Sunday, June 28, 2020

So long Structure

"I thought we finished Structure, Bum, so what's with the title?" asked Bear the next day when we met.

"I made a mistake, Bear," admitted Bum sheepishly.. 

"You?" said Bear.  "That's not like you."

"Nice of you to say so, Bear, but alas it is true.  I got out Paul's 13 page Reader's Report to find our next topic of conversation.  It is called Recommendations and is rather short, which is a plus, wouldn't you say."

"Yes, I would say, and furthermore I now can understand the title of this post.  Structure was so long, it took 3 posts and we have the relief of a short one.  Right?"

"Pretty insightful, my dear Bear, but no.  I missed a whole page of Structure which we now have to finish and then we can say so long Structure, as in bye bye Structure."

"How could you miss a whole page?" asked Bear.

"It stuck to what I thought was the last page," said Bum.

"What is the missing page about?" asked Bear.

 "Ironically, Bear, it's about you, and how germane you are to our story," answered Bum.

"I don't like that word germane, Bum.  It sounds like a disease," said Bear.

"Germane is the perfect word, my dear Bear.  It means relevant or pertinent."

"So, my dear Bum, you are showing off again.  Most people would better understand words like relevant or pertinent, so why use a high fallutin' word like germane?"

"I give, as Mom would say.  The missing Structure stuff is about you and how relevant you are to our story."

"That's better," said Bear.  "What did Paul say about me?"

"Paul said the climactic issue of the story needs to be thought through clearly and presented clearly.  Indeed the nature of the answer may determine the nature of the specific plot type that the story is.  As an example, he said that Gordon and Janey may both feel that they have obligations that require them to choose as they do:  Gordon to his sister back east, and Janey to her own sister here---or, who knows, maybe even to Bear the dog.  This might be more of a sacrifice plot, like, say Casablanca.  A story is about why people do what they do, and we need to know why they're doing what they're doing."

"I don't like to see myself as a sacrifice," said Bear.

"Who does?" responded Bum with a bit of a shrug.

"What else did Paul say about me?" asked Bear.

"He said there's the issue of how Bear plugs in to the climactic problem.  He needs to be integral to that situation, or the story will lack unity---it will be  two stories, one about a dog, and one about a romance."

"Interesting, Bum, that Paul used the word integral and not that stupid word germane that you seemed to favour," said Bear.

"Perhaps his vocabulary is not as good as mine.  Have you ever thought of that?" asked Bum.

"No," said Bear, and said no more.

"Before we finish up Structure, Bear, have you heard the latest about President Trump?" asked Bum.

"How would I hear that Bum.  My master's wife is not interested in politics, or anything like that.  She doesn't even listen to the news on the radio."

"Oh, how dull for you Bear, living with a bore like that.  Anyway, President Trent has announced that he is taking something called hydroxychloroquine, which is used for malaria of all things.  People are outraged, but not so much as when he recommended injecting yourself with a disinfectant to protect yourself against the virus."

"Like many stupid people, he seems unable to stop proving it.  Regrettably, he is the President of the United States," said Bear.

"Everyone does stupid things on occasion," said Bum, "even I, or should that be, even me?"

"You are allowed to do a stupid thing, Bum, because you are not important," said Bum.

"Thanks...I think," said Bum.

"So what was the stupid thing you did, Bum?" 

"I brushed my teeth with that spray thing I use to clean my toilet, tub, and sink.  It's called Fantastik and I always use the one with bleach."

"That sounds nasty, Bum, and pretty stupid.  How did it happen?" asked Bear.

"I sprayed my sink with Fantastik and wiped it down.  It does a very nice job.  However, around the taps, it is hard to completely clean the bits stuck to and around the taps.  I pulled out an old toothbrush from under the sink to use.  I keep old toothbrushes for that purpose.  Anyway, later I was brushing my teeth after flossing and grabbed the wrong toothbrush."

"Dare I ask how that tasted?" asked Bear.

"Luckily, Bear, my taste buds aren't what they used to be.  By the time I realized what I'd done, my teeth were done."

"How'd they look?" asked Bear.

"Although I wouldn't recommend it to replace my usual Colgate, Bear, they looked fantastic."

"Hmph," said Bear.  "That really was stupid.  We'd better get on to the rest of Structure before it is time to part for the day."

 "OK, Bear, I'll read you the rest of Structure and then we can discuss it." said Bum.
 "Paul said...One idea would be to play on something that is a topic in the story: that Bear (like Janey) is getting older.  What if he's getting near the end of his life in dog years?  What if Janey is the only person he's every spoken to, because she's the only one he felt he could open up to?  In short, it's a real relationship, and Janey could feel that she would be abandoning her new but dear friend, who will likely die while she is away.  This is pretty good, because it ties together all the elements.

This would be all the better because Janey could not tell Gordon about the talking dog.  Now it might be that Gordon is turned to the idea of taking Janey with him back East, but Janey demurs because of Bear.  Gordon might not be able to understand  it, or might think it's because of the problem with his sister--but it's not.  The issue is around Bear, and that's as it should be.

That's what I would propose as a story solution, as a way of making the plot work."

"Who's he calling old?" said Bear in a very disapproving tone.

"We are old, Bear," responded Bum, and shrugged.

"We are old, Bum, because we are not dead.  That matters," said Bear, "which leads me to that Black Matters bullshit."

"Whatever do you mean, Bear?"  Bum looked puzzled.

"We are one," said Bear, "and people have forgotten that, or never knew it.   Black Matters is disrespectful to blacks.  It separates them once again and that is not right. Blacks are not the only group that have been discriminated against, and some Blacks discriminate against other races.  Today, people who are not racist but only stupid, are afraid to treat a Black person as an equal and argue or disagree with them, fearing they will be called a racist.  That stinks,  and that's all I have to say about it," said Bear.

"We'd best get back to Paul's analysis.  He feels, and I agree with him this time, that you Bear are my best friend and I chose to stay with you over Gordon," said Bum. 

"We really are one, Bum," murmured Bear and placed his head on her knee.

They sat in companionable silence for a bit before Bear spoke.  "I like that top you're wearing, Bum.  It's so different and so you with that razorback and those deep openings under your armpits."

Bum likes that about Bear.  He notices what you are wearing and doesn't mind commenting on it, unlike many people who say nothing even if you're sporting an outrageous gold lame dress with sequins.

