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When we associate texting with our health, the topic is usually bad news: texting while walking/driving causes accidents; constant texting causes carpal tunnel syndrome; texting too much damages personal relationships etc. etc. However, as the following studies show, texting has also proven to have distinct health benefits. In fact, mobile phones have found a place in the modern delivery of health care. It’s called Mobile Health, or mHealth, which covers any use of laptops, cellphones, tablets etc. in collecting patient data, monitoring patient health and delivering services.

Here are four ways that sending and receiving text messages can improve our health:

• An emergency room doctor at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island led a study that offered a violence prevention and intervention program via text messages to young female patients who’d experienced peer violence. The teens overwhelmingly agreed to the follow-up service, believing the supportive messages could help them avoid violent situations in the future, and they indicated they would recommend the service to other young girls at risk. The results of the study were released this past March, and the positive outcome has the hospital looking at ways to expand the service to reach out to at-risk male youths and non-English speaking teens.

• A University of Connecticut study observed positive results in HIV/AIDS patients who connected with their health care providers via text messages. Earlier this year, The Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (a division of the university) released the results of a study in which patients who received text message “intervention” were found to be more likely to stay on track with their drug regimen and have better health than those who just saw their physicians for follow-ups every few months.

• Persons at risk for type 2 diabetes could benefit from text message reminders about their health, according to a University of Michigan study. Persons who signed up for and received regular messages about eating healthier, drinking more water, exercising etc. were more likely to lose some extra weight and live a healthier lifestyle, according to the study results released in 2013.

• Receiving a simple “how r u” on their phone from a loved one can be a much needed lift to someone who is isolated or feels alone, according to a University of California Berkley study that began in 2010. The project, led by a clinical psychologist, involved sending mental health participants regular messages asking about their moods, suggesting they think about positive things that happened to them and reminding them to take their medications. When the program ended after a number of weeks, several patients reported missing the regular connection. To someone who’s depressed or under stress, a concerned text message is a welcome connection and immediately makes them feel cared for – proving that through texting you really can “reach out and touch someone.”

Feel Good Messages

Downhome asked our facebook friends, “What’s the BEST news you ever received via text message?” Here’s what some said:

“I got asked to be a godmother for the first time.” – Chantal Oake

“Friend’s baby’s arrival.” – Fousty Touton

“‘I’m coming to get you’ – when I was stranded.” – Tracy Perry Stepanuk

“Pics of my grandbaby-to-be.” – Wendy Roenigk-Crane

“I am home safe.” – Deanna Dwyer
There are two main reasons to visit the Little, Big Bear Safari, located about 90 minutes from Moncton in Acadieville, New Brunswick. One, of course, is to safely view black bears as they roam onto the wilderness site. Another is to meet Richard Goguen, a.k.a. “the bear whisperer.”

“My husband has a gift with animals,” says Vivianne Goguen, who co-owns the attraction with her partner. The couple built an observation tower in 1998 with the intention of inviting the public to safely view and photograph black bears in their natural environment. But one bear had a slightly different plan. During construction, an orphaned cub wandered into the area and, as Vivianne puts it, “adopted” Richard. They aptly named the cub, which Vivianne says followed Richard around like a dog, “Pooch.”

“After a few years she had babies and we said, ‘Oh great, she’s going to become wild and that’s ok – but after a few weeks she brought her babies out and literally introduced them to grand-daddy,” says Vivianne. “She pushed them towards Richard.” Now 16 years later, the Goguens believe Pooch has passed on, but three generations of her descendants still visit the site very frequently and maintain the unusual bond with Richard.

Check out this shocking footage taken at the Little, Big Bear Safari. Richard enters the scene at 1:20.

While they do not guarantee sightings, Vivianne says their tour groups have missed out on seeing black bears only twice since opening to the public in 1998. Once visitors are safely inside the 26-foot-high tower, Richard lures the animals to the site with food. “We have the same permit as hunters – we have the right to leave little treats,” says Vivianne, adding, “but we shoot with cameras only.”

Local biologists have openly criticized the business, saying Richard’s close relationship with the bears is extremely risky – not only putting himself in harm’s way, but also anyone who may encounter one of these bears in the wild, outside the safety of the Safari. Vivianne maintains they have never had any complaints of that nature and believes the bears prefer Richard only. However, she warns, “We don’t suggest that people do that in their backyard. Don’t try to do this.”

