Saturday, April 28, 2012


Da Blog Fodder, who I have known since the 1980s, lives in the Ukraine. He is a Canadian, who lives there with his wife. He says she is the only Ukrainian woman who does not want to move to Canada. It is a long story.

Anyhow, one might think, from this distance, the place is fairly safe one. It never makes the news.  

It is not safe. In his latest blog post, he tells of how some bombs were set off in his city, and a whole bunch of people hurt. Not a happy situation, especially when the Ukrainian President is in town. Who may, or may not, have been the target of the civil unrest. (Please take the time to read Da Blog Fodder's story.)

Think of the excitement if some bombs went off in a city near you when President Obama was visiting. You understand; Homeland Security and the rest of the "safety establishment" would go into instantaneous overdrive — for about three weeks, or (more likely) three months.

Or think of "Bombs, Coming to a Neighbourhood Near You."

I could go on about international intrigue and terrorism (home-grown or imported), but you know all about that stuff. The media has been filling our heads with that for over a decade — since September, 2001. 

Let's just say we live in "interesting times." And we're trying to "Keep Calm and Carry On" — even in an American election year.

Blessings and Bear hugs to all of you, friends.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Just a quick note from Bear to let you know that I am still alive in River City.

What's Up?

My work is quite interesting, but tougher than it used to be. Could it be that I am a little older. I'm not old. Really. There is no such thing as old. You are young until you are 80. After that, you are venerable. But along the way it gets just a tad more challenging to complete familiar tasks. Sigh!

Saturday, I'm doing the funeral for the father of a friend. (Not really a funeral; more the celebration of a man and his life.) A friend at whose wedding I presided. It was at the wedding I met her dad. Life brings all kinds of changes, and surprises, to all of us. 

Other Events

Otherwise, things are pretty regular. Grandchildren are here for a sleepover this evening (night). Tomorrow, finish up the service for Sunday, and get Saturday's remembering service ready. Talk with the family (again) and with the Funeral Service. 

And so, . . .

I hope all of you are well, and enjoying the spring weather. Here, it's hot one day and cold the next. But the grass is greening up. And there is a faint sheen of green on the trees. Meaning we should have buds and leaves in short order.

Blessings and Bear hugs to all of you.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I'm sorry, friends, that I won't be posting more bits in the A - Z Challenge.

I have a new job, and, sadly, life is intruding on my blogging.

Which is why I'm missing.

I'll drop by and visit as I can.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Friday, April 13, 2012


Three things last:
faith, hope, and love,
but the greatest of them
is love.  ~ Saul of Tarsus, Christian Apostle

Hatred does not cease by hatred,
but only by love; 
this is the eternal rule.  ~ Gautama Buddha

Bear, being short on time, but wanting to "hang in" with the A - Z Challenge, will be brief.

I was asked sometime ago by a friend, how to define the word "love," as it appears in the Bible. He was really unsatisfied with a lot of the current language that is being used.

I said perhaps compassion would be the best word in our time and place.

He wrote back, saying, "Yeah. That works."

I'm not thinking of erotic attraction or friendship. The love I'm considering in intentional. It doesn't depend on liking, or not liking, a person or people.

That's why it runs all the way of simple kindness to complex justice, which has been my point for the last couple of days.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness

Just shine your light 

for everyone to see.  ~ Curt Sapaugh and Bobby Austin
(sung by Glen Campbell)

Do justice,
love kindness,
walk humbly with God.  ~ Micah, prophet of Israel.

And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water  ... shall not lose his reward. ~ Jesus, prophet of Israel, and Christ.

Love, Justice and Kindness

I usually think of simple kindness as a key element in loving people. This is the "no big deal" kind of thing we do every day. Help a stranger find directions. Giving some unemployed person, who has been reduced to begging on the street, a dollar or two. Or phoning a friend who you have not seen for a while, especially if this friend is facing hard times of whatever sort.

It is the simple things — from words of support to larger acts of generosity, which make life more bearable. Or Bearable.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


An advisory

This post is coming to you in pieces. I know what I want to tell you, but I haven't had time to put it together. 

