Friday 31 December 2010

Domestic violence turned awry

I spent some time as a Victim Services Volunteer. 'Vickers' many call it. We were trained in handling emergency situations of many types. Called to support victims of crime, threats, trauma, accidents, suicide, we support the professionals by being a supportive person. Some of the work I did involved attending to a woman whose neighbour committed suicide. In another situation, I drove a woman to make a complaint at the detachment about a violent ex-boyfriend.

Playing happily with mommy
We were taught about the various services offered to victims of threats, domestic abuse or violence. Many agencies offer counselling, and practical advice for protecting themselves from those who show signs of escalating violent behaviour. Our provincial law enforcement agency (OPP) take the time to support those who are victimized. There is much research on this issue, and many participate in local and regional conferences to understand the impact of violence on the victims, as well as the children involved. We know that more women were murdered by former partners (500) than all those killed in Afghanistan (101) between 2000 and 2006. (Read this post for more information).

Turns out, one woman ('Jennifer') who was getting help from police in her domestic abuse situation, has now had her children taken away from her by the Children's Aid Society (CAS).

In the past there were 40 cases per year of 'alienation of affection'. These cases, CBC News tells us, have jumped to 120 cases. I understand that some families choose this method of payback, but it isn't the norm. Two years ago Jennifer pressed assault charges against her husband. He has counteracted the charges by going to the CAS and charging her with alienation of affection. CAS has taken custody from the mother, and sent the daughter to a supervised custody arrangement with the abusive father.

Children deserve to feel safe
What are they thinking? Do they not talk to the OPP? Of course a mother is going to protect her child from an abusive father. Whether the child is abused or not, they are susceptible to PTSD from witnessing the abuse. Naturally a child will be afraid of an abusive man, father or no, and a mother will do anything to protect her child. Women at risk are being given training in creating a Safety Plan, and an Escape Plan, for themselves and their children.

I am so shocked. Jennifer has gone to the media to state her case. She regrets calling in the justice system in the first place. Yet, her child, traumatized by a violent father, is now traumatized by CAS by being removed from her protective mother's care.


The May/Iles Inquest 1998, was one that laid down the rules for identification of protocol, mandatory charge policies, specialized courses for OPP, and other improvements to this system:

      Thursday 30 December 2010

      Watching the sky

      This is a photo of the not-so-frozen bog.
      I love watching the sky. Even better, being able to take sky shots in winter without the forest canopy overhead. For Skywatch Friday I have photos of the blue. Click on the meme badge for more photos.

       You can see the deciduous trees that provide shade in summer. In winter, the blue shines through.

      Our house from the front forty!

      Natural sculptures

      The tree soaks up the sun's warmth

      If you could change one thing about the world what would you change?

      deer kisses

      Following up on my post, What Are Your Fears?, Rabbi Kushner posited,
      "If you could change one thing about the world what would you change?"

      He told the interviewer, he would like to change the fragile egos his Maker created in humans.

      Why are our egos so fragile?
      We can scar a child for life with unkind words. Our hearts can be torn out at the suggestion that we are less than we would like to be seen as being.

      We need family and good friends to shore us up and reflect our true selves back to us. 
       Go to church or synagogue for community. My blog friend, Travis, did.

      Religion is about who you belong to, not what you believe. 
      It's a judgement call. It is a matter of belief. Can we depend on nature, on the honesty of others, on the goodness of humanity?

      Live bravely in an unfair world, the good Rabbi tells us.

      Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, said: 
      We cannot control what the world does to us. We can control our response to the bad (or good) things that happen to us. Making lemons into lemonade is trite, but apt. Mr. Frankl survived Auschwitz. He wanted to live to write about the experience. It is a powerful book. I urge you to read it.

      Eagle eyes peeled as the hawk flew by

      Does pain equal punishment? 
      Both come from the same Latin root. We have pain, but we are not being punished. Nature is blind and amoral. Things happen that are out of our control. Dealing with our life lessons teaches us strength and humility. 

      Look deeply enough into yourself and around you, you will find the resources.
      Investing our energy into making a difference, no matter how small, eases our fears and lets us live in the present. This is why we volunteer.
      They look like lost souls when the feeder is empty!
      Live bravely. Do not surrender to chance or  misfortune and panic.

      Rabbi Bulka suggests we recite the Mourner's Prayer. Not because his religious community's was is the only way, but in community you gain support.

      The Mourner's Kaddish serves a purpose: it draws people together in community. It puts those in mourning together. We know the benefits of community, of support groups, and bereavement groups.  

      Ollie tries to take down the mouse ornament
      Some confuse God with Santa Claus! Those who go on TV and beg for donations for their 'ministry', prey on the faint of heart. If you pray for something hard enough, it will come true, they tell us.

