One Moment Please — Laughing On The Corner #3

OVERHEARD ON THE STREET CORNER

Taking the dog for a walk the other day, I overheard two men talking at the street corner. As we approached, I noticed that one fellow seemed uncomfortable and a bit confused. He said to the other fellow –

“I have to tell you, Alex. I seem to have developed a memory problem. It just seems that I can’t remember a single thing anymore.”

“How long have you had this problem, Max?” the second man inquired.

Looking back at him with a puzzled look on his face, Max scratched his head and said – “What problem, Larry?”


These are stressful times for us all right now and for so many reasons. Whether out of work or preparing to return to work with some locales getting ready to open for business and activities again, we still need to be mindful and smart. “Opening Up” is not a signal to return to the carefree lives we led as recently as a couple months ago despite what some may say or wish.

The COVID19 virus has not magically gone away. The “curve” has flattened because everyone was sheltering-in-place at home. As folks come back out and begin to mingle again, it is inevitable that cases will spike again. If we are not careful, it may turn out that the end of the lockdown may be merely the beginning of the pandemic crisis overall.

Being mindful, eating healthy,  and still following the recommended guidelines of Handwashing, Wearing A Mask to protect others, and Social Distancing are still effective and smart strategies to protect ourselves,  families, and loved ones in these times.

Along with staying positive, finding something to smile about, and taking a minute to laugh now and then, for laughter truly is still the best medicine!

Stay positive, Be Well, and We Will All Get Thru This Together! — Jim (and Red!)

PS – If you missed the last “Overheard On The Street Corner” simply tap the link and register to be notified of every new post and never miss out.


“A nice warm shower, a cup of tea, and a caring ear may be all you need to warm your heart.” – Charles F. Glassman


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!


“There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle” – Robert Alden


 

One Moment Please — Laughing On The Corner #2

OVERHEARD ON THE STREET CORNER

Taking the dog for a walk the other day, I overheard two men talking at the street corner. As we approached, I noticed that one fellow looked rather upset. The other asked him –

“Well, Bob – why did you leave your job if you are so upset about not being there any longer?”

“It was something my boss said that made me leave.”

“What could your boss have possibly said that was so bad it would make you leave your job right on the spot like that?”

“He said – ‘YOU’RE FIRED!’”


These are stressful times for us all right now and for so many reasons.

Please remember to take some personal moments thru the day to simply stop, take a deep breath, relax your shoulders and muscles, and simply be.

Being mindful, eating healthy,  following the recommended guidelines of handwashing, social distancing, and sheltering in place to take care of ourselves, our families, and loved ones, staying positive, being kind and helping each other — these are things we all can do now. And keep doing.

And finding something to smile about and taking a minute to laugh now and then, for laughter truly is the best medicine!

Stay positive, Be Well, and We Will All Get Thru This Together! — Jim (and Red!)

PS – If you missed the first “Overheard On The Street Corner” simply tap the link and register to be notified of every new post and never miss out.


“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – 14th Dalai Lama


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!


“Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.” – Benjamin Franklin


 

Monday Musings — Wearing A Face Mask To Protect Others

“To Mask or “Not To Mask?” 

Well, folks — it’s really not a question anymore, is it? But after having been told a few weeks ago that healthy people should not wear a mask, possible confusion is understandable.

With this virus being so new and unknown, as we learn more about it, guidelines and recommendations change. And that’s a good thing.

We now have learned that the COVID19 virus can be spread by people carrying the virus who display no symptoms at all. So, wearing a mask will not necessarily prevent us from getting sick if there are viruses in the air around us, as they may still enter in the air we breathe coming in from around the edges of the mask. That’s just the way it is. But, wearing a mask is much better in preventing viruses from getting out as we exhale, protecting those others around us — family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow shoppers at the grocery store.  And that is why we are all being urged to wear a face mask when out in public now. To keep each of us from unknowingly spreading the virus to others.

As frequent visitors may recall, last Monday’s post featured a poll in which readers could vote on whether to continue with a new “Monday Musings” feature. (If you missed it, here is a link. Just tap here to see it.)

The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of continuing the Monday Musings feature, so here we go with another. The subject of today’s piece here at our seniors’ community was Masks.  Here in the St. Louis area, masks are now required for essential visitors to gain admittance to our resident buildings in order to visit or do work. The wearing of masks is required for all staff working here and strongly urged for residents. In fact, we cannot enter our local grocery store to shop without wearing a mask now, in order to protect the workers.

Thankfully, most residents are heeding the advice and wearing masks now, in a wide assortment of colors and styles as volunteers have been making homemade masks for those in need of one in a wide assortment of styles and colors.

