What I Believe and Where I Stand


We interrupt our regularly scheduled Autumn and Family-themed programming for a special public service announcement . . . . 


This site and my writing normally focus on positive and happy things. My “Little Red Bear” books are light reading for enjoyment, with lessons for children and all ages where Little Red Bear and his friends happily live side-by-side with humans, interacting and cooperating as equals. But sometimes, circumstances demand something different. This is one of those times where I am writing for the adults.

The Presidential Election in this country is rapidly approaching. For each of us, for our families, for future generations, for the environment, and for the world at large — what is at stake and the importance of this election cannot be overstated. And the whole world is watching to see what we do, hoping the United States can regain its sanity.


“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor                               popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”                            — Martin Luther King, Jr.


I generally steer clear and do not get into politics, and will not waste my time or energy engaging anyone in a debate. But at such an extraordinary time as this to remain silent may be construed to imply consent, and that would not be accurate.  The “official” election day is approaching very soon. Many are already voting around the country in record numbers.  As is customary here, I have avoided getting into the election year melee, not to add to the noise level.

But, at a juncture so critical to the future of this country and the world, in case there is any doubt about where I stand on the issues confronting us individually and collectively at this time, for the record —

  • I believe in Science, and that Climate Change and Global Warming are real, and that our actions and decisions and lack thereof are the greatest and determining drivers in climate change. And I do not think the dedicated scientists working to save the environment and to save us from a rampaging pandemic are “idiots.”
  • I believe that the lives of future generations and the natural world depend on our actions right now because we are rapidly approaching a tipping point in the climate from which there will be no return.
  • I believe that denying climate change and indisputable science is to condemn countless species to extinction and to leave future generations to live in an unrecognizable world. I believe that what we do in the next twenty years will determine the future for all life on Earth.
  • I believe that wearing a mask to protect others and to help reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, COVID-19, in no way constitutes an infringement on my freedom or individual rights, any more so than obeying speed limits, wearing seatbelts, stopping at stoplights, not driving on sidewalks, not running around naked, or having to refrain from urinating in public. Some things are simply common sense, folks.
  • I believe that purposefully misleading the public about a deadly health crisis and world pandemic, the public that one is sworn to protect, for purposes of personal and political gain is criminally negligent. Over 222,000 deaths and charges against so far, and counting. Over 222,000 lives lost. Over 222,000 families whose lives are changed forever.  Over 222,000 whose loved ones were not allowed to be at bedside to say goodbye. Over 100,000 small businesses closed and gone forever. It was not “a Democratic hoax” and it did not “miraculously disappear.” It was a clear dereliction of duty and shameful failure to fulfill the sworn duties of the office of President.
  • I believe that leaders should lead by and set a positive example not only for children but also for everyone, as they set the course and tone of our country.
  • I believe that to encourage and empower hate groups is detestable, and to directly share in the blame and consequences of whatever actions result.
  • I believe there needs to much more kindness, compassion, and forgiveness in the world, with much less judgment, prejudice,  and exclusion.
  • I believe in inclusion and acceptance, and that diversity makes us stronger. I believe in Unity over Division.
  • I believe that “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”, and denounce those who seek to divide us for personal or political gain, for in doing so they weaken the fabric of the nation and imperil us all.
  • I believe in the importance of family, regardless of how it may be configured. Love is Love and the world needs more of it.
  • I believe that everyone, without exception, is “created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Everyone.
  • I believe in the Constitution, Three Branches of Government, and the Seperation of Powers as established by the Founding Fathers of this country. No one branch is or should be above the others.
  • I believe it is way past time to do away with the antiquated Electoral College which disenfranchises all but battleground state voters, and am tired of witnessing presidential candidates win elections for the highest office who are incapable of winning the overall popular vote.
  • I believe that respect is earned, not bestowed by title.
  • I believe that anyone in public office who puts their own interest above the general good and betrays the public trust has forfeited their right to hold office. At any level of government.
  • I believe that true leaders lead from the front, accept responsibility and not seek to blame others, carry water for their people, and eat last.
  • I believe in honoring those who have gone before, sacrificed, and continue to place themselves in harm’s way today while serving to protect and insure the safety of others and our country. They are heroes, not “suckers.”
  • I believe in civility, fundamental decency, truth, honesty, character, and integrity.
  • I believe in respecting the rights of others, including immigrants seeking a better life and opportunity. Just like it says on the Statue of Liberty.
  • I believe that separating immigrant families is unjustified, indefensible, and reprehensible. As of this date, after three years the parents of 545 migrant children still cannot be located to reunite families, with many parents having been deported without their children. To help visualize, 545 children is about eight (8!) school bus loads!  What kind of person does this, and what does this say about our country and us?  Tap here for more information.
  • I believe in the “American Spirit” and our ability to handle the hard truths, come together to make the difficult choices, to do the right thing, overcome any challenge, and to Build Back Better.
  • I believe in working together to make positive changes to make the world a better place — for Everyone and Everthing Everywhere.
  • I believe everyone and everything is connected, and that it is time for the United States of America to become United once again, to resume our role as leader and shining example of the Free World, and not turn a blind eye to oppression, injustice, or suffering, nor to abandon allies.
  • I believe the world is full of goodhearted people who all share the same basic common desires for happiness, good health, an opportunity to prosper and do well for their families, avoid suffering, and for Peace.
  • I believe that basically, from the aspect of shared human values, we are all the same the world over, regardless of boundaries, history, continents, culture, or beliefs.
  • I believe we are all one and that whatever happens to or for one of us anywhere affects us all.
  • I believe in Hope.
  • I believe in placing the needs of Country over Party.
  • I believe it is time for us all to take personal responsibility for what is going on in this country.
  • I believe it is past time to set provincialism aside and become citizens of the World.
  • I believe it is time to Live and Be the Change we wish to see in the World.

Do you notice any country and “leader” notably missing from the “Leaders’ Pledge for Nature” list in this video? How have we gone so quickly from being a world leader for positive change to being totally Missing In Action on the global scene?


If not obvious from the above, I believe in and have already voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the coming election. I strongly urge others to consider doing likewise for the safety and sake of us all. And for the survival of nature and the planet to which we are all so intimately connected and dependent upon. It is a question about our very survival. Nature does not need humans. Humans need Nature in order to survive.

I urge you to visit my new page “Nature Speaks About Environmental Conservation, Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Mother Earth” to learn more!

Voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is less about policy, politics, or ideology.  It is first and foremost about Leadership and my belief that they are best suitable and able to make and bring about a significant and immediate change of direction in the country for the future betterment of both our nation and the world.

I believe that as a nation we have suffered thru a despicable and almost inconceivable failure of leadership the past four years on both the Presidential and Congressional levels. We deserve and must demand better, and then hold those who we put in office accountable in the future.

You may disagree and that is perfectly fine as it is your right to do so. We have freedom of choice and it is a free country. For the time being.

I have never formally aligned myself directly with any political party, but tended to lean more Republican than Democrat in the past, until 2008. The Republican party of “Compassionate Conservatism” is long gone, and I no longer recognize the party I once knew, nor will I allow myself to be a part of the divisiveness, selfishness, abuse of power, and hate-mongering that is going on now. George H. W. Bush’s hopeful “Thousand Points of Light” have been replaced by this president’s thousand glittering rifle barrels of the Proud Boys, KKK, and other emboldened hate groups.

Republican “leaders” at every level who have marched in lockstep and empowered this President are as complicit and as much to blame for the current situation and lack of leadership as he is, and must be held accountable to the people they represent.


“In long intervals, I have expressed an opinion on public issues whenever they appeared to         me so bad and unfortunate that silence would have made me feel guilty of complicity.”         — Albert Einstein



I encourage everyone to exercise their right to VOTE no matter how cumbersome the process, how deceiving the disinformation, or difficult the circumstance.

Voting is not only our guaranteed constitutional right, it is also an obligation and our duty in a free society. Too many have sacrificed too much over the years to protect that right. And those who sacrificed and gave all were not” losers.”

The choice could not be more clear and I truly believe the outcome of this Presidential Election will determine the future course of our country, the environment, and the world, for better or worse, and that the results will be far-reaching and echo thru time.

We must set aside personal ideologies and political party affiliations. We must come together now to do what is necessary in order to change the world to come in a positive way, securing the environment and future for generations to follow.

This Presidential Election must be an overwhelming repudiation of what we have witnessed and lived thru the last four years. We must speak with one unified and very loud voice for everyone in the world to hear — We Are Better Than This!

Future generations will look back on the past four years and on this administration and pandemic and wonder what in the world the people back then were thinking.

We will be judged by either our courage and determination to confront the issues and make the necessary changes now, or by our unfathomable failure to do so, mindlessly following along like lemmings over the cliff.  Our generation will be held responsible for the consequences of this election, one way or the other.

We were preceeded by “The Greatest Generation.”  How will our generation choose to be remembered?



I urge everyone to “Vote As If Your Life And The Future Depended On It.” Because this time and most clearly — they do. And there are over 222,000 reasons why. Tragically, there will be even more tomorrow.

All elections are important. But some seem to be more impactful and consequential than others. I firmly believe this to be the most consequential election in my lifetime. And being seventy years old, I have seen more than a few.

Please make no mistake — this Presidential Election is about the very soul of our nation. It is about Who We Are as Americans — you, me, the guy next door, and every one of us. It is about what we believe our country should be and stand for. It is a stark choice between the darkness of bigotry, oppression, and hatred; or the light of hope, kindness, and compassion. You know where I stand now.

Writing this today — I Still Believe In A Bright Future.

But We Must Resolve To Make The Right Choices Now in order to secure that future. And then work together, hand-in-hand, to bring it about.

Let your voice be heard. Please Vote to make a difference. Please vote to reaffirm a belief in science and logic. Please vote to save the planet. Please vote to save the future. Please vote to show the world that the people of America are not what has been on display the past four years. Please Vote.

I believe that we are on the brink of a great awakening in the world. Can you feel it? The groundswell is building. It is time to close the chapter on the dark times, and step into the light of a bright and enlightened new tomorrow. Will you join us?

Together . . We . . Can . .  Do . . This!

The time to ACT — to VOTE — for the FUTURE — is NOW


“Life presents you with so many decisions. A lot of times, they’re right in front of your face and they’re really difficult, but we must make them.” – Brittany Murphy

            “Whatever you decide, don’t let it be because you don’t think you have a choice.”             –  Hannah Harrington


 

Happy October — The Gateway To Autumn & The Holiday Season!

Not being a “Summer Person” at heart and with this past summer being without a doubt the oddest in memory with the COVID-19 virus on the loose, it is finally time to utter one of my favorite phrases of all —

Happy Fall, Y’all!!

Happy October!  Happy Autumn!  October is the perennial gateway to my very favorite time of the year — Autumn and the Holiday Season!

What are your favorite things about Autumn? Do you have any special Autumn memories?

Here in our neck of the woods, besides getting back into boots and blue jeans these are a few of our favorite things — Sweaters, Changing Fall Leaves, Crisp Mornings, Chilly Evenings with Woodsmoke in the air, Listening to the honking of Migrating Geese overhead, Raking Leaves and Hot Chocolate, Apple Butter, Cider, Pies, Warm Muffins with Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice!


While not having posted regularly here for a spell attending to some health issues (not COVID related) the past few months, my story character Little Red Bear and I have nonetheless kept very busy preparing several new blog features and items you will be seeing very soon. Some things we have been working on —

We are especially proud of a new page created — “Nature Speaks About Environmental Conservation, Climate Change, and Mother Earth.” A series of short “Nature Speaks” videos covering major conservation and environmental topics, it is perfectly suitable for children, as they more than we will determine the future. We invite you to visit and share the page with others!

“The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis” was a serialized story originally shared on Facebook in 2014. The story received such a positive reception that encouragement from readers actually led me to shortly thereafter create this Writing Blog, where it has been shared as a Free Read. Serving as the Resident Manager in a seniors community shut down by the COVID-19 virus, Little Red Bear and I dusted the story off and began sharing it once again with residents on a weekly basis, with the intention to provide some light reading and mental diversion to folks confined to their apartments thru the initial virus surge. As the weeks went by the story was edited and revised, with several new characters and storylines added. By the end, the Ostrich story had more than doubled in length. The weekly story ran for 17 weeks, during and after which I was encouraged by readers to publish it as a book to be available for everyone in a single volume. So Little Red Bear and I will be back to work on the editing and review process to make sure the weekly installments flow seamlessly from beginning to end, targeting the spring of next year for the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis” book release.

