Volcanoes, Hobbits and glowworms

AGMA’s back!

And I’m still fighting jet lag.  Even after a 2 night stopover in LA on Thursday and Friday before we flew home on Saturday.

So sorry I didn’t get anything posted other than the stinky haiku.  The days were full and this AGMA needs a full 8 at night.

And I really can’t do a proper post on my phone.

Fat fingers….

I missed you all!

Here’s the Readers Digest of our escapades:

  • 1 night in LA (fun and hot!)
  • 2 nights in Fiji (yes – Fiji!)
  • 7 nights on the North Island of New Zealand
  • 7 nights on the South Island of New Zealand
  • 2 nights in LA (cool and rainy – WTF??)

All good?

We were in New Zealand for a week in 2014 and went to Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

This trip, our stops were Hamilton, Taupo, Rotorua, Auckland (all on North Island) and Blenheim, Greymouth, Lake Tekapo, Oamaru and Cass Bay (all on South Island)

We had AMAZING weather pretty much the whole trip.  And it was far warmer than we had anticipated or that Weather.com had predicted for New Zealand.  AGMA had a “feeling” so I took out some long sleeved shirts and threw in some t-shirts, an extra pair of capris, and sandals in my suitcase like an hour we left!

Maybe I could get my own 800 number as a weather psychic?

I’ve said before, I’m not very good at the travel blog thing.  AGMA would end up droning on about boring stuff that you really couldn’t care less about.  ZZZzzz…

So let’s just do highlights with pictures (some pictures have captions that will pop up if you hover over them.)  And of course some words.  You know me…

1. Fiji.  It’s a country made up of 330 islands, 100 of which are inhabited.  We were there for 2 nights.  Guess how many islands we visited?  Yup – one…Viti Levu (location of the international airport.)  AGMA’s not too much of a tropical island/beach gal so what impressed me most about Fiji was the people.  Gracious, friendly and charming.  And the orchids at the Garden of the Sleeping Giant (land that used to belong to Raymond Burr of all people!!)

 

 

2.  The Ruakuri Cave and Waitomo Glowworm Cave (North Island).  Most people don’t do Ruakuri because the glowworms are the big draw at Waitomo.  But since hubs uses a mobility scooter and Waitomo isn’t accessible, but Ruakuri is, I did both caves.  It’s very cool that Raukuri is only one of two fully accessible caves in the world.   And honestly, Ruakuri was more interesting than Waitomo! And it had glowworms (but not nearly as many as Waitomo.)  And you could take pictures in it.

3.  The awesome and plentiful geothermal features of the Taupo/Rotorua area (North Island.)  Yes – AGMA’s a geology nerd!  This is one of the most geologically active areas of the world – the Pacific plate is moving under the Indo-Australian plate right underneath this area!!  It’s called the Taupo Volcanic Zone and is a super volcano like Yellowstone in the US. Lake Taupo is the largest lake in NZ and it is part of an enormous caldera formed from a volcanic eruption some 26,500 years ago.  The last eruption way back in 180 AD was the LARGEST volcanic eruption EVER!  EVER!  The effects of this massive eruption were seen and documented in Rome and China.  Just this morning, there was a volcanic eruption on White Island (the red dot at the top right of the first picture) in the Bay of Plenty (in this Taupo Volcanic Zone) which unfortunately took 5 lives with 8 people missing.  White Island in the red dot at the top right of the first picture.

 

4.  Hobbiton in Middle Earth (North Island)  And yes, I’m a LOTR geek as well!

Okay…there’s a bit more – we aren’t even on South Island yet!  But I’m still jet lagged and AGMA needs to get started on Christmas stuff.  We’ve been home almost 48 hours now  I have done nothing that is holiday oriented.

One more travel post so hang with me.

Maybe only one…

 

 

Incredible journeys

socks

Hubs and AGMA are hitting the road again. Finally.

We haven’t been on a long trip since May. I’ve been getting antsy.

Ya’ll know how I am…

We leave in almost exactly 48 hours. I have yet to do any serious packing. And I have an all day job tomorrow. Not the best job of planning on my part.

I did start pulling a few things together earlier in the week. Essentials like socks and underwear. The “base layer” some might call it.

There was much sighing as AGMA went through my sock drawer and came across several single socks. These are socks whose mates are long gone, sucked into that purgatory where naughty single socks are banished as punishment, never to return to the land of light.

