Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

News flash.......... !!

Because Blogger cuts off half the image, please visit here to see the full version




The article, as appearing in The Blog Times, written by Tint is quoted below:

"This year has been one of many changes. For us, here in Blogworld, there have been very dramatic changes. The demise of our beloved 360 and the discovery of new worlds beyond - Multiply, Blogger, Live Spaces, and many more.

What has struck me is the friendships that have stayed strong through the changes. Friendship is indeed without borders. Then there are all the new friendships that have been established and cemented.

New skills have been learnt. Creativity explored. Minds have been broadened. We learnt new ways to explore our inner artist. We learnt of new countries and cultures and how the 'other half' lives.

There have been many personal changes too. Many have lost loved ones and faced incredible challenges, though not all the changes have been bad. The year has also been embroidered with amazing good. There are those who have moved home to better places, those who went into business, those who rediscovered old friends and family. Hopes and dreams live on and thrive.

It is my wish that those hopes and dreams you have will come true for each and every one of you this coming year. I raise my glass and toast to you... my friends... *Cheers!*"

São Paulo's weather forecast for the New Year

It's traditional here.... rain over the New Year and tradition has stood us proud yet again. Ok, for half the city it has. Watch the video and weep with me... not a drop of that rain has fallen here!!! We are still hot and sweaty and sticky. Granted, I don't wish the flooding on anyone, but if we could at least get a little of that. Our skies here are clear and, yes, it is the same city. The temperature has been around 35°C (95°F). The rains you see here have fallen in the area where we used to live two years ago. I'm rather glad we're not there anymore. That house leaked so badly, we'd have to bail ship every time.

video

Merry Grinchmas to you!



I opened the news to a rather startling news report....

Fri Dec 28, 10:41 PM ET

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Local police said it was a typical holiday Grinch tale: A home was broken into on Christmas Eve, and wrapped presents were stolen off a kitchen table.
ADVERTISEMENT

Little did they know the culprits were kids.

Authorities said Friday that a 9-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy used a gift card to pick the lock on the back door of a home a block away. They then took about $200 in wrapped presents that were located on a kitchen table, including Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers CDs.

The couple who lived in the home returned from some Christmas Eve shopping to find the house broken into, and the presents gone, South Brunswick police Detective Jim Ryan said.

One of the children's relatives who also lived in the neighborhood spoke with the couple and realized the gifts matched some mysterious extra presents the children appeared to receive on Christmas.

The relative contacted the children's mother, who got the truth out of them on Wednesday, and then contacted police.

"A 9- and 5-year-old would never be on our suspect list. For a burglary? Maybe for taking a bike or something like that, but not for a burglary," Ryan said.

The children's names were not released, and charges are not planned.

******************

These are kidlets!!! Where do kids that age learn to pick locks on doors?? Am I really that out of it? I am stunned!

It is hot!



bright light
long shadows
silver waves
shimmer
on gray ribbons
of concrete


shards of light
from city glass
stab my eyes
sidewalk heat
claws my feet
burning below


sharp shadows
reach long arms
across my path
tripping me up
with sudden
change of light


windscreens glaring
as they push
their way past
impatient
to get out of
the heat


Tint ©


We have basically been draping ourselves wherever we could, trying to cope with the heat. The humidity has been incredibly high too. We have two fans going in this room. Stepping outside doesn't bear thinking of. I've had a 3 day headache from the heat. It rained for a full half hour tonight. The air cooled for about half an hour after that, but the heat is back. It's the kind of heat where you can't bear anything touching your skin. The south of Brazil in Santa Caterina, they've declared a state of emergency with the floods happening there. Our weather travels up from that end, so we're headed for some big rain. I'm selfishly hoping for rain on New Year to cut down on the fireworks. Besides, rain on New Year is traditional here. Above all, though, I'm hoping it cools somewhat... really, really hoping...

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Ordinary miracle


Today, for me, was a day of ordinary miracles. We expected Christmas to be tough this year, as there were no gifts to be given and none of us were finding it easy to get into the Christmas spirit.


Last night, Tatiana gave Jorge and I the most beautiful snowflakes she quilled. I know the amount of love that went into those flakes. Attached was a note, "Happy white Christmas." Every year, we try to add to our Christmas ornaments with something special and meaningful. I had bought two stone ornaments, with amazonite, rose quartz and agate, but they're simply pretty. They don't have a story attached to them. Those two snow flakes are now my most treasured Christmas ornaments. Oh you should see them sparkle! Tat also gave us each a birth stone. She had done a lot of research into each stone. The stones and snowflakes came in an origami box and with it was an origami lilly and one of her paper cranes.


Jorge got Tat and I each some chocolates. He was so proud of himself for bringing the chocolates into the house without us noticing. What I had planned to give was unfortunately not ready, but I'll leave comment on that for a later date.


We had a beautiful day! It was overcast and pretty hot. We had occasional rain with a minor thunder storm late afternoon. We were all in and around the kitchen during the meal preparation. We laughed, we played, I chased Jorge out at least a dozen times... we had fun! During lunch, we sat in the lounge alongside our little tree and spoke of what Christmas was like for Jorge as a child and for me. Jorge tormented us with threats to grow a real Prussian mustache (don't ask me 'why Prussian') and wax it. It drives Tat crazy when he messes up his eyebrows and mustache : )





After lunch, we sleepily came back to our computers and played a little Runescape, chatting off and on and making phone calls to folk far away. Jorge spoke to his brother in South Africa, his cousins in Lithuania. Anne called while I was making lunch, so I called her back. I spoke to Fel in Alaska and Tat called Philly in California. Jorge spoke to the cousins in Florida. Bob was there too. In one way or another, we made contact with the people who are important to us and remembered those we could not contact. As I sit here, I am so grateful for the internet, which enabled us to speak to folk all over the world.


As I mentioned to Tat tonight.... it was an understated Christmas... no bells and whistles. We didn't even play any carols.... but I do believe it will stand out in our minds as one of the most memorable.... for its simplicity and contentment. I think we will pack the Christmas decor away earlier than usual this year. We are ready to move on. It is a good feeling.







"It seems so exceptional

That things just work out after all.

