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


 

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

Happy 2019! 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

– Dennis P. Kimbro

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Notably —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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


“Who or What is Mickey McJibbers???”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


 

“Reflections — On a Rather ‘Moving’ Summer Experience”

It has been a while since I posted a new piece on the Writing Blog here with Little Red Bear, but with the completion of a long-drawn-out relocation over the summer and now past Labor Day, we are ready to get back in the writing saddle again. There are still boxes waiting to be unpacked, mostly bear making, jewelry, and other art supplies, but my Writing Muse has returned from her summer break, will wait no longer, and is waking me daily at 5:00 a.m. with more Little Red Bear characters and stories again, along with other fun new ideas, so it is time to crank up the laptop and get busy.

But first, a question – Are you or someone you care about possibly considering a move and relocation in the future? If so, I urge you to please read on before embarking on such a torment venture.

Because we thought perhaps it might be best to start back by bringing you up to date with some observations about –  ‘The Move’ – a “Moving Postmortem”, if you will. It should be noted that this is move number three in the past six years and number four in fourteen for Little Red Bear and me, some local and some cross-country, two self-moved and two with so-called ‘professional’ movers, so we do feel a bit qualified to address the subject, hoping others may benefit from our misfortunes experiences.


With this somewhat broken-down, cane-in-hand (and some days two) baby boomer pushing into the shadow of seventy soon, this most recent move stopped just short of overwhelming. Aside from an improbable winning lottery ticket and penthouse condo dream in Fort Walton Beach, if forced by unavoidable calamity or circumstance to move yet again in the near future, the only box I will order will be made of pine and be done with it. Let others do the heavy loading, lifting, and lugging next time. “Waiter – check, please.”

As physically and mentally stressful and taxing as it was, not to mention severely strained family relationships on the actual moving day and apparent ongoing communications blackout since, I am happy to report that I have once again somehow managed to survive a relocation and lived to tell the tale. Or, at least to pass along some hopefully helpful insights garnered from the experience to perhaps ease the moving journey for the next intrepid soul contemplating a change in address. And beneficiaries, perhaps.

They say that moving is right up there with the death of a loved one, job change, and divorce as life’s biggest stressors. Having experienced all firsthand, they will get no argument from me.

So at this time, in mostly random order as they occurred to me between nightmares and hallucinatory flashbacks of moving day, here are a few nuggets I consider worth mentioning. I say “I” and not “we” here, because for the majority of the time Little Red Bear was in a dazed state of nervous, glassy-eyed distress, obsessing over the safe transport of his honey stash, and not the most aware or observant to offer meaningful commentary on other matters.


My first thought, superseding all others, is to simply take a match and set fire to everything right at the start. Don’t stress over downsizing, what to take, what not to take, what is an heirloom somebody three generations down the line may treasure, who might benefit the most from giving whatever away? Simply torch it all in the name of Righteous Downsizing and be done with it. Nobody really cares. Save the pile of money spent on boxes, packing materials, dish padding, bubble wrap, packing tape, box labels, a moving truck, dollies, furniture pads, movers, Band-Aids, and aspirin.

Simply purchase a cheap brand of kitchen matches instead, together with a box of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. Light up the night, make S’mores and set off some fireworks. Collect the insurance money, replace needed items with brand spanking new, thumb your nose at future generations who most likely won’t give a hoot about your grandmother’s vintage teapot anyway, and take a vacation trip to the beach to celebrate letting go and outwitting the moving gremlins.

(Side note — It should be noted that I am still researching and waiting for our esteemed attorney, Brooks the Badger — Attorney at Lawlessness, to get back to me on any possibly relative arson, insurance fraud, and other niggling details which may interfere with this plan, so you may wish to hold off on the matches and taking action on this one until I confirm the “Match Plan’s” viability, despite the clearly obvious appeal.)

Bonfires notwithstanding, feel free to go ahead with the S’mores, though. S’mores are always a good part of any plan. And, you may want to consider doubling or tripling the recipe, depending on how neighbors may feel about your moving away from the neighborhood and possibly wanting to celebrate your departure, as well. Certainly not that any neighbors would be celebrating in your case of course, but thought it worth mentioning for others, perhaps. Just in case.

