Essay 3 Part 2

by Christine Reeves

Blackhole within the Ministry of Children and Family Development for Some Families

Millions of dollars are used in court, battling parents in public hearings, adjournments, and trials. The Ministry of Children and Families (MCFD) must go to court to assume guardianship until the matter is set for another public hearing to prove the child/children need protection.

“Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) Total expenditures in MCFD for 2019/20 will reach $2.06 billion—increasing a further $272.3 million (+15.2%) over last year. The budget will increase again.” (5) (6)

“While the above measures account for the bulk of new ministry spending in 2019/20, expenditures in child safety, family support and children in care services also increased by $41.8 million, in 2019/20 (+6.5), and by a further $8 million (+1.2%) in each of the two remaining years of the fiscal plan,” (5) (6) BCGEU Budget Analysis 2019/20 BC Government Employee Union.

I read an article in Globe and Mail about a mother named S; she lost custody of her children over a fight with her husband, the father, which cost them their three children to MCFD. One would have to read their entire story to understand the grave blackhole this family is enduring due to the social workers who bulldozed their way in and have her newborn. Their baby’s name is M; the province owns her. Mother S breastfed her baby in a room at the hospital. It cost $60,000 to remain in the hospital, but because of violence and MCFD not trying to work out a solution, instead, they removed baby M and placed her in care and mother S was not allowed to bring her baby home.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-bc-indigenous-child-welfare-fight/

I cannot catch my breath when my heart lies outside my body, the sheer beauty of a woman is to bear a child in her womb. Yet, the evil in the world destroys the very hope of a unified grace of ‘family.’ The government is legally stealing babies and children by a higher system in the MCFD. They bully their workers and have the power over the innocent. What happens is that they adopt children who are loved and foster children out who are not unwanted or unloved. Who are these wolves in sheep clothing that bear gifts to the innocent and destroy the hearts of mothers while running from violent husbands? As soon as you are in an abusive relationship, you are immediately on the MCFD radar.

“Total Revenue: $681,101; MCFD (Ministry of Children and Family Development), contracts and grants $650,293, grants, donations and other income $30,808. Total expenses: $715,834; staff run great programs $401,293, supplies for great programs $120,501, lights and everything working, $194,087. Thank you, everyone, for your contributions to another wonderful year for our community and the youth in care movement.” Federation of Youth in Care – Pamphlet

Fbcyicn.ca annual report 2016-217, Debbie Cox Board Chair

Women get free makeovers and a free card to get their hair done. Meanwhile, the battered women’s husband hires a lawyer to fight for custody of their child. Mothers get passes to go swimming and a safe place to be; meanwhile, the ex-husband, who has a lot of money, begins to build a case against the mother. She, of course, must represent herself, then when that fails, she gets legal aid. Unfortunately, most legal aid lawyers are incompetent in the courts or end up siding with the MCFD. Why is that? I don’t know? The very government was against one particular mother who we will call D regardless of the truth. You see, places like the women’s shelter are good at providing passes to get clothing for cheap, passes for makeovers; they can even help you flee your abusive partner. They have a witness after abuse program for the kids at the Kelowna Women Shelter they provide excellent housing.

“I went to a group session that happened every week for mothers who left their abusive husbands, a program that runs through what was known as the Kelowna Family Counseling Centre. What I began to notice about this group were women who lost their children to the MCFD, and some lost custody of their child and were given custody to their abusive husbands. I asked the counsellor if I was in the wrong group because these women aren’t just women who are abused; they are women who lost their children.” Cecile said.

“Central Okanagan Emergency Shelter Society, statement of operations, for the year of March 2018, Revenue $2, 010,818.” (P11)

This non-for-profit society refers women to MCFD, just as some lawyers represent MCFD and work for legal aid. Where does one go for the right kind of help? The parody of it all is that mothers get to do the right thing, then get penalized for speaking out about it in court. For mothers, this is a no-win situation except for MCFD, who has the funding to take families to court and adopt their child/children out or force their children into foster care, the foster parents who have these children through MCFD get paid for it. We, citizens, are informed by how MCFD reveals themselves to the public by so-called ‘experts. I am learning through my research that MCFD is the breeding ground for ‘bullying social workers’ and misguided policies.

“After my son disclosed sexual abuse, we were ordered for testing and more testing by MCFD, who told us we had to go to the scan clinic. When the director took me to court, they told the judge that I put my child through the emotional trauma of having numerous exams and too many appointments to doctors. You see, I had to follow procedures presented before me; otherwise, I wouldn’t get to see my son. These orders came by the MCFD, the RCMP and guided by Elizabeth Fry Society.” Cecile said.

“Removal of child 30 (1) A director may, without a court order, remove a child if the director has reasonable grounds to believe that the child needs protection and that (b) no other less disruptive measure that is available is adequate to protect the child,”

Child, Family and Community Service Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 46 Part 3 Child Protection, Removal of a child section 30 http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/00_96046_01#section30 Copyright (c) Queen’s Printer, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

“why does my daddy hurt me, I never did anything to him why does he hurt me” her son screamed, crying on her bed. What is a mother to do? When those very authorities are the ones who add abuse to the abused and traumatize the family on a much graver twisted level?” Cecile wept.

Reason to believe can be any abuse; the more a person reads the MCFD Protection of Children Act and the pamphlet, the more horrific this can be for good families and parents who flee domestic violence. Why is this horrific? Because there is no way to protect the parent from being abused by the other parent. Why? Because it all boils down to one thing: he said, she said, and the MCFD bring their findings to the court in the best interest of the child/dren without proper investigation discussion and proper guidance. The MCFD has gotten so huge that they are adding more locations in every town and city to prey on families who get on their radar.

“What does ‘Reason to Believe’ mean? ‘Reason to believe’ means that based on what you have seen or information you have received, you believe a child or youth has been or is likely to be at risk. You do not need to be certain. It is the child protection worker’s job to determine whether abuse or neglect has occurred or is likely to occur,”

Duty to Report Pamphlet: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/public-safety/protecting-children/t15-0191_dutytoreport_pamphlet11x85in2folds.pdf

These black holes leave open for directors that do not follow proper protocol. They leave a child’s life in the hands of social workers and team leaders who aren’t monitored or reviewed. There is no other person to oversee these social workers that may be themselves abusive.

