EEK!!

stressed

Grands here tomorrow
Headless chicken on the loose
No blog post this week

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Nog, lots of nog

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

And AGMA’s ‘bout ready to hit the egg nog. Hard.

Extra bourbon? Yes please.

I mean, it’s only 4 days after Thanksgiving and my left eyelid is already twitching. And every now and then my head does this jerk to the side thing.

The holiday season of stress is upon AGMA.

It doesn’t help that, in addition to seasonal pressures, our country is well on its way to deconstructing.

The orange Satan and his evil minions have done unspeakable damage to the United States both at home and abroad in so many arenas. Even if they all get arrested tomorrow – the PERFECT one size fits all holiday gift – at this point, it would take years to try to undo the damage they have wrought.

And if their “reverse Robin Hood” tax plan becomes law, the crippling debt it will cause both individually and governmentally will take decades to reverse.

(And by the way, you can call, email, fax, Tweet, Facebook, carrier pigeon or pony express [but make sure they have a fast horse] your Congressional Senators and Representative in the next day or two in opposition of the GOP tax scam. And if you aren’t a US citizen, go ahead and contact a GOP Congress person anyway!)

“What about net neutrality?” did I hear you say?

AGMA’s so glad you asked.

If that gets reversed on 12/4 or 12/5 (the FCC is due to vote on it around then), we can all have a big ol’ goodbye party to say farewell WordPress and the Internet as we know it…

(So as long as your are in the call, email, fax, tweet mood, you can also email the members of the FCC and let them know what you think of their plan to destroy net neutrality. Try to keep your *&%$^#$@*s to a minimum. Or not.)

My left eyelid’s twitching.

Another reason for the amped up stress is that in a week and a half, my son, DIL and MAGITW will be coming to Atlanta for a visit.

Wonderful! Exciting! Fantastic!

But…

This is both a blessing and not.

On one hand, my precious grandchildren will get to see AGMA in her natural habitat. Hubs will make sure they don’t feed me any of their popcorn or use a flash.

We’ll get to show them off to friends and neighbors who have heard about them ad nauseam. AGMA will be parading around them neighborhood in the little red wagon we spent $100 on two years ago and have used exactly twice. I’m thinking of doing an Evite for that…

And we can do all those cool things that grandkids can only do at Nana’s house. AGMA’s at a loss as to what those things might be though. I’ll figure something out…

But, on the other hand, this means that our house has to be totally decorated inside and out. And junk picked up and stuffed somewhere. And babyproofing attempted. And cookies baked and meals planned and shopping done. And activities planned. In 9 days.

Now my head is doing that jerking to the side thing.

One additional bit of stress AGMA wants add before they get here is to find the time to go though my son’s ‘boxes’.

You know, the boxes that you store for your kids that has junk from their formative years. Baseball cards, yearbooks, newspaper clippings, school & sports honors, etc. The boxes that never seem to leave your house no matter how old your kids are.

THOSE boxes.

We’re going to be driving up to Chicago for Christmas, and it’s AGMA’s fervent hope that we can take most of those boxes with us. He has house now. It’s only fair that the boxes clog up one of HIS closets for the next 20 years.

But oh my…  The memories are intense.

I was trying to ‘pre-sort‘ thought a box this weekend. ‘Pre-sorting’ is the process of pulling out the stuff that is full of meaning and memories for AGMA, but that have a good chance of getting thrown out by said son.

“What do you mean you don’t want to keep the outfit we brought you home from the hospital in??”

Stuff that would just about kill me to throw out. So AGMA will just put that stuff in ANOTHER box and label it Son#1 Memories. And put it back into the closet. And dig through it every couple of years.

And sigh as the sweet, pungent memories of his childhood and a much younger AGMA flood my heart and my eyes.

He can throw it all out after AGMA saunters over the rainbow. I’m pretty sure I won’t care one way or another then.

Only 6 more boxes to go.

But oh my…

AGMA’d better do a Costco run for one of those jumbo tissue packages.

Turkey day ditty

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It’s Thanksgiving week here in the USA and nobody wants to read a long winded AGMA post.  Least of all AGMA.

