Thursday, July 31, 2008

13 Things I Believe to Be True (TT#14)


Thirteen Things I Believe To Be True

I've had lots of time to think this year - since it is a "Wheel of Fortune" year numerologicaly - I know I am going through a portal experience on a near-daily basis. I have examined my own mortality, and buried friends and family. I have been challenged to grow professionally and see a larger future than I ever dreamed possible. I have both embraced and released old friends and new. I have thanked, blessed, released the past - grateful for its lessons, yearning for the healing power of love to manifest in my life. I have been rejected. I have felt acceptance. I have been greatly loved. I have been reviled. I am learning. I am hopeful.

I am determining what I believe to be true. Foundational Statements: Life is messy. The Ancient Ones are Gracious, but not necessarily kind. Knitting is good. Music is Salvation. Cats are aliens, with a fiendish plot to take over the world. Coffee is life, and good Scotch is single (malt) and old enough to vote. I won the birth lottery. Then I won the Life Lottery when I met Jacinthe. And - there's more. Always more.

These following 13 things are true today. They are subject to modification - but I don't think they will change. They each feel as if they were bought and paid for with a hard lesson - and a great blessing.

I Believe - just for today - and maybe tomorrow - for myself - that :

1. That there is some Power greater than us mere human mortals that set in place the Natural Laws that cannot be changed, and that gives a perversely chaotic order to the Universe. It is greater than the gods created by humanity in our own image, and does not care about us one bit.

2. That there is no Power greater than myself when it comes to controlling my own destiny - because even in the face of the Unpredictable, I have the power of Choice and the power to choose. The Mystery is in knowing the right choice, in the right moment.

3. That Love Conquers All Fears - and that Love alone is Not Enough. Love must be accompanied by respect, truth, compassion, and honor. Then it is more than Love, and might be enough.

4. There is no law that says the Universe is a fair place. Bad things happen to good people, bad people live long healthy lives and good people die young. Some days you're the rabbit, some days you're the fox, and damn Walt Disney for making us think that the Natural World is cute and cuddly and that our true nature as foxes or rabbits will not always win out. It always does. It just depends on the day what color your fur is, and how long your ears are, or if you have a long brush of a tail, or a little powder puff of fluff on your behind. And who released the hounds?

5. That people are inherently good, and want to do the right thing - but their choices get clouded by fear, anger, need, lack, or shame. I need to remember that everyone is fighting a battle of some kind - and to find room for compassion to balance my discernment. Similary, remember that I too struggle with many demons, and may not always win, or win easily.

6. That I am greater than the sum of my life experiences. My personal evolution is exponential, not linear. I need to give myself more credit and acknowledge all that I am. I need to believe in all that I will be. And I need to remember that the same is true for you.

7. I am loved. I am loving. I am lovable. No doubt - no question - no conditions. My humanity does not negate my dignity, nor is it to be used as a reason to withdraw or withhold love. This doesn't mean you have to like me. Oh, and by the way - I am beautiful.

8. That response is better than reaction. That action is better than stasis. That change is better than stagnation. That time is a limited and finite measurement of my life -and I always need to hear the clock ticking to help me respond, act and change as befits the situation. I cannot change the past, but I can shape the future. I am not wounded. I am healing. I have scars, not scabs. I cannot look backwards in anger, but must look forwards with compassion.

9. That I need to call Bullsh*t more often in life, and be prepared to have it called on me as well. I'm not talking about picking gnits or being disrespectful. There are simply times when Bullsh*t cannot be allowed to stand. It just stinks up the planet for everyone.

10. That it is far to easy to squander the gifts given to us by that Universal Creative Force - due to the lowest aspects of our human nature, that we were born to rise above. We may or may not get many lifetimes to learn that lesson - we don't know - so I'd better do my best in the time I have. Not sure how many trips around the sun I'll be taking - so I should pack Light, and make this time count.

11. We were meant for more than we are so willing to settle for. Uncle Aleister said it best - "We are all stars". We guide each other through the journey of life, forming constellations of family, friends, community - providing inspiration and reassurance that we do not twinkle alone in the darkness, but shine brightly with others in the firmament of life. I must remember to acknowledge the stars that guide me - and tell them.

12. That those who love us - family - friends - clan - colleagues - comrades - will gather around us during the darkest times and hold us up when we no longer have the strength to go on. They will also be there to celebrate the joyful moments - but the deepest proof of their love is in their willingness to stand at the edge of the Shadowlands and prevent the Darkness from taking one more step towards our fragile hearts. When we regain our strength, they help us up from our knees, cook us a good meal, and then they will step back and allow us to go forward with dignity intact - but will always be there, a mere heartbeat away, should we stumble. And they never throw the memory of those broken moments in our faces. That would be unkind and unworthy of a loving heart. (they lose their membership in my club if they do that).

13. Freedom is NOT free. It is paid for with pain and blood - and with tears. We must stand against Bullies, Tyrants, Dictators, and those who would take away the inherent dignity of our humanity, our basic human rights, and our freedom. Not just here in Canada, or in the developed world - We must stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves and speak for those who are silent - or silenced. There have been 88 Canadians who paid the price in blood - and 88 families who paid the price in tears - and this should make us even more proud to be Canadian.

