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

Friday, 31 December 2010

Anyone got parsley?

.... for my ears, that is (ref: Asterix the Gladiator)

Text is a little fuzzy, so this is what it says:
Right! I've thought of a way to counter the bard's secret weapon... we all stuff our ears.
With what?
Parsley. There's plenty of it around.
Parsley in my ears? I don't fancy that. I'll feel like something out of a butcher shop.
Now back into ambush! When I give the signal we all attack the bard!
Not up your nose, idiot!
Soon afterwards...
Now.... what shall I sing next?

The neighbours came over earlier to "We hope you don't mind, but we're having a party." Now if we did mind, would that change it? Their speakers are no more than 3 metres away from my chair and they're LOUD. Jurgis and I have given up all hope of conversation. The music is varying between Gaga, rave, rap, some foreign-language stuff that I can't place and punctuated with the other neighbours' fire crackers. It's going to be a Loooong night.

It's a few minutes before midnight here. I managed to clean house somewhat today... at least cleaner than it's been in a while, but there's so much else I wanted to do. I have a couple of blogs in draft. They get started and something more important comes along. Perhaps I'll finish them yet, but I'll be spending the weekend in lesson prep. Yep... back to the grindstone on Monday morning.

Ah... I need a hermitage... and chocolate! They're now singing along very loudly and very badly (they don't remotely know the words) to Everybody's been kung fu fighting. At least the actual song is better than some of the dronk verdriet we've been listening to. Dronk verdriet, by the way, is the kind of music you listen to when drunk and end up crying over your shoelaces.

Eight minutes to go... wonder when the party will wind down...

Happy New Year, my friends!! 2011 is going to be AWESOME!!! Just believe it!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

How to make a caipirinha

I wanted to put the subtitles on the video, but it's proving too complicated. It took me ages just to 'translate' the video.

So... here's what he says:

Hi! How're you? I'm Souza de Veloso here in Vila Mariana, São Paulo. I have an important tip for you, a recipe for caipirinha.

A medium-sized lemon is essential for a good caipirinha. If your lemon is large, use half the lemon. You can use either the galego lime or pink lemon, whichever is better known in your region.

Come along and let's see how to prepare this lovely caipirinha. If you have three people preparing a caipirinha, one will always come out better. I'm going to try that.

Let's go! Here, you can cut off these end parts of the lemon. Then, we can remove this centre part, the famous core of the lemon. Many people say the skin of the lemon is the bitter part of the lemon, but that isn't the case. And here I'm going to slice the lemon thinly, ok?

If your lemon is large, only use half the lemon. If the lemon is medium-sized, use the whole one. Here I will use the whole lemon. Here, in this region, some use the 'longi drinki' glasses or even a juice glass. Or if you don't have one, you can use a medium glass or the glass you most associate with caipirinha - the more traditional glasses used in bars.

And here, two dessert spoons of sugar. Here you crush the sugar and lemon and you don't have to fight with the lemon. It's practically ready. The secret here is the ice - the main thing.

After this, the cane spirit. Many people don't like the aged cane spirit, but I assure you, it will be wonderful. Here we're using a premium cane spirit. It's not that golden, but to drink it neat is very good. So let's stir it like this. As you see, while I'm stirring, you will be able to fit in more ice or more cane spirit. I'm just going to add a touch more cane spirits. Look.

And more ice. With this heat, ice is the main thing. Just look at it! And that's the traditional one... and it's for you, so you're going to have to come here to drink it.


The 'lemon' he is talking about is actually a lime, but here they call them all lemons. It has a different taste, but a lemon can be used if you have no limes on hand. It tastes good with other fruit too.

At the start of the video, you can see the caipirinhas made with various types of fruit. Adjust sugar accordingly, of course. Cachaça is cane spirit. Vodka can be used too - it then becomes a caipiroska.

I had to laugh at his "longi drinki", a corruption of the English 'long drink', obviously. Here they put an 'i' sound at the end of most English words, where the word ends in a consonant. It's just something that amuses me when I'm not teaching it, at which point it becomes frustrating.

For your entertainment, education and edification

Taken from the Sun (the newspaper that seldom posts any real news).

Every loves a bit of trivia - and thanks to hit new Twitter feed OMG Facts, info addicts get a thoroughly researched fix direct to their mobile. Here, Dave Masters has chosen the best... and that's a fact.

The total weight of all the ants on earth is about the same as the weight of all the humans on earth.

Racecar is spelt the same forwards and backwards.

Anatidaephobia is the fear that somewhere in the world, there is a duck watching you.

You can't hum while holding your nose closed.

Typewriter is the longest English word that can be made by using only one row of a keyboard.

Your funny bone is not a bone - it's a really sensitive nerve.

Taurine, an ingredient in the drink Red Bull, originally came from bulls.

Cracking knuckles does not hurt bones or cause arthritis. The sound is gas bubbles bursting.
If you touch your tongue while yawning it can stop the yawn.

Newborn babies cry but have no tears - tear ducts aren't formed until they are a month old.

There are 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible configurations to Rubik's Cube.

Dysania is the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning.

The only place you can tickle yourself is the top of your mouth. Try it.

The sound of ET walking was made by someone squishing their hands in jelly.

The longest Monopoly game in history lasted 70 days.

The average person has between 1,460 and 2,190 dreams a year.

Sixty five per cent of people tilt their heads to the right when kissing instead of the left.

On a clear night a burning candle can be seen from 30 miles away.

The most viewed video on YouTube, Justin Bieber-Baby ft Ludacris, has more "dislikes" than "likes".

Pigs can become alcoholics.

Go on.... add your own : )

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas cookies

Not my photo!

