Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year's Eve!!

Happy New Year's Eve everybody!

I am not going to be able to report the goings on of Bermuda this evening.  It is 32 minutes to the New Year, and after work, making supper, doing an exercise video, and skyping with family -- I am still in yoga pants and my hair isn't dry from the shower yet.  So a quiet New Year's Eve with my furry friends and some reflection is in order.  In fact, that champagne picture was actually taken Christmas Day...but I thought it would be a nice touch.

There are many happenings around the island tonight.  Bars and restaurants will be packed, some sold out for weeks, and of course there will be fireworks at a few places, like Elbow Beach and over the Hamilton Harbour.  Presumably they will do the Onion Drop again as well, and have the streets of Hamilton fenced off from traffic to allow pedestrians to congregate for the Drop.  You may be wondering what an onion drop is.  Well, it's a lot like the Ball Drop in NYC...except that instead of a round glowing orb, it's an onion shaped glowing orb...and the pole is probably only 20 or 30 feet high and erected in town for the evening.  That still doesn't explain why an onion.  Well, historically Bermuda was famous for onion exports, one of the few crops or exportable items ever to come out of the onion is a bit of an unofficial national symbol.  This is why you will encounter stores like "Onion Jack's" and hear of sports teams like the "Bermuda Onions."  There is also likely a band, and there will also be live music at the Hog Penny and, of course, at The Pickled Onion nightclub.

I am ready to say goodbye to 2013 and welcome 2014.  I expect it to be an exciting year as I begin my last 6 months of work on the island, and then a return to Canada.  This evening my sister asked what exactly my plan was.  I confessed I don't really have a concrete plan.  8 months in advance is a little too far away to start securing the next job.  And I really wouldn't mind taking some time off and checking some items off the bucket list.  I guess I might finish off 2014 being just and lost but loving it as I am now.

I am not one for New Year's Resolutions.  I normally skip the tradition entirely, with the exception of the one year where I told my coworker Andrea in Edmonton that my brilliant plan for New Year's resolutions would be to do any one of the following very simple good-for-me things every day -- just one off the list -- I could either exercise, remember to use moisturizer, or just eat a damn vegetable that day.  Turns out that was the year I got into a better skin care regime.  A few days ago I was talking to my friend Geraldine and mentioned that I had started back into the workout DVD's that week -- the video set that we all love to hate, Shawn T's insanity.  I have tried it 4 times and never finished the whole 60 day program.  Last time I think I tore an abdominal muscle around day 5.  Geraldine vowed to successfully complete it at least one time in 2014.  I thought that might be a good New Year's resolution to attempt.  Other than that, I still need to work on the vegetable thing.  I need to continue with the mantras that I mentioned a few days before Christmas --  "It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can do only little.  Do what you can, " and "It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay -- small acts of kindness and love."  I will continue to volunteer, to donate to causes that I see results from like the Bermuda SPCA, The Bill Foundation and Hope for Paws.  I will put forth a smile to those who need it.  I will seek out new places and adventures in the later part of 2014, and not be afraid of taking a break from work for the first time in 22 years.  2013 had too many final goodbyes...I will remember the smiles and kindnesses of each of you who have gone, tomorrow, in 2014, and many years beyond.  And so all year long I will wish and pray that my friends and family are safe and healthy, that their dreams come true, and they find themselves in successful careers, loving relationships, and feeling happy and content.

With that, I raise my glass to each of you -- and begin the 10 minute countdown.  All the best in 2014 to all of you!

Friday, December 27, 2013

59 Hours and a Plan -- The Met

Going back a few weeks, before the events of Christmas took over life and the blog, I was talking about my quick trip to New York, which one must do while in Bermuda because it's only a 2.5 hour flight.  As well, one visiting New York could easily tack on a couple of days and visit Bermuda -- staying in one of the cozy homes advertised on  I had finished the events of Day One -- The Guggenheim, Central Park, the Macy's Christmas displays, and a walk through Manhattan to see the Christmas lights.  Last night I watched the movie "New Year's Eve" and smiled as I recognized specific places and even the some of the same Christmas displays that I photographed on that walk.