Thanks for the space to work out a few of these ideas. I welcome your comments.

Enjoy the day.



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Saturday, July 19, 2008

#88 - Corp. James Hayward Arnal

I was enjoying my usual Saturday morning ritual of newspapers and coffee, listening to Jacinthe chattering away in French with her mom, and keeping one eye on CNN news on my laptop. She hung up the phone, and went off to the kitchen. I was just about to click over to the Globe and Mail online when the phone rang. It was my mother.


"Wendy's son in Afghanistan was killed last night".




This is my second cousin. You may have seen him on the news.

Corporal James Hayward Arnal is the 88th Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan. An infantryman with the second battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, was rushed from the patrol in the volatile Panjwaii district to Kandahar Airfield, where he died from his injuries. He was on his second tour of duty after volunteering for the Canadian Forces four years ago. Previously, he had worked in information technology.
Platoon mates described Arnal as "professional, dependable and utterly fearless under enemy fire," said Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson. "Clearly, he was a dedicated soldier with a very promising career ahead of him."

Wendy is my first cousin, and James was her second son. He was named for his grandfather, James Hayward, my mother's brother - who is a retired career military officer.

88 Canadian men and women - soldiers, peacekeepers, peacemakers. 88 too many. I support our troops absolutely - like all Canadian soldiers, James volunteered for this job, knowing the risks, weighing them against the rewards of service to his country. We send our troops out with the hope that they come home alive - and that is the risk we take as Canadians making a contribution to global good government.

I am stopping myself from going into a full scale politicized rant on world peace, global disarmament, the role of the military as peacekeepers, the responsibilities of the developing world in guiding the developing world into "democracy" and many other threads currently being spun by anger and pain. There will be a time and place for that somewhere in the future.


Right now - to my extended family - scattered across the West of this wonderful country - I join you in grief. To Wendy and her immediate family, sisters, parents - my heart and prayers go out to you. We used to get together at weddings. I will be so sad to see you later this week, but it will be good to stand with you at this time.


and to James' fellow soldiers in Afghanistan - come home safe. come home soon. come home alive. This Opinionated Canadian Woman supports you - but not the government that puts you in harms way.





Thursday, July 17, 2008

TT13 - the Folk Fest Final Analysis


Thirteen Things - the Post Folk Fest Analysis


1. Great - Michael Franti delivered a wonderful show to a very appreciative audience who grooved with the message and the music.... but.....
2. Bad - the same crowd was infiltrated by numerous "really big jerks" whose sense of drunken/high arrogant entitlement shoved people, pushed people, put children at risk, and generally took the joy out of the experience. No crowd surfing at Folk Fest. This is not a mosh pit.
3. Grateful - that the weather on Sunday was bright and sunny and almost hot enough because...it.....
4. Really Sucked - being there on Saturday with horizontal rains and polar wind gusts that would have shut down any other festival except for ours due to
5. SUPERB - technical crews and volunteers who did the changeover from mainstage to Green Ash in less than an hour and everything still started on time. YAY THEM!
6. Annoyed by - musical acts playing the same songs in their workshops that they later play during their mainstage or small stage concerts. Come on people, you got repertoire - mix it up. Now I'm really NOT going to buy your cd. You only know 4 songs.
7. Glad to see - old friends that I hadn't connected with in a while - you know who you are! Love you!
8. Very Proud of - Gillian Oswald for so graciously accepting her dad's Golden Banjo Award on his behalf - Ron was looking down from Music Heaven and smiling...
9. Thrilled to See such great talent as Nanci Griffith, Charlie Louvin, The Soujourners, Jim Byrne, The African Woman whose Name I Can't Spell, Justin Townes Earle (say hi to your Daddy!), the Infamous Stringbusters and Spider John Koerner as standouts in a field of great talent. We won't talk about the raging disappointments, will we, Kathleen Edwards?
10. Truly Blessed - to share the tarp with my clan. The best way to experience Folk Fest is to share it with people you love. And a stuffed Frog. Ban the Beachballs.
11. Overwhelmed - to hear Ray Davies sing "the hits" that shaped some of my musical memories. What an amazing performer, with an amazing cannon of music. Hymn for a New Age should become as much of a classic as Lola.
12. Tickled Pink - to have my annual Whale Tale, my annual Extreme Lemonaide, and to eat curry off rented plates.
13. Not broke but badly bent - managed to avoid the Handmade Village (and the amazing stag horn bag) but made my annual tithe to the Folk Fest Music Store and walked out with one or two more than I should have, really.

Riddle me this, Batman - how can a blues singer from the Crescent City NOT know by heart all the words to Amazing Grace? Bad enough in 2005 and 2006 when The Singing Floozies permanently embarrass themselves and all of us on the Gospel Stage when they sing the one verse they knew (kinda) over and over again (with too much extra "we're white chicks singing like we think black chicks sing" vocalization) - but for John Boute to have to read the lyrics to Amazing Grace in the Finale was beyond belief!