       Whether it be healing or a new car! 
      In a world that is fair:
      young people do not get sick, young marrieds do not die, the poor do not suffer quakes, tsunamis, everyone has enough to eat.
      I believe that the law of nature are immutable. We live by them, we die by them. Bad things happen to good people. We are supposed to feel anger, pain, resentment, how we deal with these issues makes the difference between a whole person, and one who blames others, God, for their misfortune.

      I wish the best to you and yours in the future.

      Wednesday 29 December 2010


      I was reflecting upon hospitalization. I wrote a serious post on my Ontario Seniors blog: Hospitalization for Seniors. People need to know their rights and responsibilities.


      Healing comes from within
      not from a stranger who knows you little
      look to what troubles you

      walk in the sun
      run in the rain

      Tuesday 28 December 2010

      Oh, the weather...

      mice, rabbits


      We have had some pretty cold temperatures in E. Ontario.

      The snow protects the plants from daytime temps that range from 2C., to -13  C. at night.

      I love the snow. The animal tracks tell a story about what has been in the forest.

      Hawk flew by, all came to attention!
      The recent snow on the east coast of the US has had a huge impact on folks. I always imagine those shut-in, those not getting their visits from Home Care, Meals on Wheels. Hubby's football games were cancelled. Then the storm went up the Canadian Maritime coast. They said 40,000 without power for a time. I remember Ice Storm '98, we were 10 days without power. Difficult times for
      those ill, or working ERs.

      nearly a soaker!
      We have a little snow in Perth. The bog is only partially frozen, perhaps a couple of inches thick. I had to watch my step. This is my footprint filled with aromatic bog water!
      turkeys spooked the deer

      It was December 11/12, 2009 that Muskoka had massive Lake Effect snow, with 60 - 160 cm east of Georgian Bay. Days to dig out. Nothing moved for that week!

      Below is a time lapse video of the storm by a pro. Rather cool!

      December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

      Monday 27 December 2010

      Christmas at our house

      Lunch guests
      Twas the week before Christmas
      The presents all wrapped
      Cold I am fighting
      My energy's tapped

      Since I am coughing
      Christmas deferred
      Children and laughter
      Remains yet unheard

      The end of the year
      Nothing better than
      watching bulbs grow!
      It comes very quick
      Where did it go?
      Why'm I so sick?

      Today I am grateful
      For backyard distractions
      (Not presents and parcels)
      But daily distractions

      It seems as if cats,
      The deer, and the turkey
      Have been out shopping
      Seemingly quirky
      Ollie's catnip banana

      For Christmas and birthday
      I had many treats
      Sherry and gift cards
      And even sweets

      Me spoiled rotten is
      How it has been
      My hubby's the best man
      That I've ever seen.

      Mushing her stocking
      Sady's Xmas mouse

      Sady & JB watch football!

      Who has been sleeping here?

       I know who!
      Momma, you sleeping?

      Sunday 26 December 2010

      Christmas bird count

      We had goldfinch, chickadees, juncos, 7 mourning doves, woodpeckers, and 28 wild turkeys.

      First the wild turkeys...we had six.  The turkeys were hilarious.

      Then the goldfinches, various woodpeckers, ravens.

      By the afternoon, 28 had massed on the back lawn.
      Yep! There were 6 turkeys this morning, 28 by the afternoon. I couldn't believe it! Scratching away in the snow for bird seed (0:30). At 1:50, the turkeys stopped, moved into the forest after our 3 deer went scrambling across the gully up the hill. I watched, and spotted a wolf (2:20). I couldn't believe it. All I caught was a shadow of it.

      You can see them walk into the backyard in single file!

      Saturday 25 December 2010

      Merry Christmas

      Place this on top of a jar of mini-marshmallows!  I've had much fun with this poem. I don't know where it comes from!

      Christmas with the critters

      The Christmas story, Sady whacks Mary.

      And then there are our trains!

      Olive, the other reindeer

      On this, Christmas Eve, I show gratitude for being able to share our forest/lawn with the critters.

      Our deer (Dorothy, Rachel, Miranda - doh, ray, me!) have been coming to our feeder for awhile, before the snow flew. Our grass is rather yummy!
       Suddenly, a few days ago, we had 7 deer. D, R, M weren't too happy. JB was delighted, and quickly made up their names. He's good at that. All those years being a serious business man, the creativity and humour just explodes in a celebration of retired life!

      We do have enough for Santa's sleigh, now. They kept chasing one another away until D, R, M moved away to the bird feeder, and they ignored Olive, and the other deer.

      Then, they went into the front yard and ran across the road.

      Friday 24 December 2010

      Red squirrel delight

      A regular visitor at our new bird (deer) feeder, it watches for cats like stink. The baffles work well.  Fortunately, the jays scatter enough seed for Santa's reindeer, we had 7 visitors the other day!
      I discovered it was tunnelling under the snow, like a mole (the 1st 4 sec. of video). So entertaining!

      I have yet to figure out how to get close enough for photos, as I did in Bala (where the photos are from). My hyperactive little tree rat is a bit jumpy. Danger (AKA Oliver) lurks in the open lawn, behind a bush!