On Day 2 in New York, the main plan was to go see the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art.  I now knew the subway route, and decided to take the train rather than walk it, which would also allow me to take a few daylight photos of Grand Central Station, and wander through some of the shops there.  It was inside there that I found an artist's stand called "Heart Art" and saw the perfect Christmas ornament reminding me of Jaycena -- a heart with a flannel "Love" pattern on it.
Grand Central Station
After that I hopped on the train and headed towards the Metropolitan Museum of Art, located at 1000 Fifth Avenue, not far from the Guggenheim in the area named Museum Mile.
The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Looking out on one of the wings from inside -- the building itself if a work of art
Gravestone marker in the Roman/Greek room
I could not wait to get my geek on and study all of the displays.  I really had no idea what I was getting into.  I expected to be able to see thousands of things.  After an hour I had not yet worked my way through the Greek and Roman Art room, there was no time to read even just the label on each item.  The Met has amassed artwork covering 5000 years of human history and is divided up into American, Greek and Roman, Islamic, Oceanic, Egyptian, European, Asian, Arabic, and periods such as Medieval, Modern, Contemporary, 19th Century, and style including sculpture, painting, drawings,
A Roman hairclip -- making the bun sexy
photographs, plus instruments and decorum of all times.  Most of the art doubles as an archaeological treasure.  Like I said, I expected to see thousands of things.  I quickly realized there were hundreds of thousands of things in plain site.  When I actually looked into it, the museum is one of the world's largest and has one of the most significant collections.  There are actually two MILLION artifacts in its permanent collection, divided up into the 17 sections.  Plus 3 special exhibits, which were jewellery, an ancient Asian culture that I can no longer recall (told you I was overwhelmed), and my personal favorite, Girls and Cats.

the "headholder" -- eww
There are simply more stories housed in the Met than one can imagine in the span of a day, or even a few days.  After looking at a few hundred Greek and Roman grave markers, each exquisite and well preserved, many larger than me, I felt a pang of disappointment and decided they must be plaster casts, or they would all be under glass to ward off sticky little hands of its many young visitors.  On speaking to a staff member, she informed me that I was incorrect.  There is only a very small number of replicas in the collection, almost every piece is a genuine artifact in its original form.  Including the gilded head-holder that still houses the skull of a leader beheaded for Christianity.  I could have lived without that bit of knowledge!  But it did make the experience even more incredible, that I was looking at authentic pieces, carved and crafted our of the deepest human experiences -- love, grief, war, passion, death, religion...  I gave up photographing after a while -- although it is worth mentioning that you could photograph almost anything in the museum, including Picasso's, Renoirs, Rembrandts, etc.  The special exhibits were off limits, but everything else was fair game.  So I did
Cabinets with thousands of things
take a lot of photos of little things that caught my eye.  I can't include them all here, but there were Faberge eggs, ancient texts, some Egyptian structures rebuilt, rooms completely decorated in the period, be it French, English, or American -- and yes, the French rooms were literally gilded from ceiling to floor.  The arms collection is famous, ranging from all types of suits of armours and swords, and if there were guns I missed them -- easy enough to do in the maze of the Met.  The Sculpture hallway was fantastic, one called Winter really caught my eye.  The paintings were astounding.  There is just something about standing
Rooms with hundreds of cabinets with thousands of things
in front of famous works of art -- you realize that millions of people have gazed at the same thing as you, over centuries.  It makes the world feel like a much smaller place.


Picasso -- although more stunning are his works before he went all abstract

A beautiful fake -- the real one sits atop the grave of Elizabeth Duvenuck outside of Florence

Just a couple of full knights and steeds in armour on display

So that was my day at the Met.  But...I was only 28 into my 59 hours so there was still ground to cover.  I went for a fabulous dinner at an Italian restaurant, and headed on to the Empire State Building.  I apologize for the poor quality of this photo, but am including it because I never knew which building was the Empire State building in the New York skyline.
The Empire State Building is the colorful one with the needle on top in the NYC skyline
The interior of the Empire State building has recently been restored to its original shiny glory.
Lobby at the Empire State Building
Due to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting happening at the same time, the lineups really were not too bad.  There is an open air patio that goes around the building allowing you to see NYC as far as the eye can see in all directions.  You can see all that you really need to see by going to the first level -- buying a ticket to go to the very top just gives you the same view, slightly higher, but behind glass.
View from the Empire State Building
Now that the Empire State Building was checked off the list, I decided to walk back to the Hotel Mela via Times Square.
Busy busy NYC

