Finding Beauty and Joy in the Simple Things

One of my Mother’s favorite old sayings was — “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Children, so freshly arrived in the world, seem to infallibly retain and demonstrate that ancient wisdom and knowledge for us over and over, as they rejoice and find merriment in the very simplest of things.  Those things which we so often overlook as we grow older.

What parent hasn’t had the experience of giving something we thought wonderfully awesome and shiny in our eyes, only to have our child toss it aside and be deliriously happy playing with the box for hours upon hours instead? That is a strong message if we think about it.

One of my favorite country artists, John Sloane, has captured this adage of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” perfectly and in a fun way, in his painting “To Each Her Own.” The Mother, having stepped unaware over bothersome ‘weeds’, is picking beautiful, delicate and exquisite lilac flowers; while her daughter is delightfully filling her basket with the ignored, bright and cheerful little dandelion treasures in bloom behind her.

“Someone who finds joy in a simple pebble will be surrounded by beauty wherever they go.” — Little Red Bear

The world is filled with beauty and wonder all around us, if we aware to its presence. But when we become so focused with tunnel-like vision on our goals and that which we are so stridently seeking in life, we miss out on all the simply beautiful joys and moments as we rush past. Many of which may never come again. Especially with those box-playing children. The most simple things most often bring the most happiness.

Joining with the little girl in John Sloane’s painting, I am a big fan of the commonly simple dandelion. If you would like to learn more about dandelions and the important role they play in nature for the survival of bees and other pollinators, please check out —  “Please Don’t Pull The Dandelions — They’re Nature’s Gift!”

Thanks as always for your time and visiting.  A kind gesture can reach a wound we cannot see — so be kind — and the reason someone smiles today!  — Jim  (and Red!)


Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” — Vincent van Gogh


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

“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa


 

 

Wishing a Very Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend, celebrating Mothers and Motherhood!

Being a Mother is more than having given birth to a child. It is also the loving and caring for a little life completely dependent. Sleepless hours.  Healing, treating wounds and comforting. Worrying.  Nurturing. Teaching, reading, and guiding. Watching falls and helping back up to fall again. Reassuring. Laughter, tears, heartache and joy.  Holidays, birthdays, celebrations. Cheering, building up, and supporting. Encouraging. Letting go.

Mothering — it’s all of that — and more. 

Looking back now, my own Mother has been and continues to be a great influence on my life all these years later, with her Irish, Native American and homespun pearls of wisdom and advice still guiding and informing my thoughts; influencing choices and decisions in my life, writing and creative work every day.

“A Mother is she who can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take.” — Cardinal Gaspard Mermillod

“It may be possible to gild pure gold, but who can make his Mother more beautiful?” — Mahatma Gandhi

“Happy Mudders Day, Mommy!”

           “Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.”                             ― Robert A. Heinlein

Abraham Lincoln may have expressed it best — “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.”

Or maybe it was Rudyard Kipling — “God could not be everywhere, and therefore, he made Mothers.”

Or perhaps, it was William Makepeace Thackeray, who said — “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”

Adding my own wishes . . . . . .

Surely I am not the first,

and hopefully (poetically) not the worst,

to say it now — truer than true —

Wishing a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend to you!

Wishing a beautiful Mother’s Day Weekend to all the Mothers! Where would we all be without you?  Be the reason your Mother smiles today!  —  Jim  (and Red!)


“A Mother understands what a child does not say.” — Jewish Proverb

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” — Oprah Winfrey


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

When hugging a child, always be the last to let go. You never know how long they need it.


 

Chapter Six of The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: “To Market, To Market”

Note to Readers– This is Chapter Six of a continuing Weekly Serial Story freely shared only here for followers of my Writing Blog.  If you missed the beginning, you can catch up HERE for the beginning and previous chapters. Follow the Blog now to be informed of every new post and update.


Pieces of glass flew everywhere as the window at first shattered and then seemed to explode from the force of a heavy, grey granite rock hurled from outside, startling everyone and causing all the bunnies to scurry in fright beneath the table to shelter from flying bits of glass.

Thump-a! . . . Bump-a! . . . Thump-a! . . . .

The rock hurtled, careened and bounced across the cabin’s wooden floor, finally coming to rest against the far wall.

Wearing boots and not wanting any of the others’ bare feet to be cut on broken shards of glass, I motioned Little Red Bear and everyone away. Carefully stepping around the larger glass splinters, smaller pieces crunched and crackled beneath my feet as I made my way across the room.

Reaching the rock, I carefully picked it up to find a message, painted in bold red letters on the flat bottom.

I held it up for Little Red Bear to see.

“LOOK OUTSIDE”

Little Red Bear quickly tossed me a broom from the corner.  I hurried to sweep up the shattered window glass pieces from seemingly everywhere, anxious to see who or what was to be found outside.

Had the weasels ganged up and overwhelmed Albuquerque while guarding the rabbits? Holding him hostage?  Worse?  Had the coyotes run wild and taken potential story characters? What had been done that they wanted us to see?  Thoughts raced thru my mind while hurriedly sweeping glass.

Before I could finish, another rock came sailing in thru the now open window space, striking the far wall and falling down in a loud “CLUMP” on the floor.  I walked over to find another message awaiting . . .

“WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG?”

