To tat or not to tat, THAT is the question

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AGMA decided to make a late mid-life career change in my 50’s.

Despite having an MBA, I never quite warmed to the politics of “How to Succeed in Business by Kissing Ass” scenario. I’m not a mover and shaker type. I’m not uber competitive. I deplore drama of any sort.

When AGMA first started working as a young adult, I believed that intelligence, integrity and hard work would bring success in the business world.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….

When it dawned on me how incredibly naive I had been, I settled into a career as an underling in the IT department of an insurance company in Cincinnati for 20+ years. But AGMA was pretty happy being an underling. I was able to work part-time (much of it from home) in a professional position that allowed me to be around for my kids (can you say car pool queen?) and do lots of volunteer work while earning a decent salary.

It was all wonderful until Son#2 (the snarky, but oh so sweet one) had the nerve to go off to college. My company got a new CIO who did not approve of part-time at home workers, so I was “forced” to work (I shudder when remembering)…40 hours a week. Full time.

Oh, the humanity!

AGMA was a baby about it; I was miserable even though I loved my co-workers and was now making more money than I’d ever made.

Then Hubs got a promotion and had to move to Atlanta. AGMA didn’t want to move to Atlanta. I didn’t want to leave what had been my home for 30 years to start over. I didn’t want to leave my friends.

“But you can quit your job and not have to go back to work in Atlanta.” Hubs crooned softly in my ear.

Thems was powerful words.

Buh bye Cincinnati!

But of course, AGMA, being undiagnosed ADHD, got bored pretty fast.

After taking a hobby job at a upscale cookware retailer for several years, and stocking my kitchen with amazing cooking stuff (eat your heart out Alton Brown!), I got restless. I had this nagging feeling that I should be doing something else; something more meaningful than working for minimum wage selling $200 chef’s knives to people with lots of disposable income.

That something was becoming a theraputic massage therapist. Who knew?

Since AGMA graduated from massage school in 2009, I’ve been hopelessly happy with my career choice.

OMG – it’s about time!

My business has morphed from exclusively table work to now, almost exclusively corporate chair massage. And I love it!

I contract with a number of other MT’s who own their own businesses. They do all the marketing, billing, payment and recruiting. They are the ones who have the headaches associated with owning a small business.

All I do is show up and work.

It’s awesome because it fits in perfectly with my travelin’ ways. AGMA works when I want and turns down jobs when we fly off to wherever.

A MT works with far more people doing chair massage than doing table work. A typical chair session is 15 minutes. A table massage usually last an hour. So in at a 3 hour job, I will work on 11 or 12 people.

And AGMA comes in contact with a whole spectrum of folks when I’m doing chair massage. Actors, electricians, teachers, administrative assistants, CEO’s, graduate students… And they come in all sizes, colors, genders, ages, religions – you get the picture.

And a lot of them have tattoos. A. Lot.

Even the ones who look like they wouldn’t a tattoo will have little ones hiding on the their shoulder blade. How do I know this? Sometimes is necessary to pull down a clients shirt a little bit in back to work on their necks. I mean, you gotta do the neck – people hold crazy tension in their neck. So that can give a pretty good view of their upper back.

There are others who have tattoos all over their arms and back. I worked on one young lady last week who had huge wings tattooed on her upper chest. She also had tattoos on her arms. All up and down her arms. And her back. She was quite colorful!

So, of course, AGMA, feeling like I should be more colorful, is pondering getting another tattoo.

I thought the one I got last year would be my first and last. I’ve loved it from the first day I got it and have never had any buyers remorse. Every time I look at it, I smile.

I realize that I am delightfully not normal.

But AGMA needs to accelerate the decision making process. It took 13 years for me to decide what kind of a tattoo I wanted. 13 years from now, I’m going to be closing in on 80. I think I want to pull the trigger a bit sooner for my second one.

But what to get, what to get…? And should I even get another one? I mean, I’m not a spring chick anymore. More like an old cluck up.

I’m conflicted.

So whaddaya think? Do I have millennial envy? Or am I just a late bloomin’ Boomer? A really late Boomer bloomer… Should I listen to my head that says, “WTF?” Or should I follow my heart and become more colorful?

