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Jan. 21st, 2011

My mom

On Wednesday, January 19, a memorial service was held to honor my mother's life. It took place at the clubhouse of the park where she wintered with my father for the past seven years here in Sebring, Florida.

Many people came to honor her and several of her friends, neighbors and family members spoke fondly and admiringly of her.

Below please find a link to a number of pictures, so graciously taken and provided by my parents' neighbor and friend Sandy Oleesky; a link to the obituary in the local newspaper, and the text of the eulogy delivered by mom's brother, Wayne Wagoner.

My dad, sister, and I know that many of you wish you could have joined us.There will be a gathering in her honor this summer in Michigan. We will let you know the details once they are in place.

Eric

http://picasaweb.google.com/sanlee5x/INMEMORYOFBETHSMITH?authkey=Gv1sRgCNz-96yIo-nPywE#

http://argus-press.com/obituaries/article_17f21136-24a8-11e0-843e-001cc4c002e0.html


We are here today to pay our respects to Mary Beth Smith's memory and to honor the life that she lived.

Thank you for coming to join with us. We appreciate your kindness in hosting this special time. This is very helpful to Gaylord, Gayle and Eric. Beth enjoyed living in the park and making special friends with all of you. We thank you for being here to grieve with us.

My name is Wayne Wagoner. Beth was my sister for 68 years and I have been asked by her closest family to say a few words about her life.

Beth was born to Donald and Mary Wagoner, December the Third, 1942. Beth’s mother, Mary, is in assisted living facility in Northern Indiana. She is 90 years old and many of you will recall meeting her here in the park.

Dad was a sharecropper and we lived in the old farmhouse with running water and electricity, but no furnace and no bathroom. But the outside privy got a lot of use.

After the war Dad and Mother were able to buy the farm and remodel the house. We even had a television.

Dad was a good farmer and provider, but had a hard side that the rest of us had to live with. Mary, Beth’s mother, was our protector in tough times and out of toughness and tenderness Beth and I had the foundation for productive lives.

Beth started school at the one-room schoolhouse when she was 4 and a half. I remember Dad modifying her bike so she could reach the pedals.

When she was in Kindergarten, she sang this song to her class: "Bell bottom trousers, coat of navy blue. She loved a sailor boy and he loved her too."

Back then, she was somewhat shy and tough as nails. She kicked me so hard in the shins, it brought tears to my eyes and caused me to honor her space.

When Beth was 11 years old, she got really sick. Beth recalled that our parents did not react quickly and that I stepped forward and demanded that she go to the doctor. She remembered it being the first time that I was ever compassionate to her.

It turned that she had polio. She wore a body cast and had a long healing time, but as you might guess, she whipped the polio.

In 1956, she went off to Niles High School, a big jump from 25 in the whole school to a class of 250. She graduated from there in 1960 and left for Michigan State, where she got a teaching degree in 1964. She started her teaching career at Perry Public Schools that fall.

In July of ‘65, she met Gaylord Smith. He came to her apartment to do some electrical work. They fell in love and got married five months later, on New Year’s Eve.

In the summer of 1966, they celebrated their marriage by spending two months driving around Europe in a Volkswagen van and camping along the way. They had enough "sleeping on the ground" for the rest of their lives.

Gayle was born in 1968. Like her mom, she became a teacher and married another teacher, Paul Hughes. And also like her mom, they are both very good at what they do. They live in Spring Creek, Nevada with their two children, John and Kate. They are apples of Beth and Gaylord’s life. Beth had them on her computer screen every day. I’m sure many of you saw them riding the bikes their Grandfather bought for them around the park.

Eric was born in 1971. He rode the snow machines almost before he could walk. He has gone to several colleges and has an MBA from the University of South Carolina. He now lives in Brazil and is a man of the world. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese fluently. Eric is in the real estate business and has a special friend, Nel, who is Brazilian and came with him to visit his parents here at the park.

From the birth of their children until the present time, the Smiths worked hard at their careers and were able to retire early. They managed their finances well, as have their children. They traveled extensively. They RV’ed twice to Alaska and many other places in the U.S. and Canada. They had rich experiences with each other, with their friends, their kids and their extended family.

My sister was a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend to many, many people.

She was a hiker and walker, in the Smokies and in the Grand Canyon. She walked with her group from the North Rim to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

She was determined to do the things she wanted to do and was willing to train beyond what you and I could dream of.

