Monday, January 31, 2011

Jaguars in the Pantanal

Here's another good segment from 60 Minutes.  It takes you into the Pantanal wetlands and offers a rare look at jaguars in the wild.  Beautiful.

Luiz and I spent a week of so in the Pantanal several years ago, but we were not lucky enough to have seen a jaguar face to face.  Maybe next time.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

School of Samba technical rehearsal

Grrl's got some gams!

In the weeks running up to the big Carnaval parade/competition in Rio each School gets two opportunities to take a practice run down the parade route in the Sambódromo.  This is an important opportunity to get a feel for how each section of the parade will fit in the space and to get the pacing down so that the School can get in, fill the route, then exit all within the precise time allowed.

It’s also a great opportunity for folks like us to go the Sambódromo to soak up a little pre-Carnaval fun.

Last night Portela and Porto da Pedra had practice runs.  This is serious business.  Whole communities have invested a lot of time and A LOT of money to produce a winning parade (the storyline, the samba, the floats, the costumes).  If you are among those participating, you do not want to miss these practice runs.  And if you do skip one, your group leader will call you out for it.

The street was alive with food and beverage vendors and the ambient sound was pounding with the sambas of each School.  Everyone was proudly wearing their School T-shirt, while the senior members, or other dignitaries of the School, were wearing their more classy printed Polos or button up shirts.

I’m always touched to see men and women in their 70s walking around like peacocks in their official garb.  They have likely been participating with the School for a generation or more.

Tens of thousands of family, friends and fans filled the bleachers while the thousands of paraders practiced their routine.  It’s not just fun and games, however.  The overall School may have one to two dozen Alas (sections of 150 – 300 people), each with their own costume and choreography.  Coaches for each Ala are quick to correct you when you step out of place, rush you when you fail to keep pace, remind you to sing every word, and stoke you into expressing more alegria.  All of these aspects will be carefully judged and scored when the big day comes.

The Schools compete to win, not just to have fun.

But we were there to have fun.  Luiz and I, with our friends, enjoyed the street scene, drank beer, ate grilled meat from a stick, found the gay gathering point, and took in the eye candy.

By about 2:30 a.m. we headed home (Luiz had to work the next morning at 8:00).

Gostei.  Qualidade de vida.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Three showers a day - just to stay cool

Usually taking a shower or two or three or four times a day helps to keep me cool, in spite of the tropical heat and humidity.  There’s nothing like chilly water to bring down your body heat and restore comfort.

But now, during the summer weeks, there is no escape from the heat.  Even the water that is supposed to bring relief is warmed beyond anything refreshing.

The typical water system in Brazilian homes and apartment buildings involves having a large water tank on the roof. Water is pumped up into the holding tank, then gravity provides the pressure needed to deliver this water to various faucets, showers and toilets.  When showering you experience water falling on you – not shooting out at an accelerated rate.

As you might imagine, when the water supply is stored in a tank on the roof – it gets cooked by the summer sun. So by mid-day or evening, that water is practically hot.  Cold or even cool water is not an option.

Cool showers are taken in the morning.  By noon, showers are lukewarm.  In the evening the water is nearly hot (even when set to the cold option).

So instead we freeze drinking water in the freezer.  Rather than try to cool down with water poured over our skin, we seek relief from cold water poured into our stomach.  And with ceiling fans.

Now that I live here – I totally understand the idea of afternoon siestas.  While not a big tradition here in Brazil, I get it why they would be normal in some cultures.  It is just too hot in midday to do anything.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Scrumptious granola bars

 After posting on Facebook the other day that I was searching for an idea to use up some leftover candied fruit I had hiding in the back of my refrigerator (I could not bear to bake one more Panettone), my friend and amazing chef Alice suggested I make granola bars.

Sounded good to me.

So I tracked down a recipe, shopped for the few items I didn’t already have on hand, and gave it a go.

I’ve posted the recipe and additional photos over on Danielle’s Cooking in Brazil blog.

Go check it out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rio Carnaval tickets for sale

Thanks to the forever unexplainable ongoing good luck that is my husband (he wins everything) we were able to purchase more tickets to Rio’s Carnaval parade than we need.  In fact, within our circle of friends we had a good year and many people were able to buy tickets, so our extras are not needed among our group, which goes to the event almost every year.  Having extra tickets is not an easy feat.  Tickets sold out (for both nights) in less than 10 minutes.  Look here for more about our phone-frenzy morning the day they went on sale.

