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In A Pickle  

Holding a second vigil for Austyn Godfrey

Remembering Austyn

A gut-wrenching email from Austyn Godfrey’s mother Michelle spurred me to hold a second vigil on the first anniversary of Austyn’s death.

Michelle still doesn’t know how her daughter died. What she knows is Austyn didn’t end up in the Glenmore dog park on her own (She did not drive.) Michelle was adamant her daughter didn’t do it to herself either.

Austyn’s elusive autopsy report is something Michelle hasn’t been able to get her hands on, leaving the woman in agony. It haunts her to know her daughter’s remains were discovered abandoned, or discarded, in a parking lot under the cover of night.

Living more than 4,000 kilometres away, Michelle is left out of the loop, and she’s totally gutted by her never-ending grief. She has little strength remaining.

As a mother myself, I didn’t want Austyn to be remembered as just a body found in a remote area outside city limits. She was a vibrant, beautiful young woman with much charisma and potential, adored by her family and friends.

I met her buddies at the first vigil at Evangel Church last year, but this time I held the service in the courtyard of the Kelowna Law Courts.

It made me feel safer having the venue there. Her killer is still on the loose. Austyn named a man on her social media accounts whom she considered harmful to her just days before her death. With that in mind, I determined that any sketchy person would think twice before coming around, especially if they had a warrant out for their arrest.

The second vigil was completely different from the first. Instead of her young friends present, an older generation of strangers attended. They were mostly from my denomination, along with Charnie, a former drinking buddy of mine from back in the day.

Charnie and I went from bar hopping to a Bible study together a few decades later. We had a second chance, Austyn did not.

The attendees from my church family were elderly and led lives on the straight and narrow, unlike me. They weren’t judgmental. Compassion motivated them and they wanted to pay their respects.

A couple of strangers wandered over, having heard about it on the radio. None of us knew Austyn, but we were all deeply disturbed by her appalling death. We hoped to show Austyn’s family Kelowna’s residents cared.

One man stood out. His presence was unnerving until I noticed his face was contorted with tears streaming from his eyes. It was Austyn’s uncle Jason from Alberta.

He was clearly heartbroken. We texted a few times but we had never met. Jason held up a cell phone to record the event, and unbeknownst to me, Michelle was watching via FaceTime.

After I quoted some startling statistics on femicide in Canada, I read a poem I wrote about Michelle and Austyn. It described how they quarrelled the last time they were together. Michelle tried to protect Austyn from a group of shady looking new companions her daughter brought home. Sadly, Austyn didn’t pay heed and soon thereafter came out West. Mother and daughter wouldn't see each other again.

Assistant Pastor Arturo Gonzalez of the Rutland Adventist church spoke after me. He shared that violence against women is on the rise. God’s way is the only way to stop such tragedies, he said. The minister prayed for comfort for the family, and for those responsible to be held accountable.

He implored that they would repent for their actions. Afterwards, both he and I gave Jason a reassuring hug.

Later, when a reporter asked how I felt about her friends not showing up at the vigil, I recalled how messed up they were over Austyn’s death. Perhaps they couldn’t bring themselves to attend a second time.

I learned later that a few of them also passed away the same year, from a drug overdoses.

In October 2022 in B.C., there was an average of nearly six deaths per day from illicit narcotics. The age range of the victims as between 30 to 79, with 70% being males.

Whether drugs played a direct part in Austyn’s death, I don’t know. She may have lived a high-risk lifestyle, and may or may not have been trafficked.

According to her relative, a woman known as K.C. believed Austyn was using some kind of street drug and one of Austyn's friends, Lilyanna Arient, said Austyn got caught up in something she didn’t deserve, according to one media report.

While Austyn suffers no more, her mother Michelle certainly does, and in the most horrific way.

She told me on our FaceTime chat, “I wouldn’t wish this kind of pain on anyone.”

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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December 25 a common birthday for deities

Birthday boy deities

Ten deities share Dec. 25 as their birth date. The list of gods is as follows;

  1. Apollo - Greek god of the sun. He was said to be a healer, producer of medicine, and a musician.
  2. Attis - The god of vegetation had a thing for self-mutilation and castration. He was supposedly born of a virgin and rose again after three days dead in a grave.
  3. Bacchus - AKA Dionysus, (son of Zeus), was called the god of agriculture, wine and fertility. They likewise knew him as a conqueror, wanderer, and founder of cities. He drank a lot of fermented grape juice.
  4. Helios - A sun god who drove chariots across the sky. He was a titan, enormous and powerful. He brought light to the earth daily.
  5. Hercules - A slayer of mythical monsters and rescuing damsels in distress. However, he was kinky, with a girdle fetish. Hercules, the naughty celestial being, stole the garments from the Amazons. It is unclear if the warrior women were wearing them, but he probably did them a favour by removing the wretched underwear. They could breathe much easier now.
  6. Horus - He was a falcon headed dude and monarch of Egypt, son of god, guardian of places, persons and lineages.
  7. Jupiter - Touted as ruler of the gods, he was a Roman pantheon, shining father, god of light and sun, protector of the state and laws. He was sired by Saturn, and a brother of Neptune.
  8. Mithras - Was of Persian descent and of angelic divinity. He was a covenant maker and carried out secret ritual oaths.
  9. Nimrod - Was a person mentioned in the Bible. Great- grandson of Noah, Nimrod was a tyrant, opposed Yahweh, hunter of men, ruthless, vile and filthy. He took whatever woman he pleased. His descendants built the tower of Babel. They worshipped him as Baal, the primary enemy of Hebrew God Yahweh. Baal demanded child sacrifice, and they burned babies alive in his statue. His worshippers also considered prostitution sacred, along with sex cults.
  10. Jesus - The last but not least. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He’s the one triune God. He was born of a virgin and is both human and divine.

