Simple Thoughts and Reflections on a Rainy Day

“Here comes the rain again . . . .”

So began the song of the same name by the Eurythmics back in 1983. I always loved that song and still do. There was just something mesmerizing about the voice and style of Annie Lennox that set the song apart at the time.

What brought it to mind is that we are expected to receive a good bit of rain over the next few days, three to four inches in our neck of the woods they are saying. That can be a lot all at one time here in the Midwest. The last time it rained on a Saturday night a few weeks ago we had a two-and-a-half-hour power outage that started before the rain even arrived. I think the power lines grew overly anxious just hearing about it, somewhat highly strung as they are.

Supposedly, the baseline for converting inches of rain to snow is that one inch of rain equals about ten inches of snow, subject to vary with the amount of moisture, temperature, etc.

Simply using the general baseline as our guide though, that means that if it were cold enough to support snow, it being early January after all, that we could receive up to forty inches of snow instead. Yikes! That would certainly shut things down for a while. Personally, with apologies to the snow bunnies in the crowd, I will take the rain at this point.

Back in the day and maybe before many readers were born, Karen Carpenter sang about how “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down!”  A beautiful song, as so many were by The Carpenters.

B. J. Thomas sang a different, more upbeat tune than the others. Butch Cassidy fans please feel free to sing along  —

“Raindrops keep falling on my head,
But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red,
Crying’s not for me,
‘Cause, I’m never gonna stop the rain by complaining,
Because I’m free,
Nothing’s worrying me.”

So then, how do you feel about rainy days?  Love ’em? Or not so much, perhaps? Please take a moment to share your thoughts about rainy days!


Here in the backwoods with my story friend Little Red Bear, we always try to look for the good to be found in any situation, rainy days notwithstanding. Excluding torrential downpours, floods, and hurricanes, of course, of which I have seen my share over the years.  We are merely talking about your run-of-the-mill, overcast, grey skies, rainy days here today.

You know the sort. The cozy by the fireplace, pull-up-a-blanket and take a nap on the couch kind of days.

For me, everything just seems to go at a more relaxed pace when the clouds darken and heaven’s sprinkler is turned on for gentle and refreshing rains.  The pit-pat-pit on the windowsill. The “splack” sound of raindrops falling on dry autumn leaves still lingering on the ground. (Little Red Bear is a master with a fishing pole in his paws, but just try to get him to stand still long enough to put a leaf rake into them.)  A cup of tea or hot cocoa and a good book.  Conversations with friends and family. Many folks seem to be more at ease and open on a rainy day, like the rain sort of smooths out the wrinkles and sharp edges.  Have you noticed that, too?

On a particularly good day, maybe even a batch of cookies or brownies baking in the oven.  I can almost smell the chocolate chips now, just thinking about it!


For those who would enjoy a nostalgic break while munching on a cookie at this point, or for those maybe new to Annie Lennox and the song mentioned above, here ya go. Newbies can have a cookie, too. We’re all-inclusive here.


A rainy day inspired this fun little piece whilst reading about Harry Potter and his friends a few years ago . . . .

“The Muggle in a Puddle”

Walking home I encountered a Muggle.

The wee Muggle seemed stuck in a Puddle.

Working quickly I soon had him outed.

Then running on he turned back and shouted-

“Thanks, mate, for the break but I am rather late.

So sorry for the bother and trouble!”


“No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.”

Having nothing to do with rainy days directly, but still sort of in a  “Saving For A Rainy Day” kind of way, this wonderful quote has been variously attributed to Abraham Lincoln, James Dobson, Danny Thomas, and others. My feeling is that if any of them did not actually say it, each certainly could have.

Such a lovely sentiment and meaning, applying not only to children but also the spirit of bending over and lending a helping hand to anyone struggling or in need. Stuck in one of life’s puddles, perhaps.

And isn’t that what we are all truly here for, to help each other?

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


Thank you always for visiting and spending part of your day with us here! What can you do today to reach out and help ease another’s burden?

Lend an umbrella, perhaps?  — Jim (and Red!)   🤠 🐻


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like — “Mitakuye Oyasin — We Are All Related” 

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


         “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”         – John Holmes    

The Muggle in a Puddle

“The only thing I shall want for a rainy day will be my umbrella.” –  Agatha Christie


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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.

“A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods.” – 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, 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!


                                                          “Into each life, some rain must fall.                                                         The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Old Age Ain’t No Place For Sissies!”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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


 

“A Sudden Awakening – Enjoying Life’s Startling Surprises”

I always maintain that we are never too old to stop learning, having adventures, and experiencing new things. And to have fun while doing it, if for no other reason than it sure beats sitting home on the couch eating popcorn and grumbling about being bored.

For example, the other day I shared on my Facebook Page that right now I am at one of my children’s homes for two weeks dog and pet-sitting while they are away cavorting around Disney World with Mickey Mouse and the gang.

