Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bella Sicilia

One day, during some war or another in which his adopted homeland was involved, the Bear sailed off to do combat with the Saracens. (We won, so on to more interesting things.)

The Bear then settled into garrison duty with his family in occupied Sicily for a few years. He was a un colpo grosso in the piazza walking up and down, arm in arm with the leading men of the region. The Bear did not know if his popularity was because he was a Bear, or because of all his children. It depends on what the word stallone means, he guesses.

The Bear recently read a blog by an expat complaining about how her attempts to speak Italian were met in Sicily. She had majored in Italian, and was annoyed when Sicilians would furrow their brows in a show of incomprehension, or correct her pronunciation.

If the Bear had to guess, her problem was she was trying to be an Italian speaking Italian. We collected words for our vocabularies like pretty seashells and strung them together like primitive tribesmen to express our thoughts. We butchered their language, then served it up with overdone pasta, but by golly, it was an honest Sicilian dish. We lived in our village and learned the dialect of our neighbors.

Of course, when we went to Rome, we sounded like, "Wee doggies, Granny, them's some tasty possums ya'll got there." Heh. We were proud to be the Catania Hillbillies.

The funny thing is, Sicilians never seemed to mind our earnest efforts. Sicilians like Americans, especially Americans with a troupe of performing blond bimbi. Especially Americans with access to meat, liquor and cigarettes from the base exchange. Sometimes we were flat out shaken down, by, for instance, a shepherd who refused to move his nasty sheep off the road while mimicking smoking. More often we just participated in the informal economy and culture of goods and status.

As Dottore Bear, your narrator had the cachet of being American and the status of being a lawyer. It is difficult for egalitarian Americans to understand how status-conscious a culture can be.

In the Bear's extensive travels, he learned the whole idea of travel is to be someplace different. People will treat you as you expect to be treated and treat them in return.

Not to single out Germans, but madonn', they goose stepped off their tour buses in formation and occupied a trattoria. Then they complained, presumably that it was not exactly like Germany. The Bear found this to be true in more than one country. "Ve von this country fair und sqvare, und we have to eat after Belgians."

Sadly, he never got to Germany to return the favor. Come to think of it, they would have just shot him. Bruno + 2006. "The shooting has happened. The bear is dead." Wow, Manfred, shootings that just "happen," and animals that are "dead," with no linguistic connection is pretty cowardly if you ask the Bear. One moment please. (Bear steps into prototype teleporter and mauls Manfred Wolfl and returns.)

We found Sicilians to be warm and lovers of life's simple pleasures, as well as gray market goods once in awhile. The Bear would move back in a heartbeat, provided that it had not changed since the Battle of Lepanto or whatever had brought the Bear there to begin with. Unfortunately, Tunisians were a problem there before being assaulted by refugees was cool. The Bear suspects things have not changed for the better.

Oh, bother. Reynard has just dealt a death blow to Checkers, our rooster. A bold dastard. And no sooner does the Bear write the above than the predator is back. This time Red Death set the hounds on him. We used to be able to shoot stuff, but humans encroached all around the Bear's territory, making it tricky.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dapper Bear Drinking Cosmo

The Bear received by Woodlands Post this delightful token of admiration from Badger. It is a portrait of a dapper Bear dressed in what appears to be a very fine 1940s suit, drinking a Cosmopolitan (or to interpret it less anachronistically, perhaps a gin-based Daisy).

It is drawn on a large leaf from "Wilson's Tales of the Borders, and of Scotland. Historical, Traditionary and Imaginative." They were originally published in weekly installments beginning in 1834. The story this particular page comes from is dated 1835 and appears to be from "The Orphan."

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Jesus and the Samaritan Refugee at the Well

The powerful drugs the Bear is required to take so Fish, Game and Wildlife's Large Talking Predators Department  will allow him to walk freely among men just aren't powerful enough sometimes.

You see, in our parish, we recently learned that the Samaritan woman at the well was really "a refugee."

Now, the Bear knows Pope Francis and liberals have shoved refugees down our throats like Jorge B. slinging it at a Buenos Aires coprophagia party. Refugees are the flavor of the month. Meanwhile, homosexuals, Blacks, and other people on the periphery of our awareness (which is where I have banished Francis) are eye-rolls, get-losts, and move-alongs.

Try the Dalia Lama. He's looking for relevance these days.