With the ongoing support of Patrons to the site, Little Red Bear and I have been working over the past couple of months to develop a “Learn The Alphabet” section for young visitors. We are calling it “Little Red Bear’s Animal Alphabet Coloring Pages.” Each letter will have its own page and feature artwork showcasing the particular letter, with two additional letter coloring images available for download, one easy for the very youngest and the other a bit more detailed and challenging. With part of this site’s focus on Wildlife, Mother Nature, Conservation, and the Environment, each letter will be nature-oriented, featuring different animals, marine life, etc. as illustrated in the summary image alongside, along with information about that particular creature. The images are being secured thru a paid Shutterstock subscription to ensure that there are no licensing, copyright, or sharing issues down the road. New letter pages will be added as funds are available to acquire more images. Would you like to help support the project or perhaps sponsor a page?  The cost of the three images for each page is $10.00.  Anyone can lend a helping hand merely by joining our Patreon Community for as little as $1.00 a month,  or choose to Sponsor a Letter Page(s) directly, in which case the sponsor’s name will be included on the page unless they wish to remain anonymous. Here is a sample of what is to come — Little Red Bear’s Animal Alphabet Coloring Pages — “A” is for “Ant”. 

Little Red Bear is hard at work gathering new recipes for Halloween treats and goodies for the next “Happy Halloween Spooktacularly Good Recipes Special III”. In the meantime, you are invited to check out our previous Halloween Recipe Specials — #1 and #2. Some frightfully delicious treats in those!

The next collection of Little Red Bear adventure stories, “The Second Holler Over!” is more than halfway finished now with a release planned for the late spring of next year. The next book will feature a different and exciting new format.

At the same time, we are working to make Red’s first stories, “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” available in a large print format soon, and are working to make Red’s holiday story, “Pine Holler Christmas”, available in both regular and large print formats for the coming holiday season.


We are so excited about the remainder of the year! Here is a sample of just a few of the things and what is ahead for you here in the coming weeks . . . .

  • 101 Things To Do In The Fall
  • Time To Clean Out Bird Nest Boxes In October
  • Autumn Activities & Nature Scavenger Hunt
  • Happy Halloween Spooktacularly Good Recipes Special III
  • How To Preserve Autumn Leaves and Clean Pinecones for Holiday Displays
  • The Impact of Climate Change on Bird Migrations
  • Creating An Autumn Nature Leaf and Other Family Art Projects
  • And  Many More!

This month I am sharing my original “Haystack Harry” short story with various senior communities in the area. “Haystack Harry” is available on the blog as a Free Read.

I invite you to check it out for the Autumn Season and share it with your family and friends.

Little Red Bear has agreed to once again make himself available to respond to readers’ questions and comments in his “Ask Little Red Bear” segment, a very popular feature in the past. If you or a youngster have a question about something dealing with Nature or the Environment, please just drop him a note here. We aren’t so big on relationship questions, but if you don’t have anywhere else to turn please feel free to send them in and we will do our best to try and help you out. In any event, Red promises to provide honest and factual information in response to all questions, and lacking the same will do his very best to make up something fun and interesting for you.


In addition, something Little Red Bear and I are a little proud of, Red’s first collection of stories “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” was submitted to the Kirkwood Public Library for review — and Was Accepted!

The book passed all review steps, procedures, and readings, and is available now thru the Kirkwood Library and connected library system. While not on the level of Ernest Hemingway perhaps, the reviewers determined it wasn’t on the level of Joe Btfsplk either and approved the book for display on their shelves and in their catalogue. Request your local library to carry it, too!

I do not enter contests or competitions, not seeking that kind of recognition, but must admit passing muster with the library was kind of cool. Sort of like an official “Okey-Dokey!” from people whose opinions we respect and value. Maybe you should give “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” a look, too.

So, that is just a few of the many things we have been working on and have on the way while sequestered and quarantined by the COVID-19 virus the past several months.


In the seniors’ community where I reside, no one is allowed out of their apartment without a mask. Since the beginning. So totally understand “mask fatigue”.

Nevertheless, it is what we must continue to do to protect not only ourselves but also our families and loved ones.

Wearing a mask is simply the necessary and right thing to do at this moment in time, along with social distancing, diligent handwashing, and avoiding crowded places, especially as we all head back indoors with cold weather on the horizon.

Your encouragement and visits here mean a lot to Little Red Bear and me, so please — be vigilant and careful in the coming months. Experts across the board are predicting that the COVID-19 crisis will get a whole lot worse this fall and winter before it gets better.

We will do our very best to continue providing a positive-themed site of encouragement, education, information, and entertainment for you, and hope that you will join us as we enter our most favorite time of the year in the months ahead — Autumn and all the fun and joys of the Holiday Season!


Thank you always for stopping in to visit with us!  Little Red Bear and I are pleased as raspberry punch to share the upcoming Autumn and Holiday Season with you!

So until the next time, we wish you and yours a delightful fall season with pumpkin spice and everything nice.

Happy Autumn! — Jim   (and Red!)

If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like — “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart”  

(New Visitors — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” and “About the Blog, Jim & Little Red Bear” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


“For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.” – Edwin Way Teale 

“Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.”  – Delia Owens, “Where the Crawdads Sing”


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

    “And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” – Oscar Wilde 


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


                      “It’s the first day of autumn! A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves!” — Winnie the Pooh


 

 

 

 

 

“Happy Leap Year Day! What Will You Do With Your Extra Time?”

Happy Leap Year Day!

As you undoubtedly recall from earlier school days, Leap Years happen only once every four years, pinning an extra day onto the end of the month of February, with the year’s shortest month magically becoming one day longer.

This small change works to keep the calendar year in sync with the solar year so that the calendar’s seasons and holidays do not shift thru the solar year over time. Think Christmas during the heat of July and watching Fourth of July fireworks in a snowstorm someday in the future. Like that. The added leap day every four years serves to keep it all in balance.

So, the February 29th extra day every four years is kind of special. Like on that one of four times you actually receive a hot and fresh pizza delivery order. A time to celebrate and open up the box right away and enjoy it before the specialness is gone!

How are you going to spend your extra day and twenty-four gifted hours of time this Leap Year?  Have you thought about it yet?


Just for fun, I did some random, unscientifically based sampling of friends and neighbors to see what they had in mind for their extra day and time.

Results varied from “Excited” to “Not-So-Much” . . . . .

  • “Take in a basketball game!”
  • “I am going to sleep all day!”
  • “Probably forget about it and then feel guilty later about having wasted my extra day.”
  • “Reflect on the new year so far and my plans for the next ten months.”
  • “Play Bingo all day until my money runs out.”
  • “Pray to make it to the next Leap Year Day.”
  • “I am going to go shopping, have lunch out, and treat myself to a new pair of shoes!”
  • “Play video games all day!”
  • “Will probably just do some blood sacrifices and other pagan rituals as a tradition to honor the day.”  (There’s always that ‘one guy’ in every group, isn’t there?)

The above plans notwithstanding, by far and perhaps rather sadly, the most frequent response was — “Nothing special, just another day.”


For me personally, after falling so far behind on things with recent health issues (read about it all here, if you dare — “Old Age Ain’t No Place For Sissies!” ), I plan to take advantage of my special Leap Day by spending the greatest part of the time with my story friend Little Red Bear catching up on all the writing work we are so far behind with.  There just hasn’t been enough time in the past few months.

And in saying that just now, how often do we find ourselves saying the exact same thing  — “There just hasn’t been enough time”? Or, perhaps expressing its variant — “I just don’t have the time”?


In “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, Douglas Adams is famously quoted for observing that — “Time is an illusion.”  And he has noted physicists backing him up on it. According to the experts, our naive perception of time’s flow does not correspond to physical reality. Wow, heavy stuff.


But this piece today is not intended to be a dissertation on the subject or history of “Time” itself; there are many readily available sources that discuss the topics in detail if you care to learn more.

My interest rather is in how we choose to use “Time”.

 — “Nothing special, just another day.”  —

As mentioned earlier, this is a leap year with a bright and shiny, extra new day added this month on February 29th. Twenty-four golden hours of opportunity.

We all receive the same amount of “Time” each and every day. Some accomplish much with it. Many allow it to pass by relatively untouched and unused, adding to an ever-growing discard pile of “Just another days”.

Some use Time for good purposes; others not. Some enjoy its passing, aware and savoring every moment. Some seem to sleepwalk thru the day. Some are motivated by time’s passage, while others crumble under the pressure and weight of deadlines, both outwardly and self-imposed.

So maybe the question is — Do we control Time, mindfully utilizing what we are given to best suit our needs and wishes, or do we allow Time to control us?

We always seem to have, make, or create the necessary time in our schedules for what we truly want to do, while responding “I don’t have the time” for those things we would rather not do if given a choice. So, maybe it all merely boils down to a matter of priorities in the end. We do what we want to do and that which personally serves us best, and let the devil take the hindmost.  And that’s the reality, simple enough.

When we ask someone to do something or other and they respond that they would love to but do not have the time, it really just means that we or our request are simply not high enough on their priority list.  No one receives more, and certainly not less time than anyone else each day. It’s just all in how we choose to use it.

Getting back to the subject at hand, due to the idiosyncrasies and vagaries of its measurement, we each will receive an extra twenty-four hours of special Leap Year Time this month, free of charge. Gifted.

What will YOU do with it?


Some of my writer friends are sharing their thoughts about “Leap Day”, also.

I invite you to Visit and Follow their pages listed below for wonderfully varied content throughout the year!

Julie Gorges – “How Baby Boomers Can Make Leap Day Count!”

Rebecca Lyndsey – “Very Superstitious . . .”

Rosie Russell  – ” We’re Leaping and Hopping for Leap Year 2020″

Sandra Bennett – “What Will You Do With an Extra Day?”

Carmela Dutra – “How to Take a Leap on Leap Day”

Cat Michaels – “Five Easy Things You Can Do with Your Extra 24 Hours on Leap Day”

Auden Johnson – “How Will You Spend Your Extra Day This Leap Year?’

Chris Gorges – “A Rare Gift”

Julie Schooler – “3 Easy Ways to Make February 29th Your Best Leap Day Ever”


Thank you always for visiting and spending part of your day with us here!

In addition to our writing work, Little Red Bear and I will be heading outside on Leap Day next weekend, trash bags in hand (paws?) to pick up litter and trash along our nearby walkways.

It’s called “Trashercize”, a growing, environmentally conscious activity combining healthy outdoor walking and exercise with trash removal to beautify our neighborhoods, waterways, and landscapes.

Watch for more about Trashercize and Plogging in a coming post here as we all prepare to head back outdoors with the arrival of Spring soon! 

In closing, if each person in the world helped just one other person or did one simple thing to help Mother Nature and the environment, wouldn’t the world be a much better and more enjoyable place? A lot of simple little acts can add up to something really big if we all pitch in and take the Time to do our part by putting someone or something else’s needs before our own wants.

So then, what can you do with your extra Leap Year Day to reach out and help someone?  How about doing something today? And if not today — when?

Could you possibly offer a kind word or pick up and properly dispose of a piece of litter, perhaps? Little things. They add up. Please join us today in making a positive difference in the world!  — Jim (and Red!)   🤠 🐻


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like — “Finding A Purpose Driven Life — What Would You Do If . . . . . . ?”  and “Opting for Millstones or Milestones — The Desiderata” 

(New Visitors — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” and “About the Blog, Jim & Little Red Bear” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


       Think Globally – Act Locally! Tomorrow Begins With YOU Today!    

“Lost time is never found again.”  – Benjamin Franklin


Like and Follow My Writer’s Page on Facebook For Daily Inspirations & More!


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

         “There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.”       –  Leo Christopher


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


“Time and tide wait for no man.” – Geoffrey Chaucer



 

 

 

 

 

Getting Back Up and Where I Have Been — “Old Age Ain’t No Place For Sissies!”

Inquiring minds, online friends, and longtime followers may likely be wondering by now  — “Where in tarnation have you been for so long, Jim? Sleeping like a bump on a log? Why the lack of new material lately? You missed Autumn and the Christmas Season,  your favorite time of year. Where ya been?!?”

The short answer for those in a hurry is that I have been taking some time off for personal health reasons.

