Ponder This

Lest We Remember

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I wrote these few paragraphs lest we remember the past incorrectly.

Thousands of men and women died in World War 1, World War 2, in Korean and Viet Nam, and other conflicts in more recent times. What I would like to remember and affirm is that although their bodies died, their spirits went on. Their essence went back to source at the moment of death. Their love of life and individuality was completely absorbed back into the essence that Source is. For those who died on the front lines, I know that none of their pain was lost, and none of it went on either. At the moment of death, all anguish was converted into love by All-That-Is, by Source.

If we are to remember these people, let’s not think of them as victims. Let us not label their deaths as pointless. Let us not focus on their deaths alone; let us remember that they lived a life they chose, and that they acted in faith and to the best of their ability. In their deaths, let’s not propagate the ignorance, racism and the many other causes of their deaths. Let’s go forward and forge a brave new world.

Let’s remember that they loved and were loved. No one ever lost their humanity in any sacrifice. No one ever lost their sanctity in being tortured. The Spirit we all share cannot be crushed or diminished in any way. It is the core of us and it is indestructible.

Please stand with me if you agree that we’d like NOT to repeat the circumstances of the past. Stand with me if you would like to remember past soldiers’ ingenuity, which is our ingenuity, their courage, which is our courage, and to appreciate the immense change they contributed to. Let’s remember the love they were, and let’s go forward from here. Please stand with me in 1 minute of silence and hope.

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I was honoured to read these paragraphs aloud at the Sunday celebration at the Centre for Spiritual Living that I attend. I was singing and playing keyboard in the band and got to read this near the end of the service. 🙂 Hope you find that it gives you a new perspective — certainly something very different from the usual Remembrance Day talk.

If you’d like to talk about this, please leave a comment. 🙂 Take care, everyone.
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Miracles do Happen! Our Frankie-Daisy Double Miracle

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I have to tell you about two miracles on the farm! If you read the last post, you met Frankie, our baby alpaca. He’s very sweet, and for some unknown reason, when he was born, he could not find his momma’s milk. So, he was not nursing, and he would have died if we had not intervened. So, we started feeding him bottles with goat’s milk, half-and-half cream, and even with a tiny bit of plain yogurt mixed in. Later we switched to milk replacement (formulated for lambs and cria) and we’ve gradually increased from feeding him every 3-4 hours (6-7 times per day) to feeding him every 5-6 hours.

Here’s miracle #1: The first clue something was up came one morning when we were watching Frankie run around the yard, full of energy and joy. It was awesome! That was around 9 am.

He was clearly having the best day ever! On the right, there’s a little hill that the alpacas like to climb and play “king of the hill” on. He was doing that with his momma and running around the yard like never before. What a guy! Well, at 3 pm when I went to give him his bottle, HE WAS NURSING off his MOMMA, Daisy! I was stunned! I think he had just started that very day! I watched, and when he was done, he walked over to me with the cutest milk-mustache I’d ever seen! Somehow — here’s where the miracle comes in — he had finally figured out where the milk was!

Miracle #2 is related. How did Daisy still have any milk? In Frankie’s first 2 weeks, we had tried and tried to show him where the milk was, and we had been milking Daisy a couple of times a day (no easy task). We finally had to stop because Daisy had dried up. It’s normal for a momma to stop producing milk if there’s no baby nursing. So HOW was Daisy producing milk SIX weeks later!?!? It’s a miracle! I have no idea. But she is gradually increasing her milk production to feed Frankie. While bottle-feeding, he had maxed out at 49 ounces per day! Since he started nursing, we’ve been offering him bottles every 5 hours or so, just in case he needs some, and he sometimes has a little, but he is barely interested in the bottle. Daisy’s milk is better!

A screen shot from the alpaca cam in the barn — proof he’s nursing!

We thought that once a cria was a bottle baby, that was permanent. We did not think there was any chance he would start nursing! I used to check, frequently, when he was a newborn, but he never did nurse then. So, we had to take a deep breath, and take on the commitment of bottle feeding him several times a day for what we thought would be at least 8 weeks. I’ve juggled my schedule and rushed home from work more times than I can count. I’ve asked my mom, dad, and cousin’s daughter to help with feedings. I have to give credit to my husband who took the lead on bottle feeding, in order to save Frankie’s life. Obviously, I was on board immediately, but it was his idea first that we buy goat’s milk and baby bottles. He had found a page on the internet that gave us hope.