Sitting for two families, watching over four dogs altogether, ranging in size from a very large and heavy German Shepherd to a lighter-than-a-feather long-haired Chihuahua, with a medium-sized mixed breed and five-month-old pug puppy completing the pack.


Back to experiencing new things then, just this morning, for example, I was awoken at 4:19 a.m. by the little black pug puppy standing on my pillow, urgently licking the bald spot on top of my head. We tend to take note and remember the exact time of such unique and momentous occurrences in our lives, don’t we?

Having written about a wide variety of animals and critters over the years with Little Red Bear in his adventure stories and being fluent to passable now in a number of animal languages and dialects, I immediately understood the message from the puppy to be —

“I need to go outside and pee right now and if I don’t you will be sleeping in a wet bed and it will not be my fault because I told you first hurry up I gotta go!”

As you can probably tell, especially in the middle of the night, puppies are more focused on delivering the message and not really yet into dramatic or purposeful pauses in their speech and dialogue at that stage.

Grasping the urgency of the message, I jumped out of bed, stepped into shorts, and moments later three adult dogs and I were standing in the backyard batting away mosquitos and staring up at the moon and stars while the puppy watered the grass in the beam of my flashlight.

Despite the risk of a nervous neighbor reporting a half-dressed old stranger leaning on his cane with a  flashlight in the backyard, a little black dog is hard to spot and keep track of in the dark of night, and we’ll just leave it at that. This fact attested to by movie ninjas dressing all in black, opting not to go on martial combat missions dressed as circus clowns. Although, clowns might actually be more terrifying for some, but that is perhaps a topic and post better suited for Halloween at a later time.


With a high degree of confidence, I can honestly state that the occurrence of having the bald spot on the top of my head frantically licked in the middle of the night was a new experience for me, as I have no recollection whatsoever of it ever having happened to me before.

Well, with the possible exception of that toothless Florida swamp zombie a few years ago, but his intent was so different I really don’t count that encounter the same.

And must admit that as far as the puppy licking my bald spot this morning is concerned, overall it was an unexpectedly energizing experience, not unlike the lemon juice thinking cap of Zaphod Beeblebrox in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. (Something to definitely check out.)

Despite suddenly waking from a very pleasant dream about a chocolate sundae in the park, I understood the importance and immediacy of the situation right off the bat and am proud to say I responded accordingly, as any responsible dog sitter would be expected to do. And also as someone very averse to sleeping on a soggy bed.


Ramblings aside, the message here is that it is important to remain open to new experiences, broaden our horizons and try new things in life. At every age. There is just too much of life going on around us to throw up personal isolationist barriers and walls to keep it out.  Thru experience is how we learn and grow, after all, so we should always be open to an adventure and trying something new.  It never gets old and helps to keep one from getting old in the process.

Who knows? A new experience may come disguised as an anxious and impatient puppy licking the top of your head in the middle of the night. We don’t always get to pick and choose our adventure experiences, so I have found over the years that it’s just best to roll with them, trusting that the Universe has it all under control. And if it doesn’t, well then, we’re kind of doomed like a dead duck so it won’t make any difference in the end, anyway.

As my story friend Little Red Bear observed and commented on life — “You might as well enjoy the show. There ain’t no refunds.”

So while rolling along thru life, we all need to remember to simply leave our cranky pants in the closet and look on the bright side when surprised, or when things don’t go our way or as imagined.

For several folks I have come across, I can imagine that suddenly being woken by frantic head-licking at four in the morning might have had a sour impact on them that no amount of morning coffee could have changed, perhaps even ruining their entire day. What fun is that? For anyone?

Call me crazy if you like, but I laughed about it. Personally, I had never been awakened by anyone of any species licking the top of my head before so just chalked it up to a new experience, another added to the list.  Even with the zombie fellow, I was already wide awake and active that day when the slobbering licking incident occurred so like I said, not really the same.

Life is much more enjoyable when we are able to look beyond the discomfort, inconvenience, or self-imposed misery of the moment and to find the humor in a situation.

Be happy. It is a choice, you know. I think the puppy was laughing about it, himself.


Thanks always for reading and visiting with us!  We hope you enjoy your visits here and return often, if for no other reason than to check out the number of Short Works & Free Reads available whenever the reading urge strikes. A lot of cold and dark winter days await shortly over the horizon. Good reading time.

In my own reading the other day I came across a message from Dr. Wayne Dyer, not to seek peace, but rather to Be The Peace.

Please remember to be kind and live your life as though all of your children are watching. Because they are.  And always choose to be happy.  The folks around you will appreciate it.  — Jim  (and Red!)


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy → “Opting for Millstones or Milestones — “The Desiderata” 

(If a new visitor — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


“Choose being kind over being right and you’ll be right every time.” –  Richard Carlson

                “A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.”                 – A. A. Milne (‘Winnie the Pooh’)


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.

