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

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Dirty Car Art

Something beautiful from dirt? I'll take that! There's a lesson in there.

Saturday deminishes into a pile of catch-up activities

I'm so far behind now, catching up is actually a joke. Let's see.... the weekend started....

Last night, I was ready to step into the shower when I noticed that Specs was strangely missing. She usually hangs around my feet when I'm getting ready in the bathroom. I looked over into the bedroom. No cat on the bed. I looked on all the chairs. Nada. I then took the torch and looked under the chairs, tables and cupboards. Nothing. I donned my gown and ran outside barefoot. I looked up and down the passages. No cat.

Thoughts of, "Omg, what will I tell Tat?" were running around in my head. I looked upstairs, in and around all the little nooks and crannies. I scanned the rooftops by torchlight. I went to the main house... upstairs, nothing... downstairs, nothing. I checked window sills for kitty paw prints in the layers of São Paulo dust. Then I checked the tops of walls. Nothing. Nada. I controlled the panic that was setting in and decided to go ahead with my shower.

When I finished showering, I went to bed. This is what I found...

Can you see it??

*mentally throttles cat*

This morning is laundry and general housework time. Throw into that mix a kitchen sink that needs to be removed, so we can cement it in place. It is totally loose and supported by random planks. The kitchen is currently a disaster zone.

I need to spend a few hours preparing something for my students this week. Most of them are great. Their needs are simple. Then there are the horrors *sigh* I have these teens who come from a supposedly good family. They are destroying me, slowly but surely. No, forget the slowly part. I come away from that class feeling depressed and fairly useless. Their talk is smutty. They have no respect for man or beast. One brat's idea of a great way to be rich is to have his own zoo with lions, tigers, hippo's, etc that he can hunt and kill as he wishes. They eat (if you can call it that) unashamedly in class. The one stood arguing with his brother with a very full mouth and bread spraying as he was talking.

The other fights sleep all the way through... when he bothers to fight it. The third takes delight in telling me that he knows better. I tell him that if he does know better, he needs to prove it. I know teens 'test' people, but they're taking the testing to a whole new level. Their language would make a sailor blush. They seem to go out of their way to try to humiliate *takes a deep, calming breath* I can do this. It's only 4 hours a week. I can do this. If I can just come away from half the lessons not wanting to cry, I'll consider it a success for now.

Whew! *puts drama to one side*

On the bright side, I came home from one of their classes desperate and sat listening to a guided meditation. Towards the end, a story I've been trying to write for more than a year came into my head in all it's entirety. I now know the characters, the plot, the end... everything! Wonderful! See? There is good in negative situations after all!

It's hot again today. This heat is bearable though. It's up to 30ºC, but it doesn't feel like it. I love dry heat. On the downside, the pollution is extreme. Apparently, yesterday, the pollution was such that the effects on the lungs were such that every breath was like smoking a cigarette, which instantly made São Paulo a city of 20 million smokers. Walking is tiring. As you walk, your lungs burn. We all have sore throats, coughs and burning noses. We need rain. Apparently they're getting nice rain to the south. This week should see some relief.

Looking over the rooftops, I spotted a new satellite dish going up in the favela (slum). Brazil doesn't have building standards, so every neighbourhood has its share of favelas. The favelas and their satellite dishes have always been a subject of fascination for me. This is one huge satellite dish! Thank goodness for a zoom lens.

Just being put up

I'm going to beg forgiveness in advance. I have a few blogs written up for the week that need to be typed in. If you're bored, happy reading, but I won't be offended if you leave them out of your weekend reading : )

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Tarnished gilt

While I was looking for photos for this blog, I found another blog here. Below is a direct quote, which I found incredibly amusing. Tat will appreciate it. The photo is from that blog too.

~ : ~ : ~: ~ : ~

“Aqui é Santa Cecília?”
“Segundo os correios, é...”
“Na verdade, depende. Algumas quadras são na Consolação e outras são em Santa Cecília.”
“Mas se eu disser pra alguém que moro em Santa Cecília, essa pessoa irá até a Santa Cecília.”
“Pode ser que ela me encontre, afinal eu trabalho em Santa Cecília.”
“Por via das dúvidas, use 'moro na Angélica', aí não tem erro.”
“Oficialmente, não existe Higienópolis, nem Pacaembu. Só Consolação e Santa Cecília.”

~ : ~ : ~: ~ : ~

The one area I teach in is considered a 'bairro nobre' or 'noble neighbourhood'. Higienópolis. The quote above is a conversation about finding directions in Higienópolis. It's one of those peculiar neighbourhoods where everyone wants to have it as an address, but most around there live in the 'lesser' neighbourhoods of Consolação, Santa Cecilia and even further 'down', Marechal Deodoro.

Most of São Paulo is sectorised.... split into 'sectors'. Italians cluster together in their corner. Jews in another. Lithuanians claim a hilltop of their own. Business-minded Japanese prefer the heart of the city.

There's also sectorised shopping, whole neighbourhoods, streets or blocks, each specialising in one product or product range. A few blocks in town will give me countless shops selling sewing machines or sewing machine repair shops and spares, including a place to print out patterns. There's a road dedicated to jeans, another to hairdressing equipment. A whole few blocks lays claim to being a bride-to-be's Mecca. Just a little further will be the destination of restaurateurs and serious cooks. I wonder if there's any significance in the fact that the bridal sector is decidedly seedy.

