Blessed exhaustion

Tired

Yeah – that’s what I’m in store for this coming week.

As I write this, I’m, once again, partaking in one of AGMA’s favorite activities.

Not.

I’m flying the ‘friendly’ skies. More like flying the ‘you should feel humbled that we let your natty butt on this airplane at a ridiculous price for no service’ skies. As anybody who has flown in the past few years knows, it ain’t what it used to be.  But it’s a means to an end, so AGMA will put up with the poking, prodding, starving and herding.

Moo.

Destination – Chicago and the cutest grandchildren in the world (TCGITW).

A year ago, this journey was relatively inexpensive. With several discount carriers having recently entering the Atlanta market, we could fly round trip for around $125 per person. AGMA’s all time fabulous fare was $56 RT with no bags, no food, no drinks and a randomly assigned seat. Those were the good old days…

Then something happened.

I’m not sure what or exactly when it happened. But fares soared to $200+ RT. Even on the no service airlines, the cheapest fare you can get if you go on an odd numbered Tuesday in a month starting with ‘A’ in an even year is $176.

WTF?

For this trip AGMA used sky miles. Our next trip coming up in August is BOGO, but that still averaged out to $160+ a person. At this rate, I’m going to have to start using getting bumped from flights as a discount airfare strategy. Sadly, there were no calls for volunteers today.

AGMA is bracing herself for the week to come.

Just between you and I, I’m not sure I’ll survive.

Normally, a 3 day visit to TCGITW leaves me as tired as Donald Trump when he has to read words.  Any words.

Between going to bed late to spend some quiet time with my son and DIL, getting up early with my grandson so said son and DIL can sleep in, being a bucking bronco for said grandson, walking my granddaughter around to try to get her to sleep and lack of food because I’m too busy to eat, AGMA comes home exhausted.

Because Hubs had his mobility and balance issue, he can’t do any of the heavy lifting (literally) with TCGITW. But he can provide entertainment and a lap for reading and give a bottle. But even with his help, I still get pooped.

This trip will be 6 days. By myself. Because they are moving.

As James Brown said, “Have mercy!”

Hubs and I moved twice when our kids were tiny – 22 and 4 months and then again when they were 4 and 2.. And we had a dog and two cats. We fixed up/cleaned up our houses by ourselves to sell them. And kept them clean with the two munchkins causing the normal munchkin havoc until we sold them. When we moved, we did everything by ourselves – packing, moving the boxes, unpacking – other than moving the big pieces of furniture. I actually think some old neighbors helped us move our piano both times (which nobody really played…) in a UHaul because it was too expensive to have the movers do it. Money was tight. Money was always tight.

With no family in town or willing to come in to help, it was a two person show.

I honestly have no idea how we managed.

When my son & DIL put their condo up for sale, our DIL took TCGITW to her parents house for a week so the place would stay clean for showings. Cheaters. The Chicago real estate market is hot right now so they were counting on a quick sale. They were right. 3 offers for above asking price.

Crazy.

Now we come to moving week.

Thankfully, they have hired packers to pack their ‘stuff’. AGMA’s a master packer, but I’ll gladly abdicate that responsibility. But I still forsee early mornings and late nights, and nothing but kick ass busy in between. Probably with a few bronco rides thrown in.

Can I run a marathon instead? 26.2 miles is nothing compared to what the next 6 days will be like.

But I’m happy (maybe) to help them and so glad (sort of) that they took me up on my offer. “I’ll be glad to come up and help when it’s time to move.” I said.

Seriously?

AGMA was actually thinking of how wonderful it would have been to have family support for our young family. At any point in our lives when our kids were young, not just when we moved.  But it never happened. And while we managed okay, sometimes I wonder how different it might have been…

So I AM happy I can fly the mediocre skies to help them. And I’m very happy that my DIL’s family is a 3 hour car drive away. It makes for two sets of Nanas and Bumpas who, like good Baby Boomers, can’t do enough for their grandchildren and are delighted to help out.

This is all to say, if you don’t hear from AGMA for a few weeks, don’t get alarmed.

I’m just suffering from blessed exhaustion.

ZZZZzzzz….

UPDATE: It’s Tuesday now. As usual, when I got to TCGITW’s home, AGMA got caught up in the whirlwind. It’s been 48 hours since I wrote this post on the plane and this is the first time I’ve had 10 minutes to myself. Other than sleeping. And that’s a survival necessity, so I sleep as much and as often as I can. All is well, but AGMA can read the handwriting on the wall.

It’s gonna be one wild ride.

I repeat…

ZZZZzzzz….

Mr. Wizard, my hero

glass

Science geek.

That’s me.

AGMA’s always loved science. My undergraduate degree is in Geobiology.

Huh?

FYI, the most memorable part of my undergraduate curriculum was the summer I spent in Baja, Mexico in 1974 studying crabs. Crabs. Seriously. But I think that needs to be a separate post.

I wanted to become a environmental scientist and maybe get a job with a fledgling five year old government agency called the EPA.

But that goal demanded an advanced degree. AGMA said “Nah baby nah.” I was tired of school and was ready to bail. Guess I wasn’t totally committed to the environment thing after all.

I blame myself for global warming.

So AGMA went into the new frontier of IT after working as a hotel clerk, and a corporate credit and collections agent. A career progression that makes perfect sense…

But I never lost my love of science.

