Thursday, March 29, 2012


Bear has been distracted more than a little recently. During that time, something nice occurred. And made me smile.

Distraction 1

I've been very busy taking the pain management program at one of our hospitals' Chronic Pain Centre. After years in physical pain (and mental pain), I've made some great strides in terms of getting better. Yes!!

But I still have to keep working on exercises, and walking, and stair-climbing, if I'm going to stay better. That has been keeping me busy. And thus distracted.

Distraction 2

My old computer has died (more or less). It certainly is not reliable any more. So I got an iPad.

It went back a few days ago.

Having it was not a good experience.

I found it hard to use, and not at all compatible with the other "peripherals" in this Bear's cave. It just does not to make a good primary computer. It's a nice toy, for those who can afford it.

So, I got a MacBook Pro. At about three times the price. I've have been busy getting it to work. It's a bit quirky (not Bear's fault, I assure you), with new things to figure out. I cannot transfer to it a lot of the material that I wanted to move. But it seems to work well thus far. Life will improve as we get better acquainted.

Distraction 3

As I mentioned to you in my past post, the minister of our congregation is not healthy. So, on 36 hours notice, Bear lead morning worship last Sunday.

What happens next is not clear. For the third time in 30 years, I may end up serving this congregation as an interim minister, while our pastor gets the care and rest he needs.

Now, the Excitement

While I wasn't paying much attention to my blog, I gained a new "follower." As in someone who wants to hang out with us (meaning you and me).

Follower number 100 is Murr Brewster, from Murmurs. This former US Post employee runs an "interesting" blog. Her mind is as sharp as the tip on an ancient fencing foil; her humour as dry as a salted cracker. Just don't expect her to "go postal."

Like those other peculiar but brilliant folks who choose to keep Bear's company, and yours, hers is a blog you are advised to read.

To Conclude . . .

"That," said Bear, "is that." For today. Remember: one more follower is one more person in our conversation.



When I opened things up this morning, I found there were 101 followers, not 100. Of course, by time I made my discovery, this post had published itself. (It's magic!)

So, follower 101, I'm coming to visit!

Ah, what's this? Close to the end of the day, number 102. Hey, Suburbia, I thought you were already a follower. You're here often enough.

Wait a minute! Are you involved in this, Allen Funt? Where's your camera?

Monday, March 26, 2012


As usual on Sundays, Bear went to morning worship this morning.  Yet things were anything but usual. And that left me wondering.

To understand, we have to go back to last Sunday, and progress through the week. 

Last Sunday, our Pastor, B, noted there were some tasks which needed to be done to help with worship on Sundays.

People were needed to fold the bulletins, which contain the prayers and readings for our worship service, as well as some notices of coming events. Having been the minister of small congregations, where I was both pastor and church secretary, I've had lots of experience with folding bulletins. So I was happy to let others have the experience.

People were also needed to do some getting and ushering. My only experience with ushering was in getting a family of ducks across a busy street. The problem was that the ducklings could not climb up the curb when they go to the far side. So, I had to toss the fluff balls on webbed feet over the curb so they could follow their mom to the river, about a hundred yards further on. I didn't think people needed to be thrown over the curb at church, so I passed on that one.

So, I left B a note saying that I wouldn't take on some the requested tasks, but if he ever wanted or needed to take a Sunday off (in addition to his holidays), I would lead worship for him, even on short notice. Which seemed a reasonable offer from a retired pastor. Fits with my skills, and what I would like to do, and what the congregation might need. 

During the week, I focused on being physically active. And on getting stronger, through the things I had learned in the pain management course. I started to feel that I was coming alive again!

On Wednesday, I had tea at the local coffee shop. BC was the principal of a theological school before his retirement. He had been one of my teachers, then my thesis supervisor, now my friend. We always have interesting conversations about things ethical. In this case, challenges facing many churches, particularly problems with leadership, and leaders.

On Thursday, I went to have tea with some friends at another church. It's a place where I used to have tea regularly, but missed for several weeks because I was attending the Chronic Pain Clinic's program on pain management.  The priest there told me of some major issues that had arisen since I last had tea there. Leadership issues. I just listened to her. It was really sad. I chatted a bit, and gave her a big hug. We always give each other hugs when we meet.