Why do I keep single socks without a mate?

Who knows… Maybe to keep the memory alive of what a beautiful pair it and its significant other made. Maybe I’m holding out hope that the missing sock will enter the Narnia closet and come out back home in AGMA’s sock drawer. Maybe I’m just sentimental.

Whatever the reason, I can’t risk getting rid of the left behind sock lest its partner in crime magically reappears and I’m stuck with a single sock again.

Oh – what cruel irony that would be…

Then there’s my earrings. Oh, my earrings! The same alien force that transports my socks away from their mirror twin, also seeks to break up the unified bliss of my earrings.

And when it’s a pair of earrings that I REALLY like, I hold tightly on to the one that remains in hopes of a joyous reunion someday. In some cases, I’ve been waiting for a very long time for that reunion. 20 years ago, AGMA got an extra pierce in one of my ears to hold my single remaining diamond stud of the set that was gifted to me by Hubs a few years before.

I won’t give up on it finding its soul mate.

Perhaps I think it’s like that old Disney movie, The Incredible Journey, where a stylish black and white running sock, a thick brown wool sock and a shiny silver dangle earring are trying as hard as they can to get home despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles during the 365 mile trip from Cincinnati to Atlanta.

Or every Toy Story movie ever made where Woody and the gang face unmentionable dangers trying to get back to their adorable owner of the moment.

They are all out there somewhere trying to get back to AGMA.

In my heart, I just know they are.

In the meantime, I need to get my arse in gear packing for our 3 week trip through 4 different climate zones. In a carry on.

Which is why this post shorter than the normal AGMA-dribble.

I have my work cut out for me today.

Hopefully AGMA’s next post will be from the other side of the world in a different hemisphere where the water goes counterclockwise in a sink, the national rugby team does a ceremonial war dance before each game, and the skies are so dark at night you can see to the far end of the Galaxy.

I think it will be an incredible journey!

P.S. Don’t even get me started on plastic storage container lids…

White House wedding?

traditional-ukrainian-cloth

Every now and then, AGMA likes to review my WordPress spam folder to see what mischief some of the folks out there are up to.

I don’t have any special WP spam blockers like some of you.  I like to see the unfiltered messages of my adoring public.

AGMA must not be on the radar of the “really” fun people anymore because of late, my WP spam has been pretty boring.  Mostly because I can’t read any of the languages of this segment of my fan base.

I did however, receive a VERY heartfelt message from Zana in my email last week titled, I believe that there is my love in this world somewhere, could it be you? :

“Hello, from the first lines of this letter I only intend to explain to you that I really dream to meet a faithful man who will not just be a
husband for me, but a true friend, a passionate lover and possibly a papa for our future kids.
I really want to create a family based on love, good understanding as well as care and attention. It really is also really essential to have common ideas and needs about lifestyle.
Please, write me, what are your favors and dislikes, what are your personal motivations.
Do you have any dreams you have and exactly what your plans in the future??
If there is anything you don’t want to write to me right now, I am going to understand, don’t
worry. And of course, i will tell you everything about me personally u would like to find out!
And now i wish you all the best. i will be patiently waiting for your mail.

P.S! I am 28 years old and also im from Kiev, ukraine.
What is your age and exactly where you from???”

Sigh.  Just a gal looking for her Prince Charming…

You gotta believe in the magic of true love after reading that.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’m not a man.  And I’m already married.

AGMA’s thinking that maybe I can be her advocate by forwarding her email to some folks I’ve heard spent a lot of time in Ukraine.  I bet Rudy Giuliani and his wacky buddies can help her out.

At the very least, maybe RG can show this to the Big Orange Cheeto currently squatting in the Oval Office.  Melania’s turns 50 next year.  Based on his matrimonial history, BOC is surely ready to trade in her in for a newer, younger model.

(Ha – model – get it?  I crack myself up!)

I bet he can get Zana a genius visa (like he did for Melania, widely known in her country as the Genius of Slovenia) and she’ll be ready to take up residence in the White House faster than you can say Maria Yovanovitch!

Zana even writes like tRump.  All those missing letters, lack of punctuation and bad grammar.  And I’m sure RG and his band of merry Ukrainians can convince her that she has some dirt on Hunter Biden.

Get her a Twitter account and it’s a match made in heaven.

It’s been a long time since there’s been a good old fashioned White House wedding!

