A Home & A Family in Christ

Brit & Rhiannon. They are magnificent.

Today I had to give a speech at both masses on behalf of stewardship. I was asked to post it online, so here is pretty much what I said, filling in my notes, plus pictures so you can see what I mean.

“Here’s why I believe God always wanted me to to come to St Thomas, despite being born in London & being generally the exact opposite of a “church person” for so long. 

Human hindsight is 20/20, so we have to understand God’s sight, His benevolent & sometimes cheeky omniscience, in retrospect. I will tell the tale of my long, strange trip to St Thomas as quickly as possible.

I was baptized in Colwyn Bay, Wales, at St Paul’s Church, in 1976. A little later on, a lovably mischievous Welshman went to seminary with St Paul’s current rector, Christine Owen, whom I’m to understand could tell us a number of entertaining stories about our beloved rector. A condition of my confirmation here in 2014 was to never ask after any of these tales….

I had no knowledge of this connection when I discovered St. Thomas online back in 2012. I had been to a Lenten service at Saint Monica’s with my Catholic friend & was left…wanting. He asked me what was wrong. I cited the praise band & general cheeriness. He, being a comedian, apologized that his parish was not morose enough for me. I corrected him, saying, “Not morose…solemn.” I was raised in Britain, & churches needed to be made of stone, & filled with slightly awkward people who didn’t want to appear too exuberant. 

After decades of spiritual experimentation, including a few adolescent years of angry atheism, & 17 years of Wicca, Taoism, & Buddhism, I was going to return to a smallish gothic stone structure that would not immediately burst into flame upon my crossing the threshold, by God!

My friend said, “Good luck with that.”

God laughed.

Then I turned to Google. None of the Catholic Churches seemed terribly serious to me, though to my mind they ought to have been, so I googled “English church”, figuring LA had everything. And St. Thomas came up! And there on the front page was a smiling British looking fellow who said that all are named & all are welcome. Maybe even me!

He was cleaning the tabernacle & looked like art.

I stalked St. Thomas online for nearly a year. I listened to all the music. I kept coming back to the music almost obsessively. I planned to drag my sister & mother to a Schola Mass, but there was a funeral that day, so we went to an English pub instead. 

And God laughed.

I used to be on Twitter a lot. I have several friends who are actors, & began following a friend of a friend. This gentleman posted a picture of a very familiar altar. I tweeted him immediately: “@robertpatrickt2 OMG, do you go to St Thomas?” He responded immediately “You bet I do. Hashtag Episcopalian, hashtag Anglocatholic.” I tweeted back excitedly “OMG! What’s it like? Is is sufficiently solemn?” He tweeted back “It’s high Anglican, baby! Get your butt down here!” I checked online, then texted my sister, Caroline, “OMG. St Thomas is having an Easter vigil tomorrow. We have to go! Robert Patrick said!” She texted back “What even is your life?” And also “Yes!”

That night I had nightmares that nobody would let me in the church…that grannies with submachine guns stopped me at the doors & shoved me into a white van & told me I wasn’t good enough to come back to Jesus. I came anyway.

It was magical. I was in love immediately. It had been so long since I had really been to church that I thought I had to introduce myself to everybody during the peace. I barely talked to anyone after, but couldn’t wait to come back. I arrived the next morning for Easter Sunday & cried my face off because I felt stupid for waiting so long. I felt at home, more at home than in my own home. I felt Christ’s presence from the altar & all around me & even in the woman next to me whom I haven’t seen since. I had the singular thought “This is my life now.” And it is!

God just roared & roared.

My sister & I enrolled in catechism & got confirmed. I came here whenever my health permitted. Sal & I came up with the Let’s Talk About series. I’ve gone into discernment to become a spiritual director. I have made the absolute most dearest, wonderful friends here whom I would actually die without & who push me to be happier, healthier, smarter, more loving & more peaceful. No, just kidding; all we do is MOAR STUFF. There are several of us here who would move in & just hold some kind of service 24/7 if we did not also have to eat & work & go to school.

People I love, some of whom legit would move into the church, one of whom symbolically did by going to seminary.

