Cranes For Thanksgiving

I had the best Thanksgiving today.

It was simple enough. With just Phillip and I, we didn’t think it necessary to have a turkey, especially since my teeth probably can’t handle that at the moment. We had a tiny, little 3 pound roast lemon-mustard roast chicken instead. Rounding up the meal, we went the standards. Green bean casserole (or, as I call it, SCREAM bean casserole). Sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows, Stove Top stuffing (some things are really just better store bought), and some dinner rolls. We watched Starship Troopers while having dinner, because it made sense to us. It’s ridiculous and laughable, but action packed enough to keep us alert while downing such a feast. We truly had the best time. And then we started talking about Christmas. Should we get a tree? Can we afford a tree? We don’t have ornaments, and those can be awfully expensive and mass produced and well…..not really the kind of guys we are. SO! We came up with a brilliant plan.

We’ll spring for a tree. Something simple and smaller in stature. Maybe something practical like a rosemary bush. And how would we dress it?

My health hasn’t been its best lately. I think with the stress of the teeth, my arm, the IRS, and not getting the nourishment I need, I think my immune system was just dwindled down to the point where it was hard to function correctly. I’d do my damnedest, though. It’s just who I am. Fight through it. But, at some point, I found myself for a few days fully clothed, under three blankets, sleeping. I’d get up, fall into a hot tub, sip some soup, then crawl back under a pile of covers, Mario curled up beside me. And with all of that, I was still freezing. With it 80 degrees outside, obviously something was wrong. So, sorry I haven’t been able to respond to everyone’s emails, nor blog at all. I just didn’t have the energy.

Peace park statue

But, in that time, Phillip had the laptop set up beside the bed to keep me company with some of my favorite shows. You know, the kind that distract you with laughter, or interest. I saw a fascinating report on NHK world about Sadako Sasaki, the Hiroshima Girl, who fell ill with radiation poisoning after the atomic bomb was dropped on her city. She was told of a Japanese legend that says if you fold 1,000 paper origami cranes, you’ll be blessed with your wish for wellness. So, the poor girl sat there in her hospital bed folding up paper cranes until she died. Now, THAT is hope. THAT is approaching life in its best possible form: the actions of calm, the homage to peace, can bring comfort in times of turmoil. Simple actions bring great moments to the soul.

IMG_2370So, feeling better after our great Thanksgiving dinner, we talked about our tree and we decided (in this sad world of pain and torment), we wanted our tree to show simple peace, we wanted our tree to reflect simple actions to promote the idea of smaller actions leading to greater moments in the soul. So, right after dinner we started folding paper cranes. We’re going to have a Christmas tree filled with paper cranes and white lights. A tree of hope, of peace, of prayer for greater intentions placed in the world. (Don’t worry, we’re not shooting for 1,000, just as many as we can).

I can’t wait to see it when it’s done. And we will move forth into the future with the memory of the Christmas season our tree was based on a calmer, cleaner ideal. Not of something rushed and hurried.

I’m so hoping all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you cling to the coming season with a sense of peace, with a joyful heart, and a reminder to put quality of your intentions of giving above the quantity of what you give.

Just the thought of that, makes me feel better :)

My best,



Go Fund Me

I’ve had a lot of responses to my latest blogs and the one comment that arises often is the suggestion that I should start a Go Fund Me campaign.

You know…..I just can’t. I really can’t. And don’t be upset with me with what I’m about to say, but I have, what I think, is a very good reason for not doing so.

Go Fund Me has some truly needing people, campaigns that are heart breaking and worthy of support. Like, Mahalo and Charger. (I’m always hurt in the heart by children and animals in pain). Go Fund Me is a wonderful site that helps people all over the world raise the funds they need to help tackle a dire situation. And there is no way that my conscience would let me start a campaign knowing that there were others who needed the assistance much more than I do.

