Happy Book Lover’s Day — Why Lifetime Reading Is Important!

In honor of Book Lover’s Day on August 9th, some writing friends and I are sharing what books mean to us and how we enjoy them. I encourage you to visit their pages as well, listed at the end.

But one cannot talk about the subject of Books without also talking about Reading. Because unless they are being used solely for decoration, and that would be sad, books and reading go hand in hand. Or would it be hand on page?  Either way.

There are so many, many “rules” about writing, most of which I largely ignore. But one that I do believe has merit is that to be a good writer, one must also be a good and avid reader.  Simply put — the more writing one does in practice and the more reading one does in study and research, the better writer one is more likely to become. So, if you want to become a writer, then become a reader and learn to love books!

I have always been a lover of books, consistently reading two or three levels above my grade in school each year. All credit goes to my mother who began reading to me from a time before I can remember and was a continual reading advocate afterward. Unless cooking, gardening, or doing housework, she was never to be seen without a book in her hand. A stellar example, to be sure.

I wrote more about my love of books and what they mean to me in another post if you would like to see what I consider The Five Most Influential Books Guiding My Early Life.

I will never forget how astonished my new sixth-grade teacher was at the beginning of the school year, asking the class what we had read over the previous summer. I had read “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” by Homer, among several others. Skeptical (to say the least), I had to do impromptu book reports on each to convince her.

Later that year, she became another strong encourager of my becoming a writer someday. (My fourth-grade teacher was the first.)  And a lesson on why it is so vitally important to be aware of what we say to impressionable young children. They are likely to take you seriously!


For me, books are Gateways.  Books open doors to adventure, history, information and learning, and to other worlds both real and imagined that we could never hope to visit otherwise. Trust me, the land of Little Red Bear is an amazing place to visit, but one can only hope to travel there thru reading the Little Red Bear stories, as it is with all fiction.

Reading a classic is like having a conversation with an author who may have long since departed, yet the knowledge and wisdom can be passed on forever. When reading the preface and proverbs of Benjamin Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac” over my early years, I felt as though I was benefiting from kindly, grandfatherly advice.  How much would anyone be willing to pay to attend seminars led by Marcus Aurelias, Lao Tzu, Socrates, Michelangelo, or Henry David Thoreau?  Just to mention only a very few as an example. Books and reading make it possible. Choosing not to read is choosing to ignore and close the door (and mind!) to all of those possibilities.


Mark Twain said that — “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”

And that alone is why every child should be read to from the earliest age on. One of the most surprising predictors of success in life was discovered to be a child’s reading ability in primary school. Reading for pleasure, notably fiction, even at early ages, is far more important than imagined. It helps expand and foster imagination.

Encouraging reading and the development of engaged readers is fundamentally important, especially for boys, as there is a significant literacy gap between boys and girls from third grade all the way thru high school graduation. With so many distractions nowadays with sports activities, video games and more for both boys and girls, we all truly need to do everything we can to encourage a love of reading and books for children at the earliest age. Their future depends on it.

As a baby, even though they may have no concept of the meaning of the words, the mother’s or father’s voice is comforting, soothing, and bonding. As a toddler, it encourages and develops a fondness for the books themselves, as well as tightening family bonds. They get used to being around books, while at the same time seeing the reader’s beneficial example of enjoying the experience.  As a child grows, reading both to and with them sets and reinforces the foundation for a lifelong love of reading and education. Not to mention some of the highest quality time together.

Few things are as important as reading to a child and encouragement to keep them reading, to become avid learners. As we all should do to continue vitalizing and expanding our minds as we age. Daily cognitive stimulation (like reading) may help keep dementia away.


What do books mean to you? What are your all-time favorite books?  Please feel free to share in the comments, along with your own reading experiences.

Thanks always for visiting and reading with us!

As you can probably guess, my story character friend Little Red Bear and I are all about encouraging not only young readers but readers of every age. That is one of the main reasons why everything included in the “Short Works & Free Reads” tab at the top of the page here, is well — all Free.  And no ads running to lag and slow down the experience.  It’s doing what we can do.

What can you do to encourage your children, grandchildren, and others to pick up a book and enjoy a good read?  Books are excellent and thoughtful gifts when the holiday season rolls around.

But, why wait for the holidays? Give someone a book today, just for the sheer joy of it. We never know which book may provide a life-changing experience or motivation for someone.

And they would have you to thank for it. That’s pretty cool, yes?   — Jim  (and Red!)  🤠 🐻


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

(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!)


I invite you to visit with my #Gr8Blogs Writer Friends listed here for their book-loving thoughts and information, and to share yours in the Comments, as well.

Children’s Author Cat Michaels on “Cat’s Corner”

KidLit Blog by Children’s Author Rosie Russell

Author Rebecca Lyndsey

Fantasy Author Auden Johnson

Author Sandra Bennett’s “Story Chair” Blog


“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.” – Roald Dahl

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


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.

         “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”          – Groucho Marx


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!


“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” — Neil Gaiman


 

 

Pausing To Savor A Special Moment — “Yeah, That’s Good!”

As a writer, occasionally you sit back, read what you have just written on the page, and declare — “Yeah, that’s good.”  It is at those infrequent and exceptional moments when you feel that you are doing what you are intended to be doing — writing.

So it was yesterday morning with the second collection of Little Red Bear’s adventure stories, “The Second Holler Over!”

With the next collection of short stories well more than halfway completed, a new inspiration came to me stepping out of my morning shower. It was so strong and compelling that a planned breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast was scratched in favor of a dry bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal to munch on in order to set to work immediately, not to lose the revelation.

Initial thoughts were quickly added to the end of the second story, already written.  Then they were refined, edited, refined, and edited again. Over and over thru the morning.  My normal process of writing, editing as I go.

When finished hours later just in time for lunch, I re-read what I feel are the twelve most well-crafted and impactful paragraphs I have ever written. Twelve short paragraphs linking two adversaries, establishing an ominous tone, and underpinning all subsequent themed action to follow in the ensuing stories and coming books.

Admittedly not one to be easily impressed, I myself felt the impact of the new addition on the stories and was moved. Where the sudden inspiration for the addition to something that was already “finished” came from, heaven only knows. Literally, perhaps.

