Welcome to Summer! (Or Perhaps Not?) — The “Ready, Set, Jump into Summer Blog Hop”

As the old song says — “In the good old Summertime!”  Welcome to summer in our part of the world. What are you looking forward to the most, or not looking forward to at all, perhaps?

Sunscreen and sun-splashed trips to the beach, or sunburns and hot sands burning your toes?  Long saved for and anticipated family vacations, or high utility and air-conditioning bills tightening the budget?  Hiking and camping, spending time with Mother Nature, or exasperating battles repelling endless mosquito incursions and sorties?

What is your approach and take on the Season of Summer? As with most things in life, there is more than one way to look at things, with our views and determinations changing depending on our outlooks.

Some of my writer friends and I are sharing our thoughts and plans for the coming summer season in our C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y Jumping into Summer Blog Hop.” I invite you to read on here, share your thoughts on summer in the comments, and then visit my friends’ sites for more fun and information!


For me, summer is a mixed bag nowadays. As a youngster, summer was looked forward to with eager anticipation second only to Christmas.  Summer vacation!  Summer camp, hikes, and outings with the Boy Scouts! Day-long trips and exploring on bicycles!  Ball games to play and the St. Louis Cardinals to watch with my father!  Gardens to plant and harvest!  Fly fishing trips! Rope swings into the Big River!  Picnics in the parks! Wiffle ball games and backyard barbeques! Family car trips and visits to my uncles’ farms!  Summer was the most wonderful time of year, with the exception of Santa Claus, of course.

Nevertheless, standing in the shadow of seventy now and with infrequent visits from Mr. Claus, it seems that with each passing year the day-to-day combination of high heat and humidity typical of Midwest St. Louis area summers combine to make summertime a struggle to get thru, with near-daily afternoon headaches and fatigue. In a total reversal, summer has become my least favorite season by far. It wasn’t a close race.

But, as you know if a prior visitor here, I tend to be a “look for the good in every situation” kind of guy. If all one looks for in life are the negatives, it can pretty much be assured that negatives will be all that is found. It is always only up to us if we choose to be happy or not in any set of circumstances.  I choose to be happy, regardless of the thermometer, heat index, and dew points.

Each season of the year presents its own special attractions and beauty, and though not my favorite season, summer is no exception.

I still love early morning walks listening to songbirds in the neighborhood. Fresh, earthy smells in the air with the twinkling sparkle of dew on grass and leaves. Sunrise — my favorite time of day.

And after-dinner strolls watching children play as the sun sets. Flickering fireflies emerge, and flowers perfume the evening air. Keeping an eye out for fairies emerging from woodland homes, favoring the nocturnal hours, as they do.  Listening for owls and the chorus of whip-poor-wills and tree frogs in the evenings.

So while not my favorite time of year, summertime is perhaps the most magical for the senses, allowing all of our senses to actively engage in and experience the world around us and play. Life is good. Even in summer.


Looking further on the bright side, then, my heat and humidity issues with the summer season have made the anticipation of Autumn, my very favorite time of year, even grander!  While some days may be a struggle as summer lingers on into August, the work of planning, preparing, and getting things in order for fall and the coming holiday season keep me very busy and moving forward with a growing excitement each summer day.

Avoiding the sun (a personal headache trigger ranking right up there with an exhausted two-year-old in a long grocery line) provides me with a great deal of time spent indoors during the day to write more adventure stories with my writing friend and partner Little Red Bear (the imaginary bear who lives in my head), create more items for my Etsy Shoppe, and to practice and elevate my guitar playing skills.

So even if I don’t necessarily enjoy sunny days and hot summer weather outdoors as much anymore, there are still positives to be found in the summer season.

Here is how I will be approaching summer this year —


Surpassed only by my writing muse awakening me at 4 a.m. in the mornings with new character, story, and writing inspirations, my very best Little Red Bear story ideas always come to me while creating things, working with my hands. And I have missed that.

After down-sizing and a mid-summer move last year, followed by a significant arm injury in the fall while setting up my new kitchen, I am finally able once again and getting around to unpacking artwork supplies and setting up a new work area to create more teddy bears, old-fashioned rag dolls, jewelry, and other items for the coming fall and holiday seasons.

With so many folks inquiring each week as to when new items will be available again and rediscovering forgotten materials and old pattern friends unpacking now, I am truly eager to get back to work making things!

Watch for my online Etsy Shoppe re-opening soon with new creations for Autumn and the Holiday Season. I am very excited to be able to create new things once again for others to enjoy!

And what better time to get back to my handwork than while staying cool and indoors out of the summer sun? To paraphrase an old expression — if life gives you summer heat, humidity, and sunshine, make teddy bears!


Always reading and studying to learn more and more about the wonders of Mother Nature for my Little Red Bear stories, I have begun research on trees, plants, and other flora and their importance to not only the environment but also their influence on our personal mood, health, and creativity.

The study of biophilia suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Looking back on our own evolution, it is a very natural thing as the very survival of humans over the ages depended on a very intimate connection to the natural world.

The therapeutic Japanese practice of “Shinrin-yoku” — “Forest Bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”  is the art and science of how trees can promote health and happiness.

As many seem to disconnect more and more from nature over recent years with subsequent societal impacts, Little Red Bear and I have begun work on another new writing project — “Walking With Trees”, for a targeted 2020 Spring/Summer release.

As with all of Little Red Bear’s adventures, the story will be intended to be Entertaining, Informative, and Educational, inspiring youngsters and oldsters alike to reconnect with trees and the natural world around us.

Accordingly, a great deal of research needs to be done before we get into the storytelling aspects because we take responsibility for accuracy and detail in everything we present very seriously here.


On the musical front, after playing and teaching guitar for over fifty years, I have recently begun writing and creating some of my own original music with the intention of eventually recording and creating my own CD at some point. Not for public release, of course. No pretentions or ambitions of stardom here, merely something for family and friends. Somewhat a mixture of Latin/Smooth Jazz/Ambient Fusion.

