The Silencing of a Teddy Bear

I knew the day would come. Considering our current climate of cancelling contradictory opinions and perceptions, I was sure the day would come when this little voice of mine would be silenced by the powers that be.

You know, in some respects, many would consider the idea of being silenced by the giants in the media conspiratorial. But, just when I start taking off, just when people start coming to my blog to read my own unique take on issues of angst and intolerance in the knitting community (and it’s macro cosmic effect on the greater society), I get squashed like a bug, silenced. But, it is all so very true.

A few years ago the feminist had a problem with my blog posts and had my twitter account shut down for good. They had me banned from facebook for a few days, they had people flock to my amazon page to leave hideous reviews to downgrade my 4 star review to a one star….and they did that successfully until I had to go through each of those hundreds of reviews and convince amazon that none of them were verified purchases and should be removed, getting my star rating back up to 4. So, I’m not surprised when the malicious mob of man haters rears its head to scream, “HE IS INTOLERANT! DESTROY HIM!”

But, this is the first time I’m actually seeing an active flip of the switch from the actual social media platforms themselves. In the last few months, my blog posts have been on fire. I really have been proud of the writing I’ve been doing lately, and felt it was precisely the “voice” my pen was finally speaking with. My numbers were growing, my audience was growing. Then all of a sudden. It was over.

This graph is from the dashboard of my blog. I can see the numbers rise, then gradually fall as they would organically. And then right when I was starting to skyrocket, they suddenly dip to nearly zero from 7:59 to 8pm. In one second, my blog posts were shut down, I was “muted” from social media. From that moment forward I went from about 2,000 engagements on my facebook page per blog post to only about 300.

Now, I love to write, I truly LOVE what I do. But, I don’t make any money off my blog, but I am able to get really good readers to come to my site, read what I have to say and hopefully have them buy a book, or especially buy a teddy bear. But, if my posts are being muted the moment they are shared on facebook, then I get almost no views, and obviously, teddy bears don’t get sold and I make absolutely nothing.

And it frightens you when you begin to think that the only thing I have promoted with my writing is individualism, sensibility, and understanding through the lens of a man who loves his craft, his country, and his Christ.

So, I sit here today wondering if there really is any future for my work. If they wanted to silence me, they’ve done an exceptionally good job. I have a new book coming out soon and it causes a little dread when you wonder how they’ll probably take to Amazon to have it banned, just as they’ve done with other books the mainstream disagreed with. I’m still knitting my teddy bears because that is the bulk of my income. But, what would be the point of knitting them if every where I turn, my work is being hidden so that it can’t be promoted.

And trust me, there are days I fear that every last blog post I’ve written here for the last 10 years will suddenly be wiped away because enough of the angry militia that doesn’t want a contrary view convinces wordpress to shut me down. They may have already tried. I just don’t know about it. But, that terrifies me. I fear logging on to my blog to find it gone because I violated someone’s “community standards.” (Which basically means, say what you want….as long as we agree with it).

I guess I should start keeping copies of my posts in a word document, or print them out for safe keeping.

My greatest crime is that I promoted peaceful outreach in a divisive world that is in desperate need of dialogue, rather participating in the hateful screaming match, name calling, and bullying that is now being praised by those who hypocritically say they are tolerant. And yes, by virtue, my greatest crime is calling out that hypocrisy.

You claim to promote “tolerance,” when all that really means is “submission.” Peace is a nuisance, a distraction from the war you rely on. Yes, you rely on people destroying each other to keep message of “equality” alive. And I refuse to participate in that.

Big tech and social justice keyboard warriors can do everything they want to silence my writing, but they will never be able to force me to pray at the altar of godless group think.

However, I will continue to promote the rational and simple truths that can only be found in peace….

…and will continue to refuse to give you the hatred you so desperately want of me.

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.

 

 

 

Veteran Moms

Look at that. That is my mother in 1974, a year after I was born, having joined the army to do everything she could to protect and defend her child….even joining the army.

(She is probably reading that right now and laughing with, “We needed the money!”)

Now, let me give you a little back story. Throughout my entire life my father has always been the idea of a veteran. He was career military, an officer, having spent just a touch more than 20 years defending this country. He was 82nd, 5/502nd, red beret. And my mother had her career as a civil servant. She wore delightful dresses to work, came home, made dinner, made sure we did our homework, then tucked us into bed.

Typical mom, right?

My life growing up in a military family had my father as the ultimate soldier, and my mother as career woman who still took care of dinner and the domestic needs of the house….always in these really pretty, simple dresses while my father was busy tending to his ambition. (To be fair to him, his only real ambition was to incredibly well so that he could his family anything they wanted). So, even though both my parents were in the service, it was my father who got the majority of the credit when it came to be a soldier.

My life growing up in the military was always full of boys and men. Since my father was an officer, sometimes we would have Thanksgiving dinner in the mess hall with those young kids so far away from home, scared to death, lonely, but hopeful at the same time. Sometimes my father would invite them out to our home in the country, to get them out of the barracks so they could just sit back on a couch, swim in the pool, use the phone to talk as long as they wanted with their families long distance, and have a home cooked meal.

My life in the military wasn’t filled with women….

Until one day we were at a Veteran’s Day service in a little country church in North Carolina. The preacher gave this amazing sermon about our soldiers, our veterans, their sacrifices, their fears, their love for this country, their bravery….and how vital it was to recognize them, to acknowledge them and say “Thank you for putting your life in harm’s way to defend our freedoms.”

Then he asked all the veterans in the congregation to rise so that we could thank them and pray for them.

The important men were the first to rise, proudly with chest forward in their dress greens, the young boys following one second after in their fatigues.

I’m sitting in the pew, staring at my shoes, fascinated with the pennies in my loafers and how shiny I got them. I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t paying attention. I’m 13. I’m in church and it must be an important church day because dad is in his fancy uniform.

When suddenly my mother stands….

With one precise movement she rises to her feet, lets go of her pocket book, and clasps her hands behind her as though she were at ease. No dress greens, no fatigues. Just a simple blue dress with little peach flowers.

I sat there staring at her in amazement. Honestly, I thought she was being a dutiful wife, standing beside her husband….until I realized that no one else’s wife stood….and that the same posture that my mother now had in her stance was just as perfectly executed in formation with the men and boys. She wasn’t just a veteran….she was a soldier, just like the rest of them. Proud to stand, proud to serve.

She may have been the only woman standing….but, she was being acknowledged as a soldier, as a veteran, just like everyone else. I saw her as my mom, parishioners saw her as a woman, but she saw herself only as a veteran.

All eyes were on my mother. She wasn’t boastful, didn’t accept a different form of praise for being a woman. No, she stood there with the same humility and call to readiness as any other soldier, as any other veteran.

That was the day I realized that heroes are not as obvious as they sometimes appear.

I come from a family that is saturated with veterans. My grandfather, my uncles, my aunt, a few cousin, my own parents. But, it is my mother that I always acknowledge on Veteran’s Day because I cannot imagine the sacrifices that must be made when you’re a soldier and a mom.

It cannot be easy leaving your newborn behind to go to boot camp for weeks. As a veteran mom, you can’t just leave work and go pick up your kid from school because they’re sick. Veteran moms don’t get the ease of planning the bake sale with the PTA at school because they’re on alert and might be deployed at any moment.

But, she did it. And did it effortlessly.

Every Veteran’s Day we give thanks to the men and women of uniform who protect and defend this nation.

But, I take a moment to show respect and gratitude to the one soldier I think sacrificed more for me and my country than any other veteran: my mom.

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.

 

 

 

 

Just in Time for Christmas

When I said I was going to be knitting up a few bears and listing them every couple of hours, I wasn’t kidding. Back in my own old school style, I knit up two teddy bears yesterday, worked up with glee. The first three I knit the other day were sold in almost record time and I am SO grateful for that. I’m hoping that enough people will snag my bears as fast as they’re listed in my shop so that I can have a special Christmas of my own. I have something really wonderful I want to do for my husband this year. So every bear that sells and sells quickly will help get me closer to that goal just in time for Christmas.

And if you’d like, you can always knit your own Christmas Bear by snagging a copy of my pattern. It includes the link to the 35 minute video with instructions and tips on how to stuff, sew and embroider. You can find the pattern in my shop!

So, go take a look in the shop by clicking here!

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.

 

Waking to a Hug

Every year I work up a design for my annual Christmas Bear. Sometimes he’s wearing a little Santa suit, sometimes a red and white hat and scarf. But, this year I’ve decided to go into a completely different direction.

Instead of just doing one design I’m just going to flood the internet with my little teddy bears in all sorts of different colors, so this way there will be just the right Christmas Bear for everyone, perfect size to hide under a tree, or tucked in next to your little one just after they go to bed, waking to find a surprise gift cuddled next to them as they wake Christmas morning.

What an awesome idea. Did you see the light bulb flicker over my head?

I’m not going to do anything made to order, I’m just going to post them as fast as I knit them, probably a few a day. I have this beautiful stash of yarn my friend Poppy sent me, so I’m going to work that gorgeous group of skeins into teddy bears for Christmas.

So, take a peek around the shop, and don’t take too long. I’m only going to be able to do so many before Christmas shipping comes to an end, but I truly love the idea of placing one of these darling teddy bears next to a sleeping tot Christmas Eve, and instead of them bouncing out of bed and dashing to the tree, they waking to a hug from a Christmas bear. What a great new Christmas tradition that would be.

Click here for the shop!

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.

 

 

 

Don’t You Know Who I Am???

I admit that my “look” can be a problem for people. (Listen to me, acting as though I looked like the Elephant Man or something).

I readily acknowledge that even though I haven’t been homeless for some years now, there is still a part of me that hasn’t quite shook it off. Most noticeably, my look. I still look homeless, as my husband says.

And with my being on foot wherever I go with rucksack on my back, I definitely blend in with the guys coming and going out of the homeless hotel, the weekly stay hotel a few blocks from here. I expect that. I’m not foolish, I know I’m not in couture, I am a middle aged, rough skinned, scruffy faced man in a faded ballcap, thread worn jeans and a t-shirt. I know the impression I leave behind.

It never really seems to bother me when I’m standing next to someone somewhere and they give me the side eye. That doesn’t bother me because I never feel I have to prove something to someone I’ve never met. I know who I am.

I have my story, many stories, wrapped up in nice, tightly bound paperback books. They don’t know that. They don’t know I knit for a living, they don’t know I went to high school in Europe, that I was living in Berlin when the Wall came down (30 years ago this Saturday!), they don’t know I’m married to a handsome man who would take a sword to himself before allowing any harm to fall upon me.

They don’t know anything about me, so I can’t find fault with them. They’re just judging a book my its cover.

However, I’m not always that understanding and forgiving. Like the time Phillip and I were crossing the street when a woman screamed, “Goddamn homeless are everywhere!” To which I yelled back, “I’m a world famous knitter, bitch!” Sometimes I find it necessary to tell the uninformed just exactly who I am….

None of my achievements and experiences are found in the way I dress. No, the only experience that still resonates close to me, the only experience that still haunts me, the only experience that still burns in me that you can actually see on my skin and in my dress is that time being homeless.

Because that is the one experience in my life that I have never been able to shake. In many ways, I fear being homeless every day, I fear that somehow someone could take all of this away. I don’t like that feeling, I despise that dreary fear that will not let go of me.

So, I push. I blog, I write books, I knit my teddy bears, I spend every waking minute letting those things tell my story….And yes, maybe I do let my clothes tell my story sometimes.

I am so looking forward to the day that it becomes something of an acknowledgement to my story that people will see a middle aged, rough skinned, scruffy faced man in a faded ballcap, thread worn jeans, t-shirt and rucksack on his back walking the side of the road and ask, “Is that him? Is that Mad Man Knitting?”

I want you to rethink your perception of those guys that walk along the highway with everything they own on their backs, a cat by their side, the sun baking their skin, their tired feet swollen and wet with trench foot, his belly grumbling because it has been neglected, his presence ignored or diminished by society….

Because any one of those guys could be me. Not in hindsight. But, right now. Every last one of them is subject to the same love and blessings you have given me.

I may not be one of them anymore, but I still walk those roads to do my errands right beside them. Everyday.

Hopefully my writing, my knit bears, this ambitious man that I am, will all lead to me being a millionaire one day. That would be amazing….

But, I would still be down there every day; a middle aged, rough skinned, scruffy faced man in a faded ballcap, wearing thread worn jeans and a t-shirt, with rucksack on my back….

Sorry, I guess that’s just who I am.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Preaching the Peace of Knitting

A few days ago I received an email from someone who purchased my book of knit animal patterns. She said, “I’ve appreciated all of your posts on our new knitting world, though I’m not in a position to say that online for fear of losing my livelihood. It’s so weird to be in such a position in a free country.”

Amen, sister.

I get a lot of these emails. I really do. I have read emails from people all over the country that have a drastic fear of reprisal should they say the wrong thing in public….so, for good reason, they say nothing. And you simply cannot ask hard working people who just want to make a living to speak out and say something, because it really isn’t that easy anymore. They could lose everything they’ve worked for all their lives in the moment of one afternoon. And for what? For simply having a different point of view.

I however, have never been very good at staying in lock step. Which is why the criticisms about me have never really phased me. And I’ve always had a habit of revving things up even further when someone tells me, “There is no place in this world for people like you filled with hate speech!!!” (Said because I didn’t agree with the mainstream on pretty much everything that is told to me).

So, right now may not be the right time for many people to speak out, but it may be the perfect time for me to actually use these talents of mine to inspire knitters, crocheters, crafters, (people!), to remember the reasons why we make things with our imaginations, talents, and hands. There is a compassionate resonance that exists in knitting that we should always be trying to implement in our own lives.

However…..

The political poisoning of knitting has restructured the craft from comforting strangers and helping those in need, to doxing people into silence and bullying people into ruin.

So, yes, I will keep writing about this whole situation in the knitting community (wait until you read, “Confessions of a Mad Man Knitting!”) because it amplifies for me what is happening in our country right now, and more importantly, what is happening in our souls.

There is something terribly tragic and evil when a knitter no longer works from a pure source of inspiration….but, from anger and resentment instead.

Nothing good will come of a prayer shawl knit with maliciousness and protest, as nothing good will come from a knitter who is no longer looking for peace in this craft, but who is looking for ways to promote conflict instead.

But, that’s just me….preaching the peace of knitting to people who want to call what I write, “hate speech.”

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.

 

Back in Time for Halloween

When I was a young man in my 20’s I had the most amazing life. I truly did.

I had just come to Orlando from Berlin and hadn’t yet found my way. But, I loved writing and wanted to find readers. So, I would schlep my stories to every open mic I could find so that I could build an audience. But, reading isn’t enough. I needed attention, I needed to stand out. I needed to perform my words, not simply read them.

(I was writing a LOT of Gothic fiction at the time).

I asked friends to perform some of the characters, found bands to give me some samples I could play in the background on tape, asked a few coffee houses if I could just do a reading of my stuff and the next thing you know, I’m reading my stories live with full production and selling my Kinko’s copied manuscripts at the front door.

I did these shows frequently. Loved the experience! I truly loved exploring the presentation of words, and how you could make written word come to life.

So, right before Halloween I did this “performance” of a story about a man who writes a letter to his daughter just moments before his murder…and to why she is likely to be next.

I did the piece solo, using samples from Cold Meat Industries, using a guitar pedal attached to the mic so I could amplify and distort my voice and I went at it. Man, it was a good piece, a great story, eerily told, perfect for Halloween.

The evening was so good that I asked a producer if he would help me record the event in a studio. Same tapes, same guitar pedal attached to a mic, the same desire to not just read these words, but perform them with voice.  And it came out wonderfully.

This is that recording. I had soooo much fun with this. I hope you enjoy.

So, turn down the lights, grab a glass of wine, kick back with some knitting and have a good creepy listen. Happy Halloween! (Click here to listen!)

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.