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

Happy 2019! 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

– Dennis P. Kimbro

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Notably —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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


“Who or What is Mickey McJibbers???”

It would give Little Red Bear and I great pleasure to introduce you to a new story character coming to the next collection of Red’s stories — “The Second Holler Over!” — and to tell you all about him, but as it turns out, we only know the name at this point in time — Mickey McJibbers. Or is it Mickie McJibbers — female???  We have no idea.

Most often, new characters arrive via my writing muse complete with a name, what or who they are, and frequently somewhat of a backstory. In this case, the only thing to come thru was the name — Mickey or Mickie McJibbers.

I get the sense though that he or she is a rather talkative, nervous sort, constantly jabbering on about something or other. And I think that explains the last name a bit — McJibbers — a mashup perhaps of Jabbers and Jitters.

But that still leaves us with the question of what or who the character is, and he (or she) is being of absolutely no help, obviously not very self-aware at this point, either.

So, we are stuck with trying to figure out just what sort of critter or person is Mickey or Mickie McJibbers? As stated, we know the name and nothing else about him or her at this point. Other than my feeling that the character appears to be a jittery jabberer.

Is the character a critter of some type? A person? What does he/she do? Where does he/she live? Why do I have such a strong feeling that he or she is of such a nervous disposition and given to incessant jabbering on about seemingly every trivial and unimportant thing?

Little Red Bear thought maybe you could help us with some suggestions and ideas, so please comment on this post and help us identify this new character to be able to include him/her in the upcoming adventure stories. If your identification is selected by Little Red Bear, he will even give you a credit in the next book. He’s known for doing nice things like that.

By the way, now is a good time to catch up on the “Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories if anyone hasn’t read or finished the first collection yet. Red and I are hard back at work on his stories again now following the summer move and there is still time before we are finished for you to meet all the characters and learn the history of the ongoing weasel fracas because the stories run in sequence thataway. We don’t want to see anyone left behind when the action starts anew! (There are always pesky weasels sneaking around and on the prowl, so best to be informed about for one’s own safety, you know.)

Thanks always for stopping by and visiting with us!  After you finish leaving a Mickey McJibbers comment and have some time on your hands, please feel free to browse around and check out the Free Reads and other features on the blog here. We are adding new ones all the time! — Jim  (and Red!)


“We know what we are, but not what we may be.” –  William Shakespeare

                      “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”                   – Mahatma Gandhi


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

                         “I’m not really sure which parts of myself are real and which parts are things I’ve gotten from books.” – Beatrice Sparks (“Go Ask Alice”)


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, last month we were able to donate six print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to a Senior Citizens Library and Residents!

Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing happiness and kindness with everyone. Join us to make a positive difference in the world!


“Through others we become ourselves.” – Lev S. Vygotsky

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” – Ralph Ellison


 

Happy Hummer Season! Welcoming, Helping, and Attracting Hummingbirds In Your Neighborhood

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

My earliest memories of hummingbirds from many years ago recall the stern admonition and warning from my Mother, taking a page from the ‘Mother’s Guide to Eyes & BB Guns’ — “Don’t go anywhere near the hummingbirds or bother them. They’ll poke your eye out with that bill of theirs!” 

This has always seemed out of character with my Mother’s deep love for all things ‘nature’, but she nevertheless firmly stood by it all thru the years. Maybe she knew someone from her past that had an unfortunate run-in with a disgruntled hummingbird. But I tend to doubt it.

Despite the “Eye Poke” warning, we planted a never-ending stream of flowers and butterfly bushes over the years to attract them, and it was always a special time celebrating new arrivals each Spring. It seemed that Summer would not really be Summer without Hummingbirds buzzing around our flower gardens!

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 nectar 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.  Residents in the South and along the Gulf shores should expect them first and have feeders out, available, and at the ready. When the tiny hummingbirds arrive after long journeys across the Gulf of Mexico from Central and South America they are famished, exhausted, and in need of quick energy resupply!


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.

If unprepared in the Spring, not to worry. It is never too late during the season to put your first feeder out for hummingbirds, and extra feeders in the fall are very important for both local birds to prepare for southern migrations and for those passing thru from up north on their way south. It’s never too late to start.

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 the breeding season, and then later feeding their young in the nest. And later still, preparing for fall southern migrations back to their winter homes.


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 and growing families.

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. Everyone enjoys a little elbow room.

Feeders can be inexpensive and plain, or very decorative and ornamental.  The hummingbirds only care about the nectar and happily leave design and decor 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 the color 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.

Wearing a bright red shirt one hot day last summer, a hummingbird approached and examined me closely before sadly moving on, clearly disappointed after determining that the giant flower he thought he had joyfully discovered was not in fact, a flower.


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

It is important to 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, or a ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water if preparing a larger amount. Let the mixture cool and then fill the feeder and hang it outside for the birds. Simple as that.


For best results, hang the feeders 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.


Keeping the feeders freshly filled and available for the birds when fall arrives and having the extra nectar nourishment available will help your little neighborhood hummingbirds restrengthen after the breeding season is finished, boosting energy and helping them to prepare for their long migration back to southern wintering grounds.

Autumn feeders 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 actually be very helpful in providing needed migration energy for all.

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. We usually clean ours every other day just to be safe.

Feeders can be cleaned using various sized bottle brushes and by soaking them in a mixture of 1 part plain white 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 a very 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 different types of feeders, we have never really had a problem with either mold or 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.

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

For help in selecting the best native plants for not only hummingbirds but all birds, a great resource to check out is Audubon’s Native Plant Database. Simply enter your zip code to find the recommendations of local experts in your area for your yard. Then you can narrow down the search by the type of birds and/or plants you have in mind.


So, happy Hummer Season!  Little Red Bear and I hope this guide to helping the hummingbirds 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. Teaching children about the wonders of Mother Nature can never begin too early, and hummingbirds are fascinating and captivating to watch for all ages.

Likes, Comments, and Shares are always appreciated to help spread the word to others about Mother Nature and helping to make the world a better place for everyone.