Putin will be the best man and Paula White can officiate (of course, after everybody invited to the wedding sends her their stock dividends from the last year.)  There will be a cat fight between Kellyanne, Sarah and Ivanka as to who will be the matron of honor.  I predict that the groom will choose Ivanka, secretly wishing he was marrying her…

How glorious it will be with hamberders and covfefe for all!

Tricia Nixon Cox, eat your heart out!

 

 

 

Yesterday

Back when AGMA was a young 20 something, I worked for the C M Paula company in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The company name may not sound familiar to you, but I KNOW all of you of a certain age will be familiar with what they made back in the day.

cmpaula

They were called Whatchamacallits!  Remember those?

I was a 23 year old newlywed and worked in the office doing some sort of administrative work.  Along with some women my age, I worked with Rose and Vera who were in their 60’s at the time.

They were a hoot!

Rose was snarky and funny.  I think AGMA now is a lot like Rose was back then!

And some 42 years later, I still remember that Vera’s husband was named Howard.  I don’t think I ever met Howard, but Vera entertained us with stories of Howard’s exploits which were always entertaining.

They had been married for over 40 years and she still adored Howard.  But Vera would say that she felt like she was born married and we all laughed.

AGMA’s not laughing anymore.

Hubs and I celebrated 42 years of marriage last month.

Hubs was never one to celebrate things like birthdays or anniversaries, so over the years AGMA has virtually eliminated any expectations of any type of celebration for either.  To the point that now the thought of making a big deal out of a birthday or anniversary makes me uncomfortable.

Exchange cards and let the day pass with a minimum of fuss is sort of my mantra for surviving the day.

So for our 42nd, we exchanged cards, went out to dinner at one of our “regular” places and then came back home and watched a movie.

But we paid $5.99 to rent it…

I know – we’re a wild crew.

But AGMA can’t quit talking about this movie!

The name of it is Yesterday and it’s such a clever, original premise.

The story centers around a struggling singer/songwriter who is about to give up on his career.  A 12 second blackout occurs all over the world.  He’s on his bicycle when the blackout happens and gets hit by a bus.

When he gets home from the hospital, his friends give him a guitar because his guitar was obliterated in the crash.  They ask him to sing a song so he starts singing Yesterday by The Beatles.  His friends are mesmerized.

When he’s finished, they ask in wonder when he wrote that song.  He’s confused and upset because he thinks they are playing a practical joke on him.

Slowly he comes to discover, in the world after the 12 second blip, The Beatles never existed.  He is the only one who remembers them and their songs.  Or is he?

Fascinating right?

And it just gets better from there.  Lily James is his sort of love interest/best friend, and musician Ed Sheeran and comdeian Kate McKinnon are also in the movie.

It’s a highly enjoyable, light RomCom.

But it touched AGMA a bit deeper that a normal movie of this sort.   It had distant echos of It’s A Wonderful Life.  Sort of a “what would life be like if…”

An appropriate movie to celebrate a 46 year relationship and a 42 year marriage that has not always been smooth or easy.

I sometimes wonder what my life would be like had I turned around and walked out of that college cafeteria in 1973 as was my first impulse.  The line was long and I was hungry (some things never change!)  I turned around to leave, then thought about it, turned back and got in line.  Hubs was in front of me in line.  I thought he was cute. We struck up a conversation, when on a date that night and the rest is history.

What if AGMA had not turned back and just walked out?  It was a huge state university so the odds of me coming across Hubs again would have been very remote.

Where would I be living?  What would my career have been?  Would I have gotten married?  Would I have had more children or none at all?  Would I be happy?

Something inside me told me to turn around and get in that cafeteria line.  Was it fate?  Divine guidance?  AGMA won’t know in this life.

This past weekend, we visited TMWGITW (the most wonderful grandchildren in the world) for V’s 3rd birthday party.  My younger son came up from Atlanta for the party as well.  It was a wild and wonderful weekend!  AGMA’s still exhausted…

As I recall watching and enjoying  my children and grandchildren, I know, in hindsight, that this is the only life I would have ever wanted.  Or been happy living.  Despite the struggle.  And that AGMA wouldn’t be who I am today (and am pretty content with) without the struggle.

Sweet and wise Vera, I know you are no long on this earthly plane, but where ever you are now, I get it!!

P.S.  See Yesterday!  It’s a really lovely movie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diva legs

marathon legs

The conversation went something like this past Sunday:

AGMA:  I really need you two to try a bit harder.