To find out about other wild encounters available right here in Atlantic Canada, see the July issue of Downhome.

Editor's Note: Richard's interaction with black bears is extremely risky. Never, ever approach a black bear if you encounter one in the wild. To find out what to do if you do encounter a black bear, click here.
Family and Friends
By Ashley Colombe

A Newfoundlander living in Nova Scotia for the past 28 years, Lisa Braye’s ear is still fine-tuned to the sound of the Newfoundland accent. Whenever the 46-year-old hears that unique lilt roll off some stranger’s tongue, she says she just can’t help but ask, “What part are you from?” But one day last fall, Lisa’s favourite conversation starter wound up leaving her completely speechless.

On October 3, while enjoying a night out at a bar in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, Lisa overheard that familiar twang from a couple seated nearby her and, as usual, she began chatting them up.

As Lisa predicted, the couple, Shirley and Jeff Taylor, were from downhome.

“They told me they were from St. Anthony and then they asked me (where I was from) and I said, ‘well, I was born in St. Anthony actually, but I grew up in Corner Brook because I was adopted out,’” explains Lisa. Curious, Shirley asked Lisa how much she knew about her birth parents – which wasn’t a lot. Lisa’s adoptive parents, Gae and Rex Braye, knew only that her birth mother’s surname was either Grinham or Greenham and that Lisa’s name at birth had been Ivy; she knew nothing of her birth father.

After revealing those few pieces of information, along with her date of birth, Lisa says, “their mouths were open and it was just total shock.”

“(Shirley) said, ‘I would say 100 per cent but I’m not going to because I have to call her – but I’m 90 per cent sure that my best friend is your biological mother,” says Lisa, recalling the conversation that took place. The following evening, Shirley phoned Lisa and confirmed that her best friend, Liz Grinham, was indeed Lisa’s birth mother, and gave Lisa Liz’s phone number.

“Every emotion any person could ever have I had it that whole weekend – happy, excited, nervous, shocked – you name it,” says Lisa. Despite the emotional rollercoaster, Lisa quickly picked up the phone to speak to her biological mother for the first time.

“I felt like I had to call her because you hear these stories of adopted kids who hate their parents,” says Lisa. “So I called Liz to basically tell her that I didn’t hate her for giving me up whatsoever, that I had a loving family and I had a great relationship with them.”

A mother’s dream

That first telephone conversation with Lisa was overwhelming, says Liz, bringing back a flood of emotions from the heartbreak she endured the day after giving birth to her more than four decades ago.

“The nurse brought her in and she told me I had to feed her,” begins Liz, and for the first and last time, a 19-year-old Liz held the bottle of milk to her baby girl’s mouth. “Then the head nurse came in and told (the nurse) off because she gave me the baby – because I wasn’t supposed to see her.” After a falling out with her boyfriend, and having been turned away by her own parents, Liz, now 66, says she had previously signed documents that relinquished her parental rights. But Liz says those few precious moments with her infant daughter were enough to change her mind. Unfortunately, she was told, there was no going back.

But as the years rolled on, her baby girl was never far from her mind.

“On her birthday, the 16th of May, I used to go around the floors saying, ‘I wonder where she’s at, is she alright? If she had a good life and stuff like that – just mumbling to myself,” says Liz. “I never talked about her much, because it hurt too much.”

Liz later had three more children and in 1999, she and one of her daughters, Loretta, decided to search for the missing piece of their family; they quickly reached a dead end, though, told that nothing could be done until “Ivy” (Lisa) came looking for them.

Meanwhile in Nova Scotia, Lisa was becoming curious about her roots as well. Around the time she turned 40, Lisa says, she began pressing her adoptive mother, Gae, for more information.

“It just seemed like I was hurting her, so I said, ‘no, I’m not going to do nothing till she’s passed away and if it’s my loss than it’s my loss.”

In 2011, Gae passed away at 79 years of age. Lisa was planning to resume her search for her biological parents when she stumbled upon the Taylors last fall.

Together at last

With Lisa’s blessing, within a few weeks of finding each other Liz and Loretta were flying to Nova Scotia. The Taylors hosted the long-awaited reunion at their home.

