Tuesday, October 25, 2016

my closet

I have never considered myself a closet person.  Or really even understood why people on HGTV get so excited about closet space.  

Life in the Foreign Service has afforded me some pretty nice closets in the past.  (Here's looking at you, old house in Brasilia.)  And life in the Foreign Service has afforded me some pretty horrible closets in the past.  (Here's looking at you, Arlington, and that 2 square feet of closet space.)

This rental house takes the cake.  I have never seen in a real house, much less lived in a house, with such a grand master bedroom closet.  Honestly, there is room for EVERYTHING I own.  Including what we affectionately call "the Wal-Mart", which is our multi-year stockpile of stuff like Band-Aids and sunscreen, our luggage, sporting equipment, the dog's airplane carrier, etc. 

It is the best closet ever, and I am spoiled for anything that follows it.

Shoes...  and Leo... and two rows of baseball hats and visors.  

Wal-Mart, dirty clothes, sporting equipment, luggage and the dog carrier (in a blurry photo)

Closet, glorious closets.  And a make-up mirror with fancy lights.  Too bad I don't wear make-up.

Over there with that chair is Jimmy's closet.  His and hers closets.  The hers is bigger than the his.  (sorry for the blur.)

Leo in the reflection

Empty storage space all over this closet.  It really is a dream closet.  And those two pull-out drawers are black felt-lined jewelry drawers.  Except that I don't have any fancy jewelry to put in them so I have two fancy drawers full of Advil and Benadryl and Mucinex and stuff like that.  
a panoramic from the Wal-Mart corner

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Book Recommendation

I just finished reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. You can read all the reviews online for a synopsis so I'll save you from any spoilers.  All I can tell you is it's the most charming and poignant novel I've read in ages.  I laughed and cried and rooted for Ove through all his heartbreak and curmudgeon-y behavior and ultimately through the renewal of his life's purpose.

***** out of *****  

Now I'm off to download Mr. Backman's other novels...

P.S.  I was stuck in the tunnel yesterday for over 5 minutes yesterday afternoon.  Adele's "When We Were Young" had just started when I lost reception, but naturally it was long over by the time I got reception again.  This game is harder than you think!

Friday, October 21, 2016

my newest hobby

The late bus from school (for after-school sports and clubs) doesn't come to our new house, so now that we've moved, I have to drive to school three afternoons a week to pick up Mac after basketball. 

The shortest way from our new house to school is right through Rocinha, the largest (in population) favela in Rio de Janeiro.  (For context, the population of Rocinha is estimated to be between 100,000 and 300,000.  Our hometown of Moncks Corner has a population of less than 10,000.)

However, we're not allowed to drive through favelas, so I have to take a nearly mile-long tunnel under the favela and through the mountain and  then drive back up around the other side of the mountain.  If traffic is moving, time in the tunnel is relatively minimal.  But if traffic is slow or not moving (more often than not), it can take minutes to get through the tunnel.

In a mile-long tunnel that runs through a mountain, you lose all radio reception no matter how fast you drive through it.  My newest hobby is to try to keep singing whatever song is on the radio after I lose radio reception to see if I'm on the same part of the song as the radio when reception picks back up on the other side of the tunnel.

I lose the game every single time.  Every single time.  I'm very disappointed in myself and hope that practice makes perfect in the future.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

why does buying jeans have to be so hard?

Next to bras, buying jeans is the single hardest wardrobe staple to buy.  When we're in the US, my jeans-buying involves going to some jeans-selling store and taking about 12 pairs of the same cut/size/style of jean into the dressing room and trying on what should be exactly the same thing, getting frustrated that nothing fits right and leaving with no new jeans.

I came to Brazil with two pairs of jeans.  One is a beloved pair from Old Navy that I think I bought when Mac was about 18 months old.  I didn't wear them out of the house (at least not often), but they were worn and comfortable and fit like a champ.  But jeans that are over 11 years old only will last for so long.  One sad day recently I put them on and realized there was a giant rip in the seat so they got thrown away.

The other pair of jeans I brought to Rio are a pair from the GAP that are maybe four or five years old.  Because I buy jean so infrequently, I can remember the young, enthusiastic sales guy at the GAP on King Street in Charleston who told me exactly what cut I needed. And he was right!  Those were the best-fitting jeans I've ever bought, but they, too, were starting to look tired.

I decided that I needed two new pairs of jeans, but I just could not be bothered with trying on jeans in Rio.  It's traumatic enough for me to do it in the US, but to do it in a place where, by the looks of people in jeans here, they sell two sizes only (small and extra-small), would cause irreparable damage to the psyche.

So I ordered jeans online.  I checked the sizing in my well-fitting GAP jeans and found a pair online that I liked in that same size.  I also ordered a pair from Old Navy.