The longer version is more complicated, in that I went to have what was advertised as a simple repair type surgery and it unexpectedly turned into something much more involved, and then the hits just kept on coming, as the DJ’s used to say.

I suppose it is not exactly a plot spoiler to add that everything came out okay in the end because I am clearly back at the writing desk creating this piece for everyone now. So much for cliffhangers, drama, and plot devices.

Briefly, I went into the hospital on October 24th for what was expected to be a “minor” spinal fusion, adding on to previous fusion hardware already in place, but which then went quite unexpectedly sideways. A week later to the day I was in the Emergency Room (ER) being treated for an impacted bowel.  Six weeks after that found me in the ER once again, with a fractured femur following a very hard fall while moving to a new apartment. All while still in a back brace for the spinal fusion. In short, that is where I have been for the past couple of months.

Having turned 70 three days after my hip fracture and having celebrated the milestone event with a new pair of crutches, as Bette Davis so astutely observed —

“Old Age Ain’t No Place For Sissies!”

But the interesting part is in the details and observations made along the way. For the not-too-queasy inquisitive folks, brave-of-heart, those about to enter the medical system in the near future, and those with nothing better to do,  I offer the following information and observations from my recent experiences. Suffice it to say — nothing was as advertised in the brochure.

So if interested, I invite you to pour a cup of your favorite beverage, prop your feet up on the coffee table, and read on . . . .


As some know and others do not, I have dealt with the effects of various degenerative disc and joint diseases since childhood, with both hips replaced and two back surgeries, including a spinal fusion of L3 thru S1, four levels, and for the past twenty-odd years spinal stenosis. For the past few years, the next level L2 had become affected by the stress of overuse with all below already previously fused, causing a great deal of pain and discomfort, sciatica, periods of numbness from the waist down, and paralyzing leg cramps.

Not being a doctor myself, but as I can explain it a summer MRI revealed that the deterioration and bony overgrowth at the L2 level had totally closed off my spinal column at that level, with no spinal fluid at all visible on the MRI with resulting pressure on my spinal cord and adjacent nerves. The MRI, CT Scan, and a bunch of X-rays attested to all of the previous fusion work still being solid and intact, requiring no additional correction or work to be done.  A decision was made to do another surgery to fuse L2 to L3, one that would be much less involved than the previous four-level fusion with its twelve assorted screws, rods, and plates, with this surgery requiring the addition of only two screws and two rods to do the job. A much smaller incision, clear out the debris, fuse L2, and done. Three hours or so. The surgeons enjoy a timely lunch and afternoon round of golf, and I take a nice nap, rest for a day in the hospital, and then go home in a back brace and get on with life. That was the plan.

Wiser people than me have observed throughout history that no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. True enough. When they opened me up to do the surgery, the neurosurgeons discovered that one of the metal rods used in the prior fusion had completely broken in half. How, when, where, or why the rod had broken, or why nothing was revealed on the MRI, CT Scan, or X-rays beforehand —  I have no idea.

Completely unforeseen or planned, the broken rod then required them to remove all pre-existing hardware from the old fusion and greatly expand the incision from mid-back all the way down into my butt crack. Really. To such an extent that if I ever go shirtless at the beach again I risk being sued for defamation by a plumber, with a butt crack and incision now seemingly running up to my shoulder blades.

Afterward, I had surgical tape — on my butt. My story friend Little Red Bear found that part particularly hilarious for some reason, most notably when a nurse ripped off all the tape before going home.

I was going to share a picture of the incision, but three folks passed out in the focus group at this point during the pre-release of this post, so sharing an image of Little Red Bear’s reaction instead.

The original surgery scheduled for three hours suddenly became much more involved and stretched to just under five. My neurosurgeon was so impressed/taken back/stunned by the broken rod that he felt moved to take a photograph of it with his cell phone, just for the record. He kindly shared the image with me later in the hospital. A broken support rod. Who knew?!?



I am now fused at five levels, and what was to be a short, simple postoperative rehab period following, like the surgery itself was expected to be, became much more complicated and demanding. Here are some observations I noted along the way, in no particular order —

  • Upon admission to a hospital, while busy signing all the permission and notification forms, they also make you surrender your Modesty Card, giving Carte Blanche permission to poke, prod, stick, inject, and insert whatever they feel necessary at or into whatever location they choose.  Prepare to be humbled, as no intrusion of privacy or orifice seems to be off-limits once admitted. The invaders are massed outside the castle gate, and the admissions representative just lowered the drawbridge.
  • It had been quite a while since my last fusion and in-hospital stay (my recent bicep rupture and repair in December 2018 was outpatient), back in the days of circling selections on a meal plan form and turning it in when collected the night before for the following day.  Now, at least at my hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital on the outskirts of St. Louis, it was more like ordering from Room Service. Kind of like staying at a nice hotel, but with IVs. They hand you a master menu of what is available, and you call Food Service before each meal to order whatever you want from the menu. I am fortunate in that I have no dietary restrictions, so anything goes. Your meal is then delivered in forty-five minutes, hot and fresh. By far, the best hospital food I have ever had. For someone used to the old ways, truly amazing. It almost made the stay enjoyable. Almost.
  • The food service was a little less amazing the first day, however, as the extended surgery time resulted in my having an adverse reaction to the anesthetic and me fetching up and dry-heaving into a barf bucket throughout the day. I had pointed out to the anesthesiologist beforehand that I had reacted badly once before to anesthetic, but four other surgeries had all been uneventful. Dude — did you even bother to check the hospital computer records and notes?  Ugh!
  • As with the prior spinal fusion, I came out of surgery with a catheter. A mixed blessing, to be sure.  No need to hurry out of bed to the restroom the immediate days following surgery, but the day of reckoning and removal eventually does arrive. After my first fusion some years ago, a male nurse on the night shift had removed the catheter when the time came, and I was more asleep than awake from pain meds. No big deal, really. This time, the task fell to two young, lovely, female blonde nurses on duty when I was wide awake one afternoon. Suffice it to say, the experience turned out to be all of my lifelong threesome fantasies gone horribly wrong, and we will just leave it at that.
  • If you sit up in a chair for a few hours, walk around the halls demonstrating that you are up and moving about, and utilize the proper techniques of getting up and out of bed on your own (“roll like a log”), and eventually manage to keep your food down, it seems that everyone wants to shake your hand to acknowledge your progress — the doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and three strangers you pass in the hallway.  Please — easy does it, folks.  Or did you not notice the great big blue IV port sticking in the back of my hand as you crunched down on it?  Shake my left hand?  Nah, it has an IV port and tubes running out of it, too.  Maybe just nod and wave. That would suffice.
  • Prior to surgery and to prepare for life after, I stocked up on a number of frozen dinners. Quick, easy-to-prepare. Minimal standing time and effort required to prepare a hot dinner. I am okay with the lower end, less expensive dinners, so admittedly went “budget first” on these. But, I should maybe have taken a few extra minutes in the frozen food aisle to more carefully read over the packaging and ingredient lists. Banquet Dinners — really?  The Meatloaf and Salisbury Steak in both meals are — “Made with Chicken, Pork and Beef”.  So, good for you for stating it right up front on the box and shame on me for not having taken the time to notice that “Beef” was actually the third ingredient listed in what I assumed would be All Beef dishes. In the end, what you are truly saying in the ‘magnifying-glass-required’ small print on the end of the box is that your Meatloaf and Salisbury Steak are “Mechanically separated Chicken, Pork, Beef, Water, . . .” —  basically, just glorified hot dogs?  Clearly, the lesson here was to take time to check the ingredients more closely.  Hot dogs would have been even less expensive, quicker and easier to prepare, served in a bun, and easier cleanup, after all. If there is a next time, I will simply go straight with cheap hot dogs, some buns, and a bag of chips and call it done.

Moving on, it would appear that there are certain evidence of progress steps and achievements to be made along the recovery trail to earn your Healing & Recuperation Merit Badge, which ultimately leads to your official front door release and Life After Surgery On The Outside —

  • The first, of course, and it should really go without saying, is — Waking Up. If you do not Wake Up in the recovery room following surgery, then none of the other convalescing steps really matter because you are likely not going to be leaving via the front door of the hospital after discharge anyway. So, Waking Up is a biggie, right off the bat. I cannot stress enough, you really do need to nail that one. Seriously.
  • Keeping food down is nice. Food Service folk like to think that their work is appreciated. Nurses and attendants seem to greatly appreciate your not heaving and spewing, too.
  • Getting off pain injections and/or IV drips and switching to oral pain medications is a  must if seeking release.  I was never on any pain shots or pain-relieving IVs following this surgery, beginning solely with oral meds, so this was a non-issue for me this time. However, another discussion about pain meds and their effects will follow later, below. There is more to be said on that topic.
  • Getting out of and back into bed on your own and in the prescribed manner is important, especially if living alone and being solely dependent, as I am. “Roll like a log” and you get a checkmark on your merit badge card. Any noticeable bend or twist will send you straight back to Remedial Therapy for re-education.
  • Sitting in a chair without hurling or passing out is followed by standing and walking unassisted. I totally failed the chair test the first day, but I still don’t think it was fair to put the chair in a spinning room like an amusement park ride.
  • In my experience, physical and occupational therapists seemed to care a great deal about my being able to get up out of bed and a chair under my own power,  walk around the hallways, brush my teeth, comb my beard and hair, and to generally function independently, but never gave a whit about whether I could dress myself or not, other than trying to convince me to order a  nifty little Sock-Putter-Onner assist device from Amazon. Perhaps they just assume you have helpers to assist in putting on socks, pants, tying shoes and such, all under the overarching restriction of “No BLTs!” — therapist jargon for “No Bending, Lifting, or Twisting!”  Of course, being in a restrictive back brace whenever out of bed for the next three months, one is kind of reminded about the “No BLTs” axiom naturally, it turns out. I was just relieved when assured that “No BLTs!” did not really exclude one of my favorite sandwiches, as I had incorrectly assumed at first, so readily promised not to Bend, Lift, or Twist before they changed their minds. And no, I never did order the nifty little Sock-Putter-Onner device, just relying on my trusty old Reacher to do the job. However, in all fairness, it should be pointed out that I am a Certified Reacher Master of the First Order, an accomplished skill developed over many years of use. If new to the “No BLTs!” game, one might want to consider ordering a Sock-Putter-Onner device (there are several styles available on Amazon) to have on hand ahead of time. Putting on socks with a reacher can be a challenge some days, even for the experienced and skillful,  requiring a good deal of patience and practice.
  • Speaking of walking around the halls for physical therapy, if wearing the latest in hospital gown fashion apparel, please remember to always check to make sure that the back flap is closed over before leaving your room.  Omitting this step can turn handshakes and appreciation of your mobility efforts into snickers, jeers, gasps, and guffaws as you pass by hospital staff and visitors in the hallways, leaving them ‘cracked up’ as you pass by, so to speak. Take the extra minute to make sure you are not over-exposed.  Just sayin’.
  • Mentally preparing and properly timing pain meds for the potentially agonizing ride home is a good idea, when you are likely to be jostled and thumped like riding in a buckboard wagon, and your back feels every small bounce, bump, and pothole like the car just fell into and climbed back out of a sinkhole, registering each as a seismic earthquake. (Pausing at this moment to send a special shout-out and bear hugs to my daughter-in-law and son-in-law, who each took great effort to avoid potholes and bumps on the way home from the hospital — Three Times! Very much and truly appreciated. Masterful job, kids!)

Next, under the heading — “Sweet Mother of Misery, I Did Not See That One Coming!” — exactly one week later from the surgery date found me in the back of an ambulance and on the way to the Emergency Room of the hospital with a very different, dire, but somewhat related issue on Halloween Night — an impacted bowel. There may be some things the hospital staff were not totally forthcoming about regarding pain medications it would appear, and it was all much more Halloween Trick than Treat.

The combination of Opioid Pain Medications, Muscle Relaxers, and Inactivity turned out to be a three-headed monster in my case, resulting in an impacted bowel. After much effort and a few hours of agony, the first ‘movement’ following surgery two days earlier was successful. Although the ordeal took so much effort and time that I initially felt compelled to name what emerged and set up a college fund, certain that I had given birth — to “something”. The first bowel movement after surgery is frequently tough, but after finally achieving a break thru assumed I was in the clear. Once again, nothing of any of this was like the brochure.

