Sunday, November 30, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Piggy Edition - Update #2

Just a quick report (one day late due to computer and potential mail theft problems):

Janice has determined that her box was not affected by the mail theft and all known cheques have been accounted for - whew! I posted two weeks ago, and again last week, I am trying to raise $1500 for Carport Penny's house and yard at Hearts on Noses Sanctuary. And tonight, our grand total in monies received and pledged is:

D R U M R O L L:

Yes! We are almost there! Please, please, please.... if you haven't already made a donation head over to the Hearts on Noses website to donate through paypal or send me an email at the contact on the side of this blog and I'll send you the mailing address for the snail mail. Every donation helps, no matter what amount!

And......we got a good deal on a pretty red piggy house, thanks to an alert blog reader and a nice seller who delivered it, intact, to Hearts on Noses. It may work for Carport Penny, or Janice may make a few changes for an end result that is best for all the piggies - some have different needs from others for space, location, etc. But with $1500 we will certainly have Penny in her own warm, dry little house and keep all the other piggies happy and safe too.

A huge thanks to all who have donated so far!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Two "heads up"

Janice at Hearts on Noses has just found out that their mailboxes were broken into Thursday night. She customarily picks up her mail on the weekend, so any cheques that were mailed this week "might" have been among those stolen. She will get back to me with the names of any cheques recently received, but if you sent a check towards Penny's house please email me using the contact to the side of this blog, and send me your email address or phone number so we can contact you as soon as we check if yours may be among the missing.

Also, when my computer was invaded by trojans I lost ALL my email addresses and messages. If you emailed me and haven't heard back, please email me again. And if you are family or friend, please email me at my personal shaw address so I have your email address back in my file.

We are slowly regaining our sanity and our computer programs. I promise to share a critter story soon!

Whazza Matta Mama????

By Sadie, pup reporter.

Our mama has bin real cranky. She’s not usually cranky. And she shouldn’t be cranky no more. She gotz her car back, an’ she gotz her ‘puter back, an’ a vewy nice friend offered her a digital camera she’s not using.

And she’s got us, and she’s got the cat, and she's got the piggies and she’s got the ‘paca. So we asked her why she still cranky when there’s so much lovings around this place.

Mama: “Because when the university cleaned up my computer they also upgraded the word processing system and I DON’T KNOW HOW TO USE THIS VERSION!”

Sadie: “That’s okay mama. You just put your feet up and read a good book, and I will figure it out. I need to write my newspaper column because it is overdue, what with us having no computer last week.”

Mama: “Sorry, Sadie, but you can’t use the computer for a few more days. I have four sets of final exams to compose and a week’s worth of other computer work to do – and most of the stuff has to be done by Monday.”

Sadie: “Okay mama, I’m sure the nice people at Abbotsford Today will unnerstand. Can I have a cookie please?”

But instead of smiling and giving us cookies, Mama started pacing. That’s what she does when she’s stressed. She paces. And when she paces, four dogs and a cat try to follow along, just in case she happens to be going past the cookie jar. And mama pacing with four dogs and a cat on her heels in a teeny tiny house like this, well.....let’s just say it made her crankier.

So she went out to the barn to visit the piggies. Whisper made her laugh because he raised his snoutie and wiggled it at her with a big smile, and batted his blue eyes at her. And Soda told her she was being too slow with the food and tried to shove down the door to the feed area, and that made her laugh too.

But the laugh didn’t last long because when she came back into the house the computer problems got worse. When she tried to add her home email account back into the system, the internet company deleted all her university security system and replaced it with their own....and then just said “sorry, there’s no way for us to restore it”. And their system wouldn’t let her use the remote access to her work files at the university. I didn't know humans could make smoke come out of their ears. They can. Mama did.

So mama looked at us, and looked at the computer, and looked at us, and said:
Sorry guys – I’m going to have to go into the office today.”

We moped. And sulked. And snarked at each other. And chased the cat. An sulked some more. And mama left the house and didn’t even take ONE of us with her!

But she came back a few hours later ‘cuz someone at the university was able to put her old word processing package back and reinstall the security system and so now she can use her ‘puter at home even if she dozn’t have time to blog or do any fun stuff. And she’s not gonna put her email on it, and so far she haszn’t bin able to get her printer to work with it but those things can wait.