Now, our hope has been rewarded in the most amazing way! So unexpectedly! And I just bought the BIG bag of milk replacer. 🙂

I think our double-miracle might be related to the Power of 8 group we were in this summer. These are groups that pray – in a particular way – for healing for others. It’s more like setting a very clear intention and then focusing on it together. We met in the group for 10 weeks, and we’ve heard that people who participate often experience miracles of their own in their lives. So, I think our Frankie-Daisy double miracle must be related. 😀

Take care, everyone! If you are struggling with something, or hoping for a miracle, don’t give up! Miracles DO happen. 🙂

Frankie’s Here!

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It’s a boy! After waiting 11-and-a-half months, Daisy finally had her baby!

Isn’t he adorable?

When I got home that day, all the girls were in the barn. As I approached, I saw Uki standing in the doorway with a big smile on her face. (Once you know alpacas, you know what their smile looks like.) So, I went in the barn and immediately saw that Daisy’s belly was gone! See pic at right of her big pregnant belly. So, I knew there was a baby to be found! Yay! And guess where I found him? In a corner of the barn! Oh no! My heart sank. He was a “wall baby.”
Sometimes, I don’t know why, baby alpacas don’t know how to find their mama’s milk properly. So, when they get hungry, they go looking for any dark area — this is some kind of instinct — and they often end up against walls and in the dark corners of a barn. Allie was a wall baby, and we don’t think she ever did nurse properly (although we don’t really know the full extent, because we were less experienced then). Ten days after being born, she died of unknown causes, but she was certainly weak from not eating well.
So, I was devastated. The baby we had been waiting for for so long had the same condition that Allie had. Would we lose this little guy too?
I tried not to worry too much Sunday night, but as Monday wore on, it was getting hard not to panic. I sat in the sun Monday morning, knitting and watching him and his momma. He did not nurse once for 3 hours! A very experienced alpaca farmer friend of mine said that on a full tummy, they might not nurse for 2-3 hours, but often they have small snacks more frequently. Three hours would be the most between feedings. So, I worried more. I felt so horrible, and relived all the angst and pain from that day Allie died so suddenly. I am still having a hard time forgiving myself for all that happened with her.

An Adventure in Bottle Feeding

Tuesday morning came and we decided to do something about it. We would mix up some milk — we found a formula and some really helpful instructions on the internet — and feed him a bottle. We were pretty hilarious shopping for baby bottles; “Should we get these ones? Those ones look weird.” “I think we should get the 3-pack so we have extras.” “I guess we’ll get the pack with blue, since he’s a boy.” We bought whole goat’s milk, which is available in regular grocery stores here, half-and-half and plain probiotic yogurt, bottles, extra nipples, and we headed home. It felt really good to be doing something proactive. The plan was to feed him a few bottles, and teach him to nurse off his momma at the same time.
Getting him to suck on the bottle that first time took a while. I had to pry his mouth open and get the bottle in, but he’s so tiny, the bottle kept slipping out on the sides of his mouth. Eventually I figured out what I was doing and he figured out that the milk was tasty! He had no trouble sucking once the bottle was in place. We had cut the nipple a little to make the opening bigger, so he soon had a milk mustache and a trickle running down his chin! All the while, Daisy was right in our faces, not spitting, but letting us know she was not happy with us messing with her baby.
Frankie perked up considerably after a bottle, and even moreso after two. On the third bottle, he really knew how to suck and the nipple didn’t slip off to the sides any more. Twice a day, we put a harness on Daisy and held her and put Frankie under her to show him where the milk was. We even milked her a bit — her tiny little teats — to keep the milk flowing.
It is surprisingly hard to get a baby alpaca’s head into the right place below his momma’s hindquarters! I felt like I needed three arms — one to hold his whole body in position, because he would get wiggly, one to hold his neck in position, and one to pry his mouth open and get it onto Daisy’s teat. He would resist, probably because he didn’t like being forced into some sort of yoga position — body in line, neck down, then up, head pointed nearly straight up to the sky (the teat). Alpacas normally have an instinct for this, and trying to teach it was incredibly hard. I don’t know if Frankie doesn’t have the instinct, or if he did nurse that first day a few times, but perhaps Daisy kicked at a fly/mosquito and that startled Frankie and turned him off the teat, or perhaps Daisy’s mom, Uki, interfered with Frankie. Uki has been a momma the last three years with us but wasn’t expecting this year; she may have thought Frankie was her baby. She was very bossy that first day when I went in the barn and I immediately separated her from Daisy so that we could work in peace (Uki is a spitter)!
Whatever the reason, Frankie just could not seem to figure out that his momma’s dark places had the milk, and if he got too hungry, he would start searching in other dark places. So, we’ve been bottle feeding him to keep him from getting too hungry, and trying to teach him to nurse. We tried many, many times, but Daisy’s milk was gradually decreasing, and yesterday, we decided to consider him a full-time bottle baby.