All lit up like Vegas

I have to admit I really enjoy all of the lights

I even stopped to get a drawing done for $5 by a street artist.
My trip souvenier

The next day I had time to pick up a few items, enjoy the last tastes of American civilization (Starbucks), post some items to Canada, and make my way back to Bermuda.  59 hours was just perfect to cross off the last few items on my NYC to do list.
Loved this ad!

Pricey ad excess of 3.5 Million Dollars a year

Thursday, December 26, 2013

An Ex-Pat Christmas in Bermuda

"So what is Christmas like in Bermuda?" people always ask me.  As I have spent all but 5 of my Christmases in the snowy north, I understand what is going through their minds.  Hollywood images of drab palm trees with strings of lights and cheesy plastic blow up Santa's on lawns, with out of place reindeer and not a snowflake in sight.  I don't think Hollywood has yet to successfully capture what Christmas without snow is like for the world.  Earlier this week I tried to blog about all of the festivities of the season on the island, and take some pictures of the gorgeous and festive decorations that we have in Bermuda.  To be fair, I think the displays are pretty good down here -- perhaps it's because there is more time to put up the lights before your fingers freeze off, but I have been pretty impressed.  Except for when I went to get a close up of the ornaments on the bough of the Christmas tree outside of city hall.  While I was manually focusing my lens and focused only on the ornament directly in front of me I heard a was only then that I realized a street person had burrowed through the base of the tree (its boughs start at the ground) and made a cozy nest inside.  Seemed like a good time to abandon that photo and move along.  That definitely doesn't happen in the frozen North.

An ex-pat Christmas in Bermuda usually involves a communal friend dinner, a lot of phone time and skype time back home, but revolves around the sentinel event of the day for an Ex-Pat -- Christmas on Elbow  Beach.  This is a long standing tradition, and a not-officially organized event, nor does it require invitation.  All are welcome.  There is no structure, no set time, people simply gather on the beach, kids, adults, coworkers and friends.  Many years ago, the Association of Canadians in Bermuda hosted this event, but over the years it has just been a sea of people who come, simply because they know others will be there.  Champagne bottles are uncorked and glasses are raised to friends, fellowship, and Christmas.  On average, at least 2000 people visit the beach on this day, many in seasonal attire.
We claimed a central spot, so this is 1/2 the crowd at the beginning of the day
On this Christmas morning, I received a distraught text from Albert at 9am to say it was raining.  Fortunately I slept through that part, and when I got up around 10, the next text was from Phil who was donning rain gear and heading down anyway.  That's the spirit.  By 11:30 when I arrived at Siobhan's, a few steps from the beach, the rain was gone, and so we headed down.  Along the way we got a call from a very excited Albert and crew who joined us for the walk down.  Karen and Allison were also on the way.  So we donned our Santa hats and Christmas crowns....

Popped our champagne corks, beer, or soda if it was a work day, and set out to share some smiles and laughs with friends...both old, and new.
The girls of King Edward Memorial Hospital -- old friends
The Bermuda Police Service -- new friends
I helped made Albert's secret Christmas wish come true...even if only for a few seconds.  I voted these ladies best dressed and got their consent to take a photo of the spirit of Christmas at Elbow Beach...that's a pretty big smile Albert.
Best dressed -- plus making Albert believe in Santa all over again

And so this is the tradition of ex-pat Christmas in Bermuda.  Ex-pat's, Bermudians, tourists, revellers, police, pets, kids, Santa's, reindeer, and a lot of fun.  Come when you can, stay as long as you wish, and celebrate Christmas with friendship, goodwill, and enjoy the beauty of Bermuda.  If you find yourself in Bermuda over the holidays, don't miss this experience.  It makes being away for the holidays a lot easier!

