The Day After Christmas

Christmas Love

My bed was warm and cozy this morning. I managed to sleep until almost 8 a.m. I have made an executive decision that most of the day will be spent in my flannel pajamas and thick fluffy robe, tube socks, and slippers that are faux fleece lined. They look ridiculous because several years ago I covered them with green felt when I went to a Red Hat sleep over. I wore a huge sleep shirt with a picture of a gigantic frog perched on a lily pad. The slippers were converted to frog feet. There were toes at one time but I had made them too long. I kept stepping on them and almost falling so they now have a toe-ectomy. Since no one will see them, I continue to wear them because they are the most comfortable and warmest in my closet.

I’m staying in this attire because it is the warmest and coziest outfit I can think of. I have given up trying to stay warm in my house when the thermostat is set on 68. As the years go by, I have made staying warm more of a priority. It is now set on 70 and the furnace is running almost constantly since it is in single digits outside. My home is as insulated as I can make it, but there is still a slight chill. I give thanks for warmth on cold winter days.

Every once in a while I am given the gift of realizing that I feel really well…not just physically but also spiritually. Today is one of those days. Even though Christmases are a little hard for me, I found comfort in this one.

A birthday buddy I found about seven years ago has included me as part of her family. She has reunited with her estranged father and so she hosts a dinner for him and his wife. After so many years there seems to be a bond forming between them again. I kind of envy that since there was never enough time for me to experience that with my own father.

After the dinner the two of us went to the candlelight service at church. It is the same every year, but this year I felt a solace that I don’t usually sense. Ill feelings about Christmas go all the way back to childhood. It was a little sad when she confided to me on the way home that she is thinking of changing churches. There has been much conflict the last couple of years in our congregation and we split almost in half. She stayed as I did but she is thinking of moving on.

Yesterday I was invited to the gathering at another friend’s home across the street. She cooks a huge pot of tortilla soup, tamales, beans, and makes wonderful chip dip. They buy a honey baked ham which gives me my pork fix for the year. Her family and friends arrive whenever. I walked across the street around one and had a nice visit while all was calm. It was very nice visiting with her and watching huge snow flakes fall outside. As the day went on, her two daughters and their families appeared, and a short while later two more relatives and their families arrived. The house was getting crowded so I decided to come home, full of her delicious food.

Her home is a little more drafty than mine so I had wisely chosen to put on another layer of underwear. By the time all those people had gathered, I was getting a little toasty. My introversion kicked in and I realized it was time to move on. I weary after four hours with any group.

Before I went to bed, another friend called to share her success about hosting her family for Christmas. She has so many best friends I can’t count them all, but she has chosen to add me to her “club”. It is one of those rare honors one is given in life to find a friend like her.

Back in 1968 I was dating a young Marine. He surprised me at Christmas and came home on leave. It was during that time we got engaged. Since he was in officer’s school and knew he would be heading to Viet Nam, I had no idea what to give him as a present. I decided to borrow a negligee gown and wrap from my aunt, (which had remained unworn in her drawer for several years), wrap a ribbon sash around me and sit under the tree with a gift of a big smile. It was a wonderful Christmas. I believed I had been given the gift of love. Things didn’t work out with him, but if I concentrate, I can connect with the good feelings of those few days.

I woke up this morning realizing I had been dreaming about him. I realized that the dream was probably because of “King of the Hill”. John reminds me very much of Hank Hill.  If I wake during the early morning around 4, that show is usually on. I guess I was hearing it in my sleep and started thinking of my love. After all these years I accepted the fact after fighting it for almost fifty years that for a number of reasons there will always be a part of me that loves him, but I realized today that I am setting myself free. Maybe the memories will now fade and I will recognize that that relationship also had its toxic moments that I have too long suppressed and all worked out for the greater good.

Whatever the cause of my feelings of joy today, I am grateful and will relish every minute. It is a new feeling to associate with Christmas and I will hold onto it as long as possible. I hope your days were as blessed as mine. Namaste. Attic Annie

holly

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What to Wear on Christmas Eve

sue's sweater

…and there it was, hanging right in front of me.

