Monday, November 30, 2009


I've been dragging my proverbial tail around for some now. This is not fun. It is not what I signed up for. The fact that I tripped over Sadie in the middle of the night last night, and landed flat on my back, most certainly did not help the situation of either mind or body.

What made things worse recently was burning a box of papers. It was from a project which I and some other very talented people started in the late 1980s. (The Blog Fodder was one of those who helped us along the way.) It was my idea, but it resonated with a lot of others, who picked up the ball and ran with it. Then they hired me to run the non-profit operation. Bad mistake. I knew what needed to be done, and some of how to do it. But my knowledge of actually running a business could be written legibly on the back of a postage stamp. After two yeas, I removed myself from the leadership position. I continued to be a member but someone more capable took over the reins and carried on, until the organization was betrayed by a couple of "friends" -- and failed. As the nominal founder of the project, most of the organizations documents found their way back to me, though they properly should have gone to someone else. I took most of them to the provincial archives, which was happy to receive them.

Anyhow, 15 year after the Foundations demise, I finally burned the old financial records. An appropriate enough thing to do under the circumstances, I suppose.

What it did though, was remind me of my "Anti-Midas Touch." You remember the story of King Midas -- he had the power to turn anything he touched into gold. With the "Anti-Midas Touch," everything you touch turns into garbage. That was my reflection on my involvement in the Foundation. Then I thought of another case when my "Anti-Midas Touch" had been at work. And then another, And then another. And. . . . By then, my soul was like the ashes in the fire pit. I came in, laid down, pulled a blanket over me, and slept for several hours. I didn't even get up for supper.

I will not let this kill me. But some days I have to reach up in order to touch bottom.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Once upon a time in Britannia, there were three different kinds of creatures with spikes or spines for protection.

There were Hedgehogs . . .

there were Porcupines . . .

and there were Echidnas.

All three groups were given the opportunity to travel the world, explore new places, and see if they would like to settle elsewhere.

The Hedgehogs, after considering the matter, declined the invitation.

The Porcupines and Echidnas, however, agreed enthusiastically.

So off they went.

The first stop, to re-provision the ship, was Canada.

The animals look around as saw beautiful forests and lakes.

"Let's go check it out," said the lead Porcupine. So they did.

When the ship was ready to leave, there wasn't a Porcupine to be found anywhere. So the ship left without them. (Frankly, the Porcupines thought that was just fine.)

After a number of stops, the ship finally reached Australia. The Echidnas looked about. Hot and muggy in some parts, showy mountains in other parts, and a desert in the middle. They were not terribly impressed.

"Where to next?" asked the chief Echidna to the captain. The master of the ship replied, "This is the end of the line, matey."

So, one by one, the Echidnas disembarked.

That's why, to this day, you have Hedgehogs in Britain, Porcupines in North America, and Echidnas in Australia (and thereabouts).

Is this story true?

Don't ask me -- what do I know? I'm just a Bear. The only thing I understand is to stay away from critters with pointy things one them.

(Oh, yes; and see what happens in/to my brain when I take my dog for a walk?)

Monday, November 23, 2009


For those who like to drive to their local health club or gym for their "physical fits," (or fitness), this will probably be of little interest. While I do, from time to time, stop to take pictures of my world, by time Sadie and I get home from our walk, both my heart rate and respiration rate are up. Is that an aerobic work out? You tell me. I simply draw my inspiration in this matter from Exmoore Jane. You can take it up with her.

§ * § * §

Once we're past the turret house (described in the first part of this adventure tale), it's a simple walk along the trail until we reach the water treatment plant. At that point the trail is closed, and has been for about four years, while there have been renovations to the plant.

Here's the Water Treatment Plant. Buried deep within this complex is the city's old "Filtration Plant." It is made from the same Tyndall stone of which many of our city's major old buildings were constructed. Sadly, many of them have been torn down. The remaining examples are buildings on our university campus.

At the Water treatment plant, we turn left and head west.

Across the street from the water treatment plant is the water department's maintenance building. It used to be a simple garage for housing water department vehicles. Many homes, some dating from the early part of the last century, were expropriated for this maintenance building. As you can see, much of the expropriate land is vacant, or filled with piles of dirt and rubble, Very sad!

As we continue along our walk, we pass by older houses with beautiful gardens and trees.

At the end of this block, we turn left again, and go two block south, until we reach home.

§ * § * §

The one other piece in this story was a question from "Chesrhire Wife," and a very reasonable question: "Do you walk the same route all the time or do you vary it?"

The answer is "usually." Sometimes, for the sake of variety, I take a slightly different route. When there is road construction, I avoid it.

