Cheap Red and Nearly Dead

siouxToday is Peni’s birthday.

She passed away a few years back. Must be five years by now. She would have been 45.

At first, I had an awfully hard time with it, obviously. She was the closest person I ever had in my life. The joke around town was that we were married…..but I was the wife, and she was the husband. Usually this time of year I get a little sullen, but not this year. This year I celebrate her life, although I still get angry when I think of her death. It’s hard to think sometimes that the only person who understands about how you feel about someone’s passing, is ironically the one that has passed on.

I miss her. But, I’ve grown to accept it. I’ve grown to remember and appreciate the memories and enjoyments we shared. This time of year, I smile, rather than go quiet. These days I laugh at our antics, rather than pound my fist and declare how unfair it is.

Years and years ago (bordering on 20 now), Peni and I pursued acting. With no parts available to us, or with none being offered to us, I set out as a writer and wrote simple short stories of a gothic nature that we could perform in coffee houses. I would narrate offstage while she would act them out with whatever actors managed to move into our little realm. We had the best of time. Always the best of time. We actually had quite a little following. Some random Tuesday you could find us at the Yab Yum coffee house and catch free theater.

Many years later, I published those short stories in a book called, “Stories Inspired by Siouxsie.” Complete with illustrations by yours truly, I wanted to pay homage to the those Grand Guignole days of ours. Within that collection of mine was a story called, “Cheap Red and Nearly Dead” that was dedicated to her and our friendship. Now, all the anecdotes in the story are true. Yes, from us auditioning for a play drunk because we were bored (and got the parts), to being seen in Publix with Peni painted grey, to us being found poolside at 10am one morning with purple, wine tinted lips, the anecdotes in the story are quite true. We were crazy people, enjoying every minute of it, celebrating life while not realizing how quick it could be over….or maybe in some way we did?

vlcsnap-2014-10-20-12h51m53s172So, to honor Peni’s birthday, I thought I’d gift you with the story that was written about our friendship. And gift her with another moment of knowing in heaven that she’s still loved, cherished and remembered every day.

If you’d like to read it, just click here: Cheap Red and Nearly Dead

Gonna go back to knitting….and spend some time with her while I do so.

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In a Bundle…..update!

Last night, I uploaded my Book and Patterns bundle to ravelry and it was going nice and strong. Five sales over night! Wonderful news. And you see this is good because the more patterns I sale, the fewer bears I have to make and the less stress is on my back. Big smile :) HUGE smile :)

Well, I got an email from Ravelry a short while ago telling me that my Book plus Pattern Bundle was denied. Short version? You can’t sell individual patterns, and “sets” at the same time. You can only do one or the other.

Reason given: Per the pattern guidelines, this is not an acceptable entry in the database  “Entries that contain duplicate items. Examples: You may not create multiple entries for the same pattern in different languages. You may not add pattern entries for both sets and each of the individual items in that set.”  You can offer patterns individually OR as a “set”, but NOT both as this causes duplication in the database. 

Sometimes you just can’t win.

Now, I didn’t think that was quite fair, I mean I like having pricing options for people who want to buy my patterns. For a number of reasons, it just makes sense to me to offer them in varying ways. Maybe someone doesn’t want 4 patterns, they can just snag one. Maybe they want to buy all four, and this way saves them money. I guess that’s the capitalist in me :) But, those are Ravelry’s rules and who am I to change them? Who am I to argue with them? I mean, they do take a comission off my sales, so if its not something they want to sell, well, ok then.

So, I took my book and bundle over to craftsy. I used craftsy before using ravelry with quite a bit of success, so hopefully things will pan out nicely. So, once again, if you’re interested in getting my book “MADMANKNITTING -or- the waiter and the fly,” click here and you’ll be directed to craftsy.

Whew…..It should be easier than this right? But, then again, it probably wouldn’t be worth the struggle. Cheers!

