Monday, April 30, 2007


Yesterday I slept almost all day - why? - because I just spent one week showing a Norwegian woman and her partner around Rio, Buzios and Nova Friburgo. It was great fun and I have a high energy level, but they ate and drank me into the ground. (which with the drinking is not hard to do) I complain often that Camillo and I never go out at night and that we never go dancing. They wanted to do both and I had to say I was sorry but I was capoot. We needed Riorose and the Comandante to take over for us on the night life but, of course, she's not here when I needed her for generating energy and ideas.
The problem was not my ability to enjoy the tourist sights again nor that I am getting old, no, no, but that I was the one responsible for asking the taxi drivers, the waiters, the shop keepers for everything in Portuguese. I wasn't physically tired as much as just mentally emptied by the need to drag out of my brain all the phrases the I know. Now that I have had a day of rest, I am also very proud that I was able to speak so much Portuguese and to be understood. There may be hope for me yet. GingerV

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Without begging, someone linked to me!

He blogs from Brazil also. As soon as I figure out how to do it I will link to him. He mentioned something about my feminine perspective on Brazil.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wow, only 9.5 hours later

And here I am at Starbucks, Atlanta airport. Gate B30. I just went through customs. They have gotten so strict about liquids. The security checker must have seen something on the screen because she grabbed my tube of toothpaste, shrugged her shoulders and placed it back in the scanner tray with my shoes. All the while the truly suspicious item she had seen lay under my purse; the lethal 80 gram tube of hormone gel. Enough federal crime reporting, what about coffee shop crimes. This is amazing, I think I am the only person who ordered coffee. Everyone else is ordering things like; mocha caramel double dip froth, or 20 ounces of chocolate mocha italianato sippy froth. Then the customers say " Oh and I need a double rocky road chocolate muffin or a croissant ala France." Alluring neon lit display cases hold bagels the size of wagon wheels and muffins as big as landscaping rocks. You do know the pride of French bakeries are tiny crusty but light flakey and buttery puffs of air croissants. Here they must weight 20 ounces and be nearly the size of my head. Now I notice the size of the women's butts, big as Brazil, every one of them! I think I could sit here and be inspired to write 10 blogs but I have a plane connection to make and more airplane food to eat.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What will we do while she's gone?

I fear my little notes will not make up for Riorose's while she is gone. In the month I was in the states she wrote prolifically, including emails to me about taking care of my skin and other useful hints. I do not do recipes, or links, or skin care. I can ramble along about diet and exercise, the disaster of my trying to speak Portuguese and a class I am now taking to improve my ENGLISH. I will try to find some interesting tidbits to discuss so you will not miss her too much. Riorose, I'll hold the fort for you, have a great time in the states, kiss the girls for me.

Two kisses for everyone!

All arrivals in Brazil or at dinner or at class or home etc. etc. are greeted with a left kiss then a right kiss. Believe me, you get use to it to the point when I return to the US for visits I miss being kissed 700 times. And I shock a lot of people by kissing them. Departures are the same!! 700 kisses all around! I am off to the US around 11pm. I will be returning on the 18th of May. I almost always have trouble blogging when I am away from home. Hopefully Ginger, my co-contributor, will keep you posted on happenings here in Rio de Janeiro.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pão de Queijo

These terrible little things are worth the calories. I learned how to make them when we were at the coffee farm. The cooks were surprised that I spent so much time in the kitchen with them. They just didn't understand it but they were proud and I wish I had photos of their smiling faces. A measure is what you want it to be; a teacup, coffee cup, Brazilian measuring cup, 200cc's, 180cc's, an American measuring cup, a baseball cap. The important thing is proportion. We used a 200cc measure.
Pão de Queijo
4 measures of polvilho doce (extremely fine mandioca flour the texture of cornstarch)
3/4 measure of vegetable oil
1 measure of water
1-1/4 measure of milk
around 350-375 grams of grated queijo de Minas (similar to Mexican fresh cheese but a bit harder and drier in texture, parmesan is only a so-so substitute because it is too strongly flavored)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
4 eggs (or thereabouts)

Here is where it gets tough. You heat up the oil, water, salt and milk. Mix in the flour well then let it cool down. When it is warm add the cheese. You start adding the eggs one by one until you have a texture, well an indescribable texture. They mixed it with their hands, then oiled their hands to form egg size oily lumps. Space them on the baking sheet and without allowing them time to rise bake them in a moderate oven. The raw dough balls can be frozen and then popped frozen into the oven.
4970 calories in the total recipe divide by 30 and you have 165 calories each. The link is for the photo credit, do not use that recipe.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Why the Comandante doesn't get the jokes.

Take the previous blog for example, about what Americans are doing with Brazilian coffee. The Comandante speaks great English but I had to translate the words: Ann Arborites, java, naturopaths, liver, and enemas. Then it was necessary to explain the concept of getting coffee up to the brain. Geez, fa 'getta bout 't!!!