Here is a tantalizing recipe for Campfire Waffle Cone S’mores from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen to help get you started! These look amazing and provide a cleaner handle for the little ones in the crowd at the same time. Moving is hard enough. Why add chocolate-covered little hands to the mix?


‘Moving’ on, in case “The Match Plan” does not interest, I have always been a collector of books, still preferring to read a book in hand vs one on my Kindle. For me, something still just doesn’t feel quite right holding a Kindle in my hands compared to a good old-fashioned, page-turning, ink-scented, hard-bound print book. And since the print version of the “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler” short story collection has outsold the Kindle version by over two to one since its publication despite the necessarily higher price, I tend to think I am not alone in this view.

That being said, after packing, stacking, moving, re-moving, sorting, re-stacking, and then unpacking ten heavy boxes of collected books (treasured, each and every one!), someday I want to track down the inventor of Kindle and eBooks and give them a big bear hug and jar of honey!  Moving the stacks of books nearly killed my back, while my Kindle made the move nestled comfortably in my backpack as it always does. I have clearly not given eBooks the credit they deserve in that regard. The ability to carry your bookshelves in your backpack is a strong selling point for eReaders.

And where do you strike the balance between “overly-heavy boxes” and “too many boxes” for a move? Heavy items (like ‘books’) are supposed to be packed in small boxes, avoiding overly-heavy large boxes weighing the same as a baby elephant and too weighty to carry. So, you end up instead with stacks and stacks and stacks of small boxes if you have a moderate-sized book collection, and moving helpers suffer immediate panic attacks at the site of all the stacks. Likewise, the old vintage vinyl record albums. I will always keep my books and albums, but moving them seems a no-win situation.


If at some point during all the moving work, I say –  “Hold on for a minute, I need to take a sit,” – please listen closely. That should not be confused with something else. It merely means that my back and legs are aching very badly and I need to sit down and rest for a few minutes before passing out and risk dropping a 50-pound box on your foot. There is no need to dash about opening windows and searching for spray cans or push me out the door towards the little shack in the back, especially on a 95-degree day. Perhaps I should try to be more clear.


Over the course of the move – organizing, packing, stacking, reshuffling, reorganizing, re-stacking, and schlepping about – all of the boxes and I became very well acquainted, especially those whose handles tore and gave way while carrying to customarily crash on my foot. Familiar to the point where I often felt obliged to give names to my cardboard companions. None of which are suitable for printing in a family-friendly blog it must be noted, so that’s about all I can say about that. Nevertheless, you should feel free to name your boxes beyond the requisite Room/Content information label, too. It makes it all a bit less stressful to be on a first name basis when your foot gets pancaked. Even if the names aren’t printable.


With regards to the Room/Content labels for boxes –  use them or don’t, being aware that they are solely for your personal comfort and use and nobody else will notice. In my experience, movers could care less, if they even bother to look at them at all. You politely request –  “Please put the boxes in the correct rooms as indicated by the labels, with like boxes (as in “Books –  #1 of 10) in stacks with the labels facing outwards so I can see them.”  You actually get – Box Chop Suey –  with boxes randomly placed helter-skelter anywhere in your home, most often closest to the entrance where a spot was available at the time they were carried in.

One possible solution to this, instead of labeling merely the box top and front as I have naively done in the past, is to next time label every side, top, and bottom, so that no matter which direction a box is placed in a towering stack, you will be able to read its contents at a later time and locate things. Bearing in mind, they will still in all likelihood, not be sorted by rooms. Half a win, possibly.

Marking boxes as “Fragile” is also at your discretion, as inevitably light boxes labeled “Fragile” most often could be found at the very bottom of stacks, with heavy boxes on top of them. I caught one mover actually kicking a “Fragile” box into place at the bottom of a stack. If it makes you feel more comfortable and helps you sleep at night by labeling glassware and the like as “Fragile”, by all means, do it. Just bearing in mind again that it will probably make no difference whatsoever.


