“Howdy!” (Or- How I Spent My Weekend)


That is how a new story character introduced himself to me on Friday morning. Out of nowhere, he just popped into my head with a loud “Howdy!” It has been an interesting, and exciting, weekend.

Red and I already have more story characters lined up for his upcoming “Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories than we can probably squeeze into three or four collections. Nevertheless, in popped another one on Friday. He and Red hit it right off. I do declare, Little Red Bear collects new story characters and companions faster than a hound dog walking thru a flea patch.

 Old Hound Dog (by Maria Hearn)

Old Hound Dog (by Maria Hearn)

It’s a struggle to keep up with them all, to be honest. And suddenly on Friday—here came another one into my head, totally uninvited. “Howdy!” But that was pretty much it. For Friday anyway. He just popped in, introduced himself and went to spend time with Little Red Bear. I didn’t learn any more from him that day. Just the “Howdy!” Hearing it over and over again.

Early Saturday morning was spent catching up on odds and ends for the week, and by late morning it was so beautiful outside I decided to go walkabout for a while, to get some fresh air and exercise.

Bear Scratching Against a Tree (by Brett Lewis Photography)

Bear Scratching Against a Tree (by Brett Lewis Photography)

Two blocks from home while checking out dropped walnuts on the ground from an old Black Walnut tree up on the hill, the quiet was broken once again with a loud “Howdy!” in my head. I suppose he had talked Red’s arm off the night before, and now it was to be my turn.

The further I walked the more he talked. On and on, revealing his story to me. He continued talking thru Saturday night, was in my head when I woke up Sunday morning, and continued on thru the day. I have been listening to this little guy all weekend! Turned out, he is a Burrowing Owl.

Burrowing Owl- Sneaking A Peek

Burrowing Owl- Sneaking A Peek

We usually don’t give this much away about upcoming story characters, but this fellow is special, caught us totally by surprise and immediately stole our hearts. So much so, that Red and I are even reworking some things to move his introduction up into the first collection of stories, already nearing completion. I am so excited about him it’s hard not to just tell you all about him right now. But that would spoil all the fun.

Regardless, I can let you know that he is a Burrowing Owl from way out west in the Oklahoma Panhandle with quite a story to tell. Burrowing Owls inhabit grasslands, rangelands, agricultural areas and other open, dry areas with low vegetation. From their name, they live in a hole in the ground, not up in a tree like other owls. Although capable and willing to dig their own burrows, more frequently they inhabit existing holes abandoned by prairie dogs, skunks, armadillos, tortoises and the like.

 Burrowing Owls via Cornell Lab of Ornithology (© Ned Harris, AZ, Tucson, June 2009)

Burrowing Owls via Cornell Lab of Ornithology (© Ned Harris, AZ, Tucson, June 2009)

Unlike most owls, Burrowing Owls are active during the day, although wisely avoiding the midday heat. But like most owls, they do most of their hunting between the hours of dusk to dawn, taking advantage of their superior night vision and hearing. So they do not sleep a lot, which may go a long way towards explaining his extended chattiness all weekend.

Living in open grasslands as opposed to forests, Burrowing Owls have long legs and short tails which allow them to sprint very quickly across the ground in pursuit of prey. They are small in size, about 11” long, a little larger than an American Robin when fully grown. When agitated, they bob their head up and down, revealing a white chin patch. But I cannot imagine this sweet little guy ever being agitated or angry.

Burrowing Owl in California on top of Burrowing Owl Sign Post (by Jeff Cartier of Ventura, CA)

Burrowing Owl in California on top of Burrowing Owl Sign Post (by Jeff Cartier of Ventura, CA)

Burrowing Owls have no ear tufts, unlike many other owls. They feature prominent white eyebrow markings, and in color they are brownish, with lighter colored bars on the front and spots on the back.  They have noticeable bright yellow eyes.  No other owls are commonly seen on the ground or so frequently during daylight hours.  As with many birds and creatures, Burrowing Owls are threatened or endangered in some areas due to loss of habitat as more open nesting areas are plowed under for development and agriculture.