It’s just another ordinary miracle today."


Ordinary Miracle Lyrics

Saturday, 22 December 2007

To you, my friends....

Do click to open this post, as Blogger cuts the image off

Festive?

This week's Picture Perfect theme is "Festive". I held off, thinking I may take a photo or two today. It was raining when we left home, so the 'cowardly lion', aka Jorge, decided the camera would stay at home. It turned out to be blistering hot and humid.


The shops and streets were jam-packed. There was a notable absence of Christmas trees and Christmas decorations in town. If it weren't for my calendar (and Multiply), we'd hardly have noticed it was Christmas at all!


We went in and got the stuff for the animals (a calmant for the fire crackers that have already started), and some herbs for a friend. We did a bit of window shopping, ended up buying a set of glasses (in fairness to the last set, it lasted 2 years), had a cup of coffee and a small empadinha (little pie.... really 'little'), then headed for home. Our bus broke down halfway in a not-so-delightful area, but luckily (I'm grateful), the second bus had ample seating, which isn't usually the case with replacement buses.


So that was my oh-so-very-exciting day. Oh yes, this blog post was meant to be for Picture Perfect. I went through my more recent photos and found little that was festive looking. After all, you don't want the photo I took of Jorge's feet while he was putting up our Christmas lights, now do you? ; ) There were other photo options, but I felt that they were blog subjects of their own and put them to one side. Besides... this is rather festive, is it not? This home is a few blocks away from me. I think they really put effort into being festive, don't you?




Taxed to death


We have a tax here on every cent we withdraw from the bank. Regardless of how much you draw, write a cheque for, or spend on credit, if it comes out of your bank account, it is taxed. No one minded this tax, as it was meant to go purely into healthcare. The thing is, they have proved that less than 20% of those funds made it into healthcare.

The senate has voted that this tax be dropped. The government is upset, as the gravy train is being flushed. So far, they've said that they can reinstitute that tax any time they want to and assign the taxes however they want to. Charming.

On health care. Do we have a good health system here? Let's just say that my experience of the health care system here hasn't been that favourable, but I won't judge by that. There is public health here. You go to the clinic in your neighbourhood and wait to see a doctor. Depending on your neighbourhood and how sickly everyone is, the wait is anything from half an hour to most of the day. He then refers you to a specialist. Somehow, nothing gets done here without a specialist. The appointment is made often months in advance. Some specialists are harder to get into than others. The waiting list to get into the dentist is almost a year long. Once you have seen the specialist, you get your meds and/or tests. The tests don't usually involve too much waiting, but that also depends on what tests there are. Meds can be collected at the clinic's own pharmacies or at govt discount farmacies - if you're lucky. The rest you go to a regular pharmacy for and like anywhere else in the world, that hurts the pocket. Private medical care goes two routes... the medical insurance route or pay your own way.

My first medical experiences here weren't good. Tat has had ear issues for a large part of her life, so when she had ear infection, we took her off to the private hospital (we had taken out health insurance for her) to be seen to. She was ushered into a cubicle, which served as the doctor's surgery. That swing a cat thing is a joke. You couldn't swing a goldfish in there. She was given a prescription and we went off to the pharmacy. Five pharmacies later, it was confirmed... the medication that was prescribed did not exist... at all! Some time later, I went to the clinic with the aim of seeing a skin specialist. I saw the gp who waxed lyrical (actually, not that lyrical... she was nasty) about my weight. I'm no smallfry, but next to the miniscule Brazilians, I'm a giant... well, almost. Anyhow, she packed me off to the skin specialist (the reason I was seeing her). Another day, another month, I went to the location given, another clinic in a neighbouring suburb. I waited to be signed up - you get to sign up at each location... what fun. I then offered my card with the appointment written down, which sent them into a frenzy. Apparently that skin specialist hadn't been at that location in two years. I was miffed. I had lost a day's work for that, so I put it off for another few years before trying again now. Needless to say, not all medical experiences here are like this, but...

That isn't the point of this blog. It was just to give you an idea why I prefer to stay away from the medical profession here as much as possible. The point of this blog is how R$10 (about $6) killed a girl.

In the news tonight...
A girl went to the government pharmacy ('Farmacia Popular'), which is specifically set up to give meds at discounted rates with the premise that everyone deserves cheap healthcare. Her medication cost R$22 ($12). She only had R$12 ($6) on her. Her need for the medicine was urgent. It after hours, no other pharmacies open and she was having an asthma attack. Her father offered the title deeds to his car as surety that they'd come back with the remaining money, but they were turned down. The girl died from that asthma attack.

Something is very wrong with this system.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Picture Perfect - Into the night




I thought I wasn't going to take part this week. The weather here is dismal and, for Brazil, almost winterish. It's dull, grey, wet and fairly cool. Then there was the issue of finding the time to take out the camera.


This photo was taken a couple of years ago at Hopi Hari, a huge amusement park outside São Paulo. The sky was spectacular and I loved the reflection of the setting sun on the benches.


To see the other great entries or participate yourself, pop along to Picture Perfect.

A little of this and a little of that

I've been 'missing' for a while. Its hectic here. Yes, yes, I know its hectic everywhere. After all, its the festive season and everyone is shopping, baking, decorating and running in circles. Added to that, I have a job in (unpaid, but with great promotional prospects) of 100+ fire and water damaged photos to be edited and I have a special request from family for around 20 really miniscule and badly scratched photos to be repaired as a gift (also free, of course). Naturally, there is no way they'll get those photos in time for Christmas.


On Sunday, Tat and I went to Praça da Republica to look for a couple of little items for Christmas. Praça da Republica is right in the center of town, so it took us a bus ride and a fair walk or a short metro ride. We walked. I wasn't a happy camper, as it was incredibly hot and humid. Thanks to Tat's amazing sense of direction *chuckles* we got there in record time. Sadly, the crafts fair is now way smaller than before and rather washed out. I didn't get what I was looking for. There was less on offer, though still a few great items, and many of the worthwhile stuff was tripple last year's price. Ah well... a sign of the times, right?


We were caught by surprise walking through the park section. In the area where there used to be turtles and koi, there were now a group of children swimming.... not legally, of course, but oh what fun they were having. I snuck a photo through the spindly trees surrounding the pond.



