Friday, December 2, 2011


Hello; this is the Bear speaking. (OK, writing, to you.)

I've been "occupied" for a bit, as you know. Also, my computer is in the computer hospital with some kind of chronic whatever. (I'm sending this to you via J's computer; she's very gracious about lending it to me!)

Just a quick note to let you know that I have not died and gone to . . . wherever Bears go. Though I did have a dream about Bears last night — one of which was killed by a car. As in a Bear beheaded by a car. Not nice at all.

Nor have I gone into hibernation. I'm still too busy for that.

So, I'll get back into some sort of cyber-routine, some day. I'm just not thrilled, though, about the prospect of having to buy a new computer.

In the midst of life, I am "Bearing up." I hope all of you are well.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


As Yogi said, "It ain't over til it's over."

And it's not over. Despite the city's actions yesterday. (Watch for Bear in grey coat.) You'll have to wait a few moments, after clicking on the link, for the story to show up.

In other news (different channel) — someone else picked up on Bear's language. You'll see Bear trundling around the the background. Peter (on camera) is a good speaker for us.

There was also coverage on our channel #3.
(Bear's claim to fame: I just send out the news releases to the media. Usually other people talk.)

One other thought. Bear was talking to Salvation Army at 8:45 Monday morning (part of our ongoing conversation). That was the first time after Sunday's arrival of the eviction notice that I could reach the SA.

The City Manager's statement that people had rejected the SA options was totally false. If it were true, I wouldn't have been talking to SA at 8:45 in the morning.

The Police and Fire department brought three people from SA with them when they invaded, including the man I had been talking to a few hours earlier. By then, the homeless had fled our camp, fearful of any confrontation with police. So the last state of the homeless was worse than the first; they're back to sleeping under bridges and in other bush spots in Saskatoon. Some will be found in the spring, when the snow disappeared. It happens every year.

A week ago Monday, Occupy Saskatoon made a presentation to City Council, to open another dialogue over homelessness.

A week later we got the reply from the City — eviction of the homeless from the park where we were sheltering them.

The solution to the problem of homelessness? Sweep it under the carpet; out of sight, out of mind.

And, that's the news.

But remember, going back to Yogi, it ain't over.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


As you realize, Bear has been very involved in "Occupy Saskatoon." One of the roughly 2,000 Occupy groups around the world.

Monday night, Bear and other "Occupiers" were at the regular meeting of Saskatoon City Council. We had a chance to chat with Council. And found some fairly enthusiastic response. (Meaning the Mayor, I think, actually had to bite his tongue.)  Truth is, you see, we got "in their face." We did it gently. That's the Canadian way. But I mean, really, when we've exposed the need, and are acting on it (housing homeless people), I think we have every right to speak up.

You already know Occupy Saskatoon had been "occupied" by a bunch of homeless people. So, their welfare and future became an immediate concern. Yes, in Saskatoon one can have a job and be homeless at the same time. Such is the price of rent (unless you want to share your place with rats, cockroaches, and bed bugs).

We weren't there to "fight city hall"; we were there to have a conversation with City Council. After all, we are "Occupy Saskatoon: Join the Conversation." (That's our full title.) Our goal is really to occupy peoples' minds, with questions of fairness, health, reasonable incomes and appropriate living standards for all. And then have a conversation.

But earlier today, we got the word that the City was planning to evict us from our location. It's a city park, with about as much bush as grassland. Great camping site; lots of protection from the elements. The word we received was that the police would be there at 6:00 p.m. for a "conversation." So a whole hockey sock full* of us were there to take on the . . . not police?!

Nope. Nary a constable nor sergeant to be seen. Nor the Inspector (Captain, for you Americans), who had talked with us last week.

Instead, a man from the Salvation Army's centre and a very friendly elected Councillor for the city (who used to be a community organizer in his past life).

Hmmmm. What is this? Two people who like us? Two people who support us? Two people who want to work with us? Wonders never cease!

Turns out that the City doesn't want to evict us; the major concern is for our health and safety. A "Won't you come in out of the cold?" gesture. Which was, obviously, not what we thought we would face.

So we did the very Canadian thing. We stood around the camp fire and had a friendly chat about the whole situation. And discovered some possible solutions. (No, we didn't quite get to singing "Kum by yah"; I left my banjo at home.)

We've agreed we're going to keep framing the conversation in "health and safety" language. Because that's what it is; that's the issue — people's health and safety.

"The System" could end up housing a bunch of Occupiers. Perhaps in the same place, to keep our community together. Which might even give us all some meeting space. I suggested (later) that we should call it "Occupy Saskatoon House." And when it gets too full, because of the extra people who come in, we'll let "the System" find a second house for those who won't fit in the first place.