For today, I was focussed on the 'bairro nobre'. The vast contrast between the one end and the other takes me by surprise every time. On the one end, you have your well-healed 'old money'. On the other end, you just have the 'old' part of that statement with money only scattered among those who've been there too long and are now too old to move.

In the front hall of the apartment block is an artists interpretation - you know they kind the designers toss out before a building goes up - of what was supposed to be a very nice complex. I walk in through the peeling gates, then some sliding glass doors into the entrance hall. To my left is an arrangement of plastic arum lilies that badly need dusting. There are two couches straight out of a 70's pawn shop. I doubt they've been moved since they were put there 3 or 4 decades ago. The picture on the wall is smallish, an obscure scenic painting, with an ornate gilt frame almost as thick as the picture is wide. The lift is small and very old, as is the rest of the building, creaking as it goes up. The equally creaking gate opens at my floor.

On the other end of the neighbourhood, I am allowed entry through double security gates by a security guard I doubt I'll ever see. I walk along the sweeping cobbled horseshoe drive to the entrance. The decor is simple and tasteful, one or two carefully chosen antiques. So different from the apartments on the other end of the 'hood'. Strangely, though, the buildings come from the same 'era'.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


a brutal cut
left wounded and bleeding
blood red life-blood flows and congeals
no one knows his name
his arm lost in the name of progress
making way for city expansion
Did he cry in pain?
ancient in wisdom
he stands tall
growing stronger every day

a brutal cut
wounded and weeping
tears flow and dry on her face
no one knows her name
her dream ruthlessly brushed off
it didn't matter to them
She fell. She cried.
drawing on hope from deep within
she stands tall
growing stronger every day

A note on the tree in the first stanza:

The tree I saw walking through the neighbourhood is a tipuana. When cut, its sap is a blood red. It's not hard to think of the pain of the cut when seeing that 'blood'. This tree is a majestic example of how man and nature integrates. It's limbs had been cut to make way for overhead wires. The tree itself was so old, I couldn't put my arms around its base. It was covered in tree orchid foliage. Thanks to Jurgis for finally identifying the tree for me. No one around the tree, including the gardeners, knew what tree it was; thus my comment on no one knowing his name. Some day, I'll go back there with the camera. There are so few photos of this tree online.

Some photos I found:

To get the full effect (this image is huge, albeit somewhat fuzzy) - http://bit.ly/c8b0mf You can see the tree orchid on the bark in this photo.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Pomp 'n ceremony

I was late, so I only got the bus at 9:15. Spent and impatient 15 minutes on the bus getting to my stop close to the metro. A brief walk, around 5 minutes, presented me with the crowd waiting to be let in. It appears that being a few minutes late wasn't such a bad thing. Most are sightseers taking advantage of the free trip to the next stop, where we are supposed to get off the train, navigate the escalators to the surface, exit, then enter again, paying this time, to be able to continue our journey.

This metro station is very different and, apparently 'green'. Instead of the usual turnstiles where we pay, there are automatic glass sliding doors. This looks snazzy, but slows the peak hour crowd down dramatically, as you have to wait for it to slide open slowly instead of just going through. I think I'll half miss the clackety-clack of the turnstiles spinning as the crowds filter through. The escalators are also a novelty. They automatically sense if there is no traffic, at which time they either slow down or stop completely, being reactivated by human traffic again. There is no artificial lighting in this station. It is all lit by daylight. Wonder what happens at night or on dark mornings. I'll find out eventually, I guess. To get onto the train, there are glass sliding doors preventing entry (this is on the platform). It's a form of crowd control. We'll see how effective that is when peak hour service starts.

There was a 10 minute wait while photographer-types and officious-looking bodies cruised the line, fussing. A few of us who needed to get to work were antsy. We eventually started up. The photo up there is misleading. That carriage (we were confined to two central carriages) was crowded. I think the photo must have been taken of one of the later trips.

The stations are marked inside the train with little lights, very handy for times when the driver is incomprehensible, though these trains are apparently driverless. Should that make me nervous or should I be pleased? Hard to tell. A lady's voice politely tells us that we are approaching Sacomã and should prepare to disembark and thank you for your patronage (or words to that effect). A bell sounds, the doors slide open and the masses flock off, causing instant congestion as they mixed with the folk from that station waiting to board. It was a mess!

A few of us tried to make our way into the crowd, being in a hurry to pay and get on our way, but it was fruitless. We eventually walked on, passing a few carriages, got back onto the train. That was how I scored myself a free ride. Do I feel guilty? Absolutely not. It was mayhem and I was already running late. Why they couldn't let those who planned to go the whole run pay at the first station is beyond me. They could have opened the side gates for those wanting a free ride.

In all, the new trains are brilliant. They're clean and air-conditioned (another thing that can be both good and bad - I'm not a fan of air-conditioning). There are very few seats, but that isn't a bad thing in our sardine cans. They need more standing room. Standing is the only way to fit in the requisite number of bodies.