"As you know, Bear, I have too many clothes and am trying to downsize.  So, I get two things out, usually tops, and decide which one I like the best.  The other one goes to the Thrift.  Today, I chose this one over the black Tshirt with white Chinese letting on the front."

"Good choice," said Bear approvingly.

"I told my sister about it and that I was worried the Chinese letters said Fuck You, and I don't know a Chinese person to ask.  She said it is more likely that awful sucky saying Have a Nice Day.  I told her I prefer Fuck You.  I knew you would, she said."

  




 














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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Little horse

"Good morning, oh masked one," said Bear with a smile.

"Good morning, Bear," said Bum, also with a smile, although he couldn't see it from behind her mask.

"I hate to admit it, Bum, but you were right...this time.  Your mask is stylish, and I like the bits and pieces of those horses you can see on the border over your ears.  It gives it a racy look."

"Thanks, Bear.  It is always encouraging to get good feedback on a creative effort," said Bum, looking pleased.

"Did you just make the one, Bum?" asked Bear.

"Yes," answered Bum.  The square scarf with the horses on the border is the only scarf of that size I had.  Most of the shops are now closed because of the pandemic, so I am unable to buy more scarves of that size, or even material to make some.  So, that's the end of my mask making, I guess."

"Hmm," said Bear.  "Why don't you cut some squares out of some of your blouses.  God knows, you have enough of them.  I don't think you have enough time left in your life to wear them all," said Bear in that disapproving tone he uses sometimes, well often, if truth be told.

"I'll think about it," said Bum.

"Why did you use the title, Little horse, for this post on your blog, Bum?" asked Bear.

"Because, dear Bear, little horse is the English equivalent of the word, bidet, which I am going to tell you all about."

"Enough of the French, Bum.  You know I always think you're just showing off." muttered Bear.

"I don't show off with French words, Bear, because I know so few of them.  I told you that before, so let me continue with bidet before our visit is over," said Bum, getting somewhat annoyed with him.

"Go ahead.  I'm not stopping you," said Bear, and then added "as if I could."

"OK, then.  A bidet is used to clean your private parts with water after you have relieved yourself," said Bum.

"Relieved yourself of what, Bum?" asked Bear, looking puzzled.

"Defecation or urination, Bear, or, if you're lucky, after sex," said Bum.

"Oh," said Bear, and then "I never heard of a bidet.  Is this something new, Bum?"

"No, Bear.  It's centuries old and bidets are still used throughout the world, except in North America."

"Why's that?" asked Bear.  He looked puzzled again..

"During the war, World War II, the Yanks were in Europe defending all of us against the Germans.  They were far from home and lonely, so availed themselves of prostitutes, which I understand were readily available. When they returned home to the U.S.A., there was a man, whose name I do not recall, who tried to introduce bidets to the public.  Because the returning soldiers associated bidets with prostitutes, they, en masse, rejected it for their good women at home, or something like that.," said Bum.

Bear thought a moment;  I guess digesting this information he did not know, and then said, "I take it that the use of a bidet would seriously reduce the amount of toilet paper you need."

"You got it in one, Bear.  You are a clever fellow, aren't you?" said Bum, looking pleased for his quick thinking and analysis of the situation.

"Yes, Bear, from an environmental standpoint, bidets can reduce the need for toilet paper.  Do you know that if the United States switched to using bidets, it would save 15 million trees every year.  Someone out there is making billions of dollars having trees cut down and processed into paper.  That person has a lot to answer for, environmentally speaking."

"So, Bum, I presume you sit in the bidet, sort of like a toilet?"

"Yes that's right, Bear.  Some of the bidets are separate and sit beside the toilet but some of them are attached to the toilet, a bit to the side with some kind of sprayer.  There were a few pictures online but I've never seen one, of course.  They can be expensive to buy and install and therefore out of my price range.  While browsing online I saw a few ads for what they called a travel bidet and thought that might work for me, to try it you know.  I picked one and asked my sister to order it for me from Amazon as she has an account.  Unfortunately, they were out of stock of that item, so I'm on the lookout for another one."

 "How does the travel bidet work, Bum?" asked Bear.

"It's a soft, squeezie type bottle, no more than a foot high.  You unscrew the top and out pops a short wand with a nozzle on the top.  You fill the bottle with cold or warm water, warm would seem to be preferred, and point it at the part you want to clean, and squeeze.  The ad said you need some dexterity and I wondered about that.  Anyway, I thought I'd try it to add some spice to my otherwise boring life during the pandemic lockdown."

"Sounds easy enough, Bum.  Did they say why a bidet was better than using toilet paper?"

"The article I read, said that toilet paper just moves the residue of waste around and does not clean.  It is especially important for babies who don't need germs or bacteria smeared across their bums.  Also, the article said it's good for hemorrhoids, I know not why because I've never had a hemorrhoid.  They claimed that baby wipes were no good either because they just moved germs around too.  I think the travel bidet would be good for babies because kids overall like to be hosed down and I'm sure babies are no exception."

"So as not to alarm mothers out there who don't own a bidet, Bum, they could just dunk the baby in a bucket of warm water and that would work, don't you think?"

"Good idea, Bear."

"You know, Bum, I think we've beaten this subject to death and not a moment too soon, in my opinion.  That's more information than I ever wanted to know about bidets, and I'm probably not alone in this regard, if anyone out there is reading our blog," said Bear with finality, he hoped.

"Not so fast, Bear.  There's more."

"How could there be more?" asked Bear, and he looked cross.
 
"Ads," responded Bum with a bit of a smirk, or perhaps smile is a better word for her look.  She's not really the smirk type.  That sounds more like Bear.

"Advertisements, do you mean?  I dislike shortened versions of words, as you well know," said Bear.

"OK, noted.  Advertisements started to appear when I went online to watch a horse race video.  The first one said Tushy Butts Need Love" and I thought, what the hell is that supposed to mean.  And then another one appeared titled Bum Gun and then I knew what was happening.  Before I could move away from the site, another advertisement appeared which said Big John For Big Bums."

"Please don't tell me they're sending you advertisements for those travel bidets, Bum?" 