So I thought I’d change things up and try some poetry.  Robert Frost is turning in his grave…

My apologies to all you real poets out there.


AGMA Thanksgiving haiku

Frozen turkey waits
Hot oil sits in a fryer
This may not go well


Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  And be safe out there…

 

Priorities

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When AGMA’s brilliant and witty progeny were growing up, they had very little contact with both sets of grandparents.

Not such a bad thing considering my in-laws and my dad were crazy.  Sort of.  My step-mother was wonderful, but she kinda had be in the line with what my dad wanted.

One set of grands lived in Arizona. Then New York. Then Kentucky. Then Tennessee. Then North Carolina.  Then back to Arizona.  True Amurkin’ gypsies.

AGMA could understand the infrequent visits from Arizona and New York.  But North Carolina and Tennessee were within a pretty easy day’s drive from Cincinnati, where we lived.  And Kentucky was right next door.

But still, their visits were few and far between.  Again, not such a bad thing for a myriad of reasons, but I know the kids would have liked to have seen them more often.

But they were busy doing other stuff.  They didn’t have the time.

My dad and step-mother always lived close – within a 4 hour drive.  But they rarely visited.  We always had to bring the kids to them.

But they were busy doing other stuff.  My dad said that they just didn’t have the time.

I thought it was odd at the time.  I mean, they seemed to always find the time to go other places. But never to see their grandchildren.

Now that AGMA’s a Nana herself, it’s beyond comprehension to me.

But it was all about priorities.

I understood on some level that building a relationship with their grandchildren was not very important to them.  Or at least not as important as other things in their lives.  Not important enough to spend the $$, time and energy on.

And that’s actually a great way to define priorities.

Where you spend the most of your time, $$ and energy?

AGMA is struggling with my priorities right now.  Time, $$ and energy is too damned limited these days!

High on my list are the MAGITW (most adorable grandchildren in the world).  Hubs and I travel to Chicago frequently; lately it’s been once every 4 to 6 weeks.  AGMA’s in Nana heaven.

Another biggie is travel.  After taking some big trips overseas when AGMA was a young woman, my travel bug had to go underground for most of my adult life until we had the time and the means again.  That didn’t happen until about 2010.

Ya’ll know I love me my travel adventures!

Running is another priority.  More than just the physical aspect and the health benefits, it enriches my life emotionally and spiritually.  Plus AGMA can eat and drink a lot more yummy stuff when she’s training and it doesn’t immediately plant itself on my midsection and thighs.

Maintaining extended family relationships is another priority.  It takes time and energy and in some cases $$ to do that.  I’ve been very intentional at building relationships with my nieces as adults, their spouses and their kids over the last 12 years.  And it’s worked!  My great niece and nephews pretty much adore their crazy great aunt AGMA.  And my nieces are more like girlfriends.

But since AGMA grand babies have made their appearances, my visits to said nieces & families have been scaled back.

Priorities…

And maintaining relationships with friends.  That’s important too.  “Friendships are like gardens – they need to be tended or they get overgrown with the weeds of neglect.”  That’s not an AGMA original – I think I read it somewhere…

But it’s true.

AGMA’s new role as an activist is important too.  There is SO MUCH to be done on the local, state and Federal level.  There are phone calls to be made, postcards to write, $$ to donate, social media posts begging to be read and re-posted.

#MAGA

Oh, and I’m still working part-time as a therapeutic massage therapist so obviously my clients are a priority.  They have to be if AGMA wants to keep earning the big bucks (sputter, laugh, choke!)

And AGMA, my blog.  That’s a priority for me.  Most of the time.  I try to set aside the time each week to blog, but it doesn’t always work with my travel and work schedule.

Which brings me to the origin of this post…

Frustration.  It’s been weeks since I’ve made reading your wonderful WordPress posts a priority.  And I hate that.  I tried catching up today with some of you but the volume was so overwhelming that I quit.  Ya’ll are great writers and I hate that I can’t read everything you write, but…

I only have so much WordPress time today.  And I need to respond to comments and write a post.

Priorities…

I know I waste time.   AGMA’s at that point in her life where my candle burns down pretty fast as the day goes by, and by the time evening comes, I’m spent.  So I just fiddly fart around and don’t get anything of substance done after about 7 PM.