And after years of progressive study, reading and examining the works of others, writing, editing, more writing, more editing, rewrite work and more, it suddenly occurs to you over a lunchtime fruit smoothie a few minutes later that your writing ability, just maybe, has taken another small step forward to being truly proficient at what you do.  And, yeah — that’s good.

If you are interested in what the twelve paragraphs were, you will need to wait until “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!” is available in the fall. They will be the closing paragraphs of the second story, entitled “The Great Bramble Scramble.” I hope you are moved by them, too.

If new to Little Red Bear and his adventure stories, right now in the midst of summer reading season while even the leaves on trees seem to be melting on some days, it would be a good time for catching up with all the prior action, since the short stories run in sequence.  “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” is available in both Print and eBook versions on Amazon. The book will also be available in a Large Print version soon, as requested by numerous senior fans of Little Red Bear.


By this time, a few may be thinking “this guy is a bit full of himself.”  But to conclude that would be to miss the real point.

Whether our main activity and focus be on career, child-rearing, hobby pursuit, or personal passion like my writing is for me, often as we go along it can seem like we ourselves are Sisyphus reincarnate,  doomed to repeatedly push a huge boulder  up a steep hill, endlessly for eternity, only to have it roll back to the bottom each time, never progressing or making a difference. The view on life’s treadmill can become monotonous and seem unchanging.

It is beneficial to be aware and recognize special moments when they present themselves, to press the “Pause” button, step off and realize that we have done something out of the ordinary, above and beyond expectations.  To savor the accomplishment and personally acknowledge that yes indeed, we are making progress on our journey, however small it may be. A step forward is however measured, a step forward nonetheless.

And then, purpose reaffirmed and heartened a bit, we get back at it with a refreshed energy and spirit to move forward another step. And then another.

Pause occasionally, to savor a special moment.


Thanks for visiting with us! We never know what very special surprise or revelation may be awaiting us as we begin each new day.

We hope that whatever your passion and pursuit in life, that you may also experience such uplifting and reaffirming moments.  So that you too, can say — “Yeah, that’s good.”

What can you do to help someone find a happy moment today? Share your smile or a kind gesture? Or an unexpected flower, perhaps?

A simple act of kindness has the power to be life-altering for someone. That is pretty special in itself, don’t you think?  — Jim  (and Red!)


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy → “Finding A Purpose Driven Life — What Would You Do If . . . . . . ?” 

(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!)


“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” – Orson Scott

“If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it.” – Wally Lamb


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.

      “People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’  I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those        people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”       –  R.L. Stine


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 believe myself that a good writer doesn’t really need to be told anything except to keep at it.” – Chinua Achebe


 

Happy National Poetry Month! — “My Hat Was Owned By A Cat”

My Hat Was Owned By A Cat

I am wearing an old weathered hat.

Before me, it was owned by a cat.

This hat is covered in hair,

With catnip smears everywhere,

And I’m not really knowing what to do about that.

 

The hat is rather battered and worn,

A few spots here and there sorely torn,

But a nice chocolate brown,  

With a uniquely shaped crown,

The battered front sporting a swirling and whirling ram’s horn!

 

Where to go in a hat of this sort?

Mountains? Prairies? A vintage seaport?

Are folks to call me deranged,

If I sing “Home on the Range,”

Arrayed in catty hat fashion in her Majesty’s court?

 

So, what to do with this hat of mine,

From a cat whose lives expired, times nine?

To wear it, or should I not?

Risk being thought a poor sot?

Or admit, in hairy horned splendor, it just looks divine?!?

 

So, my hat was owned by a cat.

How then can one really top that?


Happy National Poetry Month!

April is the month of showers, and flowers, and for better or worse, a bit of rhyming in verse.

Poetry comes in all forms, ranging from highly structured and formal to free verse, from serious to amusing. Like most of mine. The majority of my poems are lighthearted, simply for whimsy and fun. Silly sonnets about bonnets.

Have you tried your hand or quill pen at poetry recently? A written test is not required to exercise poetic license, you know.

More than merely having fun, writing poetry, as in any creative writing or activity, helps stretch and strengthen creative muscles and thinking abilities for applications in other, totally unrelated areas.

So feel free to rhyme away and encourage your children to have a go at it, as well. This is a perfect time to pen a rhyme, it being National Poetry Month in April, after all.

Thanks always for visiting with us! My writing friend Little Red Bear and I are all about kindness, compassion, and doing things for others here. Sneaking a little poem into a lunch bag or someone’s pocket would be a wonderful surprise to brighten someone’s day and let them know you care. Happy Poem Writing! — Jim  (and Red!)

Roses are Red – Violets are Blue – Each time you visit – We’re delighted to see You!

If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy my —  “Random Acts Of Poetry”

(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!)


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

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

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


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

“A random act of kindness, no matter how small, can make a tremendous impact on someone else’s life.” – Roy T. Bennett


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!


“Nobody is ordinary if you know where to look.” – Maeve Binchy


 

“Tex-Mex and Rex”

On a walk, I met two dinosaurs,

Their names were Tex and Mex.

They cautioned me about their menacing cousin,

The one they all call Rex.

 

Tex and Mex love salads,

And nibble leafy, tree-top greens.

But I have a distinct impression,

Rex goes about snatching his meals by other means.

 

They say their cousin is rather surly,

Ill-tempered, cranky, and aloof.

And advise hiding in holes beneath the ground,

Rex can reach you anywhere else –  even up on your roof.

 

They noted his arms are puny,

But his bite is something fierce.

The force of eleven-teen crocodiles,

Even the toughest, thickest hide his teeth can pierce!

 

Tex and Mex gravely recommend avoiding cousin Rex,

As he is testy and short-tempered, and rather easily annoyed.

And should you see or hear him coming,

By all means — try to avoid!

 

I am happy to have met them,

It was nice conversing with Tex and Mex.

But left them hurriedly by the road that day,

When suddenly both exclaimed –  “Goodness gracious! Here comes Rex!”


Thank you for stopping by to visit! We hope you enjoyed this fun little piece, inspired by a visiting three-year-old’s two favorite dinosaur toys named ‘Tex’ and ‘Mex’. Wonderful inspiration and opportunities are all around us if we pay attention, are aware, and truly listen.

Little Red Bear and I are still trying to determine “Who or What is Mickey McJibbers???” for Red’s second collection of stories coming soon. If you missed the post, please tap on the link to help us out! So far, readers have suggested that Mickey (or Mickie) McJibbers is a Squirrel, a Mouse, an Elephant, or a Flea. An interesting and wide variety of shapes and personalities to be sure!

