Thursday, February 27, 2014


"I'm sorry, this blog is having technical difficulties, please return in a few days." I am far from a perfectionist, but as all lab techs, I am slightly OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I can exist happily in a whirlwind of paper and disorder, knowing full well where every piece of paper I have seen in the last 5-10 years is right now (even the ones in another country that were packed into boxes with haste for the move to Bermuda -- it never ceases to amaze my mother when I call looking for something on a piece of paper and tell her the precise location of the paper in relation to the other contents of a box, and where the box is, because I notice if they have moved since my last visit to her house). What drives me absolutley insane though, is the papers moving around. My coworkers love this. And so, some technical issues are preventing me from posting my photos in order, and we simply cannot have that. In addition to lacking a "v" key on my typewriter, which either fell prey to a rogue panther while I was at work or just plain wore out (I don't think I use the "v" key all that often, and Harry always looks guilty when I find him perched on the keyboard), as well as having s stubborn opposition to buying a new computer and paying the 25% duty to bring it to Bermuda for my last 4 months on the island, I am also not able to properly size the photos today, and have run out of time. I will also be visiting with a friend from Canada, and so I will throw my hands up in the air, find another cup of coffee, and promise to blog like a madwoman next week. You are free from my addicting ramblings until then. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Happy Dance (and Song)

I saw some of the snippets in the video being filmed around town.  The video has gone viral on youtube...thought I would share it today :)

UPDATE:  The song is by Pharrel Williams, this video is a local production to promote tourism using his song, but Pharrel wore a Bermuda shorts tuxedo to the Oscars...and was voted worst dressed on fashion police this week.  Bermuda is standing proud at the nod either way!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Beacon Hill and Beyond

I am still catching up on the Boston trip from a couple of weeks ago this morning.  The other thing I did with my spare time was take a walk around some parts of Boston that were not part of the Freedom Trail.  The aquarium is next to the harbour, and it was there that I found this beautiful least I think it's a girl because look at these eyes!!
such pretty eyes...looks like eyeliner!
Don't hate me because I'm beautiful
My hotel was in the Beacon Hill area, so I decided to walk up the hill and see if I could find an area with an old cemetery where, no sacrilege intended, my Australian friend Dev finally found enough snow by the gate to do his first ever snow angel in his life.  I didn't find it, but I did find some other neat things in the area.

From the archives of 2011...the aftermath of Dev meeting snow
Boston gets a little snow, and a little cold, but not as much as I a used to.  The intricate icicles gave me an idea of the heavy, wet snow that had fallen and begun to melt almost as quickly as it accumulated before freezing again.
art deco icicles
Wandering around streets like Beacon and Revere, I noticed a number of unique features in what I assume is a relatively affluent neighbourhood.
So Boston-esque!
I came across this lovely set of doors, and wondered who on earth used the second one?  The family midget?  UPDATE:  This may be a door for shovelling coal or wood into the fireroom as was done in Germany (suggestion by Jody Bevan...makes sense to me, although I like the midget idea too).

Mini-Me's house I presume
Another interesting thing in the construction was that several of the main doors to apartments were about 2 feet below sidewalk level.
Notice that the doors have to open inwards?
Despite being February, many of the doors were adorned with welcoming winter signs.
Christmas in February
Another welcoming doorstep. 
And an abundance of windowsills were set up for floral displays when the warmer weather would return.
I loved the contrast they chose with the red flowers and black windowsills...notice the Christmas lights strung in between
Nice strangers stopped and asked if I had seen some of the most popular streets for photography, over by willow street and all the tree named streets.  I followed their directions, petted Cookie who was dressed in her best for her walk, and headed to that area, but the snow made it not ideal.
Cookie, my new friend
The area is popularly photographed in the summer, when the vines that crisscross the walls are green and alive, and the cobblestones dance with moonlight.  Today, it was just a narrow snowy slope so I carried on.
I would like to see this building in the summer
The American patriotic spirit was on display.  I have to admit I respect the pride that Americans have in their national identity.  I wish the Canadian Flag was on display on more doorsteps and more buildings at home.  Both the Canadian and the Saskatchewan flag are flown on the farm in Saskatchewan...but the Saskatchewan winds don't allow a very long lifespan.

