Friday, December 31, 2010


Having celebrated the ancient/new coming of the "Partridge in a pear tree," . . .


Bear is going to sleep;
please do not disturb!

I'm rejoicing because
my world has calmed down enough
that I can get a
decent winter's snooze.

I'll see you in the spring
(or on a really nice winter's day,
if I wake up).
Please don't worry.
The intrepid and ever-faithful
Miss Sadie (Her Ladyship)
will be standing guard, as always.

Should anything calamitous
or thrilling occur,
she knows where to find me,
and will alert me
to the development.
What I do will depend on how awake
and mentally competent I am
(things which are always questionable
where the Bear is concerned).

P.S.: If you haven't see the amazing art work I received as Christmas presents,
please see the previous post.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I've been too sick this year to do any Christmas partying with our family. But I have received some really amazing presents.

None better than these from our son and grandkids.

This is from Tim, who bikes everywhere, all seasons, and serves on our City's "Bicycle Advisory Committee" (and who would like like to see his dad biking a bit more).

Big Brown Bear Rides a Trike, December 2010, Acrylic on MDF, 50x40cm

Finnegan, aged 6, did this (he knows I like giraffes).

Finnegan Brown, Giraffe on the Plains, December 2010, Acrylic on MDF, 32x40cm

Keira, aged 4, developed this; can you see the Firebird Dancing?

Keira Brown, The firebird, December 2010, Acrylic and metallic glitter on MDF, 32x40cm

These are all hanging prominently in our living room.

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever."  ~ John Keats.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WHEN IN DOUBT, . . . (3)

The day dawned grey and cold,
hoar frosted trees barely visible
in the ice fog;
- 10°C, with a wind chill
almost double that.
"Socked in" as 
the old tyme flyers would say.

By lunch time
Miss Sadie was vocally bored,
and insisted on playing
in the fresh winter air.

And so we did.

Her frozen toy
stung my hands.
Even Her Ladyship
found it cold in her mouth.
she ran to wherever it landed,
and galloped it back —
a flowing keyboard
of black on white
in the frigid yard.

While overhead,
the gutter ravens,
having moved south for the winter,
cried to one another.

Now, Sadie calmly sleeps
in her favourite chair,
by the warm stove,
awaiting another run,
latter on, perhaps,
not knowing the forecast
is for freezing rain,
which will make everything
for travel,
or even play
in our sanctuary.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

WHEN IN DOUBT, . . . (2)

Well below freezing.
White upon white,
breath borne on the gentle breeze
above the snow.

Black Sadie running on her well-worn trails;

the stark counterpoint
to the surrounding snow mantle,
forever ready to chase her toy
one more time —

wheeling about,
checking like a hunter,
then leaping like a deer
with the joy of her "find."

All within the sanctuary
of our wind-shielded
back yard,
on a very low day.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Last Monday, our congregation held a special congregational meeting. I wasn't feeling well, so I skipped the event. I had other reasons too, which I'll relate later.

At the meeting, the congregation decided to fold. To quit. Go out of existence. To close it's doors and sell the property, probably to a commercial developer.

There were comments on the decision this morning, though it was hardly news. Mostly a sense of sadness, and "Where now?"

I could look at the congregation, Sunday by Sunday, and see this death approaching. Attendance at Sunday worship is somewhere around 60; that's a lot less than in the 1980s. The building is large, old, and thus expensive to maintain. Most of the people at worship are elderly, many on fixed incomes (and often low incomes). Meaning income isn't meeting expenses.

There are a handfull of younger (as in below retirement age) people who come. They have, by and large, not felt willing or able to take on the role of congregational leadership. There are maybe three or four in their teens. This does not bode well for the future.

So, yes; the decision was hardly a surprise.

About my other reasons for not going.

1. I was a pastor of this congregation in the 1980s. When I became disabled, about five and a half years ago, this is where I eventually ended up; in the midst of a very supportive community.

2. That being said, I knew I didn't have anything to offer that wouldn't be said by others at the meeting. And I certainly don't have the energy to lead any new development.