After that it was home to Skype, text, phone, BBM, What'sAPP, and email all of the friends and family not in Bermuda.  It's the time of year where you get loads of mini-updates and catch-up's which will leave me smiling for days.  Next year, I will be watching for photos from the Beach, likely from a snowbound Christmas in Canada.  Hopefully the memories of 5 Christmases in Bermuda will keep me warm inside.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Silent Night

Christmas Eve.  The hustle and the bustle of the day is over.  And when I went to town at noon it was hustling and bustling.  I grabbed some last minute groceries and got out of the last minute melee as soon as I could.  I dropped off some food for the SPCA Christmas tree, said hello to all the shelter cats, and then it was off to work.

Often people ask what Christmas is like in Bermuda.  It is mostly the same except the for the snow -- we have sand, grass, and flowers instead.  As happy as I am to be away from all of that snow, I will say that the first Christmas without it feels a little strange, you know something is missing, but you are happy it's gone all the same.  After work I decided to take a little walk around town and take a few pictures of Christmas in Bermuda., or specifically, around Hamilton in Bermuda.
The Legislature building is brightly decorated this year
Loved how this old tree was decorated outside of the ACE Building
Buildings decorated with care
We have our wreaths, Xmas trees in windows, and decorated palms

near Taste
And of course City Hall
I even found a few penguins.

When I got home, I found this.

It seems as though Lexi and the Panthers are smarter than I thought.  And so, I wish you all a good night, wherever you may be, and much happiness on this very special day tomorrow...xo

What to Get that Hard to Buy for Person

Everyone has someone on their list that is hard to buy for.  I am the Aunt/Sister/Daughter/Grandchild/Friend that lives somewhere far away and doesn't want to accumulate a lot of stuff in her temporary home (although it happens all the same).  Even when I lived closer I think I was hard to buy for, as my interests were always a little off the beaten path.  So what do you get for the person who is hard to buy for?  How about a little charity.  Here's the rationale.

Seeing Siobhan sitting on Santa's lap the other day reminded me that it has been a few years since I wrote out a wishlist for Christmas.  Gone are the years when I have whimsical desires of world peace (or becoming a rock star).  When I really thought about what I want for Christmas, I realized that the things I really want are a little closer to reality, and have a personal meaning.

I do of course wish for the good health and safety of my family and friends (both two and four legged as John R Smith eloquently posted yesterday on facebook).  I wish them all success in their endeavors, be it being a successful ringleader in the circus of their family, conquering a demon or two, advancing professionally, or building a dream (or a dream home in the land of rainforests like Jody Bevan).  These are not things that can be bought.  I have all the sparkly clothes I need, a cozy place to stay complete with an electric blanket (thank you Tonya Olson for last year's Christmas present), a fridge full of food, a job, 2 wheels (which is more than enough on an island), and have a life full of good people.  There is nothing else that I need.  So what is it that I want?  It became clear to me in 2 quotes of the week.  The first being from watching "The Hobbit" on TV, when Galdalf says "Samuran believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found.  I have found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay...small acts of kindness and love."  J.R. Tolkien was a wise man.  The second was on a facebook post, a picture put up by Boston's "Fund the Ferals" charity which said "It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little.  Do what you can" by Sydney Smith.  This is exactly what I want for Christmas -- small acts of kindness and love, and helping as much as you can even if it is only a drop in the bucket.  There is certainly a charity near and dear the hearts of each of us.  Mine is animals.  I support WWF, The Bill Foundation, Hope for Paws, and the Bermuda SPCA.  I see many others that I would like to -- Boston's Fund the Ferals, the Moose Jaw Humane Society, and SCARS in Edmonton look like they are doing good work.  So often I get great little gifts, and buy for others, coffee cards, book cards, itunes, and I do use and appreciate them.  But a $10 coffee card can feed a kitten in a shelter for a week.  The Bill Foundation and Hope For Paws ask people to give $5, on the principle that more will donate, and their rescue videos show that they are indeed saving a few animals from the street every week.