1. If you eat a Christmas cookie fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookie is the test and thus calorie free.
2. If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories.
3. If a friend comes over while you're making your Christmas cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Because your friend's first cookie is calories free, (rule #1) yours is also. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone and, being the friend that you are, that makes your cookie calorie free.
4. Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.
5. Any calories consumed during the frosting of the Christmas cookies will be used up because it takes many calories to lick excess frosting from a knife without cutting your tongue.
6. Cookies coloured red or green have very few calories. Red ones have three and green ones have five - one calorie for each letter. Make more red ones!
7. Cookies eaten while watching "Miracle on 34th Street " have no calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one's personal fuel.
8. As always, cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breaking causes calorie leakage.
9. Any cookies consumed from someone else's plate have no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to their plate. We all know how calories like to CLING!
10. Any cookies consumed while feeling stressed have no calories because cookies used for medicinal purposes NEVER have calories. It's a rule!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas and ghosts of the past

The ghost of Christmas present...

I woke up this morning to a call from Hamish. It was lovely hearing his voice and hearing of his plans for next year. Coming through, I was greeted by kisses and hugs from Jurgis and Romany (it's beneath Specs' dignity to show affection when no offerings have been proffered)... and a surprise at my desk!

Jurgis had snuck out early when all of Brazil was still fast asleep (including myself) after fireworks had continued into the wee hours of the morning to Steal my Christmas present. Yes... the ultimate romantic thief! Isn't it pretty? He swore blind that the blooms he cut (they would have been carefully cut to enhance further growth on the bushes - he's fussy that way) were outside the property.

The last time he did that, we were still dating. He'd stolen a rose from the neighbours for my birthday. That brought back memories : )

While looking for this photo, I found other photos, which had me thinking of people loved so much and long gone. My almost-Christmas baby - the reason we stopped celebrating... a photo of Hamish holding her. Ouma and Jurgis' dad, both laughing in the same photo - a very rare occurrence.

A little later, I called Tat and we switched to Skype. I met the family she is staying with. What nice people. They've included her beautifully in their entire Christmas tradition. It was fun meeting the gran in her red sequinned dress, looking very glam, I might add... and the dad who enjoyed sharing child-torment stories with Jurgis... and mom who was bustling in the background with dinner preparations. The girls were a joy too. Tat showed me the gifts she got. She's been spoiled. I'm glad : )

In the excitement of calling Tat, I forgot to put the turkey in the oven, so that went in later.... a good thing really. We had a light lunch of quiche while we waited. Of course, the day would not be complete without a kitchen disaster. I managed to scorch the cauliflower and marrows. Luckily, I could cut off the burnt bits and drown them in cheese sauce. Aside from the newly-named dish of 'smoky cauliflower and marrows', I made our usual green beans, roast potato, roast onion and, of course, the turkey. The green beans are interesting. I found a recipe many years ago for "American green beans". I have since learned that these are not exactly American per se. The beans are lightly cooked in garlic and salt. They're then tossed with bacon and olives - I use olive oil, as I have no olives on hand. Very scrummy!

The ghost of Christmas present...

I have absolutely no photos of my childhood Christmases, probably because they were such.. uh... interesting times. Ouma was, and still is, known for her dinners. It's one of the few things the entire family has always agreed on. She was an exceptional cook. Any meal with her was a time to fill up to overflowing with all things good and delicious. Christmas consisted of cold ham, tongue, carrot salad, potato salad, rice salad, asparagus salad, a leafy green salad. For dessert, there was always trifle... ooooooh for some trifle! Christmas cake too and usually ice cream. Oh and always a granadilla fridge tart!

The day is fading now, replete with good feelings and general post-turkey laziness. It's hot... really hot. Even Romany didn't want to get up to take a bone. We're lying draped over our chairs. Jurgis is busy reinstalling his drive. Luckily, he actually enjoys that. The fan is working hard at circulating the hot air. I think we may go to bed early tonight. Looking at this photo, I see Romany is starting to show his age. For the first time, he actually looks like an ageing dog. His black 'n tan Rottie muzzle is showing substantial white now. Jurgis' foot makes a good pillow ; )

Hope your Christmas day was good - or whatever you celebrated today, even if that was just life : )

Friday, 24 December 2010


I went to take the tuna quiche out of the oven and decided I was invincible.... no oven gloves. Go me. Both hands... full finger burn. Blast! It's feeling better now, but I'm sooo annoyed with myself!

I'm being eaten alive by blood-sucking helicopters. My 'measles' matches my red nails. The look is just so 'in', you know.

Jurgis' pc died. Yep. Just like that. He couldn't boot up at all, even with a different boot up drive. Then it resuscitated, so he's formatting now. I'm just grateful there's life there.

I think Eet-sum-mors need to be dunked into Ricoffy. It doesn't taste the same with Nescafé.

Omg omg omg!

I went into the village this morning. First stop.... Post office. A 5kg package was waiting! Hamish, thank you!!! Thank you!! We're overwhelmed! A box of SAn goodies (for those who don't know, it is impossible to get any South African goodies here in Brazil). The miracle here is that customs sent the package through without opening. This box would have been nailed by them. We wouldn't have smelt it at all. Why? Biltong!!! Oh those customs guys don't know what they missed out on!!! Biltong is the one thing they Always stop! We got, not one, but TWO packets of biltong... and one packet was kudu biltong! One expat family in the throws of biltong ecstasy! *grins*

And Romany Creams... and Eet-sum-mors and marshmallows (for those who missed the post, we can get them here now, at a mortgage-the-house rate of $8 per bag). Wine! A shiraz from Perdeberg winery... the Perdeberg has a special significance for Hamish. And Simba peanuts and no less than two humungous slabs of Cadburys chocolate! *droool* I'm making no dessert tomorrow *laugh*

The supermarkets were an ant's nest today. No room to move. The queues went down the isle with the usual people keeping places while others did the shopping. I put on my ipod with Christmas music and stood grinning at everyone. What else can you do? I felt so sorry for the cashiers and packers... and the shop floor packers and cleaners. It's a tough day's work for them.