Priorities…

There’s a glimmer of hope though.

I’ve rousted my bottom out of bed earlier than normal the past two mornings to do Centering Prayer.  AGMA used to do this on a daily basis and it was important to me.  But it got pushed out by running and travel and work and family and ___________(fill in the blank).  It hasn’t been a priority for me of a while.  And I’ve missed it.  I’ve missed the insight it gives me about myself and the world.  I’ve missed the peace and calm that washes over me when I spend some time with the great I AM, the Lover of my soul.

I can’t figure out how to make everything “fit” into my life, but I think I might be on the right track again.

Two days and counting…

 

 

 

 

 

A tale of many cities

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”                               Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

It’s been a long time since AGMA’s read the CliffsNotes on this great book. I’m pretty sure that I never actually read it from cover to cover.

I saw the movie though…

But holy crap on a cracker, this quote totally describes so many people I know in the USA.

Including AGMA.

On one hand, life is very good. It took 60+ years, but I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I’ve dispelled (for the most part) the shadows of the past that held me hostage for so many years. It’s really wonderfully liberating.

AGMA’s become a Ms. Sassy Pants.

I’ve taken up marathon running. I’ve discovered a passion for men’s elite cycling (young men in spandex!). I have a blog I adore writing and a family in my WordPress friends. And I got a tattoo this year. That I still LOVE by the way.

My relationship with my older son and DIL has completely transformed into something I only dreamed of a few years ago. I’m welcomed into their home with open arms and lots of love. They have given me two adorable grandchildren to spoil.

And spoil them AGMA does indeed!  Which is what I was doing last week when I should have been posting to AGMA.  Oops…

Hubs is retired. We have a comfortable income from his pension and my part-time massage therapy work. And some modest savings.  So I can travel. Something AGMA has been wanting to do since her early 20’s.  Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and all over Europe multiple times. For me it’s been a dream come true.

However, I just found out that we are actually at the poverty level based on the GOP’s definition of the middle class in the new tax bill. Evidently to be middle class, you need to earn $450,000 per year.

Who knew?

#MAGA

Great segue to the worst of times…

Our traitorous illegitimate president. His pack of corrupt henchmen and Stepford women. The spineless, heartless, bottom dwellers of the GOP. The morons in charge of education, our natural resources, consumer protection, financial regulation, commerce, housing, veterans affairs, public health, social programs, immigration.

Lobbyists basically in charge of public policy.

A nuclear game of cat and mouse between narcissistic megalomaniacs.

The repeated assaults on and the attempted destruction of the tenants of our Constitution. The attacks on the judiciary. The demonization on the free press. The egregious, illegal exploitation of public office for personal gain.

The fear and hate mongering. Condoned attacks on women, minorities, non-Christians, LGBTQ’s, the disabled.

The extreme profanity of the “Christian” alt-right.

Treason and rigged elections. Gerrymandering. Voter suppression. Poll taxes.

Our precious children at Sandy Hook and Columbine. Virginia Tech. Charleston. San Bernardino. Orlando. Charlottesville. Las Vegas, New York City. Denver. Sutherland Springs.

Our precious children…

Chuck was right; it is the best of times and the worst of times.

AGMA’s challenge, as I think is every other person who loves what American used to stand for, is to not retreat into my personal best of times out of fatigue or sense of helplessness or a desire to block it it all out. Although I know plenty of people who have done just that. They have just tuned out what’s happening to the US because it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Or it makes them feel bad or sad or ruins their feng shui.

Ah…I think that’s what happened in Germany in the 1930‘s.

Just sayin’…

As AGMA loves to tell via social media our Trump-arse-kissing, spineless, gutless, in-the-pocket-of-the-lobbyists, dishonorable Georgia senator David Perdue, “History has its eye on you and will judge you accordingly.”

Truthfully, history has its eyes on all of us. And will judge us on how we used our best of times to heal our worst of times.

AGMA knows this seems overwhelmingly daunting. But I also know that the actions of one person can make a difference.

We all can’t be a Mother Theresa (especially AGMA!), but we can pick up the phone and call our legislators. On the federal, state and local level. Often. And let them know what we think about the worst of times and how we want them to make it better.