So...if you are doing last minute Christmas shopping today and running out of ideas, think about whether that last person on your list has a cause they care about.  Poverty, hunger, disaster relief, environmental protection, medical research -- the most thoughtful gift of all may be showing that you know their heart.

Just a thought.  Merry Christmas Eve morning to all!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Shibby-fest 2013

Today was....Shibby-fest!  It was as awesome as it sounds.  What is Shibby-fest you may ask?  Well, a Shibby is an Irish girl who lives in Bermuda and spends a lot of time doing things for other people.
This is a Shibby...waiting in the spa lobby earlier today
If you show up at her house to give her a lift somewhere, she will probably make you eat at least a tuna sandwich before carrying on.  If you drop in for tea, there will likely be an assortment of munchies that appear for you to graze upon, usually ranging from nuts and chocolate to crisps, and other irresistible things.  If you have a cold she will appear with medicinal supplies as well as traditional Irish cold supplies (lemons and whiskey).  If she goes away on a trip, she brings you a present.  If something good or bad happens, she gives you a gift.  One day when having a particularly bad run of bad news, the poor girl trudged over with a whole bag of presents to give me for each event.  So a Shibby is a generous, outgoing, and caring thing -- but also a good friend and partner in crime.
The Shibby with some of her other partners in crime, Allison and Karen under the moongate today
This particular Shibby in question was born a Siobhan across the pond one December 23, really not so long ago.  In past years in Bermuda, her birthday has been combined with Christmas gatherings and meals, to which of course she says it's no bother and she wants no fuss.  I decided this would have to change in 2013, and so about a month ago I promised her that this year, we would have "Shibby-fest!", a day dedicated to her birthday and not Christmas.  Unfortunately I could not get Monday off for her real birthday, but since I had today off, we celebrated Shibby-fest early and make her a Princess for the day!
Princess Shibby -- crowned at the start of Shibby-fest at the entrance to the Hamilton Princess Hotel this morning
I got a Princess hat for the day too!
We decided to make it a girly day.  One of the girliest things to do on the island is High Tea at the Hamilton Princess.  To give a brief history of this, the Fairmont Hamilton Princess is THE oldest hotel in the global Fairmont chain, opening its gorgeous doors in 1885.  Now, Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Louise (who resided in Canada I might add) fell in love with Bermuda in 1883.  When the Fairmont opened, it was called "The Princess" in honour of the royal visit.  After it's opening, Mark Twain was a regular guest, and it is said that Ian Fleming based the bar in his James Bond movie Dr. No on the bar at the Hamilton Princess where he was also a guest.  Now, high tea is an English custom dating back to the 1840's.  It was a little hard for the ladies to actually eat in their tight corsets and through the need to put on dainty and delicate airs in high society of the time.  So afternoon tea used to be served in the bedroom -- where the lady could get some sandwiches, scones, and deserts before dressing for dinner (which she presumably couldn't actually eat).  It is called High Tea to distinguish it from the working class custom of afternoon tea.  The hotel says that Princess Louise ordered high tea during her stay, and it has long been offered daily at the hotel.
Princesses Shibby and Moira through the tiers of High Tea (once most of the goodies had been cleared out of the way)
But first -- we decided to add a trip to the Hamilton Princess Inverurie Day Spa as a start to the day, as High Tea is not served until 2:30.  So, we put on some dresses and heels and headed out for a pedicure to start off Shibby-fest.  It was a gorgeous day outside, bright, clear, and warm as early summer.  We spent an hour having our feet pampered before letting Allison and Joy take over the pedicure post.  I must recommend the spa to anyone who needs a quick and convenient treatment in town -- I have to admit I did not know that it existed before today, but it had some reasonably priced spa services (for Bermuda) and they treated us very well.  Siobhan and I had an hour while the other girls had their treatments, so carefully walked in our fancy dresses and flip flops (I had to use the disposable spa flip flops) through the fancy lobby and into the hotel bar for a glass of birthday Proscecco, and then carried it through the courtyard to 2 oversize wooden chairs overlooking the harbour.  I knew Shibby-fest was already a success when she walked out of the hotel lobby and into the sunny courtyard in her fancy dress, sunglasses and flip flops with a glass of bubbles and said in her Irish accent "I feel like a posh b...."  Goal achieved.
Look at that Posh .....!
I had a wee Shibby-fest gift of spa-credit and this awesome little "Cosmopolitan" in a can that I found at Marks and Spencers.  We made good use of it to refill our Proscecco glasses with a nice pink cocktail from our lawn chairs -- and I had to comment that she actually looked happier with her smuggled "cosmo-in-a-can" than posh Proscecco, and she said "yeah....I like to feel a bit naughty."  She better hope Santa wasn't listening!
Pedicures and Bubbles in the sun
After getting in a little more sunshine, and possibly even turning a little bit of color from our time in the sun, we headed back indoors to meet Karen, Moira, and reunite with Allison and Joy.  When we were seated for High Tea, we were not in the normal windows by the courtyard, but upstairs in the same room where we had the reception for the Caledonia Ball.  Much to our surprise, we were seated in the midst of the Annual Teddy Bear Tea, where families bring their children dressed in their Christmas best, with their teddy bear's, for holiday tea and treats.  It was, as always, a delicious assortment of scones with clotted cream, mini sandwiches, and decadent deserts (I finally met a chocolate too rich for me to candy nemesis), and a good time to get some nice pictures and chat.  In one of my favorite moments of the day -- Santa came!  He sat patiently while all the little girls and boys sat on his knee and whispered their Christmas wishes.  As he began his jingle his way out of the Teddy Bear Tea, I caught Santa's eye with my most innocent smile and pleading eye. As he stopped by me, I pointed at Shibby and threw her under the bus, saying "It's her birthday!  Can I get a picture?"  Although it may take her a few days to forgive me for that one, it was absolutely worth it as Santa took it one step further and asked her to stand up so that he could take her chair and have her sit in his lap.
Oh yeah, now she's bashfully remembering that comment in the courtyard about liking to be a bit naughty
Is it me or does Santa look a little disconcerted?  Wonder what she asked for!
In a room full of tiny princesses, Princess Shibby was the envy of the room.  Plus I like to think it will help some of the little ones believe in both Santa and eternal Princesshood a little longer.