That one made from discarded brassieres could have maybe taken a little more thought and planning, though.  Some bra masks here look more like a catcher’s mask and throat protector hanging down in front than a ‘surgical type’ mask but do seem to serve the function, so regardless of what any mask looks like that is the important part, after all.

Here then, expanding on a brief afterthought from last week’s post, was today’s Musing to address a misconception about why we have been asked to wear a mask, and to encourage those stubborn holdouts to start using one  . . . .


We have all been asked to wear a mask when out and about. A simple enough request, not aimed at protecting ourselves so much, as more to protect others from US in the possibility that we may be infected by the Coronavirus, displaying no outward symptoms, being unaware that we are even infected. That is happening a lot, it seems.

Wearing a mask then, the message we are conveying is not “I am selfishly protecting myself from your germ-infested body”, but rather is – “I care enough about YOU and protecting YOUR health to wear this mask in order to Protect YOU From ME.”

Wearing a mask is a way of actively demonstrating kindness and compassion for others. Actually walking the walk, so to speak. Most major religions of note are big on that kind of thing.

“Typhoid Mary” (real name Mary Mallon) is still remembered to this day for her unlimited sharing, and not in a particularly good sort of way. None of us want that.

Accordingly, in the interest of public safety during the current Coronavirus situation and with my friends’ and neighbors’ best interests at heart, I have decided to wear a mask.

I will be going with the traditional Bandit Bandana style, ala Jesse James. It covers my nose and mouth while allowing me to breathe freely, does not fog my eyeglasses, and most importantly, does not force moustache hairs into my mouth all day long. I believe these were pretty much the same reasons Jesse chose a Bandit Bandana mask too, back in the day.

For those questioning the effectiveness of such a mask, I believe the historical record will bear me out on this. No one was ever found to have caught a virus of any kind from Jesse James during a bank holdup or train robbery while he was wearing his Bandit Bandana mask. Not one documented instance. A few unlucky souls may have regrettably caught a bullet or two from time to time perhaps, but there have been no documented cases of anyone ever having caught a virus. So, if Bandit Bandanas worked for Jesse James and the boys, I figure they will work just fine for me.

And, who knows? It may open up new career opportunities along the way. “Always be open to possibilities when they present themselves,” my enterprising father would say.

(In case you are wondering – I am going with the basic “Red Robber” model for starters. When in doubt about fashion, always stick with the classics, I say. And, they are running an Introductory Special over at “Bad Bob’s Bandit Bandanas” shop over in Round Corners. Get yours today at Bad Bob’s and tell ‘em I sent ya.)

 

Whatever style you choose, please wear a mask in public.

It’s for the best    —     For you   —   For everyone!


For information on How to Protect Yourself & Others from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  simply tap the link.

Please remember, Bandit Mask kidding aside, in order to be effective a mask must adequately cover both the nose and mouth if you are thinking about making one at home. In this case, your favorite Lone Ranger mask will no longer meet the needs, sadly.

Here are some easy-to-follow instructions for making your own bandana mask at home, using only a bandana and rubber bands (or hair ties).



Hopefully, with each of us doing our part, even if it is as simple as wearing a face mask when out in public, we can slow and eventually stop the spread of this COVID19 virus altogether and get back to a sense of normalcy in our lives.

Although I have the growing sense that as each day passes, a return to “normalcy” gets further and further pushed down the line, making it even more important that we all work together thru this.  And eventually, whenever that time comes, be it May, June, or December, we will have gotten thru this.

And please remember, wearing a mask does NOT replace Social Distancing. Along with dutifully washing our hands and wearing a mask in public, Social Distancing is one of the most important things we can do right now to slow the spread of the COVID19 virus.

Thanks always for visiting!  Best wishes and health! — Jim  (and Red!)   🤠 🐻


PS — As a friendly reminder, Little Red Bear and I have changed some Amazon marketing structures and eliminated all royalties on his “Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories to make them as affordable as possible for leisurely and relaxing reading during this time for everyone. They are always Free with Kindle Unlimited.  And if you have already read and enjoyed Red’s adventures, we would sincerely appreciate if you could take a minute to leave a review to help others find their way to the books.

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.

      “Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.”       –  Philippians 2:4


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!


“Whenever we see something which could be done to bring benefit to others, no matter how small, then we should do it.” – Tai Situ Rinpoche


 

Feeling Uneasy or Frightened? – BANISH THE BOGGARTS!

Perhaps like so many these days, you find yourself suffering from a case of the “Nightly News Blues.”  The daily news hasn’t exactly been cheery of late, has it?