Who or what do you think Mickey McJibbers is?  We are still searching for suggestions, so please add yours in the Comments!

Please feel free to share the “Tex-Mex and Rex” poem and this site with your little ones and others, and register to be notified of every new post.

The world can be a scary place sometimes. A cheerful and friendly smile lifts our own spirits while brightening someone else’s life. Will you join us by sharing your smile with the world today? — Jim  (and Red!)


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

 

“The Earth without ‘Art’ is simply ‘EH’.” 


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.

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


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!


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


 

“Who or What is Mickey McJibbers???”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


 

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

Meet Little Red Bear and His Friends —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, then there were four bears.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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


 

 

Tri-County Storekeepers Line Up to Back Little Red Bear Adventure Stories!

When not standing in the ‘Strange and Silly Fiction Aisle’ at Barnes & Noble waiting for people to ask for our autographs, Little Red Bear and I are hard at work reenacting and writing about Red’s adventures.

The second collection of Little Red Bear stories well underway now will be somewhat different in approach than the first collection, which consisted of six short stories, each more of a novelette in length, truth be told. The second collection book will be noticeably longer with two additional full-length stories, along with much shorter stories which we have not agreed on a name for yet — Mini Stories or Interludes — positioned in between the longer length features.

What with the format changes, longer overall book length, and increased number of stories, it has become quite the project and undertaking. Add to that several new story characters coming from all over the U.S. and overseas, and it is readily apparent why we are running substantially over the production budget.  More characters to house and feed, additional writing sets to be constructed, landowner permits obtained for writing access, new character travel expenses, etc. Not to mention insurance, medical, and paramedic service costs while working with wildlife, some rather ill-disposed.

As luck would have it, the majority of our story characters are domestic animals and wildlife, so wardrobe costs are kept to a ‘bare’ minimum, so to speak. And while it is true that some of the characters quite literally do work for peanuts, it still does all add up in a hurry.

Scanty wardrobe and peanuts notwithstanding, the long and the little of it is that we found ourselves already way over the anticipated production budget for this story collection by the midway point, with critters eating us out of house and home.  And did I mention about the peanuts?

To their credit, a good number of businesses in the surrounding region of Little Red Bear Land in the Ozarks Mountain Country, which we refer to as the “Tri-County Area” in the stories, have stepped forward to sponsor our writing and story work. In exchange for an occasional mention of their enterprises in the stories, of course. Perhaps you may already be familiar with one — ‘McNickles Famous Pickles & Pork Rinds’ on the outskirts of Round Corners, where Little Red Bear has done book signings on occasion.

So, rest comfortably assured that writing and production work on the next collection of Little Red Bear stories is continuing unabated thanks to local shopkeepers and community support. Just letting you know so that you are aware what is going on when an occasional message from one of our sponsors appears here on the writing blog and elsewhere as we go forward.  It goes without saying that this still is and will remain a non-monetized blog in the traditional advertising sense, of course.

We will be updating story progress from time to time as we go along and get closer to the publication date, scheduled for early next year, barring unforeseen production delays.

If you are not already following my Facebook Writer Page, now would be a good time and I encourage you to do so.  As in the weekly recipes Little Red Bear shares here on the writing blog every Sunday morning, we find a number of wonderful, inspiring, entertaining, and educational videos and other items each week doing writing research. We are going to begin sharing the best ones on my Writer Page as we come across them. Most are short, focusing on our major themes here of Children, Family, Kindness, Positivity, Mother Nature, and Pets.  Pets and animals always make for a smile to brighten a gloomy day.

Thank you always for spending part of your day with us. We would be honored if you recommended our site and pages to friends and family.  Little Red Bear and I look forward to your visits here, and hope that in our own way we help to make your day special, too!  — Jim (and Red!)


“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Stories —  Sponsored in Part by —
Bad Bob’s Bandit Bandanas — Furnishing the Finest In Must-have Accessory Items for Successful Highwaymen and Holder-uppers Since 1836. Conveniently Located next to the citizen’s bank of blusterville.

(Read about Bad Bob’s Bandit Bandanas in the coming Little Red Bear Stories!)


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. 


“Give light and people will find the way.” – Ella Baker

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” – Peggy O’ Mara


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

       “It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is — what are we busy about?”     – Henry David Thoreau


The Five Most Influential Books Guiding My Early Life

In honor of Book Lover’s Day on August 9th,  it seemed like a good time to talk about books and some of what they have meant to me over the years.



My reading adventures began at a very early age. Diagnosed with a bone disease at age two and going on crutches and then into a wheelchair for several years at age three, my mother took it upon herself to develop a love of books and reading with me, starting at a time earlier than I can remember. By the time I entered school, I was already reading several levels ahead of classmates.

Looking back, I readily recall five books that not only changed my life, but also continue to influence the interests, choices, and decisions I make today.  And that is why I am such a staunch supporter of children’s literacy, advocating reading to children from the earliest age, helping them to get started reading, and then continuing reading with them well after they are reading on their own to show continued interest and guidance.


          “Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.”  – George Bernard Shaw


The five books most instrumental in guiding my life were –

  • “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper. I do not know how many (hundreds?) of times this story was read to me and later by me over the years, but the lesson for a young boy in a wheelchair was clear – “Never give up and you can make it over the mountain, too!”
  • “The Legends of Davy Crockett” put out by Walt Disney. Looking back, the story may have been sanitized a bit by Disney, but the examples were clear, and what better early hero for a young boy growing up in the 1950s than Davy Crockett. His motto became a guide thru later life – “Be always sure you’re right – then go ahead.”
  • “Hammond’s Nature Encyclopedia of America” from 1960. This large book, ordered thru the mail by my Mother, complete with 320 original painting illustrations became my introduction and foundation for the study of the natural world, with detailed pictures and information on everything from minerals and rocks to every classification of animal, geography, trees and plants, climate and more. It was the largest book I had ever seen. I lived with this book in my lap, studying all the wonders of nature, forming a life-long interest and passion.
  • “The Boy Scout Handbook” – This book became my constant study guide for years thru the Boy Scouts, ultimately reaching the rank of Eagle Scout. Thru this book and the scouts, I learned independence, leadership, and a way of life built on character and service to others, while also greatly advancing my interests in the natural world, the wilderness, and conservation.
  • “Two Years Before the Mast” – A memoir written by the American author Richard Henry Dana Jr. and published in 1840, captivated my imagination like no other book I had read before. By this time, I had already read “Moby Dick”, “Tom Sawyer”, and “Huckleberry Finn”, all beloved classics, especially those and others by Mark Twain, my favorite storytelling author. But I was familiar with all those stories before reading the books. “Two Years Before the Mast”, recalling a two-year sea voyage from Boston to California on a merchant ship starting in 1834, was a fresh story and greatly impressed upon me how powerful and fun storytelling could be.