Yes, I have my IRS problem, my teeth, my arm….but, I have my tenacity. I’m the little guy who has fought hard to rise up and return to civilized life. I have my books, my bears, my patterns, and my donate button. And I would feel horrible taking funds through Go Fund Me from someone in desperate need, when I am still able, with these long bony fingers, to craft, to write. If I can still work, then I can still work hard to bring in the funds I need, while pinching pennies and squirreling away money. If I still have my ambition, then I know I can accomplish anything. If I still have hope, then I know that my life is still solid and grounded. Hope keeps bitterness at bay. Hope keeps compassion close, and anger at arms length.

I have hope that all of those people on Go Fund Me receive the funds they need to get back on track, to help them. And I would feel horrible putting up a campaign when I still have the ability and the capacity to work hard and make my dreams happen with a book, a pattern….and a teddy bear.

I hope you understand. And I hope it doesn’t come across as harsh. I would really feel horrible having a campaign like that when I know there is some poor kid in need of money for surgery, when I still have the ability to write and knit.

I’m a strong little guy. I’ll get through this with the same beautiful strength that has held me up all this time. My abilities. My craft. My writing. Your eyes finding worth in my work. My soul finally connecting with the world at large.

And who knows? If what I plan for my life comes true, then one day I’ll be able to sweep into Go Fund Me and rescue every single person in need of help. Every single one. For now? I’m going to get back to knitting up my work for the day, with my mind solidly on that beautiful future I dream of.

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The Common Thread Between Us

I’ve always thought of this road of mine as “ours” rather than just mine, and by that I mean all of you with me. Having you with me has made all of the tribulations easier to manage, easier to handle. And every time I snag Mario to hold her, I’m thinking of you, too.

The message of my blog has always been one of optimism. Hope. And after a minute of pity (yes, I confess, I did feel awful for a good couple of days) I was reminded by the teddy bears off to my side that are about to be boxed and shipped, that determination has always been a strong point of mine. I’m not a quitter. We don’t quit, we don’t give up on hope.

Life has challenges. And we’ve all certainly seen our fair share and will probably see more. And are these the tests that determine our worth? I think so. We push forward. We catalog these moments of harshness and wrap them in hope. We don’t let them destroy us, we allow them to fill us with the ambitions and desires to overcome, move forward, find out what really makes us.

I know the IRS situation can be tamed, can be handled, despite them having decimated me financially, but that will be conquered. Just as every other disaster that has come my way, I’ll handle it, beat it, move forward. And I often try to remind that this has always been “our” journey.  And why? Because we truly do have each other.

I know that many of you have become my friends, my family. But, many of you have learned to know each other, join forces with each other, hold each other in hard times thanks to this blog and the good people that come here to share. Because this blog has always been about hope. You come here to be reminded that you CAN move through the trials of life and know that you are not alone. You come here to share with me and all else who read that life’s degrees of separation are not measured in the number of people, but the common thread those people hold. And here? The common thread is hope.

I, personally, could not ask for a better life line than hope. I could not ask for better company than yours in my good times and bad. So, I thank you all for being here (not for) but WITH me. I thank you all so much for being the presence that allowed me a life. Who knows what would have happened to me had I not had you from the beginning.

We’re going to be fine. We’ll get through this, work through this, and come out thriving and so much stronger than before.

And do you know why? Because we have hope.

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And then the IRS Came….

What a beautiful day yesterday was. Weather was on par; brisk in the morning, warming glow of the afternoon sun. I was knitting as we watched the latest installment of “The Walking Dead.” My arm was bothering me, so I put the needles down to check my emails. And that was when I saw it.

A levy had been placed on my account by the IRS. Every last dime was gone. All of the money I had been saving for my teeth, all of our household expenses, all the money set aside to buy yarn and pay for shipping, all of my savings, every last cent confiscated by the IRS. Everything was gone.

I was panicky, shaking, started crying, and muttering to myself “It’s happening again. I’m going to be homeless again.” over and over, and then swiftly moved into such a state I had never seen myself in before. Paralytic. Unable to move, save the frightful shaking.

Phillip grabbed me quickly, tenderly and kept reminding me, “We’ll figure it out. It’s ok. Calm down….”

“We have to start all over… All of that hard work, and I have to start over. I can’t keep fighting like this. I just can’t.”