Two days later, on Halloween night, it was like a determined Gandalf had taken up residence in my bowels, allowing nothing whatsoever to pass. After a few hours of effort with no results and coming close to passing out from cramps and pain, I decided it was time to call in the pros and summoned an ambulance. Thru it all, I came to realize that mothers do not receive nearly enough credit and appreciation for what they have been thru. Respect.

Sparing sensitive readers, those seeking more information on the subject and what followed at the hospital are welcome to “Google It”.

And yes, it is every bit as uncomfortable and painful as they describe and one can imagine, with the “digital” treatment having nothing at all to do with modern technology. The invaders were once again crashing the gates.

When the doctor says — “This is going to be as uncomfortable for me as it is for you” — challenge and call him on it. Ask if he would like to switch places. Chances are he won’t, and you will have caught him in a placating falsehood because there just ain’t no way that statement holds water.

As a result of the experience, on my own, I immediately stopped taking all pain medications and muscle relaxers at that point, vowing never to go thru that again. I made the quick decision that I would much rather be uncomfortable than immoveable, so to speak. Basically and as explained to me later, opioids on a scale of one to ten, are a “Ten Plus” in drawing out all moisture from your colon and causing bowel blockages, leaving concrete in their wake. I cannot imagine anyone being so desperate as to want to do Oxycodone or any of these meds voluntarily, and my heart goes out to anyone so affected. So, a cautionary warning about the side effects of pain-killers and why I chose to fly solo without them from that point on, and still am despite a fractured femur.


Someone once said that Southern fairy tales and the very best stories begin with — “Y’all just ain’t gonna believe this, but . . . .”

So then — Y‘all just ain’t gonna believe this, but —  on the evening of December 13th, unbelievably (and I ain’t makin’ this up!) —  a Full Moon Friday the 13th to be precise —  I suffered a very hard backward fall, landing on my left elbow, knee, shoulder, and hip, and finally cracking the back of my head against the door on the opposite side of the hall where I live. Feeling something was not quite right in my left leg, I nevertheless waited until the following morning to see if things would improve overnight. They didn’t.  Saturday morning found me once again in the back of an ambulance headed to the ER. The good news was that my left knee, elbow, and shoulder were merely battered and bruised with nothing broken, and that, having a notoriously hard head, I had not suffered a concussion. The not-so-good news was that I had suffered a Left Greater FemurTrochanter Fractured Hip.

As it turns out, the treatment for such an injury is a hip replacement. As explained above, I already have both hips replaced, so the fracture was being stabilized by the existing prosthetic rod already in place in my femur from the prior hip replacement. With nothing more to be done, I was discharged with no other treatments. “Time heals all wounds” as they say, and the fractured femur should accordingly heal all on its own over time. That’s the plan, anyway.

So, while still wearing the back brace for the spinal fusion until at least mid-January and hoping no damage was done to my spine or the fusion work in the “crash and burn fall” on Friday the 13th, I have been getting around on crutches ever since. This past Friday, the three week anniversary of “The Fall”, I progressed to using only my cane for short walks while still relying on my crutches for more support on longer walks. Literally, small steps but in the right direction!


With all that, it has been an unexpectedly much longer road back from what was anticipated to be a “no big deal” surgery at the end of October.

It recently dawned on me that in roughly the last twelve months I will have been thru a right bicep muscle rupture and surgical repair, spinal fusion surgery, impacted bowel, and broken left femur at the hip, and spent six months or more of the past year in one form of brace or another, with the hard cast and then arm brace following my bicep surgery on December 7th of last year, and now on crutches, while still firmly strapped into my back brace tighter than a mule in a packsaddle, likely to continue into mid or late January.

Going on at the same time as all of this was moving to a new apartment to become the Resident Manager of the Senior Community I call home while also bringing in and training a new assistant to help me catch up with things a bit. Her name is “Allie”, she has four legs and is faster than greased lightning whenever food hits the bowl. Or the floor. Check back to find out more about Allie in a coming post.

All in all then, I feel a bit less guilty about not getting more accomplished during the past year. While acknowledging that we can only do what we can during any given stretch as the life cards are dealt,  still feeling somewhat disheartened about the lost time. A lot to catch up on now in the new year just beginning and looking very forward to getting back into it all with Little Red Bear and his friends very soon.

Thanks for reading and visiting, and for hanging in there during my absence from social media. We have actually not lost, but rather have continued adding new followers to the site here while I have been away, Little Red Bear’s books are entertaining new readers, and daily visits to the site have remained consistent at pre-surgery levels.  That is truly amazing, heartwarming, and most sincerely appreciated.

This is purposefully a non-monetized site with all materials freely offered for entertainment and educational purposes, generating no revenues other than book sales to offset operating costs and expenses, and is self-funded with the assistance of kind-hearted and devoted patrons. So, it is never about the money here. Just trying to be a calming, kind, and positive voice in an increasingly raucous world. Your ongoing support shows that maybe we are doing something right — together.

If new to my pages, I encourage you to take a few minutes to enjoy some of the many Short Works & Free Reads from the drop-down menu above, and to register to follow and be notified of every coming new post and feature.

Though not actively writing as much the past few months with life issues interfering, a large stockpile of notes and ideas has accumulated, so watch for new material to come regularly again going forward.

And as always, a gentle reminder that in a world where we can be just about anything we choose, please choose to be kind and share your smile with someone. The world needs more of that. And if in hospital, it may very well lead to an extra dessert on your dinner tray now and then! — Jim (and Red!)   🤠 🐻


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy → “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart” 

(New Visitors — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” and “About the Blog, Jim & Little Red Bear” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


“He who has health, has hope. And he who has hope, has everything.” –  Thomas Carlyle

“Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart.” – Roy T. Bennett


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

   “Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.” – Charles Glassman


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With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  Schools,  Classrooms, and Local Libraries,  and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy. 

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to cover site fees, registrations and operating costs while continuing this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone.

We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


“To get the most out of a life’s journey, one has to positively live through its humbling and glorious circumstances.” – Wayne Chirisa


 

Welcome to Summer! (Or Perhaps Not?) — The “Ready, Set, Jump into Summer Blog Hop”

As the old song says — “In the good old Summertime!”  Welcome to summer in our part of the world. What are you looking forward to the most, or not looking forward to at all, perhaps?

Sunscreen and sun-splashed trips to the beach, or sunburns and hot sands burning your toes?  Long saved for and anticipated family vacations, or high utility and air-conditioning bills tightening the budget?  Hiking and camping, spending time with Mother Nature, or exasperating battles repelling endless mosquito incursions and sorties?

What is your approach and take on the Season of Summer? As with most things in life, there is more than one way to look at things, with our views and determinations changing depending on our outlooks.

Some of my writer friends and I are sharing our thoughts and plans for the coming summer season in our C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y Jumping into Summer Blog Hop.” I invite you to read on here, share your thoughts on summer in the comments, and then visit my friends’ sites for more fun and information!


For me, summer is a mixed bag nowadays. As a youngster, summer was looked forward to with eager anticipation second only to Christmas.  Summer vacation!  Summer camp, hikes, and outings with the Boy Scouts! Day-long trips and exploring on bicycles!  Ball games to play and the St. Louis Cardinals to watch with my father!  Gardens to plant and harvest!  Fly fishing trips! Rope swings into the Big River!  Picnics in the parks! Wiffle ball games and backyard barbeques! Family car trips and visits to my uncles’ farms!  Summer was the most wonderful time of year, with the exception of Santa Claus, of course.

Nevertheless, standing in the shadow of seventy now and with infrequent visits from Mr. Claus, it seems that with each passing year the day-to-day combination of high heat and humidity typical of Midwest St. Louis area summers combine to make summertime a struggle to get thru, with near-daily afternoon headaches and fatigue. In a total reversal, summer has become my least favorite season by far. It wasn’t a close race.

But, as you know if a prior visitor here, I tend to be a “look for the good in every situation” kind of guy. If all one looks for in life are the negatives, it can pretty much be assured that negatives will be all that is found. It is always only up to us if we choose to be happy or not in any set of circumstances.  I choose to be happy, regardless of the thermometer, heat index, and dew points.

Each season of the year presents its own special attractions and beauty, and though not my favorite season, summer is no exception.

I still love early morning walks listening to songbirds in the neighborhood. Fresh, earthy smells in the air with the twinkling sparkle of dew on grass and leaves. Sunrise — my favorite time of day.

And after-dinner strolls watching children play as the sun sets. Flickering fireflies emerge, and flowers perfume the evening air. Keeping an eye out for fairies emerging from woodland homes, favoring the nocturnal hours, as they do.  Listening for owls and the chorus of whip-poor-wills and tree frogs in the evenings.

So while not my favorite time of year, summertime is perhaps the most magical for the senses, allowing all of our senses to actively engage in and experience the world around us and play. Life is good. Even in summer.


Looking further on the bright side, then, my heat and humidity issues with the summer season have made the anticipation of Autumn, my very favorite time of year, even grander!  While some days may be a struggle as summer lingers on into August, the work of planning, preparing, and getting things in order for fall and the coming holiday season keep me very busy and moving forward with a growing excitement each summer day.

Avoiding the sun (a personal headache trigger ranking right up there with an exhausted two-year-old in a long grocery line) provides me with a great deal of time spent indoors during the day to write more adventure stories with my writing friend and partner Little Red Bear (the imaginary bear who lives in my head), create more items for my Etsy Shoppe, and to practice and elevate my guitar playing skills.

So even if I don’t necessarily enjoy sunny days and hot summer weather outdoors as much anymore, there are still positives to be found in the summer season.

Here is how I will be approaching summer this year —


Surpassed only by my writing muse awakening me at 4 a.m. in the mornings with new character, story, and writing inspirations, my very best Little Red Bear story ideas always come to me while creating things, working with my hands. And I have missed that.

After down-sizing and a mid-summer move last year, followed by a significant arm injury in the fall while setting up my new kitchen, I am finally able once again and getting around to unpacking artwork supplies and setting up a new work area to create more teddy bears, old-fashioned rag dolls, jewelry, and other items for the coming fall and holiday seasons.

With so many folks inquiring each week as to when new items will be available again and rediscovering forgotten materials and old pattern friends unpacking now, I am truly eager to get back to work making things!

Watch for my online Etsy Shoppe re-opening soon with new creations for Autumn and the Holiday Season. I am very excited to be able to create new things once again for others to enjoy!

And what better time to get back to my handwork than while staying cool and indoors out of the summer sun? To paraphrase an old expression — if life gives you summer heat, humidity, and sunshine, make teddy bears!


Always reading and studying to learn more and more about the wonders of Mother Nature for my Little Red Bear stories, I have begun research on trees, plants, and other flora and their importance to not only the environment but also their influence on our personal mood, health, and creativity.

The study of biophilia suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Looking back on our own evolution, it is a very natural thing as the very survival of humans over the ages depended on a very intimate connection to the natural world.

The therapeutic Japanese practice of “Shinrin-yoku” — “Forest Bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”  is the art and science of how trees can promote health and happiness.

As many seem to disconnect more and more from nature over recent years with subsequent societal impacts, Little Red Bear and I have begun work on another new writing project — “Walking With Trees”, for a targeted 2020 Spring/Summer release.

As with all of Little Red Bear’s adventures, the story will be intended to be Entertaining, Informative, and Educational, inspiring youngsters and oldsters alike to reconnect with trees and the natural world around us.

Accordingly, a great deal of research needs to be done before we get into the storytelling aspects because we take responsibility for accuracy and detail in everything we present very seriously here.


On the musical front, after playing and teaching guitar for over fifty years, I have recently begun writing and creating some of my own original music with the intention of eventually recording and creating my own CD at some point. Not for public release, of course. No pretentions or ambitions of stardom here, merely something for family and friends. Somewhat a mixture of Latin/Smooth Jazz/Ambient Fusion.

Another indoor activity and way to stretch creative muscles for the benefit of not only myself but also hopefully others along the way.

Thru the support of patrons helping to offset the cost of maintaining these pages free of advertisements for everyone, Little Red Bear and I are able to regularly donate our books to local libraries, schools, and senior centers. Additionally, I am being asked to perform and entertain with my guitars at senior centers, so perhaps another way to share musical enjoyment with others.

After a time away from active playing while raising family, I have caught up with a good bit of the new technology, gear, and equipment available. And still learning.

But can an aging guitarist elevate to yet another level of recording and performing in public again, too?  Going to give it “the old college try” as they say, so — we’ll see.