Every small accomplishment is a positive step forwards in the sometimes seemingly endless treadmill march in relocation and should be celebrated. I think this helps to keep spirits up and maintain momentum going forward. And that’s important. Seal up a box or unpack one at the new destination? Find a box that you have been searching for an hour amongst the mish-mashed stacks? Stop for a few minutes and have a piece of cake to mark the accomplishment!

No need to worry about extra calories or packing on unwanted pounds, because there will likely be much more packing, unpacking, and hefting ahead to burn them off anyway, if not simply to avoid abject deprivation and starvation in the process altogether.

So have the Cupcake. Or a Twinkie. Or a Snickers bar. If destined to pass over to the light during the ordeal, I would much rather go out with my last thought on Earth being the fond remembrance and aroma of a Brownie or Butterfinger bar, than being mired in packing tape with the smell of cardboard in my nose. I think it will make for a much more enhanced next life, Karmic experience.


One can never have too many boxes at hand, or too much packing tape, bubble wrap, and wrapping paper. It is very unsettling to discover that you are out of any of these items the night before a move and the stores have all closed.  The importance of peace of mind and normal blood pressure at 2 a.m. when the movers are scheduled to arrive mere hours later cannot be overemphasized and greatly outweighs the minor hassle of what to do with a few leftover boxes at the end. (Tip – U-Haul buys back any unused boxes, so save your receipts.)

It is my observation that the normal life expectancy of many life forms on this planet is sadly not long enough to pack a kitchen and dining room. However long you think it will take, add six months. Unloading cabinets while individually wrapping each glass, cup, mug, shot glass, dish, bowl, plate, serving platter, cutting board, trivet, cooking pot, skillet, griddle, wok, spatula, serving spoon, knife set, pancake turner, ladle, potato masher, salad spinner and bowls, cookie sheet, muffin tin, pie plate, cake pan, loaf pan, bread pan, measuring cups and spoons, cake and serving platter, utensil drawers, and more, seemed (like this sentence) truly never-ending. Not to mention cookbooks, recipe boxes, and innumerable spice and storage containers.

Every time I turned around thinking I was nearly finished, another cabinet awaited. Packing the kitchen cabinets, pantry, and dining room hutch seemed truly never-ending. Add the six months to your schedule to be safe. Minimum.

If there is any outside chance that you may possibly even consider moving in the next three years or so, regardless of how remote the possibility, start packing the kitchen now to be safe and avoid heartache.


Are you like me and have a nice inventory of cast-iron cooking utensils? Skillets of various sizes, grills, griddles, and Dutch ovens?  God bless you.  And have mercy on your back and movers. I absolutely love all of my cast-iron cookware. But moving them –  not so much. If we could fit a battleship onto a scale, I believe that we could balance it with the counterweight of a Dutch oven and three assorted cast-iron skillets.

My one little 9” specialized cast-iron wedge pan for making cornbread and scones is approximately the weight of a St. Bernard all on its own. And despite how often used as that pan is, I stand a reasonably better chance of the lumbering St. Bernard coming to me when I call it, especially if I am holding a slice of bacon. And there’s an outside chance he may arrive with a little barrel of brandy, to boot.

The ponderous skillet? Bacon treats or not, indifferent at best, just sitting there waiting to be carried like a whining baby Titanosaur.


And then there are the kitchen appliances, each seeming to only want to fit into its own individual box, with every one larger and heavier than I remembered having merely observed them serenely sitting on the countertop over the years. I confess to never really having appreciated just how heavy and cumbersome a stand mixer, toaster oven, and microwave truly are. Were these things this heavy when I purchased them and set them on the counter in the first place? Or was I simply so excited over the new acquisition that I was running on adrenaline at the time and did not notice? In all likelihood, I imagine that, like me, they seem to have gained weight with age, to be honest. I’m sure all of those calories that they processed must have had some cumulative, weight-enhancing effects over the years, wouldn’t you think?