And we can support, either financially and/or with our time, local political candidates who would unite and heal rather than divide and wound.

The same thing with organizations that support civil rights, voting rights, LGBT rights, a clean environment, sensible gun laws, our Constitution, immigrant rights, our veterans, etc…

You get the idea.

Honestly, AGMA would really like to cocoon and withdraw from all of this worst of times stuff. I mean, my life is going great. I’m living large. Finally. Why should I worry about all that other “unpleasantness”?

Two reasons…

An almost 3 year old boy who loves trucks of every kind, wants to be a “worker guy” when he grows up, and loves inventing make-believe stories he can act out with his Nan when she visits.

And a just turned 1 year old young lady who loves to climb on things she’s not supposed to (that’a girl!), babbles incessantly and gives her Nan the best heart melting snuggles that Nan ever had.

They and millions of other precious children of all colors and religious backgrounds and cultures deserve a better future.

History does indeed have its eyes on us.

I wonder how we’ll do?

To sleep, perchance to dream

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AGMA dreaming of sleeping through the night

“Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,                                                                         The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,                                                                      Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,                                                                 Chief nourisher in life’s feast.”

-William Shakespeare, Macbeth

So it sounds like Bill knew how to get a good night’s sleep.

No surprise… No Monday Night Football or TV series to binge watch on Netflix. No glowing blue screens to reduce the production of his melatonin. No “mine is bigger than yours” dare and double dare between two narcissistic, megalomaniac bullies that threatens to wipe out humanity.

How about you? How you sleepin’ at night?

Once upon a time, AGMA slept like tRump at the G20. Like a log.

From my childhood through my 20’s, I was a 8 hour a night sleeper. Sometimes 9.

But of course, that was PC.

Pre-children…

Sleep patterns start going downhill when you’re pregnant.

The first thing to go was the tummy sleeping. As a child and young adult, AGMA was a tummy sleeper. However, this is difficult if you have a little human in your abdomen. They tend to take issue with being squished. Plus, you reach the point where tummy sleeping is like balancing your body on a volleyball.

I became a fitful side sleeper.

Then there were the wee hours (pun intended) trips to the bathroom. That little human needs more room as he grows. And the space formerly occupied by your bladder seems the perfect place for him to practice his downward dog.

Bladder volume decreases significantly. Bathroom visits increase exponentially.

Finally, there is the last month of pregnancy where no sleeping position is comfortable no matter how many pillows you try to stuff around the “hanging out” places

Then the baby comes and all hell breaks loose. Sleeping at night is replaced with naps that come in 2 to 4 hour intervals 24/7. The distinction between day and night is a blur. AGMA looked like an extra on The Walking Dead.

We had our second son when our first was 18 months old. This was a brilliant (if unintended) plan. We front loaded all of the baby induced sleep deprivation into a 3 year time frame.

AGMA was so exhausted one night that I didn’t hear my older son (who was 2 at the time) coughing and wheezing in the middle of the night. I didn’t hear Hubs get up. Nor did I hear the garage door open and close when Hubs took son to the emergency room. Nor did I hear them return from the emergency room. I found out about it all the next morning.

Oops…

By the time the kids are old enough to sleep solidly through the night, your sleep cycle is so mangled that you wake up in the middle of the night for no reason.

This lasts until they become teenagers and start going out on the weekends with friends. Now you can’t sleep because you have to stay up to wait for them to come home. This was pre-cell phone tracking. We used to have to depend on them finding a landline to get in touch with us if they were going to be late.

Which they never could seem to find.

So when they finally leave home (assuming they ever do leave home) for college or to live on their own, you are sad. Really. But you think that you will be able to finally get a good night’s sleep.

Nope.

What time is it kids?

“It’s time for perimenopause and menopause!”

Now AGMA’s waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. Or at a minimum, kicking off all of the covers to try to cool down. Then waking up an hour later to put the covers back on because I’m cold. Over and over. And over.

This went on for 6 years until the plumbing finally turned off.

TMI?

But at this point, sleeping though the night now was being thwarted by modern technology. WTF?

Those damned blue light screens… On your TV, laptop, phone and tablet. Google “how blue light affects sleep”. We do a number on our brain when we stare at those things in the evening.

