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

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Ten... or so.... muddled thoughts

grafitti eye

My thoughts are trapped in my head. No wonder I have communication 'issues'. I think I think too much. Case in point... I started this post 6 hours ago *sigh*

Someone will say something or ask a question and I'll get so wrapped up in my response, that they never get to hear it and end up thinking I'm ignoring them or don't know the answer. The same thing happens to blogs and e-mails. I'll often have a string of blog posts open waiting for answers.... and they wait... and while I'm thinking of all the things I want say in reply, I get distracted with other bits of infringing 'life'.

Many times, I will have my response to someone so well thought out, that I honestly believe that I have verbalised it (or written it down)... only to wonder later why they had no idea what was going on in my head.
My distractions for the day.... I'm once again searching for people. I have found that the people I look for either have names that are far too complicated or are far too common. I seem to be getting nowhere... a bit like swimming through a forest of seaweed. Now that was definitely a random thought association!

Oh and the photo? A huge graffiti wall in the center of the city. See the black and white pattern? That is São Paulo's trademark paving. No other state is allowed to use that pattern on their sidewalks. Each city has it's own pattern. I think it is so that if you end up in a city accidentally, you can identify where you are by the pattern on the sidewalk.... assuming you know all the patterns and not your location. Weird...

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Friday, 05 September 2008

Wet ~A Picture Perfect theme





of you




my mind

Click here to join the fun on Picture Perfect

Wednesday, 03 September 2008



I posted the photo of Jorge and I as a group challenge on the subject of 'humour'. The South Africans will 'get' this one.

I'm the hard of hearing one in the family. Jorge, on the other hand, has selective hearing, but we often tease him about being deaf because he is so 'tuned out' a lot of the time. For our anniversary, Tatiana sent us an anniversary card from home with "Hoesê?" (translates directly to "How say?" or "What??" with emphasis) on it. Correctly written, it would be, "Hoe sê...", as a lead in to asking something like, "How do you say....?"  "Hoesê" in this form, though, is a catch phrase in South Africa. It comes from an old TV series where one of the characters would often shout that term. Seffies... please help me out with the name of the program. It is killing me!
PS. Did any of that make any sense to anyone who didn't know what it meant?

Tuesday, 02 September 2008

Isn't it amazing?



I was sitting tonight, watching Specs sniff my fingers, then rub against my hand. I thought again who absolutely amazing the trust of an animal is. It is something that produces a feeling of awe in me... something so profound. Take Maluco. He was my baby. I was there at his birth. I miss him so much. He was the ultimate farm cat. He had no need for humans in his life, being totally self-sufficient, but every day, when I called, he'd come running home and sleep holding my mouse captive (yes, my mouse is under him in this photo) and at night, he'd sleep at the foot of my bed. When he was injured, he dragged himself home... how, I don't know. No one could touch him. He was in incredible pain, but he submitted to my nursing. He was extremely leery of other people after that, other than the three of us, of course. Trust.

One of my favourite quotes:
"Many of you have forgotten this truth
but you must never forget it:
you remain responsible, forever,
for what you have tamed."
by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I so often wonder how people can do harm to animals, especially those we have tamed... whose trust we have gained.

Then I got thinking... it is the same with my friends. I so often feel in awe of the friendship that is offered to me. It is a little like taming, isn't it? Only a little. It boils down to gaining the trust of another, especially when there is no need or tie that keeps them there.


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Sunday, 31 August 2008

Town again

Republica Sê Liberdade - 24 August 2008  - 016a

The weather is fairly fresh here today. Jorge and I went into town this morning to collect the leather item we were meant to get last week. What should have been a 1 hour bus ride into town (before taking the metro to our destination) turned out way more.

Every year, around this time, they have a day where ALL university student hopefuls go to allocated schools and universities to do a test to see if they qualify. One of those locations was on our route. The traffic was backed up for miles! Many of the students on the bus got off way before their destination to walk, as it would be faster. They had to check in by 1pm or lose out on their chance to go to university until the following year. Once through that traffic mess, we 'sped' along to the metro station for the next leg of the journey. We took a different route to last week to eliminate a lot of the walking.

The leather guy came through for us this time. I'm fairly pleased with the work. We decided to go home the same way we went there last week to avoid the university issues, which turned out to be a mistake.... after a fashion. We walked from Republica to Liberdade (the Japanese quarter), where we stopped off at one of their little supermarkets. This place is incredible to walk through... narrow and cramped with absolutely everything written in Japanese... with tiny translations to either Portuguese or English below the Japanese. We got some of our favourite Japanese biscuits and I suggested we go through to the spice section. I struggle to get decent spices here. We went this whole winter with No curry! Much to my delight, curry is just what I found there! A whole big bag of it! : ) And mushrooms, for which I would gladly exchange a limb. We love mushrooms here, but struggle to find them and when we do, they're horrendously expensive. They're reasonably easy to find in pickled form, but who wants pickled mushrooms. I want them fresh!

We went off to get the bus. Liberdade is one huge construction site right now, so we pretty much end up having to stand in the road waiting for the bus. We waited for around 45 minutes (we should have taken the hint). Finally the bus came and people crawled out from the woodwork to pile on. Who knows where the others were waiting.