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” – Marcel Proust


That is why I love books and developing a life-long love of reading with children. Books have quite simply and profoundly impacted and changed my life.  An old saying goes — “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  I believe the same about books.

I can see clearly now how these five books have worked together, each contributing their parts, to both form the foundation and heavily influence my “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories, combining nature and conservation themes with good old-fashioned family and Boy Scout values, with white-knuckled fun and adventurous storytelling to keep it interesting. Mark Twain helps a lot, too.



So – Happy Book Lover’s Day!  I encourage you to make a nice cup of tea (or beverage of choice) and sit down with a good book today.  And if there is a little one around, grab them up for a reading session, too. If open to suggestions, check out “The Adventures of Little Red Bear!”  Just sayin’.

Thanks as always for reading and visiting with us!

Be the reason someone smiles and reads a good book today!  — 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!)


“So it is with children who learn to read fluently and well: They begin to take flight into whole new worlds as effortlessly as young birds take to the sky.” — William James

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”     — Jacqueline Kennedy


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.

     “Wear the old coat and buy the new book.” — Austin Phelps


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!


“The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I haven’t read.” — Abraham Lincoln


 

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

I held it up for Little Red Bear to see.

“LOOK OUTSIDE”

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

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

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

“WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG?”

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

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

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

RED BEAR IS SO UGLY HIS MOTHER

HAD TO BORROW A BABY

TO TAKE TO CHURCH ON SUNDAYS!

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

AND HE SMELLS BAD!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We both laughed.

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

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

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

“Well, not always.”

“But maybe?”

“Well — maybe.”

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

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

I couldn’t help but laugh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gotta go.

To be continued . . . .


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


 

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

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


Panic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Guess I told them, huh?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boycott Bear Stories!

No Ostriches, No Stories!

What do we want? Ostriches!

When do we want them? Now!

And continued.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I blame the squirrels.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I held it up for Little Red Bear to see.

“LOOK OUTSIDE”

To be continued . . . .


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

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

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


Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

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


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

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


Chapter Four of The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: “DAY 3 — Picketing Ostriches In The News!”

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


Still shaken by my Ghostly Cloud dream the night before and feeling as though I had gone ten rounds in the ring with a boxing kangaroo, I tried to put the picketing ostriches out of my mind and headed back inside the cabin, where Little Red Bear was already busily preparing breakfast.

“I will take care of breakfast this morning, Jim,” he called over from the kitchen. “You just set yourself down there at the table and rest your bones.  I don’t know what in the world you did last night but you sure look the worse for wear.”

He kindly brought a cup of breakfast tea over and placed a stack of morning newspapers in front of me.

“Some things in “Squirrelly World” you might find interesting this morning. They even came out with a special edition. And I’m going to close the window for a spell, if you don’t mind. Don’t want to listen to all that goofy ostrich chanting during breakfast. Bad for digestion. I’ll get to it as soon as I finish cooking over here.”

Boycott Bear Stories!

No Ostriches, No Stories!

What do we want? Ostriches!

When do we want them? Now!

“Yeah, Red. Shut ‘em down. I don’t want to listen to all that racket right now, either.”

Little Red Bear is fat, stupid and rude.

And we don’t like his attitude!

What’d you say? They didn’t hear.

Shout it LOUDER, there’s nothing to fear!

Little Red Bear is fat, stupid and rude.

And we don’t like his attitude!

“Sounds like they’re sticking with the classics this morning, Red. Hope whoever came up with these chants for the ostriches gets royalties every time they shout them out.”

“You don’t get royalties on your writing stuff, do you Jim?”’

“Nah. Never enough to buy a sandwich with.”

Hey, hey, ho!  That smelly bear has got to go!

Hey, hey, ho!  That flightless comment was really low!

Hey, hey, ho!  Come join us picketing to and fro!

Hey, hey, ho!  That writer guy shouldn’t write no mo’!

Not waiting for Little Red Bear to get to it, I closed the window myself. Looking out over the front yard area and hillside, it seemed birds and animals were arriving from every direction.

“I got the window, Red.”

Limping back to the table, I reached for the morning’s copy of “Squirrelly World.”  Little Red Bear’s ominous tone a few moments before had gotten my attention and made me curious. Picking up the newspaper the bold headline on the front page immediately captured my attention – “Lynch Mobs Gathering!”

It appears that the question of why the crowds outside the cabin continue to grow larger and larger had been answered – the squirrels and “Squirrelly World” had been busy chatting it up and spreading news about the ostriches and their irrational protest everywhere.

“I’m sure it’s just “Squirrelly World” bluster and nonsense, Red,” I called over to Little Red Bear, who was busy stirring another batch of waffle batter in the kitchen while the first batch warmed in the oven. “But just in case, do you know where all of our ropes are?”

“Yep. Already gathered them all in from the shed and locked ‘em up inside the cabin before you came down this morning,” Little Red Bear replied while still stirring, surprisingly calm given the headline.  “Just in case.”

Of course, I suppose it is probably pretty hard to get too upset over anything with the scent of Blueberry Oatmeal Waffles in your nose.

“Sounds like you have it all under control then, Red.”

“You betcha.”

“I’m sure there’s nothing to it. Just “Squirrelly World” doing what they do again.”

“I agree. But like I always say – ‘Why take a chance?’ There’s just some things you don’t want to be wrong about in life, Jim. And getting lynched is one of ’em.  Ropes – locked up.”

Following along with the events and so you understand why neither Little Red Bear nor I are too overly concerned about the lynching headline, it would be best for you to know that there are two primary news outlets here in Little Red Bear’s backwoods neighborhood.

The first, respected as being mostly factual and unbiased, is the “Owl Hoots & Toots”, a newspaper put out by a pair of owl brothers, great grey owls who also double as private investigators, private “owl’s” eyes, Artemis and Atticus.