Who? Me? Subversive? Perish the thought. 

Yes, I know; I should be hibernating. But, uh, well, I'm having way too much fun. We're actually starting to solve an immediate problem. Emphasis on "starting." Nobody has had to admitted defeat. Nobody feels like a loser. It's not "them and us"; it's "us and us." I mean, why quit when you're making progress?

Makes the ol' Bear's heart feel good.

* That's Canadianism for "a whole lot." Anyone who knows how much protective gear one wears when playing ice hockey, and how big a sock one needs to cover said gear on one's legs — such a person understands entirely. ;))

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Well, the weather is getting cooler. When I woke up this morning, I thought it was cold and a bit foggy.

Not so.

Behold! The former site of occupy Saskatoon.

Truth is the tent-dwellers have moved to a more sheltered location.

But, as you can see, much of the city has disappeared. I need to go and find it.

If I'm gone too long, please send the St. Bernards out for me! I may be lost.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


It's the Bear again, being a Bear-er of bad news, particularly the rise in the number of poor people.

And you wonder why there is an "Occupy Wall Street"?

Bear trundles out, perplexed and very sad.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Those of you who have been with me for a while know that I am a spiritual/religious person. You also know that I don't talk much about that in this blog.

But life, and faith, and challenge sometimes step up and smack me in the face, and well, I have to deal with that. I'm not one to evade life.

I noted recently that Occupy Saskatoon had been somehow "adopted" by a group of homeless people. They slept in our tents, and ate our food, and (when they were comfortable with it) joined in our discussions. It was never "we-they"; it was "us."

We had planned to end our occupation of Friendship Park this weekend. We had made our point, as far as the occupation had gone, and were moving to the next phase of our activity.


What to do about the homeless living among us, eating our food, sleeping in our tents?

Well, no, we simply could not abandon them. They were part of the group; their issues, their concerns were among those which we were raising.

So after many days and nights discussions, we worked out a plan. All of us. Together.

Those who wanted and needed a relatively safe and comfortable place to stay will be staying. Those who stay will devise a process for living together, eating together, and the like. We who move away will continue to support them. As a group, we have money and other resources; that's part of the overall community make-up.

Where this goes next is a bit of a puzzle. The campers will work out their life one day at a time. Those who are not campers will offer what support they can. We are all in this together.

This all reminded me of a story. A story about deep caring.

Then the King will say, . . . "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." . . . Then the righteous will answer him, saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?" And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." 
                 ~ Matthew 25: 34, 37 - 40.

OK. Here endeth the first reading.

Blessings and Bear hugs, friends. Thanks for hanging in with me.


I got a call from the police today. The Sergeant for this division, wanting to know what we'll be doing next, about those who are sleeping out in the park. Was I surprised by the call? Frankly, initially yes (didn't think they would be calling me), but on second thought, no. So we're having a chat with his boss, the Inspector ("Captain" for you Americans), on our turf tomorrow night. I have an entirely "not good" feeling about this development. And I'm not the only member of our group feels that way. But the police are being nice about this situation (a very Canadian way of doing things). It's a kind of, "Let's sort this out over tea, shall we?" invitation to chat. I like tea, but I'm thoroughly prepared to be "not amused."

I'll keep you posted. This gets to be more "fun" at every turn. Except I really do not feel like laughing.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Hello. My name is Bear. Rob-Bear. I used to inhabit this blog.

Lately, thought, I've been out trying to help save [our little corner of] the world. It has been an interesting experience. Very interesting.

We've been working on both a theoretical level and a practical level.

We discuss the problems our society is facing.
• The growing disparity for the rich, who are making a lot more these days, largely through paying less taxes, and the rest, who are actually making less. (You've seen the statistics.)
• Our new Canadian political model, based on 1 dollar = 1 vote (instead of 1 person = 1 vote).
• The real needs of our community, including "the other 1%" — as in the 1.39% of our community with "no visible means of support."

At first, things were cool. We worked on out some of the principles that guide us, and some possible actions. The main one being a "teach-in" on social and economic issues plaguing average Canadians. "Education in the Park" happens tomorrow (as in Saturday, Oct. 29th).

Second, some the homeless (the other 1.39 per cent) joined us, in the process. They participated in our conversations (including our General Assembly) as much as they wanted to and were able. And, since they were part of our community, they ate some of our food. And that was cool.

Third, the "party-people" joined us. They are part of the 1.39% too. They show up about midnight, and look for a place to crash.