Why was Jesus thrown into this mix with these other so-called gods sharing the same birthday? The rationale was that by adding him to the list, the masses would widely accept him.

Also there was much money to be had.

His correct birth date is unknown, according to the website, Jesus was born in September or early October, while the shepherds were tending sheep in the fields. December is marked by heavy rains, which is not conductive to letting livestock out to pasture. He was born in a barn because there was no room in nearby inns.

He, the King of the Universe, was delivered in a humble stable instead of a palace in order to save humanity some 33 years later.

While alive, he performed many miracles, which were documented in the old and new testaments, but also in other historical records. Jewish historian and military leader Flavius Josephus was born four years after Jesus of Nazareth’s crucifixion and wrote about Him.

Of all the dubious deities listed, number 10 is the one that stands out as honourable, heroic and omnipotent.

We’ve globally celebrated Jesus’ birth on Dec, 25 since the 12th century.

Although his correct DOB is unidentified, his reputation speaks for itself. Jesus was not a lavish pharaoh that needed human acknowledgement, and that is probably why the date was omitted. He came into the world to serve, not to be served and gave his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28; And even while we were still enemies. Romans 5:10.

Is that not infinitely better than what the first nine were all about?

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



Warding off influenza 'reaper' with homeopathic remedies

Home treatments for the flu

My life force was ripped from my body and caught it up in an invisible tornado, which made my head spin and legs turn into spaghetti.

Collapsing onto the bed, I waited for the inevitable. The phone brought me back to the land of the living. It was my friend Morningstar and she wept at the sound of my voice, asking if I felt like I was going to die.

“Whaaat? Uhhh, I dunno, maybe,” I replied. She begged me not to leave her, which made me realize the gravity of my situation.

“Don’t go, promise me you won’t” she shrieked.

It compelled me to fight back against an illness that wanted me dead.

“Okay, okay,” I mumbled and hung up.

“Stay awake or you’ll die, I told myself.” I dragged my butt out of bed and encouraged my husband to do the same.

“It’s not good to lie down so much. Fluid will build up in our lungs and we’ll end up with phenomena. Get up and let’s have some homeopathic meds and another onion poultice.”

We used various tried and true, ancient folk remedies, including mustard plasters which work on a variety of lung ailments. Mustard promotes increased blood circulation to the skin surface and opens up the respiratory tract. The phlegm loosens up and helps prevent chest congestion from getting worse. Seeing a doctor wasn’t always possible back then, so the mighty mustard plaster saved many people.

Along with the plasters and poultices applied to our chests, we also took the following vitamins, minerals supplements, including H20 as a healing modality:

• Vitamins D3 and C

• Quercetin

• K2

• Zinc

• Selenium

• NAC—N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine

• Colloidal vegetable iodine diluted with filtered water and sprayed in the nose and mouth

• Bronchosan - a cough tincture

• Steam inhalations with 2 drops of tea tree oil or oil of oregano

• Hydrotherapy–hot and cold foot bath

• Flu bomb tea (garlic, onion, rosemary, ginger and cayenne pepper with a smidgen of honey)

• Sunshine and fresh air

We employed these life-saving measures and pulled through without long-term side effects. Initially, I was skeptical, but desperate enough to try anything. Our church family popped by with these products, along with casseroles and soups of various kinds. Their kindness, generosity and prayers spurred us on.

However, during that first night of illness, I awoke at three a.m. and wrote my children a goodbye letter just in case. I addressed them all in the same document, acknowledging my failures to them individually and my deepest regrets.

Even though they’d forgiven me long ago, I still felt guilty. This time was different. I had the clarity only the dying could have. Nonetheless, I didn’t mail it for a couple months until I was well again. I didn’t want to alarm them unnecessarily.

More than a year later, I realized I no longer carried that crushing weight of self reproach. What peace of mind I received.

I’ve had several life-threatening accidents, illnesses and injuries that were brutal, but this respiratory infection took the cake. While, at the time, I told myself I survived worse, I was worried the “grim reaper” would be victorious.

In a creepy twist of fate, I’d written a fictional story about having a date with the “dark angel,” and then was struck with the disease the next day. Was it a coincidence? Or had I been toying with an evil force and nearly paid the ultimate price? There are powers and principalities in the unseen realms with which we mere mortals should not engage. I learned my lesson.

Knowledge is power, but in spite of that, I had got sick again eight months later. But I knew the drill and fought it off with the same protocol.

