Friday, September 29, 2006

sassy smoochie

Since our GA visit, Hubby's niece, Smoochie has been keeping in touch with us via email & Google talk. She's only six but a regular internet hog. This child can send emails left right & center & neatly typed out too. Her brother, ThePoser - not so computer attached. He'd much rather spend his free time in front of the tube. But when they're both online they sing us the funniest songs (our favourite - The Rum Song, which I am trying to post on the blog), they say the darndest things & just make us laugh. Since they've both been back at school it's not often that we get to chat with them of late. Bedtime routine commences 20:00 EST.

However, last night Smoochie was online. Ordinarily, she'd send us an email & just wait for her inbox to reflect our reply & in the meantime bombard her mom with questions - "Have they replied yet? Why are they not replying? What's taking them so long?" Last night she just waited.

She asked her mom: "Well, what are they doing to make them too busy to be online?"

Smoochie's mom (after a hearty laugh): "You know not everyone has time to be on the computer all the time."

Smoochie says all
exasperated: "It's not like they have a little baby or a dog to take care of."

To which Smoochie's mom laughs again & then proceeded to ignore her because she had had enough of the smart sassy comments from the six year old. So where was I?
I am sorry to say it was my TV night (what with ABC's prime time lineup: Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy & then followed by 6o & ER on at the same time - sheesh). I didn't bother to go online all evening & understandably she was very upset we weren't showing up.

Oh, but I love her sassiness. A woman needs to be sassy in order to make her mark in the so called man's world. The younger they start the better. Go Smoochie!

Smoochie's also not afraid of bossing her older brother around: "Smoochie", I say, "You can't boss him around like that. He's older than you." She retorts with her usual sassiness. "Well, only by a year!" Well, whatdya say to that?

She said one morning: "I notice I'm wearing a lot of skirts." (Never mind that her mom lays out her clothes for her - everyday!).

Looks tough doesn't she? That's cause she is!

Alright, Sassy Smoochie, where are you today? Why are you not online? I'm waiting!

Monday, September 25, 2006

man of war

It's been a while since we've hit the water so we decided to grace the beach with our presence this weekend. I had my snorkel gear packed, all revved up to go see my fish friends. The hot sun & aqua water hues were a perfect invitation for locals & tourists alike. Except I don't think the ocean was in a mood for people. It had it's defense all lined up - jellyfish & this infested water was a big deterrent. These, however, are the regular Moon jellyfish. Are there a worse kind, you ask? Sure are.

Introducing the Portuguese Man of War jellyfish. These are the ones to avoid. They invade our shores when the weather is stormy or when the waters have been unusually rough. At times they wash up on the shore & all you can see are these blue shaped balloons. The Portuguese Man of War has tentacles that can grow up to 150 feet. And this is what you want to stay away from.
LadyBug got stung by a Man of War tentacle last year. This was the first time we met them - at the beach & we were casually chatting until she thought she scraped her foot on a rock & got out. Soon her leg started to get numb & she had to go to the emerg. room. They fixed her up & then proceeded to tell her that had she been there yesterday she would have seen a diver who was brought in with Man of War tentacles wrapped around his chest. This can cause a heart attack & can be fatal. Lucky him, he survived.

LadyBug always jokes that after the numbness wore off, the
circulation in her left leg has never been better & is wondering how she can get her right foot stung, bypass the pain & inconvenience in an attempt to even out the circulation. I say we revisit the war zone before she abandons us in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

the L word

One thing we have had to get used to in Bermuda is driving on the left hand side of the road. Well, I don't drive the scooter but Hubby does. I refuse to drive one here. Especially when I see the crazy drivers on the roads. Or maybe it's because every female Cdn expat I know that has driven a scooter has met with an accident & some with serious injuries. So I refuse to become a part of those statistics.

Driving cars is no fun either but you're better in one as opposed to a scooter. As I've mentioned before, most roads here are a lane each. Friends tell me the one thing that they have had to get used to is driving closer to the yellow line that divides the direction of traffic. With both sides of traffic having doing the same it's no party.

Bermuda does have a lot of curvy roads & even though the speed limit is 35kms it can be a little daunting when looks like your side mirror is going to tag the side mirror from oncoming traffic. People really can't stick to their own side of the lane because on the other side of their respective yellow line are these Bermuda stone walls. More often than not its foliage or palm trees. Hibiscus flowers or stonewalls line the roads at every turn, every corner and every path. So if you're driving too close to your side you can bet your car going to have a lot of scratches. Those rocky stonewalls can inflict a lot of damage.