We have six tickets for sale for Sunday, March 6th in Sector 3, the night we will be attending. They are available for R$275 each (that’s reais, not dollars).  (The trusted website many folks turn to for tickets sells the same ticket for R$375 – but they are already sold out.)

Our group of friends is a bit crazy about Carnaval.  We go to many, many pre-Carnaval samba school rehearsals.  Most everyone knows all the words to all the Schools’ sambas before the parade.  And this year four of our friends will be parading with Beja Flor on Monday night (well, actually at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, but hey…)

Sector 3 is the second section up on the left, the first is Sector 1

Sector 3 is right near the beginning of the parade.  The seats are up in the bleachers with a great “looking down from above” view of everything.  As is true for most Sectors, there are not assigned seats.  You have to arrive early and camp out to get a good spot.  We always bring sandwiches, salgadinhos, fruit and treats – along with beer and water to last us through the night.  You just can’t bring in glass containers. 

The insiders among us will tell you that Sunday has a “better” lineup than Monday.  That is, the more popular or accomplished Schools will be parading Sunday, with some exceptions.  The champion from last year, Unidos da Tijuca, will be parading then.  And the night includes Mangueira, the oldest and some would say the most popular and traditional of all the schools.  For the full schedule, look here. It promises to be one heck of a show.  Plan to spend all night.  The competition begins at 9:00 p.m. and continues until the sun rises.

Overall safety is not an issue within the Sambadromo.  Everyone brings their camera.  Food and beverages are sold by vendors throughout the night. It’s a good idea to bring a little stadium cushion to sit on!

Anyway, I will write more about how a night watching the Carnaval parade in Rio works as we get closer.  WAY too much info for one post!

Let me know if you have any questions or if you are interested in the tickets.  Bom Carnaval!

UPDATE: Two tickets have been sold. (That took 4.5 hours...)  Just four left. (Selling only in pairs.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gay characters on Brazilian TV

Eloisa over at the great blog The Good Blood has posted another good "culture watch" post.

 "Insensato Coração (Foolish Heart) is the new religion telenovela now on air in Brazil, with a whooping six gay characters. Yet to be seen is the treatment that those characters will have (in previous Brazilian soaps, gay characters either die or are unhappy or grotesque or...), but for now, what activists are asking for is the first gay kiss of Brazilian television."
Go check it out.

Hopefully these days will soon be behind us.

"Secretly" - A Vintage Montage Of Guys Together from MJS on Vimeo.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Favela Puzzle sales support art program in Rocinha

Back in May our friend Zezinho hosted a visiting PhD researcher from the States.  While Ryan stayed with Zezinho and went about his research he and Zezinho brainstormed through a number of ideas for how to raise money to support Tio Lino’s art program for the children of Rocinha. 

Eventually they settled on a fantastically creative idea: Puzzles!

Everybody loves putting together a puzzle (well, maybe not everybody, but lots).  And the visual landscape of favela houses makes for the tough, repetitive image that makes a great puzzle.  At 336 pieces each they are challenging enough for adults, but still achievable for kids.

The best part, of course, is that 20% from each purchase goes to Tio Lino’s art program.

There is one little snag, however.  The puzzles seem to only be available in the United States.  If you live here in Brazil, buy one and have it shipped to your mother back home.  She can then ship it to you.

Zezinho has a way of making friends for life when they meet him and walk around his community.  His pride in Rocinha is contagious and brings out the best in others.  

Congratulations Ryan.  Another great partnership Zezinho.  Good luck!

Check out the Favela Puzzles here.  Go buy a puzzle.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Staying cool in hot Brazil

Here we are, summer in Rio de Janeiro. That means two things: punishingly hot days and sporadic (nearly daily) summer downpours. When it is hot, it is HOT. And when it rains, it RAINS!

But it’s pretty much predictable. The mornings will be hot and sunny and the afternoons will be overcast, then rainy (but still hot).

It’s not rocket science. In fact it is predictable meteorologically. While your travel agent will never tell you that Rio in the summer is rainy, it definitely affects how you spend your day.
Take it from a local: get to the beach by 10:00 a.m. It will already be jumpin’ with activity. It will be sunny and HOT. Stake out your place and enjoy the water. Do not forget to re-apply your sunscreen. You may think the early hours of sunshine are less consequential, but no…

Then by 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. – GET OUT OF THE SUN. Even if you are under an umbrella – the sun is scorching you. Trust me. Go back to your apartment or hotel and take a shower. Take a nap. There will be more fun to participate in when you wake up.

