Twisted and frayed ropes
keep me steadfast
close to the shore
as the seas of
time toss me
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Or are we going 1.1, 1.2... 1.10 then 2.0, 2.1, etc until 3? I thought it was supposed to be "Three's a charm".
My day started with our neighbour, at some ungodly hour (it was still dark in my bedroom and my alarm had NOT rung yet), revving his car in front of my bedroom. He must have revved for over half an hour. He then hooted for his kids... and went back to revving once they had all slammed and shouted their way into the car. After a while, I dozed off again.
I should have taken the hint, though, when my pc, after numerous restarts, refused to connect to the internet. It had no right! Perhaps it needed revving too. Finally, I got up and running and was merrily checking my mail when the cat started crying for her ball. That can get annoying. She wants her ball and wants it now. Trouble is, her favourite ball is transparent and blends soooo well. I found it and asked Jorge to drill the hole in the ball a little larger, so that I could put a piece of ribbon in there, which would make finding the ball easier.
Innocent-looking, isn't it? By the way, the ribbon is held in place by a clove. Our cat thinks that cloves are catnip. We ran out of catnip months ago. This is her substitute.
Jorge ambled off to oblige. A little later, I heard an ominous curse from the kitchen.
One of Jorge's prize tools is his Dremel. He had just blown the motor (or something) by putting it into the wrong outlet. In Brazil, the mainstream power is 110 volts. We are accustomed to 220 volts from South Africa. When we arrived here, we checked all the outlets for 220 and found none. Eventually, Jorge set up a 220 volt outlet in our passage, so that we could use our South African-born appliances and tools anywhere in the house via extension cord. Today, Jorge went to use the one power outlet we never tested because we couldn't see a use for it. This outlet sits above the kitchen sink, right near the faucets. The sink area was clear and just needing a quick spin, he thought he'd just plug in there and drill. He broke his own golden rule of never using an untested outlet, especially with Brazil's rather dubious power. The Dremel was 110 volts. The excess power fried it.
The good news? There is none. Dremel here won't sell just the parts. They will only repair and that will cost. The parts will cost too. Ugh!
Oh... and on the subject of the sink and faucets. We've had no filtered water here for a few days. The thread on the filter's tap was totally shot, so the filter was removed. The new tap cost us a penny today. I think Jorge decided we'd at least have that in the light of the hopelessness of his Dremel.
Then there seems to be something in the air. All over the world, people seem to be antsy and snappy. What is it?
We're finally in some sort of a winter here. We're in 'garoa' season, though I see there are warnings for heavy rains in many states. Garoa takes some getting used to. Imagine a rain that swirls like mist, penetrates everything, but differs from mist in that you feel the raindrops... ever so lightly... on your skin. This can go on for weeks. Dull... grey... cold... wet. Perfect weather for feijoada.
This photo is for Ben ; )
Feijoada is traditionally, a dish made with pork, specifically the... uh... less salubrious parts, such as the ears, tail and snout. It has a long history here in Brazil though. The early slaves were given the 'leftovers' of the pig to use for nutrition. Cooked with beans and served over rice, it became a staple, prized, too, for the fact that you could stretch the one pot of meal out over a few days - or serve a veritable army. Today, the dish is prepared rather differently. I blogged that before, so I won't repeat it here. My way is somewhat different. My feijoada is a mix of stewing beef, pork (usually chops, but often shank), calabresa (a spicy sausage), and beans. Simple. I soak the beans for around 5 hours ahead of time. At the time, I pop onion, garlic, meat and beans into the pressure cooker, add some stock and herbs, cover with water and let it putter away for just over an hour. I then cook up the rice and supper is ready. Day 2, I serve leftovers. Day 3, I stretch it with another calabresa ; ) Yep... it goes a long way and is perfect for the lazy cook. Naturally, if you're good, you'll serve this with salad : ) Traditionally, feijoada is served with caipirinha.
As you may have noticed (or not), I haven't been blogging lately. I had a fair amount on my mind. I won't go into details because the stories aren't necessarily mine to tell. Work has also been extremely, worryingly slow. We get through though. We always do... somehow. In the meantime, we're enjoying the cold... and the quiet. Cold weather drives the locals indoors and the streets become relatively quiet by comparison to normal.