So that brings me to stewardship. So many people here do so many loving things for this community, sometimes just for the fun of it, but the end result is this holy, super weird family. 

Me & Art looking like a young Republican couple from the OC.

Volunteering as a stewardship representative & this year, God help you all, as a captain, means I get to speak to people I’ve never met, hear ideas I’ve had myself or never considered. This stewardship campaign alone has inspired inquiry into developing a regular evensong, & encouraging children & families to attend with education or children’s activities or all of the above! I keep saying I have no time and yet I want to make all of this happen!
 God just laughs & laughs.

Every year that I publish a book, I increase my stewardship pledge by 50%. I admit that this is partly to bribe God into increasing my sales, but it is also because when I hope I’ll get a little more, I want to give a little more. I will get even more involved here & one day be married here & baptize a child here (God willing), & when the UNR medical school is done poking at my remains for a semester, my ashes will come here. I want to be with everyone in these walls until the San Andreas fault sends this vivacious, sneering, desperate, gorgeous town northward to Alaska. I want to laugh with God at every timid witch who wonders if Jesus really wants her back, forever & ever, amen. I want to laugh when she finds she’s up to her eyeballs in food prep for receptions & trying to find a mic for the guest speaker & praying her bad knee will let her rise again after the Angelus. I want to be housed in this place until the world ends, so I’d best sell more books so I can give more with each passing year. I love St Thomas. You are St Thomas, so I love you. Thank you.”

My First #Novel, In Case You Were Sick of My Ramblings

cover by Jim Jamitis, who rocks

So I wrote a novel that you can buy by clicking on literally any of these hyperlinks. It is $2.99, which is the minimum price Amazon will allow me to charge for it, & it is not suitable for the following people:

  • Those under 18
  • My mother
  • Christopher from church 
  • Anybody who’s triggered by detailed accounts of the inside thoughts of a homicidal, oversexed narcissist
  • People who hate laughter

If you are none of the people above, you may purchase & read my first novel at will.

I am already halfway done with my second novel, which will be slightly more palatable for decent folk, particularly Christopher, as there are brief allusions to Common Brithonic (& an even briefer shout out to penguins). I’ll let you know when you can buy that one.

Until then, if you are not banned by the bullet points above, buy The Method.

Buttery Goodness

I have just had the honour of reading something so good, it was like having a plate of cookies all to myself, with a pot of tea, & The Sound of Music on the telly.

Not a lot of what we read these days is in any way comforting or nourishing. Much fiction (my own included) suffers from deep wounds, bleeding & festering with infected psychological fissures each chapter is meant to debride, but seldom does. Hell, this paragraph alone is a perfect example of that. 

And the stuff we see daily on social media is in some ways worse. Much of it has about as much flavour & substance as a rice cake, & worse, some of those rice cakes have fallen in the cat box. But we dust em off & eat em anyhow. We consume news, or what passes for it, although we are not really starved for it. We mindlessly eat whatever is served to us; social media is the stale bread basket in the chain restaurant of reading.

These delicious little morsels of writing I was sent were rich, sweet, & filling. The writer is an 85 year old friend, & it is my sincere hope that she keeps feeding me these warm, buttery morsels, because I’m pretty sure I need them now. It is my sincere hope that she is writing them down with the aim of sharing them with the world. We could all use some tender loving humour & whimsy.

Meanwhile I’ve written one book about a homicidal narcissistic sociopath, & I’m working on another, which although miles more delightful, also features as a villain a narcissistic sociopath. The second novel is far less bloody, however, & has kind & decent main characters on the whole.

My writing is not so much nourishing as it is bracing, maybe.

I hope that at 85, my wounds have been healed, & I am also able to provide melt-in-your-mouth dearness to my readers. Failing that, I hope my friend publishes so you can behold these wonders.

I am genuinely happy right now.

Sabu, Lord of Encino

I came home from work yesterday & found this on my doorstep. 

Not actually a 3rd world nation, just a weird angle.