Only they tend to be inebriated. As in drunk. Drink of choice: Listerine. Yes, the mouthwash. It has a lot of alcohol in it, it's cheap, and you don't have to go to the liquor store to get it.

And the party-people began to intimidate the other homeless. One came with a fairly big knife, and a bad attitude.  Fortunately, he passed out before he could cause any serious problems. Police and paramedics took a couple of them away. That was not cool at all!

Now, we have a fairly major challenge. Several actually.
• Where to find some meeting space for the winter.
• Which kinds of activities do we want to pursue.
• And what can we do with (not "for") our homeless friends, when the freezing weather comes.

None of this is easy. But we're working on it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


As you realize, I've been very involved in Occupy Saskatoon activities.

But, I never miss a chance to learn things.

1. The average house in Canada now costs about $350,000. That's the average. I've known that for a while.

How many people can afford to buy that "average" house?

2. In 1978, the average income in Canada was $49,000. Today, adjusted for inflation, the average income is $47,000. You read that right; the average wage earner is $2,000 behind were he/she was in 1978.

Is it any wonder that ordinary people are having trouble keeping up?

By the way, the person in the top 1% of earners is between two and four times richer than in 1978.

Can you say "Income Growth Inequality"? Sure you can.

If you can spend 30% of your income of $60,000 (the average now), it would take you to $18,000.00. At that rate, it would take you 20 years to pay for the average house you want to buy. Of course, that doesn't include all the interest you pay to the bank for the loan!

Now, aren't you glad you know that?

I'm glad. I'm also a bit on the terrified side. It is not easy to terrify a Bear.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I suppose I should really put this over on my Bears Noting blog, because this is world news kind of stuff. But because it's personal, I'm putting it here. This is me; I'm talking about what's happening in my life.

Well, not just me. And that's the point. This is about us. All of us together.

For a very long time, I have been committed to building caring community — community where people care about each other, and sometimes for each other (if that's needed). And, of course, you don't have to be blogging for very long before you discover a lot of people need care, because they're hurting. Sometimes you can see the hurt, sometimes you can't. But with any hurt, there's pain. Real human pain. The kind with which I've lived for years, decades.

Anyhow. Building caring community. Community what includes everyone.

In North America, this Occupy movement began about a month ago. In other places, like Egypt, Spain, Tunisia, and Greece it began a lot earlier.

1. It began from a feeling which, which had been caught in a movie, 35 years ago. The movie was Network, in 1976. (I won't ask how many of you, gentle readers, saw it then.)

There was an amazing scene when one of the lead characters, Howard Beale (played by the late Peter Finch), tells people to go and yell out their windows, "I'm as mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take this any more." That came at the end of a long soliloquy. And people start yelling.

A lot of people are "as mad as Hell" today, too! I think the proverbial straw that clinched this was the bailout of big banks in the United States. That combined with lack of funds to help the ordinary people of the country.

2. That's when people got serious about asking why things are so wrong. And they recognized, without putting a title to it, that America was a Fascist nation.

Fascist nation? Fascism? Does that sound extreme? It does to me.

But, as Fascist Italian Benito Mussolini put it,"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." If anyone should know, it would be him. He ran a Fascist government in Italy, under various titles, for over 20 years (actually, 31 October 1922 – 25 April 1945).

3. Then people started talking. And gathering. The flashpoint was New York, Wall Street — the heart of the financial district that had been bailed out by the government. Despite very different details in their concerns, there were some common themes.

This is a broad movement with many voices. The main target is the long, slow encroachment on democracy by corporate power. That is the main message: that people want more of a say in determining our future, that we are creating the grassroots democratic structures to discuss and act upon our common issues, and that we will challenge the corporate oligarchy that our political system has become. ~ Occupy Saskatoon

That's the point of the General Assemblies, the key focal element of the Occupy movement. It is people working out their beliefs, values, goals. For a historic comparison, consider The US Declaration of Independence; it took about a month to prepare.

The first concern was to work out, together, exactly what was bothering people who had assembled in New York. Hence, the New York Declaration. (There are longer, updated versions.)

Personally, having been involved in the ethical supervision of animal research, I have a problem with the statement on animal research. But there are lots of things which need further discussion.

Three additional declarations are under discussion, which will likely be released in the upcoming days:
1) A declaration of demands. 
2) Principles of Solidarity 
3) Documentation on how to form your own Direct Democracy Occupation Group.

Here, in River City, we will hold a modest gathering for one day (at least initially one day). That day is this Saturday, October 15th — a day when similar protests are being held around the world. Using my skills from 30 years of journalism, I have helped to shape our communication strategy. A very modest involvement. For a Bear approaching his "best before" date.