Have you read the ‘Harry Potter’ books or seen the movies? Do you recall the ‘Boggart’ scene in Professor Lupin’s class?

For those who may not be familiar with the books or movies, or who simply may have forgotten, please allow me to recap.

The scene takes place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the class, Professor Lupin is instructing the witch and wizard students on the subject of Boggarts.


Traditionally, boggarts appear in English folklore as either household spirits who have been wronged and then turn to mischief, causing such things as milk to sour, things to disappear, dishes to break, the family dog or horse to go lame, and so forth. Or, they could be malevolent spirits inhabiting marshes or holes in the ground and responsible for much more evil doings, like missing children, misguided and lost travelers, etc.

In the Harry Potter stories, the boggarts are shapeshifters who hide in wardrobes, closets, and other places, and who feed on negative human emotions, then emerge to take the shape and form to become whatever it is that someone fears most, which is why they are so terrifying – your greatest fear realized and standing right in front of you! Think spiders, snakes, your fifth-grade math teacher, and your crazy Aunt Martha. Boggarts would know and feed on someone’s negativity and deepest fears.

But, as it turns out, boggarts are rather easy to get rid of. At Hogwarts, the magic spell to make a boggart go away was to loudly and in a bold voice direct the magical charm word “Ridiculous!” at the boggart, combined with a proper flip of the wand while at the same time imagining the boggart in some way one found amusing. Then burst into unrestrained laughter. Imagine crazy Aunt Martha in a bright purple, polka-dot clown costume with a pink cotton candy hairdo, and then burst into side-splitting laughter!



Laughing at the imagined image was most important, leaving no negative or fearful emotions in your mind for the boggart to feed upon. Stripped of all power then, the harmless boggart would simply disappear, embarrassed and humiliated in retreat.

Even with non-magical folk like us (i.e. ‘Muggles’ in the stories), it can seem as though we are bothered by Boggarts from time to time in our lives, as well.

Negative feelings and fears come into our minds, increasingly occupying our daily thoughts and nightmares until they become living obsessions; for all intents and purposes our own personal boggart feeding on our greatest negative emotions, anxieties, and fears, making our lives miserable as they grow ever more powerful and in control.


Please don’t let the Coronavirus and news transform into your personal boggart. The Daily News, Sheltering-In-Place, and Social-Distancing can be stressful, but do not let it all generate negative emotions and fears to feed a boggart, enabling it to put dark clouds over your days or cause anxiety and sleepless nights. Don’t feed the boggarts with negative thoughts.

Follow the example of the Hogwarts students and send your fears and boggarts packing. Recognize negative emotions and fears as the ridiculously agonizing tormentors they are, and banish them with positive thoughts and laughter.

We all need to stay informed with the news but do we need to hear the same thing repeated six, twelve, or more times a day, the same dire reports and doomsday predictions over and over and over again drummed into our minds? No, we don’t.

Because that is when it becomes a negative obsession driving our thoughts and emotions, pulling us down, and transforming into a boggart before our very eyes and stripping us of all our happiness.

We may not have a magic wand, but we do each have a remote control with a quite magical “OFF” button. Please, don’t be afraid to use it to preserve your peace of mind and happiness. Twenty-four-hour news access is not necessarily a good thing. Certainly not for happiness and peace of mind. So, switch off. We are much better served enjoying Mickey Mouse and Road Runner cartoons!

The times are trying and challenging enough on their own, without dwelling on negativity and imagined fears every moment of the day, adding bothersome boggarts to the mix, pulling us into an ever-darkening misty fog while also diminishing our resistance, hopes, well-being, and immunities. Our thoughts can indeed make us sick.

Whenever uncomfortable thoughts enter your mind, bust out with a resounding – “Ridiculous!”  Then laugh out loud at it all. Laugh at yourself and at the pure silliness of you blurting out “Ridiculous!” for all to hear. Laugh about the thought of others hearing you. Then laugh about them laughing. And then laugh some more. Laugh, smile, enjoy it, and feel better.

Laughter, together with a positive attitude, truly is the best medicine!


If we didn’t like a song playing on the radio back in the day, we simply changed the channel. Same thing! Simply change your thoughts and switch the channel.

Happiness is always only ever one thought away.

Laugh, Smile, Laugh Again –  and you will feel instantly better – 99¾% guaranteed!

For information on How to Protect Yourself & Others from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), simply tap the link.

Our very best wishes and health to you and yours!

Take Care, Stay Well, Laugh, and by all means — Live In The Moment and Be Happy!  –-  Jim (and Red!)

Stay Positive and Be Happy!  Banish the Boggarts!