“You pissed the MCFD workers off, all you need to do is tell them you will never go to the police again, and you can keep your son. That’s all they want to hear; that’s all the judge wants to hear you say.” Cecile’s lawyer said in a tiny room at the courthouse.

Bullying from legal aid lawyers, lawyers who work for MCFD, and judges who rule for MCFD make the family court look like a shooting gallery to good parents. Powerless overpowers that hold their child’s life in the hands of a system that does not love their child but sees an opportunity to adopt these children out or foster them because they can.

“I looked for you forever, and a night, I couldn’t find where you went, mommy, your too far away.” Cecile’s child said on the phone through her ex-husband’s cell phone.

“Mommy, I was looking for you with my bare feet and pyjamas at night, and I called for you, but you weren’t there, and you didn’t come to get me,” Alicia’s child said. She heard this from her son after a traumatic 5-year battle in court with the MCFD, who kept making new orders and hearings to try to adopt her son out for all those years. MCFD dollars paid for all court hearings and adjournments and their lawyer fees and paid the foster parent who abused her son, all for what? Long overdue justice? There are still women who are losing their children to the MCFD, and no one is looking into this seriously. Our tax money is going to a child kidnapping business under the disguise of helping families stay with families.

One mother called MCFD because the other mother wouldn’t allow her son to play with her daughter. After all, they weren’t getting along. A few years back, this mother lost custody of her son because her abusive husband made a call to MCFD to ensure she was on their radar. They did no investigation; she ended up seeing her child in a room under supervision. She didn’t do drugs or drinks and did nothing to her son except being a good mother (anonymous mother still fighting to get her child back). How horrific is that to happen to one mother who lost her child because of a mentally unstable neighbour, later proved. Her son is still in the hands of her abusive ex-husband.

“He needs to have his nightlight on, and he takes two puffs of his Q-VAR puffer at night; he needs a humidifier; otherwise, it’s much too dry. He usually gets storytime and a song to help him sleep at night.” Cecile said. She placed a letter inside the bag with her son’s belongings, his favourite stuffy’s, and his medical bag. She tried to protect her son; she did what she was told to do by the MCFD social workers and doctors. She even followed the advice from the Kelowna Women’s shelter. She tried to work with her ex-husband, unfortunately in abusive relationships, there is no communicating or co-parenting in abuse.

“In situations of violence against women in relationships, the abusive man and/or his family often control the partner by threatening her with the removal of her children and then reporting her to a child welfare worker. Some abusive partners involved in custody and access situations will report the mother to a child welfare worker in an attempt to build a ‘better case’ against her. The motivation of the reports may be an attempt to control the mother as opposed to a realistic concern for the children’s safety and well being although this can also occur. If the reporter is a current or estranged partner, be cognizant of the preceding dynamics and complete a careful assessment of all of the pertinent information.” (9)

Best Practice Approaches Child Protection and Violence against Women https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/public-safety/protecting-children/best_practice_approaches_policy.pdf

Money flowed down from

Monsters who creep in the night

Who keep watch over your life?

Too scared to talk

Too scared to move

The workers might hear me

All I want is my mother

The workers bear gifts

Then yell at me

Who can hear me when I call?

All I want is my mother

written by a mother

The rich man stands while the poor mother bends, the pride is tall, but the poor are bent.

The mother who loves is bent and weak, but her heart stands tall as she stammers and fights to gather her sheep from the bad wolves who came to devour them. It Makes one think about the Disney movie called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, about a single parent father, who loves his children very much but the child snatcher comes to town and steals his children and he goes and fights for them. Who will fight for the parents who somehow fall under MCFD radar who are loving? Who is the one to save the children from the big bad wolf?

This is going on in Canada. These indigenous families and those who are suffering from violence in their relationships who have children are losing custody when they are loving parents. I can only guess that after all is said and done, it must be power and money? What other reason is there? I don’t have those answers. I have the solution, change the Child Protection Act, make the MCFD accountable, and bring children who are wrongfully taken back to their loving parents.

Work Citation

BCGEU Budget Analysis 2019/20 BC Government Employee Union

Macdonald, Nancy, 2019, “No way out: How a mother is fighting to keep her Indigenous children out of care”, The Globe and Mail Newspaper

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-bc-indigenous-child-welfare-fight/

Debbie Cox, Board Chair, Federation of Youth in Care – Pamphlet, fbcyicn.ca annual report 2016/17, https://fbcyicn.ca/sites/default/files/Annual%20Report%2C%202016-2017.pdf

Fidalgo, Roberta, President of the Board, Mason, Karen, Executive Director, 2018 KWS (Kelowna Women’s Shelter), Annual Report 2018, page 11

Child, Family and Community Service Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 46 Part 3 Child Protection, Removal of a child section 30 http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/00_96046_01#section30

Copyright © Queen’s Printer, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Government of BC Canada, Ministry of Children Family Development, Ministry of Family Duty to Report Pamphlet

For more information, see our website at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/mcfd

Reeves 10

Best Practice Approaches Child Protection and Violence against Women, Policy, Minister of Children and Family Development (P9)

Mothers I have met through the women I have come to know and care about but will not divulge their last name for safety (quotes from them: Cecile, Alicia, and unknown mother)

Essay 3-Part 1

Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

Black hole within the Ministry of Children and Family Development for Some Families

There is discord within the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) that reveals some families are being torn apart by MCFD, who remove some children with no proven cause. One mother I know shared her sorrow and grief of being a victim of MCFD’s power. In 2013, She and her 7-year old son were packing his toys into two large bags. The courts stripped her of her mothering rights due to her not having proper representation in court to defend herself. In contrast, her abusive ex-husband, the father of their son, who has money, stood in court with the MCFD to back him up won custody, and the mother accused of thwarting access of over eight years which wasn’t true. They relied heavily on a report made by a psychiatrist who the MCFD ordered a section 211. The MCFD told her that she would not see her son for a long time if she didn’t make this available psychiatrist. She wasn’t aware at the time that this psychiatrist was under investigation for his reports. The MCFD used him anyway.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/allan-posthuma-psychologist-domestic-violence-1.5352600

MCFD took her 7-year old and gave her child to the father, who had a past drunk driving charge, smokes drugs, abused them both and stood by him in court where he was permitted to take their son to a different Province based on the psychiatrist’s reports. 