It's about 20 minutes to the station from my home. Once on the train, it passes back over where I live and through another station that is actually closer to my home, but not open yet. Not sure how that works or when that will be open or even if it'll be of any use to me. There's a river between us and that station that spends most of summer in a state of flood. The station I used today is up on the hill in the opposite direction, though also on the other side of a road that frequently floods. Time will tell. Right now, it's actually easier for me to stick to my old transport routes. The functioning hours of this station are no help to the working populace.

Saturday, 21 August 2010


See this?????

Know what it is???

It's the metro station we have been waiting for!!!

More here: http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/786716-estacao-vila-prudente-do-metro-e-inaugurada-em-sao-paulo.shtml

*jumps up and down*

Ok, it will only be open after 9am daily and only off-peak hours, but at least I can get home a lot faster.


Ok, so the new metro station is 1.5 miles (30 minutes walk according to Google maps) away. There is, however a bus that will take me virtually from my front door to the metro in 10 minutes. Then it's just half an hour into town (or return, depending on which way you look at it). That cuts my travel time from 2 hours to 40 minutes!!! *grins*

We like to do things differently

Saturday morning.... laundry's in the machine, Jurgis is outside working on some mysterious project, the vibrating hum of the orbital sander providing a background to my day, both the dog and cat are out there somewhere sunning their bellies. It's a lovely day. I really need to sweep/vacuum/make the bed, but yeah... :) That can wait till this blog is finished. I also want to visit everyone's blogs to catch up on the week. What a week it's been!

When you think of a pantry, what comes to mind? For me, it's a small room that has no window and is cool and lined with shelves, storing groceries and all kinds of yummy things. Here in Brazil, it is very, very rare for a house to come with any form of cupboard, never mind a pantry. Cupboards, for us, have had to be rather, let's just say, inventive. The first thing we do when moving to a place is to put up shelves and pray they stay up. Grocery storage was a major challenge, especially considering that this is a land of bugs and damp and mildew.

When we arrived here, we spent a few years without a fridge of any sort. Groceries were bought daily and what needed to be kept cold was stored in the cooler box. We managed. Eventually, a friend at the consulate said that, with staff rotation, they had a storage facility with loads of furniture, each dip. wanting their own brand new furniture and would we like a fridge. Dumb question. We said yes. We got a huge double-door fridge that was half-working - we have since come to the conclusion that diplomats abuse their furniture badly. It worked for a little while, then died. Instead of throwing it away, Jurgis removed the gas and the grids and we got ourselves a pantry cupboard.

In short, it's perfect. It seals completely. It's temperature controlled. It has plenty little sections for various items. And it's a solution to filling up a garbage dump with an old 'useless' fridge.

On the front of the 'pantry', I have two photos of a place with special memories for us, a copy of a poem I wrote a long time ago, a magnet with the number of our gas company and a magnet with the number for the place we order our pet food. Hanging in front there are my agate chimes. They're more pretty than sounding good. I wish they were in front of the window where the crystal would reflect light, but we can't have it all : )

Some time back, I promised to post a photo of my fridge (the real fridge) with its magnets...

The funky green looking one is art by Tatiana, aged 9. It was meant to be a Picasso reproduction. The one next to it is self-explanatory. Below that, left to right is: a wood magnet from Campos de Jordão, a picture of some landmark in Vilnius - Lithuania, a magnet from the UAE sent by a friend who was working there at the time and my "I'm not plump, I'm fluffy" magnet that goes back to 1985 or possibly even earlier. Below the camel is my Paraty magnet showing their typical boats.

To the right of that is the old South African flag, bought for me by Tat at the Voortrekker monument in SA, currently the only place you can legally buy the flag. Below that, left to right is: "My home is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy", a magnet from the South African consulate showing their sight which is badly out of date, and the polar bear magnet saying "I'm not a morning person" that Anne thought suited me perfectly. Just to the bottom right of that magnet is another Lithuanian magnet, this time depicting the Lithuanian coat of arms.

Left to right below that is: a wooden Campos de Jordão magnet with copper 'pots' hanging off it, a bulldog clip with a note from Tat :), and my "The opinions of the husband in this household are not necessarily those of the management" magnet.

The last two are my toucan, which comes from Iguaçu falls, brought to me by Anne and a Celestial Seasonings tea, which says, "Wonder is the seed of knowledge by Francis Bach."

Friday, 20 August 2010

“You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.” ~Buddha ~ an honest look at anger: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/punished-by-anger/

In Brooklyn Store, Everything’s Always 100% Off - NYTimes.com

Wouldn't it be wonderful if very city had a store or three like this and people contributed?

Accidental flying

I take three buses to my first student. Every now and again, the bus drivers run an intensive testing period to see if the passengers are awake.

In short... I hurt... all over.

I was tucked into the window seat just in front of the conductor. The driver had filled up with kangaroo juice and was testing his brakes and steering system to the limit. In peak hour traffic, that takes some doing.

I reached into my bag to get my bus card out just as the driver grew wings to take the last S-bend before my stop.

Now I'm not gravity-challenged and I'm definitely no feather-weight. It takes a lot to part me with gravity. When I sit, I'm firmly planted. Not this time. As he took the corner, I sailed across, out of my seat, across the neighbouring seat, and into the aisle, landing in a heap on the opposite side of the the bus against the other seats. Gravity remembered me... with a vengeance! As I said, I hurt *hobbles off into the sunset... make that 'sunrise'*

This picture makes me very, very grateful that I wear pants to work!