So nothing newsy here, really. Just checking in to let you all know I'm still alive... just in case you were wondering ; )
I thought I'd bring this old blog of mine across from 360°. I have added to it somewhat.
"Decide that you'll be successful and happy come what may, and good things will find you. The roadblocks are only minor obstacles along the way." I got to thinking about the roadblocks and detours in our lives.
What is a roadblock? One of Webster's Random House definitions is:
1. an obstruction placed across a road, esp. of barricades or police cars, for halting or hindering traffic, as to facilitate the capture of a pursued car or inspection for safety violations.
Yes, I know there are roadblocks that frustrate us and some may even be dangerous, but I'm thinking of the roadblocks that we usually encounter. You're on your way home at night, in a rush to get home and tuck into bed after an evening out. You are stopped at a roadblock. Sure, its frustrating, but why is the roadblock there? Ultimately, for our protection. Its the roadblock that checks for the drunk/drugged drivers who are a danger to us on the road. Its the roadblock that is looking for the criminal. Its the roadblock looking for cars driving without headlights or break lights.
Roadblocks also serve to give us a moment's pause. Perhaps we need to stop and rethink our route... or simply rest a while. I am grateful for the roadblocks that stopped me flying straight into a destiny that may not have been the right thing for me.
Detours are similar. They take us around possible problem areas and we get to enjoy the scenery on the road. I, personally, by choice often take the scenic route (and no, it isn't always because I'm lost!). Perhaps a different lesson needs to be learnt along the way (like mapreading). Each part of the journey is as important.
We all have our dreams. Some of us have very big dreams. I have decided that I will reach my dreams. I will have the future I want and crave. I have had more roadblocks and detours on this road than I care to count, but, you know what? Those roadblocks are a protection for me. Perhaps the roadblock has made me detour (rockslide or fallen tree). The detour may have prevented me from falling down an unstable cliff face or provided me with a more scenic way of getting where I'm going.
I think I will look at my roadblocks in a different light from here on. I still hope there will be as few as possible because I'm not a very patient person and I really, really want that dream to come true. ASAP please : )
Every year, we would go to the South African Consulate Function in April. It was usually a rather grandiose affair, but on this occasion, they had outdone themselves. Food was French style, ie. more artistic than designed to sustain, with an appetiser of Carpaccio of Ostrich, a rare meat here, but fairly common in South Africa. Wine flowed freely the whole evening. Designer gowns, flashy jewelry, and fancy cars abounded. The venue was an upmarket Bingo hall, Imperatriz. The building was palacial, done in an African style, with dark African warriors lining the walls, huge tusks curving up towards the ceilings, which were lit with myriads of tiny lights. The entrance hall boasted enormous statues of elephants and giraffes.
The place and the event epitomised extravagance to me in every sense of the word.
Lindiwe Zulu, the South African ambassador to Brazil broke out in song during the speeches. I think the chap standing behind her looks somewhat uncomfortable. As you can hear by the background noise, the song was a hit, especially among her fellow Xhosa's.
The "African" dancers. Their performance was very un-African, performed by Brazilian dancers who had never been to Africa, and the ambassador was angry. A few nasty office memo's flew around after the event.
Apologies for the video quality with this last one.
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It has been a somewhat rough weekend on this end. I started today thinking that it is at least a brand new week, but tension is still running high. You know one of those days when the air is thick and the silence, heavy. You know how one negative thing seems to be contagious... and everything else goes wrong from there? Well, it's true and I'll be danged if it isn't really hard to turn it around, especially when there are other stressors involved that aren't just going to go away in a hurry and I'm having a 'glass walls' kind of life. Ah well... we'll try for the 'new day' thing tomorrow again.
Jorge went to some event at the Immigrant's museum yesterday. Looked like it could have been fun.
Aren't they cute?
The photos, of course, were taken by Jorge. Tat and I stayed home and relaxed. It was peaceful ; )
I have been meaning to blog, but every night, I go to bed thinking... oh darn.... didn't blog today. Somehow, the days have just filled themselves up.
