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.

The Day It Ended

I was sitting outside working on my art. I don’t think I can stress enough how being outside, working like this, with my hands on new things, in new ways of speaking…oh, my. The enjoyment can’t be expressed enough. From the hours of 11 to 7, you’ll find me out on the lawn, under the golden rain tree with a needle and thread…..

My wildflowers have been popping with enthusiasm. (Don’t forget that word, “enthusiasm.”) Truly, every morning I spring out of bed with anxious anticipation to see who is new to the party, who bloomed today, what new color in my wild, mixed palate is showing some striking display. This old Haitian man pulls up with his car in a screeching halt. 

He comes bursting up to my gate, “Sir! Sir! My beautiful lady has been admiring your sunflower for days. I made a promise to her that she could have anything in the world she wanted if she would proclaim her love for me. She asked for a beautiful flower like this…may I have it?”

I didn’t even blink. “Absolutely!” I could see his beautiful lady in the car just brighten with delight when she saw the fellow snatch that sunflower out of the ground. He thanked me with such sincerity, as a little tear came to her eye. Now, that’s love. Proclaim your love and I will give you anything! All I want is a simple flower. Then that is what you shall have!!!!

And I have plenty of them, have enjoyed the sunflower, taken pictures of it, embroidered it, and now it will fade into its sunset in the arms of someone who wanted it so…..Man. What a great feeling shared by all. 

Which really makes the next half of this blog a real shit stirrer…..

Phillip comes bursting out the front door, “Did that man just walk up and steal your flower????”

“No, he asked if he could have it and I said he could.”

He stared at me for a second, went “pfff, idiot,” and walked back inside….

Ok. I guess we’re going to have one of those days. I didn’t want to have any sort of negative confrontation, because my days outside have been just too good to spoil with-

-too late.

I decided I needed to go inside and get something to eat. I’m forcing myself to eat these days. I was at Publix and got on the scale and I haven’t been gaining weight, I’ve been losing weight. I’m at 102 right now. I’m stressed…..very stressed. And if you’ve read this blog long enough you know that when I’m stressed, I don’t eat. 

So, as I go to make myself something to eat,  Phillip and I begin to talk….and it does not go well.

It would be ridiculous to try and rehash the conversation now. To be fair, you’d only be getting my version of the events. You’d only be reading what I heard. In Phillip’s defense, I can tell you that his version is wrapped in a lot of fear. Allow me to say that it was shown that there is a lot of resentment between us. He truly resents that I am creative. “You pick up everything with such ease….” That is never said with boast, nor with pride. It is always said with a sneer. And my resentment towards him was that he would prefer to spend his time huddle in the dark on a couch watching anime, pissed at me for wanting to conquer my fears with enthusiastic joy! Yeah, I resent being treated like crap because I’m not as miserable as you. 

The “event” (as I prefer to call it) that happened doesn’t need to be rehashed either. I will only say that his resentment towards me was no longer just an attitude, but became physical…..

And there are no excuses, no take backs. There is forgiveness when it happens once. There is a pattern developing however, when it happens twice….three times. 

So, Phillip and I are parting ways. I ask that you pray we are both at least kind to each other through the transition. There is so much to consider, so many things to think about….we’ve been together for so long.

After, he asked if I was afraid of him.

I bluntly said, “No. I lived in fear of my father for the first 20 years of my life. I spent all of last summer going through a mental break down just to get over all of that crap, get it out of my system and move on with my life and finally be happy. I’ll be damned if I let myself go through that again. No, I’m not afraid of you, I’m leaving you, or rather, you’re leaving. The lease is up in 2 months, go ahead and consider your options, because I’m staying right here. I busted my ass for 10 years selling books and teddy bears to get to a place where I could just grow pretty flowers and be happy. I finally got it, and I ain’t letting it go for nothing. Honeychurch is mine. So, start considering your next move now, my friend…..Because I ain’t going nowhere. I love you, I truly do. But I will not live with you.”

If you appreciate my blog 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!

