Monday, February 26, 2007

Lessons from nature

In December I told the story about the tree that fell across the street.
A few days later, city employees removed what was left of the tree, and sawed the trunk into several stubs. Grandma, always looking for materials she can use for decoration or crafts, asked the neighbor if she could have one of the stubs. It was very heavy, we had to roll it across the street and we left it on the garden.
Some days ago, I noticed there was a sprout on the stub. And it has grown to the size shown in the pictures.

Of course there's no hope for a rootless stub, but this fine effort is a lesson for anyone who quit at the first obstacle. Even when it seems there's no hope, it's always worth trying!

More than two years ago, I got from some friends a bonsai, a jaboticaba tree. I loved the present, of course, and since then I was always careful to keep its good health.
In January we traveled on a weekend, and I forgot to water the bonsai before leaving. It was a very hot weekend, and when we returned it was wilting. I watered it right away, but later the leaves dried completely. I put it in a bowl with water, to keep the soil always wet. Some days went by, and nothing happened. I insisted. Two weeks, and nothing. Every day I would look for some sign of life, but the bonsai seemed irremediably lost. But when I touched its branches I could feel they were still flexible, a sign (I thought) that they were not completely dry. I kept trying. Three, four weeks. I was about to quit, but something kept telling me to keep trying.
On Carnival we traveled again, and I left the bonsai in the bowl with water. When we returned, surprise: there was a sprout with four little green leaves!

Now I'm waiting for new sprouts. The plant is still very fragile, nothing guarantees it will keep growing. But it was worth not quitting on it.
This made me think that what happened to the plant can be viewed as an analogy to friendship: it must always be cared for, and many times a small mistake, a careless comment, an involuntary slip, causes it to wilt, dry and seem dead. It's better not to let it dry, because if thi happens it may take a great effort to revive it; but if it is dry, this doesn't mean it's dead - it's up to us to care for this little plant, to water it daily, to massage its trunk, to even talk to it, even if all this seems hopeless. If the friendship is true and strong, it won't have died, and one day the green will show up and it will recover its previous vigor!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Grandpa's games - points of view 2

Since many people liked the game (although few risked answering), here is the second edition. This time they're easier (I hope). You know the rules: these are pictures of common objects: the person who gives the first right answer for each photo gets one point. Let's play!
Update: I've provided the answers - just click on each photo to see them.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

First trip

Today our grandson took his first trip with Mom, Grandpa and Grandma. the occasion deserved it: it was great-granduncle Alberto's birthday.
Needless to say, Guilherme was a huge success with the uncles, aunts and cousins. In spite of the heat, he behaved very well. And after lunch, he enjoyed the pleasant shade by the lake...

Friday, February 16, 2007


I've never been much into Carnival. The noise, the crowds, the heat, the sweat, what's so funny about all this?
But when I was a child Carnival was different. Or was it me?
Almost every year we spent Carnival in Campinas, at my grandparents' or at my aunt's house. My mother sew our costumes herself, made of satin, always very well made. Sometimes we'd go to the children's ball at Dom Quixote, a small club of which my uncle was a director (I think). But usually we had fun on the street, with our many cousins, throwing confetti and serpentines (paper streamers) on each other. Not to mention the lança-perfume (a perfumed ether spray). Yes, children playing with lança-perfume was the most natural thing, that golden can, Rodo Metálico brand. And it was the most innocent game, we would spray each other to feel the cold sensation of ether, I never saw anyone even thinking about inhaling it directly...
But the highlight of Carnival was the corso at night. From the large window on the front bedroom of the house on Andrade Neves street, we would watch the big parade, with decorated convertibles, people in rich costumes, floats from the most diverse groups... One of my favorites, every year, was the float of some sort of hunting club, that was full of stuffed animals - unthinkable nowadays...
I was very small, my memories are few and not detailed. But I know Carnival was innocent enough to allow small children to have fun without fears or traumas. As everything else was innocent.
What is Carnival today, after all? A media event? Just another long holiday? A concentration of desperate joy of people who know that afterwards they'll have hundreds of Ash days?
Are there still places where children play with confetti and serpentines on the streets? What about the parade, where does it pass today? And the songs, who writes them, who sings them?
Although I begun by saying I'm not into Carnival, I miss those of my childhood. Or is it the childhood itself that I miss?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here in Brazil, June 12 is when we celebrate Dia dos Namorados (literally boy/girlfriend's day), but the costume of importing commemorative dates (usually, with commercil objectives) is making dates such as Halloween and Valentine's Day more and mor popular.
People here usually don't know that today's date, St. Valentine's celebration, is not just a celebration for boyfriends, girfriends and lovers; that schoolchildren write Valentine cards for their schoolmates and for their families; that family members also exchange cards; that friends send cards to friends...