Thanks as always for visiting and spending part of your day with us.  Join us in the “Smile & Compliment” club and help brighten someone’s life today!  — Jim (and Red!)


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

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


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

                   “The woods hold not such another gem as the nest of the hummingbird.                   The finding of one is an event.” – John Burroughs


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

Because together we can do so much!


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

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the Earth are never alone or weary of life.” – Rachel Carson


 

Happy Spring! — On Singing Birds, Baby Rabbits, and Our New Video “Springtime in Little Red Bear Land!”

Happy Spring!  Long awaited, Spring seems to have finally arrived here in the Central Midwest, while other areas to the north are still being buffeted by Winter-like storms.  Two days in the past week reached 80F degrees and doggone it the calendar says April 15th, so with all due respect to Jack Frost and Ol’ Man Winter, Little Red Bear and I are firmly declaring “Welcome Spring!”

As I write this, the windows are open and two Cardinals are singing lustily back and forth in the front of my home, while a House Finch sings for his enchanted in the back. An untold number of English Sparrows are embroiled in loud and urgent arguments over prime nesting spots behind outdoor lamp fixtures around the building.

Robins have been hopping along on the grass for a few weeks now, and I was blessed to see the arrival of a pair of Goldfinches yesterday morning, the first seen this year. The House Wrens have yet to arrive in my neighborhood, but they are usually among the last to arrive, along with the Hummingbirds.

Birds are dashing here and there hurriedly weaving and constructing new nests, while bear cubs, fox kits, and other babies are emerging from dens. A good time to remind to please be careful when driving or out and about with activities, to please be watchful for Mother Nature’s sometimes clumsy and careless new youngsters scurrying about, and to be mindful of spring families and nesting sites, including nesting shorebirds if visiting the beaches.

Because — Spring has arrived!


Little Red Bear has been hard at work on a new video celebrating “Springtime in Little Red Bear Land” and decided it was time to share it with everyone. As the Director of our videos, Little Red Bear has added a new wrinkle to this one, incorporating mini videos within the primary video.  Please let us know if you like our new mini “videos-in-a-video” approach because Red’s always trying new things to make them better and more entertaining for everyone.

Very special “Thank You’s!” to our dear photographer friends Adele Barger Wilson, Marilyn Schroeder, Matt and Delia of M&D Hills Photography, and Sallie J. Woodring Photography for the generous use of their images to create this video, along with images and video inserts from Pixabay.

Our hope is that even though some areas may still be held in Winter’s icy grip, Little Red Bear’s video will help bring warming thoughts of Spring to arrive soon.

We hope you enjoy Little Red Bear’s new video, and if so would truly appreciate a “Thumbs-Up” on YouTube to help other people find their way to it. Likes, Comments, and Shares are always appreciated! Happy Springtime!

When Spring arrives in your backyard — Open the windows! Listen to the songbirds! Watch the baby animals bouncing around! Walk barefoot in the new green grass! Plant a garden with some flowers for the bees and pollinators! Get dirty! Jump in a rain puddle! Take a hike and enjoy all of Mother Nature’s Springtime blessings!

If you have Dandelions popping up here and there in your yard this Spring, please check out “Please Don’t Pull The Dandelions — They’re Nature’s Gift!” before cranking up the lawn mower or reaching for the weed puller.


Jeffrey and Jolene are a pair of cottontail rabbits who live with their family beneath Red’s cabin in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories, invited there along with others by Little Red Bear for protection against marauding packs of weasels. But not all rabbit families are so lucky to have a caring and helpful bear in the neighborhood. So, while pushing or riding the lawn mower this Spring, please be watchful to navigate around rabbit nests with babies in your yard.

A quick walk around the yard while picking up winter twigs and debris before mowing, searching for depressions in the ground and grass, can reveal any nests to be easily avoided later when mowing. Be on the lookout for fluffy tufts of the mother rabbit’s fur or for what otherwise may appear to be simply brown patches of dead grass. There may be a nest beneath, and a quick inspection will reveal it.

If you find one, simply leave a six-foot circle of unmowed grass around the nest, and then keep children and pets away for a few weeks. For more information and a quick little video, check out How To Spot A Rabbit Nest Before Mowing Your Lawn from Ontario Wildlife Removal, Inc. The mother rabbit rarely visits the nest during daylight hours (to avoid tipping off the nest’s location to predators), so not seeing any rabbits in your yard is not an indication that there are no nests. Please take a few minutes to simply walk around your yard before mowing to avoid any tragedies.

The baby rabbits only stay in a nest for about three weeks, so while leaving a circle of uncut grass around a nest for a few weeks is not really a big deal for us, it can be a lifesaver for baby rabbits!


If you would like to check out more of our videos, please visit Little Red Bear’s Homespun Videos page to see all that Red has produced to date.

Thanks always for visiting and spending part of your day with us!  Wishing you and your family a very Happy Spring! — Jim (and Red!)


“In spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” –  Margaret Atwood

“To pick a flower is so much more satisfying than just observing it, or photographing it . . .                        So, in later years, I have grown in my garden as many flowers as possible                       for children to pick.” – Anne Scott-James 


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

“In springtime, love is carried on the breeze. Watch out for flying passion and kisses whizzing by your head.” –  Emma Racine Defleur


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

Because together we can do so much!


” Spring is nature’s way of saying — ‘Let’s party!’ ” –  Robin Williams


 

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

Meet Little Red Bear and His Friends —

“Once upon a time in a very special woods . . . .”

Once upon a time, quite a number of years ago in the Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri, when steam locomotives rumbled over the rails huff-chuffing along leaving puffy billows and clouds of smoke behind as they went, paddle-wheeled steamboats navigated their way past shifting sandbars in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers with calliopes playing jaunty melodies to waving folk along the riverbanks, and farmers still relied on wagons, horses, and mules to work the land, there lived three bears.

The three bears were by no means the ordinary, average, or run-of-the-mill bears as most may be familiar with visiting in zoos and observing in nature documentaries today.  Rather, they were quite remarkable. As it turns out . . . . uncommonly special.