So, this will be our adventure! We will feed him about every 3 hours, every day, for the next 7 weeks (minimum). We’ll be mixing and warming bottles, washing nipples, and feeding that adorable little fella to keep him growing. Initially, it was an intervention to keep him alive, and now we are keeping him growing and thriving. Daisy still looks after him great — making sure he’s safe — and he stays fairly close by his momma. It’s going to be challenging with work schedules. We’ve already had to get my mom, dad and cousin’s daughter to help out a couple of days. It’s going to be fun watching him grow and the first time he actually ran, I felt so happy! He was getting more perky and full of life.

“Thanks for the milk. It was delicious!”

I’ll try to keep all of you, my lovely blog readers, up to date as he grows! 🙂 This whole situation has been a big growth curve and I appreciate my dear husband more than ever for his attitude, hard work and wonderful perspective. He’s been such a good partner, in the true sense of the word.
Take care everyone! If you happen to know me personally, live close by, and want to come meet Frankie, email me or leave a comment and we’ll set something up! I’m planning to share Frankie’s story on reddit. Don’t you think he belongs in the “aaw” subreddit? Let me know if he becomes a star, because I’m not on reddit every day! 🙂
Daisy sure loves Frankie!

Ziggy, Frankie’s handsome papa

Nonviolent Solutions are Not What you Think

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I celebrated the beginning of the worldwide Season for Nonviolence with the loveliest like-minded people in Edmonton today. We all met at city hall and had a short ceremony to commemorate it. People read prayers/statements for peace from many world religions and we sang songs together. We even stood on the steps in the shape of a peace symbol. It was all very nice and, well, peaceful.

Nothing anyone said surprised me. It was so lovely, make no mistake, but I did feel that it was a little platitudinal. That’s a word I just made up today. It means, it was full of platitudes. Of course, we have to be the change we want to see in the world. Peace begins with me, definitely. I really don’t want to be disagreeable in this post. Public displays of intention are so important. And perhaps they aren’t the place to get into the how. But I can’t resist — so I’ll do that here (platitude-free).

We fall into a trap if we think that peace is simple. Choosing the non-violent solution, every time, is complicated. It’s tricky. It requires us to be aware of what makes us mad and then, before we can take any angry action, to write a new ending and flawlessly act it out. This is not easy, not even for those of us who are working on being aware of what makes us tick. It’s tricky coming up with a peaceful solution. It’s complicated and messy, although no more messy than violent solutions. Choosing nonviolence still leads to casualties — your ego, your pride, your wallet, perhaps. It is not simple, and in a world where a simpler life is almost worshiped, complexity, and therefore nonviolence, is undesirable. Getting mad is simpler! Being aware and maintaining ears that listen and a desire to understand others is a difficult and multi-faceted enigma. Life is complicated, and so is nonviolence.

There will always be differences between us. There will always be reasons — even good ones — to fight against someone different than ourselves. We simply have to find a way to rise above the differences and accept each other. We need to love and accept ourselves to do this, of course, but doing that alone is not enough. We have to take action, or non-action depending on the situation, with the ultimate goal of peace. Sometimes, we have to focus on de-escalating the situation. We have to face angry people and not add to their anger. We must consistently look for ways to build each other up instead of tear each other down.