Hubs likes science stuff too. This has made us dedicated fans over the years of everything from Cosmos (astronomy) to our beloved Kangaroo Dundee (zoology).

Hubs also likes understanding how things are put together. He’s had an obsession with the TV show How It’s Made for quite a few years.

How It’s Made is a Canadian production that has been shown in the US since 2001 on the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel. In a documentary format, it’s name says it all. It literally shows how stuff is made. Everything from bubble gum to guitar picks to alligator handbags. They show you how three totally unrelated, random things are manufactured in each episode.  All with a monotone, droning voiceover.

ZZZzzzz….

AGMA’s not a huge fan.

Sometimes the Science Channel will have a How It’s Made marathons, playing episodes back to back all day. Hubs loves that.

My eyes just glaze over, roll back and I start drooling.

But I saw something in it that caught my fancy the other day. And the AGMA fancy is very difficult to catch.

Season 27, Episode 22. They showed how to make uranium from uranium ore (along with endoscopes and megaphones, naturally.) WTF??

I wonder if Kim Jon-un and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took notes.

But it got me all gooshy nostalgic. It stirred up a passion of years gone by. A longing for one of AGMA’s most cherished childhood possessions.

Something I had hours of fun playing with that probably caused my little body irreparable damage. Something that stoked my love of science, but could have been my untimely demise.  Something that appealed to the left side of my brain while at the same time potentially destroying it. In other words, one of those “toys” that kids absolutely loved!

My Chemcraft chemistry set.

science-4

If you had one, you know how awesome they were. But evidently they were somewhat dangerous even by 1960’s standards.. Which is kinda what made them so awesome.

I read a great article about chemistry sets back in the day. The title, Cyanide, Uranium and Ammonium Nitrate: When Kids Really Had Fun with Science, says it all.

I’m not sure if my set had cyanide in it, but AGMA’s fairly certain there was ammonium nitrate and some radioactive substance in it. I remember a pamphlet, Fun With Radioactivity.

This could explain a lot…

And although my cherished Chemcraft set gave me hours of “living better through dangerous chemistry” fun as a child, sadly, it turned out chemistry was not older AGMA’s strength. I’m more of a “close enough” type person rather than an “exact” type of person.

Chemistry evidently is not down with “close enough”.

I struggled to get a B in Inorganic Chemistry as college freshman. None of my experiments in lab turned out because of my “close enough” philosophy of life.

And chemistry prevented AGMA from graduating with my college class in the spring when I should have. It’s a sad story…

Organic Chemistry was a requirement for my degree. I had to drop it the previous year because I was close to failing with 2 weeks left in the term. I know…AGMA can hear the gasps. I hope I’m not letting you down too hard.

This meant that I had to retake it before I could graduate. And I had to pass.

Picky, picky.

Better to extend my college career a few more months and take it during summer school than shove 4 years of college down the port-a-john.

Damn carbon molecules…

Second time around, I barely got a C. But I graduated albeit 3 months late.

BS for AGMA!

A life mantra…

As it turns out, the chemistry set wasn’t the only old school toy that was a bit iffy from a safety standpoint. For those of you who want to toddle down memory lane a little bit more, check out this article with the irresistible title, The 8 Most Wildly Irresponsible Vintage Toys.

GenXers and Millennials, eat your hearts out.

Unspeakable guilty pleasures

costco-shopping-toilet-paper.jpg

Yesterday, AGMA bought two yuge…I mean YUGE…bags of that horribly addictive kettle corn popcorn stuff.

These bags are so large that my most adorable 7 month old grand daughter and a couple of friends could fit in them. So large that they could probably pull in her exersaucer too. So large the Cheeto man-child’s ego could fit into them.

Actually, they’re probably not THAT bigly yuge…

Last night Hubs filled a large cereal bowl with these deceptively evil delights from one of the bag. You could barely tell that anything had been taken out of the bag.

The sweet and salty popcorn contained in the massive bags IS deceptively evil. The advertising on the bag seduces the hunger crazed consumer into thinking this is a weigh control product. “Only 70 Calories per Cup!” it proudly announces knowing full well that no normal person can stop at any less than 10 cups. AGMA can’t.

It’s all air right?

So why would I, a perfectly logical person and savvy consumer, purchase two gargantuan bags of snack product when there are only two – count ’em two – mouths to feed at Casa AGMA?

It was a BOGO of course at….

COSTCO!!!!

Many a diet and marriage has been ruined by this irresistible purveyor of unmanageable massive quantities.

I won’t let Hubs come with me when I shop there. Too dangerous. He wants to come home with a four pack of electric toothbrushes or a package of 25 chicken breasts.  Or a two pack of inflatable floaty islands for our pool.

We don’t have a pool.

But the temptation is hard, very hard, to resist.  It’s like temporary insanity.

For those of you in parts of the US who don’t have Costcos (are there such places?) or in other countries, be thankful. Unlike AGMA, you probably still have space in your pantry, freezer, basement and garage.

Costco is a giant warehouse store that sells most items in bulk for a relatively low price.  Why by a 16 oz bottle of ketchup when you can buy a whole gallon for only $3 more?  Makes perfect sense at the time.

Temporary insanity.

You get the picture.

While Costco isn’t the only giant warehouse store in the US, it’s the one with the cult following. There was a documentary about Costco in 2012 called The Costco Craze: Inside the Warehouse Giant. And it asked the question, “…whether customers save money by purchasing large packs of goods or simply consume more?”