I think, for the home trip, we should have done the route we went out on. The favela I blogged about was being filmed. Funny, the last time we went through, I was saying to Jorge that I wished we could get that place on film and wondered if anyone would be brave enough to try. A massive detour and an idiot who felt the need to stand behind my seat and lean over my head (I seem to attract them) later, we got home just before Tat left to go to her dance meeting. Now I need to finish up those photos I took. Yes, I'm still muddling my way through them.

Hope you're all having a good weekend.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

A quick blog to prove I'm still alive

It's been a somewhat crazy time since I last blogged. I never even got to visit all the PP entries on Friday.


Friday evening, I was asked if I wanted to go with Tatiana to see the Lithuanian dance troupe's presentation at the 40th annual Cherry blossom festival in Campos do Jordão, a small town in the mountains about a 3 hour drive away from here. I went... camera in hand. We met the bus at 6:30am. The day was overcast and damp. I loved the event though... the kids were amazing. Ok, they weren't really 'kids'. Most were Tat's age and over. The 'team' spirit was wonderful.... on the bus, regardless of the hour of starting and all the way there. Once we arrived, there was  a short time where a few of us wandered through the gardens.


The dancing was incredible... energetic, fun, colourful. The dancers actually 'looked' as though they were having loads of fun, such a rare thing to see. I'll blog that day separately... if I can rescue some photos. I discovered at that event how bad my photography really is *sigh*

We arrived home after 10pm, ate some delicious chicken Jorge had prepared (how sweet) and collapsed.


Sunday, Jorge and I had to go into Praça da Republica to collect a leather item which was in for repair... it wasn't ready. I was so annoyed. It is an all-day event for us to go in, involving a long bus ride and a fairly long walk. I took some more 'realistic' São Paulo photos, which I'll put up at some point. So many people tell me we live in 'paradise' ; ) We got home tired, but it was a good day otherwise.

Sunday night, I got an e-mail from Felicity's sister, speaking of her day with Fel. It tore at my heart... I knew the end was near. Monday, I got stuck into the dance photos, as I want to be able to have them online in time for the next dance practice. I checked mail rather late. Felicity was gone. My day just crumbled. I have been struggling to pick up from there... so there you have it... my 'quick' blog, where I was going to talk about how I had nothing to say for myself.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Birthday boy

feuding family - jorge corrianne tatiana - xmas 2007


Jorge, the family clown, trouble maker, stirrer of the year...

Over a mug of his favourite Malzbier, we asked him, "How does it feel to be middle aged?"

"I don't feel middle aged," said he.

Tatiana reached over and twirled the curl over his growing bald patch. "So how does it feel to be going bald?"

I think he snarled.... before he got his revenge.... Ooh yes... he got his revenge, right Tat? ; )

Happy Birthday Jorge!

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Sunday, 24 August 2008

Goodbye my friend

For Fel


Goodbye My Friend - Casey Stratton


Felicity, I said goodbye to you a while back, when you got to the point where talking was too painful. All the pain and confusion is over. You are at peace now and in a good place, but, oh my friend... you are so missed.


Into the dim lit, bare walls of my world,
You entered, bringing light and life to me,
The vivid colors, painted with a swirl
Of wit and charm, of personality,
With tender care, you added comfort, warmth,
And images that line the now bright walls.
I look upon them fondly, bringing forth
A thankfulness that you walk in these halls
With me; our friendship has become a part
Of my world now; it has its special place,
Within my being, life, and in my heart,
Your name hangs right beside your smiling face.
Rememb'ring just how drab these walls had been,
I have to thank you for the light, my friend.

Tat wrote this poem, "All I can do", for me, not long after we were told of Fel's prognosis:

All I Can Do
All I can do
Is try and make you smile,
Watch you suffer,
Cry out in pain -
Why didn’t I foresee this?
Why can’t I make it go away?
Holding your hand,
I breathe deep again,
Wipe away another tear
Wish I had known,
Found some miracle cure
How could this happen?
Why did it happen?
You of all people
My heart shatters,
My world falls apart.
Please don’t leave,
I need you.

© Tatiana Lasevicius

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Friday, 22 August 2008

I'm angry

We just took our dogs and the cat for their annual rabies shots.
Specs was a breeze... she got a little wild in the eyes, but kept still and devoured her treats when we got home.


Dingo was easy, though she wet herself when the needle went in. That must have hurt. Still hyper as ever. In fact, I strongly suspect there was caffeine in that shot!

2008-05-15 - Dingo

Romany... my tough boy... is hurting. We used to give our dogs their rabies shots ourselves, having large dogs (a shepherd, a great dane and a rotweiller) and living on a small holding. We injected, as the vets did, under the skin. Last time, they injected the dogs into the rump, which is fairly understandable too. This time, they lifted the dogs' hind leg and injected underneath the thigh.... close to... well... you know.... That must have hurt like crazy. Romany was crying all the way home and his leg kept twitching. He couldn't get comfortable lying, or standing. Sitting was out of the question. He refused all treats. Poor baby. He's so miserable. I gave him some Eco-heal, a homeopathic remedy for dogs, which speeds healing. He's looking more chipper now, but still sorry for himself. What on earth makes them inject under there??? There's so much that the needle can hit and cause damage to!

2008-05-15 - Romany

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Thursday, 21 August 2008

Lookalike ~ A Picture Perfect Theme


They're twins! I tell you...
Duke and Hercules.
Hercules is the sleeping twin
100% lookalikes
In every way
Don't ever tell them otherwise


Of course, I was going to put up this incredible likeness.... don't you agree, that the resemblance is spot on?


Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Why Tint?

I am in the process of moving my entire personal site to Multiply. This is off my site...

Back in 1984...  ... when I was completing high school.... The annual tradition was to have what we called a "Matric Farewell Dance" and a "Matric Banquet". The dance was our final year dance to which boyfriends, friends, blind dates, etc were invited. The banquet was a more formal event to which only parents were invited. In both cases, the Std 9 (or grade 11) students did the decor and planning for the event. Our banquet theme was 'Fantasy' and each Matriculant received a personalized scroll.

This is mine.... 

That was not the end of the story though. It was a brilliant help with finding a name that wasn't already used in my earlier Yahoo days. Tintalasia became my ID, but a little long for regular use, so my dearest friends at the time... the Gyms... nicknamed me Tint and it stuck. You will find that if you Google 'tintalasia', it is my login just about everywhere : ) So there you have it! The 'Because...' part of Tint!

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Monday, 11 August 2008

The streets of São Paulo

SP streets

I went in this morning to collect my sewing machine. When Jorge called for the quote, he was told that the bobbin was cracked (it is plastic). I said... no way. I'm going in myself to check. Turns out the guy he spoke to though tit was cracked, but what he was seeing was the slot for securing the thread. My machine is purring like a well-oiled engine. Music to my ears! The guy who worked on it has probably been working on those machines since the the old treadle machines.

The bus we took was one of those that take you on a 'tour' of the city before you get to your destination. Talk about a long drawn-out route. We arrived close to our destination with just a few blocks to walk. I was in for a surprise.

One thing I continually find fascinating about São Paulo is the sectorised shopping. If you're looking for jeans, there will be an entire street, often a few streets, that only sell jeans. The same goes for wedding dresses, kitchen implements, shoes, trainers (yes, trainers have their own 'section'). Whatever you're looking for, there is bound to be a sector selling just varieties of that item. Today, we were in the fabrics, needlework, and sewing machine sectors.

Walking to the street with the sewing machines was a treat... fabric stores both sides of the road with tons of variety! The area was surprisingly clean and well kept considering it was close to the center of town. What a pleasure. Apparently, it used to be the old Jewish quarter. We passed a fairly run-down synagogue on our way out, which was still in use. Today, the area has more Koreans in, apparently. Now I know where the fabrics are, I replenish my stock when I'm done sewing up what I've got. I saw the tracksuiting was only R$13/meter... a pretty good price. Hm... that is about US$8/yard. I don't know how that compares to overseas prices.

When we'd done there, we went to see if we could get a new seal for my pressure cooker. That was trickier. They don't work with serial numbers, but want to see the parts, so we'll have to go back. Jorge can do that another day. The walk back was long. We left the Jewish quarter and went home via Estação da Luz, through the center of the city, past Sê Cathedral, and on to Liberdade, the Japanese quarter. We arrived just in time to get the bus going home.

On our way home, there was a bit of a fracas over some street kids who were riding holding onto the back of a bus ahead of us. Just a slip and those kids would fall under the car or bus behind. Very dangerous. Later, an old lady got on the bus. I think she must have been quite a beauty in her heyday. She greeted everyone, then looked over our way and commented on my, to put it euphemistically, rosy cheeks. The reality was that I was toasting and I always look like a broiled lobster when hot. Without a word from me (I had given her a rather embarrassed smile), she went on about how her grandparents on one side were German and Italian and on the other side were Spanish and Arab. She then looked at me again and said, "You don't speak Portuguese, do you?" in Portuguese, of course. I said 'no' and she went on, slower, with hand signals, that underneath all our blood is red and how she wishes me well from her heart to mine. She was so sweet. I spoke about two words the whole time. She just chattered away : ) I love chatting to the old folk. I get frustrated here when I don't understand them. I think this lady had a wealth of stories to tell. Our trip home then took us through the favela where I learned something interesting. I'll post on that later.
In short, it was a fairly successful morning. The skies are clear, the air fresh, the sun shining... a great day for getting out. 

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Yesterday, I mentioned that I had learned something interesting about the Favela. 'Favelas' are what Brazilian slums are called. Interestingly, they have an origin besides simple rank poverty.

The slum I have photographed here is not very far from where we live. I photographed this long ago when we were driving by in a hired car. It is not the kind of place where you go to do a photo shoot. It was this favela that brought on the discussion and learning curve.

Jorge and I came home and looked up the entymology of the word 'favela' to confirm the story he heard. We enjoy digging into the history of language. It turns out that the word 'favela' originated on a hill in Rio de Janeiro. This hill had many 'fava' trees. After the war of the 'Canudo' (Don't ask about that... I have no clue), many soldiers returned home and were left destitute by the country they had just fought for. No longer earning a living fighting, they had no income. They built up this collective housing settlement on this hill and called it "Favela". The word has since become the generic word for slums here. Another curious thing about favelas here is that they can be found in any area, be it a wealthy, upmarket area, or a downtown 'poor' area. The city center has a few upright 'favelas', tall buildings that have been turned into slums.

Researching the 'fava' tree led me to this site where I discovered that it is either a mimosa or family of the mimosa. Very interesting!

Back to our favela....


