Author: Gregory Patrick

A mad man who writes books, knits, and deals with the daily dilemmas of living 20 miles from nothing...I'm not kidding.

A Prayer For My Little City

I definitely felt your prayers last night. 

Most of my beloved Orlando is in immediate despair. Our landscape, like the rest of Florida, changed last night for good. Our numerous lakes and majestic oaks fell victim, plunging much of downtown into darkness. We are a city of swelling lakes and the crashing of oaks. The beauties in this city that we prize just couldn’t protect us from the storm, but instead, were used against us. 

But, I definitely felt your prayers last night. 

The news said that the worst part of the storm was going to be between 8pm and 4am. (As you know, this storm was ((and is!)) still crawling). That was going to be when we needed to hit the safe room and tuck in for the night, wait for the power to go out, sleep, then figure everything out later once the storm clears. 

By 10pm the power hadn’t gone out so I had dinner and crawled into the safe room and went to bed. Our safe room had one window that was small enough to cover with my single mattress. We pulled Phillip’s mattress in to sleep on. It was a safe place, so I went right to sleep.  And in a weird way, one of the best couple of hours of sleep I’ve had in a while).

I woke at 5 this morning and found the electric was still on, so I made coffee, just incase the worst was still on it’s way. By 7am dawn was coloring the sky with a luminescent grey and I could see the rest of the neighborhood. No downed trees, no flooding. The friendly Spanish widow across the street waved to me as she looked around her property. We didn’t have internet, so I couldn’t get online to see what was happening so I assumed Orlando had dodged a bullet. However, I busted out my little battery powered radio and started hearing stories about what was happening only 3 or 4 blocks away. So much of this town was in serious trouble. 

I called George to see how he was. He lives just down the street. He’s without power, and the wetland park next to his house is a disaster, he says. We offered him refuge right away should he want it. Charge his phone, take a shower, cook some food, watch a movie, hang out with friends. “Come by any time you need to. Day or night. We’ll leave the light on for you!”

“I think I will! I’m gonna need to cook all this food so it don’t go to waste!”

He wasn’t the only one we reached out to. We wanted to make sure anyone local in our contacts got a call. If they don’t have power, they were offered a place of refuge. Come, please, if you need some help. Life on this little property is as it was before the storm arrived. (Funny. Honeychurch might actually function as a church for a minute….)

So, your prayers mattered. And they still do! As you can see, Phillip and I are just fine. Praying for us blessed us with the things we can use to assist others, if they need to stop by and take us up on our offer. You protected us and shielded us. I can’t think of a more magical gift than God sparing you of suffering so that you may assist others with theirs. 

Now, go work your magic again, everyone. Pray for my little city tonight. 

 

 

Hurricane Houseguest

Well, as many of you know, we have a massive hurricane about to hit Florida in a few hours. Now, for the past few days we Orlandians have been a little complacent about it. Most models had Orlando getting the brushed side of it. Nothing more than 30mph winds and lots of rain. Not a problem. We’ll make some food in the crockpot, watch movies until the power goes out.

As of this morning I woke to the news that Hurricane Ian had decided to make a beeline for Downtown Orlando as a storm with 100mph winds, definite early power outages that will more than likely take days to repair and flood causing rain…..

Well, shit….

The weatherman said to “be in place” by 9am this morning. So, I made a mad dash to 7-11 (and it was already beginning to get windy) and snatched a few cans of chili, some cans of tuna, some chocolate pudding and a bottle of wine. Don’t panic, that’s just our food for when we run out of our fridge and freezer food. It’s our “prepper” stash.

We only have two candles. A citronella and a prayer candle with the burning heart of Jesus. (No bugs and no bad vibes! I like!) But, when you’ve been through a hurricane and the power goes out for days, by the time it gets dark you just want to sleep anyway. You’ve spent all day in the heat cleaning up debris. You just want to eat your pudding cup and crash.

We’re in an 80 year old home. I like to think that this house has been through a helluva lot more hurricanes than I ever have. It’s solid concrete block, but all of the windows are cracked. So, Phillip and I are going to the smallest room at the end of the house FURTHEST from the giant tree that hangs over us, cover the window with whatever we can, plop a mattress on the floor, grab the cats and just ride the whole thing out, which will be about 36 hours. Once the storm passes we estimate being without power for three days. So, I probably won’t be online for the next five days and didn’t want any one of you to worry if you hadn’t heard from me, or I haven’t returned any emails or messages.