Once again it is Christmas Eve. I have been invited this evening to a friend’s home for tamales before going to the Candlelight Service. I have known this friend for about six years. I think this is the fourth year of invitations. I have been trying all day to figure out what I want to wear. It makes little difference at our church. There will be many in jeans and several in new outfits with every style in between. I guess that’s one of the reasons I like going to this place. I have never felt any sense of pretension. It really isn’t a matter of what one wears.

I have not bought any new clothes for Christmas in more years than I can count. Actually after twenty years of being unchurched, it has only been eight years that I have attempted to attend. My memory of Christmas Eves does not extend much beyond that.

I have a black long sleeve tee that is decorated with an embroidered cardinal and sequined white poinsettia  flowers. The cardinal is the state bird of Illinois, my home state, so it is a little connection with home, even though I haven’t lived there in thirty five years. The cardinal is a beautiful symbol for Christmas and winter I think.

“The cardinal makes a fantastic animal totem. It reminds us to hold ourselves with pride – not ego pride. Rather, the cardinal asks us to stand a little taller, be a bit more regal, step into our natural confidence as if we were born to lead with grace and nobility”. I tend to hold back in crowds. I thought perhaps if I wear the cardinal I can be a little more joyous.

“As we observe the cardinal – particularly against the backdrop of the stark winter months, we are reminded that even when things appear bleak or isolated, there is always the presence of beauty, hope, and love”. The tee was a gift from my cousin’s family. She transitioned two years ago. The top still had its tags on. I had been with her when she bought it. The cardinal was her favorite totem. I wanted to feel close to her tonight.

I mentally went through other things in my closet. It’s not supposed to get really colder until tomorrow when it might snow. I don’t think it will, however. I think any snow will stop about forty five miles north of us around Denton.

I washed a couple of loads of clothes and hung them on my rack in the laundry room. And there was my answer hanging right in front of me. The very last time I saw my cousin she was wearing a new sweater. When we hugged, I was amazed by the softness of the weave. It felt so like her. Her husband asked me to take whatever I wanted when I left because by that time it was a matter of weeks. I couldn’t get myself to take anything without feeling very uncomfortable. I kind of felt I would be in the deathbed scene of Scrooge when the chambermaids were stealing the curtains before he was even dead.  I did ask him to mail me a couple of things when he was able to get around to it. That sweater was one of the few things I felt I truly wanted.

So tonight I am wearing that sweater. It will be warm enough to wear without a coat as opposed to the thinner tee. It will be soft and cuddly and I will be sharing  the service with Sue once again feeling her loving arms wrapped around me. The number of people I share this holiday with has almost entirely dwindled away but the spirit of my gentle, talented cousin will be with me to the end…at least until the sweater and the tee become too tattered to wear. Merry Christmas, y’all. Namaste. Attic Annie

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When will it make a difference?

pistol

I have refrained from talking about Newtown, CT because the world wide coverage has been nonending and overwhelming. I didn’t think my little blog would make a difference.

I guess it’s because I’ve lived through so many assassinations, attempted assassinations, and massacres since my senior year in high school that I really am ashamed to admit that I don’t react as emotionally as I once did. I guess you could call me jaded at this point. I shed a few tears when I first saw the pictures of the children. It’s hard to stay totally emotional when one reads about their young lives.

I used to be quite an advocate of gun control. When I first heard of the shootings this time, I was wondering how long it would take for those in favor of control to  start shouting about tighter control. I knew we would see all the statistics about the US being number one in homicides with guns. We’d see we are number one in gun ownership. We’d see all the facts and it would not begin to phase those who are against any kind of control.

I soon heard the worn out comments about taking guns away from law abiding citizens. Control will make it that much easier for criminals to commit crimes. Every US citizen has a right to own as many and as powerful a gun or a multitude of guns because it says so in the Constitution. Background gun checks are a joke. Gun shows are rampant.