It is without question the most reliable source of overnight news and developments, providing factual information of newsworthy events and happenings in an unbiased manner. And the most accurate fishing reports and prospects on local streams and lakes, normally the section Little Red Bear reads first each morning.

And then there is the other publication – “Squirrelly World”.

To be brutally honest – “Squirrelly World” is a gossip rag. A scandal sheet tabloid prone to featuring scandalous and sensational news in the backwoods, full of idle gossip, rumours, innuendo and chit-chat. Who was seen wagging their tail at who, which celebrity Nuthatch was seen escorting a cute Chickadee into their nest late at night, which doe batted her long eyelashes at a strange young buck, etc.

A newspaper, to use the term loosely, given to blowing events, real or rumoured, totally out of proportion and context to boost subscribers and ad revenues. Squirrels are insatiable in their quest for deep stockpiles and can never have enough nuts, it would seem.

The only reliable and generally trusted news reporter on the staff of “Squirrelly World” is Rusty the Fairydiddle, a red squirrel with a keen nose for news. Word in the woods is that Rusty is being recruited by Artemis and Atticus to jump ship and join the “Owl Hoots & Toots”.

That would be a good career move for both Rusty and the owls, removing his stigma of working for a gossipy tabloid to serving a true news organization of reputation and merit, while at the same time providing access to a broader area of news coverage and readership for the owls thru his established squirrel channels. But, like most things, it’s merely hearsay and conjecture until it happens.

With regard to the ostrich protest, each newspaper seems to have taken a different slant with the story – the “Owl Hoots & Toots” most accurately relaying the facts in small back page articles; while the squirrels, in their customary fashion in “Squirrelly World”, have sensationalized the story each day in bold, front page banner headlines. Additionally, they have editorially expanded the ostriches’ issues to all birds, flightless or not, while also hurling (what we feel) baseless and unsubstantiated accusations and allegations in the direction of Little Red Bear.

There is a growing clamor in the woodland today as critters seem to be taking different sides on the issue. Crows are being exceptionally raucous and disorderly in the treetops. A noisy cluster of blackbirds is assembling in a group of red oak trees in the distance, with more steadily arriving, traveling in giant clouds and swarms as they do.

And it would seem there is one rather confused looking turkey buzzard pacing back and forth along the roadside, first looking up towards our cabin and then looking over to the picketing ostriches, wagging his bald red head back and forth apparently trying to make up his mind of which side to join and unsure of how to proceed, understandably unaccustomed as vultures are to being caught up and involved with issues of the living, of course.

Or, there’s a chance that he simply showed up early to be first in line after the lynching, I suppose.  Hopefully the former.

As one might expect then from the headlines and crowds, as the day progressed tensions continued to escalate in the Ozarks Ostrich Crisis.

Large and intimidating as they are, the ostriches, in addition to picketing and chanting protest slogans, are now preventing our story characters from entering scheduled writing sessions, not allowing them to cross the picket line to come to work, and calling them “flabby grabby scabbies”.

Some feelings are being hurt because of that, but more worrisome perhaps has been the reaction and involvement of the local packs of coyotes and weasels.

Little Red Bear and I were concerned that the ostriches’ initial chanting, protests and discontent might spread to marginalized fringe groups, and there seem to be none more marginalized and disparaged than weasels and coyotes here in these parts, who in the interest of full disclosure – do not occupy a high standing in Little Red Bear’s view or stories.

So, they already have an ax to grind with Red and have predictably settled on the side of the obstreperous ostriches, joining in the picketing and protesting. The coyotes are creating a maddening racket and disruption with their howling. I am wondering how long we can keep the windows closed heading into summer, and what the cost might be to air-condition the place, if even possible to reasonably do that with a log cabin?

Groups of both coyotes and weasels have been going around trying to coerce other critters to enlist support for the picketers and join their side. Fortunately, most bystanders can escape into trees and avoid the blustering bullies.

Sadly, one intrepid “Squirrelly World” reporter may not have been so fortunate, having been carried away by a coyote under the pretense of an ‘exclusive private interview’ and not having been seen since. His editor is worried about the interview story being late for tomorrow’s deadline.

Prospective story characters still applying for jobs are finding it challenging to keep their place in line as well, with angry weasels and coyotes menacingly patrolling the path. Especially the slow and smaller critters. Frankly, I’m concerned about some of the turtles and porcupines, but then again, they are turtles and porcupines with their own defenses, after all. So, it will probably be all right. Hoping.

Both curious and disturbing, one of the coyotes even made a picket sign of his own and was carrying it around, deliriously pumping it up and down in the air over his head, trooping along in line behind the ostriches back and forth.

Fashioned after one of the ostrich signs, it read — “COYOTES ARE BIRDS, TOO!”

Which goes a long way towards explaining why coyotes occupy the role they do in Little Red Bear’s adventure stories.

The largest ostrich, presumably the leader, eventually persuaded the coyote to put the sign down; the ostrich appearing somewhat embarrassed by it all himself, as he then tried to ditch the sign and conceal it out of sight by jamming it into a large honeysuckle bush off to the side.

Silliness aside, with coyotes and weasels involved now, things have more than a fair chance of taking a turn for the worse. The coyotes always seem to have a certain edginess about them. And the local weasel situation, while never on friendly terms dating back to an incident a few years ago with Little Red Bear and a friend at the Triennial Swamp Tug, has markedly deteriorated over the past year.

Weasels pretty much had their way for many years in the backwoods and had been decimating the local bunny rabbit population. So much so that Little Red Bear felt inclined to invite bunny families to nest beneath his cabin for protection a couple years ago.

That all changed when the new, self-proclaimed Backwoods Sheriff arrived a little while ago, Albuquerque Red from New Mexico.  Albuquerque is a red fox, and both curiously and as one would not expect, a loyal friend and protector of rabbits. The little fox sheriff and the weasels have been at odds ever since. It’s all explained at length in Little Red Bear’s first collection of stories, “The First Holler!” should you wish to catch up on the background and history of it all.

So, hoping things do not get dangerous or truly ugly with the added involvement of the weasels and coyotes now.

“The coyotes had a head start on ‘truly ugly’ the moment they showed up.”

“Red, that’s not nice. Remember our young readers.”

“Well, just stating a fact. They’re ugly. Truly.”

“Red . . . .”