Now you can return to the beach after the worst of the heat has past. Go have a beer at a beach-side kiosk. Go join a gathering crowd around a group of musicians celebrating summer in song. Go find your place to munch on appetizers before you move on to your night time activity.

Celebrating summer in Rio is about enjoying the beach without a sunburn, escaping the worst of the heat and then showering, reconnecting with friends in the evening hours, and not shying away from the night time rain while you go out for dinner and then clubbing until dawn.
Yes it will rain, but as Luiz often asks: “What? Are you made of paper?”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I’ll do you if you’ll do me

Working as a team we expats can fill just about every gap. We have the knowledge and experience we’ve brought with us from our countries/cities of origin, and we have a broad reach across a diverse cross section of Brazil (with notable exceptions).

Among the bloggers I read are photographers, writers, bakers, teachers, naturalists, activists, physical fitness enthusiasts, parents, students, quilters, world travelers, philosophers, romantics and beach bums (uh, I think I resemble that remark!)

In our new home Brazil we now live in the mountains, by the sea, in urban areas and rural. Some of us walk to the grocery store, others drive, some take the subway, and some call for delivery. Some of us can get fresh fish, others fresh cheese and sausage.

By leaning on each other a bit we help each other through the down times and applaud each others’ achievements when things go our way. We even came up with an online virtual lending library to swap books written in English (which you are still invited to join if you like).

Here’s what I’m getting at. I want to thank you for helping me out when I get stuck around something (even when you don’t know it). And I will continue to try and be helpful in return.

Thanks for the items brought back from the States for Luiz and I (especially great soaps and corn tortillas!) Thanks for the tips on where to buy great shoes for less, or domestic airline tickets during a sale. Thanks for the cooking ideas and restaurant referrals.  Thanks for all the good humor.

The online expat community of which I am delighted to be a member (and which continues to expand) has been critical to my finding my way here in Brazil.

Be sure to let me know when and how I can return the favor.

(Oh, and does anyone know where I can buy rennet to make some goat cheese, or where I can buy a tofu maker? Thanks.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You know you are in Brazil when

You know you are in Brazil when the normal, everyday, all hours of the day Carnaval celebration television commercial looks like this.

The sounds of Brazil

So much is made of the sounds of Carnaval, samba, or a neighborhood pagode as the typical sounds of Brazil.  I’ve come to recognize a few more that remind me where I am.

OK, I won’t go so far as to say they are the sounds of Brazil.  Naturally, I mean the sounds I have come to recognize as ambient and daily in nature while living in our small corner of this expansive country.

Every morning at 7:00 a.m. I hear a low rumbling sound like distant thunder that slowly swells until it clarifies into what it is: 10 to 15 Niterói Clin workers freshly dressed in their bright yellow uniforms dragging their plastic trash bins along the road under our bedroom window.  It’s like a daily wake-up call.  The bins make their raspy rolling noise while the men and women starting their street cleaning morning shift chat with each other. (This reminds me of Shelly's crash in the night sound.  Once you know what it is you can sleep soundly again.)

Other morning sounds include the guy who calls out, peddling propane gas tanks for kitchen use or the knife sharpening guy who screeches out familiar tunes on his grinding wheel to let you know he is nearby.

Throughout the daytime hours you can hear the sound of caged songbirds.  I used to be really bummed to see the birds locked up, hanging from the wall of the auto repair shop or on the tree in front of the produce market – and this popular form of pet definitely drives Luiz crazy – but now I find myself smiling when I hear some of the incredible songs they sing.

All through the summer months there is a nonstop, quiet whooshing sound in nearly every room of our apartment: ceiling fans.  Whether they are gently exhausting air up or briskly blowing air down, they are on nearly all the time.  What we do not hear is the electric whine of an air conditioner.

Whether we are in our apartment, visiting Luiz’s mother or spending an afternoon at a friend’s apartment, there is the sound of a television on either right next to us or in the adjacent room.  Classic Brazil background noise.

And of course the beep, beep, beep, beep of moto boys scooting in between cars and trucks in traffic.  Those guys are fearless (or just plain stupid).  I used to utilize moto boys to get me across town quickly when I worked in Rio.  I can’t tell you how many times my knees bumped into truck fenders or my elbows hit car side mirrors.