I enjoyed the old buildings, built in the attached style, with intricate balconies and windows.  After a while I headed down to Charles Street, which is an upscale, trendy area with a lot of little shops for souvenirs, framing, wine...and a couple of Starbucks...mixed in with the town's history.
Old style charm in upscale Boston (note the cameo of a spooky old tree creeping into frame)
Boston has that comfortable, small town feel, be it the old streets, the Ritz of Newberry, the calm of Boston Common, or the glam of downtown at the Prudential City.  It will always have a special place in my heart.
Just down the way from Starbucks on Charles street....

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Boston Aquarium

I realize how much stuff I do when I sit down to go over two weeks of pictures and it takes me a whole evening.  The oldest pictures that I had not yet reviewed were from a couple of weeks ago in Boston.  I guess I can tie in Boston to the Bermuda blog for the following reasons:

1.  There is a daily flight between Bermuda and Boston.  This makes it a possible stopover for anyone travelling to Bermuda on Delta that would like to take a day or two to experience Boston and some American history as well.  If you stay in Bermuda long enough, you will likely overnight in Boston at some point, and it's a great city to explore and enjoy.

2.  Referring back to the medical system, Bermuda has a partnership with medical facilities in Boston including the Lahey Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham Women's Hospital and Boston Children's Hospital.  Many Bermuda residents will be referred to Boston for various medical conditions and treatments in their lifetime.

3.  It's my blog, and therefore where I go, the blog goes, but we keep coming back to Bermuda.

On previous trips to (and blogs about) Boston, I walked the Freedom Trail, Boston Common, went to the Top of the Hub for cocktails, did some shopping at Copley Plaza and the Prudential system, and photographed all the historic buildings I could make my way to.  So on this trip I decided to look for things a little bit different to do.  I made it to the bar "Cheers" for some chicken wings and a seasonal Sam Adams beer (brewed in Boston of course).  I did some shopping at the Quincy Market.  I googled "oldest restaurant in Boston" and came up with the Union Oyster House, est 1826.

Old...but not as old as Bermuda's Tom Moore's Tavern.  I met up with Cherie and Lisa, and although they made a killer cornbread that they served while waiting on the main course, everyone was pretty quiet about the food, and sadly, 188 years practice was not long enough for them to perfect the flavours.  I was a little disappointed about the blandness of my food and the accompanying sauces...but to be fair, none of us ordered seafood, which presumably they serve up much better at being an an oyster house and all.  I would have liked to try the lobster, but they only serve it whole.  I am too cowardly to look my meal in the face.  It was nice to see a couple of Bermuda ex-expats all the same.

I had hoped to do the Ghost Tours of Boston...they advertise "follow in the footsteps of the Boston Strangler," and I envisioned wonderful spooky night photos on old cobblestone streets with spooky old trees (because almost every tree in Boston is a spooky old's kind of strange actually, I kept expecting to see Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman around every corner).  The ghost tours only start in April.  While -8 C heralds spring in Canada, it is a little too cold for Bostonians.  The "Duck tours" which is a water based tour is also cancelled in the winter.  This I understand, as cold wind on the water really does feel too cold for fun for me.  So I settled on going to the Boston Aquarium.  It is not a huge facility, but it is really nice, with a 4 story fish tank and a good penguin and fur seal display.
Hi Nemo!
Now Nemo was hiding out in one of the smaller side tanks.  He would have been a crouton or other hors d'oveur in the big tank.  The big tank was host to this absolutely massive fellow.

Turtlesaurus rex
Turns out the turtle is over 90 years old.  She was born in the wild, and I missed the presentation that said how and why she ended up at the aquarium.  Hopefully she doesn't mind this big tank too much.