I'm not expecting everyone to understand what I'm feeling and thinking; I'm sure there will be people who disagree with my perceptions. That's normal, I think. It takes time for people to understand things.

I'll tell you more after things happen in River City.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Bear is going to be blog-invisible for a little while. No, I'm not going to be going on a holiday. I'll be right at home. 

But I'll be busy.

I don't know if all you have heard about the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. Basically, thousands of people are saying, "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take this any more." (That line is from the 1976 movie Network; the script by Paddy Chayefsky and direction by Sidney Lumet.)

There are many situations to which people are objecting. They're mad about the collapse of civil society, and the banks messing with the government "bail-out" money (taxpayers money that went, apparently, into profits and handouts, rather than helping the people who had put money into banks and were supposed to be helped.) There are a lot of other issues as well, including the misuse of power by police, and the failure of government to effectively handle problems facing the nation.

In North America, this process began on Wall Street the same day as my birthday. Slowly alternative media picked up the story, then mainstream media were embarrassed into following the events.

Here is one of my favourite pictures on the event.

Responses to the "occupation" have been very different.

In New York, billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has sicced the police on the protesters.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa handed out 150 ponchos to protesters in the rain. Yesterday, seven of 15 members on that city council voted in favour of a motion calling the protest "A peaceful and vibrant exercise of First Amendment rights." The motion goes to final vote next week.

Which in a way, is making the protesters point. If there is difficulty, maybe its being caused by the politicians.

So far, the event has spread to 147 cities. In Barcelona, the activity has been going on since May 15, with major demonstrations almost every day.

And now, even to Canada, that quiet little backwater best known for it's chronic politeness.

Saturday, October 15, is going to be a nation-wide solidarity protest in Canada, supporting the Occupation of New York. It will be happening in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. And it will be happening in smaller cities, too, like River City.

So, Bear is going to be busy helping get things ready. Our first planning meeting was Wednesday night. Hastily called, primarily through Facebook, 52 people met in a church basement to consider options. Bear is helping with communications (which probably won't surprise any of you who are regular readers).

As I said, I'm going to be busy. If we do it right, it will convey a powerful message, and be a good time.

See you when the "fun" is over. Or we take a break.

Blessings and Bear hugs until then.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Beginning tomorrow, October 2, Americans are marking Mental Illness Awareness Week. The event runs through October 9th.

According to an American study, 1 in 17 people (about six per cent of the population) live with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia, yet "many of these individuals and their families don't know where to turn for mental health resources and support." The research was one by an American Disability Service company, Allsup.

The poster for the week has the toll-free National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine, which is 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). The HelpLine is open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm Eastern Time.

The free posters are available for download or mail at Allsup's Web site. (The poster for Mental Health Awareness Week is close to the bottom of the Allsup page on the web site.)

As some of you know already, Bear has lived with chronic depression since his teens. I haven't talked a whole lot about it in the past, but now some conversation seems appropriate.

Who knows if a poster, perhaps in your work place, or church, or community centre, might help someone.

Blessings and Bear hugs, folks.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Bear has, for a very long time, been a writer, a broadcaster, a journalist. An award winning journalist, even.

So, from that perspective, Bear tends to treat his blogs as if they are journals of sorts.

Just the facts, ma'am, and stuff like that.

Solid, well-thought-out, well-expressed. Even the spelling is (usually) good.

Yada, yada, yada.

And kind readers leave the odd, thoughtful comment. Not that their comments are odd; they're not. They are delightful! (Then, there's the Blog Fodder, but that's another story entirely.*)

Anyhow, I did something different.

I published a light, fluffy piece, including a picture of Bear with a baby. (While I did that, I sat quaking, fearing my Writer's Licence would be revoked for doing such stuff and nonsense).

And what happened?

I've received more comments to that than to anything else that I've written. And, I've still got my Writer's Licence!

Well, then.

I understand that each literary type has it's own style, it's own conventions. Poetry and newspapers have very different styles. You know that.

Has journalist Bear not really understood the conventions of blogging? Has Bear be writing a blog like a journalist, instead of like a blogger? Should Bear be making changes? Should Bear work in multiple styles, on different blogs? Hmmmm.

I'm not sure where this will go, but it seems this is time to reconsider.

The story is told of a career sailor, who eventually retired from the Navy.
At the time of his retirement he thought back on his time as a painter.
On board, he had worked in the aft section of the ships on which he had served.
So he said he had left no stern untoned.