Great way to start the day!

I tend to stop and talk to the animals along my way and passing dog walkers are easy game. One dog came up to sniff and I patted him and chatted to him. His owner launched into an account of how she's going to complain about the bank she was just at because they wouldn't let her dog (slightly bigger than a fox terrier) in even though he's her 'bengala'. Now 'bengala' is a walking stick. How on earth can a dog on a soft leather leash be a walking stick for someone, who, incidentally, was walking just fine. I suggested, hesitantly, that perhaps if she carried a document saying he is exempt from the usual rules banning animals in banks, she may avoid problems in future. Apparently she has a document and they refused to acknowledge it. Now I'm an ardent defender of the sick, the lame and the helpless, but I couldn't help thinking this time that I wasn't very surprised that they raised an eyebrow at her claim.

Eh.... what a week it's been. I'm glad tomorrow is Friday. I'll go in, teach, then pay the rent and get my butt home to unwind.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Little things

It seems that when life is at its darkest, we appreciate the little things that can change a day for the better. When stressing over covering the bills becomes an all-day thought that overrides good sense, even a small deposit gives relief... huge relief. In short, I'm relieved and so very grateful. Immediate bills will be covered and there's enough to get Jurgis a steak for his birthday. I read about this magic way of ensuring the perfect steak. We'll see if it works. Life's looking up.

*sigh* The old ducky next to me just had a fairly long conversation with me, but I didn't get a single word of it. Mumbling in one's own language is bad enough, but in another? I nod. I smile. I agree. Everyone likes to have someone agree with them, right?

So... I'm once again facing decisions. My day currently involves being out from 6am to 6 or 7pm, depending on traffic and transport. During this time, I will do an actual 3 or 4 hours teaching. I get home, spend a couple of hours preparing the next day's lessons, eat and go to bed. If all my students actually had all their classes, this wouldn't be a bad life, but reality is very different. We're past the first half of the month and my one student has had only one of her classes. Others have cancelled at least twice each. The days I don't teach, I simply don't get paid... regardless of the reason for the missed class. What was meant to be a really good month (it's long in business days, so more classes are scheduled) has turned into an economically 'stretched' month.

My decision now is whether to go back to advertising for students (in the hope of getting some decent 'regular' students), though in my area that only brings really basic students who end up needing a lot of Portuguese. On the other hand, there's the schools. I know I said I wouldn't teach at the schools again, but... never say 'never' and all that. Trouble is, pay isn't that good, though it comes with benefits and I can, if I work with a nearby school, cut out or at least cut down on my currently high transport costs. The schools also mean that I have less cancellations, though with the student body being as fickle as it is, that never quite gets ruled out.

Ah.... what to do?

But... today it's easy to be grateful. I'll just ignore the niggly prods of doubt that rear their vile little heads. I have options. That's a plus. I can cover the bills and stock the pantry. I should blog that 'pantry' sometime. The student I am currently waiting for seems to be a no-show, so I get to journal in the meantime. This job has it's advantages to be sure : ) I'm off to bed now. See you all on the flipside.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Following the herd

** High heels, barefoot, boots, ballet slippers or sneakers?  Winter: boots or tekkies; Summer: sandals

** What time did you get up this morning? 8:30 am

** Diamonds or pearls?  Neither, but would take both if forced to : )

** What was the last film you saw at the cinema?  Erm... Avatar... not the airbender one.

** What is your favorite TV show?  NCIS!!

** What do you usually have for breakfast? Coffee and two slices of toast

** Do you smoke? Absolutely not

** What food do you dislike?  Stale coxinhas, cold buffet food and the thought of pigs' snouts in feijoada

** What is your favorite CD at the moment?  A random mix of my own downloads

** What characteristic do you despise ? Egotism and lack of consideration. Ok, that's two

** Favorite Clothing? My black stretch jeans

** Anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?  Katey's ship ; )

** Are you an organized person? Sometimes

** Where would you retire to?  Some place quiet with a little house and trees and grass and a garden

** What was your most memorable birthday? Um... the one at the Outback with Tat and Jurgis when Tat and I tried that awesome cocktail thing or was it the time when Tat and Jurgis teamed up to cook supper for me. Ooh... I should post the photo... this was the 2005 one.

** What are you going to do when you finish this? Probably shower and get to bed, so I can worry about the lessons in the morning and panic and do them at the last minute.

** Furthest place you are sending this? Daft question

** Person you expect to post it first? Another daft question. I'm usually one of the last to do these.

** When is your birthday? March

** Are you a morning person or a night person?  Definitely night, though life is conspiring to make me a mornings person

** What is your shoe size?  Which country? 7 in South Africa

** Do you own any animals?   Nope... they own me.

** Any news you'd like to share?  Hm... no news really. I'm dreading the week.

** What did you want to be when you were little? A singer, then an air hostess

** What is your favorite flower?  The humble pansy

** Do you wish upon stars? Yes!

** Do you second guess your actions afterward?  Too often for my own good

** If you were a crayon, what color would you be?  It changes. Right now? Orange

** How is the weather right now? Bloomin' cold - for Brazil this is cold. My toes are aching

** Last person you spoke to on the phone? Some fool at a call centre.

** Favorite food? Too much choice! Potato... you can do so much with it! And it's probably my favourite because it's so hard to find decent potato here.