I worked even faster to clear the remaining few pieces of glass from the floor and tops of tables.  

Emptying the last dust pan filled with broken glass into the trash can, I joined Little Red Bear, already slumped and frowning, at the broken window.

A short distance from the cabin, the smallest ostrich, the one whose protest sign Little Red Bear had ripped apart earlier in the day, stood with his tongue sticking out atop an upturned wooden rain barrel, forcefully waving a freshly painted new sign while wagging his head in an unhinged, wibbly-wobbly, deranged back and forth manner, taunting Little Red Bear.

RED BEAR IS SO UGLY HIS MOTHER

HAD TO BORROW A BABY

TO TAKE TO CHURCH ON SUNDAYS!

Then, aware that we had each seen the new sign, the ostrich flipped around, shaking his backside and tail feathers at us while displaying the reverse side of the sign.

AND HE SMELLS BAD!

“Sticks and stones, Red,” I reminded, trying to comfort and gently moving him back away from the window and sign message. “Sticks and stones.”

“My Mother never borrowed nobody’s baby — or cub — to take to church,” Little Red Bear grumbled in protest. “That little ostrich is just makin’ up stuff. To be hurtful. That’s not nice.”

“No, it’s not nice, Red. Don’t let it get to you. Just remember – ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”

“I suppose,” Little Red Bear replied, rather dejectedly, “but right now I’d like to take a few sticks and stones to that guy’s bones.”

“You know that wouldn’t solve anything and just serve to make matters worse. Just let it go and be the bigger man.  Err, bear. Be the bigger bear. You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, yeah. Maybe the next sign will be about you, and then you can be the bigger man.”

“Well, Red,” I replied, patting and ruffling the hair on his shoulder. “There’s always tomorrow. Hold on to that thought if it cheers you up. We never know what the morning will bring around here right now, so we’ll see. Maybe they’ll do that for you.”

We both laughed.

“But in the meantime,” I continued, “we have a window to patch and guests to make comfortable for the night. It’s time to get bunnies in blankets.”

“Bunnies in Blankets! Oh, that sounds good.  Let me get this here window covered and I’ll get some started and made up real quick for us!”

“No, no, Red.  Not those Bunnies in Blankets.  Henrietta’s baby bunnies — I need to round up some comforters and blankets for them to go to bed and keep them warm tonight. It’s getting late. Do you always think about food?”

“Well, not always.”

“But maybe?”

“Well — maybe.”

We both laughed again.  Little Red Bear patched the broken window with some large sections of cardboard for the night, while I prepared bedding areas for Henrietta and her family of bunnies.

“Why did they have to bring my Mother into it?” Little Red Bear called over from the window. “She’d come straighten ‘em all out in a hurry if she knew about what they’d said.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Yeah,” I agreed, still laughing. “She would reset their clocks all right.  There would be nothing left but a pile of feathers by the time your mother finished with them all if she knew what they’d been saying about her cute little baby bear.”

“Watch the ‘baby’ stuff,” Little Red Bear corrected, laughing himself at the thought of his mother dealing with the ostriches. “There would be feathers flying for sure! Don’t those ostriches know not to ever anger a mother bear?”

“Good thing for them she’s not around then,” I added while spreading the blankets and comforters on the floor for the bunnies.  Henrietta gently tucked each one in with a bunny kiss on the forehead.

“Maybe,” Little Red Bear answered. One could tell that he was still entertaining thoughts of flying ostrich feathers in his mind though, by the half grin on his face.  Then he unexpectedly burst into a fit of hearty and loud laughter.

“Wouldn’t those ostriches be sad to find out that after all of their efforts to make us mad and hurt our feelings, we were still inside here laughing and not crying into our pillows?” Little Red Bear managed to get out, between laughs.

Henrietta’s baby bunnies, snuggled in their blankets, were all giggling too, because laughter is contagious, after all. Henrietta shushed them, of course, while chuckling to herself.

“Yeah well, that’s what it’s all about, right?” I responded. “Not letting them get to us or ruin our day? It’s up to each of us whether we choose to be happy or give over control of our thoughts and happiness to others.  And with you laughing so loud right there beside the broken window, I’m guessing the ostriches might know.”

The prospect of the ostriches being aware that they had not affected him seemed to delight Little Red Bear still more, and he laughed even louder.

In a little while, with the window patched and bunnies nuzzled and settled in, Little Red Bear and I headed upstairs, deciding to call it a night after what had been another long and trying day.

We all awoke the next morning to find the sun peeking up over the treetops. Soon it was shining brightly, warming us on Honey Hill and burning off the night’s fog in Hoppers Holler below; with clear, cheerful blue skies overhead.  A beautiful Sunday morning.

Heralding spring, dandelions were popping up thru what open ground was left unoccupied by the encampment surrounding the cabin. Pink and white dogwood trees were in bloom, scattered thru the woods over the hillsides. The delightful sounds of birds singing, chirping, whistling and warbling filled the air.

There were many birds singing, in fact. The trees were chock full of them, all having come to see for themselves what all the uproar was about in the neighborhood. The encampment of wildlife had grown larger and even more spread out over the hillside as late-comers had continued to arrive all thru the night. Apparently, word of the ostrich protest and goings-on was still spreading over the mountains and thru the hollers.