Playing around with “Drop D” and “Open C” tunings on an acoustic guitar at present. So stay tuned. (Pun intended — sorry, couldn’t resist.)


And of course, Little Red Bear and I are at the same time hard at work finishing the next collection of Red’s short story adventures — “The Second Holler Over!”

Returning characters, new characters, old themes, new themes, old hazards, new hazards. And a creative new format. Watch for new story features, character interviews, and background information here on the Writing Pages in the coming weeks leading up to the book release later this year!

By the way — if you are looking for some relaxing and entertaining summer reading, now would be a great time to catch up with the first collection of Red’s adventure stories — “The First Holler!” —  if you have not yet met Little Red Bear, Cinnamon Charlie, and their other friends.

Characters and themes build from one story to another in a sequential fashion, so it’s best to start at the beginning. But that simply makes sense, doesn’t it?

And it’s the only way to do it when dealing with irksome weasels roaming the backwoods, you know.

The “Little Red Bear Stories” and a “Free Preview” are available on Amazon.


That is my approach and what summer will be about here — reading and researching, a return to handwork and creating new items for the holiday season, writing and playing new music, and finishing the next collection of Little Red Bear stories.

So, headaches and heat issues aside,  I truly am excited about the arrival of summer, after all. There are so many wonderful opportunities and things to do that do not involve slathering on layers of sunscreen or swatting away mosquitoes!

How about you?  What are your plans for the coming Season of Summer?  Do you look forward to participating in traditional summer activities, or perhaps, like me, find other ways to productively and positively enjoy the season?  Do you enjoy or dread summer’s imminent approach?  Please feel free to share in the comments.


And if you are not a “summer person”, that’s okay. Neither am I. It is easy to feel left out, excluded, and sad when all of the television commercials depict delightful summer beach scenes, or family and neighbors talk excitedly about summer boating weekends and vacations.  Reaching for the aspirin bottle, we listen politely while secretly wishing the temperature was 65F and not 95F. Everyone dances to their own tune, and likely as not, when we are happily donning overcoats and snow boots in winter, our summer-loving friends are longing for the days of summer. That’s how it is.

Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder for summertime sufferers is as real as Seasonal Affective Disorder for those brought down in the throes of winter, it just doesn’t get as much publicity yet.  If so affected, I encourage you to search for groups on Facebook and other sites to know you are not unique or alone in shunning the summer sunshine. Frequently, merely knowing that we are not the only one in the world disdaining a bright summer day helps. Check it out if this applies to you because you’re not alone.

Summertime is after all, simply “time”, and it is always up to us on how we spend it, being happy or being miserable. It is always our choice, independent of what is going on around us or “outside”.

Take responsibility for and change your own outlook on the world, and watch the world around you change!

Happiness is an “inside” job, more literally for some of us in the summertime perhaps, and Little Red Bear and I find that “Happy” always passes the time more quickly and is much more enjoyable! Summertime not excluded.


Thanks always for visiting and spending part of your day with us!  Will you share your smile to help brighten someone’s life today?  In a non-glaring, “no sunscreen needed” brightening sort of way, of course.

Wishing you and yours a delightful summer season however you may wish to spend it!  Be happy!  — Jim  (and Red!)


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy → “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart” and “Happy Hummer Season! Welcoming, Helping, and Attracting Hummingbirds In Your Neighborhood.” 

(And if a new visitor — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


I invite you to visit with my writer friends for more summer thoughts, inspirations, and smiles to see what they have in mind for the coming summer!

Children’s Author Cat Michaels on “Cat’s Corner”

KidLit Blog by Children’s Author Rosie Russell

Author Rebecca Lyndsey

Author Julie Gorges on the “Baby Boomer Bliss Blog”

Children’s Author Sandra Bennett

Children’s Author Carmela Dutra

Fantasy Author Auden Johnson

Fantasy Author Mackenzie Flhor


“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” – Maud Hart Lovelace

                    “One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.”                     – Henry David Thoreau


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

       “Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me, those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


                   “Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” – Sam Keen


 

 

 

 

It’s A New Year — The Guideposts Are Set — Here’s Where We’re Going!

Happy 2019! 

A brand-spanking new, shiny, and as yet unblemished and dent-free New Year. The start of a new year is like a new car, fresh off the assembly line, complete with an assumed bumper-to-bumper warranty, many expectant miles to log on the odometer, and all the hopes and dreams which only a new car smell can inspire.

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve annual hopes and goals spring anew within our hearts, as daffodils bursting thru late snow beckon the long-awaited arrival of Spring.

Maybe yet another way of looking at a new year is as a blank slate with our having no way of knowing what will be written upon it as the year unfolds. What do we each hope and plan to write on our slate for the year?  How will this new year, still full of January’s fresh hopes and promises, be scored when the coming year’s unforeseen events, decisions, and actions cast long shadows in December?

Regardless of our individual approaches to a new year, most regard it as a time of looking forward with a fresh start, of high expectations, of planning and preparing.


Taking a moment first to look back before looking forward, the year just passed was one of the busiest and perhaps more challenging of my life (having counted 69 of them now!), including two out of town cross country trip weddings for my twin sons, with a major relocation move sandwiched in between in the summer months, and extended absences while dog- and house-sitting for others sprinkled thru the year. It seemed at times as though writing distractions seemed to leap out from behind every corner.

When Thanksgiving came and went, and the last trip and activity had been marked off the calendar, the schedule wondrously opened thru the remainder of the year to finally complete the summer’s delayed moving work of unpacking, settling into my new home, and getting back to writing with Little Red Bear. But, as we should know, the Universe sometimes has other plans and things in mind for us which always seem to take precedent.

As Facebook Friends are aware (not previously shared elsewhere), the year concluded on a more challenging note when I ruptured the biceps distal tendon below the elbow in my right (primary) arm the last week of November when lifting a ridiculously (now looking back) heavy box unpacking, resulting in surgery on December 7th to repair and reattach the totally shredded and displaced tendon to the radius bone below the elbow. Two separate incisions, drilling, a washer, pins, and assorted medical magic and miracles.

A post-surgery full arm cast was replaced at Christmas by what friends refer to as my new ‘Robo Arm’ brace, which I will continue to wear for the foreseeable future, recovery presumably measured in months and not weeks. (The photo is a mirror image, really my right arm. Left hand did its best trying to get the photo.)

“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”

– Dennis P. Kimbro

With my right arm and hand prohibited from any movement or use at all with the sole exception of twice-daily therapy stretches, my left arm and hand (hereinafter referred to as “Lefty”) have both had a very steep learning curve the past month. Happy to report that Lefty is doing very well, better than expected actually, and is solely doing the typing and preparation work for this post.

(Doing well, that is, with the notable exception of being able to eat soup without embarrassment and adding to the laundry pile.

And on a related note – why is that upon hearing of your surgery and suddenly limited to sole use of your off-hand, friends all rush to bring bowls of healing Soup to your aid?

Not to sound unappreciative, because I truly am grateful and love homemade soups, but a pepperoni pizza or cheeseburger didn’t occur to anyone at all? This is the first holiday season in which I actually lost weight. Soup – the under-appreciated weightloss secret.

Sorry, I digressed. Hunger tends to have that distracting effect on me, regrettably.)

Lefty will continue to fly solo until such time as Righty is cleared for return to duty.  Therapy is going very well, so “hoping” it will not be too, too long before Righty can at least get back to typing. Will see. Sharing this only so everyone understands the uncharacteristic absence of regular posts and annual new holiday features the past several weeks.


Traditional New Year’s Resolutions in and of themselves are not a thing here, most often having been an exercise in self-deluding folly and foolishness in the past. That being said, it would be no less foolhardy setting sail without noting the prevailing wind direction and at least an idea of where you hoped to eventually arrive.

Looking forward to the New Year then, while beginning the new year with my ‘good’ arm figuratively tied behind my back for an undetermined period, there are a number of things we (that would be Little Red Bear and me)  still plan to focus on and look forward to accomplishing in the coming year.

Notably —

  • A resumption of regular blog posting activities and pages focusing on the important themes of Children, Family, Kindness, Compassion, Positivity, Inclusion, Diversity, Wildlife, and Mother Nature. That is what we have been and will continue to be about here.
  • An increased focus on heightening awareness, saving, and preserving the environment and natural world around us for our children and future generations. There is no backup or “Earth 2.0” in the works.  We all share this planet as our home, and it is the only one we have.
  • Joining with the focus on Positivity, more attention on self-awareness, improvement, and our place in the Cosmos. Why do so many seem to be increasingly disconnected today?
  • Continuing to freely share more feature stories of interest (like the Haddon Sundblom ‘Coke Santa’ feature), original short stories (like the ‘Susie’s Bear’ story), and works of Poetry (like the recent ‘Tex-Mex and Rex’ poem). (Yes – there will be more poetry – consider yourself warned.)
  • Completion of the long-anticipated second collection of Little Red Bear stories book – “The Second Holler Over!” for release in the fall. More new characters – new locations – more adventures – and a somewhat novel new format. Watch for updates as we get closer to the release date!
  • Adding more games, puzzles, and other activities to Little Red Bear’s Activities Pages for children. Watch for new ‘Coloring Pages’ coming soon, featuring domestic animals, wildlife, flowers, and other items from nature to help educate and interest the little ones, including several characters from “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories!
  • A resumption of the popular “Ask Little Red Bear” feature, wherein Red responds to reader questions. He already has an accumulated stack to get thru, but if you have any questions regarding one of Red’s stories, nature, or life advice in general, please just send them along and Red will try his best to get to them around writing sessions (and fishing).
  • Continuation of the always popular “Little Red Bear’s Hand-picked Recipes” specials for holidays and seasons thru the year, with a few additional now and then concentrating on one dish and variations. Stay tuned.
  • Continue developmental work on a series of Picture Book type stories in verse for Little Red Bear, Cinnamon Charlie, and their friends, to bring Red’s messages of kindness, positivity, and nature more intimately and in a more colorfully fun way to pre-readers and little ones, and to distribute to those in hospital care.
  • Add a new feature presenting interesting historical and background information on some of the topics, locations, characters, and other items influencing but perhaps not actually making it either in whole or in part into the Little Red Bear stories. Only so much can be fit into the short story format or into a book, and so much material which must be trimmed is fascinating from a true historical or inspirational sense. Red thought you might enjoy seeing some of it.
  • Call back Rusty the Fairydiddle, our intrepid little Red Squirrel Reporter, from his extended personal appearance tour following his featured role in the “Pine Holler Christmas” story, to conduct some more character interviews for you, like the one he did with Groovy Gary that time.
  • Time permitting (and we really want to do these!) the publication of separate standalone Little Red Bear stories (like “Pine Holler Christmas”) — a conservation-themed story entitled “Walking With Trees” for which I am doing extensive reading and research at present for a targeted summer release, a ‘Not-So-Frightfully-Scary’, Spooky Halloween Story for fall, and a second Christmas-themed story for the holidays, tentatively titled “Little Red Bear and the Kris Kringle Krinkle Krunch Krewe.”
  • Because many of our readers are Seniors with Little Red Bear being enjoyed from one end of the age spectrum to the other, we will attempt to make the already published books available in Large Print editions, as many have requested. But, like the publishing of other books, this one may likely require more outside technical help beyond my abilities, so will be dependent on financial resources and ability to bring this about in addition to the publication of the new works listed above. This may be the most “iffy” with hospital surgery bills coming in the mail and extended therapy copays, but again — we really would like to do this for our senior readers.
  • Lastly, in the “thinking about” stage, perhaps doing a continuing  feature with Little Red Bear, Cinnamon Charlie, and their friends in Little Red Bear Land, freely shared on the Writing Pages here in weekly installments, either in continuing serialized story form like the weekly ‘Little Orphan Annie’, ‘The Lone Ranger’, ‘Flash Gordon’, and other radio serials years ago, or with more of a “Happening This Week in Little Red Bear Land” news story approach in a Garrison Keillor “Tales From Lake Wobegon” fashion. Either way, just considering and trying to work it out with Red as possibly something fun to do and share. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on this one, which approach sounds most interesting, or other, please let us know in the comments. We would love to hear them!

Seems like an ambitious list, doesn’t it? But isn’t that the whole idea expressed by the old phrases “Shoot for the stars!”, “Reach for the sky!”, “Go for the gusto!”, “Go the limit!”, and others? The whole purpose of making the effort and stretching our abilities to improve and grow?