** Favorite Restaurant?  In Brazil? I'd say Outback, but it's been years since we went there.

** Hair color? Mud brown liberally streaked with platinum

** What was your favorite toy as a child? Fifi, my doll

** Summer or Winter?  Autumn

** Chocolate, strawberry or vanilla? Neopolitan ; )

** Coffee or tea:  Coffee

** What do you see.. when you look up from the computer screen?  A messy desk

** When was the last time you cried?  Thursday

** What's under your bed?  A rug - it's flat on the floor

** What did you do last night?  I'll be darned if I can remember

** What are you afraid (no, terrified) of? Ending up staying here

** Salty or sweet?  Both... depends on mood. Usually sweet

** Favorite month? April, I think

** Ice Cream, Pie or Cake? All of the aforementioned

** If you could change one thing in your life... what would it be?  To be somewhere else far from here... closer to Tat

** What amusement park.. would you like to visit?  I'm curious about the new HP park, but I'm also not a huge crowd/amusement park fan

** Would you live on Mars if it was colonized?  I'd visit, but no, I rather like our planet

** Do you like finding out all this stuff about your friends?  It's interesting

** What are you reading right now?  The Anansi boys by Neil Gaiman

** What was the last gift you gave.. and to whom? A tiny silver box with trees : )

** What was the last gift you received?  From whom?  Two books and teeny tiny iPod

** Do you allow your loved one to take YOUR picture?? And, if no.. WHY??? I do, on condition it's given to me for editing ; )

Sunday chuckles

First, I have to share this here. This, to me, is tear-streaming-laugh-out-loud FUNNY:

Then Jurgis sent this to me. I think at least a couple of my contacts here will appreciate it ; )

This morning I went to sign my four dogs up for welfare.

At first the lady said, "Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare".

So I explained to her that my dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no clue who their daddies are.

They expect me to feed them, provide them with housing and medical care, and feel guilty because they are dogs.

So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify.

My dogs get their first checks Friday.
Disclaimer: (why do I feel I need one anyway?) The joke above is not aimed at anyone on welfare. I have seen first-hand both ends of the welfare spectrum... the deserving and the most-definitely-not deserving. I thought it was funny. So there!

Besides, I needed the humour. I've been stressing and fussing all day about lesson plans for a very, very, very unpleasant class : (   This is one soul-destroying class. One of us has to give... and I suspect it will be me.

I'm off to do Katey and Riete's quiz and find more funny videos to watch... or perhaps I should give some attention to those lessons.

Procrastination won out!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Photos in my mind

*A note to those who're new to my blog...
My blogs are written on paper while I'm out teaching,
in the 'dead' time between students or on the bus...
just in case you find it doesn't make much sense*

Oh look! Today's Friday the 13th! So far, it's promising to be peachy in spite of my horrorscope promising doom 'n gloom. I think I'll actually take a lottery ticket today. In fairness, the lottery place should be empty barring a few other souls as odd as me.

It's Friday! : )

An old black man got on the bus - his most notable features were his work-worn hands. I looked up at his creased brown skin and my thoughts went back to old Joe. Joe was part of the landscape of my childhood, a short man, his face a map of ebony wrinkles. I'm not sure what his actual job was, but I remember him mostly on his knees alongside my gran as they lovingly tended pansies, dahlias and roses.

He was a quiet man. The only time I remember him actually saying something was when, during some controversial political upheaval in the country ~ "Ek's 'n kaffir. Ek sal altyd 'n kaffir wees." (Translates to "I'm a kaffir and will always be a kaffir") He wasn't being humble or downtrodden when he said that. He said it with an odd pride. I actually think that he had found the equality everyone else was crying for kneeling in the dirt next to a white woman, tending the flower beds they both loved. I was taught to respect him and who could do otherwise? I think he was old before time began.

Another short man from my past comes to mind, Oom de Vos. I can picture him clearly. Actually, I can smell him clearly too. He carried a musty old-man smell about him that made me imagine him carrying mothballs in the pockets of his equally old black suit that he probably dug out especially for these visits. I wish I knew more about him though. He'd known my gran for many, many years. Apparently, he had been a manager on the family farm. He always spoke to my gran with warm deference. I suspect that he could have filled in a lot of the gaps I have in the family history. I'd look his family up, but, sadly, De Vos is a fairly common name in South Africa and I know absolutely nothing else about him. For the lack of photos, I wish I were an artist. I'd paint a picture. The memories are crystal clear.

A young girl, a student, got onto the bus and stood next to my seat. I offered to hold her bags, but she put them on the floor at her feet. She did, however, allow me to hold her book, a thick tome on Clinical Anatomy. Have you ever held a book and wished you could just absorb all the information in it through the covers... osmosis-style? I did. I wonder if she'd have thought me odd or presumptuous if I'd started flipping through the book.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Raw umber

Not my photo - photographer unknown

One of my most treasured childhood possessions was my box of Crayola crayons. As I sit here, I can feel the textured paper clinging to the silky-smooth wax. My box of crayons was always perfectly arranged in colour order. I loved the colours, but, I think, more than the colours, I loved their names. Aquamarine, Indian Red, Prussian Blue, Forest Green, Raw Sienna, Brick Red... names that fire the imagination. So many of my colour references today are from Crayola. Raw umber and burnt orange were my favourites. I loved the way the names rolled off my tongue.

