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The new homestead

The new homestead

This is the perfect time to start back on this blog.  For the last few years, almost all my blogging has been writing related and as such, has been on my other blog “Learning to Write“.  And the majority of my blogging will likely still happen there.  However, with our recent move from the Houston, Texas area to rural Oklahoma, there are a lot of changes going on in my life.  And since those changes aren’t necessarily related to writing, I thought this would be a more proper place to document them.

So first, a quick summary:

My dad’s health isn’t great.  He has cancer.  Without dwelling on that, (because quite honestly that’s a bit of a personal story), I’ll simply say that a large part of the reason we moved was so we could help my parents out.  That presented some particular stipulations to what we needed to do.  Since Dad’s medical needs are taken care of through the Cherokee Nation Healthcare System, we had to make sure that wherever we moved was somewhere within the boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

We also needed to be close enough to a major city that we could find work. That pretty much limited our search area to somewhere in the Tulsa area. Initially, we were extremely picky about what we wanted in a home. We wanted a minimum of four bedrooms (to accommodate my wife & I, my parents, one guest room for visiting family, and an office for my writing), at least an acre of land, no HOA, and I really wanted a decent workshop in back because I may have access to a wood lathe that a relative is willing to get rid of. And of course the house had to pass muster with my better half, which meant a decent kitchen, floors, etc).

After some searching, we finally realized that like most things in life, we were going to have to compromise. My wife found a nice place that fit most of our needs. It was in the right area, close to Cherokee Nation medical facilities, is a nice four bedroom home on just a smidge over an acre with an aerobic irrigation system fed by the septic system, and the previous owners already had a good-sized raised bed garden in back. It has a kitchen my wife can live with, a nice master & master bath that we moved my parents into, with the master bath spacious enough that we can modify it if we need to if my parents’ health later necessitates it.

It took a little haggling, but they say that a good negotiation is when nobody feels like they got what they wanted, but everyone can live with the results, right?

Well, there is an HOA, but it appears to be minimally invasive (so far) and only costs $50/year. We went a little over our budget on the house, and we’ll be doing minor repairs and upgrades for quite a while, but we like it. It has quickly become our home. It also allowed us to drop our monthly overhead to about half of what it was in the old house. There is no workshop (sigh) but we hope to get one in the next year or so. There are also no decent trees on the property, but I’m working on that.

All in all, we definitely have a bit of work to do.  But in a way that is a great opportunity. I plan on getting a little backyard orchard going that (assuming I design it properly) will begin some small returns from the bushes and shrubs in the first year, and fruit from the trees within a few years after. And if we do manage to get that lathe, then I have some projects in mind that will help keep my dad and I occupied, if he’s up to it… projects that could conceivably bring in some additional cash. I also hope to put in a storm shelter, which will be able to double as food storage.

Much of what I want to do is geared toward helping us to become more self-sufficient, and eventually cutting more of our financial overhead. And that brings me full circle on this post.  I want to document some of these changes.  If you’re interested, maybe you’ll be able to give me advice.  Or if you prefer, we can share a laugh at my mistakes.  Or it’s possible that I might even manage to learn something useful, and I’ll be able to share it with you.

So if you want, follow me here.  Let’s see how it all turns out.

TTYL,

Jeff

I’m baaAAaack!!

im-backIt’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted anything on this site… more than a year, in fact.  Almost all of my posts have been on my “Learning to Write” site at jlbrackett.com, and I’ve tried really hard to keep that site focused on the craft of writing.  But lately the political insanity the nation is going through has made it harder and harder for me to maintain a calm demeanor.  I continue to see too many others ranting on subjects about which I feel are too important to be decided in emotional tag lines and sound bites.  And if I remain quiet, I fear my silence will be taken as acquiescence or fear, and I refuse to let that happen.

So I’ve decided to resurrect this old site.  “Learning to Write” will remain appropriately focused on writing.  But if you want the “behind the scenes” look at what makes Jeff Brackett tick, this is the place.  I will talk openly and honestly about whatever topic flips my switch, and you will likely be invited to participate in my rants.  And if you’re used to easy-going, non-confrontational Jeff, I suggest you brace yourself.  This is where I let my hair down and speak my mind.

That’s all for now.

See you soon.

My Gogger Misses Me

I haven’t posted here for quite some time — pretty much ever since I opened my own domain site for my writing endeavors.  However, I intentionally kept this site open for more personal musings, and this is definitely not writing related.  🙂

Mostly, I just wanted to post this picture that my wife sent me this morning after I left for work. This is my dog, Bella.  We call her, and our other dog (Cricket) “goggers”, after a mispronunciation one of my younger relatives stumbled on several years ago.  Those of you who have kids, or have worked a lot with them know that sometimes a child’s mispronunciation is very cute or catchy, or even logical in some cases.  For instance, when my son was little, he had problems with “yesterday”.  Since the night before was “last night”, then it seemed appropriate in his mind, that the the day before would be “lasterday”.  To this day, we sometimes use the term.

Anyway, that’s it for this morning.  Have a great day.