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In a Bundle….

madman6x9coverI was reading my book and it dawned on me that if I republished it with patterns in the back, you could see me go from having never touched knitting needles before, to learning to knit from badly written pamphlets, to making an escape to ignore life tumbling around me, to finally having knitting as the thing that kept me alive.

So, I decided to toss together my book, “MADMANKNITTING-or-the waiter and the fly” with four of my patterns in one tight little bundle on Ravelry. I might decide to reprint the book with the patterns, but we’ll see. For now? I like it on Ravelry as a pdf. And it is an awesome book. And a bargain when you think that you get four of my patterns and the book for half the cost.

Ten o’clockish at night. Been a long day. Gonna curl up with a sad horror film to get me in the mood for Halloween. Then I’m gonna crash with the cat. :)

Enjoy the book and the patterns! Click the photo if you’d like to snag them all in one bundle.

AN UPDATE TO THIS POST HERE!!!!!!

If you’d like to buy my knitting patterns on ravelry, click here.

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The Happiness Test

When I’m knitting in the early part of the day I listen to the radio. Back when I lived in the woods, a radio was all I had for company, for information, and for entertainment. I grew to love it. You have to understand that, being 20 miles from the nearest town, voices on the radio were the only voices I’d hear for weeks on end. So, I grew to love talk radio and still spend the better part of my day listening to it, rather than watching something on my laptop. I had my favorites. Niel Boortz (I’ll lose subscribers because I said that :), Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, Clark Howard, and Prairie Home Companion. And of course, Herman Cain.

Somewhere around 9am I tune into Herman Cain. I love Herman. Just the sound of his voice is something that brings back my old Georgia roots. The cadence and the vernacular are typical old school Georgia. His show is, of course, on the more conservative side. (“Wait, you’re gay, you’re not supposed to be a conservative…..” Well, that’s a blog for a different day.) But aside from the political leanings, he does rely on a severe passion for optimism, which I am all in favor of. I cling to optimism like a newborn clings to its mother. And as the news tries to define the world as slipping into the hell of destruction on a 24 hour basis, it is refreshing hear Herman’s voice giggle, laugh, and sing from Stevie Wonder’s “Wish.”

“Looking back on when I was a little nappy headed boy
Then my only worry was for Christmas what would be my toy”

Today, he had a great segment where he discussed that there was nothing we could do about some of the bad things in the world, but we could remind ourselves of what makes us happy. And he defined happiness as this: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to, then invited his staff and his guests to state what those three things were to them.

I thought I’d share that with you. Because when life gets terrifying and miserable, it is those three things that will allow the heart to smile, and when the heart smiles, it perseveres.

Something to do: my knitting! my teddy bears.

Someone to love: all of you! I would not have the blessings in my life that I enjoy daily if it weren’t for all of you.

Something to look forward to: the dream of one day having my little white house.

So, now it’s your turn. Write in the comments section what your three elements of happiness are. I’ll be reading them! While knitting, I’ll be reading your comments.

And we’ll be rewarded with a weekend, a few days hopefully, of being able to remind ourselves of what is truly valuable in life: purpose, love, and hope.

If you’d like to buy my knitting patterns on ravelry, click here.

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What a Difference a Bed Makes

82As many of you remember, when I first moved into this little apartment a year and a half ago, I had nothing to my name. And I do mean NOTHING. I had a stack of books, a box of yarn and a beat up pair of boots. That was pretty much it. Eventually, I gathered enough money to grab a foam mattress to place on the floor to sleep on. That was me going BIG then. Ya know? That was me living the high life. Notice Mario sprawled out in SPLAT! pose at the corner of the bed. It was depressing, surely, but I kept telling myself it was only for now, not for life, not for ever. One day we would have a bed to sleep on…..one day we’d have so much more.

IMG_0880Here we are 18 months later and as I woke up this morning, I was making my bed. Yes, my proper bed, and was feeling so grateful to have it. We found an affordable platform (which took us FOREVER to put together), a nice set of sheets at Marshall’s, a little end table from Walmart, and a jade plant (for financial good luck!) at the Fall Arts Festival. The “headboard” is actually a mirror that was gathering dusts at George’s house. He had no need for it, didn’t really care to keep it and gave it to me. A nice cleaning up and it looks rather nice as a headboard. Kara crocheted the blanket for me. The artwork? Managed to snag it for a few dollars out of a clearance bin at Hobby Lobby.

