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)

New Eyeglasses Bring The World Into View!

Well folks, I finally broke down and ventured out for new eyeglasses last week. They arrived yesterday, so the ol’ “bear-maker/storyteller/whatever-he-is” has new glasses to work with. Finally! A support in the old glasses had broken in July and things have been more or less out of focus than usual the past several months, held together with rubber bands.

Ralphie from "A Christmas Story"- "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!"

Ralphie from “A Christmas Story”- “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”

That, and the “old” glasses were vintage 2001 before kids started traipsing off to colleges one after another. When did the cost of a pair of eyeglasses start to rival the price of a major appliance or qualify as a major prize award on “The Wheel of Fortune”?   Holy cow!

With the old glasses being 13 years old and the new prescription vastly changed, there is quite a bit of adjustment going on getting used to the new specs. Hopefully the “transition period” will be short (a week or two the doc said) and then allow for much faster work not only on making things, but also on catching up on both a long list of story research, things to read and new writing projects. A major headache last night but so far so good today! So stay tuned, the world is coming back into focus. I can actually see individual leaves on trees now! Wow!  It makes me wonder if the Impressionists painters were actually doing stylized work or if they were just poor bummers too, in need of new glasses?

 Vincent van Gogh- "The Alpilles with Olive Trees in the Foreground"

Vincent van Gogh- “The Alpilles with Olive Trees in the Foreground”

And so much to catch up on.  Stories to finish, research to do, maps to make, cover designs, book trailers.  Not to mention teddy bears and the holiday season!  Quite a list and stack, indeed.

Stack of Books and Research

Stack of Books and Research

I went with Duck Commander styled frames, with a Camouflage Design on the inside of the arms.  I figured it would help me get around with Little Red Bear and the Little Fairydiddle gathering story tidbits now.  It’s good to remain undetected when sneaking about in the backwoods digging up story ideas like a chipmunk gathering acorns.   And, they make me look a lot younger, if I say so myself. Not a day over 93. Have a lot of reading, research and work to catch up on. Off to it now.

“Hey Red! I see a varmint sneakin’ around that tree over yonder. Probably a dad-blamed weasel. Should I plug ’em with my Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle With a Compass in the Stock?”

Ralphie from "A Christmas Story"

Ralphie from “A Christmas Story”

Thanks as always for visiting and reading.  Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend! “SEE” ya later! We have a lot of work to do. — Jim  (and Red!)

Ralphie from "A Christmas Story"- New Glasses!

Ralphie from “A Christmas Story”- New Glasses!

On Cats, Guitars, Wood, Trains & Fruitcake!

A few days ago, a wonderful ‘net friend tagged me on Facebook and asked me to share five things about myself. You can find out more about me any time on my very appropriately named “About Me” page, if you like.  Just click on the link at the top of the right column.

Despite never wanting to be “the story” or make it about me personally here, she asked so nicely and is such a great friend that I figured– “why not?”  It’s all about getting acquainted, after all.  Our “neighborhood” seems to grow larger every day with modern technology.  So, here is a little more with some other things you won’t find on the About.Me page:

I am an Eagle Scout from years ago, was making fires without matches long before it became a survival craze on television, learned to tie my own flies and fishing lures as a kid, and love the outdoors, nature, plants and creatures big and small. But Cats are my Kryptonite.

Hyper allergic to them, I contracted pneumonia twice in six months picking up cat dander from co-workers’ clothing, and a lung infection attending a wedding reception at a home after three cats had been removed from the house ahead of time for the party. Don’t even have to see them. The latest incident almost put me in a hospital a few years ago with allergic asthma after being in a home for less than ten minutes, not knowing there was a cat in the basement. Trust me, breathing is not overrated.

I have nothing against cats, but apparently the feeling is not reciprocated. Perhaps they hold a grudge from a prior life. They do have nine after all. That’s a lot of memories.

Cat in a Plant

Cat in a Plant

I started taking guitar lessons at age 11 and then started teaching with my first job at 14.  I worked full time nights and weekends in a music store as teacher and then assistant manager all thru high school. I started as a guitar instructor, then taught bass guitar, mandolin and banjo as the need arose and the owner insisted, sometimes teaching myself two lessons ahead of my students.  I even filled in a few emergency piano lessons when our retired piano teacher had a medical emergency.  No pressure. My specialty became teaching very young children, adults (oddly enough), and children with learning disabilities. You know me, big on patience and encouragement. Especially those adults!