Perhaps my favorite sound of Brazil is the cacophony of a family gathering where everyone is practically screaming to be heard over everyone else; everyone talking at the same time – and everyone hearing what is being said by all.

The ambient sounds of my life here are definitely different (and louder) than I experienced in San Francisco.  It’s a constant reminder of the cultural difference.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Disaster assistance continues

“Leao” sits for a second consecutive day next to the grave of her owner, in Teresopolis.

It’s official.  The flooding, mudslides and loss of life in the mountain towns outside of Rio de Janeiro is now the worst natural disaster in Brazil's history.  Sigh.

On the television, in between horrific images and heart breaking news stories of families who have lost everything or a survivor who lost their entire family, are images of thousands of volunteers stepping in to help.

The word is that sufficient clothing has been donated, so there is no need to make a drop of clothing at a local collection point.  What is needed are things like disposable diapers, underwear, cleaning products of all kinds, candles, imperishable foods, and of course money.

All of the large supermarkets in our area are drop off points for these items.  Next time you go grocery shopping consider buying a few items for the donation box.

Do pizza restaurants in São Paulo deliver - to Niterói?

Jana’s post describing the wonders of pizza in São Paulo and Ray’s full on reference guide to perfect pizza in SP comment got my stomach growling. 

It’s true, what Ray said, that pizza here in the Rio area sucks.  What they try to pass off as pizza just makes me shake my head: crappy crust, a full tablespoon of tomato sauce (if you’re lucky), a pinch of cheese, absolutely minimal vegetables or pepperoni evenly spaced apparently to make it look bountiful.  And if you are getting an extra fancy pizza with everything: one green olive placed right in the middle.   Did you see my previous post about ready-to-use pizza crusts at the grocery store?

Now I know we USA folks are fat and we don’t do portion control very well and we like our pizzas loaded, but not counting a Super Bowl Sunday bonanza extra large pie, I’m thinking every pizza in the US has more going on than what we find here.  To be fair, we have not visited every pizza joint...

We live directly across the street from a restaurant that hosts an all-you-can-eat pizza and pasta format every night.  We’ve been a couple times but have given up.  Actually, when we do go (usually for someone’s birthday) I eat the pasta and salad bar with maybe a little slice of chocolate strawberry pizza for dessert.

When Luiz and I want pizza we pick up an uncooked pizza from the bakery down the street and then add sauce, vegetables, pepperoni, cheese, etc. Then it resembles a real pizza.

I will tip my hat for the dessert pizzas, however.  Very clever.

Luiz has a cousin who got rich operating two delivery-only pizza outlets.  He used to joke that he used practically no ingredients and could sell it for a fistful of cash.

Zackary's unbeatable deep dish pizza.

If you’re thinking of moving to Rio or Niterói, check and see if Zackary’s Pizza in Oakland, CA is selling franchises.  Now that’s pizza! Then come open your shop near my apartment.  Please.

A delicious meal in a slice.

Rio and Niterói residents, do you have a recommendation?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kitchen culture clash

There’s nothing better in my book than a rich seafood moqueca in the Bahian style.  Brazilian cooking with its use of coconut milk, fried bananas, salty meats, and desserts from every conceivable tropical fruit is amazing.  Luiz won me over on our first date eleven years ago with a rolito of spiced hamburger stuffed with ham and cheese served with augratten (ish) potatoes and collard greens like I had never experienced (couve).  Later, when he made a bacalhoada in a clay pot – forgedaboutit – I was sold.

I love Brazilian food. But I also love the light, so-called California Cuisine that I enjoyed for 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area.  That type of food is best described as: what you see is what you get.  Carrots taste like carrots. You can tell which particular mushroom went into the mushroom sauce.  Vegetables have texture.  Flavors combine harmoniously without getting lost in the overall dish.  Meat is featured, but is a limited portion on your plate.  In general salt and fat are not used to boost flavors.

Herein we have the rub. My husband and mother in law would like nothing better than to please me with delicious regional Brazilian cooking.  Every day.  I, on the other hand, would like to eat a cruciferous vegetable once in a while.

We have had to strike a balance.  Luiz or his mother cooks a delicious meal that invariably congeals in the refrigerator into a layer of beef fat and otherwise edible ingredients (which I may beg off from) and I cook a meal of stir fried crispy vegetables and chicken bits served in a light sauce over brown rice (which they may beg off from).  We agree to disagree.