Often we see some cars or trucks ahead of us with a sign posted on their bumper with a big red L. I'd think: Oh how nice that they're reminding us to stay on the left side of the road. Or so I thought for the longest time. Months later a friend mentioned that he spent an afternoon helping his fiancé’s grandma do up the L signs, all precise with a ruler. I laughed & said: Oh so you're one of those, having to remind us to stick to the left side. He looked at me with a blank expression then burst out laughing saying: it's more to warn people that the L is to indicate that they're a 'Learner'. Ha! He sure did burst my bubble!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

not duty free

I've mentioned before about how expensive laundry detergent is over here. It's not the only item. Almost everything in Bermuda is expensive due to shipping costs & duties. So both locals & expats alike stock up necessities & anything else when they're in the US or Canada. Some locals specifically make trips to the US to garner some savings that would otherwise be eaten up in Bermuda.

But you won't get off scott free with your suitcases laden with goods. Your duty bound to pay up when you get to Bermuda. Most residents know to line up & pay up before they pick up their bags & head over to customs. To make the process smoother the government recently imposed a flat 25% duty on all goods. Whether or not you will be checked at customs is predetermined at Immigration. And when I say checked I mean it. They will open every single bag of yours & go through all your stuff (with gloves on of course) to ensure that all your pretty purchases are accounted for. So it is a good idea to hang on to all your receipts. A 25% duty may seem a lot but it's still worth it especially when
Bermuda stores lack the variety & the amazing price point that you will be guaranteed to find off the island.

But in reality no one really claims all of what they've bought. We always fudge amounts as does everyone I am sure because sometimes customs really do go overboard. Here's one area where we need them to slack off & not be over zealous about their job. We heard about this one instance where the customs dog began sniffing this guy's golf clubs. So the customs officer cut off the drivers (not one but all of them) to make sure it was not packed with any sort of illegal substance. Of course it wasn't but customs nonchalantly handed his clubs sans drivers back to him. The poor guy must have been mad with rage. Heck I'd be too. Those things cost a pretty penny. Were they expecting him to super glue the drivers back to the clubs? Guess he didn't go golfing as planned!

Monday, September 18, 2006

henna time

I have tons of greys. It's a well known fact. It all started when I was about 10. It's hereditary, I've been told. I was also told NOT to pull them out because if you do they come back with a vengeance. I should have listened because it's true. You get rid of one and 10 more will show up for its funeral!

After years of using commercial hair dye, I switched back to henna about nine months ago. Also known as Mehndi, Henna is very popular in India & the Middle East both for body decoration & for hair uses. It's all natural, a great conditioner & hair growth promoter. The only place I know to get it from is Dubai. Family & friends offer to send some or bring it over when they're visiting themselves. My dad's friends recently flew from Dubai to NJ & took the cruise over to Bermuda. They kindly bought me a stash of henna. Unfortunately, they were docked on the other end of the island & we were not able to meet up with them. Since they were in close proximity to one of LadyBug's many work locations, I asked if they could drop it off there.

Of course, it happened so fast that I didn't get a chance to inform LadyBug what it was. So when she picked it up she was informed that it smelled funny. She took a peek and said: Oh, it's Henna. Imagine her surprise when she was told that it's illegal to bring powdered henna into Bermuda. Her co-worker even gave showed her list & henna was actually on it. This I find ridiculous because they always have henna tattoo stalls at Harbour Nights every Wednesday during the summer. That list must be older than the Queen & has not been updated in eons when maybe back in the day Henna may have been mistaken for weed! Thats the only thing LadyBug & I could come up with.

I have come across many websites selling henna in America & the prices are highway robbery. And beware of those various henna colours because chemicals have been added to produce the variety of colours. Pure natural henna can only produce red colour results and a midnight black when mixed with indigo. Henna from Dubai costs a mere pittance compared to the stuff they sell on websites & it's nothing but pure goodness.

This past weekend I had a Tandoori BBQ/Henna Party for my Bermuda girlfriends using up my stash of Indian henna. Here are some of the designs we did on each other. After a couple of tries we all got the hang of it. It was a lot of fun & certainly addictive. The food was fun & the company was fabulous. Can't wait for the next one!

Friday, September 15, 2006

here's proof !

Hurricane photos are up on the Royal Gazette. Check it out now before they're gone!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

the ick factor

There is a certain something I don't like about Bermuda & didn't have to deal with until coming here. It's a hate commonly shared by many on the island. Some deal with it better than most but most I know don't like to deal with it at all. This is the one species that should be extinct. Before you get all Steve Irwin on me, you should know that it can survive a nuclear bomb (of all things!) or if rendered headless can stay alive for three weeks before dying of starvation. Are you grossed out yet? There's a reason this post is appropriately titled.