“Kids today know what ugly is.  And if they don’t, they just have to picture a coyote in their mind. Or a weasel. Either one. But not together. That’s too much ugly even for me to imagine.”

Well, I think everyone should understand how Little Red Bear feels about coyotes and weasels now. But as I keep explaining to him, coyotes are just another of God’s creatures going about their business as Mother Nature intended. I think they are frequently quite handsome creatures, myself, simply doing what they have been sent here to do.

That being said though, it’s difficult to sway someone to appreciate a creature’s good qualities while that very same critter is busy picketing in front of their home and hurling “fat and ugly” insults at them. So, I understand Little Red Bear’s position on the matter.

I have known Little Red Bear and some of his friends for years, and have always been urging Red to allow me to help him tell the world about his adventures. But never imagined our having to deal with protesting ostriches, coyotes and weasels around our home in the process. Along with the dubious threat of being strung up and lynched, of course.

Do romance novelists have to deal with this kind of stuff? Do jilted lovers bother to picket in protest or simply hustle on along to their next fling? I write animal stories, so honestly have no idea. But there are so many romance writers out there and so few animal story writers, that it would seem to beg the question.

Regardless, time marches on. Along with the ostriches, coyotes and weasels. Maybe they will all come to their senses and tomorrow will bring peace and calm again.

Wait! – Oh! – No!

There goes a weasel chasing my receptionist trying to get into work, a four-year-old rabbit with a nest full of bunnies to feed.

“Hey, you!  Stop that!  Run, Henrietta!  I’m coming!”

Gotta go!

To be continued . . . . . . . .


Thanks as always for following along and visiting with us! As a special ‘thank you’, Little Red Bear has included the Pinterest Recipe for those Blueberry Oatmeal Waffles he was making earlier. If you are unfamiliar with Pinterest, simply tap on the image to find the recipe.

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

And please remember — Kindness does not cost anything and can change someone’s life in a heartbeat.  Be the reason someone smiles today!   — Jim  (and Red!)


Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


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

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


Chapter Three of The Ozarks Ostrich Crisis: “DAY 2 ¾ — To Sleep, Perchance to Dream?”

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


Twas after midnight, before the dawning.

Before sparrows were stretching and sleepily yawning.


Following what seemed an endless day of ostriches picketing and protesting in front of the cabin and with ear-splitting ostrich chants still ringing in our ears (No Ostriches – No Stories!”), a welcome and restful night’s sleep was uppermost in our minds. I looked forward to hitting the sack early and pulling the covers up over my head with the same childlike eagerness and anticipation of Christmas Eve.

With a nightly cup of chamomile tea to soothe jangled nerves, I wished Little Red Bear “good night” and off to bed I went. Mentally and physically exhausted, sleep soon followed as peace and quiet had finally returned to Honey Hill, reassuring that even angry ostriches must rest their vocal chords at some point.

It didn’t seem long before a loud clap of thunder woke me from my slumber.

Sheets of rain mixed with small hail beat against the window, and I found myself bouncing up and down on the bed mattress as the floor of the cabin shook from the impact of a lightning strike nearby, followed soon by the creaking and crashing sound of tree limbs.

Then followed the unexplainable but unmistakable, moaning, groaning whisper of my name.

Jim . . . .”

And again – “Jim . . . . . . .”

I looked around but no one was to be found.  Lightning flashes illuminated the room, irregular strobe light bursts at once nearly blinding to the eyes yet revealing nothing save haunting shapes and shadows.

Jimmm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .”

Was I dreaming, or truly hearing my name being called, as though from both distant and near at the same time?

I rushed to the window, scanning the outside, squinting to focus in the stormy night, searching to see if anyone was in peril and calling my name in distress. The old white oak tree nearby twisted and strained in the howling winds of the storm. But I could see no further thru the driving rains.

Jiiiimmmmmm . . . . . . . . . . . .”

Louder. Clear now. The whispered call was coming from inside the room!

At once turning back around I found myself inexplicably looking upwards. I saw but did not believe. Surely, I must be dreaming.

This is not possible I thought, as a dark and ominous thundercloud, flickering on and off with flashes of internal red and yellow lightning, hovered above my head inside the room where the ceiling should have been.

Though – there was no ceiling, only the menacing and silent thundercloud with clear skies and distant stars shining behind, all while the unabated storm continued to rage outside the cabin walls.

“It’s odd Little Red Bear has not been woken by all of this,” I said aloud. “Wait until I tell him about this dream in the morning.”

“You are not dreaming,” came a sonorous voice from inside the cloud — resonant, deep, and authoritative in tone.

“Yes, I am.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Yes – I am!”

“No – you’re not!”

“Clouds thunder but do not talk. Therefore, it’s a dream. End of discussion. Good night.”

“YOU ARE NOT DREAMING!” thundered the cloud as lightning flashed and winds now rushed about the room, sweeping up clothes and papers, hurling them into the air and whipping them about in tornadic bursts. White hot lightning bolts, one after another, blasted the floorboards, causing me to leap and dance about to avoid them striking my feet.

“Dance, storyteller! Dance!” the thundercloud mocked.

“Okay, okay – not dreaming,” I acquiesced, though still really believing it was a dream while simultaneously wondering if one’s foot were to be burnt in a dream about lightning would it still be burnt upon awakening? Unsure of the answer, I felt it best to play along in my dream.

“Who or what are you? And what do you want of me then?” I inquired.

“Muucchhhh. I am the Ghostly Cloud of Untold Stories Passed.”

“Who’s past?”

“Not ‘past’ – ‘passed’. Well, I suppose in a technical sort of way ‘past’, for it is your past of which I speak this night.”

“O–kay . . .”

“So, more precisely then since you seem inclined to quibble and nitpick – You are being haunted by your past’s passed stories never written or told, and lost forever – The distraught man on the train. The sick child in the hospital bed. The boy pirate who became a mountain man. The lonely grandmother sitting alone on the church steps. The red-nosed circus clown running for Congress. The . . . ”

“Oh, get on with you,” I responded in defiance and losing patience.

“You do not believe in me?”

“Nope, not even a tidily bit.”

“What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your own senses?”

“Haven’t a clue.”

“Why do you doubt your own senses then, storyteller?”