I put myself thru college with a combination of scholarships, working full time teaching music, delivering pianos and helping run the store, and playing music with various bands on weekend nights, burning the candle at both ends between homework and job work. Along with two hot summers working in a non-air-conditioned factory. Playing music was more enjoyable than the hot factory, but unfortunately paid a lot less.

And an interesting aside, despite what customers represent when ordering, from my experience no one ever has a piano delivered to the ground floor. Ever. “Yeah, no problems. Just the two of you can handle it. Easy. Just right off the truck and in the door.” Curiously, the “and three flights up” or “down in the basement with a turn” is never mentioned, so an extra helper or two could be brought along.  Flights of stairs.  Never mentioned.  Ever.

Piano Mover 1

With all the things I make and do, Wood Carving and Sculpture is my favorite activity, although not doing it right now following recent moves. I love the smells and aromas of different exotic woods, especially mahogany, walnut and cherry. I am not into entering award competitions or contests at all, but won Second Place in a juried art show several years ago with a “Modern Torso in American Black Walnut” sculpture when a friend entered my piece to support their arts group show. I think the piece is still around. Somewhere. Maybe.

Wood Sculpture- Spirit Bear and Woman Forest Wood Sculpture by ShapingSpirit

Wood Sculpture- Spirit Bear and Woman Forest Wood Sculpture by ShapingSpirit

I am a lover of all things “Trains”, especially the steam era, and an avid model railroader since early childhood, making my own buildings, scenery, and rolling stock (train cars for the lay person) by hand. I once built a layout with mountains, tunnels, and a real working waterfall by converting a garden fountain. Oddly enough, real water doesn’t look “real” in a display so won’t be doing that again, but the waterfall part was pretty cool. I started off at age 5 with Lionel and Marx trains which I still have, and moved on to my preferred gauge of HO because I could do more in less space.

Model Trains- Pete Smith Sn3 Layout

Model Trains- Pete Smith Sn3 Layout

I am not ashamed to admit it—I love Fruitcake. No fruitcake has ever been in danger of being used as a doorstop in my home. Pound for pound, the most valuable thing ever made by the hands of man. Or mothers. The fruitier and nuttier the better. My Mother made the best fruitcakes I have ever had and I was raised on bourbon and rum soaked fruitcakes all my life. My idea of the ideal Christmas present, for me, is a Fruitcake. Or two. They say we become what we eat. I am open to the possibility of becoming nutty as a fruitcake. A risk I am willing to take. I love Fruitcake. Deal with it.

Nutty as a Fruitcake!

Nutty as a Fruitcake!

So that’s five things. It’s a shame I was limited to five, because number six was really juicy, and a bit salacious. Perhaps for another list and time. However, here are a couple small bonus points if you like—

Long before Willie Nelson sang about it, my heroes have always been Cowboys,  my close friend Little Red Bear is a very talkative bear who lives and relates his adventures in my head, and I was attacked by a herd of chiggers on a walk yesterday afternoon and the itching is driving me crazy! And as you probably have guessed by now, most days it’s a pretty short drive over easy ground.

The Little Cowpoke-- The "Cisco Kid's Mini-Me"

The Little Cowpoke– The “Cisco Kid’s Mini-Me”

And yes, the little Cowpoke in the picture is yours truly, the “Cisco Kid’s Mini-Me” from another time and territory. Saddle up, Cowboy.

Thanks as always for the visit and reading.  See ya ‘round the campfire!    Watch out for the Giant Chipmunks!    We’ll bring the marshmallows. — Jim (and Red!)

Around the Campfire

Around the Campfire

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

 

Over 100 and Over the Moon!

DANCE PARTY!!    Announcing →→→→  My Facebook Author Page has over 100 LIKES and followers now– 102 to be precise!!  Huzzah and Hooray!!   We made it over 100 folks!  And my new Blog here is up to 30 followers already!  Little Red Bear is over the moon with it all.