And then he reminded me that the distinctness of my success has always been that I am a survivor. I have fought so hard, and will probably always have to fight. Because once you are homeless, trying to get out can be a perilous road of unseen circumstances that people don’t ever think of can cripple you. And this one? This one I never saw coming.

I called the IRS once I had calmed down and they explained to me that I never paid my taxes in 2010. Then it made sense to me. You see, that was the year I became homeless, so filing my taxes for the year prior never even occurred to me. I was busy trying to eat, find shelter, save myself. So, the IRS had come at me for the money I had made BEFORE I was homeless…..and 5 years of interests and penalties had amounted to a staggering debt. I asked why they just scooped in and took all of my money and they explained, “You should have answered the letter….” What letter was this? Where was it being sent? “To your last known address.” My warning was sent to an address I had not had in 5 years, my address in Savannah so long ago that even the city itself seems long a ghostly memory told in memoirs.

I was told that the levy against my account was a one time situation to (get this) “Get my attention.” Am I the only one who finds that cruel? I explained the situation, but they had the most impressive answer: “While you were looking for food, clothing, and shelter, you should have also informed the IRS of your situation.” Damn, they don’t teach you that when you become homeless. No, they teach you that clean socks, alcohol and cigarettes are currency for being behind a dumpster you need to pay rent on if someone else has claimed that territory. Like when you finally have enough money to rent a legitimate apartment and landlords won’t deal with you because you’ve no rental history over the last few years, or that you “suddenly” have a few dollars, or that applying for a job when you’re homeless can be an nightmare because you have to remind your employer that when it comes to food or a phone bill, you’ll take food so, “no I don’t have a phone, but can I call you?” doesn’t work out as sympathetically as you’d like.  Yeah, these are the things you learn being homeless. Not, “be sure to tell the IRS. The world may have forgotten you, but we haven’t. And we still want what is owed to us when you were socially acceptable and prosperous, despite how you are now.”

We came to an agreement. No more levies would be placed, my account would be active (minus the money they took), and they would not confiscate any more funds as long as I file the returns for that year by Dec 2nd of this year. Then they’ll put me on a payment plan. A payment plan with an account that has $0.

So, despite my need to pull back on the knitting, I have no choice. I mean, I have to pick up the needles again. I was so ready to get my teeth fixed, have a few dollars set aside so that we could move into the next phase of this blog, but that’s all been squashed. I’m selling my books, my t-shirts, my patterns….and yes, even teddy bears, but these teddy bears have to be made to order. I listed some bears that I can make with the yarn I have easy access to, but even then, these bears will not be done until January, which I know is a stupid thing to have to do since it’s nearly Christmas season. But, with what  I have on my plate and my arm the way it is, I just can’t have them done any sooner. So, I urge to you grab a book, a t-shirt, or a pattern, or a bear. Something. Anything.

This is the part of my blog where I usually end optimistically. Fine.

Being a fighter can be exhausting. Being a survivor can take its toll on you. But, despite my teeth and arm hurting, despite the madness tossed at me, I am a fighter and a survivor. I’ll take it.

And when the IRS comes calling all you can do is bight your teeth into a grit that causes a headache, clench your fist so tight that your fingernails dig into your palms, keep your head up and say, “Fine. I’ll just have to work harder…..but you’re not going to keep me from thriving. I’m too strong for that.”

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Bitch, Please (Part II)

mmkbitchSo, my last post “I’m a World Famous Knitter, Bitch” seemed to go over really well with everyone. The comments were encouraging and fun and I have to say, once people started suggesting, “That should be a t-shirt,” I started thinking. Sure! Why not make it a t-shirt? And why not throw in some other ideas, as well? Always in need of keeping the funds flowing, but not able to knit, I thought this would be another REALLY awesome idea.

Iheartamadman I won’t be handling them, but Redbubble will. And if you have one of the t-shirts that came with my first edition copy of “Will Knit For Food” then you know the quality of the t-shirts is exceptional. And they ship SUPER fast.

