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

Monday, 28 September 2009

I play with snowballs


A snowflake is a very fragile thing, by itself.... but just look what happens when they stick together!

Some time ago, a dear friend posted a blog to which I commented that small things add up to a big difference. She added, "Keep the luck rolling!" I later threw in a "Sending smiles your way. Keep the luck rolling! Hey... think if you roll the luck that end and I roll it this end, the luck will meet in the middle and create one big luck-ball". Can you see where this is headed? From that, she started a movement... the snowball movement! "I like that image, I want a good luck snowball effect! You know, it rolls down the hill getting bigger and BIGGER..."

You've heard of the 'butterfly effect'. Well, we have a 'snowball effect'. Our snowball effect has since evolved. It's no longer restricted to luck, but to happiness and all things good.

"Snowballs" has become a catch-phrase for us. Whenever we want to send loads of the good stuff, we just send snowballs.

Naturally, as the most snow I have ever played with is a thin layer on the side of the road in the Drakensberg mountains, the photo above isn't taken by me.

Throwing snowballs your way! I feel cooler already : )


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Real life surreality

sur·re·al (sà r"ÆÃl, -r"lÆ), adj.
1.    of, pertaining to, or characteristic of surrealism; surrealistic.
2.    having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic: surreal complexities of the bureaucracy.

I got the link to this video in my mailbox. Surreal hardly describes it well enough. Beautiful is another word that comes to mind. Let's go scuba diving... in a meadow!

Water Level 9,40m ... from Alex.Be. on Vimeo.

You may want to go to Vimeo to view the video, as it looks way better when larger.

Surreality in real life:
See the second dictionary meaning above. Yes, I'm sure you can tell where this is going.


Friday started a little tensely. We were once again making our way to the Feds. This time, for Tat's documents. You see, because she is the daughter of a Brazilian (Jurgis will deny the latter with his dying breath), Tat has a right to a Brazilian citizenship. With this in mind, we went to Poupa Tempo some time back and were told she needs a lawyer if she wants to claim her citizenship, but, if she wanted to, she could get an RNE like mine, which is basically a permanent residency card. I suggested she opt for the RNE, as, even on a good day, most people find lawyers to be fairly expensive.

We got to the Feds.... we saw the Feds... we most certainly didn't conquer. Apparently, because she has a right to citizenship, she needs a lawyer... regardless of whether or not she wants an RNE or an RG (the local ID document). Uh... something doesn't make sense. So, as a total outsider, I can come into the country, fill out a few forms and provide a few Swiss Alps worth of paperwork and I'm in, but because she has a right to all that, she needs a lawyer???

So you can imagine the way our Friday went... downhill. Except for one thing...

On our way into the Feds, I got a call on my cell phone. "Corrianne? I'm from Mercedes-Chrysler. I have your 'carteira'." Now being a bit slow on the uptake, especially in Portuguese, I assumed she was talking about my business card and got happy. Ha! 'Carteira' is wallet. She had my wallet from when I taught there on Thursday. I must have sounded so dense. I spent a while swearing that it was impossible, that I had my wallet on me. Duh. In the end, I suggested she give the wallet to my student who could keep it until I got there. It was the least complicated solution I could come up with in Portuguese.

A part of me was ecstatic... wow... someone found my wallet and called me!! That is so very unusual. The other part of me (including the part that Jurgis kept reminding me of), was terrified. I had just drawn a pile of money because all the banks here went on strike and ATM's were closed. What if that money was gone? The money was intended to go towards the application fee we'd be facing with the Feds too.

When we'd finished at the Feds, for this run anyway, Jurgis went off to the offices that would handle the next step and Tat went with me to Mercedes, for moral support. My student gave me the wallet... intact... with every cent in place!! Yes, I plan to meet my rescuer in person and thank her. That was totally amazing! A missing wallet in this city usually only means one thing... missing... totally.

Yes... a surreal start to the weekend. As for the weekend, it has been very hot the past two days. Apparently, tomorrow will be the hottest day of this year. Yay. Then Tuesday, we go back into cold and wet. Surreal... that pretty much describes life in Brazil, I'd say.


Thursday, 24 September 2009


I haven't been in blog world properly in ages. I popped on briefly yesterday to reply to a pm... and flipped through posts in my mailbox. It was one of those days, made more... uh... interesting by a power failure for a couple of hours. Naturally, those couple of hours would have been during the few hours I was home. I had to cut my one Skype class short. While I was merrily teaching (do I 'merrily' teach anyway?), we had a flash storm of the 'branches flying around' variety. I heard a loud bang in the street and power went out. Luckily my student is understanding. The wind was blowing so hard, I struggled to open the door. The dogs were crying, poor things.