It's the dreaded cockroach & the ones here are huge & the females can bloody fly. Most of them live outside which is great but no matter how immaculate you keep your place you will find the ODD ONE somehow against all odds invading your home. We are lucky enough that we have only had the odd one come in.
And that's when nip it in the bud. Kill the one & the others will dare not come in.

Sprays like Raid or Baygon work best. Some of you may have never heard of Baygon & rightly so. This highly potent roach spray is banned in North America but readily available in the UK, Asia & Middle East. And apparently also in Bermuda. But a little common sense should prevail when engaging in the Baygon/ roach war. You can't be hanging about your home once you have let Baygon saturate the air. Close shop for at least an hour, they say. Some people wonder why they have a pounding headache when they haven't bothered to stay clear from the fumes until it's worn off a bit. And it's definitely not safe to use if you have pets.

It's about to get ickier! And don't even think you can avoid the spray by getting slipper/shoe happy with the roach. If it's a female one you've just smacked then you can bet the eggs, if any have gone flying around the room. You are blissfully unaware of this fact until someone lets you in on the roach survival tactics. Defensive little buggers even in death, aren't they? So now you know!

Oh, I have heard of stories that will raise the ick factor to another level but I am grossed out enough as it is. I will say this, I prefer frogs & lizards to roaches any day. The frogs eat the roaches & the lizards eat the mosquitoes. But the island's frogs have decreased from 5 years past due to increased traffic that has contributed to frog roadkill. Oh why can't it be roach roadkill. Those miserable creatures. Oh, how I love putting them out of their misery when they encroach on my territory. Bring it on!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

neighbourhood kids

We live in a neighbourhood where the grassy cul-de-sac becomes a playground for the kids in the area. There are the two local boys in the house on our right, who love playing football. Hubby & SharkBoy have christened the oldest one Pelé - because like the football player, he's quite good & also because they can't seem to remember his name. For that matter neither can I.

Also, just down the road from us are a couple of young local girls & not too far from them, a boy who was one day caught casually destroying foliage around Ms.StopYourNoise's property. He did a lot of damage & needless to say, he is now banned from coming anywhere near the house! Opposite them are two Indian kids who have been in Bermuda for a while. The boy is about six & is cute as can be. Their dad works at one of cafes that Hubby & I sometimes lunch at - a connection we only came across recently. Yeah I know, small island.

These kids are ever ready to entertain & be entertained. They would rather watch Hubby & SharkBoy work out. I was once helping Hubby with his kickboxing & had on these huge boxing padded gloves. As I looked down I could see the kids up to no good & clapped the gloves together & yelled - 'Hey come on'. They took that as an invitation to come up to our yard and there they were lining up so they could try some boxing moves of their own. Sometimes we give 'em candy - Werthers to be precise. Reminds me of when I was a kid where someone's mom or the other would always be handing some kind of sweet thing at playtime. We were a lot of kids back then!

We have been keeping in touch with the kids, ThePoser & Smoochie in Georgia & talk to them often. Today is ThePoser's b’day. HAPPY B'DAY KIDDO! He also shares this day with my co-worker, a cousin & a friend in Aussie & another friend in T. That's a lot of birthday e-cards to send out for one day!

Monday, September 11, 2006

lobster police

Oh, it turned out to be such a beautiful evening yesterday. The ocean took on a pale blue as the rain & winds died down. Once we saw how pretty it looked we had to go down for a drive to Devonshire Bay. One of the smallest beaches if you can call it that, but a popular spot for fisherman to sell their catch, which as of this month also includes lobsters.

Lobster season is here! Yay! We will be sure to scout those fisherman so we can bring home a lobster this year. It'll be pricey but so worth every penny. Last year, LadyBug graciously gave us one and it was delish! Boiled to
perfection in just 12 minutes, accompanied with some garlic butter - yum doesn't even begin to describe it.

If by chance you do catch a lobster, you're to throw it back, unless you have a lobster fishing license or you'd be shelling a hefty fine of $2,000 USD. Even if you do have a license you are permitted to have no more than 2 lobsters in your freezer, at any time. We've heard of some that have caught one & not thrown it back or a certain licensed someone who last season had eight in his freezer. I bet they're not expecting the lobster police to actually show up on their doorstep checking to see if they comply. If we ever catch one, we're keeping it. And if who so ever wants to arrest us, alls I can say is that they better have a warrant!

bye bye flory

So Flory has passed us by. She was supposed to hover directly over us & wreak havoc but decided to veer off the the left as a Category 1. So all we've had is strong winds & heavy rain. For now though it's dying down & I hope it continues on that same trend. Most people are without power due to the strong winds that has knocked out power lines. Lucky for us, Ms.StopYourNoise has underground power cables, so we're ok for now. And thankful too.