 Burrowing Owl, via Cornell Lab of Ornithology (© Bob Gunderson, CA, Antioch, May 2011)

Burrowing Owl, via Cornell Lab of Ornithology (© Bob Gunderson, CA, Antioch, May 2011)

This half-pint owl has captured our hearts and will be featured in the first “Adventures of Little Red Bear” short story collection available soon. Red and I just couldn’t wait to tell you at least a little about him, and are sure you will recognize him when he enters the stories.


As always, thanks for reading and have a great day! – Jim (and Red!)

Burrowing Owls Group, Southern Variety

Burrowing Owls Group, Southern Variety

Kohl’s Misrepresenting Real as “Faux Fur”– Caught Again!

Sad news today.  The department store chain Kohl’s has been passing off real fur as “faux” or artificial, synthetic fur.  Again!  This time Raccoon Dog real fur trim on a men’s parka was described as “faux-fur”. Hey Kohl’s– it’s not that hard to tell the difference if someone cared enough to check. For one, faux fur has a woven, synthetic cloth backing. Raccoon Dog fur, as with other real furs, has a real hide backing.  As in someone’s skin.   Duh!

Kohl's Mens Parka,  Photo: Pierre Grzybowski, The Human Society

Kohl’s Mens Parka, Photo: Pierre Grzybowski, The Human Society

As those who may recall Rusty the Fairydiddle’s first interview with the Gray Fox on my Blog here, the Raccoon Dog is the only other canine species in the world capable of climbing trees. Apparently they didn’t climb high enough to avoid Kohl’s reach. Here’s a link to the interview if you missed it → The Gray Fox Interview

Asian Raccoon Dog

Asian Raccoon Dog

I’m thinking customer refunds aren’t really that appreciated by the Raccoon Dogs. Or the Cyber Monday Rabbits.  It is one thing to be tricked and misled by a supplier once, as with the rabbit fur last year.  But not twice.  It calls into question what else may be improperly labeled or described.  Way to go Kohl’s, the second time in a year that you have been caught misrepresenting real fur as artificial. Shame on you!

Raccoon Dogs, Photo: Chiaki Tsukumo, AP

Raccoon Dogs, Photo: Chiaki Tsukumo, AP

For more information, here is a link to the news article as presented by USA Today → USA Today News Article, 09-24-14

Being caught the second time in a year makes me think that Kohl’s wasn’t all that truly sorry the first time.  Once may be accidental.  The second time is at least careless, if not intentional and knowingly dishonest.

But corporate credibility and dishonesty is one issue.  The other is the issue of fur trapping in general.  Haven’t we advanced enough as a civilization not to be trapping and hunting down other living creatures for their fur?  Is it really necessary anymore, with so may other options available to us now?  There is a better way.

Asian Raccoon Dogs Pair

Asian Raccoon Dogs Pair

World Elephant Day– The Power of 96!

Today is WORLD ELEPHANT DAY! Please check out “The Power of 96 Elephants Campaign” below, as 96 elephants die every day for their ivory. At the current rate of slaughter they will be gone in 12 years, as ivory poaching is at its highest level since 1989, with much of the money going to fund terrorist groups.  Elephants can be a vital long term tool to aid African communities thru eco-tourism.

“But with 35,000 elephants killed on average each year, more work is needed to reverse this trend. The death of 96 elephants each day is more than just a tragedy; it destabilizes countries by funding dangerous armed groups and international criminals, disrupts the order of delicate ecosystems, and brings the already endangered species of African elephants, who now number around 420,000, ever closer to extinction.” — from the article.  Here is a link for more information on “The Power of 96 Elephants Campaign.”


Rusty’s Very First News Feature- The Gray Fox Interview

We are proud to publish Rusty’s first interview in the new Blog feature series today- “Rusty Behind the Scenes!”

As you may recall, Rusty the Red Squirrel, or “Rusty the Fairydiddle” as he has become known here, was recently hired as a Blog Assistant to provide special behind the scenes access for you while Little Red Bear and I finish his collection of short story adventures for release in the coming months. This is the first in a series of news articles, features and interviews Rusty will be doing. If you missed it, more information about Rusty himself is available a few posts below, when he was first introduced.