A police helicopter has been flying low over our road for the past hour or so. Wonder who or what they're looking for.

They've been letting off those big bang crackers for two days now.... tomorrow will be worse... then the buildup to New Year. Eh. I have a few creative suggestions for the use of those crackers. The poor animals are jittery.

Uh yes... and I painted my nails last night... a rare event (especially in fire-engine red) and therefore photo worthy =Þ

I'm missing Tat *sigh*

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas

I know many of you are travelling or going offline at this point, so...

Joy is our theme for Christmas this year,
a joy you can find deep inside you regardless of your circumstances.
As a family, we want to wish you and your family a season of Joy,
a time filled with love and much laughter.

Merry Christmas! May your 2011 be a year of Happiness.
Jurgis, Corrianne & Tatiana

A beautiful story of giving, snowflakes and angels

By the Chobani family - apparently yoghurt : )

A much better high quality version of this vid can be seen on their site:

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Apologies for not visiting pages. Our internet has come to a grinding halt. This page is half-loaded, the inbox won't load at all and I can't load my blog page =(

I think it might be Christmas

I say "it might be" because, if you look around here, there are very few signs of Christmas. So few people have decorated.

And we got two Christmas cards... one more than last year *laugh* Henrique sent us a lovely card with a freshly-taken photo inside. Wonderful! We keep nagging them for photos. The American cousins sent a fancy gilt-laden card with something written inside that is going to need an interpreter. Oh and we got a postcard from Tat from her Lithuanian jaunt. That means that if Christmas stuff is headed our way, we may well get it in time for St Patrick's Day. I hope folk get our cards before then!

And this from Jurgis... I'd seen it before, but it's worth a chuckle.

Christmas Eating Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the centre of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labour Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards. (What?? Avoid fruitcake?? *cries*)

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

And now for something truly silly...

So... there's my randomness for the day. My student cancelled. Actually, no, she didn't cancel. I called to confirm, only to find that she was travelling. Nice of her to tell me. I'm not in the least disappointed though, as our temperature is 32ºC (90ºF or thereabouts) and thunder-stormy. My little world has become a sauna... just for a change. Not nice bus weather.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Foggy and damp

The coffee's broken... out of order... not working. It is Not Working!! I can't think or see straight. Yes, I completed a sentence, but my inability to count right now stops me telling you how many times I had to backspace.

Last night, I started an awesomely profound blog. I looked at it this morning and went, "Huh?" I may complete it later.

I have 3 classes tomorrow. I have absolutely no idea what to do with them, other than sit there going, "Huh?"  I think I'm one level above needing to be spoonfed. My siren... I mean... bed is calling.

I was looking for an image for this blog. Did you know there's a condition called Brain Fog?  I think I have it. In fact, I think that if I had the ability to know something, I'd know I had it. The dog agrees, but then, I think he agrees with everything as long as there's a treat following.

I think it says something when I was looking up 'brain fog', I read 'brain frog'. The I idly wondered what a 'brain frog' would look like. Lordy help me.... Google even has that!!

Uh... so where was I? Trying to find a vital thought I simply know I had. *reads blog* Oh yes... I need to prepare lessons. HELP!!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Who is your friend?

Totally not my photography, just in case you needed to ask ; )

Really. Who do you call a friend? Is it the person who chats to you every day? Is it the one who always comments on your blogs? Or perhaps sends you a Christmas card? Is it the one you pop out for coffee with? Perhaps it's the one you share your deepest secrets with... or uncontrollable laughs. Is your friend the one you can call when things are looking dark? Do you call your friend when things are looking good? What about when you think the friend needs you? Do you call? Or wait to be called. I could go on a long time here : ) 

Thing is, friendships shift and change and brighten and fade.... kaleidoscopic colours adding prisms of beauty to our lives.

Have you ever looked into a kaleidoscope and watched the colours change, seemingly in endless layers? It doesn't take much movement to create new prisms of colour, shifting, changing... constantly changing. When friendships fade, it hurts... very much, but I'm grateful for the richness of colour they gave my life. New friendships are fun to explore, discovering their depth and getting comfortable with their hues.

When I was a young girl, I dreamt of having a 'best friend forever'. As a teen, that longing just intensified with the usual teen angst. By the time I grew up and looked around at all my friends and their respective 'best friends', I had missed that particular boat - regular moving around saw to that. Well, I wasn't really alone. I found myself married and creating a new and very special friendship with my daughters... and husband, of course. In later years, my daughter was to become that elusive 'bff'. That will never change. It's the one friendship that strikes a very deep chord in me for a thousand reasons. It's also colourful, shifting and changing as we each grow. Luckily our bond is tighter than a regular friendship.

The friendships I wanted to mention here are somewhat more intangible, something we don't see very often and can often wait a whole lifetime to experience. They don't usually stick around for a long time either, though sometimes they do.

The top image was so perfect to illustrate what I wanted to say in a most unusual way. A little while back, I reached out to a number of friends, asking for help. Help came, but in a very unexpected way. It came through friends, yes... then it came through friends of friends... and the net widened to include friends of those friends. A chain was formed. I had people writing to me who were referred by a friend who knew a friend who received an email or call from a friend I wrote to. I heard from friends I hadn't heard from in a long time. I heard from total strangers who are now friends. For those dying to know, Tat will be staying with people who I already know are wonderful people (just the fact that they're opening their home to a total stranger), are South African and even come from the same neighbourhood we did!! Yes, Katey... they're from Hillcrest! ♫ It's a small world after all... ♫

Anyway, the point I was trying to make with this is that we never know where friendship will come from, be it made of the sturdy day-to-day stuff of sharing life's moments or a previously unimagined distant connection that fits so well. I want to thank all of you who responded... from the bottom of my heart. It meant the world to me!