IMG_0883So, you don’t need a lot of money to actually make your surroundings homier, or more liveable. Just cleverness…..and hope! Hope that one day all will work itself out. So, we’re not wealthy….but, we do have a bed! We still struggle every month to keep afloat, but we get a good night sleep while worrying about it, which helps to squash the stress. We wake, we make coffee, we work refreshed! While making my bed this morning, I smiled after a good night sleep, because I know what a difference a bed makes. I notice what a difference a good night sleep makes. Notice Mario THIS time looking amazingly regal next to the Jade plant.

IMG_0886So many people really liked the last bear I did with the Drops Merino Wool in….(wait for it, wait for it…..) lavender! Well, I do have another skein of it, and half of the skein left over from the last bear, so that’s more than enough to make two more, one of which I have already started and willIMG_0869 be finished today. So, I thought I’d go ahead and offer them since so many people wrote to me and told me how much they liked the little bear. So, if you’d like to adopt one of the two, click here. They’ll be shipped with a signed card by me on Friday of this week.

Well I guess that’s it for the moment. Its still rather early, not quite 8:30. It’s supposed to be a wonderful weather day, so I plant to take advantage of it, knitting up my little teddy bears in the shade. Have a great day everyone. :)

If you’d like to buy my knitting patterns on ravelry, click here.

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Drops Bear

IMG_0869This is one of my classic bears made in the usual Fisherman’s wool, but with a mock sweater and hat made with Drops Merino wool. Ok,  I’m a guy, so I’m more inclined to say the word PURPLE…..but, I guess you could say lavender :) The Drops Merino Wool is actually a very soothing yarn to work with. It has a tough pliancy, but also a sheen finish that keeps it luxuriously tender and soft. I like that in a yarn :) Kinda sounds like me, eh? He measures 12″ tall from toe to head, with hat and removable scarf. He’s ready to ship with a signed card by me. If you’d like to adopt him, click the pic, and he’s yours. A definite one of a kind.

Oh! and I thought I’d mention, I don’t know if any of you have noticed the little platform I’ve been taking pics of my bears on before, but I thought I’d mention it, because even I only noticed it not that long ago. Notice the words “MADE BY HAND” underneath? Total accident. See, that’s an old cigar humidor made of wood. I have a fondness for those. Especially the older ones made of real wood. The craftsmanship in them is just amazing, and they come in handy for storing little bits of this and thats. But, the “MADE BY HAND” was a delightful accident I just noticed recently. Cheers! Hurry and snag this little bear!

If you’d like to buy my knitting patterns on ravelry, click here.

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A Thank You Note

So, I’m sitting here, knitting…..well, truth be told, not REALLY. I put the needles down about an hour ago to make some dinner. Pasta with Brussels sprouts and a squeeze of lemon juice. Sounds swank, don’t it? Nah, actually, it costs me about $3. The pasta and Brussels sprouts were ‘buy one get one free’ and the lemon was a splurge.  (When did lemons become so expensive? I live in Florida, they GROW everywhere! oh yeah….they’re imported from Mexico…..hmm).

Now, that means TWO one pound boxes of pasta for one price and TWO bags of Brussels sprouts for one price. DAMN! Do have any idea how far that goes? I really should start a new page on my blog. Something like, “The Poor Knitter’s Guide to Groceries.” I know how to make $20 last a week on groceries, without compromising nutrition. And I know some people are out there going, “But, I have a family of four to feed!” Hell, simple tricks can buy you some good food without going in debt while still eating well despite how many people you have to feed.

But, that’s not why I’m writing this tonight.

