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Rock Ruminations

"The Rock" - Newfoundland's nickname, attributed to the granite and rocky landcapes which wrap around coastlines of the province. It is an affectionate term towards Newfoundland, and highlights the significance of environment. Ruminations - the act of pondering; meditation.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Stats for August

This past month there were 62 unique visitors: 52 first timers and 10 repeat offenders for an average of 4 visitors a day.

These visitors came from the Canada, the United States, Mexico, France, Singapore, Poland, and Nigeria.

Until next month...

Tags: blog, blogging, blog

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bloglines Update

Okay, you may remember that I started back in May trying to clean up my Bloglines account. At the time I started, I had "well over 250 feeds that produced some 800 to 1000 entries a day, down to just under a 120 feeds now producing about 400 to 600 entries a day."

Well, as of today I have exactly 100 feeds (I did have it down to 99, but needed to add one for some of my teaching this semester). I am averaging only about 50-80 entries a day from those 100 feeds. I have even managed to get some of the 137 saved entries that I had put aside to blog about at later dates down to about 63 now, and hoping to decrease that number even more before the end of the day.

This is a good place for me now, because even if I miss a day or two of checking my Bloglines, it is still at a managable number of new messages that I can actually skim the content of all of them and not just mark them as read.

Tags: blog, blogging, blogs

Saturday, August 19, 2006

St. John's in New York

I think it was the VOCM site, or maybe through a forward that I came across this news item. Just reading it makes you feel good to be a Newfoundlander and a little homesick for the island. The original article was (and may still be) available at http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/07/28/travel/escapes/28hours.html?pagewanted=print. Take a read and rememberwhat a great place Newfoundland really is.

July 28, 2006
36 Hours

St. John’s, Newfoundland


FOUNDED in the late 16th century, St. John’s was already a settlement when New York City was a mere gleam in the eye of European colonizers. Cod was once king here, but now it’s the offshore oil industry that is pumping cash and confidence into this quirky city of nearly 100,000 that sits at North America’s easternmost edge. Icebergs, whales and puffins pass by in summer. And the typical friendliness of Newfoundland and Labrador comes with a decidedly Irish twist — many locals speak with the thickest brogues west of Galway. George Street is the North Atlantic version of Bourbon Street in this attractive city where brightly colored row houses cascade down toward the harbor. With its steep streets, devotion to the arts and stirring views of the harbor and surrounding hills, St. John’s calls to mind a smaller but earthier San Francisco.


3:30 p.m.
An ideal first stop is Signal Hill, above, a rocky sentinel that overlooks the entrance to the harbor. Before reaching the top, though, visit the Johnson Geo Centre (175 Signal Hill Road, 709-737-7880; http://www.geocentre.ca/), where one exhibition tells the tale of the Titanic’s sinking 350 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. Shake your head in disbelief as you read how the ship’s owners neglected safety in favor of luxury and how they refused to equip the ship with enough lifeboats because it would “clutter up the deck.” Atop Signal Hill looms Cabot Tower, a castle-like structure next to where Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless message in 1901. And if you had to pay — which you don’t — the sweeping view of harbor and city from the lookout would be worth the price.

6 p.m.
The sophisticated St. John’s dining scene is traditionally centered on Water Street, but exciting newcomers have opened elsewhere. Waitresses at Taste of Thai (179 Duckworth Street, 709-738-3203) welcome patrons with a sawadeeka greeting — hands pressed together and a slight bow. The restaurant sizzles with spicy curry dishes and a tasty cashew chicken (14 Canadian dollars, or $12.60 at 90 American cents to the Canadian dollar). Sit at Western-style tables and chairs, or take off your shoes and sit on floor cushions at low traditional tables.

8 p.m.

Take in a play at the Resource Center for the Arts, the focal point of the city’s arts scene. Housed in the former Longshoremen’s Protective Union Hall (3 Victoria Street, 709-753-4531; http://www.rca.nf.ca/), a large 80-year-old building with a big pink, white and green flag — a 19th-century symbol of Irish assimilation in the area — painted on the front, the center plays host to theater, dance and art shows ranging from experimental to traditional; it promotes emerging artists in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

10 p.m.