"Yes, Bear, and I should've expected them," said Bum.   "A few years back, when we purchased the Mini, it seemed to run a bit rough in my opinion.  So, I went online, searched out the nearest Mini dealership, and looked for a recall order on shocks.  There was a recall order but it was for the passenger seat, and ours was OK. I also checked to see how much it would cost for an extra car key because we didn't get one when we purchased the car.  My sister wanted one, even though she doesn't drive, but she'd like to get into the car if she needs to.   Anyway, shortly after my searching online about Minis, every time I logged on to my laptop, little Minis would circle the screen and even some down the sides.  This went on for quite a long time, but I got used to it, and ignored it."

"It's a good thing that little quirks like that don't bother you, Bum.  You are pretty laid back, aren't you?"

"Yes," said Bum, "until I started receiving videos about pornography when I signed on."

 "WHAT" shouted Bear.

"Relax, Bear.  I don't much care for pornography, if you must know, and you must, if you know me at all.  I was looking for some horse racing videos, which I do often, to keep abreast of what's happening with the sport.  I told you before that my sister and I enjoy horse racing and have been going to Hastings Park for years and years.  Anyway, where was I?"

"You were looking up pornographic sites," said Bear disapprovingly.

"I was looking up horse racing videos and saw this one called Super Stallion a trois which means with three and I thought it was about the Triple Crown.  It wasn't.  The video showed a man, naked, and three other people, all naked, another man and two women.  They were doing things I'd never seen before."

"It wasn't those cupped buttocks and blow jobs which you included in our book and couldn't explain to my satisfaction, was it?" asked Bear, again disapprovingly. 

"If that were all," said Bum.  "Over a couple of weeks, more and more videos showed up on my laptop, disguised as horse races.  It was very disturbing."

"Did you watch them, Bum?"

""No, of course not, Bear.  Well...not many."














 















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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

End of Structure

"I don't like that title, Bum," said Bear.  "It makes it sound like we are throwing out structure in our book and that would be stupid.  Wouldn't you agree?"

"Yes, I do agree, Bear, and that is not what I meant by the title.  We need to finish Paul's comments on Stracture and that is why I called it End of Structure.  OK?"

"OK," said Bear, "but first I want to know about the story you mentioned when last we met, about screwing."

"Oh yes, the screwing story.  I knew you wouldn't be able to forget that.  Where should I begin?"

"Try the beginning, Bum.  That usually works for me."

"The incident happened about a year ago in November 2019.  A man came to the house to work and told me I needed a good screw, thicker and longer."

"WHAT!!" shouted Bear."

"I'm just telling you what he said, Bum.  I wrote it down on a little piece of paper and placed it in my purse."

"You needed to write it down?  Have you lost your memory or perhaps just your mind," exploded Bear.  "Who was this awful guy?  And why did you invite him into your house.  You don't like visitors at the best of times, at least your sister doesn't, and it's her house."

"Don't get your tail in a knot, Bear.  He was the male part of the Molly Maid pair that comes to our house once a month to clean and vacuum.  The man does all the vacuuming, downstairs and upstairs, and brings his own machine.    They're not coming now because of the pandemic."

"Did you complain to Molly Maid, Bum?  I thought they were a reputable firm but really, if they are hiring people like that, there is a problem."

"Before you go off half cocked, there is a simple explanation for what he said to me.  That cupboard of mine outside my bedroom has a door which slumped dramatically and I was very disturbed. The man from Molly Maid had a look at it for me and said the small screws in the upper hinge had loosened with age and one had fallen out.  That is when he said, you need a good screw, thicker and longer, because there is good wood behind the screws, or something like that.  I wrote it down on the little piece of paper, wrapped the remaining small screw in it, and placed it in my purse for the next time I was near a hardware store.  That, my dear Bear, is the story of the screwing."

"You know, Bum, you can take a small incident and turn it into a huge, impossible, and granted, sometimes funny story, or not," said Bear.

"What can I say," said Bum, "It's a gift."

"We've wasted a lot of time, Bum, screwing around, if you'll pardon my French.  Let's get on with Paul's Structure comments," said Bear.

"Where were we?" asked Bum.  Her memory's not as good as is used to be.  Mind you, she cannot remember if she ever had a good memory.

"We agreed that Paul was correct this time when he likened our Gordon bit of our book with Love Story which also had a sad ending, or something like that," said Bear.

"Oh yes," said Bum.  Paul said "In the story, Gordon simply moves away.  This is a preexisting plan, but he has a relationship with Janey now, and the question needs to be asked why he doesn't stay behind for her sake, or why he doesn't offer to take her with him.  This is what the reader is wondering, and it is a question that needs to be decisively answered.  The answer to this question lies at the heart of what this story means, what it's trying to say.  Why, exactly, really, is this relationship breaking up?"

Later in the analysis, Paul says "Now it might be that Gordon is just not into Janey;  he's had a light fling, and now he's going to be on his way.  Janey, somewhat heartbroken, then turns to her friend, Bear."

 "That's not the Gordon we knew, Bum,: said Bear.  "Paul is putting a negative spin on our story and in simple terms is saying that Gordon had his way with Janey and now is taking his ways elsewhere.  I don't buy it.  Maybe Paul has been dumped a few times and this has brought back bad memories.  Has he? been dumped I mean," added Bear."

"How the hell would I know," exploded Bum.  "He was more likely the dumper rather than the dumpee."

"Whatever," said Bear.  "I'm just saying he's got our friend Gordon wrong.  Wouldn't you agree?"

"Yes, Bear, I do agree.  But, to give Paul his due, his analysis of our book was based on Draft 1.  I, with your help, fixed some of the points he made.  For example, Draft 2 includes the bit where Gordon asks Janey to go back east with him to live with his sister."

"Oh, that's right, Bum.  I'd forgotten those changes.  You likened yourself to an old car that would not make the trip, or something like that."

"Yes, Bear, but it was explained a little bit better than that," said Bum.

"I don't doubt that, Bum.  You are a careful writer, and person, and avoid confrontation at all costs. That's why people like you, although sometimes I think they don't know you that well.  But, that's your fault," said Bear.

"Don't psychoanalyze me, Bear.  I don't like it," said Bum.

"OK, I'll leave it for now, Bum, because you seem upset.  Let's get on with Paul's other comments about Gordon.  As I recall, he said Gordon simply moves away and this is the part I don't get,  that it was a preexisting plan," said Bear, looking puzzled.  "He didn't know his sister's wealthy husband was going to die and that she, because she was alone now, and had money, could and would invite Gordon to live with her free.  I think that sums it up.  It was not a preexisting plan, period."