I was sitting here, pasta bowl in hand, watching “That 70’s Show.” Guilty pleasure. Tons of fun. Great way to end the day laughing. I peeked over at the crazy one, Mario the cat, curled up in the corner on a blanket. My tiny little apartment is clean. I’m enjoying good, hearty, healthy food. My teddy bears are loved. And I’ve received some truly heartwarming and amazing emails over the past couple of days.

And that’s because of you.

You not only saved a man, you helped that man build a life for himself. When this all started, I reached out with my little teddy bears because I needed something to eat. A place to rest my head safely at the end of the day. What you did instead was give me a life. A real life to which I wake every morning, anxious to embrace, to hold, to share. Yes, I share this life with you, because you made it possible.

So, I thank all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me hope, purpose, your love, and a sense of fulfillment.

This is just the start, a little blip in history, where we showed the world that compassion rules over tyranny, that kindness defeats aggression always.

Thank you all, so much. All of you. For everything. And I do mean that. For everything that this life of mine has become….and for giving me the hope of what my life will become.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.

If you’d like to buy my knitting patterns on ravelry, click here.

If you appreciate my writing and you’d like for this blog to continue, please support! This blog survives because of you!

 

The Madeleintosh Bear

IMG_0866I was given some Madeleintosh yarn a few weeks ago and I have thoroughly enjoyed the feel of this yarn. Nice and plush, exquisite and tender. Hand DYED, baby. This bear was made with Lionbrand’s Fisherman’s wool in Creme, the mock sweater done in Madeleintosh Vintage in Merino Wool (did I mention hand dyed?), with the purple scarf and trim done by Drops in Merino Wool. Yes! The hat and scarf are removeable. Great little bear measuring 12″ tall, with these awesome color combos of creme, grey, black and purple. He’s ready to ship with a signed card by me, so if you’d like to adopt him, click here. Total one of a kind.

If you’d like the pattern to knit this bear, click here.

 

If you appreciate my writing and you’d like for this blog to continue, please support! This blog survives because of you!

 

Let’s Get Crafting!

IMG_0851   Oh, man, oh man, oh man, I have been sooooo anxious to tell you all about this for a while now, but I didn’t want to say anything until it actually HAPPENED. A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a knitting magazine in the UK asking if I’d like to do an interview. “Well, hell yeah!”

They were so incredibly polite and kind and sent me their Christmas issue of the magazine not long after. “Let’s Get Crafting” is an awesome magazine. I love the way its bundled with yarn and needles to make one of the projects inside. Can you imagine???? I soaked in the tub one night flipping through the magazine, loving how clever and whimsical it was. If I wasn’t working on teddy bears right now, I’d SO be knitting up some of their projects.

IMG_0860Then. THEN! Today……TODAY! I got the issue in the mail with my article and man, oh man, oh man was I excited to see the article in print! YEAH! As many of you know I “spend” my Saturdays in the UK (in thought while watching classic television) so it was really special for me to see me make my way there in some very cool way. “Tea and a Chat With…..” How very English :) So, if you live in the UK rush on out and snag a copy!

Wow….good day. Not apologizing for looking scruffy in the pic. I’ve been busy and I’m just too damned happy :) YAY! And don’t forget to grab one of my patterns at Ravelry and knit a teddy bear of your very own in no time at all. I would LOVE to sell 10 copies of my patterns today. WOULD LOVE THAT! Just to celebrate in my own way my very cool accomplishment :)

If you’d like to buy my knitting patterns on ravelry, click here.

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To Become a Dove

AbbeyChurchCurrentAs some of you know, back in my early 20’s I spent a short while at a Benedictine Monastery here in Florida. At this point in my life that has been the most important moment I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been busy working on teddy bears, we all know that. But, I don’t think I’ve spent enough time working on my spirit. And for some reason (and we learn to never question reason), I’ve had the most profound desire to go back there, feel the place again, the lake, the grotto, the temperance of noise in the head.

I’ve contacted the monastery with a simple email asking what would be required for me to come back for a retreat. You know, just for a few days to freshen up the soul.

I’m waiting to hear back from them.

There is something unusually strong in me right now to go back there again.