She was not only a walker and hiker, but a birder, a biker, a master gardener, a reader, a thinker, advanced user of the Internet; she was informed and had well thought-out reasons for her opinions.

She would want us to walk forward with her hope in our hearts. With God’s help, may it come to pass for all whose lives she touched.

Dec. 30th, 2010

update

Greetings,

I recently received a request for a life update from a friend, so, embracing the egomaniac within, I assume everyone else wants to know to what I have been up (English teachers: the clumsiness of that sentence was intended).

2010 has been a great year, in spite of losing my job (and not yet finding another one), my parents’ continuing health struggles, the passing of a few people dear to people dear to me, the global economic and climate outlook, and the publication of a certain former president’s account of his presidency.

I travelled a lot; some places new to me, others not so much, and I didn’t make it to Armenia as I’d hoped. I read a lot. I took a few classes, Teaching Company and otherwise. I spent a lot of time with Nel, who’s been enduring me for over three years now.

I survived a spiraling fall of over 1,300 ft (400 m) into a reservoir after unsuccessfully carrying out a maneuver during a paragliding course. After twelve hours in the emergency room where I was treated like a dignitary due to my gringo-ness and having survived such a fall, the conclusion was that I had merely extended a ligament in my left knee and that the general pain throughout the left side of my body, which must have hit the water first, was simply soreness. My knee required no surgery, and the soreness went away. (No, I’ve not flown again, but I haven’t sold my equipment, either.)

In October my friends Susanne and Alvin Littles had a little girl and named her, in part, after my mother in honor of her approach to life despite her long-term and ongoing battle with cancer.

My friend Gecimar debuted his first play (he wrote and directed) last April. After the opening weekend, a writer in the audience approached him and asked him to turn a piece he’d penned into a play, telling him, given what he’d seen, he trusted Ge to do with it as he saw fit. “The Island” is now in production in will debut next year.

Steve Fife-Adams shaved his beard this summer for the first time since college after “losing” a bet at work. This facial unveiling revealed that we look rather alike. Frightened by this notion, he’s growing it back.

Nel’s son Ricardo was a finalist for Brazil’s “Environmental Entrepreneur of the Future” award for 2010 for his work in promoting the re-greening of Sao Paulo (a metro area of 20 million).

My sister’s father-in-law, Dr. John Hughes, had the not-so-welcome thrill of being lifted in a basket stretcher from the deck of the freighter Paul Tregurtha to a helicopter hovering overhead and flown to Hancock, MI after suffering a heart attack. He’s doing quite well, thank you, but not eager to repeat the experience.

Deb Newcom hunted her first bear this year, three months pregnant to boot! She says it’s her last, too.

I witnessed Messi, whom a knowing friend tells me is this era’s Pelé, score two goals at Camp Nou in Barcelona thanks to Nel’s friends Maria and Gloria. Força Barça!

My friend Robin and her partner Betsy randomly handed out gift cards on Christmas Eve to folks at Meijer (a hypermarket, as it were) who seemed deserving. Their generosity had positive effects they couldn’t have possibly imagined when they set out from home that evening, and the recipients were incredibly grateful.

A sociology professor named Todd won over my friend Sue Petti’s heart and they were married in June.

My friend Javier’s wife Cristina appeared and won 2,000 Euros (US$3,000) on Spain’s version of “Wheel of Fortune”.

My cousin Teresa Lee retired from the State of Michigan and will start a quilting business, her lifelong dream, in late winter/early spring.

And I am back in touch with friends Scott Edington and Jeremy Potter after too many years.

Hopes are high for 2011. I have a couple of good prospects for a job in Brazil, where I hope to stay at least a few more years. If those prospects don’t turn out, I will likely move back to the U.S. with Nel and seek employment. My mom’s chemotherapy seems to be effective and she’s feeling better after a couple of difficult months. My nephew John will turn 10, and niece Mary Kate will be 8 in April. Assuming we stay in Sao Paulo, Nel will likely start a 2-3 year psychology program in March, and I am hoping to do a little teaching on the side.

Resolutions: find a job, continue with my language studies, and try to live in the moment as much as possible.

Here’s to a great 2011!

Eric

Apr. 7th, 2009

(no subject)

My friend Steve asked me to do the 25 favorite albums thing. It’s not 25, but:

“Beleza Tropical – Brazil Classics 1” – The album that sparked my love affair with BR.