This morning’s light revealed the construction of a rather large treehouse in the grove of trees on the hill slope out back. Raccoons can be just as busy as beavers when they set their minds to a task. Uncomfortable in their hastily constructed lean-to shelters with so many of Farmer Turner’s contentious hounds encamped nearby, Cooter’s raccoon platoon had constructed an imposing treehouse structure overnight, complete with a swing for the young-uns.

Speaking of the beavers, they completed and already rented out their second and third lodges, with new work begun on a fourth and fifth, with “For Rent” signs of course. Construction is booming it appears.

After spotting what the raccoons had accomplished overnight with their magnificent treehouse, the beavers, considering themselves to be highly skilled carpenters and builders not to be outdone, decided to try their paws at treehouse construction, as well.

Of course, the beavers needed to also construct a nice ladder in order to reach it, not having the natural ability to climb trees as do the raccoons.  A good number of trees would remain upright in the woods if beavers could climb, and not have to chew and fell trees in order to secure out-of-reach twigs and branches for food.  But they don’t, so they do, so to speak.

Little Red Bear and I both agreed the beavers’ treehouse resembled more of a traditional beaver lodge with a second story added than a true treehouse, but if you have a winning design why change it, I suppose.  And we certainly cannot argue with their success, having already rented the new unit out before work was even completed.

Securing the ostrich’s permission to cross the picket line, a family of enterprising chipmunks set up a Farmer’s Market on our front porch and yard. With the help of some beaver carpenters they had quickly assembled stands displaying and selling a large selection of various acorns, nuts, seeds, grains, berries, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, earthworms, bugs, corn, juice, milk and eggs. A veritable little “Nature’s Wildlife Grocery Store” for the campers.

Critters have been filing in steadily to replenish supplies and to do their grocery shopping. Chipmunks are renowned for their food-storing habits and to their credit recognized a ready market for their warehouse of stores and supplies, but I didn’t ask them where they obtained the fresh produce, milk and eggs. Sometimes it is just better not to know. But with all of Farmer Turner’s hounds camping out back, I have a sneaking suspicion where at least some items may have come from.

Dealing with enough issues right now though as it is, and we were running out of food to distribute to everyone anyway. The chipmunks and their market were a welcome sight, to be honest. I will cover whatever is missing from the neighboring farmers after all this blows over. Though, it may get costly if this Ostrich Crisis goes on much longer.

I suppose the ostriches realized too, that it was best for all of us if the assembled friendly and so far, merely curious crowd of onlookers remained that way, and did not turn into an out-of-control hungry mob, so allowed the chipmunks to cross the picket line and set up shop.

Newspaper circulations and revenues are up substantially for both the owls and squirrels. And word has come to me that the weasels are still managing to clip unsuspecting visitors now and then for “camping fees” on the outskirts of the area.

It seems everyone is making money off the ongoing Ozarks Ostrich Crisis except those truly involved in the affair – Little Red Bear and the ostriches. And me – the meat in the sandwich caught in the middle as work has come to a screeching halt on new stories. Isn’t that always the way, though?

But thinking about it, somewhere in there may lie the grounds and basis for a future settlement to resolve all of this, perhaps. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem the ostriches have cared much about anything other than disruption of our writing work so far.

It is amazing how far down the wrong bumpy road one poorly chosen little word or comment can send us sometimes. Case in point – Little Red Bear’s ‘flightless’ comments to the ostriches.

Have said it before and will undoubtedly say it again – words are like toothpaste. Once squeezed out, toothpaste is all but impossible to get back inside the tube again. And thoughts and words are the same way – good or bad – and seem to take on a life of their own once let out.

Having been spoken and let loose, words are out running around on their own for all to hear, and then we must deal with the consequences because they cannot be unsaid. There are no ‘Cancel, Clear, Delete’ options on speech. We can be sorry and apologize for the poorly chosen ones right off, but the words are still out there floating around in the air, and hiding in folks’ memories looking to cause trouble at a later time.

Think twice, speak once. Or better yet sometimes, not at all.  My advice everlasting.

And in Little Red Bear’s case, the consequences of an off-hand comment came immediately in the form of picketing ostriches and an abrupt stoppage of work on his stories. Of course, how could any of us have predicted the ostriches’ reaction to being questioned about their useless wings? Ostriches are indeed “flightless”, after all. No secrets there. Little Red Bear was merely seeking information, even if not in the most delicate way, perhaps. Maybe the world is simply getting a little too sensitive, seeming to almost seek out things to be offended by at times.

Regardless, due to poorly-chosen words or over-sensitivity, the ostrich crisis lives on. New onlookers and campers are still arriving every hour, a steady stream of woodland shoppers keeps the chipmunks’ new market hopping, and the picket lines encircle and wind around the cabin.

Getting back to the ostriches, having observed that the encampment of observers had encircled my home, the ostriches decided that their picket line should also. Just so no one missed out on seeing their protests, I suppose. Instead of merely parading with their picket signs back and forth across the front as they had been the first days, they had by Saturday worn a path around the whole cabin, having taken advantage of the packs of coyotes and weasels to lengthen the picket line.

Today’s new development was discovering that a second circle of picketing ostriches, coyotes, and weasels had been added to the non-stop picketing parade around the cabin, marching in counter-clockwise fashion to the clockwise direction of the first, a circle within a circle rotating in opposite directions. Dizzying to watch.