As the lovely afternoon of Shibby-fest came to a close, we got a few more pictures in the courtyard with the whole crew, and then this Princess decided to take a nap with the last hour of her afternoon.  Tomorrow, the figurative glass slippers (aka disposable flip flops) will once again be replaced with running shoes and the Donna Karan will hang in the closet while the shapeless faded blue cotton scrubs once again take charge of the wardrobe.  For another couple of days anyway.  Until then, am glad that we rocked Shibby-fest!

The Cast of Shibby-fest 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Party Post

Well, I had originally planned on blogging about each party as a separate post, but I failed to factor in the fact that attending all the parties would take away all the blogging time.  Thus, this shall be the party abbreviated form because I am still tired from it all, so we will just cover the last week of it today I think.

Last Saturday there was a choice between the BPSU Party (BPSU being the Bermuda Public Services Union of which us technical staffers belong to) or The Snowball Party at the Southampton Princess which was the unofficial work party.  Until 2012, the hospital (which is one of the larger employers on the island) would rent the ballroom of the Southampton Princess for it's annual Christmas party, which was a formal gala.  Sparkly dresses and floor length gowns abounded, and the gents pulled out their finest suits, tuxes, and even a few top hats and canes were acquired for the occasion.  It was all Ritz, all glitz -- of course I loved it.  In 2012, long after all the gowns of the hospital's Cinderella employees had been ordered, the hospital announced a change in venue due to the recession.  It is a long fall from grace from the glamorous ballroom at The Southampton Princess to the asphalt of the hospital parking lot, but that was the plan for Management for its employees.  It was, however, not loved by all, and the term "parking lot party," became a common term around the halls whenever anyone was plotting a mutiny against the establishment.  From situations like this, the Fairmont was quick to pick up on the need for a nice night out for the island's disgruntled employees around the island who found themselves either without a party, or literally out in the streets like us.  They called it the Snowball Party, charged a fee and set up tables for 3 course meal, drinks, and a band and allowed anyone in need of a party to book a table.  The BPSU Party, being the same night, is hosted at the Bermuda College every year, and also has fantastic food, is free, and open to friends from all areas of the islands public services, so I always enjoy going and seeing loads of familiar faces outside of my usual crew.  Both parties were a success, but I can only speak about the one I was at, the BPSU.  There was loads of excellent food, a free drink to all attendees, and plenty of good conversation for all.  I have a few pictures of some of the attendees -- some of my ex-Bermuda-expats (who re-expatted elsewhere...i know, it's a confusing loop) will appreciate these smiles.

