Nov 252015

Bella typingHey everyone.  Bella here.  Dad’s been busy lately, what with this typey stuff and moving around in the big metal moving box and all that.  Last week we had some of the other members of the pack visiting from the old home, and that was fun, too.  But it also kept everybody busy and they didn’t pay enough attention to me and Cricket.  Today he’s off getting new round things put on the moving box, so I’m gonna try some more of the typey stuff for him.

The weather’s getting colder, so we don’t get to go on walks as much as we used to, but I guess that’s okay, because Cricket doesn’t like the cold like I do.  She’s more hound, and likes laying in the sun.   Dog

Me? I like the cold air.  It makes me frisky.  Dad says it’s because I’m part husky.   Dog 2  Whatever the reason, I really like it when the weather gets cooler.  And when that cold, white stuff falls on the ground, I really REALLY have fun running around in the big yard.  Dad says it’s coming again soon.  Yay!!  I hope he ordered a lot of it this year.

We’ve heard Mom and Dad talking about some special day coming up… something about a Thanks-turkey-giving day, or something like that.  We also heard them say that they weren’t going to give turkey this year.  They’re going to give buffalo instead.  (I’m not really sure what a turkey or buffalo is, but they say you can eat either one, so it’s all good by me.)

But we’ve also heard about the thanks part of that, and I think the way it works is that we list what we’re thankful for, and then we get to eat, right?  Well me and Cricket really like to eat, so we figure we’re going to get in on this action with our own list of things we’re thankful for.

  1. I already mentioned the cooler weather… wait, Cricket! I like it and I’m the one typing, so I can list it if I want!  Cooler Hotter Cooler weather.  Stop that!  You can make your own list!  Okay, then we compromise.  We really like the weather.  Just not always both of us at the same time.
  2. We’re thankful for our new home, with the big yard.  It’s so much nicer than the one we had before.  Now we can poop all over in the back, and it still seems like there’s lots of room left over.  At the old place, there was just a little grass, and it got tricky find enough room sometimes.
  3. We’re thankful for when we get to chase the moles and mouses and birds and stuff in the back yard.
  4. We’re thankful for finding dead stuff (like moles and mouses and birds) to roll in.
  5. We’re thankful for when Mom and Dad find the right stuff to bathe us in after stinky-spray-rat sprays us.  (Cricket, what did Mom and Dad call that thing?  Punk?  Runt? …  Skunk!  Yeah, that was it!  Skunk!  No, we’re definitely NOT thankful for skunk things!)
  6. We’re thankful for the walks in the morning and the evening. (Especially when it’s cooler…  STOP IT!!!)
  7. We’re thankful for the treats Mom puts in our food to make it tastier.
  8. We’re thankful for the other treats Mom and Dad give us when we’re good.  And when we get bathed (then again, I still don’t understand the whole bath thing.  I mean, we just get to smelling like us, and they throw us in the shower and rub that flowery, sudsy stuff all over us.  After that, we have to search around the back yard again looking for more dead stuff to roll in so we can smell like us again.  Sometimes humans don’t make much sense.)
  9. What else are we thankful for…?  Hmmm….  Oh!  The ball!  When Mom and Dad throw the ball in the yard!  Balls are fun!…  No, I don’t care if you can’t get your mouth around it, Cricket!  I like them!
  10. And scritches behind the ears… and on that perfect spot on the back, just above the tail… and tummy rubs.  Yeah, tummy rubs!  They’re the best!

…   …   …  I guess that’s about it.  Can’t think of anything else for now.  So is that good enough?  Can we eat now?  Can we?

Oh yeah.  Happy Thanks-turkey-giving day everybody!    Dog 2  Dog

Nov 112015

WW20Reading –

I just finished reading In Ashes Born by Nathan Lowell.  I’ve been a fan of his “Trader’s Tales From the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper” books for years.  When I heard he had begun a new series set in the same universe, I was stoked.

Unfortunately, I only just got the chance to read it.  As with Nathan’s other tales, In Ashes Born does not disappoint.  The man has an amazing way with the English language, as well as with story telling.  If you’ve never read his books and like sci-fi and coming of age stories, I strongly suggest that you pick up Quarter Sharethe first of hisTrader’s Tales…” books.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll be hooked from that point on.  If you’ve already read all of them and weren’t aware of the new “Seeker’s Tales From the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper” series, well what are you waiting on?  You already know what an amazing writer this guy is.  Go get In Ashes Born.  Go!  NOW!   ROTFL

And the picture?  It’s part of a Facebook campaign fans of the book are running.  If you want to know more about it, contact me.  If you’ve already read the book, you’ll get it.


Writing –

Work on Year 12 has  been coming in spurts.  I get into a scene or section and the words seem to fly out of my hands.  Then I hit a transition and I barely get a few hundred words per day out.  It’s frustrating, but I suppose it’s still progress.  Y12 is currently sitting at a bit over 70,000 words and still going.  At this point, it looks like the book will come in around 95-100k words.  Of course, that’s first draft.  There’s no telling what will happen once it goes to beta readers and then through editing.