The first bear was named Walter, but everyone called him Little Red Bear after an unfortunate run-in with a hive of angry bees one early spring afternoon.  Not to be confused by the name ‘Red’, as his friends frequently shortened his nickname in conversation, his true color was more of a rusty, reddish-brown color.  Kind of an orange, red, and brown all swirled, stirred, and smushed together. So, if after hearing ‘Red’ you had in mind the bright red color of a fire truck, you would be much closer thinking of a rusty old metal wagon in the yard over yonder. That’s Little Red Bear.

Little Red Bear lived in the log cabin he had built on Honey Hill, overlooking Hoppers Holler below, named for the large number of rabbit families who made their homes along Blackberry Creek, meandering aimlessly back and forth, zigging and zagging around boulders and rocky outcroppings from one end of Hoppers Holler to the other.

Little Red Bear had large vegetable and herb gardens, along with many fruit and nut trees. He allowed several rabbits and other assorted critters to make their homes and safely raise their families in the space beneath his cabin for protection against marauding packs of weasels, the scourge of the Ozarks Mountain Country backwoods.

In addition to being regarded as the top honey-gatherer in the mountains, Little Red Bear was equally famous for both the finely crafted bamboo fishing poles and for the flaky, buttery biscuits he made. The steaming hot biscuits drizzled over with plentiful amounts of sweet golden honey of course, and served with every meal. But for some reason, Little Red Bear never learned how to make a decent pie crust. Although he never stopped trying.

Little Red Bear was also known for his weekly Friday night fish fries when neighbors from all over the Tri-County area would bring their families, along with their own prepared dishes and dinner contributions to share for the potluck dinner each week. Everyone, old and young alike, looked forward to Friday nights and Little Red Bear’s fried fish, praised by all as “staggeringly good!”

The second bear was named Bobo.  A black bear and somewhat larger than Little Red Bear in size, Bobo had retired following years of performing in “Barney’s Traveling Big Top Animal Circus and Sideshow” where his balancing feats were legendary. Bobo was widely renowned as ‘Bobo the Balancing Black Bear’ and he still liked to perform for folk whenever the opportunity presented itself. Bobo was rightly confident that he could juggle or balance just about anything tossed his way.

Little Red Bear and Bobo were the very best of friends, an interesting pairing with Little Red Bear being noticeably more calm and thoughtful, while Bobo could be, at times, a bit on the hot-tempered side and given to bouts of occasional grumpiness. But, to his credit, always one to be counted on whenever a problem or threat arose. Or, it must be said, a gathering of onlookers to entertain. Bobo was a trouper and showbear, thru and thru, and could never decline an opportunity to perform for a crowd.

Bobo the black bear was married to Lily, also a black bear retired from Barney’s Big Top circus. They had made an unexpected magical connection behind the circus tent following a performance years before when both had reached for a visitor’s discarded cotton candy at the same moment, touched paws, and had been together ever since. Lily walked away from the chance encounter not only with the cotton candy but also with Bobo’s heart. They are inseparable, and seldom is one seen without the other close by.

Not to be outdone, Lily also was known far and wide for her performing skills in the circus ring as ‘Lily the Dancing Black Bear’. Her graceful and charming dance performances, balletic in style, received rave reviews everywhere the circus traveled, with her most famous dancing maneuver still known as “The Lily Bear Twirl” to this day.

Unlike Little Red Bear, Lily was renowned for her exceptional pie making skills, rivaling that of Myra Cookson who operated ‘Myra Cookson’s Pie Pantry & Goodies Shoppe’ over in the nearby town of Butterfield.  Lily’s special Autumn Spiced Buttermilk Pie was always the most acclaimed and requested at holiday gatherings. It should also be mentioned that Lily’s Persimmon, Gooseberry, Arkansas Black Apple, and Chess Pies were also award-winners at the Tri-County Fairgrounds over the years, along with her Elderberry Jam. No one could compete in the annual county pie rivalry between Lily and Myra, and few tried. Lily’s practice pies undoubtedly contributed to her husband Bobo being of noticeably larger girth than his friend, Little Red Bear, although Bobo always ascribed his ample waistline to “circus muscles”, with a “grruummpphh!” and snort to emphasize the point.

Lily and Bobo lived in their log cabin, not too far away from Little Red Bear’s cabin on Honey Hill, towards the western end of Hoppers Holler. The more secluded and wooded end. The eastern end of the holler, home to Little Red Bear on Honey Hill, was more open with meadows of tall grasses, clover, and wildflowers that rippled in the gentle summer breezes. Honeybees visited the clover and wildflowers to make honey, and as predictably as spring follows winter, Little Red Bear visited the bees.

One day, when traveling to his favorite fishing hole which he had named ‘Perch Lake’ because of all the tasty yellow perch fish swimming about in it, Little Red Bear had come across a  small young bear, scarcely a year old and certainly not ready or large enough to be independent, or to be out on his own or alone yet. The little bear had been trying unsuccessfully to catch a fish, was very thin, ragged in appearance, ravenously hungry, and appearing in every way clearly the worse for wear. His name was Cinnamon Charlie, and his coat color was a brownish cinnamony color.

Upon learning about how he had been left by his mother and aware that young bears struggle mightily on their own with many not surviving, Little Red Bear befriended Cinnamon Charlie, gave him a home, and took him under his wing to look after, guide, teach, and instruct him in the ways of the world. And fishing.

Cinnamon Charlie was delighted to have a roof over his head, regular meals once again, and a comfortably warm bed of his very own near the fireplace. And away from Little Red Bear’s snoring on the other side of the cabin. Cinnamon Charlie had found a home. Even if it meant learning how to read the “Squirrelly World” newspaper each morning.

So, then there were four bears.

The four bears lived in an area of the Ozarks Mountain Country largely unchanged by time or the outside world where they all walked along upright on two legs, and where animals and humans conversed freely with each other and interacted as equals, living side by side as neighbors and friends as it had always been and as Mother Nature had originally intended before things got complicated.

