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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the true north, strong and free

OH CANADA,
OUR HOME AND NATIVE LAND
TRUE PATRIOT LOVE,
IN ALL THY SONS COMMAND
WITH GLOWING HEARTS,
WE SEE THEE RISE
THE TRUE NORTH STRONG AND FREE
FROM FAR AND WIDE,
OH CANADA
WE STAND ON GUARD FOR THEE
GOD KEEP OUR LAND
GLORIOUS AND FREE
OH CANADA, WE STAND ON GUARD, FOR THEE
DITTO LAST LINE

photo taken on a glorious day in early autumn on the banks of a small northern lake near me.


Susan, giver of the beautiful scarf, asked for a commentary on 'the true north, strong and free'. well, firstly, the 'true north' isn't the same as magnetic north or the north pole.... in fact, it's a moving target that changes constantly..... something like wishy-washy canadian opinion.

but north we are. and, speaking for my small rural-ish community, despite my cynicism about humanity in general, we're true in the sense that there's still a sense of community that brings out the good in folks when the bad stuff happens. blatantly mercenary behaviour (note the british/canadian spelling, as in colour and valour) is not tolerated in any but the most wealthy, and i don't travel in them there circles. yes there are still people around here who speak like that.

as for strong, there's a sturdy remnant of the pioneer spirit that built the country still living here. people are self reliant and determined (sometimes known as stubborn.... a small semantic deviation). there are more entrepreneurs per capita in northern alberta than anywhere else in the americas. we have the highest per capita rate of inventions too. we're rist takers. that's a statistical fact, as shown by the high rates of vehicle insurance (and motor vehicle accidents and deaths). it's a good thing the community pitches in when the house burns down or the cows go through the ice on the dugout.... because not many of us can bear to ask for help when we need it. we mostly drive 4 wheel drive pickup trucks, because there's always stuff to haul - from manure to 1/4 million dollar 5th wheel trailers and speedboats in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter. we'll do it ourselves, thankyaverymuch. and much as i disagree with the whole concept of war, it's a fact that Canaadian troops distinguised themselves, and were much respected by the world in both world wars, and continue to be held in high esteem in today's peace keeping forces. and all that 'we stand on guard' stuff seems pretty militant and old army to me, but i'm not your typical citizen. it seems every s.u.v. and pickup truck that drives past me as i ride my bicycle around town has a yellow 'support our troops' ribbon sticker on it.

free?! well, maybe as promiscuous as anyone else, but it's a danged expensive place to live, and there's not a lot being given away, that's worth much. political freedom is questionable; alberta is considered one of the great bastions of the canadian conservative party. the conservatives seem to subscribe to the philosophy that it's easier to apologise than to get permission (as in, let your voters have a word in the discussion) ...so they pretty much do as they damn please and let the seeting masses continue to seethe ineffectually. after all, we're too polite to do much about it. but if you made the mistake of telling some cowboy in the line dance next to you in the local pub that he wasn't a free man, you might get your lights punched out, or start a riot.

i think this might have been a rant. sorry su.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

look what i just won!!!!


thankyouthankyouthankyou  to Susan @ Phantasythat.   and i even managed to copy a picture of it to my little spot in the blogiverse.   life is good.  

i won this beautiful hand painted silk scarf for saying that the thing i would like to see happen to make the world a nicer place was the success of my obsession.  i'm a member of Habitat for Humanity in a nearby city, and i've been nagging my fellow board members for years to start a ReStore there.  for those who don't know what HFH and ReStores are, HFH uses volunteer labor and donated money, materials and skills to build homes for folks who, though hard working and deserving, can't qualify for a standard mortgage to buy a home.  they just don't make enough money.  the working poor.  the idea is that living in a safe, decent, affordable home can be a life changing experience for adults and children alike, and makes the world a better place.  everyone deserves a safe, decent, affordable place to live.  

ReStores are retail outlets for donated building materials, appliances, furniture..... anything that goes into building and maintaining a home.   they get donations of scratch and dent doors, windows, etc, discontinued lines of flooring, tiles, cabinets, ...... the list is endless.  and they sell them at bargain prices - some of these things are brand new!  all profits, after operating costs, go directly to Habitat for Humanity for the building of more homes.   prospective homeowners must contribute a certain number of 'sweat equity' hours in the construction of their homes, and they are given an interest free mortgage on the cost of the house, with payments scheduled according to their incomes.   ALL money payed into mortgages returns to the building fund, for more homes.  

since 1996 our HFH affiliate has produced homes for 9 families. not bad for a handful of very tired volunteers, doing our small part to make our corner of the world a better place.  just a month or so ago, i got permission to start research for a business plan for our very own ReStore, and if i do a good job of that, and we can manage to pull it off, i might just land the job of ReStore manager too!  this is one of my fondest dreams coming true!!!!   and i can't think of a lovelier way to celebrate it than with this gorgeous wearable art.  

cyberhug to Su

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