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!)

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Wishing everyone a very Happy and SAFE Memorial Day weekend!  If heading to the beach, or anywhere out with nature and wildlife, please remember this is nesting and babies season.  Please teach the kids to keep a respectful distance for their own and the wildlife’s safety.  When we are out on the beach, in the woods or on the rivers and streams, we are really guests and visitors in someone else’s home.  Here is a link to a great article from the American Bird Conservancy.

Fish, Swim and Play From 50 Yards Away

Hope everyone has a chance to have a picnic, go hiking or biking, play softball, go fishing, splash in the surf, go boating or swimming this weekend and enjoy the great outdoors, fresh air, exercise and the start of the summer season!  Remember to bring the sunscreen.  Stay safe and please keep an eye out for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycles!

And pause for a moment to reflect on the real meaning of the weekend.

 “Memorial Day this year is especially important as we are reminded almost daily of the great sacrifices that the men and women of the Armed Services make to defend our way of life.”– Robin Hayes

Have a great weekend and visit back on Tuesday for the start of a regular new Blog Feature– “Behind The Scenes”.  — Jim (and Red!)

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

 

Happy Birthday to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!

Happy Birthday today to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!  Born in Edinburgh Scotland on May 22, 1859.  A Scottish physician, he is most famous for having created the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.

Could there be a Holmesian type mystery in the works for Little Red Bear and his friends in the Ozarks?  Stay tuned, because you never know what those weasels might be up to at any given moment.  How will you know if a mystery unfolds in the backwoods?  It’s elementary my Dear Watson, just follow along on the Blog.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

An Applicant for the New Blog Feature

Working to develop the idea that popped into my head the other day, about a feature for my new Blog, I advertised a possible position opening up  for the feature and have been meeting with a few applicants.

One fellow, a Red Squirrel, brought along a video with him about his early childhood and rough start in life after he was orphaned when the family’s nest was blown down in a strong gale.  He and three sisters were rescued and raised by a kindly English lady who later released them when they were ready to go out on their own.  Over time and working odd jobs he found his way here to the U.S. with one sister, the others having become obsessed with English Walnuts and choosing to remain back in England.

He does have some very interesting qualities and qualifications for the job and work to be done.  The job will require an inquisitive mind with a lot of energy and he certainly displays that, but I can’t help but wonder if he furnished the video trying to secure a sympathy vote to land the position.  Especially that stroking on the head part at the end.

Little Red Bear thinks the little squirrel is showing initiative and self-motivation furnishing the video in his interview, both important qualities for an applicant to be sure.  If the video just wasn’t so heartwarming and cute I might not feel so much like I am maybe being manipulated.

If you have a chance, check out his video and let me know what you think.  I’d appreciate your thoughts.  We’re going to need to fill this position next week to get the new feature rolling, so if you could let me know your take on it all it would be helpful.  Thanks! — Jim  (and Red!)

 

New Blog Feature Coming Soon! (And More Bears!)

 

Very busy here making new teddy bears for my eBay store.  I was so busy getting the new blog up and running that I quite unintentionally ran out of bears in my store.  Will have some new ones ready to go very soon!

In the meantime, while working on the bears I am also cooking up an idea for a new Blog feature.  Here’s a hint, below.  That’s all I can say right now until I get it “thunk thru” all the way, as some of the critters here would say.

Wishing everyone a great day.  Back with some new bears to show and more info on the new Blog feature soon.  And a big Thank You and Bear Hugs to new Blog followers!  Welcome! — Jim  (and Red!)

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