I don’t feel I have consumed more as a result of my bulk purchases.   Except for one item. Reference AGMA’s post of two weeks ago.

I’m now an extravagant consumer of Kirkland (Costco’s home brand) toilet paper. So soft. So strong.

So plentiful.

I look at that 36 roll package sitting in our garage (the only place we have to store a veritable mountain of TP), and believe that I can throw caution and frugality to the wind. And down the toilet.

Not counting how many sheets I use; one of AGMA’s guilty pleasures…

One must buy a membership for the privilege of buying super-sized bags of kettle corn and a mountain of toilet paper at Costco. Membership fees were a whopping 70% of their $1.911 billion total income in 2016.

AGMA has been proud to contribute to Costco’s bottom line since 2006.

And since 2006, I’ve had my share of banana’s go bad (3 lbs. for $1.99) and cheese (1 lb. for $5.99) go moldy and organic spring mix (1 lb. for $3.99) turn brown and slimy.

But I’ve also had lots and lots of satisfying lunches there from the sample ladies.

FYI, AGMA shared her tips on the prime time to get filled up with all kinds of goodies from Costco in this post if you’re interested.

Over the past 11 years, I’ve become wise. Or wiser. I no longer buy half gallon tubs of mustard. No place to store it in the 5 years it would take us to use it. Or the 3 lb. bunch of bananas (see above). Or a 5 lb. box of veggie soy burgers.

I ended up throwing them away after they turned white because they had been untouched in the freezer for so long.

Now AGMA sticks to the boring regulars – paper towels, TP, laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, white vinegar, and cat litter.

ZZZzzzz….

The cat litter comes in a 42 lb. bag. Between Hubs and I, it takes about 3 days for the bag to migrate up to the litter box two fights up from the garage.

I do go a little crazy now and then, and go off script. Yesterday, I bought 2 doormats ($2 off each) and the YUGE bags of kettle corn (BOGO for heavens sake!). Oh – and a 2 lb. package of frozen wild caught Alaskan pollock patties.

Here’s to hoping they don’t turn white. The sample was fabulous.

American excess – ya gotta love it…

Elvis has left the building

elvis3

After 44 years of service to the good people of the United States (Army plus Federal job) Hubs has retired.

That was a freakin’ fast 44 years.

His original plan was to retire at the end of January 2018.  After the election of a President hostile to everything his agency is tasked to do, he moved it up to May 2017.   The difference in his monthly pension for those 8 month would be like $1.20.  We decided we could deal with this financial blow…

Smart man.

Then in February, he came home one day and asked if I would mind if he pushed his retirement up to the end of April.  He said, “I just feel dirty working for ‘that man'”, referring to his new boss, the man-child Cheeto-head.

Very smart man.  Hubs that is, not Cheeto-head…

The level of his job prohibited him from saying or writing anything about the U.S. Government that was political in nature.  That was a big no no.  It didn’t allow him to follow the example of his bitchy, feisty wife (AGMA) in posting/sharing scathing commentaries on social media about He Who Must Not Be Named and his contingency of thugs, criminals, henchpeople and traitors.

I know – I really need to quit tip toeing around the subject and say what I really think.

But he’s bound by those chains no longer!  I have to say that, while he has posted several mild critiques about the deteriorating state of the office of President and our nation, he as not been nearly as prolific or wickedly cranky as AGMA.  But we do have very different temperaments…

It’s been 4 weeks since the wild rumpus of retirement celebrations and so far, so good.

In all seriousness, AGMA realizes it’s been difficult for him to go from managing 5 offices spread across the southeast U.S. and being responsible for some very important cases, to being the guy who scoops the cat litter and de-cat-hairs the furniture.

Serious demotion.

I know he misses the 8 to 5 regiment Monday through Friday, and having his days very ordered. He’s a very logical person who likes routine and needs structure.  AGMA doesn’t help the situation by getting up early one day to go running and sleeping in the next just because I can.  I’m very used to unstructured, unordered days with no routine, and flying by the seat of my pants.

But then again, you probably knew that…

Thank God he has multiple interests, nurtured over the years, to occupy some of his time.    He’s been a chess player since high school; a bridge player since college and a genealogy researcher since before it was cool to be a genealogy researcher.  And more recent events/pursuits such as becoming a grandpa twice in 2 years and becoming proficient in French help tremendously.

He also signed up at our local senior center and is taking a class on Astronomy.

So while he seems a little lost right now, AGMA’s pretty certain that he’s going to be just fine.

But I’m also pretty certain that he thinks I’m a slug.

Yesterday, he got into a declutter fit.   While asking himself, “Does this item bring me joy?”, he totally cleaned out his side of the closet, all the drawers in his chest of drawers and his night stand.  He took 5 bags of stuff to Goodwill this morning.  He had a very smug look on his face as he loaded the bags in his car.

That look that says, “I’m an awesome time manager.  I’ve only been retired 4 weeks and I’ve managed to do something that you’ve been saying you need to do for months but say you just can’t find the time…”

Bastard.

Between my running schedule and my AGMA blog and my eBay business and my massage therapy practice and my travels and my domestic duties and maintaining family/friend communications and my political activism, finding what gives me joy and what doesn’t in my closet isn’t very high on my list.

But then again, he’s clueless.  He’s never had any idea what I did from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday.

And that’s about to change.