We do hurricanes a lot in Florida, and as long as you follow the rules and know what to do, you get through them with ease. Wish us well! I’ll talk to you soon!

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

Alone on Your Anniversary

Full disclaimer. We BOTH forgot our anniversary. To be fair we’ve been in quite the maelstrom with Phillip’s training schedule. He tries to tell me what his schedule is 3 days in advance, when it changes so frequently.

I stop him. “I just want to know what happens in the next 12 hours.” Some days he has to be in at 4am, other days not until noon. And some nights he’s there until 3 am and back again at 10 am. There is no science to it, we just have to know what happens next.

I imagine in our pinpointed focus, we haven’t been very aware of what day of the week it is, let alone what day of the month.

But, Phillip was headed to the bathroom and happened to spot our marriage license on the wall and went, “Oh, shit….”

With a very commanding blare he shouted quickly, “HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!”

(We’re no longer legally married, but we still treat it as an anniversary. We’ve been together for 7 years, were married for 5, and have strung this whole thing out for another 2 years….whatever this is.)

I stood from my chair to challenge him. I couldn’t have missed this. I’m the responsible one who keeps everything in this house working on a schedule. “Don’t be ridiculous. Our anniversary isn’t until….tomorrow? Right? No, it’s….what’s today?”

I saw our fragmented and framed license, too. No getting out of this one. We BOTH forgot about our wedding anniversary.

I had to ask the obvious question. “So, how do you want to celebrate?”

“Well, let’s see….when is my next day off?”

For the past week his schedule has been more regular, but we haven’t seen very much of each other. He leaves at 9:30am and comes back home around midnight….exhausted, ready to eat, plop into bed, only to do it all over again.

“Sunday. Your day off is Sunday.”

So, here we are. Sunday. And by celebrating we’ve sort of quietly volunteered to leave each other alone. He wants to order a pizza and watch a long collection of anime that’s been piling up, and more importantly, decompress…to be left alone in fantasy. I’m happy to give him that.

I’ll be sitting here at my desk writing, knitting, watching my own little shows….falling into my own escapes into fantasy.

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but it seems the strong signs of a good marriage is the honesty in being able to tell your spouse on of all days, your anniversary, that you just want a day to escape and be left alone in your own bliss.

The dude just wants to chill for a day. I can’t think of a better gift.

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

Sock Yarn Mana From Heaven

There was an early morning knock on the door….

I peeked out the kitchen window, just then having my first cup of coffee. Like an old man I scoffed, “Who the hell knocks this early in the morning?” I saw my mailman leaving. 

I gathered a pair of trousers, stepped out front and found this massive box. Written in red were the words, “Open carefully!”

I brought it inside, ripped it wide, and to my wonderous surprise it was filled to the brim, the absolute tippy top of the box with sock yarn. DOZENS of skeins. I got teary eyed. I still can’t believe how beautiful people are to me. 

You may have wondered where my teddy bears have gone, and why I’m so fixed in the head with knitting socks. Well, I am working on two bears for a client, but the rest of my teddy bears are resting right now. They need (as all ursus do!) a period of hibernation….just to rest before the season. They’ll be waking from their naps in about a month or two, ready to be gifts for Christmas. 

In the meantime, socks have kept my mind comfortable company. I kind of need their company right now. The spinning rounds of colorways, each of them a surprise, allows my mind to process so many questions I have right now. Honeychurch is changing in really big ways lately. Phillip is about to flourish. God knows he is putting in the time at his training classes ten hours a day. He is going to be reaping the benefits of so much of that soon. I’m very proud of him, of course.

It’s inspiring, really. So inspiring that it hits home sometimes. I don’t make the money he does, haven’t for a while. I watch him advance and I want to do the same, so I struggle with this idea about what I’m supposed to do next. (The rock star in me decided to be a monk). That’s a cute way of saying it, but the truth is I want desperately to be quiet, listen to my God, stay out of trouble and be creative in ways that blesses all of us. (And now I know with such clarity why 25 years ago the brothers would not allow me into the cloister: having you here would be a waste. You have so much to say.)