One does not typically encounter what looked to be a pure bred Himalayan wandering the streets of Los Angeles, even in the valley. I emailed a cat rescue. They recommended I take him to a vet to be scanned, then they could call the owner of the microchip.
I took a bowl of water down to the beast, as it was 100 F, then made dinner & figured the owner would probably come home soon to find their beloved pet had escaped.

My roommate came home weirdly early for her & told me the cat had now moved up the steps toward the door. “It’s still out there?” “Yes.” I grabbed my keys & went to sit on the steps with the cat while my roommate emailed the HOA, asking if anyone was missing a very expensive cat.

As I sat on the steps, the beast hissed at me, but I gently held my hand toward him anyhow. He immediately rubbed his face on my hand & started purring. He was not mangy or very tangled, & I perceived a collar which meant he did indeed belong to someone. 

Just then, a neighbour I haven’t met pulled up & asked about the cat. “Is he yours?” I asked back. “No, but he is beautiful.” She got the number for her vet & called to see if they would scan the cat’s chip for free. They would. I asked her to watch the kitty while I got my cat carrier. It was now my mission to find this cat’s home.

Soon after I came outside, with my roommate following, I got the cat in the carrier with no fuss at all (bizarre). It was then that the door opened again & a guy popped his head out & said “Yep, that’s the cat.” I asked if this was his cat & he said his wife inherited him from her grandfather who had just died, & “Do you want it? It’s a $500 cat but if you want it you can have it.”

I said, “I’m sorry, did you just say you don’t want your cat?”

“We don’t really know what to do with it.” Then a car showed up & a woman & a small boy got out. I recognized the small boy as our neighbour down the hall.

The woman told me the cat’s name is Sabu, explained the story to me & said they were afraid the cat would scratch their baby (they have a toddler). I explained this was highly unlikely with a pure bred Himalayan, which she confirmed he is. She also fretted that he likes to sit on the couch, which is a sure sign they don’t know cats. “We have papers and everything, & the litter box & food. I can give you all that stuff. He has a lot of brushes, too. My grandfather brushed him every day.”

It didn’t look like he’d been brushed in a little while.

The man then asked the wife “Do you want to keep him now or no?” She said “Let the kid say goodbye” & I asked “You really don’t want the cat?” & my roommate, God bless her, said “We’ll take the cat. Do you have all his paperwork & health record?” And they said they did.

As you know, I’ve not been able to even think about getting a new cat since Persephone (19) & Neil (13, who had a stroke soon after she passed) died last year. But as my roommate pointed out “He found you.” So that was that.

The woman went to her apartment & we carried all Sabu’s stuff down to ours & she promised to get the paperwork to us when she found it. I let her know I was going to acclimate him in our bathroom so he could gradually get used to the house. She admitted they didn’t know a lot about cats. I explained that Himalayans are even stranger because they are not bred to be like “normal” cats. They are gentle, patient, good natured, cuddly, & cannot under any circumstances go outside. 

If abandoning a regular cat is like abandoning an 8 year old child, abandoning a Himalayan is like abandoning a 10 month old. They just want to be cuddled & cannot hunt. Their bodies aren’t even correctly built for hunting, jumping, or escaping. They are built to melt into laps.

Anyhow, she had left & I set up the litter box, food, & water in my bathroom. By now he had wet himself, & I could get a good look at how unkempt he was after a day outside.

Watchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

He was entirely uninterested in food & water, but oddly for a cat traumatized by two moves in as many weeks,
he wanted to be pet. So I pet him. Then I brushed him, & he wanted to be brushed. Then I gave him a couple treats, which he prefers to eat out of hand.

After a little brush & eye cleaning.

The bathroom does not get air at night, & he seemed to want to explore, so I let him wander into my bedroom after my roommate said goodnight to him & gave him belly rubs. He protested loudly about everything while looking at it, like “I wouldn’t put this here. What’s this for?” And he did go under the bed, but he traversed to the other side & emerged in less than 30 seconds. This was the most chill cat rehoming ever.

He did cry much of the night, though he did jump up on the bed, at one point even hugging my leg, but then would wander around & cry again. I pet him at 2:30, 3:15, 4 something, & then I lost count. I heard him use the litter box. I thanked God.

