The Thift Store

My friend took me to this quaint little place called the Bargain Bin, which is located downstairs under the United Church. This Church is over 110 years old. You would never know. I say this because it looks well kept, and the structure is sturdy. The face, doorway, and the steeple built with love embedded into its frame. It was the perfect escape I needed from the craziness of the current horror story unraveling in the news daily by going to a thrift store that I hadn’t gone to in a long, long time.

This place holds stories in each piece of ornament, dishware, handmade pottery, and antiques. I wondered what the owners could tell me if I were to sit with them in time as they explained their treasures. It is like walking into the past for a moment despite the current clothing trends. The staff took their time to do what many have done from years past. Raise money for organizations in need.

People once moved through this community long before it was named Peachland. This place comes with an exciting history that stone and earth intertwine this community that has built longstanding trust in God, with each other and through one another.

Somehow earth had warmed
Somehow earth had shifted
The ice of water freezes life in its tracks
Glaciers broke, and signs of life emerged
The beat of the heartbeat began so many years before
How natives danced beneath the ice core
Peaks and valleys pointed up to the sun
And many people found their way to run
Creatures followed as birthing mother breaks forth
A newborn baby travels the course
that there flowed melted glaciers that formed 
structures that tower above us? 
This erosion is what is needed to melt hearts 
that have become cold that changes the weather 
from human works of stupidity to believe 
that we are greater than our environment 
than our bodies condition. 
We mess with structure and the structure breaks. 
We trust God and new health wakes

This place is tucked away in the basement of the Church in Peachland. I walked right in front of the bookshelf and somehow found the most incredible honey I could find. The sweetness of finding a small corner of the best books I could only dream of seeing all in one place and its not a bookstore!

The current heaviness from the battles we face daily escaped me. I now hold prized books from scholarly excellence of stories that orchestrate life’s melody in pages of wooden trees is a leaf filled with stories hooked onto its branch spreading over nations.

I found myself smiling.

One of the books I found is called “Stolen Life The Journey of a Cree Woman,” by Rudy Wiebe and Yvonne Johnson.

“Nothing just happens, my friend, unless it was meant to be…If we are guided under the Bear, then even our futures can be changed… YOU and I may have been chosen long ago to meet, and our past has given us each a gift of understanding.” 

Yvonne Johnson to Rudy Wiebe excerpt from the book Stolen Life, Chapter 1. 1998, Jackpine House Ltd., First Vintage, Canada Edition, 1999.

Another book I found called “Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups by Ben Holden made me chuckle. I remember the goodness that love’s memory carried over and awakened at the thought of my mother reading while I lay on her lap, hearing the sound of her voice and her heartbeat with the rhythm and pulse of love’s drum. I have slept peacefully since. I haven’t read the stories in this book, but I am intrigued and looking forward to it.

I picked more books but I cannot name them all.

The next treasure I picked up was the perfect scene. This painting captivated my eyes and my heart. The colors are beautiful. It isn’t that often one can find something so beautiful and rare in a bit of a nook. The painting is on my wall above the desk where I write. The perfect inspiration!

Look at the wall before and after:  my silly scribbles or this wonderful painting? You see my point?

my wall then, my wall now *smiles*

While I discussed art with the cashier, her smile and gentleness lifted my spirits. My soul awakened to the goodness of others. People in our lives and the community instill hope for the future and a beautiful mystery waiting to solve. It is in anticipation of love that tears dry and separation eases.

Despite our current sufferings, we can be sure that this will change like a shift when we do something out of the ordinary to escape the pressing issues that demand attention.

I embrace the idea that exploring the mystery of life is enough to know love when corrosion unleashes and breaks the dam that life circumstances eroded in a soul that has held off what kept it from making a lake I now love to swim in.

Experiment Drama – Gas

Design made using Canva by Christine Reeves Drama continued by Christine Reeves

Gas by Jose Rivera, Page 353
(CHEO starts to pump gas. As he pumps the gas, he notices something horrifying. He pulls the nozzle out of the car. Blood comes out of the gas pump. CHEO stares and stares at the bloody trickle coming out of the gas pump.) BLACKOUT.

Characters:
Cheo
Roman (gas attendant-who happens to be Cheo’s brother)

(Spotlight: Centre Stage-Cheo staring at the gas pump holding the nozzle as blood trickles out)

Cheo. Fucking sick, hey! Hello, YOU FUCKING DIPSHIT look at this mess; what do you got going on here? DIPSHIT COME OVER HERE! We got something BAD over here! we got BAD GAS here!