Another indoor activity and way to stretch creative muscles for the benefit of not only myself but also hopefully others along the way.

Thru the support of patrons helping to offset the cost of maintaining these pages free of advertisements for everyone, Little Red Bear and I are able to regularly donate our books to local libraries, schools, and senior centers. Additionally, I am being asked to perform and entertain with my guitars at senior centers, so perhaps another way to share musical enjoyment with others.

After a time away from active playing while raising family, I have caught up with a good bit of the new technology, gear, and equipment available. And still learning.

But can an aging guitarist elevate to yet another level of recording and performing in public again, too?  Going to give it “the old college try” as they say, so — we’ll see.

Playing around with “Drop D” and “Open C” tunings on an acoustic guitar at present. So stay tuned. (Pun intended — sorry, couldn’t resist.)


And of course, Little Red Bear and I are at the same time hard at work finishing the next collection of Red’s short story adventures — “The Second Holler Over!”

Returning characters, new characters, old themes, new themes, old hazards, new hazards. And a creative new format. Watch for new story features, character interviews, and background information here on the Writing Pages in the coming weeks leading up to the book release later this year!

By the way — if you are looking for some relaxing and entertaining summer reading, now would be a great time to catch up with the first collection of Red’s adventure stories — “The First Holler!” —  if you have not yet met Little Red Bear, Cinnamon Charlie, and their other friends.

Characters and themes build from one story to another in a sequential fashion, so it’s best to start at the beginning. But that simply makes sense, doesn’t it?

And it’s the only way to do it when dealing with irksome weasels roaming the backwoods, you know.

The “Little Red Bear Stories” and a “Free Preview” are available on Amazon.


That is my approach and what summer will be about here — reading and researching, a return to handwork and creating new items for the holiday season, writing and playing new music, and finishing the next collection of Little Red Bear stories.

So, headaches and heat issues aside,  I truly am excited about the arrival of summer, after all. There are so many wonderful opportunities and things to do that do not involve slathering on layers of sunscreen or swatting away mosquitoes!

How about you?  What are your plans for the coming Season of Summer?  Do you look forward to participating in traditional summer activities, or perhaps, like me, find other ways to productively and positively enjoy the season?  Do you enjoy or dread summer’s imminent approach?  Please feel free to share in the comments.


And if you are not a “summer person”, that’s okay. Neither am I. It is easy to feel left out, excluded, and sad when all of the television commercials depict delightful summer beach scenes, or family and neighbors talk excitedly about summer boating weekends and vacations.  Reaching for the aspirin bottle, we listen politely while secretly wishing the temperature was 65F and not 95F. Everyone dances to their own tune, and likely as not, when we are happily donning overcoats and snow boots in winter, our summer-loving friends are longing for the days of summer. That’s how it is.

Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder for summertime sufferers is as real as Seasonal Affective Disorder for those brought down in the throes of winter, it just doesn’t get as much publicity yet.  If so affected, I encourage you to search for groups on Facebook and other sites to know you are not unique or alone in shunning the summer sunshine. Frequently, merely knowing that we are not the only one in the world disdaining a bright summer day helps. Check it out if this applies to you because you’re not alone.

Summertime is after all, simply “time”, and it is always up to us on how we spend it, being happy or being miserable. It is always our choice, independent of what is going on around us or “outside”.

Take responsibility for and change your own outlook on the world, and watch the world around you change!

Happiness is an “inside” job, more literally for some of us in the summertime perhaps, and Little Red Bear and I find that “Happy” always passes the time more quickly and is much more enjoyable! Summertime not excluded.


Thanks always for visiting and spending part of your day with us!  Will you share your smile to help brighten someone’s life today?  In a non-glaring, “no sunscreen needed” brightening sort of way, of course.

Wishing you and yours a delightful summer season however you may wish to spend it!  Be happy!  — Jim  (and Red!)


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also enjoy → “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart” and “Happy Hummer Season! Welcoming, Helping, and Attracting Hummingbirds In Your Neighborhood.” 

(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 writer friends for more summer thoughts, inspirations, and smiles to see what they have in mind for the coming summer!

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

KidLit Blog by Children’s Author Rosie Russell

Author Rebecca Lyndsey

Author Julie Gorges on the “Baby Boomer Bliss Blog”

Children’s Author Sandra Bennett

Children’s Author Carmela Dutra

Fantasy Author Auden Johnson

Fantasy Author Mackenzie Flhor


“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” – Maud Hart Lovelace

                    “One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.”                     – Henry David Thoreau


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.

       “Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me, those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James


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!


                   “Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” – Sam Keen


 

 

 

 

Ready, Set, Jump Into Summer! — The 2017 CURRENTLY Summer Blog Hop

Sun screen. Observing shore birds. Relaxing to the rhythm of the waves. Splashing in the surf. Kids playing “Marco Polo” in the pool. Family road trips. Picnics in the park. Watching spring’s wildlife babies taking first flight and learning from their parents.

Buzzing bees.  Kites in the breeze.  Birds singing in the trees.  —  Summer is in the air!

My blogger friends and I are sharing summer reflections and what we are up to at the moment.  Our thoughts, special memories, inspirations and what we are loving, listening to, anticipating, working on, writing, inspirations, and more in our “C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y Summer Blog Hop.”

Please have a read and enjoy. Then visit the other #Gr8Blogs listed at the end of this post for more summer insights and  inspirations.


Currently Loving . . . .

I am currently loving the change of seasons, now from spring moving into summer. Watching the bright freshness of spring’s newly-budded leaves transitioning into  the mature forest greens of summer. The hummingbirds have arrived and are visible darting, bobbing and weaving thru the air. Fireflies in the evening should be making an appearance soon. Parent birds busy all day gathering food for newly fledged young. The garden beginning to take form. Being a native of the Midwest and then having lived in Florida for several years and now having more recently returned to my home state of Missouri, as much as I loved the beauty and beaches of Florida I always missed the traditional flow of seasons here, one into another followed by another.

