Saturday, November 22, 2014



Well, I'm sad to say that Jane's Yarn Shoppe, at 12th & Morris Sts is no longer open. Due to financial reasons, she could no longer keep it going.

  Small local yarn shops have been trying to compete with the large craft stores (we have A C Moore and Michaels), and Jane's was the only 'crochet friendly' LYS in the city. And when the craft stores came to town, that drove a lot of business from her shop..

  She had been a staple in the South Philly area, along East Passyunk Ave. for several decades.

  I met her in the late 90's, and found a refuge to share my thoughts, ideas, and my crochet work with. I sometimes found myself staying the shop for hours at a time, just hanging out.

  At first, I felt a little strange going there, being the only guy I knew who crocheted (before then, I would just crochet by myself, and never had anyone to talk to about it, without getting those strange looks and attitudes. But she never made me feel that way, she's very down to earth, and welcoming. She helped me come out the crochet 'closet'.

  When I started teaching at several senior centers, I would copy some of my students patterns to share with her. Before long, she had hundreds of patterns. I used to make items and she would showcase them in the store and the store window. I would sometimes call her up for her advice, we would help each other with any crochet problems. I honored her professional opinions and ideas.

  She specialized in making baby clothes, with that 'thin' yarn (UGH....I cringe just thinking about it!!), and could whip up a baby sweater in no time. She's made so many baby items, she doesn't need a pattern! She could make just about anything, but baby clothes were her favorite.

  And she was the best place to get Red Heart's 'Luster Sheen' yarn

  Due to illness, I hadn't been able to go there in several years, but I would always recommend everybody to go to her shop. Just remember to bring something to eat & drink, because you'll be there for awhile

  I hate to see her go.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ever heard that expression: 'Getting all dressed up, and have nowhere to go?"

  I feel like that with crocheting lately. I like to make so many different things, but what do I do with them? In the past, I made so many things that they were piling up in my apartment. I would either find a pattern I wanted to try, or, create something new, make it, take a photo of it, then, fold it up, put it in a zippered bag, and put it in the closet.

  Here's the thing...I like to crochet for just the joy of crocheting. I don't have any one person in mind, when I'm making something, I just enjoy challenging my skills and ideas.

  I started writing patterns about 9 yrs. ago, only because people who were online started to ask for a pattern for the things I created myself. I never thought of myself as a 'designer', I'm  just sitting here alone, putting my ideas into some form. I just like crocheting, but I don't like to do the same thing over, and over again.

  I bought so much yarn, had so many books and magazines, as well as hundreds of copied paper patterns, I felt like I had my own personal yarn shop! There were days when I didn't feel like going out to get yarn, or even seeing anyone, so I'd be hold up in my apartment for days just crocheting, while listening to music (stocked up on frozen dinners so I'd didn't have to cook....bad idea!)

  Well, since I moved to a smaller apartment, and my family threw out most of my patterns out of my old apartment (I had stuff that went back to the 60's...but they thought it was just junk). And, after taking what they wanted, (including some a lot of my own property!!), they sold off all my crochet work, including the yarn at a flea market!!

 Now I just don't have the drive like I used to. I will pick up something now and then, but just for a hour or so.

The one good thing is that I still go to a crochet class at a senior center that's near me. I used to teach there. I had 3 other centers that I taught at, but this one was my favorite.... most of the students were actually 'learning', trying new things, and actually 'finishing' their projects!

  So, I'm just content with things now, and decided to not 'get dressed up, because I'm not going anywhere!! :-)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hospitalized Again!!

 Last December, I was hit with a severe case of pneumonia (due to a adenovirus) that cause my weak kidneys to fail, and I had to go on dialysis (permanently) . I knew that I would eventually go on it, but the pneumonia just pushed it forward faster. Some fluid  from the adenovirus had build up in my right knee, and I had to get that removed.

 So, I was in the hospital for about a month (don't remember much about the first 2 weeks, but I hear I was delirious.  All I remember that I was in so much pain, I wanted and pleaded to die...

 Well, I got thru it, but it left me extremely weak, bed ridden, and couldn't walk or go to the bathroom. Couldn't stand the smell and taste of food (lost 30 lbs.!!), and always feeling nauseated, especially in my bowels. (probably due to all the different antibiotics they were giving me!)