Ps. Katey, while I was looking for a kaleidoscopic image, I found something you can use with your kidlets that looks like huge fun! Kaleidoscopic milk!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas

 Our river here broke its banks between yesterday and the night before. Things are a little soggy. I'm thoroughly enjoying the cooler weather though. I even baked some cookies! Shortbread over-browned - blegh - but the spice biscuits came out beautifully. It was less than fun making them though, as my co-baker isn't here. Most are being bagged to gift, though I'm quite sure HRM will do damage to them all if I left him to it.

I had some Santa success yesterday!! Last week, I did a lesson around Santa with MF, but she was unimpressed. She knew her parents delivered her gifts to her grandparents' home where they always opened them. I got her to write her letter to Santa anyway, which she did with much sulking and very begrudgingly. The only way to keep her going was to Google her 'wishes'. Now that got her excited.

I found an awesome site online where you can print and 'send' a reply to the kid from Santa. The trouble is, the letter mentions Santa going on to a 'friend' and names the friend. Now I'm useless with names and couldn't remember her friends, so I asked Tat, who happily obliged (she taught MF before I got her - that girl has a prodigious memory!). We just had to hope that the kids were still friends. I took my chances.

When I arrived at MF's home, she had a picture she had drawn of 3 girls with names next to them. I looked and said, with bated breath, "Are these your friends?" No, was the answer. They were just characters from a TV series. Whew! "Who are your friends then?" Counting off on her fingers, she started, "Gabrielle, João.... and others," she said with a shrug. "Others?" I wanted to know. Yes... others. She obviously has too many to mention. A grin spread over her face though. "Look what I got!" and she stuck her letter from Santa under my nose (I had left it with the security guard with instructions to put it in among their mail). Then she told me all about her letter and what was inside. She's convinced Santa must be real and all-seeing, as he knew her friend! I hoaxed a kid, so sue me - to quote Marty. Apparently dad said it must be Corrianne who sent the letter, but the whole friend thing threw her, as she knew I didn't know her friend. I'm happy : )

I made myself a Christmas present... a notebook for the new year. Some of you may recognise the photos on the front and back cover. The paper was scrap I had lying around.

Jurgis' Christmas present will doubtless be the baking of another batch of biscuits. He doesn't use notebooks. What else does one make for a guy anyway?

Sunday, 05 December 2010

This stunning photography can be yours!

This is the photography of my very dear friend and positively spectacular photographer, Kippy. If you're in Nevada, she's the go-to person for portraits too! These photos are wonderful for your own wall or as gifts. She's a perfectionist, so trust me when I say what you get will be well worth it.

If you're not into ordering any of the photos, do browse through them anyway. Stunning!

PS. She'll ship internationally.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A few weeks

Strange - I wanted to write the date today as 2011. That's a first. Usually, I struggle to adapt to writing the new year when it arrives.

Two buses went straight past this morning - too full. Squish room only in the third. I decided to take my chances and wait among the crowds for the new metro to open - it doesn't run at useful times - though it would be cutting it fine. The new station is surrounded by its own patch of grass, which makes for a nice start to the day. Burying my uncomfortable feet (I really don't like these sandals) in thick early-morning-cool grass is pure bliss.

Today's "Nossa Bairro" (Our Neighbourhood) newspaper's front page is news about Facebook's plan for email and such. The neighbourhood must be out of regular news. Later, glancing at the Metro News over someone's shoulder showed me an article about Wikileaks... apparently the USA is trying to take over Brazil. Whodathunkit? That should help with Brazil's neurosis over the USA.

Most students are cancelling the rest of December. That should make January 'interesting'. I have inherited at least one new, confirmed student and two others in the pipeline, which will help enormously. Fingers crossed that they confirm.

Our week was marked by overcast, muggy days and afternoons complete with thunderstorms and associated power failures. Night before last, we had a frantic hauling out of towels and sweeping vast quantities of water out the door. Brazilian housing = major leak incidents. In fairness, the rain has been heavy...

This is the river about 200m from our gate. Photo from our local news site.

This is the usual level... though the rains had already started when this photo was taken...

To get an idea of depth, take a look at the trucks and cars along the road on the left.

Thursday... end of my working week - well, kind of. There's still Saturday, but tomorrow is off and its probably a good thing. I have a zillion things to do. Today has, so far, been one of those weird can't-get-going starts. Then I got onto the bus, which felt strange... standing room?! Then I nearly fell out of my chair - oh wait... I was standing. The first clusters of seats are for the aged and infirm. A pretty girl stood and offered her seat to me! *hauls out mirror* Ok, there's grey, a few lines, but over 60??

It always amuses me when we're standing with our faces mashed up against the metro doors during peak hour and the standard recording comes on, "If you're not getting off at the next stop, keep clear of the doorways." I really, really like the new air-conditioned metros, especially in our current super-muggy weather.

My plants are loving the rain. So am I. It's a whole lot cooler with the rain, even if keeping dry is somewhat challenging.

My most recent students are far from me, quite literally on the opposite end of the city. Going to them takes me through Bras. This area is well known to all Paulistanos as being the best place to buy clothes.... literally street after street of clothing shops, both wholesale and retail. Some shops are vast warehouses and others are small. The area also has streets that specialise in outfitting clothing shops. I find the mannequin shops fascinating. This one, I caught in passing. It tickled me that the sales girl was sitting so companionably with her mannequin 'friend'.