Actually I never understood the thinking of US citizens. As much as I hate to see it, I know that people still like to hunt but I’ve never understood the assault weapons. Hunt with one of those and the meat won’t be fit to eat.

James Madison proposed the Second Amendment. He never said anybody at any time could own any type of gun. This is the Second Amendment:

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” A militia is regulated by officers. Citizens are called upon in times of emergencies. My solution for the gun crisis in America is to completely get rid of assault rifles. They serve absolutely no purpose other than mass killings.  The second step would require any person who desires to own a gun shall be required to attend militia training. There would be no firing of weapons without consent of the officers. They would be willing to serve every time it is necessary for armed defense. If they no longer desire to serve in a militia, they would no longer own a gun. There is one problem with this concept. There are already militia formed in every state and many of them have been formed under less than altruistic motives. Kind of paramilitary force…not exactly good.

The Constitution was written in the 1700s when the types of guns were limited to flintlock muskets and single shot pistols. The writers could not have envisioned the weapons of mass destruction that are available now. It is time to stop these days of destruction. Namaste  Atticannie

bushmaster

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When Pranks End Badly

I tried to post a picture but my computer won’t let me.

It was just a harmless prank in the minds of the two Australian radio personalities. They probably thought that the Countess was just being pampered because of a little “morning sickness”.

Everyone who heard them would know that she couldn’t possibly be the Queen with the horrible accent, right? The hospital staff would hang up on them anyway. So they call the hospital where the wife of the second in line to the British throne is recuperating from “morning sickness” and pretend to be the Queen. Instead, for some unknown reason the call is put through and they actually talk to the nurse personally in charge of the patient.

The nurse gives out medically private information although nothing that seems too personal (to me). The patient is resting and is being rehydrated. The DJs learn the situation is more serious than the condition millions of women around the world suffer during their pregnancy, as if making fun of any woman with morning sickness is ever funny.

The call ends and the two DJs congratulate each other on the success of their phone call. It was a  harmless prank after all.

Why do people feel it funny to prank?  It is often that they get their thrills out of the public embarrassment or humiliation caused to the victim. They are happy seeing their victims turn red or hearing others around laughing. The problem is the laughter is directed AT the victim and not WITH him. Who was the intended victim of this prank? Was it the hospital, the Countess, or the culpable nurses?

People will not stop playing pranks on others, but they do so with the possibilities of consequences. As was the case with the hospital calls.

The DJs could not have known that the nurse who put the call through to the floor was originally from India. They could not have known that saving the family from disgrace is extremely important. Family honor is first in the lives of thousands of Indian women. She could not forgive herself for her role in this situation. Do I know that for certain? Of course not, although she left suicide notes and I am guessing at the content.

All she did was answer the phone and put the call through. She was not even the one who gave out the information. But that was enough for her. Sadly, she saw no way out of the humiliation, so she hanged herself. The caring and concern of the Prince and Countess was not enough to swage the guilt she felt at her culpability.

The family was deprived of a wife and mother. Knowing this woman died because of a “joke” will haunt them the rest of their lives.

The DJs lost their jobs and probably their entire careers in the radio business. The hospital most likely will review their policies about phone calls making it even harder for caring loved ones to find out about any of the patients, even if it IS the Queen who is doing the calling.

Will pranksters continue to take advantage of others? Probably not. After all, we even have a  day devoted to pranks and practical jokes. April Fool’s Day is the international day celebrated to flush out the April Fools. It’s been around since the 1500s and is not going away any time soon. However, on that day, people at least have a fighting chance of knowing they are being pranked and they live in countries where generally honor is not so deadly serious.

Hopefully, those who prank will think twice about what they do to others in order to get a laugh. Hopefully, the world will learn a lesson, especially if the prank is on a complete stranger. Why “hopefully”? Because you never know the repercussions until it is too late.

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Gluten Free Wish List

gluten free symbol

Yesterday I started talking about being gluten-free. I have a myriad of food allergies so finding out about one more just kind of rolled off my back. I’ve been taking allergy shots for over two years for a variety of foods, pollens, molds, and other irritants like dust and cat fur. However, with gluten, I have had to adjust my diet.