Legs:  Ahem – lady, we’re going as fast as we can.

AGMA:  Look, I gained 3 pounds carb loading since Thursday and hydrated like a pro for the past two days just for you.  And I’ve been doing a great job taking in nutrition on the run. You two have everything you need to go faster.  So what’s the deal?

Legs:   Yea – thanks for doing all that, but we already told you…we’re moving as fast as we can.  Seriously.

AGMA:  I admit I didn’t have the best training season this winter.  My 23 mile training run was a long 6 weeks ago.  But I did 18 miles two weeks ago.  That’s gotta count for something!

Legs:  Well, that could actually be part of the problem…   Six weeks was really too long ago for your long training run.  We know you tried to make it up a bit with the 18 miler, but two weeks really isn’t quite long enough for us to fully recover from that.  We’re still a bit undertrained and tired.

AGMA:  Complain, complain, complain…

Legs:  You can’t get away with that stuff at your age.  You’re not 35 anymore you know.

AGMA:  Ouch!  That hurts!

Legs:  How ironic…we’re hurting right now too.

AGMA:  But ya’ll did so well in Chicago last year.

Legs:  For heaven’s sake – that was 12 months ago!  You were 8 lbs lighter, Ms. Chunky, when you ran Chicago, it was cooler and Chicago is a pancake flat course.  By the way, what the hell is with these hills today??  Did you know there were going to be hills in this run??

AGMA:   Kinda…  But seriously, you both need to pick up the tempo.  I really wanted to finish with a time around 6 hours and 30 minutes.  At the rate you’re both going, I’m not gonna do it.

Legs:  Oh boo hoo…now that’s a real 1st world problem right there. Do we need to remind you that you are running today, against our advice, while you have a raging cold.  We mean, who does that??  We tried to tell you this morning not to get up and run.  But nooooooo…..

AGMA:   OK – you don’t need to remind me.  Trust me, I really wanted to turn the alarm off this morning, take some cold meds and go back to sleep.  But three other people are doing this race because I talked them into it.  I couldn’t not show up at the start.

Legs:  Uh…yes, you could have.  But that’s beside the point now.  We’re over 22 miles into this thing.  We promise you we’ll finish, but it’ll be on our terms.  Got it?

AGMA:  Good grief.  I’m totally dealing with a couple of divas.  But, okay, I guess…

Legs:  Glad to see that you’re being more reasonable.

AGMA:  But when I cross the finish line, can I get some action down there?  Like prancing or leaping or maybe a little dance?

Legs:  Bitch

(The Legs did indeed keep their promise and finished the 26.2 miles in a very slow 6 hour 41 minutes and change.  AGMA was grateful to them that they enabled her to finish her 7th marathon. And, despite their petulance, they did provide several leaps at the finish then proceeded to ache for the next 3 days to spite her. )

 

Bargains

primary-Aerial-Silks-Intro-Class-1487959398

Everybody loves a bargain, right?

I know AGMA does!  I’ll always be the first in line for a “value” deal.

So, I was an early fan of Groupon way back in 2009.  Groupon started in Chicago in 2008, and rapidly expanded to reach a global audience.

For the 3 of you who might not be familiar with Groupon, it’s a service that offers group discounts to save money on goods/services through virtual coupons.  You pay $$ for a goods/services specific Groupon but then get a substantial discount on the item/service you are purchasing.  So, for example, I can get $30 worth of food at a local restaurant by using a Groupon I bought for $12.

Back in the early days, there was one – count it – one (1) Groupon offered per day in the Atlanta market.  And they were very popular.  Very.

I remember deals selling out an hour after the they were announced, because the vendors limit on how many could be sold.  Now I think there are literally thousands of deals on any one given day in cities all over the world.

Obviously, competitors popped up over the years – LivingSocial, Yipit, Woot, Scountmob, to name a few.  And there are local, city specific businesses offering a similar service.  In Atlanta we have Atlantaonthecheap, LoafDeals and HandPickedAltanta.  I’m pretty sure that some of these are not stand alone companies – they are owned by the larger, national companies.

You know how that works…

Because the vendors that offer these discount deals through these virtual coupon companies have to split the income received for the sale of the coupons with said virtual coupon company, they end up getting very little money for the goods/services purchased by the consumer.  So in my example above, the restaurant might only get $6 of the $12  paid for the Groupon.  But the vendors obviously consider it a good way to promote their goods/services.