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

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


“The person who was holding me back from my happiness was me.” – Keanu Reeves

“Pain results from a judgement you have made about a thing. Remove the judgement and the pain disappears.” –  Neale Donald Walsch


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.

       “No matter how chaotic it is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere.”     – Sheryl Crow  


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!


                        “Remember, what you “feel” and what is “real” are often very different.”                      –  Eddie Capparucci


 

Monday Musings — Stay At Home!

Still growing into my new role as Resident Manager of a Senior Living Community here on the outskirts of St. Louis, a month ago I began sharing short writing pieces with everyone in a little weekly feature I call “Monday Musings” distributed door-to-door each Monday morning.

Topics vary, but if you know me by now at all, you also know that the messages include a good number of thoughts about kindness, positivity, helping others, and such. Usually with a little humor tossed in, because it is always good for the soul. In a spoonful of sugar, sort of way.

Here is the little piece I prepared for everyone today in case you might be interested, dealing with a very serious topic in the news, the Coronavirus.  Being in a senior living community, our residents are among the most vulnerable, so taking it all very seriously here. As should we all.


MONDAY MUSINGS

We have been asked to Shelter-In-Place.  Many ignored it.  Now we have a Stay-At-Home order, issued by the City, the County, and now the State.

States are increasingly calling out the National Guard to assist state police in enforcing Shelter-At-Home orders. In Pennsylvania, a motorist taking a scenic car ride was stopped by police and given a $200 ticket for violating stay-at-home orders in that state.

Stores are beginning to limit the number of shoppers allowed inside at one time for social distancing. Many stores are now requiring masks to be worn. Some are no longer allowing shoppers to bring their own bags. Some are not allowing children in stores. Some are limiting one shopper/one cart per family.  If anyone has been in doubt until now, this is serious.

For the sake of not only yourself, but also for friends, neighbors, and family, please Stay Home unless absolutely necessary to go out for the foreseeable future and allow only Truly Essential Visitors. It will not last forever, but for right now this is what we need to do for us ALL to get thru the Coronavirus Pandemic together. Please.

It really is fairly simple –


The above is what I shared with our residents today.

If you would like to see my Monday Musings as a weekly feature here, please Vote In The Poll and feel free to leave a note in the comments.  I would be happy to freely share them here with you as well because sharing is what it is all about, isn’t it?


Thanks always for visiting with us because YOU are why we do this, to begin with.

These are not fun times, unlike anything we have ever seen. At least in my seventy years here in this go-round. There were those bedeviling plagues long ago, but we’ll leave those stories for another day.

To imagine that as little as a month or so ago life was going on as usual here, and now in just the span of a few weeks, we have been ordered to remain at home for our own health and safety and urged to wear a protective face wrap when out. We now practice Social Distancing.  The economy has been turned on its head, and travel has become greatly restricted. Sports and entertainment venues have been shuttered for the foreseeable future, and so many summer vacation plans tossed into the wind.

Yet, despite it all, you and I are still here. Together.

And ‘together’ is how we have always gotten thru times like these in the past, and ‘together’ is how we will all get thru it this time. Helping and being there for each other — neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, stranger to stranger. That is how we do it.

It is not the “American” way. It is the “Human” way.  It is all-embracing Kindness and Compassion at work for everyone’s mutual survival and benefit.


For information on How to Protect Yourself & Others from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), simply tap the link.

Our very best wishes to you and yours for continued health and well-being.

My story friend Little Red Bear and I will be regularly sharing a variety of things here in the coming weeks to keep in touch. Some topical, as this one was, some not so much, and others free reading just for fun and to take a break from it all, like “The Three-legged Chicken” story. I invite you to follow along and stay tuned for more.

In the meantime, God Bless and Stay Well.  — Jim (and Red!)


P.S. — In the interest of public safety during the current Coronavirus situation, I have decided to wear a mask, albeit in traditional Bandit Bandana style, ala Jesse James. 

For those questioning the effectiveness of such a mask, I believe the historical record will bear me out on this. No one was ever found to have caught a virus of any kind from Jesse James during a bank or train robbery while he was wearing his Bandit Bandana mask. A few bullets, perhaps, but there have been no documented cases of anyone ever having caught a virus from Jesse, that I am aware of. So, if it worked for Jesse and the boys, I figure it will work for me.

And, who knows? It may open up some new career opportunities along the way. Always be open to possibilities, as my father used to say. 

(In case you are wondering — I’m going with the basic “Red Robber” model for starters.)  


           “Be the morning in everyone’s eyes and make their day turn into a thing of beauty.”          – Anthony T. Hincks


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!