*The Blog Fodder is the only blogger who has met Bear in person. And that was decades (yes, decades) before there were such things as blogs, or Facebook, or Twitter. Meaning that BF knows way too much about Bear. Though, to tell the truth, he has been very gracious.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Bear was sniffing around and found some unhappy statistics about employment, unemployment, and poverty.
• About two-thirds of people in poverty are working full time.
• Over a third of poor families are headed by people in their 30s, or younger — a huge social shift from America's past.

If you want to know more, check the story on my Bears Noting blog. And check the comments, too; they are very insightful.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Today is Sunday, a restful day. Actually the Bear's whole week is often restful. But it has been particularly good.

First, autumn is in the air. Definitely. We've had an evening of frost, though it didn't bother the pumpkins. (We got those in the afternoon before the frost.)

But the leaves are changing. As more and more of them hit the ground,

the bright autumn colours

become much more dull.

Dr. Ron Banks, from Duke University and Duke Medical School (Durum, North Carolina) was up and did a couple of presentations related to medical research, and the place of animals in it. One of the presentations was to the university faculty; the other, at the main public library, for the community. Both were reasonably attended.

On Thursday, J's nephew and his wife came for a visit, bringing their four week old son with them.

Sleepy Bear; sleepy baby

It was not only a chance for us to see them, but for our son and his kids to visit with their cousins.

On Saturday, Bear celebrated another birthday (his 66th), our team won in the Canadian Football League game, and our daughter brought a birthday cake when she came to see the game with us. Bear also got a ton of birthday greetings from friends via Facebook; all much appreciated.

Bear thinks that was a good week.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The days were dark. Very dark indeed.

The Germans had already annexed Austria. Next came Czechoslovakia. Then the German blitzkrieg rolled across Poland like a giant tsunami. Come the following spring — 1940 — country after country would be inundated by the German might: Norway, Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, and finally France. 

But after Poland, everything stopped. Or seemed to stop. And so began the "Phony War," a title taken from a comment by U.S. Senator William Borah. There were a few naval battles, when Winston Churchill (later Sir Winston) was First Lord of the Admiralty. But little else.

But Churchill, and some others, knew what was likely to come next. And knew it would be terrible.

Christmas, 1939. King George VI of England prepares his message for Britain, the Commonwealth and the world.  The King's Christmas Message is a tradition which his father has started. What can he say for Christmas, in so difficult a time, to being some hope, reassurance, and cheer?

Eventually, he finds the words. And he includes a poem by a teacher at the London School of Economics, Minnie Louise Haskins.

And I said to the man

who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness 

and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light
and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God,

trod gladly into the night.

- - - - - - - -

For the background to this post, check here and here.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Today is 9/12/11 — a chance to make a fresh start on our collective life in the world,

Lydia at Writerquake, Sandie at Chatty Crone, and Ms. Moon at Bless our Hearts have, among many others, shared some challenging thoughts over the the last few days. Some delightful thoughts, but also challenging. At least for this Bear.

The Crone's "Quote of the Week" is from Helen James. “Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference.”

The sentiment is real. That's the perspective I try to take in every day of my life.

Ms. Crones other quote, from Kobi Yamada, got even more of my attention. Believe that there's light at the end of the tunnel. Believe that you might be that light for someone else.

I very much like idea, because I'm a "light at the end of the tunnel" kind of Bear.

Now, here are the questions.
• Has the light at the end of the tunnel been turned of as a deficit-reduction measure?
• If it has, does anyone remember where it is, so we can turn it back on?
• If we can't turn it back on, how will we move ahead?

Sorry if you find these thoughts depressing the day after 9/11. Those questions were on my mind all day yesterday.

Friday, September 9, 2011

AMERICA AT 9/11/11

Special greetings to my American friends and neighbours.

I was one of those who watched, in horror, the events of ten years ago. And as a former Fire Fighter, I understood the perils involved in the work of New York's Fire Department, with the help of many Fire Fighters from elsewhere, and their determination to help anyone they could.

We're ten years on, and you American folk are planning to recall and think about those events. (I don't think the word "celebrate" is perhaps the best word — especially when there are possibilities of "more of the same" happening this year in New York.)

I hope and pray that your collective remembrances on September 11 will be a worthy tribute to so many who died or were left with particular loss, and so many who served in an extraordinarily difficult time. I likewise hope these remembrances will help to heal your collective soul.

We Canadians will be remembering with you.

Blessings and Bear hugs.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


We're still in the Dog Days of Summer. Well at least summer; though, officially, I think the Dog days may have passed. Perhaps mentally still in the Dog days.