For a post-show treat, visit Moo-Moo’s Ice Cream (88 Kings Road, 709-753-3046), a boxy building painted a mottled black and white in dairy-cow fashion. The store makes more than 300 flavors of ice cream in its basement factory, including Fish Pond, which blends the leftovers from that day’s production. Turtle cheesecake — a mix of cheesecake, Oreo crumbs and English toffee — is among the most popular. “We’ve had lines out the door and around the corner,” said Ruth Ryan, an employee.

9 a.m.

Fuel up on coffee and homemade baked goods at Auntie Crae’s Specialty Foods (272 Water Street, 709-754-0661), in a 100-year-old building that was once a hardware store. The partridgeberry muffins — a Newfoundland treat — are just 75 Canadian cents each. Buy the local newspaper, The Telegram, and take your food to the common room, a cozy space with wooden floors.

11 a.m.

After breakfast, drive about half an hour south to Bay Bulls (Highway 2 south to Highway 3, which merges into Highway 10 south). Gatherall’s Puffin & Whale Watch (Northside Road, 709-334-2887; http://www.gatheralls.com/) is one of three eco-tour operators in town that ferry passengers to the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, a group of offshore islands that in summer are host to 2.5 million mating seabirds, including about 500,000 puffins. Whales also appear in the bay during their summer migration and, if the currents are right, you might see an iceberg or two floating down from Greenland.

3 p.m.

It’s hard to miss the Rooms (9 Bonaventure Avenue, 709-757-8000; http://www.therooms.ca/), a huge museum and art gallery that towers above the city from its hilltop perch. Opened last year and designed to resemble traditional Newfoundland fishing rooms where families processed their catch, the Rooms combines the Provincial Museum, the Provincial Art Gallery and the Provincial Archives under one roof. The spotlight is on artists from Newfoundland and Labrador and from throughout Canada. Unofficially, among its the best displays is the view of the harbor’s meeting the Atlantic at Signal Hill.

5 p.m.

The Ship Pub (Solomon’s Lane at 265 Duckworth Street, 709-753-3870) is a classic watering hole with a laid-back vibe. There are several tables scattered about and a lot of old wood, including church pews set along the walls. It’s easy to belly up to the time-worn bar and chat up the barkeepers or the mix of locals ranging from artists to lawyers. “It’s just not a pub,” one customer said, “it’s a living room.” After a drink or two, it’s time for dinner. Restaurant 21 (21 Queens Road, 709-576-2112) is a slightly upscale corner restaurant on a residential street up the hill. The menu is seasonal and includes a smattering of organic items, like the delicious organic pork loin, blue cheese and double-smoked bacon with spinach au gratin, tomato basil pesto and red onion sauce (24 Canadian dollars). Bread comes with intriguing butter options, like barbecue blueberry and strawberry kiwi.

9 p.m.

George Street is party central in downtown St. John’s, a stretch of pedestrian-only mayhem jammed with loud bars, dance spots and clubs for Irish music. On a recent Saturday night at Bridie Molloy’s Pub & Eatery (5 George Street, 709-576-5990), an acoustic trio played to the occasional accompaniment of an Irish step dancer. Over at O’Reilly’s Irish Newfoundland Pub (15 George Street, 709-722-3735), a band with electric guitars played a more raucous set of Irish-tinged music. The music starts at about 10:30 p.m. and throbs late into the night. But whatever you do, avoid the hokey organized pub crawls.

10 a.m.

You can’t get much farther east in North America than Cape Spear National Historic Site (709-772-5367). Follow Water Street southwest, turn left onto Leslie Street and look for the sign for Cape Spear Drive. The nine-mile drive passes through rugged terrain until it meets the ocean. There are two lighthouses — the original from 1836 and one built in 1955. You can pick up the East Coast Trail (http://www.eastcoasttrail.com/) at the parking lot and hike south along the high sea cliffs.

1 p.m.