Our bus regularly takes us past this favela. It intrigues me. The homes, as you can see in this photo, are skew, ramshackled, tiny, and not quite the kind of dwelling any of us can see ourselves being happy in. The people, for the most part, do appear to be content. I strongly suspect that this dwelling also houses the 'pub', judging by the quantity of bottles of '51', a well known 'cachaça'. Cachaça, incidentally, is a locally-made cane spirit.

What makes these people content? They have so little. Their homes are rudimentary at best.  Some have pot plants balancing precariously on ledges outside their windows. Some are brightly painted, but, for the most part, delapidation is the order of the day. Few of the people I know are totally content, not wanting more.

This provoked a long discussion between Jorge and I as we trundled on our way home. What makes us want more? What is it that makes us not settle for 'less'? Jorge speculated over the whole 'ruler class' and 'slave class'. Class aside... what is it that makes us want to better ourselves? What is it that makes people like this content to stay where they are? What is the difference? Is it because they know what is important in life or is it because they have given up? Are we shallow for wanting more... for wanting better? I have learned a new set of priorities over the years. What 'things' are truly important and what aren't. I still think that if I found myself living in a place like this, I would slowly die. When I am being honest with myself, I know this to be true. I have often said that if I had my family around me, I'd be happy in a tin shack, but would I? I doubt it.

Having said all that, I have a great deal of admiration for the people who live in the favelas and really make a go of it, prettying up their homes with whatever they can find... living in dignity... making the best of their lot. I bet they whine a lot less than I do too!

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Friday, 08 August 2008

Calling Major Tom

departure for Australia

So we got a message today. Jorge's brother, Henrique, is finally off to Australia... the start of a new life. We just got, "Cheers mate! We're on our way!" They leave South Africa on the 14th. They're currently living with Marlise's family and have already sold all they need to sell. I think we'll have no contact with them until they land in Australia. We then have to wait to hear from them.

I'm thrilled for them. I wish them every happiness and smooth sailing on this new journey. I can't help being a just a little envious though. Ah well... our turn will come : ) Funny, I was busy working on my new Multiply theme when I got the message. Somehow fits.

Before our phone line went down, we had had incredibly dry weather. That ended a couple of days before we got telecoms back. We have since had nightly storms and pretty much constant drizzle. Apparently a record amount of rain for August? Don't know where they get that from. Yes, it has been raining and we've gone from constant bone dry to constant damp, but still...

My sewing machine has finally gone in for repair/maintenance. This machine was given to me by Jorge when Tatiana was just a couple of months old. It has worked very hard. It has taken me through soft furnishings in 10 houses, much of our clothes these past 18 years, self-employment doing soft furnishings for others, and so much more. If they had told me it was past repair, I wouldn't have been surprised. They had never seen this model of machine. It is old, for one, and secondly, was bought in SA, where machines are very different to here. Repair quote, a very surprising R$50 (US$31). Nice! I have a pile of fabric and a major deficit in pants. I need to get sewing. Shopping for clothes in this land of midgets is... well... challenging ; ) On the other hand... sewing time means time away from the pc. Oh dear... *sigh* I can't win haha!

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Thursday, 07 August 2008

Calling Major Tom

phone lines

Remember that song? I might as well have been out on some space ship this week for all the difference it made.

Friday morning at 10:30, our internet abruptly died... totally. Jorge went to call Telefonica, our service provider, and found the phone was dead too. When he got outside, he encountered a guy from Electropaulo (the electricity dept) who was connecting power to a house two doors away. He told Jorge that a truck had come by and snagged our phone line. Jorge went up the road to the nearest public phone and reported the incident to Telefonica. They told him it would be repaired within 72 hours. Simple, huh?

We waited.

I started organising and backing up my pc. On Saturday, Tat and I went into town. Sunday, we sorted out some of our disastrous store room. Sunday night, we were beginning to get annoyed. Monday morning, we were angry.

All work Jorge and I get comes in via the internet. The client calls to see if he is available, then the work gets sent via e-mail. Internet downtime means zero income, a situation we can ill afford. Yes, it was over the weekend, but that is often when work comes in for Jorge. My work is far more sporadic.

Monday morning, Jorge went off to the Telefonica offices, where he was told that the 72 hour wait was 72 office hours! What was more.... the 72 hours would only start the day after the original complaint. This meant that the Friday incident would only be counted from the Monday morning!! *insert expletives of your choice here*
So we waited some more. Wednesday rolled in... no internet. Jorge went to Pro Con this morning first thing. Pro Con is a consumer rights thing. They arbitrate between you and the company in question. They're pretty good. They told him to return tomorrow morning with the last 6 months' worth of phone bills at which point they'd take action. Huh?! On his way home, he stopped in at Telefonica again... a new problem...

The girl at Telefonica said, "Oh.... isn't that strange. You are down for a line inspection. There is nothing here about a line being damaged. We'll have to put in a new service request." How long would it take? From the time the new service request went in... another 72 hours!! That would take us through to next Tuesday. Jorge got a little... upset. Jorge doesn't 'do' moderation. He either does nothing or totally blows his fuse. He blew a fuse, then came home and settled to wait some more, with plans to go to Pro Con in the morning. Pro Con has the  power to enforce immediate action, but, to get anything done, you really have to be there by 7am or you only get attended to late afternoon. That is the length of the queues there.