 "I know that, Bear, and you know that, but Paul is looking for cynicism perhaps in their relationship.  He doesn't understand the special, but short, relationship that Janey and Gordon had.  I think you described it perfectly in Draft 2 about love being the most important thing in the universe and that it is a gift we do not all get, or something like that.  I'll have to go back and read it again to refresh my failing memory."

"Do that, Bum."

"One last question in Structure which we need to address, Bear, is when Paul said, the question needs to be asked why Gordon doesn't stay behind for Janey's sake" said Bum.

"Do you have the answer, old wise one?" asked Bear.
  
"Yes I do, Bear," said Bum..

"Somehow I knew you would," said Bear ruefully.

"For reasons unknown to me, most parents want to leave their children as much of their money as they can before they die, and even takes steps to minimize what they spend on themselves when they get older and closer to death.  I believe Gordon saw his chance when his wealthy sister asked him to move east and she would pay for everything.  He would only need some walking around money.  That's why he decided to sell his little house.  Perhaps it's one of those archetypical things, you know a universal human nature.  As you know, I never had any children and cannot comprehend this desire  to deprive yourself as you get older so you will have more money to give to some rascals.  Fuck them, I say.  Get your own money.  Try working for it like I did.  Does that make me selfish?  Again, I say, fuck them."

"Are you quite finished, Bum?  I don't like to end our conversation with all this cursing.  You know it offends me.  Don\t you have something upbeat or whatever to tell me?"
 
"I learned how to make a face mask today to protect others from me giving them the coronavirus, in case I have it and don't know it."

"That's better, Bum, doing something for others. Who taught you?" asked Bear.

"Dr. Gupta," answered Bum.  "He's often on CNN giving medical advice and information and he had a small video today showing the audience how to make a face mask."

"Dr. Gupta?" queried Bear.  "Is he Asian?"

"No," said Bum.  "He's Indian like you.  I thought you'd know that name, being Indian I mean."

"I was born in Calcutta, as you know, Bum, but I left there as a puppy and of course wouldn't know about names common to India."

"Anyway, Dr. Gupta showed us how to make a face mask, and luckily it doesn't involve any sewing.  As I've told you before, I have some trouble now threading a needle."

"Presumably you just tie a scarf around your head, crossing your face with it.  Or, you could get one of those burquas."

"All good ideas, Bear, which I too thought might work.  But, Dr. Gupta's mask is better because it loops over your ears.  All you need is a square scarf and a couple of big elastic bands.  I had an old silk scarf, red in colour with horses running around the edges.  I often wore it to the Track for luck but it didn't work.  It's about 20 years old but perfect for my new mask.  It was red across my face   
with just bits of the horses showing over my ears.  I thought it looked quite stylish, in a medical kind of way."

"Fascinating, Bum, but I have to go now.  My master's wife awaits, no doubt still complaining about toilet paper, and she needs someone to vent to, and I'm all she has.  Wear your new mask the next time and I'll let you know if it is indeed stylish," said Bear with a bit of a smirk.

"I have been accused of being stylish, my dear Bear, on many occasions," said Bum who likes the last word, and she got it, as he had already gone.

















  





























































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Monday, March 30, 2020

Stockpiling

"You're early," said Bear.

"I can't seem to get it right, can I Bear?" responded Bum,

"How come?" asked Bear.

"My sleep patterns have been disrupted.  I fall asleep without fail, watching TV, early too, and miss good shows for the most part.  I wake up in the middle of the night around 4:00 pm when it's too early to get up and make the coffee, and too late to go back to sleep.  It sucks, if you must know," finished Bum.

"I thought you were a good sleeper, Bum.  What's bothering you?" asked Bear.

"Maybe it's the fucking pandemic," said Bum.

"Hold it right there, Bum, with the cussing.  You sound just like those dreadful teenagers who cannot make a sentence at the best of times, and never without fuck in every context, i.e. fuck you, fucking asshole, what the fuck, et cetera, et cetera."

"Fuck you very much for your insightful comments, Bear." said Bum, wryly she hoped.

"Very funny, Bum, but that's enough of the cussing.  It offends me, as you well know," said Bear in that disapproving tone he uses.

"How's the pandemic going at your house, Bear?" asked Bum.

"Not well," said Bear.  "My master teaches in the United States as you know, and he is unable to return home because the border is closed.  His wife is very upset because she's alone in the house and must distance herself from friends and family.  The only time she goes out is to make a short run for groceries.  Time is passing slowly for her.  She complains all the time and you know the only living creature there, is me.  She's getting on my nerves, I can tell you.  How's it going at your house?  Are you and your sister getting on each other's nerves during this lockdown?"

"Frances and I have lived together a long time.  We've been getting on each other's nerves for years, so no problem."

"My master's wife is upset because she's running low on toilet paper.  She's reluctant to use kleenex because that's getting low too, and she's knows it's not good to flush it down the toilet.  Her husband told her that."

"It's the bloody stockpiling that has been going on, Bear.  People don't think, or even care, about other people's needs.  I was picking up some meat for supper the other day at Nestors and the manager was telling another customer that a man came in the other day and scooped up all the ground round packages.  The manager accosted the stockpiler and told him the meat was for everyone in the neighbourhood, not just him.  The man replied, I have to look after my family, and left with the full cart of meat."

Did the manager say anything to him in response?" asked Bear.

"Yes, he called him an asshole, and left it at that."

"I think that says it all, Bum," said Bear.

"I find the bare shelves at the grocery stores the most disturbing, Bear.  It must've been like that during the war," said Bum.

"I suppose it's the shelves for the paper products, Bum.  That's why my master's wife is so concerned about her diminishing toilet paper."

"If that were all, Bear.  The shelves for the pasta products are the worst.  Luckily, I don't need any of that stuff."

"Why not?" asked Bear.  "I remember your love of spaghetti, for example."

"My sister was told by her chiropractor not to eat pasta.  I'm not bothered by that because I sometimes have a pasta dish when we are in a restaurant, so it's no hardship for me."

"Have you forgotten that the restaurants are closed during the pandemic?" asked Bear.

"Yes, I had forgotten that, Bear, but it's OK, I have a frozen macaroni and cheese casserole in the upstairs freezer.  If I get really desperate, I can always have that," said Bum complacently.

"That's OK then, Bum.  But, the more disturbing thing is the lineup outside grocery stores now, and I mean outside."