Now I'm no shopaholic. In fact, I don't like shopping, especially when it's for myself. Where I'm sitting, though, is a shop boasting a cardigan in a perfectly exquisite burnt orange. Good thing that it's about four sizes too small for me.

I finally managed to finish my Worcestershire sauce book today. That is, after the smell dissipated enough for me to be able to carry it with me onto public buses and into classes.

If you could have one super power, what would you want? I would love the ability to heal or comfort with just a touch - where words are superfluous and reasoning an unnecessary extra. On the other hand... the ability to teleport would have been very useful today *sigh*

Monday, 09 August 2010


Heart smiles...

A note from someone close....

" I hope you have a sunny day today! : ) "

And a picture attached...

Photo from the Lithuanian online newspaper, Irytas.lt

I pass the wish on...

Ok, our skies look much like this right now (with added pollution) and it's about to rain, but I can dream...

"A ship in harbour is safe - but that is not what ships are for." ~John A. Shedd

Saturday, 07 August 2010

I believe

Art by Sara Broski. I loved her work! Very whimsical.
Do click on the image to see more.

Reincarnation is a belief that seems to fly in the face of creation, but then, according to many, so does the whole evolution and dinosaurs belief. There are so many varying beliefs founded on man's desire to know why, when and how. Does it really matter? This blog isn't on religious belief, though it is a topic I enjoy discussing on occasion. Note that I said 'discussing', not ranting, postulating, temper-tantruming or throwing rotten eggs over. What my beliefs are, are not the point here, though I'm inclined to say, "Who really knows?" In short, I believe it is all possible. Yes, every single last bit of it and I think that the sooner people look at each other with a desire to understand the beliefs of others, we'll find that to be true.

But... this is about reincarnation and possibly a little evolution, possibly a dinosaur or two... and yes, creation. I'm not sure why I chose these words beyond that they seem to be appropriate to my thoughts.

As I see it, we've all been reincarnated in one form or another. We're all evolving, ever-changing, growing. We came into this life as a lump of (rather cute) clay, each one of us with unique moulding properties, ready to be formed or moulded. Those who've worked with clay will know there are some clays which mould far easier than others, some which are prone to cracking and others which hold up rather well under adverse conditions.

As we go through life, we all encounter change. Usually, it's an evolution or growth period. Circumstances force us to adapt and adapt we do. The human spirit is remarkably strong, usually far stronger than we think it is while going through those rough times.

Ah... then there are times when life simply whips the carpet out of under our feet and we crash. A phoenix-like rebirth is the only option open. We scrape together the ashes and pieces of our soul and drag ourselves up again - some times better than others.

There are also times we choose to reincarnate ourselves. This is what I was thinking about today. For myself, I'm at a point where I'm once again evaluating where I am and what I can do to better myself. There are so many things I want to change that it's more of a reincarnation, rather than an evolution. I like the fact that a reincarnation seems quicker than an evolution too.

So... reincarnate, I will, assuming I can persuade the dinosaurs of my old belief systems, experiences and perceptions not to stomp all over my attempts.

"The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be." Robert Fulghum

Friday, 06 August 2010

A sense of style

Have you ever left home in your slippers? Or at least dreamt that you have? Or worn sandals when going out into the snow? ; )

My dress for teaching leans towards the casual with just enough 'smart' to be presentable for corporate students. Yesterday, for example, I had the balls-in-the-bathtub student and a mess of teens. Dress: jeans, t-shirt, hiking boots. As day-to-day comfort wear goes, that is 'it'. Around lunch time, I stepped in at the shopping centre in the area - in the heart of the Jewish quarter. I spent my time there wondering, as I often do, if money makes one lose all sense of style - as though I have so much style myself =Þ Naturally, there were bunches of well-dressed dames, but some real oddballs too.

This morning, I decided to 'glamorise'. I hauled out my red throw, did the full 'war paint' routine and even dug through my jewellery box! Yes! Full red-carpet glamour. Ok, not quite, but, for me, it's a total departure from what has become my norm.

I left home feeling all dressed up... until I got to the bus stop and chanced to look down. Yep. Rough 'n tough hiking boots! I packed up laughing. My bus stop companion gave me a kind of quizzical grin, not knowing what could possibly be so amusing during a dark, early morning wait for the bus. Every now and again, throughout the day, my thoughts would go to my feet - which, in fairness, are far more comfortable than they have any right to be when 'dressed up' - and the mirth bubbles up again.

The photo, by the way, is of Tat's old boots. Mine aren't nearly as worn, so I could get away with it under my pants.

Looking at the news this morning and reading about how the fire brigade somewhere in northern USA is offering to hose down the cattle in the extreme heat, it's weird to see the thick blanket of snow not to far south of us here in Brazil. My world today is peppered with huddled Brazilian popsicles.

From one of our local news sites

Wednesday, 04 August 2010

Adventure in transit

What will I do for blog fodder the day I become 'normal' and get a car?