3. This is one of four congregations in our city what I have served. Of those four, this is the third, in the space of six years, which has decided to close. I'm beginning to think that I'm a "bad luck charm." Actually, I'm not, but sometimes I wonder about the future of our denomination, the largest protestant Church in Canada. I feel very sad, and uneasy about that future. Really, it's heartbreaking.

One other thing. If you have not read my "Religion as a Source for Social Good?" post from Tuesday, I would appreciate your taking the time to do so. I'd also appreciate a comment; I'm in a "learning mode" on this topic, and need some help here.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Well. The infamous WikiLeaks about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are being rolled out. As promised.

What have we learned? Not much. Mostly details; mostly minutia, actually. Frankly, I think it's pretty pretty boring, but the bellophiles (people who love war and all its details) may find it fascinating.

The US got into a couple of wars for reasons not entirely clear. And it's stuck in its position — holding a Tiger by the tail.

There's not much difference between the "good guys" and the "bad guys." The primary difference is that the "good guys" will at least talk to us. But even they have their own plans, which may (or may not) correspond to the plans of the US, its invasion colleagues, and/or NATO.

The US military reports seem to indicate that American soldiers have cause a lot more deaths than they're letting on. Killing the people you're supposed to be helping is just so "not on." Very quick way to lose friends and influence.

I imagine this stuff is going to keep rolling out for a while. You can pour over it if you want; I'm going to try to hibernate. Let me know what happened when I wake up in the spring.

Monday, November 29, 2010


I was reading the latest version of The Globe and Mail on-line, and got a very significant shock.

There was a poll about the the effect of religion. The question: "Is religion a force for good in the world"?

Of the 7,500-plus respondents, only 230 said, "Yes." That's a whopping three (3) per cent. The rest, 97 per cent, said, "No."

It is, of course, not a statistically significant poll, in terms of involving the proper balance of participants. It is simply a "straw vote" among the participants in the poll — the readers of the newspaper.

Given, however, that The Globe and Mail is a major, national newspaper in Canada, the results important to consider. Simply because of the sheer imbalance in those numbers.

The poll was done in relation to a recent debate between Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchins at the University of Toronto's interdisciplinary Munk Centre for Global Affairs.

Blair, the son of a "militant atheist" (in his owns words), an Anglican turned Roman Catholic, feels religion is a force for good. Hitchins, a "outspoken atheist," is dying of cancer in the throat, but is rediscovering his own Jewish roots, while claiming that religion is a source of social ills.

It would have made a very interesting debate. Not being in Toronto, I didn't get to see it.

For me, three issues stand out. First, the sheer numbers on the poll, which I have already mentioned.

Second, the short-sightedness of our social view of religion, at least in Canada. 

To consider Christianity for example, the "religious" have been the prime promoters of both health care and education. In the earliest centuries of this historic era, Christians were caring for poor, sick, and hungry, regardless of their religious persuasion. (In that time, the primary religion would have been the worship of the Roman gods.) That emphasis went with Christianity, wherever it moved.

Likewise, when Robert Raikes began his "Sunday Schools" in the mid-1700s, the emphasis was on working with children in the slums of England, teaching them to read and write. By the 1830s, about 1.25 million children were involved in such schools — about 25 per cent of the people of Great Britain. Out of that movement the English public school system grew.

Third, Christianity in particular, and other religions in general, have sometimes been co-opted —used — as a source of division, and even war. This s often in direct opposition to their major beliefs. On the other hand, Christians have also led the process of peace-making in the world.

Where this current debate is likely to end is not something I could possibly guess. But the process, including its inherent lack of social and historic understanding, will be both interesting and challenging.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Snuggled away
in his firm-grounded den
resting on layers of fur and fat
Bear dreams
of a greening world
springing forth as winter recedes,
fresh grasses
first leaves of flowers
last year's berries
and cones of evergreens
perhaps the body of
a deer which died overwinter
and has been frozen in the snow.

And through all
Bear relishes the warm sun
relaxing stiff joints
relieving tight muscles
bringing old fur to new life,
and smells the fresh,
soft-scented air.