Little Red Bear wore clothes, most frequently a pair of worn, faded and loose-fitting blue denim overalls, accompanied by a wide-brimmed straw hat and a washed-out red bandana tied loosely around his neck or dangling from a rear pocket, its location more often than not determined by the season and temperature of the day.

Together, the four bears and their friends, animal and human alike, are the main characters in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” tales — positive and inspirational fiction stories told in an easygoing, old-fashioned manner with a bit of down-home Southern flair, which we simply call a Country Comfortable writing style. Themes of Kindness, Positivity, Helping Others, Spirituality, Conservation, and Mother Nature are interwoven throughout, spiced with a little country humor.

The multi-generational short stories are family-friendly, instructive for young middle-grade readers, and perfectly suited for reading to little ones on your lap by the fireside, while also being both humorous and enjoyable entertainment for adult readers on their own. The stories are intended to be Entertaining, Informative, and Educational.

Discover what our readers have had to say about the Little Red Bear stories in their Reviews and Reader Comments, and tap here to enjoy a Free Preview for yourself.

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” —  about an uncommonly special bear and his friends.  And where no story ever begins with — “Once Upon a Time . . . .”



Thanks as always for visiting and spending part of your day with us! We hope you will join us for Little Red Bear’s stories because everyone needs to step off the front porch for an entertaining and rewarding adventure now and then.

Just please remember to scrape the mud off your boots when you get back.  We still get a few letters now and then about muddy floors.  —  Jim  (and Red!)


“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald

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


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

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


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“To read the front pages, you might conclude that Americans are mostly out for themselves, but you can’t travel the back roads very long without discovering a multitude  of gentle                            people doing good for others with no expectation of gain or recognition.”                     — Charles Kuralt


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 help of patrons allows us to donate print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” to Senior Citizen Centers and Residents, School Libraries and Classrooms, Hospitals, and to those who otherwise would not be able to enjoy or benefit from the stories.

Patrons help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an 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! 

As Little Red Bear says — “Think Globally, Act Locally. Tomorrow begins with You today!”


“Our greatest national resource is the minds of our children.” — Walt Disney 


 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

                                              

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


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

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


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Please Don’t Pull The Dandelions — They’re Nature’s Gift!

Oh my gosh!  It’s early Spring and here come the dandelions all over the yard.  What to do?!?

Answer — absolutely nothing.  Relax, have an iced tea, and simply leave them be. We really dig dandelions here, but perhaps not in the way some may imagine.

My father, noted for his dandelions obsession, would have me busy every available free moment years ago it seemed, dandelion puller in hand, sent out to pull and dispatch the lowly yellow flowers out of our burgeoning green lawn.

“Now, get down deep and pull ’em up by the roots or they’ll surely come back on us, son!”

My idea of true technological progress was when my father came home one day with a long-handled dandelion puller newly purchased from the hardware store, one I didn’t have to bend over all day with or crawl around the yard on hands and knees.  Yep, modern science had come a long way. I could pull ’em standing up!

In the suburban sprawl era of the early 60’s with new subdivisions sprouting up everywhere, my father could and did spend hours talking with other men in the neighborhood about — Grass.  Seriously weighing the merits of one variety versus another and how best to care for their lawns. Those out there on the very cutting edge of technology were experimenting with the new Zoysia Grass just becoming available at the time, and “plugging” their lawns with it.  Anybody in their right mind seeded. Everybody knew that.  They were “plugging!”

“Poor Troutman’s lost his mind this year with that Zoysia grass.”

“Gonna have an ugly mess on his hands for sure!”

“That Zoysia stuff turns brown like straw all winter.  A real fire hazard, that!  He’ll be sorry.”

“Well, he’s a young college guy and doesn’t know anything.  He’ll learn.  Ya just can’t beat good ol’ Kentucky Blue Grass.”

“Nah, that stuff burns up in the summer heat.  I’ll stick with my Fescue.”

And on and on it went. Heady stuff, those evening, after-dinner grass meetings on the sidewalk.  We won’t even go into Crabgrass debates.  And what in the world to do about that guy on the corner and his dandelion infested yard, blowing seeds all over the neighborhood?

“Who does Baggett think he is, after all, a Dandelion Farmer? Look at his mess down there! Why doesn’t he get out and pull those dad-gummed weeds?!?”

The beauty of one’s lawn was definitely a status symbol in the subdivision back then, as dandelions in your yard certainly meant that you would be looked down upon by all of the folk meticulously fertilizing, treating, and clipping perfectly manicured lawns, proudly pushing their new, bright green Scotts’ spreaders in front of them while whistling a happy tune, dandelion digger tucked into their belt or back pocket.  And yes, there was a distinction.  Farmers ‘mowed’ down weeds.  Lawn aficionados ‘clipped’.

Folks with dandelions in their yards were judged to be lazy, uncaring, and downright disrespectful because soon those wicked seed puffs would be blowing thru the air on spring breezes and re-infesting all of the honorable and upstanding folks’ yards.

Such was life in the suburbs during the time of manicured lawns and new homeowners aspiring to be featured on the cover of ‘Better Homes & Gardens’ magazine.

But, let’s hold on just a bit and fast forward several decades.

Honeybees, critical to the world’s food supply, have been decimated in recent years from an assortment of maladies —  colony collapse disorder (CCD), global warming, selective industrial crop plantings, insecticide and herbicide poisoning, the uprooting and destruction of native plant species, and so much more.  They sorely need our assistance for the benefit of the planet, and it just so happens that leaving those dandelions in your yard alone for a while is one of the very best things that you can do to help them in early Spring.

When honeybees and other pollinators first emerge in the very first warm days of early Spring, like bears coming out from their dens after a long Winter and having depleted their honey stores which kept them going thru the Winter months, they are hungry and in need of nutrition right away. And just as Mother Nature intended, those bright yellow dandelion flowers in your yard are one of the very first emerging and available food sources for them every year.