Yesterday was a good day though. It started out a little rough around the edges. I was in a mood and a half. It wasn't pretty. Tatiana had gone into town to get her glasses. Now there's a story! Jurgis has been doing translation for a guy who's in the middle of taking over a glasses manufacturer. A while back, I posted about synchronicity. This was it... or at least part of it. Tat has been needing glasses for a while now, but we were holding off until we could either find a reasonably priced pair or afford a better pair. They're expensive here. Her lenses are around $60 each and they're very simple lenses! Frames are in the region of $90 for the less expensive ones. Then this client comes along and needs translation. Because he is setting up, he doesn't have a good cash flow going yet, so Jurgis has done a fair amount of work for him on a 'never mind the bill for now' basis. With the last job, he mentioned Tat's need of glasses and wondered if the client could organise a discount. Yes, he could and would Tat come in to choose a pair. Well, there were two pairs Tat liked and we left his offices last Friday with an ambiguous, joking, "I'll throw the second pair in." At the time, he was cracking actual jokes about crazy discounts, so we didn't know what to expect. Wednesday, we were told the glasses were ready and could we pick them up.... and.... would we please give him our bank account, so that he can deposit the cash needed for the lenses, which would come to $20 for both pairs of glasses! We declined and said, no... we'd pay the lenses at least. Tat has basically gotten her two pairs of glasses for free! And she looks lovely in them, don't you think?

tatiana glasses

Later in the day, I got a message back from someone I contacted via FB. Yes, it was the person I was thinking of, someone I had been wanting to find for years now. You know... when you have a memory that is like a ray of sunshine on a wintery day... the kind of memory that makes you smile just recalling it? The memories I have of the times spent with this friend are like that. They were happy times. The best part was that he and his wife both remember me even better than I remember them. Somehow that made it even more special. Even if the friendship isn't resumed, it was enough just feeling that happiness over again while rediscovering good memories.

I wrote a little blog into my notebook while I was out teaching on Tuesday:

Photo is not mine, but from another blog on the internet. Photographer: Antonio Lopes

Today I am seriously wishing that I had a small pocket camera again, especially for the video.

We're having a week of non-stop rain. While waiting for my student, I decided to go outside under the overhang of the office block, usually smoker's domain, especially in this kind of weather. The air is lovely and fresh, the rain light. I was drawn by chirping birds. At least 3 varieties of birds were hopping, fluttering, flapping, swooping, and chirping around a pair of small trees. The bem-te-vi had cornered the one puddle for himself. They were having a pool party! Or would that be a shower party? Whichever... it was patently clear that they were thoroughly enjoying themselves in the rain. I wanted to join them, but as I've mentioned before, sogginess isn't recommended when teaching, especially in corporate offices that have a strict dress code ; )

I like... Ok, I love... (a post inspired and suggested by Tatiana ages ago and reminded about by Cherie yesterday)

fluffed up down pillows - the smell of freshly mown lawn - the sound of 'naturally' flowing water - bubbling brooks - waterfalls - forests - the earthy smell of rain - storms - crashing waves - little waves - playing in the sand with my toes - herby/fruity/spicy soaps - bright colours - warm smiles - chubby little cheeks - unexpected kindness - wrinkles - people-watching - tickling giggles - secret guilty pleasures shared with a good friend - laughing at silly things - inside jokes when I'm on the inside - friends reaching out over thousands of miles - technology - family - roughing it - planning - scheming - dreaming - sunlight filtering through leaves - the marvels of the human body and how it all works together - when my wardrobe for the day and the weather, for once, works in harmony - raindrops in puddles - letters in the mailbox - a good book - a couch at the window in warm winter sun - candlelight - .... and so much more....


Friday, 18 September 2009

Someone slipped some stupid into the water


It's been a day and a half and it hasn't ended yet. My day started with our the shower popping... not just the shower, but according to Jurgis, the whole wiring system to the trip switch. That will need to be replaced soon. Luckily, we have two showers, so it isn't extremely urgent. On my way to work, I encountered a dead rat. Not a word of a lie, the thing was the size of my foot without its tail! Thoughts of poison, disease, rabies, etc fly through my mind as I rush off to the bus.