ProuodMotheravatarNow, this blog, this life, has been built by an army of exceptional women. I had a world of surrogate “mothers” that rescued me and came to my aide and for that I will be forever grateful. So, as funny as the “Bitch” t-shirt is, I truly wanted a t-shirt that showed my link to all the wonderful dears that held me close and gave me virtual hugs all these years. To all my surrogate “moms” out there, the t-shirt, “Proud Mother of a Mad Man Knitting” is for you.




mmklogogAnd the fellas! I’m not the only Mad Man that Knits out there! Hence a shirt proudly claiming as you sit and knit to all passers-by, “Yup. I am a MAD MAN KNITTING.”

So, take a look at my new line of t-shirts! Just click on the pic of the shirt you like and it will take you to Redbubble. You can order them in a wide range of styles (scoop neck, relaxed fit, hoodie) so there is a shirt for everyone. Enjoy!

I’m a World Famous Knitter, Bitch

It was one of those one in a lifetime moments where I wasn’t myself. I tend to control (hmmm, really, Gregory?) my aggression. I like to think that I’m a hopeful person, a tolerant person, equipped to handle the barbs thrown at me. My usual response? “Oh, well…”

But, with the arm not working right, and my knitting coming to a close, perhaps I’m a bit more pensive inside. Perhaps I’m a little more inclined to be a touch pissy.

I was coming back from Publix. Wait…..I need to throw the visual in here real quick. I carry a grocery cart. I can’t very well carry a ton of groceries in a bag with a bum arm so I’ve acquired for myself a really cool grocery cart. Yeah! So, see me now, in your precious mind, rough jeans, dirty boots, ball cap and unshaven pulling a grocery cart across the street. Yes, I’ll agree I’m not homeless anymore, but I guess I still look homeless. I know that. I’m terrified of spending money. I don’t shop for clothes. I have what I have and most of it, practically all of it is from Kara’s Goodwill outings.

So, there I am, attempting to cross the most dangerous road in America for pedestrians, with my grocery cart. The light signals for me to cross. I take my lead. However, a woman in a massive SUV of some luxury variety decides she is NOT going to wait for me to cross and comes barreling towards me. She screeches to a halt when she realizes she’s about to run me over, but does not excuse herself, doesn’t apologize, but instead screams out of her window, “Goddamn homeless! Everywhere! YOU ARE IN THE WAY!!!!”

I stopped right there in the middle of the street, turned to her quickly with that sudden stare I learned to make when crossed by a cheating lover and defiantly said with bolstering voice I know frightens people when I’m angry, “I’m a world famous knitter, BITCH!”

I then beautifully finished the walk across the road as she squealed on with a weird face towards her next unsuspecting victim. (Really, she drove on with a pinched up face wondering, “World famous what????”)

There was something defiant in that moment that needed to be cataloged. It was not the best day to demean me. It was not the best day to remind me of my past, nor was it the best day to chide me about my appearance. It was, however, the best day for me to forewarn with a severe inclusion that I have earned my unusual ranks in the arena of crafting. I have worked my ass off to the sacrifice of my physical health, I have pushed hard and worked hard, and knit my scrawny fingers to the bone so much that I am therefore afforded the right to say to anyone of the success I have gained that I have value and that value came from knitting. I have done my part, I have conquered stitched up demons and slayed purled dragons. I have knit my way into this world and have a voice in it. SHE may not know it, but I NEEDED to be reminded of it. So, some interesting part of me that never wanted to scream, screamed back and it felt so good.

It was the testament to myself that I needed. So, I’m a little down, a little out, a little damaged. Screw it. Yeah, it sucks, but dang it. I earned those battle scars. And no one (not even in a frail moment of passing) was going to rob me of that.

Though I have to give up knitting, I stilled earned my little place in the world of yarn. I wasn’t going to be run over. I was going to stand defiantly and remind someone of my worth. No bare notice: I wasn’t going to demand it of them, I was going to REMIND myself of it.

It felt good to say it out loud.

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The Last Bears…

Phillip and were having, what I thought, was a miraculous time. I was knitting, he was gaming. That’s what we do. Then I got up, tried to put some dishes away and I slowly watched him watching me…..

