Category Archives: life

It Should Pain ALL of Us


Hillary Clinton says “It pains me.”

She was talking about her feelings concerning the “plight of women in male-dominated societies.”  The little Syrian girl in the picture above is expressing a viewpoint about desiring freedom and peace in her country. It would be very common to assume that she could also be demonstrating a feeling about being a girl if she is old enough to know what it means to be a second class citizen.

If one takes time to view the status of women in the world, it is easy to find examples of what it really means to be born female. Female babies in China are found abandoned or thrown out with the trash reported as recently as July, 2012.  In an effort to stem population growth, China instituted a one child policy in 1978. Although in cities females are more likely to be abandoned, in the rural countryside they are often just killed. If the couple is allowed only one child, they prefer that child to be a boy. The girls who are allowed to grow up are often called worthless and are frequently treated as servants to the parents.

It is dangerous for girls to speak out in these countries. Just think of the Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, who was shot by the Taliban just for expressing her desire for an education.

On February 14, One Billion Rising is sponsoring a protest against rape and violence against women around the world. Knowing that to protest is to invite beatings, jail, or even death, women are still willing to rise against inequality and violence. A UN report stated that 250,000 women in sixty-five countries reported rape. That is LESS than 1/3 of all countries in the world and less than half to one fourth of all rapes that occur. Even if the case is reported, more than 97% of the men who rape never spend time in jail. One Billion Rising protests these dismal statistics.

Women in the US can not even today say that they live in equality with men. Discrimination and exploitation are still rampant. Things are improving, albeit extremely slowly. Just one example is how long it took for American women to achieve the right to vote and the treatment of those who spoke up for that right.  These were the stories that were never taught in history classes.

This is still a country where women can parade in ads on TV wearing the skimpiest Victoria Secret lingerie and well covered women breast feeding their babies are kicked out of establishments.

Yes, Hillary Clinton is pained. We should ALL be pained for all women all over the world. The sad part is for every ten men who openly abuse, limit rights, and feel superior to women there are probably at least five women who condone their behavior and accept it as part of life. Many of those who “stand by their man” are in comfortable positions with their husbands and are afraid to rock the boat.  They prefer inequality for others over freedom and personal responsibility for themselves. Just look at the number of women who opposed the Equal Rights Amendment in the ’70s.

I often wonder why men have to feel superior to women. Is it something genetic? It certainly is something culturally engrained around the world. Women are slowly rising in status. Perhaps there is hope in the world that by doing so, the world may come to be a safer more peaceful place. It will not happen in my life, and probably not in my granddaughter’s life, but hopefully seven generations from now we may see progress. Namaste Attic Annie


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Filed under general topics, life, politics, self worth, Uncategorized

We Make the Angel Tree Project Successful!

I have participated in our church’s Angel Tree Project for the past five years. I’ve gone from buying presents for my particular angel to wrapping presents to working at the table where the parents hand us their numbers so we can bring out their gifts.

Over the years, the situation has become ever more streamlined. The parents were in and out in five minutes or less yesterday. A waiting area is set up with coffee and cookies if a whole bunch come at the same time. Everything is run like a machine. One family comes into our room at a time. The parent hands us the number they receive at the first table, we double check at our table (my job), we call out the number and “runners” walk behind the screen to where the packages are all bagged and numbered in order. They bring the presents out from behind the screen, the parents pick them up and go out the back door.  1 – 2 -3.

It is all over in three hours. Any clients who are unable to come to the church on Saturday can pick up their presents at the agency with whom the church partners for this project. It is one church and one agency. It is manageable and much more personable.

Some of the parents have to bring their children because there is no one to care for them. The younger children don’t really understand what is going on. The older children get a sneak preview of what “Santa” will be bringing a week from now. There’s no way that bicycles can be hidden. The smiles are from ear to ear.

More than one parent broke down crying when they received the presents. These are people who have no way of buying anything for their children. Someone in the family, father or mother, and sometimes father and mother, are chronically and in many cases, seriously, ill. They are in survival mode. There’s no money for extras. One young woman hugged each one of us to show her gratitude. She was so relieved her child would have something under the tree.

Our team leader makes certain that every child has something. Every year all the angels have been taken from the tree. This year there were ten left hanging. I started last year to donate money instead of taking one angel to insure that everyone gets what they wished for. Several others have taken to doing the same thing. The leader and the co-chair see to it that they personally shop for all those who were not chosen. If all angels are chosen, she shops for those who don’t get much to give them a little more. She is determined this project will be a success for all the children.