They arrived this week and I am very pleased to tell you that they fit perfectly through the problem waist, hip and thigh areas.

The issue is the length.  Apparently people who wear my size in the waist must all be professional basketball players who are at least 6'2" tall.  Who are the model-tall women that GAP and Old Navy are selling jeans to?  I ordered Regular fit and not Tall, so I can imagine how long the Talls would have been.

Off to the tailor this week, which should be loads of fun.  In addition to shortening the jeans, I'm going to have to explain why I don't want them tightened up all the way around....


Wednesday, October 12, 2016


People, are you watching This is Us?  If not, you need to start now.  You're not too far behind and it is worth it to catch up.  Seriously, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.  Just figure out how to watch the back episodes and get on it.

(I should say it's worth it to catch up if you like well-written, thoughtful, funny, poignant, a bit of sad, and a lot of emotional real-life family drama television.  And I get that not everybody likes that.  I was trying to explain the premise of the series to Jimmy and his eyes glazed over and he said I didn't need to bother.  It's sort of how I felt when he couldn't watch the end of the Carolina ballgame on Sunday afternoon and while reading the football plays in the car on his cell phone en route to dinner, he explained everything that was happening to me.  As if I cared.  But at least I never told him not to bother.)

Anyway, if you were a fan of Parenthood or Brothers & Sisters, you simply must watch this show.  You'll get all the feels as it literally covers every life topic from pregnancy, stillbirth, adoption, young marriage, old marriage, childhood and adult relationships among siblings, childrearing, obesity, living in the shadows of someone else, sibling rivalry, what motivates people to succeed, bonding with your children, postpartum depression, secrets that we keep, new relationships, relationships with our parents as adults, etc.

And that's only through episode three!

The writers have created this amazing story that flashes back and forward and is so thoughtful and heartwarming and saddening and beautiful.  The actors were perfectly cast and I just cannot get enough of it.

Do not miss it, peeps!

Monday, October 10, 2016

politics and presidents

I am dumbfounded, shocked, and embarrassed by how ugly this presidential election is.  It's an embarrassment to the great people of America, although I must confess that I'm not sure who all these people are that got one person on the ticket in the first place.  I have very defined ideas on this election and opinions on both of the candidates, but I'm taking the counsel that it is best for me to keep my mouth shut for a number of reasons.

What I will say is this:

I think one person is supremely qualified to be the next President of the United States of America by resume and history alone.  I would go so far as to say that this person is the most qualified candidate for President in the last umpteen election cycles.  

And I think one person is outrageously and morally and ethically and everything else-ly unqualified to be the next President of the United States of America by resume and history alone.  I would go so far as to say that this person is the least qualified candidate for President in the last umpteen election cycles.

I pray everyday that America chooses well and wisely on November 8.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

tough day on the western front

Some days parenting a teenager is really hard work.

Especially when math homework is involved.

It's a job not for the faint of heart.

And today I'm feeling a little faint of heart.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

haircuts all around

Leo and I are on the same haircutting cycle.  We generally get our 'dos done on the same day, once a month.  If I look at him and his hair looks long, I can assume mine does, too, and I schedule us appointments.

Because of the Paralympic schedule, Leo actually skipped a month and really looked like a shaggy pup.  Everybody in the house loved the long hair except for me.  And since I'm the only one who would think to get the dog's hair cut, I decided I could cut it when I wanted and as short as I wanted.

Leo normally has a groomer come to the house, but he really doesn't like the groomer.  Actually I don't know if it's the groomer who's the problem; I think Leo doesn't like that there's no hot water outside for the groomer to use for the bath. Leo is a warm-water kind of guy.

And I normally go to a salon near our old house. Although I could go back there, there's no easy parking and it would be a hassle.

So I decided we'd both go to the fancy mall that's close to our new house where they have a fancy people salon and a fancy pet boutique, both of which cut hair.  Both trips were successful enough.  Thankfully I got back to pick up Leo just before they sprayed him with dog perfume.  I kid you not.



(We're still working on Leo's selfie-taking skills.  He surely will have mastered that by the time we've lived in Brazil for three years.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hello. Hello. Is anybody out there?

It's been a long time since my last post in March.

Even though a) I know I've lost all five of my loyal readers in the last 6 months, and b) you've seen everything I've been doing on Facebook anyway and haven't missed one iota of my life, I still feel like I want to write.

The Olympics and Paralympics were a great big blur of life that I cannot even begin to comprehend.  It was such a great time to live in this amazing city.  There was a pulse, a hum of activity and energy, a positivity here, and I loved every second of it.   (Blogger doesn't like "positivity and I'm getting that wavy red line underneath it.  Isn't that real word?  If it's not, it should be.)

And then about 40 minutes after the Paralympics closed, we moved house.  Literally.  Almost 40 minutes after the Paralympics closed.