At 4pm, our front bell went. It was the technician who was cursing on his own account. Apparently, he could have had this job done virtually immediately after the first call went in. They have spent the whole week being sent out to jobs that other technicians had already been assigned to. Apparently all the technicians are complaining. To top it all, we have had some much needed rain and they have had to work out in the rain, poor guys. He was aghast at how long we had to wait. We learned something else too. The call center for Telefonica isn't in this city, but in some far-off little town in the same state, but far away... where they have absolutely no idea of the geography and demography of the city of São Paulo. No wonder it is such a mess.

But.... I'm back online... and we actually survived this period without killing each other, so all is well. I will try to catch up, but may not go to all the backlog of blogs. Gosh, it's good to be in touch with friendly faces again. At times like this, I realise how cut off I am from the rest of the world when I don't have internet... and McD's has removed all its computers. Who said they could do that???

Oh the photo? That is the mess of wires outside our home ; )

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Music to my ears


The job I mentioned on Monday was successful. The client was happy. I did it as a no-charge because he is one of our biggest suppliers of work for Jorge and one of those people it is a pleasure to do work for. The next day, he sent me this photo. Could I please make the fringes on the little girls longer, as his wife was embarrassed to show the photo. She claimed they look like Tupi (one of the Native American tribes in the region). I worked on the photo, sent it back and got:

"Obrigado Corrianne! Minha esposa perguntou quanto ficou para operar o milagre?"
"Thank you, Corrianne! My wife wants to know what it cost to achieve this miracle."


Music to my ears! Now comes the problem. All my work in the past has been for clients in Canada, USA, and Europe. I have no idea what to charge here. Jorge and I went to one of the local photo shops this morning with a print of the photo above and the one below, to get an idea of the charges. The one above, they said they could do, but it would look very unnatural. The cost would be R$400 (and here I was worrying about charging R$50!!). The photo below, they said couldn't be done, as there wasn't enough 'information' in the photo and the damage is too bad. I did that restoration years ago. It was one of the first I had tackled. My thought is that if they would charge R$400 (US$256) for the above photo, what on earth would they have charged for the one below if they could do it?


In the end, I'm still unsure what to charge, but I'll figure something out.

The weather here is so incredibly dry and apparently, we're headed into at least another two weeks of dry weather. The pollution is now very bad. There isn't even dew in the mornings. I can hang clothes out overnight and take them down in the morning, crackling dry. Our eyes, noses and throats are burning. I do hope it rains soon!

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Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Picture Perfect in Monochrome

pp-admins comp 4a

The circle of life
in perfect symmetry
Of birth and of death
a coming and going
Since the beginning of time
and always will be

(The maternity hospital on Avenida Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil)

Monday, 28 July 2008

Monday Magic


Monday is traditionally a day we try our darndest to avoid even considering, so I figured I'd try my darndest to find something good in it.

My day started well. I got work in! Most of my work comes from overseas.... USA, Canada, Europe. It is hard to get work in, as I have to depend on word of mouth and visits to my site. Advertising on the net is awkward and pricey. I don't get local work really (the pub doesn't count), as I am even worse at promoting my work here than on the net. This job wasn't a huge job, but I stand the chance of getting more work in through it. I can hope : )

Oh... and Tatiana got work for tomorrow morning too!
While I was working... I heard the bem-te-vi...
I mentioned on JohnOh's blog a while back that we don't hear bird calls here. That wasn't entirely accurate, as we occasionally get spoiled with the song of the bem-te-vi. "Bem te vi" or "Dear, I saw you".


This photo is not by me. Credit goes to Ceasol on Wikipedia.

I miss hearing bird calls. I don't hear many because my ears are shot and, living on a very busy road in the city, we don't get too many birds at all. The bem-te-vi is an exception. When he calls, the sound really carries. It is a sound I will always associate with the better part of Brazil.

Listen to the  bem-te-vi here

I found a couple of videos of the bem-te-vi.

This little guy is a real show off : )

Hm.... and I spent a few minutes arranging colourful origami stars on a table. Pretty, aren't they? Tat is the origami expert here : )


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Saturday, 26 July 2008

Ugh! Ants!

If the regular ants aren't bad enough (this place is alive with them), the termites are the bane of our existence. Jorge went to do some woodwork this morning and called me to see the latest fiasco.


This used to be the base of a woven basket that held goods for donation in our store room. I feel so chemicalled out right now. We have an ongoing fight against termites. I love wood... but we pay a high price for any wood we have. We constantly spot treat any signs of a new invasion. As fast as one treats the last batch of termites, the new swarm of flying ants comes in and the process starts over. At our old house, all the wood in the house was virtually completely hollow... including rafters. The garden was rife with them. The damp here is just so perfect for thriving termite colonies.

We've been threatening to clear out the store room for a while now. This has spurred the activity on. No fun, but it needs doing. Not exactly what I had hoped to spend my weekend doing though. Wonder if this is life's way of nudging me, not so gently, into housekeeping ; )

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Thursday, 24 July 2008


(a 360 repost) Someone asked me what we're having for supper ; )


Tonight, we had samp and beans or as the Xhosa call it, umngqusbo, for supper and it made me think of Sophie. Samp, for those who don't know, is a white hominy. It is cooked with sugar beans and beef. My version contains tomato extract too - delicious!