Loving . . . . Spring into Summer!

Currently Listening To . . . .

Taking a step back to Florida, it was during my year’s in the Sunshine State that I discovered the Smooth Jazz genre of music, listening to a smooth jazz station in Orlando.  So, while loving the change of seasons in my Midwest home, I miss family still living in Florida and times spent together with them there. Listening to smooth jazz music, especially that of Paul Hardcastle, Jazzmasters, Peter White and the like, reminds me of Florida’s bright sunny days and trips to the beach.

And, almost without saying, Jimmy Buffett passing the time in Margaritaville, of course.  I am a Parrot Head Pirate Over Forty, and it is always Five O’ Clock Somewhere listening to Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band with a steel drum serenade. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes — works fine here, too.

Listening to . . . . the music of summer!

Currently Making Me Happy . . . .

It seems as though it has taken forever, but finally getting settled back into a creative routine following three moves in three years, and having my workroom set up again where I create the teddy bears, old-fashioned raggedy dolls, jewelry pendants and other items for my online eBay Store and Etsy Shoppe. Unpacking boxes and rediscovering materials and supplies not seen in a few years is exciting, and has gotten the old creative juices flowing again.

Happy . . . . to be creating again!

Currently Anticipating . . . .

My online stores have been sadly neglected the past couple years with many things in limbo and in storage sheds, and together with getting the workroom going and working hard now to restock, I am eagerly anticipating the official ‘relaunch’ of my stores in mid-September in time for the holiday season, together with having some of my work and books displayed and available for the first time in local shops and boutiques on Main Street in Old Towne St. Charles, a local historic district. Old-fashioned teddy bears and raggedy dolls should feel right at home there.

Anticipating . . . . new opportunities!

Currently Working On . . . .

Summer is one of Santa and the elves’ busiest times preparing for the fall holiday season, and as one of Mr. C’s suppliers for many years, my summers are no exception. It’s busy times here!

On my worktable right now are an assortment of various sized mohair teddy bears and pandas for adult collectors, together with a growing small army of little, multi-colored mini bears which I refer to as ‘Fuzzie Cubbies’, made from vintage, 1950s plush upholstery fabric in a wide range of colors.

I am also staining fabrics, preparing to restart a line of small, old-fashioned raggedy dolls suitable for children, which I refer to as ‘Little Sidekicks’.   And making hats. And Steampunk attire.  And new wooden Adirondack Chairs and Rockers that I have designed and building. And decorative bonnets for dolls.  And more adult pendants. And, and . . . . .

Working on . . . . keeping busy!

Currently Writing . . . .

When not in the workroom, I am busy with Little Red Bear and his friends writing the second collection of short stories — ‘The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!’, for a fall release.  Following the warm reception of the standalone story for Little Red Bear, ‘Pine Holler Christmas: A Little Red Bear Story’, we are also hard at work on another standalone story — ‘Walking With Trees’ — focusing on the health benefits and well-being of spending time in nature, and the reasons why preserving the natural world is so important.  We are targeting a late summer release for this story, but as you can see, we’re pretty busy with a lot of things at the moment, but keeping good thoughts.

A lot of reading, study and research involved in my writing, of course, keeping Red and I even busier, as all of the Little Red Bear stories are meant to not only be Entertaining, but also Informative and Educational, as well. Red is very good with research. He has a special quiet place he retreats to for study, but will not share with me where it is.

Writing . . . . Little Red Bear Adventures!

Currently Grateful For . . . .

I am Currently and Always grateful for YOU!  Thank You to everyone who visits and follows my work here and on other social media sites.  Thank You for your kind comments, thoughts and encouragement.  Without YOU, I would merely being having conversations with a bear residing in my head.

It is followers, like YOU, who bring it all to life, hopefully for the benefit of many, making this blog, my writing, and works devoted to Children, Family, Positivity, Kindness, and Mother Nature possible.

Little Red Bear and I are grateful for . . . .  YOU!


Thanks as always for your time visiting with us.  That is what we (Little Red Bear and I) are currently up to, and as you can see, it is shaping up to be a very busy summer here!

I encourage you to please visit and follow my awesome and talented blogger friends below to see what they are CURRENTLY up to this summer, also.

And — be the reason someone smiles today!   — Jim (and Red!)


C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y Summer Blog Hop Pages To Visit!

Julie Gorges — “Baby Boomer Bliss”
Tracy Bryan — “Children’s Author”
Auden Johnson — “Dark Treasury”
Sandra Bennett — “author”
Carmela Dutra — “carmela Dutra blog”
Cat Michaels — “Cat’s Corner”

And hey y’all, if you’re pumped about writing your own “C*U*R*R*E*N*T*L*Y” post now, simply add your family-friendly Currently blog link to your blog post in the comment section. We’ll visit and give you some blog love too!


“A Kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” – Steve Maraboli

 

Love Is A Four Letter Word That Children Spell — “T-I-M-E”


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

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” — Charles Schulz


 

A Special “Thank You!” for Readers and What’s Ahead in the New Year!

A special New Year’s Thank You!” to everyone who has followed along the past year on the Blog, my Author Facebook Page, on Twitter and with “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories book collection released in June!

A few quick hits for New Year’s.  I am not a big numbers guy, not seeking to build great legions of followers for the sole sake of impressive numbers and ego stroking. But when you write or put creative work out there for the enjoyment of others, numbers are a way of gauging whether there is any interest or if your work is fostering the intended enjoyment for others.

So it was encouraging to see that my Blog site continues to grow, having achieved a 60% increase in both visits and followers in 2015, was visited over 4,400 times and reached a new high averaging 20 visits per day in December and now being read in 86 countries!   “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” continues to gain new readers internationally, and has been very positively received.  Twitter followers are nearing the 10,000 mark worldwide.   We keep growing together, one positive message at a time.