The tanks was also host to a couple of stingray, and several main course fish the size of my torso which I cannot identify, not being a big fish person.  What I didn't really see until I viewed the photos was that some of them were emitting a bit of "current".
Super speedy fish
After a thorough exam of the fish tank, I headed off to the fur seal display.  The giant male looks way different that the little bald headed seals, which are the females and pups.
The Mac-Daddy of seals
The little ones were quite funny to watch
No Papparazzi!
Look ma!  I'm the Loch Ness Monster!
Surveying the rest of the aquarium I found a few other things.  I don't know what this is but I am pretty sure we found the missing link.
Seriously, what is this and how many legs does it have because it certainly didn't swim while I was there.  UPDATE:  Jody tells me this is a Halibut and I have probably eaten one.  I hope not.  I would feel bad.
And some pretty glow in the dark jellyfish.
And finally, the Aquarium's most famous character...the penguins.  There are 3 types, which I was unable to document because penguins apparently do not like to sit still.

Has anyone seen Mr. Popper?
Mt. Popper?  Are you down there?
When penguins prepare for smack down..."Which of you has Mr. Popper?"
As you can tell, the aquarium is an amusing place to spend a few hours.  I recommend you stop in if you are in Beantown.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Neighbourhood Pub -- Flanagans

I found my neighbourhood pub shortly after arriving on this rock.  In fact, the day after I arrived in Bermuda I needed to stop by my new employer and check in.  It was a Sunday in May, so it was a very short check in.  After that I made my way to Hamilton, or "town" as I would come to know it, looking for a place for lunch.  Right on Front Street, across from the harbour, I noticed a sign saying "Flanagan's Irish Pub."  Everyone loves an Irish pub, I thought to myself, but I want to find something authentic, something Bermudian.  I did eventually come across a place with a more seafaring name, and upon entry the first sign I noticed said that patrons involved in brawls were subject to a ban from the premises.  "Everyone loves and Irish pub," I thought to myself again as I backtracked to the place that originally caught my eye.

I was met at the door but a friendly face with a big smile.  I asked if I could sit outdoors on the patio and he said of course, and for how many people?  Just me, I said.  He stopped and looked at me.  "Just you?  Don't you have any friends?"  "No," I said in a voice that probably came out a little small.  "I just moved here."  He gave me a big grin, shook my hand, asked where I was from, introduced himself as Dionne one of the owners, and took me to my table.  "Wait right here Canada."  When he came back, he gave me a personal introduction to my waitress, sent over because she was from Canada too.  A couple of weeks later I returned with my new flatmate and he burst into a huge grin when I walked through the door , "You made a friend!" he exclaimed, making me feel both welcome and at home.

That's Flanagan's.  It may be an Irish pub, but it is authentic Bermudian.

Flanagan's is one of those places that fills up with both regulars and tourists.  It is the old faithful of meeting places.  When many restaurants and diners are closed on Sundays, or those pesky hours of between 2 and 6, Flanagan's is a place you can always go to get a bite to eat.  The menu has a wide selection of pub fare, and has as much variation as it's clientele.  Fish 'n Chips, Indian style curries, Asian stir fry's, local caught fish, steak, Guinness steak pie, pizza, and more.  The bartenders are sliding bottles down to the regular customers who frequent the corner, and mixing up rum swizzles, pina colada's, and mudslides for the tourists.  Either, Anthony, Bryan, Jamie, Trottie, and of course Robbie and Dionne will always there with a greeting and a hello.  And in the corner you might find an Eileen, a George, a Lizzie, a Steve and Aidrie, the elusive Lenny, an Andy, maybe a Jenny, a Siobhan, or an Albert.  It's kind of like the old sitcom, Cheers...but in Bermuda.

Flanagan's caters to its customers as well.  Because this morning was the Olympic gold medal hockey game between Canada and Sweden, I woke up to a text about the first goal, and remembered that Flanagan's would be opening at 0800 for the Canadians and the hockey fans on the island.  They also throw a Grey Cup party, and a Superbowl party.  St. Patrick's Day is typically standing room only.  Nascar race days.  Stanley Cup playoffs.  Anything really.  In fact, I recall watching attending a champagne breakfast to watch Prince Harry and Kate Middleton exchange wedding vows.