She’s not pacing any more. She’s makin’ a cup of coffee, and she put some Christmas music on, and she’s home with us for the rest of the day, and she’s talking about retiring even earlier than she planned – and that would be a-okay with us 'cuz then she’d be home lots more!!!

So stay tuned and hopefully she will write a nice cheery blog piece sometime around Toosday. Or sooner. Or maybe one of us will sneak on here at night.

Meanwhile, we is watching out for some dude called Trojan .....’cuz we heard he started all this. He’s a spy and an evil little virus and he destroyed our ‘puter (and I bet he destroyed the car and the camera, too!!!) and he upset our mama. He better not come back to our house EVER, or he will have some mighty big bytes to contend with....canine bytes!

Yours truly,

Thursday, November 27, 2008


No car, no computer, and camera! It finally died, ka-put, gave up the ghost completely.

The car is being repaired ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$); the computer is being repaired (but much of the material is likely unrecoverable - waaaaaaah!); and the cost of the car repairs mean there will be no new camera in the near future.

Would whomever is sticking pins into a voodoo doll replica of me PLEASE stop?!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm Jinxed!

First my car makes horrible clunking sounds, and then my computer gets infected with a trojan virus/spyware problem. Both are in for repairs for a few days. So this post is just to let you know that if you do not see or hear from me this week, it does not mean I have been abducted by aliens. I will try to check my emails once a day from work (usually about midday), but there will be no blogposts until the computer is repaired.
OMG I hope it has not eaten all my stories and photos......I kept meaning to back them up on disk, but never had the time to figure out how the heck to do that in a time efficient manner. I hate technology!!!
On the other hand, with no car and no computer, I certainly should get a lot of papers marked this week!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wow. Just. Simply. Wow.

I usually hate surprises. I like life to be organized, scheduled, routine, tidy, predictable. Of course, real life is seldom like that but I am an incorrigible list maker, plan-aheader, stick-to-routine sort of person.

But sometimes the unexpected is just (as the commercial says) "the best gift ever!"

Like yesterday:

The gift of a beautiful day.

The gift of an absolutely incredible friend who came over with her dogs to enjoy the outdoors for a couple of hours, and ended up staying all day as she single-handedly raked a ton of leaves in the front/side/backyard (we're talking almost an acre!) for me while I cleaned up the front fence line and put up the Christmas lights. Thanks, Ellen!

The gift of finding a strange looking fossil with leaf prints and skeletal insect impressions when all I was doing was scooping the piggy poop.

The gift of waking up to find not one but two animals on my bed, cuddled up together - Sadie and Allie the cat! I didn't even object to the reality of a sore back from having to contort around them on my little piece of mattress.

And today:
Having a former student email me to tell me my course changed her life.

Sneaking a look at my blog during a break and seeing that we have passed 20,000 hits since I began posting last January (or, actually, since I added the counter in late February).

Picking up piggy scraps from a friend and receiving the gift of a steaming hot container of stew to take home for my dinner. Thanks, Lou!

And then, the grande finale:
Coming home from work, I ran into a traffic jam and decided to take a different route. I headed up one of the low, rolling mountains with plans to cut back down well before my turnoff. But the road I planned to take was closed for construction, and as I headed higher and higher, I realized there was no other cross road.
So I turned around. And then I saw it: the most incredible, amazing, brilliant, colourful, awe-inspiring sunset I have ever seen. On each end, snow-capped mountains. Above the sunset, deep purple wisps of cloud in a cornflower blue sky.
And the sunset itself: indescribable swirls of reds and oranges and yellows and purples and goldens stretching and burning from one side of the valley below me to the other. It was so overwhelmingly beautiful that it is not a cliche to say "it took my breath away." I pulled off the road and just sat there gazing at it in total and complete reverence.

Wow. Just. Simply. Wow.

I only wish I'd had my camera with me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Life is Good

Life is good.

It is the dawn of a beautiful, crisp, frosty morning. The hills that surround my little piece of paradise are rich, deep purples rising against the pink-tinged, clear blue sky.

