Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | August 8, 2012

I’m a Commissioner……

… the 41st General Council of the United Church of Canada in Ottawa from August 11-18. ( As the time approaches, I am both excited and a bit nervous.

I grew up in the United Church and know that it was a formative experience for me. My father’s side of the family joined the United Church at the time of the union in 1925. They had been Free Methodists before then. I am a baby boomer, so when I was going to Sunday School in the sixties, so were all my peers. They may have been going to other churches, but most kids in my neighbourhood went to Sunday School. Our Sunday School was full of kids. The church building was a 1950’s vintage building that replaced an old 1800’s vintage building the congregation had outgrown. It was a place for many community activites including pancake suppers, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, celebrations and remembrances. I think I was probably part of the last generation for whom church was part of our lives on a regular basis…..because it was expected, not because people chose to attend and participate.

Church today is different from those days. We are struggling in some corners of the church, and thriving in others. In a way, this is a great time to be involved. I’d like to think it is a time of transition. At least I hope it is. After all, we follow Jesus who died and was resurrected.

I started writing this post a few days ago. Now we are less than a week away from GC41. My goal is to use this blog as a way to give, my updates and to think about the proceedings. Some of the links below have some information, and will have more as time goes on.

Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | July 14, 2012

Helios and the Magpies

Helios and the Magpies July 2012

The picture is not that great and the fence needs painting, but you get the idea. I grabbed this picture with my BlackBerry this morning. It is a picture of the happenings in our backyard every morning these days. It is too bad there isn’t sound to go with it. Sound would complete the picture, because those birds have a lot to say. 

We have a magpie nest in one of the poplar trees that line our backyard. Momma and poppa magpie are very protective of their offspring. Whenever Helios goes out in the morning, they start squawking and swearing. If you’ve lived near magpies for even a few days, you know the sound they make. They swoop and harass the dog, who largely minds his own business….as you can see in this picture. Every now again, he will chase them with a big grin on his face. He hsn’t caught one yet….though maybe that’s not the goal. I suspect he sees it as a game…..or a big annoyance. Or both.  As I am sitting here writing, the dog is outside, and the birds are at it. The crows have joined the chorus, and there is another dog barking. I think the magpies have invited their magpie friends. Then there is the neighbour who is using some very loud piece of equipment to build something in his backyard…..I’m glad I don’t work nights and have to sleep today…..

A great way to pass the time on a sunny Saturday

Today is a glorious sunny summer day. The forecast says it will be 32 today. Artemis is enjoying a siesta in the sun, on a comfy pillow. Apollo is in a similar position on a chair. I think it is time for me to shut this down, and go for a walk with Helios. 

The dog is inside, and the magpies are quiet. For now.

Magpie, n: A bird whose thievish disposition suggested to someone it might be taught to talk ~ Ambrose Bierce

Here’s a clip with a magpie call in case you haven’t heard it:

Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | May 17, 2012

Glitches and technology!

So, I wrote a post about my dog’s latest adventures. I included a couple of photos taken by a nice young photographer. I published the post, and half of it was gone. Gone into the dark unknown of cyberspace or something. To add insult to injury, I learned that the photos I had are not big enough for their intended purpose. I’m so glad to be going for a massage in a few minutes!

Photo by Hails Elizabeth Photography

Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | May 17, 2012

The Photoshoot

Happy dog – photo by Hails Elizabeth Photography

Helios will be a pin-up puppy in the 2013 BC SPCA calendar. He was tied for fourth place after raising $1325. The calendar contest exceded its fundraising goal, and the amounts raised were impressive. There will be 13 pets in the calendar. Twelve out of the thirteen raised over $1000. The thirteenth pet raised almost $1000. Very impressive. 

The BCSPCA looks after animals in the province of BC. Our community has a shelter that is usually full of cats and dogs. Sometimes there will be a hamster or a bird, or some other animal in care. There are often many pets who go to foster homes for a variety of reasons. The shelter might be full. It might be too stressful for the animal. The animal may just need some special care. There was a call looking for a foster home for a mom and her puppies today. The people who work for the SPCA and the volunteers work hard.