I wondered what a good theme song would be for Flanagan's, and the first thing I thought of was an old song from Sesame Street.  "These are the people in your neighbourhood, they're the people that you meet, when you're walking down the street, they're the people that you meet, each day!"
One will almost always run into a familiar face there, and some of the regulars are recognized by returning tourists over time.  As a tourist, it is the warm and friendly kind of place that you want to return back to.  When my sister and some other friends visited, if I couldn't find them, chances were they had returned to Flanagan's for one more pina colada or mudslide on the trip.  Quite often the tourists stay a bit to talk to the locals, or stop by the following day to tell their new friends about their adventures on the island.  The person next to you that strikes up a conversation might be from England, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, Australia, Czech Republic, America -- on Friday I had a great conversation with a lady next to me from Jersey...whose niece is from the TV show Jersey Shore.  That was a fun conversation let me tell you.  The other day we were chatting with a lovely Canadian fellow, who was just stunned to have met a "cat lady nurse who skydives."  I know, why does everyone think I am a nurse?

Anyway, as the rain comes down, I am happy to be at home, indoors and dry.  I suspect a few are down at the friendly neighbourhood pub, and based on the sound of that downpour there will be time for many great tales and much laughter.

Friday, February 21, 2014

I'm just waiting for something wonderful to happen

Every once in a while someone says something perfectly memorable.  The other night I met with a group of friends.  We were catching up, the conversations ranging from how everyone's work week was, to family, upcoming plans, basic life stuff.  Out of nowhere, one of my absolutely fabulous friends let out a little sigh and said dreamily "I'm just waiting for something wonderful to happen to me."  Of course we pounced all over her with wisecracks and laughter, but it is something I am going to always remember.

We had not been talking about any one topic in particular.  Her comment wasn't focussed on striking it rich, finding Prince Charming, taking dream vacations, or anything at all in particular.  I think it was said a bit wistfully, but not out of dissatisfaction with anything in the present, nor with expectation of anything in the future.  Just a little bit of faith that something incredible is out there, something not yet dreamed of or spoken aloud, but something wonderful is certainly coming.  Life.  That's the way to face it I think.

I wondered, "Am I waiting for something wonderful to happen to me?"  And if I am, what on earth is it?  After a day of pondering, this is what I have come up with.  Wonderful things keep happening to me all the time.  Every time I stop to examine a flower, I see something wonderful.

Every time I walk near the beach, I am wonderstruck.

And every once in a while, something will happen like this little parrot reaching out to hold my finger.
Adorable parrot
Catches me off guard by reaching out with his foot to grab my hand
And I was so wonderfully excited that this lovely little man wanted to hold my hand...that I didn't have time to aim the camera
I think my wonderful something isn't big, bold, or life changing.  It's a compilation of the little things that stir my soul.  I guess I am waiting for something wonderful to happen to me.  Something a little wonderful, something every day.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Not Right Now

I am still feeling a little emotionally drained after the other day.  After work yesterday I put my favorite 7km track under my feet, as a walk or run always helps.  I should say that the only awesome part of the whole 7km is the halfway point, Elbow Beach.  I stop for just a couple of minutes on the stairs and listen to the waves and stare at one of my favorite places anywhere, and then turn and head for home.
Elbow Beach as seen from my beach towel (not today, I don't jog with cameras)
After that I tried a non-natural mental detox...a glass of wine and Project Runway.  Perhaps that should be called the re-tox detox.  I suspect the jog was better for me, so I stuck with that after work today.  I have loads of pictures to upload, more stories to tell, but I am just not there yet.  Tomorrow, I will do a proper blog.  Today, I will just explain my feelings through a picture of my cat...because I have been so good so far about not dedicating entire blogs to my cat(s).  Today, Lexi says it best.

Whatever you are suggesting today, the answer is...I think not.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Jaycena

