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Contos de Fadas

Probably the most 'nakidity' you will see me display online --
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I was just in one of those moods last night...This is what happens to a photographer stuck inside for nearly a week due to rain...It's not a pretty sight ;)

Fairy Tales...Contos de Fadas...the title of the post...when I tried to use the term with my Brazilian friend last week when we were having ice cream, I only knew the term in English. And he had no clue what I was talking about. So I looked up the word, and I will bring it up the next time I talk to him. The reason it is important is because that I think "fairy tales" are important.

Pictures from the yard tonight after the rains --




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Checking in

The weather lately has been killing me, lol! OMG...I prefer the weather to be very warm. I can deal with winter because, well, that's just the way of things.

But this weather lately, where it will be 70˚ or 80˚ for a couple weeks, then suddenly, change overnight to 55˚ is just messing with me! On a positive note, the rain seems to be making every thing intensely green! And I can see the front landscaping (new last year) is really filling in nicely!

Spent some time with friends yesterday and also today...and got some flower pictures in lately, regardless of the cool temps.









And last night, I got in the mood to take a creepy picture or 2. Not sure what I really want out of these, but I like creepy photos. I feel like I should take more time with them...plan focus, aperture, ISO, shutter and the execute the plan. In reality, I just grab the camera and intervalometer and start running around trying out various settings.

I think this is the same shot, just edited differently. There were a couple of others that might work too...





I've been tired lately. I feel like I need a bit of time off. I'm in a contract gig right now, and the renewal is uncertain, so I feel like I shouldn't take off time just yet. But I'm finding the weekends right now are not quite long enough for me to be rested when I get back to work on Monday.


I'm trying something I saw online -- using bales of straw as planters. You have to spend a couple weeks prepping the bales - basically putting high nitrogen fertilizer (or I'm using bone meal) on them to start them towards compost. Then, trowel out a hole to put some dirt into for planting.

They are a bit stinky right now with the bone meal on them.


Plateau?

Met with my local Brazilian friend last night. This is the one who has been helping me with Portuguese, and me helping him with English. I had a good time talking to him.

One of the things that we learned in that Teaching English as a Second Language class -- and it is something that mirrors my own experiences -- is that a language learner often reaches a plateau, and sometimes go BACKWARDS before continuing up again.


I feel like that a little now. Tenses that I knew how to use, I suddenly have gotten unsure of. And I find myself double-guessing myself, and often saying the wrong thing. It's MADDENING!

My friend and I are trading a paragraph over WhatsApp every day, which we have to read to the other, and get critiqued on for pronunciation. We also have to ask the other about words we don't know. No dictionaries allowed. It's working out pretty well, with both of us learning. And I also see some repetition, which helps memory.

An example is the word MUCKY which was in the paragraph I sent him today, and when he asked what it meant, I told him lamacento and "wet" -- muddy and wet, but I couldn't remember the word for wet, so English it had to be. Lamacento is a word we talked about months ago, so it was a good repetition.

Then he asked what the word 'meadow' means. Because no dictionaries are allowed, I had to piece together some Portuguese to define it. I said it was un campo, às vezes com as flores e às vezes com a grama -- "a field, sometimes with flowers and sometimes with grass."

In our conversations in person (and on WhatsApp), we blend English and Portuguese as we need to to finish our thoughts. I revert to English more often than he reverts to Portuguese! His Portuguese is way better!

Last night
Him: What's the opposite of polite?
Me: Rude.
Me: Or impolite.
Him: Quizzical look.
Me: Writes i-m-p-o-l-i-t-e
Him: Oh yea. That.

-OR-
Him: What's the pronunciation for taught, thought, etc?
Me: Writes the words down "thought" "taught", and says them.
Him: Amusement in his eyes as he recognizes the total silliness of the spelling!
Me: Vem d'ingles velho -- it comes from Old English. (At least I THINK those weird spellings come from Old English.)

-OR-
Him: Combinado!
Me: What?
Him: It's a deal!
Me: What? (Combinado is the past participle of "to combine"). Evidently, you can use it in Portuguese to say "Deal!" or "That works!" He gave the example of "Let's meet at that place?" And the answer could be Combinado!

We often pull out our phones to look up words, when we can't understand.

Him: I ever show my wife the pictures you send.
Me: Uh...You mean always?
Him: Ever. Always. They are the same.
Me: Shaking my head no
Him: Pulls out his phone, uses the Translator, types in "Ever", which gets translated to "sempre". Sempre means always.
Me: Shaking my head no

I had to look Ever up this morning to find out what it 'really' means. It's meaning is more 'at the time" - but never does it mean 'always' regardless of what the Translator apps say!