I guess…

Most deals have expiration dates on them, but have wording saying that the value the consumer paid for the coupon never expires and can be used at the vendor’s business.  So if I let my $12 deal for $30 worth of food at the local restuarant expire, I can still dine at that restaurant and use my virtual coupon for $12 off my meal.

AGMA is convinced that a huge part of these Groupon-type companies’ income streams is from those of us who buy these discount coupons and never use them.

Ever.

But seriously, who hasn’t been tempted to try an ionic foot detox offered at a business across town because it was just SUCH a good deal?  And of course everybody’s feet could use a good detoxing.  But then it’s just so hard to carve out the time to do something that is pretty far out of the norm for you in a part of town you’re not all that familiar with.  And your good friend didn’t buy one when you suggested it and now you have to go alone.   And you’re really not sure what they’re going to do to you.  So you end up not going and the deal expires and now you for sure won’t drive across town to use the $15 credit you have for a $55 iconic foot bath.

Sadly, this was AGMA when this whole virtual coupon craze started.  But with age comes wisdom. I’m very selective of what I buy now.

However I need to share one of the recent deals I purchased. And used.

It’s just sooooo quintensenntial AGMA.

I run, but doesn’t do much else in the way of exercise.  A few years ago I bought a deal for 1 month at a gym that was about 5 miles away.   The gym had a water rowing machine and I fell in love.

Hard.

I went twice a week to use that sweet rower.  I lost weight and my tummy was starting not to look like I was 3 months along with twins.  But the month expired and I had to break off the relationship.

Fast forward to 2 months ago when a deal popped up for rowing classes at a place only 3 miles away.   I jumped on it.  AGMA was gonna fall in love again.

In addition to rowing classes, they also offer silk aerial classes and those pole exercise classes that is all the rage with the young’uns these days.

I went for the first 3 classes during the day and the studio was pretty quiet.  The rowing machines were in the aerial space.  But I did get to see the pole studio which looked…

Interesting.

Anyway, I got back into my rowing groove.  And I decided that I like sort of doing my own thing rather than a “class”.  But I had one more class left on my “deal”, so I booked it for last Monday evening.

The studio really buzzes in the evening!  A bunch of young, very fit young ladies were milling about waiting for their class to start (NOT rowing…).  Then a woman, who obviously worked there, walked out from the pole studio with 6 inch chunky heeled red shoes, red hair piled on her head, a red baby doll nighty that came down to mid hip, and a thong.

And both cheeks were just a shinin’ like the moon!  And the moon was definitely full…

She was complaining because the air conditioner was dripping into the studio.  Nothing like a bit of reality to interfere with your exotic dance lessons.

And there was AGMA, looking like the frumpy plump sorority house mother to all of these supple and fit young things who were getting ready to swing their stuff around a pole and on aerial silks.

Ah….if only I was 40 years younger.  And my moon wasn’t ready the size of Jupiter.

And speaking of that general “area”, if anybody’s interested, there was another deal – through Living Social – that caught my eye last week.  It was for Vaginal Steaming Sessions.

Yup.

I’ll just leave it up to you to use the Google.

$29 for 1 session; $55 for 2.

Get ’em while they’re hot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort rules

 

overpackingAGMA hasn’t been on a long trip in a while.

May, to be precise.  And I’m getting twitchy.

Very twitchy.

I mean, May was what…like 5 months ago!  Seems longer. Much, much longer.

It doesn’t help that I subscribe to multiple tour companies’ email blasts, along with SCF (Scotts Cheap Flights for the uninitiated) super low airfare alerts, along with following multiple pages having to do with travel on Facebook.

It just seems to feed the Travel Beast within.

At the recommendation of a running friend, I recently started following a Facebook group called “Travel Fashion Girls”.

Yup – that would be AGMA!  I’m just a regular travel fashion girl.

Not.

Evidently, it’s the social media community for people – mostly women would be my educated guess – who visit the Travelfashiongirl.com website.

Here are some of the topics on this website:

What To Wear in Berlin: Autumn, Summer, Winter and Spring   (I pretty much think that I would wear the same thing in Berlin as I would at home.  What am I missing?  And why did they get the seasons out of order?)

Best Chelsea Boots for Women On The Go: Comfort, Ease and Style  (I have no idea what a Chelsea boot is and how it’s different from a regular boot.  Can I get some help here?)