Tat and I were talking while we were out and commenting on the lack of Christmas spirit everywhere. Not once the whole day did we hear any Christmas carols. In fairness, Brazil isn't known for Christmas carols. The only place we usually hear any is in the shopping malls. This year, there were no carols in the malls either. The 'Christmas' theme in the mall was Shrek! The only concession to Christmas being that Shrek held a tiny gift and there was the regulation tree decorated with huge green and white balls and lots of fairy lights.

I am going to do my best to get to everyone's pages. Even if its just a few pages a day. I have neglected my friends for long enough. I feel so bad about it.


Hm... on a more Christmassy note, here's a link or two for you to enjoy...
Easy Ways to Decorate Your Home for Christmas
Activites for the Family
Activity: Kids Educational Printouts and Activities
Activity: The Game Chest

Picture Perfect - Outrageous

When I saw the theme, I had the perfect photo in mind. I just had to go out and take it. Trouble is, they had removed my props!! Bah! There is a children's clothing shop in the village. In the doorway, they had their little manequin wearing a t-shirt that said, in bold: "This is f***!" << note, insert a disgusting, but apparently popular foul word. The foul word in question being super-large and in bright red. The t-shirt is for children around the age of 5. Now that is outrageous! Apparently, it is taken from the Portuguese "Isso é foda", which can be translated into "This is great" or the above quote. We're thinking that they meant to translate it into "This is great". Not being able to get that photo, I was going to take a photo of the little oak tree with its autumn colours - outrageous in that we're meant to be heading into summer here, but it was raining, so I settled on this photo....





Taken with my old Canon SD10 Digital Elph


The billboard sign translates to "More than 2.5 million families now have a sewerage system." It is one of the 'official' billboards showing the populace what growth there is in the country. To me, it says something when a government considers that a subject for national pride. This billboard was part of a pre-election campaign.


If you want to join in, visit Picture Perfect.

A very big heart - Noble's story


Doranton Noble Boy of Caldhame. Noble boy, Nobs, Slobberchops.... one of the best 'risks' we ever took. We were at the braai (bbq) when our friend came up to us. "I believe you're looking for a dog. I know of one that is perfect for you." Cynty was part of the Great Dane Rescue organisation. We told her, that, sorry, we're looking for a Rottweiler or GS and I don't usually go for breeds I know nothing about and we wanted a puppy, not a 1 yr old. I had a toddler to consider.


We went to look at him anyway. He was huge! Standing on his hind legs, he would top Jorge's 6" frame. Noble had had two toes on his hind leg amputated. He was kept in a kennel about 10 x 6' - tiny for such a big dog. He had scaled the high fence around the kennel a couple of times to get to the bitch in season in the next kennel, thus tearing his toes. He was a champion dog whose sole purpose in life was to make puppies. With his toes amputated, he had lost his usefulness to the breeders (and I'm glad). We took him home.


I watched him carefully for the next few weeks, never leaving him alone with Tatiana, aged 2 at the time. He passed the test when one day, as he was lying just in the door, she went to sit on him. I moved closer... just in case. Note, I don't approve of children sitting on dogs and she got a scolding for it, but I had lots of children visiting and I needed to know how this dog would react. He turned his head and fastened his jaws around her arm and ever-so-gently pulled her off his back. I was dumbstruck... he didn't even leave a tiny dent on her arm and not a squeal from the child (who, normally, would have been bellowing up a storm). That clinched it... he was there to stay.


Its a Great Dane trait that. When someone arrived at the gate, he would go up to them, take their arm in his jaws and 'guide' them to the front door. We had many a laugh at the reactions of our guests. Our gentle giant. Though he could be not-so-gentle. One person (not to get the title of guest and definitely no friend) arrived one day and boasted he could topple our dog. Noble was incredibly stable on his feet. When he leaned against you, you knew it. He walked up to Noble, grabbed the two legs furthest from him and whipped them out of under him. From that moment on, the 'visitor' was never allowed to come close to either Tat or I. If you've ever had a Great Dane growl at you, you keep your distance. His 'thanks' to the visitor was to go up to his small truck (a little Datsan bakkie) and cock his leg against the windscreen. Lesson learnt... don't mess with a Great Dane.


He did that a lot. Our neighbours had 6 German Shepherds that constantly barked at Noble. Noble just stared at them. I think he reached his limit one day when he walked up to the fence and cocked his leg, spraying the Shepherd pack. I think they weren't impressed. He was so cool calm and collected. Laid back personified... or would that be dogified?


Noble disappeared twice in the time we had him. The first time, he went for 5 days. Behind our property was a black settlement. There were many strays there. I can only assume a bitch in season. He came back starved and dehydrated. He next disappeared on our own property, but for a shorter time. That was how we discovered someone was setting snares to catch the small duiker (a small deer) and we learnt that brindle dogs have the best camoflage, as we couldn't find him. He had been caught in a snare, somehow snapping the cable (it was bicycle break cable). We nearly lost him. He nearly choked to death. How he broke that cable and came home in that condition amazes me to this day. He carried the scar of that snare for the rest of his days.... His fur turned white there, giving him a pure white 'collar'.


His favourite passtime was chasing horses. He would run along the fence racing the horses as they rode by. I honestly believe he thought he was a horse. He used to race the car too. Our driveway was very long and he loved racing the car to the gate. We were convinced his brakes would fail one day and he'd run into the fence. At top speed, he would stop his front legs and his back legs would kind of overtake his front legs. It was too funny to watch.


I miss my Noble hugs. He would lean against me and I'd put my arms around his smooth, strong neck (a bit like hugging a horse), feeling his soft, silky ears against my cheek. One day, I'll have a Great Dane again, but it will never be Noble.


* A bit of Great Dane information. They don't eat you out of house and home. They're the gentlest creatures, but will defend you with their lives. No one messes with those jaws. They can smell a bitch in season 5km (3 miles) away - a lesson we learnt the hard way. They do well as (and prefer to be) indoor dogs, but need lots of space and plenty of exercise.