"Yes, I was at Superstore today, Bear, and we were lined up 6 feet apart for the length of the store.  Of course, it started to rain and my umbrella was in the car.  Luckily, I was wearing that black hat of mine with the brim and that kept the rain off," said Bum . 

"Not that too big black hat with the coloured border around the head that makes you look like an old witch, I hope?"

 "What do you mean, old?" muttered Bum grumpily.  She's so sick of being asked, or not asked if she's a senior but sees the senior's discount on her receipt later.  Remarks about her age are getting on her nerves.

"What's wrong with being old, for God's sake, Bum.  At least it means you're still alive.   Never mind all that, why would you wear a hot that is obviously too big for you.  That brown hat you wear with your coat with the holes all over it is lovely.  Wear that one."

"It's really none of your business, Bear, what I wear, but I fixed that big black hat, if you must know, and it is really quite attractive now," said Bum.

"Dare I ask what you did to fix it?" enquired Bear.  "As I recall, you use very odd methods to fix things  Remember that long camel coat you bought at some Thrift shop that fitted you very well but the sleeves were a bit short.  You found an old pair of long socks, again at a Thrift store, and fashioned, although that word's a stretch, curly cuffs for that coat."

"Be as disparaging as you like, Bear, about my creative fixes.  A lot of people cannot even sew a button on a shirt, so there.  All that aside, I will tell you how I fixed that black hat.  I placed the brown hat, which is a perfect fit and even you said is lovely on me, on top of the black hat.  I then drew a line with light blue pen my sister had, around the brims.  Then, using a new pair of scissors, because the ones in my room are old and dull, much like me, I carefully cut the brim off the black hat  to match the brown one.  It worked very well, if you must know."

"Was the black brim even, Bum?  That can't be that easy to do."

"It was pretty good, Bear.  It had a couple of little uneven bits but I carefully cut them off and voila, the hat was ready to be worn.  I like it.  It is very attractive, if I do say so myself. "
 
"Back to your stint at the Superstore, Bum.  Did you get any toilet paper or kleenex?  That's what you were trying to find, right?"

"No, Bear, the shelves were bare so I bought a carton of cigarettes on the way out.   Cash is out at the Superstore so I had to use my VISA card.  Presumably, cash carries germs, so there you have it."

"So, you are stockpiling cigarettes, Bum.  That is so you.  What about the toilet paper and kleenex?  Have you given up on that?"

"No, of course not, Bear.  I decided to try Shoppers Drugs at Parkgate mall.  They have a small section for paper products and I'm hoping most people don't know about it.  On my way in to the store, a man passed me carrying a large package of toilet paper and a large six pack of kleenex.  Looking good, I thought."

"That sounds encouraging, Bum," said Bear, smiling and looking pleased for me.

"Unfortunately, dear Bear, that, dare I call him a gentleman, must have taken the last two big packages.  All that was left were two small sections of the small kleenex boxes and small packages of those small kleenexes for your purse.  Both kinds were two for $6.00.  I took two of each and went up to the cash."

"It doesn't sound like much, Bum, but better than nothing I guess," said Bear.,

"I placed my 4 small boxes on the counter behind the safety plexi glass protecting the cashier.  She looked at them and then told me I was only entitled to two items.  Yes, I said, but these are small and don't even make up 2 big boxes of kleenex.  Two items, she repeated, pointing to a sign behind her.  I chose the two small kleenex boxes and left the store.  Nitwit, I thought."

"That is so ridiculous, Bum.  That cashier doesn't know how to think outside the box, or words to that effect."  Bear looked disgusted by this turn of events.

"Well, Bear, she is obviously a great believer of size doesn't matter, as many men out there would be pleased to hear.  As you said, she's a nitwit and probably would have no trouble getting a date, using that premise that size doesn't matter."

"I don't like coarse language as you know, Bum, but you got screwed."

"So true, Bear, so true.  I have a humorous screwing story for you for tomorrow."  Bum left the scene and smiled at Bear's look of astonishment.












   














 









   











 


























     









 




Wednesday, March 11, 2020

More Structure

"You're late," complained Bear.

"I slept in," said Bum.

"Why's that, Bum.  You usually get up early around 5:30, don't you?" queried Bear.

"It's odd, Bear, the only time I sleep in is when I have to be up by 7:30 am to take the garbage out for pickup.  That is what happened today.  I tore out of bed, rammed on my shoes, and raced outside in my pyjamas."
 
"Good lord, Bum, didn't you even have time to get your coat on.  It's cold still in the mornings."

"No time for a coat, Bear, but I was wearing my robe which I usually sleep in because it's cold in my room." said Bum, by way of an explanation.

"Good lord," said Bear again.  "Why don't you get yourself another blanket for your bed?  Like a normal person would, I should add."

"Never mind all that, Bear, let's get on with Structure.  We still have more than half of that to analyze."

"OK, what did our lofty editor say next?"

"He said, and I quote, "As written, My Imaginary Dog follows most closely the archetypal Love plot, but, unlike the archetypal Love plot, this one has a down ending rather than a happy ending.  In this respect it's a little like, say, Love Story by Erich Segal, or even Romeo and Juliet, but these two partake rather of a different master plot, Illicit Love, and Illicit Love plots end in tragedy.  Society disapproves of the love, and so brings about its destruction.  In My Imaginary Dog, there is not a clear obstacle to the romance relationship between Janey and Gordon."

"Boy, Bum, your nephew has a hangup about archetypes, doesn't he?" said Bear.

"Indeed," said Bum, "so I googled the definition of archetypes just so we know what we are up against."

"OK," said Bear.  "What are we up against, Bum?  What is the definition?"

Bum paused for effect.  She knows Bear hates that.  "In literature, an archetype is a typical character, an action, or a situation that seems to represent universal patterns of human nature.  An archetype, also known as a "universal symbol," may be a character, a theme, a symbol, or even a setting."

"It's difficult to dispute that definition, Bum.  Paul got it right this time.  Janey and Gordon's story is indeed more like Love Story by Erich Segal than Romeo and Juliet.  In Love Story, the heroine dies at the end which I suppose coincides with Paul's belief that our story has a sad ending too.   Gordon, in real life, is dead now but you let him live on in memory, which I think our readers will like.  I wish we had a famous line in our story, Bum," said Bear, as an after thought.

"What famous line, Bear?" asked Bum.