Sophie is on the far left in the photograph. I'm the grubby looking kid with the bright red ribbons. My gran always put ribbons in my hair, no matter what the activity was or where we were going. I think she loved ribbons and they were always big and bright. On the far right, is Hamish, my brother and between us is Jemimah, Sophie's daughter and my playmate. Next to me is my gran. The other lady is a friend of hers, Gloria... a crazy lady.

Sophie was our maid. She worked for my gran from before I came along. Then she became my nanny. She is the one who walked me to and from school in the early grades. Ouma (my gran) was at the shop (for those who don't know, I was raised by my grandparents.) I remember sitting at the kitchen table, eating my lunch after school and telling Sophie to sit with me. "No, miss, it's not right." No amount of nagging on my part would get her to sit with me. She would stand at the counter, eating her lunch. Sophie was the one who taught me how to mop up the gravy from the stew with a chunk of bread... yummy! Sophie was also the one who taught me how to enjoy and later to make samp and beans. I have since used the dish for winter comfort food and even entertaining.

I remember once as a fairly new wife, we had had dinner with friends who were way out of our financial league. It was like eating at a hotel. They had servants doing all the preparation and serving. I was duly intimidated, as I knew we'd have to return the favour. In the end, I made samp and beans... something my friend had never tasted before. It was a hit. I love that stuff :)

Sophie was with us through my primary school years. It was Sophie who fetched me from school the day my grandad died. That was the end of an era. We moved and Sophie retired. Within a couple of months, I lost my beloved grandad, Jim, and Sophie. I can still picture her in her ever-present black beret, leaning over the kitchen counter, mopping up her gravy with a chunk of bread.... or chopping meat for supper, listening patiently to my jabbering.

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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Who says animals don't have hearts... ?

dog saves baby

Photo credit to Terra News

Jorge put me onto this news article. Clicking on the image above will take you to the original article (in Portuguese).
Not very far from here (in relation to the size of Brazil), at Santo Antônio do Monte, 185 km  from Belo Horizonte, in Minas Gerais, this gorgeous dog saved a newborn baby. The dog, Xuxa, named after one of Brazil's celebrities, is a 'vira lata' or mongrel.... with a heart of gold. Her owner found her standing over a cardboard box in a vacant lot, barking incessantly.

Maria opened the box and found a newborn baby, still covered with blood with the umbilical cord attached. The little boy, now named João Gabriel, is doing well in hospital and will probably be adopted. The mother of the child has not been found.

As Jorge put it when he showed me the article.... animals put humans to shame. I know there are those that will say the dog was barking because of the smell of blood, but I do believe that it goes far beyond that. The dog sensed life. That little boy has a chance at life now. I can only hope his life continues to be blessed.

For even more heartwarming dog news, go to Irene's blog here. These animals are simply amazing!

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Picture Perfect Theme: 'A Song Title' ~ Spirit of the sea

Spirit of the Sea
by Blackmores Night

pp-song title-spirit of the sea

The photo was taken on a stormy day from the ferry going out to Ilhabela, São Paulo, Brazil

Blackmores Night Lyrics
Spirit Of The Sea Lyrics

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Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Weird conversation


Photo by Jorge on his trip to Lithuania

Jorge is a strange character. His usual reaction to death or the announcement of someone's death is a super-tactful, "Sh*t happens." Apologies for the expression. I'm quoting very literally. I say, super-tactful, because he has been known to insert some black humour at that point, unless checked. I've always believed that this is because he has no earthly clue how to deal with the subject. Emotion of any sort in himself or anyone else makes him incredibly uncomfortable.
This morning, he called an elderly spinster who apparently knew him and his family when he was just a tiny tot here, before they moved to South Africa. She also knows the Lithuanian lot well. The lady, Irene, was talking about another lady (I forget their connection) who is recently widowed and having a hard time adjusting. She's 70 and her husband was 75. This got Jorge talking about death and then, graves. He has this dream of returning to Lithuania to buy the land his grandfather owned.

This was different. He now wants to find out exactly where his grandfather was buried here in Brazil, so that he can take a handful of soil from his grave to his grandmother's grave in Lithuania. He then wants to renovate her grave because it has been neglected. Those who know Jorge, will know that this is really strange talk from him. He never met his grandparents. In fact, he only recently met his aunt for the first time, his uncle having passed on before he made it to Lithuania.
We have never, as a family, given much credence to burial places. I believe that the grave is empty. It is merely a symbol... a marker. The spirit of the person lives on in our hearts and lives. A meaningful tribute, to me, would be to plant a tree or something in their memory. Jorge is about as unsentimental as they come, so this kind of talk had us wondering if he was feeling... uh... well. Is my husband getting sentimental in his old age? He is, you know... in many ways. Then there are days when he totally blows that 'persona'. Confusing guy....

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Thursday, 17 July 2008

Meeting the president

A couple of days ago, we were told that the Lithuanian president is 'in town' and that he would be coming to our 'village'. For those who have been around a while, you'll know I don't live in a village, but in the Lithuanian community of São Paulo... very much city, except for the village-like atmosphere. Tickets to the presidential lunch were being sold at R$100 each (that is around US$63 ) per person. Naturally, we didn't go. We heard later that he would be coming to the village today to speak at the church. This church is Catholic, but unique here, as they have regular services in Lithuanian.