But, I also have this truly itching desire to do more, to expand, to create an empire if I want to, to…grow. I will not lie when I tell you I feel a little left behind right now. Not by Phillip, not by Honeychurch, but left behind by myself somehow. And not because of anything or anyone but because of….what’s the word? (Wrack your brain if you want, Gregory, but you heard the first word that popped into your head. Admit it.) Yes, it was “fear.”

Yes, dear God I am terrified and I don’t know why.

So sock yarn has been helpful in processing a lot of things going on my mind….and I had just finished my last skein (gifted to me by Mary).

Well, here you go! Not even knowing I was out of sock yarn, Saint Estate Lady blessed me with sock yarn mana from heaven 🙂 Take the time you need to think, be inspired, and flow….

UntitledI didn’t know which skein to start with, so I thought I’d enlist your help (and mine). The picture you see is a capture of the color ways. But, there are at least 3 skeins to every color! Where do I start? I won’t decide. I’ll let you. You pick the skein you want and those are the socks I’ll make. I’m not taking orders. No, not at all. I’m doing ONE pair of socks for the first person who wants them. You pick the skein (or two! both socks don’t have to be the same!) and I’ll show the progress of your socks on social media. The cost is $30 and that does include shipping and I can always use the work. You should have your socks in about a week.

And it really is first come, first served. So, contact me at madmanknitting@gmail.com if you’d like for my next socks to be yours. I’ll post an update when this next set has been sold, so hurry and be the first. (UPDATE! Socks were sold!)

Oh! I picked up one skein just to flirt with (as you can see in the picture). I felt a need to pick that one just because it was reminding of autumn. The season are changing. Life is changing….

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

 

The Turning Point (and the ride to get there)

Oh, what a blessed day!

Sitting here, trying to think of a strikingly penned opening for this blog post and I just can’t think of anything better than that. “Oh, what a blessed day!”

Phillip finally got THE promotion at work that he has worked 5 years for. For the past two weeks he’s done all of the psyche evaluation tests, the drug tests, the “do you even fit in with us” tests. And he passed them all with flying colors.

He was to report this morning to his new store for training. Now, that store is a good 10 miles from here. We don’t have a car. A bus and a bike would take him hours, we looked through the bus schedules. So, I phoned an old friend. George. You might remember him if you’ve read this blog for a long time. He’s been a close family friend since I was in my 20’s. He only lives a few blocks from here. He lives in this lovely old tropical home that I spent seven years in….but, we can talk about that later.

I phoned George asking if he would be able to rent us his truck so that Phillip could get to his MIT location. (That’s “manager in training” for you laymen 🙂 Oh, and he’s also a PFW. I had to ask what that meant, just in case it included some kind of benefits. He said it stands for “promoted from within.” That DOES have benefits!)

Anyway, George said “no” quite quickly. “No. Phillip driving my truck is a problem. My insurance won’t cover another driver. However, there is another way around this. I would be more than happy to drive him there and then home when he’s done with his shift….”

SAY WHA??? “REALLY??? Are you sure?”

“If the only thing stopping that man from making double his pay is 10 miles for a few weeks, we can find a way to get him there.”

So, George came over yesterday (bringing some pineapple plants to propagate as a gift!) and he and Phillip hashed out how this was all going to work. And as far as we can tell….everything is working out perfectly. George just picked up Phillip a few minutes ago to take him to what I lovingly keep calling, “Phillip’s first day of school.”

UntitledI had to take a picture because I did feel…Well, I just felt so damned proud of the man. I wanted to pack him a lunch…all of those silly, adorable, caring things you do for someone you love on their first day of growth and uncertainty. His boss sent him a message this morning. “Be yourself and be proud of that. We’re all behind you.”

This was a grand turning point in his life. When Phillip was offered the job a few days ago he was weepy when he said, “I’ve waited my whole life for this.”

You just can’t help but praise a man for feeling that proud of the 50 years he’s struggled to finally get what he wants. It’s been a hard road for Phillip. But, he finally realized that he had people in his life that wanted him to do well, just for the simple sake that they love him. Hell, a friend of mine from 30 years back was willing to jump in and say, “I’ve got time! I’ll give him a ride!”