Last night I had a rare evening out, as Jim (Misty’s dad) treated those of us who had helped with the eight-day search to a wonderful dinner of Chinese food at a great restaurant (Szechuan Chongqing at Commercial and 12th) in Vancouver. Ellen, Smitty and I carpooled and chatted about......what else?.....our animals. Lynda, a blog reader who I've met only once at the Turtle Gardens' Reunion, showed up with a huge bag of peanuts for my piggies and a donation to Penny’s house (thanks, Lynda!), and I received two other pledges for Penny as well. I met many fabulous people and we all had a great time. Thanks, Jim!!! (And, Yvette, Misty has absolutely the best home ever!)

Today, I have the whole day to spend with my crew. I’ll walk the dogs and play with the pigs and do some raking and put up the Christmas lights and, no doubt, take some photos. Of course, there is the inevitable stack of marking to be tackled, but I just might have to light a campfire in the firepit and work on it outside – it is just that sort of a day.

Happy Sunday, everyone. Enjoy the fantabulous weather.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Extreme Makeover - Piggy Edition (Update)

It is one week since I posted about the desperate need for a piggy house and yard to accommodate Penny the Pig aka Carport Penny. I asked readers of my blog to donate, and bloggers reading my blog to copy or link the entry to their blog and ask their readers to donate also – a blog fundraiser for a very special piggy.

I set a goal of $1500 to cover materials and labour for a piggy house and yard, and I set a month to reach that goal. I promised to report each Saturday. And so, dear readers, here is the first report of our progress.

In just seven days we have raised (through received donations and pledges that are in the mail) :



That is 66% OF OUR GOAL!!!!!!!!!


If you have been thinking of donating and not yet done so, please take a moment to go to the Hearts on Noses website and click on the “click to donate” button. Alternatively, you will see I have added an email contact on the side of my blog, where you can email me for the Hearts on Noses snail mail address or further information.

Remember – every dollar helps:
Five dollars will buy a fence post or two 2x4s.
Ten dollars will buy a bag of Rapid Post for setting the fenceposts.
Twenty dollars will buy an hour's labour from someone with basic construction skills.
Thirty dollars will buy three bales of straw to keep Penny warm
Fifty dollars will buy a roll of fencing wire

Bloggers, please feel free to link this to your blog and/or copy this or the original post if you have not done so.

Let's reach that goal and get Penny warm and comfy for the winter!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Needed: One "Happily Ever After" Ending

Once upon a time, in a community far away, there lived a King. Not just any ordinary King, but a very special King. You see, this King didn’t have a palace, or servants, or banquet tables laden with food. This King didn’t even have a warm bed or a place to call home.

And yet, King persevered. He led his royal entourage of three around the community, keeping them together, seeking out scraps wherever scraps could be found, finding shelter from cold and wet and wind.

One day, King was injured. No one is quite sure how, but then no one was looking out for him, and no one took him to a vet, and no one but his entourage kept him company while his broken femur slowly and painfully knit itself back together.

But his injury made feeding his entourage difficult, and they all became thinner and thinner and thinner, until they were scarcely more than racks of bone.

Now it so happened that a couple from another far away place was visiting the King’s territory, enjoying a vacation in King’s beautiful land. They saw King and his entourage, and were deeply troubled.

Unlike many who would have passed by the starving foursome, this couple could not. They talked, and they looked, and they thought, and they phoned, and they tried to find a safe haven for King and his followers. But every place they called said “Sorry, no room.” “Sorry, we’re full.” “Sorry, we can’t help you.”

Perhaps this couple remembered another time in another place where a couple had repeatedly heard “Sorry, no room.” “Sorry, we’re full.” “Sorry, there’s no room in the inn.” Perhaps they remembered it was a King who needed that room. Or perhaps they were just very loving, very caring people with huge hearts brimming full with compassion.

For like the story of the couple who could find no room at the inn, this couple was willing to take whatever they could find, no matter how far afield they had to look. And soon enough, they heard of a place named Turtle Gardens. And when they called and asked “Do you have room?” Turtle Gardens said “We are full, but bring them here and we will make room. It may not be fancy and it may not be spacious, but they will be warm and they will have food and they will be loved.”