Oscar Meyer Hot dogs

This last week I returned to Brazil after 5 weeks in the USA. In five weeks, I managed to add one kilo to my weight. Considering that I enjoyed nachos with chicken fajita meat, enchiladas with chili, chips with hot sauce, and my favorite of all favorites Oscar Meyer all beef hot dogs with chili, chopped onions and Frenches mustard, one kilo is not too bad. If you hunt around in Rio you can find most of these foods but never Oscar Meyer hot dogs with real French's mustard. You can buy French's mustard here but it doesn't taste the same, it's watered down or something and no matter what, nothing will make a Brazilian hot dog taste like Texas. All that said, it is really good to get back home.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The true "Crime na Lagoa"

The Comandante and I apologize to our dear friend, Romulo who wrote a book of the same name but tonight we experienced a much more shocking crime. A robbery? No, a multi apartment home invasion? No, A vicious murder? No. We witnessed the most pretentious musical production ever produced on this planet, much worse than a child's third grade band recital from which we are still trying to recover. We think it will take another bottle of wine. We went to Parque Lage this evening for a jazz production. The mansion was built in the early 1900's for a wealthy shipowner and his homesick Italian opera singer wife. He commisioned a stone Italianate structure with an immense reflecting pond. At night true genius becomes apparent as visitors enjoy miraculous candlelit reflection images of Italianate arches, clear bright skys and the granite monolith of Corcovado mountain illuminated by the Cristo display. The Comandante and I felt priviledged to be in attendance. No camera or film could possibly capture the panoramic ambience. The musical lineup for the evening included eight of Rio's finest jazz musicians. Try to picture gentle candlelight, an introduction worthy of Ed Sullivan, a couple of Cole Porter instrumental standards, and then a young woman emerges from the darkened arches to sing. This was an environment worthy of Pavarotti, she opens her mouth but nothing comes out. Nothing notable at least, unless you consider an immature, untuned four note range 12 year old female voice interesting.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

How much change can a Brazilian clerk give you from a cash register?

None. No one can ever give you change. I have been in shops where the clerk had to run next door to find change for 20reis. Large shopping centers or grocery stores will call to the manager to deliver your change. Some taxi drivers loose fares because they can't make change for a customer. You just shrug your shoulders and exit the taxi.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I must be on an architecture jag this week

Alvaro Siza originally designed this Porto, Portugal area building as a private home. It has been transformed into an art museum. The landscape is as impressively serene as the building. He was also commissioned to do some seaside pools in the Porto area. I am surprised I don't have any photos. I will try to find some. Be back in a moment.

I found them . . . . I give you . . . the pools at Leça.
Built in the 1960's, the pools and entrance sit entirely below the level of the highway so as to not interfere with the view of the Atlantic.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Serene German Pavilion in Barcelona

While Wandering around Barcelona last fall, we happened upon the Pavilion. Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and constructed for the International Exposition of 1929, it was torn down in 1930 after the city was unable to sell it. Built as a temporary exhibition it was constructed of steel, glass marble and green travertine. It was rebuilt in 1986 exactly as the original. It serves no real function. The building is the exhibition.

He also designed the chair you might be familiar with for the pavilion. The chair has been licensed and factory built by the thousands every year.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Pannetone Report

Do you remember the pannetone recipe? Here are the results. It was delicious but it did not keep for more than a day. True pannetone will stay moist for many days. But then, if something is so good do you expect it to sit around?

Haiku Flower kisses from Brazil.

Stretching from a tree,
it curled into my step path.
Softly, and kissing.

Mamute Gym

If you try reaching me between 11am and 1:30 on Monday, Wednesday or Friday this is where I spend that time. I tried other gyms in Ipanema and Leblon but this one on the edge of the Lagoa is really the best. The clients are serious. Some real training goes on here. This is Adriano with his favorite client.

This is the awsome André. He is my trainer. He keeps me going, keeps me motivated and strong. The only thing he doesn't do is inspire me to eat less or do more aerobics. Well I feel healthy anyway, even if I am gordinha.

This is obviously not a photo of me. This is what you look like if you watch what you eat or you are a man or something like that. Never mind, I don't think there is any chance that I will develop biceps like that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No, of course I did not take this photo!

I put a link on my blog to Ricardo's blog. This is his photo taken from a plane somewhere over South America. Scroll down and you will find a large link. Go there! look around. I'm impressed to the point where I will now open up my camera's manual and learn to use my camera. In his blog he states the only photo alteration made was to clean up distortions caused by the plane window.

The darn thing even looks good upside down!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blooming Orchids

They have been blooming on my varanda for 2 months now.

The commandante bought the plant last year and I was surprised to see it bloom again. some things in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are too beautiful for words.

She told me not to post this photo

My older daughter came for a visit during her spring break. It was a much needed break from a relentlessly tough PHD program in the US. We were both amazed how much her hair curled up in this humid weather. At 26 she has curly hair just like when she was 3 years old.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Welcome to Fazenda Sacramento

After the airports and bad roads we finally arrived. These photos are in no particular order.

Workshop, one of several employee homes, the storage and drying barn, and an excellent soccer field where the employees spend after hours.

Sorry, another bad photo but the only close up of the workshop.
View from one of the owners homes.

The commandante trying to get a cell phone signal.

An owner home under construction.
The first home built on the plantation.
It stretches as far as the eye can see and then beyond.

Marta's little garden.
They have acres under landscaping around the 5 homes of the owners.

Pool and barbeque area construction.
Tennis court construction.