As I pen this, Phillip is walking into his MIT store for the next few weeks….but, most decidedly so, that beautiful man is taking his first steps into the manifested reality of everything he ever wanted: people that love him, to be paid his worth, and to share his joy with others.

I’m so proud of you, sweetheart! And yes, if you are reading this, we are ALL behind you!

Oh, what a blessed day!

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

Foxhole and Garden

I was an absolute wreck the whole hour, a spinning top ready to spindle around the room out of control.

I have not seen my sister in about 10 years and she was about to pull into the driveway. I had the front door wide open, ready to greet, but ready to retreat.

If you’ve read this blog for a while you’ll know there is a long and often absent history with my sister. We held each other close during dark years, then fled as far away as we could once we were able to, letting our wings carry us as far away from memories as we could, letting go (but never dealing with) the hardest parts of our childhood.

Our story has always been something like two soldiers who were stuck in a fox hole together, constant bombs blowing up around them, and a dread, a constant anxiety when there was silence….(Is it a trap?) Once there was some clearing in this war, these two soldiers made a mad dash for whatever safety they could find, hoping they might meet again one day.

But, we never really did meet up again. I think we both feared meeting because we know all of the stuff we both ran from would be right there in front of us. The only stories we can share are of those of a horrifying time in a foxhole.

It would also be the first time we had seen each other since our father died. I cannot speak for her, but I’ll go ahead and say that he was the reason our childhoods were so bruised. He was the reason for that war. He was the explosive bomb we waited for….

And now? Now I was going to get to see my sister for the first time ever in my life without my father pulling a string somehow. We were now free of that war time horror and could easily hold each other knowing that it was true, so very true: the war is over.

She just got married and was spending her honeymoon in Daytona. Being so close, she asked if we could finally see each other, after so long.

Well, of course I said yes! And was a nutcase the entire time I waited for her. Phillip did what he could to ease my nerves, but I was just a nightmare.

Then she pulled up, got out of the passenger side of the car and walked right up to me, “Hey!”

300585236_810091880351508_4256018793585430163_n (1)I grabbed her, held her, sunk my chin into her neck. I’m going to be 50 years old in a few months and it was the first time I remember holding anyone like that ever in my life, like I wanted her to feel everything beautiful about my life, all with this massive crush of an embrace. I didn’t want to let go. I wanted her to know how much I loved her!

Her new husband snapped this shot of us just after that. She’s elated. I look like a dork about to cry….

It was a wonderful visit. Probably one of the best nights of my life. I finally got to meet my sister as another adult, as a friend, as a gracious person wanting to share her smile with anyone she met….and she was kind enough to share it with me.

The foxhole is gone, buried. A garden now marks its former space. Flowers can now grow and thrive in a place that once only knew fear’s embrace.

Children, the war is over. It’s ok to hold each other. Everything is going to be ok….

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

I

This Would Tickle Mr. Brown

I’ve been knitting socks for years, selfishly. I’ve never sold the before because I thought I considered knitting socks to be “knitting for me.” I don’t own any of my own knitting, or crochet for that matter. So, socks were always something that I got to keep for myself.

But, the more I think of that, the sillier the idea gets. I want to start selling my socks. I was going to do a limited edition of “The Madam and Mr. Brown” sold with a pair of Mr. Brown’s socks, to help fund the sequel. Great idea, will work on that, but for now, I thought I’d just go ahead and start selling the socks I’ve made (or that Mr. Brown has made), so that at least I can get a little money coming in to fund the book. And that truly is the theme behind the sequel. The Madam and Mr. Brown are in trouble….Mr. Brown saved the Madam in the last book, now it’s her turn. And how she does it is amazing!

socksI also wanted to mention how grateful I am to all of you for gifting me things on my amazon wishlist. I am so looking forward to a new pair of glasses so that I can play with the new alpaca I wanted. (It’s getting harder and harder to buy teddy bear yarn at Hobby Lobby, so I thought I’d look around for another yarn to make for my signature teddy bears). I can’t wait to get the embroidery and sewing set with all of those very important scissors. My bamboo needles are coming, I got a new monitor for my laptop so I wouldn’t have to buy a whole new system. (Nothing wrong with my laptop, but the screen didn’t have color anymore…everything was green). The Visa gift card helped buy cat food and polyfil, boxes and a huge bottle of lemonade from Sprouts. (Lemonade is my beverage of choice these days. Mix it with a splash of Tapo Chico mineral water and man, is that refreshing on a hot day!) I have five new crisp white t-shirts and new socks for my boots. So, I can’t thank all of you enough for helping me with a few simple things that I really needed.