I will have given him a 5 week grace period.  Fair right?

Next week, we’re going to sit down to create the dreaded wonderful “Honey do” list.   This will be a combination of mundane, repetative domestic duties, one-off things that AGMA hasn’t had time to do that are within his skill set, and things that need to be done by a professional.

That’ll keep him busy for a few years.

Friends who’ve retired or spouses of retired folks have told AGMA that it took them 1 to 2 years to really settle into a new lifestyle.

So whaddaya think?  For those of you who have gone before, does this sound about right?

Any pearls of wisdom that you can drop AGMA’s way will be eagerly appreciated.

elvis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My crappy week

Poopfairy

A couple of weeks ago, my life turned to crap.

Literally.

Decide now if you want to hang with AGMA or bail to a blog about cats or Whole30 testimonies.

This isn’t going to be pretty.

But then again, as 45 has reminded us so many times just by having his image broadcast digitally or in print, life isn’t always pretty. Or even semi-attractive. Or meh.

It all started two weeks ago in Chicago when we were visiting our son, DIL & adorable grandchildren. We’d all enjoyed a stress-free (NOT) lunch on Saturday with 4 adults, a 6 month old and a 2 year old.

On the way back to the car, Hubs unknowingly stepped in a pile of doggie doo doo. On the sidewalk. Evidently the myth of the Poop Fairly is alive and well in Chicago.

It soon became very apparent something was seriously amiss after we all piled in the car. My son said, “I think I stepped in some dog poo. Something stinks.”

That seemed to catch my 2 year old grandson’s attention. “Where dog poo?” he repeated over and over. And over.

Hubs discovered the offending blob on his shoe. We all held our noses until we got home to a chorus of “Where dog poo?”

We cleaned the offending excrement from Hubs shoe – unfortunately, it was a two person job – then attempted to enter my son’s condo. Evidently some extremely tidy alien has taken up residence in my son. He inspected the scrubbed shoe to ensure every molecule of dog digestive by-product was removed before we were allowed though the door.

I’m pretty sure about the alien thing. His room as he was growing up, and his apartments during and after college until he got married were Hoarders TV show worthy. Now he’s a total neat freak. Aliens…

For the entire rest of the visit, my grandson was dog poo obsessed.

O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D.

“Where grandpa dog poo?” “Where go dog poo?” “Dog poo stinky.” “Grandpa got dog poo.” and “Where dog poo shoe?”

My DIL texted me after we got home that he was still talking about the dog poo all that next week. Every pile of yard debris on the side walk was, “Dat dog poo.”

The day after the great dog poo escapade, AGMA received a text from a friend who had looked in on our cats. Clearly one of them was not happy that we had left them and decided to go all passive aggressive on us.

There were 4 – countem’ 4 – piles of cat doo doo on our living room rug. Our off-white, long shag living room rug.

Sh*t. Literally.

He said he tried to start cleaning it up, but didn’t know where our cleaning supplies were and didn’t want to make a bigger mess. So he just left it all.

Nice.

So we had an extra special treat when we came home Sunday evening. And guess who got to clean it and the carpet all up? Hint – not Hubs.

The final blow (or blow out) came on Monday.

This is probably TMI, but Hubs has a “slow” metabolism. “Things” don’t necessarily move everyday. And when we travel, it’s worse. He tells me it’s difficult to relax on an “strange” toilet.

He relaxes when he gets home. Sometimes he relaxes so much it stops up the plumbing. Which is what happened that dreadful Monday.

Can you see where this is going?

The commode in our master bath is somewhat finicky. It will act like it gets stopped up, but will clear out with a 2nd flush. I’ve learned not to use the plunger until after the 2nd flush.

And this was AGMA’s fatal mistake that miserable Monday.

My assumption was that I could clear the blockage with another flush. Had AGMA lifted the lid, I would have discovered that this was NOT a normal situation and another flush would be a disaster of monstrous proportions.

I flushed.

It overflowed.

Double sh*t. Literally.

AGMA won’t go into any more detail. You seriously need to be thankful for this.

But I will tell you that the clean-up was a multi-day effort. It involved scores of towels, rubber gloves, throw-away shoes, old clothes covering every inch of exposed flesh, a mop, Spic-n-Span, beach (lots of bleach) and many loads of laundry. Plus emptying out floor of the closet that was in the path of the fateful flush. More bleach and Spic-n-Span. And lots of stuff beyond salvation getting trashed.

It was an exhausting effort.

So, as a public service, here is AGMA’s top 10 take-aways list from my crappy few days…

10.  Never mention dog poo to a 2 year old even if you are knee deep in it.

9.   Plan on having somebody visit your cats more than once over a long weekend.

8.   FaceTime with the cats as often as possible to let them know you miss them and will be coming home soon. Encourage them to use their litter box.

7.   Have cleaning supplies on the counter and plainly visible for cat caretakers.

6.   Offer a free bottle of champagne or spirit of choice to said caretaker if said cleaning supplies are used in an appropriate manner.

5.   Encourage Hubs to eat more fiber on out of town trips.

4.   Encourage Hubs to purchase an OTC “relaxing” stimulant on out of town trips.

3.   Keep a supply of old towels handy in the bathroom. Really handy. Always.

2.   No cardboard or paper items on the floor of the water closet closet. Gross.

And my #1 takeaway from this weekend from bodily function hell…

For the love of all that’s holy and sacred, always…always…ALWAYS lift the lid before flushing to get the lay of the land to see what you are dealing with.