It was not a surprise that there were angels left on the tree. Our church has been experiencing a loss of members. Couple that with the economic situation, not every member of the congregation can afford to participate as in years past.

Our leader tells us there are families in our congregation that for them, this is their Christmas. Instead of exchanging presents among the family members, they contribute to the children in this program. Now THAT is the Christmas Spirit.

The children who accompany their parents never complain about the size of the bundle for them. There’s no whining, no temper tantrums, no, “Is that ALL”?  My Christmas is very small now that I do not live anywhere near relatives and my son is half a world away. In many ways, the three hours at church on a Saturday morning being a part of such a team IS my Christmas. I leave at the end feeling a warmth that I consider my true present. Namaste. Attic Annie

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I Do Not Handle Change

I do not handle change well. I eventually get used to it and adapt to it but that does not mean I react to it well at all.

I do a poor job of analyzing why I prefer to be “set in my ways” even if my “ways” are not serving me well at all. My early childhood, for example, was one of constant change. My mother’s sister lived right next door to us. As an infant, my aunt took me in while my mother had surgery and recovered. Those days I should have been given a chance to bond with my mother were not afforded to me. About the time that I became accustomed to living with my aunt (I have no idea how long) my mother recovered enough to take me home again. This lasted from what I understand about  eighteen months, give or take, when it was discovered that her cancer had spread to her bones. I became too much to handle so back I went to my aunt’s home where I remained until my mother died two months before my fourth birthday.

My father brought me home and there were a series of temporary housekeepers until his sister came to live with us when I was five. She was in the home for less than a year when she also had an operation and spent an extended amount of time at another sister’s home during her recovery. About the same time a full time housekeeper/child sitter was found who arrived around eight in the morning and left around seven at night. She lasted for about ten years so at least she was a constant but she had the warmth of a robot. She was just there.

When I was six and in first grade, another of my mother’s sisters had a stroke and died. She had tried to get my father to allow her to adopt me. I’m thankful she didn’t. I saw her every morning at school that first year when she combed my hair and tied my bows. These are things the housekeeper didn’t seem to think were necessary to do for me. Then my aunt was gone.

There were several other significant people in my life along the way who just disappeared including several male friends, a fiance, and a husband. Add to that the deaths of aunts and uncles and the divorce of the aunt and uncle who lived next door. In college there were three different schools and a change in majors before I finally graduated, along with the death of my father when I was twenty one.

Details of that part of my life are not necessary to share at this point other than to point out there was a pattern of losses to my life. My son is still a part of my life but being separated by half the world does not make the relationship an easy one to maintain. If I didn’t try to stay a part of his life, it would be easy for that relationship to end as well.

That being said, there is another separation occurring in my life. Almost seven years ago I found a church home unlike any other I had found. There were many opportunities to join classes and groups and really get to know the other members. There were social opportunities. It was a place where I felt I belonged. I echoed the same thoughts of many others.

Other churches i attended were a show up on Sunday morning type of congregation. If I was lucky, I learned the name of two or three other people who went there. That was not the case with this one.To repeat,  I felt like I was home. There was a warmth and acceptance that was lacking in my life that was being filled after too many years to count.

Since I am not a political type person, I was unaware that a rift was developing. There was major dissension occurring. A large percentage of the congregation was unhappy. The most visible ones were in the choir. Today was the last Christmas concert. Those who had not already left had stuck it out to perform. It was the final performance for many of them but no one is talking about who is remaining and who is moving on. I asked one member and she said, “I guess we’ll find out on the eighteenth to see who shows up to sing.” She, like all the others, is not committing. The choir director resigned as of this last performance and many are going with her. No one is talking about if the pianist is leaving as well or not. A few months ago the board resigned en masse and a new board was elected. It is not a pleasant situation.

I tend to draw into my shell when I am faced with a loss. I have been invited to go with those that are forming a new fellowship. I would feel invited if I did, but it seems about half of those I know are remaining and are trying to rebuild. I freeze in situations like this. In ways i want to just get things over with and see how many are still around after January 1 and how many are gone. In other ways, I don’t want to open my eyes and face the reality.

