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

Saturday, 26 January 2008


meet me in my silence
deep within my thoughts
no need for a map
to navigate the paths
of the maze
that is my mind

meet me on the plains
vast fields of thoughts
rippling in the breeze
clouds of ideas
float shapes overhead
in azure blue

meet me in my secrets
on paths of hidden thoughts
stepping through the forest
of my stories
the worlds within my world
will-o'-the-wisp words

Tint ©

I have just finished crying through the movie, "Iris". To me, it was a very depressing journey into a world I don't really understand... or perhaps I do... just a little... no more than anyone else really. What does one say to those who need to care for a loved one with Alzheimer's. My aunt is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. I feel for her children. I can tell it is hurting them. I think that her condition is one of the things that nudged them into looking for the rest of the family... before it is too late. I started this poem long ago and could never finish it. Somehow, it just seemed to fit tonight.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Around the world - A Picture Perfect theme

I live in a suburb away from the hubub of central São Paulo. The life here is quieter. Yes, we do have very heavy traffic on my road because it is a main throughfare connecting two bypasses, but on the whole, it is quiet. On market days, our quiet is broken by the cry of various vendors.

For a long time, we heard this strange cry. None of us could make out what was being sold. By chance one day, Tatiana and I were outside when we heard the cry and could finally associate it with this gentleman. The cry turned out to be "Peixe! Peixe!" or "Fish! Fish!" It turns out that he has been doing this for quite a few decades. I guess when you're that familiar with your territory and people know you, it no longer really matters w hat you say. He will come to your door, clean and fillet the fish for you and be on his way again.

I remember two of us kids standing in the lounge, putting on a show. We did a very enthusiastic version of Sonja Heroldt's "Jantjie". I remember grape vines. I remember a pool on the other side of the wall that I was a little leery of swimming in. I remember looking up the ladder to the loft and wondering what was up there, too afraid to climb and find out. There was a forest nearby, at least, to me, it was a forest. We used to go there as kids. I remember late at night, Ouma and I running after the train and just barely making it.

I don't have many memories though. I remember my uncle as clearly as though he were standing next to me. My aunt, I remember well, as she is the last one we saw, shortly after Jorge and I got married. I have often wondered where my cousins are now. Last week, I looked my one cousin up, the only male. I started with him, as his name is unusual and the girls would be married by now with different names.

I got an e-mail this morning. I held my breath as I opened it. I barely got through the first line before I had to leave the room and regain control of my runaway emotions which have been on a roller coaster for the rest of the day. It seems that my cousins have been looking for Hamish and I as well. I have spent the day going through Facebook photos and web sites. I like the family I have found... so far. I am afraid of the ghosts, but pleased anyway. We have all changed and grown. The exciting part for me is that they want the contact too. I have decided to treat this as a new meeting. The old ghosts can be put to rest. The question now is, will they like me? I sure hope so. It will be good to have some of my family back again. Who knows, maybe I'll find the rest soon too.

A week or so....

11 Days ago, I went in for minor surgery. What a difference it was to my previous experience here of health care! I was assigned to a hospital out on the periphery. To those know São Paulo, you will know that this isn't exactly in the best part of town. Let's just say, it was an area where we made a point of dressing down and looking ordinary. I took my little camera along, knowing it would be stupid to use it. Jorge and I took the metro out, then a bus to the hospital. On our way through the neighbourhood, we saw tiny stores in garages, equally tiny homes, a lot of makeshift, women standing in the street gossiping, their nylon shopping bags on their arms. The atmosphere was a friendly one though. The bus conductor knew each passenger that got on and chatted as we drove. "Ah, Mrs X! Going for your checkup today?"

The hospital itself was small; a low ceilinged affair. We took our number at the main door and settled to wait. The building was no marvel, just brick and tile, sufficient, as opposed to smart. Surprisingly, we didn't have to wait long. I was ushered in. They forbade Jorge until they heard it was for surgery. Strictly speaking, I didn't need him, but he was my translator for the day... just in case. After registering, a process where our family history, all pertinent family folklore and related matters was explored, we were led to a waiting room. There were 2 other pairs, a father and daughter, and an elderly couple. Chat was quiet. The young girl got up frequently to check on progress. Eventually the surgeon arrived. We found out later that he was the director of surgery. I was the last in the queue. Once the others were out, I sneaked a photo of this cabinet. Jorge and I amused ourselves wondering what was in the cabinet. The rest of the room was bare. It appeared that the cabinet hadn't been used in a long time.