Writer's block challenge #26 - Carried along


She waited and waited. The conditions had to be just right. Stretching her little legs, she could just see over the enormous white fuzzy stalks. Over there, in the distance, was The Tree. She wanted to get just beyond The Tree to where the roses were. They had told her the food was good there. The problem was to pass The Tree where the birds were.


"The wind is just right today," she thought. "I can do it." Yesterday's wind blew her dangerously close to the tree as she flew. Soon! She took an excited breath.


Just then, a gust of wind came up. "I'm not ready!" She clutched the nearest stalk. "I'm not ready!" The wind blew on. With a jerk, the stalk was freed and away she blew, still hanging on, twirling this way and that. "Oooh.... dizzy!" She gasped as her world spun around.


The seed stalk whirled and danced on the breeze, its fine downy umbrella glistening in the afternoon sun. She lost all track of time. She let go of her thoughts and let her mind whirl with the stalk. Around and around. It never got dark, but she was sure that many days must have gone by.


Suddenly, the world darkend and with a jolt, she was knocked off the stalk. She frantically flapped her wings to prevent herself falling. As she flew, she looked around at where she was. It was not quite as big as The Tree. She wondered if there were birds in that bush at the top and decided not to fly up to find out. Glancing across, she saw a multitude of bright colours. She had made it! She was in the garden beyond The Tree! Gleefully, she flew to the nearest red rose.