Rusty sat down for a chat the other day with one of the Gray Foxes from the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis” story. Not sure everything went quite according to Rusty’s plan though. Having been raised in England, some of his assumptions about the backwoods critters here in the Ozarks Mountains may have been a little off. Here is a link to the full length interview text→  “The Gray Fox Interview”     Hope you enjoy it.

Gray Fox

Gray Fox

Rusty is hard at work now preparing for his next interview which, in all likelihood, may go a little more smoothly for him—“Buzz the Honeybee”. Watch for it soon.

Introducing the New Blog Assistant– Rusty the Fairydiddle!

Before making the big announcement, first just a little background.  We see movie stars on the screen acting out their prescribed roles- doctor, cowboy, scientist, soldier, pirate, spy, super hero, astronaut, etc. And while we know that is not their real job or role in life, it is still odd sometimes to see an actor who you always visualize as a trail-worn cowboy or dashing pirate from the movies, suddenly in the news playing in a tennis or golf tournament, or balancing the movie images with how they appear on a red carpet premier or talk show.

We were all discussing that while relaxing in front of the fireplace on a cold night some months ago, about how Johnny Depp is so different in person from his characters Captain Jack Sparrow or Willy Wonka, for example. And then that set us to thinking about our own upcoming stories. The “us” being Little Red Bear and myself, of course.

Word somehow got around this time last year that we were looking for a few different critters to play roles in the upcoming “Adventures of Little Red Bear” short story series, and now we have more birds, animals, bugs, plants, wildflowers, trees, fish and other assorted varmints running around wanting to be in the stories than we can shake two sticks at. Even a few determined backwoods, historical, farming and other human folks have shown up at the door wanting to be included in Red’s adventures. It’s amazing how word spreads. And a little overwhelming.

The sudden onslaught of potential story characters was compounded when the Ostriches caused that fuss and work shutdown in the beginning of the year. The Ostrich Strike set us weeks behind interviewing and meeting with potential characters, all while the line got even longer. If you’re new to these parts and missed out on what I’m talking about with the Ostriches and all, you can catch right up by reading the Ozarks Ostrich Crisis here. There’s a link at the top of the page, under “Short Works & Free Reads”. It’s free of course, just like it says.

And while the different critters and folks may play a role in Red’s stories, just as in the movies- they may not be appearing in the story “exactly” as they are in real life. So while Little Red Bear and I continue to meet with new story characters and finish off the first collection of Red’s adventures to be released for you soon, we thought you might like to meet a few of the upcoming characters ahead of time and have the opportunity to get to know and learn about them as they truly are, not their “play acting” story or “movie role” so to speak. And also for you to get in on some of the happenings and events as we get closer to the release of Little Red Bear’s first collection of adventures. A special “Behind the Scenes” look now and then.

But with Red and I both fully occupied with his stories and not having any more time available, we decided to look for a Blog Assistant to collect news, information and do the interviews for you. After weeks of recruiting and interviewing applicants we have made our selection, and now are pleased to introduce you to our new Blog Assistant—Rusty the Red Squirrel.

Rusty is an American Red Squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus to be precise. American Red Squirrels are a rusty reddish color with a white underbelly, and are a little smaller than the Grey Squirrels you see in your backyard. But a little larger than a chipmunk. They are also known as Pine Squirrels, North American Red Squirrels, Chickarees and Fairydiddles by some. Some folks confuse them with Douglas Squirrels which are found in the Pacific Northwest, but the Douglas Squirrels have a rusty colored underbelly. If you see a Red Squirrel and aren’t sure which it is, just ask them to roll over and it will be easy enough to tell the difference.

Red Squirrels are found all over North America. While traditionally they have inhabited conifer forests (pines, fir, spruce and cone-bearing trees and shrubs) with a diet somewhat specialized in the seeds of the conifer cones, they have recently been expanding their diet and range into hardwood forests as well. They seem to have a fondness for a variety of mushrooms, clipping and hanging them over tree branches to dry out in the sun to store for a later time. Very clever. Red Squirrels can even eat some mushroom varieties which are otherwise poisonous and deadly to humans. I won’t be asking Rusty for any mushroom recommendations or to help gather any for mealtimes.