And have I mentioned yet that one can never have too many boxes at hand? The coffee maker, smoothie machine, iced tea maker, and toaster all sat comfortably in peace side by side by side by side in a small area on my kitchen counter. Like children in the backseat of a car, will any ride peacefully along in the same box with another? Of course not.

And while on the topic of appliances, the oh-so-carefully set toaster settings which we labored so hard to perfect over time will inevitably be reset during any move. Box gremlins apparently can’t wait to dive in and twist the blazes out of the light-to-dark toast setting dial. I was reminded of this little moving reality by a perfectly cremated breakfast bagel yesterday morning.

May its little cranberry/walnut-filled soul rest in peace.

Here lies my bagel,

‘Twas just a wee little wisp,

Done in by my toaster,

Woefully burnt to a crisp.

 


If you can avoid it, never seek the help of a bear when preparing and packing for a move. Little Red Bear occupied the time leading up to the move either worriedly pacing back and forth in the kitchen, or on my laptop researching the safest and most recommended ways on YouTube to move his honey stash. And then he spent the entire packing time sitting ill at ease in a corner fretting over the possibility of a pending honey calamity, nervously wrapping, unwrapping, rewrapping, re-unwrapping, and re-rewrapping a dozen honey jars over and over and over again, night after night.

By the time moving day dawned, the poor fellow’s ample-sized bear claws had been anxiously nibbled to nubbins. In the end, each jar of honey occupied its own medium-sized box, securely wrapped in half a roll of bubble wrap, with packing paper firmly stuffed into the corners so there would be no jostling of the cherished honey jar. Treasured works of antiquity have not been transported by museums with such care and concern.

Our Bear Cookie Jar was wrapped the same way. In a predictably even bigger box.

Needless to say, Little Red Bear grew ever more relieved, excited, and happy as each box was unpacked later in our new home to find a safely-transported jar of honey inside.  Spare yourself the trouble and the tranquilizers (not to mention a small fortune in bubble wrap) by packing any honey jars yourself. Give the bears your new address to meet back up at a later date and send them off fishing somewhere. It’s best for all concerned in the end. Trust me.


If you haven’t guessed yet at this point, stock up ahead of time on aspirin and antacids.

Aside from nervous bears, cranky family members, and inept movers though, some trusted friends can truly be of assistance surviving the relocation turmoil and stress.

Overall, the two most dependable and helpful companions that I relied upon the most during the transition, move, and subsequent resettling were named Jack Daniels and Captain Morgan.


This information has been offered in the hopes that it may help ease someone else’s moving day experience, should anyone be forced or so misguided as to voluntarily embark on such an undertaking of their own in the future.

Speaking of undertaking — I may have forgotten to mention that while an ominous flock of buzzards circled patiently above my apartment during the weeks of moving preparation, it was really the three black hearses and undertakers following along on moving day, incessantly jockeying to be first in line behind the car en route, who were undeniably the most unsettling and worrisome.


In the end, when all was done and dusted, nothing of major consequence was damaged or broken aside from a few more nicks, scratches, and battle scars acquired on furniture pieces and my legs. A carelessly self-inflicted cut has healed, and black and blue marks have at last begun to fade. Yet another successfully completed move in the history books.

Unexpected at this time as it was, the strenuous move aside, Little Red Bear and I are delighted to be in our new home. Still settling in, finding forgotten about treasures from the past while unpacking, meeting wonderful folks and making new friends every day.

Any major life change is stressful at the time, and frequently a very bumpy road to travel sometimes littered with potholes and challenges. But from my experience — in the end — each and every one has been for the better in the long run and have no doubts at all about this one being the same.  Every new location and each new person we meet is an opportunity to learn more, expand our horizons and awareness, and to become a better person ourself. And that is what we are all really here for, is it not?


So, once again, Little Red Bear and I are delighted to announce –

WE’RE BAAAAACK!

Thank you as always for visiting,  kindly spending part of your day with us here, and for patiently following along as we seemed to take way too long to get thru this latest move. Little Red Bear and I are very anxious to be sharing new information, stories, and adventures with you again, along with new features and tidbits about Red’s coming new adventures in the works now.