I was surprised and "Omg! How exciting!" pleased when I scored a seat on the bus this morning - right alongside the driver. It's reserved-for-old-fogies seating, but at 6am, they're not in transit anywhere. Turns out, that's where all the action is. There I was, minding my own business, watching street and car lights going by (I couldn't read, as the driver had the lights off) to the tune of some mellow Enya.

I got myself free entertainment. The bus had stopped. A lanky youth ran up and looked inside. It seemed that he decided it was the wrong bus. He walked along the curb and banged on the bus where the bus conductor sat. I figured it was just a 'greeting'. They often do that if they know the driver or conductor and it's usually followed by animated chatting and laughing. But... In a split second, the conductor and driver were both out of their seats and pounding down the road after the guy, brandishing 2 foot long, thick sticks. This was a true blue, "What the heck?!" moment. The chase carried itself across 6 lanes and ended as the guy rounded a corner.

The driver and conductor swaggered back to the bus with a "we got him good" attitude. Back on the bus, they talked and laughed between themselves after stowing their sticks. Unfortunately, they spoke in the incomprehensible North Eastern accent, so I remained clueless. One thing was sure, they were prepared. This was no random event.

I then switched over to the metro, which went calmer, though not without its own interest. We'd gone a couple of stops when everyone was ordered off the metro. I had my earphones in, so I missed the announcement. It seems to be my day for being clueless. We all crowded sheeplike into the next metro and went on our merry way.

I met my student who flapped a little at the 'dangers of public transport', only to be caught up by his own words when sirens bore down on us. There was a convoy of police cars and a van transporting criminals. The 'brownies' (that's what the traffic guys are called here due to their brown uniforms) shooed us out of the way. What on earth possessed them to think that transporting criminals through São Paulo's peak hour traffic was a good idea?? Apparently they 'avoid' traffic jams because of the risk of being blocked off deliberately (pre-organised), thus allowing the prisoners to escape.

   ~ ~ ~

Does anyone else also find their heart stopping when an ambulance passes by? I find myself hurting for the drama those people are facing.

What makes a pubescent kid go a few metres out of his way to kick a pigeon? Does it give him an otherwise missing sense of power?

I'm now off to bed. It was an exhausting day. Tomorrow will be even longer. I leave home at 6am and return at 6pm. In that time, I will take 7 buses in total and a metro. What adventures await, I wonder? My afternoon will end with 3 teen boys whom I've been warned will try to take advantage. Great. What an exciting prospect!

Tuesday, 03 August 2010

Crossword Fun - alphaDictionary

Go on... have some fun! Click on the block and start typing. Clicking twice on a block gives you the 'down' word. Clues are on the left.

Monday, 02 August 2010

Pouring in

I just loved this and, I'm not sure why, Kippy came to mind ; )


I woke up on the tail end of a fascinating dream. As some of you may know, I've been very interested in alternative healing for many, many years now. My interest started with herbs, then moved on to reflexology. Reflexology is the stimulating of points in the hands or feet, which correspond to areas in the body. The body is broken up in to energy meridians, so the energy runs from a point in the body to the organ you are treating.

I believe that our bodies are remarkable machines, where everything is tied in, all running like smooth cogs, interlinked. I believe in the healing therapies I've studied because I started out as the ultimate sceptic. Everything I use is what I've tried on myself and found it to work.

I have studied reflexology and herbalism over the years. As you know, I don't go to the doctor unless the situation is dire. My latest visit to the doctor let me to blood tests that showed that I was normal in every way and the couple that were 'out of synch' were so logical and something I can work on on my own. In fact, something I need to work on (you only need to see a photo of me to know what that is).

Since I started on this 'journey', I have studied EFT, TAT, acupressure and hypnotherapy. Studying, for me, has involved reading everything I can on the subject, doing research and taking every course I have access to. Last week, I did the exam to certify as a hypnotherapist. I passed and got my bit of paper. Thing is, like all the other qualifications I have, this one is a low level qualification, but it did give me knowledge and I can use that with myself and anyone else who trusts me enough. It sounds pat, but the more I learn, the more I find out I don't know and want to learn more.

                       ~ ~ ~

Back to my dream. I don't remember the lead up, other than that it involved a mess of transport typical of my working life, but I ended up in a hospital clinic setup. The place was very old. The furnishings were solid, very thick wood, painted in yellowing enamel paint that had obviously taken years of abuse, but was clean. With every aspect of the dream, the word 'ancient' comes to mind. There was a mess with documents I needed, again, typical of my life here. I never seem to have the right papers. Jurgis eventually arrived with the final paper I needed after a frantic call.

I was shown through to the doctor. He stood behind an old desk, in the style of the front desks. Behind him was a circular area with floor-to-ceiling shelves, every inch of which contained little brown bottles. I looked at the bottles and could visualise their contents. The contained liquids with samples in them. I was intrigued and, to me, it was strangely beautiful. I stood looking at them and wanted to write a poem about those bottles.

The doctor eventually sent me through for the actual blood test. As I walked into the next area, another doctor or technician was standing there holding a chart and pointing to where he was going to take the sample. He was a good few feet away, but I could clearly see the chart. It was a meridian chart with the liver meridian highlighted in a bright orange-red. This is strange because, with all my studying, I have a vague sense of the acupressure/acupuncture meridians, but struggled to memorize them, but in my dream, I knew that meridian very well and recognised it immediately.

