Rita Mae Brown’s “Starting from Scratch”

Okay, first thing and before anything else, Get This Book!

I don’t care where you are in your writing career, Rita Mae Brown’s Starting from Scratch will give you a chuckle (several hundred, probably) and clarify things that were not only muddy, but had been pushed aside because they were just too damn hard to figure out.… Read the rest

Okay, first thing and before anything else, Get This Book!

I don’t care where you are in your writing career, Rita Mae Brown’s Starting from Scratch will give you a chuckle (several hundred, probably) and clarify things that were not only muddy, but had been pushed aside because they were just too damn hard to figure out.

Worry no more, Rita’s got you covered.

 
I didn’t know who Rita Mae Brown was until a friend suggested I give her a read. This was back in the early-mid 1980s. He thought she was brilliant and hilarious.

That didn’t tempt me.

Then he told me she could benchpress 225#.

Yes, I was that much of an assh?le (may still be) that that caught my interest.

But I didn’t pick up one of her books (that I remember) until my first go-round as a writer. That book being Starting from Scratch.

Reading the book recently, it’s obvious I had read it at least once before; there were highlights in it. There were highlights of concepts I remember, if not exact phrasings. Truth be told, I was probably unprepared for the book when I first read it (my copy was published in Feb 1988). I’m glad I kept it around.

Starting from Scratch is a mechanic’s manual of the English language. Brown explains the purpose of first v third person POV with duh! level examples and lots of them. Ditto subjunctive case (trust me, you need to read this section). Ditto strong v weak verbs (another must read). Imagine someone showing you a crescent wrench and a 9/16″ box-end, showing you they can do the same thing, then demonstrating why one works better on these types of nuts, the other works better on those types of nuts.

Her Exercises chapter…remember what I wrote above about being impressed by her bench? Here’s your cardio and resistance training in one incredible package.


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Writers Corner Lived Me

A fun experience this week. Lots of laughs and good conversation.

Does it get better than that?

I wonder sometimes.

Bridgetti Lim Banda and Mary Elizabeth Jackson were amazing kind and gracious with me. We discussed my marketing philosophy (simple, really; put the reader first), how I got started writing (blame my sister, my favorite story (Dancers in the Eye of Chronos primarily because it’s Susan‘s favorite), music’s role in my life, the importance of fire alarms, Susan’s encouragement in my writing, how my writing has changed, my homage to AJ Budrys (mentioned in my own interview, my ability to mistitle books and authors whom I adore, all the good stuff.… Read the rest

A fun experience this week. Lots of laughs and good conversation.

Does it get better than that?

I wonder sometimes.

Bridgetti Lim Banda and Mary Elizabeth Jackson were amazing kind and gracious with me. We discussed my marketing philosophy (simple, really; put the reader first), how I got started writing (blame my sister, my favorite story (Dancers in the Eye of Chronos primarily because it’s Susan‘s favorite), music’s role in my life, the importance of fire alarms, Susan’s encouragement in my writing, how my writing has changed, my homage to AJ Budrys (mentioned in my own interview, my ability to mistitle books and authors whom I adore, all the good stuff.

Enjoy – Writers Corner Live show Episode 58 with author Joseph Carrabis!

Peter Frampton – The Weight

Peter Frampton, in case you haven’t heard, is doing a farewell tour.

It seems many of the legends of my youth are doing farewell tours. Elton John comes to mind. The Moody Blues will never appear as The Moody Blues again.… Read the rest

Peter Frampton, in case you haven’t heard, is doing a farewell tour.

It seems many of the legends of my youth are doing farewell tours. Elton John comes to mind. The Moody Blues will never appear as The Moody Blues again. Such happens if you live long enough. Susan (wife/partner/Princess) and I are spending this year going to final tour concerts.

Bittersweet, that.

Eariler this week we saw Peter Frampton in concert. This is the third time for Susan, fourth for me. We saw him together when he played in David Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour, then long ago when he played at an abandoned drive-in theater in Ogunquit, Maine (the first stop in a comeback. He was testing material. And it was bittersweet then. In the middle of the concert he had to put on glasses to read something. He apologized to us. I remember everybody waving cyalumes, not lighters). He’s still got it. He has neurologic challenges that are making it difficult for him to perform. Couldn’t tell by his performance. And gracious as always…

He opened by letting everybody know they could video and take pix of his first three songs, then he’d prefer if we all simply sat and enjoyed.

We did.

But this post is about the first time I saw Frampton perform. I was already a big fan. I told anybody and everybody that he was underrated, that he had serious chops, pay attention.

And we’re talking the early to mid 1970s.