I decided that I should get a hair cut — at the shop right around the corner from that church. I was feeling fairly scruffy, and thought it was, maybe, about time.

The world changed, Friday after supper. B, our minister, was having problems. I thought he had those things under control; I was wrong. He is really not well. He is going to be away from us for a while, getting some rest and other care.

And would I lead worship this Sunday?

Well, having promised, I could't very well say no. Especially when I had no reason to say "No," and lots of reason to say "Yes." 

And so it was.

Everything was ready for the service, except the sermon. So, on Saturday, I gathered some thoughts to share this morning.

Things were different. B had arranged for new members to be received, but I really didn't know what had been planned. So, after two members of the Church Board had explained what was going on with B's absence, our lay leader and I did what was appropriate. I explained to the folks that I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but I knew our worship would be good. And it was. Even if not quite the way we would have done it usually.

By the way, I spoke about living in interesting times (as per the Chinese curse), the kinds of times we were experiencing in the world and the congregation. And how we turn those "interesting" times into times of blessing, by relying on God love of us, and working together as God's people.


But I kept wondering. The feeling of being stronger, the joy of feeling stranger, and the commitment to stay stronger. The talk about church leadership on Wednesday morning. The conversation of Thursday. Getting a hair cut. Last Sunday's promise, and the phone call on Friday night — I had never dreamed that B would actually need on take me up on that — and certainly not this quickly. All in all, an interesting series of coincidences.

Or. . . .

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I woke up unhappily this morning. The sky was dark, overcast. The weather report said a good chance of freezing rain. Which will make life slippery under paw.

So, I thought I would turn to the wit and wisdom of my friends.

I started with A Lady's Life: Oh-oh! And what did I see? Someone giving us Brown Bears a bad rap!

Fortunately, I don't know where the "Lady" lives. Otherwise, she would breakfast!

Here is some important news about Brown Bears.
1. We love it when hikers wear their "dinner bells." Makes it easy for us to find our next meal.
2. Our favorite spice? Pepper.

Chow for now. Ciao for niao.

Oh, yeah. Blessings and Bear "hugs."

Sunday, March 18, 2012


and ends up as clouless as Inspector Clouseau. Which is not at all comforting.

What has been comforting is the large number of kind wishes I have received from people. THANK YOU!!!!

Here's the story.

Usually, when spring arrives, I go a little crazy, with depression. And added pain. Happens as regularly as clockwork. And it happened this year. So, this is normal, though it is a "new normal." Or, more appropriately, it is expected. And it lasts a couple of weeks.

But not this year. The whole experience this time has come and gone in a less than a handful of days.

I do not understand this AT ALL! Any more than I understand this iPad that I am trying to use! (It is VERY TRYING!!!)

Members of my Editorial Committee are still here, but are as puzzled as I am about what is happening, and what to do. It is a nice sort of puzzled, but we are puzzled nonetheless.

So, I have decided to carry on as if I am as healthy as usual, and see what happens. (It is a bit like waiting for the next shoe to drop.)

Ciao for niao. Blessings and Bear hugs!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Good morning. This is Edward Sans-serif. And I'm Mary Italic. We are members of Rob-Bear's Editorial Committee.

We have taken over, briefly, the management of Bear's blogs. This is a task which would normally have been handled by Her Ladyship, Miss SadieDuchess of St. Swythun's Punt-on-Thames, Duchess of Cardigan and Wooly Boots, and (by Royal Appointment) Guardian of Offa's Dyke (on the Welsh-English border). But Miss Sadie is no longer here, so we're doing it.

As some of you are aware, Bear has not been well for quite a long time. We are happy to share with you the news that, through his participation in the program of the Health Region's Chronic Pain Centre, Bear has been doing much better. He has recovered his ability to get outside and walk (and not just a block or two). Likewise, he is able to get up and down stairs, and do things around the apartment, much more easily. We, and the other members of Bear's Editorial Committee, celebrate these successes with Bear! Well done, Bear. Exciting time! We trust this will lead to even better things.