"Look mummy! A dandelion seed!" squeeled the little girl as she took the seed off her sleeve and held her prize up to the smiling lady.


~~~~~

Click here for this Writer's Block challenge if you'd like to join in.

Approximately 100.... nay... a few things about me

You may want to go off and get yourself a cuppa, a blanket and a pillow. This could take a while. I'm posting this now, as I have other blogs I want to write. If you want 100, add them yourself hahaha! Uh... then again... maybe not ; )

1) I am South African
2) I have been living in Brazil for almost 9 years
3) The only Brazilian to pronounce my name correctly was a cockatiel
4) I'm terrible with names and regularly put my foot in it
5) I am certified to interpret South African deaf sign language at conferences, but I'm horribly out of practice
6) I dream of living in the country again
7) I don't have a TV
8) I play an online game with my daughter. We play as twins
9) I tend to have a wicked sense of humour
10) I don't like vulgar humour or language
11) I lost 6 pairs of glasses in my first two years of school. My gran then gave up. My vision is now perfect
12) My 'look' scares Tat's boyfriends
13) *correction* According to Tat, my look scares everyone
14) I have a low tolerance for rude or inconsiderate people
15) I am an optimistic realist
16) I have tinnitis and struggle to hear, so phone and voice messenger often frustrates me
17) I don't drink nearly enough water
18) I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell
19) I can't tell a joke to save my life
20) I love herbs and will use them in preference to bought drugs
21) I would love to qualify as a herbalist or reflexologist
22) I have no idea where any of my family, aside from Jorge and Tat, are. I wish I knew
23) My favourite passtime is tickling Tat
24) I'm hopeless at multi-tasking. When a friend talks to me on messenger, I stop doing everything else.
24) I'm the world's worst housewife
25) I used to make all my own clothes and Tat's, a lot of Jorge's too
26) I am self-taught in pretty much all my skills (I use the word 'skill' loosely lol)
27) I taught English privately to corporate executives, engineers and school kids for my first 7 years here. I also taught grade 1 and 2 at a private school
28) Tat says she's grateful I don't have the figure I want or I'd dress freaky ; )
29) I'm an e-mail packrat - I store e-mails... just in case... you never know
30) Garfield would be the perfect companion for me (Tat's words)... comfort food, lasagna, sarcastic, doesn't like mornings, likes sleeping
31) I'm a procrastinator
32) I plan to live in a cottage in Tat's back yard with my cats and my garden when I'm old - possibly even while I'm young
33) I throw nothing away that might possibly come in handy as a cat toy
34) I enjoy recording my dreams and analysing them
35) I would love to do a painting course
36) My dream as a child was to be a social worker
37) I love pigs... and cows... and chickens... and geese... and
38) I'm passionate about animals
39) I want to live in the country (just so I know you got the point)
40) I love buying gifts for people.... I like to buy a whole selection of gifts for each person every Christmas/birthday and other times
41) I'm uncomfortable receiving gifts
42) I am always prepared. I took my Girl Guide motto seriously
43) I carry a very full purse as a result of #42
44) I'm a night owl... 2am often finds me doing housework
45) I'm not into fashion. I go for comfort
46) I love gadgets, especially in the kitchen
47) I'm full of business ideas, none of which I can use
48) I love collecting semi-precious stones and crystals
49) I can generally be relied on to 'make a plan' with whatever tools, materials or facilities I have on hand
50) I was electrocuted at the age of 7 and lost my voice for a week (the neighbours were probably grateful), but still went to school
51) I never missed a single day of school. All childhood illnesses and other dramas 'conveniently' took place over weekends or during holidays
52) I love macro photography. There's a whole new world out there!
53) I am not in the least afraid of spiders. They fascinate me. I often feel I have a 'bond' with them
54) I love collecting Christmas ornaments from all over the world... some of which aren't exactly Christmas ornaments, but hang on the tree anyway
55) I rely on my nose to tell me when the food is cooked or something has finished baking... its often more reliable than the timer
56) My favourite dog is the Great Dane. My favourite cat is the ginger cat
57) This is the first time I have ever been without a ginger cat in my life
58) I dream of riding a bicycle. I can actually visualise it, but all my attempts have failed
59) I have little sense of balance
60) It's 3:30am. I should be in bed. I wish my sketch pad had an undo button
61) I believe every child should have the experience of raising silkworms
62) I'm the least squeamish person I know, but I cannot stand the smell of blood. It brings to mind the smell of burning tar, hot metal and oil
63) Right after the training wheels were taken off my brand new chopper, I crashed my bike into my grandad's combi. I never rode again
64) I need to fall asleep on my left side and will probably remain in that position the whole night
65) I need to touch trees
66) I cry easily
67) I can walk for miles, but put me on an incline and I'm finished
68) TNT is highly explosive under the right conditions
69) I'm hopeless at math of any sort
70) Have you fallen asleep in your chair yet?
71) I desperately miss being able to call up a friend and meet for coffee
72) I cut my hair short from waist length in Grade 7 because my best friend cut hers. She found herself a new friend almost immediately
73) I never regretted my short hair, except on cold winter mornings
74) I spent over 24 hours in a chocolate factory, ate two chocolates and couldn't face any more
75) I find it hard to make friends
76) I drove illegally for 4 years - yep... bad
77) I was employed as official driver for my husband's company for 6 months (after I got my license). We travelled the length and breadth of the Eastern Cape
78) I was secretary to the mayor of the Kloof Town Board for 3 months
79) I went to live with my grandparents after I jumped into an open heater at the age of 3
80) I think it was around then that I gave up all hope of being a gymnast ; )
81) I couldn't cook to save my life when we got married
82) We ate risotto for the first 3 months, as it was all Jorge could cook... then I bought recipe books
83) I love Christmas carols, but can't bear them to be sung outside of Christmas
84) I am a bookworm. I could read round the clock. I miss having books available... oh to have a library!
85) I love bright, bold colours
86) .........


I'm giving up here. This list has taken far too long and yes, that is #86... I have trouble in finishing things ; )

Added by Tatiana:

hmmm...
87) Have wheels, will travel!
88) Sarcasm? Your middle name!
89) Incredibly talented with graphics ;)
90) You love stationery. A LOT. (Guess who I got that from? LOL)
91) That one line one of Barbra Streisand's songs "move into the white house, paint it yellow, speak Portuguese and Dutch..." fits you perfectly (I always think of you when I hear that song).
92) When it comes to gift wrapping, you're a perfectionist.
93) Those who know you, invariably love you.
94) You have an amazing voice (especially your phone voice.. GIMME!)
95) You were born with a camera attached to your arm.. Only no one knew it back then.
96) You're not a girly-girl, but you're not a tom boy either. You're just the right mix.
97) You can never talk about yourself... You always have difficulty finding something to say when you try.
98) You never buy for yourself - always for other people (in case no one noticed, you're very altruistic).
99) You're quite modern for a mom and you give a lot of slack (Lucky me ;D) (ALMOST 100!! WOOHOO!)
100) You're my mom, my friend, my crutch, my non-maraschino cherry on top of the black forest cake! You rock *grins*

WEWT! 100 THINGS! =D

Sunday, 02 December 2007

Picture Perfect - One


This week's Picture Perfect theme is "One".


The vine was hanging over the sidewalk. We nearly walked into it. I'm glad we didn't. We may have knocked Mr Ladybug off his perch. Yes, we decided it was a mister. How on earth does one know the difference anyway?


One leaf... one bug...

A long, long time - 28 November 2007



nineteen years
is a long time
longer than long
longer than forever


i hear
your thumping
down the passage
on wooden floors


chuckle as you
watch the dog
trying to get to you