Of the different names, I have always liked the name Chickaree the best, which arose in the early 1800’s and is kind of imitative of the Red Squirrel’s call, what they sound like. “Fairydiddle”, somewhat more common in the south, is the one Little Red Bear picked up on right away of course, the tease that he is sometimes. I’m sure Rusty will be hearing “Fairydiddle” rather frequently in the woods here now, as he is already becoming known in the area as “Rusty the Fairydiddle”, or as I have overheard some saying—“The Rusty Little Fairydiddle”.

New on the job and still getting acquainted, he’s being polite about it but I can tell by the occasional grimace it may not be his favorite choice of nickname. He’ll probably just have to get used to it though. Just about everybody in this neck of the woods has a nickname, or two, so he might be stuck with it. Personally, I’ve always been known as “Reverend Jim” by some and “capnstormalong” by others here, and I honestly have no idea what inspired either of them.  Well, maybe capnstormalong. Nonetheless, there it is. A nickname is the sign of acceptance in the backwoods here, unless it’s hurtful of course. And then it’s usually dealt with straight away and changed. Little Red Bear and other folks here like to playfully tease and have fun in a give-and-take kind of way.  It’s all harmless until someone’s feelings get hurt, and nobody likes that.

Rusty had an unusual childhood for a Red Squirrel. He was orphaned in an outbreak of violent early summer storms when he was just a pup (that’s what they call a baby squirrel, or a “kit” or “kitten” sometimes, too). Thankfully, he was rescued by wildlife workers but then inexplicably sent with his three sisters to England where he was taken in and raised by a good-hearted English woman living in Newcastle, in the Northumberland region. Over time and taking odd jobs, he worked his way back to the United States. So although Rusty is an American Red Squirrel thru and thru, he does speak at times with a slight British accent and flair, inherited I suppose from the kindly Mrs. Wilkinson. And Rusty brings with him a fervent love of tea and scones, which fits right in with the rest of us, oddly enough. You can view the video Rusty sent in with his application a few months ago, a May entry in the Blog here entitled “An Applicant for the New Blog Feature”. Just scroll down or click on the “May” link in the Blog Archives on the right to find it. By submitting the video, I thought he may have been trying to play up the “cuteness” angle a little in the beginning of the application process, but it was clearly his qualifications and skills which landed him the position in the end.

Rusty is indeed well qualified for the Blog Assistant position. After returning to the U.S., he decided to resume his education and audited many classes at the renowned Journalism School at the University of Missouri nearby, peering in and listening at the windows while taking voluminous notes, with majors in News Reporting, Watchdog Journalism and Field & Stream Broadcasting. After completing the University’s journalism program, he worked as an Investigative Reporter for the “Squirrelly World” newspaper, which is discussed in the Ostrich Stories if you would like to learn more. Of higher journalistic integrity and aspiring to do better, he left “Squirrelly World” to find more reputable employment, and we are delighted to give him the opportunity here on the Blog.

It will be Rusty’s job to scurry around the mountains, hollers, backwoods and neighboring farmlands here to uncover news stories, dig up interesting features for our readers, and to interview upcoming story characters. He’s very good at undercover, hole-and-corner sneaking about, as demonstrated by his extensive and stealthy reporting experience at “Squirrelly World”. He possesses a great deal of energy and enthusiasm, as you might expect from a squirrel, and is a very dedicated, determined and active little fellow. We are confident he will do a bang-up job for you.

“I endeavor to get the truthful facts of a story out with all the nutty, natty and nitty-gritty details; and want to help readers to get to know the actual critters, the real face and whiskers behind the story mask.”~ Rusty the Red Squirrel

So, Little Red Bear and I are very happy to introduce you to Rusty, the new Blog Assistant. Or “Rusty the Fairydiddle” it appears.

Watch for his first in a regular series of features entitled “Rusty Behind the Scenes” coming soon.

Thanks for reading! — Jim (and Red!)

Kicking the Bucket Down the Parkway

As briefly mentioned earlier, things took a shocking turn here a few weeks ago when one of my adult children had a serious and totally unexpected medical emergency.  The condition has improved a good deal, but we are still left not knowing what caused the emergency and crisis to begin with.  It’s one thing if you fall into a hole and then take steps to fill it up, not to fall in again.  When you don’t know where the hole was to fill up or build a fence around to avoid, it’s not reassuring.  So while things are slowly returning to normal, we are still dealing with a good deal of uncertainty over it all.  But moving forward, and getting back to work now on writing and other projects.  Watch for new posts and features soon!