We look forward to your visits with us and hope that you drop by often for new posts and features as we now enter our favorite time of year here in the backwoods – Autumn and the approaching Holiday Season!

The rest of the boxes will just have to wait,

Because now we have Muffins and Pies to bake!

Very best wishes and bring on all the pumpkin and fall recipes! Watch for a new Autumn Recipes feature coming soon, and a reminder to register and follow my writing blog to be notified of every new post. – Jim (and Red!)


“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” — Maya Angelou

“Some trails are happy ones, others are blue. It’s the way you ride the trail that counts. Here’s a happy one for you.” — Dale Evans


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

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place. We stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.” — Pascal Mercier


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!

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


                 “It is amazing how nice people are to you when they know you’re going away.”           — Michael Arlen

“The light is what guides you home, the warmth is what keeps you there.” — Ellie Rodriguez  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

                                              

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


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

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


                                       Enjoy Your Visit?  One-time Tips  Are Appreciated.                               Help Keep It Going For Others!


 

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


 

Sharing Our Gifts Poem — “The Poet Who Didn’t Know It”

Our gifts and talents are most valuable and shine most brightly when passed on for the benefit and in the service of others.  Step out from behind the curtain to follow your heart and passion, and to share your gifts and talents with the world.

Thanks as always for visiting and spending time with us, and hope you enjoy this little verse.  Be kind, and the reason someone smiles today! — Jim  (and Red!)

Once upon a time,

There was a lovely poet.

But the only problem was,

She simply didn’t know it.

Unsteady and unsure,

Not knowing what to do.

She never penned a line,

Nor rhymed a verse or two.

Sadly the world missed out,

On what she might have said.

Her inner thoughts and feelings,

All left silent and unread.

Have you a verse within you?

Something you would like to say?

Write it down and let it out,

Please don’t wait another day!

 


“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” — Mary Anne Evans


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

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?”

– Benjamin Franklin


 

Sharing Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling

With the Little Red Bear stories, I try very hard to straddle the fine line of being engaging and enjoyable for both younger and older audiences. The first goal of each story is to first be entertaining in order to hold interest and have fun, while also then being informative and educational along the way. As such, I am a great admirer of the consistently stellar work produced by the folks at Pixar Animation Studios, making entertainment consistently reaching both young and older age groups.

I happened across this image — “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling” — and thought it might be interesting and helpful to share with other writers. Those who know me also know that I am not generally a follower of rules, but as rules go, these are pretty good, and agree with many.

But let’s just go ahead and call them ‘Guidelines.’  That works and sits a little better with Little Red Bear and me.

 

Thanks always for stopping by to visit, and wishing you the very best of success in your future storytelling and writing! — 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.

 

Finding A Dog For Little Red Bear!

The day began well enough.  Much colder than a few days before and with a light coating of overnight snow on the ground, but otherwise fine for a weekend morning in early March.  The daffodils had been blooming all week, along with white-flowering Bartlett Pears and other trees budding and coming into bloom.  Yellow forsythias were just beginning to stretch and awaken, as well.  In the tree tops, Cardinals were still singing despite the snow and cold, seemingly to encourage Spring warmth to quickly return.

Peacefully savoring a hot cup of breakfast tea, the day took a turn when Little Red Bear came thru the door, accompanied by my writing muse, hovering alongside.  If you have never seen a writing muse, or at least mine – so chances are you haven’t – just picture a sweet and kindly fairy in your mind, but with a “my way or the highway, don’t cross me” attitude.

“Jim, I want to talk to you about something,” Little Red Bear blurted out.

“Hi,” I replied. “And good morning to you too, Red.”

“Yeah, yeah. Good morning.  I want to talk to you about something.”

“Go ahead, Red.  What’s on your mind?”

“Jim,” Little Red Bear began, “I want to add another character to the stories.

“What now?” I replied, aware that we had already over-filled our story character recruitment goal for “The Second Holler Over!” story collection underway now, and greatly exceeded the budget with the recently published “Pine Holler Christmas” story.

“A dog.  I want to have a dog in the stories.”

“We already have a dog coming into the stories – remember?  Ol’ Blue.  And we just added the Barker House Blues Band, as well.  They’re going to appear with Banjo the Bluegrass Bunny at the benefit concert later in the summer.”

“Well, I want one more.”

“Why?”

“Because.”

“Because is not a reason.”

“Because – I want to.”

“That’s still not a reason.”

“It’s good enough for me.”

“Not for me. Not a reason.”

At times like these I look back thankfully for a patience skill developed, sometimes agonizingly, over many years of raising four children.

“I want to add a dog to the stories.”

“We have already added Ol’ Blue.”

“Yeah. But his name says it all – Ol’ Blue – ‘old.  O – L – apostrophe – D. Old.  He just lays around on the front porch or by the fireplace reminiscing about the past.”

“Well, he had a very interesting past. That’s why we decided to add him.  Remember?”

Ol’ Blue, the Bluetick Coonhound (retired)

“Well then, I want to add another dog to the stories.”

“Why Red? Please tell me why you want to add another dog to the stories when we are already overflowing with new characters for the next collection.”

“Well, because . . . . I want a dog . . . . and . . . . Cinnamon Charlie would like having a dog around to play with. Yeah, Cinnamon Charlie — he wants a dog, too.”

“He plays around with Goat.”

“We need a dog. A watch dog. Nobody has a ‘watch goat’.  To keep an eye out for the weasels poking around all the time.”

“The little fox sheriff, Albuquerque Red, takes care of that.  He oversees weasel patrols.”

“Jim, now listen up here, ‘cause apparently from what I can see, you just ain’t hearin’ me well this morning.  I – want – a – dog.”

Little Red Bear crossed his arms, firmly planted his right foot on the floor and then started pattering his large left foot on the floorboards of the cabin.  He did seem determined and it was obvious he had his mind made up. But stories can only have so many characters and surely there must be a limit.  Somewhere.

“Red, now you listen up. You know very well what the ‘writing rules’ people say. Too many characters can be confusing and make it hard for readers to keep track, and slows down the story pace. They tell writers to consolidate many characters into one.  Clean – fast – snappy – to the point, start to finish.  Everybody wants to hurry and get to the finish nowadays. That’s what they say. Too many characters and cooks spoil the broth.”

“Well, Mr. Fancy Writing Rules – we ain’t makin’ no broth. Are we? Or soup. Or stew. Need I remind you that we are telling old-fashioned, family-friendly stories, not modern, fast-paced thrillers? One of your own favorite writers is William Faulkner, who could take one sentence and spin it into a paragraph. Folks back then called it ‘artful and colorful writing.’ Now the rules people want everything bare bones, ‘zip-zip.’  And don’t you always and adamantly maintain that you don’t follow any rules, and openly defy the ‘writing rules police’ anyway?”

“But . . . .”

“There ain’t no ‘buts’ about it. Now Jim, listen here. You, your very own self, described our slower paced stories as being told at a pace of ‘country comfortable’. Those were your own words. I didn’t think that up – you did. And it’s you who always contend that readers today already have enough helter-skelter, hurry-up stories and stress in their lives and need somewhere to go to slow down and relax.  To take time to smell the wildflowers and listen to the songbirds, and to reconnect with Mother Nature.  Read and let the story unfold at a leisurely pace. That’s what our stories are about. And I don’t see how adding one more character – a dog – is going to harm anything. And what reader worth their salt doesn’t love a dog?”

It’s hard to argue back when getting beat with your own logic.

“But the character list has already grown so long, Red. It’s getting harder and harder trying to fit everyone into the stories and give them a job. Now you want to add yet another.”

“Well, you’re the writer, Jim.  You’ll figure it out.  And besides, you always assert that the stories are supposed to be Entertaining, Informative and Educational. How can we inform or educate folks about new animals, critters, flowers, trees, nature, and such, if we never meet them or talk about them in the stories?  You can’t consolidate a chipmunk, a raccoon, a porcupine and a turkey vulture into one character no matter what the ‘writing police’ say. There ain’t no such creature.  That’s fantasy then, not education.  Have an answer for that one? Are you going to just sit there and let the ‘writing police’ tell you what you can and can’t do?  Huh?!?”