Now that we're into September, I've read some women bloggers who are finding time a bit long on their hands. These are SAHMs — stay at home moms. They are almost at the "hardly know what to do with myself" stage, now that their darlings have gone back to school. The house is empty all day, except for themselves, some Canines, and a few other Furry Creatures.

So, to bring some light into their lives, and perhaps yours, Bear has been rounding up some news. (You can take the Bear out of the newsroom, but you can't take the newsroom out of the Bear.)

Our top story: The Dog who thought he was a politician.

We also have a story about a Bear, who had a misadventure in the land of the Humans. (Thanks to our correspondent, Lydia, in Oregon, who dug up the Bear facts on this one.)

And, a major announcement from The Bear Party, my favourite politicians.

Turning to sports, the World Cup of Rugby begins this week in New Zealand. Canada, ever the non-contender, is up against some tough opposition. Our correspondent, Richard, in Brisbane, Australia, (also knows as BrisVegas) will have updates for us. If he doesn't over-celebrate.

And, that's the news.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


It is the beginning of autumn in the land of the Bear.

Yes, I know; autumn doesn't really start until September 21, or thereabouts. But, well, autumn is "in the air," so let's go with experienced reality, rather than some astronomic chart.

(BTW, the Australians share something of the same experience. They fervently believe that spring starts September first.  I'm not sure whether this is some kind of universal folie à deux, or something found entirely within the "British" Commonwealth.)

Yet the signs are all here. The "younglings" are returning to school.

(Nutana Collegiate — River City's first high school, located across the street from the Bears' den)

The green leaves of summer are turning to yellow, brown, and red.

It's also Labour Day in Canada, the annual holiday to celebrating the economic and social achievements of workers. In Canada, this has been a calendar event since about 1880.

Part of the Labour Day activity in River City is a big fireworks display. The incendiaries are launched from the Broadway Bridge, a couple of hundred yards downstream from the Bears' Den. They organize the display across the river from our place,

then haul everything up on to the Bridge.

We stand in our corporate box (our balcony) and get an ideal view of the whole thing. No pictures, though; need to keep a sharp eye on the sleepy grandkids.

Nice way to end the summer!

Sadly, I have learned that there will be no Labor (American spelling) Day events across the US this year. Our reporter, Andy Borowitz, tells us that the entire holiday has been outsourced. To China. We Canadians offer our condolences to our American kin, friends, and neighbours on this loss. We hope you don't lose Thanksgiving as well.

Blessings and Bear hugs to all.

Monday, August 29, 2011


For some reason, I haven't been doing much book reading lately. I've been busy on the internet, with blogs and other articles (particularly journal items related to medicine and medical ethics).

So I decided to become more intentional about reading of things other than electronic. (No, I don't have a Kindle account.)

The challenge is that I rarely read fiction. I always think there's more interesting and important reading to do. But that's life when you're a Bear.

Only One Way Left. This is a re-read of a book by the founder of the renewed, rebuilt Iona Community, George McLeod. Celtic Christian insights into everyday life.

Living with Chronic Illness: Days of Patience and Passion. Cheri Register's book talks about what the title says. It's based on her experience, and the experience of other living with chronic illness.

A History of Wales. John Davies book, originally entitled Hanes Cymru in Welsh, begins with data from pre-historic times, and ends with material from about 1990. A lot has happened in Wales since, but to understand the present, one needs to know something of the past.

The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Journey to Wholeness. The book, by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, focuses on our ordinary life, with all it's imperfections — which they say are the norm. It's learning to live with those imperfections which helps us. Quite a bit of material from Alcoholics Anonymous is included.

God Hates Religion: How the Gospels Condemn False Religious Practice. Christopher Levan, retired Principal of a Canadian theological college, tackles the contemporary frustrations of church people and others, who are seeking a wholesome, lived Christianity in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. (I'm wondering if  it might be a commentary applicable to the "Christian Right" in both Canada and the U.S.)

Hmmm. Well, that'll keep me going for a while. If I miss your blog, you'll know what I've been reading other things, and haven't got to you. Yet.

Blessings and (gentle) Bear hugs, friends!

On my Bears Noting blog I have included some notes from Saturday's funeral for Jack Layton.


As some of you may be aware, Bear has a total of five blogs. Yes, five of 'em. Most of you are accustomed to being part of Chrome on the Range and Bears Noting.

But there are three others. One deals with things spiritual and religious. One deals with ethics, particularly medical ethics. And one is written in French. Entirely in French. Yes, I admit to being a bit of a peculiar Bear.