Bear dreams of
a good world.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Just when I got into a deep, hibernal rest . . . the Solar Alarm Clock went off, AGAIN!!!

Bright light shining into my den, strong enough to almost blind me. Snow melting; water dripping everywhere; slushy and slippery when I try to stand up outside.

What's a Bear to do when he can't get into hibernation?

Thursday, November 25, 2010


The Bear is sleeping;
please do not disturb!

I'll be back by spring,
if not sooner.

Monday, November 22, 2010


As a writer, I often draw inspiration from my readers. And I have many wonderful readers, whose presence and comments I appreciate. You really do make my day.

This is a case in I am drawing some inspiration from my dear bloggy friend, Joanne. And thank you, Joanne.

I'm referring to a comment from "Reasons" in relation to my post, "Hard Times Come Again No More". (If you're not reading Joanne at Reasons to be Cheerful, 1, 2, 3, you should be; she is one very gutsy lady, and writes very well, too!)

Her point, in my relation to my last post, was that things in Britain are a lot better than in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. And she is absolutely correct! Things are better in Britain. In lots of places they may not be. But in Britain they are. In Canada, too. And the United States. Still, there are lots of individuals, in Britain, Canada, and the US, for whom life is really terrible.

But there was one particular bit that made me stop and think. In reference to Britain's system of benefits (the "social safety net," if you will), she notes it is "under threat now due to abuse."

That word "abuse" always causes me to pause and wonder. Abuse of whom, by whom, to what end?

There has long been a myth, in the United States, and I think elsewhere, that people abuse the health care system. Yet good research studies by doctors themselves show this is rarely the case. I know that a lot more people end up in hospital Emergency Departments, often because their family doctors tell them to go there, particularly in evenings and on weekends. And often people end up in Emergency Departments because they do not have a family doctor, since many doctors have so many patients they will not take any more. (Why take on more patients than one can care for adequately?) The research is corroborated by the stories of "front-line" hospital personal with whom I serve on health care ethics committees.The matter is further confounded by a lack of specialists in the medical system (at least in Canada, and, I suspect, in Britain), when compared to the needs of patients.

So, when I hear of "the system being abused," I wonder what is really happening, and whether this is more perception than fact. I don't know, but I wonder.

I think the larger threats to the health care system in Britain (and in Canada, as well as the United States) have come from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are wars being fought for dubious reasons, with very mixed consequences.

I've always believed that, for any government, the first concerns need to be the health and education of its people. (When I say "health," I include effective access to good food and clean water.)

The problem is that wars are expensive. And the money to fight them has to come from somewhere. So, why not take money away from health and education to fight the war? And if that is being done, does that constitute "abuse" of people by their government?

And while I agree that "it was much worse then than it is now," are we seeing a significant reversing of the trend? How far might that go?

These are the kinds of things that keep me awake at night, thinking. 

What's a Bear to do?

Friday, November 19, 2010


In this case, a poem written a few days ago, before the cold and snow of winter set in.

On rough rock outcropping
Bear surveys
the meadow below
wearing its autumn shawl
ere winter sets in.

Squirrels dart and chatter.
Rabbits nibble a little
of summer’s leftovers
then scatter.
The lone coyote lies low,
waiting for another chance
to dine.

Bear sees them all
living in their own ways
yet in some sacred harmony
that makes the view seem good,
and relishes their re-acquaintance
come spring.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


My long-time friend The Blog Fodder recently drew my attention to Stephen Collins Foster's plaintive "Hard Times Come Again No More."

It's s song of hope amidst hopelessness, I think. While the song dates from 1854, the images connected to Mavis Staples rendition come from the 1930s in the U.S.A. But as Da Blog Fodder notes, "I could find pictures every bit as tragic today here in rural Ukraine or any part of the FSU" (Former Soviet Union).

The song is posted on You Tube.  The words by themselves are cause for reflection.

If Stephen Foster's name seems familiar to you, I'm not surprised. You would associate him with such songs as, "Oh, Susanna," "Camptown Races," "Beautiful Dreamer," "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair," as well as "Old Black Joe," Old Kentucky Home," and "Old Folks at Home" (often called "Suwannee River").