Garden –

The garden is about done for the year.  There are a few jalapenos, poblanos, and a smattering of tomatoes left.  The only other things growing out there (besides the weeds) are the gourds.  Looks like I’ve got thirteen of them, and I’ll likely be cutting them off the vine in the next week or two.  Then the chore of breaking down the garden will begin.  And boy, won’t that be fun?!?   Thinking


Personal –

MBH is on a business trip to Wisconsin this week.  She was looking forward to getting a chance to wrap her hands around something new, and when her company presented her with the opportunity to help out with a situation there, she went for it.  It’s just a few days, but she loves new opportunities.  And it gets her away from my ugly mug, so win / win for her, right?   Wink


And that’s it for now.  I need to get more words written.  Take care everyone, and stay safe.   Bye


Nov 042015

WW19 NaNoNovember is “National Novel Writing Month”, more commonly referred to as “NaNoWriMo”.  As a member of a few online writing groups, my Facebook feed has been inundated with upbeat and encouraging words as fellow writers help one another through the various mental and emotional stumbling blocks on their way to reaching the goal of fifty-thousand words in a single month.  It’s usually inspirational, watching them cheer one another on.

But last week, when all the interwebs were full of writers talking about their plans and preparations for NaNo, one writer caught my attention with his announcement that for the first time in more than five years, he wasn’t going to participate.  He said he had gotten everything out of it that he could, and was going to move ahead with what he had learned at his own pace, and concentrate on doing whatever he needed to do to put out a good, high quality work.

And I get that. I applaud it.  He had gotten what he could out of it and it was time to move on.

Now it’s time for my obligatory, meandering side note…  Cool

I’ve had a long and abiding love of both writing and martial arts.  As such, I’ve followed quite the winding road over the years in studying both.  I’ve studied a variety of martial arts since I was thirteen years old.  To be sure, there were years between various classes, but when I sat down recently and figured it out, I think I have nearly thirty years of training under my belt (yes, pun intended).  I have the equivalent of a brown belt in Shotokan and in Kali, was just shy of a brown belt in “American TKD” when the school went under, and have had the privilege of studying with some pretty awesome instructors.  I have mid-level rankings in a handful of other styles, and minor rankings in a few more.

I’ve often made the observation that martial art styles can be divided into three types; sport styles, self-defense styles, and traditional styles.  Each type overlaps with the others to a certain degree, but each one has a specific emphasis.  I’ve further observed that each of the three kinds can be equated to a certain extent, to three levels of school.

I think of the sport styles as elementary school.  Styles like MMA, Judo, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  I’m not saying that they’re easy, but rather that they usually only scratch the surface of what martial arts can do for a person.

The self-defense styles I think of as your high school of martial arts.  These are the styles I often call the “living” styles.  They’re the ones that are still being used and modified today, to defend people in combat situations.  They are styles like Kali, Krav Maga, or MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program).  They’re the down and dirty, “get the job done” styles that emphasize defending yourself and those around you with quick, effective techniques.  They teach you to incapacitate an opponent, often in ways that many people would regard as brutal.

The traditional styles I equate to college level training.  These are where you can go to refine your technique.  These are where you learn that shifting your hip just a few degrees this way, can give you enough additional leverage to drop your opponent without having to do permanent damage, or that striking an opponent a fraction of an inch lower than you normally would, while dropping your hips and angling your knuckles just so will deliver more force to a smaller area, causing greater pain and thus stopping your opponent more quickly.

All three kinds of styles have their place, and I don’t think of any one kind as better than the others.  Then again, I’ve never been one who’s put a lot of stock in ranks or certifications.  Some days I think that’s a good thing. Other days I have to recognize that ranks and certs can open doors that I would like to go through at times.

I reached the point to where, when I evaluated a possible class to join, I wouldn’t watch the beginning students, even though that’s where I would be starting. I would watch the black belt students and instructors to see if I “approved” of the way they were moving.  It sounds cocky, but I wanted to make sure they had something to offer that I hadn’t already learned.  I saw no use in sinking time and money into a class where the only new thing I was going to learn over the course of a year was a single new wrist lock (and yes, that actually happened to me.)

Writing, or any endeavor for that matter, can be the same.  I spent years in writing critique groups, where I learned an amazing amount about writing technique and the publishing industry, as it was at the time.  And don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely fantastic.  But there came a point when I realized that I had learned all I could from these groups, and I was using them as an excuse.  It was like I felt I couldn’t complete a project without the approval of the critique group.

Now, this isn’t intended to be a post about how critique groups hold you back.  Quite the opposite.  In my opinion, critique groups are absolutely critical to learning the basics of writing.  If you’ve never been a member of one and you have the opportunity, I strongly suggest you give it a try.  I remember my days in the two groups I was active in quite fondly, and as I said, I learned a lot from them.  I wouldn’t be where I am today as a writer, if not for them.  It’s the beginning of a writer’s education.  And just as going from elementary school to junior high can be scary, so can leaving the comfort of a critique group.

