Share your photos,
videos, stories, poems and more.
Have you had an incredible, awe-inspiring or touching personal experience that you'd like to share? We'd like to read about it! In Your Words stories accompanied by good photographs will receive closer scrutiny.
If submitting a photo to accompany your story, please remember to include names of any individuals pictured, as well as when and where the photo was taken. Include any other pertinent information you feel may be relevant for caption writing, should your submission be chosen to appear in a Downhome publication.
I am a faithful reader of your magazine. I look forward to receiving my copy each month. I love the stories, poems, puzzles, photo scenes and everything else. I have been meaning to submit a ghost story for a long time and I finally got the courage to do it. I hope you'll publish it for me.
In my mother's middle-aged years she did some travelling to be with her granddaughter in Nova Scotia. On this particular occasion (I think it was Febuary month) she and her granddaughter were driving down a lonely road when all of a sudden through icy road conditions, their car skidded off the road. Being two women there all alone, they started to panic. All of a sudden they seen a light from a nearby house. Me neice told my mom to stay in the car and wait for her while she went to get help.
Through the snow she slowly made her way to the house and said a silent prayer that she would get an answer to her knock. Her prayer was certainly answered when the gentleman came out. She told him that her grandmother and her were stranded just down the road because her car had skidded. He told her to wait while he got his hat and coat and he would go out to help them.
They slowly made their way back down to the highway. He looked all around the car and shook his head saying, "I'm sorry but I don't see your problem." She looked at him, feeling very puzzled (and quite foolish) and said, "I don't see my problem either - but I swear my car had skidded off the road you can even ask my grandmother!" The man said, "That won't be necessary. I believe your car had skidded off the road but you have been pushed back onto the highway. If you look closely you will see the tire marks where your car had skidded.
My neice said, "I just don't understand how this could be."
The man said "Lady, this is no big surprise to me, we get this all the time. Ten years ago today our daughter was accidently killed when a school bus went off the highway to avoid hitting a moose. This is her way of reaching out. My mother and my neice thanked the man for all his kindness and started on their way.
As my mother took one last look from the back window, she swears she seen a little girl dressed in white with her hands folded in prayer and her head looking toward the sky. This was an adventure that lived on through my mother's life (she is now deceased) and my neice still tells this story. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
My mother, Mary Pretty, was a woman of great faith. That faith was rooted in her upbringing, as I got to see when I spent summers with my grandparents. If Mom said one prayer, she said millions and the Rosary was one of her favourites. Her grandfather, Edward was from Ireland and he was deeply religious as well. The heritage of devout Catholicism was well established in the OBrien family by the time I was old enough to spend summers with my grandparents.
My grandparents, Monica and Gus O'Brien, walked the mile to church or hitched the horse and cart to go to Petty Harbour for Mass before they ever had a car. While attendance at Mass was important, I think the part of the faith that entered everyday life was the Rosary. Every evening after supper, when everything was cleared away, Nan, Granda, Uncle France and I knelt in the kitchen. Granda or Nan would start and each of us in turn would lead a decade of the Rosary. Periodically Granda, a tall, big man, would break wind while he leaned over the chair. Uncle France and I did our best not to laugh, but depending on the sound or sometimes chorus out of Granda, it was hard not to laugh. Nan laughed too, but silently. Any time I looked over at her, she'd have her head down, shaking. The thing was, the Rosary went on, regardless. It was common for people to drop-by in those days and anyone who came by during Rosary time just picked a spot and knelt with the rest of us to pray.
I remember when I first started to say the Rosary with my grandparents, I couldn't figure out what they were saying. I knew the Hail Mary of course, but in the repetition of the prayer and the speed with which it was said, I couldn't figure out what was being said. Was this some new version I didn't know? The first two words, Hail Mary, were always loudly spoken; then the rest of the verse rapidly trailed off until . . .Holy Mary (loudly) and the same thing happened. There were always intentions with the praying too. Many a soul was ushered into heaven (we hoped), or the sick remembered, and always there were prayers for the family. When the Rosary was done, I could go out to play. Usually I went down to the Martin family; they'd be at the Rosary too and I'd join in with them. If I was lucky, they'd almost be finished. At least that's what I thought then.
Years later, as my father, Samuel Pretty, lay dying, one of the last things we heard him say was the 'Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death,' part of the Rosary. He was saying it spontaneously when he could barely speak. Years of praying came down to that one simple prayer in the end. I think he was comforted by it.
It's Mummering Time Once Again
MUMMERING TIME ONCE AGAIN
THE SNOW IS FALLING GENTLY DOWN,
CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS DO ABOUND
GAIETY IS IN THE AIR,
ITS MUMMERING TIME ONCE AGAIN.
FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE COME SHRIEKS AND SQUEALS
AS CLOTHING IS PICKED THROUGH AND CHOICES REVEALED
AS MEN DRESS AS WOMEN AND WOMEN AS MEN
OH, ITS MUMMERING TIME ONCE AGAIN.
SOME WEAR OLD LONGJOHNS WITH FLAPS OPEN WIDE
WHILE OTHERS WEAR DRESSES WHICH ZIPPER UP THE SIDE
SOME HAVE HUMPS ON THEIR BACKS
OR MAKE OVERSIZED BOOBS,
OH ITS MUMMERING TIME ONCE AGAIN.
THEY COVER THEIR FACES WITH CURTAINS OR CLOTH
TO MAKE PEOPLE BELIEVE THEY ARE NOT WHO THEY THOUGHT.
SUCH FUN AND EXCITEMENT THIS CUSTOM EXTENDS
OH ITS MUMMERING TIME ONCE AGAIN.
THEN 'TIS KNOCK ON THE DOOR OF A NEIGHBOUR OR FRIEND
AND CALL OUT THE PHRASE "ANY MUMMERS 'LOWED IN"!
THEY TROOP IN THE DOOR AND THEY DANCE AND THEY SING
OH ITS MUMMERING TIME ONCE AGAIN.
THEY'LL BE OFFERED A TASTE OF SPIRITS OR BEER
TO SHOW THEY ARE WELCOME AS THEY SPREAD THEIR GOOD CHEER
THEN ITS ON TO THE NEXT HOUSE WITH MORE OF THE SAME
OH ITS MUMMERING TIME ONCE AGAIN.
I'LL NOW END MY DITTY WHICH I HOPE YOU ENJOYED
MUMMERING , YOU SEE, IS PART OF NEWFOUNDLAND'S PRIDE
IT WILL START OVER AGAIN 'ROUND THE SAME TIME NEXT YEAR
WHEN ITS MUMMERING TIME ONCE AGAIN.
The Scourge of Rural Newfoundland-Potholes in the roads in the forest
We wait,with perimeters very irregular and menacing,as we hear our next "victim"approaching.We are many.Some of us will be successful in bringing undiserable language from our"victims" mouths as they try in vain to avoid us.Wham!!!Too late.Some of us let our "victims"off with just a curse or two,depending on how mature we are .Some of us more senior potholes are wide and deep,and we show no mercy.There is no escaping us we are everywhere.We are most successful at night.Our "victims"have two predators in the darkness.They are the moose and us.We have more success at night because we are the lesser of two evils.As bad as we are,we are not normally life threatening.So, naturally our "victims"focus on trying to avoid contact with the moose,because as the moose steps from the "forest" he is directly in the path of any on coming vehicle.We have an alliance with the moose .We cannot lose.Quite frequently 0ur "victims"rides through the forest cost them big time.After an encounter with us,some bill other than the one they pay for the damage we inflict upon them,may have to go unpaid.Horror stories circulate about the strife we cause.Owners of brand new cars and trucks have had to leave them by garages to be repaired.Damages could range from ruined rims and tires to severe steering problems.When they do become mobile again they drive in constant fear of a re-occurance, because we are relentless.They fill us with material but it doesn't stay.We are sometimes spray-painted so as to be seen from a distance.This is all for naught,because we multiply over-nite.The future looks bright for us potholes.We have our own way for weeks sometimes before they make feeble attemps to stop us.We don't even hear so much as a"rumor"that we may be permenantly covered anytime in the foreseeable future.Life is good.
A Freeman returned to Fogo
My mother never made the journey to Newfoundland to visit the home of her father's birth,but it was always in her heart. As a young boy of 16, Robert Elijah Freeman, a fisherman of Fogo, lied about his age and enlisted into the Royal Newfoundland Regiment to fight in the Great War. He, too, never returned home but made a new life and family in England. And so it was last year as my mother was coming to the end of her life that I made her the promise I would make their journey for them. I resolved that in the summer of 2013 I would be on Fogo to celebrate my mother's life and heritage on her birthday, June 23rd. My mother was a wonderful seamstress and so it seemed fitting to fill her favourite thimble with a little of her ashes to make her long journey home.