My boy! ~Hails Elizabeth Photography

When I learned that Helios had made it into the calendar, the next task was to find a suitable picture. Of course, there are many nice pictures of him around. There are also some pictures that make him look like a dork. Of course we do not want him looking like a dork in the calendar, so I had to figure out how to get a good picture of him. I have a friend who has a daughter who is aspiring to be a photographer and she was happy to take pictures of Helios. We met in a local park one evening last week. It was a lovely sunny evening and a bit chilly. It is also one of Helios’ favourite spots. He was happy and smiling.  

This was a fun way to spend an hour for all of us. Helios got to run around chasing a stick. He got to pose and look handsome. I was really proud of him when he was described as such an obedient dog. Apparently the training pays off. 🙂 He followed commands quite well, and even seemed to be posing for the pictures. He and Haley, the photographer, hit it off well, so she got his best side… most of the pictures. She took a couple hundred pictures. There are many fabulous ones that show how handsome and happy he is.

I first met Helios in July 2010 when he first arrived at our local shelter. I had been walking dogs as a volunteer since our last dog died in April 2010. I did this to get my dog fix, and because I knew we’d be adopting a dog, and I wanted to get to know a few first. The day I met Helios, there were several new dogs in the shelter. One was “Tzatziki” who was described as a retriever cross. Or maybe a lab cross. At any rate, I am a sucker for this type of dog, so I went in to see him. He adopted me on the spot. I fell for his silly grin and bright eyes. Whenever I went to the shelter, I would visit him and take him for a walk. I couldn’t adopt him right away, so I hoped that someone would not scoop him up before I could. I told my husband I had met a dog I wanted to adopt. He came to walk with us one Saturday in August. “Tzatziki” came home with us that day. Tzatziuki is a name that is difficult to live with on a daily basis, so we tried out different names. Zeke did not seem to fit. Then we thought of Greek god names. Since we had two cats named after Greek gods, we figured that would be the way to go. Helios is a sun god. The name suits him perfectly. He has a sunny personality and is a gold colour.  He has settled in and has become a wonderful companion for us.

My handsome guy ~ Hails Elizabeth Photography

I am an absolute believer in adopting from our local shelters. They are full of wonderful potential pets who need homes. I think part of the reason they are so wonderful is they do not want to return, so will be fabulous.

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion. — Author Unknown
Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | May 5, 2012

My dog wants to be a pin-up puppy


 Helios would like to be a calendar dog. He is so gorgeous, and he wants to raise money for the BC SPCA. Will you help him? 

The BC SPCA has a calendar contest where each dollar donated is a vote for the pet who has been entered. The money raised goes to help animals in need. It funds shelters, rescues, education and many other things. Their mission is “To protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in British Columbia”. They have a variety of fundraising activities, and the calendar is one.

Helios is an SPCA puppy. He was apparently abandonned in a nearby town, and rescued by a man who was an informal rescuer. This man took good care of his animals, so Helios was neutered and tattooed. Helios came to the SPCA in about July of 2010, along with two other dogs who had been living with him.  I was volunteering as a dog walker at the time, in order to get a dog fix after our ten year old lab/shepherd, Tanner, died. We also knew we’d be adopting another dog at some point. I met Helios in July and he adopted me right away. I fell for his smiling face and big brown eyes. I couldn’t take him home right away, so when I visited the shelter, I made sure I took him for a walk. I spoke with my husband, and then encouraged him to come and meet Helios one Saturday. Helios came home with us that day.

Chillin at the music festival

Helios has been a fabulous dog. He is smart and friendly. He is very energetic. Thankfully, he has an off switch. Thank goodness for that! We are looking forward to starting agility again, and he can’t wait to show the instructor what he has learned over the winter.

I encourage you to visit your local shelter, and consider volunteering in some capacity. They can always use the help. Dogs always need walks, and cats always need cuddles. If you are looking for a pet, consider adopting from your local shelter. Spay or neuter your pet.

Please support the BC SPCA by voting for Helios in the calendar contest.