Little Red Bear and I may not achieve all of these goals this year, because as my ‘Robo Arm’ indicates, life can unexpectedly intervene and alter the best-made plans at times.

But the approach here has always been that small, incremental daily changes add up to big results over time, getting up each morning a little further down the road towards our goal than the previous morning and the morning before that. A decision to be healthier this time last year led to me changing my lifestyle and slowly losing just a little over a pound a week last year. No big deal.  But again, small incremental changes add up to big results over time. In my case, a 66-pound weight loss over the year, significantly reduced blood pressure, no blood sugar issues, and every pre-surgery blood test within normal ranges. Keep taking small steps, and sooner than later you will get there!

So, will we reach all of the above goals? Well, just like the weight loss, we are going to keep at it each and every day, step by step, and give it our persistent and very best effort. And whether we achieve all, some, or only a few items, we will be further down the road and in a better place with our writing work and mission than where we begin today. Little Red Bear and I feel that we are already in a better place and off to a very good start by simply having made our list and having set the guideposts for our journey this year.

In summary, Little Red Bear and I will strive to continue bringing new posts, features, and creative projects to the Writing Pages with the intention of being Entertaining, Informative, and Educational, while also helping to Encourage everyone to become their very best true self.

If we do that, we feel, that come December it will have been a very good year, and any shadows cast will all be positive.

Little Red Bear and I have set our course. The above items are intended as the Guideposts for our journey thru this new year as we continue to do our small part in trying to make the world a more kind and gentle home for every one and every thing. We hope that you will be here to join with us each step along the way!


Even if so many may not end up holding that wished-for winning lottery ticket in the coming months, there are loads of things we can engrave upon our personal slates this year before we count down the seconds with bated breath while awaiting the magical clock strike heralding the arrival of the next shiny new year.

What are your plans for the New Year? For inspiration and ideas, I invite and encourage you to visit my fellow bloggers and friends, below, as they share their thoughts about the coming year. Then, perhaps pull out a blank slate to chart your course for the year!

And if unsure or having doubts about your ability to make positive changes in your own life this year, maybe it would help you to know that both Little Red Bear and I believe in you! Just take the first small step to get started. Then the next. And the next. And the next. Then, eventually, you will look back at this time next year and see how very far you have come!

For inspiration, visit — “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” and  “Finding A Purpose Driven Life – What Would You Do If .  .  . ?”   Then get going on your slate and New Year!


Here is what my friends are doing . . . . . .

Cat Michaels
Rosie Russell
Sandra Bennett
Carmela Dutra
Julie Gorges
Shana Gorian
Corrina Holyoake
Jacqui Letran
Rebecca Lyndsey

Thanks always for spending part of your day with us here, because when all is said and done, you are why we do this! Wishing you and yours the very best as you chart your own course for this shiny new year! — Jim  (and Red!)

If you enjoyed this post, check out —  “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart” 


Think Globally – Act Locally! Tomorrow Begins With YOU Today!

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages! 
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me.” – Erma Bombeck


“Reflections — On a Rather ‘Moving’ Summer Experience”

It has been a while since I posted a new piece on the Writing Blog here with Little Red Bear, but with the completion of a long-drawn-out relocation over the summer and now past Labor Day, we are ready to get back in the writing saddle again. There are still boxes waiting to be unpacked, mostly bear making, jewelry, and other art supplies, but my Writing Muse has returned from her summer break, will wait no longer, and is waking me daily at 5:00 a.m. with more Little Red Bear characters and stories again, along with other fun new ideas, so it is time to crank up the laptop and get busy.

But first, a question – Are you or someone you care about possibly considering a move and relocation in the future? If so, I urge you to please read on before embarking on such a torment venture.

Because we thought perhaps it might be best to start back by bringing you up to date with some observations about –  ‘The Move’ – a “Moving Postmortem”, if you will. It should be noted that this is move number three in the past six years and number four in fourteen for Little Red Bear and me, some local and some cross-country, two self-moved and two with so-called ‘professional’ movers, so we do feel a bit qualified to address the subject, hoping others may benefit from our misfortunes experiences.


With this somewhat broken-down, cane-in-hand (and some days two) baby boomer pushing into the shadow of seventy soon, this most recent move stopped just short of overwhelming. Aside from an improbable winning lottery ticket and penthouse condo dream in Fort Walton Beach, if forced by unavoidable calamity or circumstance to move yet again in the near future, the only box I will order will be made of pine and be done with it. Let others do the heavy loading, lifting, and lugging next time. “Waiter – check, please.”

As physically and mentally stressful and taxing as it was, not to mention severely strained family relationships on the actual moving day and apparent ongoing communications blackout since, I am happy to report that I have once again somehow managed to survive a relocation and lived to tell the tale. Or, at least to pass along some hopefully helpful insights garnered from the experience to perhaps ease the moving journey for the next intrepid soul contemplating a change in address. And beneficiaries, perhaps.

They say that moving is right up there with the death of a loved one, job change, and divorce as life’s biggest stressors. Having experienced all firsthand, they will get no argument from me.

So at this time, in mostly random order as they occurred to me between nightmares and hallucinatory flashbacks of moving day, here are a few nuggets I consider worth mentioning. I say “I” and not “we” here, because for the majority of the time Little Red Bear was in a dazed state of nervous, glassy-eyed distress, obsessing over the safe transport of his honey stash, and not the most aware or observant to offer meaningful commentary on other matters.


My first thought, superseding all others, is to simply take a match and set fire to everything right at the start. Don’t stress over downsizing, what to take, what not to take, what is an heirloom somebody three generations down the line may treasure, who might benefit the most from giving whatever away? Simply torch it all in the name of Righteous Downsizing and be done with it. Nobody really cares. Save the pile of money spent on boxes, packing materials, dish padding, bubble wrap, packing tape, box labels, a moving truck, dollies, furniture pads, movers, Band-Aids, and aspirin.

Simply purchase a cheap brand of kitchen matches instead, together with a box of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. Light up the night, make S’mores and set off some fireworks. Collect the insurance money, replace needed items with brand spanking new, thumb your nose at future generations who most likely won’t give a hoot about your grandmother’s vintage teapot anyway, and take a vacation trip to the beach to celebrate letting go and outwitting the moving gremlins.

(Side note — It should be noted that I am still researching and waiting for our esteemed attorney, Brooks the Badger — Attorney at Lawlessness, to get back to me on any possibly relative arson, insurance fraud, and other niggling details which may interfere with this plan, so you may wish to hold off on the matches and taking action on this one until I confirm the “Match Plan’s” viability, despite the clearly obvious appeal.)

Bonfires notwithstanding, feel free to go ahead with the S’mores, though. S’mores are always a good part of any plan. And, you may want to consider doubling or tripling the recipe, depending on how neighbors may feel about your moving away from the neighborhood and possibly wanting to celebrate your departure, as well. Certainly not that any neighbors would be celebrating in your case of course, but thought it worth mentioning for others, perhaps. Just in case.

Here is a tantalizing recipe for Campfire Waffle Cone S’mores from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen to help get you started! These look amazing and provide a cleaner handle for the little ones in the crowd at the same time. Moving is hard enough. Why add chocolate-covered little hands to the mix?


‘Moving’ on, in case “The Match Plan” does not interest, I have always been a collector of books, still preferring to read a book in hand vs one on my Kindle. For me, something still just doesn’t feel quite right holding a Kindle in my hands compared to a good old-fashioned, page-turning, ink-scented, hard-bound print book. And since the print version of the “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler” short story collection has outsold the Kindle version by over two to one since its publication despite the necessarily higher price, I tend to think I am not alone in this view.

That being said, after packing, stacking, moving, re-moving, sorting, re-stacking, and then unpacking ten heavy boxes of collected books (treasured, each and every one!), someday I want to track down the inventor of Kindle and eBooks and give them a big bear hug and jar of honey!  Moving the stacks of books nearly killed my back, while my Kindle made the move nestled comfortably in my backpack as it always does. I have clearly not given eBooks the credit they deserve in that regard. The ability to carry your bookshelves in your backpack is a strong selling point for eReaders.

And where do you strike the balance between “overly-heavy boxes” and “too many boxes” for a move? Heavy items (like ‘books’) are supposed to be packed in small boxes, avoiding overly-heavy large boxes weighing the same as a baby elephant and too weighty to carry. So, you end up instead with stacks and stacks and stacks of small boxes if you have a moderate-sized book collection, and moving helpers suffer immediate panic attacks at the site of all the stacks. Likewise, the old vintage vinyl record albums. I will always keep my books and albums, but moving them seems a no-win situation.


If at some point during all the moving work, I say –  “Hold on for a minute, I need to take a sit,” – please listen closely. That should not be confused with something else. It merely means that my back and legs are aching very badly and I need to sit down and rest for a few minutes before passing out and risk dropping a 50-pound box on your foot. There is no need to dash about opening windows and searching for spray cans or push me out the door towards the little shack in the back, especially on a 95-degree day. Perhaps I should try to be more clear.


Over the course of the move – organizing, packing, stacking, reshuffling, reorganizing, re-stacking, and schlepping about – all of the boxes and I became very well acquainted, especially those whose handles tore and gave way while carrying to customarily crash on my foot. Familiar to the point where I often felt obliged to give names to my cardboard companions. None of which are suitable for printing in a family-friendly blog it must be noted, so that’s about all I can say about that. Nevertheless, you should feel free to name your boxes beyond the requisite Room/Content information label, too. It makes it all a bit less stressful to be on a first name basis when your foot gets pancaked. Even if the names aren’t printable.


With regards to the Room/Content labels for boxes –  use them or don’t, being aware that they are solely for your personal comfort and use and nobody else will notice. In my experience, movers could care less, if they even bother to look at them at all. You politely request –  “Please put the boxes in the correct rooms as indicated by the labels, with like boxes (as in “Books –  #1 of 10) in stacks with the labels facing outwards so I can see them.”  You actually get – Box Chop Suey –  with boxes randomly placed helter-skelter anywhere in your home, most often closest to the entrance where a spot was available at the time they were carried in.

One possible solution to this, instead of labeling merely the box top and front as I have naively done in the past, is to next time label every side, top, and bottom, so that no matter which direction a box is placed in a towering stack, you will be able to read its contents at a later time and locate things. Bearing in mind, they will still in all likelihood, not be sorted by rooms. Half a win, possibly.

Marking boxes as “Fragile” is also at your discretion, as inevitably light boxes labeled “Fragile” most often could be found at the very bottom of stacks, with heavy boxes on top of them. I caught one mover actually kicking a “Fragile” box into place at the bottom of a stack. If it makes you feel more comfortable and helps you sleep at night by labeling glassware and the like as “Fragile”, by all means, do it. Just bearing in mind again that it will probably make no difference whatsoever.


Every small accomplishment is a positive step forwards in the sometimes seemingly endless treadmill march in relocation and should be celebrated. I think this helps to keep spirits up and maintain momentum going forward. And that’s important. Seal up a box or unpack one at the new destination? Find a box that you have been searching for an hour amongst the mish-mashed stacks? Stop for a few minutes and have a piece of cake to mark the accomplishment!

No need to worry about extra calories or packing on unwanted pounds, because there will likely be much more packing, unpacking, and hefting ahead to burn them off anyway, if not simply to avoid abject deprivation and starvation in the process altogether.

So have the Cupcake. Or a Twinkie. Or a Snickers bar. If destined to pass over to the light during the ordeal, I would much rather go out with my last thought on Earth being the fond remembrance and aroma of a Brownie or Butterfinger bar, than being mired in packing tape with the smell of cardboard in my nose. I think it will make for a much more enhanced next life, Karmic experience.


One can never have too many boxes at hand, or too much packing tape, bubble wrap, and wrapping paper. It is very unsettling to discover that you are out of any of these items the night before a move and the stores have all closed.  The importance of peace of mind and normal blood pressure at 2 a.m. when the movers are scheduled to arrive mere hours later cannot be overemphasized and greatly outweighs the minor hassle of what to do with a few leftover boxes at the end. (Tip – U-Haul buys back any unused boxes, so save your receipts.)