The concert today was outstanding. I am praying that other voices will be found to rebuild the choir. I loved to sing as a child but years of strep throats and allergies have long ago left me with a range of maybe five notes and even those are scratchy. I have to remain in the pews. I am just hoping there will be enough of us remaining to rebuild. I  understand that change occurs and growth occurs and death occurs. I just wish I didn’t have to be a part of it. Namaste. Attic Annie




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Filed under family, friendship, grief, life, relationships, spirituality, transition, Uncategorized

Pedro, the faithful traveling companion

I named him Pedro because, after all, he was, and still is, Mexican. Pedro is “the rock”. He is there to tell me that all is well. He gives me confidence that I will get where I want to go and back again. He has aged tremendously since I received him as a traveling companion over four years ago. The exact date eludes me at the moment.

Instead of an orange sombrero, it is now a soft melon color. It’s definitely pastel. His serape is no longer kelly green and red. It is more ordinary green and tan. The red is gone. The fringe that was once gold is now lemon. His mane is turning an auburn hue where the sun is bleaching it. The fur under the hat is dark brown. Neither his mane or his tail is black any longer. I’m sad to say I don’t remember the color of his skin exactly but I think it had rather a taupe hue to it. Now it’s the color of beach sand on a cloudy day. His underbelly is still yellow. His tail is now a crazy two tone ash brown where the sun hits and brunette on the underside.

He is currently sitting on my kitchen desk on top of my computer. I had to bring him inside to re glue the velcro square that helps him maintain his position on my dash board. As you can see from the picture I found on EBay,Pedro, my traveling companion, is a donkey or I guess more properly, a burro.

He has been there faithfully since my neighbor Maxine gifted him to me to keep me company on a drive I made down to south Texas to visit with a friend. I was driving nearly 500 miles. You never know with Maxine’s gifts. She may have had Pedro for years or found him at a garage sale. Only heaven knows where he came from. I don’t wish to disparage Maxine. I would never knowingly do that. It’s just that she has a way of recycling a lot of knickknacks over the years. I don’t envision her actually buying new items in the stores for an express purpose such as giving me a traveling companion. She just loves to give away things she has on hand.

Before I brought him inside, he was sliding all over the front of the car. Usually he would come to rest against the passenger side door., belly up. Sometimes he would land on the floor. It was OK as long as he didn’t land under one of the pedals. I decided I had to re anchor him before he became dangerous.

It’s cold and rainy today. I don’t plan on driving anywhere but I’ll take him out and place him on the dashboard once again. He is showing signs of aging but then again so am I. I don’t look the same as I did five years ago either. He’s a humble little donkey. He sits and spreads his front legs. His head bows almost as if he is praying with his closed eyes. Is he asleep and dreaming of wide open fields in Mexico? Is he offering up a plea to the heavens that for just one more time I will get him there and back safely? He’s the only one who knows. I just know that he is a faithful companion and a constant reminder of Maxine who didn’t want me to travel on my 1,000 mile round trip alone. I appreciate both of them.  Namaste Attic Annie



Filed under friendship, general topics, life, relationships

Why doesn’t Santa stay in stores year round?

I try to start my day with positive uplifting information. Today was not one of those days. I read in our local paper about Santa arriving in Hurst this weekend.


When I was really young all we had was a parade when Santa came to town. He then sat on his “throne” in the department store and we stood in line to see him. I remember gazing at the wonderful window displays downtown. My Christmas in Illinois was not unlike Ralphie’s Christmas in Indiana.  A few years later when I was in third or fourth grade I could watch THE Parade on Thanksgiving Day on television. By that time I was no longer taken to the parade but it was still a thrill to see Santa arrive at the end in his big sleigh.  Thanksgiving Day ( or a day close to it) meant the start of Christmas to the children.

Now stores are putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween and sometimes immediately after the Back to Schools sale. And Santa is arriving earlier than ever. November 5? Really? The stores say “they are starting early because there is a demand.” Really? It’s not from mothers who are hassled and harassed every day by young children who demand to know how much longer. It’s not from fathers who traditionally wait until the last day to shop any way. Who is actually causing the demand?

This event is taking place at Bass Pro Shop,  which features “fishing tackle and equipment, hunting, camping, marine, and outdoors supplies, plus clothing”. Firefighters are going to pick him up at the “remote sleigh parking area” and drive him to the food court. I’m curious as to who is picking up the tab for this ride.

The shop has a Santa’s Wonderland on display with a crafts section and a train display. The columnist who wrote the news article called it “Occupy Stores event.”