The bus ride into town was great, as was the metro ride that followed. I played my 'Feel good' playlist and people seemed 'smiley' : ) When I was done with the first lot, I met Tat and went off to the recording studio with her. We had a stint in there as an Aussie mom and daughter. I guess ours were the weirdest accents they could find to match ; ) They had no clue what an Australian accent sounds like, so we were 'it'. Tat did fabulously. She got some Aussie on Youtube last night and fitted in rather well. I think this was an adult book... we both tried a piece where we were married and having a... uh... 'fun' weekend with hubby on a houseboat in the middle of nowhere. She has the best voice and accent for it, while I had the more mature sound, so they wanted us both to do it, so the publishers would have a choice.

We rushed off to the bus. Tat had to go all the way home, get books, then go all the way back in to the same area (an hour's bus ride in clear traffic) to teach. I had to get home to a student and here's where the kicker is...

I had a class at home, via Skype, from 5:30-6:30pm. The next class was from 7-8pm at the school, three blocks from my home. At 8-9pm, I have another class, at home, via Skype. There would be a fair amount of rushing between the classes. I was late for the first one, as we finished recording too late and were caught in peak hour traffic. I called that student and scheduled her for another day, though she was willing to start later, but I couldn't because of the 7pm student. I got to the school just before 7pm, only to be told that the next student would be half an hour late, as she was stuck in traffic (yes, in São Paulo, it is the most used and most acceptable reason for lateness). I responded that I can't extend her class, as I have another one. I know my student well. I know she won't come in for just half an hour. I said that this is why I prefer the student to call me directly, as I could have told her there was no chance of extending the class. "Oh?" says the receptionist. The owner (the director's brother and the money behind the school) went off about how we can't have that because.... regulation... yada yada bla bla... same old same old. I just rolled my eyes and told the receptionist to please call the student and see if she'd be willing to come in for just half an hour. The expected answer was given. "No, let's reschedule." Gah! If she had called me in the first place, I could have had the first class, as that student was willing to move later. So now, I sit here blogging. Not that I don't want to blog, but it's downtime that shouldn't have happened. If they had just called me to inform me or if the student had called me. Stooopid!

Then, on my way to the school, in the dark, at peak hour, there's a young mother and her three toddlers trying to cross the road. There is only a stop street a block away. I felt sorry for her, except that she had taken the same dose of stupid. She was pushing the special triplets pram (baby carriage), but had the three tots linked to each other in a tail behind her. I'm sorry, but common sense says that at night, when crossing a high traffic road at no designated crossing, you put your three gorgeous tots into the pram. She managed to stop traffic. Yep... she crossed. Cars stopped for her (they were cute, after all). Did she thank them? Nope. I said to her as she arrived on the other side, "Don't you thank them?" "Who?" she said. "The cars, who didn't have to stop for you and your string of kids!" Ugh... bad manners get me fairly riled. Can you tell?

Ah... and the rat? It's still there, though the street cleaners have been past, except now it's missing a head =/

Oh and the photo? Just something I found highly amusing in a shop window here. Tat and I are always on the lookout for little English gems like these. So... need a milk? ; )


Thursday, 17 September 2009

The 6am bus

SP morning

A grey dawn breaks over the dirty city. The night's litter flecking the paving,
fluttering in a chill morning breeze.

Sleepy eyes fixed ahead. A passing burglar alarm slaps the passengers
into an uncomfortable wakefulness.
They shift in their seats.

The only cheerful thing to be seen
is the little dog out on his morning walk.

Graffiti accompanies the bus on its morning route.

With a resigned sigh another passenger gets up and fights the crowd to the exit,
loathe to leave the comfort his seat.

It's a new day. A beautiful day, in a grim city'esque sort of way.
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Friday, 04 September 2009

Ants are not very bright....


... but then, neither are people.

I have  rather daft habit, especially when showering. It's ‘summer’ and the ants are back in full swing. Working up a lather, I watch their epic journey along the tile grouting, heading from some place near the door into the shower fitting. I trace a soapy hand across their path - purely in the name of science and research, naturally.

You see, the ants don't like soap. I don't know if it's the smell or what. The marching infantry comes to a grinding halt ending in clustered, milling confusion while they contemplate (do ants contemplate?) the high wall of 'mountainous' sudsy perfume blocking their path. After a few moments, a few brave souls break away from the bewildered masses to find their way around. I find myself silently rooting for them, "Come on! You can do it!" Sadly, so many turn back just as they're about to reach the end of their soap line. Others reach the end, but veer off in the wrong direction. Finally, I spot the neighbourhood 'out of the box' thinker, the oddball who went in the opposite direction to the masses rounding my soapy obstacle down below. He stops for a moment. "Come on. Come one," I whisper. He turns and makes his way up, eventually meeting up with his comrades on the other side of the line.