I posted that a chart I found said “small amounts may be tolerable”. I have often found that I am tempted by loopholes. No one has ever quantified “small”. For most the time I am good to myself. I have cut out breads almost entirely. I very seldom eat sweets like cakes, pies, or other baked goods. Those cuts have been extremely hard to accept but I’m getting better at it. Occasionally I will buy a loaf of gluten-free bread but the cost is so much higher that it is only an every-so-often purchase. I just don’t make sandwiches any more.

I have found rice pasta (spaghetti and penne) and Asian rice noodles but the thought of being able to dive into a plate of restaurant spaghetti and bread sticks really tempts me. I have also found individual size rice crust pizza. The last time I was in my local grocery store I discovered that they had discontinued carrying their Amy’s rice crust spinach and feta cheese pizza in favor of the organic wheat spinach pizza instead. I was really upset because that dish is scrumptious. I guess it is the changing neighborhood that is causing changes in what they carry.

The neighborhood surrounding the grocery store has been changing ethnically for some time now. The store’s supply of gluten free products is very limited and seems to be dwindling in response to the buying habits. The same chain has a store about seven miles from my house that carries more gluten free items but I prefer the convenience of shopping closer to home. I guess the clientele at my neighborhood store does not request gluten free items for several reasons. The other store is in a more health conscious and higher income area. 1) Many are probably not aware of sensitivity and celiac disease. It is estimated that 97% of celiac disease sufferers are undiagnosed. 2) Their ethnic diets are tied to other food products. 3) The cost of gluten free foods is higher than they can afford. Many of them have to buy what is cheapest rather than what is the healthiest for their families just to feed them.

People have started becoming more aware of the problems with gluten. Elizabeth Hasselbeck from The View is one of the more prominent celebrities who is speaking out about the problems associated with gluten after finally discovering what was causing her health concerns. She has authored the G-free Diet. 

Parents have stated that their child’s autism is improved when eating a gluten free diet. Jenny McCarthy, an advocate for her autistic child, is a spokesperson for connecting autism and gluten. So far, the medical studies that have been done have not found the connection even though parents can see the improvement.

“Like many other treatments, the autism diet isn’t scientifically proven to improve symptoms or help children recover from autism. So far, there’s only anecdotal evidence from parents of autistic children, which isn’t enough to establish whether the diet really works. The diet usually requires excluding gluten (a protein found in wheat) or casein (a protein found in milk)”. 

I have a dream list. I would love to see a petition with thousands of signatures requesting that the FDA would no longer consider gluten as generally regarded as safe. Although I am trying to cut down on pizzas, I’d like to see the major chains offer a gluten free crust. It would be great if the major bakeries offered at least one gluten free bread for sale thus lowering the cost. The same goes for restaurants that serve pasta. Just making one of their menu items gluten free to start would make it much simpler to choose when friends dine out together. I’d like to see Subway bring back its gluten free bread. I was so happy my son would be able to go to Subway when he visited home. By the time I was diagnosed, Subway had discontinued the bread. I’d appreciate other sandwich shoppes offering the same choice as well.

As more people become aware of gluten free diets, the greater the demand will be. It may be slow for businesses in the beginning but I have a feeling the popularity of gluten free products would grow if they advertised their desire to see a healthier clientele.

Namaste. Attic Annie

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Continuing My Family’s Gluten Story

loaves of bread

Three years ago I wrote about my son and his battle with products that contain gluten. He has celiac disease as does his paternal aunt.   It is known that celiac disease clusters in families but not much more is known yet about the genetic inheritance.

Two years ago, my son moved to China and found a  young Chinese woman who became his bride. She is totally amazing when it comes to his diet. She reads every label before she buys anything for him. At home she cooks vegetable laden meals. She has found a non-wheat flour so its not like he’s being deprived of an occasional pizza. As a result, he is getting much healthier and is down to his high school trim weight. He has lost the puffiness from water retention as well as several pounds.