The countdown has begun for next year - so come Folk with me!



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Thursday, July 10, 2008

13 Things I'm Taking to Folk Festival (TT#12)


  1. Adrien - who will be healed by the supersonic ministry of Reverend Michael Franti and the choir of angels known as Spearhead. Power to the Peaceful.
  2. knitting - grey lace circle shawl in the "fishnet" pattern.
  3. The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan - Lisa made Jacinthe read it - and Jacinthe is making me read it. I think we'll be starting the First Church of the Magdelene in 2009.
  4. Larabars - tasty little bars of healthy goodness.
  5. Rainforest Crisps - wonderous little mixed media crackers - sweet AND savoury.
  6. Sunscreen - Melaleuca brand - its the best
  7. hand sanitzer - Melaleuca brand - its the best (echo)
  8. frozen washcloths - cause you need a pause that refreshes when its 37 degrees
  9. anticipation of great dinners at East India Company's booth - on rented plates.
  10. Kleenex - because Michael Franti, Joan Armatrading, Nanci Griffith and Eliza Gilkinson are going to make me cry. Likely there will be others that make me cry. Hopefully this year, I'll only cry because of the music.
  11. My nearest and dearest - family, clan, old friends, new friends, work friends - just a day to mix and match all the people in my world. A special shout out to the Greene's, Carey's, Punkerts, Stornells, The Boss and his Ladies Fair, and Ms. SqueakySongs - plus a heya to the Martinmonster, and a woo hoo to Barrett's first folk fest. SEE YOU THERE! Odette, I'll miss seeing ya this year.
  12. Open-ness to hear new wonderful music and to fall in love with a bunch of new great new musicians again and again every day.
  13. the lovely Jacinthe - sharing music, sharing the Festival Experience - 3.5 days of nothing but wonder and serious relaxation time with the Perfect Companion. I am so blessed.


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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Losing Entry - 13 Reasons I Love the Winnipeg Folk Festival (TT#12)


Thirteen Things I Love About the Winnipeg Folk Festival

This was my losing entry to their contest. I'll get over it. But it will take the combined efforts of Michael Franti, Eliza Gilkinson, Nanci Griffiths, Joan Armatrading, Ray Davies, and all their friends to make me feel better.
Hope to see you at Birds Hill Park next weekend.


I could talk about the vibe, the tribe,
(1) the fields of friends in tie-died splendor,
children of all ages with painted faces,
who move and groove in the groves
and the trees in rain and shine,
(2) united as one collective of souls
brought together briefly each summer season -

but I'd rather talk about the reason we gather -
the weaving of magic through music -
voice and 6-string and drum skin and fiddle and banjo and double bass
and 12 string and kora and mora musica than ever thought possible -
(3) gathering all the colored threads of cultures and continents
to bridge all divides for all classes
gathered on the grasses
of the most sacred place on the planet
for 3.5 glorious days.

(4) And the magic flows onstage too -
musical strangers become family, friends and even lovers
for a song or two right
before our very eyes,
as the workshops give our invited guests
a place to stretch, to laugh,
to show off, to admire and be admired -
holding their own, stepping in, stepping up,
sharing a lick, a trick
or a tremulous harmony,
(5) making something unexpected happen
and pulling rabbits out of their musical hats.

(6) Mainstage is a feast, served up in courses like a banquet -
to ten thousand place settings that use tarps for tablecloths.

I would rather talk about the music
because that's matters most to me -
songs of healing and heartbreak,
songs of injustice and making things right.
Lamentations of peoples pushed down and pulled up
by their boot and bra straps
with a triumphant shout.
(7) Salvation found in the sound
of an acoustic guitar on Sunday morning -
or was that Saturday night?
Ballads of times long gone by -
though the human story stays the same.
(8) Dance tunes from all corners of this great blue marble
that lift the heart with the high stepping of each foot
and spirits are joyful linked as the dancers
whirl and twirl together
with arms encircled.

I would rather talk about the music
(9) because folk music has meaning -
words that overcome - that overwhelm -
that makes us aware of the need
for change in our inner and outer landscapes.

Folk music is always about something -
living, laughing, having fun,
love lost and found,
(10) or maybe even that peace be given a chance.

Folk Festival music comes in many styles,
(11) but one Folk Festival size fits all -
the joyful, the hopeless, the rebellious, the reserved, and
those who just want to have a good time.

I love the Winnipeg Folk Festival because of the music.
(12) It gives me hope, and sweetens my dreams.
The sound of the music never really fades from the Festival site -
it lingers on the breezes -
held by the trees for safekeeping til next summer.
I've heard it.

(13) Each year, the Folk Festival makes my heart a promise -
and keeps it.

(C) Susan Hurrell - Winnipeg - 2008
(yes, I back dated it to Thursday - the losers were announced Friday morning - so I am time-shifting just a little. Don't hate me because I can screw with the space-time continuum)


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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!