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When Tanya Northcott goes on vacation to Newfoundland and Labrador, so does her camera. Really, it’s an adventure for her camera, which doesn’t see much action back home in Ottawa, Ontario.

“My camera is not really used anywhere else but when I’m in Newfoundland,” Tanya admits. “When I’m in Ottawa it just sits on the shelf. I’m working on changing this, as there are many beautiful places in and around Ottawa, too, but it just doesn’t inspire me the way Newfoundland does.”

Tanya was born on the mainland and was introduced to Newfoundland and Labrador by her adoptive parents, who raised her there.

“I’m a descendant of Ojibway ancestry. My birth family once lived on the Wabigoon Lake Reserve, which is South of Dryden, Ontario. I was adopted by a wonderful Newfoundland couple who were living in Thunder Bay at the time, but after living there for a few years they decided to move back to Newfoundland and that’s where I grew up,” she explains. “I’m very happy to have grown up in Newfoundland; it’s a beautiful place with very friendly people.”

Her first experience with photography was during a vacation to the southern United States and Mexico in the 1980s, when she was gifted an Olympus camera to record her experience. “During this trip I was really inspired by the beauty of the ocean and landscapes,” Tanya says.

These days, Tanya captures scenes using her Nikon D-90 with its AF-S Nikkor 18-105mm lens. She also uses a Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens and an AF-S Nikkor 55-300mm zoom lens. While her camera gear has changed over the years, what she trains it on has not. She is still is irresistibly drawn to the sea and landscapes.

“My favourite subject to shoot would be Newfoundland outports and landscapes simply because it’s so beautiful: the ocean, beaches, cliffs, wildlife, wharfs, boats and colourful houses…the only thing I need to do is to capture good composition and good lighting – the natural beauty of the land does the rest.”

She makes it sound simple, but to get the right composition sometimes means clamouring over cliffs or crawling beneath wharfs. And that great lighting? Well one could be waiting for hours or even days – sometimes even returning in a different season – for the best light. But it’s all worth it, as Tanya and every other photographer will tell you, when you get that perfect shot, that image that inspires you and others every time you see it.

Click here to view a slideshow of images taken by Tanya.
Adventure Canada, an expedition cruise line that’s been bringing passengers to Newfoundland and Labrador for two decades, has perfected many aspects of the cruise experience. One is the wake-up call.

No, it’s not a monotone voice on the other end of the phone gently nudging you from your cabin. At least on the morning this Downhome editor was aboard the Sea Adventurer, it’s the booming voice of the captain over the PA, announcing to passengers that the ship is sailing past a pod of orcas. I’ve never witnessed so many people (myself included) so eager to rise from slumber at 6 a.m. Sure enough, reaching the top deck I could just make out the black dorsal fins in the distance.

Downhome, as well as other media and tourism industry staff, was invited aboard the Sea Adventurer in late June for a special one-night sailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland to St. Pierre, France, in celebration of the company’s 20th year bringing cruise tourists to the province.

Others along for the ride include Newfoundland author Kevin Major, local storyteller Dave Paddon and a host of other famous faces from home. But this isn’t their first (and won’t be their last) Adventure Canada cruise. They are members of the company’s stellar resource team – typically locals with some area of expertise – who sail with cruise passengers to add that extra ounce of local knowledge and charm.

“For our guests it makes it very real. It’s not just the tour guide spiel,” Adventure Canada vice president Cedar Swan, a B.C. native now living in Ontario, tells me as we sail. “They’re actually getting the perspective of somebody that lives there, the pros and cons and the real-life situations, and I think that’s what people have come to know us for is for providing that type of insight.”

Food & fun
Throughout the journey I keep thinking that as we all filed onto the ship we must have looked like hungry souls, for they keep feeding us – and feeding us and feeding us. From hors d’oeuvres aplenty and a gigantic barbecue buffet on deck to a gourmet meal in the dining room, it’s a wonder the ship didn’t sink like a stone with all of us on it. (Still, I would have made off with the entire dessert buffet if I thought I could have done so without creating a scene.)

Canada’s literary queen, Margaret Atwood (another fixture on Adventure Canada’s resource team), is also on this trip. Shortly after we’re out to sea, the three wordsmiths – Paddon, Major and Atwood – go head to head in a game of “Nautical Bluff” in the ship’s lounge, which leaves everyone in stitches.

Late into the evening we’re treated to musical performances from talented members of the ship’s crew (which includes a saxophone-playing horse – seriously, I couldn’t make this up if I tried) as well as Juno-nominated Tom Barlow.

In the morning, as if on cue, humpbacks greet the ship upon our entrance into St. Pierre Harbour (perhaps the 6 a.m. orcas notified them of our impending arrival).