To me, this is an indication and further encouragement that there still remains a receptive audience and place for enjoyable clean, uplifting and positive themed information and entertainment of high standards.  So for you, readers and followers – Thank You!

Quote- Love and Purpose

Looking ahead, the course will remain the same but hopefully with even more activity shared in the coming year.  As always, the focus will be Entertaining, Informational and Educational.  In the works for the new year are –

A continued focus on the natural world and conservation issues including the revival of nature interviews and features on the Blog by our assistant, “Rusty the Fairydiddle”, a Red Squirrel Reporter, as only a Red Squirrel can do them.  Check out “Rusty Behind the Scenes — The Gray Fox Interview” for a sample.

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

A serialized Free Story or two on the Blog, similar to the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis” which started it all a couple years ago.

More Free Reads, Poetry and other Short Works as inspiration and the muses allow.

Little Red Bear finds humans fascinating for one reason or another, so in addition a new series of interviews is planned on the Blog to include not only fellow writers and authors, but other creative and interesting folk as well.  The list of those already agreeing to be interviewed include photographers of various disciplines, artists, authors and more.

“The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” ~ Michelangelo

Plans also include sharing more new teddy bears, raggedy dolls and other creations and information on the Blog, just for fun.

And — after months of “thinking” and note-making, writing on the next collection of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories began in earnest the past week.  As you may recall, the full title of the first collection of stories was “The Adventures of Little Red Bear:  The First Holler!”   The next collection will be appropriately titled “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!”  Returning the main characters, it will also feature the introduction of some very new and colorful characters as fun and hijinks in the backwoods continues.  And with those pesky weasels still around, we’re never really quite sure what may happen.  Red and I are working towards a summer or early fall release, so please stay in touch for updates.

So Much Work, So Many Adventures, So Little Time!

So Much Work, So Many Adventures, So Little Time!

Actually, staying in touch is pretty easy.  Following the blog is as simple as signing up, with notifications of all new posts delivered directly to your email inbox.  It is always Free, never any spam, and features a growing list of Free Reads, Information and Fun Stuff available anytime.  Some easy links to follow the Blog and on Twitter are located in the column to the right.  Just click here to “LIKE” and follow my Author Facebook Page and on Pinterest.  Please join me on my Personal Facebook Page for a steady stream of positive and uplifting messages, recipes, music selections, shared artworks and photography from friends, and other fun.

As we move further into the new year, I expect the general loudness and rancor may increase as we approach the Presidential election in November.  My intention is for all of my sites to serve as a mental oasis and refuge of quiet, peace, kindness and love for everyone.  You are welcome to visit anytime.

Quote- Kindness Instructions

So, heading off into the new year and next set of Little Red Bear adventures, then.  Thank You again for a wonderful and encouraging year!   And please remember, the “Welcome” mat is always out, there’s a pitcher of tea waiting and cookies in the jar at all times; and comments, feedback, referrals and sharing are strongly encouraged and very much appreciated.  As Little Red Bear is fond of saying — “A shared joy is a doubled joy.”

Hoping to see you stop by and visit often!  — Jim (and Red!)

Quote- Kindness- Doing Good

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” Short Stories on Amazon.  About an uncommonly special bear and his friends! 

A Look Back — Christmas Thru The Window Glass

The last few days before Christmas!  Santa’s sleigh is in the shed for its scheduled maintenance check and going over.  The reindeer are out on the training  ground for their final pre-flight practice and run thru.  Elves are working overtime finishing, polishing, prepping and wrapping.  Mrs. Claus is busy in the kitchen keeping everyone fed and on their toes as the clock ticks down to Christmas Eve.  Gallons of hot chocolate!

Vintage Santa Claus in his Workshop Making Toys

Vintage Santa Claus in his Workshop Making Toys

How are things going for you?  In a rush to get ready? Shopping yet to be done? Gifts to wrap? Cookies and treats to be made? Final decorations and stockings to be hung? Things can get hectic this time of year.

I’m sure other folks my age remember the old-fashioned holiday window displays in the department store windows. New dolls and toys on display.  Bicycles, BB Guns and Baseball Gloves.  Red wagons.  Teddy Bears.  Model trains running thru tunnels, across bridges and round and round.  Airplanes flying thru the air.  Cold little noses pressed to the window glass to get the closest look.  Wished-for presents and dreams just out of reach!  Call me old-fashioned, but I miss these.

As a kid, the display windows seemed to make Christmas even more special. It was a highly anticipated trip all in itself to visit the department stores downtown at Christmas to see the display windows and visit with Santa Claus. Lunch out at the cafeteria nearby when home cooking was the norm and dining out reserved only for very special occasions. And the yearly trip to see the store windows and Santa Claus qualified as a very special occasion indeed!

I know you’re busy so won’t keep you.  Just taking this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and all the Joys, Happiness  and Peace of the Holiday Season!   Maybe you better go check the kids now.  Looks like they are getting their own preparations in order!  — Jim (and Red!)

Joyeux Noël !  ¡Feliz Navidad!  Buon Natale!  Frohe Weihnachten!  Merry Christmas!

Introducing “Howdy!” — the Burrowing Owl

“Howdy!”

That is how a new story character introduced himself to me several months ago. Out of nowhere, he just popped into my head one morning with a loud “Howdy!” and it has been a fun and interesting time ever since.

Red and I already had more story characters interviewed and on board for the first collection of  “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories than we could fit into the first collection, and the stories were already well underway at the time. But then “Howdy!” strode in and made such an impression on both Red and I that we stopped everything right there, and knew we had to go back and make room for him. Fortunately, being a little guy, he doesn’t take up much space.

Burrowing Owl- Sneaking A Peek

Burrowing Owl- Sneaking A Peek

“Howdy!” is a Burrowing Owl from way out west in the Oklahoma Panhandle and has been thru quite a lot for a little guy. Burrowing Owls inhabit grasslands, rangelands, agricultural areas and other open, dry areas with low vegetation. From their name, they live in a hole in the ground, not up in a tree like other owls. Although capable and willing to dig their own burrows, more frequently they inhabit existing holes abandoned by prairie dogs, skunks, armadillos, tortoises and the like.