With so many signs marching in different directions, it seemed that no matter where Little Red Bear went inside the cabin, he inevitably found himself at a window when a “LITTLE RED BEAR IS FAT, UGLY, AND SMELLS BAD!” sign paraded past.

Little Red Bear’s restraint to this point, although measured at times, has been admirable. I wonder myself, for the ostriches’ sake – how far do they really want to torment and agitate – a “bear”?

Thinking it might be time to draw the window shades and blinds before things get more out of control. As gentle and good as he is, even Little Red Bear’s tolerance level has limits, as do we all.

With tomorrow being Monday and the start of a new work week, if all goes well a sizable number of the spectators may be packing up and leaving to return to various woodland duties and jobs for the week, perhaps easing the uproar and potentially enabling some meaningful dialogue on the issues with the ostriches tomorrow.

The beaver lodges and the raccoon’s treehouse present an interesting legal quandary. They each constructed them using their own materials, but they are on our property without our permission.  I wonder if the beavers and raccoons would allow me to sub-let the new properties when this is all over? Getting ahead of myself there, probably. This all needs to be resolved first. Peacefully if possible, but with coyotes and weasels involved that’s never a sure thing.

At least, thru the efforts of the enterprising chipmunks and wildlife grocery though, everyone is getting fed now. And that’s always a good thing.

Except, the coyotes and weasels, who have displayed no interest whatsoever in the chipmunk’s market.

That is a worry. Weasels and coyotes are always a worry.  Hungry – doubly so.

But right now, I have to deal with a little piggy who appears as though he’s made one too many trips to the market.  I thought the chipmunks had only set up produce and dairy departments. Apparently there is a section in the back I may have overlooked.

Some critters seem to be enjoying the ostrich protest and events a tad more than others, it would appear. This fellow looks drunk as a skunk.  I had better go outside and get hold of this party animal before Albuquerque the Sheriff pulls him over under suspicion of SWINE – Shopping While Intoxicated Nearly Embalmed.

Gotta go.

To be continued . . . .


Thanks as always for following along and visiting with us! If not doing so already, Follow the Blog now to be informed of every new post and update.

As a special ‘thank you’ for everyone, Little Red Bear has included the Pinterest Recipe for Bunnies in Blankets that he mentioned earlier in the story, a nifty little appetizer featuring Caramelized Baby Carrots in Crescent Roll Wraps, just for fun.  You didn’t really think that we would be harming baby bunnies, did you? Find this recipe and much more on my Pinterest Boards.

Be sure to check in next week as events continue to unfold in the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis”, a continuing weekly serialized free story available only here on the Writing Blog.  See ya then!

Kindness costs nothing.  Be kind whenever possible, while keeping in mind that it is always possible.   Be the reason someone smiles today!   — Jim  (and Red!)


“Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith.” – St. Francis of Assisi

“Anger helps straighten out a problem like a fan helps straighten out a pile of papers.” – Susan Marcotte


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

Celebrate Earth Day Every Day!    Think Globally — Act Locally!


 

Welcoming and Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard

Happy Hummer Season!  Soon the buzzing and whirring sounds of rapidly beating wings will be filling the air in our backyards once again. The hummingbirds return!

Hummingbirds are a joy to observe in the backyard as they hover, flit and fly about, and will very soon be arriving back to summer homes in North America from winter stays in Southern Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and other regions of Central America. Hanging a feeder to greet their arrival in spring will help immensely as they arrive thirsty and in quick need of nourishment following their long migrations northward.

To find out when to expect the arrival of regional hummingbirds in your area, check out the Audubon Guide.

Providing a hummingbird feeder in your yard helps to renourish the little hummers quickly and get them off to a healthier start for the coming breeding season after their arduous travels northward, and can be both a source of entertainment and a healthy learning experience for the children in your family as they learn more about nature.

Hummingbirds need to consume several times their body weight in food intake each day and are necessarily always on the lookout for flowering plants to quench their thirst and maintain energy.  Flowering plants for the hummingbirds are much more numerous and available during the summer months, so providing an early supplementary food source with a hummingbird feeder can help them get thru leaner spells in springtime when flowers and natural food sources are not yet as numerous.

There is no need to worry about supplementing their diet with a feeder and distracting hummingbirds from natural food sources, as they will continue to seek out and consume plant nectar, small insects and tree saps to prepare for breeding season and then in feeding their young in the nest.

Single Hummingbird Feeder

To select the best feeder, choose one that can be easily cleaned on the inside to prevent contamination and illness for the birds, and one that is brightly colored with lots of red to get their attention and attract them to your feeder.

If you have few hummingbirds in your area, completely filling the feeder is not necessary, to not waste the nectar mixture. As the season progresses, filling the feeder to the brim may be more advisable as the birds will be visiting more often to drink and the feeders will probably be even busier with greater numbers in the summer heat.

If there are a large number of hummers in your area, a larger feeder with a greater number of feeding ports can help to reduce territorial conflicts brought about by the hummingbirds’ natural territoriality and competitiveness to guard the feeding source, by allowing more birds to access the feeder.

