Finding Zen

Finding Zen

After spending a few minutes this morning scrolling through social media on which I marked articles on The Hague, SmartPhone AddictionAllowing Students Freedom of Choice in Reading, and a Zen Stress Reduction Program at a middle school, my swirling brain continued with ideas of what to write about being spun off this way and that. When one has eclectic tastes and interests, occasionally it is hard to choose one topic over another.

I pondered on what topic I would write about today.  Should it be the Kahoot I made and played with students for the first time yesterday? The structure of a mini- lesson? The need to find a personal routine that does not bend every single time some one thinks they need me?  The reasons spouses end up watching TV separately? Or, the Zen hallway in Bermuda?

Since I seem to be under some stress and can note stress in family members and others who cross my path daily, I settled on reframing the use of Zen.  In the last couple of years, the word Zen has freely come to my mind given the peculiarities of certain locations on vacation.  First, it was on the Door County Peninsula in a shared County-State Park where stones are stacked and balanced in graduated fashion, left for mother nature to tumble or leave as she desires. Each member of our family took turns stacking the stones, finding a balance, and marveling at our creations as well as those of others. It was somehow relaxing – balancing the stones against the forces of nature.

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Then, when my husband and I visited Bermuda last summer, the word Zen again came to mind when we walked through one of the lower corridors in our resort hotel. Soft music was playing, not exactly elevator music but something that was flowing  and filled with relaxing tones, but without words. This hallway also had a particular scent that filled the air when you travelled through it to reach the indoor pool or go beyond to the beach (it was not chlorine).  Walking this corridor became part of our daily experience on Bermuda, not only to reach parts of the hotel we were destined for but also to get our daily dose of Zen.  I dubbed it the “Zen Hallway”  and even recall going as far to say that we need a Zen hallway at home! It smelled so good, and sounded so peaceful that in the space of just two hundred feet, you found yourself relaxed!



Of course, vacations end and one returns home to the daily routine and stressors of life. But this morning, as I read an article from a librarian on how she constructed a Week of Zen for her middle school students during testing – a week she recognized as being stressful for them, my own interest in Zen returned.  She provided fun, no-pressure activities in the relaxed, drop in atmosphere of the library prior to each school day for 30 minutes. Given my own experiences that I attributed to Zen, I decided it was a good time to learn more in hopes to implement some Zen in my daily life.

Upon looking it up, Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines Zen as “having or showing qualities (such as meditative calmness and an attitude of acceptance) popularly associated with practitioners of Zen Buddhism.” Well, fine. But, that’s not very helpful, is it? Not when, it came to me so naturally in those other instances.  As it turns out, the concept of Zen is pretty complicated. Although associated with Buddhism, it is not the religion itself. It is a practice, something I suppose, akin to mindfulness or meditation. This is as much as I can gather from my cursory readings.

All I know is that I felt different balancing the stones and walking the sweetly odiferous, melodic hallway (which naturally led one past the spa) at the hotel.  How to I replicate that feeling? How do I let go of my thoughts and focus on the intangible aspects of the universe? Or focus on nothing at all? Perhaps that was the key of what I am calling my Zen experiences! Nothing. I was in the moment, a vacation moment. The moment was mine and shared with those I love, those who care for me – just as the librarian was caring for her students by sharing fun activities to focus on other than their exams.

Zen. I am not exactly sure what it is, but I want it.

Scooters, Buses, and Taxis: Getting Around on Bermuda

Scooters, Buses, and Taxis: Getting Around on Bermuda

For anyone who has been to the island paradise of Bermuda, you will know that one of the preferred methods for getting around is the scooter.  We have been to this island three times in thirty years. In that time, we’ve gone from renting and riding a scooter to using the buses, and most recently the ferry system and a taxi cab.  The change in mode of transportation has been influenced by several factors, not the least of which is the island’s population density and crowded roadways.  The other major factors were age, cost, time, and level of risk you are willing to assume.

When we first visited Bermuda, it was 1987.  We stayed at the Elbow Beach Hotel and decided to rent a scooter to get around. It was just my husband and I, newlyweds. We rented from the scooter shop right at the hotel, after getting a quick lesson from the native gentleman in the parking lot.  The only warning we got was not to carry things in the front basket, “for your protection” – as he put it to us!  We got around the island easily, not having any navigational problems, and were able to get to each of the far ends, as well as the City of Hamilton. The only problem we ran into was being caught in some rainstorms, during which we had to “hideout” under a vie-dock.  I do not think we rented the scooter for the entire week, maybe three days. It was fun, memorable, and cost-effective. Nothing bad happened – no accidents, nothing stolen, no falls. In short, it was a great mode of transportation for our twenty-something year old selves.