Take Flight In These Fashionable Outfits For Fall  (AGMA has a standard travel wardrobe that is not restricted by the confines of seasonal fashion dictates.  I would probably pack my long underwear though…)

Based on my responses to their topics, AGMA clearly needs to follow the Travel Fashion Girls FB page.

The FB page is full of first-world dilemmas like whether to wear white or black sneakers to Europe, what brand of carry-on is the best, and how to cram tons of make up and hair products in a 1 quart plastic bag because they are only taking a carry-on.

AGMA’s answer to the above would be…

  1.  Anything but white.  Be sensible for heavens sake.  Who wants to clean white shoes every evening?
  2. Go to TJ Maxx and buy what’s cheap ’cause the airlines are gonna beat it up anyway and you’ll have to buy a new one next year.
  3. Go “au natural” for your trip.  You’re beautiful without all that gunk!  Besides, nobody really cares if you have tons of make-up on or not.  Seriously. Nobody. Cares.

…which is why I don’t comment on these posts.

But I get it.  I was young once and thought that I had to look “cute” all the time.  Especially when traveling.

Hubs and I went on a 3 week junket to England, Scotland and Germany back in 1981.  I remember taking two big suitcases plus a garment bag.  How young and foolish we were!

And I wore really cute cowboy boots on the flight over to London.  Urban Cowboy had come in 1980 and everybody had cowboy boots!

Sooooooo stupid.  My feet were so swollen when we landed that I thought I was going to have to go through customs in my stocking feet.

Age, many, many trips, and lifting too many heavy suitcases has made AGMA into a more pragmatic traveler.  Maybe a bit too pragmatic?

I have a standard travel wardrobe that I’ve been using for a number of years.  Because I really only want to take a carry-on when I travel, I really don’t take all that many clothes.  So the clothes that make the cut need to be able to be washed out in a sink and be quick drying overnight.

I gotta say,  there aren’t many high fashion items that fit that bill.

And AGMA has reached that point in her life where comfort rules.  Over anything else.

Especially where my shoe selection is concerned.   Travel shoes have to be ultra comfy.  And those cowboy boots, while really cute and trendy, we NOT comfortable.  Even when my feet weren’t as puffed up as the Mad King’s ego.

I have a pair of beat up black walking shoes that look like the ultimate “fashion don’t”, but are sooooo comfy that I am compelled to pack them on every trip.

And I like to wear PJ-like clothes on long flights. Looser yoga-style pants and a floppy, soft long sleeve top. I definitely don’t look stylish, but I feel very comfy cosy.

And honestly, it’s all about me.

AGMA’s “problem” is that I kinda don’t give a rat’s ass what other people might think of my wardrobe choices when I travel.  And I don’t care that a lot of my travel pictures have me in virtually the same clothes from year to year.  I’m on a trip to experience the culture and see the sights, not to impress folks with how chic I look.

Which I am in danger of NEVER doing.

Now understand that I do keep my clothes clean (of course!), and don’t wear anything that is ripped or is in need of repair. OMG – if I did that, my sweet step-mother would come back from the dead and give me a lecture!  That would definatley be a “fashion don’t” for AGMA.

And I will  add new items to my wardrobe if I find something that fits my “comfy and washable/quick dry” criteria with the right price point.

Which brings me back to Travel Fashion Girls.

Maybe AGMA should rethink my idea of travel fashion.  The pictures some of these women post are so attractive.  They’re at the airport with their stylish skirts and cute flats, their sweaters layered on top of fashionable tops with a matching scarves and designer purses.

I could look like they do, right?

Nah…

As Lena, Ella, Frank, Tony and Gaga sang, “That’s why the lady is a tramp!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stronger

What-doesnt-kill-you-makes-you-strong

 

Disclaimer:  Always checks with your health care provider before starting any exercise program.  And then take their advice with a grain of salt.

AGMA has issues.

I think some of you know that by now.

For the most part, they are charming foibles that only endear me more to my good and extremely patient readers.

Some, not so much.

The quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”  has always been a favorite of AGMA.

Honestly, I didn’t know that it was from Nietzsche.  The first time I heard a version of it was on WLW radio in Cincinnati in the 1980s.

There was a DJ named Gary Burbank who created around 17 incredibly funny radio personas during his nearly 27 years with WLW.

One of Burbank’s most interesting characters was Smilin’ Blind Muddy Slim, the 60- Minute Jelly Belly Toejam Man.