I feel I need to go back. Maybe to remember something? Or to learn something new? To FEEL something that no moment in life can hand to you unless you touch it. No books can share the knowledge, no music care share the joyousness. You must live it.

I thought I’d share some writing of mine from that first time there 15 or 20 years ago at that monastery…..where my life changed forever.

***

I stepped slowly from the guesthouse, my sounds muffled or impeded by the merry chirping of the crickets, and the sudden coo of an owl. There was no moon and no light. All the matter that God had made was hidden under a blue of nocturne.

Down the short road I stepped towards the abbey, clutching myself tight against the quick chill of an unusually brisk autumn eve. The tall Spanish tower that served as a steeple was dark and ominous, but glowed somewhat, as if it were something preternatural, a ghostly beacon of some kind, ready to shout with fire.

With a slight creak of those huge wooden doors, I stepped within the confines of the abbey church, shutting them behind me with a heavy resistance. They didn’t want to close. Alas, once the hinges snapped tight, there was no sound other than my sullen footsteps in the abbey. It was a stillness that terrified me. It was warm in here. It was also disturbing, as though I were trespassing upon some kinetic energy ready to embark in spastic flight should its stillness be interrupted.

AbbeyChurchCrossI moved towards the massive crucifix. The simple stain glass windows captured and pulled in whatever light the moon had to offer. My footsteps had become like thuds, like monstrous, heavy thuds in a slow rhythm that sounded like distant bombs. The closer I stepped towards the crucifix the more I noticed that the iridescent light heavy with the dark frame of night was casting clean cuts along the chiseled muscles and limbs of the murdered messiah.

There was a shifting movement of air in the room, as if like breath, and it made a ruffled sound as it hit the acoustics of the abbey walls. Past the pews I timidly stepped towards the crucifix, transfixed by His eyes. They were red and real, but not human at all…as if they belonged to an animal. I felt frightened, for there was something in the air, some feeling that was painful almost, some feeling akin to the ghostly coldness of pin sharp needles against the skin. And slowly there was a bubbling in my subconscious as the muffling in my thought turned towards audible and apparent voices, voices that I had carried with me since the beach of Key West, since that night of nightmares and visions that had led me finally to this monastery.

AbbeychurchChristFaceIn my mind I heard the monks chanting, but only slightly, for their pristine prayer was drowned out by the sound of sobbing, women crying, soldiers laughing, and spectators gawking in bewilderment. Yes, I think what I was hearing was the moment at Golgotha where He was summoned by divine design to His own execution. I could almost smell the dust of the desert, feel the arid sand within my nostrils. And when lowering my head to catch my step, I could almost see the dunes beneath my feet as I made way for His body hanging limp there from two boards fashioned into a cross. And above his head screamed the regal announcement of his crime against the state: SEDITIO. And when lowering my head to catch my step, I could sense I passed both women named Mary, and I dared not look at them. The pain upon their faces the same horrific degree of crying and screaming I had seen in the mother of the man whose memorial the monks had massed not too long before. Their bodies shook when they cried, their own fingers bled from the making of fists, fists held high to the sky screaming “Why?” But, this was all but a vision in my mind as I stepped along side the pews and icons in the abbey church, timidly approaching the crucifix, whose eyes were too detailed in their artistry to be anything but real.