Twenty years later, in 2007, we returned to the island with our three boys in tow.  We knew before arriving that we would not be renting a scooter or scooters. None of our boys were old enough to drive. We opted for five-day bus passes for each of us that allowed travel all over the island on the pink Bermuda buses by just having a card punched by the driver.  I believe there was a child-rate that saved us some money.  On that visit we stayed at the Fairmount Southhampton Resort. There was (and still is) a bus stop at the base of the hill in front of the hotel. I think it is for the #7 bus. It was convenient and allowed us to still easily get around. The native Bermudians are gentile, lovely people. Riding their bus system is easy and they welcome visitors on their public transit system without prejudice, hostility, or much judgement on any of your ineptitude. If you are unsure, ask! Any number of Bermudians will tell you what to do! But, be sure to be polite! No one likes a bold and crass tourist. Remember, it is their country.  You are the visitor. The buses offer a safe, fun, easy, and affordable way to get around the island. I do believe it was our boys’ first experience with a public transit system.


My husband and I returned this past August, in 2017.  Again, we did not intend to rent a scooter. When we visited with our sons, ten years previous, we saw the greatly increased traffic and congestion as compared to our first visit in 1987. We expected, and were not wrong, that the traffic would be as bad or even worse. This time we elected to use bus tokens, bought from the hotel concierge, as well as the free ferry from the hotel dock to Hamilton.  We purchased commercial ferry tickets to get us from Hamilton to the Royal Dockyard one day and another day took multiple buses reach the town of St. George’s. You can ride different ferry lines to St. George’s but our concern was getting back to Hamilton in time to get the free hotel ferry back to Southhampton, which left at 4:45 p.m. We happened to travel to St. George’s on a Bermudian holiday which closed most of the stores in Hamilton. This gave rise to a slight concern about bus transportation but the main terminal was still open and functioning, although it did look like the fleet was abbreviated that day.  It all worked out and we even remembered to ask for our transfer when we exited the bus which would allow us to get on another line, taking us to a different part of the island.  The buses are really convenient when you stop some place like the Swizzle Inn and have a pitcher of the island’s famous rum concoction mid-afternoon!

We had one occasion where we took a taxi on this last trip. I had pre-booked two dinners for our week-long stay on Bermuda via Open Table.  One was for a Wednesday night at the Hog Penny Pub in downtown Hamilton. During the summer tourist season, the City of Hamilton hosts Harbour Nights once a week on Wednesdays. This is basically a huge street party, complete with a parade, Gombey dance troupes, food vendors, and local merchandise all on Front Street (which is closed down) from  7 10 p.m..  Since we had early-ish dinner reservations, we asked our concierge about getting back to the hotel when front street was closed. She told us to look for the taxi stands along front street and just hail a cab. Just to be prepared, we asked her how much the fare should be from downtown Hamilton to Southhampton.  We were quoted $30 – $35.00.  Buses do run on Wednesday nights, but she said to expect a very long wait due to the large crowds at the weekly festival.  We enjoyed our dinner at the Hog Penny and strolled with the parade which was not put off by a few rain showers, but by 8 pm we were ready to head back to the hotel and really did not find more than one taxi stand – on the street that was still closed.  My husband had the great idea of walking to the Hamilton Princess Hotel, just  a short stroll from downtown on Hamilton Harbor.  This is the sister hotel of the Fairmount Southhampton. There we used the bath room facilities and chatted with the valet. He called a cab for us. It did take about 30 minutes for the cab to arrive but it was spent pleasantly chatting with the 19-year-old Bermudian valet.  Our cab arrived and drove us back to Southhampton. The fare was just what we were quoted, and of course, we tipped both the valet at the Princess and the cab driver. But, we had a nice quiet ride back to our hotel. If you can afford it, the cab was a wonderful way to travel on Bermuda as well, especially at night.


Regardless of the mode of transportation, we were able to travel the length of the island on all three trips without difficulty. No one should be in a hurry while vacationing on Bermuda. So, if it takes 30 minutes or more to get to Hamilton or St. George or any one of the beautiful beaches, so be it. Just it back and enjoy. Let the Bermudians do the driving for you! Unless you are going to rent a scooter, this is what you have to do anyway – tourists cannot rent cars.

