My Witness to a Massacre

It was just about that time of day, early afternoon, lunch time. I instinctively felt the two strays I’ve grown attached to were probably outside waiting for food. Sure enough, there they both lay waiting patiently to get some grub. I poured a moderate amount of cat food onto the ground, they walked up, rubbed aside my leg to say thanks, the red one with the busted leg giving affection and a wink, then they went quietly to eating. One stumbling over the other to get to the good stuff.

I have grown accustomed to their habits. They usually roll up at the same time of day. They sit for a spell, then lounge away, and I go back to my knitting. And on occasion I feel I’ve fed them too much, since they leave some behind. Probably saving it for later, I tell myself.

But, as I sat knitting, long after they had been eating, I heard a racket out back. The screaming shrill of birds in such a loud cacophony, I like anyone needing my quiet while working, got up to investigate. Peering out the window I saw there were perhaps half a dozen birds, darting down and swooping into the pile of food that the two strays had left behind. They rushed down, grabbed a bit then darted back up into the sky, stealing the food I had left for the cats.

A few of the birds wistfully stepped on the ground to bounce and peck at the cat food, spiking it with their beaks, tossing some kernels aside, mad dashing for others. And out of the azaleas, like snipers waiting to make their move, the two strays made an ascent, swiping at each bird they could, disabling their wings, knocking them out of flight, making them helpless. Fangs went sharp to make piercing kisses into their small necks, as the sounds of mad flapping and screaming filled the air.

There was a blood bath, I tell you. Shrieking turned to silence, the cat’s breathing and gazing became predatory and lion like. They swiped, stopped and bit into instinct, and what was left behind was carnage. Three birds were injured and maimed as the two strays conquered. And one by one, each of the winged things was picked up and carried off to a safe place to devour.

DAMN!

I watched the red one with the hurt leg limp along to the shade of a large bougainvillaea, look back at me, dropped the bird and winked. His insane way of saying, “Thank you.” Yes, he’s going to be just fine.

So, to all of you who were interested in an update on the two strays that have adopted me, there you have it. They’ve been using the cat food I feed them as an appetizer, and using what’s left over as lure for fresh kill. Wow. Smart little bastards.

The two strays are going to be just fine.

Happy Halloween. :)

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Reflections on a Screened Porch

There is no secret in it. We all know that the older you get, the more you concern yourself with your security. Oh, yeah, when you’re young and wide eyed you’re invincible and you live for the moment, for now. Forget the future. But, the older you get the more you think about being transitory. If it’s not on someone’s couch for a few days, or an apartment for a few months, then its from this life into the next. Solid ground seems shaky and uncertain and you strive in fascinating ways to make sure that you will have a foothold for the last half of your life, the half that comes with a world of viable concerns. Where will I live? How will I make money? Will I be alone? Am I going to make it?

I had an interesting day. Some may say my astrological chart was out of whack. My moon sign must have pissed off my sun sign and then a couple of planets got into a fight while rising. Others may say that my blood sugar must have been low. (I have to look into that. I don’t care for sweets, never have, so I avoid them….even fruit sometimes. I like cantaloupe, but it’s just so damned expensive).

But, I was sitting here with faceless bears surrounding me. I got into this weird habit that just doesn’t work. Knit up a bunch of heads, bunch of feet, bunch of bodies. Next thing I know I have ten half done bears sitting in piles everywhere, but not GOING anywhere. It worked so much better when I was just doing each bear from start to finish. Put him in his little box, send him on his way, off to his new home. Now, they sit around like they’re in limbo. Don’t know what prompted this new process, but nah…..not working. Back to the original plan.

But, I was sitting here surrounded by unfinished bears and I felt that stress we all feel when overwhelmed. The walls were caving in. Questions about the future pushing me into areas of the mind I really REALLY didn’t want to think about…..but, we all have to at some point. If I don’t get these bears done, my career is over, my reputation soiled, my future will be…..what? The once and former homeless guy is now….homeless again?

Hell….No.

That’s it in a nutshell.

ISt8ykjsbk1tk51000000000 I hopped on my bike and went for a ride. I went to my little white house. As usual, I peeked through the windows, imagined from the outside what it would feel like on the inside. And in a moment that is probably illegal, I stepped into the back porch, sat down and just thought for a while. I could have been trespassing, who knows. No one lives there, it’s still for sale, so I wasn’t hurting anything. I opened the creaking wooden screen door, stepped inside, and sat on the back steps and took it all in.