It's been a busy day; a good day, with lots of things happening — so nobody needs to worry. Extra sleeping, shopping, new work, cleaning up. J has run away to San Francisco, via Vancouver, where she met up with her high-school girlfriend. It's pretty safe letting those two out together.

Thinking Justice

I think of justice as complementary in nature love. If you say you love someone, the very least you will do is see that person is treated in a fair and just matter. With a justice that goes beyond the letter of the law. The Hebrew prophets, including Jesus, often spoke of the importance of treating people justly.

Another way of looking at this is by seeing justice and love as two sides of the same coin. That is the approach taken by Joseph Fletcher in his 1966 book Situation Ethics: The New Morality. Fletcher argues that love ad justice are the same thing, and he says "justice is love distributed."

Thinking Beyond Justice

There is one other thing that fits with this. Beyond love and justice, there is also kindness in our personal relations. I'll deal with that next.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The Times, They Are A-changing'

Yesterday was an interesting day.

Meaning? Though I have been retired for a while now, I have gone back to work. As of yesterday. I was with a group of people I knew. It was pretty much the case that they said, "Well?" and I said, "OK."

So, for the third time, I'm going to be serving as a temporary pastor of a big, downtown church in River City.

In my retirement, I decided to take take part in this congregation's life and work on a regular basis. Our minister has experienced some challenges with his health, and will be away for a while. And like the cardboard set in a broken window, I'll be the "substitute" until he returns. (Perhaps not the best image, but I cannot think of another at this point.) This is a congregation of people who I have known for about 30 years. Working there as minister feels like I have come home, again. And there are other clergy, retired or in other occupations, who are connected to this congregation. They are going to help with the work. My responsibility is to co-ordinate various activities, to be sure that someone is on hand to lead a variety of services (including weddings and funerals).

But . . .

This is going to mean a change to what I normally do. Until I adjust to my new circumstances, you may not see me in the blogsphere as often as usual. I'm not going away. Certainly I'm not going away mad. I'm simply "reconfiguring my activities." (Oh, isn't that a phrase?!) Meaning I'm changing my priorities for a while. There may be some interruptions in my blog presence.

Life Is Good

I'm not sure what will come of this, but I am eager for the challenge. I pray that this will be a blessing to the congregation, and to me. I would appreciate kind thoughts and prayers during this new venture.

Blessings and Bear hugs to you!

Monday, April 9, 2012


When I look at news, one of the stories which always gets my has to do with jobs and statistics. As  rule of thumb, I believe things are good when the number of jobs is growing. And, as a rule of thumb, the real unemployment rate is about twice what the government says it is. In Canada, the United States, and elsewhere, I suspect.

But, in relation to unemployment, I also think of the 1930s. Like the years since the 2008 financial near-total collapse, those were hard times.

My long-time friend The Blog Fodder sent me a note about this some time ago. It is Mavis Staples version of Stephen Foster's old song, Hard Times Come Again No More

That is something I think we would all like to see. The end of hard times. For everyone.

Sadly, I believe there are those who get rich when the hard times come, and who wouldn't want to see that reality change.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Long before evestroughs, gutters, and downspouts, there were gargoyles.

From the Peace Tower, at Canada's Parliament Building in Ottawa.

These were normally ugly looking faces, with a trough in the back and water coming out the open mouth.

From the Basilica of Sacré Coeur, Paris, France. Note the water trough at the back.

Gargoyles, usually made of granite, were put on the rooves of ancient billings (particularly churches) to convey "water from a roof and away from the side of a building thereby preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between."(

Usually these gargoyles were quite visible to people on the ground, even though they could not see the detail. In some cases, though, gargoyles could not be seen from the ground, in places where water dumped from one roof to another. But in each case, the gargoyles were done in meticulous detail — the obvious work of a craftsman who took pride in his activity. (Oh, to have more of those craftsmen today!)

These are interesting creatures. But I would not want to meet one at night — whether in my dreams or awake.

Do you have a gargoyle on your house? Have you seen them other places?

Friday, April 6, 2012


A fence
is what you take
when people
insult you.   ~ Anon.