Let me give you an example of a messy, non-obvious peaceful solution. One spring, my cousin contacted us and said that she and her husband had booked a bulldozer to come and knock down all the trees on the 19 acres adjacent to our land. She hoped it would not bother our animals, and that was that. The bulldozer was coming, sometime in the next five days. We were devastated. We loved those trees! I grew up exploring that bush and loved it dearly. It was valuable habitat for deer, porcupines and skunks, not to mention birds and squirrels and countless other critters. It was a valuable wind break, shielding us from the harshest north winds. My husband I were outraged, overwhelmed and felt completely helpless to stop it. For about an hour.

Somehow, I was able to stop villainizing my cousin and start thinking straight again. Why were they doing this? They valued farm land more than bush land. They wanted to turn the bush into arable land, probably because they had such large farm payments. They were feeling the pressure of making their big mortgage payments. So, we offered them the radical, messy, nonviolent bulldozer-less solution: we offered to rent those acres of bush, at the rate of farm land, each and every year, to help them make their payments and just because we wanted to. No bulldozer required. They would be making as much money off that land than if they had gone through the years of work it takes to clear the land. We could go for walks without feeling like we were trespassing, and put horses on that land or whatever we liked. It was a win-win solution! I was so thrilled they agreed.

You may be thinking, “how is paying a big bill every year win-win?” I don’t see it as a big bill at all. When the land was divided in the first place, that bush should have been included in our section. But it wasn’t — we didn’t think we could afford such a large piece of land, so we left it out. So, we rent instead of paying a MUCH larger mortgage. See, it’s still win-win. 🙂 This is my favourite example of a non-traditional nonviolent solution, and it just came to me out the blue sky — once I was calm enough to receive it. Some people would see it as ridiculous — to pay prime rates for less-than-prime land — but it really is a fabulous solution.

The nonviolent solution often means thinking outside the box. You may have to really stretch to understand the person you feel like fighting with. It might cost something — your time, your attention, your pride or even a bit of money — but all our actions cost us something if you really think about it. The peaceful answer may feel completely foreign to you. It might be a huge change and something you can’t imagine any rational person doing. Try it out.

Yes, we need to be serene down to our core to affect the world, but we also need to be peace-lovers and take non-conflictual action. I think I just made up another word! Non-conflictual!

So, throughout this season of nonviolence (until April 4), let’s all keep our eye out for those unexpected, nonviolent solutions and actions. After April 4, go back to your old ways — just kidding! 🙂 Some random acts of kindness would be awesome, too.

Love you all! If you have an example of a bulldozer-stopping example of a nonviolent solution, leave a comment! 🙂

Welcome 2018, Farewell 2017

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What a year it has been! There are so many highlights I want to share with you!

Farm stuff

The day we got Ziggy and Boeing! I can’t believe that was less than a year ago. I feel like we’ve had them forever!

We got our well fixed back in spring, on the first warm day! It was a big event, and we were so grateful when it was done and the pump wasn’t spraying water all over the inside of the pump shack any more. Darren made a fancy thermostat to control the heater in the pump shack, so it will never get below zero in there again. And we can check the temp any time, because he also made a wifi temperature sensor.

Shearing day! It’s always a big event. I got spit on by Uki, and my arm was GREEN and STINKY until I washed it. After 5 minutes.

Alex was born! What a cutie! So spunky and healthy! We named him Alex to remember his sister, Allie, that passed away a year ago.

Alex is getting so big! 🙂

Travel


Total Solar Eclipse – We had such an awesome trip to Idaho to see the total solar eclipse! 🙂

Cambodia – In November, I went to Cambodia for 8 days to visit a friend and be a tourist. It was amazing. I really should blog about it!

Personally

Music – I continue to play in a band once a month at the Centre for Spiritual Living, which I love. Singing and playing is so fulfilling for me, and I’ve been getting a bit more bold in my song choices. My keyboard playing is getting better too! I love it, and I play with such great people. I really feel blessed.

Writing and Publishing – I’ve been writing like a fiend this year! Just not blogging (sorry about that)! 🙂 I finished writing 4 tiny books, and just this month, I’ve finished all the layout and publishing tasks to self-publish 3 of them with lulu.com! I still need to finish the 4th one. This is another thing that I absolutely love doing! It’s so fun and fulfilling, and I can’t wait to get my books out to the world! 🙂

I feel like I’ve had such a great year! I was grateful much of the time, and was able to help some friends going through tough times and not get carried away by their grief or anger. I took a couple of self-development classes this year; I learned how to do Heart Math and I do it all the time. It’s such a helpful tool for regulating one’s emotions and creating more resiliency. In the second class, I learned more about Ernest Holmes and all that he stood for. It was also an excellent class and I enjoyed every minute of the reading and the class discussions.