It interrupts our Circadian rhythm. Not a good thing.

And as long as we’re talking about interruptions, Hubs doesn’t help AGMA’s sleep issues.

I’m an early to bed, early to rise type of gal. He’s a late to bed, late to rise kinda guy. So every night at 1:30 AM, AGMA’s roused by his bathroom ritual. And him feeding the cats.

But AGMA being AGMA, and needing her beauty sleep to keep me from being a raging bitch, has found some solutions.

Friends and family are truly thankful.

I take some natural sleep aids (Holy Basil and Tryptophan) that are non-habit forming and pretty effective. On rare occasions, I take a big pharma sleep aid if I have a long run the next day or am on an international flight, and really need to get a good night’s sleep.

AGMA bought an eye mask and ear plugs. Presto! Hubs doesn’t wake me up anymore when he comes to bed. I’m like Sgt Schultz… I hear nothing. I see nothing. I just hope our smoke alarm doesn’t go off in the middle of the night.

I started running. On run days, I sleep soooo much better at night.

AGMA needs to get better about the blue light stuff. My phone and my tablet both have those blue light filters that you can put on the the evening, but I don’t use them enough.

I still get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, but because of my running or natural sleep aids, I go right back to sleep when I get back in bed. Most nights.

And then tRump became president.

AGMA’s still trying to figure out how to get around the nightmares that one’s causing.

Is it 2020 yet?

No blinking

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Tresors de Champagne : la Boutique.  This was a lovely tasting room in Reims featuring local producers.

OMG…

Isn’t she done yammering about her trip to France??

Yeah – I can hear you out there… And no, I’m not done.

One more post.  And it may not be what you expect.

AGMA loved every town/chateau/winery we visited on our trip, but I was REALLY looking forward to our next to the last stop.

Reims. Champagne central. Bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles.

AGMA’s promised land!

I’ve been wanted to visit the champagne region ever since I found out there was such a thing as champagne. Probably even before. I’m pretty sure my mom drank champagne when she was pregnant with me.  Or Schlitz.

Hey – it was the 50’s and they did stuff like that back then.

The champagne region did not disappoint.  It was as fan-tabulous as AGMA had hoped. Glasses of the mystical, mahvelous, bubbly elixer were as inexpensive as a regular ol’ glass of wine and were sold EVERYWHERE! A bottle of non-vintage champagne – good champagne from small local producers – was between 15 to 25 Euros.  On our one full day there, I had 8 – count ‘em – 8 glasses.  Yeah – that’s right.

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Be still my beating heart!

AGMA was home!

The champagne vineyards were beautiful – there was a tinge of fall on the grape vines.  And the Reims Cathedral was spectacular. Of the “Big 3” medieval cathedrals in France (Notre Dame, Chartres and Reims), Reims wins the prize. It was a marvel.

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The spectacular Reims Cathedral built between 1211 and 1345

Yet despite the beauty of the area and the wonderful, delectable, delicious champagne, our enjoyment was tempered with sadness.

We booked an AirB&B studio apartment in Reims only a few blocks from the Catherdral. When you book an entire flat, you rarely meet the owner. They usually have a lockbox that gives guests access to the keys. I messaged our host about a week before we were supposed to arrive to get the skinny on the check in process. And from the AirB&B reviews, I also knew that Patrick, our host, owned his own champagne house – the PERFECT host right? – and wanted to know if we could visit his cellars and do a “tasting”.

Patrick sent me a lovely message with incredibly detailed instructions regarding access to the flat. He said that he was going to be traveling during our visit and regretted not being able to meet us especially since his wife “knows Georgia and loves it so much.” However, we were more than welcome to email his staff to set up a time to visit and taste.

Delightful!

Then on Wednesday, two days before our visit to Reims, I received a message from Patrick’s wife.

It was short and stunning.

She said, “Hello I’m Patrick’s wife. Just to tell you that you can’t come to the cellar this weekend. I’ve lost my husband on Monday so there will be no tasting or anything else. But no problem with the flat.”

I stared at my phone in disbelief. She couldn’t mean what I think she means…

She did.