I have had brushes with death before and warded off Mr. Reaper. So you’ll just have to wait, oh angel of death, God’s more powerful than you are and He’s not done with me yet.

(The information published here is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.)

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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Ogopogo not alone when it comes to mythical lake monsters in Canada

Serpents of the deep

The beast appeared through the fog, its eyes glowed yellow as the sun.

Fire blasted from its mouth, which heated the sea. Smoke billowed out of his nostrils, blackening the skies. As Leviathan swam, the water churned like a boiling cauldron.

It looked like a dragon with the body of a snake, and it slithered effortlessly through the depths. Its spiky scaled skin was impenetrable armour, no arrow or spear could pierce the hide or belly. This brute was the T. rex of the ocean. Leviathan had huge interlocking teeth from which no prey could escape.

Armies equipped with primitive weapons might as well have been throwing toothpicks at it. Iron bars couldn’t hold it because it snapped the metal like rotten wood. It craved live human flesh. Those lucky enough to flee went insane or dropped dead of a heart attack.

Leviathan was a primordial sea monster recorded in several places in the Bible, including the book of Job 41: 1-34. The gory scene took place in the Mediterranean Sea during the 6th Century B.C.

Along with Leviathan was a creature called Behemoth, which resembled a sauropod dinosaur and lived in the marshes. (Job 40:18) The Behemoth’s tail stood high as a cedar tree, and when tromping on dry land, its enormous appendage left massive ruts.

Throughout history, sea monsters documented worldwide shared many characteristics.

In Ontario’s Lake Superior, a dinosaur lurks. Her name is Mishipeshu, nick-named Mishi, who made the water churn as a boiling pot and she tipped over boats. The famed Edmund Fitzgerald (popularized in a song by singer Gordon Lightfoot) is one of the vessels she allegedly capsized.

Mishi, an armoured amphibian, had pointed scales on its body. She once walked on land, leaving cavernous trenches behind her. The Algonquian people immortalized her by creating a petroglyph of Mishipeshu on a rock face. The painting is century’s old, pre-dating Columbus. Mishi’s portrait features the head of a lynx or panther and the body of a viper.

Our very own Okanagan Lake is said to have a giant serpent that occasionally surfaces too. Its name is Ogopogo, or Nx?a?x??itk? (NN-Ha-Ha-Teek).

“Eyewitness” accounts state the critter is a 15-meter-long black or green snake, with five curves on its back and a horse shaped head. The cryptid (an animal not proven to exist) makes strange whooshing sounds while swimming towards onlookers.

On Oct.19, Colleen and Dale Hanchar photographed a peculiar image while out boating on Okanagan Lake. It looked like it had a wolf’s head with knobby horns for ears. Cryptozoologist Adam Benedict said that it was probably an enormous bird. Perhaps it was a wooden carving tossed in the water.

Whereas there’s no scientific evidence to prove Ogopogo, or any other sea monster, is authentic, many indigenous people acknowledge and believe N'ha-a-I,tk is real, along with others who claim to have seen him.

The creature is a lake spirit that links local First Nation people to their land and water and protects the valley. They believe the mysterious aquatic entity comes from another dimension and it is an honour to see it.

Some say there are many living fossils haunting Canadian lakes including:

• Manipogo—Lake Winnipeg, MB

• Champ—Lake Champlain, QC

• Cressie—Crescent Lake, NFL Labrador

• Gaasyendictha—Gaasy, Lake Ontario

• Igopogo—Lake Simcoe, ON

• Kingstie—Lake Ontario, Kingston, ON

• Memphre—Lake Memphremagog, Magog, QC

• Mugwump—Lake Timiskaming, Ont/QC Boundary

• Mussie—Muskrat Lake, ON

• Ol’Slavery—Great Slave Lake, NWT

• Ponik—Lake Pohenegamook, QC

• Thetis—Thetis Lake, B.C.

• Shuswaggi—Shuswap Lake, B.C.

• Pressie—Lake Superior, ON

• Saggy—Saginaw Bay, MI, Lake Huron, ON

• Yawu?nik--Kootenay, Columbia Rivers, Columbia Lake and Arrow Lakes, B.C.

Since antediluvian times, there has been documentation of hundreds of water-dwelling monsters around the globe. Notably, one that resembles Mishi is the Bunyip of Australia. Several Australian Indigenous people described their local man-eating mermonster as having the head of a black panther with a snake’s body. The word Bunyip means evil spirit.

While most sea monsters are elusive, camera shy and benign, a few of them were bloodthirsty ogres.

I am grateful that Ogopogo is primarily a gentle soul, without a hankering for human hors d’oeuvres.

It isn’t one to trifle with, however. According to the book The Kelowna Story, an Okanagan History, there was a man called Chief Timbasket who scoffed at the legend and soon thereafter disappeared.

Searchers found his canoe empty and up a mountainside. No wave could have tossed it that far onto land.

It is believed the chief and his family were sucked under the waves in a violent storm and vanished.

So keep your cell phone handy, and be respectful, as who knows what strange beasts lurk in our local waters and forests and are just waiting to greet you.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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