"Love means never having to say you're sorry," answered Bear.

"We should be able to do better than that sucky line, Bear," said Bum.

"Dream on, Bum," said Bear disparagingly.

"We've still got a ways to go with Structure, Bear.  Paul has written quite a bit about Gordon leaving and Janey not, and why.  But, I have to go now and get started on my exercises."

"What exercises?" asked Bear.

"The ones I've been given by my physiotherapist," said Bum.

"I'm glad you took that radiologist's advice, Bum, and found yourself a physiotherapist, and fairly quickly, which is not like you, quickly I mean.  I bet your sister had something to do with it."

"Indeed," said Bum.  "My sister, like you, is a bit of a nag, so I knew as soon as I told her, that I would have to do it, and quickly as you commented."

"How did you find a physiotherapist, Bum?" asked Bear.

"I used the one my sister had used a few weeks earlier.  She has some back problems too.  Anyway, I went down and made an appointment.  The physiotherapist resides in an office at the Dollarton Shopping Centre so she is handy.  We met for over an hour and she went over some exercises she thought might help me."

"What is her name, Bum?"

"Andrea Bag, or something like that," said Bum, "or maybe it was Box.  You know I'm no good with names, Bear."

"What kind of exercises did she give you, Bum, and how many?" asked Bear.

"She gave me 5 exercises I can do in bed.  They must be done 3 days per week, so I do them Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Each one has 10 repetitions so I do 1 rep in the morning when I wake up, and 1 rep at night before I sleep."

"That seems a lot," said Bear.

"If that were all," muttered Bum.  "I have 4 other exercises which need to be done 2 reps per time, and twice a day, and weekly.  Again, I do half in the am and half in the pm."

"Jeez," said Bear.  "That's a bit much, Bum.  That woman sounds like a sadist about exercises.."

"So true, Bear, so true.  That is why I now call her my psychotherapist."








 









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Monday, March 2, 2020

Structure

"Good morning, Bear.  Paul said every story needs structure in order to give it shape and make it feel like it's going somewhere.  Just as the characters need to be based on archetypes to give them coherence and solidity, the story too needs to be identified as to what basic kind of story it is.  A helpful guidebook is 20 Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias.  As he explains it, while a story relates one event after another, a plot connects the events by causation.  It's not just this happened and then this happened, but rather this happened because this other thing happened.  A plot connects events by cause and effect."

"Hold it, Bum.  That's a pretty big mouthful of information to start our day," said Bear.  He looked taken aback.

"I know Bear.  This section on Structure is so big that it may take a couple of days for us to get through it," said Bum.,

"Well, best we get started then," said Bear.  "Paul said a plot connects the events by causation.  Thank God he explained what that means."

"You go first, Bear.  Give me an example from your life in our book, and make it fast, I have an appointment in an hour and a half."

"Don't rush me, Bum.  I know I'm fast and you're slow, but I'm not a robot."

"What do you mean I'm slow?  I take exception to that."

"You are a slow talker, a slow walker, and a slow thinker.  You always need time to come up with a decision about anything.  On the other hand, I am fast as you know, and I take exception to being pressed for speed by a slow person."

"This is getting us nowhere, Bear," and "I'm starting to get annoyed," thought Bum.  "Do you have an example or not?"

"I've got one," responded Bear.

"I knew you would," said Bum, wryly.

"I ended up living on Strathcona Road where you walk by with your little book, recording people and dogs you meet.  We met one morning, in your imagination granted, because the other thing had already happened.  I was born in Calcutta and was purchased by my master, a pilot who had a stopover there.  He bought me for the price of a light meal and brought me home to Deep Cove where you were waiting."

"That's pretty good, Bear.  I wish I could think of an example of causation as good as that," said Bum.

"Never mind that, Bum.  Tell me about your appointment with the radiologist.  You waited long enough for it so I hope it went well," said Bear.

"Not so much, Bear.  I think it was one of the worst days of my life," responded Bum.

" I don't understand, Bum.  You were so happy when your appointment was changed from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm.  Was there a problem with the parking?"  Bear looked puzzled:.

"No," said Bum.  "I arranged it carefully so I would arrive at 12:30 which would give me time to buy the parking ticket from one of those awful machines, walk across the street to St. Paul's Hospital and have sufficient time to walk slowly, which I now do, to see the radiologist in the Providence building.  The parking lot is part of the building where my doctor, Dr. Lim, has his practice.  I purchased 3 hours of parking.  I felt that would give me plenty of time for my one hour consultation with the radiologist, and sufficient time to walk back from the hospital, and cross the street to Dr. Lim's.  I had already told his office I would drop by after my appointment with the radiologist because I wanted to renew my Valium prescription.  I thought I might need it, and I only had one pill left.."

"So, what was the problem, Bum.  Couldn't you find the Providence building?" asked Bear.

"No, I found it, Bear."

"Couldn't you find the Radiology department?" queried Bear, still looking puzzled.

"No, I found it, Bear, and that was where my bad day started."

"How so?  I don't understand," said Bear.  "Did you have to wait a long time?  That's always annoying."

"I got there about 10 to 1:00 pm.  I checked in and they took down my medical card information and told me to take a seat.  The waiting room was full so I had to lean against a wall until someone was called into the office.  There were no magazines to read so I took out my book, The Eighty-Dollar Champion, about an old plow horse called Snowman who could jump very high.  Frances found it somewhere, cheap, and thought I might like it.  I did because I like unusual stories, and I like books about horses, my favourite animal, other than you of course, Bear.  Anyway, it was very interesting and I didn't notice the time passing."

"Never mind about that bloody book," interrupted Bear.  "What happened in the Radiology department that ruined your day."

"I glanced at my watch finally and saw that I had been waiting about 45 minutes.  I went up to the desk to see if they had forgotten me, since most of the people in the waiting room had been taken away to the back.  Not only had they forgotten me, but they were not expecting me, and they said the girl who took my medical information should have known that, but of course had now left the building.  They sent me to the third floor."

"I hope that girl who took your medical information was fired for incompetence," muttered Bear.