When I got up to shower, he seemed nearly nonplussed, & when I left the room to make breakfast, he wanted to come with. I didn’t want to do that when I was just leaving for work. He did not seem to want to be left alone.

I tried to leave work early, but that did not quite work out as planned. It didn’t matter; when I got in, he was sleeping peacefully under the bed. I left the door open, made & ate dinner, then came back to his spot under the bed with the bag of treats.

He eagerly followed me out to the living room, but I scooped him up so I could brush him & clean his eyes (Himalayans need a lot of maintenance). I sat him on the ottoman, brushed him down, cleaned his eyes, gave him treats, & let him explore. He wanted to be pet, so I did that first, & then he jumped down.

He was vaguely impressed with the living room, taking a leisurely stroll around the perimeter & returning to the bedroom. I decided to upload some photos, then sweep & mop the bathroom. He was using the litter box! I scooped it & swept, noting that he was finally grooming himself. I mopped & then dumped a basket of clean laundry on the bed to fold & put away.

Sabu immediately emerged from under the bed & inserted himself amongst my small piles to be folded. He rolled around & showed his belly like he’d been mine for years. I finished putting away the laundry & got on the bed with him, rubbing his belly & scratching the fluff around his ears. He purred & I got a toy to play with him, which in typical Himmy fashion bored him in about two minutes. 

So this is what he looks like now…

His paperwork says that his dame is Catzboutique Paper Doll & that his full name is Catzboutique Sabu. He is 9 years old & is basically a naked love Ewok.

The Ants Go Marching TO THEIR DEATHS hoorah

The enemy.

Day 2298 of the War With the Ants continues. I’ve discovered yet another point of ingress & shut it down. This one was a biggy; they won’t be using that crack in the baseboards for a while!

The daunting task of keeping the ants out sometimes seems like a losing battle for the Korean-Anglo alliance, but we fight on valiantly. There are so many more of them than us. The Korean contingent once destroyed several battalions of the bastards coming from above, if you can believe that. They had taken Cabinet Ridge & Refrigerator Valley, but the Korean managed to cut off their supply line & wipe the march off our land with a few Clorox wipes. The Korean is merciless, but effective.

The Anglo force concentrates on scouts. Diplomacy has utterly failed. The ants have been told time & time again that they are welcome to exist in peace, but they are not to enter the Korean Anglo domain. The patio is a demilitarized zone, but it is watched cautiously. The Anglo does not bother the ants on the patio, but she gives them a stern talking to. If she sees even one scout in the domain, she obliterates him. 

Do not pity the ants. They swarm mercilessly & without discernment between food stuffs, leisure furniture, & even sealed items. When there were cats, they even forced them to starve for maybe 30 minutes as they overran their food bowls. The cats protested heartily until the Anglo contingent was lead to the scene of the massacre. Then she performed a massacre of her own in swift retaliation.

This is Sparta.

Hermione Visits Professor McGonagall

For this installment, Hermione is still a girl.

Hermione spends a lot of time wondering what to do with her vast (but scattered) intellect & predilection for helping people, so she has decided that she wants to take advanced courses over the next couple of years. Divination surely has its uses, but Hermione still perceives limits (& recognizes that muggles outright abuse “the noble art of divination,” as Trelawney put it).

Hermione had met with an advisor & was told if she wants to help people in a new way, she should receive that same sort of counseling herself, which of course makes marvelous sense. So Hermione made an appointment with none other than Minerva McGonagall to make sure she is doing all the Absolute Best & Right Things.

McGonagall’s office is in a serene and wooded space with glorious views of the trees. When Hermione arrives, the sun is shining, the air is sweet, & the waiting area is bathed in golden rays.

McGonagalls typically have a stern reputation, but when Hermione meets her, she has kindly eyes & a slow, deliberate, warm way of speaking. Hermione immediately calculates all the ways this could go horribly wrong, & is determined to modulate her tone & speed for this gentle, learned woman.

Girls plan while God howls with laughter.