Partially related– Do you have a “Bucket List”?  I have never really thought much about it or been inclined to actually sit down and write one out.  Until last night.  Recent events get one to thinking about things, as you can imagine.   I watched a “Modern Marvels” Discovery Channel show on “Mountain Roads” during dinner, and the final segment was all about the Blue Ridge Parkway.   Having grown up in the midwest and with nature, I have always had a love of the mountains and their beauty, while also curiously having a great love for all things connected to the sea and beaches.  I think that I may have been a sailor or pirate in a prior life.  Who knows?  But maybe.  And a mountain man.   And that would of course explain the whole mountain fascination, too.  Maybe like Thomas “Broken Hand” Fitzpatrick, who ran away from home at 17 to be a sailor and then later teamed up with Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith and Mike Fink on a fur trapping expedition in the Rocky Mountains.  Sorry, I digress.  And Little Red Bear wasn’t real happy with that mention of fur trapping.  Sorry Red, just rambling.

Getting back to it, the Blue Ridge Parkway winds along 469 miles of Virginia and North Carolina, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains.  The Blue Ridge Parkway was built to connect Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The construction project was begun under President Franklin Roosevelt, and completed 52 years later in 1987.  The Parkway travels over 168 bridges, 6 viaducts and thru numerous tunnels.  Absolutely beautiful scenery and vistas, with many pull-over and parking sections along the way to stop and take in the views.  I have been thru the Smoky Mountains before and it was incredible.   I decided right then — “I want to go to there.”

And then I remembered always wanting to visit Sanibel Island in Florida, famous for beach-combing and shells.  And Key West.  And Yellowstone National Park.  And Yosemite.  And San Francisco again.  And New Orleans.  And the Napa Valley and Big Sur regions of California.  And the Giant Redwoods.  And that’s when I decided that maybe it was time to start making a list before I lost track of things.  Being in my mid-60’s now, I suppose it’s time to fess up and call it what it is– a “Bucket List”.   I have no intention of actually “kicking the bucket” for quite some time, especially as so many wonderful things are coming to mind to be added to the list now that I think about it.  But I also acknowledge that while endeavoring to postpone the bucket kicking date as long as possible, I really have no control over it.  So, time to get organized, make a plan and get busy.

Number One– The Blue Ridge Parkway.  Truth be told, I would really like to hike the Appalachian Trail, a 2,184 mile trek thru the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia to Maine.  But I think I have a much better chance of actually completing the 469 mile car ride on the Parkway!  And then, what else to add to the list in addition to those listed above?  Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane will NOT be on the list.  Going to have to think about other things I suppose.  A croissant on the Champs-Élysées in Paris sounds enticing, as does visiting many places in Europe, but I have to keep it real, budget-wise.

So yet another project started– “Prepare a Bucket List”.   Suggestions welcomed.

In the meantime, please check back for new Blog features and story developments with Little Red Bear next week.  Thanks for your patience while other things were being attended to the past few weeks, and thanks as always for reading.  Best wishes for a wonderful weekend!  — Jim  (and Red!)






International Migratory Bird Day

In addition to today being National Train Day, it is also International Migratory Bird Day.  And with Little Red Bear having so many migratory friends and nature playing such a large part in his stories, it would be remiss not to give all the little flyers a tip of the cap as well.

Migratory birds play a great role in keeping seasonal pests under control, help in plant propagation by spreading seeds and pollinating plants, contribute to recreational activities and inspire artists, writers and folk like me.  It is always a special time for me whenever we spot a flock of migrating geese or ducks cruising by overhead in V formation, signaling the changing of seasons.  And welcome the cheering songs of the Song Sparrows and others upon arrival in the early spring.

So hats off for the migratory birds.  Safe travels and welcome back!


Happier Than a Bird With a French Fry

Little Red Bear and I are still trying to figure out what to do about this guy, mentioned yesterday.  Whether to go ahead and finish the first collection of his short stories with the “Bee” story, or just “let it be” for now.   Ooh- had a Beatles flashback there for a second.  Happens from time to time.  Anyway, Red and I will keep talking about it over the weekend.  If you have any thoughts on the matter, feel free to let us know.