But... I had shopping to do. Jorge went off to the meeting. After French plaiting Tat's hair, just for the heck of it, I called Jorge to ask him how I'd get the house keys to him. He said just to call him when I got to the church, and he'd come out to collect them. We arrived at the church to see the speachifying was in progress, so I snuck in to give Jorge the keys. Once there, I saw him standing with the camera, not taking photos. That's not on! I grabbed the camera and went to the front, snapping away, not taking in a word of the speeches, as he spoke in Lithuanian and the interpreter spoke very badly... not very clearly and I need clear Portuguese.

Meet the president....  I have to confess at this point that I have absolutely no idea what his name is!! Edit: Just looked it up. Meet Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania!


Lithuanian presidents visit 09

He commented on the Lithuanian spirit that was very evident in the crowd he viewed...

Lithuanian presidents visit 01

He was a riveting speaker - as I was told. The lady is the interpreter...

Lithuanian presidents visit 02

The car.. well... just another car, really...

Lithuanian presidents visit 03

This little girl was cute as a button. So full of life and enthusiasm, in her Baltic amber necklace. Her mother kindly gave me permission to photograph her.

Lithuanian presidents visit 04

The president apparently loves children : ) This photo was taken over the shoulders of the crowd pressing around them.

Lithuanian presidents visit 05

The motorcade escort...

Lithuanian presidents visit 06

The sun was high. I found this trio of girls crammed onto a tiny porch. The little cub scout and Lithuanian mascot wanted in on the photo.

Lithuanian presidents visit 07

Jonas, Jorge, and Vladis - the 3 cousins

Lithuanian presidents visit 08

In all, it was a festive day. Tat was asked to join the Lithuanian club dancers. She sure looked the part with her plaited blonde hair and fair looks. The dancers are apparently going to Lithuania next year on a sponsored dance tour. We eventually made our way to the supermarket for long-overdue shopping. Tat got many comments on her hair today. It was odd, really, as it is a style she wears quite often. Today, she looked Lithuanian : )

A more formal write-up of today's happenings can be found here.

A photo on the presidential site of the dinner arrangement we missed can be seen here.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

~ Zest ~ A Picture Perfect Theme



never walk
only run
all this and more
a zest for life
few can miss
~ Tatiana ~

Photo taken at Paraty on our little boat going to the islands
The roof of the boat was the perfect place to catch some sun

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In the sunshine

Specs in nasturtiums

As most of you know, I subscribe to a daily e-mail from TUT. I loved this morning's e-mail...

If you just whistle every now and then, Tint; skip every thousandth step or so; skim the odd stone across the odd pond; go dancing on the occasional blue moon, if only alone in the dark; dress up sometimes, even with nowhere to go... for simply stirring up some little bit of hope, no matter how silly or disconnected your actions seem to be with the rest of the world, magic flashes in the unseen, friends are summoned, connections are timed, stars are aligned, opportunities are crystallized and serendipities are calculated, creating possibilities for new realities that cannot now even be imagined from where you presently stand.

The sun is shining outside... brightly. Our weather has been incredibly dry, causing the powers that be here to issue health warnings. Sure, the dry air means more pollution hanging over us, but otherwise, I'm loving it. It is the kind of weather where it is cool in the shade and warm in the sun. The animals are loving it too. The dogs lie basking in the sun most of the day. Specs took advantage and snuck out to eat some of the bird's grass and lie in my pot of nasturtiums. It's fun going out when you know a hyperactive dog's tail isn't going to wack you in the face. I planted grass seed in a pot, so that we could get fresh seed, which the bird loves. So far, the dogs and cat are enjoying the grass more. Poor Heidi, the cockatiel, has to suffice with dry seed unless I go for walks.

I think the cat (and Tut) is telling me something..... get out and just enjoy what there is... in little sunny snatches.

PS. I have no clue what that leaf on the right is. A volunteer plant seeded there. We left it to see what would happen. I strongly suspect it is a tree = /

PPS. The tree was a litchi pip I had planted... now it's history. I'm heartbroken!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

I had a dream



The dream itself, like all my dreams, was long and I don't remember much of it. There was one part that stood out near the end.

I was in bed and when I woke up, there was a spider's web at the foot. In the center was a very large, round, hard-shelled, rich chocolate-brown spider. It had a cluster white dots in the center of it's abdomen. This spider was surrounded by a few others, looking identical, but smaller. I was horrified when I first saw them, but was then fascinated.

Bear in mind, I have no fear of spiders. I respect them and will defend their right to be there. Indoor spiders usually get captured and taken outside to the plants. I have been known to photograph and film spiders. We had a spider at our old place (the one in the photo) that I even used to have conversations with.

I approached the web with the idea of finding out why it was there. Next thing I knew... you know the way dreams tend to morph... the web was moving and the big spider climbed down. Another morph later, and the spider had changed into a small, grey, tabby cat... not too stripey, which was walking on its hind legs (something like the cat in Shrek) and leading me somewhere. I don't know where it led me to, as the dream changed then.
I have a blog where I used to record all my dreams. I stopped posting in there, but I still like to record my dreams, so I might as well do it here. After all... they're a part of me too, right?

Apologies to those who are squeamish about spiders ; )
I found this:

To see a spider in your dream, indicates that you are feeling like an outsider in some situation. Or that you may want to keep your distance and  stay away from an alluring and tempting situation.  The spider is also symbolic of feminine power. Alternatively, a spider may refer to a powerful force protecting you against  your self-destructive behavior. If you kill a spider, it symbolizes misfortune and general bad luck.