What struck me at this hospital was that everything was old, well worn, very clean and fairly organized - a remarkable thing in itself here. I was treated with respect, mingled with curiosity. Not many foreigners make their way out there. The questions about South Africa were, for once, fairly intelligent. A far cry from my one lawyer student who asked me if we had high rises and telephones in South Africa, or the bank director who's reaction was "but you're white!" I was asked which nations colonised South Africa to give me my fair, blue-eyed looks and what languages do we speak there. For once, I wasn't treated like a freak when I didn't understand something... a refreshing change.

We had a good mail day yesterday too. Our trip to the post office rewarded us with, not one, but two packages and a very belated Christmas card from Lithuania. Tatiana got a shoebox full of marshmallows and something rather divine called Ghirardelli Chocolate Peppermint Bark from her ex-boyfriend. Love that boy! ; ) We don't get marshmallows here, so that was a rare treat. Tat took out a candle and we 'roasted' some marshmallows over the candle. Yes, crazy, but good. I got a very special package from my friend Kippy... a really beautiful Nevada Christmas ornament.

While I was writing this blog, Jorge drew my attention to a news report on Zimbabwe. It seems the Zimbabweans finally have something to smile about. Their central bank is going to distribute a ten million dollar bill! Go here for the full report.

This bill is being introduced to save the Zimbabwean people from having to carry large bags of money around. "A hamburger at an ordinary cafe costs about 15 million Zimbabwe dollars ($6). But that price has trebled this month amid shortages of bread, meat and most other basic goods." And here we thought we had it rough. Currently, their highest bill is a seventy-five thousand dollar bill. Their inflation is sitting at 25 000%. To give you an idea of the exchange value: "The new 10-million note is the equivalent of about $4 at the dominant black market exchange rate." You know what the funny part here is? If you expand the photo, you will see that on the bill is printed that the bill expires on or before 30 June 2008! I have never seen an expiry date on a bank note before. They haven't given it a very long shelf-life, now have they?

Now for something totally different.... If you have a moment, you simply have to read this article! It will make you smile :)

Contrast - a Picture Perfect theme

I know this may be considered cheating ; ) but... well... psh! I'm entering one here too. This photo was my first choice for an entry, but it is a very personal choice, so I elected to not put it on the PP site.

As many of you know, I am South African... proudly so. Unfortunately, according to many, I am on the wrong end of South Africa's very varied colour spectrum. The 'stigma' of my colour was not only apparent back in SA where our small farms were targeted - white farmers were unwelcome - but followed me here where, on learning my country of origin, I have been called a racist, a label which makes my hackles rise.

I fail to see why my skin colour automatically makes me a racist. I was taught as a child to respect, even love, people of all colours and nationalities. The 'love thy neighbour' was not just applied to my own 'race'. I raised my daughter with the same principles. I have an extremely low tolerance for racial jokes and racial slurs... regardless of the nation or colour involved. Why I have to pay for the faults of an old government and its laws is beyond me.

Pictured above is Tatiana and her friend Minky. Tatiana - of Dutch/German/Lithuanian heritage, pale, blonde, bubbly, outgoing. Minky - Xhosa, native South African, chocolate brown, black curls, shy, sweet, mischievious. Friends, regardless of the contrasts of their skin and culture, with their mothers watching, sipping coffee and talking of things peculiar to mothers.

I saw the universe

The photo is not mine. I could never do the scene justice.

Tonight, after I had shut my pc down and prepared for bed, I quickly popped outside to get the laundry ready for tomorrow. While out there, I looked up. It is really the only way to look. Our extensive yard area is so large, I can touch both sides without stretching my arms out fully.

I looked up. Instead of the usual covering of murky grey-black, I saw a velvet black sky sprinkled with more stars than I have ever seen here. The stars were clear and bright and appeared to go on forever. For the first time in years, I could clearly make out the Southern Cross, the Big Dipper (and more familiar formations that I have forgotten the names to). Between them, the freckled heavens seemed to go on forever... I felt as though I could gaze out into eternity.

I looked down at the walls surrounding me and, for a second, felt the way a prisoner must feel when he looks out and sees the universe through his little patch of window. I am not, for a moment, equating where I live to a prison... just drawing a comparison to the confinement I felt compared to the vastness out there. I saw, in that moment, the whole universe straight overhead.