I have two pairs of Mr. Brown’s socks in the shop. Click here if you’d like them. I can’t wait to see which of my socks is the first to sell and to whom! It would tickle Mr. Brown to see his socks well received. He would be so pleased!

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

I

What the Hell Happened to His Socks?

socksYou may have asked why there are so many skeins of sock yarn on my amazon wishlist. Well, I have a plan. I’ve made about 8 socks in the last week or so, and I’m still working on more. I want to take a photograph of a pile of socks. Not just any pile, but a huge and beautiful heap of them. Why?

Well, I’ve started on the sequel to “The Madam and Mr. Brown.” What you are about to read are the first four pages of the draft.

I like visiting those two characters and lately, I’ve been wanting to spend more and more time with the Madam’s nicotine stained teeth and youthful innocence, and Mr. Brown’s fear, anxiety and desire for simplicity.

The new book starts of with a question. I’ll let you read then we’ll continue….

He was napping, snoring elegantly on his brown couch with the drapes drawn. He never opened them, but on occasion, an itty-bitty breeze would allow a slight amount of sunlight to pierce his brown room like a shard.

The Madam peeked her head through the hole, which she was never allowed to do. But, she was curious. They had lived side by side and inside each other’s lives for a good six months now. Mr. Brown had been knitting socks the whole time….where had they gone? What had he done with them? That was all he ever did. Day in and day out he only let go of his knitting to make them dinner. (As you remember, The Madam is a terrible cook). So, where had they all gone? Did he simply throw them away? Or had he gone so mad that he would knit a pair of socks, finish them, unwind the yarn until it was just a skein again, then knit them back up? Over and over? Like a crazy person would????

She needed to know what was happening with Mr. Brown. The last six months had not been very kind to them and she was so anxious to put things back together.

She nudged her head through their shared hole with a delicacy. She knew that just the slightest hint of her breath would stir him, wake him and she would be in tremendous trouble.

She crooked her head to the right. She could see his front door. The slightest bit of light coming through the threshold had been blocked out with brown paper bags.

Then she moved her head ever so slowly to the right to find the most astonishing thing. As dust fluttered like fairies through the dim sliver of sun ray, she spied a pile of hand knit socks tucked behind the couch, worked up beautifully, but never worn.

There were dozens of them overflowing in the corner, a small hill of darlings he had knit then dismissed.

She pulled her head back in quickly and gasped with delight. “Oh, my! I’m turning you into a cottage industry, Mr. Brown!”

The Madam grabbed her second to last cigarette and said with some relief, “We might make rent after all….”

booksI couldn’t shake this great shot in my head of this pile of knit socks that Mr. Brown had made. I thought it would be great to recreate that shot in real life, then take those socks and sell a pair with each signed, hardcover copy of “The Madam and Mr. Brown.” Talk about limited edition. The funds from that will help me spend time working on this sequel. I don’t have a title yet, but I do have a feel for what is going to happen to them. Mrs. Brown is going to do everything she can to help save this poor, wrecked man. Things haven’t gone well for them, but she is going to do everything she can to keep him in her life, safe in only a way for him that only she understands. So click here if you’d like a pair of Mr. Brown’s socks with a hardcover copy of “The Madam and Mr. Brown.” Or if you would like to read the book on kindle, click here. 

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

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One Day, I say…One Day.

cottageI pass this little house every day. I lovingly imagine a place of my own, just like this. A small patch of land, a one room cottage, and a fenced in porch for writing….He even has a few orange trees behind him. One day, I say….One day. I say this every day. Perhaps instead of saying “One day,” I should start screaming, “Now! TODAY!”

If you appreciate my work and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you so much for reading!

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