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.  ~Samuel Butler, Notebooks, 1912 

Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | May 2, 2012

My cat is an opera singer

The Diva in her space

My cat is an opera singer. She is a true diva. Her favourite time to perform is in the middle of the night, 4:00 a.m. is particularly wonderful. Her stage is the bath tub, which has fantabulous accoustics in her opinion. She goes to her stage and promptly starts singing at the top of her lungs. The house is filled with loud meows and mrrraows, of varying styles and pitches. She is truly wonderful. In her mind. Asking her to please be quiet, and give her performance at a more suitable hour serves no useful purpose. She apparently does not believe there is a more suitable hour. So, on she goes, loudly singing. Her captive audience hearing every note. She’s in her element. 

This is admirable really. Her self confidence is solid. She knows she is gorgeous and talented. She knows she is adored. Well, she is told she is gorgeous every day, so I suppose that helps. 🙂

I often think it would be wise to be more like my cat. She sleeps in the most comfortable spots in the house. She plays randomly. She hunts down flies in the house, and keeps the home free from any pests. She ignores the people she doesn’t like and seeks attention from those she likes. She purrs randomly, and loves to have her belly rubbed. She sings.

Gorgeous is as gorgeous does!

Life is good for Ms Cat. 

What would your life be with such self-confidence?  Would you sing at the top of your lungs in places where the acoustics are marvelous? Would you sleep when you need to, and play when you want? Would you be curious and content?

I challenge you to be as gorgeous and fabulous as my cat. Enjoy life, and have fun.

Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heart-ache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. There is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, to discover what is already there. ~Henry Miller, Sexus

If we treated everyone we meet with the same affection we bestow upon our favorite cat, they, too, would purr. ~Martin Buxbaum 


Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | May 1, 2012

Abort, stop, eliminate…..

My MP, Bob Zimmer, believes I want him and Mr Woodworth to be killed because I retweeted this tweet:

@KathrynB_FSJ: “@Beari8it: Leave women to make their own decisions and choices … abort @WoodworthMP#cdnpoli@bobzimmermp” Serious?

That inspired me to get writing again. Frankly, when I retweeted the tweet, I did not see the word “abort” in there. I was responding to the message to leave women to make their own choices. This is the majority of our discussion. I’m sure I’m missing a couple of tweets, but you get the gist:

@bobzimmermp Serious? About choices definitely

@KathrynB_FSJ…..I hope you clarify that you don’t condone aborting human beings….

@bobzimmermp I am not pro-abortion. I’m pro-choice. I know how difficult unplanned pregnancies can be. Abortion is not black & white issue.

Michelle Haslehurst@Myhasle: @bobzimmermp@KathrynB_FSJ@Beari8it@WoodworthMP rereadit she is making reference to #abortion issue….are you trying to intimidate her?

@Myhasle@bobzimmermp@Beari8it@WoodworthMP#abortion I don’t intimidate that easily. ☺

@KathrynB_FSJ didn’t you say abort (eliminate) @bobzimmermp and @stephenwoodworth? Who’s intimidating who?

@bobzimmermp @Beari8it@WoodworthMP#cdnpoli Since this is the original RT show me where I said eliminate. Please.

@bobzimmermp@stephenwoodworth Abort = stop.

Frankly, I found the entire discussion bizzare. When it started, I thought we were talking about the abortion issue. It soon became clear that Mr. Zimmer was accusing me of wanting him eliminated. WTF?

I’m left wondering about the role of differing opinions with this government. I’m also wondering about the level of paranoia. Does disagreeing with someone in power equal threat? Is it just a difference of definition of a word?

I looked up the word “abort” online. It can be found here: Note that one definition is:

a: to terminate prematurely :cancel <abort a project> <abort a spaceflight> b: to stop in the early stages <abort a disease>
Furthermore, they have synonyms of the word:
Apparently Mr Zimmer is not aware of the entire meaning of the word.
I re-tweeted the original tweet because it stated my belief concisely.
I wonder why this abortion issue is even being raised at this time. There are some alarming things happening in the US with vaginal probes and anti-female laws. Mr Harper has says that he will not raise the abortion issue again. I certainly hope he meant that. Speculation is that he is allowing people like Mr Woodworth to raise this issue as a test balloon. Others suggest that Harper will not let this get far. I hope it will not go far.
I have done a fair amount of adoption work. I have met couples who have faced infertility and have seen the pain that causes. I have met women (couples) who have faced unplanned pregnancies, and know how difficult their choices are. A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy has three very difficult choices – 1. parent the child, 2. abort the child, 3. place the child for adoption. Each choice has significant consequences. It is important that women be able to discuss their options fully so they can make a good decision for them.
It galls me that the most outspoken opponents of abortion tend to be white, middle-aged men. They seem to think that women make the decision to abort flippantly. I have met women who have had abortions and have never met one that made the decision easily.
While I was writing this, Mr Zimmer replied to my tweet with the definition of abort:

@KathrynB_FSJ an apology would be much easier…that definition makes my point, not yours.

I give up.



Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | April 26, 2012

Catching up

I started this post on April 3 when I thougt there was some hope of actually getting caught up……..riiiight….as if that is possible. I had finished a report and some marking. Or so I thought. My plan was to be well and truly caught up before I left town on the 18th. Of course  you know that didn’t happen. I had happily submitted the report on Monday, April 2, and it was returned to me on the Thursday because I had written it in te wrong template. Crap. That meant my Easter was spent copying and pasting, and doing other work. I barely finished what I needed to do before I left. Some work followed me to Vancouver and a couple of small items will get done in a couple of weeks.

Does anyone actually get caught up? Is it even possible?

A while back, I wrote that I would be getting more balance in my life. That is a work in progress. My goal is to have time to write in here regularly, and to have more spare time. As a social worker, I am always encouraging my clients to take breaks and to find balance. I suppose I ought to practice what I preach now and again

It has been nice to have a break. I’ve been able to reconnect with friends and family. I have been able to play tourist,  even in the town where I grew up. Things change so much when you are away. So, I am sitting at a mall food court, using a hot spot and my tablet to write this. I haven’t been able to successfully  insert pictures when using the tablet, so this post is pictureless.

My tea is finished and I have places to be.

Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | April 22, 2012

Vancouver on 420 and beyond

Vancouver is a wonderful city, spectacular when it isn’t raining. It has been nice to be visiting again during nice weather. Yesterday we walked all around town, and I got some well earned blisters. Visiting the Olympic Torch, Granville Island and seeing the filming of something that was supposedly NYC, made for a good day. Add good food and good friends, and it is even better.

It was interesting to be here on 420. I was sitting in the hotel room doing some work around 4:00 pm. I started hearing sirens of different varieties, many just giving the “woop woop” warning. I wondered what was happening, and noted it was 4:15 now. Aha. Did I mention, I am only a few blocks from the Art Gallery and Robson Square, the centre of the activities? I popped outside to grab a tea, and the air was full of the smell of pot. I guess thousands of people smoking it will do that. 🙂 Yesterday, our walk took us past the Art Gallery and Square. You’d never know anything had happened on the 20th.

My visit this time has been excellent, and a much earned break. I was able to do a guided walking tour through Stanley Park. This included a box lunch supplied by a raw food restaurant. Instead of bread, they had sprouted flax seed pressed into a flat bread shape. Yum. Of course, the sandwich had lots of veggies, some avocado and tampanade. Very flavourful. I need to add more of that to my diet. We also saw a heron rookery that had hundreds of nests high up in the trees. Very cool.

Our guide on the walk spoke of the benefits of walking in nature. Short amounts of time surrounded by trees boosts our immune system considerably, for several days. Maybe weeks. I don’t remember the details. It was a reminder though, for me to ensure I walk on our local trails more frequently. They also spoke of the benefit of small, three day holidays for the immune system.  I have been so busy with work things lately, it reminded me to add more balance. Easier said than done I think, but possible for sure.

This trip has been a reminder of many important things. 420 reminded me that we have to be able to speak out about the things we believe are important. No voice should be silenced. Walking around a city like Vancouver, and being able to visit Stanley Park reminded me how important it is to keep our cities safe, and to look after our environment. Finally, friends and relationships make our world so much better.

