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

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 ; )