At the beginning of June my husband and I set off first to Toronto, then Montreal and finally Halifax as we inched ever closer to that special place on her special day. Hiring an RV we made the ferry journey from North Sydney to Port aux Basques and onward to Farewell to make the final crossing to Fogo. On the evening of June 22nd we stood at the quayside looking across Notre Dame Bay toward the Change Islands and Fogo. Then it was with disbelief that we were told that the ferry to Fogo was out of service and was unlikely to be repaired for several days, to have come so close and to be thwarted at the final step seemed a cruel stroke of fate. We returned the next morning to learn that the service was still not operating and so sadly we resigned ourselves to the fact that it was just not meant to be, so near yet so far. Explaining why we so wanted to be on Fogo that day, everyone at the quayside rallied round and suggested that we took the helicopter that was flying residents to the Change Islands and then see if we could charter a boat to take us the final distance across the bay. We were told the cost of the helicopter trip was " two seventy five".Thinking out loud that two hundred and seventy five dollars would be money well spent to achieve our ambitions you may well imagine our surprise to learn that in fact it was two dollars 75 cents per person, as this was the price of the normal ferry fare. We didn't hesitate and soon found ourselves flying across the bay en route to the Change Islands marvelling at the tricks and turns of life. One of our fellow passengers was a resident returning from a shopping trip the previous day and generously he welcomed us to accompany him to his home on the island whilst he made enquiries about our onward boat trip. Our feet had barely touched the ground before Gary Hoff and his lobster boat had been enveigled to help us complete our journey. Skimming across the bay I was overcome with emotions as it seemed to me as though a circle of more than one life was being perfectly closed in a way no one could ever have conceived. As we passed Brimstone Head I felt that I was seeing it through the young eyes of my grandfather as he left his birthplace for the final time, a corner of my life would forever be firmly planted here. Making the final climb from the swaying boat up the long, ricketty ladder onto the jetty was a fitting challenge for a vertigo sufferer such as me. I didn't want anything to be easy anymore, every emotion was extreme. Yet it was with absolute contentment and peace that I returned a Freeman and her family to Fogo.
RIP Jean Anne 1930-2012 and Robert Elijah 1901-1954, this was for you.
Thank you to all the wonderful people of Newfoundland, Change Islands and Fogo. To all the Freemans, Oakes, Snows and Torravilles out there, we will return in happy times as we know that we belong.
All in a day's work and love
"It's okay just take a deep breathe. You'll get through this, you always do"
Phew. I listen to the calming voice as my psychologist pulls me together during one of my emotional breakdowns. I can lose it for the most unimportant and fluke things, something as simple as a mix-up of plans. It's like a kick in the gut, my neck tenses and BOOM, I'm in meltdown. "It's time to press on" she announces. So, I catch my breath, wipe my eyes and hang up the phone.
Feeling better I smile, grab the map from my desk, and head for the door. It's pathetic that I've lived in this neighborhood for years but still need mapped directions. Even to places I've visited multiple times. Even with the MapQuest printout, if I miss a street, I feel lost.
I pick up the pace as I walk to the Wellness Center for multiple appointments. I quickly check to see if my Academic Advisor replied to my text message as I can't decide about my courses, program, or my career. I've switched university programs three times already. So I constantly need her to explain where I am academically and what other courses I should consider. Eagerly, I open her message, "You're young, don't feel you're falling behind, finish this term. Then we can cross paths with your options again". I can sense she's a tad more persistent today. Understandably as we both know nothing I could do this instant that would change anything. She is never reluctant to discuss a new idea but sticks to the concept of taking one step at a time. Always bold to point out time needed to earn required perquisites before the new academic path could start. With that reminded again, I scurry into my Social Advisor's office. She's someone I see more often than most. Embarrassingly it's actually every day. I seek her advice on how to handle things. For instance, when I accidently said something to a friend that was taken the wrong way and I needed help digging myself out of the hole. Or when I need some comfort over issues I am having with my feline housemates. She's heard about them so much she calls them the "twisted sisters." So she constantly prompts that "you're better than that" and "not to sink to their level of bitchiness." I know that but somehow always I need her to say it again for me to believe it again. And that's before I start going on about the boyfriend who doesn't exist. I talk about and worry that if I had done things differently in the past or if I was more confident at parties the whole boy situation (actually non-boy situation) would change. `He's out there but you just haven't met him yet," she says. She nudges me with re-assurance and we chuckle. Somehow her sense of sense of humor can always straighten my warped social world. My cell phone rings and I realize I am late for my next appointment. I feel bad since I noticed her phone go during my venting. She ignored it being committed to helping me. Now mine goes once and I am out the door. But I G2G!