Once in the office, McGonagall asks what Hermione wishes to accomplish. Hermione launches into a breathless half hour diatribe about her mission in life (helping! Always helping!) with frequent forays into friends at Hogwarts & conundrums as to how to get everything all done right (the first time!) & wouldn’t it be wonderful to just understand immediately What Is Needed of her because surely she is Needed & surely she Isn’t Doing Enough.

McGonagall listens quietly for a while, then says “You have a very active mind, Miss Granger. I wonder if you ever stop it for moment & just listen? To the trees, to your heart, to the words in all the Important Books you read?” Her tone is kind, not mocking.

Hermione makes a face & stares out the window. “Well, I’m always noticing those things & paying attention to them while I’m doing other stuff &…”

“Miss Granger,” says McGonagall, peering with smiling eyes behind her glasses, “it would appear the answer is no.”

Hermione is confused, because Hermione is Always Trying To Do The Right Thing. And apparently Doing The Right Thing sometimes means not doing anything. Anything? Hermione is clearly perplexed by this concept, so McGonagall offers a bit of homework. Hermione understands homework & is very excited to do it well.

“Find 15 minutes in your morning, Miss Granger, to just listen. Not to think, but listen. You may read, but after the reading you must pick a word to meditate upon & notice whatever it is saying to you.”

Hermione is very excited because of course she can do that. But then suddenly Hermione feels like crying.

“15 entire minutes? In a row?” She asks meekly.

“My dear Miss Granger,” says McGonagall, “how do you ever expect to learn if you don’t listen?”

And now Hermione really feels like crying, because although she spends her day listening to other people, she never really gives more than a minute or two of her time to just Listening to…inside.

She confesses to the professor that she feels like crying, so this must be Important.

Professor McGonagall gives Hermione a specific book, chapter, & verses to read & meditate upon (a relief, because Hermione can think about books) & then they arrange to see each other again soon.

Hermione is very fond of Professor McGonagall & wants to make her proud. She is determined to Listen for 15 minutes the very next morning.

The very next morning, Hermione does all the reading quickly, so she can Listen for 15 minutes, but then answers 14 questions from classmates, all before getting out of bed, & Hermione realizes she has failed the assignment.

She will try again tomorrow.


There is probably some psychologically damaged reason I have chosen this method to discuss my theological efforts. For now it is sufficient to note that as I am forced to become a student again, my Hermione-ness is showing. And will probably get worse when I enroll in classes. So. Sorry in advance.

Hermione & Himmione & the Marshmallows of Fire

This happens later.

As the absence of Draco completely changes the story, today the part of Girl Harry is played by Hermione, shifting Boy Hermione to Himmione, which is what I may start calling him in real life, too.

(See the beginning if you have no idea what’s going on.)

As Ancient Runes is clearly not enough for Himmione or Hermione, they have, as you’ll recall, taken up Ancient Greek, for fun, which is what people whose names end in -mione do.

Draco was sadly absent from this particular study session, texting Hermione while she was at brunch with her dorm mate that he was having a particularly long oil change. This might have been true, but then this is also a Malfoy, & it could be bollocks. Nevertheless, Hermione texted Himmione that Draco was most likely going to be absent, & they got on with it anyway.

Meeting up at the Three Broomsticks, the children got out their books & translated the riveting tale of the Minotaur. When it’s just the ‘Miones, there are a lot of excited interruptions & pauses over points of interpretation, smoother story telling, idiomatics & grammar. This happens when Draco is there, too, but much less. There are also several side conversations into superior Greek grammars & anecdotes about professors. This is all a kind way of saying that Hermione & Himmione are more colloquially described as nerds.

The ‘Miones also have zero qualms about correcting each other without the niceties people expect, which is refreshing & expedient, even when HERmione has cramps & wants to stab all men (& did jokingly threaten HIMmione, once. Maybe twice).

Even with all this exhuberant nitpicking, the ‘Miones are through the story of Theseus & the Minotaur in slightly over an hour, giving them around 3 hours before Ancient Runes begin. Both of them cannot be arsed to drive home & back, being so close to Hogwarts, so they decide to park at the school & walk to a new cafe. Hermione has brought a book to read (just in case) & Himmione already has a backpack filled with everything he is working on at any given time. Down the bloody great hill they go.