 

 

 

A Little Helping Nudge

I felt rather embarrassed about having to ask a friend to buy me cat litter yesterday. But, I didn’t have a choice.

It isn’t all bad. Not at all. As a matter of fact, March was one of the first starts of the month where the fridge was full and the bills were paid. The only problem is that there was nothing else left. I mean nothing. Coffee, cat litter, laundry detergent, packing tape….I certainly am in no need of creative art supplies.

I have an anonymous benefactor who has been sending me canvas, hoops, needles and embroidery floss. And I have to confess that spending my time in the silence of that art has my monastic nature just bubbling at the moment. Those moments spent watching my wildflowers dance along the fence are so important to me.

SO, I’m in one of those off places where I’m not quite on track. I’m either ahead of myself, or behind myself at the moment. My timing, my flow are just a little off when it comes to our finances right now. I will start charging more for my embroidery, I really don’t have a choice. I’ve been selling them for really low prices just to keep the funds coming in. But, of course, it takes me a good 3 or 4 days to finish a piece….In that time, I do my best to put the work down and pick up a bear….But, it’s only a moment or two before I just feel the need to dash back to the embroidery. And $50 for 4 days worth of work isn’t very smart when it only takes 4 hours to knit a teddy bear….My heart just isn’t in it.

So, if I had a few days to breathe, I could really work up some amazing pieces, start framing them so that they’re worth the price, and really start moving this whole adventure into a reality that eventually pays me, while already beautifully rewarding my soul. I’m inclined to call this piece that I’m working on “Soul.”

You see, nothing is really stark at the moment, and I’ll take poverty if it should mean that I’m living in bliss. Again, how very monastic 🙂 Which isn’t that surprising. I’ve often thought of Honeychurch as a little abbey with only two initiates, who don’t have very much, but who enjoy the solace and refuge of a bright sunny spot in a very dark world. A place where they share their comfort and stories of warmth for anyone to read.  And like most monasteries, sometimes we just need a little helping nudge. A few things for Honeychurch could really help us out.

If you appreciate my blog 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!

I Have A New View

I just couldn’t take it anymore. Not only was the difference in light so striking, but the view….I just couldn’t deny myself that view!

Now, I have loved my workspace, I truly have. I spend hours on end in this cozy little den that I’ve built for myself. My yarn, my thread, my books, are all within wicked reach. But, there was only one tiny, little window to look out of. Admittedly, it was serene scene of the lugustrum and the vine covered fence out back. Beautiful, really.

But, I’m one of those tragic souls who has a merciless need for sunlight. Just like my little wildflowers popping up out front, I yearn to smile in the bright light of sun’s ever warming love. So, every time I’d walk through the living room, I’d just relish how wonderful the light was in there…..then gather my things, head to my workspace, and feel the change of light change my inspiration.

Now, I was about to type “mood,” but that isn’t true. My mood was fine, however, my inspiration waned…..Hence my sitting outside for 8 hours a day, wanting to put up a hammock and live out there. (Oh, I’m going to have to get one of those adorable straw hats. The tips of my big ears are blistered and sunburnt. And I attest that I had absolutely no clue).

So, I ran the idea by Phillip and he agreed to let me switch rooms. We’ll put the living room in my workspace, and we’ll make the living room my new place to create and work. I’ve put my desk right up against that gigantic picture window so that I could not only see this beautiful world that I have found myself in all the time, but so that I could be inspired by it. It’s only been a few minutes since I’ve sat down to write this blog post and already my head is swirling with creative ideas. Plus, Betty seems to like the change, too 🙂

It can be hard for a writer. But, I think it can be even harder to live with a writer. We require so many conditions in order to get to that particular place where the magic happens, where the soul sings and you just pour through your finger tips whatever words you cleverly hear thrown in the air. The right light, the right sounds, the right frame of mind. All of them have to be just right. And in the process of all those conditions you worry so much if people will love what you’ve penned. You pray for it. Someone asked me how you make money at writing. Well, you really shouldn’t think about any creative venture that way. Especially writing.