And in the evenings, I stay away from the San Site. There are no lights there, and the path is within 100 yards/metres of dense bush. Teenagers like to party there. But they're not really the problem. The bush is home to skunks (the primary carriers of rabies). And Porcupines (the North American equivalent of hedgehogs or echidnas). And racoons. And deer. And cougars (also known as puma, mountain lion, mountain cat, catamount or panther, depending on the region).

During the last few years, there have been several Cougar sitings well within the city limits. In fact, last year, a cougar was shot (dead) within two block of our grandchildrens' home. Just a bit unnerving, considering that a small child, or dog, would stand no chance if attacked by a mature cougar -- and an adult's chances would be not much better. So Sadie and I tend to be fairly circumspect in terms of where we go in the evnings.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Sadie and I went for our usual walk last night, just after sunset. It was dark, but we could still see things farily easily.

No fewer than seven flocks of Canada Geese flew over us, all heading for the sand bar on the river, just below our house.

When we walked this morning, the sandbar was covered with geese, and a large number had been resting along the shoreline (which they quickly left as Sadie and I approached).

This of course, got me thinking. Are there more Canadians in Canada than Canada Geese, or are there more geese than people? If anyone has any ideas, I'd be interested in knowing. If this fall has been any indication, I would think more geese than people. But I'm only a Bear -- what do I know?

Friday, November 20, 2009



Actually more than one hair got cut. She was getting kinda woolly, like a little lamb

I didn't want Crystal Jigsaw mistaking my puppy for one of her lambs.

Now, this is better.

She actually looks like a poodle -- but she' still only five months. And NO, she won't be getting anything fancier than this for a hair cut for the future. She looks just fine the way she is!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


It wasn't so long ago that Nuala and Sadie came to live with us.

(Nuala at two months; 10 pounds)

Well, the puppies have grown up. Instead of just sleeping in the back porch, Sadie uses it as a guard tower.

(Sadie at five months; almost 45 pounds)

Sadie is (usually) a good dog; she has a lot of things she likes.

1. Going for walks.

2. Dog biscuits.

3. Sleeping -- floors, furniture, beds -- wherever.

4. Watching the world.

5. "Playing" with her sister, Nuala (though they play pretty rough).

6. Walkies.

7. Watching the geese on the river.

8. Dog food.

9. Fresh water.

10. Watching other dogs, and trying to play with them if they get close enough.

11. Trying to play with people, if they get close enough.

12. Playing "fetch" with one of her toys.

13. Playing with her toys, and chewing on bones and chew sticks (especially if someone else holds the end of the chew stick).

14. Watching workers in the community.

15. Chewing on spruce cones. (There are lots of spruce tress in our area, which grow seed cones. And seed cones fall to the ground. Sadie loves to pick them up, carry them around, chew them a bit, then drop them. And pick up the next cone she sees.)

16. Did I mention going for walks -- morning, afternoon, evening, or night?

And one other thing.

17. Chewing on things she shouldn't be chewing -- like window sills that are close to the floor. (But she only does that when bored, meaning I've left her too long).

NO! She is not for sale.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Those are magical words in Sadie's ears.

For those of you not familiar with her story, Sadie came to our home to walk me.

(Now, mind you, that's not the whole story, but it's a good beginning.)

So, three times a day, we go for a walk (unless I'm in a lot of pain).

"But where do you go?" you might ask.

Well, I'm glad you asked, because I'm going to show you.

We're one house from the end of the block (where there is a "T" intersection). So we go to the end of the block and turn right (head west).

At the end of this block there is a park, which I've mentioned before. (We'll turn left and head south.)

(Holiday Park)

On the east side of the road is Abbeyfield House, a home for seniors. I have known the manager for a number of years; one of the staff I have known (through Scouting) since our earliest years in Saskatoon.

Across from Abbeyfield, the Park continues. (You've seen the reverse angle of this picture.)

At the end of the block, we get to the Bowerman House.

This was the "hunting lodge" of Allan Bowerman, head of one of our city's early prominent families. It was quite a bit outside the city when it was built (in 1907), at the edge of a ravine, not far from the river.

Then, things changed.

It's 1925, and a Tuberculosis Sanatorium is built next to the Bowerman property. It was far enough out of the city to be "safe" but close enough to be easily serviceable from the city. Bowerman, a land developer, had sold the "lodge" a few years earlier, when the city went from boom to bust. The home became the residence of the Sanitorium Director. (That land from the Bowerman house, up to and including Abbeyfield House, held residences for other doctors at "The San." )

(Site of the former main buildings at "The San.")

When the buildings were demolished in the mid 1980s, the arrangement at the time is that this would stay a park, and no new buildings would go up, except where that had already been buildings. One building has now been put in place.