Each dandelion flower is composed of up to a hundred individual florets, each one packed with needed nectar and pollen before later emerging flowers and plants bloom and are available.  Dandelions are one of the earliest and best food sources for bees and pollinators each Spring.  They count on dandelions for survival.

Not only honeybees feast on the flowers but also bumblebees, hoverflies, beetles, and butterflies.  Later, goldfinches, house sparrows, and others eat the seeds while raising babies in the nests.

For us, young dandelion leaves make a fine addition to spring salads and are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, and the flowers (leaving some for the honeybees and wildlife) have been made into Dandelion Wine for ages.  Just be sure the plants have not been treated with chemicals or lawn fertilizers for food safety.

So, if it is necessary to mow the grass, please consider raising the height of the cutting blades to safely pass over the dandelion flowers for the first month or so. It makes mowing thick spring grass easier, anyway. And then sit back with your iced tea on the porch to enjoy the parade of honeybees, butterflies, and other visitors to the dandelion flowers in your yard, confident that you are helping both them and the environment.

And if a well-intentioned neighbor makes a comment, just bring them up to speed about why it is so important to simply leave the dandelions be in early springtime, for the sake of the honeybees and pollinators. Cross-pollination helps at least a third of the world’s food crops and 90% of wild plants to survive.  Without bees to pollinate and spread seeds, many plants, including major food crops that we ourselves depend upon for survival, would die off.  And that is why early spring dandelions are so important. Some have stated that if honeybees disappeared from the Earth, humans would inevitably follow four years later due to lack of food supplies.

Besides, I haven’t met the Mother yet who doesn’t delight in a freshly-picked dandelion bouquet from her four-year-old in the Spring.  And, if the dandelions are all mowed down, pulled out, and tossed away — how could we ever hope to make a wish?

Working together we can do our best with Mother Nature to help the bees and other pollinators.  Thanks always for stopping by to visit with us, and please join us in the “Bee Friends” club and simply sit back to watch the dandelions grow.  — Jim   (and Red!)


Think Globally — Act Locally

Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy, Balanced Kids


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

                 “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength                   that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson 


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

Because together we can do so much!


“How doth the little busy bee, Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day, From every opening flower!”

 – Isaac Watts, ‘Divine and Moral Songs for Children’ 



Getting to Know — Tree Swallows

Tree Swallows are among my favorite birds, always delighting in observing their aerial acrobatics in fast pursuit of insects, rapidly twisting and turning thru the air dashing here, there, and everywhere on late summer afternoons and evenings.

The Tree Swallow (tachycineta bicolor) is one of the most beautiful of the swallow family, with deep-blue, iridescent backs and clean white fronts.  With their steely, bluish-green feathers flashing in the sunlight, Tree Swallows make a most striking appearance and display as they chase thru the air in pursuit of insect food for their families.

Tree Swallows do not build open, free-form nests of dead grass, leaves, sticks and twigs like many birds, but rather only nest inside cavities, such as old woodpecker holes in trees.  With such natural places in limited supply, nesting sites like these are scarce and at a premium in the spring, on a first-come, first-served basis, with intense competition with everyone looking for a home in which to raise a family.  But fortunately, Tree Swallows also adapt readily to nesting boxes.

You can help the Tree Swallows in your neighborhood by putting out nesting boxes in your backyard.  The birds are a great addition to a backyard or field and will reward you, as many birds and bats do, by regularly patrolling and keeping insects under control and at bay all summer long.

The average adult Tree Swallow consumes 2,000 insects each day during the 45 day nesting period, while also catching approximately 6,000 insects per day to feed to their nestlings over their twenty day stay in the nestbox. Overall, this adds up to about 300,000 insects per family over the 45 day span. Since most of their hunting takes place under a height of 39 feet, that is potentially a lot of insects not pestering you in the backyard over the summer.

That is a good return on the purchase, or for a few boards and time invested in building a nest box. And then you and your family will also be able to enjoy observing these beautiful birds going about their business darting and dashing thru the air and raising their young thru the whole season.

For more information on Tree Swallows, please visit the Tree Swallow Nesting Project and Building Nesting Boxes for some easy how-to guides.

Thanks as always for visiting.  If you have stories or experience with these beautiful birds or helping them with nest boxes at your home, please feel free to share with us in the comments.  —  Jim (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


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

 

On Fly Fishing — Teach a Bear to Tie a Fly (And You Will Have Accomplished Something!)

Right off the bat, I must admit that the title may be a bit optimistic and premature, because I haven’t accomplished anything quite yet teaching Little Red Bear about tying flies and fly fishing.  But we’ll get back to that in a minute.

One of my favorite uncles, my mother’s youngest brother, was a first class fly fisherman in the day.  One of his best friends was a conservation officer with the Missouri Department of Conservation at the time, and they would spend every chance they got fly fishing the Ozarks streams. Like my mother, he had grown up in the country and was all about nature and the outdoors.  He had served in the Pacific on Iwo Jima and Okinawa among others in WWII not too many years before, and I always figured maybe the peacefulness of fly fishing is what may have so appealed to him after it all.

Uncle Paul firmly maintained that anyone could catch a fish if they hooked up a worm, used bait and fed them, but it was a true challenge and art to catch a fish on a lure that you had made yourself.  So he taught me how to make and tie my own flies and to fly fish as a boy.  He reassured me that the hungrier I got, the better I would get at making them.

I don’t know whose idea it was that I should learn how to tie flies at the age of nine, my mother’s or my uncle’s (it certainly wasn’t my father’s because he was a city kid, thru and thru), but there I was sitting at his kitchen table one Saturday morning learning all about the different kinds of flies and bugs to imitate. Shiny Mylar strips, tinsels, miniature corks, colored wires, hooks of all sizes, chenille stems, horse hairs, bits of assorted furs, spools of thread, and tools and miniature vices I had never seen before all spread out on the table before me.

And all sorts of wondrous feathers — peacock eye feathers, guinea fowl, pheasant, grouse, quail, marabou, ostrich, ducks, roosters, chickens and others.  Feathers from all over the world from birds I had only seen and read about in Encyclopedias!  All a small boy’s imagination could hope for and a whole new world suddenly opened.