Crunchy vegetables do not translate.  If you were to take a cru de ta platter (even with a kick-ass dip) to a Brazilian party, the host would bag it all up at the end of the evening and send it home with you.
It has been my experience that Brazilians like what they like.  And it relates to what their grandmother used to cook.  Thai food? Mongolian BBQ? Ethiopian platters of incredible flavors? Burmese delicacies? Simple Mexican guacamole?  --  Sorry  -- it has not been my experience that my friends here are open to these new and delicious options.

But hey – I live here.  The food in the grocery store reinforces the particular narrow band of Brazilian flavors.  Exotic ingredients are not to be found.

My joy has been to investigate the local flavors: fruits, root vegetables, cooking with coconut milk, grilling with rock salt, and finding all things delicious for sale at street food vendors – anywhere, anytime.

The culture clash continues, but I am enjoying the back and forth.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Our hearts break for the disaster victims and their families

Normally I do not include news stories or so-called “bad” stuff in my blog. Qualidade de Vida is meant to be a celebration of Brazil in all its manifestations, along with some story telling about Luiz and my life here.

But the horror of the floods and mudslides in the mountain communities not too far from our home makes me feel negligent in not acknowledging this tragedy.  Continuing with the happy dance that is my blog during this time seems to place me in a parallel universe.  It doesn’t feel right.

So I do want to mention that Luiz and I, along with our family and friends have been deeply moved by this tragedy (which continues as the rain still falls).  Some of our friends have family living in the affected areas who have been impacted, some horribly so.

You can visit this photo essay to get a greater understanding of how tragic this situation is.

This article offers a host of ways you can help with material aid or by making a bank deposit to an assistance organization.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fresh Banana Mango Sorbet

Celebrating local ingredients here in Brazil begins and ends with fresh tropical fruit.  I've posted a recipe for a wonderful Banana Mango Sorbet over on Danielle's Cooking in Brazil blog which is a simple way to cool down on a hot summer night. 

This is a super-simple recipe for fresh sorbet – and you do not need an ice cream maker.

Go check it out.  Do you have a recipe to share?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Expat lending library online – come join us

When I previously asked if folks were into trading books in English with each other I got a number of positive responses from bloggers in various parts of Brazil.

Danielle had the great idea to open a shared Google Doc where we could each contribute a list of the books we have to lend/give away so that we maintain a current list without having to mess with group emails, etc.  She has generously created a spreadsheet with some guidelines for listing your books.

You must be invited to view the Books for Expats! document, which is easy.  Just send me your email and I will add you.  Then you can go to the virtual lending library, enter your books and perhaps request a book or books from others.  Some book owners may want the book returned when you are finished with it, others may not.

You will also see an instructions document to get you started.

This is a work in progress so any and all ideas to improve it are welcome.

To visit the library – just send me your email.

Happy reading!

New logo for the 2016 Olympics in Rio

The new logo for the 2016 Olympic games was unveiled during the New Year's Eve celebration on Copacabana Beach. I like it.

Here's the logo launch video.  The official website is pretty cool as well.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The pharmacy lottery

I may be repeating myself, but it is important to do some comparison shopping when it comes to buying prescription drugs at pharmacies here in Brazil.

One of the first things I noticed when I moved here was that there is a pharmacy on practically EVERY corner.  There are more pharmacies here in Niterói than there are Starbucks in San Francisco.  Seriously.  Every corner.

The really weird thing for my US sensibility is that the prices of normal prescription drugs vary WILDLY from pharmacy to pharmacy.  Really – WILDLY.

Recently I needed to fill a prescription for an anti-bacterial regimen drug, plus an add-on drug to seal the deal.

I went to 8 different pharmacies (partly because some did not have what I wanted in stock and partly to compare prices).

Complex drug number one varied in price from R$121 to R$165.

Simple drug number two varied in price from R$23 to R$56.

All were the generic versions of the drugs.

So in the end I paid R$144 (including a free delivery) rather than a possible R$221.  That’s a R$77 difference.  What’s up with that?

You gotta shop around.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tickets for Rio’s Carnaval go on sale tomorrow

Think: Ticketron and Lady Gaga or Rolling Stones.

Tomorrow, beginning moments before 9:00 a.m., everyone we know will be hitting re-dial from all their phones trying to get through to the computers that will be taking ticket orders.  All of the available tickets for both Sunday and Monday’s big event (March 6th and 7th) will sell out in less than 10 minutes.