And so the couple loaded King and his entourage into their van, and the couple bought them food and collars and leashes, and they drove seven hours out of their way to deliver the starving, limping, world-weary foursome to Yvette and Dave at Turtle Gardens.

It wasn’t long before King and his friends regained their strength. King’s leg mended and his belly filled out and his tail began to wag once more. And soon his entourage found homes and moved on. Two joined some humans who work deep in the forest, and one became a companion for four young boys. And although people looked at King's picture and read his story, they passed him by. "Too old" said some. "Too plain" said others. "Too big" said the rest.

Today, seven months later, King watches as others come and go through Turtle Gardens. More than anything in the world, King wants his very own just-for-him, I’m-your-best-buddy kind of human. A one-person dog for a one-dog person. King dreams of an easy life with a caring person who will take him on walks, who will welcome him on the bed and the couch, who will have a gentle hand and a warm heart. For that person, he will be a best friend, a devoted follower, a loyal companion for a lifetime.

And so, my readers, it is up to you to finish this tale. Like all good tales, it needs a happily-ever-after ending. Please share King’s tale with others; somewhere out there is someone who can add those oh-so-very-important final lines to this story: “And they lived happily ever after.”

King, upon his arrival at Turtle Gardens

King, today

All photos used with permision of Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue

King is a 8-10 year old lab cross, possibly part Chesapeake. He had a broken femur but it has healed completely. He would be best in a one-dog home with one special person who will be there for him. If you or someone you know is interested in adopting King, please contact Yvette at Turtle Gardens. Help turn this fairy tale into a reality.

Okay, whodunit????

I'm betting it was Ms. the small piggy yard.....with her snoutie!

I'm just wishing I wouldn't discover these things in the morning on a work day. I suppose I can be thankful it is a beautiful day and I'm not fixing it in the rain and mud!

Speaking of piggy yards, please make a donation to Penny's Extreme Makeover. I will let you know how we are doing on Saturday, but let me provide a teaser: If the contributions that have come in so far are any indicator, I absolutely think we can meet our goal, and meet it ahead of schedule! Here's what your donation can buy:

Five dollars will buy a fence post or two 2x4s.
Ten dollars will buy a bag of Rapid Post for setting the fenceposts.
Twenty dollars will buy an hour's labour from someone with construction skills.
Fifty dollars will buy a roll of fencing wire.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sadie is a columnist!

Some time ago, when I was volunteering at a multi-species animal shelter, I used to write a weekly column for a community paper, a column in which the animals themselves talked about their lives.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a new online newspaper, Abbotsford Today, asking if I would be interested in writing a column for a "Pets" section they wished to establish. I said I would consider it, and promptly put it on the back burner until I could give it more thought.

However, Sadie (one of my collie cross dogs) beat me to the finish - she persuaded Abbotsford Today that she should write the column, since she sees everything I see around here and has had an interesting life which has given her great insight and wisdom. Her column will be a mix of stories, education, philosophy, wit and wisdom. Right now, her plan is to submit a column every other week though she still has to negotiate computer time with me. And the first time I find fur or drool or cookie crumbs messing up the keyboard, she will be reduced to writing it longhand (longpaw?), the old fashioned way.

Her column is called Sagacious Sadie: Life through the eyes of a wise old dog. You can read her first submission here.

Sadie says: Don't forget to donate to Penny's new house! Even a $5 donation buys a fence post.

The Magic of Morning

Five-thirty A.M.

I feel a paw on my arm, a scratch at the side of the bed. Charley.
Groaning softly, I open one eye to peer at the clock.

“Ohhh Charley, not yet, I have fifteen more minutes!”

Persistent pawing. Suddenly the patter of little feet in the hallway – Oliver!

Oliver doesn’t know how to bark to go out, but the moment he is awake he stands at the back door, desperate for his morning pee. Charley is trying to tell me that her brother needs out.

Pulling coat over pjs, I step out the door letting four furry-coated canines barrel on ahead. Instead of the frost that the cold temperatures the night before had hinted at, there is a wonderful warm wind blowing, gustily swirling leaves about my feet. It is reminiscent of my years in Alberta when the Chinook winds would suddenly sweep away the mind-numbing cold.