Patrick died on Monday, three days after sending me that lovely message.

According to some articles I found on the Internet, he was working of a piece of agricultural equipment used in his vineyard when something went terribly wrong. A bucket dropped, hit him in the head and killed him.

He was 55 years old.

When Patrick awakened that Monday morning, I’m sure his whole week was planned.  His whole year was probably planned.  He was a successful champagne producer and had some business to take care of, but first on his list that Monday was working on some of the grape harvesting machinery.  Clearly, he wasn’t above getting his hands dirty with the day to day operations of his business.

He was a leader in the champagne producing community being the past president (at a very young age) of one of their important producer associations. His champagne house was a family affair and he was mentoring his son into the business.

He bought the flat in Reims to try out this AirB&B thing and it was doing pretty well.  It had good reviews and was rented for the weekend to a couple from Georgia. But he wasn’t going to be able to meet them because he was going out of town with his wife.

In the blink of an eye, that all changed.

His business cards were in the flat along with an order form for champagne from his champagne house, Le Brun-Servenay in Avize. I felt sad every time I looked at them.

I never met Patrick. I only messaged back and forth with him via AirB&B. But though that and reading about him on the Internet via Chrome’s translation function, it seemed like he was an lovely, gifted man, devoted to his profession and family. Somebody I’d like to hang out with and have of glass of his champagne with. Maybe a couple glasses.

Definitely.

So AGMA has decided.  I’ll be going back to Reims and the champagne region in the not too distant future.

And I’ll be traveling down to Avize in the “Cote Des Blancs” to visit the Le Brun-Servenay Champagne House for a tasting. And will probably buy a bottle or two. Or three.

I’ll raise a glass to Patrick, who reminds me to live and love fully in the present moment, and to never take even one minute of living and breathing for granted.

Live big. Live large. Drink champagne. Often.

Because it can all change in the blink of an eye.

Patrick

Patrick Le Brun in his vineyards

Salamanders and sips

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In Chateau d’Amboise

AGMA’s so on top of things.

I’ve been back from my trip over 2 weeks and I’m just now getting around to writing about the last week and a half of our adventure.

Top notch travel blogger here.

Our last 10 days in France can be summed up as a festival of the nectar of Vitis vinifera.

And Francis I.

AGMA can’t say I’d ever heard of Francis I (1494-1547) before last month, but if you go into any of the grand chateaus in the Loire Valley, you’ll see his salamanders everywhere.

Yeah. Salamanders. With little crowns.

WTF??

Francis I was the first king of France with absolute power, and ruled from 1515 to 1547. And everybody knows every king with absolute power needs a symbol he can slather all over his castles just in case people don’t know they belong to him.

Evidently back in the day, folks thought salamanders were magical creatures able to live in and use fire for their own purposes. They were a symbol of power, mystery and purity. I guess Francis liked that ‘cause all the chateaus we visited were dripping with salamanders.

With little crowns.

Not having Instagram or Twitter back then – they were sooooo lucky – Francis I had to travel around France with his entourage giving folks some face time so everybody knew that he was THE king.

It’s good to be the king.

He seemed to have spent an inordinate amount of time in the Loire Valley. But of course it was the Beverly Hills 90210 of the time. It was the epicenter of chic where all of the beautiful and powerful people in France hung out.

Paris was so 1400’s…

We visited 7 chateau’s in the Loire – Chenonceau, Gaillard, Amboise, du Close Luce, d’Azay-le-Rideau, Blois, and the grand Chambord. Easy for me to say. They were all either built by Francis or “borrowed” by Francis.

Like I said, it’s good to be the king.

Good Lord, AGMA can’t clean our townhouse. Chambord alone would have done me in…

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Honey, can you grab the vacuum cleaner and a mop?

Aside from the yugely biggly chateaus, there was wine in the Loire. Lots of wine. While not as famous as Bordeaux and Burgundy, the Loire Valley produces some lovely, affordable wines. Both red and white.

We visited Vouvray twice for “tastings”.

“Tastings” is code for “they give you enough wine to get you well on your way.”

That’s what I’m takin’ about!  A “tasting” in Burgundy.