(Waves at the gas attendant)

Roman. Cheo old man. It’s not bad gas. Its my blood that’s spilled from Riyadh, my blood bro, my blood is spilled all over the desert dust.

Cheo. There is no time for jokes. Come and fix this gas pump here so that I can go on my way.

Roman. It’s me, Cheo, It’s me, Roman, your little brother.

(Spotlight on Roman flicker blue and gold lights)

Cheo. It finally happened, I fucking snapped, mom lost it too we’re losing our heads.

(He sits by the truck tire the gas nozzle dropped)

Roman. My death happened fast. We underestimated the Iraqi troops; we thought the previous attacks weakened them. We got it wrong; they prepared for a counter-attack. The weather was terrible. There was blowing sand and rain, we could hardly see the enemy lines. That’s when we got hit; our station exploded. That’s how my body got scattered over the sands of the desert. My blood pours out to you brother.

Cheo. It can’t be. I’m fucking losing it.

(Turns to look at Roman beside him spotlight shines on the two brothers Cheo traces Roman’s face)

But, you, you do look like my little brother. I was thinking about the time mom brought you home, you were so tiny. I thought you were like a doll or something. When she told me to sit down, and put you in my arms, I wouldn’t dare show it, but I loved you then, Roman. You grew so fast. You were the one that touched the heart of everyone. Unlike me, I had to make sure the family could eat, you know? That you had what you needed. You Lil Shit! What the fuck were you thinking about joining the army. Your family needs you, Roman not the President, not the country, us your family! Now your guts are spilled all over the fucking sands. You didn’t know this, but your ugly wife is pregnant. That’s right, trust me, it’s your baby!

Roman. I needed you to know that you were like a father to me Cheo. Whenever I had nightmares, you came into my room, holding me until mom got home Whenever I hurt myself, it was you bandaging me up because mom had to work so much. Cheo, before I got killed, God showed me your heart. You know, it’s okay to marry Dinah, she’s beautiful. She won’t make the cover of those magazines, but she’s got a good heart Cheo, and she loves you.

Cheo. We counted on those letters Roman, it told us you, you, were ALIVE. I’m thinking of the time I whooped your ass good when you gave our savings to the homeless guy down the street. You remember that?

Roman. He was a war veteran Cheo, lost his legs, who else was going to help him? You were so mad you chased me for blocks threating to kill me if I ever tried to come back home. But, there you were, driving all over the place trying to find me. It didn’t take you long. You knew all my hiding places. That’s when I could see that you loved me. You were crying like a girl, hugging me, telling me you would never kill me and that it’s ok.

Cheo. I need to apologize to you, Roman, I didn’t know how to be a big brother. There was a time that I felt overburdened, and I could see it hurt you. But once I got a job out of town and left for a few months. You were crying and screaming for me to come back, and I just ignored you. The thing is little bro, if I looked back, I wouldn’t have been able to go, and it would’ve kill me right then and there like a torpedo explosion.

Roman. I forgive you Cheo, you were hard on me, but that’s because you cared. When mom was in the hospital, you made sure she had the best care, and you coordinated round the clock family time to get her through. That’s your heart big brother, that is the kind of heart you have. When I was out there in the desert inside the tank, I swore that if anything happened to me that I would be able to tell you it’s going to be ok Cheo. You can be an uncle to my baby girl. I’ll watch out for her from heaven.

Cheo. Ok, no bringing up that nonsense religious fucking shit on me, Roman. It’s enough mom thinks I’m going to hell. But you? What’s Heaven Roman?

Roman. I had this dream out there in the desert when the bombs were going off in Kuwait. I was running in this field with tall grass, and there was this crazy windmill in the distant. I ran towards it, but it turned out to be this shack all boarded up. I peeked in the window and there was pure white sheets covering the furniture on the inside.

Cheo. The gulf war got to your head, Lil bro, come on now, this sounds like a dream. A dream this isn’t real.