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

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

Unlike most owls, Burrowing Owls are active during the day, although wisely avoiding the midday heat. But like most owls, they do most of their hunting between the hours of dusk to dawn, taking advantage of their superior night vision and hearing. So “Howdy!” does not sleep a lot.  And he does it all without coffee, caffeine or chocolate, which is truly amazing in itself.

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

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

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

Burrowing Owls have no ear tufts, unlike many other owls. They feature prominent white eyebrow markings, and in color they are brownish, with lighter colored bars on the front and spots on the back.  They have noticeable bright yellow eyes.  No other owls are commonly seen on the ground or so frequently during daylight hours.  Here is a wonderful little video from the Smithsonian Channel if you would like to learn more about “Howdy!” and his Burrowing Owl cousins.

As with many birds and creatures, Burrowing Owls are threatened or endangered in some areas due to loss of habitat as more open nesting areas are plowed under for development and agriculture.

Burrowing Owl- Pinterest- found on tumblr unidentified

This half-pint owl immediately captured our hearts and is featured in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short story collection available on Amazon.  The Kindle version officially releases on Tuesday, June 23rd, and is available for preorder now.  The Paperback print version is available for immediate shipment.

With the stories out now Red wanted to introduce you to his new little friend to let you know a bit more about him, and we’re sure you will recognize him when he enters the stories. Not noted for stimulating conversation, he still makes quite the impression.

“Howdy!”

As always, thanks for stopping by for a visit! – Jim (and Red!)

Order Your Copy of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” on Amazon

"Howdy!" -- the Burrowing Owl

“Howdy!” — the Burrowing Owl

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” — Available in Kindle and Paperback

Now Entering the Ring– Little Red Bear!

As you may recall, we discussed which genres and book categories to list “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” in a few weeks ago. If you missed it, here is a link to the original post→ Lost in Quandary Without a Compass.

After a good deal of  follow-up discussion and being allowed two categories in which to enter, we decided one would be “Juvenile→Fiction→Animals→Bears.”

From the very beginning, the stories have been written with children in mind as well as adults, so the first selection of “Juvenile” seemed like a no-brainer.  Although Red certifies that all of the adventures really did take place exactly as described, we were required to list the book in “Fiction”, lacking photographic proof or evidence to back up his assertions.  The next step was easy, as the stories feature a good number and wide variety of wildlife, domestic farm animals, birds and such, so “Animals” seemed straightforward enough.

But then we came to the next grouping to narrow it down even further.  With it being “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” there was clearly only one choice– “Bears.” Simple enough– right?

But here’s the rub.  We then realized that stepping into that ring would put us in direct competition with not only one, but two heavyweight champions in the field.  Titans of the literary world– Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear! And they’re both that cute and cuddly teddy bear, golden brown color, to boot.

But we just don’t see any viable alternative. It’s not like Red is afraid of them or anything, as he is a real bear and not a cartoon drawing or stuffed teddy bear, after all.  He just always tries to peacefully avoid confrontation whenever possible.  An admirable trait to be sure. Nevertheless, don’t let their cuteness fool you.  Pooh and Paddington are rock stars in the field.  Literally– movie stars!  These two fluffy ruffians dominate their category and squish competitors like a blueberry on a walking path without even breaking stride!

It would basically be starting over, but I asked Red if he would like me to recast him as a chipmunk or squirrel, to maybe compete against Chip and Dale or Rocky instead. But as he pointed out, we had already signed on Scritch the Chipmunk and Rusty the Fairydiddle for the second collection of stories and Red didn’t want to put them out of work, just to take their place.  He’s a nice guy like that.  And too, it would be incredibly difficult for a chipmunk or squirrel to pull off some of the feats in the stories which Red did as himself– a bear.  So it looks like we’re committed to the “Bears” category.  No other choice, really.

But I’ll admit it.  I am a little worried.  I know that Winnie the Pooh is all about his honey, and so is Little Red Bear.  I just hope there’s enough honey to go around for everyone.  But Paddington is into marmalade, so that shouldn’t be an issue, as long as he stays on the jammy side of the tracks. They are all really good sorts though, so I’m sure they’ll share and work it out.  I hope.

There is one notable thing that separates Red from the others. He is a real bear and these are real bear stories with real bear action. Or as close as they can be given that he is so uncommonly special– walking on two legs, talking and wearing overalls and a straw hat as he does.

So, just to be safe, a word of caution is probably in order — these are not your mother’s Winnie the Pooh, picture book style, cuddly teddy bear stories.  Just sayin’.  There are a few honest-to-goodness, real backwoods varmints  and perils in these stories.

Also, before I forget, Red wants me to remind you that “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection will be released next Tuesday, June 23rd for Kindle and eReaders, and may be preordered on Amazon.  Paperback print copies of the book are available for immediate shipment and delivery right now!  And if you’re not sure how the preorder process works, you just hit the preorder button on the Amazon site, they don’t bill you until the actual book is downloaded on the 23rd, and magical elves work to install “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” automatically into your Kindle or other device overnight while you sleep.  Couldn’t be easier, and that way we don’t run the risk of forgetting to go back and order it and avoid having to wait in long queues backed up behind the inevitable crowds on the actual release day on Tuesday.  You can be comfortably enjoying the stories at home with a cup of tea and cookies while the late-comers are anxiously waiting in line!

And, one last thing–  as a favor– if you happen to come across Pooh or Paddington strolling about anytime, please let them know that Red’s not looking to dethrone anybody or take anyone’s title belt.  If they could just give us a wee bit of space to pitch our little book and tent, maybe on the outskirts of the forest in their kingdom, we’d be much obliged.

Thanks as always for the visit and reading along!  —  Jim (and Red!)

Order Your Copy of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Today!