After this last trip, were we experienced a great deal of congested traffic on the roads. We feel the ferries, buses, and taxis are the way to get around on the island of Bermuda.  When we were younger, the scooter was fun, but it seems there was much less traffic.  It is not unusual for tourists to be involved in scooter accidents, either. In fact, when we were returning from our day at Tobacco Bay and St. George’s, we saw how easily a traffic accident can happen!  The roads are twisty and crowded, many butted right up against edges of limestone and volcanic rock . Locals beep their horns at each other to say hello. This can be distracting and not meant as the usual insult a blaring horn can mean in the U.S..  One must also remember to drive on the left, as they do in the U.K., not the U.S.. Drivers, especially visiting tourists, can be impatient and be seen attempting blind passes if the traffic is not moving along at a pace akin to their liking. Unfortunately, this all spells disaster for more than few drivers each year, who find themselves in the Emergency Room of King Georges’s Hospital rather than laying on the quintessential pink sand beach.

Going to Bermuda? Leave the driving to the Bermudians, sit back, and enjoy your trip!


WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Weathered in Wisconsin, New York, Holland, & Bermuda

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Weathered in Wisconsin, New York, Holland, & Bermuda

Weathered, ramshackle barn in Western New York. 2017.


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Spring Fog Weathering the Coulee, 2017.
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Weathered Rocks on the Shore of Lake Michigan in Door County, 2016.
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Old and Ornate Government Building in Delft, The Netherlands, 2016.
The Pier at Scheveningen gets weathered from the North Sea in Den Haag, The Netherlands.
The Maid of the Mist is Weathered in Niagara Falls! 2008.
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Tobacco Bay, Bermuda. limestone rock formations have weathered with time. 2017.


These are my submissions for the Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Weathered.

Thanks for visiting!

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: 2017 Favorite Photos

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: 2017 Favorite Photos

Below are my submissions to the end of the year WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for 2017: Favorite Photos.



Minnesota Sky on July 31st, © Carol Labuzzetta
first tag of the 2017 season
Tagged 25 Monarch Butterflies this year. One of the last to go this fall. © Carol Labuzzetta
Bermuda House and Lighthouse from the Harbor, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
Inside the Light House after climbing over 180 stairs. The Lens. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
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Coneflower on the Prairie. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
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On I-90.  A Huge Cow on a Trailer. Only in Wisconsin – The Dairy State! © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, South Hampton Bermuda, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017
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Horseshoe Bay Beach Bermuda at Dusk. Pink Sand and Sky. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017
Wide Open Spaces. New Amsterdam Prairie. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
The Sky. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
A Street in St. George, Bermuda. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
Grandma’s African Violet lives on well after she is gone. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
Bountiful Blueberry Harvest, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
Monarch eggs were found plentiful in my own backyard, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
Monarch Chrysalis,© Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.
End of the Year on the Deck, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.


Drinks of Bermuda

Drinks of Bermuda

This is not my first blog piece for today, but I guess I am just not ready to post what I wrote earlier. Now, it is late in the day and I am do not feel like posting a heavy piece of writing (>1,000 words).

So, in celebration of 5 o’clock on a Friday, I will post about cocktails. I just got back from Menards which is a home improvement store in the mid-west. There I found, by total accident, Ginger Beer made by Goslings.  I laughed as I scooped the six-pack up into my already full arms.

Ginger Beer is an ingredient in a Dark n Stormy, Bermuda’s national cocktail. I am not a huge rum fan but I do have Gosling’s Dark Rum in my cupboard which is a Bermuda staple. I cannot remember ever having a Dark and Stormy, even once during my three trips to Bermuda, including this past August. But, in the comfort of my own home, knowing I can potentially dump it down the drain after sipping the cocktail without wasting a ton of money (Remember, everything is expensive in Bermuda – wine, beer, and cocktails are no exception), allows me to feel adventuresome in trying this cocktail.

I looked up the recipe online from Epicurious – Yup, the ingredients are Dark Rum, Ginger Beer, and a lime wedge.

So, recognizing the Goslings label on the Ginger Beer (isn’t beer the same as ale, as in Ginger Ale?) I thought the soda was Bermudian, and what was referred to in recipes for a Dark and Stormy, the national cocktail of the Island of Bermuda.