Roman. I pried the door open and walked in. I walked through cobwebs, but once I was inside, the sheets were as white as snow. There was food left on the table, rotting. I walked towards the kitchen, there was this mummy case, you know, like the kind of King Tut tomb mummy? I was dazzled! All those colourful paints like gold and royal blue made that mummy case spectacular. I pried that thing open. I wasn’t afraid of no dead body. It flipped open, and there was Jesus Cheo; he took my hand and spoke to me without using his mouth. He took me outside, and it was so beautiful Cheo, the colors in Heaven are so vivid, nothing on earth can compare to that. There was this boat see? It was a red boat by the shore. I had this sense Cheo to row for him deep in my gut. Jesus took the oars and rowed the boat for me. I did nothing compared to what you did for our family Cheo. But I need you to know that there is a God, and he loves you. He wants you to help others and go to Church with mom. She’s going to need God right now when she finds out that I’m not coming home to give her HOPE Cheo. You got this. You can do this. Jesus is real, and everything is going to be okay. I want you to trust me.

Cheo.

(Crying holding onto Roman, I don’t want you to go, your my little brother, we need you hear man, we need you fucking here)

Roman. I’ll always be your little brother Cheo. I’m always going to be with you. We are going to see each other again. Trust me. You need to make sure mom knows that when you go back, and you tell her the news.

(background change – spot light shines in the back where the trees and flowers are. Roman is feeling an urgency)

It’s time, Cheo, I gotta go. God’s calling me home. You got to be strong for me, okay? Like you always were strong. You got this, Cheo!

Cheo.

(Brother’s hug 1 minute-music starts Roman goes towards the back and disappears. Spotlight on Cheo he falls to the ground on his knees as the light where Roman stood flickered black)

Fucking war, fucking Gulf fucking war, the fucking desert.

(He sees something shining and glowing on the ground. Spotlight on the ground. Cheo picks up his brother’s dog tags)

It’s fucking real, it’s fucking true. I’m going to make you proud, Roman. You watch from heaven little brother. I’m going to be the best fucking uncle and the best God father EVER!

(He puts the dog tags over his head . Picks up the gas pump and sticks it into his car. Fills the car with gas Spotlight fades to black)

Upcoming Events

“There is always space to join a place that brings community face to face or wire to wire when we enquire”
Quote by Christine Reeves

UBC Events 2021 that are open to the Community

Candlelight Vigil United Against Violence Against Women
Monday, December 6, 2021, 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM (Outdoor Vigil at 4:45 PM)
Campus: Vernon and Salmon Arm

Public Reading Series UBC Event
December 9, 2021, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Professor Matt Radar launches his new book: Ghosthawk
Join Inspired Word Café Reading Series event at Alternator Gallery
Organized by: Inspired Word Café-Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies https://events.ok.ubc.ca/events/category/faculty-of-creative-and-critical-studies/

Okanagan College Event Open to the Community

Okanagan Regional Library

Online Writing/Reading Events…

IndieBookFest virtual event for their fall season: Anne Patchett’s book is called, ‘These Precious Days’
The virtual event is tonight it is a zoom event December 1, 2021 at:
5:00 PM tonight! But… you need to purchase the book!
https://mosaicbooks.ca/events click here for details: https://www.harpercollins.ca/harperpresents/indiebookfest/

Around the Okanagan

Downtown Kelowna
Winter Street Market
December 4th, 2021, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM (Free)
Where: Water Street at Stuart Park
https://downtownkelowna.com/events-archive/winter-street-market/

Metro Cafe
Kelowna, BC
‘Christmas Tales’
Saturday, December 11th, 2021, 6:00 PM and another showing at 8 PM
Get the tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/christmas-tales-2-shows-6pm-8pm-tickets-218115538447

Okanagan Heritage Museum
A Flurry of Holiday Magic
Wednesday, December 15, 2021, at 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
(I happen to love lanterns!)
https://www.kelownamuseums.ca/event/a-flurry-of-holiday-magic/


West Kelowna

West Kelowna Light up
December 3rd, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
https://www.visitwestside.com/events/light-up-in-west-kelowna/

Gellatly Nut Farm “Light up the Park”
Every evening – December 10 through to December 19th, ‘2021
https://www.visitwestside.com/events/winter-magic-gellatly-nut-farm/

Naramata
A Christmas Market in the Village
November 26th to December 3rd at 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
https://okanaganfamilyfun.com/event/a-christmas-market-in-the-village-naramata/2021-11-26


Rutland

Christmas tree lighting in Depot Park December 3rd, 2021
https://downtownrutland.com/treelighting