DON’T FLUSH BLIND.

If AGMA can save just one of you from her horrible fate…well…then, it was worth it.

“History has it’s eyes on you”

 

10dollar_front lg

AGMA traveled with now retired Hubs to Chicago two weeks ago to visit the most adorable grandchildren in the world.

Seriously, they are. But I don’t want to pick any fights with those of you who might disagree because you might think that your grandchildren are the most adorable.

I’m sure they’re cute and all that but…

We went up to Chicago a day earlier than normal because we had tickets to see…

“Wait for it”…

HAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL!!!!

OMG, OMG, OMG!

Now I know that Broadway musicals aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but if you get the chance to see Hamilton, please go! Saying it was fabulous doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

And men, you’ll love it even if you think you won’t. It has war and cannon fire and drinking and duels and sexual intrigue and comedy and rap battles. I mean, what’s not to like?

AGMA bought the tickets last September. Risky at our age buying tickets to something 8 months in the future. You just never know…

And the way T-Rump has been acting toward North Korea, there was definitely a 50-50 chance we might not have been able to go.

Kaboom!

I’m frugal. Very frugal. Some might even say cheap. I buy a lot of my clothes in thrift shops – very nice ones, but still… But I didn’t hesitate to shell out the $167 per ticket to see Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece of a hip-hop version of Alexander Hamilton’s life.

And from what AGMA hears, compared to seeing it in New York and San Francisco, we got a bargain.

A year and a half ago, a friend of mine suggested we take a girls trip to NYC to see Hamilton. She’d seen something on Good Morning America and said it looked fun. At that point, I was Hamilton-unenlightened. I checked the ticket prices (only resale were available) and said “No way!” They were $300 per ticket.

$300. To see the original cast. On Broadway.

I’ll never forgive myself.

My DIL and son went to New York last summer to see one of the final performances of the original cast. She says she will never tell anybody how much she paid for her tickets. AGMA thinks it was close to a hefty downpayment on the national debt.

Interestingly enough, she was pregnant at the time and having difficulties. The baby was fine, but her body was not handling the pregnancy well. Her OB advised her not to travel.

She started crying. Literally crying in her doctor’s office. And said, “But I have tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway with Lin-Manual Miranda this weekend!”

He told her to go.

All went well on the trip and they had a Broadway experience of a lifetime.  And little V came out singing “Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry…” when she was born.

For those of you who don’t follow this stuff, Hamilton is a hip hop opera written by, at the time, 29 year old phenom Lin-Manual Miranda.  He based it on the Ron Chernow book titled Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton was an immigrant from the West Indies who came to NYC as a penniless 17 year old and became one of our Founding Fathers.

“Immigrants, we get the job done.”

The music and lyrics are wonderful. And catchy. AGMA has lately been heard belting out some of the songs while showering.

“La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la”

The staging is impressive. One set that is incredibly adaptive. Like AGMA.

And the casting concept is a stoke of pure genius.

Miranda uses a culturally and racially diverse cast of African-Americans, Latinas and Asian-Americans to play the Founding Fathers and the rest of the historical figures. Kinda makes American history more accessible to everybody…

Miranda started working on the concept for Hamilton in 2009, well before T-Rump burst onto the political scene, but it is so very relevant to what’s happening in the United States right now.

AGMA’s pretty sure all of our Founding Fathers and Mothers are furiously spinning in their graves at how our fake president is trying to tear down the nation that they built with their blood, sweat and tears. And how he and his traitorous, bellicose baffoons are trying to undermine the checks and balances our Founders put into the US Constitution. And take away our rights. And get into bed with the Russians.

T-Rump and Putin in bed. Now there’s an image in your mind’s eye that you can’t un-see.

Yikes!

One of the most poignant songs in Hamilton is titled “History Has It’s Eyes on You”.

I have been calling my Senators (both GOPer’s) since the inauguration expressing my deep concerns with the corruption, lies and treason in the White House and Congress. Lately, I’ve been adding the phrase, “Remember, ‘history has it’s eyes on you’…”

History does indeed have it’s eyes on them.  All of them. And AGMA has a feeling history will not be kind to them. Any of them.

Nor should it.

So until we get their butt’s kicked out, impeached, tarred and feathered, etc., just like Hamilton, I’ll keep resisting tyranny and treason.  AGMA hopes you will too.

I’ll continue calling my elected officials and attending town halls and marching and being AGMA-obnoxious for the sake of the future of the most adorable grandchildren in the world.

And if you don’t agree about the adorable grandchildren thing – no problem. I’ll just challenge you to a duel with pistols.  In New Jersey because…

“Everything’s legal in New Jersey.”

Ciao Bella Italia Part Due

20170330_212327

I found my 2018 Easter outfit in Rome

OMG – how did three weeks fly by?

It’s been hoppin’ here in AGMA central since I landed back in Wonderland.

I’ve been working wayyy too much, visited the grands in Chicago and on top of that, I was in charge of Hubs retirement celebration 2 weeks ago.

 

More about the retirement later.  Probably a lot more…  AGMA just wanted to give a excuse (albeit lame) as to why she’s been so quiet. Again.

But now, it’s time to go back to Italy!  Picking up where I left off in my post of 4/19 (which seems eons ago)…

We left Rome the day after the marathon. AGMA was walking kind of slow.  Especially when I had to pick up and schlep my suitcase.  AGMA packs light for overseas adventures  – my bag was slightly larger than a carry-on.   But it felt like it weighed about 300 lbs.