Seriously.

Smilin’ Blind was a Blues man who had had a rough life but stayed optimistic.  His favorite saying was, “What does not kill you, will only make you stronger.”

Be it Nietzsche or Smilin’ Blind, there’s a lot of wisdom in that phrase.

Some of AGMA’s issues are not strictly “Oh my God, is she crazy?” type issues.  Yes, I like young men in spandex on bicycles, fantasizing about my next tattoo and sharing stories about my latest colonoscopy.   To name a few.

But I also have been having more physical issues.

This does not make AGMA happy.

But I’ve decided that I am just going to ignore them.  And it’s kind of working in a weird sort of way.

I have a disintegrating L3 vertebra with a compression fracture, significant multi-faceted spinal stenosis between my L4 & L5, a variety of bulging discs and scoliosis.

AND a partridge in a pear tree!

But I love to run and I’m training for a marathon (my 7th) in 2 weeks.

How is this possible?  I’m really not sure.

AGMA is a very slow runner which helps.  Actually, I’m a run/walker.  I use the Galloway Method of interval training and do 15 second intervals.

I started having pain in my right leg/hip last year.  Went to an ortho-pod for a diagnosis and a PT who helped me do as much as I could to mitigate the issues through dry needling and making some changes in how I sit, sleep, travel, etc.  It worked!  I was able to do the Chicago Marathon last fall – very slowly – relatively pain free.

Fast forward to AGMA’s starting to run this spring again after several months of being ill  and lots of traveling.  And very little running.  The occasional pain I felt in my right leg/hip now became a steady pain and started making it difficult to sleep.

Ouch.

A trip back to the ortho-pod and an MRI revealed the source of the pain as the previously undiagnosed significant multi-faceted stenosis between L4 & L5.  Basically I have stuff poking out from my vertebral body in the back and the facet joints in the front that is compressing the L4 nerve root that runs down the middle of those vertebra and goes into my legs.

Double ouch.

The doc said as long as I can stand the discomfort, running isn’t going to make the condition any worse, so have at it.  So I took her at her word and amped up my running.

But here’s the weird thing…

And as I increased my mileage, AGMA’s leg pain decreased.  Now, about 80% of the time, I have little or no pain in my leg.  But the pain consistently comes back when I don’t run for a few days.

It doesn’t make any sense.  But I’m going with it.

Last week, I tweeted my back on the left side.  But I kept up with my running and it started to improve a bit.  It really got better over the weekend when we were out of town and I didn’t run for 3 days.

But damn – it came back the day after we got back.

AGMA thinks it’s our pricey ($$) Sleep Number bed.  I tried adjusting my “number” last night to hopefully make things better.  I got up this AM feeling worse. It kinda hurt to even walk.

Oops!  Wrong number I guess.

But, it was a running morning and I was going to run come hell or high water.  Even if I had to limp my way through it.

Foolhardy, you say?  Stupid, you say? I don’t disagree.  I was second guessing myself for the entire 2+ miles of my run/walk thing this morning.

BUT…

My pain level before my run was a 7.  It was a 2 after I got back home. I realize it sounds crazy and counterintuitive but something happened during those 2+ miles that “corrected” whatever was ailing my poor back.

I don’t understand it.  I can’t explain it.  It doesn’t make sense.

But I’m going with it.

Is AGMA advising everybody to “play” through pain?  Not really.  As we age, we really do have to be more prudent.

And understand that I would never encourage anybody with any serious medical issues to go against their doctors orders.  That would be irresponsible and cruel.  And dangerous.

BUT…

I think what AGMA has learned is that, sometimes, we – people of a certain age that is – can be too careful.  Because we’re told that getting older is supposed to bring on more aches and pains, we passively accept that we can’t do X or Y anymore.  We let those aches and pains dictate our level of activity.   When sometimes, X and Y activity is just what our body needs to strengthen it and make it more resilient.

Inactivity can actually make things worse at times.

And to those of you who are still aghast that I ran with a sore back, AGMA did ice it for 20 minutes later on in the morning.  My nod to being prudent.  Feel better?

What does not kill us, will only make us stronger.

Aging gracefully my ass!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AGMA goes to the movies

da

Gene Siskel  – step aside…

There’s a new movie reviewer in town.

While AGMA is not a movie fanatic with one of those Regal Unlimited or AMC Stub A-List movie passes, she sees her fair share of movies.

