Ursus Venale

It’s about 5:30am. I’m usually up this early in the morning, but this morning, I’ve taken things into overdrive. I wasn’t going to let the sun rise and set on this day without at least moving forward.

I have never had this much problem selling my teddy bears. I am truly freaked out. That’s not hyperbole. I’ve had coffee flowing since 3am, thinking, testing, cramping my brain with ideas on how to get these last six bears sold. I went from selling two bears a day to two bears this whole month.

That really frightens me. I mean, are they not cute enough? Have they just run their course? Is the story behind their origin just….too far in the past for people to know how valuable these teddy bears have been to me? Is it just because it’s January? Well, if that’s the case, I need to get my financial ass out of January as soon as possible.

So, I’ll try again to push my plush darlings in any way possible. After all, Valentine’s Day is less than a month away. So, if you’d like to gift one of these bears to someone whom you think could really use some love on Valentine’s Day, grab one of my bears by clicking here. 

And if not? Let me know why. I could use all the advice possible right now.

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My Bear Clan

So, earlier this week I was reading my monthly sales statement. ONE in the last month. What???? That can’t be right!

Oh, but it is. And it is my own fault, you know. So focused on doing such a massive amount of writing, I’ve been neglecting my adorable little teddy bears. I haven’t knit very many, nor have I actively promoted.

Well, it was time to put the writing down and get back to work. With bills coming in for the month, I head back to my little bear clan to ask for their help. I knit up SEVEN teddy bears this week, mostly in this new alpaca from Hobby Lobby. And I truly love working with this yarn so much, I think it’s going to be my new go-to yarn for teddy bears. Alpaca feels sooooo nice as a teddy bear. It truly does.

Ok, so! Go grab a bear! Keep Mad Man in business! Grab a bear here!

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That Contained Chaos of Knitting

The best thing I ever learned to do was knit.

I’ve had a few peaceful days of late, quiet days filled with bliss and serenity. I gather that’s why I haven’t been blogging very much these last two weeks. Not that anything at all is wrong, mind you. I’ve just been in one of those reflective moments, where stillness and quiet have overruled the desire to share everything about my life. I’ve been keeping some of these treasured moments to myself. So, rather than write about them, I’ve simply been enjoying them….silently.

It can be a challenge to keep your thoughts to yourself, to explore them, to challenge them. But, I guess that really is the difference between writing and meditating. One requires a telling of the thought, the other requires a reflection on the thought. And lately, I’ve just been reflecting.

I have sat here with my knitting needles in hand, moving stitches from one end of a double pointed to the other, with no music on, no television, no radio….Just silence, save the sound of the bamboo needles as they tenderly click and clack against each other. I have sat comfortably in this chair while I knit up my teddy bears, and have cared for only the random sounds outside.

I’d randomly peek out the window. The green tops of grand old trees greet me, the sky is a robin egg hue, and the earth glistens with a sparkly dew. This is where these last 10 years of knitting has brought me: to this view.

And I just can’t help but think that learning to knit was the best thing I ever did. My knitting gave me this view, this time, this life, this experience that no one would think possible. It brought new and amazing people into my life, while at the same time casting off disastrous relationships that needed to be done with for good.

After 10 years of knitting teddy bears, all of them taking me through turbulent, difficult times, I was sitting in this chair enjoying my view, enjoying the silence….and I suddenly felt at ease, at peace with my knitting, and with my past….

Where once I was knitting out of panic and dread, I have found myself knitting from a place of total serenity. I used to knit out of fear, fear of hunger, fear of eviction….and it hasn’t felt like that anymore. I feel like I have grown out of that contained chaos that I used to knit within. I feel like I’m maturing as a knitter, as a writer….as a person.

These are those moments you realized how blessed you are.

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Mr’s Green Thumbs and Lanolin Hands

There is one frail little corner in our apartment that gets just a brushing of sunlight…..and Phillip has started adopting any stray wandering jew, as though it were a puppy that had followed him home. “Can we keep it? Can we? I’ll take good care of it, I promise!”

Now, we’re both fond of foliage. He’s more plants, I’m more flowers. But, we both appreciate the beauty of green things growing, then blooming. So, he planted the pretty, purple, precious plant in some water. No soil, just water.

…I’ll be damned. They were off, sprouting, looking grand, looking vibrant, youthful. Then he took to picking up more and more low light plants that would grow inside the apartment. And I couldn’t be more amazed at how well he has done with this one little sliver of gold dew that comes in coyly through that one window. I am truly impressed. (I did ask, “Sweetheart, you’re not taking these clippings from people’s yards are you?” And he delightfully responded, “Snatched them from the city park. My taxes paid for them….”)