 The pneumonia cleared up, and I was sent to a rehabilitation center to have some physical and occupational therapy. I'm also going to a dialysis center, 3 times a week, 4hrs. each time. Oh well it's something I know I have to get used to.

Can't wait until I can get back home.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

  OK, here's the thing.....

  Last Thursday, after being a hour late to my crochet class (where I used to be the formal 'teacher' there), I was on my way back home by bus (which only takes less than 10 minutes if I'm lucky not having to wait too long for it). I get home, and like most Thursdays, I either watch or record my favorite soaps and get on the computer.

  Well that didn't work out as planned.

   So, I'm on the computer for several hours, an, for reasons unknown to me, I have to get a digital cable box to see my over-the-air channels (can't afford cable), which since living here for over a year so far, I was able to view them for free. I thought the wall cable mount was already in the wall, and I just connected it to my TV, and since I never received a bill (even from the former tenant), the apt bldg. has a built-in digital antenna.

  Well, I was wrong!!

  The previous Wednesday, I go to turn on my TV, and there's no channels!! So I re-scan it, and just 2 channels show up, and they're both  Comcast/Xfinity commercial promo ads, saying that they suddenly, (without any notice......well, I guess I wouldn't get one, since I thought I was getting a clearer version of the regular over-the-air channels), decide to 'encrypt' access to the basic channels, so you'll need a 'digital adapter to view them (but you now have to sign up for a 'basic' service plan with them in order to get the digital adapter.

  So, while working on my computer Thursday after crochet class, I decided to call them about getting service and pick up the adapter. Fill out the form over the phone, then afterwards, the customer service rep says that I can pick up the adapter today at the nearest Comcast Service Center (luckily, it not that far from where I live), and just bring a photo ID. So I gather myself to get ready to walk out the door, then suddenly I realized that I can't find my wallet (with my photo ID inside!!

 Trying not to panic, I search my whole apartment, went outside, retraced my step from the bus top where I got off, ask one of the apt bldg. maintenance guys to be on the lookout for it. OK, I had about $65 in it,(knew that would be the first thing gone,),  and I could live with that, I was more concerned about my ID, and other cards that had my personal info in it. Not to mention not being sable to get that adapter before the weekend if the Center might be closed.

  So I gather the necessary papers and money to go in town to get a new photo ID ( I don't drive, so that's all I need there), plan to get other replacement cards (medical, Social Security, etc..) the next day.

  So, after getting (and paying for) my new ID card quickly, I then go to the Service Center to get the adapter, and they tell me that I have now go across town at another place to get it. I was so tired and pissed, I just cancelled my order.

  Here it is Sunday afternoon, and I'm on the computer, and decide to make myself a cup a tea (got a little thirsty for it after watching a British TV drama on Youtube (A Touch of Frost!).

  So I'm walking back to the computer, and in the corner of my eye, near one of my French doors by the back of my computer, I can't believe my's my wallet!!!

  Somebody must be looking out for me, huh?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Meeting Up With a Good Crochet Friend!!

  For the most part, I don't see a lot of people, I only go out to the supermarket, a doctor's appointment, and to a Thursday morning crochet class for seniors where I used to teach (if you could call it that).

  So it was nice to be strong enough (after having coronary bypass surgery 2 months ago) to be able to go meet and walk around the train station with a good crochet friend  I met online. I don't get to see her in person that much, but we keep in touch online (she hasn't figured out to connect with Skype yet, but she will).

   Funny thing happened while we sat down for lunch (we split a long wasn't with our famous 'Amoroso's 'bread, but it wasn't that bad), I was admiring her brass bracelet (especially the unisex design), so she took it off and ask me to try it on, then said to 'keep' it.

  This is the second best gift I've gotten this year (the first was when my oldest niece took me to Olive Garden for my 60th birthday!!). My crochet friend also offered the matching necklace, but I declined (I'm not a 'necklace' kind of guy) ;-)

Monday, August 05, 2013

It's Been Almost A Year...

  Well, it's been almost a year since I've moved here at my new apartment.

  So far, so good.  I kinda like it here in this area of Philly, a small pocket of quiet, where the chaos is not too far behind.