“Graceland” – Paul Simon - The first truly great album I ever bought. High school quiz bowl memories and singing along to it with my mom coming home from my grandma’s. If someone put a gun to my head and demanded to know my favorite album, “Graceland” would be my autopilot answer.

“Kids in Philly” – Marah – Marah is by far the best “unknown” band I’ve ever seen live. Got to hang with Nick Hornby (who wrote an entire book about his 25 favorite songs which want to read) for an entire evening, too.

“Crash” – Dave Matthews Band – “Lie in our Graves” and “Say Goodbye” (which I refer to in my mind as the “seduction song”)

“Summerteeth” – Wilco - “I dreamed about killing you again last night, and it felt alright to me.”

“Rites of Passage” – The Indigo Girls – Harmonies, really strong songwriting, and a balance of heavy (“Ghost”), light (“Airplane”) and just right (“Galileo”)

“Document” – R.E.M – I still don’t understand the meaning of most of the lyrics, but they still ring strong. I saw their “Work” tour in Spring 1987 (“10,000 Maniacs” was the opening act), my first unaccompanied-by-an-adult rock concert I also learned the word “acumen” from “Exhuming McCarthy”.

“Step Inside This House” – Lyle Lovett - I had never heard a Lyle song until I saw his show at the Chicago Theater in the fall of 1998 (my girlfriend who later became my ex-wife got free tickets through her work) supporting this album, and I went in with low expectations. I’ve been a big fan since. It’s the most beautiful, and humble, ode to Texas I know of.

“The Joshua Tree” – U2 - One of the biggest regrets of my life is not skipping a track meet in Okemos (MI) to go see them at the Silverdome in the spring of 1987. Stupid, stupid, stupid…

“Cor de Rosa e Carvão” – Marisa Monte – Smart, playful, sometimes cryptic lyrics; beautiful voice, and an incredible sound.

“Tigerlilly” – Natalie Merchant – See Marisa Monte, plus she’s an utterly beautiful woman, whereas Marisa is oddly beautiful.

“Tracy Chapman” – I bought this sound unheard on a recommendation from “Rolling Stone” in June 1988. She and my Walkman were my among my best companions that summer. She’s never come to close to matching this album, but she set the bar really high for herself.

“Bachata Rosa” – Juan Luis Guerra – In Spain in the fall of 1991, I persauded the owner of the small record store (remember those?) to let me take the album jacket the lyrics (I already had a cassette copy and was broke, so I didn’t want to buy it) to the copy store and make photocopies of it. It was a great Spanish teacher. Anne (my-ex) and I danced to the title song at our wedding.

Other albums I consider mileposts in my life but wouldn’t include them as all-time favorites include:

“Business as Usual” – Men at Work
“Kick” – INXS
“Purple Rain” – duh
“Sign of the Times” – Prince (I drove to the mall alone before I was 16 (i.e. illegally) so I could buy it the day it came out)
“Little Earthquakes” – Tori Amos
“101” – Depeche Mode
“Lo que te conté mientras te hacías la dormida” – La Oreja de Van Gogh
“I’m Not Dead” - Pink
“Descanso Dominical” – Mecano
“Grandes Exitos” – Silvio Rodriguez
“Greatest Hits” – Jim Croce
Johnny Cash.

I think it’s worth mentioning that several of the albums that David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label have issued, especially the three or four compilations of Brazilian music, inspired me to learn to Portuguese and come to Brazil (or vice versa, not sure which).

Mar. 30th, 2009

(no subject)

I am now 60 weeks along with my Invisalign braces. They are as good as advertised. My mouth looks completely different than it did when I started and, 26 weeks from now, both bottom and top will be totally aligned. I go to the dentist once a month or so, and shell out $125 for about 15 minutes of her time, but apparently that’s the going rate. Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the results.

Over the weekend the weather was cooperative and I made my second solo flight with the paraglider. This time, no broken toes. I inflated the glider, turned around and ran off the ramp as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Following the instructions of my mentors on the ground via walkie-talkie, I flew straight toward the water before making a right turn over President Wilson Avenue and set myself up for a smooth touchdown, which I managed to pull off in the sand. Elaine, one of the instructors, figured landing in the sand would be better on my vulnerable feet. Of course she’s right, but the glider got a little bit sandy and I couldn’t get it all off before I folded it up.