To see a spider spinning a web in your dream, signifies that you will be rewarded for your hard work. You will soon find yourself promoted in your job or recognized for your achievement in a difficult task.  Spiders are a symbol of creativity due to the intricate webs they spin. On a negative note, spiders may indicate a feeling of being entangled or trapped in a sticky or clingy relationship. It represents some ensnaring and controlling force. You may feel that someone or some situation is sucking the life right out of you.

To see a spider climbing up a wall in your dream, denotes that your desires will be soon be realized.

To dream that you are bitten by a spider, represents a conflict with your mother or some dominant female figure in your life. The dream may be a metaphor for a devouring mother or the feminine power to possess and entrap. Perhaps you are feeling trapped by some relationship. 

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Monday, 07 July 2008

I am grateful


A conversation I had today brought to mind something I have been reading and hearing of over and over from various sources... being grateful, not just grateful, but grateful for where I am. Now, I must tell you, it takes a lot for me to say this. Those who know me and know how I've felt the past number of years will know what I mean, so I'm not going to follow that thought here at all... it would defeat the purpose. This blog is of a personal nature, so reading it may well turn out to be immensely boring. I won't be offended if you glance and move on : )

It is well known that those who give thanks for what they have, somehow 'attract' more of the good. Whiners tend to get more of the negative... right? The key here is to use no negative words at all. Try it... it isn't as easy as it sounds. I'm not allowing myself to say something like, "I'm grateful I don't have...", as 'don't' is negative. Let's see how far I can take this exercise.

So... I'm grateful

... that I have a home that is bright and sunny... and waterproof.
... that I have my little family around me. I know where each one is. I can talk to them whenever I please.
... that we are all healthy. I look around and see wet noses and sparkly eyes. Ok... so the healthy thing covers the animals too : )
... that I trip over animals that love to rub up against my legs. Unconditional love is good, especially when I have treats in hand
... that I have treats to give!
... that I live in Brazil. Living here has gotten me one very dear friend, a godmother to my child, and a hoard of wonderful friends all over the world!
... for my computer and our normally excellent internet connection
... for the freedom to surf, explore, do research
... that I found my cousins after more than 30 years of silence
... that I can read on my favourite subjects, so that once I have moved, I can study and it will be easier to qualify
... that I have been given the time to prepare to move
... supper is smelling good ; )
... for my incredible sense of smell, which makes me check the supper before it... well... y'know ; )
... for my family's great sense of humour. It has helped though some... interesting times
... for the learning curve life threw me on when we made the decision to come to Brazil
... I have had the opportunity to broaden my horizons and look deeply into a different culture, way of life, different religions... a different way of thinking
... for the 'fertilizer' I am often surrounded with. It helps me grow

I am grateful that I am South African. I am grateful for who I am and what I am. My world comes with its little 'challenges', sure, but life is good.... right?


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Friday, 04 July 2008

Freedom ~ a Picture Perfect theme


Freedom for many comes at a price and often after tremendous struggle. The butterfly is free, but the struggle to emerge from its pupa seems to take a huge toll on its strength, but if you help it along, it won't develop properly. Perhaps freedom that comes easily is not appreciated as much? Freedom is beautiful, is it not?
This photo is untouched beyond cropping and framing. We get tons of this particular butterfly. They decimate my nasturtiums. I have photos of the whole process, from egg through to butterfly. This one is taken of the butterfly after emerging on the ladder my husband made. Darn... I see there's a dog hair I should have removed.

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Another 'Freedom'

Thursday, 03 July 2008

When the center goes...



São Paulo is the economic center of Brazil. When São Paulo goes down, the whole country feels it. Last night, on the dot at midnight, our internet died. I cursed and went to bed, as the internet has been dicey for a few weeks now with super slow speeds at times.

We woke this morning to the news that the whole of São Paolo was down. News later came in that the downtime was statewide. Our internet downtime meant that everything was down. Think banks, police, airports, the works. On tv (great crime-prevention move there), they announced that no one was able to make official complaints at the police (what happened to paper and pen?) and the cops weren't able to release bodies from the morgue without internet (we needed to know that). Our news tonight tells us that Annatel, the governing 'body' for telecommunications in Brazil, is considering a R$50 million fine against Telkom if they can prove negligence. This should get interesting. Take a guess who'll eventually foot that bill... the users. Speaking of footing the bill. We just got the delightful news, too, that our electricity is going up by 8.26% next month. That should go down well.

Yesterday, we were out the whole day. We only got home at 9pm. Tat had a job in. I was really proud of her. She worked hard and performed well. The director, a crazy British guy, asked her why she hasn't considered going into acting. Born and raised South African, she has spoken Brazilian Portuguese fluently from shortly after we arrived here... without any hint of a foreign accent. For yesterday's work, she had to do a huge section in an American accent, then follow up with a section using a British accent. According to the director, she is authentic. Not bad for a kid who's never been to either the USA or Britain. She just listens to the accent and replicates it. That is some talent.

This photo was taken of Tat in the studio a couple of years back. I don't take the camera in there anymore.

Now I need to catch up with some mail. 'Someone' apparently put the internet on hold for us, but forgot to stop mail while I was down ; )

Thursday, 26 June 2008

~ Twisted ~ A Picture Perfect theme



Twisted and frayed ropes
keep me steadfast
close to the shore
as the seas of
time toss me
Tint ©


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