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


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

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

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

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


“All the peace and happiness of the whole globe,
The peace and happiness of societies,
The peace and happiness of family,
The peace and happiness in the individual persons’ life,
And the peace and happiness of even the animals and so forth,
All depends on having loving kindness toward each other.” – Lama Zopa Rinpoche


“I Posted A Picture Of A Cat” — And Other Such Pet Related Chat

I Posted A Picture Of A Cat

I posted a picture of a cute little cat,

When she dropped by for some yarn and a chat.

Why not a bear, or a moose, or a frog?

Why not a pooch, someone’s faithful old dog?

Why a cat and not a rat or a bat?

Or perhaps someone’s misbehaving and spoiled little brat?

Why not a turtle peacefully napping on a log?

Or what about little Susie’s 4-H prize-winning hog?

But instead, I shared a picture of a colorful cat.

And now don’t really know what to make of all that.


As usual, simply having a bit of tongue-in-cheek rhyming fun.  At the expense of cats today, it would appear.

My story character friend Little Red Bear and I both love critters and animals of all shapes, colors, and sizes.  It seems Little Red Bear collects a new animal guest every time his neighbor Farmer Turner visits in the stories.  Readers will recall that is how Swinestein came to live with Little Red Bear and Cinnamon Charlie in the first collection of stories, and we can tell you now that having just completed the “Sockwash Soup” story for Red’s second adventures book coming in the fall, Little Red Bear is in store for more “gifts” from Farmer Turner.

And yes, we are adding a new cat character to the stories — Barney the Barn Cat.  Maybe writing about Barney is what triggered this little poem earlier this afternoon.  Of course, Little Red Bear does not have a ‘barn’, per se, so not sure how we will resolve that yet. But we will.

Do you have a cat or pet(s) of some sort? The health benefits of pet ownership are well documented, including physical, mental, and emotional improvements, from enhancing social skills to decreasing a person’s risk of a heart attack. Not to mention helping children to learn responsibility caring for a pet. A number of studies have demonstrated that having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent.

As friends know, I am as extremely allergic to cats as some are to peanuts and shellfish. Maybe we just needed a cat in the house when I was growing up. But as they say, that cat’s already left the barn, so to speak.  Or is that horses?  Must be thinking about Barney the Barn Cat again. For more information on the benefits of pet ownership check out Animal Planet’s “Top 5 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet”.

Thanks always for visiting with us today! If you are considering adding a new pet to the family, please remember all of the wonderful and loving pets awaiting a forever and loving home in your local animal shelters. Your new best friend may be just a visit away! — Jim  (and Red!)


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

(And if a new visitor — Welcome! To find out what we are all about here, please check out — “Welcome To My Writing Pages!” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


“What greater gift than the love of a cat.” – Charles Dickens

“A kitten is, in the animal world, what a rosebud is in the garden.” – Robert Sowthey


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.

               “Cat – A pygmy lion who loves mice, hates dogs, and patronizes human beings.”           – Oliver Herford


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!


                        “I’m not crazy. My reality is just different than yours.” – Cheshire Cat             (Lewis Carroll, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’)


 

In and Out — A Time for Everything

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

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

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

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

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

Allow your life to unfold naturally.

Know that it too is a vessel of perfection.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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.


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


Opting for Millstones or Milestones — “The Desiderata”

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

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

“The Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann —


The Desiderata

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be cheerful.  Strive to be happy.


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


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

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


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

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


Like and Follow My Writer’s Page on Facebook For Daily Inspiration and More!


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


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help to continue this as an ad-free site for everyone,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.


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


 

Happy New Year! — And Oh! Oh! Oh! — All The Places You’ll Go!

We’re venturing out into a shiny New Year,

Hopeful – Eager – Excited! There’s nothing to fear!

Perhaps many goals you’ve dreamed and then written.

But a word of caution, lest you be chased down and bitten.

 

It’s wise to pause a moment to think – plan – think twice – and prepare,

Before dashing out clambering and scrambling up the great winding stair.

Heed these words of advice, from famed Dr. Seuss,

Not to be jarred, shaken, or even knocked loose.

 

Resolutions and goals are truly worth every dime,

But not getting slumped saves a great deal of time.

So before running wildly out and about, to and fro,

Watch carefully now and observe – “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

 

 If  bogged down in ‘The Land of Doubt’ or not sure where to start,

Simply take a moment to listen, and then follow your heart.

For if you do that, then there’s no more to say,

Because following your Spirit, you’ll be well on your way!



Happy New Year! To view the text of the video from Dr. Seuss and find out more about the ‘Burning Man’ annual gathering, visit my “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” page.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and joyful new year! And whatever your goals and resolutions may be, please ensure that “Be Kind” is at the top of the list. Because that is where everything truly must begin. — Jim  (and Red!)


                                         “Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living,                                       and your belief will help create the fact.” – William James

    “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be Kind; the second is to be Kind; and the third is to be Kind.” – Henry James


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

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


Like and Follow My Writer’s Page on Facebook For Daily Inspiration and More!


“There is no royal road to anything. One thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.” — Josiah Gilbert Holland


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help to continue this as an ad-free site for everyone,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.


                  “Don’t confuse fame with success.  Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.”           — Erma Bombeck