“(Liz) was sitting at the kitchen table there and she didn’t know what to do, like I could tell she didn’t know whether to stay seated or stand or give me a hug or whatever,” says Lisa. “She just looked at me, and I said, ‘well would you like a hug dear?’ And she come over and grabbed a hold of me, started bawling her eyes out and just said, ‘Oh, I got my baby back in my arms again.’”

“We cried and we laughed and we did it all,” says Liz. “She’s still my baby to me.”
When word got out about the twist of fate that led to Lisa’s reunion with her mother, a flurry of media attention followed, with news stories popping up in both provinces. One of those stories reached the home of Wilson Osmond of Triton, Newfoundland – Lisa’s biological father.

The year that Lisa was born, Wilson says he moved to the mainland, where he settled down and started a family, including two daughters: Lori and Lisa (yes, another Lisa). He returned home to live in 2001.

Lisa and Wilson have since connected by telephone, and they’re planning their own reunion this summer.

“I feel great about it, yes I really do,” says Wilson, 68, adding he thought bout Lisa often throughout the years.

Since running into the Taylors last fall, Lisa’s family has expanded considerably. In addition to finding her biological parents, she’s gained four sisters and a brother – plus nieces and nephews.

“I’m going to have to start working two other jobs just to send Christmas presents,” says Lisa, laughing – but it will be more than worth it.

“It’s filled a void that’s always been with me, and I’m sure every adopted child has that void,” she says.

It’s going to be a whirlwind summer vacation this year for Lisa, who’s planned visits in both St. Anthony and Triton – but her first stop will be Corner Brook, to pick up her adoptive father, Rex, who plans to accompany her.

Rex says he plans to give both Liz and Wilson a hug when he meets them; after all, without them he never could have been Lisa’s father.

“We loved youngsters,” says Rex who, together with his late wife, had a hand in raising about 85 foster children who passed through his home. He believes if his wife were alive today, she would be pleased to see her daughter reunited with her biological family. “She would think it was wonderful,” says Rex, “because that’s the type of person she was.”
Whether you’re spending the weekend boating, camping or partying at the cabin, here are some tongue-in-cheek, but surprisingly practical, things to take or do to make the most of this May Two-Four. (In order of no importance.)

1. Pack several changes of clothes: rubber clothes, wool clothes, flannel clothes, summer clothes. Be like the Scouts, prepared for anything.

2. At least 5 tarps – one to cover the cold, wet ground; one to go over the tent; one for the cooking area; and two more to block the wind.

3. Deck of cards, to keep the youngsters from killing each other ’cause it’s too miserable to play outside.

4. Sunblock. Many May campers have been caught off guard by a sudden sunny break and come home looking like a lobster.

5. Lifejacket, seriously. And wear it. A seat cushion won’t save you from drowning.

6. Cell phone, preferably a smartphone so you can tell your whole social network if you get lost, or that you’re in the woods and forgot toilet paper #bummer.

7. Guitars, harmonicas, ugly sticks – if you can’t play them, you can use them as noisemakers to keep the bears away.

8. Garbage bags to put your sleeping bag in – to keep it dry at night.

9. Snowsuit to sit around the fire at night.

10. Newspapers – they make great fire starters and, if you’re stuck, toilet paper.

11. A shovel – in case it snows, and to clear a spot for your camper/tent.

12. Good quality fly oil to douse yourself in.

13. Coat hanger, to use as makeshift rabbit-ears antenna, a fire-proof handle for the camp kettle, a marshmallow roaster, or a slim hope of unlocking your car to get the keys inside.

14. Disinfectant wipes to wash off every surface of the cabin after you find out what rodents have been wintering there.

15. A hat that will keep your head warm and dry, and make you presentable for the trip back to civilization.

16. A bucket to carry water, to sit on around the fire, to hold the fish you catch, or to pee in if you’re that afraid to leave the tent at night.

17. An axe to chop wood, cut through ice, or pose with for “outdoorsy” photos for facebook.

18. Homemade bread and tea bags. You can’t start the day without a feed of toast and tea!

19. Disposable dishes and cutlery. The weekend’s too short to be doing housework.

20. Dry wood for the campfire or cabin stove – ’cause you won’t find a dry stick to burn in the woods in May.

21. Snowmobiler locater beacon – so rescuers can find you when the unforecasted overnight snowfall crushes you in your tent.

22. A can opener. There’s nothing more frustrating than when you break the tab-thingy off the can of sausages, beans, KAM etc. before you get it open.

