Monday, June 28, 2010


The G20 summit meeting wrapped up yesterday in Bear's home town, Toronto, Canada.  This was the gathering of the leaders of the 20 economically-strongest countries in the world, which account for about 85 per cent of global trade. (I could watch the action, and still, after all the years of being away, figure out roughly where the people were.)

Three images stood out for me.

1. The Presidents and Prime Ministers — heads of the G20 nations — smiling, and waving, and chatting. Looking like they had been on a holiday! Political showmanship at its best. 

They had been arguing among themselves about how to keep the world's economy on a level keel, and apparently reached some significant plans.

2. Vandals, calling themselves anarchists, destroying property. Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, condemned their action, saying it was "not the Canadian way." And he was right.

3. Probably the strongest image for me was also picked up by veteran CBC journalist Susan Ormiston. She was reporting from "street-level" about protests, violent and peaceful. The image she was left with was one of seeing, wherever she turned, rows of "battle-ready" police — heavy gear, shields, clubs — three deep, waiting. Then often charging, and beating and grabbing people, often indiscriminately. At last count, over 600 people were arrested. It's turning out that many were simply on the streets of their community, the community where they lived, minding their own business, or watching, in wonder and amazement, as things unfolded. The innocent were simply scooped up with the supposedly "guilty." This was because of sweeping new powers quietly granted to police, by the Federal Cabinet, but never made public. (So much for transparency and accountability in government.) I could say to the Prime Minister, "that is not the Canadian way," either. 

Except it is.  I don't like this new "Canadian way" that Stephen Harper is bringing us. It feels too much like a "police state," perhaps a new blossoming of fascism.

Lord, hear our prayer,
and let our cry come unto thee.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Two very different events, contests of a sort, are making news today.

On one hand, the FIFA World Cup of Football (or Soccer) continues in South Africa. The defending champions, Italy, and the highly favoured French, have been knocked out of contention, along with the United States. One of today's key matches pits England against Germany. The quote that hangs in the air comes from Bill Shankley, a former Liverpool manager. "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I can assure them it's much more serious than that."

On the North American continent, leaders of the 20 major industrial countries, the so-called G20, are meeting in Toronto, Canada. Their presence has be marked by large, peaceful protests, but also violent and destructive action by anarchists. In the midst of talk about global banking and economic reform, and the possibility of a second recession, ordinary people on the street are asking, "What about us, and those even less fortunate? What about safe food, clean water, pure air, effective health care — especially for women and children?" Real matters of life and death, or things perhaps "much more serious than that."

Holy God,
Holy and mighty,
Holy, immortal one,
Have mercy upon us.

Friday, June 25, 2010

GONE YESTERDAY, HERE TODAY (still a bit Loony).

Well, J and I took of for a few days. Enough of sitting around the house in the rain; at least try a new view. So we did. On Anglin Lake. For those of you not familiar with the geography of Saskatchewan, Canada, the lake is on the border between the southern and northern halves of the province. The north is mostly lakes, rivers, swamps and trees (primarily Trembling Aspen, White Birch, Black Spruce, and White Spruce). Think of it as wall-to-wall trees with a few lakes and clearings (and communities) thrown in for contrast.

We went up to see and hear the Loons. Common Loons. Unfortunately, we didn't get close enough for good pictures. However,  I tried to get a few shots.

The most exciting part was to hear them calling. They have four distinct calls; we actually saw and heard them calling when we were on the water. 

In terms of pictures, the stained glass windows at the "very rustic" place we stayed are much prettier than what I could get in our camera.

And yes, the chicks (babies) do ride on their parents' backs for about the first week of their lives. It is the most vulnerable time for parent and chick alike, because the adult cannot dive to save itself from predators with the chick on its back.

For the record, Her Ladyship, Miss Sadie, did not come with us on our Loon-seeking adventure. She, being a bird-dog, would probably have wanted to jump in the water and play with them. They would not have been amused, especially when one pair had a chick. 

We had a great time (except for our encounters with the mosquitoes).

I'll have more, in due course.

Monday, June 21, 2010


. . . and so is the river. NO; we're nowhere close to being flooded, as some places to the south-west of us have been. It's just that there's a lot of water around — and a lot of jokes about it. (If I could remember some, I'd tell you — but my brain is even less functional than usual today). I recall something about kids thinking their dad had put in a swimming pool; dad had to explain that's the field where he usually grows his crops. Well, um, anyhow. . . .