Do you see yourself here? I do. So many times I've gone as far as I thought I could, then figured there was no end in sight and turned back or given up. And you know how many times I've milled around at the soap waiting for some kind soul to come along and wash it away... or show me the way? Yep... such is life.

Can you tell I get way too much time to think on buses (or showers)? Today, we were officially on our third day of spring. It was 33°C!! (92°F) Blegh... way too hot. I found myself wishing it would rain. Uh... wishes come true. It bucketed. São Paulo is once again flooded. Tat's students for tonight cancelled first. They couldn't get to class. My student cancelled later. She was stuck in traffic that wasn't moving at all. The usual photos of floating cars are out. Hm... some pretty night scenes of São Paulo here. I have come to the conclusion that São Paulo looks better in the dark. It will give you a good idea of the traffic too.


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Tuesday, 01 September 2009

Swing high, swing low


One of my fondest childhood memories is going to St George's Park near my home and swinging. Swings are amazing. I think they give you a sense of freedom, an exhilaration seldom experienced elsewhere. For the inexperienced, they can be frustrating. You sit... wanting to swing high, but needing that push. Then you learn to swing your own legs to get the motion going. Sometimes someone comes along and gives you a push, sending you to new heights. Ever get brat kids (or an exasperated parent) that come along and yank your chain, bringing you to a grinding halt? Then there are the days when all you want to do is sit and gently rock back and forth, watching the world move around you. That is often when you end up swinging so high and out of control, you are terrified you'll fly off and end up among the rest of the space litter orbiting the earth.

Lately, my life has been a bit like an afternoon at the park... particularly the swing set. For so long, I sat in the swing, not moving and very frustrated. I'd get the occasional push, but had no idea how to keep the momentum up. Later, I learnt the fine art of getting my swing going and keeping it going... at least, as much as I could, occasionally being yanked to a halt. More recently, added to my own momentum, I've been getting random pushes from various directions. This past couple of weeks has been one of those times. My swing is about to head me off into orbit.

Tat and I have been busy. We are at the stage where we can't take on new students, especially those who insist on having lessons in the popular time zones. One couple wanted us to teach at 10pm on a Friday. Don't they know Friday nights are sacred?! Ok, the reason we're turning them down is that it wouldn't be safe for a woman alone to be heading out there and back so late at night. Our only free day is currently Sunday. The couple wants Saturday afternoons too. The hard part has been for Tat, as she is better with the more basic students and most of our applicants have been basic. My time is taken up with preparing everyone's lessons when I'm not actually teaching. One of our students has asked permission to have the lessons bound. I'm duly flattered. Most weekdays, we head out before breakfast and finish up after 10pm. This morning, I was up at 4:30am to teach a before-work student. For some reason, Electropaulo (our Electricity supply company) decided to work on the post right outside our bedroom window for half the night. I feel like a zombie! But, all in all, the busy-ness is good. I feel productive and a steady(ish) income is flowing. Students vary from kids through to teens, through to a journalist preparing for a summit in Australia, to a girl going to work in England for a year, to bankers and more... nothing like bit of variety. I got feedback from a student that I had for about a month some time ago. He has been shipped off to England. Apparently my accent prepared him for the weirdness of other English accents. Glad I could prove useful ; )

Ah! Someone yanked the swing's chain. Most of you know that Tat had plans to visit her godmother in the UK and have been asking for progress reports. All three of us applied for new passports at the same time. Jurgis and I got ours back ages ago. Tat's was missing. Apparently (gospel according to the consulate), they changed the standard for the photos around the same time that we applied. Jurgis and I slipped in under the radar, it seems. Tat must have been the last to be processed and hers got caught. We've waited all this time only to be told that we have to resubmit her application. Frustrating!

Our summer started a tad early. We've had temps in the mid 20's for a while now. By Thursday, we'll be up to 32°C (90°F). The city where one of the cousins live was up to 39°C (102°F) recently. I wonder what summer will be like... definitely not a walk (or swing) in the park.

On the subject of swings, take a look at this I found when I was on a hunt for a swing photo. Could you imagine having a house like this. Well, more a room really, but still. 

house swing

Oh and this is just great! With taking public transport as much as I do, I could have so much fun out there! Click here.


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