Christmas décor is out now, but very sporadic. I was on Av. Paulista, standing waiting to cross to Conjuncto Nacional. They pride themselves on their recycled Christmas décor. Aside from the snowflakes (don't know what those are made of), the rest of the decorations are all recycled cold drink bottles, in this case, more than likely Guaraná bottles.

I snuck a peek down a passage and saw a lady decorating her 'tree'. The tree was more a bush of naked branches, but the effect was pretty. It doesn't show well in this photo though. Ah for a decent zoom...

Then again, if you don't have a garden to decorate, what's the next best thing?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Day by day

I call this the Metro Shuffle

Sveiki! A Lithuanian greeting, which means 'Health!'

Seems I never get the chance to write here. When I log in, there are friends to catch up on  and, by the time I'm done, I've forgotten what I wanted to say. Oh heck, who am I trying to fool? Honestly? I arrive on my blog, stare at the screen, trying to convert the week into words; thus scattering what little cohesive thought I started out with.

With this in mind, I'm going to attempt this in daily (or thereabouts) nibbles.

Last week, our focus for the week was on Tat's visit with the family in Lithuania. Jurgis enjoying his time there was one thing. It had been a dream of his for most of his life. She first stayed with Dalius and Oksana. The message I got was - I'm happy. In short, they were wonderful. I'll get the details later, as her pc died on her when she arrived in Lithuania and she hasn't been able to get it fixed yet.

From there, she went to stay with Teta Irena, Vaidas, Sonata and the boys. She was online more there and having a ball. When she was due to leave, she said it felt like she was leaving home all over again. I can't begin to express my thanks to all who made her visit there such a wonderful experience!

On Monday, I had no students (cancellations - joy!). It was good though. We were able to video chat with Tat via Skype and I finally got to meet the family. They're every bit as wonderful as Jurgis and Tat said they are. I can't wait to meet them in person!

On Monday we also go word that the front house is finally getting a tenant, but only for 15 days out of every month. That should be odd to deal with. Jurgis knows him, a nice enough guy, our landlord's business partner. We'll see how that goes. It does mean that Romany is once again restricted to just our half of the property, poor thing, though we do take him on walks more often now.

Tuesday started with a cancellation as I was walking out the door. I do wish they'd cancel before get all dressed up! That left me home for a couple of hours - good time to catch up with some correspondence. I later left for my next student after calling her to confirm the class. One bus, two metros and a 10 minute walk later, I was at the entrance to their office block and my delightful ringtone went off. I love getting calls because I love the tune! Anyway, it was the secretary. She needed to cancel.Ugh! Perhaps I just dreamed the earlier confirmation call.

Wednesday, I got to chat to a long lost friend (ok, not so long or lost) *and* my little girl! That was good. A surprise email made my heart skip happily : )

Thursday ~ dreaming of green pastures and soft, rolling hills ~

I dreamt last night that I was leaving an institution, a nameless, faceless multi-storey block with small, impersonal rooms. I was sitting on the bed talking to an elderly, long-dead friend and explaining why I was giving her a scarf, as I don't wear scarves and won't be needing it.

Two men came to blows in the metro car over the last half-inch of space and had to be separated by security. One guy, the shorter one, was told to get off. I felt for him, as he wasn't the instigator, but I guess the security guy felt he would be easier to control. The guy who was trying to pull punches was huge. Either way, they were both in the wrong. If the metro is full, you wait for the next one. The trains come through with only a minute or so between them during peak hour. It's not as though they'd have to wait a long time. The photo up above is where I decided to wait for the next one, but, believe it or not, there are those who'll still try to squeeze into that.

It was a surreal kind of morning. I swiped my security card through at the bank, only to be told "User blocked" - the kind of words that generally cause heart stoppage and panic. The nice lady at security consoled me with information that I'd be getting a sparkly new card. Whew! Apparently, they'd stopped that particular type of card. I got a temporary card and made my way to the student. At the back where the coffee machines are, there was a lady moving tables  and arranging mountains of diapers... in a bank? Turns out it's someone's baby shower. I waited. I got a message from an anonymous lady to call my student. Apparently he had a) lost my number and b) overslept, so there would be no class. Great! That gave me time to organise my new security pass. It's not a pretty yellow one like the old card, but it does announce me in bold letters as a "Professor". One very badly taken photo...

More good news this evening : ) The news isn't mine to tell and we're waiting for confirmation anyway, but it's starting to look as though 2011 is shaping up to be a good year. Ahh... nice!

I'm off to bed now. I woke up this morning feeling as though I was drugged and that feeling hasn't changed much. Does it show? =Þ

Oh... before I go... a few of you are TUT enthusiasts. Have you heard Mike Dooley's latest talk? It's awesome! If you can't find the talk, let me know and I'll upload it. It is available online at a few locations, but not for download. I saved it so that I can listen on my little ipod : )

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Good enough to copy

Sorry for the repeat if you saw it in Marianne's notes.

* I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
* Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
* I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
* There is great need for a sarcasm font.
* How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
* Was learning cursive really necessary?
* Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
* I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
* Bad decisions make good stories.
* You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
* I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
* "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this -ever.
* I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damnit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?
* I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
* I keep many people's phone numbers in my phone just so I can look like I know many people.
* I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
* I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid " routing option.
* Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.
* I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.
* I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
* How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?
* I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a roadhog from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
* Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Trousers? Trousers never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
* Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year?
* There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.
* Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
* Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my behind everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

Monday, 15 November 2010


I found the poem!

caught and jailed
my crime was existing
i was to teach the world a lesson
no one was prepared to learn

children screech
and point their fingers
they say i am ugly
in my world, i was attractive

my wings
made for flying in
open blue skies are weak
from lack of use

this prison is small
my sentence unfinished
here i will end my days
watching children point

© tint~

Birds, freedom, secrets

I've well and truly been absent, haven't I? Thing is, a lot has been happening on this end, but nothing I could really blog about. I haven't been busy enough with work, yet I've been very busy. I'm trying to get a few things in order geared at some long-term plans we've had. Unfortunately, most of it I'm not in a position to talk about... yet :) Top secret! Shhh!! Trust me, when all is finalised, I'll be yelling from the rooftops.