Large Size Feeder with Multiple Feeding Ports

Feeders can be inexpensive and plain, or very decorative and ornamental.  The hummingbirds only care about the nectar and happily leave design choices to the humans’ personal tastes.  But it is important for any feeder to contain a good deal of bright red coloration.  Hummingbirds are naturally attracted to brightly colored flowers, including yellows, oranges, pinks and purples, but are drawn to red much more than any other color as it signals a food source to the tiny bird, so they naturally associate the color red with food.

There is no need to purchase expensive hummingbird packaged food mixes in the store, as a perfect nectar mix can be easily and quickly prepared in your home kitchen using only sugar and water as the ingredients.

Prepare the nectar supplement mixture using only Refined White Sugar, as honey can promote dangerous and harmful fungal growth and should never be used. In addition, organic, natural and raw sugars may all contain excessive levels of iron which can be harmful to the birds. Plain, white refined sugar is sucrose, which when mixed with water, comes the closest to matching the chemical composition of naturally occurring nectar in the wild.

With a brightly colored red feeder, there is no need to add red food coloring to the nectar mixture, as the chemicals in food coloring can be harmful to the hummingbirds.

To prepare the nectar mixture, simply mix 1/4 cup of refined white sugar in 1 cup of boiling water until the sugar is all dissolved, a ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Let the mixture cool and then fill the feeder. Simple as that.

When filled, hang the feeder outside, preferably about head high so you do not need a ladder to reach it for cleaning and refilling, and also in the shade to keep the nectar from spoiling as quickly as it would in the full sun.  The nectar will serve as a healthy and beneficial supplement to the birds’ natural nectar diet in springtime, and  then all summer long as well, providing the birds with an extra and welcome energy boost at the end of long, hot and dry summer days.

Extra Large Hummingbird Feeder with Multiple Feeding Ports

Keeping the feeders freshly filled and out when fall arrives and having the extra nectar nourishment available will help your little neighborhood hummingbirds restrengthen after breeding season is finished, boosting energy and helping them to prepare for their long migration back to southern wintering grounds.  Feeders in the fall will also provide welcome and needed nourishment to migrating birds passing thru on their way south. Because of the influx and numbers of migrating birds, putting additional hummingbird feeders out in the fall can be very helpful in providing needed energy for all.

Window Suction Mount Hummingbird Feeder

Window Suction Mount Hummingbird Feeder

Extra nectar mix may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks in a clean glass or plastic container.  If the mix in the feeder becomes cloudy or mucky, it should be discarded and the feeder cleaned.  The feeder should be cleaned regularly every few days, especially during hot weather to keep it free from mold and mildew, as nectar is a food and will spoil.

Feeders can be cleaned using various sized bottle brushes and by soaking them in a mixture of 1 part vinegar and two parts hot water, then thoroughly rinsing to keep the birds healthy.

If black mold is detected, soaking for an hour in a bleach mixture of 1/4 cup bleach to a gallon of water can be done, followed by thorough rinsing. Mold should not be an issue if the feeders are cleaned regularly.

To control and keep away uninvited wasps and bees which may visit hummingbird feeders, avoid choosing a feeder with the color yellow on it, as yellow is known to attract them.  Some feeders have built-in water moats which protect against ants contaminating the nectar, and some have screens over openings which only allow the hummingbird’s long tongue to enter, keeping bees and other insects out.

For additional tips to prevent the problem of unwanted insect visitors,  visit Control All Insects On Nectar Feeders.  In years of feeding hummingbirds with two different types of feeders, we have never really had a big problem with uninvited guests.

Hummingbirds can be territorial, especially during breeding season, so there is no harm in hanging out more than one feeder, which may result in even more visitors to your yard.  If possible and for the best results, hang additional feeders out of the line of sight from one to another to attract more birds and to diminish conflicts over territory.

Bottle Style Hummingbird Feeder

Adding native plants for your regional area, growing them in your garden and yard, will also help the hummingbirds by providing natural shelter and food, including a healthy environment for insects, which many are surprised to learn form an important part of the hummingbird’s diet during breeding season especially.

So, happy hummer season!  Little Red Bear and I hope this little guide  was helpful, and that both you and your family are able to experience the joys and delights of watching the amazing aerial displays and acrobatics of hummingbirds all summer long.

Thanks as always for your time and visiting.  Very best wishes, and be the reason someone smiles today!  — Jim (and Red!)


“Kindness is the sunshine in which virtue grows.” — Robert Green Ingersoll

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” — Vincent van Gogh


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

~ Every Day is Earth Day.   Think Globally — Act Locally. ~


 

Chapter Five of The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: “Day 3 Ongoing — The Encampment”

Note to Readers– This is Chapter Five of a continuing Weekly Serial Story freely shared only here for followers of my Writing Blog.  If you missed the beginning, you can catch up HERE for the beginning and previous chapters.


Panic.

Clearly not how Saturday mornings are supposed to start out, with – PANIC – inside and out.

Chased by the weasel, Henrietta the rabbit darted in and out between the legs of the picketing ostriches and coyotes, by now having lengthened their picket line to totally encircle the cabin.

Henrietta raced frantically to escape the weasel, whose plan, as always, was to chase and harry the older bunny until she finally wore down and collapsed, unable to defend herself from the weasel’s final onslaught and attack as he sought to wrap his muscular body around his victim to hold it in place in order to sink penetrating fangs into its brain like a jaguar.