“The person who is willing to say ‘YES’ to experience is the person who discovers new frontiers.” –  John Templeton


 

One Moment Please — Laughing On The Corner #1

OVERHEARD ON THE STREET CORNER

Taking the dog for a walk the other day, I overheard two little boys talking at the street

corner.

As we approached, they were chatting about being out of school with the Coronavirus thing going on.

I overheard one say to the other –

“Nah, I don’t miss school and homework, Billy. But I’ll sure be glad when all these ‘Don’t Touch Your Face’ rules go away so I can pick my nose again!”


These are stressful times for us all right now and for so many reasons.

Please remember to take some personal moments thru the day to simply stop, take a deep breath, relax your shoulders and muscles, and simply be.

Being mindful, eating healthy,  following the recommended guidelines of handwashing, social distancing, and sheltering in place to take care of ourselves, our families, and loved ones, staying positive, being kind and helping each other — these are things we all can do now.

And finding something to smile about and taking a minute to laugh now and then, for laughter truly is the best medicine!

For information on How to Protect Yourself & Others from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), simply tap the link.

Stay positive, Be Well, and We Will All Get Thru This Together! — Jim (and Red!)


“You inspire, you put a smile on someone’s face, you make someone laugh or deeply touch a          person’s heart. We all have that in ourselves no matter how tough our journeys are.”       – Shellie Palmer


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!


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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Old Age Ain’t No Place For Sissies!”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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,  Schools,  Classrooms, and Local Libraries,  and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy. 

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

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


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


 

How To Be Mindfully Aware Of Positive Thoughts and Actions

Imagine yourself, if you will, in a cafeteria for lunch. Tantalizing food choices pass by in front of you on a conveyor belt, emerging from a window opening from the kitchen on the left side and then passing on out of sight thru another window at the other end to the right. A continuous stream of moving menu offerings to handpick from as they stream past.

No one expects everything offered in a cafeteria to necessarily be to their liking, so of course, you select and place on your tray for lunch only those items which appear appetizing and most greatly appeal to you.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?


What if we approached the random thoughts and ideas streaming thru our mind every day in the same way, selecting to note and act only upon those thoughts which most greatly appealed to and benefited us? Those thoughts congruent with our most basic nature of universal kindness, compassion, tolerance, acceptance, and love?

That is the nature we were born with, after all, before being indoctrinated into our disparate ‘tribes’, society’s conditioning and various belief systems.

Merely allow any thoughts of intolerance, prejudice, bigotry, judgments, hate, jealousy, greed, resentments, ill will, and others to pass by and out of sight unacted upon in the same way as you would your most disliked and distasteful food items on the cafeteria belt.

In other words — Take No Notice, Disregard, and Ignore Them.

Thoughts and ideas come in a never-ending stream throughout the day. Even in our dreams. Scientists say the average human has 60,000 separate thoughts a day. But we maintain the power and control to choose those which we deem worthy enough to act upon while allowing the disagreeable ones to merely ‘Exit Stage Right’ and pass on away and out of sight.

It really is that simple and the positive results can be life-altering. But it does require being mindful.


It becomes more onerous though when we realize that we must accept responsibility for our selections, the ones we choose to take from the passing thought stream and act upon, and then living under a dark cloud of gloom if we have not selected wisely with our highest and best interests in mind.

Reflexively making unhealthy choices at the cafeteria selection belt by consuming a steady diet of super-sized fatty burgers, fries, cakes, cookies, candy bars, and milkshakes every day will have no less of a detrimental impact on our overall health, happiness, and wellbeing than selecting negative, unfavorable, hurtful, and unwholesome thoughts as they enter into our minds each day, inevitably followed by the oppressively gloomy dark clouds.

But we have the right and ability to allow those undesirable thoughts to continue on the conveyor belt and pass right on out of our mind again without acting upon them. Merely let them pass by untouched in the same way you might that unwanted passing dish of brussels sprouts and oysters.

Do not feel ashamed or guilty, nor judge yourself harshly for unhealthy and destructive thoughts entering your mind. Everyone has them, for with so many media and social stimuli and inputs each day we have as little control over where they come from or the randomness of thoughts passing thru our brains as we do menu offerings appearing on the conveyor belt in the cafeteria.

There are ways that we can help to influence our thoughts, but that’s a topic for another day.

The key point is that just as in the cafeteria — We Get To Choose Which Thoughts We Pick Up — while letting the others pass by and away untouched or acted on.


Spend today mindfully, being mentally aware and noticing, without judging, which thoughts are passing thru your mind today. Then choose to select and act only upon those which can bring the greatest good to both yourself and those around you.