Aside from that, I've been feeling fairly isolated, which is entirely my own fault. The only place I communicate in any way with a friend or friends is here, in blogosphere - and a little in Facebook. I haven't been a good friend. I haven't been commenting on blogs or posting any of my own. Heck, I haven't even been reading really... mostly just glancing through. My mail comes in and I flip through the emails, dealing with work emails and pretty much deleting the rest. I have no idea why I've been that way and I'm worried that it's becoming habitual. It's as though the world has been tipped on its side. Things look odd if you look at them tilted.

And no, I'm not miserable, far from it. Ok, I am miserable that I haven't spoken to my friends, but yeah... aside from that.

Why are there still those dumb video spam virus messages coming through? Eejits.

Ok, ok... I'll give you a clue... the secret involves a little patch of green far, far away from here... very far.

Tat is flying to Lithuania tonight to meet the fandamily. I hope she likes it there. She has a week to see all and do all and meet all. Should be fun. If she forgets her camera again, I will personally commit harikari on her. I missed seeing poppy day in London because her camera wasn't attached to her arm where it belonged.

Oh and that mournful chap up top? The video below reminded me of him. I even wrote a poem about him at the time. I'll be darned if I can find it. The video is stunning though. My birdie friends will like it. The lady is South African... for those curious about our accents. I don't sound like that though =Þ Or do I?

Do visit the YouTube page for more links related to the video.

It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.

Sunday, 07 November 2010

First things

This photo was taken of the pond at the bank where I teach. I thought the bottle was noteworthy. It was a beautiful day!

Kat did this. I'm copying. I have actually had a lot happening these past two weeks. As I think of writing one thing, a new event takes over, so the first only gets remembered later and seems stale. I may still try to blog it, but then, it may remain a blank period. I'll see.

Ok, so Firsts...

1. Who was your FIRST prom date?
We didn't have proms, but we did have a boarding school dance once every term. My first dance, there was no date. It was a free-for-all. The second, I had a blind date. He was... um... not exactly my cup of tea (to put it mildly). I *think* his name was John. I looked totally and utterly bored in all the photos. I mean... really bored.

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love?

3. What was your first alcoholic drink?
Wine - My grandparents believed in letting us try things like alcohol under supervision. We had a glass of wine on Wednesdays with supper and with Sunday lunch at the restaurant... in proper wine glasses, not kiddies glasses.

4. What was your FIRST job?
Part time during school holidays - I worked as assistant to the chief of Social work for our district. Sounds glorified, but all I did was sort files and cases. It was a dusty, heartbreaking job, but I was in heaven.

5. What was your FIRST car?
I never owned a car. Our first car was a Toyota corolla hatchback we called 'old faithful' for good reason.

6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today?
No one texts me unless it's to cancel a class. So far, nothing, thankfully.

7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning?
Someone I don't know yet who lives in Wales.

8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher?
Miss Shapiro who became Mrs Mitten in during my first grade. She wore teensy minis... and was terrified of mice.  A mouse ran through the classroom one day. She was sweet though.

9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
To Johannesburg.

10. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?
Winnie, though she has since changed her name. I think being called Winnie the Pooh finally got to her. We are in contact, though we very seldom communicate.

11. Where was your FIRST sleep over?
At my mom's. I was terrified. There was a huge spider in my room and the room was an unaccustomed dark. At home, I had a veranda light outside my window.

12. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today?
Specs. Oh wait... person. That would be Jurgis. The only other human here.

13. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time?
I've never been *in* a wedding besides my own. In fact, I've been to three weddings.

14. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning?
I spent ages trying to get my internet to work, then put laundry on to wash while I waited for a reboot and put the kettle on.

15. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to?
4 Jacks and a Jill at the Port Elizabeth Feathermarket Hall. Now I'm really dating myself. Most people have never heard of them.

16. What was the FIRST record/tape/CD you bought?
It would be the 4 Jacks and a Jill record

17. FIRST hospitalization?
Tonsils - age 3

18. FIRST foreign country you've been to?
Mozambique by cruise liner... looong looong ago

19. FIRST movie you remember seeing?
The Sound of Music

20. When was your FIRST detention?
Standard 6 (Grade 8) for refusing to do afternoon sports because I would get home too late to do homework.

21. What did you do with your FIRST paycheck?
Paid the rent, bills, groceries, etc. My gran was a pensioner... my earnings were needed.

22. Your FIRST social networking site?
Yahoo groups, then Delphi and MSN groups, after which I graduated to blogging on 360.

23. Who FIRST invited you to Multiply?
No one. I discovered Multiply by randomly surfing. My account here was already a good few months old when 360 migrated.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


We're in daylight savings now, so I get to see the sun rise at a stop. Usually I'm in transit. Still fairly dark when I leave home though. It was only after I saved the photo to my pc that I noticed the rainbow... faint, but it's there. I have no idea if it was really there or if it was caused somehow by my camera. I like it though.

So much to be grateful for today. Tat had a much better paper-chase experience today - more thanks go out to strangers reaching out. On that note, if you ever want to show random kindness towards a stranger, just know that it is never wasted. It can make all the difference!