Canada, and especially our little corner of it, is indeed an adventure – one that’s best appreciated from the water. Next time I’m planning a cruise vacation, I might just consider sticking a little closer to home. – Ashley Colombe

Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the cruise.
There’s an interesting symmetry to Gerry Farrell’s life. In his first career, as x-ray technician, he spent his days studying images and looking at the human body in a different way than most of us do. His work inspired a new hobby, photography, which allowed him to capture images of other areas of life, often with a new perspective. And not surprisingly, he preferred to shoot in black and white.

Gerry’s photography passion continued as he transitioned from black and white to colour, and, fairly recently, from film to digital equipment. He also changed careers, graduating from Memorial University with a degree in medicine in 1974. After placements in Grand Bank, N.L. (not far from his hometown of Marystown) and Pictou, N.S., he’s currently a palliative care physician in New Glasgow, N.S.

As a photographer, Gerry says, “I am early morning person and like to take advantage of the ‘golden hour’ of sunlight, either at sunrise or sunset.” The tools he relies on to capture the best images include his Canon 5D Mark 3. “I use a variety of lenses, but my most frequently used is a Canon 24-105 f4 series. I enjoy wide angle shots and use a 17-40 lens for same,” he says.

Something more significant than good equipment that Gerry credits for his quality of photography was a special experience he had a few years ago.

“About five years ago, I spent a week with world-renowned photographer Freeman Patterson, and his inspiration made me a much improved photographer,” he says.

Gerry most enjoys shooting landscapes and, particularly, water features.

“Waterfalls have been an enduring subject for me, and I have visited many of the ones in Nova Scotia, and just returned from a photography adventure in Iceland, where there are waterfalls around every bend,” he says.

He and his wife (also a Newfoundlander, from Brig Bay on the Northern Peninsula) return to the island on a regular basis, where Gerry finds inspiration along the seashore. One of his favourite images was taken during one of those trips home.

“One image of sea urchin shells on the rocks along with seaweed at the Arches on the Northern Peninsula was made in the pouring rain two years ago. I wanted to make an image as a wedding gift for a friend. It included two shells and I titled it ‘Nestled,’” says Gerry.

“I always enjoy going to Newfoundland and Labrador, and walking along the seashore and photographing things I find there. Also, the fog in the early morning light creates a wonderful mood and makes one appreciate all the beauty around us.”

Click here to view a slideshow of photos taken by Gerry.
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

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From the Archives
Amy Adams of Mount Pearl, Newfoundland says this stylish outhouse is the "nicest outdoor toilet in Chance Harbour" - but we wager it might just be the nicest outhouse in all of Newfoundland and Labrador! According to Amy, the outhouse (built by Larry Holloway) is “well-vented and features soothing lavender walls, a beautifully landscaped walkway and patio, framed art, up-to-date reading material AND a chandelier!” Here are some other fun photos of outhouses spotted around the island.

Size Doesn’t Matter


What parent wouldn’t want to “go” alongside their youngster?
Submitted by David Mouland

False Advertising

If you’ve ever used an outhouse, you know it’s nothing like a toilet. Submitted by Pamela Park of Gillams, N.L.

Nature’s Air Freshener


Because Febreze can only do so much…
Submitted by Lorna Pike of Spaniard's Bay, N.L.

Just When you Thought Facebook had Privacy Issues…

“This is a picture I took at our friends’ cabin in Deer Harbour. They put in a new toilet and placed this one outside. It’s usable but only if you pee!” writes the submitter. Submitted by Harold Organ of Flatrock, N.L.

Old and New

Perhaps the extra “bathroom” was a selling point for this new home in Hart’s Cove, Twillingate. Submitted by Nick Adey of Twillingate, N.L.

Hang Onto Your Seat!


This outhouse, on the grounds of the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse, was photographed in the 1940s. The submitter writes, “What makes this outhouse unusual is that it was built to hang over the cliff because the rock was too hard to dig through. The children were always afraid of falling in when they used it!” Submitted by Crystal Randell of Bonavista, N.L.

Cold Feet & an Empty Bladder


Taken at the wedding of Peter Glover and Krysta Wells in June 2000
Submitted by Scott Cook, Cook Photography, Gander, N.L.

A Long Walk Short-taken

The boardwalk to the Delaney’s old outhouse at their cabin in Frederickton, Newfoundland sure tests their guests’ abilities to “hold it.” (Photo by Sarah Babychuk) Submitted by Alicia Celeste Loughrey of Ajax, O.N.
This autumn, why not host a "harvest buffet?" Assemble tables and chairs outside on your patio or in your backyard (weather permitting, of course!). Decorate the table with colourful leaves and acorns to really set the theme. Invite friends and ask each guest to prepare a seasonal dish. Here are some examples of some scrumptious fall recipes you can make to help set the theme.