Western Domesticated Honey Bee in a Flower

Western Domesticated Honey Bee in a Flower

On a different topic, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Friday and wonderful upcoming weekend!  I had planned on saying something about being so happy my new Blog was up and running this week.  I was going to say something along the lines of “Happier than a bird with a French Fry”.  But then I just happened to stumble across this image and had second thoughts about using that phrase.  It’s a good phrase and I like it.  Might even use it in a story sometime.  But probably not today.  Not after this cartoon.  LOL!!

Happier Than a Bird With a French Fry

Happier Than a Bird With a French Fry


Regardless, thanks for visiting and wishing everyone a wonderful weekend! — Jim (and Red!)

To “Bee” or Not to “Be”?

The first collection in the “Adventures of Little Red Bear” series of short stories is moving right along.  From the beginning, I have thought six stories would be a good number for the first collection.  Half a dozen.  It’s a good number.  Red and I have finished with four of his first adventures, are nearing completion on the fifth story, and have had the sixth and final story for the first collection planned for awhile now and are ready to get busy on it.

But that’s the problem.  Story ideas usually come to me somewhere around 5am.  I wake up from sleeping and BAMM!  A new story idea is writing itself in my mind, or new story characters are chattering away in my head.  But the ideas don’t always arrive with the morning sun.  Sometimes they come out of nowhere, like yesterday afternoon.  Without thinking about it, a new story idea popped into my head that would make a very nice ending story for the first collection, too.  It involves this guy.

Honey Bee Carrying Pollen Back to the Hive

So now, what to do?  Hold it over for the next story collection?  It’s one of those that is almost writing itself, wanting to be told.  Hold what was previously planned for the final adventure over, and go with the new one?  Red and I already have more than enough adventures planned for the second collection of stories, so holding either one over creates a cascading domino effect of which adventure gets pushed out of the second collection then?  Or, include both and expand the first collection to seven stories?  Good grief.

I love it when new ideas and story characters come to mind, although sometimes it can be problematic.  But like we always say, there’s always room for one more.  Guess Little Red Bear and I need to sit down later over some biscuits and honey and figure this out.

Welcome & Hey Howdy, Y’all. The New Blog Is Open For Business!

************* GRAND OPENING *************



Hip Hooray and Hip Hoorah!! Construction on the new Blog Site has been finished and it is open for business! Monsieur Henri finished his decorating touches late last night and the doors are officially open. Still a little tweaking to do and many, many nature photos to add and put up on the walls, but the form is set, walls are up, concrete has hardened, the paint is dry, burlap window coverings replaced and we are set to Rock & Roll.

To borrow from the Beatles—“Having been some days in preparation, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.”

Are you a regular follower of blogs? If so, you probably know the drill. If not, come on in and let me give you a quick tour and show you around!

Here are the key features and why I set it up—

You can sign up to follow my new blog in one of two ways, either thru a WordPress blog of your own if you have one, or thru your email address. If you sign up using your email address (free, no charge), then you will receive a notification in your email inbox every time I post a new blog entry. There is a quick and easy link in the right-hand column to do this.

By signing up for email notifications, it makes it so much easier to keep track of things, not needing to remember to visit the blog every day to see if there is anything new, and no longer having to worry about whether my Facebook entries show up in your news feed anymore as Facebook continues to tweak and play around with their settings about who receives what posts from friends and pages they follow. Or, if someone does not visit Facebook for a few days, a story post may be buried way down the news feed and never found. Serialized stories like the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis” will be much easier to follow and keep track of this way, with readers not having to page down and then back up my Facebook page trying to follow along. And in much easier to read formatting. Serialized stories will be in the new post section on the front page with each entry, while also cumulatively building on their own separate page to make reading installments in order very simple now.

Little Red Bear and I didn’t want anyone having to struggle to keep up or missing out on his adventures, so registering with the new blog page insures you are notified of every new post right in your email. And again—it’s free. A note however- if you sign up to follow by email, you will receive a confirmation email first from WordPress, verifying that you did register to follow my blog. That confirmation link in the email MUST be clicked to finalize your registration or it will not activate. It’s a safety check to protect you and verify that you did sign up to follow.