We stayed at an AirB&B in Amboise during our visit to the Loire Valley. Our host was the fabulous Christine who spoke wonderful English. Here is the link to our room. Everything in Amboise was walkable from her home and she served a uber-yummy breakfast in the morning with home-made crepes and preserves. It was a great value for the money.

We got very, very serious about wine after we left the Loire. We spent 3 days in Burgundy and then 2 days in the Champagne region.

More tastings! AGMA loved me my “tastings”!

Burgundy was really interesting if you are a oenophilia. Yeah, I said it. Oenophilia.

It was fascinating learning about all of the wine “rules” there. And there are a lot of rules. Which is why wines from this area are $$. Actually, they are $$$. And some are even $$$$.

Hubs is a pretty steady guy and doesn’t get excited by much. But you should have seen him when we drove through the unassuming looking Vosne-Romanee vineyards. He was as excited as tRump with a bag of Cheetos in a spray tan booth watching Fox and Friends.

The vineyards looked like the vineyards we saw around Saint Emilion and the Medoc and in other areas of Burgundy.

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Evidently they’re not.

The 6 Grand Cru vineyards in this area only total a mere 67 acres. But most of the bottles of wine produced from these vineyards are all pre-sold starting at $1000 and up. Depending on the location of the vineyard, the year, the producer and the harvest “rules”, prices can go up into the 10’s of thousands.

In case you’re wondering, AGMA did not bring a bottle of this particular wine home.

Burgundy was actually kind of a pricey area. For us, it was real pricey. Hubs somehow lost his wallet (the jury is still out on how it happened…) He was panicked. Naturally.

But of course AGMA had my wits about me. I went to the TI (Tourist Information Office) across the street from the last place he had it, and we were in luck.

Sort of.

Yes, they had his wallet. Yes, it had all his credit cards and ID and other cards in it.

No, there wasn’t any money in it. To the tune of about $300.

Ouch.

Having learned my lesson last summer in stealth purse protection when my purse got stolen in Barcelona (it was recovered in tact from the hapless lady thieves), I would say Hubs learned his lesson in stealth wallet protection. An expensive lesson.

Ouch.

In Burgundy, we stayed in Beaune which was brilliant. Our hotel, the Brit Hotel Au Grand Saint Jean, was a great value (for the area) in a fabulous location. Easy walking distance to all of Beaune and some fabulous restaurants.

After Burgundy, we drove north. Our next stop was Reims.

Finally, AGMA was headed to the promise land…

OMG – CHAMPAGNE!!

But this post is getting too long and I have a lot to say about our last 4 days in France, sooooo…..

Meet me here next week.

Same time, same place.

 

 

 

Teens Dream: It’s Not Just for Teens

I’ve just been so heartsick about Las Vegas and Puerto Rico and the demented Orange Menace… But this post by Life in the Boomer Lane totally lifted me up. Not only because the organization sounds amazing, but also that she is engaging with them herself, using her skills, passions, and talents, to promote Teens Dream. Bravo LBL!!

Life in the Boomer Lane

The Las Vegas massacre is simply the latest onslaught to send us reeling. It seems that every day we have to face some kind of terrorism, random gun violence, war, famine, or natural disaster resulting from a climate that is reacting to our abuse of the planet.  And, on the days when we don’t have to face any of these, our own president steps in to fill the gap, armed with an astonishing array of words and actions that offend our sensibilities to a degree we never thought possible.

As boomers, we’ve seen the demise of all of the lofty goals we marched for all those years ago. It doesn’t seem possible that the boundless optimism and energy we expended then could have devolved into the mess we have today.

It would be easy to write it all off as the end of the world, except for one thing. There…

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Fat, happy cows

cow

Moo

AGMA’s back in the land of orange, spray tan insanity!  I hope I didn’t miss too many of the Tweeter-in-Chief’s pearls of monosyllabic feculence…

I started this post nearly two weeks ago during our trip and felt certain that I would finish it before we came home.

Clearly, that didn’t happen.  But I kinda liked it so I finished it.  Here goes:

September 16, 2017

We just left Brittany.

We discovered there are very fat, happy cows in Brittany.  And fat, happy cows make delicious, creamy milk that’s made into “to die for” butter.

Demi sal (partially salted) please.