The sky is clear, and the stars have been generously sprinkled across the sky like the glitter from a child’s hand as she makes her Christmas crafts. Purple and blue and black shadows appear in bas relief, neighbouring homes and barns visible now that the last of the leaves have fallen.

Even the dogs enjoy this warm morning magic. Oliver bounces up and down the driveway, head high and bum wagging, silently expressing his delight while the others run nose-to-ground checking out the scents of critters who have crossed our yard while dogs and human slept.

The magic of morning, the promise of a day to enjoy – does life get any better than this?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Playtime with the Piggies

Group shot!

There are days when only the necessities get done, and days when I do the necessities plus a little extra. And then there are days when the necessities are put aside and the little extras become my raison d'etre. Today was one such day.

My plans to do laundry, to prepackage some lunch foods, to mark some papers, and to make some dinners for the freezer were put on hold by the draw of a crisp, clear, autumn day. I headed out to the pasture with the piggies in tow. A bag of peanuts in their shells was safely tucked inside my jacket pocket. The piggies needed not just physical but mental stimulation, as all piggies do, and so my plan was to scatter peanuts among the grasses and sticks and clumps of dirt so they could spend time hunting and rooting for edible prizes.

But piggies are smart. Very, very smart. It only took seconds before they realized I was surreptitiously letting the peanuts slide from my hand into the weeds as I walked. And it took no more than a second longer for them to figure out just where those peanuts were coming from......and then I was mobbed! Piggy lovefest! Those piggies knew it was a whole lot easier to take me down and run off with the loot than to hunt all over the pasture for those elusive yummies-in-the-shell.

Ha ha!!! The Peanut Hunt turned into the Peanut Scramble, and the Peanut Lady turned into a muddy, mucky, laughing, piggy-loving, de-stressed, re-invigorated and totally filthy lump on the ground.

Even after the peanuts were gone, the piggies decided that mobbing Foster Mama was a fun game. They climbed on my lap, they rolled over for belly-rubs, they gave me head butts, they stuck their snouties right into the camera lens, and they told me that this was THE BEST DAY EVER.....or at least the best day since the shorter days began and my workload grew exponentially. I confess they have been a wee bit neglected lately.

And so, we spent nearly two hours playing and laughing and singing and eating and smooching and scritching and having a wonderful time.

Here, in no particular order, are just a fraction of the dozens of shots I took while playing with the piggies today.

Too close, Whisper!

You too, Derby!


Snouties Up!

Scritches for Rob Roy

Rob Roy wants a belly rub

Me too, please!

Happy Pig

Are you SURE you hid a peanut there?

Swizzle in straw

Papa Scotch

More Swizzle in Straw

Cuddle, please!

May I come up?

Happy pig in pasture


Now I'll give YOU a bellyrub, Foster Mama!

I wuv you!

That's all, folks!

Don't forget to donate to Penny's new house!

Morning Sky

I headed out this morning to try to capture on film an animal I could see sitting calmly on the trail in the pasture. I'm assuming it was Brazen Coyote, yet his (or her) whole chest and belly and much of his face was pure white. He sat like a puppy, on the bum with hind legs extended, forelegs between the hind ones.

There wasn't enough light for me to see much else except the colouring, but the rounded ears were just like Brazen's. I suspect Brazen may be a mix of coyote and wolf, or coyote and dog, since coyotes usually have pointed ears and these are very definitely rounded. But the colour? Last time I saw Brazen, he was that wonderful mix of browns and rusts and goldens with just a touch of white on his neck and chest. Do coyotes change colour in winter? Do wolves? Had it been a strange dog, Martin would have been sounding the alarm, yet he was silently standing beside me.

I turned for a moment to give Martin his feed, and when I turned back the critter was gone - a phantom slipping into the mist of early dawn.

And so, instead, I looked skyward and captured the sun struggling to wake up the world.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Piggy Edition!