Rutland Winter Fest
February 13-21st, 2022
https://www.rutlandrec.com/winterfest

Armstrong

Joyride Sleighride

Presented by Caravan Farm Theatre
Begins December 3rd, 2021 to January 2nd 2022click below for all the dates it is $63.00 but worth it!
Starting times are at 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM
https://www.tourismkelowna.com/event/joyride-sleighride/27698/

Armstrong Spullumcheen Museum and Art Gallery
8th Annual Festival of Trees
December 7th-23 and December 28-30th
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM Tuesdays through Saturday

Gigantic Book Sale
April 6th to December 30th (There is still time!)
Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
https://armstrongspallmuseumart.com/

Vernon
Victorian Christmas at Historic O’Keefe Ranch
December 4th at 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM by Donation
https://okanaganfamilyfun.com/event/victorian-christmas-at-historic-okeefe-ranch/2021-12-04

Big White Ski Resort

Saturday Fireworks
The Greatest Show in Town
Saturdays December 4th, 2021 7:30 PM Ending April 2nd, 2022
https://www.bigwhite.com/events-activities/events-calendar/saturday-fireworks

Free Mountain Tours
For Everyone!
December 10th, 2021 through to April 9th, 2022
Book online here:
https://www.bigwhite.com/events-activities/winter-activities/free-mountain-tours

Silver Star Mountain Resort

The Annual Light Up
December 3rd, 2021, at 3:00 PM
https://www.skisilverstar.com/events/silverstar-annual-light-up/

Christmas Craft Nights – Ginger Bread Houses
The spots are limited pre-booking… necessary!
Night 1 – December 22, 2021 at 6:00 PM
Night 2 – December 23, 2021 at 6:00 PM
https://www.skisilverstar.com/events/christmas-craft-night/






Experiment 7-Drama

Based on: The Werewolf, by Angela Carter, Pg. 153

The Werewolf

Characters:

Blanchette: Italian 7-year-old female known as, ‘The good child’

Cesaire: Werewolf

Setting: In the woods inside the book of the fable The Werewolf

Time: mid-morning

Blanchette:

(The child wiped the blade of her knife clean on her apron, wrapped up the wolf’s paw in the cloth in which her mother had packed the oatcakes and went towards her grandmother’s house.) (Carter 153)

Cesaire: Gulping and whimpering, BlanchEEEEETTE! That was uncalled for. Do you see that boulder over there? I happen to know there is a hole underneath it. It used to be an old well, a deep, deep hole; I’m going to throw YOU in it and cover it up!

Blanchette: Idle threats don’t work. Cesaire come out from where you are, and let’s discuss this over oatcakes?

Cesaire: (lies down under the old oak tree licking his stump). I am tired of this; how long must we keep this up before the story gets too dull for children and they stop liking it?

Blanchette: Well, perhaps you should have thought of that before you came into the forest to kill me? The rule is you were supposed to run past me and get grandmother first, FIRST, not go for my jugular. You are so unwise sometimes. I get to be ‘The good child’, and you get to be the bad werewolf. That’s the story. Why did you change it?

Cesaire: I am so bored with the same story. I wanted to kill you off in hopes we would both get transformed into a rabbit, you know, like that movie people are watching on Netflix, ‘Watership Down,’ it’s so much more sophisticated and exciting than this.

Blanchette: The story will end when parents stop reading the story. That’s that stop being so overdramatic.

Cesaire: I flashed my red eyes on the mother while she read the story right before I attacked you.

Cesaire laughing

Blanchette: How many times have I told you that when you screw with the plot AND the reader, it screws everything else up?

Cesaire: She blinked and saw me! Well, what’s the worst that can happen, Blanchette, the reader throwing the book away? OOOO I’m scared.

Blanchette: Nothing, I guess, I don’t know. The reader never caught you before like this one.

Cesaire: Do you see that? The mother just lit a match?

Blanchette: Oh, dear, she’s burning the book. My goodness, this is a first. Why did you have to freak the mother out? SHEESH.

Cesaire: Well, can you share those oatcakes now that they are steaming hot before we die?

Blanchette: Yeah, just for the record, this is ALL your fault; if it wasn’t for you, we could have at least got to the grandmother’s house and eat a decent meal, but noooooooooooo you had to freak the mother out!

(The Werewolf and The good child sit and eat oatcakes together as the forest burns).