So, I sat down to knit today for the first time in a long while. We can talk about that in a later post….but, I think I’ve been dealing with PCKD (or “post Christmas knitting depression.”) You know, where you’ve knit so much you’ve feel like the life has been sucked out of you? Where you’ve run a pre-Christmas 25k marathon, struggled with heavy, dangerous breath past the finish line, then collapsed on the pavement while bystanders offer you bottles of water….and someone asks you if you mind walking home?

Nonetheless, I sat down to knit….because I love, remember, miss dashing to the finish line with my knitting needles…..and probably more so, because of a greater purpose: I have bills to pay.

So, I was so grateful to see, while sitting to knit, just a few feet in front of me, Phillip’s grand collection of resourceful beauty. I spent quite a long while staring at the knitting needles in my hands, then glancing often at the plants on  his stand.

We don’t have much, but we so appreciate when we can make excellent use of the blessings we’re given. Whether it be a penny on the pavement, or a slice of the sun’s life, we look forward to accepting those blessings, watching them bloom, then handing the blossom to someone else.

I knit up these two adorable bears. One in silver and grey, the other in a classic, muzzled, chocolate brown. If you’d like to have one of them, click here. 

(Of course, they need homes soon. Like I said, I haven’t knit in a while and I need to get back to work in a bad way).

I’m looking forward to sitting here knitting. As the wool moves through my hands, I’ll be watching Phillip’s pathos grow….

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Best Birthday Ever

If you have read this blog for at least 13 months you will know that this time of year is usually filled a bunch of hops, skips and jumps from holiday to holiday in this house. We gear up at Thanksgiving, then do a sprint towards Christmas, then hop to New Year’s, skip to my birthday, then jump into Epiphany.

Yes, It’s my birthday. 🙂

And while most people have the notion that whatever you do New Year’s Eve will set the tone for the next year, I thoroughly believe that I use my birthday for the same idea. While some may ask, “What will the next year be like,” I’m inclined to question, “what will the next year of my life be like?”

I can’t control what happens to the world at large. But, I can certainly try and get a handle on my own life, and think less of what the world around me is up to.

I’m spending my birthday writing, because that is what I want the next year of my life to be about.  I want to see how far I can take this talent.

I won’t lie. The older we get it’s do-or-die time. You’re not getting too many more chances to really go for it. I love hearing about the “overnight” success of someone in their 60’s, who finally hit it big. That wasn’t “overnight,” that took 30 to 40 years of trial and error. And the fact that it came at that age makes them heroic. They kept at it, despite age, despite failure, despite having to find some way to find the last couple of bucks for rent every month, they stuck to it…..

There is a lot more value in life in ambitions than there are in regrets. Ambitions get you up and out of the chair. Regrets chain you to it with the punishment of self pity.

I’m an ambitious little man, I really am. I want to spend this next year of my life in pursuit of what I can accomplish with my writing.

So, if I could be blessed this year with really making my writing work for me, really commercially work for me, then I’ll know in hindsight next year that this was the birthday ever.

Because this is my year to shine, to do-or-die, to really take my talents to new places and make them actually work for me. I have so much I want to write, to say, to learn from as I pen…. and Lord, I am so ready to reap the benefits of what you have given me.

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I Have to End This For Good

Obviously the reason for a New Year’s resolution is to better ourselves. Funny that we pick things we don’t need a lot of self reflection on. No, we go right to the heart of what has been plaguing us for a while. We don’t need contemplative moments when it comes to resolutions. We’ve been thinking about that one nasty habit that haunts us daily, that we know is wrong, that we’re usually paralyzed by.

My usual New Year’s resolution is to “just be a better person than I was last year.” Because I am fully aware of the moments I screwed up…. Every year I make the same proclamation to be morally better, to enrich my character, to think about mistakes that might have hurt people and just be a better person.

But, that’s just lazy….

No, that previous resolution gave me an excuse to not really sit and think about the desire for change. It was just some sort of evolution of the self, and not a definite resolution that desperately needs to happen. Something has to end.

My resolution this year doesn’t rest on striving towards a better version of myself. This year I avow myself to something that must be fought, battled, and conquered. Because, if truth be told, I cannot be a better person than the year I was before if I do not isolate my thoughts to the one thing that keeps me from being that: fear.

There are bountiful mountains of moments I could explore and enjoy if only fear were tossed under a bus and defeated for good. What an amazing life I will have, once I trample fear under my foot. I longingly think of the people I will get to meet, once fear has been made bed-ridden.

There has been a heavy veil of fear hindering my sense of self.