I lost some of the widgets, and some of the options from the WordPress.com site, but I now have jlbrackett.com moved to GoDaddy.  You will notice some minor changes, but I have tried to make it as close to what I had on WordPress.com as I could.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Happy Mother’s Day

We had a good Mother’s Day at the Sm1ley household.  This, despite its having a rocky start.  I’d had a couple of rough nights on the previous Friday and Saturday, getting all of three hours of sleep Friday night, and about four on Saturday night.  Needless to say, come Sunday morning, waking up was a little tough.  Nevertheless, I managed to perservere, making Mrs. Sm1ley a nice mushroom, cilantro, and egg frittata.  Pop that puppy on a plate, cover it witha light sprinkling of finely grated sharp cheddar, and viola! Mother’s Day breakfast.  🙂

The rest of the day was nice, with the kids and granddaughter coming home with LOTS of flowers, a romantic comedy DVD, some other fun gifts, and then we made Mom a really nice dinner.  Shrimp Brochette, grilled asparagus, poblano / cheddar chicken sausages, spinach / feta chicken sausages… there was more than enough food to make us all miserable.  😆

The only down side to the day was that I was unable to get my own mom on the phone.  I guess I’ll try her again today, but it’s not going to be the same.  After all, today’s not Mother’s Day.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s what I’ve been up to:

1. New posts on my writing blog at “jlbrackett.com“.

2. Saturday was my youngest daughter’s prom.  There was all the pomp and circumstance – the right dress, the right shoes, the fancy hairdo, etc.  And to top it off, I have the fortune to have a terribly pragmatic daughter, who has similarly pragmatic friends.  They decided to eschew the typical evening of financial irresponsibility – no limo, no hundred dollar meal at an overpriced restaurant… no.  We have always been a home away from home for many of these young men and women, and they decided they would rather have “Mom’s” home cooking.  Even then, all they wanted was one of her pasta meals.  Of course, my wife went all out.  Since all they wanted was a nice pasta dinner, she poured her time into the atmosphere of the event: fancy candles, flower arrangements, nice china, punch… just nice enough to let them all know it was a special event, but simple enough that they wouldn’t need to feel guilty about the work that she put into it.   The woman’s a saint.  I’m in real trouble when she gets her glasses replaced.  🙂

3. Friday, my parents got in from Oklahoma.  My sister put together a nice dinner for the occassion, or so we thought.  It turns out that the whole thing was a surprise belated anniversary party for my wife and I.  See, January was our twenty-fifth anniversary, and we had been toying with the idea of splurging on a trip to Hawaii.  However, between the economy, rising fuel costs and air fares, our daughter getting ready to go to college, and life in general not quite being as cooperative as we would like, we decided to postpone the trip for another year or so.  Now, the rest of the family evidently thought that wasn’t good enough, so they threw us a nice dinner, and pooled their nickles and dimes, handing us a little over a thousand dollars to spend on a trip.  What can you say to that?

4.  Figured out (I think) what part of my problem with my pocast recording of my novel and promo was.  I  was banging my head against the wall on this one for the last few weeks.  I was taking my raw feed from my reads, editing out all the breathing and stammering to get a decent base track, then running it through GoldWave Editor Pro for noise reduction, then running the resulting wav file through Levelator to level the sound, then filling with music and sound effects.  I couldn’t find anything wrong with my process no matter how many times I looked it over.  The sound quality just wasn’t good enough.  I finally noticed on Friday that the mic I’m using was set to record the source in a 16 bit mp3 format.  There was nothing wrong with my process.  I was suffering from a classic case of gigo (garbage in, garbage out).  My process was doing the best it could with the low quality source material I was feeding into it.  I have now set the mic to record as 32 bit wav.  Hopefully that will give me a higher fidelity sound file to work with.  Unfortunately, this means that I get to start all over on the whole thing.  😦

5.  Found out about “Goodreads.com” and set up an account.  Posted two reviews on books I’ve recently read (“The Hunger Games” and “The Second Ship: Book One – The Rho Agenda“).  You can read them on Goodreads.com, or on my writing blog.

That’s about it for now.

My writing blog

(sigh)

As was pointed out to me, I mentioned my new writing blog, but never gave a link.  I apologize, and the new blog can be accessed here.  I’ll also place a link in the sidebar with my other writing related links.

The new blog is, well… new, and so doesn’t have that much in it.  It also still needs some work on the appearance (no real widgets to speak of, and I think the text color may need a bit of work), but I’ll get that tweaked out over the next several days.

It’s taken a little longer to post this review than I expected it would.  That’s mainly because I wasn’t able to stop after reading Suzanne Collins’ first novel in this series.  “The Hunger Games” is the first in the trilogy that carries over into “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay”.  It’s the story of Katniss Everdeen, a seventeen year old girl who becomes a tribute in the Hunger Games, a twisted gladiatorial competition in which … more

Breaking out my writing posts

As of last night, I have another blog for my writing. Since I’m dead set on getting serious with the writing, I’ve registered my own domain.  So from now on, all my writing posts will be put there.  I’ll keep this blog for my personal stuff, but the writing related blog will be elsewhere.

The most dangerous opponents

I’ve practiced various martial arts for most of my life.  I don’t claim to be a master, by any means, but you don’t spend this much time at something without picking up a few pearls of wisdom.  Here’s one of mine: new students are far more dangerous to spar with than any black belt.  8)

Maybe I should amend that statement to say “allowing yourself to treat an opponent as a new student” is what is dangerous.  The process used often entails … (more)