Aging gracefully my ass!

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Tarzan vs Indiana Jones

Tarzan and Jane

When AGMA’s issue, Son#1 & Son#2, were young, I mean really young (3 & 4 maybe), Hubs let them watch “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”.

If you saw this movie, aside from the usual “Indiana Jones gets out of impossible situations and cracks a few jokes in the process”, there are some pretty dark themes in it. Child slavery, human sacrifice, chilled monkey brains & eyeball soup, etc…

Definitely NOT for the milk and cookie pre-school crowd.

I was unaware that Hubs allowed them to watch this movie. That is, of course, of until Son#2 put his hand on his brother’s, Son#1, chest and said, “I’m gonna rip your harrrrt out.”

Kali Ma Shakti de

AGMA was not happy. Not happy at all. And Hubs heard all about it.

However, in subsequent years, the process of trying to rip each others hearts out became a staple on long car trips. One son would pin the other in the back seat, hover his hand over his brothers heart, and chant, “Kali Ma Shakti de.”

And then we’d all laugh. How twisted is that?

It became one of those unexpected family traditions.

And traditions die hard in AGMA’s family. I think they did this to each other as recently as a few years ago (both in their early 30s)

But holy sh*t, the Temple of Doom doesn’t hold a candle to old Tarzan movies.

I’m talking about Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan movies of the 1930’s and 40’s.

As a child, AGMA watched every Tarzan movie that was broadcast on our little black and white TV. The African jungle and the native tribes and Cheeta and the elephants and Tarzan always saving the day…it seemed to be otherworldly and so very exotic.

Compared to Pittsburgh, PA that is.

But good Lord…even in black and white, those things were terrifying!

A few weeks ago, “Tarzan and his Mate”, vintage 1934, came on TV. It was the sequel to the 1932 Tarzan the Ape Man, and starred Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane.

Since we hadn’t seen a Tarzan movie probably in 40 years, we thought it would be fun to watch it.

Sure – it’s all fun and games until the giant crocodiles start attacking.

As AGMA watched the movie, my palms started to sweat. I was breathing a little to fast, my heart started to thump, and the hairs on the back of my neck started to stand up.

The childhood memories of Tarzan terror came storming back.

Some of the “highlights” in the Tarzan movies I saw…

  • Crocodiles, hippos, lions, snakes, etc attacking and ripping people apart
  • Tarzan stabbing or otherwise killing said crocodiles, hippos, lions, snakes, etc…
  • People getting devoured to the bone by piranha in a river
  • Cannibalism
  • Human sacrifice
  • Natives getting killed for sport by the white hunters
  • White hunters boiled in oil
  • Throats/chests slit open on a regular basis
  • People being tied to a tree then eaten by various wild animals
  • Huge snakes (I mean YUGE!) squeezing people to death – slowly, painfully
  • People getting trampled to death by stampeding animals (mostly elephants)
  • People literally getting ripped in half after being tied to two criss crossed trees that were cut apart.

That last one REALLY made an impression on me. Gristly.

Kinda makes ripping somebody’s heart out seem a bit subdued. A little.

Baby Boomers watching Tarzan movies when they were young might explain a lot about what’s going on now a days. Just sayin’…

And, to quote Gomer Pyle, surprise, surprise, surprise…”Tarzan and his Mate” is incredibly sexually charged too.

What?? In 1934??

Yup!

Let’s just say, it’s made obvious that Jane is not staying in the jungle with Tarzan because he is a great conversationalist.

If you get my drift.

In one scene, Tarzan rips Jane’s clothes off and there’s an extended nude swimming scene (Maureen O’Hara had a body double) with them cozying up in the water.

In another scene, Jane tries on a silk frock brought to the jungle by a former suitor who is trying to lure her away from Tarzan. AGMA doesn’t believe that a silk frock can even begin to compete with what Tarzan brings to the table.

If you get my drift.

Anyway, Tarzan swings by, feels up the silk frock, feels up Jane, then picks here up and carries into the trees for a night of cavorting. The next morning, Jane naked and covered only by animals skins starts canoodling AGAIN with Tarzan.