Of course, I was disappointed when I realized that the Ginger Beer is not from Bermuda at all. I am sure it is just Ginger Ale, just like the Schweppes, Seagrams, or Canada Dry brands.  Just because it has a cute seal on the front, aptly named “Stormy”, does not mean it is better, or from Bermuda, or will make a more tasty rum concoction.

After all my excitement, I decided on waiting to try a Dark and Stormy for another day and instead reverted back to my heart helping glass of red wine – something Thorny, instead of Stormy.



To Prefer or Not to Prefer

To Prefer or Not to Prefer

“What do you prefer,” the waiter asked? It was early, too early, to make any decisions, even about juice. “Would you like our special mix of Orange, Mango, Pineapple, or just Orange? Both were freshly made this morning.”

“Oh, I’ll take the mix – why not?” I told the waiter.

His reply came back in a crisp British accent that matched the crisply pressed, khaki Bermuda shorts and knee socks he so elegantly sported, “Very good, Miss.” He poured, the vibrantly orange mix of juices into the sparkling, spotless goblet that sat at my place on the table.

Miss! Miss, I thought to myself! Now, I hadn’t heard that one in a long time! My crow’s feet and spider veins, now visible on my legs, were sure signs I was old enough to be a “Mam” instead of a “Miss!” But, I will take it today – even though I am not sure which salutation I would prefer, Mam or Miss. Today, I’ll be a Miss, I thought to myself as I gave the waiter a vapid smile.

Left alone to eat my breakfast, I contemplated my day. What would I like to do? What would I prefer? The beach or pool? The sand or the cement? The sun or shade? So many decisions based on preference.  It was my choice to come here – Bermuda. Due to schedules, I decided to come two days before my husband this time. Before, on our three previous trips, we had always arrived together.

So, the next two days are mine. The decisions I make will be based on my preference due to not deferring to the preference of my partner. Sitting alone and eating my breakfast, while looking out the clear turquoise surf, gently lapping the shore, I wondered if I would enjoy making all the choices based on my preferences. Somehow, I wasn’t sure.

First, I thought I would walk on the beach. Although I prefer not to exercise, I do like to walk and I do like the beach. So, a walk on the beach would be good. The beaches on Bermuda are some of the most beautiful in the world, in my opinion. A pink hue emanates from the soft sand, free of shells and sea plant debris, on the wide expanse of the coral lined shore. The beach would be great. I prefer the beach, I said to myself, making a game of it.


Photographs. I love to take photos on vacation. I prefer landscapes, sunsets, and flowers as opposed to people, street scenes, and food. The afternoon was spent traveling to St. George on the water ferry because I prefer that to the bus on a calm, sunny day, such as this one in early July.

Soon, it was time for dinner. What would I prefer? So many choices! Seafood is a favorite. Beach dining is great. Or, how about the comfort of a Shepard Pie in the Hog Penny English Pub in Hamilton?  This entrée had been my husband’s choice on our last visit to this quaint island nation and it was delicious! Shepard’s Pie was not something I would normally prefer, but it was tasty for sure! Maybe, I’ll go and have that. The pub was fun, intimate, and full of both tourists and locals, that would make it an interesting place to people watch.

Back at the hotel, I had to decide what I would prefer to do with my evening. I prefer wine as my libation of choice when home. But here? Again, there seemed to be a lot of choices. Should I have the traditional Dark and Stormy or the Bermudian’s national cocktail of a Rum Swizzle, instead? No, I prefer wine. I’ll have a glass in the hotel lounge and do some more people watching.

Then, to bed. I prefer to get a good night sleep. When my husband arrives, we’ll go with his preferences for a day or two, as I prefer not to make so many decisions.

Inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt: Prefer

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian

Bridge in Ames, Iowa Park, 2015. © Carol Labuzzetta
Street in Delft, The Netherlands. Definitely made for Walking. © Carol Labuzzetta
Red Dirt Trail on Kauai, 2013. © Carol Labuzzetta
“This is our walkin’ path,” says the Pelican. Florida Keys, 2010. © Carol Labuzzetta
On the Strees of Madison, Wisconsin. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2012
Alternatively, Uninspired. Monk Seal, Kauai. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2013
2004 SevenBridgesRoad
Spring at Seven Bridges Road, Wisconsin. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2004
Madison Wisconsin Pizza Place. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2012.
Riverside Park, La Crosse, Wisconsin. © Carol Labuzzetta


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Stairs in Bermuda. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.

Inspired by the  Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Pedestrian