A blog fundraiser for Hearts on Noses

Penny Pig in her makeshift house

On a small piece of land located between two rivers in Maple Ridge, B.C. lies a very special place. It is Hearts on Noses, a sanctuary for potbellied pigs. The Hearts on Noses sanctuary was started in 2002 by Janice Gillett, after she found Willy, an unkempt stray piggy, running around the property when she moved in. You can check out their website here and their new blog here.

Potbellied pigs were popular pets in the 1980s, but as so often happens, people who wanted to capitalize on the fad recklessly bred and sold piggies to customers who soon got tired of them, who lived in communities where they weren’t permitted, who didn't spay and neuter, and who didn’t take the time to learn about these funny, fascinating, and incredibly smart animals.

And so Hearts on Noses grew, and grew, and grew as people abandoned, abused, neglected, and dumped their pigs. Hearts on Noses currently has 31 pigs in residence, and 12 more in foster care. A registered non-profit society operated by Janice and a small handful of volunteers, it is constantly stretched to the limits of financial and human resources.

Last week, two more pigs unexpectedly arrived. Four month old Jack was secretly dumped on the property while Janice was at her paid job; and a very obese, sore, and fat-blind Penny was abandoned when her owner sold their house and moved away. While Janice is used to having to take a tough stance and say “No, sorry, we are full!” these two left no option.

But Jack’s arrival took the only vacant house and pen, one left vacant by the passing of Teddy Bear a few months ago. And pigs can’t just be thrown in with another herd; they very much keep to their own families (and indeed may fight with others) and the pigs who are social with others already have bunkmates.

Although Janice has frequently taken pigs into her own house, Penny’s health and extreme obesity makes it impossible for her to get in and out with the agility needed to live comfortably in human territory. And so Penny is temporarily housed in a very makeshift area of the carport. That will not be sufficient for her permanent needs, nor even for this coming winter. A warm, winterproof, rainproof pig-sized home and securely fenced personal yard will run close to $1500 for materials and labour.

Mylifewiththecritters is therefore initiating a blog fundraiser. I am asking my readers to make a donation, no matter how small, to help Penny get her house. But I am also asking all of my readers with blogs to copy this entry and post it on THEIR blogs, and to ask their readers to copy the entry and post it on THEIR blogs, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Since the house needs to be built as soon as possible and certainly before the cold weather sets in, I’m setting a goal of raising $1500 in one month – by December 15th, 2008. Each Saturday, I will post a progress report.

If Ty can produce a home for humans in a week, surely we can produce a home for one lone piggy in a month. We want Penny in her new home for Christmas. After all, every pig needs a place to hang her stocking.

Please help make this dream come true – help Penny get a home for Christmas.

To donate, go to the Hearts on Noses website at and click on the “To Donate” icon.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I'm not lookin' at you, No. No siree. You've been chasin' me since the day you arrived here, an' cornering me, an' even grabbin' at my tail wiv what few teeth you have left! I will NOT be yer friend!

Quit that! I see you lookin' at me! I is not payin' no attenshun to you!

Well, okay. Truce. Fer tonight. But I'm warnin' ya, dog, the first time you chase me, it's WAR!!!!! I waz heah first an' I'z THE BOSS!

[Note from the critters' mom: This photo series represents a HUGE step forward for Allie and Oliver. As Allie says, Oliver has tormented her from day one. In the past couple of days, however, he seems to have decided that Allie is just another dog, albeit a weird looking one who talks funny. They both sat in the doorway together for a good twenty minutes this evening. What next? Sleeping in the same bed?].

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rainy Afternoons

So what do you do on a rainy afternoon?

Well, around here, you take a nap

in a basket ....

Or with a blanket....

Or in a crate .....

Or on a couch .....

Or on a bed ....

Or in a barn .....

Or maybe you just think about taking a nap.....

Unless, of course, you have a stack of marking to do .....

in which case, you go grocery shopping and do the laundry and muck out the barn and scoop the poop and email your friends and write a blog and cut down the bamboo and rake some leaves and tidy the kitchen, and then you drink a ton of coffee so you can pull a very-late-nighter because you absolutely HAVE to give those papers back tomorrow!!! (Have I ever mentioned that I am the world's BEST procrastinator?)

What If.......

