Sunday, June 28, 2009


(This is a subset of the equation, "Here today; gone tomorrow.)

The Cedar Waxwings have up and gone. Where? I don't know. But disappear they did, like the Red-breasted Nuthatches before them.

Maybe they decided they wanted waterfront property for the summer. The river is, after all, only about 100 yards to the east of us. Maybe they wanted a coniferous setting. Who can tell about birds? Not this Bear.

But it was wonderful seeing them while they were here. With any luck, some will be back in the winter, and maybe a pair next summer. One can always hope.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Actually, the dux are down at the river, and I've been too busy fixing house to pay any attention to them. There are also about a bazillion Canada Geese all along the river -- and on the sand bars in the river. We'll be sending them down to visit you Americans in a few months. (As I mentioned elsewhere, its part of the Free Trade Deal we have with you Americans.)

The surprise -- the arrival of some baby Cedar Waxwings. (I think they are really beautiful birds; you judge for yourselves from the picture.) We have tried to encourage them by planting a Mountain Ash tree in our yard; they really like Mountain Ash berries. This is the first year in seven or eight that we've seen adults around in the summer. (A couple of winters ago, a flock flew in and stripped all the berries off the tree in about 15 minutes flat.) But no, this is summer, and only a pair. But they still like our tree.

I was working outside this evening, and behold -- waxwing parents with waxwing babies! I think they must have nested in a tree in the next-door neighbour's yard. So you know how much work I accomplished tonight.
(This Bear is REALLY for the birds -- but you already knew that.)

So, some summer excitement after all! And I even get to share it with you!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


The Maternity ward is empty. We last saw the adult Red-breasted Nuthatches on Monday night, when we were out cutting the grass, and working in the yard. The parents were quite alarmed by our presence. I thought at the time it might have been the lawnmower (noisy beast that it is). But it could have been that some or all of the babies were out of the nest, and the parents were telling them to stay very still.

Since we hadn't seen the parents for a couple of days, I checked the next tonight. Just below the opening I could see a cobweb -- sign that nobody has been into the nest for a day or two. I couldn't see into the bottom of the nest, but my conclusion was that they had gone. Gone without as much as a cheery good-bye.
Parents might abandon eggs, but not live babies. Besides, according to my calculations, it was time for the babies to be fledged and ready to go. I'm just sorry that they didn't hang around so we could see them.

Maybe next time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
√√√√√√√√~ Dorothy Frances Gurney, "Garden Thoughts"

Well, that's very nice, but our garden is chock full of weeds. Not the invasive kinds which seem to surround Rosaria (like Gorse and Scottish Broom). This is just a whole lot of plants which are growing in places we don't want them. Like, in our garden.

Actually, some of them were gifts from gardening friends, the nature of which we did not understand when we received them.

Indeed, as Voltaire observed in his
Candide, «Il faut cultiver notre jardain.» "We must cultivate our garden," not just let it sit.

I'm reminded of a story of an old farmer who left an acre of land to the Devil in his will. Probate Court, unable to interpret this clause, called upon another old farmer in the area, and a friend of the deceased. Could he help the court with this particular item in the will.

"That's easy sonny," replied the farmer to the judge. "Just leave it alone, and it'll got to the Devil all by itself."

Which is what happened to our garden last summer. We had a fire in our house in June; it was September before we got back into the house, and started re-organizing. In the meantime, the yard was full of workmen and their materials. Garden in the midst of that? Not a chance!

The summer before wasn't great for gardening, either. But that's another story.

So I decided this year, healthy or not, I was going to do something in the garden.

It took an hour and a half to clean out about one square yard of one flower bed this evening. It was that badly overgrown.

Further back in the yard, it took only a few minutes to rake and edge a patch which is filling up nicely with ferns. The only problem is that the ferns are overwhelming the little spruce tree which we planted there before the ferns. The tree will have to move. But where?

After that, I spent about an hour watering -- as in moving the hose and sprinkler from one place to another. And that covered only about half the total garden space.

So I look at it this way: I'll have lots to do for a lot of evenings this summer. Until the mosquitos chase me inside.