It’s always a frantic 10 minutes.  Busy, re-dial.  Busy, re-dial.  Busy, redial.

Each sector has its own phone number.  If the computer picks up here's how it goes (something to this effect): "You have reached the ticket agency for Rio Carnaval 2011.  Listen carefully.  Have a paper and pencil handy, as well as your CPF number.  You may reserve up to four tickets for Sunday, March 6th.  Please enter the number of tickets you wish to reserve, or press zero if you do not want any tickets for Sunday's event.  Please wait... You my reserve up to 4 tickets for Monday, March 7th.  Please enter...  Please wait.  Your order is confirmed...  Your reservation number is...  To pick up your tickets you must go to the Bradesco Bank office in Centro Rio on January 13 or 14 in Centro Rio... (and pay for them).  If you do not show up, your tickets will be made available to others who wish to purchace them."

While we all try to get tickets to attend, LOTS of people are trying to get tickets because they can be sold INSTANTLY upon exiting the Bradesco office where the ticktes are purchased for up to twice their value.

It’s always a crazy morning.  I’ll let you know how it works out.

UPDATE!!!  Luiz is a super lucky man!  We used our home phone and his cell phone to try and connect.  (My cell - I forgot to re-activate my chip for January so it was a dud.)  Luiz got through once and used his CPF to get 4 tickets for both Sunday and Monday, then he got through again and used my CPF to get 4 tickets for Sunday -- by that time all tickets for Monday were sold out.

Of the six other friends who were dialing for tickets this morning 3 of them got tickets as well!  So it looks like our entire group will be going. *happy dance*

Luiz's green thumb

Honestly, everything Luiz touches blooms (including me).

A few months ago he picked up a few "air plants" from the path in the neighborhood park.  They had apparently fallen from the branches above.  In true Luiz fashion he brought them home and created a little succulent garden on the outside window sill in the rear of our kitchen.

Now, the darker green plant on the left has sprouted a clone (see it in the front right of the container) and one of the air plants has popped out a huge pink flower.

Gotta love our Luiz.  He's got the magic touch.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Books in English – let’s trade!

All this talk on others’ blogs about fancy schmancy Kindles and other e-readers has me coveting your plain old-fashion (and perhaps now-abandoned) paperbacks (or sweet hardcover) books!

Plus I know that obtaining good reading in English can be a pricey enterprise here in Brazil.  Planning ahead, I brought well over a hundred titles with me when we moved.  In the final weeks before we shipped our things I remember browsing independent bookstores for the THICKEST books, and then deciding if they sounded interesting to me.  Lots of books on my shelf have more than 800 pages to them.

I’m currently reading “World Without End” by Ken Follett; follow up to his “The Pillars of the Earth” Oprah selection success.  It weighs in at 1,113 pages in hardcover.  My wrists hurt!  It’s an easy read, but the volume itself makes it attractive.

So what do you think?  Want to trade books?

Tastes vary.  I have a lot of non-fiction, political stuff e.g. “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” – which is excellent, BTW. And some sociological takes on Brazil or historical fiction or biographies.  I also like human dramas, true adventure tales and many classics.

Others expats I have traded with enjoy murder mysteries, crime or courtroom novels, popular fiction and always a few classics.

If we were to trade I propose people post a list of what you have available and that those seeking to receive the books understand that they will pay for all shipping costs.

Before I comb through my shelves and type up a list, I thought I would send up a trial balloon and see if there is any interest in this idea.

Sound good?  Would you participate?  For logistical reasons I’m pretty much talking to folks who currently reside in Brazil.  Others could probably get the books locally for less than the shipping costs if we were to mail to the US or Europe, for example… right?  But books in English (beyond a few “airport novels”) are hard to come by and stupid expensive here (said airport novels can sell for R$22).

Let me hear from you all and we will take it from there.

And a special shout out to Musings’ Reader and GingerV at Flowers and More for your generosity sharing your books with me already.

What say ye expat bloggers?  Wanna trade? Whaddaya got?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It gets better - dang it!

For some of us, who struggled through tough times, it never gets old listening to others encourage everyone that IT GETS BETTER!

Upper Peninsula Michigan Deer Cam

All these expats visiting their families back in the chilly United States and Canada had me looking for some nostalgic images from Michigan, where I grew up.

Here's a good link.  This guy maintains a web cam in his WAY northern Upper Peninsula back yard focused on a deer feeder.  More often than not when I visit I see deer munching away.  Nice.