In one of the blogs I visit daily, bikesbirdsnbeasts, the author asks readers for their thoughts on “the usefulness and significance of this day set aside for remembrance.” It got me thinking. A lot.

My blog is primarily about my critters, yet also about nature, biodiversity, the environment, life. And what has greater implications for life in all its forms than the impact of war?

I have always been bothered by the glorification of war, and my pacifism leads me to ask "What if...”

What if the ONLY media image we saw today was the 1972 Nick Ut photo of naked 9 year old Kim Phuc, burned by napalm, fleeing her bombed-out village with other crying, terrifed children?

What if the men and women of the armed forces marched today with their heads bowed in sorrow instead of held high with pride?

What if those men and women wore signs around their necks that said: “I killed a little girl’s father”; “I dropped bombs that killed children”; “I saw my best friend’s head blown off” ; “War was a nightmare”; “The trenches were full of sewage” ; “I was so terrified I lost control of my bowels”; "We destroyed the habitat of millions of living creatures" ?

Is that not more honest than the images and stories of war that are served up with ceremony today? Would that not go further in promoting the slogan “Never Again !” than the glorification of war we see all around us all year long?

What if we raised our children to celebrate diversity, to resolve problems without violence, to be compassionate and humane to all living things?

What if we learned to live harmoniously, respecting our differences, and with true regard for the rights of all living things?

What if war was truly UNTHINKABLE?

I believe it is important to remember those who died - not because they "died for my freedom" but because they killed and were killed in horrible, frightening, terrifying circumstances. Civilians of all ages, and soldiers who were often hardly out of childhood themselves, have died needlessly because powerful men in powerful nations lacked the skills to sort out their differences peacefully.

We have to remember the ugliness of war so that we will be inspired to find a better way. All life depends on it.

Unhappy Remembrance Day. Lest We Forget.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Tale of Daisy the Pig

This is a story, a true story, of a little pig named Daisy. Daisy was purchased from an unethical breeder in eastern BC, who sold her at two months to a young girl in the Okanagon, whose family within a month decided to move and didn’t want to take the piggy with them.

Enter Denise. Denise and I had been in contact several times as she was hoping to adopt two of Scotch and Soda’s family, the piggies I’m fostering for Hearts on Noses. Although currently living in the city in the Okanagon, Denise has some acreage just outside the city that she will be moving to shortly and was in the process of getting it ready for piggies.

One day, Denise saw an ad for Daisy and contacted the owner to find out more. Daisy supposedly slept on the girl’s bed and was crate trained for times she had to be alone. She was friendly, healthy, and a sweet little pig. And she was living nearby.

Meanwhile, Denise and I kept talking piggy talk about what they need and how to house them and what to expect. Suddenly, a week or so after Denise had contacted Daisy’s human, she got a phone call – come and get Daisy or we’re taking her to the SPCA first thing in the morning.

Denise and I talked, we agreed she should take Daisy, and I offered to help guide her through new-pig-itis. The next day she picked up Daisy. (Note: This is not a slam against the SPCA, who have some amazing workers and volunteers, but an acknowledgement that I knew Denise could offer Daisy a wonderful life whereas the end result of going to the SPCA was unknown.)

Denise and I have talked on the phone or via email every few days since Daisy came to live with her. Daisy wasn’t quite what the previous owner had said – her skin was red and sore from mites, her crate was filled with urine-soaked blankets and she was totally unhousetrained and likely had been kept crated virtually all the time. But she was sweet, and she did like to cuddle on the couch, and she won Denise’s heart in no time at all.

Now, just a couple of weeks later, Daisy walks on a harness and leash, lives happily and safely with the family in the house, always does her business outside, jumps in and out of Denise’s Forerunner to go to the acreage every day, still loves to cuddle, and it sounds like she has even won over Denise’s husband. She is scheduled to get spayed next week by a vet with potbellied-pig experience at a clinic where one of the employees also has a piggy and where pigs are known and understood.

Daisy has landed on her feet. What a happy pig and a happy family.