Available for Kindle and eReaders and in Paperback

"Little Red Bear"-- Story Research in a Tree

“Little Red Bear”– Story Research in a Tree

First Annual Report for the Blog– “2014 In Review”

The WordPress.com folks, who host my blog site, prepared a 2014 Annual Activity Report for this blog.

Bear Waiting for the Activity Report

“Here it comes.” — Waiting for the Activity Report (Photo credit- Ron Niebrugge, Wild Nature Images)

Here’s an excerpt:

“A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.  This blog featured 51 new posts and was visited by readers in 67 countries in 2014, with the United States leading the way, and the United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland, Australia and Brazil close behind.”

 

"Little Red Bear"-- Pleased as Punch!  (Photo credit- by Wildlife Photographer Marina Cano)

“Little Red Bear”– Pleased as Punch!
(Photo credit- by Wildlife Photographer Marina Cano)

This blog began as a way to share creative works and writings in May, 2014.  With that in mind, and considering most days I am still figuring out step by step what I am doing in the social media and tech world, and that the above report reflects activity starting from ground zero for only a little more than half a year, I am very happy with that.  Or, as my good friend Siobhan Daiko would say- I am “really chuffed!”

Special thanks to Siobhan Daiko , Lesley Sky, Kim Gosselin, Frank Clark and Adele Wilson for being top commenters in the year, to Sylva Fae’s “Sylvanian Ramblings Blog” for being one of the top referral sites right behind Twitter and Facebook, and to the wonderful artist Christine Southworth of “Bear Prints Studio” who provided original artwork for my primary blog image– “Milson, the Steampunk Bear“, top right.  And another special thank you to Matthew Milson, my author son, who pushed me into starting the blog in the first place.

Bear Hugs!   Perfect in all Sizes!

Bear Hugs! Perfect in all Sizes!

And a big Bear Hug and Thank You to all who have visited and continue to follow along.  Your support and encouragement is what keeps it all going.  Onward now to an exciting New Year, featuring many new creations, writings and the upcoming release of the first collection of “Little Red Bear” stories.

We’re off to a great start.  Let’s keep it rolling! — Jim (and Red!)

"Little Red Bear"-- Story Research in a Tree

“Little Red Bear”– Story Research in a Tree (Photo courtesy of National Geographic)

 

Steampunk Ripples & Bearpunk Pranks!

The Christmas and Holiday Season is all about giving and sharing. Kindness. Stories of random acts of kindness and their far-reaching effects are in the news every day this time of year. But they are there the rest of the year, too. We just need to look for them. When one does an act of kindness, passes along a smile, compliment, comforting touch or gesture, there is no telling how far the positive effects may reach. It could change someone’s day. It could change a life. It could change the world. It’s all about– ripples.

So I thought it would be appropriate and fun to share a few treasured gifts received from some very good friends this year- the artist Christine Southworth and her daughter, the writer Sylva Fae.  And– ripples.

As modern times and the internet would have it, Christine and Sylva are two wonderful, charming people who I have never had the pleasure to actually meet in person yet, but who have nevertheless inspired and influenced my life over the past year in a very positive way thru their shared artworks and writings. Which makes it all even more incredible. It is a perfect example of creating ripples, and watching a single act multiply and impact others one by one in turn.

Mother Teresa Quote-- Ripples

Mother Teresa Quote– Ripples

Earlier in the year, I wrote a blog post titled “Expand Your Horizons on a Walk Around the Block!” After reading that post, which apparently resonated with her, Christine gifted me back an original drawing, entitled “Milson, the Steampunk Bear.” This drawing has since been the featured image on my blog here, on the right. Needless to say, I was blown away by her talent, kindness and generosity.

"Milson, the Steampunk Bear"- Original Art by Christine Southworth

“Milson, the Steampunk Bear”- Original Art by Christine Southworth

A few months later, having fun, Christine’s daughter Sylva surprised me with a poem inspired by the drawing “Milson, the Steampunk Bear.” I would like to share that poem with you here. Again, I was amazed with such a wonderful and creative gift, totally out of the blue. Other bears mentioned in the poem were inspired by earlier creations of mine, available for review in the Gallery, linked above.

“MILSON- THE STEAMPUNK BEAR”

“Hello! I’m Milson the steampunk bear. No other bear can compare.

I’m quirky, fluffy but beware, I have a secret– “Shhh, don’t share!”

When all the grown-ups go to sleep, down the stairs, I do creep.

Through the catflap, quietly sneak, across the step with one big leap.

In sun or rain or snowy weather, I wear my hat with jaunty feather.

Goggles and specs I wear together, with studded boots of shiny leather.

I grab my bike from garden glade, for my nightly escapade.

A steampunk biker renegade, ready for the bear parade.

Meeting at the dead of night, Old Glory bears reunite.

It really is quite a sight, Hats on, pegs up. Hold on tight!

There’s Butterscotch Spike on his brass heart bike.

Horace revs a vintage trike, and Sidecar Elsie’s quite a tyke.

Grumpy Gus on a golden chopper, Old Boone loves his ride in copper.

Gaarrth’s a steamcycle whopper, and Tuffie’s trike is good ‘n’ proper.

All the rest in leather and lace, come and join the bearpunk race.

Engines roar as bears give chase, and Grumpy Gus takes first place.

Taking off at lightning speed, a steampunk cycle is my steed.

I know I can, I will succeed. Head down, ears back, I take the lead.

Engine off, put on the brake. The trophy is mine to take.

We feast on mead and fruity cake, then home before the grown-ups wake.”

—by Sylva Fae

 Earlier this week for my birthday, Christine gifted me with another piece of artwork—“Milson the Steampunk Bear Finishes the ‘Go Anywhere, Do Anything’ Chair.” That’s him, the little bear with the wrench in his hand on the bottom right. I was honored to receive such a gift- again. We have had an ongoing discussion thru the week as to whether “housework” might be included in the “Do Anything” operating manual.