Apple Dumplings
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp red food colouring
2 tbsp butter
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup milk
6 med. apples, pared and cored

Combine sugar, water, spices and food colouring; bring to a boil and add butter. Cool. Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk and stir just until flour is moistened. Roll on lightly floured board into rectangle about 18x12x1/4 inches. Cut into 6-inch squares. Place a whole apple in each square. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Dot with butter. Moisten edges of squares. Fold in corners to centre and pinch edges together. Place 1 inch apart in baking dish. Pour syrup over dumplings. Bake at 375°F for 35 min. or until apples are tender. Serve with cream.

Spicy Pumpkin Bisque
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 (16-oz.) can pumpkin puree
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp dried, ground small red chilies
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 cup half-and-half
Grated nutmeg

Saute onion and garlic in butter until soft and transparent. Add pumpkin, chicken stock, chilies, pepper, allspice, sugar, and sherry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 30 min. Place mixture in a blender and puree till smooth. Return soup to pot; add half-and-half and simmer until heated through. Garnish with nutmeg and serve.

Pumpkin Butter
10 cups raw pumpkin
2 lemons
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 lbs brown sugar
1 cup water

Peel pumpkin and grind in food chopper. Extract juice from lemons; add to pumpkin along with spices, salt and sugar. Let stand overnight. Then add water and boil gently until pumpkin is clear and the mixture is thick. Pour into sterilized jars and seal while hot. Spread on fresh, warm buns.

Stuffed Baked Squash
2 acorn squash
2 cups chopped ham
1 cup crushed pineapple
2 tbsp brown sugar

Wash squash and split them in half lengthwise. Clean out and wash seed cavity. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 30-40 min. Remove from oven. Turn cut side up. Mix ham, pineapple and brown sugar. Place equal portions of the mixture in squash halves. Return to oven and bake 25-30 min. longer, or until squash is tender.

Apple Cinnamon Streusal Coffee Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk

Streusal Topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Sift flour with baking powder. Reserve. Cream butter until light. Beat in sugar gradually. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Stir in flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Combine brown sugar with nuts and cinnamon. Spread half the batter in a buttered 8-inch square baking dish. Arrange half the apple slices on top. Sprinkle with half the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Spread with remaining batter. Arrange remaining apple slices in rows on top of cake. Sprinkle with remaining streusal mixture. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 40-45 min. Serve from the pan.

The editors of Downhome were more than a little surprised when a reader submitted his photos and video footage of a lynx he came across in the wild. The reason? Although Canadian lynx are common in Newfoundland, sightings are extremely uncommon. Here, we've compiled some interesting facts about the lynx, including some of the reasons why these wild cats are so elusive.

Look out, Hare. The lynx's preferred food is almost exclusively the snowshoe hare. In fact, the lynx population tends to mimic that of the snowshoe hare population. When hare numbers are down, so are lynx numbers, and vice versa. When snowshoe hare are not plentiful, lynx will feed on other creatures, including rodents and birds. Lynx have even been known to attack and devour young moose and caribou - not exactly a cuddly kitty.

Built-in Snowshoes. The lynx is well adapted to its Canadian climate, with large, furry feet that make travel over snow and ice possible.

Home Sweet Home. The Canadian lynx is found across Canada, from Newfoundland to the Yukon. Lynx typically prefer to live in the deep boreal forest, one reason why sightings are so rare. Where snowshoe hare are found in high numbers, so too, are lynx who feed on them.

Prefers the Nightlife. Another reason why lynx sightings are not common is due to their nocturnal sleeping pattern. Lynx typically only come out at night to hunt their prey.

TheImage Cat's Meow. If you've never seen a lynx, you've probably never heard one, either. Canadian lynx actually make the same sounds as the average housecat, though much louder.

Shy, Usually. Lynx are timid, wary creatures that tend to keep themselves hidden from sight. Even experienced hunters rarely catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures. Although lynx attacks on humans are extremely rare, all wild animals are unpredictable, so if you do happen upon a lynx, exercise caution.

I Am Not a Bobcat! The lynx is most often mistaken for another wild cat, the bobcat. Bobcats are most plentiful in Nova Scotia - and are not found in Newfoundland. Although the two species share many characteristics, there are subtle differences. The lynx is smaller than the bobcat, but may appear larger because of its thick coat. Unlike the bobcat, the lynx has pronounced ear tufts and an entirely black-tipped tail (the bobcat's tail is black-tipped except on the underside). Bobcats do not have large feet, so it is not as adept as the lynx at travelling over deep snow.

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