through the window


i had to learn
too many lessons
too hard, too fast
when you went


nineteen years
is but a day
when passing words
scratch at old wounds


© tint


Today I will remember.... just today... just a little while

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Trivialities

A couple of days ago, Tat went with me to the dermatologist. We were running late and didn't know where we were going. The bus took us to about a mile away from the clinic. There was so much to photograph, but Tat kept me in check and I only managed one photograph. So sad. We were told to be there at 9:30am, but only got in some time after 11am. I was ravenous. We hadn't eaten yet. We stopped off at a 'coffee shop' afterwards for some very stale, dry, heartburn-promoting coxinha, which we washed down with passable cappuccino.


We were dying to try out a Christmas shop we saw, which turned out to be an unusually well-decorated dollar store. They had a life-size Santa doll dancing and singing in the window. My rather exhuberant daughter soon got into the Christmas spirit and nearly took the shop down with her. She has a cut to show for it on her hand. Naturally, it was the tinsel that jumped out and attacked her.


We went into a cafe so she could wash her hand, then started tramping up and down this very long commercial road trying to find our way home. The honey sellers, beyond thinking we were a little 'touched', tried very hard to sell us their bottles of honey. I refuse to buy unless it has a corn cob stopper, purely because I'm dying to photograph this phenomenon. These feeble honey sellers had cork stoppers in their bottles. Don't they know anything? They did tell Tat that pretty ladies don't pay though. We should have taken them up on their offer.



It took us a while, but we eventually found our way to the bus stop, courtesy of the first helpful police man I have encountered here. The bus ride was uneventful and we got home early enough, so we stopped off at the post office. Christmas!! I got a book I had ordered, Green Pharmacy and Tat got some postcards from Harieta in Romania (sweet girl). Then our package finally arrived from Anne. She had mailed our Christmas gifts in September in the face of her move to Holland. She sent me a shopping bag (what's with that??). Tat got a teddy-related bag and keyring and Jorge got a gorgeous clock. The clock was really a family gift, but she knew Jorge would have to put it together ; ) Then there was the pig...
A pink flying pig! Now Anne hates pink as much as I do. She bought us each one of these pigs, so we could 'connect' across the miles. Uh... yes, Anne... definitely. Its a perfect example of her humour though and the fact that she knew I'd get a laugh out of it. The whole thing is so absurd and totally crazy.... but so funny! Someone please tell me what the hook on the end of its snout is for!




After a supper of leftover mac 'n cheese - always better the next night, Jorge headed off to bed. He likes to go to bed shortly after the sparrows do. Tat and I were clearing up the kitchen when I scrunched up the paper bag from the bread rolls, ready to toss it, except, it didn't go into the rubbish bin, but at Tat! She tossed it back and the war was on. It wouldn't have been so bad if we both lacked the usual large motor co-ordination skills required for ball play (I was always the last to be chosen for school teams), but we were laughing so hard, that throwing the 'ball' with any reasonable form of aim was well nigh impossible. I can't remember how long we kept that up. Yesterday, a random shot with the paper ball started us off again. Today, we both felt the 'ball' needed to be memorialised for posterity, so here it is ; )


Ah... the simple joys...

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Picture Perfect - Harvest

Photo taken with a Canon SD10 digital elph. Feel free to click on the image for a larger version.


The Picture Perfect theme for this week nearly 'had' me. I live in a huge metropolis, which is not known for it's vast expanses of corn fields ; ) I'm posting early to satisfy the curiosity of certain individuals and because I'll be out for most of tomorrow (and by Friday, I'd have forgotten what I was going to post).


I was looking through my photos in a rather desultory manner, not holding out much hope for the perfect photo, when I remembered the Ataiba Flores e Morangos Festival we went to in 2005.


Ataiba is a small town to the south of us. Every year, it has a festival celebrating the coming of spring and the strawberry harvests. This 'mermaid' was in the underwater theme section.


There were other themes. A Japanese palace theme where the entire figure of a lady in traditional kimono was made of flowers. Although there was a lot of Japanese, the main entertainment section was Russian. Two nationalities one doesn't associate with Brazil offhand.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Lazy hazy Sunday

The sky is blue today, scattered with fluffs of clouds, drifting along. The air is warm and mellow. I doubt it will stay that way. Chasing the fluffy white clouds are some heavier ones, but we will enjoy this while it's here.







Jorge was outside finishing off my latest chopping board. The photo of him woodworking is from last year when he was making our biltong box, but the scene is virtually identical. Jorge is incredibly good at woodwork and he loves doing it. He's limited here because of the weather and having no under cover place to do it. I have often said he could make a living out of his woodwork, though it has brought in a fair amount of pocket money. The trouble with Jorge is that the moment his hobby starts earning, he loses interest. It's no longer fun then.

The chopping boards get bigger and more decorative with every one he makes. This board must weigh all of 5kg (11lb). It's huge! I'll sneak outside and take a photo in a minute.
The wood is Ipé fumaça, one of the Ipé family. Ipé is a protected tree here. It's rare to see one in the city. Isn't the tree beautiful? We seldom get our wood from dealers, though this piece was bought by Jorge. He usually finds his wood in hoppers or demolition sites.



I had a chuckle at Romany while I was out there. He likes nothing more than to sleep in the sawdust at the foot of Jorge's 'workbench', regardless of the noise of the machinery going on overhead. I went to take a photo and he had no intention of moving an inch. I prodded him with my foot and all I got was a yawn... so a yawn is just what you're getting. Tat said he looked like roadkill. I personally think he looks like he's having a laugh at our expense.



There! I have christened my new chopping board. The bread I baked came out beautifully. We miss 'real' bread here. We only get bread rolls that are crusty and pure air on the inside. This bread is sooo easy to bake. I have the recipe up. It didn't come out too badly considering I don't have bread pans. Excuse me now if you please... I'm off to steal another slice. I worked off a lot of calories kneading that lot, you know ; )

Gosh, this house is lined in sawdust!

Picture Perfect - Repetition


Taken with a Canon Rebel XT. Do click on the image for a larger version.

When I mentioned what the theme is for this week, Jorge got all excited and listed a bunch of photographic candidates. He was running around getting items, lining them up, trying them this way and that. All I had to do was take photos. I must say, I got some pretty spiffy photos of some really humdrum household stuff. Perhaps I'll put them here anyway... for your amusement.

My final choice for today's theme wasn't a photo I took today. To me, technology is simply a half-hearted (though mankind tries really hard) attempt at copying nature. Just look at this palm... the repetition in the leaves. The mere spacing between the leaves is near perfect. Then there's the rows upon rows of fruits. This is where repetition really comes in. I have a zoomed in photo of those 'beads' and you'd never say it comes off the lowly palm.
Let me give you a laugh with this afternoon's playing then...


Jorge wanted me to show the rows of blades and the rows of little dots along the blades, then I caught sight of the shadow, repeating the pattern of the blades... naturally, my eye was drawn to the contrast with the wood and the repetitive pattern in the grain too.





I nearly didn't post this one. After all, who wants to see my broom anyway??? Then again, if you want repetition, this is definitely it!