Now if only I could persuade Denise that her acreage would be just perfect for several more piggies who need a place to call home!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness

Today I experienced first hand a random act of kindness, after a simply courtesy was extended on my part. I had picked up my 90 year old mom for a day’s outing which included lunch, attending a live theatre performance of Huckleberry Finn by Gallery 7,and a visit to my place for a light dinner with the dogs.

My mom and I decided to have lunch at Afterthoughts, an amazing dessert bistro which also has a limited but very tasty assortment of entrees. We were standing in front of the display case while I read the options to my (rather indecisive) mother when I noticed a man patiently standing in line behind us. Knowing the process could take a while, I waved him through ahead of us. A few minutes later as the gentleman was paying for his order and we were waiting to place ours, he engaged me in conversation.

"Have you ever had these?" he asked in a voice that positively drooled in anticipation of the experience, showing me the box of Belgian truffles he had just added to his order.

" No, I haven’t. They’re good, eh?" I responded.

"Do you like truffles?" asked he.

" I like truffles??????" I groaned in ecstacy at the thought to which he smiled and said,

"They are yours. Enjoy."

Wow. Even guys that know me, that are maybe even fond of me, don’t give me Belgian chocolate truffles! I gotta admit....I was smiling for the rest of the day.

It was a long day but a good one. The people at Gallery 7 were marvelous, escorting us down the elevator to provide mom (who uses a walker and is visually and hearing impaired) and me with a centre front row seat which they had voluntarily set aside for us before the doors opened; the show was very enjoyable; the dogs were very patient with and adoring of my mom; the rain stayed away so the hour plus drive each way from my place to mom’s was not too arduous; and that one random act of kindness was paid forward as I let speedy drivers pass, backed off to let others into my lane, exercised patience with hearing my mother’s stories for the umpteenth time, and bit my tongue when she offered TOO MUCH INFORMATION as the very elderly seem prone to do.

Amazing how one act of kindness makes the whole day bright.

And now I need to ask for an act of kindness for Janice at Hearts on Noses Sanctuary. This week she ended up with two new was dumped on her property while she was at work, the other was abandoned by the owner and arrived today in terrible, terrible shape. She has a house and yard for one, Jack, but not for the other, Penny, who is currently in the carport as she is unable to walk into Janice’s house or use a potty box in the state she is in. Are there any kind souls out there in the lower mainland area of BC who can either build a house and pen for Penny the Pig, or readers able to donate funds for the purchase of one? Donations can be made through paypal by going to the website; volunteers to build a house and pen can reach Janice via email at heartsonnoses [at] or contact me at animalsinrescue [at]

A not-so-random act of kindness could make your day and Penny the Pig's day too.

Nature's lightshow

I spent three years of my adult life living and working in the Northwest Territories. One of my most memorable sights during my time there was the Northern Lights. The whole sky was awash with multiple colours flashing and racing from horizon to horizon, so vivid and so close that it often seemed like a tall ladder would enable me to reach up and touch them.

We don’t get that type of light show in Canada’s southwest, though sometimes a much smaller version will appear. But this morning’s walk in the pasture provided a different type of lightshow that instilled that same feeling of awe and an incredible sense of wonder.

After feeding the pigs and celebrating with them the possibility of a day without torrential rain, I stepped outside the barn to see a single shaft of light piercing through the trees. The mountains that surround me were obscured by thick fog, yet the light illuminated tall trees on their peaks.

By the time the dogs and I reached the top of our little hill at the back of the pasture, the mist had rolled in, the sunlight had disappeared, and we were plunged back into the blue-grey early morning light of a dusky dawn.

But during our half hour of pasture time, the lighting changed a trillion times as the sun struggled out of bed and then snuggled back under its blankets of cloud and fog, only to return again moments later. The surrounding hills were variously blue, green, grey, gold, silver, red, depending on the precise combination of sun, fog, mist, light, dark.

Trying to balance my personal meditation time with the impelling need to snap a thousand frames in order to share this magic with others was a lost cause – in the blink of an eye a new image would emerge, a new landscape awaken.

Neither my 'needs-to-be-replaced' camera nor the amateur skills of this photographer could adequately capture the beauty of nature’s lightshow, nor can my words adequately describe the reverence, the wonder I experienced in that half hour on the hill. What an amazing way to start the day.