There is an explanation. Bear, being in better fame of mind these days, is starting to use all five blogs. I don't want my mind to rot — totally. The creative juices are starting to flow again. I would not want you to be bored by reading just one or two blogs. So, the ethics blog and the French blog are coming back "on line" this week. I don't use them as much as my main two, so I'll warn you when I'm posting there. Maybe I should say "advise you" when I have something thereabouts.

Happy reading!

* With apologies to Robert Service, Canadian poet.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


The following is a short piece from The Rick Mercer Report on CBC television. Mercer was invited for lunch to the Layton's home.

It would be from a year or so ago. It's a very brief insight into some of Mr. Layton's life. This is a guy who walks the talk.


Jack Layton is receiving virtually royal treatment in death.

His body has being lying in state in the Centre block Parliament building in Ottawa. Tens of thousands of people have come to pay their respects, waiting in line for hours to do so. His wife, Olivia Chow, also a Member of Parliament, has been there, with their children and granddaughter. (She took a quiet detour to visit his parliamentary office while on the Hill.)

This afternoon, his body will be taken to Quebec. That is the province where he was born (son of a former federal Conservative cabinet minister) and where his party made its "breakthrough," making it the Official Opposition in the Commons.

From there, it will go this evening to Toronto. The city is his home; he served on its City Council for many years before moving to federal politics. His body will lie in state at Toronto's City Hall, until just before the state funeral, which will be held in the Roy Thompson Hall, Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time. I believe it will be televised.

Jack Layton was a much beloved man. I always thought there was something so very different about him. He was not your average politician. He really loved people; he really cared, deeply about people. When he was on Toronto City Council, he often rode a bike around the city, so he could easily stop and talk to people. Yes, he was concerned about the environment, but people, and their lives, seemed his key interest. He is someone who will be hugely missed on the national scene.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Canadians were largely shocked and saddened to learn this morning that Jack Layton had died. Layton, the Leader of Canada's social democratic party (called the" New Democratic Party," or NDP) was 61. He died of cancer, after a long and effective career as one of Canada's elected leaders.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (one of Canada's national television and radio networks) had a story early this morning, which has been circulating across the country and around the world.

Layton left behind a Letter of Thanks to Canadians, which was released later this morning.

(For those of you not familiar with the British/Canadian parliamentary system, our Parliament is the same as the US Congress, Our House of Commons is like the US House or Representatives, and Layton (as Leader of  Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the Commons) would be like the Minority Leader in the US House of Representatives.

For me, Layton's death is on a par with the deaths of the Kennedy brothers, John and Bobby. Also the death of Lady Diana Spencer (ex-wife of Prince Charles). The Spirit of Canada is smaller today because Jack Layton has died

Here is a video recording of Layton at his finest, here in "River City." Truly, a man of the people.

An informal gathering will be held here in a few days. That had already been arranged by mid morning. Timing of the gathering will, I suspect, depend a bit on when Layton's funeral is held.

Outside Layton's constituency (as in "district") office in an older residential area of Toronto, a bouquet of flowers is growing by the hours. On the sidewalk, written in chalk, a simple, "Thanks, Jack."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


First, a very deep word of appreciation to you who have "felt my pain," and done something about that. You are so kind to have sent warm wishes and encouragement. I get by with a lot of help from such friends.

Second, I am getting better. The more I rest my leg, the better things are feeling. I had tea this afternoon with a friend who is having knee problems. About which he was in to see a specialist fairly recently. The specialist's advice to my friend: lots of rest for knees, a little bit of walking, or (better still) swimming. I feel vindicated! I'm being good, getting lots of rest, which is my excuse to spend lots of time visiting the blogiverse (or whatever you want to call it).

Third, I will be going back to my vet in about a week, by which time I expect to be much better — maybe even close to all better. (Oh, wait. Not my vet, my doctor. Sometimes I get a bit carried away with this ursine persona.)

As to what happened to me, well, it's like this. . . .

One other thought, while I'm on the subject. Diana, over at Welcome to My World in the "running" for the title of "Most Bionic Woman Since Jamie Summers." Diana has had two knees replaced at the same time. (If that isn't a hero, I don't know who is.) Physio is next. We, however, have not signed her up for the Boston Marathon. Yet. Perhaps you could drop over and pass on a cheery word. Thanks.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


About two weeks ago, I went shopping. Nothing unusual about that.

Except that about the end of the searching out of food, I had this strange pain in my knee. Something new.

And then my hip started bothering me. Hmmmm.

I paid for my food. And limped home.

The situation did not improve, so a few days later, I saw my vet (I mean doctor). Who prescribed some pills, to cut down the inflammation and reduce the pain. Which is reasonable.