I very much hope you have a reasonable balance of wet and dry, wherever you are. I'm scheduled for minor surgery in a few weeks; the doctor's going to cut out the webbing that's grown between my toes during all this wet weather. But he has quack yet to determine quack what quack to do about quack these strange
noises that quack I've been making. Not ducky at all.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


The long-awaited rain storm has arrived. It's just pouring buckets outside. Environment Canada's Weather Office has predicted some localized flooding.

And guess who wanted to go outside and play "fetch" in the back yard?

(Hint: It wasn't the Bear, who had on his storm suit.)

The only other possible character for this was Her Ladyship, Miss Sadie — the Standard Poodle. Her genetics tell her she's a retriever; she also has webbed paws, for working in water.

You can figure it out from there.

P.S.: We went out and played for 15 minutes. It wasn't Miss Sadie who wanted to come in at that point.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I originally put this on my Desert Epiphanies blog. But I thought I would get more readers if I put it here.

Thanks to Nancy at Life in the Second Half for sharing this.

Monday, June 14, 2010


This is the kind of thing I'd usually post on my Bears Noting blog. But I'm putting it here instead because, well, because here seems the right place for it. Don't ask me to explain that. Also, please disregard the note on my May 20th posting; that was then, this is now.

    In our lives we go through a variety of changes. Some of these are socially defined, and are known to sociologists as “Rites of Passage.”

    Today, every one of them involves paper work. Lots of it.

    It hasn’t always been that way, but it is now. And increasingly, we are know, not by name, but by the number that is assigned to our paper work. 

    Birth and death are the two universal events. Normally in Canada, you don’t leave hospital until someone has filled in papers for your birth certificate. When you die, you cannot be buried, cremated (or whatever) unless there’s a Burial Permit (which is issued only after the more extensive paper work is done).

    In between — perhaps Drivers Licence, High School Diploma, Trade Certification, University Degree. If you get married, a marriage Licence and Certificate. If you have children, their Birth Certificates. All involve paper work.

    And on the farm, there is paper work involved with the transfer of farm ownership. Back in the 1980s, when I was reporting agricultural developments on radio and in print, intergenerational farm transfer was complex. It needed very careful consideration.  I don’t expect it has become any less complex. If anything, there are probably more things to consider — and more paper work.

    What got me thinking about this is the fact that I’m busy filling in paper work. Late this summer, I will turn 65. That, somehow, doesn’t seem right. I don’t actually feel that old. I don’t think of myself as being that old. I’m 64 going on 46, maybe. But my Birth Certificate tells me I’m going to be 65. In this case, the paper work doesn’t lie.

    According to my long-time friend and colleague, Ralph Milton, 65 is the “age of certifiable decrepitude.” Supposedly, you’re old and worn out.

    That, of course, was not true in Ralph’s case. Nor is it true in the lives of many others. In fact, in my years of work with “seniors,” I saw that many seemed busier in “retirement” than they had been during their “working lives.”

    But turning 65 means paper work — for government pensions, or private pensions, or both, that might just wear me out. I won’t get my money until the paper work is done. Even if the money is sitting in some account, somewhere, with my name and number on it. So I’m doing paper work.

    And even after retirement, I’ll be participating in the economy and community. I’ll have an income. I’ll be buying things. I’ll be with my wife and family. I will continue writing. I’ll continue to serve on a variety of ethics committees, in our community and university.  I’m already facing health challenges, but they haven’t stopped me, though I do need medications. And all of those will require some sort of paper work.

    And I hope the economy in which I live will continue to have a place for, and honour the hopes, needs and contributions of,  young and old, male and female, rich and poor, highly-educated and less-educated. That it will be, simply, a Moral Economy.


This originally appeared, in a slightly different from, as an Op-Ed column in The Western Producer, last month. It's my latest contribution to our "Moral Economy" series.

Friday, June 11, 2010


We have had a lot of rain where I live. Either rain or clouds almost every day. It's too wet in many places to continue seeding, so the large crop predicted earlier may not materialize. Neither Her Ladyship, Miss Sadie, nor I are fond of long walks in the rain right now. And it's all making me a bit silly — waterlogged brain, I think.

So, I have an idea. We should change the name of our province from "Saskatchewan" to "Newyyd Cymru" (New Wales). Wales always gets lots of rain. Right? A more fitting name for us right now, since we've apparently had the wettest spring on record. Sigh! Of course, for New Wales, we would need a LOT of sheep; I'm not certain how that would go over, here in cattle country. 

Oh, yes; Miss Sadie is a year old, today. We'll head out for a celebratory walk in a few minutes.