"Milson, the Steampunk Bear Finishes the 'Go Anywhere, Do Anything' Chair"- original artwork by Christine Southworth

“Milson, the Steampunk Bear Finishes the ‘Go Anywhere, Do Anything’ Chair”- original artwork by Christine Southworth

Already inspired and moved to action from the original drawing and poem, this latest piece served to reinforce the message. It has been received, loud and clear, and it seemed time for “Milson the Steampunk Bear” to take form.

This little guy is the first of some new Bearpunk patterns and of what will be a whole new line of work and creations, as “Steampunk Bearpunk Bears and Accessories” will make their way into my store after the first of the year. While a departure from the Traditional, Vintage and Country Primitive stylings I have been making, they will be a fun new complement and addition. And if this first fellow- “Milson, the Steampunk Bear” is any indication, it’s going to be a blast working on them!

And it all started from a Blog post, which moved an artist an ocean away to create a drawing, which inspired a daughter to create a poem, which in turn led to the creation of another artwork, which led me out of my own comfort zone and to the creation of new teddy bear designs and store line. Which hopefully leads to more enjoyment and fun for who knows how many more folks in the coming years. A single ripple reaching distant shores and flowing back. And back. And back. If ever undecided about doing an act of kindness for someone—do it. You never know whose world you may be changing.

Here is a link to visit Sylva’s delightful blog → “Sylvanian Ramblings Blog”

Christine is a frequent contributor of original watercolor paintings and other artworks on Sylva’s blog, just look thru earlier posts for beautiful artwork and delightful posts by Sylva there. You can learn more about Christine in a recent Guest Post on Sylva’s blog here → “Christine Southworth Guest Blog Post”

In other news, Red and I are also hard at work finishing his first short story collection for release in the New Year—“The Adventures of Little Red Bear.” Hopefully more ripples. Busy times here. Making waves!

It’s the Holiday Season. Kindness. Sharing. Join in, have fun and go make some ripples of your own!  It just takes one act or moment of kindness to get the whole progression started.   And sometimes, as in a simple blog post, you don’t really know what ripples you may be setting in motion and what may come back to you in the process.

Sending Ripples Into The World

Sending Ripples Into The World

Thanks as always for reading and following along. Very best wishes from Little Red Bear and I, and the whole gang of critters and story folk here for a very Happy, Healthy and Joyous Holiday Season! — Jim (and Red!)

Milson, the Steampunk Bear-- German Mohair, Glass Eyes, by James Milson, 2014

Milson, the Steampunk Bear– German Mohair, Glass Eyes, by James Milson, 2014

 

An Original Short Story– “Susie’s Bear”

An unexpected major winter storm and a very sick little girl compound the problems of an  Indiana farm family struggling to survive  in the depths of the Great Depression.

An original short story to share for the holiday season.  Please click here for a Free Read here on the Blog — “Susie’s Bear”.

I hope you enjoy the story, and please feel free to share with friends and family.  Thanks as always for reading and following!  Wishing all a very Merry Christmas and the best of the holiday season!  — Jim (and Red!)

ps- Please watch for the first collection of short stories in the “Adventures of Little Red Bear” series coming in the new year!

Currier & Ives-- "Winter Moonlight"

Currier & Ives– “Winter Moonlight”

‘Twas the Seventieth Night Before Christmas . . . . . . .

‘Twas the Seventieth night before Christmas, and all thru the house, not a creature was stirring. Because it was five minutes after midnight on October the 15th and I had just gone to bed. But maybe not so fast . . . . . . .

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦

It’s a little early to be talking about Christmas already, but folks, I got in trouble with the Big Guy last night. I should have known what was coming but wasn’t paying attention to the date. Every year on October 15th I get a call. Five minutes after midnight this time. Earliest ever. No sooner had I switched my light off to turn in for the night the phone rang. A direct call from the Big Guy. Yep. That one. Santa Claus. Knew I was in trouble the moment I saw the display on the phone—“North Pole Hotline”.

By calling at that hour Santa was purposefully demonstrating that he was burning the midnight oil, still busy at work and wondering why I wasn’t doing the same. We have a working relationship that goes way back, Santa and I, and to be honest I get that call from him on this day every year, with Santa checking in to see how my production is coming along on his orders for the upcoming holidays. Just never in the wee hours of the morning, and usually I’m not this far behind so the conversation goes a little better.

“I’ve been going over my mid-month status reports, and the open and received orders book here Jim, and notice that I have not received a single thing I ordered from you yet. Now, I placed those orders back in March before I left for my annual beach vacation. There’s only 70 days left until Christmas and it’s going to be here before you think. Is there a problem?  I also have new orders for you.  You know how we all look forward to your teddy bears and things every year. Are you going to be able to fulfill these orders or should I look elsewhere? It’s been quite a while since you’ve been on my Naughty List. We don’t want that now, do we?”

Santa Claus with the Naughty and Nice Books

Santa Claus with the Naughty and Nice Books

Santa is many things—a master craftsman, innovator, expert sleigh and reindeer handler, navigator extraordinaire, Elf coordinator, cookie connoisseur, bringer of good will and cheer, youth motivator and positive reinforcement master, and the list goes on. Quite an accomplished fellow. An unheralded ability that should be recognized is his mastery of delegation and follow-up. Not many orders or items slip thru the cracks on his watch. And if they do, Santa and we all have Mrs. Claus to answer to, the real “Power Behind the Sleigh” if you will. Accordingly, Santa makes it a high priority to stay on top of things, and last night it was my turn to report in and be held to account.

He noted that I had sold three jewelry pendants in the last 24 hours from my store, indicating a noticeable uptick in activity and a clear sign that the holiday busy season might be getting underway. He also reminded me in no uncertain terms that, according to his morning flash reports, my store indicated a “Low Inventory Status” for gift seekers he referred, and again that none of his personal Sleigh Delivery orders had been filled yet and wanted to know why, and what was I going to do about it?  And would I be able to handle additional new orders?