This is a celebration of love, yes, but in all its meanings...
Therefore, I wish you all, and specially to my grandson, who is celebrating his first one, a

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

When grandparents become parents again

When our children grow up, we may even think that (paraphrasing John Kennedy) the torch has been passed to a new generation; and when our first grandchild is born, that from then on we won't need to be parents anymore, but just enjoy the sweet role of being grandparents.
But it's not that simple. Fathers and mothers will always be fathers and mothers, and will always worry about their children, no matter how old they are.
I'm saying that because of a scare we had this weekend. Guilherme's father was in the hospital with an appendicitis, and all of a sudden he wasn't Guilherme's father anymore, but our beloved son needing our care.
Fortunately, the surgery went without incidents and he's recovering very well, even bettar afeter watching today's soccer game!
We got good things even from this scare: the first one was to be with our grandson all afternoon on Saturday; the second was to confirm the love and dedication of our daughter in-law Paula for Henrique, and that our two families are now one. Thank you, daughter! Thank you, co-in-laws, great-grandma Frida, aunt Uli!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Grandpa's games - the inflation game

Using the bills from grandpa's trunk on the previous post, who can tell me, on each of the pictures, the chronological order when the bills went into circulation? For example, of the bill with the 100 denomination, who came first, the Duke of Caxias, Cecília Meireles or Dom Pedro the Second? One point for the first person who can tell the correct order on each picture. An extra point for the person who can tell, of all bills on all pictures, the last ones that were used.
I'm still waiting for answers to last week's game, nobody wants to take a chance? Only two objects were identified until now...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Grandpa's trunk - Brazilian money bills

I hope our grandchildren will never live in an inflation environment like we had in Brazil until 1996. And that it will be such a remote thing for them that it will be difficult to explain the large variety of bills we had to use during all those years. Different colors, sizes and themes, and values taht defy our imagination today: a 500.000 bill?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Two months!

Thursdays are now the day of visiting the blogger grandparents. And today's visit is special, because my grandson is celebrating his two months of age!
Guilherme is smiling and talking more and more every day. he plays with the things on his crib, and is beginning to understand cause-effect relationships. And he also knows how to complain when he doesn't get what he wants (meaning: food!)...
As usual, I leave the details for Dad, in his blog.
But, since the proud grandpa can't resist, here are some of today's pictures:

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Grandpa's trunk - things from my desk

My desk came from my father's house, many years ago. An uncle once told me it had belonged to Galeão Coutinho*, but I can't confirm that. Today it is used as a computer desk, but when I learned to write even ball pens were novelties, and for the first years I used fountain pens. That required the use of blotting paper, and since I'm left-handed, this was an absolute requirement for me. For those who don't know what blotting paper is, I leave the description to Mário Prata.

I never used the old style pens. The fountain pens on the picture are my father's Parker 51 and the 21 he gave me. I must find someone who can fix them, if it's worth it. As for the ink, one of these days I asked at the stationery store in my neighborhood if they had any fountain pen ink and they showed me the only one they had, Chinese, of course...

The likable "dromedary" was another indispensable object on any work desk. Before stick glue, even before white glue, what was used for closing envelopes and for any other paper gluing needs was gum arabic (I wonder if that's why the glass is shaped like a camel). I know it still can be found, since it is used for crafts, besides many other uses, even in the food industry.

Today these objects are curiosities, things from grandpa's trunk.
It seemed that writing was becoming old-fashioned, at least writing correctly, as a habit, for pleasure. Fortunately, blogs are beginning to make people relearn the pleasures of reading and writing. I, as a novice in this field, already spend a long time browsing blogs of common people whose talent for writing was revealed by this 21st century hobby.

* Brazilian write: complete name - Salisbury Galeão Coutinho - 1895/1945, died in an airplane crash. Works: Memórias de Simão, o caolho; O último dos Morungabas