"Get real, Bear.  It seems to me that no one is fired for incompetence these days because of fear of a lawsuit.  Anyway, you know I am seeing a radiologist because I am having trouble walking, so sending me to another floor to find the right department was downright mean.  I traipsed upstairs and wandered the floor, stopping and checking different departments, until I was told I needed the 8th floor.  I had now been walking for more than one half hour.  One department was locked but had a phone near the door.  I called and because I didn't know the name of the doctor I needed, was given short shrift.  Again, I walked the corridors of the 8th floor for quite some time, slowly of course as I was fading in the stretch just like a horse, until I found the right place.  Dr. Wong couldn't wait for me, I was told, and took another patient.  I sat down to wait."

"That is abominable service, Bum," said Bear in a very disapproving tone.

"Yes," said Bum, succinctly.  "I was near to the fuck them stage, when the radiologist appeared, introduced himself and escorted me to a back room.  Dr. Wong, a lovely man, told me to remove all my clothes below my waist, except for my underwear.  I did so and he examined me minutely all over, pressing and murmuring, do you feel any pain, and moving my feet in particular this way and that.   He then told me I didn't have enough pain to get the shot they sometimes give for my kind of condition.  I was disappointed but it had been that kind of day.  He informed me I should walk more.  I told him I'd done just that the past hour looking for him.  He gave me a funny look but didn't comment."

"God, Bum, all that waiting for a radiologist and there's nothing he can do.  I give up on the medical profession, just like you," said Bear.

"At the end of my appointment, he suggested I see a physiotherapist for some exercises for my back, keep up and increase the walking, and that was that."

"Hmm," said Bear non-committedly.

"As I left Dr. Wong, I felt relieved that I had had that pedicure because he spent so much time on my bare feet during his examination.  I think that guy's got a foot fetish, Bear."   



















  









 













   















 




















Saturday, February 22, 2020

Characters

"Hi Bear.  What's been happening in your life?" asked Bum.

"Never mind that, Bum.  I want to hear about your pedicure."

"Perhaps we should start with the next point in Paul's Report called Characters," said Bum, ignoring him.

"Never mind that, Bum," Bear repeated, "I want to hear about your pedicure."

"Why are you interested in my pedicure, my dear Bear.  What possible interest could it have for you?" asked Bum, looking puzzled.

"You're not the type for these beauty aids, Bum.  You are fine just the way you are.  Your skin is good, your finger nails are short and clean, and what could be wrong with your feet?"

"Nice of you to say so, that I am fine just the way I am, Bear, but my feet were indeed a problem.  I've never wanted anyone picking away at my feet, nor indeed at any part of me, but I had a problem with my toe nails because I could not reach my feet for about a year, what with this bloody back problem, and something needed to be done.  So, I caved, as Mom used to say, and made an appointment for a pedicure.  I was not looking forward to it, but I knew something had to be done." 

"I see," said Bear.  "That makes sense.  So, how was it?  I've never seen anyone getting a pedicure but I've heard about them.  My master's wife is always regaling us with stories about her various beauty aids, like her facial, her manicure, her pedicure, and worst of all, some kind of waxing all over her body.  God knows why anyone needs that." 

"The pedicure was much better and easier than I expected," admitted Bum.  The Sanctuary is located upstairs at Parkgate Village.  You've probably never been there, Bear."

"Why would I have ever been to The Sanctuary, Bum.  I'm a dog and when I needed my nails clipped, the Vet did it."

"Anyway, I went upstairs and entered The Sanctuary at the allotted time, identified myself and said I am here for my 12:30 appointment.  This tall blonde woman rushed over to me and told me I was so stylish she could hardly bear it.  I asked if I could hang up my coat and hat to distract her from her over-the-top pleasure at seeing me.  It was too much. She then enthused about my tie around my neck and asked if it was part of my sweater, it was so stylish.  I thought she was overdoing it as it is that old black string I've worn for years around the neck of a blouse I usually wear under a sweater.  I prayed she was not doing my pedicure as my feet definitely were not stylish by a long shot.  I was so relieved when another woman approached, called Sera, and said she was doing my pedicure and escorted me to a back room, very private."

"What was she on about, Bum.  Usually all I see you in are old pants and a disreputable sweater.  How stylish could that be?" said Bear, looking puzzled.

"I don't know, Bear.  As I said, she was over-the-top.  Now, do you want to hear about the pedicure or not?"

"You know I do," responded Bear.

"The room was small and contained what looked like a hospital bed against one wall.  I hoped that didn't mean anything.   She sat me down in the corner, asked me to remove my socks because I must soak my feet in this big tub of hot soapy water. It was lovely.  The soaking lasted about 10 minutes  before Sera returned and asked if I needed help to get up on the bed.  I told her I would give it a try and did, successfully.  My feet were propped up at the foot of the bed where Sera sat.  She clipped and snipped and talked and it went smoothly, I thought.  She didn't seem to have any problem with my nails, although I always found it a strain to clip them because they weren't quite even and were a bit hard.  Mind you, I never thought of soaking them first, but then my career didn't lean to pedicures.  I was an insurance person."

"So it went well," said Bear.  "No big deal, I gather."

"I told Sera I would come again after about a month, just to keep my beautiful feet beautiful.   She thought that was a good idea."

"You're a bit of a character, you know that don't you Bum?"

Bum said nothing.

Bear continued with "my master's wife calls the woman next door a bit of a character."

"Why's that?" enquired Bum.

"The woman wears unusual footwear for one thing.  She has these high-heeled gold lame boots which personally I don't feel belong on city streets,  and when those shoes and boots became popular with a cat's face on the toe, she wore those.  I think the master's wife calls her a character, trying to be nice but acknowledge her unusual dress code which is rather flamboyant, because the woman's husband is filthy rich and worth knowing, if you know what I mean."

"I don't think I'm a character like that woman, Bear," said Bum in a disapproving tone.

"No, that's true, Bum.  You are more of a character in that you are eccentric, but rather charming with it."

"I like that Bear.  You are forgiven for comparing me to that awful woman.  So, what you're saying is that there are many kinds of characters."

"Yes, Bum, and since we're talking characters, let's segue on to Paul's latest remarks about Characters in our book."

"Let's do it, Bear, although your segue is pretty obvious, when it shouldn't be, if you know what I mean.  In case you don't know, a segue is a smooth transition.  When you segue in conversation, you change the topic so smoothly that people might not even notice."

"I know what segue means, Bum, but we don't need that slimy way of changing a topic.  We are surely past that.  What did he say about Characters?"

"This is what he wrote," said Bum.