ISd8bqiwjrw9t51000000000The weather here in Orlando is spectacular right now. 80 during the day. 60 at night. There was a cool breeze that seamlessly helped the streaks of sunlight pierce through the heavy oaks above, handing their brightness to newly blooming hydrangeas, blossoming in screaming green against the stark blue of the shed. I closed my eyes and could hear that the sound of traffic was obsolete, and with the absence of that shrill was heard only the subtle laughter of friends joining me on this back porch, spending the cool autumn evenings playing cards and planning croquet. I could smell a pot roast slowly cooking in the kitchen, biscuits cooling on the counter. I could see Mario lazily toying with a lizard as it held on for its dear life. I could see my future. This house is my Howard’s End.

I’m notorious for fighting adversity, while holding my head up, while not being jaded, while being optimistic about life, or even about the struggle in life. It never becomes tainted with the pain that makes one bitter. I never feel that. I always feel it’s always worth it. Life is worth the struggle. The beautiful moments we have and hold and enjoy are worth the fear and panic we sometimes are confronted with. The hardships we face keep the grand experiences of joy from becoming mundane.

I want that house because I love it, but I know one day I’ll ride by on my bike and the FOR SALE sign will be gone. But, that’s ok. Because that house represents my dream. And we have to wake each day, face the pain, face the fear, face the struggle and move closer towards our dreams. Mine is of what security a home of my own would feel like one day. My dream is that one day my little white house will be a reality. So, that’s what you do. You get on with it. You make it happen, you find a way to chase your dream. And it’s gonna hurt sometimes. It’s going to scare the hell out of you. But, if I don’t hold on to that dream of this little white house, my only option is going back to nothing. If I don’t move forward, then I’m only slipping back into the hell I left behind.

And I’m not going to let that happen again.

I heard myself say as I left that screen porch, “You will never will be homeless again.”

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That Skinny Man is MINE

IMG_0749If you’ll recall, a few weeks ago I posted a blog about these two stray cats that just showed up one day. They didn’t cause any harm, didn’t bother anything, nor anyone…..they just started hanging around my little apartment, most often by my front door. Whenever I opened the door, they’d come rushing out of the bushes, rub against my leg, politely asking me if I had some food.

Over the past few weeks I’ve grown really attached to the two of them. Especially after the red tabby came limping with a broken foot one day. It didn’t seem to bother him, he’d come rushing up on three legs to get his daily dinner. At some point I took to sitting with them, and they had no problem propping into my lap and giving me some love. What I find interesting about the two of them is their relationship with each other. They are always together, never apart. And with the red one having a busted leg, the other one has taken to tending to him. He lets his injured partner eat first, guarding him with his body, and keeping his eyes on the perimeter. And once they’ve both finished their meal, the grey and white cat will clean the invalid. They’re buddies. I thought that was touching. Brilliant.

IMG_0914Then a short while ago, I was peeking out the window, just wondering how they were (they rarely leave the extent of the property I live on). Sure enough, there they were, but in such a touching moment I had to take a photograph. I had never seen them sleep before, but it made sense the moment I saw it. They curl up beside each other, holding each other (doubt keeping warm, this is Florida after all), the injured little guy burying himself in the belly of his comrade to stay safe. I had to take a few pictures to share.

IMG_0928It was just so damned touching and genuine. If only more people were like that. I’ve never fancied myself a cat person. Ok ok ok, Mario adopted ME, these two guys have in some way adopted ME….it’s never been the other way around. I’m good with that. I think that’s the way it should be. It shows loyalty in an animal, when they lean to you to be their protector. It means they trust you, value something in you that they can never say, but express often.

IMG_0934Of course, Mario can’t stand the two of them. She hisses and bats at them as if trying to tell them, “Hey, the skinny guy is mine! Hands off!!!” So jealous. And so obvious about it. Mean to them, and OVERLY affectionate with me…..but pouting sometimes when I feed them. “Uhhhh, that’s MY food, man! What am I supposed to eat?”

You’ll be fine, Mario. Trust me, you ain’t gonna starve to death.

So that’s that. Just wanted to share. Be sure to check out my bundled books and patterns on craftsy if you get a moment. The sale of that helps out in such great ways, and you get the great benefit of having my last book plus four of my patterns and I get the benefit of getting ahead on some back orders.

Alright, gonna go spy out the window and see what the fellas are up to.

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Eco Clouds Bear

IMG_0900Remember some of this Cascade Eco Clouds I received not too long ago? I have just a pinch left so I whipped another bear with it. It really is one of the best yarns I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with and I truly hope I get to play with more of it some day. Made in Peru from baby alpaca and merino wool, Eco Clouds is completely un-“messed” with, feels like heavenly marshmallows, and lighter than a whispy cloud on a sunny day. The hat and mock sweater are made with the Eco Clouds, the dark brown and creme made with Lionbrand’s Fisherman’s Wool. The bear measures 12″ from top to bottom with removable hat and scarf and is ready to ship with a signed card by me. If you’d like to adopt him, click the photo! He’s the only one, which makes him incredibly special…..and I need groceries, so snag the little guy soon!

 

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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.

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