Foster was born in Pennsylvania in 1826, and lived all his life in the Northern States. While he had some education, he never finished college. Though he did some musical writing during his youth, it wasn't until he became bookkeeper for this brother's steamship line in 1846 that he began to focus on his music.

Foster eventually married and moved to New York. Yet he made little money, as publishers often paid him nothing for his work that they printed. His wife, with their daughter, eventually left him, and he died with three pennies in his pocket, at the age of 37, in 1864.

Ironically, in 1854, the same year as Foster's song, British author Charles Dickens began work on his tenth novel, which he published in serial form that year. In it, Dickens described the effect of The Industrial Revolution on the life of England's poor, the working conditions of those who laboured in what William Blake called "the dark Satanic mills," and the massive gap between the life styles of factory owners and those who made the fortunes for those owners. It was the beginning of the industrial gap between "the rich" and "the rest of us" — the gap which still plagues our world today. 

Dickens' novel: Hard Times.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row, . . .

(Capt. John McRae)


I have an uncle buried there,

my Mom's oldest brother,

wounded in the battle for Vimy Ridge,

who died a few days later

from his wounds 

in a Canadian field hospital.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Not quite the Stanley Cup, or the World Cup of Hockey, or the Olympics. Just good old street hockey.

Yesterday, it rained. Then it snowed.

This morning, a wonderfully icy world.

But I don't think we are going to have it for long. The temperature is 1°C — meaning that everything is melting. Slowly. Very slowly.

While there might still be some wonderful options for hockey, driving is a totally different matter. Will I be taking the car out today? I don't think so. We'll wait until the city crews start to do some sanding on the main streets.

Instead, my beloved J, Her Ladyship, Miss Sadie, and I will be resting at home. I can turn on the gas stove to keep the basement warm. We've got lots of books to read, and there are a few household chores to which we can attend. Or we can just sit and visit. The joys of being housebound. Well, briefly housebound.

First, though, I'll make sure the walk is cleaned a bit, to our letter carried doesn't fall on our walk while trying to deliver our mail.

(For the French version of this story, you can check today's edition of Le Jour en Français.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

LE JOUR EN FRANCAIS (The Day in French)

If any of you have doubts about my sanity, this should remove those doubts very quickly.

I have started yet another blog. But it is going to be very different.

It will be entirely in French!

As I have mentioned to some (perhaps all) of you in the past, Canada has two official languages: English and French. Particularly at the national level, one can ask for, and expect to receive, assistance in the language of your choice: English or French. If, as a government employee, you hope to reach the highest levels in government service, you need to be fluent in both official languages. That is even becoming true in middle management — at least the process is beginning.

So, to improve my French, as a retirement project, I'm going to work intentionally on my French.

I realize this new blog will hold very little interest for many of you who follow the Bear's adventures, and misadventures (especially misadventures). But for some, whose first language is French, or who have learned French over the years, it may hold mild interest (and an opportunity to help an old Bear learn his nation's other official language). And, yes; I would really appreciate any help you could give me!

There are translation buttons available, so you could have the computer translate the French to English, for your reading "enjoyment" (which is to say your chance to laugh at the Bear). Unfortunately (or fortunately) none of those translation services works on a Mac (so far as I know).

Bye of now. Or, in French, A la prochaine!

Friday, November 5, 2010

GOING . . .

Going . . .
Going . . .