Experience #3

So...the Couch Surfing experiences continue...this past Thursday, I got a request from a surfer who was already in the local area and in a pinch needing a place to stay a couple of days. I was at work when I got the note, and I didn't have much time to make a decision, so I checked out his references on the Couch Surfing site, took a look at his eyes in his profile photos and quickly just said yes. He arrived Friday evening and will be leaving tomorrow (Monday) morning.

He is a guy who makes a living on his photography, which totally impresses me. As a matter of fact, he's out at this very moment doing a photo shoot.

It's been interesting. For example, I haven't known anyone who writes their own poetry and can recite it -- when he offered to recite a poem, he gave me 4 options, like 'love' 'religion' and a couple of others. I chose an option, and he recited one of his poems -- and it was interesting and well delivered.

This morning, I got up and didn't hear any noise, so I thought he had left for the shoot already. When I went downstairs I noticed the bathroom door closed, so I realized he was still here. When he came out, I told him that I was glad I had put my pants on before I came down ;)

In the last 36 hours or so of his being here, he has shared his musical tastes, some of his personal history, some of his philosophy, etc. Although I don't think I have bonded with this surfer as deeply as the last, it has been a pleasant guest experience.

One thing that is interesting to me is that I almost tagged this post with the 'travel' tag because Couchsurfing feels a bit like traveling. You meet people from all over, and even if you're still in your own house, it has a 'travel' feel to it.


I got out yesterday with the camera. When you go to the same place, you often take the same shots.









The locks on the Kanawha Canal near the Pumphouse --









Byrd Park (another shot I've taken several times) --



And a few shots from the creek in my local park from a week or so ago --










in the interest of 'staying open' to life...

Remember how I hosted the (now) friend from Belgium last Fall? And what a good experience that was?

In the interesting of keeping myself open to new experiences...I attended an event of local couchsurfers tonight.

A guy contacted me through the couchsurfing site a few days ago -- he called himself the "traveling hobo". He goes from city to city playing the guitar for his food. He organizes potlucks or local courchsurfers.

I showed up to this event -- about 17 - 20 folks crammed into a Fan District living room -- most very young since Couchsurfing seems to be a young person's sport. But all kinds of people -- the host is just graduating from undergrad, on her way to biking across the US to start grad school in nuclear engineering....not too shabby!

I got some good advice from a guy who used to live in Portland about things to do when I got out there in a couple months!

I have to say it was a bit odd. And a bit interesting. And a bit uncomfortable. But fun to do...I mean watching the guy tonight do the chords on the guitar with 1 foot, while playing percussion with the other foot was certainly interesting. And so was just showing up somewhere by myself with people much younger than I -- certainly opens my energy. And that is truth like a cow :)

First Butterfly of the Year

I'm always pleased when one decision I make creates good unforeseen consequences. I made a decision a few years ago that many of the 'weeds' in yard were welcome to be there. I am especially in favor of edible weeds. I also made the decision to not use pesticides in the yard.

An example of a welcome weed in the yard is a wild violet: last year I made some candied wild violets from blooms I gathered in the yard. Many people would consider them a pesky weed, but since they are edible and they are a nice ground cover with pretty flowers, I am okay with them growing wherever they want to.

This year, my first butterfly in the yard is a type of Fritillary butterfly. It turns out that the caterpillars that turn into Fritillary butterflies like to feed on...wait for it...violets!

So my large population of wild violet "weeds" serves to feed Fritillary butterflies. I believe this one is an "American Lady" because it only had 2 eye spots on its underwings.



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Nós temos mais poder do que eles pensam

Portuguese for 'We have more power than they think'....it's just a Facebook post that struck me this week.

Lately, I have been understanding my own 'power' in work-related things. And also in personal relationships. When you are powerful, you don't want to hurt other people...but you do want to stand in your own power -- even when others cry about it!

Over the last few years, I have been intentionally and purposefully opening myself more and more to people. From chatting with a local Brazilian guy to asking guys I don't know well out to have a beer...or as in today, meeting a very young man for coffee -- my power with young gay men comes from my being a 'gay uncle' I think. Being an uncle and not expecting anything romantic -- just listening and interacting with them. Young men in general, but particularly I think young gay men sometimes need this sort of uncle in their life. And I like doing it -- it's part of my own personal power :)


Recently, I found a list that I had written about 'What does Success Look Like?" -- what would make me consider my life successful as I am dying. This list is still in progress, but I note that I mention being a mentor/gay uncle to young gay men. Also note -- there's not a damned thing in the list about work!

Before drawing my last breath, what will I have considered being successful in my life?

