My first performance beyond my backyard was at school when I was six. If I am not mistaken it was during my Elementary School end of term pageant. The story: Vinícius de Moraes had written a book in verses for children, adapting the story of Noah’s Ark. The book became a hugely successful TV special, with songs written and performed by great names of the Brazilian popular music, such as Chico Buarque, Moraes Moreira and Elis Regina.

My school’s end-of-year pageant consisted of performing some numbers inspired in the hit musical. The students sang and danced dressed like the animals represented in the songs. There were the lions, the elephants, the giraffes. My class got the song about bees. Our costume consisted of a white T-shirt and shorts and orange cellophane wings attached to the shoulders by a fragile wire base, the same used in the “antennas”, held in a hair bow and finished with styrofoam balls covered in glitter.

This wonderful childhood memory was my only experience with bees and I don’t think the fact that being a consumer of honey, propolis and pollen makes me a queen bee, but the fact is that the bees in the neighborhood apparently feel good in my life. home, with a special preference for the kitchen. They´ve found a minimal space in the anointing between the sink and the wall that apparently holds water and turned it into a drinking fountain. Rumor has it that they plan to build a spa on the site.

Anyway, I can’t be angry with such ingenious and (why not say?) sweet creatures. On top of that, threatened with extinction by human actions! Let´s face it: tecnally, if someone had to leave, that would be me. Although I have the slight impression that I am being manipulated by the bees, the fact is that I had to learn to live with them and until now we´ve managed to share the space quite well: they leave, respectfully, every time I start cooking or washing the dishes and return as soon as they realize the coast is clear, so to speak.

Maybe I am able to communicate with them (I just forgot how) or maybe they just liked my elementary school performance. Maybe I will find out someday. Until then, as the song of my childhood said: come and see how they give honey, the bees of the sky!

Bee seeing you 😉

G.F.

Hey there! How are things going? Did you have some extra time to read my last post? I hope so, because I wrote it under a lot of pain, you know? I had a Paronychia, a skin infection around a fingernail (my case) or toenail. I went to the doctor, I was medicated, so there was not much to do, except waiting for my immune system to react (the capacity of our body to rebuilt itself is a true wonder, don´t you think?), while the antibiotics did their job (hooray for science!). Oh, yes and hold the pain. This was the most difficult part.

One of my strategies in such situations is to increase the good mood factor. Basically, I try to reach affective memories, hiding myself in a bubble of protection. Anything goes: songs, scents, food, cartoons or old tv shows, such as the 1960s production I dream of Jeannie.

At first, I didn´t like it, when I realized that the streaming service only provided the version dubbed in Portuguese, but after the first episode I didn´t mind it anymore. After all, those were the same voices from the rerun I used to watch in the Brazilian tv in the late 1980s. I was immediately taken to a very nice place in my head, full of fond childhood memories and it helped me to forget the pain. At least for half an hour.

Watching a TV show aired from 1965 to 1970 in 2021 is very close to an anthropological exercise. The main plot is already, let´s say, problematic: a young blonde, blue-eyed lady representing an Arabian genie, dressed with very revealing pink clothing, calling a guy “Master”. Yep. On the other hand, it is also about an experienced woman with a free spirit and a lot of joie de vivre, not ashamed to use her powers, nor to defy her “master”. Actually, most of the fun in the sitcom comes from the inversion of the expected roles in the master-genie relationship.

That said, I must confess: the gags make me laugh and this is quite a lot for a fifty-year-old production. But what I really liked about the show was the music. From the opening theme to the soundtrack, Dream of Jeannie represents a time when Jazz was “the” thing and anything else was… square. And it gets better: suddenly, there was also Tom Jobim!

In the episode “The Greatest Entertainer in the World” (season two, episode 23), guest star Sammy Davis, Jr., playing himself, is shown in the middle of a rehearsal. And guess what? He sings The Girl from Ipanema in a (maybe unwillingly) Bossa Nova and Latin Jazz mix version. It felt so good to remember that Jobim was everywhere (and Vinicius de Moraes, João Gilberto, Baden Powell, Astrud Gilberto, Sylvia Telles, among many others stars from the time), representing Brazilian music. A flowering legacy, that I am honored to honor.

I couldn´t help smiling. Jeannie girl, you did it again.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

At number 4, Rue de Sévigné in Paris there is a Cider bar. The name is simple and lovely as the place itself: Cidrerie du Marais. I found it by chance, while wandering around the city. It was a rainy Summer day and my next appointment wouldn´t be for the next couple of hours. Not a hard decision at all to get in, and choose a seat by the door.

Savouring my cider alone in the empty place, watching the clouds passing by, I enjoyed the coming sun stretching its rays, while the gentle summer breeze carried all troubles away. I think the technical term for what I felt that day is joie de vivre. The kind of feeling that is hard to feel during a pandemic. The kind of feeling that is hard to feel when you lose a friend.

The world is full of people, but one single beloved person goes away and, suddenly, there is a huge empty space in our world, don´t you think?

Last week was very hard and, frankly, I believe you had your share of grief and pain yourself, so instead of talking about the seemingly endless sad hours I went through, I would like to turn this into a feel good post, and share a few glimpses of happiness I had over the last couple of days:

I found out there is a passion fruit plant in front of my building.

I saw an orange butterfly and it flew quite close to me for a while.

A friend of mine told me he could see my point and changed his mind about a sensitive subject.

One of my former German students (long story, but in another life I was a German teacher) contacted me and thanked my for helping her embrace change and follow her dream career.

I guess this is as much joie de vivre one could wish for now. Small miracles are all around.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

p.s. Click here for four and a half minutes of joie de vivre