I have accepted the fact that Christmas and commercialism go hand in hand. After all, Macy’s first parade in New York was way before my birth. It was done to draw people to the Macy’s store instead of Gimbel’s. I guess maybe it was in answer to Gimbel’s parade in Philadelphia. I don’t know. Maybe I have that backwards.

That’s not the point. Actually, today I am not certain as to what my point is. Other than Americans have allowed their children to be persuaded and manipulated by mass media and mass commerce from the time of their birth. Little girls no longer are allowed to be little girls. They are bombarded by clothing and behaviors that were once reserved for mid teens. Babies before they can walk are entered into beauty contests. By the time they are three, they are sexual objects.  They all want to be like teenagers even when they are as young as kindergarteners. The milk they drink is laced with hormones that start their puberty by second and third grade. Little boys? They have their pressures too.

What does that  have to do with Christmas? Santa to me is the spirit of giving. Christmas is a time of wonder for little imaginations. We have turned it into a season of me me me. Parents go into debt trying to satisfy the greed they nourish in their children that so often starts with early Christmas.

Almost two months is an awfully long time for children to have to wait. Seven weeks is an eternity. If Santa comes the first weekend in November, by Christmas all the joyous feelings will long be gone. Attention spans are just not that long. Anticipation will be replaced by apathy. Either that or the stress caused by the unending anticipation will cause their little bodies more harm.

My argument has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus which is well known to not have occurred on December 25. So responders, if any, do not have to go into the real “reason for the season”.

It has to do with the insatiable desire to hook customers at a younger and younger age. It has to do with robbing children of their childhood. It has to do with stores like Bass Pro Shops baiting children to try to get their fathers to shop early. OK that’s sexist I know but look at what they sell.

America has gone crazy with Christmas. I think it’s time to restore the sanity. I’d love to hear that this event was a big bust. Not that I have anything against the store. My beef is with stores like them who are like the Grinch who stole Christmas! Let’s keep the Christmas season at least confined to the month before the actual date. That’s long enough for any child to have to wait. Otherwise, let’s just keep Santa in stores year round and he can become an ignored fixture that kids pass by without paying any attention. We can then admit that there is no longer a “season” for joy and GIVING!



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An Anglo-Chinese Wedding Part 2

When we arrived at the Beijing Airport, we had to transfer to another terminal to pick up our luggage. Things went smoothly since we followed the other people from our plane and the few signs that were in English. We were only on the train a few minutes. By the time we figured out where to pick up our luggage and went to the bathroom, we were among the last to go through the check in to get to the gate.

I was still carrying the $4.00 bottle of water I had bought in Chicago. Because the flight attendants were so good at offering drinks, I had only sipped about 1/4 of it. It was taken away from me and tossed. That’s the last time I buy big bottles that I won’t have time to drink.

The plane to Dalian was already boarding. We were supposed to meet friends of my son at the gate. They were coming from South China for the wedding. I spied someone looking around and smiling just as she got to the front of the line. She looked like her facebook picture so I waved. It was really strange when I got on board and realized my assigned seat was right next to hers and her husband’s. We had about an hour to get acquainted. I could understand why they and my son had become friends. I liked both of them immediately.

Julie’s family all turned out for the reception at the airport. There were probably ten people there. Aunts, uncles, cousins, parents…all had come to greet us. Nathan was there to greet us with bouquets of flowers. We hugged each other and I didn’t want to let go. I almost started crying. It’s hard to see your son only every 18 months or so. I had sent a message to Julie that I was looking forward to her calling me Mom. She hugged me and did just that. It sounded wonderful.

It had taken quite a while for our luggage to arrive. Nathan’s friends had gone out first. Becky was standing there holding a bouquet as well. I wondered why but didn’t say anything. Julie’s grandmother grabbed my hand. She is only about eight years older than I am but she is very strong and healthy. When we started walking, I thought she was preparing me for a marathon as we headed to the car.

The trip to downtown Dalian was really a trip! I didn’t see any accidents but I was prepared for one at any moment. Those people cut in front of each other with centimeters to spare. I get nervous when there are only a few feet in between me and someone cutting in. I was astounded at the drivers. Traffic was flowing freely, literally bumper to bumper. It was amazing. I tried to relax but I was glad when we stopped and I could breathe again.

We checked into the hotel. Nathan and Julie went with us up to the room and turned on the air conditioning and checked to see that everything was o.k. The other couple was in the room next to ours. Since it was about 10 at night there, we went to bed. About two in the morning, both of us woke up. It was getting warm. The a/c had been turned off. That even included the fan. We made it through the night and in the morning we opened the window to let in some air.

The breakfast was part of the charge for the room. Nathan and Julie joined the four of us. I had a couple of brown (soaked in tea) hard boiled eggs, some orange liquid that was supposed to be juice, and a variety of non-descript vegetables. After breakfast, a tour around Dalian by van was arranged for us.

Dalian is a lovely city…or at least it would be if there were not so much construction going on. I don’t believe we drove a single mile without seeing at least two projects. They took us along a road that bordered the coast. We could see the East China Sea in the distance.

Nathan and Julie had arranged for everyone to eat at this lovely restaurant. There were eight of us, including the two drivers who were giving us the tour. When we entered I saw tank after tank of fresh live seafood. We were taken to a private room upstairs and waited while Nathan and Julie went downstairs to pick out our food. It was our first exposure to eating Chinese family-style.

There was a large Lazy Susan in the center of the table. As the dishes began to arrive, they were placed there. The others picked up their chopsticks and began eating right from the dishes, one bit at a time. The last dish to arrive was a fresh fish (I don’t know what kind) who I called “George”…as in, “George, I knew him well….”. He was the first George. Before our trip was over, we had been served at least four more. I told the story about George Foreman and his sons to Julie. Each new fish now became another George. They were by far, in my opinion, the best part of the meal. I’m in love with Chinese steamed fish…heads and all.

After a rest back at the hotel, we met one more time for supper. This was kind of the “rehearsal dinner”. There is a popular restaurant chain called “The Hot Pot” where Becky, Bob, Barb, Julie, her parents, Nathan and I went. It was delicious as long as I, like the noon meal, didn’t ask too many questions as to what we were eating.

Unfortunately, when we got back to the hotel, we realized the a/c was still not working. Barb and Betsy went down to the desk. They thought that translators were being called. Instead, Nathan and Julie arrived. At that time of night, nothing was done. We had to sleep with the window open which meant the traffic noise was unceasing. We got little sleep. I was so proud of Nathan. He kept his cool the entire time he was trying to handle this. Here it was the night before his wedding and there were still things which needed attention. I smiled as I realized the calming effect Julie had on him. I could see the tension, but he didn’t explode. I fell in love with her even more so.


Filed under Casual conversation, diary, family, friendship, general topics, life, marriage, travel

A Marriage in Dalian

Yesterday was my only child’s marriage thirteen hours ahead and half the world away. While I was in bed trying to sleep, he and his fiance were at the marriage hall signing papers in Dalian, China. A friend of mine calls her adult offspring her chadults. This was my chadult. He has waited almost thirty five years of his life to “take a wife”.

He has had several serious relationships in the past seventeen years or so but nothing ever really clicked. I never heard who broke  up with whom with those girls.

He left this country to become a world citizen while he was still in his twenties. The amount of time we have spent together since then can be measured in days, not years. It’s hard to find out about his life in that kind of situation. so many sons don’t share those kinds of feelings anyway .

I’m glad that he decided to marry. I’m hoping that means he is wanting to have a child. I don’t know how long he plans to stay in China but there will be only one if they stay there, although China  makes exceptions if neither parent has siblings or for foreigners.

I’m old fashioned enough to believe that a child needs both a father and a mother. Sometimes that idea is not realistic if one parent or the other is a poor role model.

I grew up without a mother and I did not want my son to grow up without a father. I never would have left him, even though our marriage was rocky from the start and became rockier when my son was born. In many ways, I was relieved when his father left our home. I tried to find healthier role models for him as he grew older. My son was and still is very closed about how our divorce affected him. I hope he didn’t take his father’s actions as lessons into his own marriage.

I don’t know if my son will follow in his father’s footsteps or will consciously choose to take another path. I’m hoping everything that was negative in his life he will use in a positive way in his marriage. If it had not been for the fact that I desire to have a grandchild, I think I might have tried to convince him to just continue to live with her rather than marry her. That lifestyle has become more acceptable now.

I think a man behaves better when he realizes that she can walk out at a moment’s notice without any strings attached. That idea keeps him behaving much better towards her. I’ve seen too many men take their wives for granted and treat them with contempt once the wedding is over.

I see so much good in my son and know he is capable of being a wonderful husband. I have never talked with my new daughter-in-law to know anything at all about her. I just wish the best for them and a long road of happiness ahead of them. I wish them both my best wishes. Namaste Attic Annie

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