Round and round they went at a breakneck pace, in a life and death agility race around the cabin.

The weasel, a compact ball of energy eating half its own body weight each day and much younger with more endurance, knew it was only a matter of time before the rabbit wore down and he would be able to pounce and claim her for breakfast.

But not this day. Spotting the chase from the window, I hopped as quickly as one good foot would allow, but Little Red Bear had already rushed out to our receptionist’s rescue before me.

Waiting for Henrietta to complete another lap around the cabin, Little Red Bear jumped onto the path behind her as she raced past, placing himself directly in front of the charging weasel.

Henrietta immediately veered right, changing course and making a break for the cabin, leaping up the front porch steps, thru the door I was holding open for her, and into safety. The pursuing weasel made skid marks in the dirt trying frantically to stop before crashing into Little Red Bear’s big foot, swerved at the last second and retreated into the nearby woodline.

“You can stay out here and picket in the hot sun and rain all you want, but we ain’t havin’ none of that!”

Little Red Bear admonished the ostriches and everyone within earshot, waving his right paw at them to emphasize the point in the same manner a mother might scold a misbehaving child.

Little Red Bear walked up to the largest ostrich and faced him, nose to beak. “If you want to carry on your stupid protest, that’s fine. Do it. But you WON’T be harming any of our friends or you’ll be dealing with me!”

He tromped over to the smallest ostrich, abruptly grabbing away the protest sign the bird had been carrying, the one saying that Little Red Bear was “fat, stupid and ugly” as you may recall, broke the stake handle over his right knee and crumpled the sign into pieces between his paws.

“That’s what will happen to you if you harass or harm any more of our friends or story characters!” Little Red Bear declared for all to hear as he hurled the sign pieces into the air, turned and walked away.

The gallery of squirrels, raccoons, possums, chipmunks and other small critters already chased up into the safety of nearby trees by the weasels and coyotes, burst into applause, whistling and cheering wildly for Little Red Bear as he returned to the cabin.

But it’s fair to say, that little ostrich was madder than a wet hen in a fox’s tote sack after his protest sign was destroyed!

Back inside, Little Red Bear calmly sat down beside me where I was checking over Henrietta to make sure she was all right, trying to reassure and soothe the old bunny’s jangled nerves.

“Guess I told them, huh?”

Little Red Bear laughed heartily – the loud, deep, belly laugh guffaw which he so often does and is known for.

“I suppose you did, Red,” I responded, chuckling myself.

Catching her breath after a short time, Henrietta patted Little Red Bear on the foot. “Thought that weasel might have had me there, Red,” Henrietta admitted. “I don’t run quite as fast as I used to, you know. I was starting to wear down. Thanks for saving me. I was just trying to come in to work, that’s all. Figured you boys might need a little help with all this rabble-rousing going on.”

“No need to thank anyone, Henrietta,” Little Red Bear responded. “We all stick up for each other and appreciate your dedication, for sure. You are family working with us here. And your bunnies back in the nest need you.”

“What about them, Red?” Henrietta responded, with suddenly a worried tone in her voice. “Will they be safe now? I should go check on them!”

Little Red Bear gently held her shoulder to keep the mother rabbit from rushing back outside to run and check on her family.

“They will be fine, Henrietta,” Little Red Bear reassured. “I never thought it would come to this but hopefully they all got the message to leave everyone alone from now on. But just in case, we’ll have Albuquerque stay closer now to help keep things in order. On the way back inside, I sent our friend Stanley the Cardinal to find him and to have Albuquerque bring all your bunnies back to stay inside here with us, just in case.”

“Thanks, Red. It’s really not nice or fair what those ostriches and other tormentors are saying about you out there.”

“Sticks and stones, Henrietta,” Little Red Bear replied, with a knowing wink in my direction.

It was at that time Little Red Bear and I simultaneously realized it was quiet. The protesting chants and howling coyote racket had subsided following Little Red Bear’s intercession on Henrietta’s behalf. We looked at each other and sighed. Could we be that lucky? Had Little Red Bear’s outburst ended it all?

Well, seems we’re never really that lucky, truth be told. A moment later the disturbance started up all over again.

Boycott Bear Stories!

No Ostriches, No Stories!

What do we want? Ostriches!

When do we want them? Now!

And continued.

1-2-3-4 – They’re scared and hiding behind the door!

5-6-7-8 – We’re gonna make their stories late!

1-2-3-4 – They’re not gonna be able to work no more!

5-6-7-8 – We’re gonna make their readers wait!

Arising once again to make sure the window was closed and looking out to see what was going on, Little Red Bear and I observed the ostriches and coyotes had resumed their picket duties, circling the cabin with protest signs being thrust up and down and waved about in the air for all to see. Except for the smallest ostrich, who was nowhere to be seen.

And now, for the first time, the noise was not coming solely from the front of the cabin, as there seemed to be a commotion going on in the back and from other surrounding areas, as well.

Looking out a rear window, Little Red Bear and I witnessed an impromptu village of woodland critters camped out not only behind the cabin, but also beginning to expand and surround it, seemingly growing in size by the minute. A few curious human onlookers were intermingled amongst the critter encampment to boot! The image of General Custer flashed uncomfortably thru my mind.

