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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Moment in time - The modern social networks

A thought from the veranda.

Have you ever stopped at a stoplight, looked over at the car next to you, wondering: who are they, do they live close, are they a neighbor, are they happy or are they in crisis, where are they going? What is their story?  Then the driver of the other car turns their head, looks you in the eye; a moment of recognition passes between you, there is, just briefly, an electrical current that connects you. The light changes and both cars move through the light. It is not likely that you will ever meet that person; you will never know the answers to your questions, but you will know their face, remembering always that very brief moment of connection.

Through this blog I have met many people; they visit me and from time to time make nice comments. In exchange, I go to their blog. I gain access to their hopes and dreams, their personal problems, many thoughts and perspectives. It feels that you know them. There are sometimes many exchanges of thoughts and feelings. They become your friend. Often you don’t see a real face. There is never an electrical current but often a mental one seems to be felt. Then they stop coming by. They stop commenting. Their life and interests have taken them elsewhere, to other brief exchanges of thoughts and perspectives.  Fleeting, friendships in transit; some fade quickly and some you remember several years later, feeling their loss; feeling ‘saudade’ as they say here in Brasil.

Now Facebook has emerged.  I wanted to see what all the fervor was about so I signed up. The program immediately searches your private contacts, email addresses in outlook and contacts on Skype, and says, “Ask them to be your friend”. I did, and I have to admit that I like the ‘contact’ with all my family. Through Facebook, I now see brief glimpses into the lives of nephews and nieces. I see photos of their daily activities, of their children. I hear how they feel on any given day, and in a very remote way can feel connected. I joined a group called ‘growing up in Adrian’, a discussion group that asks, ‘Do you remember when / who / what?’ I don’t, but it was fun for a while to follow, and in a remote way feel connected.  I found a few people known from the blog comments, and added them as ‘friends’ and now see them talk back and forth with their friends and family, people I don’t and will never know and find these connections to be too remote to have meaning.

I have sat here for about 20 minutes, typing then erasing sentences. They have sounded so…. well, depressing and that was not my intent, really this is only an observation on modern life, so let me try and finish  ...

…. But now a year on Facebook has brought me to this place; this place of realization that reading about peoples’ daily thoughts and activities is not being connected. This is not a moment of electrical current, a moment of understanding in the touch of a hand, or a forged friendship that will last a lifetime.  This is socialization once removed. This is city dwelling run amok; this is another short lived effort to find our place in the world, to be a part of, to belong.   I think it will be found, in the end, to be artificial and therefore temporary.  Do you remember the CB craze in the 70s – socialization once removed.  Ten-four big Charley

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Favorite words for a favorite place......

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
Robert Louis Stevenson



Hidden in a back corner of the Jardim Botanico, Rio de Janeiro is this Grand Old Tree.  It is so tall and wide I could not get even a fourth of it in the lens.  The only way to see it – is to go to the gardens, walk to the right of the main gate and keep walking around the outer edge until you find it nestled among it taller, thinner cousins.   

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

For the sake of seeing...

I don’t know how many times I have been to Rio’s botanical gardens, ‘Jardim Botanico’.  Walking over from Ipanema several times a year, lugging my Nikon D40x in a small backpack and carrying the point and shoot in my handy pocket, my purpose focused on a brisk walk, on exercise, on calories and fat loss.  Seeing interesting sights but not stopping, not giving up on my exercise.  As in all change, slowly the purpose of the walk has become a stroll to see; to see the birds, to see the leaves, and to see the flowers that are prominent during my walk: stopping to watch a child play, to find the birds in song, so walk down the slope for a closer look at a flower. 

I can’t say that yesterday I jumped  eagerly out of bed, it was more of a slow roll and groan, but I did wake with a determination to walk to the gardens to see what was blooming.  I managed to leave the apartment a little after ten, walked to the Lagoa, partially around it to the little street that cuts beside the Jockey club to Rua Jardim Botanico. 

Along the walk were young boys playing soccer, a class of rowers, a tennis match, a small construction on the path, and the usual bikers and joggers.   A small tree was in bloom showing me, for the first time, its abundant, bright red, waxy leafed flowers. Anyone know the name of this tree / flower? 034

A crane wading gracefully among the reeds.












      and bright yellow birds hidden among the red leaves of the fig trees.


    It took me a good 40 minutes to get to the gardens.  I must have been looking up or sideways, detracted or something, because I missed the shortcut that runs along the water.  I ended up walking along the street, surrounded by cars, busses and speeding motor bikes – not the best way to go if you want peace and beauty.  

It now cost $R6.00 to get into the gardens – a bargain for sure, but another change.  I always promise myself that I will walk the trails to the right of the entrance but when I arrive – I go left (because I know where the bathrooms are!).  Yesterday, I changed to my bigger camera and went to the right. 

Good choice!  Along the outer edge of the gardens are huge old trees.  I will put those photos into an album for you to see.


There was not much in the way of flowers this time of year, but there were a few surprises to take pleasure in.

DSC_9276 DSC_9295 DSC_9313     DSC_9325  DSC_9329  DSC_9286  DSC_9285 DSC_9316

      More Later !

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Gardens of Rio de Janeiro


This morning, when I opened Google, the topic for this Friday’s post just popped into my head.  Without even running the mouse over the special Google header, I knew the topic before me.  Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994) Brasilian landscape architect and artist.  Born in São Paulo on August 4, 1909 to German parents, the look that so marks Brasil as Brasilian; the wavy black and white sidewalks of Copacabana, the gardens that circle the Lagoa, the gardens that runs along the Aterro do Flamengo to Parque Brg. Eduardo Gomes can all be attributed to Burle Marx’s genius in designing beautiful spaces.  

“.... Burle Marx's first landscaping inspirations came while studying painting in Germany, where he often visited the Dahlem Botanical Gardens and first learned about Brazil's native flora. Upon returning to Brazil in 1930, he began collecting plants in and around his home. He went to school at the National School of Fine Arts in Rio in 1930 where he focused on visual arts under Leo Putz and Candido Portinari. While in school he associated with several of Brazil’s future leaders in architecture and botanists who continued to be of significant influence in his personal and professional life. One of these men was his professor, Brazilian Modernism’s Lucio Costa, the architect and planner who lived down the street from Burle. This game, the Schwartz house was the beginning of a collaboration with Costa which was enriched later by Oscar Niemeyer who designed the Brazilian Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. Niemeyer also designed the Pampulha complex in 1942 which Marx designed gardens for.

In 1949 he acquired the 365,000m² estate Barra de Guaratiba (just outside of Rio de Janeiro). Burle Marx began taking expeditions into the Brazilian rain forest with botanists, landscape architects, architects and other researchers to gather plant specimens. He learned to practice studying plants in situ from the botanist Henrique Lahmeyer de Mello Barreto and established his garden, nursery and tropical plant collection at Guaratiba. This property was donated to the Brazilian government in 1985 and became a national monument. Now called Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, under the direction of IPHAN-Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional / Ministério da Cultura, it houses over 3,500 species of plants. The house was rebuilt in a valley on the site of a garden house belonging to the original plantation estate....”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberto_Burle_Marx)

At the beginning of this year, Camillo and I spent about half a day visiting the Burle Marx sitio, and for me the best way to show his gardens is to show you a few of my photos from that day.  ... I am so bad, trying to pick what to show and what not to.... so I created a slide show for you to walk with me through the gardens, a cultivated garden with a feel of the wild.