However. (Isn't it interesting that, with good news, there is often a "However"!)

As some of you also know, Bear has lived with major depression for years. Decades, actually. It has become a chronic problem. 

One of Bear's major challenges in this regard is the weather. You might be skeptical about that, but it is true. When autumn turns to winter, or winter turns to spring, Bear's whole being gets a bit messed up. (More than a bit, really.) It is related to the depression. This particular challenge is common among those who suffer prolonged depression. We do not fully understand this, but researchers have identified the problem. (It is not Seasonal Affective Disorder — SAD, though it is a sad situation for Bear and others who experience this "unhappiness" with the change of seasons.)

In Bear's case, his whole body hurts, even in places where there is usually no pain. And some places where he usually hurts get much worse. And his thinking gets very "dragged down"; that seems to be the crucial issue.

Though this has been a routine part of Bear's experience in the past, and he understands what is happening, it always catches him off guard when it arrives. Meaning that Bear goes through a couple of very bad weeks, and then Bear gets better. The problem appears without notice, and disappears without notice. Most peculiar to us, but not to Bear. For Bear, this just "is." Though this year, it has been complicated by several other unhappy developments.

We, along with his care team, will closely monitor Bear's condition for the next few weeks. We do not expect anything terribly untoward will happen (as was the case last year). We fully expect Bear, with his "peculiar" (some would say "bizarre") approach to life, will bounce back by the end of this month. In his absence, we'll keep up his correspondence.

As for the "other unhappy developments" which have additionally complicated Bear's life this year, we'll leave those for Bear to explain.

On Bear's behalf, and on behalf of the whole Editorial Committee, we than you for Bearing with Bear during this period of adversity. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012


It finally happened. Bears computer just won't work. The screen refuses to show anything. @*#&$&^$%#@@

Bear is . . . frustrated by that. Bear is using J's computer right now, but that isn't such a good plan in the long term. 

HOWEVER, next week Apple comes out with a new iPad. (I think it is iPad 4).

You know what Bear is going to do? Of course you do. Because Bear has the brightest readers in the blogsphere, you know exactly what I'm going to do. 

§        §        §

We saw the "Northern Lights" last night. (For those inclined to propriety, that's the Aurora Borealis.) Not as wonderful as usual (because of all the light pollution in the city). But still lovely.

The day before, there was a huge solar flare, which sent surges of solar wind through the Van Allen Belts (or Van Allen Radiation Belts, to be formal).

I remember the winter of 1972. Driving home in the dark from a trip way out in the country. That's when we lived way north of River City. The Northern Lights were out, and they light up the whole sky. It was AWESOME!

Hope you have an awesome weekend, too. Bear will return, as did General McArthur to the Philippines. Just a matter of when.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Really, it's simple.

All you have to do is mess with the spring weather.

Tuesday: Blizzard. Snow coming down so fast, I couldn't see the river, which is only 100 yards/metres from the apartment my cave. Heavy, wet snow.

Wednesday: Sunny, but cool. Temperatures below freezing. Where the sun was shining on the roads, melting, then turning icy. Water running in the streets in a few places.

Thursday: Combination of sun and cloud. Temperature to -6°C (21F). Streets a bit wet, often icy.

Friday (today): Mixture of sun and cloud. Temperature of about 5°C (40F). A little rivulet of water running into my cave where I was trying to do some late-winter hibernating. Running into my cave and on to my head. Lots of water running in the streets, making everything splashy, and messy, and yucky.

Best description of the situation (in Bearspeak): @$%#^*&%^@#$**

Or just, "Sigh!!"

And, no, I didn't get to hibernate. Not this winter. Not at all.

§                §                §

Some of you may recall that this time, a year ago, Bear was in hospital very briefly. My faithful companion, Her Ladyship, Miss Sadie, was trying to look after things for me. Things had gone from bad to worse. My mental and physical pain had become un-Bear-able. Even suicidal (thought Miss Sadie didn't tell you that last year).