23. Stick of bologna – walk softly over the marsh but carry a big stick!

24. Say “shag it” and rent a hotel room.

25. The best way to survive May 24 in NL? Spend the weekend with friends and family who you can count on for a good time no matter the location or the weather!

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From the Archives
L'Anse aux Meadows is hosting a summer-long party in 2010 and everyone is invited! In the February issue of Downhome, Chris Hodder takes a look at what's in store for the site as it approaches its 50th anniversary. Here is some more information about the discovery and fascinating history behind L'Anse aux Meadows.

The Discovery of L’Anse aux Meadows

The early accounts of Viking discoveries, including their initial landing at North America, come to us from the sagas; ancient Norse stories that were told by word of mouth for many years, and later written down for future generations to read. The earliest written version of the sagas dates back to the 12th century.

According to the sagas, nearly 1,000 years ago, a stout, high-prowed vessel from Greenland cast anchor in an inviting bay somewhere along the coast of North America. Its single square sail was furled, and the 30-man crew stepped ashore. To the north of them, a point of land extended into the sea; beyond it was an island. The land along the coast was low and gently rolling. Lush meadows, sheltered by forests, covered the ground. A small stream flowed from a lake a short distance away. The tides were spectacular. When the tide was out, the entire bay became dry land.

Enchanted by what they saw, the newcomers decided to stay. They moved their ship into the stream and set up camp on the shore. By making short excursions they became familiar with the country, which they found incredibly rich. The streams were teeming with salmon. There was plenty of timber and the climate was so mild that the grass stayed green even in winter.

It was nearly nine centuries later, in 1960, that a Norwegian explorer and writer, Helge Ingstad, came upon the site at L'Anse aux Meadows . He was making an intensive search for Norse landing places along the coast from New England northward. At L'Anse aux Meadows, a local inhabitant, George Decker, led him to a group of overgrown bumps and ridges that looked as if they might be building remains. They later proved to be all that was left of that old colony. For the next eight years, Helge and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad, led an international team of archaeologists from Norway, Iceland, Sweden and the United States in the excavation of the site.

The Ingstads found that the overgrown ridges were the lower courses of the walls of eight Norse buildings from the 11th century. The walls and roofs had been of sod, laid over a supporting frame. The buildings were of the same kind as those used in Iceland and Greenland just before and after the year 1000. Long, narrow fireplaces in the middle of the floor served for heating, lighting and cooking.

Among the ruins of the buildings, excavators unearthed the kind of artifacts found on similar sites in Iceland and Greenland. Inside the cooking pit of one of the large dwellings lay a bronze, ring-headed pin of the kind Norsemen used to fasten their cloaks. Inside another building was a stone oil lamp and a small spindle whorl, once used as the flywheel of a handheld spindle. In the fire pit of a third dwelling was the fragment of a bone needle believed to have been used for a form of knitting. There was also a small-decorated brass fragment that once had been gilded.

From these finds we know not all the Norse settlers had been men. Spindle whorls and knitting needles were tools used by women. A small whetstone, used to sharpen needles and small scissors, was found near the spindle whorl. It would have also been part of a woman's kit. A great deal of slag from smelting and working of iron was also found on the site together with a large number of iron boat nails or rivets. This, more than any other find, led archaeologists to identify the site as Norse.

L’Anse aux Meadows Timeline

Over the years many different peoples inhabited L'Anse aux Meadows and many researchers have contributed to our understanding of this important archaeological site. The following is a brief historical summary of this site.

ca. 6000 B.P.
Native peoples began using this location.

ca. 1000 A.D.
Norse Settlement

1500 to late 1800s
Area is visited by French migratory fishermen and possibly Basque whalers.

ca. 1835
The present day community of L'Anse aux Meadows is founded by William Decker.

W.A. Munn of Newfoundland hypothesizes that the Norse landed at L'Anse aux Meadows.

Helge Ingstad visits L'Anse aux Meadows and is shown some overgrown ridges by George Decker, a local resident.

Excavations are led by Anne Stine Ingstad.

Further excavations are undertaken by Parks Canada.

Site is designated a National Historic Site.

September 8, 1978
Site is recognized as one of the world’s major archaeological properties and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

New visitors centre opens.