Acknowledge being aware of the undesirable thoughts, just as you would notice the dish of brussels sprouts perhaps, but allow them to pass.  And then do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

Small steps — one hour, one day at a time — gradually but steadily raising your level of awareness and mindfulness in life-changing ways.  Positive thoughts are uplifting!

Much sooner than later, you may notice the air around you is lighter, people around you are friendlier, your food tastes better, unsolicited help begins appearing without asking, and your life as a whole has changed for the better as you spend more time and energy on the positive thoughts and ideas in line with your loving, basic, God-like nature.

I urge you to give it a try. After all, what do you have to lose — another grumpy, bummed-out day of judgment, negativity, and gloominess?


Because here’s the thing — when we become aware of our thoughts and persist in consciously and repetitively acting upon the negative and hurtful ones, then we are as responsible for the damage and pain they inflict on ourselves, our family, and others around us, as we would be for our 60-inch waistline from snatching all the poor food choices at the cafeteria.

Whatever we get out of life is the result of our own independent, conscious choices. And that begins with our thoughts. It’s not our background, upbringing, family, where we were born, financial situation, or anything else we might wish to point a finger at. It’s on us.  It is easier and better for everyone to accept responsibility for our thoughts and subsequent actions, and to follow our better natures.


Please imagine again, if you will, not only you and I acting upon our best kind and loving thoughts, but also together with us a whole bunch of folks the world over. Do you think it would take very long for the world to become a kinder and gentler home for us all?

Thanks always for visiting and reading with us. A single kind word or action has the power to positively change someone’s day or whole life. It’s all about sending out positive ripples.

Will you splash some kindness and brighten someone’s day today? —  Jim  (and Red!)


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like —  “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” 

(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!)


“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl

                “Guard well your thoughts when alone and your words when accompanied.”                 – Roy T. Bennett


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


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

                                                                   “We are addicted to our thoughts.                                                 We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.” – Santosh Kalwar


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!


“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?

Have you heard of the “Teal Pumpkin Project®”?  Having a young family member with notable food restrictions, the Teal Pumpkin Project is something we strongly support and recommend for the safety of food-sensitive children and a way to allow all to fully participate and enjoy the fun of Halloween and trick-or-treating.

Prompted by childhood food allergies, the Teal Pumpkin Project is a worldwide movement to create a safer, healthier, and happy Halloween experience for all children, including those with food allergies, which can be life-altering and life-threatening. One in thirteen children suffers from some sort of food allergy today.  Among the project’s goals is to raise awareness of food allergies and to promote inclusion for all little trick-or-treaters during the Halloween season.

Halloween can be an especially challenging time for children, parents, and families managing food allergies on a daily basis. Many “mini” or “fun-sized” treats are not labeled with food ingredients and/or contain different ingredients than their full-sized counterparts, making managing for parents even more difficult.

The goal is to offer non-food treats for children dealing with allergies, as well as others for whom candy treats may not be an option. The whole purpose is not only food safety for those with allergies but also kindness and inclusion. Small children confronted with allergy issues will be delighted to receive a small non-food, non-threatening treat alternative, while other children can still receive traditional Halloween treats. No one left out of the fun. That’s the Little Red Bear way!


Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is easy.

  • Simply provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.
  • Place a Teal Pumpkin (‘teal’ is the chosen color of Food Allergy Awareness) in front of your home to indicate that you have non-food treats available for trick-or-treaters, or in lieu of a Teal Pumpkin, a sign or poster placed on your door or window.

Where do I get a Teal Pumpkin to put on my front porch?

  • Obtaining a Teal Pumpkin for Halloween is fairly simple — paint your own!  Grab some teal paint and make it a family project. If you have children of your own, it will be a wonderful learning opportunity to involve them to help educate and raise their awareness of food allergy issues. Perhaps they have friends who are affected by allergies, making it even more personal and beneficial to be included in the process.
  • If you cannot paint a pumpkin yourself, no worries. Teal pumpkins should hopefully be available for purchase both online and in local shopping outlets. As the movement continues to grow each year, they will become readily available.
  • If painting is not an option and teal pumpkins are not available in your local stores, all you really need to do is display a sign or teal pumpkin printout at your door or in a window, letting everyone know that you have non-food treats available. Tap on the image on the right to download the sign and print out a copy for your home. Participating is as simple as that.

What are acceptable Non-Food Treats?