Since the day MCFD took her child on false grounds, she had countless evidence that the BC courts didn’t look at due to the persecution by the MCFD, with no evidence except 

“In court, the director from MCFD used the words, ‘we have reason to believe.’ I have been struggling to see my son ever since”. This mother shared.

“Goal 2: Strengthen supports and prioritize resources for families and children based on their needs, in collaboration with communities and their partners to keep families safely together and improve support improve outcomes” (MCFD 2019/2020 Service Plan 4)

After reading the service plan, then looking back at news stories of good parents fighting to get their children back from the MCFD, this makes me question everything about MCFD. Some children who the MCFD took from good parents were placed in foster care. For some of those families, it is crucial to get proper representation because if the child stays in MCFD care with the MCFD for more than six months, the MCFD can make an order to adopt the children out. There is no law protecting families from MCFD who are legally kidnapping children.

I read an article in the news recently about baby H:

“Baby H was taken from parents 90 minutes after being born”, this was an indigenous couple. The mother had a C-section and was given medication. MCFD claims they received an email from a staff member that the newborn is at risk. MCFD took the newborn and placed baby H in foster care. The couple is still fighting for their baby.

(https://aptnnews.ca/2019/06/20/b-c-cfs-moves-in-to-seize-90-minute-old-baby-on-report-of-neglect/).

“Carol is Jessi’s mama, now a ghost mama, whispering into the ears of the fertile red nation plant seeds in the ground and in the womb, ground zero for a revolution. She reads in the 2013 census report that since 2006 the indigenous population increased from 3.8% to 4.3% of the colonial nation and she dances knowing there are even more babies ones who avoided becoming state stats like kanahus’s freedom babies unregistered babies taken into the woods knowing this she dances and she puts her back into it” (Eng 15)

This piece that Eng writes, I believe, is not a dance of joy. While Eng’s last line in the poem, “she dances and she puts her back into it” (Eng 15). To me, it signifies strength, the very bone of a woman is the spine strong enough to handle the weight of carrying a baby, only to then be separated and oppressed from her child. Yet mothers are brave, and ‘the dance’ signifies a battle for families who love their children who are randomly taken away by the MCFD government with more power than the RCMP and no governing body to oversee them.

“We are on the highway in Vancouver, starting our drive back home to Medicine Hat. The car stops suddenly and then there are two really angry men yelling, “Open the fucking door”. They smashed open the window and they’re grabbing my dad, one by the hair, the other by the throat. It looks like they wanna strangle him. My dad is kicking, he’s fighting, but it doesn’t work, they take him and he’s gone.” (Eng 19)

Powerlessness, a family is torn and separated. Government policies override human rights, a family of love ripped apart by governing laws.

How many more children have to be traumatized and taken from good parents for proper investigations and monitoring of falsely judged families? How many laws are broken, and no one is investigating this problem of years and years of MCFD bullying against some good parents who have been wronged or are reported by false allegations or false motives? Or have health conditions that leave them needing respite if they have no family for help?

“Objective 2.1: Recognize the importance of prevention, early intervention and voluntary services in keeping families safely together and review the ministry’s allocation of time, effort and finding dedicated towards these activities.” (MCFD 2019/20-2021/22 Service Plan February 2019. 4). 

This objective is misleading. When we compare it with the news article about a foster teen in MCFD’s care jumped from a hotel window according to the coroner, May 2016. (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/alex-gervais-coroners-report-1.3575970).

In 2018 there were a total of 6, 698 children and youth in care. These are the numbers that MCFD put out in this link. https://mcfd.gov.bc.ca/reporting/services/child-protection/permanency-for-children-and-youth/performance-indicators/children-in-care

“See me; my mouth is closed, the workers might hear.

They told me I will never see my mother again.

They buy me candy and presents to keep me from my family.

My mom is great. 

Her hands are tied.

by a system that told me she’s bad 

But that is a lie,”

(written by a mother whose child confided with her what the MCFD did to him while he was in their care).

Insidiously, one mother I spoke to shared that when she asked the ministry for help, she was very ill and needed to have a tumour removed and needed time to recuperate but had no family. Hence, she agreed that MCFD could have temporary care of her son while she gets better. MCFD did not return her son, instead placed him in foster care, then proceeded with a court hearing to adopt her ADHD son out. After fighting in court and five years later, she finally got her son back. She is a good mother. The trauma and PTSD, they both suffer from due to being separated by the MCFD left scars that you cannot see. Because he was neglected in foster care, they both had to go through therapy to recover from the after-effects.

“Key Stategies: -Advance a child focused, family centered approach by identifying and addressing policy and practice barriers to keeping children with family, extended family and community, and strengthening families through practice, culture, and resources” (MCFD 2019/2020 Service Plan 4)

Another mother still fights for her 9-year old son, whom MCFD removed from her. She is a good mother. They took her son while she was in the hospital getting surgeries done. Previous to the ongoing health issues, she was beaten by her ex-husband, the father of their son, who wounded her. She lost her two twins in her womb. The father was convicted and charged with assault. MCFD placed her son in the father’s care, and she is oppressed from seeing her child. This caused further trauma with this mother. It has been three years, and she is still battling to see her son.

These black holes in the Service Plan written by MCFD are not representing what is true to some families. By far healthy, overall well-rounded parents who are good must raise their voices if they fall victim to MCFD because money is at its root in most government plan or policy.