We knew this move was going to happen, but a year from now, 6 months from now, after the Olympics seems like a long time away.  Until it's not.

So the Paralympics ended on Sunday night late, and we started the move on Monday and slept in the new house on Tuesday.  Almost 40 minutes exactly.

The new house is great in many, many ways.  It's the biggest house I've ever lived in and is lovely and open and airy.  It's surrounded by green and has an orchid garden inside the house.  (an orchid garden.  Inside the house.)  The landlord left his furniture which looks like it belongs in the most comfortable yet sophisticated beach house on a white sandy beach in Florida somewhere.  There is not much to dislike about this house.

But just to get it all out in the open, I'll name a couple things that I dislike.

1.  All that green means that we have some animals around these parts.  I routinely see monkeys in the front yard trees.  And that's okay if the monkeys stay in those trees.  My big fear is that the monkeys will somehow jump through the open windows, which we leave open a good bit. (Because there are wide overhangs on the roof, the rain that has fallen nearly every.single.blessed.day since we moved in doesn't blow inside).  I do not want monkeys in the house.

2.  We had a rogue hummingbird in the house on Friday.  I had a friend over for coffee and thought I saw a shadow pass behind her in another room.  And then the shadow came back.  There's a young caretaker couple who live on the property, so I immediately called the husband and asked him to "caretake" of this hummingbird.  He captured it only after the poor bird bonked itself on one of the big glass windows.

3.  We also had a possum in the house, so I'm becoming very conscientious about wild animal intrusion.  Mac was at a sleepover on Saturday, and Jimmy and I went out for dinner for friends.  We returned home around 11pm, and Jimmy went to the kitchen to get us water for our bedside tables.  I heard him say, "uh-oh" in a loud voice after which he told me there was a possum in the pantry.  I'm sorry, what?  The pantry is like a huge closet off on the side of the kitchen and the possum was hanging out.  He must not have been there too long because he hadn't gotten into anything yet.  I went to get one of the two guards who are always at our house and said they needed to come on inside and help us wrangle up a possum.  (Just kidding.  I don't know all those words in Portuguese. It was more my screaming in Portuguese that "we have a wild animal in the kitchen"  and then gesticulating what I think are the universal charades motions for possum.)  They got a cardboard box and headed upstairs while I got Leo and headed way upstairs.  By now, the possum was behind the water filter machine, playing dead.  That was probably sort of cute.  Thankfully it was also helpful because Jimmy could push the possum-playing possum from behind the water machine and into the box that the guard was holding.  The possum really liked that game because he stayed still while they closed the box and took him outside.

So then began my worry about how this stupid animal got into the house.  As I mentioned, we leave windows (and doors) open, but on Saturday night, everything was closed up tight.  How did this animal get in?  The problem is that we don't have a back door on this house.  I know it's weird - and it's the one thing we said we'd change if this house were ours. The back steps go down into an area where the guards hang out and where this caretaker couple lives.  There's also a laundry room and a storage room and the area leads directly out into the garage.  The laundry room is basically open to the elements and we think the possum came in there, climbed over this little babygate thing that's we close at the bottom of the stairs to keep Leo outside when nobody is home, and moseyed on up to the kitchen to make himself at home.

All I can tell you is that if that possum or any of his friends come back when I'm home by myself, I will likely just close the door, walk away, and pretend I never saw it.  I cannot face a wild, feral animal in my house.

3.  There is no back door.  See item 2 above.  This is weird and I don't like it.

4.  Our new neighborhood is nice and is probably where Jimmy would choose to live if he could choose any neighborhood in Rio.  HOWEVER, the only places I can walk to here are the grocery store, a fancy pet store (that is soon going to open a coffee shop where you can sit and drink coffee with your pup, a bakery and a gas station. Oh, and the beach is a much easier and closer walk than at our last house. And it's a much prettier beach than our last beach.  Actually scratch this negative.  The grocery store and the beach are my favorite places on earth, so I'm all good on this one. (But I do miss walking down the hill to my pilates class, restaurants and shops.  Now I have to drive the car everywhere and I've already scratched the car.  It's amazing the damage that doesn't get done to a car when it just sits in the garage all day.)

5.  I think the house has a mildew issue because my very sensitive nose can smell that stuffy mildewy, moldy smell all the time here.  You know what I'm talking about, right?  Jimmy and Mac don't seem to mind it or even smell it, so I'm hoping once this interminable rain ends, I can really air things out and get the smell to go away.

With all that really negative-sounding complaining, the living is quite good and fairly easy here.  We still have our regular housekeeper and our chef so between them and this other live-in couple, we rarely lift a finger to do anything.  So I think I'll just pipe down and put my sorries in a sack, as Jimmy likes to say, and enjoy this nice spot for the 3-8 months we'll be living here.

Hope that all is well in your corner of the world.

Susan x