  • Children love to do artwork — Pencils, Pens, Crayons, Markers, Stencils!
  • Children love to do artwork outdoors — Sidewalk Chalk!
  • Children love to blow bubbles — Bubble Blowers!
  • Halloween Erasers and Pencil Toppers are really cool.
  • Children love to remind us that they are around — Whistles, Kazoos, Clappers, and Noisemakers (parents will love you!)
  •  Bouncy Balls (small children never have enough bouncy balls!)
  • Glow Sticks!
  • Small Stuffed Animals!
  • Jumping Ropes!
  • Paddle Balls!
  • Stickers!
  • Small Playing Cards and Games!
  • Finger Puppets and Novelty Toys!
  • Simple Bracelets, Wrist Bands, and Necklaces!
  • Mini Yo-Yo’s or Slinkies!
  • Mini Wooden Airplanes!
  • And of course, the perennial Halloween favorite — Fake Dracula Teeth!
  • Note — When selecting non-food items, it is best to omit moldable clays which may contain wheat products, and to steer away from any items made of or containing latex, for those latex-sensitive individuals.

A quick trip to the local dollar or discount store should provide all you need, and may very likely be cheaper than high-priced candy these days, keeping in mind that if you do go the non-food treat route only one in thirteen children will be seeking the non-food treats, so not talking about a great deal of items. Just enough to include a little something for everyone. Time spent in making an extra trip each Halloween will be more than offset by the warm feeling of knowing that you are doing something not only nice but also beneficial for the kids, and by the smiles and happiness of those receiving your special treat items on Halloween night.


This year, Little Red Bear and I urge you to join us in taking the pledge —


If you would like to learn more about food allergies and The Teal Pumpkin Project simply tap the link to visit the Food Allergy Research & Education page, where more suggestions for non-food treats and other ways to participate and help the movement are available. You can also read more about How The Teal Pumpkin Project Began.

Here is a resource site for downloadable Free Signs, Flyers & More!

Thanks always for visiting with us.  We hope that you will join Little Red Bear and me in The Teal Pumpkin Project and helping to make this a safe, healthy, and enjoyable Halloween — for Everyone! — Jim (and Red!)


“Thank God for little children; when our skies turn cold and gray, They come as sunshine to our hearts, and charm our cares away.” – Frances Watkins Harper

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


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

                 “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”             — Sitting Bull (Hunkpapa Lakota)


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!


“Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.” – Richard L. Evans

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” –  John F. Kennedy



For Our New Visitors Wondering — 

“Who is Little Red Bear?”

 Meet Little Red Bear and His Friends in this short introduction to the stories —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”



 

In and Out — A Time for Everything

Following a restless, topsy-turvy, mostly sleepless night earlier in the week, I developed a headache seemingly out of nowhere the next afternoon. By evening my insides were so stormy that venturing more than ten feet from the bathroom was much too risky a trip to venture out on.

After a much better rest the following night, I woke the next morning feeling refreshed, perky, and noticeably better, with creative writing ideas flowing so fast I struggled to jot them all down, not to forget. My writing muse and brain racing to make up for lost time.

Then in my morning reading, I opened to the 29th verse of the Tao Te Ching from Lao Tzu over 2,500 years ago as relayed by Dr. Wayne Dyer, and was reminded that just as we must first breathe in to then breathe out, everything has a time, in a natural order.

” Everything under heaven is a sacred vessel and cannot be controlled.

Trying to control leads to ruin. Trying to grasp, we lose.

Allow your life to unfold naturally.

Know that it too is a vessel of perfection.

Just as you breathe in and breathe out, there is a time for being ahead and a time for being behind;

A time for being in motion and a time for being at rest;

A time for being vigorous and a time for being exhausted;

A time for being safe and a time for being in danger.”

We must experience feeling behind in order to later appreciate being ahead. It is the natural way of things.  I more fully appreciated how wonderful and creative I felt that morning, after experiencing the disorders of the day before. And such is life.

When confronted with challenges and faced with upheavals in life, I  recall what my Mother used to always say at such times — “This too, shall pass.”

All of the times when we have experienced the discomfort of sadness, betrayal, abuse, disappointment, fear, frustration, anxiety, illness, or being incomplete somehow; later led to our appreciation of feeling well, whole, safe, protected, comforted, and loved.

The verse from Lao Tzu reminded me of the same sentiment echoed in the Bible, from Ecclesiastes 3:1 —

“To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

From the wisdom of the ages, there is a time for everything, including what we are experiencing in each of our lives today.  It is good to keep that in mind as we go thru the inevitable ups-and-downs of life, that every moment is proceeding and in accordance with the natural order and way of things. Would we appreciate a glass of water so much had we never been thirsty? We delight coming in to the warmth of the fireplace after shoveling heaps of snow in the howling winds of winter.

I went to bed sick and woke up well, and felt amazingly wonderful in comparison. If things are not the rosiest at this moment in your life or if you journey down a rough road in the coming year — breathe in, and then breathe out — taking comfort that just as “out” follows “in”, there is a time for all things and every purpose. Every morning births a new day full of hope, potential, and opportunities.

