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Fairfax, VA; Selfie; Stubborn; Villages Traffic Jam; Newfies; Screeching In; Golden Bras

Suzanne is just back from a 3 day trip to Northern Virginia/DC, where she spoke at Unity of Fairfax on Friday and Saturday. All three of her events, the Messages of Hope documentary, Making the Connection and Heart Gifts were well attended and enthusiastically received. In spite of the brutally cold weather, many people had driven from as far as Hershey, PA, Columbia, MD, and West Virginia to hear her speak. Carolee Egan, the event coordinator at Unity of Fairfax, graciously picked Suzanne up at Reagan International on Friday, took her out to dinner, and shuttled her back to the airport on Sunday.

While Suzanne was in DC’s 20 degree cold, Your Faithful Correspondent was working hard here in The Villages. I did a two hour, 35 mile bike ride on Saturday to ensure that the roads here had been successfully cleared of snow. My reconnaissance proved that our snow removal teams had been on the job. I couldn’t find a flake anywhere. I did have to suffer the frigid 55 degree weather and don a long sleeve shirt and gloves, but it was bearable. I emailed Suzanne this “selfie” to show her how extreme the weather was here in central Florida. She was not much amused. (I am glad that my “selfie” wasn’t taken with a cute blonde laughing at my jokes like our Commander-in-Chief’s picture which has been plastered over the Internet!)

Regular readers of this column may think that the “Stubborn” entry in the post title probably is an adjective that I am applying to My Lovely Bride, perhaps because of her continued use of the Serial Comma. You would usually be correct; today you would be wrong.

“Stubborn” in this case refers to our two dachshunds, Rudy and Gretchen, who are pictured here standing in what is euphemistically called “an anchor stance”, feet planted wide apart and refusing to move. It seems that they don’t like wet grass, and after taking them onto the lawn for their morning constitutional, they decided to act like they were anchored in place… they became little dog statues. I had to resort to “who wants a treat?” to get them moving. Have I mentioned that “Dachshund Obedience Training” is a contradiction in terms? Sigh.

While running on a golf cart path the other day, I came upon this unlikely scene. Two golf carts traveling in opposite directions had stopped on the path, with their drivers disembarking and discussing where Points A and B were on their maps while standing in the middle of the path, totally blocking all traffic, including This Intrepid Runner. Meanwhile, a third golf cart arrived and stopped, deciding that running over the other cart’s drivers was unsporting. The two guys in question were totally oblivious to the fact that they had caused a traffic jam. I wonder if alcohol may have been involved? (Here in The Villages? Naaaahhhhhh….)

While w-a-l-king the puppies in t-o-w-n Sunday morning, I met a couple who wanted to pet Rudy and Gretchen, and as soon as they started talking, I asked them where in Canada they lived. (C’mon, when you hear more than one “Eh” in a sentence, you know right away the speaker isn’t from Georgia, right?) Anyway, the lady said, “Oh, we live on an island, but Americans have never heard of it.” 
I asked, “Which island?”
She replied, “Well, Newfoundland.”
My answer stunned them. “My wife and I sailed our own boat to Port aux Basques, cruised the entire south coast of Newfoundland as far as Fortune Bay, and have even been “Screeched in”. 
The couple was amazed because their island is hard to get to, and few Americans travel north of Nova Scotia. You have to take a ferry to get to Newfoundland if you’re driving, but the scenery and the people make the trip unforgettable. The south coast reminds one of Norway, with deep fjords indenting the coastline. 99% of the traffic here is by boat or ferry, since there are virtually no roads. Helicopters provide emergency medevacs, and winters find many of the ports totally frozen over. 
One of our favorite small towns, called “outports” in Newfoundland, was Petites. It was a small fishing village of about 60 people which was in the process of being closed by the Canadian government to save money. (The biggest expense was providing electricity and a school teacher for a declining population, but the residents were virtually evicted, because Ottawa was going to turn their lights off.) Here is our sailboat Liberty moored to the town fishing dock in Petites.
Another one of favorite outports was Francois, which is actually pronounced “Fran-sway“. (The Newfies have no love lost for the French.) Francois actually had 114 residents, mostly full-time fishermen. There was also an American couple in their 60s with a sailboat just like ours who had fallen in love with Newfoundland and decided to settle there, but the Canadian government had revoked their visa, and they were struggling with Ottawa to extend their stay. I wonder if Canadian bureaucrats get some training in Washington, DC.
We discovered a quaint tradition in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland: that of “screeching in”, or becoming Honorary Newfoundlanders. We were non-Newfies, commonly called “Come-from-aways”. Our ceremony was performed aboard Liberty by one of our first Newf acquaintances, who happened to own a liquor store. Screech is the local rum here in Newfoundland, which back in the 17th and 18th Centuries came from Jamaica in exchange for Newf salt cod. One is supposed to take a big sip of rum, and then kiss a cod. Because of the ongoing ban on cod fishing during our visit, this part of the screeching-in was held in abeyance, but we were warned that if we returned when there were cod to be kissed, the ceremony would have to be repeated. That didn’t sound all bad…
Fortunately, we were able to fish for cod in the Bras d’Or Lakes of Nova Scotia, and here’s the picture of a happy fisherman to prove it. My Lovely Mate’s motto was, “I’ll catch them, but I won’t clean them.” I didn’t mind, because fresh-caught cod is beyond delicious. The lakes were named for golden brassieres supposed worn by the mermaids here. (Okay, I made that up. And Bob, if you make any smart comments about who caught this fish, you’re in big trouble.) For those sailors or would-be travelers wanting to learn more about our trip to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and across the Atlantic to Europe, please visit our sailing web site at

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