In this case, the fence around the bridge which is right beside our apartment building. Put up to keep people from under and on the bridge.

Because, you see, the City hasn't bothered to maintain the bridge. It it could fall down. It is seriously rusting out in many spots. I know; I've been down there and taken pictures. Surprising what happens when you can't afford a coat of paint once in a while.

So now, we can't walk on it, or drive on it. Lest it come crashing down beneath our feet or tires.

And we can't walk under it, either; we don't want it upon your head and shoulders.

But if you've got a boat, you're welcome to travel under the dangerous bridge any time.

Peculiar Political Behaviour

Bear makes no claim to being the brightest beast in the bush. But I cannot understand how a bridge is safe for boaters to go under, but not for ordinary taxpayers to walk under. I mean, really! I am frankly offended by this kind of inequality, this basic unfairness, this faux pas. It may be legal, but I don't see it as being ethical at all.

Is this a case of laws for some people, and other laws for different people? Can we justify this reasonably in our contemporary society?

What about are you live?

Are there similarly ridiculous things your municipal government does? Please tell us about those activities!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Today started well, but not in the way I had anticipated it would. It started with me needing to take a serious break. The last few days have been fairly high energy days for Bear. And I had to take some time to think some things through. So, that was a bit, well, um. . . .

Anyhow, I posted with a title "Sorry!!" Or something like that. (The post is in red, at the bottom of this message.)

Those of you who visit Bear's blog regularly have heard me say (actually seen me write) that I have the best people in the blogsphere reading this blog. Because they make such wise comments.

Anyhow, Rubye Jack came to my aid. 

BTW, I think you should be check her blog regularly. Maybe it isn't for everybody, but you will get a gutsy post every time you go there. She is one of the people who inspires me.

Here's what she had to say this morning.

"Bummer. I hope this is only due to problems with your computer and not you personally. Take care.
You should just label this post E is for Error? "

The rest, you understand.

We do, indeed, get by with a little help from our friends.

Due to "technical difficulties" beyond our control, 
Bear is briefly opting out of the A - Z Challenge.

(Please do not adjust your computer.)

Not to mention totally unexpected and unpredicted.

This is also life.

Bear will resume blogging and the A - Z Challenge;
we just don't know when.

Thank you for your patience and understanding!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


A lot of people don't realize that depression is an illness. I don't wish it on anyone, but if they would know how it feels, I swear they would think twice before they just shrug it.  ~ Jonathan Davis

Depression is the inability to construct a future. ~ Rollo May

Depression can seem worse than terminal cancer, because most cancer patients feel loved and they have hope and self-esteem. ~ David D. Burns
Quotes fromBrainy Quotes

Depression is an Illness

Most regular readers of Chrome on the Range know that I have lived with major depression, chronic depression, since I was in my teens. Probably about 50 years.

Depression is not fun. It runs from uncomfortable to disabling. I've lived through that whole spectrum.

In the U.S., about 16.5 per cent of adults will experience significant depression during their lifetime. In any given year, about 6.7 per cent of adults suffer depression; almost a third in are severe depression. (National Institute of Mental Health)

In Canada, approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives. (Public Health Agency of Canada)

Depression and Bloggers

I didn't know if it is just me, or if it's science, but it seems that a lot of bloggers are dealing with depression, or some other similar challenges. (I know several bloggers who live with Bipolar Disorder.)

I did some checking and found that writers, in fact, are in the top ten occupations likely to suffer from depression

So, naturally I asked, "Why?" There are variety of reasons which apply to writers, but not specifically bloggers. Though I suspect some sort of correlation. Lorelle talks about it, as do other bloggers. 
It is not fun, and it probably runs over into other aspects of your life. 

Moving Beyond Depression

There are some things you can do to tame what Winston Churchill called his "Black Dog." 

1. See a doctor

A knowledgeable doctor in a general or family practice can help a lot. It did in my case.

Besides, a doctor can check to see if there is something else that is causing the depression. Like a physical illness. I think of it as ruling out other possibilities.