“You can’t use your arm, can you?”

“No, having trouble today, but I can put the dishes away with my right arm. It’s fine.”

Quickly, he expressed his concern. “No, no no no. Not fine. You’re left hand barely works anymore, your teeth are killing you. Now, come on! I’m tired of watching you in pain.”

We talked about it for a good long while and we….debated. (Ok, argued. His version: I love you too much to see you in such pain. My version: I can handle it.)

Pushing myself to knit to fix my teeth and pay the bills is just doing damage to my arm. So, once I get my teeth fixed up, my arm will be too damaged to continue knitting to fix my arm.

I don’t think we’re going to make it to February 16th, which is when I was going to finish knitting teddy bears in homage to it being 5 years since I sold my first one to get out of homelessness. But, in all the hope of knitting to reach an end, to fix my teeth, to give us some security, to raise us up, to keep us alive…my arm just can’t take anymore. So, these last bears I knit, will be the last.

I would rather fix my teeth, rather than my arm. Sounds crazy, but, I’m at the point where I’ve poked a new hole in my belt buckle to keep my pants up. Wearing two pairs of socks so that my boots fit.

And he keeps asking, “What do you do next?”

I’ve never been fond of playing my cards before they’re ready, so I always just mention, “I have a plan.” And I do. I truly truly do. I have an idea of what I want to do with this blog. And it involves all of you. All of us and everything we’ve been through. I’m good at writing. I’m good at inspiring. I’m good at reminding of hope. And in my own way, I’m awfully good at bringing people together with the reminders that our commonalities should be shared through our differences. A safe haven for knitters in a way that hasn’t been seen before. Not a “Ravelry” and not a “Knitty.” Something different. Those sites have done incredible things for the art of knitting. But, I’m going to move into the soul of knitting. Because that’s where I speak best. That’s where my voice find it’s resonance. Why, and how, and for whom, are my calling. Not the stitches themselves, but the intention behind the stitches.

I have a solid plan for this blog and perhaps it’s time to start on that sooner, rather than later. Because, it does not seem we are going to make it to February. The more I knit, the less I can. The less I can knit, the less my teeth and arm are tended to. The less I knit…..

Well, let’s just say, I will NEVER be homeless again. I won’t allow it.

So, I keep picking up the needles, and as they drop to the floor because I can no longer hold them, I suck it up. Foolishly, I suck it up. I raise my chin defiantly and proclaim that I can do it. But, with my mornings I notice more and more the slowing of my knitting. My left arm just can’t follow the speed of my right arm. I drop my needles more now. I bend down to get them and find myself grabbing them with a grunt and a moan and quick, “f*!k,” under my breath.

img_1216With the orders I have to complete, and the bears I keep knitting up to keep the money coming in, the last teddy bears I have will be the end of my teddy bear making, long before February arrives. I’ve watched my work slow to the point I have to make amends for it, apologize for it. I watch my right arm take dominance and notice that my left arm will no longer hold a coffee cup. I watch myself reach to my husband to hold him and my left arm won’t lift as high to meet his shoulders. I’ve watched my left arm try to point at something and shake as it lingers mid air.

So, this is where we are. Concerned, pressured. Pushed to move quickly….like any knitter approaches a new and intimidating project.

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A Knitter’s Morning

I’m usually boots on and out of bed by 5am most days. Feed the cat, start the coffee, brush the teeth, then move quickly to what ever teddy bear I was knitting on the night before.

My fingers rapidly slip through the maneuverings of knits and purls, my toe tapping madly as I count down the stitches before they’re increased. A brief pause as I sip my coffee, too eager to finish up whatever was left unfinished from the night before. Binding off begins as Mario leaps into my lap, the stitches falling off the bamboo needles with the simple float  of a feather. To the side I lay my finished piece.

And slowly the haze of the fading moonlight shifts from blue, then to grey, before streaking beams of bright orange shift through the speckled air. There, as the dawn restrengthens all promises of a new day, of tabula rasa, I’ll pick up my needles and start the next teddy bear, almost immediately, with contentment seeping in, calmness resting on my shoulders, as I’m reminded of the promise of another chance to start again, begin again to make life right, with one new day, one new knitting project at a time.