I have a donate button because that tends to be the only way that I get paid for my work. And I am so grateful to write something that causes people to give their support, because behind that support is encouragement. And that helps someone with their craft more than you know. The point is to move people with what you create….and if moved, people will show you their appreciation.

(And I will say with no shame that on days when you haven’t a penny to your name, five dollars floated your way causes you to jump for joy).

I am also fortunate that I live with someone who doesn’t mind if I take over the living room just so that I can write. That is his way of showing support and encouragement. (Besides, he’s gotten something of a “man cave” out of the deal and he seems to be loving it. As a matter of fact, he’s back there now listening to an old Burl Ives record and cat napping on the couch).

Ok, now that I’m settled into this new view, I’m ready to start moving forward. I am so excited to see what beautiful things are created with these hands, what things are inspired by this new view. And I thank all of so much for giving me the support and encouragement to continually grow, heal, and move forward.

If you appreciate my blog 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!

 

Everything is Beautiful

It probably looks eccentric, maybe even strange to someone walking by, this frail old man hunched before a hedge of dandelions. Behind him, a sea of tranquil green dotted with petite yellow buds. Before him, a charming grey house cracked with the most beautiful bit of aging. There in that chair he has sat for at least 8 hours a day for the last seven. People walking their dogs in routine schedule will watch him slowly rotate the brim of his ball cap from left to right, hiding his face from the sun’s ever glorious gaze…..and regrettably forgetting his arms completely, leaving them red and leathery by the close of day. He doesn’t seem to care.

He will smile back and say hello if you’re kind enough to do so first. He can’t see you, for his back is to you, so he waits for you to nudge him with a salutation. He isn’t being rude, he’s just thinking how to make this one little flower so real that you feel you could touch it, and then feel and experience the inspiration of this little place we call Honeychurch. Because of that, he may not know you’re there until you say, “hello” first.

If you were sitting on his porch just listening to him while he sat in his chair (a TV tray at his side filled with all kinds of different colored threads), he’d tell you what he has learned sitting there by the grace of fortune.

His long boney fingers pull the frailest of needles through a canvas. Entranced, his eyes follow along, his body sings with humming soft breaths, his mind understanding every precise thing he wanted to know.

His voice is smoky, weathered, kind.

“I could spend my day in pursuit of all the money in the world. I’m smart enough to know how to do that…. But, I would prefer, if you don’t mind, that this be the world that I pursue….I’d prefer to live in this life of deliberate joy. All of this time I spend out here? Surrounding myself with all of this natural beauty? This is absolute (!) contemplation. I’m not praying to God….I’m focused on being in the presence of God. And in those moment, regardless of how long or how many hours it has been, nothing in the world is poisonous. Nothing is fatal. Nothing is painful. EVERYTHING is beautiful.”

He takes random pictures of bugs on his chair because the bug is a beautiful color; takes pictures of his embroidery hoop getting caught in his military belt buckle and laughing at this gorgeous masculine-feminine match finally happen on the lap of Mr. Gregory Patrick. (Goodness, I blush).

He takes quickly seen, corner of the eye pops of purple dandelions….informed to him by a reader of his that it was actually, indeed, the wild purple tassel flower….Oh, that thing was too pretty for him to let go without it having it’s own snapshot! He had to capture it! First on his camera, then on a canvas, inspired by the vivid brightness of life around him.

As the sun begins to set he’ll hold up what he’s been working on. The sun pulls just the right light through the golden rain tree, casting shadow off his raised stems, dandelions and rosettes.

And he’ll whisper, just after wishing Honeychurch a good night, “What a beautiful day….”

If you appreciate my blog 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!

 

My Teddy Bear was Bleeding….

I just love wading through the wet dew on mornings like this.

Life is pretty good. Payday is Friday, the pantry is stocked, we’re on track to having the bills paid on time, so there a just a few little incidentals to pick up until Friday. Cat litter, coffee, more boxes for shipping. Little things like that. So, under the cozy hue of a warm candle, I knit up this little bear using sock yarn. Now, I know you’re asking, “Why were you knitting by candle light?” Just something I love to do in the wee hours of the morning. No music, no harsh lights, just me with my craft left alone in the quiet.

I finished up my adorable little bear, thanked him for making it possible for me to pick up little things until payday, gave him a little squeeze, then waited for the sun to rise.

Once up, I dashed out to the front fence, to the newly blooming wildflowers. Snug up against the old wood, I began snapping picture after picture…..realizing with a little grimace that my little bear was “bleeding.”

Gasp! WHAT???? Well, that’s just my little technical way of saying that the poor bear was knit with a yarn that didn’t want to grab itself, hold itself…and in the process I ended up with a bear whose polyfill you can see. Sad, I know. I spent all night working on this cute thing, with it never once dawning on me that he was a little misfit.

Not able to make up that lost time, I thought I’d list him anyway, hoping someone would take mercy on his sad little deformity 🙂 It’s probably not that bad to someone else, and hey, by candlelight he’s perfect! So, if you’d like this little bear, he’s in my shop. I’ve listed him as low as I could (in order to meet the costs of coffee and cat litter). I’m sure he’s the perfect bear for someone who doesn’t mind a little imperfection in their hugs.

If you appreciate my blog 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!

The “Cash Poor, Starving Artist” Fire Sale

“It’s a hobby,” he demanded. “It’s art,” I retorted with a snort.

He responded quite loudly, “Well, you’re not making enough money off of these things and I don’t feel like living like a starving artist.”

Dulled with a sense of truth, and a bitter slant of my eyes in his direction, I put the embroidery needle down, moved the canvas back to my workspace, closed the door….and put my embroidery floss away.

And I’ll be absolutely honest with you, for I know he and I will will probably talk on this later, but there was a resentment that I felt, rather quickly, rather overwhelmingly.

When I was at my worst, I knit a little teddy bear and sold him online just to buy some food. Just to buy food! I was hungry! With the bear selling within half an hour, I walked three miles up to the nearest little convenience store and bought myself some cans of tuna for Mario and I to share. I felt exhilarated, hopeful that I could survive, that I could take care of myself.

I told people close to me at that time that within another 4 or 5 hours, I might be able to make another bear, and make a few more dollars. Maybe I could make this my living? “Yeah, well….It’s good to have goals, just make sure those goals are attainable….”

That was the last time that I ever spoke to that person in a very close and intimate level. I didn’t feel the need to share my exuberance with someone who wanted to make me feel….well, that it was a silly hobby, that my joy was a waste of time, that the moments spent creating something were the pursuits of a destined pauper.

Damned good thing I didn’t listen to them, or anyone else like them, for 10 years later (and 4,000 bears having been knit), I think I made the right decision. That little bear became a treasured little piece of my personal history, opening doors to worlds and opportunities that never ever would have existed had I listened to someone who said, “It’s only a hobby.”

What would I have done then? Way back then? I would have pushed through with such tenacity you wouldn’t be able to stop me.

So, I quickly pulled my thread and canvas back out, tossed on some more leaves, more rosettes, more French Knots and asked if Phillip would take a  picture of me with my artwork. He spent about 45 seconds taking about 10 pictures. He huffed, made annoyed noises, complained about the frigid 60 degree weather, to which point I just looked away and thought, “I only need 45 really enthusiastic seconds of your time, that’s all I’m asking for….” I finally snapped to my feet, grabbed my canvases and said, “Thanks. I think I’ve got enough pictures.”

When he handed me the camera back, I saw that last shot…and boy if a picture could tell a thousand words. (Or even more remarkably, if a picture could tell a boy a thousand honest feelings).

So, take a look at my embroidery pieces in my shop. These are the last of the “Backwards Canvas” series. (If you’ve followed this blog regularly, you’ll know the fun story behind the idea for those canvases).

I’m trying to prove a point, or at least two points if I’m to be absolutely honest. The first is that some people don’t think of what I do as a hobby. My writing, my knitting, my embroidery. They see the art in what I do, the value, the story behind anything I create. And the second point, is that I’m capable of my own joyful independence.

If you appreciate my blog 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!

 

 

And That’s What The Owl Said….

I was making my rounds through Honeychurch this morning. I tend to step through the merry weeds early in the morning with my coffee, just to see who has come to greet me with a bloom. Crunch went my boots across the crisp frost, across these silvery lapels on petals, the first shards of the sun softly landing on the tips of icy lipped leaves. My wildflowers were loving this once and only trusted moment in this part of the world: where the landscaped is caked, for only just a moment, with a layer of ice. For just a few hours, everything is splashed with a cold, polar bath.

And my wildflowers just love it. That quick plunge from 87 degrees to 43 set them reeling with an invigorating exhilaration. You could almost hear the soft pops of their blooms bursting open, then slowly stretching to reveal their simple magnificence. I was strolling by the front fence, watching little bits of beauty freely reach towards the coming, warming sun. The energy of this little piece of land right this moment was simply….rewarding. 

I was looking at this stretch of green on this comfortable street thinking how….rewarding this all was. You have read this blog long enough to know that this whole journey has been about the wanted little house to grow flowers, a little place full of invited, deliberate joy.

I may not have a penny to my name, and I may not own this house, but I have been blessed and rewarded with exactly what I wanted….truly. I walk around dewy drenched stems, stalks of grass wetting my hems, and all while sipping (what I consider) the best damned cup of black coffee you ever did have.

With an exuberance, a little pep in my happy step, I headed through the back gate only to stumble upon the sickest, saddest, fattest squirrel you ever did see. I paused for a moment to find that that this tragic thing didn’t even seem to have a tail anymore. I cautiously walked towards it as it catatonically stared at me, its little head moving back and forth on quick occasion. Squirrels get nutty when they’re sick.

The closer I got, the more my curiosity grew. That….that isn’t a squirrel…that’s….THAT’S A LITTLE OWL!

I was no more than two feet from this darling thing. His head was studying me, bobbing up and down. For about 30 seconds we just looked at it each other with quiet interest. He then muttered something, then fluttered up rather gingerly and tucked himself inside the nook of an oak broadly hanging above us. He then stayed there watching me. He didn’t smile, for I’m told owls don’t do that sort of thing….however, I did see him wink at me.

I stepped away with the goofiest, giggliest smile you’ve ever seen. I’ve never been that close to an owl, let alone have one decide to live in a tree next to me! HA! Who knew Honeychurch was a zoo! Later, towards dusk, I popped out to ask if I could take his picture and he agreed. Thank you, little owl. I’m thinking your visit here has some definite meaning. 🙂

Then, as the sun faded even more, I dimmed the lights, put on some Vivaldi, cracked a beer and got back to my embroidery, the candle light tantalizing me with shadowed colors on the canvas. This was today’s progress, using the canvas I dyed with beet juice. When finished, I think I’ll call it simply, “February, Honeychurch.”

I can’t speak for anyone else. I can only describe the life I’ve had through the eyes of someone always anxious to find the spectacular simplicity in things, then expand on how intricate and beautiful they are. Thread through a canvas, an owl in a tree, and little purple flowers dotting my fence….These are the beautiful things my life have been rewarded with. And I’m so grateful.

Life is a hell of a lot better when you think of what you have, rather than what you don’t. And what I have is all I have ever wanted….and all I will really ever need….

That’s when it hit me. That’s what the owl said!

If you appreciate my blog 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Desperate Need to Punch Things

I had the audacity to pity someone today.

I was buying groceries at Publix. I’m waiting in line behind this man who has a simple gallon of milk. Meanwhile, I’ve got Rolly (my shopping cart) packed with whatever I get Buy One Get One Free. He looked just….sad, broken. He was no taller than 5’7, no thicker than 110 pounds, probably close to 50 years old. He wore these ratted, poorly fit jeans that were too baggy for him, a raggedy ball cap that was stained with the grime of his day, and though he wore a mask, you could see the worn and weathered skin of a man with heartbreak.

His shaky hands paid and he was on his way. I could see him out of the front window put the milk in his tattered back pack, unlock a bike no one would bother stealing and peddled away.

And I had the audacity to pity him….

I paid for my groceries and decided to stop and check my weight on the “universal scale of truth” outside every Publix. I hadn’t done it in a while, for I didn’t really think it was necessary. I’ve been eating more than usual….haven’t I?

After taking out of my pockets my keys, my phone, and my wallet I take a big proud leap onto the scale to see that I had slipped to 103 pounds. I nearly stumbled to the floor. I caught a glimpse of myself in the glass of the front doors. I haven’t looked in a mirror in a while and I know perfectly why. I haven’t wanted to. I know what I’ll see. Truth. And I’m not quite ready for that.

I threw up half way home, pushing a shopping cart full of about 50 pounds of food….much of which I knew (while shaking my head!) I wasn’t probably going to eat.

A mile and a half later I perch myself on the steps of the front door to gather myself. Phillip opens the front door to help bring the groceries in.

“You over did it again, didn’t you?”

“Yeah….that’s beginning to be understatement.”

“You’re not in the best shape to be doing this.”

“Well, I tend to think that if I keep doing it I will be in shape.”

I went to use the restroom before putting the groceries away. While washing my hands I dared myself to look up and see my reflection. One arched brow lead to my left eye peeking and spying at my face in the mirror. I saw my eyes first. That pretty much is where true reflection begins. You can scan your body up and down all day long and look for flaws and imperfections….but, your eyes will tell you every lie that you’re trying to hide.

I’ll honestly say I can’t tell you what I saw, for I only caught a glimpse of what I’ve been trying to hide from myself….and that was enough for me to turn away, put the groceries away, and wish Phillip a good night as he head to work, as I went back to my embroidery.

For hours, be it just a petal or only a bloom, I’ll spend my focus on feeling better. Each flower releasing me of any hurt, any pain, any discomfort, any….nastiness that might be harming me. I spend my time forgetting. The needle moves with a hush through the warm fabric and I get to be alone with my God….

And the more I do that, the more wonderful things begin to happen. So many feelings of ecstasy and pleasure and warmth and bliss and blessings. I feel alive and healthy and calm and real….Little French knots help me pray, looping stitches into daisies helps me meditate, satin stitches help me lose myself in contemplation. I not only feel better, but I am inclined to think that there is nothing at all wrong with me. So, back to the punch and pull of the thread I’ll go….flowing with this sense of forgetfulness that allows me to see everything clearly.

I’ve been so obsessive about showing you photos of the progress of my embroidery, rather than pictures of my face. For, in a strange way, these embroidery pieces are the mirrored reflections of a man trying to avoid pain by absorbing and creating as many beautiful things as possible for him to look at…so that he doesn’t have to look at himself.

I’ll put more flowers here, more colors over there. I will crowd this little canvas with as much beauty as I can cram in, blending into bouquets the real and the imaginary.

I’ll take down that old curtain and use that for a canvas. I’ll take these old sheets and practice some 18th century techniques for bordering linen. I will dye a canvas with beet juice. Hell, I’ll use the backside of a canvas! I’ll sift through the change drawer for .55 cents just for that one color of DMC thread to make a flower pop. I’ll do whatever is needed to keep me from feeling bad….And I’ll begin to feel better. And I’ll realize I haven’t eaten in a while and grab something.

I’m realizing that my relationship with food is a strange one that mimics my world. I have caught myself deciding not to eat….and I know exactly what stress it is that has me avoiding sustenance.

Yes. There is a lot to talk about. Prayers would help, they always do. I’ll tell you more when I can.

In the meantime, I have a desperate need to punch things….Thank God it’s only with a needle and thread.

If you appreciate my blog 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!