An unimaginable display of nests, burrows, bedding and other improvised shelters had sprung up overnight all over our property like mushrooms following a spring rain, and continuing to pop up seemingly in every nook and cranny right before our eyes. Activity and construction was going on everywhere, with more homes and housing than we could begin to count.

Several deer and elk had bedded down in what used to be a very nice stand of tall prairie grass in the back. The skunks and porcupines seemed to be enjoying a secluded area pretty much all to themselves off in the side yard to the right. Best for everyone, I suppose.

Ol’ Cooter’s ‘Raccoon Platoon’ had set up a row of lean-to shelters off to one side, with Farmer Turner’s prize hunting dog Blue and the hounds having raised a row of pup tents on the opposite side.

Grass and leaf huts seemed to be cropping up everywhere!  Find an open patch of ground, turn away for a moment and then look back, and a slapdash home had been erected on the spot in the meantime.

Long lines of varicolored little tents were arranged closest to the cabin in almost military-like precision, fashioned by rabbits from old discarded blankets. “Those add a nice touch of color to the landscape,” I mentioned in jest, nudging Little Red Bear for him to notice. Apparently, the bivouacked bunnies felt safer in considerable numbers.

“With all those rabbits, we are definitely going to need Albuquerque’s help keeping the peace and them all safe now, Red.”

Little Red Bear grunted and nodded in agreement, and pointed out a  very large, jumbled pile of sticks and twigs in the corner of the left side yard.

“Who made that mess?” I wondered out loud.

“That’s no mess, Jim. That there’s a beaver lodge,” Little Red Bear advised.

Indeed, it was a beaver lodge, constructed in hurried fashion overnight by our beaver neighbors in Hoppers Holler, who, as we watched, were busy simultaneously working off to the side on second and third lodges also, with “For Rent” signs in front of each.

“Beavers don’t build lodges on dry ground,” I observed.

“No, they don’t build on dry ground, Jim,” Little Red Bear agreed. “Think about it. It’ll come to you.”

And then it hit me. Flap and Slap, the beaver twins, are good friends, but if they even think about diverting a stream thru my yard to form another new beaver pond, I will . . .

Sorry. Got sidetracked there for a moment. It’s all starting to wear a bit, you see – the protests, chanting, picket lines. The dream that felt like a dream but which burnt my foot and set the old oak tree ablaze from the inside out. Almost losing our receptionist to a hungry weasel right before our eyes. Hundreds and maybe thousands of animals, birds and people encamped on our property, with more arriving every minute. And now the prospect of our side yard being turned into a beaver pond.

“All we need is a ringmaster and a few clowns to make this circus sideshow complete,” I muttered out loud.

“Careful what you wish for,” Little Red Bear deadpanned, with a vacant stare into the distance. He motioned again, to bring my attention to a distant hilltop.

Up on a back hill to the west and overlooking the unplanned and unauthorized campgrounds, teepees were hurriedly being erected. Recognizing the markings, it was apparent that word of the protest and goings-on had also reached Indian John and our good friends over on Bent Feather Creek.

I would never have expected Daniel Yellowhorse to bring along his pet bison though. Just hope those big fellas don’t wander down into the yard section we’ll be mowing later, if you know what I mean.

Off to the southeast I spotted a group of backwoods folk that I recognize from the next county over. Looks like they might be planning to visit and stay a spell, with what appeared to be several outhouses under construction as they were hurriedly throwing together a line of single-purpose buildings in the distance resembling a line of porta potties at the county fair, but disconcertingly more permanent in nature.

Although, I suppose we do need sanitation with all the unplanned guests continuing to arrive in numbers. Appreciate their lending a helping hand with that, after thinking about it more. But what happens to them all when this ostrich mess is over?

The hoped-for peace that I thought the weekend might bring has instead brought flocks and herds of onlookers and looky-loos wanting to be witness to what is turning into the biggest news event in quite a while here. With nearly every critter and human freed up from their weekday woodland jobs and having the weekend off, it appears the entire backwoods populace of the tri-county area decided this was the place to be.

I blame the squirrels.

“WEEKEND CAMPOUT AT LITTLE RED BEAR CABIN! Y’ALL COME!”

Yeah – that was the headline in last night’s special edition of “Squirrelly World”. Explains it all, doesn’t it? Apparently, “Squirrelly World” has a much more extensive reader and subscription base than I had been led to believe.

After the initial shock of discovering the overnight encampment in the morning, I started serving what refreshments I could gather to the potential story characters still waiting patiently in line beyond the picket line. Little Red Bear and I need to keep them on our side as this all unfolds, with still many unfilled story character positions needed for upcoming stories.

They always say the fastest way to a man’s heart is thru his stomach, and I have always found that approach works equally well with critters, too. So, refreshments for everyone in line seemed both the natural and prudent thing to do.

I did not feel comfortable asking Little Red Bear to do it since I feared his presence outside might provoke the ostriches even more after that protest sign smash up and encounter earlier, and to be honest I’m not sure I trust him in close proximity to them again, either.

So, I took it upon myself. While out, I chased off a pair of weasels who were trying to charge arriving campers a fee to enter the area. Weasels, true to their nature – trying to profit from uninvited campers on our property.