Not really.

Honestly, I watch most of the movies I see on international flights on a screen that measures (if I’m lucky) 6″ X 5″.  Not exactly the ideal situation for a sweeping cinematic blockbuster.   But hey – it’s free and if I’m stuck in my little, teeny, itty bitty seat for 8 hours, it’ll pass the time.

Plus, if a movie sucks, I can change my selection and am not out ticket money.

I save going to the “real” movies for ones I REALLY want to see.  For the last few years, it’s been the Marvel Universe Avengers movies.

(But not the Deadpool movies.  Ick.)

The only comic books I read when I was younger was Archie and Friends.  I know – that’s just sad and pathetic.  I think they tried to make an Archie movie once, but it turned out sad and pathetic as well.    I mean, Betty or Veronia?  Pick one and move on with life for God’s sake.

So AGMA is unable to explain my fascination with the Marvel movies.

It could be as simple as Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan or Chris Pratt.

Wildlifepedia says of the cougar,  “A capable stalk-and-ambush predator, the cougar pursues a wide variety of prey.”

Why yes she is and does.

But it was more than just the handsome faces and buff bodies.  Extremely buff bodies.

Imaginative stories, amazing special effects, great humor and some fine acting made these movies ultra enjoyable for AGMA.

And extremely buff bodies…

But last week, AGMA was part of a nationwide Fan Event and got to be one of the first to see the Downton Abbey movie.

Hot diggity dog!!

For some odd, unknown reason, there were 7 PM DA showings on 9/12 at movie theaters around Atlanta (and other cities around the US.)  AGMA follows Downton Abbey on Facebook (I know – I’m a geek) and they were advertising this Fan Event on the 12th in their posts.  Evidently there were supposed to be snow globes given out as well, but our theater must have missed that memo.

I would have ended up selling it on Ebay anyway.

I was nervous as we walked into the theater.  AGMA loved the PBS series so much, I thought it might be a let down.  And I was distressed when I read a few days before that two of my very favorite characters – Denker and Spratt – were not in the movie.

VERY 1st world problem.

I know that the movie won’t be released for general consumption until the 20th, so no spoilers…

The movie picks up 18 months after the series finished.  I think the ads have been extensive enough so that everybody knows that major plot is a visit from the King and Queen.  And of course, it wouldn’t be Downton Abbey if there weren’t a plethora of sub-plots.

It was absolutely delightful seeing everybody again (minus Spratt and Denker – boo hiss!) And Julian Fellows had the costume department working overtime – the dresses the “upstairs” ladies wore were breathtaking!  And of course, the sets were fit for a King and Queen, and Highclere Castle was as beautiful as ever.

But (I’m so sorry to have a but…) AGMA found some of the subplots predictable.  Hubs and I guessed the outcome of several of them correctly.

And everything seemed a bit rushed.  But I guess that’s the nature of a 2 hour and 3 minute movie.   There is just no time to really develop a story.  I mean, it took 5 seasons of the DA series for Carson and Mrs. Hughes to hold hands for Pete’s sake!

Because the movie was so short (compared to the 56+ hours in the series), some of the major characters had relatively minor roles.  Or none at all (Denker and Spratt…)  Mr. Bates is there but has a minor role.  I guess he was exhausted after all the dramas he was involved in in the series.  Understandable.  And we never get to meet Anna’s son or Mary’s daughter.

However, Maggie Smith was given loads of wonderful zingers and delivered them beautifully.  Of course.

Who else wants to be just like the Dowager Countess when they grow up?

Also, some of the story lines that were left dangling at the end of the series get somewhat resolved.  And the scene with Mr. Molesley serving the King and Queen has to be one of THE funniest in the annals of DA.

Overall, fans of the Downton Abbey series will enjoy the movie.  It was a delightful romp with characters we’ve (I’ve) grown very, very fond of over the years.  AGMA has to say that it was a wonderful treat to see them again!

I was actually a bit sad after the movie was over thinking that may be the last time we would encounter the Crawley family and servants ala 1927.  Just like AGMA was sad after the Avengers:End Game  movie.

Time moves on.  Dang it.

Oh…I need to say that while some of the plot twists were pretty obvious as to how they would end up, we didn’t guess the plot twist at the end.

No spoilers, but bring a tissue.

AGMA movie rating of Downton Abbey: 11 champagne bottles out of 10!!

Hic.