Sorry, but live by the virtue signaling of others, die by the virtue signaling of others. It was never about you in the first  place, Sunshine, as you may be figuring out, but probably aren't.

Anyway, the story is now given current relevance by turning the Samaritan woman into a refugee. That's the deal, see. Jesus never realized it, of course, nor did John the Evangelist, but now we have after all these centuries.

The real story of the Samaritans began when they were forcibly removed by the Assyrians. They got a good dose of paganism, intermarried, came back, worshiped idols for awhile then invented a new religion sort of based on Judaism. Kind of like Pope Francis did with the Catholic Church. The woman at the well shows Samaritans already had the merciful Franciscan view of divorce and remarriage, since she had five husbands.

Oh, and by the way, the Lenten penitential service will be held next... Oh, what's that? Never. Fine with the Bear. Just blow off the whole freaking thing. If my parish is Catholic, my name is Paddington. Who should have eaten Jorge in his crib, but didn't because he's a poor excuse for a Bear.

Friday, March 24, 2017

News of the World as Recalled by the Bear

Here is a recap of world news based on the Bear's cursory reading of stories the past few days. The Bear has been busy and may have gotten a few details wrong, but he's pretty sure the gist is accurate.

  • WASHINGTON D.C. (March 24, 2017) -- Trump the Usurper hosted a hunting trip for Soviet strongman Vladimir Putin. The pair were seen on the banks of the Potomac River clubbing adorable baby river seals to death with babies. Witnesses also report Trump the Usurper backed a dump truck full of $100,000,000 bills and buried a laughing Putin. The two men spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the pile of money like children in autumn leaves.
  • WASHINGTON D.C. (March 24, 2017) -- Legitimate President Dear Leader Hillary Clinton staged a lightning raid on Richmond, Virginia yesterday, freeing thousands of slaves. Trump the Usurper had last Thursday declared the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the constitution null and void, opening the way for the return of slavery for the first time since 1957. A Gallup poll shows 100% of Americans support the campaign of Dear Leader to restore America to the golden years when Legitimate First Partner Bill Clinton was president.
  • PARIS (March 23, 2017) --  The religious harmony of France was broken by a White male using a loudspeaker to cry "Jesus is Lord" from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Witnesses say he had a distinct American southern accent and raised an enormous Confederate flag on the tip of the landmark. He mowed down thousands of curious Parisians gathered below with an automatic machine assault rifle firing bullets of depleted uranium. With a final cry of "Soldiers of the Cross do thou likewise" he detonate a 20 megaton nuclear bomb strapped to his back, destroying France. 
  • VATICAN (March 24, 2017) -- Today Generic Spiritual Leader of the World Pope Francis condemned frequent terrorist attacks by Christians. "Out of all religions, why do we only see Christians committing all these terrorist acts? The exclusivist nature of a religion that offers only one means of salvation can only breed hatred. Their beliefs taste like excrement in my mouth." The pontiff announced that a new bible was being prepared that eliminates all references to violence and incorporates wisdom from other faiths.
  • DHARASA, INDIA (March 21, 2017) -- The 14th Dalai Lama unveiled a new campaign to retake the role of the Generic Spiritual Leader of the World and wisest, most merciful  man ever from Pope Francis. Since the leader of the world's 6.7 billion Catholics was elected in 2013, his press has pushed the top Buddhist monk out of the public eye. "Sure, Francis is a nice guy," the Dalai Lama told reporters, "but the Catholic Church does not offer trendy practices like meditation and reincarnation. And I'm totally behind gay rights and shared restrooms and tolerance. Real big on tolerance." The Dalai Lama released the first of what he promised to be monthly videos. Critics panned the first video, however calling it "boring," "cheesy," and "what the Hell is this even about?"
  • EUROPE (Just About Any Day) -- A White Asian man killed some people while yelling something. Experts declare he is mentally ill, "possibly bipolar or agoraphobic or something." The leaders of the country warned against any backlash against Asians. The Dalai Lama quickly issued a statement urging everyone to be nice. Authorities continue to search for a motive, but say there probably is not one. "Who knows why crazy people do things like this?" Many are calling for the banning of guns/bombs/knives/swords/cars/hate/mental illness. The Dalai Lama issued a second statement, saying, "Yes, ban all those things. And pass laws making stories about Pope Francis illegal."