Having kept my relationship with my sisters.
Having kept my relationship with my nephews and niece.
Having been a ‘guiding uncle’ to young gay me when they need it.
Having traveled as much as I could afford.
Having left enough money to bury me.
Having left my estate settled - more assets left than liabilities.
Having been married (again, since I consider Matt my first husband)?
Having been able to work in my garden yard until the end. Roll out of bed, do some weeding, take my last breath -- that sort of thing, lol!



I've quoted him before, and I'll quote him again....
The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don't go back to sleep!

-Rumi

Week in Review

You know that a flower is pretty stunning when you see a jogger on the street turn his head all the way back around looking at it as he ran by the house!

The Clematis (I think Clematis 'Bourbon') really is blooming nicely this year!


What a busy week at work -- pretty exhausted!

Fun spending a birthday dinner with a friend and also hanging out looking at some estate sale items with another friend. I've also been doing a bit of spring planting and sowing seeds.


I'm looking forward to a little down time this weekend!

Irene's Story

Social Story

I found the photograph below when I was at an estate sale with Deege.

I'll set up the story, and you can "add to the story" by adding a comment. If you want, leave your contribution to the story in the comments...but please read any previous comments to see what the story has been so far. And please be careful NOT to comment with a story ending comment! Keep it opened ended for the next person :)

You can add a many comments as you want -- just keep the story going :)


When the business failed, Irene's husband Frank left for work building a dam in Tennessee for the government Conservation Corps. Her life was turned upside down when he didn't come back. And then she found those letters in his desk!

After Frank stopped sending money and with 4 hungry mouths to feed, Irene did not know what she should do. She was despondent and poured her heart out to Lily who lives down the street.

Thinking he could help, Lily introduced her to Benjamin. Although something about Benjamin seemed not quite right to Irene, she took up his acquaintance. What else could she do?

...nenhum evento programado para hoje...

There's something nice about having a weekend day with no committments or plans to do anything...I got my Google Calendar email this morning with this subject: Você não tem nenhum evento programado para hoje. -- "You have no event scheduled for today."

Very nice :)

Sociality :)

I have been a bit busy this week socially -- after having beers with the young friend early in the week, then midweek a friend (who I used to date off and on) and I had one of our 'whiskey nights' as we call them, where we just go out and having a couple of whiskeys -- usually a couple of heavy pours and neat. Last night, the neighborhood association had its meeting -- wine. Lots of booze this week!

Couple of pics from last night --







Spring

I've been enjoying the spring flowers. Another freeze (last one?) tonight will probably kill the blooms, but hopefully not the plants!









Um Amigo Brasiliero

I continue to WhatsApp with the local Brazilian friend. We have been learning a lot from each other. We have also been sending voice messages in addition to text, so that we get some listening practice.

Things I have learned to say, just by mimicking what he says:
Sorry for the delay -- Desculpe a demora
A slang -- uma gíria
A cloud -- uma nuvem (I already knew nublado for cloudy.)
The mud and muddy -- a lama e lamacento
Cut the dead limbs -- Cortar os galhos secos (ou galhos mortos)

You'll notice these words are the sorts of every day words you use if you are like me and regularly hike along the river (as in mud and muddy) or have an old tree in the back yard that needs pruning (as in dead limbs on the Mulberry tree -- a Amoreia)...

He's asked me a couple of pretty hard questions about English, and I think I did okay with my answers. One was what does 'as long as' mean. And another was what does 'having friends in low places' mean.

I have found that I second guess myself too much. I sometimes know how to say something, but still get it wrong. The other day I told him that Às vezes, um amigo e eu bebemos uìsque juntos num restaurante -- "sometimes, a friend and I drink whiskey together at a restaurant." The problem? When I typed it I said bebem -- what you would say with 'they' not 'we'. He corrected me. But I KNEW that -- I just second guess myself.

The bright side? I had to look up and learn the word for whiskey :) It's pronounced just the same as in English, so it's a borrowed word.

Here's me asking what Valeu! means...



FRREEEZE!

Just went outside to the yard to cut some lilac blooms for inside...before it freezes tonight!




Beer with a young friend tonight

Last summer, I won a gift cert for beer at a local brewery by answering a trivia contest question, and I needed to use it before it expired. There's a young friend here in town who I had seen check-in on Facebook at this brewery a few times.

So I treated him to a beer tonight.

I like staying open to different people, and I like to have nice people around me -- it keeps me young :) I made him laugh a couple times -- something that I enjoy so much more than the depressing news from this political season :)

He and his boyfriend want to visit Japan, so I was telling him about choosing to use a Japanese squat toilet in the Tokyo airport on the way to Bangkok a few years ago.

Pleasant evening :)

Trees, Arbres, Árvores, Arbores

Getting outside as much as possible lately. I've noticed trees showing up in the photos a fair amount.

The Mulberry the other night --



At Maymont a few days ago --





At Belle Isle yesterday --




There are trees in the pics below, although not the primary subject.

There's all kinds of post industrial junk at Belle Isle. As I've said before, Belle Isle is not very belle really!


Hanging at the river's edge --



At Texas Beach trail this past week --

Feeling 'Gangsta' Today



Actually, I was cold sitting outside in my t-shirt and put on my hoodie :)

Strange Defeat

I had always wondered how Hitler came to power...and now I see Trump, and I totally get it!

I mean, fuck. When people vote their fears instead of their heads...it totally makes sense how Hitler came to power!

The thing is...Weimar Germany was in way, way, way worse shape than the US today. Generally, the US is doing okay compared to the rest of the world. And yes, the middle class has been having a hard time over the last 30 years, but Trump is not the answer. I mean, fuck, really?

When people feel powerless, voiceless, they resort to violence -- and voting for a Hitler, or a Trump is really no different in my mind that rioting on the streets -- both violent actions, both stemming from voicelessness.


Along the WWII line, another thing I had always wondered was why France fell so quickly to the Germans. So, I have been reading a book called Strange Defeat.

The author was a historian who served in the French army during the defeat (surrender?) that led to the Vichy government. He wrote the manuscript (a "statement of evidence") when he came home. But later, he was arrested, tortured and killed by the Nazis.

The explanation he mostly gave for the defeat was that the French military leadership was not prepared for modern wars. They seemed to be planning and behaving like it was still the time of Napoléon or even WWI, but those rules did not apply to WWII.

One example he gave was that when they had to retreat and re-group, they retreated a distance that would have been plenty in the time of Napoléon and would probably have been enough for WWI, but that in WWII the Germans would reach the retreated troops before they were ready to fight again.

He also noted that the various branches of the military were siloed and competing against each other instead of fighting together, that they did not share information at all.

And basically, peacetime "paperwork" replaced military strategy.

Lots of WWII themes lately!

Lemon Tree

Back out for the warm weather. Although I sprayed it before I bought it in last November, it had a case of spider mites this year inside. It'll be fine -- just the older leaves will be mottled for a long time.

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TGIF

I'm glad for a weekend...not because work is hard or anything, but just because I've had a lot of social excitement this week and I need a break. Here are some photos from the last week or so...

The tulips are blooming --


A visit to the Botanical Gardens last weekend --





















Green man in my guest bedroom -



My poor Mulberry is very old...I had it pruned this year. The tree is important enough to me that I used it as part of the tag line for this journal! He is old and the pruning took off A LOT of dead wood.

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That was really a crapload of fun...

...and I'm ex-haus-ted!

I met with my new Brazilian friend tonight to practice my Portuguese and his English. The reason it was exhausting is that he kept nudging me to use Portuguese, which means I was forced to speak (and periodically ask him for vocabulary words)...and it's just tiring! Dang my tenses in Portuguese are fracked up! When I get tired or too fast in Portuguese, all hell breaks loose tense-wise.

This was the first time we have met, after a few days of WhatsApp-ing. We talked for an hour and 1/2 -- until his wife started texting for him :) We have plans to do the same next week!

I found out something interesting -- I knew that fossilization happens to people -- when you are a young child, you can hear any sound. But after a few years of growing up, you start only being able to hear the sounds in the language you are brought up speaking. Your ability to hear other sounds gets lost (fossilized).

For some reason, the word 'witch' came up in speech tonight -- I think it was a reference to the Blair Witch Project movie. The word in Portuguese is bruxa, which sounds like BROO-sha to me. But evidently, I'm not saying the 'sh' sound very well. He said non-Brazilians have trouble with the sound. In my halting Portuguese, I told him that I could not hear the sound -- saying something like Eu não posso ouvir o som! What I was hearing myself say sounded just like what I heard him say, but it evidently wasn't the same!

He gets discouraged at his level of improvement. He takes a class at his church every week, but most of his friends are Brazilian so he doesn't get much practice. Here is what he sent me today. "I was working at a house and the lady came to tell me some things. I didn't understand almost anything. How embarrassing. This discourages me"


Because he was pushing me towards the Portuguese, I told a story about my 1st night in Paris and how I was shy about speaking until a particular event. Wow, that was pretty fracking ambitious for me to try to tell that story -- a story about Paris but told in Portuguese, whew....lol!

more spring

Every year, a pink flower blooms in the hedges. And every year, I cannot for the life of me, remember what the name of the plant is! I am reduced to Googling for "early spring pink hedge flowers" and looking through the images until I find it.


So, I just put a calendar entry for next February to remind me of the name!


Live version of the music I'm listening to.


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Celtic Knot
karmicdragonfly
Karmic-Dragonfly

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In order to be effective truth must penetrate like an arrow — and that is likely to hurt.

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