The cafe does not actually open until Wednesday. The ‘Miones attempt to figure out where to take themselves, when Himmione gets the grand idea to walk back up to the school & see if they can study/read there. Hermione notes that he is kindly walking a little slower this time, so even though she is wearing a bit of a heel, it’s much easier to go back up the hill than last week.

As Liquid Luck would have it, Aberforth is emerging from the great hall right as the ‘Miones approach (pro-SKO-roo-seen). He lets them in because the ‘Miones are inherently trustworthy, & they have sweet, innocent little angelic faces. Felix Felicitas was working overtime because there were also tables & chairs set up. Hermione always picks the most defensible seat (back to a corner, facing the door…part of her Harry personality) & Himmione sits across from her. They work in silence for nearly a couple hours, interrupted only once when Hermione hears noises near the kitchen & goes to check it out, totally prepared to Stupify someone.

She sees Neville! She opens the door & calls out “Neville! Hi!” He is surprised to see her poking her head out the locked great hall, & then Luna emerges from the Even Greater Hall. Everyone is surprised to see each other. Neville & Luna were picking their wedding hymns with Professor Flitwick, & Hermione explained that she & Himmione were just killing time between Ancient Greek & Ancient Runes.

Luna & Neville & Hermione are going to the same party later, but Luna & Neville are not going to Ancient Runes, so they all say “See ya later!” & Hermione gets back to her book.

Around 4, Hermione has to go pick up a great deal of cheese for Profressor Flitwick’s reception, & Himmione has to pick up an older wizard, so they part company & go to their errands. Cheese acquired, Hermione returns to the Hogwarts kitchen with Seamus & Flitwick & begins poorly slicing up cheese while Seamus creates a hostile working environment.

Soon Ancient Runes begins. Hermione is joined by another of her friends & Himmione arrives with the older wizard, who was splinched & needs to be driven. The class is wonderful as always, accompanied by male singers with beautiful voices, & mostly everyone goes into the great hall for cheese & wine.

Himmione, who is also going to the party later that evening, takes off to rest first. Hermione, who is not quite as practical, remains in the great hall but gets to talk a great deal about books & art & film with her friend Fleur (& her Bill). After they leave, Hermione finds herself chatting with Professor Trelawney, which is ok, & Ernie MacMillan, which was decidedly better. Realizing she was now late to the party, Hermione jumps up, washes a couple of glasses, & disapparates.

She arrives in a part of town she’s never been, & rings the doorbell. No one comes. So she walks around the side of the house, which sets off a protego charm & she is nearly blinded. This prompts her host to tell her to just walk in the front door, which she does, & is greeted by the birthday girl, whom she hands a small present.

She then goes round the back outside where young wizards from other schools are playing a more sanitary version of beer pong. She makes friends with a couple girls, one of whom knows her younger sister’s high school drama teacher, which shows how small the wizarding world is.

A tall blonde girl at the beer pong table hears Hermione say that she’s from Hogwarts, & she asks if she knows Himmione. She says she does, & that he should be along shortly. This pleases the blonde girl. Hermione also remarks that Himmione will probably take the exact same course of action to get into the party that she did, as they are both excessively polite. And that is exactly what happens.

Himmione actually knew more of the people at the party than Hermione did, so he was catching up with his friends while Hermione made new ones (men…de Hermione observes in Greek). Hermione was mostly discussing witchcraft & space exploration with her new acquaintances until she & the tall blonde got very excited when Dean said they could light a fire & roast marshmallows.

A group of girls formed around the fire, & the blonde girl demonstrated a fantastic marshmallow roasting technique that Hermione enjoyed greatly. Eventually Luna & Neville turned up, & they sat with Hermione & talked about sci-fi & music & church & how this is pretty much all they ever do at every party until way past midnight. Himmione had escaped way before that.

Hermione did not have one drop of alcohol the entire evening, proving once & for all that it is Draco that is the bad influence on her, & not the other way around.


*this is kind of how Greek goes, too. Well, internally.