Tag Archives: culture

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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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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It Should Pain ALL of Us

Syria-Kid-Close-up-Face-Paint-Girl-English1

http://www.democracychronicles.com/hillary-clinton-attending-meeting-about-syria/

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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Shakespeare Didn’t Corner the Market on Tragedy

photo from Star Telegram

Shakespeare did not corner the market on tragedy.

The play that has been unfolding in the past month here in Fort Worth is worthy of a Shakespearian nod along with the best of his works.

Last month there was a two vehicle accident in the middle of the afternoon. The driver of a pickup veered into the path of an Escalade EXT. The teen age driver and one of his passengers was killed. Another passenger was seriously injured. The driver was drunk. He had left school at lunch time to purchase a 32 oz. bottle of malt liquor. He was seventeen. The dead girl and the injured one were both fifteen. I’m sure they were probably excited to be with “an older man” who was showing off his skills of being able to drink and drive at the same time. That was a fatal flaw in their thinking.

As if that were not enough of a tragedy, the event took another life yesterday. The teenager had a friend who tried to stop him from driving. The newspaper article does not go into more details of how the friend tried to stop the driver. In any event, the friend failed in his efforts and instead decided to follow the truck to make sure his friend and passengers arrived home safely. He witnessed the fatal accident and tried to help, but it was too late. The girl died at the scene. The driver died the next day.

The friend was left behind with a terrible sense of guilt  . He blamed himself for the death of his friend. He had failed to prevent the accident. His self-reproach was unimaginable.

The teen age years with their normal angst are hard enough to navigate. Adding to that the death of a friend, for which rightly or wrongly one takes on full responsibilty, is a load that few people can handle.

The friend succumbed to the pressure.

He died a few days ago from a self-inflicted gun shot wound to his head, leaving his mother and a younger brother to find him.

He also left behind another who claims he was the young man’s “best friend”.

The clerk who sold the boy the malt liquor was arrested in a sting. The mother is left with her grief. There was no gun in the house. She will always wonder how he was able to obtain it.

The boy had returned some borrowed clothing from his “best friend” and talked about what good friends they were…like brothers. The friend is now probably wondering why he didn’t pick up the signals that the boy was saying good bye.

The teen age years are difficult enough to get through without the addition of guns and alcohol. The DARE program presented by the police just isn’t enough. They try to teach the kids tools to help them through the gauntlet until adulthood is reached. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes not.

Do I have the answers? Certainly not. I have felt blessed every day that my son made it through those years of drinking and driving in spite of me more than because of me.

Tragedies happen. If someone knows the answers to how to keep drivers from drinking, teen agers from obtaining guns, and friends from committing suicide because of the guilt, I hope s/he comes forward. We have been involved with these problems too long.

I’m certain Shakespeare with his command of language could even come up with a quote that would wake us up to the fact that what we are doing is not good enough. Enough is enough!

My knowledge of Shakespeare in extremely limited. The quote that kept running through my mind as I read the paper was this:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep:
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to…

It is sad that the friend who tried to help decided “not to be” and all too sadly, “there’s the rub”.

Namaste  Attic Annie

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Fort Worth = Spring Break, Seriously?

When I first saw the blog from the Fort Worth Convention and Visitor’s  Bureau inviting people to Fort Worth for spring break, I laughed. Seriously? Really?

Don’t get me wrong. When my ex said we would be moving to Texas, I was devastated. All I knew about Texas was cowboys, pickup trucks, gun racks, dust, tumbleweeds, and dirt. Miles of dirt. Actually, I was almost half right. The phrase “Where the West Begins” is a reality when describing this town. Drive west only a few miles and that’s exactly what you have. Beyond Weatherford, trees get mighty scarce. The dust however, is constantly present. It sometimes arrives in storms.

We had one week to find a house. On our first day of driving around the city, it was comforting to experience the many gently rolling hills and the actual trees and grass and flowers. Lots of flowers around town. I fell in love with this place. Even after my ex left in the  ’80s, I made the conscious decision to stay here. I’ve been here since 1977 and I don’t really have any plans to relocate anywhere else.

When I hear the term “spring break” however, I think in terms of college kids. Beer. Sun. Motels booked for two and holding ten. Swim suits. Beaches. Numerous activities that pay homage to a variety of physical pleasures. That does not connect with the image of Fort Worth.

Take a look at what the FWCVB lists as great activities for spring break.

Spring Break

Looking for the perfect Spring Break destination?

With exciting events and activities, Fort Worth has everything to keep your entire herd happy.

Top 10 Things to Do and See this Spring Break

1.  See the Fort Worth Herd, the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive, and have an up-close encounter with a Texas longhorn. 
2. Enjoy a variety of art activities during Family Fun Week at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Admission is FREE.
3. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Cowtown Goes Green in the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District.
4. Learn all about money and how its made at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
 5. Experience Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body that uses high-tech, interactive exhibits to explain the good, the bad and the ugly about why our body works the way it does to keep us healthy.
 6. Get outside and explore the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge through hayrides, canoeing, hiking and more.
 7. Cheer on rodeo professionals as they compete in the Stockyards Championship Rodeo, home of the first indoor rodeo.
 8. Take some “you” time by enrolling your little one in the Fort Worth Zoo’s 2012 Spring Break Camp.
 9. View demonstrations of woodworking, blacksmithing, coopering, and more at Log Cabin Village.
 10. At Spring Break Wonders at the Modern, children can create their own works of art after recieving inspiration from docent-guided tours of the museum.

Once I stopped laughing at the idea of FW being a final destination for spring break for college kids, I realized that the FWCVB was not targeting them. The spring break they are advertising is for families. Now I’m not sure how many families are able to take a trip in March all together at one time, but they may be on to an untapped market.

All of the items listed above are actually fun places to visit. They eliminated Six Flags but that’s because it is not in Fort Worth. It’s actually in Arlington, fifteen miles to the east. Glen Rose, about fifty miles to the southwest, has a few days of attractions as well at the Dinosaur State Park and the Fossil Rim Nature Center where you stay in the car and the animals roam free.

I’ve been trying for years to get my nieces to bring their families down here but so far I’ve been unsuccessful. I think they view Texas the same way I did back in the 70s. They were here for a few days a very long time ago as children but I doubt they remember much of anything about it. I’m not a good salesperson.

Of course you would have to rent a car if you didn’t have friends or relatives with a spare one to borrow. Texas is still bent on building tollways rather than mass transit. Fort Worth is definitely in that catagory. Dallas is on its way, but FW is still stuck in the 50s only with limited bus transportation.

The more I think about it, the more I think Fort Worth, for adults or families, is a great destination point for spring break. The weather is still not too hot. You can skip the cowboy scene after one day when you realize there’s more to FW than cowboys. A lot more. Just don’t bother to bring a bikini.


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Get off our bodies and out of our bedrooms!

I am totally upset by the trend I see happening in the United States concerning the control of women’s bodies by the men (and more than a few of the women) in our governments. I’m sure there are a godzillion posts by now about yesterday’s news concerning the Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood.

Since the 1960s, men have been losing control of women, en masse. It had been happening gradually since before women started wearing bloomers. It has been in the last fifty years that women in the United States have really asserted their rights to the control of their own bodies and their own lives.

It has not been a surprise that the men in power want to reclaim and hold on to that power. They see their position as “head of the household” as one ordained by God as the natural order. They have resisted the lessening of the women’s bonds for so many years that they now view themselves as “less than” a man when it comes to relationships with the women in their lives due to the freedom women have achieved.

This power struggle has now come to a head with the withdrawal of funds by the Susan G. Komen Foundation to Planned Parenthood. Their excuse is that they will not fund organizations that are under investigation by the U. S. Congress. Although they deny it, from what I have heard in the past twenty four hours, it is a flagrant attempt to disband Planned Parenthood because part of their services are for abortions. To do that, they are willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of women every year who would no longer be screened for breast cancer. Life of the unborn is more valuable than life of the mother. They are making that perfectly clear. The irony is that Planned Parenthood is one of the few “crisis pregnancy” groups that do counsel the women in their three choices: parenting, adoption, or abortion.

I am not in favor of abortions. I feel that should be the very last option a woman should choose. That being said, I believe that women should still have that choice and be treated in a sterile environment. Outlawing abortions would not stop abortions. History has clearly shown that. Women have chosen abortion since at least before 1500 BCE according to written Egyptian records. It probably started happening as soon as the first prehistoric woman realized the pregnancy could be ended.

Not every child is a wanted child. Not every child can be afforded. The reason for abortions vary with every single woman who seeks out that service. Ending legal abortions would simply drive women back to the back alleys into deplorable conditions. They would seek out powerful herb concoctions. They would implement coat hangers to attempt to do the job themselves. They would desperately seek an end to their unwanted condition regardless of whether it cost them their own lives or not.

The irony of government seeking to end abortions is that throughout history, men in power, or the sons of men in power who outwardly oppose abortion, are the first ones to pay for and drive or fly their girlfriends or wives to the abortionist in the first place.

The government that is opposing abortions is the same government that is complaining about the safety nets that are in place (as fragile as they are) to keep the unwanted children that are born from starving or dying from disease once they are born. They are the ones to continue to cut funding for their education, health, and housing.They are the ones who forbid the woman from having the abortion yet punish her for the rest of her life for the sin of getting pregnant.

They are also the ones who condemn the growing number of women who choose to keep their children when they have limited sources of income to do so. They gripe at having to provide food stamps, health care, and housing, wishing always to cut funding in those areas. They speak out of both sides of their mouths. To me, that signals multiple personality disorders.

One thing governments can not do is legislate morality. In a fairy tale land, according to them, all children would be planned for and wanted and well cared for by a mother and father who have the financial means to do so. There would never be any “accidents” even if the couple did not practice contraception as some religious groups advocate. Both the mother and the father would be loving and faithful to each other until death does them part. But, alas, that is not the real world. It never has been.

In the meantime, until that fairy tale land exists, governments should get out of the business of trying to control women. It may work for a while but, as evidenced throughout the world today, there will again come a point when women will have the courage to resist such control. The backlash from the Komen decision is a good indication that that time is now. Namaste. Attic Annie

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