Hey – get a room you two!

Oh, and did I mention that Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Hare were wearing nothing, nada, zilch, under their oh so skimpy loin clothes. Oh la la!

So I suppose that AGMA shouldn’t have gotten that upset with Hubs for the “Temple of Doom” incident ‘cause, seriously,  Indiana Jones ain’t got nutin’ on Tarzan.

Ungawa!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More

yellowtape
We say “Never again!”
But they are empty words
More blood, and ripped, tender, young flesh
More horror
More gut wrenching images
More yellow tape
More death
More grief and sorrow
More shatter lives
More hopelessness
More thoughts and prayers
More hypocrisy
More impotence
More numbing
More normalizing
More guns
God forgive us
As we sacrifice our children
To the highest bidder

https://marchforourlives.com/donate/

“This House is Clean!”…rewind

roto

(This post was originally published in 2014.  It’s a humorous take on a subject most folks are reluctant to discuss.  For obvious reasons…

I’m reposting because it want to make sure EVERYBODY (and AGMA means EVERYBODY) over the age of 50 knows how critically important it is to get regular colonoscopies.  Sooner if there is a history of colon cancer in your family. 

A little over a year ago (February 2017), Hubs went in for a “regular” colonscopy (his previous ones had been clear).  The GI guy removed a large polyp and it turns out there were cancer cells hiding in the polyp.  

Damn cancer cells.

It was very, very early colon cancer – literally only a few cells grouped together.  It wasn’t even staged.  In May, the area around the poly was removed and the margins turned out to be  clear.

There was much dancing and celebration at Casa AGMA the day the pathology report came back!

The survival rate for early detection of colon cancer is very high.   This is a very good thing!

So this is all to say, if you’re over 50 and haven’t had a colonoscopy yet, get thyself to ye olde butt doctor NOW!)

On the way to a group run Monday, my running buddy told she was getting her first colonoscopy next Thursday. A colonoscopy virgin. Grasshopper has much to learn…

(Leave now if you don’t like TMI ‘cause this is going to be “one of those” posts!)

She complained that she couldn’t have any solid food on Wednesday; just clear liquids. She said she would be hungry. She was obsessing over how hungry she would be. “Oh honey,” I wanted to tell her, “hunger will be the least of your worries next Wednesday.”

I’ve had two colonoscopies. I think this puts me into the “experienced” category when it comes to this sort of thing. Lucky me.

Studies show that early screening for colon cancer save lives. I’m all over that. And, a colonoscopy really isn’t as bad as people say. Really. Maybe not.

I’ll give you that the prep is kind of yucky. My friend is going to be taking pills to “get ready” for the big day. I’m jealous. I was never offered a pill option.

The first doc in Ohio wrote me a prescription for something that I had to mix with water. It made 30 gallons. It seemed like it was 30 gallons. They said I had to drink it all over the course of the afternoon and evening the day before the procedure.

Game on!

Initially, it tasted like a cross between Gatorade, Pediacare and lemon-lime Kool Aid. Not too bad I thought at the time. “At the time” being the key words here…

Three gallons and three hours later into the prep “protocol”, my upper GI tract started to rebel. It was getting hard to drink the stuff. It was now tasting like a cross between horse sweat and liquified, stale Easter peeps. My throat was starting to clamp shut.

‘Round about that same time, my lower GI tract started to join the party. That’s the nice way to put it. I hovered close to the water closet. Very close. I was thinking of moving in for the night.

Several hours and several more gallons of the now totally undrinkable foul witches brew later, I took a stand. Enough is enough. The gag reflex had started kick in. This is never good. And what I did manage to force down started to shoot through me like I was a goose on speed. I made the unilateral decision that I had successfully completed the prep phase.

My second doc in Missouri didn’t write me a prescription for a prep concoction. He told me to get several over the counter products at the local drug store. Said they worked just as well. And it was cheap. No 30 gallons of toe jam peep sweat. No clamped shut esophagus. It was much more civilized with basically the same squeaky clean results. Easy peasy. Kind of…

So once the prep work is done, you’re basically home free. Other than the next day they snake about 15 feet of tubing up your colon while the doc wears a miners light on his head, a hazmat suit and stares at his monitor with live video of your now clean as a whistle innards. Can I order that on NetFlix?