It is amazing how many products contain gluten from soy sauce (can we say living in China?) to vitamins. It is a very pervasive product. He has problems buying products in China, but people with sensitivity or the disease have as many problems in the United States. Our “health conscious” national government allows manufacturers to hide the fact that their products contain gluten.

“Gluten-Free” Labeling  

 

“Surprise, surprise! The FDA allows companies to lie about gluten labeling…nothing new there, they haven’t exactly endorsed honesty with anything else, right? Gluten is on the FDA’s list of “Generally Recognized As Safe” ingredients, meaning food manufacturers aren’t required to list gluten as an ingredient”.

This makes avoiding gluten even more difficult, obviously. One thing you should know is that foods labeled as “gluten-free” are not 100% without gluten. The reason for this is simple: it just isn’t possible to remove all of the proteins from wheat and the other grain sources of gluten.

 Due to my son being diagnosed with celiac disease, I asked my allergist to test me also. The tests came back that I am gluten sensitive. What does that mean? It means that when I eat gluten, it sets off an immune response. Symptoms  can be very vague and since I have had a myriad of other problems, it was not quick to be diagnosed since symptoms often overlap. Not everyone has the same symptoms. The response to those with celiac disease is much more evident.

There is a long and growing list of foods that contain gluten. It’s everywhere and like the above quote says, its impossible to eliminate 100% of the gluten.

We are not unique with our gluten problems. It is estimated that 1/133 people in America or 1% have been diagnosed with celiac disease. It is also estimated that 1/18- 1/20 Americans are now gluten sensitive.

I found a chart that explains the difference between gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, and celiac disease.

[GRAIN-0314]

It’s that “occasional use” under the gluten sensitive that is my Achille’s heel. I’ll continue this topic tomorrow. Namaste Attic Annie

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Is There No Respite? Not in Politics!

politics

The battle between the candidates just ended. Thanks to donors with unendingly deep pockets, there were, it seemed, hundreds of ads on TV every day. Every show seemed to have something to say. There were heated discussions on talk and news shows. Social media was completely sated with “Friends” expressing their own viewpoints. It was grueling and unending. It even made a little girl, who reached her limit of tolerance of Romney and  Bronco Bamma, cry.  Truth be told, I was ready to cry with her.

The President hasn’t even taken office for the second time. He doesn’t renew his oath at the inauguration until January 21, 2013. The world may end a month before then anyway.

So, are we taking a break from politics to allow us to get over our PTSD? I’m not belittling those who are suffering from PTSD. I’m just adding the American public to the list of those who have been traumatized the past couple of years by the constant bombardment of politics.

Heaven forbid that politics be allowed to slip out of our consciousness for even a little while during this festive time of year.

I often fall asleep with the TV on. What do I hear the first thing when I wake up this morning? MSNBC has a panel that is discussing Hillary Clinton and her run for President in 2016. It was not the first news show that has begun covering that issue. They were also throwing around the names of Joe Biden, Jeb Bush, and several other possible candidates but the primary topic was Hillary.

Can’t we give it a rest? There are three years and eleven months before the next election. I have nothing against Hillary. I have been impressed with her intelligence and leadership abilities for as long as she has been on the political scene. I even forgave her the tacky (newscaster’s adjective, not mine) comment about baking cookies and holding teas. But, GOD, are we going to have to listen about her constantly until the next Democratic Convention? As far as I have been able to google, The Dems haven’t even decided where to hold the convention yet. That doesn’t stop us from talking forever about who is going to be the front runner.

The only reason I can see for politics to be constantly thrust at us is to keep the American public stirred up. If we start arguing candidates now, our attention won’t be as focused on everything else that is happening around us.

This season calls for Peace on Earth. Can’t we have just a little time to settle down before we prepare to do battle again? Can’t we just “live in the now” a little while before we become so engrossed with the future? It certainly would be nice to listen to the news and actually hear the news that is happening, not opinions about future political events. Come on news media. At least think about giving the public a little break. OK?

peace on earth

Namaste. Attic Annie

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