As it turned out, fly fishing is the only kind of fishing I ever really enjoyed, to tell the truth.  And now steadfastly agree with my mentor.  Tossing a worm-baited hook into the water is not only lacking in challenge, but also an insult to the intelligence of the fish.  And since they spend so much time in schools, they do tend to take it rather personally.

There is just something about fly fishing.  The excitement and sudden rush of spotting a flash of silver under the water in the distance.  Working and playing out the fly line, back and forth, back and forth in a relaxing zen-like rhythm imitating soft lapping waves along the shoreline, the heavy line artfully arched over your head.  Cast out and land the lure in exactly the right spot where you just saw a riffle on the water, widening circlets across the way. Being at the water’s edge with the songbirds in the background while water ripples around you.  A turtle pops up to say ‘Good morning!’  and forest critters edge cautiously to the shoreline for a drink. Frogs croak their greetings as red-winged blackbirds cheer you on from the nearby reeds. Simply — magical. Nature speaks to you, if you listen. For myself, I just could never find that same joy in any other type of fishing.

I would spend hours on summer afternoons, just as Uncle Paul showed me, fly rod in hand in the backyard practicing to drop a fly inside a hula hoop target laid on the ground at the back of the yard. Eventually the larger hula hoop was replaced with a smaller metal bucket. I always look back on all that, together with the time my uncle spent with me infusing his love of the outdoors and respect for wildlife, as probably where my life-long love of nature and conservation got its start at an early age.  We never know at what precise moment the stars may align and how a few minutes spent with a child may influence their whole life to come.  And there’s a lesson there in itself.

We would visit my uncle’s home regularly thru the year on Saturday mornings, me in the kitchen learning to tie flies at the kitchen table with Uncle Paul, working side by side each of us with our own vise and every time a different type; while my mother visited with Aunt Laura in the living room. Wrapping and making the Wooly Bugger Worm was always my favorite.

It was Uncle Paul who gave me my first hunk of beeswax and taught me to always wax the sewing thread to keep it from tangling while tying the flies.  A trick I still use today when hand sewing teddy bears and things.

Some of the little tools, grips, vices, supplies and books used back then are still with me today.  We made frequent trips to visit the Culver Lures store on Missouri Avenue in south St. Louis at the time. A somewhat dark little store because the two smallish front windows were cluttered with merchandise, with a white wooden store front and wooden floors too, as I recall, overflowing with every fly tying and rod making item imaginable.  Stand at the counter, tell the man smoking the stubby cigar what I needed and he would go find it and ring it all up on the cash register.  Hand over the cash and away we’d go to make more lures. The store is long gone now and remodeled into a condo. A different time.

Used to have an honest-to-goodness fisherman’s straw hat with flies stuck in all over it, too. Don’t know where that might have went over the years, sadly.  I suspect my mother may have pricked her finger on a hook dusting it one too many times when I was away at college and it was shown the door.  But just a guess.  No one ever seemed to recall its whereabouts or fate later, whenever queried.

flies-3

It turns out Uncle Paul was right — there are few thrills in life to compare to catching and landing a fish on a lure that you have handmade yourself.  Marriage and the birth of children are certainly at the top, but that first fish is right up there on the list, too!

And that all brings me to Little Red Bear.  Being an avid fisherman himself with his assortment of bamboo and stick poles and always up for a challenge, Little Red Bear now wants me to teach him how to make his own lures and teach him how to fly fish.

Red has always been a “throw out the bait and wait” type, as he puts it.  Not my thing, as I said.  So I can readily see his wanting to move up the fishing ladder, so to speak.  The only problem is, with those big bear paws of his, I’m not sure that I’m up to the challenge of teaching him.  Showing him how to make biscuits is one thing, and admittedly his are better than mine now (although I still make the best cornbread). But Little Red Bear sitting and tying teeny little fishing flies?  Not so sure.

Still, I’ve yet to see Little Red Bear not accomplish something he sets his mind to, so we’ll see.  There was that time at Perch Lake when he hauled that giant, cantankerous and ill-tempered . . . . .   Well, I really should let you read and enjoy that ‘Sir Snapsalot’ story for yourself.  He even tells folk how to make their own bamboo fishing poles in that one!  Red’s famous for them in these parts.

In the meantime, I wonder what Uncle Paul would think now about the time he spent with a young nephew years ago, teaching him how to tie flies and fish, and who grew up to later write stories about conservation and an uncommonly special bear and his friends in the Ozarks Mountain Country that we visited and fished together ourselves? I like to think he might enjoy them. Time is never wasted when spending it with a child.

Thanks as always for visiting.  I will keep you posted, and we’ll see how this fly tying adventure goes with Little Red Bear, I suppose.  I can’t say ‘no’ to someone looking to learn and try something new.  Even if it seems as though it may be a mighty challenge along the way.  — Jim  (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

~ Children Learn To Read on the Laps of Their Parents ~

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

 

Back To Work With Little Red Bear — “The Second Holler Over!”

Hey, y’all.  Thought it might be time for a progress update on the next collection of Little Red Bear stories, to bring everyone up to date on what’s going on behind the scenes as we are into the new year now.  With the the holiday season concluded, we are back at work writing the next collection of Little Red Bear adventures for you — “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!”

Bobo and Lily have returned from their Christmas visit with black bear relatives in the Smoky Mountains now, and Red has rounded up Cinnamon Charlie, Albuquerque, Swinestein, “Howdy!”, Stillwater, Bayou Bill and the others back from their holiday vacation trips, as well. Indian John and Aunt Ivy have been dropping by daily, anxious to get back to work on the stories. Even Farmer Turner is here, this being his slower time of year during the winter months until spring planting season arrives.

And naturally, everyone’s favorite little red squirrel, Rusty the Fairydiddle, is back after his co-starring role in the “Pine Holler Christmas” story adventure, with Little Red Bear and Cinnamon Charlie.