(We couldn’t find a good Writing Rules sign for you anywhere, so Little Red Bear brought back this one, saying it was the same principle.)

Scratching the top of my head, I closed my eyes and thought for a minute, a curious habit picked up from working with Little Red Bear thru the years. He wasn’t playing fair, because he challenged my strongly independent nature and disdain for ‘rules’. I then looked over at my writing muse, still hovering in place beside Little Red Bear and impatiently tapping her wand in her hand, with a “you better do this” look on her face.

“I’m not going to win this argument, am I?”

“Nope,” Little Red Bear replied with a grin while patting me on the back of my shoulders, “you’re not.  Now, why don’t you just busy yourself with writing that new dog into the stories and I’ll go start getting a spot ready for him to stay.”

Little Red Bear turned to leave, stopped and came back towards me.

“And make sure it’s a big dog.  Not some little froufrou, yappy type.  I’m a bear and need a big, burly dog to keep up with me. And if Cinnamon Charlie goes wrestling with some little teeny dog he might break it.  Someone sizable and strong to guard against the weasels, like me.”

“How about an ox instead?”

“I don’t want no dadgum ox!  I want a dog.  A big one!”

“Yeah – big dog – got it. Anything else?”

“With a loud bark to scare away weasels and trespassers.”

“Okay.  One big, noisy dog.”

“And brown.  I like brown.  Kinda reddish-brown, like me.  And white.  And maybe a touch of black here and there.  And a long, bushy tail.”

“Anything else that you want on it?  Racing stripes?  Polka dots? Dancing shoes?  Power windows?”

“Well now you’re bein’ silly.  Just get busy and add the dog, please.”

Little Red Bear turned once again to leave, only to wheel back around, shaking his right paw at me in a scolding manner.

“One more thing.  No tricks like you did to me with that mini pig Swinestein that I couldn’t understand or talk to in the first set of stories! I had to spend all last winter learning how to speak ‘Pig’.  I want to be able to talk with this dog.”

With that, Little Red Bear went back outside and I was left to be overseen by my writing muse to make sure I got busy, with a now very cold cup of tea.

“Hey, Charlie!”, I heard Little Red Bear call out.  “We got the dog!”

Note to self – “add a doga BIG one.”


What kind of dog do you think we should find for Little Red Bear in the next story collection?  And what should we name it?  Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments, and we’ll have some fun.  —  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.

 

The ‘Unbearable’ Work To Get a Simple Image

Sometimes we try to do something simple, and then the tech folks toss a spanner in the works and before you know it things start bouncing off the walls and we’re running for the aspirin bottle and holy water.

I purchased an online image yesterday morning for the upcoming Christmas Story featuring Little Red Bear. Now, I am just an old guy writing down stories being told to him by a bear, and not into all of the tech stuff.  I still have the old Post slide rule I used in college. So that should tell you something. I merely teach myself what I need as I go along, trying to get by and overcome each new tech hurdle and challenge as I come to it.  As usual, I downloaded what was indicated to be a simple ‘jpeg’ image. No big deal. It arrived, however, all wrapped up nice and neat in an ‘eps’ file.

Of course, my little computer had no idea what to do with it and refused to open the image file, approaching it with the same caution as a robot disarming a bomb.  Next step, research what is an ‘eps’ file, short for Encapsulated PostScript file, which can contain text as well as graphics.  Who knew?  Neat, but I didn’t need or want any text, anyway.  So then, how to open it?  More research to find a free opening app tool, get it to download, and then teach myself how to use it in order to convert the image to the jpeg format I originally wanted in order to include it in the Christmas Story.  One simple step turning into six.

But, it’s all taken care of.  The sparkling new, converted ‘jpeg’ image is ready to go, and the aspirins kicked in after a while, blood pressure returned to normal and Little Red Bear and I eventually got back to work. Just please know that when you see the wonderful opening image in Little Red Bear’s  upcoming Christmas story, there was a whole lot more involved in it than just a simple copy/paste.