It made my legs wobble.

We headed east to a small hilltop walled village circa 1000 AD where K’s old high school friend lives. Mr. D has lived in Italy for 40+ years so he knows a thing or two about lamb entrails…

He arranged for a private tour of the local sites – an excavation of a Roman villa and a church built into the side of a mountain that St. Francis hung out in for a couple of nights.  I’m a history geek so I loved it. K, not so much – I saw her eye’s roll, ever so slightly, back in her head.

We spent the night in Mr. D’s 700+ year old home up in the walled village.

P1130875

My guess is that the cooler is probably not 700+ years old…

And were treated to a cold shower the next morning. But it’s 700+ years old right? AGMA had a 30 year old house once that had plumbing issues too…

The next day Mr. D took us to the charming town of Orvieto that has a fabulous cathedral. Shelley at Destination NOW visited Orvieto in 2012 and has some great posts about her visit. We were there for 3 hours. Read Shelley’s first post here if you want to know more about this fabulous little town.

P1130919

After our visit, Mr. D loaded us on the train; we were off to Siena. Beautiful Siena. Hilly Siena. Very hilly Siena.

My legs were still wobbling.

I absolutely LOVED our hotel, the Albergo Bernini, primarily because of the view from the hotel terrace.

20170404_190059

We were right next to St. Catherine’s house (sort of) and just a stones throw (maybe a couple of stones.) from the Basilica of San Domenico where Catherine’s head and thumb are in residence.

Eeewwww…

You weren’t allowed to take a picture of her head, but it was open season on her thumb.

P1130940

Her thumb is on the left in that little coffee press looking glass thing.

We enjoyed aperetivo on Siena’s huge “square” (it’s not really a square), Piazza del Campo, but it was kind of chilly.  The drinks warmed us up.  It’s hard to imagine, but the Sienese having a horse race on this square twice a year called Il Palio that sounds akin to a jalopy demolition derby.

This might have to be an addition to my bucket list!

After 2 nights in Siena, we hopped on another train.  Destination – Pisa. In AGMA’s 5 past visits to Italy, I had never been to Pisa to see “it”.  I’d heard some uncomplimentary things about Pisa and her famous tower.   “The town’s dirty, full of cheap restaurants and tacky souvenir stands selling cheap, cheesy little Leaning Towers to sucker tourists, yada, yada, yada…”

Maybe that’s why it took me 6 visits to get there.

But our 4 hours in Pisa were delightful! We walked the mile from the train station to the Field of Miracles through the town, which is full of college students.  We strolled around the tower and cathedral.  Took the obligatory “Look I’m holding the Leaning Tower of Pisa up!” photos. Ate lunch.  Walked back to the train station and hit the road…eh, tracks again.  It was a great afternoon.

P1130996

Yeah, it’s got a tower that leans, but there’s a lot more to Pisa than that!

Destination – the big tamale – the Cinque Terre

And it was just as breathtaking as I’d heard.  But hilly.  Very hilly.  Mountainous actually.

At this point in the trip, my legs had stopped wobbling.  Sadly, this was a temporary condition.

We stayed at an Agriturismo farm waaaaayyyy up on a hill in Monterosso de Mare, the most northern of the 5 towns.  We didn’t have a car so the only way into town and back again was to walk.

And that’s when the wobbling started again.

But it was worth it for the view, our congenial hosts, the delicious meals, and the wine made from the grapes grown in their vineyard.

P1140166

Early morning view of all five Cinque Terra towns from our room

OMG – the wine.

One night, after consuming two bottles, K and AGMA videoed ourselves – in our jammies – dancing to “Dancing Queen” by ABBA  and Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk”.  Then sent the video to our families.

There was much remorse and gnashing of teeth in the morning.  And a slight headache.

We hiked, ‘cuz that’s what your supposed to do when you’re in the Cinque Terre.  We hiked between Monterosso and Vernazza one day, then between Corniglia and Vernazza the next day.

There were steps.  Lot of steps.  Lots and lots of steps.

20170407_102728

I had nightmares about these steps!

The wobbling continued.

We used the local train to visit Manarola and Riomaggiore.  But I think we did more hiking up and down and around these towns than on the hikes between the other towns.

AGMA felt like a mountain goat.  Or a bighorn sheep.  Without the horns.

We were blessed with incredible weather which helped take some of the sting out of all the walking and climbing.  The scenery was freakin’ spectacular!

P1140121

Riomaggiore looked stunning!

After four wonderful days exploring these beautiful 5 CT towns, we sadly said goodbye to our hosts, left our goat leggings behind, and headed back to Rome for one more night before flying home.

Overall, the trip was amazing.

But please tell me how, after running a marathon, walking all around Siena, Orvieto, Pisa, and climbing up and down the cliffs & towns of the Cinque Terre, AGMA managed to gain 6 pounds?  Sure, we ate well and drank wine, but we didn’t go absolutely nuts.  As a matter of fact, I felt like we exercised great restraint at times.

And K didn’t gain an ounce.

How is that fair?

Back to rabbit food if I want to fit into my new Easter outfit next year.

Now all I need is a bonnet…

 

Ciao Bella Italy Part Uno

 

20170402_151740

AGMA’s baaaacccckkk!