The other day I hopped a bus to go meet up with my girlfriend, who was in a neighboring town visiting her mom. I mistakenly boarded a city bus instead of an express, private bus, and thus spent two hours traveling from Sao Vicente to Itanhaem instead of the 30 minutes the express bus would have taken. But the trip gave me the opportunity to see a couple of towns on the state of Sao Paulo’s southern coast. My conclusion: Man, are they ugly. I wish I could be more generous in my evaluation, but they are ugly. The beaches are ugly, the buildings are ugly, and the fact that seemingly every square inch of land is covered by concrete or some sort of construction (ugly, no doubt). I was telling one of my colleagues about my adventure, and she recounted that many people who live in that region don’t have basic sanitation because the population grew much faster than governments could build sewer and municipal water systems (of course, due to bribes these systems often cost taxpayers multiples of their actual cost). Every place has its share of ironies, and one of the most pronounced in Brazil is the contract between the natural beauty of the landscape and the lack of beauty in most buildings and neighborhoods. I am developing an eye for aesthetically pleasing buildings only because there are so few of them here.

Yesterday I had a conversation with one of my paragliding colleagues about American football. He pointed out that it lacked beauty (compared to “futebol”) and who wants to watch a bunch of men climbing all over each other? I told him that only idiots would want to play a game where they can’t use their hands. He laughed and headed off for a shot or two at a beachside watering hole.

Mar. 17th, 2009

(no subject)

Random thoughts about my hosts:

The urban middle and upper-class in Brazil mostly drive cars that are either black or grey.
If you drive out to rural areas, however, the color options seem to expand. Lots of red, green, even purple. Nel tells me it’s because people believe that black and grey “look better” and are less likely to draw the attention of thieves. Her Citroen C3 is black, as was her Peugeot 206, which she traded in a year ago. One night a couple months ago someone broke her window as she was waiting for a stoplight to turn green. I guess her car was not as stealthy as she thought. (By the way, she was shocked but was not hurt, and the thief got away with a bag of sweaty clothes and shoes from her dance class).

Every business has to be in a union and every formal sector employee has to be in a union. I’ve yet to see what the union does to justify the full day’s salary it gets from me each year (I am a whiny ex-pat and thus get it reimbursed as a business expense in the U.S.). This is an extremely paternalistic society, and labor law is thick with supposedly protectionist statutes that end up costing everyone more, hindering business growth (and thus job growth), and limiting individuals’ career mobility.

Fire extinguishers are required in all cars.

When you’re on a rural highway and want to turn left, driving etiquette dictates that you pull off on to the right shoulder to wait for all the cars behind you to pass before you complete your turn. A lot of crossroads have traffic circles or designated turning lanes on the right hand side of the road for a left hand turn.

Today I read the following in a World Bank document regarding legally starting up a business in Sao Paulo: “An inspection to obtain the municipal license is necessary but not mandatory.”

The other day Nel and I had some out-of-this-world rice pudding at a roadside restaurant that caters to Paulistas (people from Sao Paulo) headed to and from the mountains.

Jonas, the guy who irons for me and shops for groceries for me, is getting good grades in his English class. He was proud when he showed them to me this evening, before he headed off to class which started at 9:15 pm. Glad it’s not me starting class that late.

Mar. 7th, 2009

(no subject)

The current global economic crisis has certainly arrived in Brazil, but being a country that has been through several economic crises, a military dictatorship, a drug-addicted president, and the death of a national hero (Ayrton Senna) over the course of the past 50 years, my hosts are taking this latest storm in stride. It was only two years ago, according to a recent article in The Economist, that Brazil became a majority middle class country (middle class here is defined as having a salary somewhere between the equivalent of US$600 - $2,000 per month). With economic stability a relatively new phenomenon here, and at that only for a slight majority of the populace, Brazilians don’t seem particularly unnerved by global economic affairs.

But I am.

I read way too much of the financial press. I worry about my parents’ pensions and the funds that pay them out. I fret about the money that I put into my niece and nephews’ 529 accounts every month and will it be there for them when in 10-12 years when they are college bound. I wonder how long I will have a job and what I would do if my company decided that our Brazilian adventure was not going to pay off.