Yes, 'tis true!
Our trusty Volvo Estate Wagon has gone to "the great parking lot in the sky," or wherever old, crushed vehicles go.
It never had a name. We never thought to give it one, referring to it only as "The Wagon." Almost seems a bit disrespectful, in retrospect.
Anyhow, it was burning oil that was leaking through the turbo-charger. It would have cost about four times what "The Wagon" was worth to repair the turbo, and the mechanics couldn't guarantee the replacement turbo would work properly. Besides, it wasn't entirely easy on gas consumption. 
Now, the government, in its wisdom, had developed a plan, a scheme, to get older vehicles of this type off the road. It was called "Retire Your Ride." (No; that didn't mean putting on a new set of tires.)  
The process was simple enough. Turn in your vehicle, and get cash, or bus passes, or other "rewards." In our case, Cdn$300.00. Because I'm now eligible to get senior's bus passes, getting the cash and then getting bus passes worked out best.
So now we're down to one car. And two bicycles. If my son, his wife, and our grandchildren (gasp!) can ride their bikes 12 months a year, in rain, sun and snow, why can't I? I do have to be a bit careful about that; my beloved J might conclude that such behaviour on my part would warrant getting the chaps in white coats to come along and take me away (ho ho hee hee ha haaa). Seriously, though, a senior's bus pass is a lot less expensive than licensing, and insuring and, maintaining a car or wagon for a year. If we lived on a manor (or small holding) in the country, we'd probably need two vehicles, But in the city, no. 

If you're in Canada, have you considered recycling you old ride?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


What is this bright light shining into my den?

What's this puddle of water beside where I'm sleeping?

Spring already?

Can't be; I haven't lost any weight.

OK. I'm out of my den, but the sun is way too bright. It's hard on my eyes. I'll look the other way.

Right. Clear blue sky — gorgeous! Sunny and warm. I'll bet it's 15°C. And the snow is all gone.

Time to stretch way up, and yawn, and shake my head, and try to come alive.

There are a couple of squirrels, running around the spruce trees, checking for any more seed cones.

I hear a chickadee, and a nuthatch. There are two thieving magpies chasing each other, practically right in front of my face. I hear a Blue Jay, right, . . . oh, there he is.

There's a Mountain Ash tree, with quite a few bright orange berries. I must have missed that one. Yeah; I was getting pretty dozy.

Seeing as I'm up, I might as well have something to eat. Those berries will be tasty.

Oh, but I'm stiff already. Grumble, trundle, mumble, trundle, mumble. …


I really hate it when my solar alarm clock goes off at the wrong time!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

HIBERNATION (or, Hi-Bear-nation)

Yes, it is getting to be that time of year. Colder temperatures; the arrival of snow. I'm very sleepy, and I'm getting foggy-brained.

Hibernation time. 

I've got a really nice den picked out. The foxes used it over the summer for their family home, but they have moved on. This is good. I've tried it out, again, and it's good!

Unlike some other animals, Bears are not "true" hibernators. We don't really pack it in for the whole winter. Like other animals who go into hibernation, our whole bodies (metabolism) slow down, and we live on stored energy. But, on nice days, we come out of our dens, to stretch and enjoy the sunshine, and maybe grab a snack.

So if you don't see me around as much, don't worry; I've just gone into hibernation. And if I show up at your place, don't panic; it's just too nice a day to be sleeping.

And, lest you be concerned, I've made contingency plans for Her Ladyship, Miss Sadie. She will receive excellent care; no question. She may even come to my den to sleep for the night.

See you in the spring, or perhaps earlier. I hope you have a good winter!

Not only is everything covered with ice and snow, this is the first day on which the high temperature for the day will be zero°C, or less.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I do believe I heard that; and saw it too
(earlier this morning).
As did Her Ladyship, Miss Sadie.

'Tis that time of year all right.
Temperature -1°C (30F).
Wind chill -8°C (18F)
Ho. Ho. Ho?

The snow kept up all day.
By supper time it was getting seriously dark and dismal.
Not only that,
front steps were covered,
same with the front sidewalks,
even the back yard.
And the streets were getting icy.

Of course, that didn't stop me
from going to our annual Ward meeting
to hear what the Mayor and Ward Councilor had to say.
Great turnout (as always) even on a bad night.
Included some semi-useful information.

At bedtime,
-1°C (30F)
with the wind chill
-8C (about 18F).

We'll see what its like when it gets here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

PHOTO OF THE DAY/Photo du Jour

Ou est la ville?/Where's the city?

Sadie and I went for our morning walk, as per usual today.

Normally when we get to the park where the sanatorium used to be, we can see right across the river to the buildings on the east side of the city.