“Because the slightest thing can set them off. An upset stomach. A headache. An over-toasted piece of bread. A moldy bit of cheese. An over-ripe and fermented apple. I’m tired. There’s more pain-in-the-butt than painful memory about you, whatever you are. Hogwash and horsefeathers, I say! Now let me get back to sleep.”

The thundercloud began to darken, rumbling inside and turning an unnerving purple. The very room about me took on an oppressively heavy and cold feel to the point where I could see my breath.

“Someone just picked the wrong mushrooms for the soup last night and I’m hallucinating again. That’s what you are – an apparition. An illusion. A figment of my overly stimulated imagination. A colorful sensory overload of psychedelic mushrooms. I’ve told Little Red Bear to be careful about that. I don’t do mushrooms well for some reason.”

I am not a mushroom!” the cloud thundered.

“There are mushroom clouds,” I countered. “Dreadful, devastating things not to be taken lightly.”

“Do not take me lightly, storyteller!” the cloud raged. “I am the Ghostly Cloud of Your Untold Stories Passed. Do you believe in me, or not?!?!?”

“Look, you can be the Easter Bunny if you want, for all I care. Just let me get back to sleep.”

“I am salvation!”

“For who?”

“You.”

“No time. I have a lot going on right now. I’m dealing with a work stoppage on my next book, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

“I am here for your salvation. And for the sake of stories yet untold.”

“I appreciate your concern, but I don’t need to be salvated.  I just need to get back to sleep.”

“Untold stories smolder within you, eventually igniting and burning, stoked by the fuels of neglect and indifference, searing and scorching from the inside out until they are released and told.”

“Yeah, that’s nice. Good night.”

Mark my words, storyteller! You will be consumed by the burning fires of your own imagination. Flames licking at your very soul. But salvation can be yours!”

“Maybe another time. I’m too tired to be salvated tonight. I just want to go back to sleep.”

I pulled down the covers to slip back into bed, wondering that if you go to sleep in a dream, would you then have a dream within a dream, or just start a new one entirely? Hoping for a new one.

“You will be visited by three Ostriches!” the cloud announced authoritatively, it’s prophetic words echoing around the room.

That perked my interest and got my attention. Back up out of bed.

“Come again . . . .”

“Ostriches three, will visit thee!”

“Well, that sounds a little Old Testament. What are you, the ghost of some old street corner oracle, Biblical poet or something?”

“Yes. We had better writing and greater use of dramatic flair back then.”

“Eh, to each his own, I suppose.”

“Enough about me.  You will be visited by Ostriches three.  Their stories to tell, will your job be.”

“Three ostriches. Really? Is that the message? The big chance and salvation you were referring to? That’s why you woke me up?”

“It is.”

“Uh-huh. Right then. Goodnight.”

“You still doubt me storyteller. Why do you continue to doubt your senses?”

“Well, because, it would be ‘non-sense’ to believe I am talking to a cloud? There’s one.”

Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled throughout the room.

“You might want to be a little more careful tossing those lightning bolts about so indiscriminately. Not that you care being a rain cloud full of water, but this is a log cabin comprised almost entirely of combustible wood, you know.”

“Rain cloud?!?!?  I am a Thundercloud!

A bolt of lightning struck the floorboards between my feet. The room’s walls shook as though in an earthquake from the thunderous blast.

“Yeah, uh, go on. I’m listening,” I responded, brushing burning splinters from my bare feet and staring down at the smoking burnt spot on the floor, thankful the cloud’s aim had been precise and not a little higher.

I tried to take a further step away only to put my left foot down atop a hot ember and found myself backed up against a wall. The smell of wood smoke filled the room.  With maybe a touch of third degree foot burns.

Mind racing, I nervously searched the twinkling stars in the skies beyond the thundercloud for a happier thought. “Third star past morning or something or other?” I wondered aloud, trying to remember and find any escape, or to switch the dream channel, wishing I had taken that Interdisciplinary Dream Studies Course instead of Advanced Cost Accounting years ago. Do you feel pain in a dream?

Rubbing my seared and painfully burned foot I turned my gaze back to the charred spot on the floor and the burning ember upon which I had stepped, sparks still glowing at the edges and smoke wafting into the room. Was that pieces of me burning or just the floor?

“Look at me!” the thundercloud demanded. “I bear your salvation!”

“Again — wooden building — please do be careful.”

“Salvation from your passed story torments!”

“Yeah, yeah – salvation. Got that part.”

“Do you?!?”

A second lightning bolt shattered an oil lamp on the nightstand, instantly bursting into flames and setting the curtains ablaze, and then just as quickly extinguished by a following gust of wind.

“Yes, yes. Please, do go on. Continue. I’m all ears. Hanging on every word. Waiting to be salvated. You were saying . . .”

“Very well then, storyteller. You will be visited by three ostriches.”

“Yep, ostriches. Three of ‘em. Got it.”

“Expect the first ostrich tonight, when the bell strikes one.”

“Ummm . . . ugh . . . gosh.  We don’t have a bell. I truly hope that’s not a problem. The mantle clock broke last year and we haven’t gotten it fixed yet.  So dreadfully sorry. No bells. But we do have a cuckoo clock.  It cuckoos. Might that work for you?”

“Whatever. Expect the first ostrich then, at the sounding of the first cuckoo.”

“Uh-huh . . . .”

“Look for the second ostrich with the second cuckoo.”

“And expect the third ostrich at the third cuckoo, I suppose.”

“No. That would be too predictable and unimaginative. Are you sure you are a storyteller, storyteller?”

“You’re sounding kind of cuckoo now yourself, cloud, to be honest. But perfectly fitting for the goofy ostriches. So please, go ahead. The last cuckoo ostrich, as you were saying . . .”

“Yes, yes . . . . The third ostrich, more mercurial, will appear in his own good time.”

“Yeah, you’re right. That is better. But, well, here’s the thing, cloud – I got news for ya. The ostriches are already here. They all three arrived together, all at once, two days ago, were upset by an off-paw comment made by Little Red Bear, and then picketed and protested all day long yesterday in front of the cabin. For a prophetic spectral warning cloud, you’re a little late, by two or three days.”

“Weather conditions over Montana unavoidably delayed my arrival.”

“My personal Spectral Early Warning System is subject to the whims of the atmosphere and weather delays? Perfect. That explains a lot in my life, actually.”

“We do what we can.”

“Uh-huh.”