August 2, 1991
"Vinland Revisited – One Thousand Years of Discovery." L’Anse aux Meadows is visited by the Gaia, a replica Viking ship on a voyage from Norway to Washington D.C.

Site undergoes extensive renovation and 50th anniversary celebrations take place.

In the November issue of Downhome, we spend 48 Hours in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, highlighting awesome attractions and lots of things to see and do during a visit to the town.

For even more information on what you may do and see in Labrador, check out the following Web sites:

Northwest River

Destination Labrador

Explore Labrador

Tourism Newfoundland and Labrador

Combined Councils of Labrador

Happy Valley-Goose Bay

Labrador Heritage Society

Our Labrador

Labrador Marine
Exploring the great outdoors can be frustrating - and even dangerous - if you haven't adequately prepared for your outing. Imagine setting out for a leisurely stroll with the kids, only to find out the route you've chosen is a steep uphill climb over rocky terrain - or finding yourself stranded on a narrow ledge without the proper gear, having navigated yourself halfway up a cliff face during a difficult climb. 52 Great Hikes and Newfoundland Climbing Guide are two comprehensive, helpful sources of information to help you prepare for your outdoor adventures.

Whether you're an experienced hiker or you're just getting started, a copy of 52 Great Hikes will help you decide which trek to take next. For each of the hikes featured, the authors identify the trailhead and the distance of the trail. They also assign a difficulty rating and point out the highlights (scenery, wildlife, landmarks, etc.) not to be missed along the hike - a must-have if you plan on hitting the trails on the Avalon and Bonavista Peninsulas.

If you are into climbing (either on rock or ice), check out the Newfoundland Climbing Guide, containing notes on nearly 200 routes on Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula and the south coast. Each route is assigned a difficulty rating and includes important notes about route conditions and what gear is required for the climb, as well as dangers to be wary of, such as wet climbing surfaces or rogue waves. The authors warn, however, that this guide is no substitute for instruction and experience, which are mandatory for safely navigating your way to the top of any climbing route.

52 Great Hikes
Mary Smyth and Fred Hollingshurst
WCYi Publishing

Newfoundland Climbing Guide
Leo van Ulden and Jeff Holmes
Wallnuts Publications


A Life on Wheels: Biking alone from Newfoundland to Latin America
Martin Lobigs
Creative Publishers

Image Journalist Martin Lobigs set out from St. John's, Newfoundland in 1998 with little more than an old, used bicycle and an ambitious goal in mind: To reach South America on his own steam. In A Life on Wheels, he's written about the ups and downs of this incredible journey, which took him five years to complete. The trip is always interesting and often dangerous. Lobigs is a bold adventurer, proving himself to those who are suspicious of him - and befriending many of the people he meets along the way. He introduces us to a myriad of interesting characters he encounters, from thieves and guerillas to priests and the poverty-stricken and everyone in between. By the journey's end, Lobigs has had much more than an exciting adventure; he has gained a global education that cannot be found in textbooks - or even by vacationing in Central and South America. Lobigs has travelled the land, inch by inch. He's lived among the people of these countries, has eaten their food, learned about their industries, spoken their languages, and gained a true understanding of their heritage, customs, beliefs and values. In short, Lobigs has made a journey that many of us will wish we had the courage to take ourselves. But for now, reading about his experiences in A Life on Wheels will take you on a great escape of your own.


The People's Road Revisited
Wade Kearley
Creative Publishers

Image Planning to do some hiking around Newfoundland this summer? If so, reading The People's Road Revisited by Wade Kearley will help you plan your exploits. But it's much more than just a guide for hiking enthusiasts. The People's Road Revisited is Kearley's personal account of his hike along the abandoned 547-mile railway bed that stretches from Port aux Basques to St. John's, Newfoundland. Kearley made the long journey in the summer of 1993 as part of an effort to raise awareness about the trail and to prevent it from falling into ruin and worse - being forgotten. Originally published as The People's Road in 1995, The People's Road Revisited provides an update on trail conditions, as well as interesting historical notes on the long life of the railway, which reaches back to nineteenth-century Newfoundland. Since his first ambitious trek across the island, the provincial government has recognized the railbed as an island-wide provincial park and the not-for-profit Newfoundland T'railway council has endeavored to preserve the former railbed for recreational use. Kearley's original journey, combined with his current commentary, impresses the importance of this protection effort and the road that still remains ahead for its successful preservation.
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