  I live across from a commuter train station, so it's a blessing and a curse. If I want to go to the heart of the city, or, connect to Amtrak, or the Airport Line, it's great. But hearing the trains going by at night (especially in the Summer, with the windows open), can be distracting. But it's something you get used to.

  One problem I used to have was that, other than the commuter train, was that there's only only bus line, whose nearest bus stop was ACROSS the overhead bridge of the train station. So, I had to walk a block downhill to the train station, climb a long flight of stars (which puts a lot strain on my legs), cross the bridge, climb up a smaller flight of stairs, then walk a half a block to the bus stop. Coming home, I had to do the reverse, WHEW!!! There were a lot of times I just didn't have the energy to go out, unless I either had a doctor's appointment, or, going to the grocery store Carrying several bags was very difficult, as well as, unknowingly, putting undo extra stress on my heart (which I found out later, having to have coronary bypass surgery). I mean, I was already not in great health, having stage 4 diabetes (stage 5 is needing a kidney transplant), as well as having high blood pressure and being HIV-positive for over 20 years (yeah, I'm still here!!) ;-)

  But, as luck would have it, just recently, I found out that the city needed to repair a nearby street bridge that my bus line has to cross, so my bus line is diverted to MY side of the train station.YEAH!

  So now, I only have to walk a half a block STRAIGHT across from my apartment to catch the bus, and the bus now runs on my block, if I'm lucky, I can get some bus drivers to let me off close to my apartment entrance, where I can walk DOWNHILL, instead of UPHILL, a half a block. That helps a lot whenever I'm carrying anything heavy, which I try not to do as much. I still don't go out that much, but at least I feel better whenever I do.

  I finally getting some of the things I wanted for my apartment, like a kitchen table and decent chairs. OK, it's just a card table set, but hey!, I live in a small studio apartment, and the only visitors I've had are my physical therapist and nurse the hospital sends me after my surgery.

  You see, the only 2 friends I know live in Baltimore (ex-boyfriend) and Des Moines (from college), who I'm truly thankful for. Most others have either died from AIDS, or, they weren't that much of a friend as I thought they were. I'm friendly with some of my crochet students from the nearby senior center I go to (really nice ladies), but that's about it.  And, one, that I don't drive (never have), and two, that I just can't get around as well as I used to. Oh, and I can't forget my online friends, who've been a lifeline for me.

  Anyway, I feel much better, health wise, and, feeling much better about choosing and living in my new apartment.


Monday, April 29, 2013

NBA Player Jason Collins Reveals He Is Gay!! (YEAH, BABY!!)


  I know, right now, this is one of the big topics that people are talking about right now, but, I just want you to sit down, take a few extra minutes,(really, it's not going to kill you, right?) and thoroughly read his statement with Sports Illustrated.:

NBA Player Jason Collins Reveals He Is Gay

I've played for six pro teams and have appeared in two NBA Finals. Ever heard of a parlor game called Three Degrees of Jason Collins? If you're in the league, and I haven't been your teammate, I surely have been one of your teammates' teammates. Or one of your teammates' teammates' teammates.

Now I'm a free agent, literally and figuratively. I've reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.

Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I'm a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.

The first relative I came out to was my aunt Teri, a superior court judge in San Francisco. Her reaction surprised me. "I've known you were gay for years," she said. From that moment on I was comfortable in my own skin. In her presence I ignored my censor button for the first time. She gave me support. The relief I felt was a sweet release. Imagine you're in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know -- I baked for 33 years.

When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, "Me, too."

The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn't wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully? When I told Joe a few weeks ago that I was gay, he was grateful that I trusted him. He asked me to join him in 2013. We'll be marching on June 8.

No one wants to live in fear. I've always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don't sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back

Believe it or not, my family has had bigger shocks. Strange as it seems today, my parents expected only one child in 1978. Me. When I came out (for the first time) the doctors congratulated my mother on her healthy, seven-pound, one-ounce baby boy. "Wait!" said a nurse. "Here comes another one!" The other one, who arrived eight minutes later and three ounces heavier, was Jarron. He's followed me ever since, to Stanford and to the NBA, and as the ever-so-slightly older brother I've looked out for him.