Actually, I’ve been home for over a week.

Jet lag’s a bitch.

Italy was lovely. That’s what I’ve been telling everybody…. Italy was lovely. Not that I had a fabulous time, or that it was great or wonderful or fantastic.

It was just lovely.

I think AGMA needs to stay home a while. I think I’m starting to get blasé about traveling. I’ll have to ponder that…

It could be that I traveled with a friend I’ve never traveled with before. CB’s a lovely, delightful person who’s been a friend for 30 years.  She’s also much loved by scores and scores of people.

Seriously.

And for a very long time, AGMA wanted to be CB. I wanted to live her life. I envied her rock solid marriage, her family – 4 sons who cherish her and get along with each other, her career (one of those $150/hr consulting things) and her gracious hostessing skills.

But most of all, I envied her scores of friends and relatives who absolutely adore her. A-D-O-R-E. I mean, if she would meet an untimely end tomorrow, there would literally be 1000’s at her funeral, all wailing and weeping and gnashing their teeth.  Me included.

So I pretty much thought CB was everything that I wanted to be. I always wanted lots of adoring friends, but it’s just never happened. And probably never will. AGMA’s a bit too crusty to be adored.

CB IS a lovely person and a good friend, but….

You never truly, really know somebody until you travel with them.

We are very different people. That became pretty obvious on our trip. There weren’t any major issues or confrontations, thank God. That would’ve been miserable. But we definitely have different “styles” and ways of approaching things.

AGMA’s not going to get into specifics. But while the feeling that I wanted to be her, to live her life, has faded over the years, I came home from our trip convinced that I did not want to be her, to live her life.

As imperfect as it is, AGMA kinda likes her own skin.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

So Italy was lovely.

We were in Rome for the first 5 days. Some of CB’s adoring fans are former business associates who live near Rome, so we had dinner with them (O & V) several evenings. It was awesome to have their translation skills and culinary advice.

One evening, O advised me to order the lamb entrails for dinner. She said it was a very typical Roman dish and was served for breakfast on Easter morning in many Roman households. “Hey”, I thought, “When in Rome…eat like a local. I like lamb. Why not?”

AGMA’s face was quite expressive when the server put my order on the table.

Nothing. Like. Lamb chops.

A heaping plate of brownish gray cooked lamb guts. I mean heaping. And I swear they were staring at me.

Watching my every move…

Golly, I can’t think of anything better to serve on Easter morning!

I made a brave effort to eat some of it, but thankfully there was plenty of other more than palatable food on the table that wasn’t staring at me. I think O was disappointed I didn’t chow down on it. She took the leftovers home to her dog who I’m sure did chow down on it.

But AGMA was somewhat subdued during our time in Rome.

I was running the Rome Marathon on our last full day in Roma and was worried about passing the medical exam that I needed to actually be able to run.

It’s a long story, but Italy has some weird medical requirements for people who want to run marathons. Marathons in the US will pretty much let anybody run. They really don’t care if you keel over with a stroke or heart attack. As long as you pay your entry fee and check the little box that you won’t hold anybody liable for anything, you’re good to go.

Evidently Italy doesn’t want you stroking out.

There was one test they required that would have been very expensive to get in the US, so I opted to get my exam in Rome two days before the marathon.

On March 31, I was whisked away from the Rome Marathon expo to parts unknown in a Smartcar by an Italian gentleman who didn’t speak English. CB anxiously waited for me at the expo, ready to call the police if I didn’t return.

This was going to be an adventure.

After a twenty minute drive, I met Guido, the Sports Medicine Man.

Guido was quite good looking. And much younger than me. And he asked me to take of my shirt.

Things were getting interesting…

AGMA felt like she was in a Fellini movie….“The Cougar and the Sports Medicine Man”

But alas, it was to attach the wires for the EKG to my chest. I wished I’d worn a nicer bra.

He also took my blood pressure. When I told him it might be a little high (I was nervous about failing the exam and not running in the marathon), he said in a husky whisper, “Maybe it’s because I am so close to you.”

Seriously. Sort of. He actually used a normal voice. The husky whisper part was in the dream that AGMA had later that night.

I passed my tests (but my BP was indeed high – probably multiple reasons…) and was able to run in the marathon on April 2nd.

And I finished! And didn’t stroke out. That’s always a good thing.

Just an FYI, it was not mandatory to run naked as the picture of the medal suggests.  That’s also a good thing.

Total self acceptance, lamb guts, Guido and a clothed marathon finish in the shadow of the Coliseum….

Okay, so maybe AGMA’s trip to Italy really was fantastic.

Stay tuned for Ciao Bella Italy Part Due (pronounced doo-eh)!

The prodigal child returns (almost…)

Hey’all!

‘member me?  AGMA…

It’s been a while and I kinda sorta left everybody dangling with some semi-dramatic stuff in my last post.  Then nada, nothing.

I’m soooooo sorry!

AGMA hit the road again and it’s been just a bit crazy.

I’m on the downside of a two week trip to Italy.   We fly back over the Big Pond on Tuesday.  I hope I.C.E. lets AGMA back in the U.S.

It’s been an eventful, interesting, fun trip.

I ran the Rome Marathon.  In Rome.  And finished.  It took me a long time – as usual.   But it was awesome!  More when I get home…

Hubs stayed home with the cats this trip so AGMA’s traveling with a long time friend who lives in a different city.  “They” say you really don’t know somebody until you travel with them.  “They” are right.  More when I get home…

Basically, I just wanted to let everybody know that I’m alive and okay.  And so is Hubs.