“No matter how desperate the predicament is, I am always very much in earnest about clutching my cane, straightening my derby hat and fixing my tie, even though I have just landed on my head. Nothing                     is permanent in this wicked world — not even our troubles.”                         – Charlie Chaplin

This morning I am thankful this piece was typed yesterday and only needing to be published today. Living with arthritis and a progressively degenerative disk and joint disease, I woke up this morning unable to close or move my left hand. But it will be better tomorrow. Or the next day. Or next week. That’s how it goes. In the meantime, I will give it a rest, read, and focus on activities not requiring Lefty’s participation for the time being. Righty just added an old-fashioned, one-fingered paragraph all on his own.

It is difficult many times to try to stay positive and keep the faith, believing that all is proceeding in natural order when we find ourselves down on scraped knees and elbows from falling yet again, but if we can just remember to look up we will see the road still open and laid out before us. So we summon our courage, rise, and carry on once again, trusting there is a time for everything and that if we stay on the journey and task ahead, this too will pass and a new day dawn tomorrow.

Thanks for visiting with us today!  A smile or kind gesture can turn someone’s day or entire life around. As Maya Angelou urged — “Be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud today!”  And be the change you wish to see in the world. — Jim  (and Red!)


“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”  ― John Bunyan

“The goal of life is living in agreement with nature.” – Zeno of Citium, Greek philosopher


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“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” — Matsuo Basho


“The true essence of humankind is Kindness . . .  to have a good heart.” – Dalai Lama


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“Every moment is a fresh beginning.” – T. S. Eliot


Opting for Millstones or Milestones — “The Desiderata”

My first exposure to “The Desiderata”, an inspiringly beautiful piece written by the American writer Max Ehrmann, was when it became popularized in spoken-word recordings during my college years in the early 1970s. Written in 1927, the piece was largely unknown during the author’s lifetime, with it first being published in ‘The Poems of Max Ehrmann’ in 1948.

The title ‘Desiderata’ is Latin, meaning “Desired Things”. Approaching graduation from college and about to embark on a new career and adventures, “The Desiderata” was and still remains a hopeful and illuminating guide to shaping and living a life of peace and purpose.  The enlightened counsel contained within is certainly as applicable or more today as when first penned by Mr. Ehrmann over ninety years ago.

“The Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann —


The Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.  Strive to be happy.


Thank You for visiting and spending part of your day with us! We will always encounter pitfalls and obstacles as we go along. Do we view them as defeating roadblocks or opportunities to overcome, grow stronger, and learn? Do you choose to fill your life with Millstones or Milestones? How we choose to respond to life’s challenges is always up to us.  It truly is a beautiful world. — Jim (and Red!)


“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars.” — Max Ehrmann

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in                    silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.”                — Max Ehrmann


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                                 “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness,                              the astonishing light of your own being.” – Hafiz


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“Share your smile with the world. It’s a symbol of friendship and peace.” – Christie Brinkley


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. Patrons help to continue this as an ad-free site for everyone,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.


“Peace, like charity, begins at home.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt


 

Peace In Our Time, Hope for the Future

Having just passed another Memorial Day Observance followed by the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, although ‘anniversary’ never seems the best choice of word, a thought came to me.

Wouldn’t it be nice, if OUR generation,

Recalling the sacrifices of the PAST generations,

Figured out a way so the NEXT generation could live in peace,

And not be memorialized for their sacrifices by the FOLLOWING generations?

World War I was billed as “The War to End All Wars”.  It wasn’t, as WWI was followed shortly by World War II.  In turn followed soon thereafter by the Korean War.

Two years later, in 1955,  Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller composed a beautiful song which most are familiar with and have sung together on Sundays, but perhaps we need to listen more closely next time and take personal responsibility in its message.

Their song  began —

                                        “Let their be Peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.                                                              Let there be Peace on Earth,  the Peace that was meant to be.”

        “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”        – Mother Teresa

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”

— from ‘For the Fallen’, by Robert Laurence Binyon

“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” – Dalai Lama

In 1969 during the Vietnam War, John Lennon later added — “Give Peace a Chance.” 

We keep writing and singing songs about peace. Perhaps it is time we finally follow thru to put words into action and give Peace a chance in our time, so our great-grandchildren will not be memorializing our children and grandchildren.

Thanks for visiting with us again. We wish you Peace.  Help the world to find a better way, and be the reason someone smiles today! — Jim (and Red!)


“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa

                   “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”                     – Albert Einstein


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

         “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”                ― Jimi Hendrix