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground.
√√√√~ words and music by Dave Mellett (sung by John Denver)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


This story came to me from "dragonesque" Wendy of Curiouser and Curiouser. She says it came from a friend. I asked her about posting this e-mail to my blog, and she replied that she thought " it is just perfect for your page!" So, Thanks to Wendy, and her friend. . . .

This bridge is on the Old Donner Pass Highway in California, USA.

A bear was walking across Rainbow Bridge ( Old Hwy 40 at Donner Summit) on Saturday when two cars also crossing the bridge scared the bear into jumping over the edge of the bridge.

Somehow the bear caught the ledge and pulled itself to safety.

Authorities decided that nothing could be done to help Saturday night so they returned Sunday morning to find the bear sound asleep on the ledge.

After securing a net under the bridge the bear was tranquilized, fell into the net, lowered, then woke up and walked out of the net.

There is, said the original writer, a moral to this story you know:

This old bear made a wrong move and found he was hanging by his nails.
Somehow he was able to pull himself up onto the ledge where he saw he was in a very bad, impossible situation and what did he do? Yep, he took a nap and sure enough the situation took care of itself while he was asleep.

The moral ? ....when confronted with a bad situation sometimes the best solution is to take a nap!

That's a moral with which this ol' Rob-bear certainly agrees!

Monday, June 15, 2009


As I've already mentioned, G3 is back from the Pacific, where she was holidaying with her west-coast brother and sister-in-law. She got to see some Orcas, which was a thrill for her. Good time all round.

Now her brother and sister-in-law from the east coast want to come for a visit. Wonderful to have them come.

But fixing the shelves which went bump in the night, I'm afraid, was my undoing. G3 now thinks it is time to do some other repairs, particularly in the basement (which is finished and furnished, but needs some upgrading). So I've put up new blinds, I'll be installing new lights, cleaning out the spare bedroom, re-painting the bathroom, plastering and painting a wall. (Note carefully: the wall is getting plastered, not the Bear; at least that's the plan. And if you're thinking about the Bear and getting "plastered" -- don't go there! I'm not that kind of Bear! Da Blog Fodder knows me; he can attest to my "civility.")

So if you bear-ly see me or hear from me for the next little while, don't panic. G3 will have matters will in hand, so she doesn't have to spend a lot of time repairing the Bear after the jobs are done. I'm intending to sneak off and send a note whenever I can -- which could be daily, depending on how each day goes. And if I don't get to write, I'll be thinking kind thoughts of you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Well, with a little effort, we finally got the shelves back up.

Ironically, by moving the wall supports a couple of inches each, they were right into wood (the wall studs).

Why the person who originally installed the shelves didn't put them into the studs in the first place completely baffles me.

G3, however, is pleased, and has things re-organized.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Jane, over at Gaston Studio, tells a marvelous story of her "relationship" with (i.e., assistance to) the FBI. I have a different story. Hers is a very different experience from mine.

The year is 1967, my junior year in University. I became Vice-President of our University's Student's Council, and will serve the following year, 1968. That's the year Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were killed. It's the year of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and the anti-Viet Nam war protests in Chicago, and Marijuana, and LSD, and. . . . Yeah, 1968 was an "interesting" year (as per the Chinese curse).

Fast forward about 20 years. I'm interviewing Canada's Attorney General -- the #1 man on crime in Canada. He's a very funny man as well as a very bright man. In the process, we're comparing university experiences, and I mention my story. His whole demeanor changes; he suddenly becomes very serious. He says that, in my case, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Security Branch would have opened a file on me just because of my student leadership position.

The not-so-ol' Bear -- a potential threat to Canada's peace and security! Who? Me? Say it isn't so!!

I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or pray at that point in the interview.

Fast forward another 20 years or so. Now, I am an ol' bear, and I really don't care. "The Horsemen" (RCMP) don't bother me; I don't bother them.

However, given my security status, and the fact that you're reading this, you never know what your national security people might be thinking, or doing.


Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
Step out of line, the man comes and takes you away.

We better stop, hey, what's that sound?
Everybody look what's going down.

√√√√-- "For What it's Worth," Buffalo Springfield, 1967.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


This is a kind of Homer Simpson "Duh-oh!" The World Health Organization as finally realized what the rest of us knew weeks ago -- we've got a pandemic.