      Lovely red coat

      Hey George. Tell him to get his paws off of me!

      Catch me if you can.

      Nipping it in the bud!

      Thursday 23 December 2010

      Freedom 55.1

      CIHI abortion statistics
      Women are learning to fight for the issues in which they believe. Technology, however, has moved us into a new era of ethics. IVF, surrogacy, early identification of fetal issues.

      Maria Shriver, for example, not content to be Governor's wife or figurehead, or simple volunteer, followed her mother's path (Eunice Kennedy Shriver) and jumped into advocacy. With her power, influence and money, comes responsibility.

      Problem is, when someone famous begins advocating for something, we trust that they know whereof they speak. In one article: in which (thankfully) language is being cleaned up, 

      In October, Barack Obama signed a new law that prohibits the U.S. government from referring to the "mentally retarded" in any of its laws and regulations. The term to be used instead is "intellectual disability."
      How many times have I heard a kid put down another using this word? I simply did not permit it. With inclusion, and acceptance of those who are different, society has moved into a whole new era.

      However, they then cite these stats...

      Approximately 90% of all babies diagnosed with Down's syndrome in the womb are aborted. The technological advances that Mrs. Shriver thought would help the mentally disabled are now employed to prevent them from ever seeing the light.

      Read more:

      I really wonder where the stats came from. In Canada, the stats are reported for hospital Therapeutic abortions. Private clinics do not have to report. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) now keep all such stats in its Therapeutic Abortion Database (TABD). The reason for an abortion is not stated. Yet, on the news I heard the '85 - 90%' stat again. I truly wonder.

      In this day and age, we want ethical reporting, proven statistics, and data worth believing. Otherwise, we come to conclusions that are not worthy.

      Freedom 55

      Honesty in advertising, journalistic integrity, these are issues that came to the fore in the 50s, when retailers were touting 'labour-saving' devices for women who were leaving the home in droves, to work outside the home.

      It was a great time, when women were called to duty during WW II. The men were overseas, the women were working in munitions factories. It was just the beginning of equality and liberation. Women were seen to be capable of pulling their weight out in the workforce. It is not all that long ago! Once the vets came home, though, the women were sent back home. It was a journey our mothers fought for us.

      This is it...choices that my generation finally figured out. During my young adulthood, the pendulum swung (from barefoot & pregnant to finding work), and from the backlash over freedom and choice the introduction of the birth control pill, we felt we were entitled to have decisions we could make. I had slightly older colleagues who had to quit teaching when pregnant, as there was no Mat Leave.

      When I had young kids, and I was entering the workforce, there was much pressure from women's organizations (e.g., my women teacher's union), to rise to positions of power: you must become a specialist, consultant, principal, just being a teacher was no longer adequate. To be fair, my schoolboard (then CBE, now OCDSB) had one of the first superintendents to be off on maternity leave!

      Lord knows where the images came from, buried deep in my computer, despite my fat finger delete in 2007. If anyone knows...I'll attribute them.

      Wednesday 22 December 2010

      Quick, spot the flashers!

      Flash mobs, dance mobs, music mobs; a sense of community, joy and the spirit of working together in concert. I ended up creating a view list.

      Here it is, the best time of year. People are just happier, they anticipate holidays, if not Christmas or Hannukkah, or other spiritual celebrations and winter festivals. ("Festivus for the rest of us?!")

      It warms my heart to see examples of people being good to others. A few days ago, Air Canada-organized flash mob at YVR airport in Vancouver a week before Christmas, starring the Arts Umbrella Dance Company of Vancouver. I started looking for more.


      Air Canada Flashmob

      60 dancers explode into a flashmob at Vancouver international airport!
      by AirCanadaFlashMob  2 days ago  32,865 views
      Some are dance mobs, some just freeze in place. Other emulate people like Lady GaGa: OFFICIAL LADY GAGA FLASH MOB
      The is the Subway Sing-Along - Improv in Toronto.
      Lots of fun in TO!
      My dance costume - gr.5?
      Even in Muskoka:
      Flash mob at BMLSS
      Students and staff at Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School got some surprise entertainment at lunchtime Wednesday, when a flash mob performed in the school's "Main Street" area. A
      But, this one is my favourite. I took ballet lessons at The National Ballet of Canada. I loved this costume, turquiose shoes, sash, and my ballet doll! Miss Shietze was my dance teacher. I met her once, in Port Carling, amazingly enough, when I worked retail for a couple of months. I recognized her name on the charge card, she was living out west. Weird coincidence. I told her how much dancing meant to me, and how much I remembered her spirit, gently tickling the backs of my knees to have me straighten to find a long leg. 

      My scholarship, sadly, was taken away when I didn't grow into my long legs. Twice a week, going alone on the subway to the downtown school - I loved it! The beautiful people are wonderful to watch in this video, celebrating the school.