Lifting my head from the laptop and taking a look around offers some perspective. I hear how my co-worker’s nanny lives on $350/month (40 hr work weeks) and I wonder what her home must be like, and what kind of neighborhood it might be in. I wonder how it must feel to be a young Brazilian lawyer, who even in a good firm might make $1000/month. (Firms can pay this little because there are plenty of young lawyers and 99% probably still live with their parents). And I wonder about the legions of people in Brazil and around the world whose job mostly involves standing around: security guards, parking valets, elevator operators, pamphlet distributors at street corners, bathroom attendants at the bus station.

Unfortunately, the excesses of the latter half of the 20th century and the refusal of most Americans to live within their means have caught up with us, and the piper needs to be paid, and paying the piper will take some time because he no longer accepts credit cards. But I’m betting that a majority of Americans will still have the opportunity to be able hold jobs that are more interesting and better remunerated than their peers around the world. And given that’s my bet, I am going to try to chill out for awhile and read a good book…

Feb. 28th, 2009

(no subject)

Brazil looks to be headed into a recession, just like everywhere else. Luckily, it’s much better-positioned than it was in the past to weather the storm, but it will be difficult. Banks are not granting credit so easily, thus consumers are buying less, and companies are being forced to lay off workers, despite the strict labor laws making it very expensive to do so. This isn’t going to be an easy year anywhere.

****

I have spent the past six weeks in pain due to my feet. I broke my toe upon the landing phase of my first solo flight with the paraglider. I wasn’t prepared to run when I landed and my forward momentum took my leg and back half of my foot over my toes, breaking a metatarsal. I was not put in a cast or a boot immediately, and thus stupidly did too much on it, exacerbating the problem and likely causing the gout attack that occurred in the same foot two weeks later. I finally got the stabilizing boot, and used it for three weeks. Now my right foot is just about 100%, but the other day gout struck my left foot, so now I am crippled up again. Hopefully in a week or so I will be back to normal.

I started my paragliding course in October. I had done it in Spain when I lived there in 1992, but since then had not lived near mountains to make it feasible. It’s been an eye-opening experience and I have got to know a lot of good people through it. I have a long way to go before I become a good pilot, as flying a paraglider is much more complex than it seems, as you have to have a good understanding of meteorology, aerodynamics, your equipment, and your own limitations. Needless to say, I am enjoying the journey thus far, apart from being sidelined due to injuries.

*****

One of the great things about being relatively wealthy in a poor country is that you can easily afford domestic help. In addition to have someone come in once a week and clean my apartment thoroughly, I hired a waiter at the restaurant where I get my breakfast most days (US$2.30 for all an all you can eat buffet).to do my grocery shopping and iron my clothes twice a month. He works about 8 hours a month and I pay for his English classes, which are about US$70/month). It’s a great deal for him, as I would imagine he makes about US$300/month at his waiter job working 40 hours a week. And it’s a great deal for me, since I hate grocery shopping and would rather spend my time doing something other than ironing.

A number of my ex-pat acquaintances here have commented to me that if you marry a Brazilian; expect to live in Brazil for the rest of your life. I think the family ties are a big part of that, certainly, but the cost of domestic labor must also be a major factor.

May. 25th, 2008

(no subject)

Greetings. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

 

Stirring observations from Brazil:

-Going back to the U.S. for 5 days beats the crap out of one, but it sure was nice to spend a couple days on the farm where I grew up and see family and friends. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to run down to Ann Arbor to see friends and eat at Zingerman’s. Next time.

-I turned 37 last week. Brazilians are very effusive about birthdays. More than half the people in the office came over to give me a hug, wish me a happy birthday and a variety of good wishes for year 38. I worked some 12 hours that day, but Nel and I caught a late meal of tacos, potato skins, ice cream sundaes and capirinhas, which translates to “little hillbillies”. 

-Nel and I celebrated 6 months together on May 2. No, there are no pending marriage plans, but she’s been one of the better things to happen to me in a long time.

-My braces are working. I can see positive movement in my bottom front teeth and my front left lateral incisor (I had to look that one up) is aligning nicely. My dentist tells me I am a textbook case for the type of braces I have and that I am right on target. Apparently most of the aesthetic work will be done by the end of 2008, but during 2009 the hard work in back, like correcting my crossbite, will take place. Luckily, I’ve become very accustomed to the braces and I don’t mind their maintenance much. I figure it’s much easier than insulin injections twice a day.