Today marks 21 years from the day I became an Aunt.  When Jaycena was born I did not have a lot of experience with kids.  I had been the last child in my family, and never had little brothers and sisters to boss around or look out for.  I was away at University and so she was a few weeks old when I got to meet her.  She had big eyes and a lopsided grin, and already hated it when her mother tried to style the little bit of hair that she did have.  It took many many years, but she eventually developed a fondness for the curling iron, much like her mother, that I would have never expected in those early days.  She was really the first baby I ever really got to spend time with, other than a few babysitting attempts that ended with the parents of the kids gently explaining how I had put the diapers on backwards on their children in the few hours that they were out.  I was just barely out of high school when she was born, and so I grew up alongside her, both as aunt and adult.  The very first time I had her all to myself I snuggled her into my arms in a way I could look her in the eye, and I instantly loved her more than I had ever understood could be possible.  I knew everyone in our family felt the same way, and everyone else lived closer to home and could see her virtually whenever they wanted to.  The only ace up my sleeve was this.  I looked at her big baby eyes and told her that pretty much everyone else was married or had significant others, but I wasn't, so I maybe I would love her more than anybody else.  It was a stupid thought.  Life and love don't work that way, there is always room for more love and that never takes away from any other love, as I found out as I started accumulating more nieces and nephews.  I know each person in our family loved her to an indescribable depth.  But maybe she understood what I meant, because she always made me feel 100% loved as well.  I know each member of our family  formed unique and special bonds with this little person who showed up and changed everything forever.
As she learned to toddle around and talk, she lit up the room.  Grandpa was so happy to have the TV room to himself after all of his kids finally moved out that he went to the city and bought some behemoth TV (seriously, I think it's 70 inches or something).  In no time, it became like a Roman amphitheatre for 2 year old Jaycena, standing there staring up at Barney, the giant purple dinosaur.  She loved TV.  She would ask to hit play over and over, and to this day I still know the words to some of the Barney songs.  (And the bird in the egg, and the egg in the nest, and the nest on the branch, and the branch on the tree, and the tree in the hole, and the hole in the dirt, and the dirt on the ground, and the green grass grows all around all around, and the green grass grows all around).

Jaycena brought our close family closer.  Grandparents and Uncles would drive out to visit if her parents had not been out enough that week.  It was not uncommon for them to see each other 3 or 4 times a week even though they lived 45 minutes apart.  She was a flower girl when my oldest brother got married, gingerly stepping down the aisle with her stuffed bunny under one arm as she never let that thing out of her sight.  When her little brother was born, she watched over him carefully, as she did with all other children.  Other kids and younger kids were always drawn to her.  She would always be the careful one, somehow coordinating all of the fun, and she could always be trusted to not get in trouble.  I remember trying to cross the street at the crosswalk in the city with her once and she let out a shriek and refused to go.  With big toddler eyes she looked up and said "Mom says I must never go onto the road."  I explained how this was a crosswalk and we were allowed, and that the red means we cannot cross but the green man comes on we can go.  When it turned to green again after our chat, I stepped out into the road, her little hand in mine, expecting her to follow, but instead got a shriek...and was told again that "Mom says no."  In the end, I had to pick her up and run through the crosswalk, her shrieking in protest the whole way.  She would never do the wrong this, she just wasn't designed that way.

I have never seen such a responsible and wise young girl.  In a way, we were just used to her being a little wiser than her years.  Every once in a while when I was immersed in my life far away in the city I would get a phone call and hear a little voice on the other end asking me when I was coming home.  She would know exactly when my last trip was and when it had been too long.  "I don't know, when should I come home?"  And she would tell me that it was a long weekend in two weeks and she had an extra day off of school, and have made the plans in advance.  On one of those trips I was drove to my sister's to pick her up and was driving back with her to her Grandma's after dark.  Having not travelled the back roads for many years, I wasn't sure where the turn off was on the secondary gravel backroads -- it was a shortcut I was not used to.  I asked my little passenger if she knew which road went to Grandma's.  She peered out over the dashboard, and when I asked if maybe it was the next one she nodded.  We followed the road for about 10 miles and it ended in a dead end in a field.  She looked over and up at me, and I could see a little bit of panic rising as she said dramatically  "We're lost....and you're almost out of gas!!!"  Sure enough, the fuel light had gone on about a mile or two back and she had noticed.  "We're gonna dieeee!"  I laughed, and said we would just head back and it would be fine...but added "I thought you knew the road to Grandma's"  She shot me a look and wailed "I'M ONLY SEVEN YEARS OLD!"  Touche.  She just always seemed so aware, I sometimes forgot how little she was.