I had a happy childhood in the suburbs of L.A. My parents instilled in us an appreciation of history, art and, most important, Motown. Jarron and I weren't allowed to listen to rap until we were 12. After our birthday I dashed to Target and bought DJ Quik's album Quik Is the Name. I memorized every line. It was around this time that I began noticing subtle differences between Jarron and me. Our twinness was no longer synchronized. I couldn't identify with his attraction to girls.

I feel blessed that I recognized my own attractions. Though I resisted my impulses through high school, I knew that when I was ready I had someone to turn to: my uncle Mark in New York. I knew we could talk without judgment, and we did last summer. Uncle Mark is gay. He and his partner have been in a stable relationship forever. For a confused young boy, I can think of no better role model of love and compassion.

I didn't come out to my brother until last summer. His reaction to my breakfast revelation was radically different from Aunt Teri's. He was downright astounded. He never suspected. So much for twin telepathy. But by dinner that night, he was full of brotherly love. For the first time in our lives, he wanted to step in and protect me.

My maternal grandmother was apprehensive about my plans to come out. She grew up in rural Louisiana and witnessed the horrors of segregation. During the civil rights movement she saw great bravery play out amid the ugliest aspects of humanity. She worries that I am opening myself up to prejudice and hatred. I explained to her that in a way, my coming out is preemptive. I shouldn't have to live under the threat of being outed. The announcement should be mine to make, not TMZ's.

The hardest part of this is the realization that my entire family will be affected. But my relatives have told me repeatedly that as long as I'm happy, they're there for me. I watch as my brother and friends from college start their own families. Changing diapers is a lot of work, but children bring so much joy. I'm crazy about my nieces and nephew, and I can't wait to start a family of my own.

I'm from a close-knit family. My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding. On family trips, my parents made a point to expose us to new things, religious and cultural. In Utah, we visited the Mormon Salt Lake Temple. In Atlanta, the house of Martin Luther King Jr. That early exposure to otherness made me the guy who accepts everyone unconditionally.

I'm learning to embrace the puzzle that is me. After I was traded by the Celtics to Washington in February, I took a detour to the Dr. King memorial. I was inspired and humbled. I celebrate being an African-American and the hardships of the past that still resonate today. But I don't let my race define me any more than I want my sexual orientation to. I don't want to be labeled, and I can't let someone else's label define me.

On the court I graciously accept one label sometimes bestowed on me: "the pro's pro." I got that handle because of my fearlessness and my commitment to my teammates. I take charges and I foul -- that's been my forte. In fact, during the 2004-05 season my 322 personals led the NBA. I enter the court knowing I have six hard fouls to give. I set picks with my 7-foot, 255-pound body to get guys like Jason Kidd, John Wall and Paul Pierce open. I sacrifice myself for other players. I look out for teammates as I would my kid brother.

I'm not afraid to take on any opponent. I love playing against the best. Though Shaquille O'Neal is a Hall of Famer, I never shirked from the challenge of trying to frustrate the heck out of him. (Note to Shaq: My flopping has nothing to do with being gay.) My mouthpiece is in, and my wrists are taped. Go ahead, take a swing -- I'll get up. I hate to say it, and I'm not proud of it, but I once fouled a player so hard that he had to leave the arena on a stretcher.

I go against the gay stereotype, which is why I think a lot of players will be shocked: That guy is gay? But I've always been an aggressive player, even in high school. Am I so physical to prove that being gay doesn't make you soft? Who knows? That's something for a psychologist to unravel. My motivations, like my contributions, don't show up in box scores, and frankly I don't care about stats. Winning is what counts. I want to be evaluated as a team player.

Loyalty to my team is the real reason I didn't come out sooner. When I signed a free-agent contract with Boston last July, I decided to commit myself to the Celtics and not let my personal life become a distraction. When I was traded to the Wizards, the political significance of coming out sunk in. I was ready to open up to the press, but I had to wait until the season was over.

A college classmate tried to persuade me to come out then and there. But I couldn't yet. My one small gesture of solidarity was to wear jersey number 98 with the Celtics and then the Wizards. The number has great significance to the gay community. One of the most notorious antigay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found. That same year the Trevor Project was founded. This amazing organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to kids struggling with their sexual identity. Trust me, I know that struggle. I've struggled with some insane logic. When I put on my jersey I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends.

The strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage. Less than three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard, and I couldn't say a thing. I didn't want to answer questions and draw attention to myself. Not while I was still playing.

I'm glad I'm coming out in 2013 rather than 2003. The climate has shifted; public opinion has shifted. And yet we still have so much farther to go. Everyone is terrified of the unknown, but most of us don't want to return to a time when minorities were openly discriminated against. I'm impressed with the straight pro athletes who have spoken up so far -- Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo. The more people who speak out, the better, gay or straight. It starts with President Obama's mentioning the 1969 Stonewall riots, which launched the gay rights movement, during his second inaugural address. And it extends to the grade-school teacher who encourages her students

By its nature, my double life has kept me from getting close to any of my teammates. Early in my career I worked hard at acting straight, but as I got more comfortable in my straight mask it required less effort. In recent days, though, little has separated "mask on, mask off." Personally, I don't like to dwell in someone else's private life, and I hope players and coaches show me the same respect. When I'm with my team I'm all about working hard and winning games. A good teammate supports you no matter what.

I've been asked how other players will respond to my announcement. The simple answer is, I have no idea. I'm a pragmatist. I hope for the best, but plan for the worst. The biggest concern seems to be that gay players will behave unprofessionally in the locker room. Believe me; I've taken plenty of showers in 12 seasons. My behavior wasn't an issue before, and it won't be one now. My conduct won't change. I still abide by the adage, "What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room." I'm still a model of discretion.

As I write this, I haven't come out to anyone in the NBA. I'm not privy to what other players say about me. Maybe Mike Miller, my old teammate in Memphis, will recall the time I dropped by his house in Florida and say, "I enjoyed being his teammate, and I sold him a dog." I hope players swap stories like that. Maybe they'll talk about my character and what kind of person I am.

As far as the reaction of fans, I don't mind if they heckle me. I've been booed before. There have been times when I've wanted to boo myself. But a lot of ill feelings can be cured by winning.

I'm a veteran, and I've earned the right to be heard. I'll lead by example and show that gay players are no different from straight ones. I'm not the loudest person in the room, but I'll speak up when something isn't right. And try to make everyone laugh.

I've never sought the spotlight. Though I'm coming out to the world, I intend to guard my privacy. I'm making this blanket statement in part to keep rumors and misunderstandings at bay. I hope fans will respect me for raising my hand. And I hope teammates will remember that I've never been an in-your-face kind of guy. All you need to know is that I'm single. I see no need to delve into specifics.

Look at what happened in the military when the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy was repealed. Critics of the repeal were sure that out military members would devastate morale and destroy civilization. But a new study conducted by scholars from every branch of the armed forces except the Coast Guard concluded that "cohesion did not decline after the new policy of open service was put into place. In fact, greater openness and honesty resulting from repeal seem to have promoted increased understanding, respect and acceptance."

The same goes for sports. Doc Rivers, my coach on the Celtics, says, "If you want to go quickly, go by yourself -- if you want to go farther, go in a group." I want people to pull together and push ahead.

Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start. It all comes down to education. I'll sit down with any player who's uneasy about my coming out. Being gay is not a choice. This is the tough road and at times the lonely road. Former players like Tim Hardaway, who said "I hate gay people" (and then became a supporter of gay rights), fuel homophobia. Tim is an adult. He's entitled to his opinion. God bless America. Still, if I'm up against an intolerant player, I'll set a pretty hard pick on him. And then move on.
The most you can do is stand up for what you believe in. I'm much happier since coming out to my friends and family. Being genuine and honest makes me happy.

I'm glad I can stop hiding and refocus on my 13th NBA season. I've been running through the Santa Monica Mountains in a 30-pound vest with Shadow, the German shepherd I got from Mike Miller. In the pros, the older you get, the better shape you must be in. Next season a few more eyeballs are likely to be on me. That only motivates me to work harder.
Some people insist they've never met a gay person. But Three Degrees of Jason Collins dictates that no NBA player can claim that anymore. Pro basketball is a family. And pretty much every family I know has a brother, sister or cousin who's gay. In the brotherhood of the NBA, I just happen to be the one who's out.

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