His CAT scan showed no other indications of cancer in his innards.  So we whooped it up over that!  Thank God.

My MRI showed the horrible, wonderful prednisone did it’s job.  The most unwelcomed mass in my pancreas is gone.  Poof.  Goodbye.  Thank God.

I’m still left with the ulcerative colitis that was an extra added bonus of the autoimmune pancreatitis, but so far, it has been extremely mild.  Thank God.

I got my two crowns.  It was traumatic (isn’t dentist stuff always traumatic?) but I survived.  With minimal whining.  Thank God.

And my shingles and the after effects are 99.9% gone.  Poof.  Goodbye.  Thank God.

So AGMA feels like a new woman!  Actually, after all of the wine, pasta and dolci I’ve had, I feel like two new women.  By the time I get home, I could be three new women

So hang tight.

I’ll be home soon and be posting some juicy travel stuff shortly.  All with the trademark AGMA “twist”.

And I’m really looking forward to getting caught up on everybody else’s posts.  And lives.

I really miss you guys!

Ciao!

P.S.  The massive picture at the top has nothing to do with this post. But you probably figured that out.  I couldn’t upload the one I wanted (it’s complicated…) so I just used one I had in my media library but hadn’t used yet.  AGMA will let you ponder what kind of post that was going to be…

 

 

One tough sausage ball

mr-bill

“I haven’t written anything in nearly three weeks. I’m going to go out and write come hell or high water.”

That was AGMA around noon today to Hubs who was working from home.

And here I am writing, not having to deal with either hell (unless you consider the ongoing Trump presidency a new, 10th level of hell ala Dante Alighieri) or high water. Just some minor traffic and a hour less time to write than I thought I’d have.

AGMA’s dentist appointment for a crown re-do and a filling re-do for later this afternoon got moved to earlier in the afternoon. I wonder if it had anything to do with my FYI call to their office this morning informing them that half of the tooth scheduled for the filling re-do is no longer there.

Evidently the sausage ball I was eating Saturday evening at a party was a far more formidable force for a rear molar than it appeared. Or it could be that a molar that has been 70% filling and 30% tooth for the last 47 years finally gave up the ghost.  It broke.

My dentist is going to give me that look. Again.

Actually, this week is shaping up to be an expensive on for us on the healthcare front.

Timely given the proposed GOP Don’T Care Un-heathcare plan. It just seems like people can’t start dying fast enough for them. They actually seem a bit giddy at the prospect…

But we have good insurance – for now – so instead of costing us an arm and a leg, it’s only going to be a few fingers. Maybe a toe too.

Hubs was home today because he had a CAT scan this morning complete with a barium and iodine cocktail. Yummy.

The pathology on the MEGA polyp (seriously, that’s what the doctor called it; we have started calling it Mr. Bill) removed during his colonoscopy several weeks ago (that I did NOT write about…), showed the tiniest amount of cancer. The pathologist couldn’t see it when they initially checked Mr. Bill out, but there was ‘an area of suspicion’. Gotta watch out for those. So Mr. Bill was sent off for more tests and came back positive for some cancer cells.

The doc said that he was 80% sure that he got it all when he unceremoniously cut Mr. Bill out during the colonoscopy but just in case, Hubs had to have the CAT scan today.

I’m liking his odds. Stay tuned for more…

And of course AGMA has the joy of a visit to my long suffering dentist today.

I’m sure the crown re-do will go forward as planned. I’m just not sure what happens to the filling re-do since there basically isn’t much of a tooth left to fill. No matter what he does, I think it’s going to cost us some serious simoleons.

And last but not least, I have an appointment for MRI this week.

I took my last prednisone tablet on Saturday. AGMA cautiously feels like I have a new lease on life. I’m very much looking forward to a reduction in the chipmunk cheeks, getting all the feeling back in my tootsies and a good night’s sleep with out the help of big pharma.

I’ve been on this wonderful but horrible drug since the beginning of December. The goal is to get rid of the mass in my pancreas caused by a stupid autoimmune condition AGMA managed to develop.

Duh – I hate it when I do stuff like that.

An 8 week round of prednisone last summer caused it to shrink but not disappear. After trying another immune suppressant drug for a few months that my body did not like at all – lots of side effects – I took a 4 week break to run a marathon and go to Australia.

Naturally.

This round of prednisone has been more intense in that I took a higher dose for a longer time period – 14 weeks total.

Now it’s time to see if it worked.

That’s what the MRI (with contrast dye) is all about. Evidently they need to put dye in to make sure no part of the mass can play hide and seek behind my stomach.

Stay tuned…

As I said, an expensive week for the AGMA household, but thankfully, our insurance will be paying for large portion of it. But at some point over the weekend, when we were talking about all of the above and reading about the proposed GOP plan to decimate the ACA, Hubs and I looked at each other and both blurted out the same thoughts…

What would people who don’t have insurance do if they were in our situation? What will people who will lose their insurance coverage under Don’T Care do if they were in our situation?

Maybe we’re socialists or bleeding heart liberals. Maybe we have a bit of ‘survivors guilt’. But we think that everybody should have access to the same healthcare as we have without having to file for bankruptcy. Or die.

Pretty radical huh?

That’s AGMA.