Feel free to add your own stories if you think the Bear missed something. Again, he may have gotten some of the details wrong, but these are an accurate impression based on stories the Bear has glanced at.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

I Have a Rendezvous with Death

The protagonist of the Bear's novel, Judging Angels, is a death penalty defense lawyer, although the death penalty has nothing to do with the story itself, and our hero does not so much as step into a courtroom. The book begins like this:
It was the day of very last things.

A well-dressed man approaching the street squinted against a morning sun that offered brightness, but not warmth. He knew that today, his old adversary, Death, would collect 150,600 souls and no one would notice. Just like every other day. More or less.  
If a tsunami took them all at once, it would be a tragedy. People would question the existence of God. Let an attractive White woman be murdered and she’s she is a celebrity. Someone else dies of colon cancer and nobody cares. George Able held the proper, unsentimental perspective on death. Everybody dies one at a time and in the dark, and that was all. The rest is just selling the news.      
You know, he's onto something. Every day we make plans, and gamble that we will not be one of the unlucky 150,600. Dad was an insurance salesman. Some of my earliest memories are of the posters in his office, the words of which I would amuse myself trying to pick out while he wrote reports. "You put your shoes on this morning, but who will take them off tonight?" Today, one or two inappropriate responses come to mind, but the innocent child understood.

With the passing of my older brother, it has struck me that I am in the on-deck circle of life. As I was approaching my 60th birthday anyway, I was already getting the feeling that at some point, no matter how I have reinvented myself - indeed changed my very species - there was no denying things were winding down.

I remember once reading of an upcoming execution. I knew that an autopsy would be performed. What anyone hoped to find that they did not already know I never understood, but that is not what jarred. The strange thing was that the pathologist - I knew him well, of course - had asked his secretary to schedule an autopsy for a healthy man who was still alive. If there are things one just does not do, scheduling autopsies in advance has to be near the top of the list.

We have a rendezvous with death, you and I. Our autopsies, so to speak, are already written on the secretary's calendar. Maybe many years from now; maybe we shall not see the morning. The Church, unless I am wrong, used to speak of this. Catholics used to be encouraged to contemplate their own deaths, the brevity of life. I could dilate on that thought, but will hasten to my conclusion.

I do not fear death much, but I do fear pain and I do fear fear. Especially that fear of inevitability, that now it is really happening. I expect I'll be burning a pinch to the merciful god Roxanol if I have a chance. What I really fear is judgment. I am just not sure about the new soccer-program-theology of everyone getting an an award just for participating.

I wish everybody lived a long time and went to heaven. I know the first is not true, and have grave reservations about the second. And I hate it that I'm nearly always right.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Bear's Lent: The Perfect Bear

While he wandered disconsolately after Father Corbinian laid upon him the hard burden of no honey for three moons and no ponies forever, the Bear tried to make sense of everything.

He remembered confessing to Father Corbinian whenever he did something really bad. Father would not absolve a Bear, but he would counsel him. Sometimes the Bear would feel very, very bad and get discouraged after, for example, killing more sheep than he could even eat.

And now he had killed a pony. He felt like giving up. Pleasing the Good God was too hard for a Bear. However, Father Corbinian always said the same things when the Bear got discouraged.

"A Bear killed some sheep?" the old man would cry out in mock horror. "How is such a thing possible? Especially for you, Bear! You, my old friend, are the height of perfection of all God's creation! No. It is impossible. I will never believe that you, O Perfect Bear, could ever do anything bad!"

When he had finished his display of sarcasm, his voice would become gentle. "Bear, you are right to feel bad for what you did. But it is very bad to feel discouraged. That is the devil. It shows that you have the very worst of sins, Pride, in that you believe you cannot fall. Worse, you are also questioning the Good God's mercy.

"As the holy Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 'For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.'

"Father Benedict knew that even monks would struggle with sin, and wrote much in his rule about their punishment. If monks, who have extraordinary support all day and night can do evil - and they do, Bear - then so shall you, out in the wild world."

Then he would tell the Bear to make up for the farmer's sheep by leaving a large mess of fish at his door every Friday for six moons, and game every once in a while. Once again, the Bear would be carrying a burden from Father Corbinian, but sometimes it felt good.

"Be merciful, Bear. Have mercy on the poor farmers and herders who have little enough to begin with. The Evangelist says to be merciful as your Father in Heaven is merciful.

