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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
By Cathy Williams

In 1981, at the age of 19, I left my hometown of Goulds, Newfoundland, bound for Toronto, Ontario. Like many Newfies before me, my plan was to work for a year and head back to the Rock. However, 28 years later I’m still here and now call Brampton home. Life, of course, has had its ups and downs, good days and bad, but nothing prepared me for May of 2006, when I embarked on a journey that would profoundly change my life forever.

I love to drive and on this sunny spring day I had the windows rolled down and the music cranked. Winter has gone underground, pushing new life into the face of sunshine. I took a deep breath, filling my lungs with the fragrance of spring and new beginnings, put my car in drive and headed to Brockville, Ontario, four hours east of Brampton.

Life had been busy and I hadn’t had time to visit my friend Brenda in a few months. I was looking forward to a much overdue chat over steaming hot coffee at the local Tim Horton’s. When I pulled in three and a half hours later, she was there waiting. She still had her natural blonde hair, her usual smile from ear to ear, her arms outstretched with a hug that made you feel like you had never been away. We laughed and chatted for what seemed like an hour before she suddenly went silent.

Brenda looked directly in my eyes and said, “Cathy, I have breast cancer.”
The fear that seared through her tear-filled eyes sucker-punched me in the gut. As I reached for her hand I asked, “How bad is it?”

“It’s inflammatory breast cancer, a beast, and needs to be treated like one,” she said.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This 49-year-old wife and mother of two teenage boys was facing her own mortality. This couldn’t be happening – but it was.

My drive back to Brampton was tainted with fear, pain and anger. I didn’t roll down the window, I didn’t breathe in the fresh air, sobbing replaced the melody of song.

Five months later on October 25, 2006, Brenda lost her battle with breast cancer. I was angry and immediately started to fight back in the form of fundraising. It took my friend and I’d be damned if I’d sit back and let it take my daughters, mother, sister, aunt or me without a fight.

Six other people profoundly affected by breast cancer joined me in holding a fundraising event in February 2008. We called it the Pink Snowflake Ball and it’s become an annual event. In two years we’ve raised more than $30,000 for breast cancer research and support. My team has since disbanded and I have assumed sole responsibility of organizing the third annual Pink Snowflake Ball. Of course, I’m never really alone with the support of my daughters (Kelly, Charlene and Krystal) as well as many family members and friends.

My goal for this year’s event, being held February 27, 2010, is to sell 400 tickets and raise $50,000. I know that’s a stretch, but my mother raised me to believe I can achieve whatever I put my mind to. I have hope. Brenda had hope, and I won’t let her down. Each year I dedicate the Pink Snowflake Ball to Brenda’s memory. I am a different person for having known her in life and in death.

Proceeds from the third annual Pink Snowflake Ball will benefit Wellspring Halton-Peel breast cancer support programs ( Please help me help women and their families living with and surviving breast cancer. Tickets are $75 per person for an evening that opens with a cocktail hour, followed by a four-course meal, open bar and great dancing tunes.

I also need the support of the business community and/or individuals with cash or gifts for our silent auction. Here is the breakdown of our sponsorship values by donations:

Event Sponsor: $25,000
Dinner Sponsor: $10,000 (seeking 3 sponsors)
Dessert/Sweets Table Sponsor: $5,000
Table Sponsors: $250
Gift Bag Sponsor: $100
Silent Auction items

If you would like to buy tickets or become a sponsor for this great cause, please contact me at or call me on my cell phone at 647-808-3189. You can also visit my website at for the latest information on silent auction items, event details and listing of sponsors/supporters.
With Christmas approaching, thoughts of that tasty, home cooked turkey dinner are wafting through our minds. But by Boxing Day, you'll already be wondering what to do with all those leftovers. A person can only eat so many hot turkey sandwiches, right? Well, here are five tasty turkey recipes to help you spice up those after-Christmas leftovers.

Scalloped Turkey au Gratin
2 1/2 cups roasted turkey, diced
1 (10 1/2 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, cubed
1/4 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp basil
1/4 cup crushed cracker crumbs
2 tbsp leftover turkey dressing (optional)
Chinese noodles or plain rice

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine turkey, soup, water, cheese and seasonings in a buttered 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Top with cracker crumbs. Bake for 20-25 min. or until bubbly. Serve with Chinese noodles or plain rice. Note: Leftover turkey dressing adds flavour. Submitted by G. Kennedy of Ottawa, O.N.

Turkey Casserole
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 can mushrooms (save juice)
2 cups cooked turkey, chopped
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 large can chow mein noodles

Cook celery and onions slightly in butter or margarine; add mushrooms. In a large bowl, mix soup and turkey together, diluting soup with about 1/4 cup of juice from mushrooms. Add 1/2 can of noodles. Add previously-cooked celery, onions and mushrooms. Place in a casserole dish and top with remaining noodles. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 min.

Turkey Salad
5 cups cooked turkey meat, chopped
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, diced
3 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp dried cilantro
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

In a bowl, mix turkey, celery, jalapeno, relish, and mayonnaise. Season with cilantro, salt, and pepper. Chill in the refrigerator until serving.

Turkey Pot Pie
2 piecrusts
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup chicken bouillon or broth
1/4 cup milk
2 cup turkey, cooked and cubed
1 (10 oz) pkg. frozen peas and carrots, cooked and drained
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup onion, chopped

Remove piecrusts from freezer. Invert one crust onto waxed paper and let thaw until flattened. In medium saucepan, combine butter, flour, salt, thyme and pepper. Stir in broth and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and bubbles. Cook one minute longer. Then, stir in turkey, peas and carrots, celery and onion. Pour into the upright thawed piecrust. Moisten edge of crust with water. Preheat oven and cookie sheet to 425°F. Invert flattened crust on top of turkey pie. Trim edges and flute. Make slits in top for steam to escape. Bake 35 - 40 min. or until golden brown.

Turkey Tetrazzini
1 (16 oz) package uncooked spaghetti
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups chopped cooked turkey

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a medium baking dish. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook for 8 to 10 min. Drain and place in prepared baking dish. Melt butter in med. saucepan over med. heat. Stir in flour. Mix in chicken broth and milk. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in about 1 1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, and remove from heat. Mix chicken broth mixture and turkey with spaghetti. Top with remaining cheese. Bake 1 hour in preheated oven, until surface is lightly browned.

By Karen Leonard

This is a picture diary of our summer vacation with George and Christine Clarke at Winterhouse Brook in Gros Morne National Park, on the Great Northern Peninsula. While we were there, my husband Rodney and his father, George, worked on the roof of their cabin. We also spent time at the fire pit near the water, and Rodney, George and Rodney's brother Adam also got to visit their favourite fishing hole.

The view from the landwash, Winterhouse Brook

Rod and Dad putting on the deck at the cabin, Winterhouse Brook.

A rattling brook on the Northern Peninsula

What do you most look forward to when taking a vacation?
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