Cytology Superstars
All smiles here
Micro, Cyto, Med-Surg, Hyperbarics, and....Olds College Alberta cameo with Alastair
Oh, and of course, the party had 3 indoor rooms and a big open courtyard.  Indoors was a DJ and a dance floor.  Bermudians LOOOOOOVE a dance floor, and no matter how many years I have been here, the biggest hit is always (and has always been)...The Electric Slide.  Yes, the Electric Slide.  People get all serious and line up for the "boogie woogie woogie woogie" song that you may recall from 1987.  7 days and counting I still can't get it out of my head.  I find my self walking/rushing between a respiratory syncytial virus screen and a lumbar puncture singing "boogie woogie woogie woogie."  Sadly, no one at work finds this abnormal.  My Bermudian friend and colleague, Sakina, tells me that not only is it considered valid Christmas music, it is also wedding and funeral appropriate on the island.  Who knew?  Still not sure what the song is?  Here's a You Tube link  Now, once The Electric Slide is done and the dancing gets a little more down to it, it is only a matter of minutes before the Wobble song comes on.  It was only a couple of weeks ago that Sakina tried to teach me the wobble in the lab...I seem to lack a fluidity in the hips and am better suited to a dance move like the robot, but nonetheless, I now know the moves (however poorly executed) to the wobble.  This does involve sticking out ones backside and wiggling.  I have opted to give up on looking cool while doing it and just going for full on comedic relief...I do believe the move is now burned into the minds of most of the department.  And while I still can't get "boogie woogie woogie woogie" out of my head, it is interspersed with intermittent chants of "wobble baby wobble baby wobble baby wobble" and "back it up" -- I consider these two songs sort of Bermuda Christmas carols.  Here's Wobble for you (because I don't think my Saskatchewan friends will be familiar with it -- other than Cat, who is a repatriated expat)

It's been too many days since Sunday so I can't remember at this moment what the crew got up to on that day, but I know it was something.  Then there was a random night at Flanagan's due to a failed hospitality attempt (co worker's son was on island and she wanted him to come out with some of the "young folk" -- whew, I can still fool a few people).  Shibby (aka Siobhan) and I decided to salvage the night with a quiet curry and visit with Eileen.  Eileen's Scottish accept drew over a crowd from Essex and it was only polite to stay a while and be sociable.  And then Siobhan's Irish accent lured over a fellow Irish bloke, who lurked and presumably eavesdropped on our conversation about work for a few minutes before declaring us "The Most Depressing Nurses ever," and telling the bartender to please give us a drink.  In my defense...I am not a nurse.  In Siobhan's defense, she was quick to retort "Well the patients here bite sometimes."  True story.  Got us a second round delivered almost immediately.  This led to a fascinated and stupified Irish audience (and Australian because the bartender was fascinated too) as we discussed all the reasons why nursing in Bermuda may create a less fun nurse than say Florida (where were were told the nurses are very fun -- you listening Meg Noha?), and, not being a nurse, I think I contributed some good points.  Pretty sure the bartender just gave us the next round in sympathy.  So, for a not fun nurse, a not fun not nurse, plus an angry Irishmen (he says they are born that way) and an Ozzie bartender, fun was indeed had by all and we left later than planned.

