Photo from here

I'm off to Brazil again on Tuesday - filming a few extra things for the documentary we've been making for the last 50 years of my life. Sounds glamorous eh, "flying to Brazil to film for a documentary".  I like to say it as often as I can, so that I can bask in the glow of what it sounds like, before reality sinks in.

Carnival will have just finished when we hit Rio.  I fully expect to see some people in silver-spangled thongs (and I'm not talking footwear), straggling home late from the after party.  But sadly, no glitter and fruit-topped head pieces for me - oh no.  I will be visiting a minister in the favelas (slums) of Rio before heading straight inland to visit ageing colonies of fanatical believers to talk about the second coming and experiences of living in the jungle.  Also exotic, but not quite samba-queen style glamour, I tell ya.

This is the centre of the tiny township I will be spending most of my time in. Just in case you were wondering - yes, that IS aluminium foil covering the ball on top of the monument on the roundabout. The only bit of silvery sparkle I'm getting on this trip.  And no - there is no mobile coverage or internet anywhere in the vicinity.  You arrive in town and step back in time, immerse yourself in tropical heat and red dust and stories of families and a once-thriving community. Last time we went was fascinating, but very emotionally taxing.

This is what I felt like for a large part of my last trip. 

Mind you, I am really looking forward to going.  Of course I'm feeling a tad guilty to leave my gang behind to fend for themselves - all that compensatory tv and pizza will definitely be hard on them - but I think the break is just what I need.  Being outdoors with no snow and ice and overcast minus degrees.  And time without worrying about issues at home will also do me a world of good.

So it's all tropical fruit, fireflies, hummingbirds for me for the next few weeks! Yipee!  Glamorous work trips, indeed.

 Maybe Jem will keep the blog updated while I'm away. Maybe he won't.  Whichever way, see you when I get back!

Saturday morning, melting sludge outside.   I'm sitting here trying to do a couple of things for work and this is what I see.  Right in front of me.  The love of my life, working on a project for a CD cover, which involves the founder of Latvian folklore studies, spraypaint and possibly illegal activity.

Oh, my sweet, ageing hipster.  The whole time he has been cutting he has been complaining about his eyes, and the need for reading glasses.

To my right: two bowls I bought for a song at a new op shop down the road - everything in there is cast off from wealthy Swedish homeowners.  These bowls looked modern at first, until I got closer and examined their ageing crackled overglaze.  For a typography snob like me, they are a treasure. Too cracked to be used for food, they are going "straight to the poolroom" - on a shelf in the kitchen.

I have always had a penchant for kitchenware with words in different languages... so the Swedish "Pyttipanna" (a traditional scandinavian dish, a hodgepodge of food similar to bubble and squeak) and "Smatt och Gott" (bits and pieces) fit right in with my other food cannisters in French, Russian, German, Latvian.  Oh, and English.  Of course.

To my immediate left - a jar of spicy orange and cranberry jam I made yesterday.  I guess you could call it marmalade - at a stretch.

Saving the best till last.  On my left - kids looking at Google Earth and bickering over a crappy swivel office chairs.  At first they were their grumpy selves until they realized I was going to blog the photo.  Then they got crazy.

Off to the pool soon to swim all that craziness out.  Oh yeah!

Poor old Sticky Man.  He's been trapped in this Lego jail for the last month or two - this arch-enemy of Toyworld has been doing it tough. That's because the phenomena of Toyworld, a whole universe which has taken over our various houses for the last 4 years, has slowed down (for a comprehensive description of Toyworld, see this post).  Oh, there's still battle between bad and good, and King Toby still occasionally comes out to decree a truce or a treaty or a war or something, but developments in Toyworld happen less often - because a new game has started.

It's called "Legend", and it has been talk of the town for the last three months or so.  I'm not quite sure what the stimulus was - it's basically like dungeons and dragons, but cooler, totally mobile, and made up by Tiss.  Its an imaginary world or tale, which Tiss describes to the players, and lets them interact with the surroundings and go on quests.  Mikus is one of the main players, as well as the boys' friend "Mark" (not his real name), and another few grade-four friends.

The players get to make their own imagined persona - choosing their age (this seems to be the most important thing), profession, and super animal powers.  The characters then interact, move through the landscape, find various weapons (of course), meet various goodies and baddies, and fight the baddies (naturally).  The players work together to form various alliances, get into scrapes, build themselves buildings, collect money and treasure  and so on.  

What amazes me is that the game is totally and absolutely language-based, and the longevity of the game - and the levels of excitement it causes.  When school started back in September the boys would meet their mate Mark on the tram and immediately pull out their mobile phones, and play them avidly during the 20 minute ride into school.  Now, they get together and discuss the latest developments in "Legend" and I am forever having to "shush" them as they get overly excited arguing about battle tactics or amounts of TNT or making explosion sound affects to accompany the play.  Tram passengers get up and clear a space around the boys when they get a chance, because the play and noise levels are way too hyped.

Mikus and Mark didn't speak for a whole week once, because Mark had exploded their plane accidentally when Mikus was still in class and unable to press the "eject" button. Mikus is very proud of himself, because in the game he is 12 YEARS OLD, and has super wolf powers, and he can do back flips.  This combination of elements is apparently pretty cool.

I keep wondering if my kids seem so desperate to imagine parallel universes because their real lives seem too dull.  Or maybe its because I've been such a harridan and banned them from watching too much tv.  Whatever it is - I don't know how long it will last, and I have no idea at what stage my sons will be classified as role-playing geeks by the rest of their class mates, but for now, it works for me, and the dudes. I just hope that some evil henchman remembers to release Sticky Man at some point, so that he can return to cooking up some more dastardly plots against the rest of humanity...

Just this week there was a frenzy of activity after I suggested that the goings on in Legend could possibly be captured in a comic.  Breakfast banter was replaced by feverish pencil-sketching both for Tiss (drawings above) and Mik (front cover, below).


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