Velma’s Place (264 Water Street, 709-576-2264) specializes in healthy helpings of traditional cuisine. An appetizer of cod tongues with scrunchions, or fat pork (8.95 Canadian dollars), and a meal of baked cod au gratin (10.95 Canadian dollars) or fish and chips made with cod (two pieces for 9.95 Canadian dollars; three pieces for 10.95 dollars) is as Newfoundland as it gets. Home-cooked food is the rule, and the hot turkey sandwich (9.95 Canadian dollars) is made with real roast turkey with dark meat, not bland deli meat. The strong taste will linger, even as St. John’s recedes in the distance.


Continental flies from Newark to St. John’s twice daily. Fares start at $419. Car rentals are available at the airport.

The Murray Premises Hotel (5 Beck’s Cove, 709-738-7773; http://www.murraypremiseshotel.com/) is a downtown boutique hotel on the harbor; it has an electric fireplace, a Jacuzzi and a towel warmer in every room. Rates are 189 to 249 Canadian dollars (about $170 to $225 at 90 American cents to the Canadian dollar).

The Winterholme Heritage Inn (79 Rennies Mill Road, 709-739-7979; http://www.winterholme.com/) is a national historic site in a Queen Anne Revival house. Rates are 159 to 249 Canadian dollars.

Cantwell House Bed & Breakfast (25 Queens Road, 709-754-8439; http://www.cantwellhouse.nf.net/) is a stylish 1893 house with a third-floor porch that offers a fabulous view of harbor and city. Rooms are $90 Canadian dollars.

Talk about making it to the big leagues... :)

Tags: Newfoundland, travel, New York Times

Friday, August 04, 2006

Saying Good-Bye, Saying Hello

Well, I've put off this post for long enough I guess. It has been three weeks now said I last saw my companion of the past decade. I won't lie and say that it has been an easy three weeks, nor can I say that it has been a horrible three weeks. Each day brings with it more good memories and less hurt. Having said that, there is still a great deal of pain in thinking about that day and even in many of the little things.

The last time I posted about my Natasha was three weeks ago (see She's Sleeping With The Angels). While our trip out of town was good, as it kept me busy which meant that my mind was occupied most of the time, it was still a difficult few days. The ride home on monday was tough and walking through the door for the first time was even tougher. Even now, like when I first came home, I often look atop my Montreal Canadiens throw that sits on our chair where she would perch herself waiting for Lisa or I to come home. I don't know if it is forceof habit or guilt over the whole situation, but I still find myself looking to that spot when I come home expecting or wanting to see her.

But with this sorrow their is also a little joy in our household. This is Charley. She was found as a stray downtown by friends of our's. I had been after Lisa for much of the past year to get a kitten (as early as two Mays ago in fact), I had hoped as a playmate and companion for Natasha. Given that Natasha was a stray when I got her, she had already had one or more litters of cats and I thought that nuturing her materal instinct would have been good. We got Natasha's diagnosis a day or two before we were supposed to pick up Charley, but the vet felt that a kitten in the home would do more harm for Natasha than good. As I didn't want to stress her out during her final days, the two of them never met.

I wasn't sure how I feel about this new addition, but still wanted to go through with it. Partly because we had committed to our friend, herself a cat person but already owning three, and partly because I still did want a kitten. It has been an interesting two and a half weeks with Charley. I have found that while she has adopted many of Natasha's old toys and things there are still things that I refuse to let her have or refuse to do with her - as they were Natasha's or mine and Natasha's things. When I get mad at Charley for being bad - which is often given that she is a kitten - I oft times call her Natasha, which makes me even more sad that m companion is gone.

I'm sure in time I'll have to face the same things with Charley, but for right now I'm trying to build a bond with her while I still remember Natasha.

Tag: cat

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Stats for July

Well, it has been a tough month and I apologize these are a couple of days late. This past month there were 128 unique visitors: 90 first timers and 38 repeat offenders for an average of 4 visitors a day.

These visitors came from the Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, France, and Japan.

Until next month...

Tags: blog, blogging, blog