Heading off to see the nurse, my stomach starts to turn. I feel the familiar sensations racing in the head and pain in the chest. In 2000 I had my first seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy. More than ten years later, I am still nowhere near proper control. I switch medications and dosage amounts multiple times every year. Faithfully, my nurse records everything in the journal she made especially for me. Without it I would be one more lost patient in the Ontario Health System. My nurse keeps track of EEG and MRI tests, medications tried, times and dates of seizures, discussions on surgical options, even individual research she's done on new approaches that might work better for my condition. She greets me with a smile, asks about recent episodes and bandages a cut on my arm from a fall the night before. To be honest the cut doesn't hurt. But when I wake up from what I thought had been a peaceful night's sleep and notice the cut it feels like a stab. The cut means there was a fall, the fall means there was a seizure, even if I had convinced myself the one before was the last one ever. Seeing I'm upset she comforts me reciting the quote "In life you get recognized by your achievements, but you get recognized more for what you overcome" This is the most emotionally unsteadying topic for me. I feel the warmth of her soft hands rubbing the bandage on my cold skin. I look up and see the hope and faith in her eyes. It's there each time. I don't tell friends or certain family members about my epilepsy. I cover up with lies when I need to run to my nurse with questions. I'd see her first before ever going to the doctor. I know she has all the information with her everywhere she goes. She is organized to the extreme and dependable beyond belief. She told me a secret; that if she could have one wish it would be for epilepsy because of me. "That's crazy!" I told her. Epilepsy isn't killing or restricting me. What about all those poor people and their families struggling with cancer, Alzheimer's, AIDS, schizophrenia, Parkinson's, or autism? There is so much out there! My nurse shakes her head says it is what she would wish for.
It's dark, I'm tired and my stomach is growling. It's time to head home. As I open the door, there's a delicious smell. The cook has made another amazing meal. I have a calorie counting obsession and have been approached multiple times by friends and family with concern on becoming underweight. The cook is not blind and knows the dangers. She goes out of her way to make sure I stay healthy and get all my needed nutrients. She is aware weight is a sensitive topic however there are no exceptions or excuses, her style is always done the healthy way. And she made the family wait an extra hour to eat so I could sneak in a fitness class in on the way home. Later as I'm about to get into bed, I have to push aside a stack of clippings about volunteer positions, job opportunities, store discounts, and travel deals. I'll look at them tomorrow. My executive assistant really does find the very best ones.
My Labrador retriever comes bounding into my room to say goodnight. I can see he has his nails clipped therefore knowing he'd been to see the veterinarian. She takes tremendous care of him. I pat the dog and give him the quick rundown on my hectic day: ``What the hell would I do without my psychologist, MapQuest, academic advisor, social advisor, nurse, pharmacist, cook, nutritionist, executive assistant and your veterinarian?" I would be one stressed and confused 21 year old girl. Thanks to them I am happy with my life, confident, and moving forward to opportunities.
My mom pokes her head in with a smile and wishes me "sweet dreams." What an exhausting day she must have had with nearly a dozen full-time jobs.
Newfoundlanders are Unique
Below you will find a persuasive essay penned by Rachel Barnes, one of my 15-year-old Grade 9 students at G.C. Rowe Junior High in Corner Brook, NL. After reading a couple of blogs written by non-Newfoundlanders detailing their experiences in our fair province, watching a number of videos on the internet created by The Independent, and numerous Tourism Newfoundland and Labrador commercials, I challenged my students to write an essay which argues how Newfoundlanders are different from the rest of the world. I was incredibly impressed by Rachel's work and thought it worthy of publication. With her permission, I am submitting her work to you. It is my hope that Newfoundlanders across our country and around the planet, will stand a little straighter, shoulders back, chest out with the same pride that Rachel uses in her Grade 9 Language Arts essay.
Newfoundlanders are Unique
By Rachel Barnes
Newfoundlanders are unique. In the blinding fog of life, we somehow managed to acquire this trait. Along with the exclusive language we possess, our alluring island is under the ownership of our own cultural norms. We stick together as one and identify with one another. The language is such a puzzle to some that a dictionary was made in its honour.
You see, we are connected. When a Newfoundlander encounters someone new, a sure bet to arise in conversation is, "Where are ya from?" or "Who's yer parents?" Courtesy of us, these questions arise precisely after names are exchanged. It's our thing. We constantly dig up friend and family roots, so as to bind ourselves together and allow a calming sense of security to envelop us, keeping us at peace. This is a common way Newfoundlanders discover new things about their ancestors and family trees.
As many know, the traditional Newfoundland language cannot be overlooked. This aspect alone sets us apart from the rest of the world. It has uplifted, bewildered, and just downright confused numerous mainlanders throughout time. So, what's so great about our language anyways? Everything. We possess the sense of humour that will undeniably send our audience grasping at their sides, praying for a solitary breath of air. Our accent is exclusive, which, yes, will be most difficult to comprehend if you are not a Newfoundlander. Last, but certainly not least, is our slang; our astounding slang. Unlike the norm, our greeting for "How are you?" can fall along the lines of "How's she gettin' on, bye?" This can baffle a mainlander who mistakenly understands "What are you getting on?" We have dozens of sayings that could sound alien to others. Only we unique Newfoundlanders truly understand. Regardless of where they are in the world, Newfoundlanders can pick other Newfoundlanders out in a crowd, not so much by dress, but by language.
We are individual. Newfoundlanders are connected and similar in language and culture. If you don't believe me, drop over for a lunch. You'll see. Just don't forget your dictionary.