Rusty the Fairydiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

The old prospector Packsaddle Pete is back too, with another adventure in mind. That may be a hard sell to the rest of the group since some of  us remain a little nervous hearing things at night, and still looking back over our shoulders following that “Broken Hill Mine” episode in the first story collection.  But he keeps going on about treasure maps and clues to Jesse James’ lost treasure buried around the area.  I don’t know.  We’ll have to see about that one.

Interviews for prospective new story characters are nearly concluded, with only a gopher, a skink, a second interview with a hedgehog, and a rather persnickety peacock remaining.  And, that really is meant to be ‘skink’ there, for those of you who thought that might be a typo.  We have an opening for a Five-lined Skink (also called a Blue-tailed Skink here in Missouri) in a coming story.  All of the available skunk character positions have already been filled.

Neither Little Red Bear nor I can figure out why peacocks seem so intent on being included in rollicking adventure stories set in the backwoods of the Ozarks Mountain Country.  We had peacocks lined up and applying for roles in the first collection, as well.

This new fellow has even gone so far as to declare that he could perfectly play the role of either a hummingbird or a woodpecker, but my leg only stretches so far.  Sometimes it appears peacocks are merely showing off.  See for yourself from the job application headshot photo he submitted to see what you think.  Do you really see him hovering  in place over a flower like a hummingbird, or grasping the bark while drilling a hole in the trunk of a sugarberry tree?

More suited for the red carpet in Hollywood than a backwoods action/adventure story perhaps, but we’ll interview him anyway. Maybe some other role might pop up for him. Who knows, it might turn into one of those cases where he simply plays himself.

And then we still have that troubling interview with a persistent mountain lion to deal with.  Admittedly, Red and I kept rescheduling that meeting over and over again the past few months hoping the mountain lion would cancel all together and just go away, but he seems determined to get into the stories. I suppose we are going to have to finally sit down with him to do the interview or risk incurring the wrath of the ‘Silly Story Characters Guild’.

No one is really excited about the prospect of an unpredictable mountain lion roaming around the woods. But our attorney, Bob the Badger, is already occupied trying to extend the beaver twins contracts, Flap and Slap.  The beavers are represented by a new agent, Reggie the Wood Rat, trying to make his mark and attract new clients.  And the bees are angry and buzzing about something again, so Badger Bob is busy attending to that matter for us, too. Seems like that stuff never ends sometimes.

So, we will interview the mountain lion, not to cause Bob the Badger anymore unnecessary work.  Might call Bobo to come sit in on that one with us.  Just in case.  I already asked Stillwater, but as you may remember from “The Wildwood Jamboree” story,  he doesn’t generally like to interfere or draw attention to himself so preferred to remain undetected on the sidelines.

The last interview we had been planning is with a human character who keeps calling on the phone saying he is lost and unable to find the place.  After the fifth “I’m lost” call and reschedule, Little Red Bear finally decided to go out to search for the guy himself and lead him in for the interview.  Bobo suggested we just sit and wait to follow the circling buzzards.  He can be that way sometimes.  The fellow’s name is ‘Woods’ something or other, if memory serves me correctly.  Hoping he will show up eventually.

So, except for the last few remaining interviews, all the character slots have been filled, with several new colorful story characters assembled and eager to get to work.  Some of them you may have already met.  Early arrivals already introduced in the “Pine Holler Christmas” story include Littleberry Bedford (the new farmer recently moved into the abandoned Longenecker homestead over by Buffalo Crossing) and his family, old Cooter (the leader of the Hoppers Holler Raccoon Platoon), Floyd the House Mouse, Aunt Alma Mason, Myra Cookson and her ‘Pie Pantry & Goodies Shoppe’ over in Butterfield, Doc Adams, and — Goat.

Others new to the stories include an honest-to-goodness old mountain man given to telling tall tales, a far-from-home moose, a worn out old hound dog, a Native American couple searching for a new home, more problematic pigs, dashing ducks, a bothersome buzzard, a pair of owl brothers setting up to compete with the ‘Squirrelly World’ local newspaper, a performing circus bear (as opposed to Lily and Bobo, who are both retired, as you may recall), a frolicking and unconventional family of woodland bunnies, a Little Red Bear “mini-mini-me wannabe”, and others.

There is also an aged possum who has taken up residence in a pear tree behind Red’s cabin on Honey Hill.  He spends all day hanging upside down by his tail, despite Little Red Bear reminding him that possums “really ain’t supposed to do that”.  But he persists.  With good reason, he says.  Although he hasn’t told us what that reason is yet.

If you recall, there was that expansion work going on over at Bobo and Lily’s cabin in the first stories.  Just a brief mention, but I always wondered myself what that was all about.  Did you?  Bobo and Lily never said.

No collection of Little Red Bear adventures would be complete without some old steam locomotives and trains huffing, chuffing and puffing along. Another circus train, perhaps? There were those circus trains so talked about in the “Crossing the Two Forks” story in the first collection.  Could there be another?  As we learned, traveling circuses are very popular in the small towns, so suppose it could be possible another might be passing thru sometime.

There may be some old steamboats and paddlewheels coming into view around the bend, too.  Or is that just the wind whistling thru the pines?  Little Red Bear is adamant that he hears steamboat whistles coming from the big river, but when he looks nothing is there.  So, what could that be about?  These stories do take place in the land of Mark Twain, after all.

And of course, Little Red Bear and Cinnamon Charlie are always on the lookout for honey.  And as we know from the very first “The Rescue of Little Red Bear” story, that in and of itself can be precarious at times.

Little Red Bear and Cinnamon Charlie have both been working hard to learn ‘Pig’ ever since Swinestein came on the scene in “The Storm” story.  But every language has its own varied dialects, so with more new pigs maybe on the way, I’m hoping that is not another issue for them.  Only time will tell on that, I suppose.

Speaking of Cinnamon Charlie, he’s going to be going into his third year now when young’uns start to venture out on their own a bit more, approaching those “teen” years for a bear, and you never know what that may lead to.