The late departure meant I was not going to go to the hospital parking lot party.  And Siobhan got called into work on short notice so couldn't go (like that isn't depressing on its own).  The parking lot party was actually supposed to be the week before.  It had been cancelled due to inclement weather...that's what happens when you host parties outside in winter after all.  It was announced that it would be held the following week in the Botanical gardens which shares a property line with the hospital.  A few skeptics (funny ones too) suggested that the hospital may have actually just contracted us out to aerate the lawns with our heels.  We all paused and wondered how likely that was.  See...the parking lot party angst runs deep.  Somehow, they made 3rd change in the week and moved it to Pier 6, where I had never been.  By coffee break I had been convinced to go.  The email from management saying it was fine to attend in scrubs anytime between 5 and 10pm made it easier as well -- worst case scenario could roll in after work and grab some food, say hi to a few people, and carry on home.

Lanell and the Labbies Rocking It
I arrived, and the place was decorated very nicely, the food was again great, the company very nice, and one was given all the free wine or swizzle that their hearts desired.  The Rum Swizzle is one of Bermuda's official cocktails, a tasty rum punch, which the wise (me) chose to add some sprite to because they were very very strong that evening.   I do believe the establishment won back a few of their flock that evening.  And because it's Christmas in Bermuda, well mostly because it's Bermuda, there was a dance floor and before you knew it everybody was Electric Sliding and Wobbling all over the place.  The department was out in full force.  Even Lee was there, although I suspect he was just there waiting for the wardrobe malfunctions.  There were a few, possibly not the ones hoped for, and they were aaaaalll documented on smart phones for review Thursday morning.
Lee...sad at the lack of wardrobe malfunctions
As far as the dancing goes, Miley Cyrus should come down here and get a tutorial on how this thing is to be done.  In the Caribbean, club dancing has evolved in a way that I presume is so that your hands are free to hold your drinks.  Seeing one of my colleagues who knew how to dance in a sandwich (that I did not expect to see her in) caused me to throw up my arms and give her a "whhhhhhhaaaaaaaat?" look when I caught her eye.  She coyly looked over her shoulder and took a long slurp on her swizzle (held with 2 hands) and lifted and dropped her butt onto the frontal nether-regions of another colleague and casually wobbled off.  I only wish I had the moves.  Instead, I did the robot towards the door but ran into Albert and his nursing crew by the door.
What Happens When Labbies Let their LabCoats Down.
Albert had a little dance story of his own.  You see, he was touring Hollywood a couple of weeks ago and two old ladies stopped him on a hill and asked if they would consent to some photos.  As this scenario unfolds, one of the old ladies is Betty White, and apparently they were looking for some hot guys (quote unquote) to twerk with them which may be on an upcoming TV segment.  So while I was asking questions to fine tune this mental image of Albert twerking Betty White (freaking out Dev in Qatar on his 70 inch TV), it turns out that Albert was not the twerker, but the twerkee!!  I am not sure I am ready for this on TV.
Albert, soon to be dominated on world wide TV by Betty White, surrounded with his swizzles and stormies
I did eventually make it out, and swore to stay in and prepare for Christmas for the rest of the week.  Just as I got through the door at home I got the email from Phil asking if I would be attending the Friday night event of....The Twelve Bars of Christmas.  My Achilles Heel is that I said I would do everything this year that I had not yet really, I was honour bound to break my oath made minutes earlier and agree.

And so....on Friday was the 12 Bars of Christmas.  I was too weary to even bring a camera, but I certainly wish I would have.  In my wisdom, I decided to squeeze in a load of laundry after work and did not join the 12 Bars of Christmas until Bar 11, where I lined up a couple of non-alcoholic beer (my deception was quickly discovered by Hovi, who after 10 bars was still able to notice this in the dinginess of the pub in a crowd).  This late starting point gave me the advantage of both finishing, and being in the best position of observation of the antics.  No one, however, told me that it was a costume event...and so I sat sipping my O'Doull's amongst several slurring elves, some weaving reindeer, a Christmas tree, and several Santas.  Note to self...nothing is ever not going to require the camera from now on.  Everyone made it to Bar 12...The Beach, and no one really seemed to mind that I cheated by showing up very very late and not drinking alcohol.

So, that's excuse for non-productivity for the week, the Bermuda Christmas Party Season.  I hope you are all having a festive season, wherever you are, and should you hear the Electric Slide or The Wobble...think of us :)