Every time I have some moment on a seashore, or in the mountains, or sometimes in a quiet forest, I think this is why the environment has to be preserved. ~Bill Bradley

Posted by: Peaceful Social Worker | April 12, 2012


Wiebo Ludwig from Wiebo's War

Weibo Ludwig died on Easter Monday. He was an interesting character. A man who has been described as an enigma. Someone who people described as either a terrorist or an environmental hero. We moved here in 1999 from Toronto. People did not know where this town was when we told them we were moving. Weibo was in the news a lot at that time. When I told my colleagues where I was moving, they did not know where that was. I was able to use Mr. Ludwig as a point of reference to say our town is about this far in this direction from him. He was well known.

We came for a visit here in June 1999, right after 16 year old Karman Willis was killed on his property. Everyone thought that Mr. Ludwig was a nutcase at that time. They blamed him for her death. As people who were visiting from somewhere else, we didn’t fully understand all the dynamics of this situation. I wondered why young teens would be driving around his property in the middle of the night? Why would they be there when things were so tense between the Ludwigs and the rest of the community? Why would they be driving on anyone’s property at that hour?? I’ve since come to learn that it is broad daylight at 4:00 in the morning at that time of year, in this part of the country. So, it wasn’t dark. Never-the-less, it is still not a time when people visit each other. I am not blaming Karman for her death though. The situation was complicated.

As the years have progressed, attitudes towards Wiebo and his family have softened in some quarters. First Nations’ groups in the area have had the same complaints against the oil industry that he and his family have had. The oil companies seem to be more environmentally conscious, though I’d say they still have a ways to go yet….. At any rate, Wiebo served some time for blowing up wells. He seemed to have changed his tactics as well. For the record, I am not commenting on his guilt or innocence. Frankly, I’m not sure that is possible given the circumstances.

I had the honour of meeting Wiebo last summer at the Sweetwater Festival in Rolla, BC. This is a hippy gathering on someone’s farm, and is a great event. it is a time to camp, listen to music and just have fun. They showed the film “Wiebo’s War” there. They had apparently invited the producer to come, but he was unable to attend. Wiebo, his wife, a son and several daughters came to answer questions after the viewing. Mr. Ludwig was quite a presence. He was larger than life in some respects. I was surprised that he was not a big man, only about 5’6″ or so tall. He answered questions frankly, even the tough ones. One woman in the audience had trouble with his not accepting responsibility for Karman Willis’ death, even though he explained the situation several times. Frankly, I came to understand his point.

The Ludwig family has always been described as a fundamentalist religious sect. To read the media, you would think their religious views are somewhat freakish. I was surprised at how “normal” their views were. Yes, they are rather conservative. At the same time, their views seemed relatively mainstream, in an odd sort of way. I got the sense that they had a strong sense of social justice, and that this was informed by their beliefs. It was also part of the driving force for their activism. When Wiebo was asked about obeying the law, or something like that, he commented about bad laws. He described the people who hid Jews in Holland during WWII, and how they were breaking the law, but that it was the right thing to do. That analogy helped me to understand how a man born during WWII in Holland would have such strong views. When I listened to him and his family speak of their faith, I came to admire their strength. I can’t even imagine what it might be like to live their lives in the past 15 or so years, and yet, they maintain their faith and strength of character. They were surprisingly free of bitterness under the circumstances.

After the questions ended, people filed out. We stood around and spoke with his family a bit. Later, we were able to speak with Wiebo on the grounds of the festival. I thanked him for sharing his story. I told him I was glad he was able to make it instead of the producer. He seemed surprised by this. When I said it was his and his family’s story to share, he seemed to understand.

I am glad that I had the chance to see Wiebo’s War, and to meet the Ludwigs. It made me wonder whether I would ever have the strength of conviction they show. They stood firm in their views in spite of police searches, ostracism and hatred. They stood firm in spite of a jail sentence. I’m not sure I could handle it as well as they have.

“It’s a deeper thing than that. It’s what psychologists might mock as denial or something. I don’t. I see it as something much more integral.… My sense of responsibility is always not toward men, but toward God,” ~ Wiebo Ludwig 

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