And AGMA ate mass quantities of this delictable Breton butter during our 6 days in a beautifully renovated 17th century Breton farmhouse outside of the charming “Petite Town of Character” (seriously) Jugon-les-Lacs.

Some backstory as to why we were in a 17th century farmhouse in Brittany…

Hubs was inspired last year on our short visit to Provence to learn French.  He actually has a history of living in France.  His dad was in the army and was stationed there twice while Hubs was growing up.  I guess he picked up some French then, but put it down pretty quickly.

A determined Hubs is an obsessive-compulsive Hubs.

He’s spent the last 9 months trying to become proficient in French.  He reached the highest level on the Duolingo app in French.  He’s now going backwards (from French to English.)

Huh?

He’s been seeing a French instructor once a week in Atlanta for about 6 months.  And for the last 3 months, he’s been Skyping with two French instructors – one in Belgium and one in South Africa.  He’s just recently discovered Edith Piaf.  Nevermind that AGMA told him about the wonderful Edith years ago…  And he watches French cartoons and sitcoms on YouTube.  And listens to Zaz.

He was ready for the big time.  French immersion.  In France.

Turns out, there are quite a few folks in France who want to have people come and stay in their homes to learn French.  For a price.

Who knew?

Next, we had to decide who and where.  Good teachers (based on previous student reviews and bios) are all over the country, but we wanted to go somewhere we’d never been before.  AGMA wanted to go east towards the French Alps, but that teacher was booked.  It got narrowed down to a teacher in Brittany and one north of Paris.

Brittany won.

Best.decision.ever.

The history of Brittany (Bretagne in French) in  is fascinating.  It’s more Celtic than French.  They call Great Britain “grande Bretagne” and Brittany “petite Bretagne”.   It was an autonomous region with ties to Great Britian for centuries until it finally became part of France in 1532.

The Breton language is (according to the source of all knowledge, Wikipedia) “one of six extant Celtic languages.”  And, evidently, there are quite a few redheads in Brittany.

The countryside is spectacular.

No vineyards here.  They grow corn.  Lots and lots of corn.  To feed those fat, happy cows. To make that incredible butter.

That makes AGMA so happy.

The bits of the north coast we saw were spectacular.  Wild and rocky.  Cliffs and crashing waves.

With very, very few tourists.  We liked that.

Hub’s lessons were in the morning, but we managed to see a lot on our free afternoons.

The half-timbered houses of the medieval town of Dinan,

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the port of St-Malo with it’s ancient walls,

 

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the world famous oysters at Cancale,

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the romantic ruins of the Abbaye de Beauport,

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the fortress of Fort la Latte on the sea,

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the windy, rugged Cap Frehel,

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the very weird Danse Macbre in the Chapelle de Kermaria an Iskuit,

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the charming island of Ile-de-Brehat,

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and the iconic Mont St Michel.

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We loved it!

Our hosts were a lovely English couple who lived their dream by moving to France in 2002 and refurbishing an old French farmhouse into a Chambre d’hote (bed and breakfast to you and I.)

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The lovely La Croix Julot

Both Suzanne – Hub’s tutor – and Peter are teachers.  Suzanne teaches French to non-French types and English to French types.  She also speaks German and a bit of Spanish. Peter is an accomplished musician and teaches music – mostly piano.

Aside from their teaching skills, Suzanne is an incredible gardener.  Much of the food we ate came directly from her garden.  Including the beautiful preserves we had at breakfast everyday on our bagettes and crossiants.  And Peter is an accomplished cook – his lunches were 3 course gourmet wonders.

And butter.  We had lots and lots of butter!  They bought that at a store.

Honestly, it was a bit embarrassing how much butter I put on the fresh baguettes that we had for both breakfast and lunch.  Everyday. But oh so delicious…

It really kick-started the weight gain which gained momentum everyday for the entire 23 days we were in France.

But what the hell…  You can’t take it with you.

The butter, I mean.

Viva la France!

P.S. Peter and Suzanne’s farmhouse is called La Croix Julot.  En suite bed and breakfast is about 50 Euro a night.  You can read the Trip Advisor reviews here.  Hubs and AGMA highly recommend it!