To learn more about this event (or non-event), check "New Flu Sticks; Now Level Six" on my "Bears Noting" blog.

Just remember, this is NOT a disaster. It's simply an invitation to be careful.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

(traditional Scottish prayer)

Well, that didn't work here.

I was rudely awakened from my sleep last night by a great crashing sound. By time I actually came to, it occurred to me that the sound may have happened inside our house.

An unexpected visitor, perhaps?

NO; doors were all secure.

It was just the shelving in the laundry area, literally "off the wall." A few screws loose. (But not in my head this time!)

Sadly, so very typical of the quality of workmanship we suffered through after the fire in our house about a year ago.

Fortunately, not much got spilled. Only a bit of furniture oil, and it stayed on top of the washer. There was a whole bottle of chlorine bleach, which stayed intact -- thereby saving both the new flooring we had installed and G3's sanity.

Getting the shelves back up is going to be the challenge. One extra task I desperately didn't need. Let's see -- drill, anchors, good screws, extra bar to attach to the wall for holding up the shelving. I guess I'm ready -- I guess. Maybe tomorrow. Or. . . .

Thursday, June 4, 2009


This is Freeda, Sleeping at Home

Freeda was an ol' galoot of a dog (my term of endearment for her, which I'm sure she didn't understand). To see her, you would swear she was part St. Bernard -- given her size and conformation. She was 13+ years old. Often when I went to visit, she would put her head on my knees, and we would look into each others' eyes, while I stroked her, and called her an "ol' galoot."

Our son and daughter-in-law adopted/rescued her from the local SPCA animal shelter, long before the grandkids were born. Freeda could have knocked the grandkids over by just nudging them. Though she wasn't particularly bright, she was pretty gentle. One of my favorite pictures of her is of her sleeping on the floor, with the two grandkids sleeping with her, their heads rested on her.

This is Freeda in the Back of My Estate Wagon

She is going for a ride to the Small Animal Clinic of our Veterinary Hospital at the University. She couldn't get in by herself, so our son loaded her in, then snapped this shot.

On Monday, she had a seizure. Some quick action by our son kept her alive. But she wasn't "right" and her back legs would hardly work. So last night UniGal called and asked if I could give her and Freeda for a ride to the Clinic this morning.

Sure, of course I could.

When we got there, she took Freeda into the clinic, then asked me if I could go back to her office and "sign off" on some research reports that needed my signature (as "community representative" on the Animal Research Ethics Board).

Sure, of course I could.

When I finished the paper work and got back to the Clinic, UniGal told me it was probably a brain tumor. She and Warlord had tried to nurse another dog through cancer. Not a good experience. So she decided if it was cancer again, it was time to let Freeda go. I asked her if she wanted me to stay with her, and she said, "No." Just as I was leaving, Freeda returned with two vet students. I took a moment to pet her, as usual, and left.

Rest in peace, Freeda,
ya' ol' galoot.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


A really quick note.

1. The Nuthatches are carrying food to their "hole in the tree" -- which means they're feeding babies. I haven't looked in -- don't want to scare them.

2. Mr. Robin has been holding on to "his" property all summer, and there is a new Mrs. Robin. I can tell from their activities that she's building a nest -- though I don't know where.

The sadder report was that the original Mrs. Robin died of septicemia. The pathologist found two small holes on her flank, where blood had dried over. That's consistent with being hit by a cat, but not killed outright. (There might be other causes.) But that's where the infection started, and then spread through her whole body. Anyhow, she was apparently flying to get some food, her heart stopped, and she fell from the sky. They also found a crushed egg inside of her, indicative of a fall; an egg which she would probably have laid later that day.

Footnote: living in our back yard can be dangerous. I went out to change the water sprinkler, and almost got hammered in the head by two Pine Siskins (finches related to the common American Goldfinch). One was chasing the other. I had to duck really fast; otherwise, I'd have had a bird in the head (which is entirely different from a bird in the hand). About a minute later they came back, and I had to duck again. If they're in a territorial fight over a portion of our "outback," that's their business. Just leave me out of it! Please!