-Work has been crazy, but we’re about to tie up two large deals, our first in Brazil. However long I stay in Brazil, it’s going to be a very busy time in my life.

-Speaking of staying in Brazil, I still have a tough time getting used to life in Sao Paulo and know that I won’t last here more than three or four years. By then I will be 40 and ready for a different challenge anyway.

-Brazil has been captivated for the past two months by the “Isabella” case. Isabella’s father and step-mom are accused of strangling her and then throwing her out the window of their 8th story apartment. It reminds me of the OJ case, except nobody has media consultants and therefore everybody talks too much. My guess is Dad and stepmom will die in prison.

 -Nel bought a new car.  She apparently got a good interest rate, and I believe her, but I did the math and she’s paying 28% per year on a 5 year car loan.  Wow.

-I recently read an interesting book called “Caught in the Middle”, which is about the Midwestern U.S. in the age of globalization. Fascinating read, but the future for small town people looks rather grim, according to the author, as the manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back and corn-based ethanol production is more adverse to the environment than carbon emissions from gasoline. One of the arguments he makes is that the region needs to do is embrace immigration. He says a diverse population shakes things up and makes people more innovative, and innovation, he argues, is something the Midwest sorely lacks. My dime store prediction is that the abundance of water in the region could be its saving grace, but only if the adjacent states and provinces work together to keep them clean.

Mar. 16th, 2008

(no subject)

I noticed recently that Brazilians are very comfortable talking about things in public that for most Americans would not be the topic of conversation at lunch with co-workers.  A couple of examples:

A female co-worker’s two year-old son was recently ill.  He was seen by a couple of doctors, had several bad days, and lost a few pounds, but eventually he got better.  I would have been satisfied with that amount of information, but unfortunately, I got more.  She told me how many times he went to the bathroom during those days of illness and the consistency and color of what resulted of his going to the bathroom.  She left no room for the imagination. 

Another co-worker and his wife have been trying to have a second baby.  Recently, they decided to do an in-virto procedure, about which he felt perfectly at ease giving us a blow by blow account (or stroke by stroke, as it were) of the process.  It was a little much for my country boy tastes.

I’m not sure why the need to share so much health and reproductive information. Perhaps it’s because for so long Brazil was an extremely poor company and material goods were hard to come by.  Instead of trying to one up one another on the possessions front, people may have tried to outdo one another with the degree of their illness or the # of different medicines they were taking (I’m constantly getting told I should be taking something).    

Happy Birthday to Trish P. this week!

Mar. 10th, 2008

(no subject)

It’s certainly been awhile since I’ve written.  My principal excuse is that I’ve been very busy with work.  My boss and his boss were here for a week, and then I got deeper into a project I’ve been working on for a while.  Hopefully it will come to fruition…

My friend Todd Stanaway died two weeks ago of brain cancer, which he’d been fighting for over a year.  He left behind his wife and 5-year old daughter.   I didn’t see him much after we graduated from high school, but I was fond of him and have good memories of him.   The last time I spent any time with him was 10 years ago, when he and two other friends from high school came to Chicago for a few days.   We had a lot of fun, and the Cubs actually won the game we attended.   I’m told that at his funeral his wife asked his friends to write down some memories they had of Todd so that their daughter will get a better sense of her dad when she’s older.  I plan to do so in the next few weeks.

I spent this weekend in Rio.  I had to go there for work on Thursday and Friday (which included about an hour and half in a helicopter touring real estate!),  so I got Nel a plane ticket and she joined me for the weekend.  We had a really nice time.  We spent a lot of time walking around and doing tourist things.  Today I went hang gliding for the first time, which was fun.

Brazil is treating me well and I am continuing to learn a lot.  Having Nel in my life has been really good for me.   I’ve become very used to my braces and they seem to be working.  My Portuguese continues to get stronger and I’m starting to use slang and odd constructions correctly. 

My friend S came in from New York a couple of weeks ago, and we had a really nice time.  We were going to do some paragliding, but got rained out, so instead we spent the afternoon drinking and doing exercises that are intended to teach us that our (everyone’s) goals aren’t as out of reach as we may think they are.  We also had a very nice dinner with some of my friends here, and she got to know Sao Paulo a bit.    I think she will be back to Brazil

Happy Birthday this coming week to DF and JT, and I will be thinking of LF, who will be undergoing surgery.

 

 

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