8 – Poems

1. Soliloquy of a Star
The peaks of blues released in harmony
in between the dense clouds of rain filled pockets
I notice how the break of wind
falls beside my friend.
The other break flows up and around
in the valley hills,
a rumble echoes across the plane
I hear the rolling unfeigned sorrow
Of Cat Stevens and his guitar playing
while the whipping of the wind dances off the glass
Illness happens energy falls, burned out grass
from smog imbuing sacks of fluid notes
breath soaks wets brass
eternity opens crowds dance
beloved time
the art of song cascades over seas
The sun radiates a sheet of warmth
Eric Clapton’s hearing dims
Music veiled in shadows descend
Sounds of whales in water blends
Springing forth fresh heavens
feeding the earth building soprano heights
Nana Mouskouri cradles children in music delight
The poor feed the true plight
of birds that seed a family strings kites
of fame that chains music down rivers.
Enya showers the valley with her haunting chants
Of wild weather turning cold to warm
A season of chicks chirping lyrics are born
These valleys witness the lonely landscapes of dust
We don’t see clearly as we did when ageing swells distrust
Only we dream and make them come true
The mounting of hymns
Bird sing
lightning snaps down the ground
splits grain in two
where mourning souls beat the drums
the day launches geese fly
light fades
night we die
still the children play
while day wind colors the frame of this painting
strung from your guitar
beauty where flame explodes the birth
of a star.

2. A Fable on Resurrection
Soft and muscular body
Painted spots on canvas of art
Colors of brown with spotted black
Eyes that take my breath away
Can you see my soul, my mind and my heart?
I am drawn into the wisdom
Wildness
Of your agility and speed
He came home to me from the fair
The first memory of Leopard was
The heart of our desperation
A fragmented fraying of ties being pulled
Apart
That Leopard’s strength can solve
By anchoring in the corner and in his beauty
We drew from his strength and if we could
Turn in a moment he would reveal how he’s real
There’s nothing to say about human nature
How boxes of rooms fill their space
To confine them
I watch them move in this unfading time that
Fills their stomach of trapped dreams
I’m tucked in their nightmare but needful here
To show them how nature and freedom is wild and infinite
As the trees reproduce
Filter through expanse of air
Where gliding and falling through moments that build
Through memories where the heart and the hunt combine the patience
Of waiting
There isn’t time to think about what could be
Or will be but now
My leopard is pulled and tugged dragged and played with
open and its seams are torn
my child cries at such a wound as this
leopard dies
I soothe my beautiful boy
And remind him of choice to mend that life is full of rips
And tears but with love and teamwork
We can fix leopard
We thread the needle I pull it through
This fine needle and sew
My son’s turn to stitch and stitch this fatal wound
our leopard sits once again
In awe struck beauty he watches and moves
showing us that in life’s uncertainty
Wild love is great and eternal.

3. Recipe of Seeds
I stand to witness ‘us’
On earth and use air that trees convert
Those that break my sticks and bones
hide their act beneath stones
I feel the wind and balance the shift as I swallow your breath
The life that casts your shadow dark
Is the essence of life your seed and bark
Every turn of century looms
The family is what keeps us pruned
In time the planets turn
Make music we too sound our song
And birds that perch upon these limbs
within this universe ,
the difference between the tree and me
is that I bleed where sound can’t see.
The greens of my leaves are true to the color of the sun
Our eyes glimpse an image created and spun.

4. Ode to a Slave
I call for you through
That smoky fog
Groundless I am
In darkness smog
Surround my movement
Flowing
Seeing you
No sound
No voice
No body
No choice
I scream
My voice echoes back into myself
I try to see
My eyes sewn shut
The weight of me
This state of nothingness
I’m stuck
No freedom limitless
This tomb of yours
The gravel fills my mouth
Below
The panic left me
Still
This place of endless blackness
I call to God in prayer and there
Right through the curtains a stream of light
Glistening there
I see the colors of paisley flowers
Of painted dreams
Relieve the hours
I awake
This is real
I feel
Surreal
You conceal
A plan a deal
Your love unreal
The day you buried my heart
Plunged it deep in the earth
Trees tower mirrors part
I float I hover and shield
This life inside
The joy I sew the music I thread
The moment I bled
The life you kept
Unshackled instead
I dance ahead
I rise from the dead.

5. A Wife
A father’s pride sees fit his stride
And baby oh baby how love is there
When you lie and stare into heavens of those who know to love you
Is it that easy to labor and break a habit?
Strong enough to win this medal
But lost enough to lose the battle—living.
This life ageless
Death and life intertwine
My son don’t hold back your love she spun
The hearts of many who seek the crown
Only to find a father’s devotion in the bosom of once
cradled in his mother
he receives the blessings of a simple woman
A wife.

6. The Plague
I was sleeping
Death moved through walls
Her eyes dark holes, hair black and matted
I awoke
Her pajamas flowing, she floated high above me
She turned looked at me
Then passed through the window
Returned she lay beside me
She looked right through me
Frightened circled my room
Sickness then fluidly passed through the same window
the pandemic
Striking, piercing
Fear gripping
Struck early dawn in November 2020
Day unknown
No writing in my journal this nightmare
Before the news
I saw diseaase
Of what is too come
Affliction and death
Perhaps I met this plague before
The house of cancer
The woman in the window then at the door
Staring out unable to thrive
White face dark circles matted hair
Loss of beauty illness steals the body of its health
Once lost restored
Change of scene…. like a play?
More like an encounter where night preys on the day.