"We must not let 'mercy' get a bad name because of certain misuses of it. The whole Christian religion is ultimately one of mercy. Of providing a way for immortal but imperfect creatures to escape the doom they deserve for their sins and live with God forever.

"Always remember the Good God is the source of mercy, Bear, but He has given you the power to be merciful, too. It would please Him if you could curb your worst instincts and learn to show mercy yourself."

That is hard for a Bear, thought the Bear. God made him fierce, with roars and growls for a voice. Sometimes the Bear envied humans, who are weak in flesh, but find it easy to be good, with no bear skin to shed.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Bear's Lent: No Honey for Three Moons and No Ponies Forever

One afternoon, the Bear met Father Corbinian in the woods on the sunset side of the abbey, where the saint liked to spend time alone. However, he also seemed to enjoy frequent visits from his ursine friend. On this particular occasion, the Bear was very pleased with himself, and knew that Father Corbinian would have kind words for him.

The Bear found the old man sitting on a stump, reading a book, his back to the Bear.

"Father," the Bear said excitedly, "Bear saw a fat pony today!"

"Um-hmm," the old man responded.

"Bear wants you to know he didn't kill it!"

"Is that right?" he observed mildly.

"Yes. That is right." The Bear waited for praise, but Father Corbinian just kept reading.

After several minutes, Father Corbinian asked, "Do you think it will rain tomorrow, Bear?"

The Bear wondered if he had heard his good news. "No, Father. Did you hear what Bear said? He didn't eat the fat pony!"

"No," he replied after he had read some more, "I didn't think it would rain, either. Well, I must be going Bear. Good evening." And with that he got up and left.

The next morning, the Bear wandered near the same pasture he had seen the fat pony at the day before. He looked at it for a long time, for it was very fat. When he returned to his den, the blood all over his muzzle spoke as eloquently as Abel's.

The Bear did not seek out Father's Corbinian's company for a couple of days. When he did, he found him just as before, sitting on the same stump, reading a book with his back to the Bear. Neither spoke for a long time.

Finally, the Bear began, "Father--"

"You killed the pony," Father Corbinian observed, without looking up from his book.

"I am sorry, Father, but that is true. How did you know?"

"When you visited me last, you proudly took credit for not doing something bad," he answered, finally looking up and turning around.

"First, if you do not do evil, you should thank the Good God for his grace, not take credit for yourself. Second, if you are pleased with your efforts today, I can promise you that tomorrow you will fall. This is how God teaches us not to be proud, and not to take credit for the grace he gives us. He will wound us with a thorn to keep us from being too pleased with ourselves. If the Good God has permitted you not to displease Him too much, fear the morrow. Fast and pray. For you can be sure the Devil will be laying his snares."

"Why does the Good God punish us with the Devil when we have a good day?" the Bear asked.

Father Corbinian shut his book and rapped the Bear on the muzzle with it. "Are those furry round ears of yours deaf? The Author of all the good you do is the Good God. The author of all the bad is you. And another thing. Why did you go back to the pasture with the pony?"

"Bear, um... thought it would do no harm just to look."

"Are you really so wonderful that you can ignore temptation?"

"No, Father."

"That's called a 'near occasion of sin,'" Father Corbinian explained. "Avoid deliberately putting yourself in the way of temptation. That is very foolish and will end badly. If you weren't near the pony, you could not have harmed it. I thought you understood this!

"I hope you have learned your lesson from this sorry incident. Now, the abbey has a pony to spare to replace the one you killed. But as for you, eat what the Good God has provided in the wild. Except for this. Bring all the honey you find to me for the next three months."

"That is hard, Father," the Bear complained.

"And you have a special weakness for ponies, not to bring up ancient history. You must be extra careful about this vice. All of us reach perfection the same way, but each of us is caught in a different snare, as the devil knows well."

The Bear lumbered off deeper into the woods, thinking, No honey for three moons and no ponies forever.

Baby Goats from Two Mamas At Once!

A sampling of today's gift from God of four babies. One has been rejected, so we will have another bottle baby to entertain us. Ava denies she had anything to do with the dark goat, accepting only the white one. You have to like the one with the white cap and ears and black face. The top one has already been named Daisy; the bottom one is nameless. Both of these are from Ava, although she has disowned the bottom one. Ava and Blanquette agreed to have them at the very same time this Sunday afternoon..

Thank you for your kind words.

Panda is not happy. It is goatdemonium out there!

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