I woke up at the point where I was standing rooted to the ground realising that the doctor was planning to stick a needle into my liver at the point under the ribs in the image here. I think anyone would wake up at that thought ; )

                       ~ ~ ~

Back to reality.

Last week, I was doing a lot of EFT and hypnosis on the subject of my health and my work, aka financial situation. One of the EFT masters suggested focussing on a point that needs working on (EFT uses acupressure points). I kept thinking that I don't know which point needs more work and how am I supposed to know anyway? I have my answers. Research into the liver meridian was the penny drop I needed. I had a few 'wow' moments this morning. So that's what it was?!

My morning didn't end there. I got two emails where the one agent I get work from had asked my old students (one who'd cancelled) if they want to return to class. The responses were that they loved the classes with me, but couldn't right now and would in the near future. Hey... a compliment! I'll take that!

More was to come though. The same agent, who's an English teacher himself with excellent English, has asked me to teach his three kids, each kid in his/her own class. Wow. I was dumbstruck. This teacher is a good teacher in his own right. He used to run a school. His old students rave about his classes and he wants ME to teach his kids?! A compliment indeed. I'll take that too! : )

All in all, the week is starting well with fascinating things to think about, follow up on and filled with hope. I like that.

Sunday, 01 August 2010

ABC's in another language

Classic case of severe side-track. I started out with Katey's ABC blog, then hunted for a pic to go with it, then found the alphabet shown here, which reminded me of someone, which reminded me of a time long ago.

On Friday, I had a somewhat strange day, but in that day, I found myself on Facebook. Facebook recommended I add someone who had someone else on their list who had... you know how it goes. In all that, I found someone surprising. Not sure why it surprised me, but it did. I found my old SADSL (South African Deaf Sign Language) teacher.

We lived near Fulton School for the deaf and it wasn't a huge stretch to end up with a friend who had a deaf child. It was a struggle for this friend, as she was a very pro-active mom. There weren't many resources for deaf kids and sign language wasn't fashionable then. Few people used sign language. The trend at the deaf schools back then was for kids to learn to 'speak' English and sign language wasn't recognised as a language in its own right. A few of us got together to learn. The idea was to enable the little girl to have a life outside of school. We learned through books at first, doing signed English, literally signing every word, prepositions included. Then we 'progressed' to ASL (American sign language). Some time later, we enrolled to study South African sign language. It was finally recognised and encouraged. It wasn't an easy course, but we had a lot of fun. It helps to do it with friends.

I qualified in the end... to make conversation and to interpret at Level 1, which was for conventions and such. I couldn't interpret at schools or for legal matters, but I was fine with that and totally not up for another couple of years of study.

This photo was taken after our graduation.

This one is a photo montage my friend did of our group signing at a convention in Durban. I'm the one in yellow and red.

"The average person goes to their grave with their music still in them." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes ~ Find your music and play it

Random thoughts

I think I'm going to start a Random thought blog, a little bit like Kippy's Whim blogs, except that mine will probably make less sense. But then again, my mind's been so random, by the time I open the blog page, it will have moved onto something else. C'est la vie... at least, my 'vie'.

Found via Google (click image to go to the blog page):

Matt: "at the top of the tribune tower yelling down at people"
Kara: "on top of the world, looking down"
Matt: "because we live on a globe, wherever you are, you are on top of the world."
I like that!

Yes, I have been missing. Life has been a little... challenging. No wait. The activities in my head have been a little challenging.

I love the new Google image search! Well, it's new for me. Apparently Tat doesn't have it.

I really badly want to sew... and do something crafty. Sewing takes time (and space) and I have little of either, so crafty is next. I tried 'simple' a knotting 'project' and got lost on step 2 *sigh* I hauled out the crochet hook and thread... got two rows in and got equally lost.

I feel like a Jill of all trades. I just completed another course. I do courses in all manner of things that, though I use them for myself, do little to further my life plans. I'm one of those 'knowledgeable in many things, but properly qualified in none' with scads of grim life experience, but no papers to prove it (or very few anyway). But then... if learning makes me a better person, all is good : )

I have a long list of goals. Some easier to get to than others. Funny how the more challenging ones end up at the top of the list.

I discovered why I wasn't sleeping well, aside from the cat making me move around her all night. The bed needs a miracle makeover or a dump. I vote 'dump'. Maybe one day.

In a world of amazing possibilities, it becomes hard, sometimes, to decide which possibilities to go for first.

It's August. The year is almost over. Omg!

I love kids. Honestly, I do! I may want to commit hari-kari on the brats two houses down. They scream all day long... I mean... really  scream. I would love to give the parents a reality check. My fear is that one day they'll be screaming for real (as opposed to really screaming) and everyone will ignore it because it's 'normal'. Aside from that, it's just plumb annoying.

We have a big black cat that has taken to visiting and... much to my disgust... spraying. I'll add him to the list of 5000 other cats that have taken to hanging around and have formed the Tujupi Cat Choral. The black cat (aside from his obvious misdemeanour) is beautiful though. He's a pitch black version of Maluco. The same calm "I'm top cat around here" attitude. Now if he didn't spray =/

Some days, just waking up is enough

Random comments welcome...