"As for clarifying characters, I have said above that I see the three main characters as breaking down this way, using the book Heroes and Heroines as a guide:

     .  Janey, the Spunky Kid (Working Girl variant)
     Bear, the Bad Boy (From the Wrong Side of the Tracks variant)
     .  Gordon, the Best Friend (Mr. Nice Guy variant)

If we use this breakdown, then the next draft should work at depicting the characters as being powered by and consistent with these archetypes.  The book Heroes and Heroines is actually aimed at romance writers, and discusses how these archetypes interact in a romantic plot.  The authors think that an example of the Best Friend and Spunky Kid in a romantic story together is the movie While You Were Sleeping with Bill Pullman and Sandra Bullock.  I haven't seen the movie, but it might provide an example of these kinds of characters in action with each other.  Their example of a Bad Boy with Spunky Kid story is the movie Grease starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

All this will make the characters clear and stand on their own two (or four) feet.  Part of the task will involve fleshing out the characters, in part by understanding their backstories--the events in their respective pasts that are relevant to the unfolding of the present story."

"I wish Paul would stop referring to me as the Bad Boy, and now, having the effrontery to compare me to that old fart, John Travolta,." said Bear, looking pretty disgusted at the whole Characters assessment.

"He's not that old, Bear.  I believe he was born in 1954 so he's younger than I am, but who isn't?" said Bum.

"I didn't call him that, Bum.  It was my master's wife's daughter who called him that when her mother was trying to get her to watch Grease with her, a film she had always loved and thought her daughter would too.  Her daughter had seen John Travolta interviewed on one of those talk shows recently and that's why she saw him as an old fart."

"Give me strength, Bear.  Paul was comparing you to the young John Travolta from Grease.  He was a master dancer and singer and actor and played the Bad Boy in that film to great aplomb."

"Oh," said Bear.  "That's OK then but I still object to being called a Bad Boy which I am not."

"I don't see you as a bad boy, Bear, and that's really all that matters," said Bum.

"What else did Paul have to say about our characters?" asked Bear.

 "That's all he had to say about Characters.  He obviously feels our book needs more about our backstories, our history I guess."

"Hmm," said Bear.  "Let me think about that for a few minutes."

"While you're thinking, I'll tell you what I think," said Bum.  She hasn't time to sit around thinking about this crap.  She has an appointment over town, finally, with her radiologist.

"It seems that Paul feels that we should've devoted a few chapters on Janey's life history, and then yours, Bear.  I think he's wrong.  I hate long chapters about any person or place in a book.  I prefer that they get on with the story.  Remember, he wanted us to flesh out Deep Cove as he felt people would enjoy knowing more about this locale, since it's a very unique place. Our book isn't about Deep Cove, it's about us.  Wouldn't you agree, Bear?"

"Indeed I do agree, Bum.   Our backstories emerge from our conversations as we walk, which is what our story is all about; we walk and we talk.  That is how friends find out about each other--through conversation."

"That is so true, Bear.  I found out that you were born in Calcutta of all places, three pups in a basket being hawked for a tasty supper by your hideous owner who was a woman regrettably.  Your master was there, checking out the market on one of his layovers as a pilot, and purchased you for the price of a light meal.  He brought you home to Deep Cove and your human family started to emerge.  I love that word, emerge.  It sounds like something being seen emerging from mist."

"That's a nice image, Bum, emerging from mist," responded Bear.  "I like it."

"What did you learn about me, Bear, from our conversations?" asked Bum.

"I learned about your Dad from the newspaper story.  Even Steve, your brother-in-law, that you now write to, said that he enjoyed re-reading the newspaper story.  Your Dad called you and your sister the two twerps who had no business delivering papers.  But, you talked him into it.  Steve said that most of the newspaper story was just about what happened as told to him by his wife, Patsy.  He said he found it interesting and entertaining and it seemed somewhat personal.  He knew the area well and the people in it and agreed that it showed a father's love for his little twerps.  Steve said he found it a very heart warming story."

"I love Steve's letters, Bum, when you remember to read them to me.  Sometimes you forget," said Bear with a frown.

"I know, Bear, and I'm sorry about that.  I'll try, no, I will get better.  I hate people who always say I'll try to, blah, blah, blah."

"When did you start writing to Steve and why?" asked Bear.

"It's been awhile, since July 2018, as I recall.  His wife, Patsy, my sister, had died four years earlier.  I knew he must be lonely without her, as I am.   I thought he might enjoy that bit in our book about my little treasure, the blue Mini he painted and gave to me so many years ago.  He did, and we have been writing to each other ever since."

"It's nice to get letters, isn't it Bum?  I don't think a lot of people out there know how nice it is to get mail, real mail I mean.  Children know.  They love getting mail addressed to them and delivered to the house."

"That's so true, Bear.  My sister and I always send cards to Sophie, William, and Charlie, Chella and Wes's children.  They love that."

"So, Bum, what did Steve say in his first letter to you?" asked Bear.

"He said he was happy to hear that I still have the little mini Austin model he sent to me many years ago, and that it's in my book.  He went on to say that one day I had given him and Patsy a ride in that little car in Toronto.  He felt uneasy because he knew I hadn't had my driver's licence long and also that the driving in Toronto traffic is somewhat suicidal.  Well, I took off like a shot, he said, zipping in and out of traffic like a T.O. taxi driver.  He was amazed at the confidence and control I showed in that crazy traffic.  It was funny to read what he thought of me then, Bear, because I never saw myself like that."

"You don't know yourself very well, Bum, as I've told you before."

Bum ignored that comment and went on.  "This correspondence with Steve keeps my friend and sister, Patsy, in my thoughts and memory.  I dearly wish she could know that."

"She knows," said Bear with a smile.

"You always know what to say, Bear, to make me feel good.  It's a gift.  But, perhaps Paul is correct about fleshing out my background.  I never had a story to use in our book about Mom and, like Dad, she was a big part of my history."

"Your mother's personality crept  into our conversation, and book, in bits and pieces, Bum.  You said she was not demonstrative, for example, although that is hard to comprehend when she had 14 children.  The incident I remember most was the time when your mother got old, as people tend to do. You said she was slumped in a chair and you thought she needed and perhaps wanted a hug.  You regretted if very much that you did not hug her.  She had taught you too well."  Bear paused here in remembrance and then said, "It broke my heart, Bum.  It broke my heart."

"Someday, Bear, we'll be archetypes someone mentions in a book.  Perhaps Paul will read it.









   











    



 
 


 











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