We just try to tell stories here and not get involved in all the computer and tech stuff. I try to leave that to the much more skilled and accomplished six-year-olds in the neighborhood. But they were all in school so Red and I had to figure it out by ourselves. Anyway, the situation has been handled, and now we both know what an ‘eps’ file is and how to handle it the next time we come across one.

Remember, if you have not done so yet, be sure to enter the Special Kid Lit Community Holiday Giveaway to have a chance at winning the $500.00 Amazon Gift Card. The event closes on December 15, and your participation will go a long way to help support fellow Kid Lit authors and child literacy efforts.

give-away-banner

Thanks as always for visiting! Best of luck in the Giveaway Contest, and please stay tuned for more updates on Little Red Bear’s upcoming Christmas Story — we’re almost there.  And it will have a really cool, hard-fought and won image in it, you know. —  Jim  (and Red!)

"It's Unbearable" -- Image by cdudak (Available for purchase at redbubble.com. Just tap on image.)

“It’s Unbearable” — Image by cdudak. (Available for purchase at redbubble.com. Just tap on image.)

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

 

Book Reviews: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Let me start off by saying that Little Red Bear and I do not live or die with book review comments, positive or negative.  I write the stories that are in my head and as Red tells them to me, and we hope some others enjoy them along the way.  A writer focusing on and being influenced by comments, positive or negative, runs the risk of the writer no longer writing their stories anymore, but rather writing for feedback reward, or stopping altogether if they allow their spirit to be crushed by negative feedback. Reviews are most important to me as guideposts to help lead others to my work.

Most folks I know look about as forward to the prospect of leaving a book review as they do to a root canal. There seems to be a back-of-the-mind memory association with grade school and book reviews, especially when one clicks on the Amazon “Leave a Review” tab and is confronted with all of their suggestions.  It can be intimidating, and think may scare people away. So book reviews seem to be as hard to find as a needle in a stack of needles to begin with.

Last year, a gentleman purchased the print version of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” directly from Amazon. “Verified Purchaser” as they say, the very best kind. He liked it very much and left a 5 Star review. His wife picked up the book and read it this past summer, just about a year later, loved it, and went to leave her own review last week. Not only was her review not posted, but his review was removed as well, a year later. I can only surmise that it was because the second review was possibly coming from the same Amazon account ID, and to Amazon smacked of review manipulation. They also both follow my Facebook personal and writer pages, which is how he found out about the book in the first place.  That is how it’s supposed to work, isn’t it?

If authors are strongly encouraged to invest great time and effort building social media platforms to promote their work to followers (and by default, build Amazon sales), if the number of reviews is a criteria in determining whether Amazon itself promotes your book to others or not,  if securing a review at all is so very difficult, and if they remove any reviews which even hint of a connection to an author thru social media, then there is a piece of this circular logic that I am missing.

If I do not actively promote my book to interested followers, how do they find out about it? If I do promote my book to interested followers and then their reviews are subsequently removed, how do others find out about it? And yet I see review after review on Amazon for both books and products with the phrase “I obtained this item for Free in exchange for an unbiased review.” So apparently it is okay to give your book away to a total disinterested stranger for a review, but a “Verified Purchaser” review is subject to removal because they are interested and may follow you on social media somewhere.  Having one’s review blocked or removed is not exactly strong encouragement to ever attempt to leave another, for anyone.

To quote the King of Siam in “The King and I” — “It’s a puzzlement.”

So sharing this information for other writer friends who may be similarly affected, along with a link for more information to check out —  “Why Has Amazon Removed My Book Review” by k-lytics.

Thanks as always for visiting!  Little Red Bear and I are just going to keep telling stories and enjoying ourselves, regardless of what Amazon does or doesn’t do, because that’s simply how we roll here.  Here is a link for “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler”  and there is one below.  Following me here, your book review may not be posted, but you should probably read it anyway just for fun.  —  Jim  (and Red!)

Bear- Little Red Bear Hiding in Tree

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