And, not to worry you but suppose you should know, there is a rumour going around the backwoods that there is a giant, hulking and brawny brown bear on his way with an old score to settle with Little Red Bear.  Red is not the smallest, but certainly not the largest of bears either.

That is a little worrisome, given that Red is the main character and they are his stories, after all.  Can’t have anything untoward happen to the main character.  But as merely the writer, I honestly don’t have control over everything, dealing with wildlife with a mind of their own in the stories, so that is a concern.  Must see how that confrontation plays out if it comes to pass.  I’m hoping it’s just a baseless rumour.  Probably started in ‘Squirrelly World’.  But, one never knows I suppose, so best to be on the lookout for potential trouble.  We’ll have the medics standing by, just to be safe.

Also, potentially troublesome, word is going around that the weasels have been busy recruiting a “hired gun” of sorts to come in and deal with Albuquerque, the red fox Sheriff.  According to gossip chatter, it’s a notorious and nasty coyote from out west in Colorado.  That would certainly be a mismatch and could be messy. Sounds like the weasels aren’t going away any time soon and the little sheriff may have his paws full going forward.

There are a few other things happening too, that I probably shouldn’t mention yet, not to keep you awake at night worrying.  Just remember the lessons we learned in the “Sir Snapsalot” story and to never venture into Witches Holler, especially after midnight.

And it would probably be best to ignore the ‘Squirrelly World’ newspaper reviews and steer clear of the buzzards’ new roadside café, and you’ll most likely be fine.  Their ‘Raw Bar’ truly is what it says, although the freshness has recently been called into question.

As you can see, a lot of work to do now to keep new characters occupied and sort out these rumours and such.

If you have not yet read the first set of stories, “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!”, there is still time to catch up because we are going to be very busy here for a while getting the next collection ready for you – “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!” 

As the stories and characters do kind of build one after the other, we always recommend starting at the very beginning for the most fun and entertainment.  “The First Holler!” is available in both Print and eReader versions on Amazon to get you started, and is always Free on Kindle Unlimited.

Thanks as always for stopping by for a visit.  We’ll keep you updated as work progresses and things develop over the coming weeks.

If you’re looking for us, we’ll all be over yonder under the chestnut tree working on the stories.  If you don’t know where ‘over yonder’ is, just ask the possum hanging from the pear tree.  He’ll point you the way.  — 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.

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Determined To Be ‘Sound Investment’

In order to cover all bases for his fans, Little Red Bear had an official Cost/Benefit analysis of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” performed by his trusted accountant and financial advisor, Angus McNutt, senior partner of the firm “McNutt and McGillicutty CCC” ( Country Crop Counters) over in Slippery Slide, and the results of the study are in.

For the paperback, at 64,254 words, the reader receives over 4,961 words per dollar invested. For the Kindle and eReader version, a reader receives over 21,781 words per dollar. And of course, the book is Free for anyone with Kindle Unlimited. Taking into account that all words used are original text in copyrighted format with the Library of Congress, it is quite clearly a bargain at any price.

In addition, bearing in mind the fact that words enrich the brain and lessons learned about nature, life, kindness and simply having fun remain with a person forever, it was clear that any of the versions far exceed any value received in television and other forms of entertainment, where “any benefit potentially received is fleeting and transitory”, as Mr. McNutt stated in his report.

It should be noted that the Preface, Frontispiece, Dedication, Artwork and such were not included in Mr. McNutt’s calculations, which would have the effect of making the Cost:Benefit ratio even higher for a reader.

It was Angus McNutt’s conclusion then that “’The Adventures of Little Red Bear’ short story collection is both a wise and sound long-term financial investment.”  Just in case anyone was on the fence concerning issues of that sort before investing in the book.

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Short Story Collections on Amazon.  Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Storytelling and Fun for both the Young and the Young-at-Heart. Positive Themes of Friendship, Kindness, Helping Others and Mother Nature.  With a healthy dash of oldfangled, belly laugh humor and fun.

Join us for an Adventure in the Beautiful Ozarks Mountain Country, and stop by for some biscuits and honey! —  Jim   (and Red!)

Angus McNutt, of "McNutt and McGillicutty Country Crop Counters"

Angus McNutt, of “McNutt and McGillicutty CCC”

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

Birds of Prey– What’s the Hurry?

We most often think as the spring months as being the nesting season for birds.  And it is, for the Cardinals, Sparrows, Robins, Finches and such.  But not for the raptors, birds of prey.  Young raptors, because they are much larger, take a much longer time to grow up and need a head start on the season. So raptors nest in winter.

Remember the images of the nesting Eagles dutifully tending their nest and eggs covered over in the snow?  It takes very dedicated parents to go thru an ordeal like that.  Why the rush?  Why start nesting so early before the weather has changed for the better, we wonder?  Most other birds wait until April or later to arrive at their summer breeding grounds and start to build nests.

Turns out, there’s a very good reason.  It’s all about rodent and other prey animal population control and giving the baby birds of prey an easier start in life.  It takes a long time for large raptors to grow big enough to be independent and hunt on their own.  An early start in the nest allows them the required time to grow and develop, while also insuring that when they are fledged and on their own, there will be a plentiful supply of prey animal babies emerging from their nests and running about at the same time to help make the raptors’ initial hunting forays a little easier and more successful.  Nevertheless, 60% to 70% of Red-tailed Hawks, Owls and other raptors do not survive their first year.  Life is hard for young raptors still trying to figure it out, so being ready early gives them the best chance of survival, while also helping to keep the world from being overrun by mice and other voles.

So while the other birds and small animals are just getting started with nest building and babies now, the raptors are already well on their way to being able to greet them when they emerge later.  The early bird gets the, ummm– baby mouse shall we say.  Birds of Prey have a very important role to play in population control and the grand scheme of things as Mother Nature designed, and early nesting gives them the needed head start to make it all work.

Thanks as always for dropping in to visit! — Jim (and Red!)

Red-tailed Hawk with Mouse

Red-tailed Hawk with Mouse

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Short Stories Available on Amazon

Old-fashioned Storytelling About An Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends!