Category Archives: relationships

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


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Parents, Before you yell when you hear “Is that All?” …

Since I’m going to be a grandmother next year, even if it is long distance, I’ve started reading some of the mommy blogs like the one on The Today Show Moms blog just to see how things have changed since my childhood or my son’s. Last week they were talking about spoiled kids at Christmas. A couple of the moms commented about their children saying, “Is that all?” after opening the presents. One mother talked about immediately punishing the child and letting her know her attitude was not appreciated and sending her to her room. I tried to add a comment but I couldn’t get signed in so I let it go, but it brought back memories.

I have very few recollections of Christmas and opening presents while I was still at my father’s home. I remember my aunt complaining about having to decorate the tree by herself. She never once in my memory invited me to join her or try to make it a festive time of sharing. One year she just talked about how lazy I was not to help. It was her “chore” and she resented it. I didn’t know it was something I was allowed to do. If she had smiled and invited me to help her, I would have joined in willingly. Most years she did it when I wasn’t around. It was just suddenly, “I’m tired of doing this all by myself. You do it.” But at the same time, I could never hang the single strands of tinsel to her satisfaction. Dad’s job was to bring home the tree. There was never an invitation to help pick out the “best one”. It just appeared. It was stuck in the corner of the room next to the couch. Christmas in our home was just a time to do and not a time to share.

The opening of the presents was fairly joyless as well. I do have a memory of a couple of years running downstairs to see what Santa had brought, but that stopped when I was still pretty young. Showing excitement was only barely tolerated in my memory. Exchanging presents was just something we did. There was no oohing and ahhing or prolonged and excited thanks.

I am unable to remember exactly what year the big transgression took place. I’m assuming it was some time in between seventh and tenth grade. I seem to remember my sister was still at home. One by one my sister or I doled out the presents. The wrapping paper was strewn around. I was on the floor close to the tree. My father was seated across from me sitting on a dining room chair. My sister was on the couch and my aunt was in the chair.

The passing out of gifts had stopped and all presents seem to have been opened, but I wasn’t sure. Since the tree was in the corner, it was easy to miss presents behind the tree. I uttered the most grievous words I could have said all day. It was either “Is that everything?”  or maybe “Is that all?” I simply meant have all the presents been passed out, should we start picking up the paper…something along that line. I did NOT mean to infer I thought I didn’t get enough and that I wanted more.

My father did not interpret what I said that way. He very seldom even recognized when I was in the room with him. We just didn’t talk with each other. Suddenly he simply erupted! He must have ranted for five minutes about how selfish I was and how ungrateful and how I should be glad for what I did get. He even turned red in the face. In the meantime, if I could have dug a hole in the floor to escape into the basement, I gladly would have. My cheeks were positively burning with chagrin. I couldn’t move. I just sat there and took the blows. I couldn’t even defend myself. One thing I don’t remember doing is crying. I refused to cry in front of my father.

My father ran out of steam and the room became silent. I started collecting the wrapping paper to give myself something to do. In those days we opened the presents carefully and folded the paper so that it might be used again the next year. I have no idea what happened after that. I guess we all went our separate ways in the house. The memory fades.

I wanted to yell at the mother in the blog who talked of immediately punishing her child for her “attitude”. She knows her child better than I. Perhaps the child was being a brat. But on the outside chance that the child simply meant, “Are we done with this activity?” or something similar, he or she should at least be questioned before the parent goes into such an action. It’s only fair.

Do I remember what I got for Christmas that year? No way. Do I remember the chastisement? You bet I do…like it was last year. I have pretty much blocked out any memories of Christmas at our house. It was not a time for joy.  That episode made Christmas something even less to be thankful for.

Parents, give yourself  and your child a break. Question them calmly before acting. It may save a lot of lingering bitterness. You may never know. 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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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



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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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A friend of mine posted the following item on his FB page this morning.

“Thank you God for the opportunity to spend time with family. As always, it is tough to leave but keep them in our hearts while we are away and be with us as we continue our journey through life. I love all of you and am eternally grateful to have the honor to be poppapete in your lives. AMEN”

I replied “Mizpah Genesis 31:49”.

It seemed an appropriate reminder to him of the prayer asking God to watch over us while we are absent from one another.

It originally referred to the story of Laban and Jacob. They made a covenant with each other that neither of them would cross the place where they had set up  a heap of stones and a pillar.

“This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me.”

Over the years it came to symbolize an emotional bond between two people who want God to watch over each other while they have to be apart.

I’ve been thinking about forty-three years ago when I bought a coin and necklace like the picture above to share with my friend who was leaving for Viet Nam. He was no longer my fiance. That engagement was broken before I went out to Washington, D.C. to spend time with him before he shipped out. He had broken the engagement with me saying he didn’t want to leave me a war widow in the event he never came back. He claimed he couldn’t say he didn’t still love me.

Before he left I gave him half the coin to wear with his dog tags. I wanted him to come back to me.

I didn’t see him again until he returned from serving his time in the Marines and finally came home from Nam . He came by himself to the wedding of friends of ours. I set up his best friend with my best friend. I had asked someone else to go to the wedding with me but he backed out at the last minute leaving me to go by myself as well.

After the service I asked him if he would give me a ride to the reception. Before we went inside I gave him some of the things he had given me, including the other half of the coin. It was obvious by that time that we were not going to get together.

I’ll skip the part about the reception and the ice cream social at the church we both were members of. Needless to say there were some very uncomfortable moments since my best friend had fixed him up with one of her bridesmaids who kept him company all the time he was home on leave. He sat at the bride’s table with her. My “friend”, the bride, paid no attention at all to me.

He left again and a month or so later I received a letter from him apologizing for the way he behaved.He asked me to forgive him.  I had been told he was gone or I wouldn’t have gone to the social only to watch him with the other girl. It was not a pretty sight.

I wrote back to him since I was still not ready to give up and told him all was forgiven. Then I talked with him, thinking I would fly to see him, and found out in the meantime he had met someone else. They had a very brief relationship before he married her.

Turns out his wife and I became friends. For one year we lived within easy driving distance from each other. She had a baby and seven months later I had my son. The friendship was not to last long since my ex was transferred again to my current home.

About three years later I was in Chicago with my son. I was still in contact with her. She invited us to visit. We spent the day at the museum and then spent the night at her house with her, her husband, and her two sons. Her husband was supposed to come home to take us all out to dinner. He was late. When he did come home, he was drunk. We both drank while we dated. He seemed to have stepped it up somewhat. He drove but I was very uncomfortable with the situation.

The next morning he went to work. His wife and I were sitting at the table and she suddenly asked me what Mizpah meant. I was taken aback. I asked her why. She said that her husband had the coin in his drawer. He had never gotten rid of it.

They drove me to our home town where my son and I continued our visit with other relatives. I was out at the car while her husband unloaded our suitcases. Before we left, he hugged me good bye.

That was the last time in thirty years that I saw him. His boys grew up and stayed in Illinois. He and his wife moved out to California. Once in a while I make a game out of trying to find old friends through the internet. I finally found him on Linked-In. He has done exceedingly well for himself. He is still listed with his wife. I have no intention of re-establishing any contact. I’d hate to be thought of as a stalker even though his wife and I became very close that year we spent in the same area.

I don’t know how their married life has been. They are still together so I guess things are good enough between the two of them. When I found out about the coin, he had been married for seven years or more. I often wonder if he ever tossed the coin or if it is still in his drawer. I never did toss out the college pin he gave me on Valentine’s Day or the earrings he gave me for my birthday. I just can’t let myself do it. I sometimes wonder if he ever feels the same way. I wonder if God is still watching over us while we are absent one from another. Namaste Attic Annie

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Things we own can be taken away in a heartbeat

This letter arrived yesterday in my inbox. It was sent by a man in Joplin to his sister who was a friend of a friend of my friend who forwarded it all the members in our Sunday discussion group. News travels much more quickly these days.

I have temporarily given up volunteering at the hospital for health reasons. I cannot imagine what it would be like if that hospital had been hit the way his was. I don’t know how often they have emergency preparedness drills. I hope it is often. Being prepared is the best way to handle any disaster of this proportion. My heart goes out to everyone in Joplin. Every time the tornado siren sounds in my neighborhood, I know what could possibly be the result. One never knows. This man certainly did not. Please pray healing for all those affected by this storm.

I just received this letter which was passed on by a man named John, who works at Freeman Hospital in Joplin.  What a horrific tale John tells.  Sharron


Date: Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 3:21 PM

ok everybody.  here we go.. what a ride it has been.  I just woke up from crashing finally..

I was at work at Freeman hospital when the tornado hit.  I was the ONLY mantanaince man on the evening shift.  the alert sounded.  said it was a warning for carl junction which is 10 miles north of where we were.

I started all the generators.  10 of them.  just in case… when the storm hit  we did  not realize what had happened only 1/4 north of us at St Johns.  not until the caravans of people started coming in.   St Johns took a direct hit.  blew out all the windows, then had a gas leak and an explosion.   the tornado was about 8 blocks wide and went through Joplin.  west to east.. never left the ground.  residential… business… residential… main business.. residential.

we had people coming in pickups with wounded.. cars with all the windows blown out.  people on boards, doors, tables.  we emptied 4 conference rooms of the rolling chairs .. about 100.. to use as wheel chairs.  we had 4 triage areas going full blast.  one at each entrance.  people were lined up for 10 blocks or more just to get to our driveways.  we had just gone through an earthquake drill last week, so every one knew their supplies were.  it was calm chaos.  hundreds of wounded,  covered in blankets, sitting in chairs, lying on the floor in rows.  blood every where.. new chairs coming now for sure…. the nurses and doctors were great.

our phones were out instantly… the cell towers were inundated, couldn’t get out.  we couldn’t call for reinforcements.. they just started showing up.  from every where.. emt’s, nurses, doctors, local and even from out of town.  the few in the kitchen started making sandwiches,  we brought out all the blankets we had, brought up rolling supply carts of bandages, cases of bottled water.

formed small groups of volunteers to manage traffic so the ambulances could get in and out.  school buses of injured started coming it.  truckers were bringing in semi loads of injured.  no lights in joplin, we have a six story tower and all you could see were blue and red lights everywhere.

I personally took the 1st six bodies and started a temporary morgue.  The stories people were telling were beyond belief… we had probably 10 or 12 dogs running somewhat loose in the hospital that people had brought in with them.  smoking in the hospital on a no smoking campus. cries of pain, sorrow and yes even joy when people would find loved ones.

The situation in town is way WORSE  than you see on tv.  I came home in the dark and did not know where I was because of the destruction, untill I came to a round about in the road and realized I had gone a mile too far.  I couldn’t get through to Sandy on the phones and people started coming in from the area I lived in with horror stories of total destruction.

the home depot you see on tv is just blocks from us… finally another employee came in and said his mom was ok.  and she just lives two blocks from us.  the tornado just missed my son by two blocks as well.  My daughter in law is a therapist and has no office building to go to anymore.  her father is a dentist who has no office building to go to anymore.

Joplin will take years to rebuild.  kinda like the twin towers.  you can actually see all the way through town, end to end.  the high school is gone.  a major business street, going east and west on the east of town is flat on both sides of the street for two miles.  nothing left standing.  thousands of people have lost their homes, and their possessions, AND  their income because their places of employment have vanished off the map.

on the other hand, THANK THE LORD,  I have my home, my possesions and my job.  I never had to serve in combat, but surely this has to be somewhat similar in relation of chaos.  I kinda know what the Japanese must feel like after the sunami now.   yes I know some of the dead in joplin personally.

Freeman hospital still looks kinda like it did that night.  we still have STUFF everywhere.  the floor is still dirty because joplin has virtually no water pressure. we barely have enough water to run our sterilzers for instruments.   only two bathrooms work in the hospital.. don’t know whey they do… the water company has SO MANY broken pipes in houses that are gone, that they can’t get the pressure to come up.  a large area of the roof blew off and the rain collected and ran down inbetween the layers of roofing and into the areas full of pipes and wires and is still dripping and of course the rain won’t stop so we can fix the roof.  we have buckets all over the halls and even have a couple of areas of rooms we can’t even use because the water keeps coming out of the ceiling area.  we have removed hundreds of ceiling tiles that have gotten wet and were coming down anyway.

the fire alarms keep going off all the time because the  wiring system is getting wetter and wetter with all the leaks.  we have to check each alarm to make sure there is no fire and then silence it.


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