Not today.
We've been having quite a bit or rain over the last couple of days. Sadie and I walked in the break between the showers. It's quite humid, and the temperature is only 4°C (39F). You can see the result.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


cleaning up the yard and getting ready for winter. Which I was doing this afternoon at our micro-holding. (For those of you who are not familiar, I think our property is really too small to fit the classic definition of a "small holding"; hence, it's a "micro-holding.")

When I work outside, Her Ladyship, Miss Sadie, comes with me. First we play a bit. Then we light a fire, into which I can toss odds and ends of stuff that need to be removed and can be burned.
Then I get down to work. And Miss Sadie waits for me to be done with the work silliness, and come to play — which is the important thing to do outside.
When I need to take a break, we play.

There was a lot of brush to clean up at the back. I didn't take a picture of it, but you can see where the leaves are. That's where the brush was.
And there was some other stuff to clean up, too. Like garbage that blows in from the back lane. (The automated garbage pickup isn't always that thorough.)
It has to be bagged and returned to the garbage, along with bits of glass and metal which uncannily pop up to the surface of the earth from time to time. And I need to do something with Miss Sadie's "leavings" (otherwise called, by some, "doggy-doo").
Then, the wood pile. It was a mess. Now we've got it organized, and partly tarped. The one challenge is that there are mice living under there, somewhere. I only know about them because Miss Sadie keeps trying to find the mice, even climbing up on top of the wood pile.
Last job, cover the rose bush with fallen tree leaves, to protect it over the winter. (This was the first year since we transplanted it to our yard that it actually bloomed.)
We had beautiful magenta roses. I hope we get them again next year.
All in an afternoon's work. Or play (if you see it from Miss Sadie's perspective).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


 The sun is high. The sky is bright blue, with no clouds. 

The air is warm (about 10°C, or 50°F). 

The Elms and Poplars have lost most of their leaves. 

 Even the Larches are shedding their needles (leaves) on cue. 

(Larches are the only coniferous trees to loose all their leaves
at one time.)

While I can usually walk only about a kilometre at a time,
Sadie and I have done three today,
two this morning, another one this evening.

Too nice a day to be inside.

I hope you had a wonderful day, too!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

DEPRESSION HURTS (5) Five and a Half

Outside, the Elm trees are shedding their yellow and brown leaves in advance of winter’s icy blast. It is mid-October. After the soggy summer, we’ve had a dry, warm autumn. Farmers are making progress in harvesting throughout much of the province, though in some places the fields are too soggy, still. But in the places where waterlogged fields have dried, crop quality is poor. Very poor, indeed.

I sit at the upstairs window of my daughter’s house, for which I am caring, along with its lively contents — two small dogs. I look out on the re-built and repaved street — a major traffic artery — lined with ageing Elms. I am here while she is holidaying in Europe; she gets home tonight. The house is quiet, except for occasional barking of the dogs, and the furnace; its fan provides a gentle background ruffle of blowing air. Rather like a pervasive, almost calming, “white noise.”

Yesterday I received my annual flu shot, as well as an injection to combat pneumonia. This year they are free. It is a public health activity; preventive medicine. The goal is to slow or stop the spread of both the seasonal forms of influenza, and the dreaded H1N1. And the commonest forms of bacterial pneumonia.

This morning, my arm hurts. The one in which I received the pneumonia injection. Not a deep ache; more “nuisance value” than anything else. The other one, in which I received the flu shot, is just fine.

I am no stranger to pain. I carry scars from fairly minor surgery, and from a traffic accident of long ago.

Those are the visible scars. The invisible scars are more numerous. And more troubling.

It has been almost five and a half years since I began the extended disability phase of my life. That has changed somewhat. Instead of collecting disability allowance I am now retired and drawing several pensions — government and private. We are not going to be poor, but we will be careful with our money.

What has not changed is my overall health. The initial shock and devastation of betrayal and “crucifixion” have passed — they were largely gone in the first year. But the perpetual greyness continues, punctuated by occasional bursts of light, but far more often fading long to black (and staying there). It is something akin to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, though not quite as intense. I tend to drag myself through days, though I prefer to sleep.