A Big Bear Hug and Thank You to all reading and following along!  And if you haven’t yet,  there are links on the right hand side to join the party → My Author Facebook Page, the Blog here, and Twitter.   It’s never too late and the door’s always open to new friends.

Watch for a major news announcement here shortly.  (Hint- the newly created Blog Assistant Position has been filled!)   And more new posts in the coming days. 

Oh happy day→ we made it over 100!!    Let the dancing begin!!    

Hop-Ta-Doody-Day!!

 

 

 

Kicking the Bucket Down the Parkway

As briefly mentioned earlier, things took a shocking turn here a few weeks ago when one of my adult children had a serious and totally unexpected medical emergency.  The condition has improved a good deal, but we are still left not knowing what caused the emergency and crisis to begin with.  It’s one thing if you fall into a hole and then take steps to fill it up, not to fall in again.  When you don’t know where the hole was to fill up or build a fence around to avoid, it’s not reassuring.  So while things are slowly returning to normal, we are still dealing with a good deal of uncertainty over it all.  But moving forward, and getting back to work now on writing and other projects.  Watch for new posts and features soon!

Partially related– Do you have a “Bucket List”?  I have never really thought much about it or been inclined to actually sit down and write one out.  Until last night.  Recent events get one to thinking about things, as you can imagine.   I watched a “Modern Marvels” Discovery Channel show on “Mountain Roads” during dinner, and the final segment was all about the Blue Ridge Parkway.   Having grown up in the midwest and with nature, I have always had a love of the mountains and their beauty, while also curiously having a great love for all things connected to the sea and beaches.  I think that I may have been a sailor or pirate in a prior life.  Who knows?  But maybe.  And a mountain man.   And that would of course explain the whole mountain fascination, too.  Maybe like Thomas “Broken Hand” Fitzpatrick, who ran away from home at 17 to be a sailor and then later teamed up with Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith and Mike Fink on a fur trapping expedition in the Rocky Mountains.  Sorry, I digress.  And Little Red Bear wasn’t real happy with that mention of fur trapping.  Sorry Red, just rambling.

Getting back to it, the Blue Ridge Parkway winds along 469 miles of Virginia and North Carolina, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains.  The Blue Ridge Parkway was built to connect Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The construction project was begun under President Franklin Roosevelt, and completed 52 years later in 1987.  The Parkway travels over 168 bridges, 6 viaducts and thru numerous tunnels.  Absolutely beautiful scenery and vistas, with many pull-over and parking sections along the way to stop and take in the views.  I have been thru the Smoky Mountains before and it was incredible.   I decided right then — “I want to go to there.”

And then I remembered always wanting to visit Sanibel Island in Florida, famous for beach-combing and shells.  And Key West.  And Yellowstone National Park.  And Yosemite.  And San Francisco again.  And New Orleans.  And the Napa Valley and Big Sur regions of California.  And the Giant Redwoods.  And that’s when I decided that maybe it was time to start making a list before I lost track of things.  Being in my mid-60’s now, I suppose it’s time to fess up and call it what it is– a “Bucket List”.   I have no intention of actually “kicking the bucket” for quite some time, especially as so many wonderful things are coming to mind to be added to the list now that I think about it.  But I also acknowledge that while endeavoring to postpone the bucket kicking date as long as possible, I really have no control over it.  So, time to get organized, make a plan and get busy.

Number One– The Blue Ridge Parkway.  Truth be told, I would really like to hike the Appalachian Trail, a 2,184 mile trek thru the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia to Maine.  But I think I have a much better chance of actually completing the 469 mile car ride on the Parkway!  And then, what else to add to the list in addition to those listed above?  Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane will NOT be on the list.  Going to have to think about other things I suppose.  A croissant on the Champs-Élysées in Paris sounds enticing, as does visiting many places in Europe, but I have to keep it real, budget-wise.

So yet another project started– “Prepare a Bucket List”.   Suggestions welcomed.

In the meantime, please check back for new Blog features and story developments with Little Red Bear next week.  Thanks for your patience while other things were being attended to the past few weeks, and thanks as always for reading.  Best wishes for a wonderful weekend!  — Jim  (and Red!)