7. The Woman I Am
I am perplexed by words spoken at me
It’s not as though they were unexpected
I prayed for those words to relieve me the pressure
Of attaching my love before I spoon
It’s not like I chose to be severe in my morals
I need the severity so there are no quarrels
I simply leave at the first man who clings
I think it’s my past unknown wasps still sting
Accept its long term that blocks the way to keep secure
I don’t plan on engaging anymore
I’m too protected a diamond stored
Not the pearl in a shell but deep in stone
I keep my heart to only one
This happiness I have is mine that I share
But when you come close my desires scare
Because I love so much it isn’t contained
And some men who are wounded flock toward me
It seems
I block out anyone new and keep alone
Until I find a healthy stone that doesn’t mind
The break of hands that hold
Or shatter at the touch of love that matters
I don’t mind alone if it means I keep my grace about me
A true woman inside and out
I desire a true man who isn’t afraid to kneel
One who’s strong and weak revealed
If only to collide our hearts into one
Because children are precious and love is never
undone.

by Christine Reeves

8. You are Enough
It’s just a store
Save on Foods, nothing special.
Accept when I sat in the parking lot crying.
A tap on the window from a stranger asking if I am all right
I was okay. I was releasing too much emotion my body couldn’t contain.
Or standing in an open area of the store after I found out I lost you.
I don’t know what happened, or where I went. I was in ‘shock’ that held me frozen.
I stared.
I could not move or think.
It was in this fragment of that my dad came to rescue me.
He walked me out.
Save on Foods the grocery store is the same after all these years. The memory hasn’t changed.
I have.
Packing away your clothes, I couldn’t find my space, I was nauseous
I got lost in my head. It got dark, so I crawled inside myself.
No sound.
No view.
It’s a coping mechanism when under severe shock
of great loss.
It’s important to note that writing this has nothing to do with poetry
but it has everything to do with a moment in time.
That walls contain where no one sees.
The fine fibers of the rug, I remember. I moved your bed so we can build a pirate ship.
You see, the posts made this impression on the rug,
a permanent mark stained.
It shows you were here.
It reveals I was an active mother.
In time I birthed beauty.
I held you and showed you to the world.
A time where you ran and walked and talked
right before my eyes.
“Mama”
I won’t hear it when you say it now that moment is gone.
It isn’t the same.
But in dreams, when we sleep, it unrolls like a film from a camera.
Every breath of love we experienced
unfolds.
And we see It, and we know.
That however long we are here
It’s enough to love,
It’s enough to be gentle,
It’s enough to care.
You are enough.

Data Sonification: Sounds from Around the Milky Way

February 5th, 2021, by Christine Reeves

Report on article: Data Sonification: Sounds from Around the Milky Way

Our ancestors from the beginning time created images to represent what they saw. But how does an image turn into sound? When I turn on my radio, I know that I get the frequency of radio waves that makes it possible for me to hear the music. Observatories observe the universe, the stars, the milky way. Watzke writes of a new project that NASA Chandrix X-ray Observatory takes astronomical images into sound using their telescopes. “Sonification is the process that translates data into sound, and a new project brings the center of the Milky Way to listeners for sounds representing the position and brightness of the sources.” (Watzke)

This tells me that the brighter the star, the higher the sound, the dimmer the star, the lower the sound. Not only can those of us who hear and see images and music but now even the blind can see through the galaxies transformed for them into sound.

Watzke explains, “Stars and compact sources are converted to individual notes while extended clouds of gas and dust produce an evolving drone.” (Watzke)  What does it sound like?  It sounds like a symphony with a low base in the background.

This new project can teach and allow people of all ages to hear the milky way and understand how massive, and beautiful our milky way is. Watzke’s article informs us that this project will allow users to listen to data that are far away in light-years from us. “Each telescope plays a different instrument. Each image reveals different phenomena happening in this region about 26,000 light years from Earth.” (Watzke)

To listen to the stars makes wishing on them to a whole new level when we can hear them. In my Hospice volunteer training, the last thing to go in people is our hearing, and What a beautiful sound to put on for those we love the sound of our milky way where stars collide, where gasses move and wear stars die are all images that move us when we hear them and move us closer to the center where the star Sagittarius A is.

Work Cited

Watzke. “Data Sonification: Sounds from Around the Milky Way.” NASA Government: 2020. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/news/data-sonification-sounds-from-around-the-milky-way.html

Imagine the Universe! The Cosmic Distance Scale. “The Milky Way About the Image”. NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center. https://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/features/cosmic/milkyway_info.html

My Feet

Photography by Christine Reeves

Bullying occurring in a relationship kills any romance that once was alive. My feet have walked in safety, I walked in love before, and I know what it’s like to feel the grass under my feet, or the water flowing between my toes. I even felt the sand tickle them. But there is something about anger that turns my feet cold. Cold enough that when Cory’s will confines me into submission. I become a hollow tree. His wrath against me wounds me, creating injuries in my body, like holes in the bark. The tree’s sapwood is exposed; the air gets in there, and fungi and bacteria form; that is how a tree becomes hallow. The effects of abuse corrode my inside until there is nothing left. My spirit knows a more lavish escape, what freedom there is to scan an open field that looks big enough to engulf me. I long to feel safe again.  All I want to do is run through the meadow until I can’t run any longer and throw myself down on my back and become part of the sky.

“You bitch”. Corey said. I walked away, no sense in engaging with words like that. My parents never spoke to each other or me that way. I felt as though I’m choking on my heart. I went outside, the forest looked ideal for times like this. I found a special hideaway place, where peace and gentleness were emitted from the large tree. I brushed myself off from sitting too long in the dirt and looked at our pond, such a beautiful place—I wonder why he gets so angry.

Our pond is enormous. It reminds me of the Cottage; when I was six years old, my mother got out the suitcase and pulled out my favourite pink bathing suit with the cool silky buttons on the front. Whenever I saw my bathing suit, I knew it was time to go swimming in the lake. I couldn’t put my bathing suit on fast enough. I overheard my sister and cousins laughing and screaming running down the bank to the lake. I ran so fast to catch up to them that you could see the sand fly from my feet.

“Supper’s going to be ready soon. Will you be eating at the table?” I asked with an undertone of resentment. He looked up from his game, stared at the table, “Oh, look at what we have here, all set up nice,” he got up, washed his hands and ate. I had so much to share with him, a story from work, what Dakota the dog did in the field while he rounded up the sheep, how I met his Aunt Deidra while I got the mail. We had a lovely walk talking about how much they made from selling another three horses. “The goats had no water when I got home; wanna tell me how come?” “I meant to tell you I can’t fit the two hoses together, one of them is broken or missing a piece,” I said. He got up, “come with me.” I followed him out back where the hoses were; he picked them up and forcefully put them together, then turned the water on and filled the basin. “Tell me you can’t be that stupid.” I looked at the hoses, “I guess I just didn’t have the strength to get them to attach. I thought they didn’t fit together.” I pleaded. He chuckled, and went back inside to the table.