My bus disappeared into the early morning semi-dark, so I settled into a stroll thinking I had at least 20 minutes to wait for the next one. Just then, the next bus came. Either the previous one was very late or this one was very early. I flagged the bus from a good distance away. The driver saw me, pulled up at the opposite corner and waited!! What and angel. And... the bus had scads of seating!

Cute... just passed a bridal dressmaking shop - a tortoiseshell and white cat is in the window watching the passing traffic.

There was a girl reading a book (translated) on the metro - Christiane F. - a book about a 14 year old girl who was caught up in a life of drugs and prostitution (true story). It came as recommended reading and viewing - there's a movie too - when I was a teen. I can't think of a more depressing book to start a day with.

The Christiane book girl has nodded off and is falling over onto the woman next to her. On the other side sits a girl trying very hard to look like she isn't crying. I hope her day gets better.

~                          ~                           ~

At the bank building, outside, there is a beautiful old tree with branches that go on forever. Under it was a group of youngsters, their backpacks up against the wall. They were having a really good time. A cloud of smoke hovered over them as they puffed away on the bong. One played guitar off to the side. A few were passing around bottles of booze. The security looked uncomfortable, but did nothing about it. My student and I discussed conspiracy theories and voting (not too much difference between the two).

Afterwards, I went to the shopping centre near my next student. It's already done up for Christmas!! And the Christmas shops are open! I wandered around there for about half an hour only to be called... my student cancelled... again. She thought changing her times back to her old times would help with cancellations. Uh huh. It helped, all right. So I mooched off home. My evening student has changed his time for Saturday morning. There go the weekends.

C'est la vie... and another week ends...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Saw a bomb squad vehicle stop and ask for directions today. Should I be worried?

Wednesday waffle

The week sort of spun out of control again. I had a whole heap of random publishable (and some very unpublishable) thoughts to write down.

I'm having a week of far too many cancellations again. Now I remember... that was another reason I was unreasonably excited about working for an establishment. Cancellations aren't all bad though. Sometimes they allow me to tour the city in bumpy buses giving me time to muse about life in general and why I'm hungry an hour after lunch.

Bureaucracy sucks. I am fast learning that there isn't a country in the world that doesn't take delight in crumpling you up in a ball of paperwork and tossing you around. Much like this...

I was looking for this photo when I saw that Multiply had my last year's NaNo photo as having been uploaded in 2007. Craziness!

I took a chance and asked a random person on FB a couple of weeks ago if they knew anyone who would have a photo or could take a photo of the monument in Ficksburg. This guy is my great (x a few) grandfather, the one the town is named after. Being a small town in the Free State, there is very little information out here beyond the annual cherry festival and all things cherry. The family's farm there was... yep, you guessed it... a cherry farm. It's a beautiful part of the world that appears to be dominated by the prevalence of cherries and winter frost.

Lo and behold, one lady came through for me! The monument is in front of Ficksburg's really quaint city hall. What's more is that she said she'd go back and photograph the text detail for me. I think I love her. Now she's found an elderly gentleman who has the history of the town and its people on computer and may even be eager to share the information. I'm in genie heaven!

With grateful thanks to Susan K!

I may yet be able to map this family's winding path into the past.

Oh, Jurgis just came back from the village... mail day! Weeee!!! From the one place where us poor Seffies are welcome. And here I had just been watching the video of Tat dancing with her very sweet Leprechaun and no, she won't thank me for uploading the video, so it will stay safely tucked away on my pc : )

Saturday, 23 October 2010


Yep... LOL "Laugh out Loud"

Just in case you needed more convincing... this is about laughing - out loud...

Bad photo, but who cares?

When the World Cup was on the go, I read something about a journalist who landed in South Africa. He said what struck him the most was the laughter he heard at the airport, obviously something he wasn't accustomed to. South Africans are a peculiar lot, but one thing we do is laugh and usually out loud. I think it's because we're usually to be found out of doors, so conversations get spoken loudly across braais (bbq's) and laughter is something practised at the same volume.

Yes, we are loud, I think, but most of all, we know how to laugh, especially at ourselves and when something is funny, we aren't shy to let the world know. Yes, yes, our laughter may be quite loud and rumbustious, but that's us.

Laughter is contagious. I saw a little booklet the other day and one of the notes in it said: "A felicidade é contagiosa: cerque-se de rostos felizes." Happiness is contagious: surround yourself with happy faces.

Sometimes, I forget to laugh. I forget that laughter feels good. A good belly laugh heals so many ills. It occurred to me that we don't hear much laughter here at all, loud or soft. They smile, they chuckle, and laugh softly. It isn't that laugh that forces itself up from deep in your belly, stretching your mouth and face, squeezing your eyes shut and letting the tears roll. Ah... to laugh is good!

What makes you belly laugh?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Driving or not

Tat, sweetie... I thought of you today....

The one metro, that bright shiny new one, that I took today had a surprise in store for me. I found myself on the second carriage. One can walk between carriages on this metro. I saw something strange at the front... so I walked through. I knew the metro was driverless, but wow.... standing at the 'nose' of the train watching the tracks! Next time I'm going to do that. The guy on the right is actually videoing it with his cell phone.

Blurry photo much. Pretend it's showing speed or something, ok?

Hm... it just occurred to me that I should explain the top photo. I love beetle bugs... they're adorable. I so want to get myself one and paint it purple and full of flowers... just because and no, I'm not a hippy. Tat had this game she'd play of finding license plates with funny acronyms. In South Africa, the games would be about repeated numbers, as it was illegal to have a vowel in your license plate (unless it was one of those expensive personalised ones). Here, vowels are allowed and they're very funny sometimes... even funnier when the vehicle owners don't get what's funny about them. I've decided that the word 'cow' will feature in my personalised license plate when I grow up and have a car again :)

Sometimes even my horoscope has some priceless gems :) "You don't have to hang out in the dark shadows today; cultivate magic by crossing over to the sunny side of the street."