Please do not worry about providing your email address for privacy issues. WordPress, the host of my blog, does not spam. And I do not have any plans to do a newsletter or any other kind of direct mailings to bother you in the future because I already have an active newsletter set up in my eBay store for people to subscribe to, and I have no more time for anything else.

Creatively, the blog format allows me to enter photos within the body of the text, rather than just grouped at the end. And the ability to caption each photo. In the coming months, I plan to share the step by step construction of a few bears, wire wraps and other things from time to time, and this will make it clearer and easier to follow a project along from start to finish.

Another feature you will find is a page entitled “Short Works and Free Reads”, where I can share a selection of my stories and other writing work over time, and the works will stay there, always easily accessible for rereading or referring back to at a later date, not disappearing way down my Facebook page out of sight and memory.

An “Old Glory Creations” page has been set up, to display photos of bears, raggedy dolls, and other creations I make for my store as time goes on. Sadly, the majority of my bear and other photos were lost when a computer was fried by a lightning strike a few years ago. But as new bears and other things are made now, and many more are on the way in the next few weeks, they will be able to be added to the gallery for everyone to see.

For all photos on the site– If you “click” on the photo, the photo will enlarge for better viewing. To return to where you were, just click the browser “back arrow button” to return to the page you were on. A really neat feature!

Another photo gallery you will find is “Mother Nature’s Gallery”. This page will be devoted to displaying unusual or uncommon critters, plants, birds and such mentioned in the Little Red Bear and other stories. This too, will be an ever-growing collection over time. I recognize that not everyone may know what a Queen Anne’s Lace looks like, or a Brown Thrasher, or a Bloodroot plant, or Indian Paintbrush, or Pin Oak Tree, or Rabbitbrush, or Red-eared Slider (a turtle), etc. Since the Little Red Bear stories are intended to be somewhat educational as well as entertaining, as these types of things are mentioned in my stories I will try to find photos of them to include in Mother Nature’s Gallery so readers and children can easily refer to them. A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say. I am always on the lookout for great bird, animal, wildflower, tree, farm and other images to include, so if you might have and be willing to share images for others to see I would be honored to include them. Just let me know at any time. And keep checking back to see new ones as they are added.

A fun feature the new blog allows for is “Polling”. Sometimes I just get stuck or run out of ideas. Or want to have fun. What to name a character in a story? What color eyes to put in a bear- black or brown? Antique shoe-button eyes or glass? What color pads for this bear- light brown or dark brown? The name of a new river or lake or mountain or town in a story? What color vest is this character wearing in a story? Things like that. You will be able to vote on the blog page when such choices come up now and then and help influence a story or other creation to join in the fun.

There is a place to leave a comment at the top of each post, beside the date. There is also an area at the bottom of every other page to leave a reply. I encourage you to do so. Little Red Bear loves to hear feedback on his adventures, and a compliment is always worth another 10,000 words for me.

If you have a comment or question, please never hesitate to contact me thru email. There is a form provided at the bottom of my blog’s About Me page for that purpose. Maybe it is something that I can answer in a post for everyone’s benefit, and we can make the blog interactive in that way, too.

Several links are provided for easy access in the right side column. There you will find links to my “about.me” page for more information about me personally (and different from the “About Jim’s Blog” link at the top of the page), my Author’s Facebook page, my eBay store should you like to pay a visit there, links to follow and/or tweet me directly on Twitter, and to sign up to follow the blog. There is also a link to visit my son Matthew’s blog page. As some may know, he is also a writer with several books available on Amazon. At the bottom of the right side column you will find a list and links to other blogs that I myself follow.

Links are also provided after every post to allow you to easily share the entry on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, or to email to a friend. Please feel free to share posts and other things.

I have never assembled anything this complex online myself before, and am delighted and proud of how it all came out. And a big bear hug for my son Matthew, who consulted and helped me over some of the more technical hurdles to get this finished.

If you enjoy your visit, and I surely hope you do, Red and I would sincerely appreciate you telling your friends and family about us.

Thanks as always for reading and following along, and I hope you visit often!– Jim (and Red!)