December 2020

Thinking About Endings and Death

Scenic cemetery and tombstone.Gravestone and Halloween background.Surreal graveyard.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

It has been a while since I have written. It has a lot to do with my community that has gone through a different kind of ending. What do I mean by that? Some restaurants have permanently closed, some are on the brink of closing, and some I do not know what happened. They are just gone.

There are endings of relationships that are the most difficult to handle and the termination of employment for some or loss of health for others.

homeless man lost his job due to coronavirus COVID-19, he stands with cardboard, need shelter and food, isolated in studio

Many goodbyes.

My son held unto his comfort blanky as though it was a part of himself and that he would not survive without it.  My son gave me his comfort blanket. It now lays on his bed; because he is much too old for such things as that. I felt the pain of it all.  I mean, this is the blanket that I would rush 20 minutes to go back to where we were to get that blanket in the wee hours of the morning because he would not sleep without it and because he was heartbroken.

Blanky Christine Reeves

One day I washed his comfort blanket. He asked where his blanky had gone; I remembered I had hung it up to dry on the balcony. We frantically searched EVERYWHERE for his blanky, and it was nowhere.  My son, sorrowful, went into his playroom to weep. And sure enough, after being so sad, I went outside to search and contact the neighbours in case blanky had blown their way.  There, on the ground was his forever friend, his beloved blanky. I found true joy at that moment seeing my son’s whole self light up like a lit-up Christmas tree.  It was pure happiness.

Death is a challenging topic to write if one is not writing a horror story or living in one.

We live in ‘time.’ And time, unfortunately, is passing.

I went to a Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed through the Church in my local area.  I have never gone to a Commemoration like that before.  It was touching. A few of us were there with families at the cemetery.  We had time to stand there, and talk while waiting for the Priest to start the commemoration. It is funny what people talk about standing in a cemetery.  We spoke of marriages, and this one short woman with a very downcast face said, “my husband and I were married for 54 years, and he died two months ago.” We all went silent for a time. Then we discussed marriages. A few couples addressed the length of their marriage, and then there was me, the ‘divorced’ one. I had nothing much to say except I was embracing endings. Which got me thinking of a book I once read, ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

Mitch Albom

My grandmother was quite the woman.  She was stubborn and had to do things her way, even to the point of putting herself out and damaging her own life to prove a point. I am sure Jesus had to run through many fields and forests, even through thick walls, to get to her!  There is irony because when the Priest told us to disperse and find our loved ones instructed us to put out our hands, and he would come and give them a blessing with holy water.  Well, my mother and I walked clean across a long, long, long, long stretch where my grandmother lay buried, which was the very last row. By the time we got there, everyone else had left. My mom and I were jumping up and down, calling the Priest. He looked over to where we were from the top of the hill, and he could not find the stairs.

So what did he do? 

He jumped the wall. I thought he could hurt himself, but he was okay, and then he walked briskly over to us in the muddy grass.  We tried to tell him there were stairs and a path, but he couldn’t hear us we were so far. When he finished the blessing, I chuckled out loud. “What are you laughing at?” my mom asked me. “It just shows you, even in death she took the hard way, that a priest has to jump hurdles to get to her,” I said, giggling.

Speaking about death and how one lived can be funny at the right time. 

My mom and I had our laughs, which was also part of celebrating her extraordinary life. While we were walking towards the parking lot, I thought about what the Priest said: “everyone who dies is sleeping.” I found that comforting and disturbing.

Comforting knowing that if everyone there is just sleeping, I will see all my family and my pets in Heaven that the bodies of those I love will be made new and come out like they just woke up from a long sleep.  Disturbing because I have read too many ghost stories and read too many horror books in my past that taints my images that I need to readjust my head to my heart. Ghosts are actual, and so is Heaven. We will not talk about hell because that is another topic for another day.

You smiled so joyfully
even though death filled
your body.
You shined like the sun,
when you clasped
your hands in prayer.
I didn’t realize how a warm washcloth
could make you feel so much better,
that I looked at love in your face. 
Your face had felt deep pain.
I held your hand while your breath was labored
You told me everything is good.
You came in my room a day after you died
You hugged my hand
You taught me to live life and love deep,
That love is alive and forever.
The hope of all hope is light in great sorrow.
Great endings have always been about
the beginning of tomorrow.
Remembering is to grasp onto the history
of what is authentically you.
I think it is necessary to live love and dance
While we journey through.

Serena Ryder Stompa

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.

%d bloggers like this: