Phillip’s Advent Adventure

We’re scaling down Christmas this year. Instead of a big, fat, full of gifts day, we’ve been playing with little gifts throughout the season. I grew up in Europe. Christmas is nothing but a blessing of advent calendars, three or four of them if you can, ready to be opened and loved every single morning. 

Phillip has never experienced that. To him, Christmas is one day, one day only….and after lunch, Christmas is over.

So I was adamant that he know that particular sort of joy I had growing up as a kid in Europe, tugging at all of those beautiful traditions. (I remember putting my shoes outside our apartment when I was in third grade, waiting for St. Nicholas to leave me either candy or coal). You don’t have to wait until Christmas Day, you can give and gift (and happily receive!) and celebrate today.

So we were blessed with two advent calendars. One with chocolates, one with Funko Pops from the Marvel Universe. 

Phillip asks, “So, how does this work again?”

“Well, you start with day one of advent. You open that window and enjoy your gift!”

He pops open the chocolate calendar first, unwraps a little foiled Santa and greedily mows down. “MMM! GOOD!”

Then, with suspicion, he reaches for the Funko. He cracks open window number one and pulls out a red wrapped little treasure. Ha! He’s so anxious he opens it with his teeth! 

Plop onto the floor drops the most adorably detailed Groot you’ve ever seen. The both of us sat back with true admiration. 

Phillip asks with beautiful wide, fantastic eyes, “And this is just day ONE???” 

I smile and giggle and affirm.

He didn’t make it the 24 days. I couldn’t stop him, didn’t want to. He’d come home from work, soiled, tired. He’d shower, he’d eat, he’d rest on the couch and ask, “Do I really have to wait every day? I’d love to open another one….”

I’d cave. I’d done the same as a kid. I just didn’t have the patience. And besides, I loved watching his face fill with joy.

So, Phillip and I have ripped through our advent calendars.

We just couldn’t wait to celebrate. 🙂

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I Won’t Be Walking By Anymore

For some reason we have a parade of homeless men that walk up and down Washington Street. On the west end is Lake Eola. I get it. That’s where they all spend the day. Here on the east end? I can’t figure out why they daily come walking by. (Angelic reminders?)

Anyway, I sit here writing and knitting, precariously staring out this giant picture window, watching the world. So, I see them. I notice them. There was one man in particular I often saw walking by.

I had a stack of books I had read and had been done with and offered them up in the front yard with a sign. “Free to good home!”

This one homeless man I saw walk by (shopping cart and all) stopped, perused my books and picked up one about the Reformation. I sat here laughing. “Wait! You don’t want The Confessions of a Shopaholic???” No. He picked up the book about the Reformation. So, I took notice of him whenever he walked by.

Then I noticed today that he had NOT walked by in a while. And upon that recognition, it felt there was a scent that passed through the air. I asked, “Brother, who are you?” And the aroma replied, “Just someone passing by a friendly guidepost on my way to the light…”

His spirit graciously said that he wouldn’t be walking by anymore….

Bless you, brother.

Let the Universe Surprise You!

We have to start with the sad part before we get to the good part, so hang with 🙂

Kara and I have been friends for nearly 25 years now. She just lives down the street. We had a falling out a while back, maybe about a year ago. I don’t blame her (and I certainly hope she doesn’t blame me), but outside forces seemed to have split us up. For two decades we never had a problem, loved each other dearly, tended to each other’s needs, and helped each other any way we could….Then politics got involved. The daily message of hate from our media sources got the best of us, broke our friendship (but, hopefully mendable), and we no longer spoke. I went from sharing my happiest days with her to wanting to avoid her. And as with all good friendships, it seemed she had done the same. She quit calling….as did I.

And as with many spats, conversations kept tripping me up. I was having dialogue with her in my head long after she was gone, arguing with her about things we had already argued about….In other words, she stayed in my head long after she had gone, but instead of her being there in a beautiful place, I kept picking fights with her.

Then I heard the little voice. “You’re spending FAR too much time arguing with her. Wish her well. After all, she IS your friend.”

So, I sent her an email, a friendly hello. “Just checking in on you. Hope you are well.”

Now, let’s get to the good part 🙂 (I’m giggling, because I know what happens next!)

I went shopping. I hit Hobby Lobby for some ribbon, saw some sock yarn, let it go. I’ve got plenty, but….truly wanted to snatch up a few colors. Didn’t feel it was in my budget. Hit Total Wine next. Phillip and I enjoy sipping Southern Comfort at the end of the day, sometimes mixed in with a cup of Constant Comment tea. I saw a bottle of gluhwein. (Yes, I know I’m using tons of words none of you have heard of before….)

Gluhwein has always been one of my best memories of living in Germany. Ski slopes, snow, chilly air. With a sunburned face I’d sip on that warm, beautiful wine all day. Gluhwein reminds me of winter. (Excuse me.) It reminds of me of GOOD winters.

Saw a bottle of it as I was waiting in line at Total Wine to buy our SoCo. And again, my head went to….”umm, maybe next time.”

I came home, checked my emails and I’ll be damned. Kara replied. “Yes, I’m doing just fine. Hope you are, too. I’m heading by your house soon. May I drop something off?”

Well yes! I want to see you! I want you in my life again you silly woman!

Not having known ANYTHING (at all!) about my day, she brought me a bottle of gluhwein and two skeins of sock yarn….And I can’t help but giggle!

Let the Universe surprise you! 🙂

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Happy Thankschili!

So, I decided to shop for our Thanksgiving dinner this morning. Man was a I surprised. (Actually, I kinda wasn’t).

I do all the shopping around here, so I’ve seen the prices of things sky rocket. Like eggs, for instance. I buy a LOT of eggs. Its a quick easy protein and you all know that my 110 pound body needs all the protein it can get. (I love making shakshuka, or eggs poached in marina. TRY IT!) But, eggs alone have gone from $1.50 a dozen to nearly $5. We’re thinking of getting some chickens. We have plenty of room in the backyard for a coup.

We usually have meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas for Thanksgiving, but not this year. Just the price of ground beef set us both into a tail spin. And so we refused the notion that this is what we are supposed to do, rather than just be grateful for what we have or for just the day together.

So, we slimmed down our grocery list and decided to make chili with sausage (only $3!), and the cans of rotel, the beans, and spices were all “buy one, get one free.” (I love me some BOGOS!) So, we have plenty to toss in the crockpot for Thanksgiving dinner, the left overs will last us a few days, then we have a back up supply to make another batch some other day.

We’re actually looking forward to it, for another of our traditions is watching disaster films on Thanksgiving. We love good CGI films and there is nothing better than watching a movie about a giant earthquake, where thousands of people are plunged into a crevice, structures collapse, and heroes die….only so you can sit back and go, “Whew! Thankful that ain’t me! Pass me some more chili. OH! And pause the movie, I have to pee.”

Adaptation. Shifting things up. Just exactly who said we have to have Turkey and trimmings for Thanksgiving? I don’t recall any Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother’s where a turkey was present. She would do all sorts of fun and interesting, or beloved dishes, that they never had very often. Steamed oysters from a pit out back, or a pig picking, or kampong chicken. I don’t ever remember having turkey, so maybe it’s justifiable that I never think of Thanksgiving as “turkey day.”

Besides, the one thing we haven’t had in a while is a home cooked meal. The aroma of a long day, simmering stew has been absent around here. I think it is probably the one thing that keeps a house from becoming a home….that smell upon entering of something delicious welcoming you. If a house doesn’t have that, it never really becomes a home.

Phillip brings food home from the restaurant, so we basically eat take out every night. And you can only take so many burgers and chicken fingers before you feel redundant.

So, we’re both looking forward to Thanksgiving, cuddled up with some chili in our pajamas, sipping a little Southern Comfort….and watching civilization being destroyed by aliens!

Please be safe if you are travelling, love the ones you spend the day with, and for Pete’s sake, talk to each other about things that make you both laugh and feel joyful. After all, the whole point of the day is to say, “I am so grateful, thankful, you are in my life and that we are sharing this great meal and wonderful day together.” 🙂

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Scribbling Thoughts

These long digits of mine have a tendency to pound at this keyboard, slamming down words like a pianist smashing the ivories….Dramatic! Long and loud! An opus every time!

I had forgotten what it was like to hold a pen in my hand, to scribble things down on paper, even if it be nothing more than a random thought. I was at Hobby Lobby and found a pack of 100 cards for $1. So I picked them up, took them home, let them sit for a good long while….and almost by instinct I started writing things down.

What a delight. What a great time of reflection and honesty.

What I find beautiful in these penned cards is that these words are first intended for me. You get to read them, but they are distinctly messages for me to write, then read….then hopefully understand.

Scripting by hand has been one of those beautiful moments where I see a blank piece of paper, then hear that little voice in my head whisper at inspiration, asking that I just listen for a minute…then allow whatever happens to happen.

Love yourself more. Be kinder with your thoughts. Let your heart be free of anger or jealous comparison.

Be wise by allowing yourself to be loved by others, but firmly and foremost, loved by the Lord, God. Then be absolutely sure you save some of that love for yourself. Please.

A little smile just slipped across my face. I’m listening 🙂

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Socks and Friends

As I mentioned in my last post, things have been a little trying around here, but we’re doing our best to get our bearings. Although I’m agoraphobic, I do get lonely sometimes. I am not accustomed to Phillip being gone ten hours a day. You’d think that I would find that BRILLIANT! So much time to get things done in a quiet and solitary way….

I guess not. I could have written (I did, you just never saw it). I could have been knitting teddy bears (after all, Christmas is coming). I could have, might have, but didn’t feel like doing that. My heart wanted nothing more than to spend the time with socks and friends that I never get to see, or have never even met in person. But, this way I could spend time with them as the yarn swirled through my fingers like wool eddies, little glimpses of a friend’s spirit just over my shoulder. I spent time with each of these people individually, never having two socks the same (for none of us are), and switching up colors from patterns that had become too routine, and had no more excitement….I know how this sock is going to end. But, not these socks! No! Just past finishing the cuff I’d scrummage through my stash and look for a different sock pattern, blended them and let them take their own unique designs.

It was the best thing I could have done throughout this time. Some of those socks were made in silence, hours and hours of silence…just so that I might hear the whisper of one of my friends.

As much as I need the money, I can’t bring myself to sell them. I just can’t. Their support over the years has been the best experience in this journey. Not everything is for sell, especially close friendships. God will take care of me…He has never disappointed.

The bears ARE in the shop. You won’t be able to buy them, but they will say “Coming Soon.” So, pop on over and take a look, one  of the socks may be named after you! This way you’ll know they’re on the way. 🙂

And who knows? Maybe my next pair of socks will be named after YOU!

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!

Back Up. Claws Out.

I am so sorry for my absence. I am so sorry I haven’t been able to speak, let alone write.

Something is shifting. A lot of what is happening is good, but some of it has been bad. Phillip calls this period at work “the transition period,” where he has been gone for a while for his schooling, but has come back to his home store, returning as the boss, not a fellow employee.

The transition has not been easy. He lost a good friend, an employee, and he nearly lost me again. I haven’t wanted to do anything other than contemplate, pray, and disappear into a framed silence. I’ve been constantly knitting socks for friends. Gifts. I need to gift.

I find it funny that this is the most that I have written in such a long while. It’s been hard lately to share. It’s been easier to bliss away into NOT sharing….I guess if only to process how I feel…and that not everything in life should be shared, especially things of such a gravity. Lightheartedness and frivolity I think are often grand for social media….but, heart breaking moments (that will heal!) sometimes need to be left alone. They need to be felt by the soul alone, and not by society at large. The details are not necessary. They don’t need to know by everyone.

I will not lie. Phillip and I were at each other’s throats. Like two cats we bit each other, scratched each other, wrestled each other with claws outstretched. We stood our grounds, protected our territories, and realized that BOTH of us had overstepped limits. We are better now, for the simple sake of being able to say, “I love you to death, but I just don’t like you right now….” That somehow protects the love of two people. the freedom to say “this day doesn’t change anything in the long run….but I just don’t like you right now and I want to be freed of you, left alone by you, happily angry with you.”

Then half an hour later I’ll be asking, “Do you need work clothes for the morning? By the way I was thinking of grabbing some sandwiches for dinner, is that ok? Oh! And I’ll be outside for a little while with my knitting, feel free to go play your game to your heart’s content. There’s carrots and ranch dressing if you need a snack.” Because you realize you don’t want to live your days HATING someone you love…even if they do piss you off more often than not. Give yourself a chance to be angry…..Give yourself a chance to get mad. Shout and yell, scream to holy hell. But, then be quiet, listen to nothing….

…you’ll hear a little voice ask, “If you could erase any of the bad days, would he still be the one you want to be with?”

To an outsider it may seem like we can be absolutely vicious with each other. That isn’t quite accurate. Because the moment we get nasty with each other is precisely the moment we are freed of resentment, and will realize in two more minutes how this isn’t what we want. What we’d rather do is what we normally do: laugh, cut up, share, comfort each other, take care of each other…hold each other.

In a very healthy way we can look at each other and say, “Man, I’m about to be claws out….” and the other will back down now and understand that we don’t have to go to that far. Not if we love each other.

But hey, what else can you expect from two men going through the seven year itch while both turning 50? One got a promotion, the other went into silent monk mode. We are a house flooded with egos and hormones.
This is our “transition” period.
Much love,
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!

A Bear for Cab Fare

Well, we seem to have hit a little snag in Phillip’s management training.

George’s poor little truck broke down a week ago. So, Phillip and I have navigated bus routes to get him to work on the opposite end of town. It takes about an hour and a half from the time he leaves the front door, which I remind him is how long most people commute in the city. (He’s accustomed to walking the two blocks to work at his home store). With one more week to go in his training, he’ll be headed back to this store two blocks away to begin his new job effective October 17th.

However, there are times he has to be at training (or leave training) at the far away store when the buses aren’t running. Him getting to work at 5pm is not a problem. Him coming home at 3am when his shift is over has been. So, we’ve been hiring cabs only for the times Phillip just can’t get home. Even in that sense of emergency, we have burned through practically all of our money. The cab is about $40 a trip. So, I figured I’d whip up a bear real quick to get some cab fare for at least tomorrow and the day after.

I just finished making two of these in white (with pink sweaters and white flowers) for a client and I had enough of the white left over to make a sweater for this bear. I love the little embroidered touch. He’s in the shop if you’d like to have him. Only one for now, I’ll have to whip up another in a different color in a few days for more cab fare.

Phillip gets a little down with issues like this. He has to pay to get there, has to soon buy whole new clothes for when he’s in the front of the house of the restaurant managing. He keeps muffling, “most expensive promotion EVER….”

To which I can only respond how worth it is, though. In thought, what we’re spending now will only be a fraction of what his first check will be come the first of November. All will be well if we worry less about the problems of now and focus more on the blessings headed our way.

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!

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.