And my intention is to resolve this once and for all. I have to end this captive romance of fear for good.

That is my New Year’s resolution: to no longer fear whatever it was that keeps me truly enjoying the beauty of life, the hindrances that keep from blooming….whatever those fears may be.

You know, in the process of writing this, I felt the universe, God, backhand me upside the soul and say, “You do realize the that I, the Universe, God, is nothing but absolute love. So, it isn’t Me that you’re afraid of….it’s being loved by Me. Because I, the Universe, God, have told you, over and over that I am all knowing…. and that if you trust Me in all things, you will have no reason to fear.”

Damn. Message received.

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How the Gremlins Saved Christmas

I should probably say something.

It has been far too long since I’ve blogged, written, knit….or shaved.

About three weeks ago I caught the flu. Then two days after that, Phillip had it. Oh, within hours this apartment became a hellish fumble for Nyquil and whiskey. (For the hot toddies, of course).

It was one of the only times in my life I actually considered having something other than a pizza delivered. Neither of us had the first lick of energy. Whatever sparks we had of life were used for going to the bathroom.

And as we all know, the flu isn’t something that just kinda runs its course in a few days with the help of a little orange juice. No, that bitch of a contagion takes forever to get rid of.

Two weeks pass, I think. It’s Christmas eve. Phillip and I have been living off hot toddies and canned chicken soup, which is pointless. Chicken soup in its beauty is truly in the making of it for the sake of healing. A lot of prayer goes into making soup for someone you love and want to heal. So, at the stage we were both at, when Phillip asked me if I would make him chicken soup I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and say, “Dude, you can go soup yourself….”

But, it was Christmas Eve and were determined to have a Christmas Dinner. So, out in the cold, misty, grey breeze we tread. Angry….pissy.

“You’re not walking fast enough,” I’d say!

“You’re walking TOO fast,” he’d scream!

“Just get us there and home,” we both wept!

Home with the fixings for meatloaf. You read this blog, that is our holiday dinner, no matter the occasion. (But, I am thinking a lot more lasagna in the future).

We crash in our respective chairs in front of the television, fall asleep in them, realize imprints of objects are now branded on our faces, then crawl to bed.

Sluggish, I say…but, I was determined to save this Christmas with our meatloaf. We had no tree, no ornaments, no candy canes, no lights, no carols, no music, no interest….Christmas had not come to our home. Christmas had become just another random Wednesday. But, if my meatloaf were a success, then I had saved Christmas.

I looked like I was auditioning for Uncle Si’s body double on “Duck Dynasty.” In my pajamas, I leaned from counter to counter, drug bowls from the cupboard, cracked eggs like a tepid old man with arthritis. I worked hard for an hour, laboring through crushed crackers and ketchup, chopped onions and a cup of milk. (It shouldn’t take 10 minutes to dice an onion). I prayed, I envisioned a “yum” from the both of us.

If you’re an excellent reader, then you can see foreshadowing coming at you like a semi truck.

The meatloaf sucked….

We just looked at each other and said, “Worst….Christmas….ever.”

“Man, this is bad. The peas rock, though.”

“Well, you wanna watch a Christmas movie?”


“Which one?”

“I say we go classic. Gremlins.”

“I was thinking the same thing.”

(Notice I didn’t mention who said what in those quotes. Either one of us could have. We think alike. That’s why we’re married.)

And we had the best time. Oh, what fun it was to laugh and see new things in the film we hadn’t noticed when were kids. While passing the roll of toilet paper between us so that we could blow our noses, we had long discussions about how the mother in the film was the ultimate ninja warrior. She took out seven gremlins in her kitchen with a juicer, a butcher knife, a microwave and a can of RAID!

Sipping on toddies and comfy in poofy socks, we longed for the days when Phoebe Cates was the ultimate “It Girl.”  We questioned whether or not Billy was hot. We gleefully jumped to our feet like football fans cheering a touchdown when Polly Holiday goes flying out the window on her electric chair lift!

Good times.

We were laughing again, distracted from the disaster around us. And I think in a weird little way, happy to be stuck ill with each other. (In sickness and in health, am I right?)

Our Christmas was sabotaged by gremlins. Everything went wrong, everything was off. But, sometimes that irony becomes laughable.

I think sometimes the worst Christmases are the best. Despite everything, Phillip and I hadn’t laid back and had that kind of good time in a very long while….we had the gift of laughing at our own private disaster.

Maybe it was the best Christmas ever.

P.S. We’re both really starting to get better and both nearly back to normal…if there is such a thing 🙂

If you appreciate my writing and would like for this blog to continue, please donate to help keep it going. Every single dollar helps! I couldn’t do it without your support.