Last night, I went shopping again. (One needs some food in the house, er, um, den, if one is going to prepare meals.)

By time I was finished in the store, my hip was feeling extremely tender. (Bear was in agony.)

I made it to the car, and thence home.

Today, after walking around the apartment a few times, and making breakfast, I can Bearly move.

It's better than getting hit by a train. But Bear is "not amused."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I've just learned that my cousin Flossie died recently in the ongoing misadventure called "Trains vs Bears."  She's the 13th Grizzley Bear to have been run over by a train during the last 12 years in Canada's Banff National Park. Two more Bears have been killed on the Banff highways this year.

Not a good year for us Bears.

Flossie's two kids are apparently doing fairly well since her death, so that is one piece of good news. Lots of cubs have died of starvation when their moms were killed.

The other piece of Bad News is that the Bear population in the Park is down to about 60. Even worse, the Alberta Government (Alberta's the province in which the park is located) says there are only 691 Bears left in the whole province. That's down from 1,000 a decade ago.

Yeah, the family is hitting hard times. Worse than a stock market crash.

The naturalists who keep track of these things say the loss of even one female Bear of reproductive age is a huge blow to the overall health of the ecosystem in that part of the Rocky Mountains.

Parks Canada (the Federal government agency) is teaming up with the Canadian Pacific Railway (the other side in "Trains vs Bears") in an effort to reduce the number of deaths. Last year the Federal government and the railway committed $1 million each over five years, to find a solution. In "Trains vs Bears," the Bears always lose. Always.

Some 50 Bear "specialists" and transportation scientists from all across North America are now committed to the project. They'll be meeting in Banff next month to work on the situation. As far as I know, no Bears were invited to participate.

As far as I'm concerned, fixing the problem cannot come a day too soon. There aren't many of us left.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

WELL, I WOKE UP SUNDAY MORNING . . . (Um, not exactly)

Oh, dear. Oh, my!

Bear is totally confused.

They threw a holiday into this week to totally confuse me. And they succeeded.

First, since yesterday was a holiday, this feels like Monday. So I'm writing my Monday post. But it's on Tuesday. And since it's Tuesday, I wrote on my Bears Noting blog.

So. What I was planning to write — here — yesterday — you can read there, at my Bears Noting blog, today. Clear enough? Sorry!!!

I will try to get my mind unscrambled sometime this week. I make no promises.

Friday, July 29, 2011


There are times when life seems to get in the way of blogging.

That happened yesterday. Nothing in particular. I just, well, got busy. Like a dog heading out with his nose to the ground, and not particularly noticing where I was going.

That, I think, happens to all of us, sometimes.

Anyhow, Thursday's thoughts didn't materialize until this morning, because, um, other things were materializing yesterday.

The story is told of an old pastor. He was reflecting back on his ministry.

"I used to be bothered, when I was following our plans, about the interruptions getting in the way of my ministry. Then, one day, I discovered the interruptions were the ministry."

And that's the way it is.

Monday, July 25, 2011


SO, I got to the point of saying Jesus didn't die for our sins.

Now, on to something which people may find even more puzzling.

I'm less and less inclined to think, or talk, of "sin." For four reasons.

First, I've thought, for a very long time, that humans are naturally self-centred. Which seems logical. If you aren't concerned about your welfare, if you don't pay attention to living, you die. That seems incredibly simple.

Second, I think that all of us are spiritual beings having a human experience. I take it to be true that we are "made in the image of God." Which means that, on some level, we are divine beings.

That being said, the third point. As self-centred beings, and also divine beings, having an "unusual" experience. How do we fit in? That is the question that stays with us all through our lives. We might use the word "socialization," or something like that. The overall message is that kindness, or compassion, is the most helpful thing. And that, really, is the opposition of self-centredness.

So we reach the point of recognizing that we are imperfect people, living in an imperfect world. Yes, we have "defects of character," because we have not learned entirely to fit into the community which surrounds us, and we're still worried about our own self-preservation. One of the functions of faith, or spirituality, or whatever you call it, is to find creative ways to live with one another.

In the end, the conflict is between self and community. And the more uncertain — more frightened — we become, the more we are likely to focus on self-preservation, and the less likely we are to focus on community. Which is the exact opposite of what we need to be doing. Because we cannot do it all ourselves. Simply put, my survival depends on your survival

We don't normally think of life on such stark terms. We often tend to consider ourself as self-made people, who worship our creator (i.e., ourselves).

Yes, I know; that is a lot of territory to cover in a short space. But I'm trying not to bore you.