I had made my way past the altar and stood now at the very bottom of the crucifix, staring at His impaled feet, watching what I was convinced was sweat and blood mingle down along side His ankles, then drip past His toes to the floor where they disappeared into nothingness. My eyes studied Him carefully, the eyes slowly moving from His bound feet to His thighs, then upwards to His stomach, His abdomen, His chest. It occurred to me then, that this particular crucifix that had bewildered me since my first moment arriving in the monastery gave the impression of Christ as He may have appeared just one second before death. The closer I looked the more it seemed to have been chiseled in representation of the last gasp, the last push of air from his living form, as if caught inhaling for the last time. And how important that seemed to me. The body of Christ, still alive, though pained, though tortured and near His dismal end, was still alive, still here, still in need of saving, of comfort, of pity, of solace. This symbol meant something so much more than the representation of a religion. It was the essence of that religion; that if a Christian were to claim that name and call himself “saved” then he must remember the body of Christ. The living human community was near death always, near its dismal end always, and in need of solace, pity, and comfort. But, that last breath, that last push of life into his caving veins was the hope and salvation that all true Christians should strive for. Yes, as if in suspended animation, that last breath, this chiseled crucifix before me was the human community, the Christian community at the final second before death, where that last breath kept Him alive, though He was sure to die in suffering. That last breath was the chanting of the monks, was the charity of the poor who have nothing, but give all. Should the Christian forget any of this, that final gasp is released from the crucifix, from the living body of Christ, and He would die. The real, Christian God of mercy and hope would die. And all that we would be left with is a relic, an artistic chiseling of a murder in the desert two thousand years ago.

I raised my hand to touch it. Alas, I was suddenly repelled by it, afraid in so many ways to experience it, my mind so filled with visions, my subconscious so filled with sound, I feared that should I dare feel the crucifix my hand would be met with legitimate flesh. He seemed real, alive, and if I should disturb Him, He would be cross with me. Angry. Those heavy lidded eyes looking down at me with anger, vengeance, sadness, and acceptance all clearly repelled me to leave Him be.

I felt I had finally come face to face with God. Trembling, I fell to my knees, but did not pray, dear reader. I did the contrary. I did what I felt the extent of this journey had required me to do. I questioned Him. I whispered in the darkened abbey, my eyes alight and wide and staring at the dead man.

“I wish You would just talk to me. Just tell me what You want from me. No symbolism, no mysteries. Just talk to me. My heart wants to be here in the monastery. I feel such a want, such a need to be here that I can’t imagine my life anywhere else. But, You don’t want me here, do you? I’m supposed to aspire to be You. And that’s the problem. Because every time I’m told how much I’m supposed to be You, I’m then told of its impossibility. What do You want from me? Why did You bring me here if I wasn’t to stay? Why did You hand me this beauty? I get so mad at the way they portray You sometimes. I get so angry with them. Is that why You look like you do to me? Is that why I see Your face hanging there with such a scowl? Is it because they portray you incorrectly? Why do I feel a fondness for You? Why do I feel that, though sometimes I cannot understand You, or what You want from me, You always understand me, always pull, tug, or push me to where You want me to be? But, again, when all of that is said, when I sit here nearly ready to scream at You, why do I get so angry at You? Or is it really You I’m angry with? Or that vision of You they’ve painted.

“I can almost see your chest move slightly with breath. Do you want me to save You from the grave? Is that what You will of me? To take You down from that cross? It would seem fitting. You saved me. You resurrected me at the moment I was at my last breath, so why shouldn’t it be fitting that to repay You, I save You, too? My body tingles ever so slightly in Your presence. Its my body, I think, finally aware of its surroundings, its reality. Or is that Your breath and not the air? The breath of a man left hanging at His last moment of death, is that the breath of a man whose execution has continued and continued and kept on for thousands of years?

“What was Your perfection anyway? When was it that You had finally realized how much God moved through You, then gave Yourself over to God? So much that You were willing to die for Him? Is that what aspiring to perfection is supposed to be? That I give myself completely over to God inside me? That I hand my life over, my self over to the point that I would be willing to die for Him? For You? Is that it? I wish You would just talk to me. Just talk to me…..You confuse me, You give me headaches, You give me as many reasons to turn from You, as cling to You. What do You want from me?”

I was sobbing quietly, as my voice grew louder in speech. “If You perpetuated miracles in Your step then just talk to me….Let me hear Your voice. I’ll ask You again. What do You want from me?”

“To be as wise a serpent and as gentle as a dove.”

Startled by the voice, I turned round to find Brother Robert in the doorway….

If you’d like to buy my knitting patterns on ravelry, click here.

If you appreciate my writing and you’d like for this blog to continue, please support! This blog survives because of you!