Was, I said.  You see, Jaycena was killed in a car accident on March 28, 2009.  Her friends Laramie and Brooke died with her.  Jaycena and Laramie were 16, Brooke was only 14.  As they turned off the main highway, a 17 year old boy who was speeding and driving on the wrong side of the highway marker took all three of them away from us.  Someone asked me once if I had forgiven him.  I stopped to think and replied that I had never had to concern myself with that, as he has never said he was sorry.  I think people assume that to be bitterness, but really, all of my emotions are spent on love and grief for the girls, there just isn't anything left to feel when it comes to the boy.

Jaycena, Laramie, and Brooke
Jaycena, Laramie, and Brooke had many things in common.  They were all exceptionally pretty girls.  They were all high spirited, all of them funny.  All three were in different schools, yet all three were known to be the one with the mischievous grin, the one with the most energy and spunk, all three had many friends.  Note that I say friends as opposed to popular.  While they were indeed popular, they seemed to know innately that friendship was more important than popularity, and they had each touched so, so many lives.

I often talk about Jaycena when she was quite little, but at 16 she was an incredible little lady.  Sometimes teased for never getting very tall, she had a huge personality.  The tributes given by her friends spoke volumes about who she was, and had always been.  Kind, smart, funny, genuine...the kind of friend who would hold your hand and help you face your fears.  The kind of personality a teacher knows is too big to easily contain in a classroom, but is also too positive to actually scold.  She was a girl who made things happen.  She loved animals.  She loved photography.  She taught me how to take a selfie, and it was her photos that inspired me to pick up a camera on my own and try to capture beauty as she did.  I could use endless words and never paint the picture clearly enough, never touch on he hundreds of stories I want to tell, and never articulate the possibilities she was denied.  And so I thought I would scatter pictures through the blog that she took, choreographed, or edited.  A glimpse of the talent she had.  A tiny sense of what has been taken.  All of these photos are hers.

The world would be a markedly different place if she were still here.  It would be a better place for everyone who ever knew her, for I know she is grieved very deeply by many people still.  I sometimes feel that we are all still connected -- be it that a piece of her lives on in our hearts, or that because so much of our hearts went where she went that we are connected with something barely tangible, but very real.  And so I feel that she knows we are celebrating her birthday today still.

It marked the beginning of the best of times.  It takes me back to a time when I didn't know there would be an end to the best of times.

Happy 21st Birthday in Heaven.  Still love you today, always, and forever </3

"Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of the heaven, blossomed the lovely stars,
the forget-me-nots of the angels."  -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, February 17, 2014

Got My Head in the Clouds

Two days off have flown by again.  I can't help but wonder where they went, and feel a like my head must have been in the clouds.  To be fair, there have been a lot of good clouds to commune with lately (and I mean that both literally and metaphorically).
Blue skies and palm trees beckon my Canadian soul to venture outside
I seem to be taking more photos than I have time to process, and doing more than I have time to commit to writing even when blogging daily.  After a slack January, even though February has seen torrential rain and cold winds that left my fingers almost too numb after the scooter ride to the beach to push the buttons on the camera, I still have a renewed source of energy and motivation this month.  Clearly, I am solar powered.
I liked how the hues of dusk reflected in these windows
This series of photos was STILL part of the day of roaming around that started back at the Botanical Gardens with the ducks.  It was a good day for taking photos.  All day long I had noticed the clouds.  The skies have always called to me, with their colors and the ever changing shapes of clouds.  They are the backdrop and foreground of every good day.
Facing away from the sun the sky catches the pinks and purples
I came to this point to catch the sunset.
Facing it directly catches the golds and reds of the sun setting on Hamilton
It seemed like every time I put the camera in the bag, there was another cloud to chase, or another moment of unusual light.
This tall cloud was good at reflecting light on the water
Sometimes my thoughts are just as scattered as light.  I find being outside, taking photos, going for a jog, that's when all of the jumbled thoughts slowly filter down into organized patterns and plans.  Sunshine and fresh air are my therapy.
I kind of felt a part of this scene
Maybe it's just that when you are looking at skies like this, there isn't really much else worth thinking about.  Every once in a while it's good to disconnect from work, the to do list, and just sit back and watch the clouds roll by.

Dusk at the ferry terminal
Yup, life in Bermuda isn't too bad.