talk every few months on the phone but now can remember the childhood days but don’t remember to call.   Norma is in a nursing home in Adrian and on a good day my sister takes Mom to visit – after about five minutes the conversation begins to repeat, and they no longer laugh at each other. 
My Mother.
DSC00061-1  and me.... DSC00091
DSC_4996  with Marissa......100_0748 great grand children
DSC_0410 Aunt Carol (younger sister) and Mom
DSC_5281  Momma and Me. (she hates to have her picture taken.......says she looks “OLD” )
In our minds we are always young.