I didn’t say anything what was there to say? He got up put the dishes in the sink and reminded me to take out the garbage, if I could handle that and went back to his game— Alone again, I did the dishes, and took out the garbage on my way out for an evening walk.

The frogs were louder than usual. All singing in unison, I could hardly hear the crickets’ chirping. I feel the rocks under my shoes. The stars brilliantly bright tonight, one swooped across the sky, I stopped at the edge of the pond, A moose stood staring at me. Beautiful creature. I walked back into the house. He was still playing his game.  “Are you coming to bed soon?” I asked gently. “No, you go ahead, I’ll be there when I’m good and ready.” I wanted to tell him about the moose, and the shooting star, the sound of the frogs in an orchestra, and the crickets that couldn’t compete but what are words when they echo back at me? I drew a bath and poured bath salts with rose petals in the tub.  I dreamed of when we bathed together, his huge feet in the air amongst the bubbles and my feet embracing his. Those intimate moments were stolen by drugs and games.

There is an agony in the marriage. Pain that ice a pond in summer. And the sudden sting that jolts me where my feet freeze. I remember when I was a child, I was walking with my mother and my sister from a full day at the lake. A bicyclist was barrelling towards us, my sister ran away into the pasture and my mother jumped to the side— and me? My feet wouldn’t budge. They were frozen and I couldn’t move. I got run over by the bike, a tire mark scraped me from my leg to my forehead. My mom picked me up from the ground and carried me to the house. It was a long way up the hill, I am loved.

“You did it again Trudy, you put the toilet paper the wrong way, you stupid or somethin?” He yelled from the bathroom. The toilet paper roll, how could I forget. He continued to bellow at me and slammed the door. I felt like crawling into the mattress hoping he wouldn’t hurt me. I woke up to his feet touching mine. I felt punched.

Our feet take us on many adventures. I didn’t know my feet would take me through a wedding and be deceived in my steps realizing the groom’s addiction turned against me and eventually beat me. I blame the addiction and not my ex-husband because addiction is a sickness that kills the heart of its victim. It’s better to tread carefully and lovingly through life. Eventually, I had no choice but to leave with the clothes on my back and our baby in my arms. My feet carried us to safety.

14th-Page-Creative writing class-one page at a time during the pandemic

I was getting ready for a morning walk when I found one sock on the floor. So, I checked my jeans, the bed, the bathroom, the couch no sock. So, I started to crawl underneath the covers, trying to find the matched pair. Do you ever get mornings like that where you cannot seem to get it together, and socks randomly disappear? So, I found a different colour sock and wore a mismatched pair rationalizing that today’s athleisure style of sweatpants and design colours can make my fashion trend during Covid 19.

Speaking of the Coronavirus, surely this pandemic storm will calm someday. At least I have faith that it will. We live in turbulent times; however, the storm of Covid 19 is one with several different views. Some of my family see Covid as a hurricane, some as a blizzard, and others like thunderstorms. I happen to think Covid 19 is like a flood, the damage is long, and the renovations are troublesome.

My class starts later in the day, a great relief from the clamour in my head. Hiking and being at the lake inspire me.

I land at the edge of the lake watching ducks float by, such a surreal moment; that is the best kind of inspiration a piece of poetry flew out of my fingers onto the page.

As the words pour out, I am careful not to bring my work into the page, careful not to convey what should not be said. But sometimes, when I am staring at giants who won’t back down, I crumble in tears. It’s one thing to walk out with mismatched socks and hike to clear my head; it’s another thing to try to balance my work life with the under-the-cover giants that seem to have more of a hold than I can explain.

That’s where my Professor comes in with guided exercises. First, the writing exercises help us go beyond the emotional stuff, bringing forward art from the giants in life, like Covid, like addictions, stress or grieving. Soon the poem takes shape, and the art of words dance on the surface of the water.

What You Do

Duck floats 
Duck eats 
Duck flies 
Duck sees 
How easily it is to shut off noise 
For creatures who aren’t bound to understand 
right and wrong 
Choices disturb 
The water that flows to us 
Water is energy, 
constellation galaxies 
Hydrogen, water, H20 
Think about the input 
Of the world of stars around you all this 
Power passes through you 
Around you of grace, curse, change 
Transference of matter, a smile 
A frown the current of light waves flowing 
As humans pass our way 
The yelling of rights 
The praying in silence 
All make a wave of movement in you 
What you have matters 
What you do gifts and multiplies 
The crying one walking passed 
The starving one lying there 
The obsessed bound by ejaculated stress 
The release only to gain another 
Level of chains it leads you 
Into traps of matter 
That’s poured into your soul. 
Will you dance? Or stay trapped in your net? 
How to release a duck from oil spills 
Is something only two hands can do 
Why are you using your hands for seeking to remove 
Your head from your heart into a drug 
 Disney
https://www.potterybarnkids.ca/
2020 Williams-Sonoma Inc. (Updated October 2018)

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“It is with fire that blacksmiths iron subdue
Unto fair form, the image of their thought:
Nor without fire hath any artist wrought
Gold to its utmost purity of hue.”
by Michelangelo Buonarroti
, https://mypoeticside.com/poets/michelangelo-buonarroti-poems#block-poems

A new start, here I am amidst my greatest masterpiece for trying out this assignment something happens to wreak havoc on my success. Isn’t life like that, though? Indeed it wasn’t easy for many writers and painters in our historical past that somehow started with a less than desirable piece to create. I’m thinking of the great artist and poet Michelangelo. He was very particular in choosing his stone/marble to sculpt. In the case of the marble stone Michelangelo used to sculpt the famous statue called ‘David’, he used old worn-out marble abandoned for more than
40 years, which was ugly and weakened but this very marble turned into the most famous masterpiece.
(Mussio, 2015).