At the start of the week, I was having a discussion with a friend on English and vocabulary. I showed her a recipe for a simply divine lemon sorbet I had found - I will post the recipe. She said, "Oh, sherbet." To me, sherbet is a tangy powder kids love to lick out of packets, which fizzes and tingles in your mouth. Sorbet is a frozen fruit juice. I wandered off to my bookshelf and hauled down the rather hefty Google. Apparently, a sorbet is what I think it is, while a sherbet may contain egg or dairy. Frankly, every site I land on seems to argue the toss. Apparently, my concept of sherbet is more of a British thing.
I found this:
Sherbet is a surprisingly easy sweet to make, with only three ingredients and no cooking involved. To make your own sherbet, you will need:
Sugar, usually caster or icing sugar
Bicarbonate of soda (aka sodium hydrogen carbonate, aka 'bicarb' or baking soda)
Powdered or crystalline citric acid (Note 1)
The manufacturing process is quite simple: mix the ingredients together. Just make sure your equipment and ingredients are dry (this is really important). The citric acid usually comes as dry crystals or powder. If they offer you a liquid form (a solution), just say no! The sherbet begins to dissolve and fizz as soon as it comes in contact with liquid, so it must stay dry until it touches the tongue.
The hard part is getting the taste right. You change the taste by changing the proportions of the three ingredients. A good place to start is with two teaspoons of sugar, one teaspoon of citric acid, and half a teaspoon of bicarb.
One source suggested using jelly powder (jello) for flavour. I suggested that my friend makes some to keep her kids amused during the long summer holidays. I think she may have fainted, having visions of sherbet-coated sofas. (Another Englishism... to me, it is a 'couch', but everyone else seems to insist on calling it a 'sofa'). I then suggested playdough....
The idea of playdough on her couches got me a similar reaction, so I suggested that she shut her kids in the bathroom with a tub of playdough. More horror ensued. Do I know how boys and faucets ('taps' to me) mix?? I gave up at that point. Boys are as much of a mystery to me as speaking Portuguese. Basic communication is possible, but let's not get too deep ; )
Tat was raised on playdough. In the photo above, she is the grubby urchin in the middle clutching her Tupperware containing playdough. There was always playdough on hand in various colours to keep the kids amused. Here is the recipe I used (for those who have little horrors to keep entertained):
* 1 cup flour
* 1 cup warm water
* 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
* 1 teaspoon oil
* 1/4 cup salt
* food coloring
Mix all ingredients, adding food coloring last. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from pan and knead until blended smooth. Place in plastic bag or airtight container when cooled. Will last for a long time.
Speaking of keeping entertained, here is the latest project I am busy on. It is a challenge, but I'm enjoying it. Sadly, the original wasn't very big. This comes from a photo album that got wet. The pages stuck together and ink from the opposite side transferred to the photo.
On Wednesday, Tat went for her endoscopy. Somehow, this must have gotten to me, as I dreamt the night before that she never woke up from the anesthetic. I've been having many disturbing dreams. The night before, I had a dream that could rival the horror movies I refuse to watch, complete with butcher's knives and gore. Thankfully, I don't remember much of that dream, but I remember the dream of Tatiana very clearly. Anyhow, the endoscopy went well enough. All the other patients wobbled out, supported by the nursing staff, while Tat did her Tigger thing coming out, chatting brightly to the nurse. That kid is weird. We will get the results in 20 days. It is a timing thing here. I'm not terribly surprised, as we had to wait over 6 months for the actual exam appointment.
My next task is to get my sewing machine repaired. It has never worked since our move. I don't relish hand sewing. I commented to Tat that there was a time when I was so very proud of my hand sewing, but now I'll avoid it at all costs. I hold my pc responsible for that, along with the downfall of my handwriting, which was never stellar.
São Paulo is designed, to me, in a strange manner. In the center of the city is Sê Cathedral - literally, the center. All distances in the city are measured from this cathedral. Whatever road you're on, the numbering of the property is based on the distance from this cathedral. The lowest number on the road is the end closest to the cathedral. Properties here aren't numbered, as such, but go according to their size, so you are number 1234 on XYZ road based on the fact that your front door is 1234 meters away from the end of the road closest to the cathedral.
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