This is on the west side of the property, where the Nurses' Residence was located. (In one of the congregations I served in the city, there was a woman who had been a nurse at The San during WW2.) This building has some of the outline features of the old residence. (The architect must have done his/her homework.)

This is a low-rent public housing project. Very nicely done. Not at all your typical "Council flats."

We turn our backs on the housing, and walk the trail to the south-east, until we come to the river.

There are still a few geese who have not left, yet. In fact, there will be geese on the river all winter. A mile (more or less) upstream from here there is an electricity generating plant, named in honour of HRM Elizabeth II. The "Queen E Power Plant" (as it is known locally) used coal to generate power through turbines. Those were converted more recently to natural gas. But the plant still needs water (primarily for cooling, I understand). So cold water is taken out of the river, and it is replaced by warm water. No pollution, I'm told; just water exchange. Hence, the geese have a relatively nice place.

You'll also notice ice pans beginning to form on the river. That starts at about -10°C. If we get warm weather, those little thin sheets disappear. But in the cold of winter, the river will freeze right over, except for openings where the current is strongest.

From here, we turn left, and head north for about half a kilometre.

The "Turret house" is interesting. It was built as a modified A-frame house. The original owner, so the story goes, had a piano, which was to move to the upper floor. But the stairs were not big enough. Hence the turret was added on, so the piano could be hauled upstairs.

To this point, we've travelled about a kilometre. If I want to cut the walk short, particularly if I'm having trouble walking, we can turn left here. Our property is located across the back lane from the Turret House, so we're within 100 yards of home at this point.

(To be continued.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009



In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918), Canadian Army.

McCrae died of pneumonia on January 28, 1918, while still commanding No. 3 Canadian General Hospital in France. That may have been the same hospital at which my uncle died the previous spring, a victim of wounds suffered in the Canadian offensive at Vimy Ridge.

Sunday, November 8, 2009



When Sadie and I were out walking yesterday morning (fairly early) we managed to flush a Roughed Grouse.

No, Sadie didn't find it, I did. And she's supposed to be the "gun dog" (category set out by various Kennel Clubs for Standard Poodles as a breed, along with other types of what most folk call "hunting dogs").

But that's OK. She's still just a puppy, so I'm still not expecting (or trying not to expect) too much of her. Besides, the only hunting I ever do is for stay sheep -- of the two-legged variety. She might be helpful when it comes to that. Who knows what life will bring?


Canada Geese, just south of our house. A massive flotilla of them today, stretched out in larger and smaller groups along a half-mile stretch of the river. (Or three-quarters of a mile.) Every so often a group would let out their "group yell (or "group honk") and lift off the water. Sometimes others joined in; sometimes not. All heading north. (I didn't say geese were the smartest birds in all creation; I think they're trying to go south by flying over the North Pole. From there, everything is south, right?) I can't explain it. I suppose they wheel around and head south once they're out of the river banks, which are a bit higher along this part of the river.

Otherwise, just commenting on a provincial pandemic plan -- and trying to keep colleagues up to speed. And learning to cook yam, in order to have some ready for tomorrow morning. I've got a recipe of a yam and banana breakfast, done in a frying pan. It says you cook the yam first. So I had some for supper and will try something new for breakfast. It isn't hunny, but I guess is it will be OK. Hey -- maybe I should put some hunny on it! (We'll see -- Bear might be out of hunny tonight.)

Friday, November 6, 2009


Once upon a time (the way all good stories start, right?) . . .
we invited two little puppies into our household. They were named Nuala and Sadie.

Remember when Nuala was so small and cute?

(Nuala at the window; 2 months of age; 10 pounds)

Well, the puppies have grown a bit, to about four times the size they were when they arrived.

(Sadie sleeping on the love seat; 5 months; 40 pounds)

You'll notice Sadie more than half fills the love seat. When the puppies first arrived, they were little balls of fluff that would easily fit in the corner where Sadie's rump is resting. By time the pups are fully-grown dogs, each will fill the love seat. Their bodies will get a bit bigger, and their legs will get much longer. (Our previous Standard Poodles looked like a mass of legs with a bit of a body when they were lying down.)

Yesterday, Nuala lost her first tooth. Yup, that time is coming. A whole new set of teeth by six months (more or less). Both of them. All that chewing is not in vain. (Ive only lost a couple of fingers, so far.)

Reminds me of the story of a little boy whose pup had lost a tooth. He had figured out that, when he lost a tooth, if he put it under his pillow at night, the tooth fairy would take it and leave a coin in exchange. The youngster, ever the entrepreneur, decided he would try the same thing with the puppy's tooth.

When he awoke in the morning, and checked under his pillow, an exchange had taken place. He found a dog biscuit.