We also managed to break through the duct tape barring our doors. Free at last. Ha, not like we can go anywhere. Yet! We've been told to lay off the streets. GoraGuy actually went into work. SharkBoy & LadyBug have guests from home that landed on the last flight in on Saturday before the airport shutdown. Oh it's just bad timing.

In other news, we are expecting a tropical depression, named Seven to hit us by Thursday.
I guess that would mean more wind & rain. When will the madness stop?

Maybe another day off? I sure hope so.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

so we're trapped

Most split apartments here have sliding doors as the main door, complete with locks. But we had to get used to that idea, especially since we have always been used to solid door. Our doors are these proper sliding storm doors & it's great as it lets a lot of light in. In prep for a hurricane we still have to be cautious & run masking tape in an X pattern so IF anything does hit the doors they won't shatter, which is not likely as all our stuff has been stowed away. See pic for our handiwork.

Even though we have a covered patio, Ms.StopYourNoise's bf duct-taped the bottom of our sliding doors on the outside to keep the rain from coming in due to the strong winds. He promised to leave one door untaped. He did such a great job that now we can't open our untaped door because of the duct tape on the bottom of other door. Damn duct tape running interference!
So we're stuck inside until the hurricane's done & the taped has been removed.
Ms.StopYourNoise called to check up on us. We told her we need to be let out when this is all over or we can't report to work. And wouldn't that be a shame?

An update on Florence: she's still expected at around 8am Monday morning. The wind has started to pick up now. On the plus side - No work tomorrow so it's another long weekend. Yeah Baby!

Friday, September 08, 2006

baten down the hatches

It's hurricane season. Unlike the Carribean, Bermuda is protected by the Gulf Stream so most hurricanes don't really come close to Bermuda as they hit the southern US. Bermuda, however, does get it's share of fun mayhem & the pattern for hurricane hits is about once every three years. Fabian hit Bermuda in 2003 & so we are just about due for one this year.

And here it comes - we are expecting Hurricane Florence to pass right over us by Monday. It did change its course in the last 48 hours & we're hoping it continues doing so for the next 48, unless it goes in turbo drive before it has a chance to change course. No, lets not think about that. For now it is projected to be moving further to the east but just in case, everyone's getting ready, stocking up on water, canned food, batteries & people securing their boats that are scattered around the various harbours on the island. For us newbies it's soaking up information & listening to the pros about their past hurricane experiences & funny stories. It's all that anyone's talking about.

There's really nothing to worry about.
Bermuda houses are built to withstand hurricane weather. These houses are built strong & sturdy & the worst that will happen is that you may loose bits of your roof. This has been the case in the past. The best thing that one can do is stay inside. 2003's hurricane Fabian claimed four lives. All because they were out on the causeway (a low narrow bridge like road that connects the airport to the rest of the island.

We have been keeping track of Florence on the sharkoil website. Stay tuned for the aftermath. Right now it's the lull before the storm. It's a beautiful hot sunny day today & you wouldn't think there's a hurricane lurking around the corner.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

amnesty month

I had once told Hubby I wouldn't consider moving to Bermuda if it didn't have a library. The Bermuda National Library, located in town can't compare to the Fairview Toronto Library at home. BUT it's got a slew of books, enough of a supply for me to read for the time we are here. It’s a good thing too or I would have gone insane in the months while I was waiting for Hubby's full work permit to come through. It was only after that that I would be legally allowed to look for work. Needless to say, the library kept me going. While its size & content is not comparable to Toronto’s, the Bermuda library does designate certain months as Amnesty Month.

I went in today to renew some books & to pay off fines. My mom's definitely going to say something about this. She'd get mad when I had fines on my account. Hey, Mom: Do you remember how you'd pay a fee per book we borrowed from the private libraries in Dubai during the summer? The way I see it, fines are a small price to pay for being able to borrow the number of books I read during the year, in Toronto or Bermuda. And this does not even include magazines, DVD's or CD's. But I'm sure she'll get my drift now & I hope I won't hear a word about my Bermuda fines, eh mom ?

Anyway, when I went in to pay my fines, the librarian said: 'Oh, we are not charging fines this month'. This, my friends, is what Amnesty Month is all about where fines are barely a blimp on your account & you won't penalized for hoarding that one book you should have returned ages ago. Now if only every library did the same. They may just loose big bucks in the process & then where would we be?