2. Get a referral to a mental health professional.

As with any situation, getting to see a specialist is the desirable course of action.  It took a while before I was in a position to get this. But that has made a significant change in my life. 

3. Take your medications.

Medications are usually the first step for dealing with the problem. But only the first step. And the first medication you try may not be the best. 

I have been on several medications over the years. The one's I'm taking now are the most helpful. But they are newer and more focused. 

4. Eat well

I have found that, when I am depressed, I tend to eat protein and carbs. meat and bread. Bread as in donuts, particularly. 

While eating some meat and carbs are OK, fruits and vegetables are really important. They helped to break the meat and carbs cycle, and they provide important nutrients. I probably don't eat as many as I would find helpful, but I keep working on it. Like an unpublished book, I'm a work in progress. 

5. Get active

If the only walk I take is from your computer to the kitchen, I need to be walking a touch father. 

In my first post in the A - Z Challenge, I talked about the importance of curiosity. An easy way of satisfying my curiosity is to walk around the block and see what is happening. And let my mind play with what I see. (Once one had mastered the art of walking one block, or to the end of the lane and back, one might go a little further.) 

I did not notice any significant change in my life until I started doing this, regularly. 

6. Build a Support Group

When I'm having major problems, I get into contact with other, understanding people. That is not always possible. Some of your friends may think depression is contagious. Someone noted that she got really depressed, she went from having a lot of friends to very few. That's terrible, but it happens, sometimes. 

And then . . . ?

I'm not a mental health professional. I'm not saying this approach will work for you. But it has a worked for me. And it is consistent with what I have heard from many people, professionals and depression sufferers, about getting better. 

This, of course, is only the beginning. Remember, see your doctor. The depression may be coming from another problem — your doctor can sort that out. 

There is a more-than-average connection between writing and depression. I'm not convinced that depression helps writing. In fact, when I'm deeply depressed, I find it almost impossible to write. 

So, do yourself a favour. Get some help. Even if you need to have a friend take you to the doctor or hospital emergency department, and hold your hand while you're there.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Chalk on the sidewalk
writin' on the wall
everybody knows it
I love Paul.  ~ Annette With The Afterbeats, "Tall Paul" 


First, there were words. Then, there was language.  

Then clay, and papyrus, and paper for recording ideas. Then Johnnes Gutenberg's movable type, and finally the computer. Communication comes in many forms.

Despite using a computer for much of my communication, I still have this fondness for fountain pen, and ink, and paper. It's almost antique, but it is what I like.

And I recall even more simple communication form — chalk on sidewalks.  "Johnny Loves Sue." Or  Hopscotch Designs — the perennial children's game. An invitation to play, perhaps.

I recall a couple of other uses of chalk on sidewalks. 

One was during the rise of the "Occupy" movement a year ago. Chalk messages on sidewalks were easy ways to tell the world about why Occupations were taking place. Some were cryptic; some, more literary.

The other was with the death of Canadian politician Jack Layton.

Layton, the son of a Conservative cabinet minister, had become the leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) — Canada's Social Democratic political party. A significant political leap.

The federal election of 2011 saw a political transformation. For generations the NDP has been the "Third Party" in Canada, always well behind the Conservatives and the Liberals (the so-called natural governing party).

But when the election was over, the NDP, led by Layton, was the second party, well ahead of the Liberals.

Layton, recently recovered from cancer, and a broken hip, had led his party into new political territory.

But almost immediately after the election, a new cancer invaded Layton's life. And it killed him, less the four months after the election.

When he died, the whole country seemed to go into mourning. The nation had lost a Great Canadian. Layton, despite his Ph.D. in politics, was very much an "ordinary Canadian." He had the "common touch." While people may not have agreed with him, many felt an attachment to Jack Layton.

The Prime Minister even allowed a full state funeral for this political foe.

But aside the formalities, there was an opportunity for Ordinary Canadians to share in the public grief. Sidewalk chalk. On the square before Toronto's city hall. The city hall in which Layton had served as a municipal politician years before. And so the place was slowly covered with heart-felt messages from people, many strangers, who felt a heart-to-heart connection with the amazing politician.