Great Art Explained https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCePDFpCr78_qmVtpoB1Axaw/about

Thinking about how history exists in archives, in buildings, in this platform now will be history soon. Time doesn’t exist in the Milky Way. Space is but a geometric, chemistry equation that even
between the distances among stars, we can find worlds hide within its darkness the very reality
of light within the artists’ soul. I think of this kind of space when I read Leanne Simpson. I
wonder if Michelangelo and Simpson can relate to fire and their art, what kind of dialogue would
they have?

"“You are here, because you’re in my heart
You are here, because you’re my witness
There are long rays of deepening sun
There is flat blue
Lake wearing prairie
Seed inseminating lake
We’re in my canoe
In my head you built our fire

In real life I fed it my way
i fell grains and tobacco to lake
the long rays of deepening sun
kiss each duck and goose before they leave.” (P 73 Simpson)
Simpson, Betasamosake Leanne. “This Accident of Being Lost” (2017). P. 75 III Stealing Back
 Red bodies. House of Anansi Press Inc. 

The two contrasting artists are vastly different, and yet, they speak of fire. They speak of space—
the beauty of worlds between thought and hand that leave marks behind for us to view.

When I think of Jake’s exercise of writing the cheesiest love poem and the saddest poem, I think
of an overload of bad words thrown together to make an easy poem. I understand that is not the
case; however, whenever Jake gives us an assignment, I find myself writing from a place I didn’t
believe existed. Perhaps I found my self-portrait through cheesiness? Thinking of self-portraits,
my grandmother in Spain had her self-portrait done by a street artist. I wonder where that
painting went when she died. It was beautiful, the street artist captured parts of her she never
shared with us. Wrinkles on her face, her lips pursed, her intense gaze. He even painted crinkles
on her red blouse and ensured he painted the tint glow of her hair.

When my son was four years old, my sister sent us a child’s easel with paint. I looked at my son
and told him to draw himself. When he finished, he showed me his self-portrait. He painted a
cross with Jesus on it and a blue sky. I looked at my son and said, my goodness Benjamin, you
drew Jesus. He ran off the chair to play with his Lego. I stared at his painting bewildered. We
don’t know much about things until we face trials. My son somehow felt the desire to paint Jesus
on the cross; little did I know we both had to carry a heavy one three years later.

It seems a theme in my life of trials that needs attention. My laptop bottom charger hole broke on
the inside. It is the last few weeks of school, another mountain deserving of climbing. I was sick
before that. I am typing on an old laptop. I feel blessed by it, but the keys are not the same
consistency:

Mountains are meant to be viewed from across
The way one views between people
The taller the height the greater the view
The shorter the stare can be painful for you
Have you really looked at a problem that had no solution?
Accept to endure it until you find your way through
I think of these things when I cannot see you
It doesn’t matter how far apart we are
There are no mountains great enough that I cannot cross
To find you, you see my son that is how much I love you.

Instructions: Write the Cheesiest 8-line love poem you can muster
I am enamoured by your beauty
Holding unto the gift you gave me
Your blood pumps in my veins
I cry at the explosion
Your love plunges me deep
Abound with you I make it passed the constellation
Where sound, sight,
touch and taste, embody me full that runneth over.

Instructions: Write the Cheesiest 8-line saddest poem you can muster

The slice cut deep into my mother’s heart
I held my baby in that second we part
Shed joy true happiness
Lost from the start
Where you breathed your first
I lost you
Here in my arms you lay
Birth and loss it seems the same day

Instructions: Braid them together:
I am enamored by your beauty
The slice cut deep into my mother’s heart
Holding unto the gift you gave me
I held my baby the second we part
Your blood pumps in my veins
Shed joy true happiness
I cry at the explosion
Lost from the start
Your love plunges me
Where you breathed your first
Deep
I lost you
Abound with you I make it passed the constellation
Here in my arms you lay
Where sound, sight, touch and taste, embody me full that I am runneth over
Birth and loss it seems the same day

The art of writing to me are moments held in time and place where forever scars run deep. They leave a permanent design, much like tattoos accept scars happen. Life’s adventures are when we feel everything and see lines and tears of flesh open in the image and likeness of the greatest artist where time and imprints can’t match this created beauty held at this moment. We are gas, water and other components of stars, and if footprints scar the moon forever of all who stood there, indeed the scars of life are meant to be honoured, uncovered and viewed for what they are. My creative self-portrait is simple— it’s me.

16th-Page-Creative writing class-one page at a time during the pandemic


Leonard Cohen in the back of a cab going up Third Avenue in New York on his way to JFK in 1972
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mike_jahn/5024330587/

The lyrics are steady and sure. The letter tears through curtains that are torn open, and the beat of the lines are a continuous trail of story and song merged like the ocean merges into the open rivers. Cohen has the beautiful ability to take the drama in life and put it in the song of expression and emotion that speaks to the audience’s core. I can only guess that he has lived a
life filled with surprise and wonder, death, and life. He is a legend. I must admit some emotions find words that pour through my fingers:

The One Who Stays
by Christine Reeves
Desire can build stone blocks that form.
love molded in concrete is sorrow pushed down too far.
Can lead a soul bound for heaven thrust hard
These are the storms that make
Or break
So much of this life 
I want to warn you and shake.
Despite the bells that call you twice
I cradle the child you rejected; 
I cradle the man you protected
But tell me, my beloved, how far will you go before
You realize the fire is burning below.
Come now, nestle in my breast.
There is no lacking where love rests.

Back to the class discussion on Leonard ‘s song, ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’. My thoughts about the song are windows that question the nature of a torn nation. When does a marriage fall into the hands of another? If a countryman sees his beloved share a part of her beauty to another country, is this not betrayal? Surely as it rains in the middle of a storm, the realization of death of one who cannot recover from such a loss is truly one who has no redemption.

I don’t think a person starts by writing; I think art comes when we have a thirst to incorporate
what we don’t dream into lives that take form. Maybe the story builds from there like the
swelling of a lake. We cannot contain the words that flood us, like standing in a puddle. We
either have to take our rubber boots off or keep them on and pour the story down into the page.

Maybe that is what any artist sets out to do. If we look at the artist Marcel Duchamp and his
transformation fountain from a urinal, what is he trying to tell us?