Monday, 18 October 2010

Starting over

I decided to start my day over. That's the fun part about time. You can start over at any point in your day. This image is a copy of a greeting card I saw. I found the message to be good... and timely. "No one can go back to make a new beginning, but anyone can begin now to make a new future." So, so true!

My head was in a distinctly funky place when I wrote my earlier blog today. It was literally a knee-jerk reaction. Freak now and ask questions later. I did ask questions in the end, when the fluff was cleared from my brain. The agent had written to tell me about the cancellation. I just never got it and it was all good:

"...she's been having a lot of problems with her schedule and can't continue classes now. She said she expects to sort out her schedule within the next couple weeks and will then get in touch again to resume classes. She said she loved your classes."
Ah now... that's better! And you know, if she doesn't come back (though I'm sure she will), the space is just being cleared for something better.

Class with young MF went just fine. Her father was back from his travels - he's hardly ever home - so everyone was cheerful and distracted, though the little one crawled up to where we were, heard me telling MF to scroll up (laptop) and kept saying, "Up! Up!" and laughing. That was so nice to hear. She's making huge progress.

Life is good... when I let it be good ; )

Ups and downs of life

So… it’s Monday and the week definitely has to pick up from here. Poor Monday gets incredibly bad rap as it is.

I woke up in the early hours to a thud. Jurgis had gotten up, decided to check something on my pc and knocked my stand with the webcam over. I still don’t know if it’s damaged. I’ll check it out later once the day starts improving.

The sound of gentle rain woke me up later. That was worth a smile. I lay listening to it for a while, then was slapped by the sound of our UPS’ beeping. Gah… power failure! It lasted for 2 hours and now our internet won’t start up. Thing is, if our internet doesn’t work, we’re without a phone too, as our phone is through our net service. We could call them, but they make you hold for ages and we’d have to call with cell phones. On our regular phone, last time we called, it turned out to be less than cheap.

I texted my student for this morning to confirm her class - her times were due to change. Just got the reply. She had told the agent I get work through that she was stopping classes as something had changed with her work. Thanks for letting me know, folks! No one told me. It was thanks to a gut feeling that I texted her. I was dressed and ready to go to meet her.

Yes, she did say it was due to changes in her work, but it’s so, so hard not to take it personally. I’ll never know if it was me. One thing about Brazilians is that they’re polite to a fault (ok, polite in some ways, such as not being able to say ‘no’). Any excuse will do as long as they don’t have to tell you to your face that something is wrong. My head is telling me that it’s bull. My heart is asking far too many questions. Ah well.

As I said, the morning can only get better, right? On the bright side, losing a student means my schedule is clearing for better students or for the course to enter that school… the one with all the super benefits. Yeah! That’s it. Now to convince my self-esteem that all is well.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


One of *those* mornings! I did wake up at 4:30. I swear! Somehow, 4:30 morphed into 5:20. Did you know that panic acts as a spring? I vaulted from being horizontal in my bed to the kettle in the kitchen two rooms away in one fluid movement... far more fluid than I usually am before noon (or any other time, for that matter).

I made it to the bus stop 10 minutes late only to find the bus was late too. Thank goodness. The driver greeted me with a cheery smile, which was good, as the crowded bus forced me to stand close to him - or as close as the protective bars would allow anyway - for some distance.

At the end of the first run, I went to pay. I usually delay it to the end of that leg of the trip, so I can stretch my Bilhete Unico (a card that lets me take a certain number of buses and metros within a given time period). Panic ensued a second time, this time far worse. My bus card was missing! I paid cash, but that ends up more than doubling my transport costs. A frantic call to Jurgis had him searching at home. I had just charged the card on Friday with at least half a month's worth of transport value. If it was gone, I'd be in huge trouble. Bless the man - he found it at home. Huge "Whew!"

After that, the rest of the day had to be peachy, right? Ok, barring the metro-riders who collectively seemed to be out of sorts. Outside the bank where teach, I was delighted to find two boys playing with a spinning top.

Photo credit: Ratão Diniz in www.flickr.com

It's been years since I'd seen one of those. They were doing some pretty cool tricks with it too. I wonder if spinning tops are coming back into popularity again - life is full of surprises.

Speaking of surprises, I'm learning to give everything (and everyone) a chance - a slow lesson, mind you. You never know where you'll find a gem. I found some great music recently in a genre and artist type I usually wouldn't touch with a ten-foot barge pole. Even the bus driver this morning was one I usually avoid. He's the one who always goes at half the speed limit. Today, he went along at a decent pace and I got smiles. What more could I ask for? Hm... ok.... perhaps an air ticket or two? : )

I had more surprises in store for me today. My one constantly-cancelling student wanted to move her class to lunch time to see if she'd be more constant then. That left her very popular slot open in the early morning. My Friday morning student, a really nice guy, happily filled that slot. I got an email this afternoon from the parent of the teens. Apparently, the kids have decided they don't want English classes for now (guess who's the boss there) and they're going to give it a miss for a while and he's terribly sorry. Wheeeee! This meant that I could tell my other student that she could have the lunch times she was after. Ok, she's not as regular as I'd like and with her, I'll get 10 bucks less than I do with them, but, as I said to Jurgis, I'll put that 10 bucks down to spa/therapy time. The stress I'll be relieved of makes it so well worth it and I know that more will come in now.

Oops! Just saw the time. I'm nearly late for the next student. Seems today is not my most punctually-concious day *blush* I thought the photo I took in the bank offices to be appropriate. "Time" in Portuguese is actually 'team'. It fits though.