This week, I've been back in that same un-Bear-able position. With no Miss Sadie to look after things for me.

This year, I have not been hospitalized. Fortunately. I have had a completely horrid time, and I'm not out of it yet. But at least I have not been hospitalized. I did not, and I do not, expect things to get that bad this year. It's a different year, and I have different resources available to me. Some things are better. In particular, I'm developing a better way of living with this ongoing, nagging, physical pain. YES!!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Week four of the Pain Management Program of the Health Region's Chronic Pain Clinic has come and gone. And Bear is a bit more mobile. And in quite a bit less pain. At least in some places.

This week, we are not at the clinic. We are at home. Putting our new skills into practice. Getting through the "everyday" of life, finding out what hurts. It is a week for being very observant of our behaviour.

The most important thing I have learned thus far is how I can get a great workout without having to go to the gym. Now, if you want to go to a gym, and be trendy (and all that good stuff), that's a good thing. But I've found that I can stay home and get a good workout.

That's one of the things on which the staff at the Clinic focuses intentionally. I could go to the gym and walk on the treadmill, or I could walk on one of the treadmills in our apartment building. Or I could walk the hallways in the apartment building. Or I could walk four blocks to the grocery store, and four blocks back home. It's all in the distance you cover when you're walking.

Then, to build up my heart strength (through cardio exercise), I could walk on a stair climber at the gym. Or I can walk up the stairs in the apartment building. Or, I could combine the cardio and strength by walking up a set of stairs, the along the hallway, then up another set of stairs, and along another hallway, then . . . well, you get the idea. It's all in your imagination, this business of how you want to get fit and stay fit. It's just simple — part of your daily life without need for special equipment or extra money. Your workout is a by-product of your daily activities.

And then, what about some weight lifting? Well, there are the weights in the laundry/exercise area of our building. Don't want to do weights downstairs? Fine. Lift cans of soup for your exercise. In the privacy of your own house or apartment. No, I'm not kidding. You can do things like biceps curls or military presses with a can of soup in your hand as well as anything. The total weight is not the important thing; the number of repetitions you do is the key item. But don't try too many too soon.

And what about warm-up and cool-down exercises? Worried about doing them and not having time for your exercise program? Hey, they are part of the exercise program. Bear gets up, has breakfast, has a shower and gets dressed in the morning. (Or, I could feed the cubs — if we had cubs — and get them off to school, and then have my breakfast and get dressed.) Then while my muscles are still nice and warm from the shower (or bath), I gently stretch those muscles and joints, and get them ready for the day.

One of the more useful developments so far in the program has been the goal setting process. The staff actually spend quite a bit of time on goal setting — real, practical, measurable goals, and how you build up to getting them done. I thought I was setting realistic goals. But, no, I was wrong. I was setting goals that turned out to be way too easy. But that's OK — early success is great. So now, I'll start goal three — working on the stationary bike in our apartment, to get ready for hitting the streets whenever the snow is gone. And do my cardio and strength training while I'm biking around the town.

Wow! I have found yet another way to terrorize the neighbourhood!

As I mentioned, this week is our "break week." No sessions at the Clinic. This is the week we try to put it all together at home. (Next week we go back to the Clinic, with all the questions we have about what happened during our home work.) I've set some additional goals for myself, and I'm waiting to see what happens!

One other really crucial thing. You're heard the saying, "No pain; no gain." Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's both silly and dangerous! You don't want pain. You want to exercise until you feel some tension in muscles. More action than that, and you're causing damage. It's that damage I'm trying to undo, through the training at the pain clinic. And, of course as I stretch those muscles, they start to get back into shape, and I'll be able to stretch them more. Meaning I won't feel the tension until I've gone past the spot where you felt the tension before. Now, is that easy, or what?

A major story is breaking in Canada about electoral fraud during the last Federal Election. There are complaints from as many as 31,000 (yes, 31 thousand) people in 50 of Canada's 303 electoral districts. It could get very ugly. We might have to do things all over in a large number of places, two or three years after the fact. It certainly Bears Noting — which is why I posted it over there on my other blog. Read it if you dare!