More than Mechanics

The late Roy Currie, veteran broadcaster and teacher of broadcasters put it this way, "First you make sense, then you make sounds." Meaning, have something to say before you say something (or anything). 

At it's heart, communication is the sharing of ideas, a "meeting of meanings" (to quote Reuel Howe, in his book The Miracle of Dialogue). Indeed, the Latin word communicare means "to share."

While we might be caught up in the technology of communication — particularly of television advertising — there is an underlying story that is being told, being shared. 

Blogging the Story

Bloggers are communicators. Pure and simple. But instead of chalk on sidewalks, we use pixels on screens. Pixels on screens tell our stories.

But we still face the question: What are we saying when we blog? What are we sharing? Is it what way we want to share, what we intend to share? Or something else?


What am I communicating with my blog?  Ultimately, that is the question we need to ask ourselves.

The A - Z Challenge offers us a chance to do some analysis of our work, in comparison to the writing of others. Don't ask the question "Am I as good as other writers"? Ask the question "How are other writers telling their stories"? "What can I learn from them"?

Monday, April 2, 2012


B is for  Bird
who can be heard
all round the block — 
our alarm clock.

Geese on the River

The Geese are moving on the river. And stopping, too. The sure sign that spring is upon us. Or around us.

These are Canada Geese.

They're getting territorial, thinking of setting up house. They have long conversations about these things every morning. And the more that arrive, the more conversations they hold. Family planning by committee. Good grief!

Did I mention they make great alarm clocks? They are not quiet. Not even close.

Is There a Problem?

These Canada Geese fly north and south across the Canada-U.S. border without passports. Without border checks. Without the permission of the Canadian Border Services Agency, the U.S. Department of Immigration and Naturalization, or Homeland Security. They break all the laws. They do not conform to the norms, the social conventions.

And, frankly, they don't care. They were here before the laws. They think the laws do not effect them. 

And they are right (more or less). 

We have laws to keep society organized. Thinks like deciding on which side of the road we will drive. Humans need these, so we don't kill each other — intentionally or accidentally. Or something just as bad.

Geese, and other birds, tend to take life in stride. They eat when they are hungry; they raise families when it seems appropriate. They move with the weather, so they've got something to eat wherever they are. They live on a much simpler basis


We Humans seem to spend a lot of our time doing fairly complex things. Like working at jobs. And going to school. Such things are appropriate for us, because we are more complex creatures than birds.

But if we sat and watched, and thought about what we are seeing, maybe we could live a simpler, bit more relaxed life.

Which would be good for us. Even with, and within, our social conventions.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


A is for Aardvark
an interesting creature
at the top of the list,
this critter's the feature.

Introducing the Aardvark

The aardvark is a medium-sized animal that lives in sub-Saharan Africa. It eats ants and termites, lives in burrows, and is active at night. It looks a bit like a pig, but isn't closely related to pigs. (Which is why it's important to check on appearances.)

Picture from Google images
The name aardvark is an Afrikaans word, meaning "ground pig" or "earth pig" — from the fact that it burrows.

The aardvark is sharp claws, which enable it to dig through termite or ant hills. It's long tongue helps the aardvark to quickly devour its prey. 

This Is Important, Because . . . ?

The only thing I knew about aardvarks, before I started this post, is that the name begins with two letter "A"s.

But I'm curious enough to want to find what's behind the name.

Curiosity is probably one of the most important attributes of ay blogger. From my days as a journalist I recall the easiest ways to find a story is to ask:

• Why is something not where it should be, or
• Why is something where it shouldn't be. 

That's an appeal to curiosity.
So, be curious about the world.

Similarly, a bloggy friend, Lydia, lists three "Instructions for Living Life":

• Pay attention
• Be astonished
• Tell about it

(The three principles are from Mary Oliver. Lydia found them courtesy of another bloggy friend of ours, kj.)

In Conclusion

If you're stuck for something to say, just look around for a while.

And after you've paid attention to what's out there, and been surprised, astonished, intrigued or puzzled, you've got something to write about.

That's what will happen here during the A to Z (as in Eh to Zed) Challenge.

Blessings and Bear hugs.