For that moment, I stopped breathing. I considered making a wish, but in that moment, I knew the Universe was very aware of my wish. It seemed selfish to keep this to myself, so I went inside and called Tatiana. We shared the next few moments just gazing and drinking in this infinite beauty.

Moments like these are what makes it all worthwhile. I am grateful for laundry : ) Sweet dreams to you all!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Song title - a Picture Perfect theme

I went through mountains of photos and piles of cd's. I had a few options for this theme. I wanted to do something unique... give you music that you perhaps weren't familiar with... and a photo that you weren't familiar with. Every time I went over, though, I came back to this one. Yes, it is my favourite model and the song is "I'm counting on you" by Chris de Burgh. I have often sat, watching her sleep, with the words of this song in my head...

Our children are the future. Too many of our generation are spending time in the past, in history. Too much time is, in my opinion, being spent on 'righting the wrongs of the past', as though it was all bad, and often creating bigger issues for the future. Why can't we just live for now? Why can't we live for the future? The past is important... to learn from... not to live in or obsess over.

I'm counting on you
by Chris de Burgh

The night is so wild, and downstairs the child
Is sleeping, her spirit is free,
For more than an hour, I have walked in the rain,
I've been wondering what she will be,
But where are the heroes, where are the dreams
That I had, when I was young,
Am I hoping in vain, just to think
She could change anything?
Well I'm counting on you;
I'm counting on you to bring that sweet gentleness
To your world and all that you do,
My generation is losing its way
We don't know, what we're leaving for you,
So may there be millions who feel like you do
Oh my love...
There is so much to know,
There is so far to go,
But you are not alone,
When this is your world,
And I'm counting on you;
Come to me, turn to me,
give me your eyes
When you see the mysteries of time,
Here there are those who just live in the past
They will never let history lie,
And this sad little island is breaking my heart
With its dark shades of green,
And as hard as I try,
I just cannot see why
This should be...
I'm counting on you,
There is so much to know,
There is so far to go,
But you are not alone,
When this is your world,
And I'm counting on you,
I'm counting on you...

Monday, 07 January 2008

Reflections - a Picture Perfect theme

This theme was an easy enough one for me. I love walking through the city taking photos of city life reflected in the glass skyscrapers and store windows. The photo above was taken on Avenida Paulista, which is the main business area for banks and many large corporations. It is not, however the CBD. I remember when we first saw this building, we stared for a while. The building is ancient and rather worn, but the painting on the side was so realistic.

Of note is that the scene painted on the building is a scene of the self-same road a good century ago. The road was home to the mansions of the wealthy. One of those mansions is still there. It is now an art museum and sits at the foot of the building in the photograph below. It is one of my favourite spots on this avenue, as it has the most wonderful rose garden.

As if the building and its 'reflection' weren't enough, it stood in such contrast to the rest of the buildings in the road....

Do stop by at Picture Perfect to join the fun or visit the other amazing entries.

White is for peace

I think it was our second New Year in Brazil when one of my students gave me a set of ribbons attached to a pin, which I was to wear on New Year's eve and New Year's day. There were five ribbons. White for peace, blue for happiness, green for health, red for passion, and yellow for prosperity.

Traditionally, during November, the only clothes you can buy are white because the whole of Brazil wears white for New Year. Tat wore white this year, as she does every year. I seldom dress in all white - it's just not me. I wore a white blouse, yellow slacks, green bracelet, a ring with a blue sapphire, and my red Ipé seed necklace. I love that necklace... it has such good energy.

We sat around eating Italian bread, cold meats and cheese with gherkins, olives and tomato on the side, chatting over a glass of wine while we waited for the New Year. Jorge then went off for a nap (he's one who will go to bed with the sparrows), while we waited for midnight. Half an hour before, we woke him up and prepared ourselves for the big changeover. The fireworks were rather good this year, not as many big bangs (they left those to annoy us with after New Years). Tatiana decided she was going to stay up to watch the sun rise. Apparently, that is a Japanese tradition where you make a wish as the first rays of sun in the new year peek over the horizon. She actually stayed up until 8am. I faded at around 4am.

I have resolved not to resolve this year. Every year, I make resolutions and end up on a guilt trip because they don't last long. I do have goals though. Goals are good. I have made my fair share of wishes for this coming year as well. I have often wondered why people wait for the start of a new year to make changes in their lives. Why not wait for the start of a new day... a new hour.... a new moment?