Since I was out there already, I tried to again engage the ostriches in dialogue to move this to a settlement and resolution, but they refused to talk at all, saying only that they have now filed a complaint with the NLRB—National Labor Relations Birds. I suspect a Venue of Vultures will arrive in a day or so to start the hearing proceedings, wind currents permitting.

Things will get out of hand sometimes. But tomorrow is Sunday. Certainly, peace and camaraderie can be achieved on a Sunday. So, keeping a good thought and hoping for better tomorrow.

With Albuquerque, the little red fox sheriff, having arrived safely with Henrietta’s little family of bunnies and now patrolling the bunny rabbit tents and campsite area out back to keep the weasels at bay, we all seated ourselves around the table for dinner. It had been another long and arduous day for all of us.

Little Red Bear distributed fresh greens and veggies for the rabbits, and some very special honey roasted carrots he had specially prepared as a treat for the baby bunnies, playfully teasing them with the honey jar while making sure each one took only a tiny piece for dessert, not to overload them on sugar highs and have baby bunnies bounding about the cabin all night.

Little Red Bear’s special carrot treat was never sampled though, as without warning a large rock came crashing thru the front window!

Pieces of glass flew everywhere as the window at first shattered and then seemed to explode from the force of a heavy, grey granite rock hurled from outside, startling everyone and causing all the bunnies to scurry in fright beneath the table to shelter from flying bits of glass.

Thump-a! . . . Bump-a! . . . Thump-a! . . . .

The rock hurtled, careened and bounced across the cabin’s wooden floor, finally coming to rest against the far wall.

Wearing boots and not wanting any of the others’ bare feet to be cut on broken shards of glass, I motioned Little Red Bear and everyone away. Carefully stepping around the larger glass splinters, smaller pieces crunched and crackled beneath my feet as I made my way across the room.

Reaching the rock, I carefully picked it up to find a message, painted in bold red letters on the flat bottom.

I held it up for Little Red Bear to see.

“LOOK OUTSIDE”

To be continued . . . .


Thanks as always for following along and visiting with us! As a special ‘thank you’, Little Red Bear has included the Pinterest Recipe for those Honey Roasted Carrots he made for Henrietta’s bunnies. If you are unfamiliar with Pinterest, simply tap on the image to find the recipe.

Be sure to check in next week as events continue to unfold in the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis”, a continuing weekly serialized free story available only here on the Writing Blog.  See ya then!

Random acts of kindness cost nothing, yet yield the greatest rewards.  Be the reason someone smiles today!   — Jim  (and Red!)


Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

“Every Spring nature writes a fresh new chapter in the book of Genesis.” — Anonymous


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

Celebrate Earth Day Every Day!    Think Globally — Act Locally!


For National Poetry Month — “The Story of Jack and Jill Retold”

With the month of April and National Poetry Month winding down, my writing muse urged me to give poetry another go before returning to work with Little Red Bear on his adventure stories.

If new to my writing pages site and a poetry fan, I invite you to find more on my new Dime Rhymes page for generally shorter works, along with more poems and short stories under the ‘Short Works & Free Reads’ tab at the top of the page.

So, hope you enjoy this retelling of an old classic, with a twist.  As in ‘twisting’ the top off and first licking the cream filling inside, of course.


“The Story of Jack and Jill Retold”

Jack and Jill

Went up the hill,

To fetch a pail of Oreo’s.

Neither fell down,

Nor broke their crown,

Whilst on a break from after-school jobs at Florio’s.

For while pizza is fine and always a treat,

Cookies on a hilltop can never be beat!

Simply licking cookies sitting under a tree,

It all sounds like a very good time, to me.

Playfully seeking out hidden shapes in a cloud,

Proclaiming discoveries, exclaiming out loud.

Moments to enjoy, look back and reflect,

Gather our thoughts, and with spirit connect.

We all should go on retreats of peace now and then,

For when the next chance may come, we never know when.

Made a few revisions to the old tale this day,

With no one being injured, at work or at play.

Just a little retelling, another fun poem,

Which should be no surprise, as by now we all know ‘em.

So, our Jack and Jill

Went up that hill,

Enjoying their pail of Oreo’s.

Time spent together,

Is always a treasure,

But now back to writing short story-o’s.


Thanks for visiting with us once again!  Please remember, happiness is a decision and way of travel, experiencing the journey along the way, not a destination.  Be kind and the reason someone smiles today!  —  Jim (and Red!)


 Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!


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

“So of cheerfulness, or a good temper, the more it is spent, the more it remains.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


 

A Dime Rhyme Poem — “Little Tommy O’Flanagan”

Sharing a wee bit of a poem for National Poetry Month in April — “Little Tommy O’Flanagan”.  It’s one of those short little poems just for fun.  Check out the Dime Rhymes page for more.


Little Tommy O’Flanagan

Oh, to see our poor little boy Tommy O’Flanagan,

Jumping a puddle and falling splat on his can again.

Off running and dripping now on his way home,

All mucky and muddy and covered in loam.

Tommy with all his wits now collected,

Is trying to sneak in undetected.

Our  dear sweet but splattered little Tommy O’Flanagan,

Hoping ne’er to be caught in his latest shenanigan.


Thanks always for visiting with us and sharing our writing journeys.  A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after a success. Be an encourager and the reason someone smiles today!  —  Jim  (and Red!)


 Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!


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

“Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing yourself is Enlightenment.” – Lao Tzu