I wish everyone such a happy, amazing, phenomenal 2018. May you grow in love and be surrounded by joy, peace, creative activities, and time for all the things you enjoy.

Boeing… Isn’t he handsome?! 😛

Alex the Alpaca Video

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Enjoy this adorable video of Alex, just a couple of days old, running around!

Alex the Alpaca from Darren Griffith on Vimeo.

Previous post introducing Alex

Open Letter to Refugees, Immigrants and New Canadians

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Welcome to Canada! Let me tell you a few things about this country you now call home, and offer some advice.

This land was originally inhabited by aboriginal peoples, long before the French, English and Scottish came here to make their homes. We call them First Nations, and when you meet a First Nations person, show them respect. They may not always respect themselves, but you should show respect just the same.

In fact, you will do well in Canada if you respect everyone you meet, as soon as you meet them. They might turn out to be a jerk – we have our share of those – but wait for them to show you that themselves. Don’t assume they are one. Be polite to strangers and friends alike. That might be a big difference from the country you came from.

I don’t know what it was like in your home country, but I can imagine that you didn’t have the well-stocked grocery stores we have, the good road system, the excellent hospitals, and, to a large degree, kind people everywhere you go. There are charitable organizations to help needy people, people having cancer treatments, and a thousand other things. We like to take care of each other here. We like to look out for one another, and although we aren’t perfect at this, it’s something we do as a whole.

It might be because our founding religions were Christian. We do hold quite a few of those values in our society, and you’ll see them in our laws and policies, if you know how to look for them. Not everyone is kind and considerate, but you will do well to practice kindness as much as possible. Non-Christians are welcome here, but I wanted to mention that about our origins. Not everyone is religious, but almost everyone is kind. You are welcome to bring your religion and practice it here, but if your religion is not kind, it will not fit in here. It could, in an extreme case, even make you unwelcome.

Remember that for all the hospitals, roads, bridges, and other amenities you enjoy, someone had to pay for those. People who were born here, and who moved here long before you, did that so that you can benefit from them. You can enjoy moving about this country freely because of others who worked hard, paid their taxes, and because they cared enough to contribute. They contributed by having jobs, by joining service groups, by volunteering and by helping their neighbours with everything from babysitting to snow shoveling. Look for ways to contribute to all sorts of Canadians. Make sure you mix with other cultures and don’t just stick to your own.

We are not perfect but we generally obey the laws and conform to our social norms. You would do well to do the same. We do not consider our laws to apply to some and not to others; they apply to everyone equally, and they are enforced. If you bend them, they will snap back. If you disregard them, you won’t be able to stay here, or you’ll be put in jail – you’ll lose your freedom. One of the reasons Canada is Canada is because we had law enforcement early on; while the US had the wild west, we had the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and they still keep the order today. Respect them.

Our laws say that women have all the same rights as men; if you do not agree with this, you should look for somewhere else to live and move there as soon as you can. If moving is not an option for you, you will do well to learn to keep your opinions very, very hidden. This equality is fundamental to who we are, and you will NOT be able to change it.

Actually, don’t try to change anything about Canada. We are who we are and we’ve been this way a long time. Any of your behaviour that differs too much from the social norm will not make a change; it will only alienate you. Do not blame Canadians for alienating you. You always do that to yourself. We are quite welcoming to those who want to live here, follow our laws, contribute to our society and be like us.

We have our quirks – we love our quirks. You do not have to be a cookie-cutter Canadian. Just take some time to watch those around you and see how they act. Although we value our freedom and independence greatly, we are also more conforming than you may realize. This will be your challenge while you are new here! You will have to learn to put aside your ideas from your home country and adopt ours.

I don’t want to overwhelm you with advice. You have probably been through a lot to get here. Let me summarize.
Show respect to everyone.
Respect the laws, and follow them.
Be grateful for what you have, where you are, and those who made it possible for you to be here.
And yes, be kind and polite!

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