My first choice had been this drill bit that I found tucked away in Jorge's toolbox. It's actually a monster of a drillbit, thicker than my thumb (saves me looking up conversions). The wood it's lying on is a turkey-carving board Jorge is making for me in time for Christmas.
Yes, I know there are 4 photos! I'm a brat... I know it... yep!

Vinte cinco de Março

Today, we made the trip into town to visit Vinte cinco de Março. There are many roads here named as dates. I have no idea what the significance of that date is, but to any Paulistano (a resident of São Paulo), Vinte cinco de Março is... well... a shopping essential, though Tat says it is definitely not essential. It's not our favourite place to go. It's crowded. The kind of crowd that picks you up and carries you along. It's fairly hazardous as well. I'd say, if it is a shopping mecca, it falls in that category for the pickpockets. Vinte cinco is where locals get their carnival trimmings, fantasy costumes, beadwork, jewelry... and let's not forget that its a haven for anything 'generic'. This is also where the 'dollar stores' buy their bits and bobs in bulk. We took the bus to Liberdade, which is São Paulo's version of Chinatown, except that it's Japanese. We popped into a stationery and bookstore, so that Tat could stock up on origami paper. We then went down into the underground metro to go to Est. São Bento, named after the huge church resting on the lip of it's gaping entrance. There, we stopped for a bite to eat, as it was lunch time and also to gear ourselves up for the descent into the madhouse that is Vinte cinco.

The road going down into Vinte cinco is steep. Everyone has their own way of coping with the angle ; ) The road going down is Ladera Porto Geral. 'Ladera' is 'hill'... rather an understatement. The horrible part of going down that hill is knowing we have to go back up at the end of the day when we're exhausted from shopping.








We were grateful, though, that the area was quiet today, not the usual crowds. Saturday morning will be a different story entirely... the road becomes totally impassable.





I'm so pleased I got this photo. The gypsies here fascinate me and I'm always trying to snap photos of them while they're not looking, as they can be rather... persistant once you get their attention.





Ah... finally... carnival gear! I needed to get some feather boas for a friend. The carnival trimmings aren't looking that great right now. The professional costume makers for carnival have long since bought what they need and the regular folk only go into carnival mode after Christmas. I struggled to get the little I did get.








Carnival was being usurped by Santa!







Whew! Walking space! Many of the bead shops were in little interior alleyways and many flights of stairs up, so we were really footsore by this part of the shopping trip.


The threat of rain cleared a lot of the hawkers, but the mimes were still going strong. That hill doesn't look so bad from here, but try walking it with shopping in tow and aching feet.






Back at Liberdade, I caught another gypsy. This one is a strange lady. She can usually be found with a cigar thicker than my arm decorating her lips. Ok, that was a gross exaggeration, but even Jorge commented on how fat the cigar was.




Finished! Uh... no comments please. I needed the sustenance for the trip home. My energy levels were really low. Yes, I know there are a thousand healthier things that would also have given me energy, but..... ; )

Graphic etiquette


This is the art I was working on yesterday and today. I say 'art' very loosely and with poetic license. Oh, who am I trying to fool... 'poetic'? I get these odd requests, being the resident 'artist' for the local pub. Talk about grand distinctions! Psh! This time, they wanted one of their patrons done up as a mermaid. They all went deep sea fishing recently and the above photo was taken on that occasion. Decorating their wall are various 'works'. One is the morph I did of Jorge as Shrek. Another was to create a package illustration of one of the patrons where he would resemble a pig eating a corn cob. It was based on a popular bar snack, which has an illustration of a pig eating a corn cob. Then there was the monkey on the motor cycle, which was done in mockery of one of their patrons who is a traffic officer, or as they call them here... a 'brownie', as they dress in brown uniforms. What do I get for this? Well, Jorge gets a few free beers out of the deal. I did manage to get Jorge to pour me a drink tonight with some heavy hints though.

Then the man returned from the pub with grandiose talk of etiquette. This was rich coming from someone who is very sparing with this subject at home. I think he simply doesn't want to wear his etiquette out in case he needs it in an emergency. He was going on about napkins. His point was that you always put a napkin on your lap, the only exception being when you're eating spagetti. Then you are permitted to tuck it into your collar, bib style. I said, as far as I knew, there were no occasions in formal eating, beyond the age of 2, where using your napkin as a bib was acceptable. Nope, he said, he was raised using a napkin as a bib with spagetti. I asked him if he had ever tested this theory in a restaurant, knowing full well he only eats spagetti when I force it on him at home. He hates the stuff, precisely because he has no control over where all that sauce goes.

I researched it and got sidetracked. I love reading etiquette articles. I found a couple of really good ones:
http://www.usheroff.com/52tips.html
http://www.career.vt.edu/DiningEtiquette/QandA.htm

So here goes... Tell me what you understand to be the proper use of the napkin in a formal dinner setting ; )

Friday, 09 November 2007

Picture Perfect - Looking Through

Photo taken with a Canon SD10 Digital Elph

if you could look
through my skin
into my mind
into my soul

what would you see

would you see
the flaws
that catch
the light

would you see
the stains
that make
odd patterns

would you see
the damage
the years
have wrought

would you see
the whole
and choose
me anyway

because i'm different

© tint

The Picture Perfect theme for this week is "Looking through". The photo is of my crystal. When I went crystal shopping, I heard words like 'flawless', 'perfect', 'unmarred', 'not dirty'. I found crystals that matched those words, but didn't like them. I ended up buying a crystal that was like me.... a crystal that was flawed, but carried a flame in its heart.

Wednesday, 07 November 2007

It's official! The world has gone mad


When I switch on my pc, I read the news, then I check my mail, after which I check my blog worlds. Yes, I have a few ;)

The first thing that caught my eye this morning was a photo of a young boy and girl in a ballroom setup. The story was about the revival of the cadets in Russia. "A Russian cadet leads a girl for a waltz during a grand cadet ball in an old estate in Moscow, Russia, November 4, 2007. Cadet schools are reestablishing the old Russian tradition. Grand balls usualy were devoted to the biggest historic events, as the one that marks the day of liberation from Polish occupation in 1612. (Sergei Chirikov/EPA)" My first thought was that that was wonderful. It is part of their history and their culture. I have always maintained that just because there is something wrong with a society, it doesn't mean you abolish all parts of it. That is akin to tossing your entire pantry because a slice of bread goes moldy.

One person commented that "I think that teaching children how to act "proper" is all well and good, but in Russia, these children are FORCED into military schools at ages of 5 and 6. They are also brain washed into thinking that "mother russia" is all that matters. They have kind of a 1940's german outlook on life. Russia has some issues that I find to be just flat out wrong." Personally, I feel that if anyone has a 1940's German (I say that hesitatingly because it also shows labelling and prejudice) attitude, it is this person. So Russia has issues, but then, so does South Africa, USA, Australia, Timbaktu. The kid was 'forced' into cadets at the age of 5? Heck, kids get 'forced' into education at that age. What kid of that age can book himself into (or out of) an institution or a way of life? Brainwashed? Hm... yes... he is probably being brainwashed into showing some etiquette, something sadly lacking in a large part of today's world.