I sleep a lot. Day and night. I wake up to eat; to walk the dog, play with her, or clean her up; to visit with my beloved; to have tea, occasionally, with a friend; to attend a meeting related to bioethics (though those are becoming more rare). Yet, sometimes, the pain keeps me awake at odd hours, especially the early hours of the day.

I spoke with my doctor earlier this week. I took four pages of notes with me; two for me, to for his file. The list of symptoms is long and detailed. And boring. Physical ailments. Emotional upsets. An overall lack of interest in living, but certainly not suicidal thinking or action. A gnawing malaise.

In simple terms, I’ve really not made much progress towards recovering real health. And I have come to realize there may not be much improvement at any point in the future. Indeed, when my condition was re-evaluated a bit over three years ago, my chances for improvement were described as "guarded."

So I remain a scarred soul. That I have survived is a testament to both faith and persistence (some might say “orneriness”). That further progress appears limited, was predicted. That I have two resident “black dogs” — Sadie and chronic depression — is a continuing fact of life.

And, that’s the way it is. Today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010



I thought I could smell something strange, unhealthy, foreboding. I've smelled that smell before. Like something rotting in a wooden basement — maybe even the basement itself.

Now I can see him. He's lying there. Right in front of me. On the carpet. Big, and shaggy; unkept, filthy. Like a very over-sized wolf, but far more muscular.

His nails are like serrated knives. His teeth are like ice picks. Long and sharp are his claws and teeth. And ready. Ready for me.

Now is NOT the time for this sort of battle. I'm already tired. Very tired. So, so very tired. I don't have the energy for this fight.

He starts to slink around, moving this way and that. Circling around me. I back myself into a corner, for protection. But I know that won't work. He can come right through the walls and get me. Get me from any angle. Get me anywhere I stand, or sit, or lie, or climb.

So now it begins. The way it always does. I have to keep circling, keep my eyes on him. He fakes an attack, then falls back. He does it again. And again. And keeps circling. He's trying to wear me out. He is succeeding.

Sadie cannot see him. She cannot sense him in any way. She wonders at my behaviour. I call her to come to me. But there's something different in my voice. She stands motionless, confused. She cannot help me now.

Aaaaaahhh! He's got me. He's taken the first chunk out of me. I feel the deep, throbbing pain; I see the blood. No one else can see or feel any of this. Just me. While I was focused briefly on Sadie, the other Black Dog got me. Got me good.

But he's not really eating my leg, that other Black Dog. He's eating my heart, and my soul. Little by little, hour by hour, he keeps at me. I get weaker, more confused, less steady.

I do not know what to make of this. Why is he here? Why now? Why, when I could be doing so many things — interesting things, good things?

Slowly I shrink in his presence, as he chews the life out of me — bit, by bit, by bit.

Will this be the time he finally does me in?

I hope not! I hope not! I really, really hope not!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

DEPRESSION HURTS (3) Being Positive

Often, people who are depressed are told to "keep a positive attitude about life."

If only.

I'm reminded here of a little bit of repartee between John Wayne and Frank Shuster, of Canada's iconic comedy team of Wayne and Shuster. (Sadly, they're both dead; we could use their talents today!)

John:  Only fools are positive.
Frank:  Are you sure?
John:  I'm positive.

Well, so much for a positive outlook on life.

That said, however, I keep looking for positives in my life. Mostly, I force myself to do as much as I can every day. That's the bit about walking Sadie and cooking supper in my earlier blog piece about depression. Even if it's only chopping up some wood in our wood pile and lighting a fire, or cleaning up in the yard, or doing something in the house. My concentration isn't good enough to do some serious reading, and there are some things I want very much to read. (I really do enjoy reading.) It is far too easy for me to simply get up, feed Sadie and put her out, have something to eat, and collapse back into bed. Especially when every muscle in my body hurts, and I feel like I'm crawling through life. Literally crawling. As in going as fast as I can, and still losing the race with the tortoise.

The situation isn't helped when I sleep so poorly at night. My doctor has given me some medication to help with that. But it doesn't help. So we'll have to find something else. Otherwise, I'll keep getting up, going through my morning routine, and going back to bed until noon, then getting up for lunch, and trying to do some additional things in the afternoon, or into the evening.