“You have been warned, storyteller. Receive these ostriches well and mend your ways. Release and tell the stories inside and those that come to you, or you will continue to be haunted by the shadows and specters of untold stories passed. The ostriches have their stories waiting to be told. Tell them — or you will be consumed by your own internal creative fires!”

“Yeah, yeah, sure. Got it. I’m tired and now my foot hurts, thanks to you. Anything else or is that about it?”

“Now, look to see me no more.”

The thundercloud rumbled as it faded into the now starless and once again stormy sky above.

“Good. Nice chatting with you,” I muttered to myself, foot burning and limping back towards the bed. “A late warning is a wasted warning, you know. Might as well not even bother. Stupid ostriches already here and you show up three days too late to tell me about it. A lot of bloody good that did.”

Instantly a lightning bolt flashed, striking the old white oak tree just outside the window, mere feet from the cabin. Thunder rattled and shook the cottage to its foundations, repeatedly tossing me against the wall and thrown down crashing upon the floor only to be hurled thru the air and slammed against the walls yet again.

“Sorry,” I offered desperately, finally picking myself up and waving my hands in surrender while gazing upwards to the cabin’s ceiling, now returned to form. “Everybody’s so touchy and easily offended these days. I do appreciate the concern, if ill-timed. We’ll both try to do better the next time. Forgive and forget, yeah?”

The room convulsed and upheaved once again, and back to the floor I went.

“Characters . . . stories . . . untold . . . consumed . . .” – the final whispered reply, fading into the distance.

I awoke what seemed only moments later, but who of us truly senses the passage of time when sleeping, finding myself feeling cold, shivering and huddled in a corner on the floor. Struggling to rise, I used the chair as a prop to lift myself back up.

The first, welcome and comforting early rays of sunrise beamed thru the window curtains, not singed or scarred upon inspection. I was also relieved to find the nightstand lamp undamaged, nor any burn marks on the floor.

Convinced then that it all had been merely a stress-induced nightmare precipitated by the ostriches, I sighed in relief. Tired and feeling beat up and battered, after dressing and then slowly and gently slipping an unexplained aching left foot into my boot, I headed downstairs following a fitful and frightful night of storms and dreams.

Little Red Bear was sitting at the table, already reading the morning’s edition of “Squirrelly World” and appearing much chipper than the day before.

“How did you sleep last night, Red? Storms keep you awake all night, too?”

“I slept fine. And what storms? It was quiet and dry all night. The rain stopped well before dinner last night. Remember? The whip-poor-wills sang all night behind the cabin. Best night’s rest I’ve had in a month. You have trouble sleepin’, Jim?”

“Yeah, some. I suppose it had to be the mushroom soup at dinner then. You know mushrooms can cause problems for me.”

“What are you talking about? I made the spaghetti for us, and you made the salads and garlic bread to go with it for dinner last night. You feelin’ all right this morning, Jim? Why are you limping? You got a sore foot or something? Are those ostriches gettin’ to ya? You look like you already been down a rough stretch of road for someone who just got out of bed. There’s bumps and bruises all over ya. You didn’t go out and try to fight one of those ostriches after I went to bed last night, did you?”

“No, no. It was just a long night. ”

“Well, you look awful.  Maybe you should go back to bed for a while.”

“Not a chance.  But how about you? Any bad dreams or nightmares?”

“None that I recall. I started to have one dream that was a bit strange though, about a cloud talking to me.”

“Oh, yeah? Tell me about it.”

“Well, this cloud seemed to wake me up with thunder in the room and started mumbling something or other about ‘Adventures Untold’.”

Little Red Bear now had my full attention. “Really? Tell me everything. What happened?”

“Nuthin’. I reminded the cloud that it’s considered unwise to wake sleeping bears, dogs and babies. It replied, ‘Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot’, and then just disappeared. ‘Poof’ – it was gone. That was the only dream I had. Other than the usual dream about finding a giant ten foot beehive and honey, of course.”

“Oh, how nice,” I responded, recalling my own nightmares and wondering why only bears, dogs and babies seemed to enjoy the “don’t wake” protections afforded them. Well, babies I do understand of course, being the father of four kids. Yeah, never wake a sleeping baby. Doting grandparents dropping in for a visit seem to forget that one now and then. Dogs and bears are on their own as far as I’m concerned.

But, getting back to the story, I had come downstairs this morning half-thinking and half-hoping the ostriches might have called off their unreasonable picketing and protest, having no results to show for all their work and having moved on elsewhere. No such luck. Their voices carried thru the open windows.

Ostriches ready to challenge and put up a fight!
We’re back in the battle and going to rev up tonight!

Gingerly stepping out onto the front porch, there they were, all three of the ostriches energetically picketing and chanting across the front entrance to the cabin, exactly as they had the previous day. Determined birds, these.

The largest ostrich was carrying a new sign – “OSTRICHES HAVE STORIES TO TELL, TOO!”

And the chanting. The endless chanting, chanting, chanting . . . . .

Flap your wings and stamp your feet!

We’re picketing to the groove of the Ostrich beat!

Flap your wings and stamp your feet!

We’re makin’ new friends and gonna turn up the heat!

The crowd of spectators is continuing to grow larger and wondering why that is. Not overly concerned about it though, providing peaceful spectators do not become  belligerent participants, of course.

Hey, hey!  Whattaya know?

That writer guys movin’ pretty slow!

Hey, hey!  He’s all limpy!

 That old man’s lookin’ really gimpy!

Having already heard and seen enough, I turned to go back inside the cabin to begin making breakfast.

To the side, mere feet from my bedroom window, I caught sight of the old white oak tree, smoldering and split in two lengthwise from top to bottom, somehow mysteriously burning and being consumed from the inside out while still standing, flames licking at the edges. Smoke rose from the growing pile of ashes at its feet, forming grey and black clouds before the breeze took them off and away into the air.

“Now, that’s interesting,” I muttered to myself, limping back inside with a still clouded mind.

“Are you sure you didn’t hear any storms last night, Red?”

To be continued . . . . . . . .


Thanks as always for visiting with us!  This story part was prepared with a little tongue-in-cheek fun from the inspiration of Charles Dickens. Hope he didn’t mind.  Be sure to check in next week as events continue to unfold in the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis”, a continuing weekly serialized free story available only here on the Writing Blog.  See ya then.

And please remember — Be the reason someone smiles today!   — Jim  (and Red!)


Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


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

~ Think Globally — Act Locally ~