It is my observation that the normal life expectancy of many life forms on this planet is sadly not long enough to pack a kitchen and dining room. However long you think it will take, add six months. Unloading cabinets while individually wrapping each glass, cup, mug, shot glass, dish, bowl, plate, serving platter, cutting board, trivet, cooking pot, skillet, griddle, wok, spatula, serving spoon, knife set, pancake turner, ladle, potato masher, salad spinner and bowls, cookie sheet, muffin tin, pie plate, cake pan, loaf pan, bread pan, measuring cups and spoons, cake and serving platter, utensil drawers, and more, seemed (like this sentence) truly never-ending. Not to mention cookbooks, recipe boxes, and innumerable spice and storage containers.

Every time I turned around thinking I was nearly finished, another cabinet awaited. Packing the kitchen cabinets, pantry, and dining room hutch seemed truly never-ending. Add the six months to your schedule to be safe. Minimum.

If there is any outside chance that you may possibly even consider moving in the next three years or so, regardless of how remote the possibility, start packing the kitchen now to be safe and avoid heartache.


Are you like me and have a nice inventory of cast-iron cooking utensils? Skillets of various sizes, grills, griddles, and Dutch ovens?  God bless you.  And have mercy on your back and movers. I absolutely love all of my cast-iron cookware. But moving them –  not so much. If we could fit a battleship onto a scale, I believe that we could balance it with the counterweight of a Dutch oven and three assorted cast-iron skillets.

My one little 9” specialized cast-iron wedge pan for making cornbread and scones is approximately the weight of a St. Bernard all on its own. And despite how often used as that pan is, I stand a reasonably better chance of the lumbering St. Bernard coming to me when I call it, especially if I am holding a slice of bacon. And there’s an outside chance he may arrive with a little barrel of brandy, to boot.

The ponderous skillet? Bacon treats or not, indifferent at best, just sitting there waiting to be carried like a whining baby Titanosaur.


And then there are the kitchen appliances, each seeming to only want to fit into its own individual box, with every one larger and heavier than I remembered having merely observed them serenely sitting on the countertop over the years. I confess to never really having appreciated just how heavy and cumbersome a stand mixer, toaster oven, and microwave truly are. Were these things this heavy when I purchased them and set them on the counter in the first place? Or was I simply so excited over the new acquisition that I was running on adrenaline at the time and did not notice? In all likelihood, I imagine that, like me, they seem to have gained weight with age, to be honest. I’m sure all of those calories that they processed must have had some cumulative, weight-enhancing effects over the years, wouldn’t you think?


And have I mentioned yet that one can never have too many boxes at hand? The coffee maker, smoothie machine, iced tea maker, and toaster all sat comfortably in peace side by side by side by side in a small area on my kitchen counter. Like children in the backseat of a car, will any ride peacefully along in the same box with another? Of course not.

And while on the topic of appliances, the oh-so-carefully set toaster settings which we labored so hard to perfect over time will inevitably be reset during any move. Box gremlins apparently can’t wait to dive in and twist the blazes out of the light-to-dark toast setting dial. I was reminded of this little moving reality by a perfectly cremated breakfast bagel yesterday morning.

May its little cranberry/walnut-filled soul rest in peace.

Here lies my bagel,

‘Twas just a wee little wisp,

Done in by my toaster,

Woefully burnt to a crisp.

 


If you can avoid it, never seek the help of a bear when preparing and packing for a move. Little Red Bear occupied the time leading up to the move either worriedly pacing back and forth in the kitchen, or on my laptop researching the safest and most recommended ways on YouTube to move his honey stash. And then he spent the entire packing time sitting ill at ease in a corner fretting over the possibility of a pending honey calamity, nervously wrapping, unwrapping, rewrapping, re-unwrapping, and re-rewrapping a dozen honey jars over and over and over again, night after night.

By the time moving day dawned, the poor fellow’s ample-sized bear claws had been anxiously nibbled to nubbins. In the end, each jar of honey occupied its own medium-sized box, securely wrapped in half a roll of bubble wrap, with packing paper firmly stuffed into the corners so there would be no jostling of the cherished honey jar. Treasured works of antiquity have not been transported by museums with such care and concern.

Our Bear Cookie Jar was wrapped the same way. In a predictably even bigger box.

Needless to say, Little Red Bear grew ever more relieved, excited, and happy as each box was unpacked later in our new home to find a safely-transported jar of honey inside.  Spare yourself the trouble and the tranquilizers (not to mention a small fortune in bubble wrap) by packing any honey jars yourself. Give the bears your new address to meet back up at a later date and send them off fishing somewhere. It’s best for all concerned in the end. Trust me.


If you haven’t guessed yet at this point, stock up ahead of time on aspirin and antacids.

Aside from nervous bears, cranky family members, and inept movers though, some trusted friends can truly be of assistance surviving the relocation turmoil and stress.

Overall, the two most dependable and helpful companions that I relied upon the most during the transition, move, and subsequent resettling were named Jack Daniels and Captain Morgan.


This information has been offered in the hopes that it may help ease someone else’s moving day experience, should anyone be forced or so misguided as to voluntarily embark on such an undertaking of their own in the future.

Speaking of undertaking — I may have forgotten to mention that while an ominous flock of buzzards circled patiently above my apartment during the weeks of moving preparation, it was really the three black hearses and undertakers following along on moving day, incessantly jockeying to be first in line behind the car en route, who were undeniably the most unsettling and worrisome.


In the end, when all was done and dusted, nothing of major consequence was damaged or broken aside from a few more nicks, scratches, and battle scars acquired on furniture pieces and my legs. A carelessly self-inflicted cut has healed, and black and blue marks have at last begun to fade. Yet another successfully completed move in the history books.

Unexpected at this time as it was, the strenuous move aside, Little Red Bear and I are delighted to be in our new home. Still settling in, finding forgotten about treasures from the past while unpacking, meeting wonderful folks and making new friends every day.

Any major life change is stressful at the time, and frequently a very bumpy road to travel sometimes littered with potholes and challenges. But from my experience — in the end — each and every one has been for the better in the long run and have no doubts at all about this one being the same.  Every new location and each new person we meet is an opportunity to learn more, expand our horizons and awareness, and to become a better person ourself. And that is what we are all really here for, is it not?


So, once again, Little Red Bear and I are delighted to announce –

WE’RE BAAAAACK!

Thank you as always for visiting,  kindly spending part of your day with us here, and for patiently following along as we seemed to take way too long to get thru this latest move. Little Red Bear and I are very anxious to be sharing new information, stories, and adventures with you again, along with new features and tidbits about Red’s coming new adventures in the works now.

We look forward to your visits with us and hope that you drop by often for new posts and features as we now enter our favorite time of year here in the backwoods – Autumn and the approaching Holiday Season!

The rest of the boxes will just have to wait,

Because now we have Muffins and Pies to bake!

Very best wishes and bring on all the pumpkin and fall recipes! Watch for a new Autumn Recipes feature coming soon, and a reminder to register and follow my writing blog to be notified of every new post. – Jim (and Red!)


“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” — Maya Angelou

“Some trails are happy ones, others are blue. It’s the way you ride the trail that counts. Here’s a happy one for you.” — Dale Evans


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place. We stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” — Pascal Mercier


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today, because together we can do so much!

Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.


                 “It is amazing how nice people are to you when they know you’re going away.”           — Michael Arlen

“The light is what guides you home, the warmth is what keeps you there.” — Ellie Rodriguez  

What is Patreon, Why I Joined and What It Means For The Future

If you are like me, you may never have heard of Patreon before. I hadn’t until it was suggested to me and I started investigating.

Growing and increasingly popular among artists, writers, videographers, musicians, and other creators, Patreon is a new, web-based membership platform providing a means for creators to build a subscriber base and receive funding directly from their fans and followers who are seeking a way to reward and provide tangible encouragement, help and support for their creative work, thereby enabling creators to focus on their work and do more.

Historically, “patrons” have directly endorsed and supported creative artists’ work over the centuries.  Patreon is a platform for that to happen once again, by providing fans and followers of creators the opportunity to subscribe as a patron of their work at whichever amount they may choose.

Some patrons may contribute each time a creative work is produced, while other patrons may pledge a small monthly amount to assist the creator on an on-going basis. In many instances, as little as a dollar a month.  Membership participation varies, individual to each creator.

So, if you see a new Patreon button or logo on someone’s page that you follow, or are provided an email link in correspondence, that is what it is all about. A way to reward, encourage, and support the creative work of those you follow and enjoy.

Contrary to advice received over the years, I have steadfastly refused to monetize my writing and creativity blog by incorporating advertisers, and will continue to do so, to never distract from positive messages and enjoyment of visitors, so receive no revenues from this site.

Retired on disability and living on a fixed income which diminishes each year with rising housing costs, medical expenses and inflation, I have become increasingly reliant on revenues from the sale of my teddy bear and other creations in my online stores to offset the costs of the blog and writing, and to make ends meet. At the same time those revenues have been decreasing from more difficult days when hand work becomes more challenging, coupled with more time spent on the blog and writing.

After a great deal of thought I came to the decision to join Patreon to help keep it all going, and as a better alternative to intrusive, annoying and questionably tasteless or shady advertisements running on my blog pages, which I would ultimately have little or no control over.

Patreon provides a reliable means for followers who would like to participate in the process, to help keep both the site and my writing work not only going, but also growing to reach a wider audience with our themes of Children, Family, Kindness, Positivity, Mother Nature and Conservation. That is what it is all about here.

What joining Patreon means, is that thru small monthly pledges and encouragement, Patrons allow me to –

  • Devote a greater amount of time to writing both with Little Red Bear and on exciting new projects in the works,
  • Provide a higher quality experience and educational information for visitors to this site,
  • Reach new readers thru my writing blog, Little Red Bear stories, and other new ways,
  • Continue spreading our positive messages to new audiences,
  • Maintain this site free of advertising and easy loading for reader enjoyment,
  • Be able to continue providing free original reading material, poetry, and wholesome entertainment for all ages.

If you are interested in becoming a Patron and would like to learn more about what it involves, simply Visit my Patreon Page and discover the exclusive rewards in store for Patrons as my Thank You – including writing updates, sneak peaks of upcoming releases, extra materials not able to be included in stories and books, the ability to participate in my Patron community, and much more.

Sharing kindness, positivity, and care for Mother Nature, together we can reunite and unify the pieces to help bring about a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Thanks as always for visiting with us. If not able to become a Patron at this time, please be assured that my writing blog will always remain free and accessible for all, and thank you always for your encouragement by following along.  – Jim (and Red!)


If you enjoy your visits here, Become a Patron of this site and my writing work, helping to grow and expand our outreach to others. Find out more and discover Patron benefits today!


“Someone’s sitting in shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffet

                                              

“I’ll lift you, and you lift me, and we’ll ascend together.” – John Greenleaf Whittier


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi


                                       Enjoy Your Visit?  One-time Tips  Are Appreciated.                               Help Keep It Going For Others!


 

Ready, Set, Jump Into Summer! — The 2017 CURRENTLY Summer Blog Hop

Sun screen. Observing shore birds. Relaxing to the rhythm of the waves. Splashing in the surf. Kids playing “Marco Polo” in the pool. Family road trips. Picnics in the park. Watching spring’s wildlife babies taking first flight and learning from their parents.

Buzzing bees.  Kites in the breeze.  Birds singing in the trees.  —  Summer is in the air!

My blogger friends and I are sharing summer reflections and what we are up to at the moment.  Our thoughts, special memories, inspirations and what we are loving, listening to, anticipating, working on, writing, inspirations, and more in our “C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y Summer Blog Hop.”

Please have a read and enjoy. Then visit the other #Gr8Blogs listed at the end of this post for more summer insights and  inspirations.


Currently Loving . . . .

I am currently loving the change of seasons, now from spring moving into summer. Watching the bright freshness of spring’s newly-budded leaves transitioning into  the mature forest greens of summer. The hummingbirds have arrived and are visible darting, bobbing and weaving thru the air. Fireflies in the evening should be making an appearance soon. Parent birds busy all day gathering food for newly fledged young. The garden beginning to take form. Being a native of the Midwest and then having lived in Florida for several years and now having more recently returned to my home state of Missouri, as much as I loved the beauty and beaches of Florida I always missed the traditional flow of seasons here, one into another followed by another.

Loving . . . . Spring into Summer!

Currently Listening To . . . .

Taking a step back to Florida, it was during my year’s in the Sunshine State that I discovered the Smooth Jazz genre of music, listening to a smooth jazz station in Orlando.  So, while loving the change of seasons in my Midwest home, I miss family still living in Florida and times spent together with them there. Listening to smooth jazz music, especially that of Paul Hardcastle, Jazzmasters, Peter White and the like, reminds me of Florida’s bright sunny days and trips to the beach.