Santa Claus Reviewing Records and Accounts

Santa Claus Reviewing Records and Accounts

One thing you need to know about Santa Claus. Twinkling eyes, dimples how merry, cheeks like roses, nose like a cherry—yes indeed, that’s all spot on. But when it comes to the business side, he gets right down to it in true executive fashion. He asks pointed, direct questions, doesn’t accept any hem-hawing around and cuts right thru the mistletoe! And he carries the threat of that “Naughty Boys List” around in his back pocket like a Cherokee War Club. Santa is all business when it comes to his orders and running a tight ship at the North Pole.

Santa Claus- Performance Evaluation Day

Santa Claus- Performance Evaluation Day

Now, having talked about Santa, one thing you need to know about me is that I live to make things in addition to writing, and have been making up new designs and creations for months- collector bears, accessories, pendant jewelry, a new line of bear and doll display chairs, and more. When it comes to photographing and listing it all online for my store, well, quite honestly, that’s where it all breaks down for me. Not being my favorite thing and being commonly human, I keep putting it off. My aching back and standing, bending and taking photos all day just don’t go well together it seems. But believe me, that is not an acceptable explanation to offer up to an elderly, overweight gentleman who spends a 24 hour shift scrambling up and down chimneys with a heavy sack, and bouncing around in a sleigh behind gassy reindeer for thousands of miles. Santa expects and works hard to keep everything coordinated, in order and on schedule.

Santa Claus- Planning, Scheduling and Coordination Meeting

Santa Claus- Planning, Scheduling and Coordination Meeting

And that’s why he was calling of course, to offer a firm reminder to put it in gear and get going myself. As I said, he knows me well from over the years, and gives me this kick in the britches about this time every holiday season. It was just a little harder kick this year. He knew the state of things here before he called. He knows and sees everything. When you’re sleeping, when you’re awake. Just like the song says. That’s why the phone was ringing before my light had lost its glow after turning it off last night. You couldn’t put anything over on the Big Guy if you tried, and really—why would you want to?

So, as he clearly reminded, it’s time for me to “Be good, not pout, not shout and get busy!” filling my store and his orders. And there is no way I want to disappoint him. If you see me a little less the next several weeks on Social Media and the like, please understand that I’m just busy on Santa’s orders and trying like the dickens to stay off his “Naughty Boys List”. And Mrs. C has already been after me about finishing Little Red Bear’s stories and getting them out, so I don’t want to go within a country mile of getting on her bad list. You know what I’m talking about.

Mrs. Claus- Angry- Don't Get On Her List!

Mrs. Claus- Angry- Don’t Get On Her List!

Off to work on Santa’s list and orders then. Lots of photos to take and more things to make so better get to it. “Hey, Little Red Bear! Better get some cookies going and put on the teapot. We’ve got some long nights ahead.”

Thanks as always for reading. – Jim (and Red!)

The Old Toy Maker Working Thru The Night

The Old Toy Maker Working Thru The Night. (An original solid wood Santa Claus carving by Deborah Call.)

Happy Autumn! Back to Work on the Store!

Wishing everyone a beautiful first official day of Autumn as we say goodbye to summer today. Apples, pumpkins, cider and apple butter, hayrides, changing leaves on the hills, fall baking, cookies and so much more await as we lead up to the holiday season that seems to run from Halloween to the Super Bowl now.  The fall season brings a refreshing and invigorating freshness and revitalizing crispness to the air.  Comfortably warm days and welcome, blissfully cool nights.

Autumn Hills Foliage, Missouri Ozarks

Autumn Hills Foliage, Missouri Ozarks

A busy week ahead with much to do here. I took a little break from my online store over the summer, concentrating heavily on writing projects and developing new designs and patterns, but back to it in earnest now.  Writing is fun, the store pays for the groceries.

Five new bears were finished last week, along with a dozen antiqued Mini American Flags for bear and doll displays. The first in a new line of Handmade Wooden Mini Bear and Doll Chairs were finished as well. Rocking Chairs in different styles, and a “surprise” design of my own. Hope you like them!

Several new Sea Glass and Healing Stone Pendants have been wrapped and are ready, also.  I was fortunate enough to find some beautiful, rare red beach glass pieces over the summer, and have the first few finished.  Watch for them all to be listed into the store by the end of the week, with more new bears and other creations to follow.

Charles Wysocki Art, Making Flags

Charles Wysocki Art, Making Flags

Work continues on the Poetry Project with Charles Dickens still taking up residence in my mind, in addition to working with Little Red Bear to finish his first collection of short story adventures for release after the holidays. Busy times.

Separately, Rusty the Fairydiddle, the Blog Assistant here, left for an out of town assignment a few weeks ago and I have not heard from him lately. If anyone has seen him or knows of his whereabouts, please give a holler.  As you probably know, he will be the Red Squirrel carrying a notepad, among other things.  He was headed in the direction of Florida.  I will let you know if and when I hear something myself. Starting to get a little worried.

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

Norman Rockwell- "Grandpa and Me: Raking Leaves",  Four Seasons Calendar, 1948

Norman Rockwell- “Grandpa and Me: Raking Leaves”, Four Seasons Calendar, 1948

Over 100 and Over the Moon!

DANCE PARTY!!    Announcing →→→→  My Facebook Author Page has over 100 LIKES and followers now– 102 to be precise!!  Huzzah and Hooray!!   We made it over 100 folks!  And my new Blog here is up to 30 followers already!  Little Red Bear is over the moon with it all.

A Big Bear Hug and Thank You to all reading and following along!  And if you haven’t yet,  there are links on the right hand side to join the party → My Author Facebook Page, the Blog here, and Twitter.   It’s never too late and the door’s always open to new friends.

Watch for a major news announcement here shortly.  (Hint- the newly created Blog Assistant Position has been filled!)   And more new posts in the coming days. 

Oh happy day→ we made it over 100!!    Let the dancing begin!!    

Hop-Ta-Doody-Day!!