The first time I saw Frampton perform, I was hiking The Dragon’s Spine and came down to resupply. That meeting stayed with me and became a focal point in my Pushcart nomimated story, The Weight. Here’s the excerpt that deals with my meeting Frampton many years ago (read the full story).
Continue reading “Peter Frampton – The Weight”

Intention (Parts 1 and 2)

This post originally appeared in two parts on the original ThatThinkYouDo blog, resurrected to the new ThatThinkYouDo, and then the ExpandedAwareness blog. I’m reposting it here as a single entry for a friend.


Part 1
I’ve been studying people who are “living with intention” for about thirty-five years now.… Read the rest

This post originally appeared in two parts on the original ThatThinkYouDo blog, resurrected to the new ThatThinkYouDo, and then the ExpandedAwareness blog. I’m reposting it here as a single entry for a friend.


Part 1
I’ve been studying people who are “living with intention” for about thirty-five years now. Originally I found them due to my cultural anthropology studies. Now I’m finding a few of them in the modern world.

“Living with intention?” you ask. “What does that mean, exactly?”

Hmm…the simple answer is “Living with Intention means paying attention to everything you do” and that’s so weak, so minimal, that only a western trained mind would offer it, so I apologize.

It means being in the moment…while appreciating (not quite, not exactly. English is limited in its ability to express this concept. Or I am limited in my ability to express this concept)…feeling?…every moment that came before you and will come after you.

It means doing whatever you’re doing as if it the fate of the universe hung in the balance…while being able to laugh at yourself regardless of the outcome.

It means focusing all your attention on each individual task…while being aware of everything else that’s going on around you (and recognizing that “around you” can be very, very big).

Realize “now” can be very, very big.

 
It means taking complete and ultimate joy in everything you do…while understanding it may be the last thing that you do.

It means being aware of everything going on around, in and through you each and every moment…and being at peace with it — not necessarily enjoying it or hating it, just being at peace with it, accepting it (because there’s a difference between liking something and accepting something).

And this list gets longer and longer and longer the more I attempt to put into words what can only happen deep inside the individual (because part of intention is being able to keep two completely opposite thoughts in your mind simultaneously, penecontemporaneously).

As one of my teachers said to me, “I can help you find your door. Only you can open your door and walk through. But walking through, there’s no walking back.”

Brushing your teeth. Pay attention to what you’re doing. To how you’re doing it. Be aware of the feel of the brush in your hand and the bristles on your teeth and the taste of the toothpaste and the brush’s movement on your gums and … and be so aware of the fact that you’re doing all this that it becomes a game to you, something to delight in, something to rejoice in, something to be thankful for, to be prayerful about.

But those last words imply something religious and nothing about being intentful is religious. Sufis live with intent but sufism isn’t religious in philosophy, only as it is practiced by some.

Some will read this and think, “Oh, Zen,” and while lots of zen practitioners live with intent the former doesn’t imply the latter. Some will think “Oh, Yin Yang” and to think that demonstrates not knowing, a lack of understanding.
Continue reading “Intention (Parts 1 and 2)”

Hecate having a late lunch can mean only one thing

Regular readers know we’ve been working with raccoons almost ten years at this point. This first mention in this blog is Raccoon Mother Hecate back in 2017 in Heckie, Sheldon, Veronica, Porgy and Bess (the second post I published, in fact.… Read the rest

Regular readers know we’ve been working with raccoons almost ten years at this point. This first mention in this blog is Raccoon Mother Hecate back in 2017 in Heckie, Sheldon, Veronica, Porgy and Bess (the second post I published, in fact. That’s their importance in our lives).

Some eight months later Hecate introduced us to her second generation kits documented in We Got Kitted!

Our first encounter with Raccoon was Rockalina.

 
The above image is dated 6 June 2010. Rockalina aka Rocky came out from our pines foraging midday. Strange behavior. I worked on a porch back then and, seeing her, talked to her. She stop and look at me for a moment then continued foraging. A week or so of talking and I noticed she’d come and look for me. I got off the porch and approached her, always talking. She came up and sniffed me. I brought out some old cookies we weren’t going to eat. She cautiously took one. I put peanut butter on crackers. Big hit. I made peanut butter sandwiches. Bigger hit. We had tiny dog bones. She loved them.

She would come by at 3-4pmET every day and stand up until I noticed her, talked, and she’d come forward to get her treats.

We thought it odd.

Then one night our back light came on. There was Rocky with five kits, all standing up waiting for me to come out.

She was such a tender soul. I miss her greatly.

She also brought her sisters and aunts and daughters, who brought their kits. One year we had 19 raccoons in the backyard, most of them taking food from my hands.

It was glorious.

And it all started with one raccoon coming by in the afternoon.

Just like Hecate is doing now.

Must mean we’ll be seeing kits soon.

We can’t wait.