It's not a great way to live, but "I'm doing the best that I can" for the time being. (Humble doesn't even register in my mind; humble, as in Mac Davis' song "O Lord, it's hard to be humble," with its line about "I'm doing the best that I can.") I would so much like to do more. But when simple tasks feel like they require moving a mountain, things are a bit challenging.

This morning's question: Will I make it to Church of Morning Worship today?

P.S.: Yes, I did make it to Morning Worship, and I'm glad I was there.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DEPRESSION HURTS (2) I don't want…

I don't want to deal with people today. Not on the phone. Not on the street. Not in any store.

I don't want to talk to anybody today. Talking takes more energy than what I have.

I don't want to go outside. It's a bright, sunny day with a clear blue sky. Even wearing sun glasses, I will end up with a headache if I go out.

I don't want to go for a walk. I don't want a headache. Besides, my legs, back, chest, arms, shoulders, and neck hurt already. They'll hurt more if I go for a walk.

I don't want to be out of bed. I'm tired. I want to sleep. Besides, if I sleep today, I'll be awake tonight. No people to deal with at night. No phones to answer. I can read and write as much, or as little, as I want, and nobody will disturb me.

I don't want to feel like this. I don't want to have to keep reaching UP in order to try to touch bottom.

What's that Sadie? You're putting your nose under my hand, and lifting it up. You're licking my palm. You want to go for a walk.

All right.

Give me a moment to find your lead, and some sun glasses. Yes. We'll go for a walk by the river. I will limp a bit, but I think I can manage that. I hope I can manage it. We'll see if the Beavers have chopped down any more trees.

Then we'll come home and I'll cook supper. Since J cooked last night, tonight must be my night.

I just wish this depression didn't hurt so much.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I have been invited to a human thing called a "Ball." It has something to do with dancing, and visiting, and general human foolishness, frivolity,  and mirth.

I am to be accompanied to this event by Ms. Sigourney Weaver. (She agreed that, having dealt with Aliens, accompanying a Bear to a Ball would be "no big thing.") I, of course will be wearing my fur coat and fur pants — naturally,

For more information about the event, click on the "Ball" link (in the first sentence). I'm instructed to tell you that everyone is invited to this gala. Just let the hostess know you're coming to this cyber-event.

See you there!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


. . . that Bear is alive.

I've been doing a lot of thinking and feeling in the last few days. And reflecting upon what I'm thinking and feeling, too. 

That is much better than writing about depression (thought I have been doing that). And it takes a different kind of brain energy than figuring out how to use a camera (though I have been doing that, too). Perhaps I should have been out riding a motorcycle — Harley-Davidson Softail (I don't own one of those, and can't afford one, but still . . .). Dark blue, like an evening sky; yellow flames that look more like lightening that fire light.

Bear is feeling a bit subversive these days, too. Playfully subversive, but subversive nonetheless. Perhaps even more than "a bit." And, yes; I've even been writing about that, too — though there's noting ready to share with you, yet.

So there you have it. Something of a Bear Briefing. As opposed to a legal briefing, which many regard as an oxymoron. That is to say, if it's legal, it's not brief; if it's brief, it's not legal. (Could also be applied to clothing, perhaps.)

Bear hugs to all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

PHOTO OF THE DAY/Photo du Jour

Les mots/Words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a picture of a book full of words worth?

Especially  it's a book full of words about how to use a camera to take pictures?

Life is so complicated. Sigh!

Monday, September 20, 2010

PHOTO DU JOUR/Picture of the Day

Family/La famille

It seems like our home is getting more like the Bonkers' house, inhabited by Exmoorjane and all.

So today's picture is of me, instead of by me. It's by our son, T. This wasn't the plan for this series, but sometimes you've just "gotta go with the flow."

This was taken at the family birthday party last night, which was held to celebrate my birthday (last Friday) and that of our thirtysomething daughter, M  (this coming Saturday).

The two youngsters featured are our grandchildren, the son and daughter of T and his wife, A.

And the birthday cake? Made by T for the occasion. A Bear cake for an ol' Bear. What more could I want?