We must never forget (or at least, I shouldn’t), that every time we pick up our knitting needles, we are given an opportunity to create something good, something that each morning glow brightens with promise, despite whatever raises the world to fervid anger, our knitting needles were intended to craft hope.

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And Then There Were None

I was at 7-11 this morning, just around the corner, just shy of a block. I had a hankering for a Perrier. Now, don’t judge. I’m fond of bubbly water….and Perrier is actually not as expensive as you might think. So, it was about 7:30 when I strolled up to find a couple of police cars. I hesitated, as one might, thinking perhaps they had been robbed. But, I was wrong.

Upon entering I over heard the cops telling the store manager that they wouldn’t have a problem with the homeless in the area anymore. Apparently, last night, the police had done a sweep up and down the Mills/50 area and had arrested most of them. I just quietly overheard all this as I was wandering past them, through the store and towards the back to get my Perrier. So, this is all hear say, so to speak, but I can’t imagine why they would lie.

But, just to be sure, I grabbed my water and just did a walk around the neighborhood. The usual homeless men (and one lady with a shopping cart named Brenda) were all gone. I saw a random shoe, a sock, a small cardboard sign with the usual hope for money or employment scribbled on tossed to the side of a Vietnamese grocer, and a few strategically placed police cruisers in parking lots near where the homeless used to sit for the day….but none of the homeless were there.

I came back home and started knitting my teddy bears, and as can’t be helped, no matter how hard I try, my mind did it’s best to positive and thoughtful. The mayor had said he wanted to confront the problem of chronic homelessness in Orlando with kindness. Money was going to be added to the city’s budget. And there was a circuit court judge a few months ago that had demanded the homeless no longer be forced to pay ridiculous fines for “vagrancy.”

Perhaps it’s denial, perhaps it’s a an actual scenario. But, as I was knitting I kept thinking that perhaps this was a good thing. Perhaps they had been gathered, taken to jail, given three meals a day for the weekend, a safe place to sleep, showers…..and hopefully, some diagnosis, and that those that were in need of mental help would be moved out of jail and to facilities that were now budget to help them; that those with addiction problems would be seen before a judge and that the court would recommend counseling, thanks to the additional funds in the budget; that those who were just hard on their luck would get some quick, necessary, imperative guidance and help to get them back on their feet, with some of the extra funds in the budget…..

And I so hope that the money budget allotted to fix the homeless crisis in Orlando was not intended for more shelters, but towards active, rehabilitative, meaningful diagnosis and assistance. No more buildings. We have enough shelters. More shelters sadly only seems to equate with more homeless.

One can only hope and pray that this was what the city meant when it said it wanted to drastically confront in a kind way the problem of chronic homelessness in Orlando….

Or can only hope and pray that they weren’t rounded up and removed from view to keep from tarnishing the City Beautiful.

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“A Letter To Monice”

vlcsnap-2015-10-21-18h58m50s908So, nearly 10 years ago I published my second book. A collection of short stories based on the lyrics of Siouxsie and the Banshees…..downright, absolutely, 100% my favorite band of all time. That little book was so much fun to work on. At the time, I was also hoping to pursue voice-over work. So, to kill a couple of birds with a bunch of stones, I decided to record one of the short stories as an audio piece, partly to help promote the book, and partly to see if I could get voice work.

Well, as you know, life went in a different direction for me. But, thankfully I was able to find all the bits and pieces of that audio work and put it together and upload it to youtube. Why now? Oh, because that book of mine was a little creep fest! A mix of gothic fiction and B-horror movie moodiness. I thought it would be PERFECT for Halloween just around the corner.

Complete with my vocals and some ambient and chilling music, its the perfect 20 minutes to sit back, grab some knitting needles, work on your project and listen to a spooky story. So, click here to listen to “A Letter to Monice” and get yourself in the Halloween mood. Oh! and the story was based on a song by Siouxsie and the Banshees called “Rawhead and Bloodybones…..” Eerie, eh?

Have fun!