And, almost without saying, Jimmy Buffett passing the time in Margaritaville, of course.  I am a Parrot Head Pirate Over Forty, and it is always Five O’ Clock Somewhere listening to Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band with a steel drum serenade. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes — works fine here, too.

Listening to . . . . the music of summer!

Currently Making Me Happy . . . .

It seems as though it has taken forever, but finally getting settled back into a creative routine following three moves in three years, and having my workroom set up again where I create the teddy bears, old-fashioned raggedy dolls, jewelry pendants and other items for my online eBay Store and Etsy Shoppe. Unpacking boxes and rediscovering materials and supplies not seen in a few years is exciting, and has gotten the old creative juices flowing again.

Happy . . . . to be creating again!

Currently Anticipating . . . .

My online stores have been sadly neglected the past couple years with many things in limbo and in storage sheds, and together with getting the workroom going and working hard now to restock, I am eagerly anticipating the official ‘relaunch’ of my stores in mid-September in time for the holiday season, together with having some of my work and books displayed and available for the first time in local shops and boutiques on Main Street in Old Towne St. Charles, a local historic district. Old-fashioned teddy bears and raggedy dolls should feel right at home there.

Anticipating . . . . new opportunities!

Currently Working On . . . .

Summer is one of Santa and the elves’ busiest times preparing for the fall holiday season, and as one of Mr. C’s suppliers for many years, my summers are no exception. It’s busy times here!

On my worktable right now are an assortment of various sized mohair teddy bears and pandas for adult collectors, together with a growing small army of little, multi-colored mini bears which I refer to as ‘Fuzzie Cubbies’, made from vintage, 1950s plush upholstery fabric in a wide range of colors.

I am also staining fabrics, preparing to restart a line of small, old-fashioned raggedy dolls suitable for children, which I refer to as ‘Little Sidekicks’.   And making hats. And Steampunk attire.  And new wooden Adirondack Chairs and Rockers that I have designed and building. And decorative bonnets for dolls.  And more adult pendants. And, and . . . . .

Working on . . . . keeping busy!

Currently Writing . . . .

When not in the workroom, I am busy with Little Red Bear and his friends writing the second collection of short stories — ‘The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!’, for a fall release.  Following the warm reception of the standalone story for Little Red Bear, ‘Pine Holler Christmas: A Little Red Bear Story’, we are also hard at work on another standalone story — ‘Walking With Trees’ — focusing on the health benefits and well-being of spending time in nature, and the reasons why preserving the natural world is so important.  We are targeting a late summer release for this story, but as you can see, we’re pretty busy with a lot of things at the moment, but keeping good thoughts.

A lot of reading, study and research involved in my writing, of course, keeping Red and I even busier, as all of the Little Red Bear stories are meant to not only be Entertaining, but also Informative and Educational, as well. Red is very good with research. He has a special quiet place he retreats to for study, but will not share with me where it is.

Writing . . . . Little Red Bear Adventures!

Currently Grateful For . . . .

I am Currently and Always grateful for YOU!  Thank You to everyone who visits and follows my work here and on other social media sites.  Thank You for your kind comments, thoughts and encouragement.  Without YOU, I would merely being having conversations with a bear residing in my head.

It is followers, like YOU, who bring it all to life, hopefully for the benefit of many, making this blog, my writing, and works devoted to Children, Family, Positivity, Kindness, and Mother Nature possible.

Little Red Bear and I are grateful for . . . .  YOU!


Thanks as always for your time visiting with us.  That is what we (Little Red Bear and I) are currently up to, and as you can see, it is shaping up to be a very busy summer here!

I encourage you to please visit and follow my awesome and talented blogger friends below to see what they are CURRENTLY up to this summer, also.

And — be the reason someone smiles today!   — Jim (and Red!)


C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y Summer Blog Hop Pages To Visit!

Julie Gorges — “Baby Boomer Bliss”
Tracy Bryan — “Children’s Author”
Auden Johnson — “Dark Treasury”
Sandra Bennett — “author”
Carmela Dutra — “carmela Dutra blog”
Cat Michaels — “Cat’s Corner”

And hey y’all, if you’re pumped about writing your own “C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y” post now, simply add your family-friendly Currently blog link to your blog post in the comment section. We’ll visit and give you some blog love too!


“A Kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” – Steve Maraboli

 

Love Is A Four Letter Word That Children Spell — “T-I-M-E”


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” — Charles Schulz


 

A Special “Thank You!” for Readers and What’s Ahead in the New Year!

A special New Year’s Thank You!” to everyone who has followed along the past year on the Blog, my Author Facebook Page, on Twitter and with “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories book collection released in June!

A few quick hits for New Year’s.  I am not a big numbers guy, not seeking to build great legions of followers for the sole sake of impressive numbers and ego stroking. But when you write or put creative work out there for the enjoyment of others, numbers are a way of gauging whether there is any interest or if your work is fostering the intended enjoyment for others.

So it was encouraging to see that my Blog site continues to grow, having achieved a 60% increase in both visits and followers in 2015, was visited over 4,400 times and reached a new high averaging 20 visits per day in December and now being read in 86 countries!   “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” continues to gain new readers internationally, and has been very positively received.  Twitter followers are nearing the 10,000 mark worldwide.   We keep growing together, one positive message at a time.

To me, this is an indication and further encouragement that there still remains a receptive audience and place for enjoyable clean, uplifting and positive themed information and entertainment of high standards.  So for you, readers and followers – Thank You!

Quote- Love and Purpose

Looking ahead, the course will remain the same but hopefully with even more activity shared in the coming year.  As always, the focus will be Entertaining, Informational and Educational.  In the works for the new year are –

A continued focus on the natural world and conservation issues including the revival of nature interviews and features on the Blog by our assistant, “Rusty the Fairydiddle”, a Red Squirrel Reporter, as only a Red Squirrel can do them.  Check out “Rusty Behind the Scenes — The Gray Fox Interview” for a sample.

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

A serialized Free Story or two on the Blog, similar to the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis” which started it all a couple years ago.

More Free Reads, Poetry and other Short Works as inspiration and the muses allow.

Little Red Bear finds humans fascinating for one reason or another, so in addition a new series of interviews is planned on the Blog to include not only fellow writers and authors, but other creative and interesting folk as well.  The list of those already agreeing to be interviewed include photographers of various disciplines, artists, authors and more.

“The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” ~ Michelangelo

Plans also include sharing more new teddy bears, raggedy dolls and other creations and information on the Blog, just for fun.

And — after months of “thinking” and note-making, writing on the next collection of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories began in earnest the past week.  As you may recall, the full title of the first collection of stories was “The Adventures of Little Red Bear:  The First Holler!”   The next collection will be appropriately titled “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!”  Returning the main characters, it will also feature the introduction of some very new and colorful characters as fun and hijinks in the backwoods continues.  And with those pesky weasels still around, we’re never really quite sure what may happen.  Red and I are working towards a summer or early fall release, so please stay in touch for updates.

So Much Work, So Many Adventures, So Little Time!

So Much Work, So Many Adventures, So Little Time!

Actually, staying in touch is pretty easy.  Following the blog is as simple as signing up, with notifications of all new posts delivered directly to your email inbox.  It is always Free, never any spam, and features a growing list of Free Reads, Information and Fun Stuff available anytime.  Some easy links to follow the Blog and on Twitter are located in the column to the right.  Just click here to “LIKE” and follow my Author Facebook Page and on Pinterest.  Please join me on my Personal Facebook Page for a steady stream of positive and uplifting messages, recipes, music selections, shared artworks and photography from friends, and other fun.

As we move further into the new year, I expect the general loudness and rancor may increase as we approach the Presidential election in November.  My intention is for all of my sites to serve as a mental oasis and refuge of quiet, peace, kindness and love for everyone.  You are welcome to visit anytime.

Quote- Kindness Instructions

So, heading off into the new year and next set of Little Red Bear adventures, then.  Thank You again for a wonderful and encouraging year!   And please remember, the “Welcome” mat is always out, there’s a pitcher of tea waiting and cookies in the jar at all times; and comments, feedback, referrals and sharing are strongly encouraged and very much appreciated.  As Little Red Bear is fond of saying — “A shared joy is a doubled joy.”

Hoping to see you stop by and visit often!  — Jim (and Red!)

Quote- Kindness- Doing Good

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” Short Stories on Amazon.  About an uncommonly special bear and his friends! 

First Annual Report for the Blog– “2014 In Review”

The WordPress.com folks, who host my blog site, prepared a 2014 Annual Activity Report for this blog.

Bear Waiting for the Activity Report

“Here it comes.” — Waiting for the Activity Report (Photo credit- Ron Niebrugge, Wild Nature Images)

Here’s an excerpt:

“A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.  This blog featured 51 new posts and was visited by readers in 67 countries in 2014, with the United States leading the way, and the United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland, Australia and Brazil close behind.”

 

"Little Red Bear"-- Pleased as Punch!  (Photo credit- by Wildlife Photographer Marina Cano)

“Little Red Bear”– Pleased as Punch!
(Photo credit- by Wildlife Photographer Marina Cano)

This blog began as a way to share creative works and writings in May, 2014.  With that in mind, and considering most days I am still figuring out step by step what I am doing in the social media and tech world, and that the above report reflects activity starting from ground zero for only a little more than half a year, I am very happy with that.  Or, as my good friend Siobhan Daiko would say- I am “really chuffed!”

Special thanks to Siobhan Daiko , Lesley Sky, Kim Gosselin, Frank Clark and Adele Wilson for being top commenters in the year, to Sylva Fae’s “Sylvanian Ramblings Blog” for being one of the top referral sites right behind Twitter and Facebook, and to the wonderful artist Christine Southworth of “Bear Prints Studio” who provided original artwork for my primary blog image– “Milson, the Steampunk Bear“, top right.  And another special thank you to Matthew Milson, my author son, who pushed me into starting the blog in the first place.

Bear Hugs!   Perfect in all Sizes!

Bear Hugs! Perfect in all Sizes!

And a big Bear Hug and Thank You to all who have visited and continue to follow along.  Your support and encouragement is what keeps it all going.  Onward now to an exciting New Year, featuring many new creations, writings and the upcoming release of the first collection of “Little Red Bear” stories.

We’re off to a great start.  Let’s keep it rolling! — Jim (and Red!)

"Little Red Bear"-- Story Research in a Tree

“Little Red Bear”– Story Research in a Tree (Photo courtesy of National Geographic)

 

Big News! “Howie the Hound Dog” Planning a Return?

Hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas, Holidays and Festive Time!

A lot to do here. Working hard with Red to finish the first collection of short stories in his upcoming “Adventures of Little Red Bear” series. Preparing a new Blog Post for Monday morning—about being specific. (Gee, thanks Santa!) And Charles Dickens is back again after the holiday, working with me on that poem started awhile ago. Much to do.

And this morning, to top it off now– there’s more! I awoke an hour early this morning with my writing muse going a hundred miles an hour in my head, got up and going, and made breakfast figuring to get an early start on it all. I opened the front door to get some fresh air and found a “Special Edition” of the local “Owl Hoots & Toots” backwoods newspaper at my doorstep.

Big news! Word is that Howie the Hound Dog over at the old Cooper place on Flint Crick is fixin’ to get a new band together! Howie’s last group broke up when . . . . . . . . .

Well, before we rush into a rumor with our overalls half pulled, let me check it all out first and get the whole story together before I bother you with the background details. But if it’s true (the “Owl Hoots & Toots” is very reliable) then toe-tapping times may be coming back to the holler!

I will do some digging around, see what I can find out and let you know more about it all next week. Rusty the Fairydiddle is busy fact-checking the Owl’s article too, and trying to get a confirmation from Banjo the Bluegrass Bunny. In the meantime, you might want to retrieve your dancing shoes from the back of the closet!

Remember, you can always sign up to follow the blog for Free and have notifications of all new posts delivered directly to your email inbox. There is an easy link in the right column. We surely don’t want you to miss out on Howie the Hound Dog’s return and getting a new band together! That ol’ boy could bark and spark all night!

So I will get busy and be back next week with more. Best wishes for a wonderful, safe and healthy holiday season! – Jim (and Red!)

Howie the Hound Dog. (Photo credit- Christina Talley)

Howie the Hound Dog.
(Photo credit- Christina Talley)