The next article had me dumbfounded. A girl is given detention for hugging her friends. What next? I appreciate that the school is trying to rule out a certain kind of behaviour, but what are they teaching the children... that affection is bad? Actually, yes, that is what they're teaching. Their school handbook says: “Displays of affection should not occur on the school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved.” Tell me if this isn't somewhat warped thinking.

I think the news sites were on a roll, as I went straight into yet another article. This one is of a school that has banned games like tag. Why? Because it's dangerous. I do know that falling out of bed and hitting your head can be dangerous, so that makes waking up in the morning pretty hazardous. One mother commented in the article: "I've witnessed enough near collisions." I wonder if her child flies to school to avoid near collisions on the way. I'm sorry. I know that last comment was probably very extremist too, but...

To protect my child, I'd have had to put her in a bubble from birth. She's been on a collision course with life since the day she took her first breath. Heck, she's even proud of her collection of scars she's gathered on the way. Oh... and she hugs. She hugs a lot. She'd hug more if she could. Cadets... she'd give anything to take part. She loves uniforms, rituals, formality and organised cameradie. And yes, she will, no doubt comment on this blog, saying all the right things, but that is because I've brainwashed her ;-)

Tuesday, 06 November 2007

A gem of a plant




Its dull, grey and wet here today. Coolish too. We just saw a news report and photos of snow a few feet deep in Columbia. What's that about? They're right on the equator!


Remember a while ago I blogged about planting my gem squash seeds? I was worried that they wouldn't come up, as the seeds expired in July this year. A few came up. Then the dogs decided they'd love a taste of this strange new herb. They regularly eat my herbs :( They uprooted a few of the young seedlings and munched at others. I 'transplanted' a couple back into the pot and hoped. The third time they uprooted them, I found some mesh and tied it over the pot. They're doing well now, as you can see in the photo. My lavender died. I have a feeling the squash will climb the lavender stem in this pot. Jorge stuck two of the squash seedlings in there, as the lavender was already long gone. I'm going against all the rules of squash growing as it is by planting them in a pot and hoping for a harvest, but even if I just get a few squash, I'll be thrilled. I'll send seeds to all my needy squash-deprived friends out of this harvest... promise! Never mind customs. I'm becoming a customs pro lol


For those who don't know what gem squash is, its a squash that, to my knowledge, is exclusively South African, though, at the rate the expats are going, it's fast becoming international. Here is a pic I found of some squash. This lot was grown in Australia. The average size of a gem is about that of a large apple. The outer skin is hard, though often cooks soft and I love to eat it with my squash. Back home, we serve our squash with salt and a dollop of butter or, as my gran raised me to, with sugar and butter!! Then there's the ever-popular gem squash served with creamed sweetcorn and butter, often topped with cheese. I'm drooling as I'm typing this. If you want more info and a delicious-looking recipe, here is another expat blogging on gem squash: cooksister (I believe her name comes from koeksister, which has me drooling for yet another South African institution *sigh*)


Let me get a move on now and off to the kitchen. I'm going to start a batch of aniseed rusks ;) Want some? We've not had any since moving to Brazil. I finally found a recipe that doesn't involve buttermilk, which we don't have here.


From Wiki, on rusks:"In South Africa, 'rusk' normally means the biscuit, which is considered a traditional food (called beskuit in Afrikaans) and is eaten after having been dipped in coffee or (less often) tea. Historically, rusks evolved (along with biltong) during the country's early pioneering days as a way to preserve bread in the dry climate. It was traditionally baked at home, but there are now several mass-market versions available, the most famous probably being Ouma Rusks. Many bakeries, dellis and home industries also sell them, often using more exotic ingredients than their mass-market counterparts. In addition to the traditional "plain" and buttermilk flavours, flavours available, such as wholewheat, condensed milk, muesli, and lemon poppyseed are available."

Oh, I just found an interesting article on Ouma Rusks at Wikipedia. While you go off to read that, let me share the recipe I'm going to use today. For those who don't know rusks, do try it for a taste of South Africa. They're delicious dunked in coffee, the bigger the mug, the better. Some folk even dunk them in tea ;)

Aniseed rusks
Ingredients:
1 kg (2lb) cake flour + 2 cups
7 g (half a teaspoon) salt
250 g (8oz - about a cup) butter
30 ml (2 tablespoons) whole anise seeds
20 g (0.6oz - a tablespoon... just measured the package) instant yeast
300 g (9oz) sugar
1 egg
300 ml (0.6 pints) water


Method:
1. Sift flour and salt together. Rub butter into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the anise seeds, yeast and sugar.
2. Make a hollow in the flour. Break the egg into the center. Add the water slowly, stirring and checking consistancy. You may need a little more flour. Knead until elastic.
3. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until double in size. Don't knock back.
4. Shape into balls and place in a deep bread tin sprayed with nonstick baking spray. Leave to rise until even with the edge of the tin.
5. Place rusks in the oven, preheated to 200 °C (390°F), immediately reduce temperature to 180 °C (350°F), and bake for 45 minutes.
6. Remove from tin. Leave rusks to cool completely before breaking them apart (do not cut with a knife).
7. Dry out in the oven at 100 °C (200°F).

Picture Perfect - Fall

Picture Perfect is now Foto Friday and this week's theme is Fall. I live in a part of the world where fall as a season is a myth. Summer simply fades into winter... or sometimes not at all. Finding a photo was an interesting exercise, so I settled on this one. Click on the photo for a larger version.
"Now, ma'm, tuck your feet in there. That's right... your knees must go right under the wings. Hold on tight. No, you won't fall. I'm going to free the ostrich now. You ready?"
For the record, the underside of an ostrich's wings is very bony and uncomfortable. The lady in the photo is my step-aunt on holiday from Scotland. I did not take the photo. I did fall off an ostrich that day though ;)
I'm rather impressed with this photo. I didn't take the photo (yes, I cheated), but I did fix it. This is from one of my slides. You can see the original here.

Thursday, 01 November 2007

Where I am






I often speak of 'going to the village' or 'going into town'. It has occurred to me that there are a lot of misconceptions in those two phrases, especially to those who are fairly new to my friends list. Where I live is by no means a 'village' and 'town' is something of a misnomer.


I live in a neighbourhood called Vila Zelina. It holds the Lithuanian community of São Paulo. Vila Zelina is situated on the outskirts of the city. I call it the village more because of its atmosphere. The village is centered around the square (it's round) and the church. Though there are many churches and denominations here, this Catholic church is known as 'a igreja' or 'the church'. The houses are built on top of each other much like all São Paulo suburbs, but there are fewer apartment blocks. In the slide show, you'll see a couple of photos of how we look down on the neighbouring suburbs. We're very high up here, which is a good thing in terms of all the rain Brazil is capable of.









São Paulo, the city itself, is another story. Vila Zelina is in São Paulo. São Paulo is the financial center of Brazil. It consists of the central city and outlying municipalities, altogether known as the greater São Paulo. The greater São Paulo has a population of around 20 million. When I speak of going into town, I mean going into the São Paulo city center. Sê is the heart of São Paulo. All streets are numbered and named from that point. The edges of the greater São Paulo extend up to a radius of 30km (18 miles) from that central point. That is a lot of people to squeeze into that area! Our traffic jams here are measured in kilometers. Tonight the backed up traffic totalled to 197km (122 miles). This city is Big!








I hope this gives you all a better idea of the world I live in and why I often speak of going into town as though it's a major adventure.