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marchel_Duchamp_fountain_sculpture,SFMOMA(3700182764).jpg
Marcel Duchamp’s fontaine

I think it depends on what a person sees. One can can see something to piss on or see a fountain that brings forth water? How do we perceive others? What are we really looking at? I know that judging a person can change a person’s whole life by other’s perceptions. I think art is like that. I can tear a piece apart if I saw it had no value or birth in it. We create for the very art of producing what we love. We love the moment of our lives and everything that functions to sustain us.

Part of that is how our body works. We piss, we poop, we fart and burp, do we focus on the obvious? I often think kids do. I remember my son laughing with his friend in the back seat singing, “beans beans the musical food that makes you toot and not to poop.” I happen to believe that most boys don’t grow up fully until the age of 70. Maybe that is where the ‘grumpy man’ syndrome derives? I know women don’t grow old until they hit their 80s. I say this because that is when the craziness of menopause calms down to a stop.

I think these things are worth talking about when I think of art.

“Tut, Tut, looks like rain”
― A.A. Milne

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/81466.A_A_Milne?page=4

What was that Noise? It’s Goose Management

“If you were a bird, and lived on high,
You’d lean on the wind when the wind came by,
You’d say to the wind when it took you away:
“That’s where I wanted to go today!”

― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

It was a beautiful day; for a 2-hour walk, I encountered various expressive birds early in the morning. All were singing their songs that I would love to write the lyrics if I understood their language. Finally I landed through the hills, down the valleys, to the lake. Early in the morning is the perfect time to regroup before the day of work. I find mornings the best time to free myself of unwanted dialogue inside my head and open the flood gates of creative inspiration where I drink words from the added oxygen of my soul.

I enjoyed the peaceful rest gazing over the lake, a red hovercraft glazed towards shore a bit of distance right where I was. This suspicious creature had binoculars and was staring over me; at first, I thought he was staring at me, but I wasn’t about to make this about me. I casually sat there examining this new encounter and wondered what he was up to this early in the morning. Then, I heard a loud POP. The geese came from behind me in a frantic furry flying in all directions honking for their life. You’d think with that kind of sound, one would jump or run away. It was that loud. All this frenzy was before 8:00 AM.

They honked in great dialogue of seeking refuge and safety. The man in the hovercraft scanned and another POP. A few yards away there were morning people in the park, “What is that sound?” the woman loudly asked in alarm. The man walking towards his mower walked over to her and said words, but I couldn’t hear it. Then there were two more POPs and more geese franticly scattered in all directions away from the shores and the park behind me.

If you are like me and are up early in the Okanagan Valley and wind up at the lake during times they manage the population of our geese, don’t be alarmed. They are keeping our beaches and water cleaner. However, if you have any further thoughts or questions, you can contact them.

It sounded like a gun and I am sure the residents who live nearby understand what is happening. I gathered since it wasn’t a gun that this was a way to keep the geese away from the shores and the parks. Of course, I had to go further. I looked up the City of Kelowna and found a few things about Goose Management in the Okanagan Valley. This kind of scare sound doesn’t hurt the geese, but it certainly hurt my ears and made my heart pound. If you are curious check out how the City of Kelowna manages the geese population, here are the links:

https://www.kelowna.ca/parks-recreation/urban-trees-wildlife/urban-wildlife/goose-management

https://www.okanagangooseplan.com/content/about/

I appreciate the city’s efforts to keep the public areas clean. I am grateful, and a bit sad for our fellow geese; however, we must share our space and unfortunately for our geese, it is not always a tranquil environment to be when mixed with the creatures of the earth. I happen to believe that they understand that sometimes we are alarmed in life and we get scattered, but not to worry, life is unpredictable. What an astounding fact because predictability steals our song.

17th-Page-Creative writing class-one page at a time during the Pandemic

Lynda Barry’s Writing Exercise Where is it?

I can’t find this exercise? I think I have been cocooning? I do enjoy her comic strips though.

LYNDA BARRY, excerpt, “What it is” ,
https://www.flickr.com/photos/deathtogutenberg/847615547 This photo is in 1 album INSPIRATION

I like to think of her inspiration like this:

“An inspirational word is gold melting in the kettle. The sulphur alone can burn creativity as easily as words that are never said are wasted in steam.”

by Christine Reeves

My goodness, I love my quote. Is it vain to like your own quote? I wonder how many gold particles
fill the air? My sister and nieces bought gold facial masks. They were beautiful on our faces. It
didn’t feel any different on my face except that I panicked, thinking the mask would never come
off.

Adobe Stock Standard

This reminds me of a movie called ‘The trouble with Angels,’ with actress Hayley Mills, about Plaster-of-Paris. The movie scene is where Mary Clancy (played by Hayley Mills), and her friend decide to play this practical joke on a classmate, they pretend to give this classmate a facial; they put a straw in the girl’s mouth and then paste the plaster all over her face which unbeknownst to her was Plaster of Paris that hardened. It was a horrible nightmare for me to watch. I actually panicked during that episode. Just the idea of someone plastering Plaster of Paris on one’s face then have it harden. Think of that for a while. I am not a claustrophobic person, but I am still haunted by that scene. This is one of those memories that has never left me.

I feel as though my reading and writing need more attention. I miss my inner voice. I wonder
when she will come out? Maybe the writer in me has flown to Jupiter wandering backwards than
forwards.

John Ashbury’s Poem
The Chateau Hardware
Exercise: Mix John Ashbury’s poem one line his then one line mine and voila! Then take your lines and put them all together this is what I got:

by Christine Reeves
The gated chickens and fenced fields
Where everything has its place
In the mind of cultural doors
Flocked freely away and back again
Some all at once, some scattered.
The ravens shadowed a certain sense of freedom
and solace
Birds, unlike people, are driven by hunger, people
easily go mad within walls and gates
bound by laws--- break them
within boundaries free from social
observation.

Makes me think of the restrictions during this pandemic, in a sense isolation is rather challenging don’t you think? Writing is in a sense the greatest solace and the greatest company. This makes me smile.

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