But if you ever reach a point where you feel that you aren’t moving forward any longer, that you aren’t learning anything from something you’ve been doing out of habit, then perhaps it’s time to change that habit.  Perhaps it’s time to lose the crutch, and stand on your own two feet.

I suppose the main point of all this meandering comes back to this… it’s all right to leave your comfort zone.  There are even times when it is absolutely essential to your growth as an artist.  So don’t be afraid to say, “this isn’t working any longer” and change things up.  Sometimes you have to, in order to move to the next level.

All right, ’nuff said.  Time to get back to work.  Stay safe everyone.   Bye

Oct 282015

Dad was one of four brothers; Ira Jr., Charles, Roy (my dad), and Peary.  We also have a close-knit extended family of great aunts and uncles, cousins, second cousins, and so on.  We’ve always been very family oriented.  But 2015 has been a rough year for us.  We lost my dad in February, my aunt Maxine in September, and just last week we lost my uncle Linville.

On the same day that we lost Linville, my uncle Peary, who has had health issues for the last few years, fell and hit his head.  As I understand it, he was conscious for a short while, but quickly became less coherent, eventually lapsing into a coma.  He passed away at 2:30 yesterday morning.

Peary was the last of his generation of the Brackett Brothers still with us, and he will be greatly missed.  And as rough as this year has been on the family, everyone who knew the “Brackett Boys” has invariably made the comment that there must be one hell of a party going on, with them all reunited again.

I know this is a rough time for those of us left behind, but I suppose that’s the way life goes.  There’s a saying – none of us makes it out of here alive.  I know that Dad and his brothers had all come to grips with this, with their own mortality long ago.  They were all very religious men, each of them having served their faith in various ways, as ministers or elders of their churches.  And while I don’t necessarily share their religious convictions, it brings me great comfort to know that they were content with their faith and their family.

I spoke to my mom this afternoon, and she mentioned part of a conversation she’d had earlier in the day with another family member.  During that conversation, they realized that they were quickly becoming part of the “older generation” of the family.  That’s been on my mind a lot lately.  Not that they are entering that role, but more of a realization of our changing “roles” in life.  We get older, and we begin to realize how our relationships to one another change.  We go from being watched over as children, to watching over our own children.  If we’re lucky, we get to see our children have children of their own.

But the immediacy of our relationships also changes.  We begin to see less of our kids as they move on with their lives and become more independent.  There is a mixture of pride and melancholy as we watch the younger generations take on the mantle of responsibility, while we are relegated to the role of observer and occasional adviser.  And in learning this, I’m beginning to understand more of the lives that my parents have led.

Sorry, I didn’t necessarily mean to wander so far afield.  I suppose this is a bit therapeutic, getting some of my jumbled thoughts onto the page… a catharsis of sorts.  I know there aren’t all that many people who read this, so I still regard this as a “safe” method of release.  Those few of you who do read my blog are either people who I regard as friends, or you’re doing so anonymously, and I suppose that’s still pretty safe.  Struggle

Whoever you are, and whatever your reasons for reading this, let me impart the most important thing I’ve learned over these last several months.  It’s not anything new, and doesn’t break any great paradigm.  But it’s something that you (hopefully) begin to feel more and more as you get older.

So are you ready for me to impart the great words of wisdom?  Here they are…

Hug your loved ones when you see them.  Tell them that you love them.

Because you never know when it might be your last chance.


That’s it. Like I said, nothing really new.  Nothing all that earth shattering.  But it’s something I’ve begun to take more to heart lately.  So do it.  Hug your wife, husband, child, lover, or any other significant person in your life.  Tell them that you love them.

All right, that’s enough for now.  Until next week, stay safe.   Bye

 Posted by at 2:18 pm
Oct 212015

QmarkI suppose you can’t have something interesting to say every week, right? This is one of those weeks. I mean, I could talk about what the latest crooks in DC are doing, or what celebrity is doing what stupid thing in another desperate attempt to for attention. Or maybe I should weigh in on another of the many political memes that seem to get so many people all hot and bothered (like they’re still surprised at the hypocrisy of our broken political system).

But I honestly don’t have the patience for it today. We live in a time where people get more worked up over celebrity gossip than the news that scientists are investigating anomalous readings around KIC 8462852 that have fueled speculation that they may have found evidence of a massive cometary cloud, a collision of planetary objects, or even extraterrestrial intelligence. But most people would rather speculate on which celeb lost weight last month and how they did it by eating nothing but glow in the dark rice and wheat germ (okay, I made that last one up.)  But it’s enough to depress you if you think about it too much.  So I just won’t.

It’s up to each of us to decide what we think is truly important. For me, I think I’ll just get back to writing.

So stay safe, and hopefully I’ll have something worth blogging about next week. Bye

 Posted by at 1:49 pm