But the best part of the whole process is the amazing twilight sleep stuff they use to knock you out! You have no idea at all what’s happening. This is very good. And you wake up feeling like you’ve had the best sleep you’ve had in years. In a sick way, it kinda makes it all worthwhile…

So if you’re over 50 and haven’t had a colonoscopy yet, for heaven’s sake schedule one! It’s a relatively simple procedure that could save your life. Plus you end up (get it – end up?) with some pretty good stories that you can swap with other 50+ types. Good times.

But I do have one question – when did they stop calling them proctologists and start calling them gastroenterologists? Proctologist is just such a great word. It’s the stuff great jokes are made of…

Two proctologists were talking about their patients (obviously pre-HIPPA…) The first one said that he was probing one of his patient’s “nether regions” and pulled out a bouquet of flowers. In stunned amazement, the second protologist said, “Where did they come from?” The first proctologist answered, “I don’t know. There wasn’t a card attached.”

Badum-CHING!

That Depends…

Purple

Hubs and I have been put on notice.

We went out to dinner with Son#2 who also lives in Atlanta. He is #2 strictly because he is our second son, born 18 months after Son#1. Son#2 in no way alludes to his position in our hearts and affections.

Although after last night, we may revisit that.

After some discussion about a class Hubs was taking in a seniors continuing education program at nearby university, my younger son made an announcement. I could tell that he had been thinking about this for a while and was waiting for the “perfect time” to bring it up.

Not sure he got the timing quite right.

He told us that it would be best if we found an senior living facility to move to sooner rather than later where we could get involved in “activities and arts & crafts.” He cautioned us no to wait too long. He said he didn’t want us to insist on living in our house until we got “old and bitter, and then fall on the floor and poop all over.”

Yes – those were his exact words. You can’t make this sh*t up.

No pun intended.

Hubs and I burst out laughing. It was just so unexpected and graphic. He was laughing too.

When the belly laughs subsided, he assured us that we were a “long way away from getting to the point of pooping all over.” We must be a bunch of middle schoolers…everybody started laughing again.

We moved on to other topics, which with Son#2, is always interesting. Since he was little, he’s always had strong opinions about things (translation, he was a pain in the arse a good deal of the time…) That hasn’t changed. But at least now he has the maturity and wisdom to select his words and timing, except when he’s talking about us falling down and pooping all over.

But it got AGMA thinking…

When is the right time to give up your home for an alternate living situation due to aging issues/concerns?

We may not be as far away from that as Son#2 thinks.

Hubs is afflicted with that $^#%@%*& neurological disorder. It’s robbing him of the use of his legs. We live in a 4 story townhouse.

Lots.O.Steps

And he has to be very careful going up and down all those steps because the weakness in his legs causes him to lose his balance easily.  He almost tripped this morning.

While we may not be ready for a senior living situation quite yet, we may not be that far away from moving to one level living.

AGMA’s father believed in reactive crisis decision making. And because he was an absolute monarch in a kingdom of two, my poor, sweet step-mother had to go along with whatever he said.

After my step-mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1990, we lobbied very hard to have them move closer to us after they sold their home. They lived a 4 hour drive away with no family close by. Not really easy or convenient for us to pop by… We got a realtor involved to try to find a place that they (my father) liked in Cincinnati (where we lived at the time.)

In the end, they (my father) decided to stay where they were, 228 miles away, and rent a townhouse.

Then my father promptly had a nervous breakdown due to the stress of trying to care for my step-mother, and had to be hospitalized.

Within 3 weeks, we moved my father to Chicago with my sister to recover after his release, moved my step-mother to Cincinnati to live with us, packed up their townhouse and had movers put it in storage. And that was just the beginning of some pretty major changes/upheavals in their/our lives brought on my father’s refusal or inability to admit they needed to live nearer to family.

Needless to say, AGMA was close to a nervous breakdown after it was all said and done…

I DO NOT want to do that to my children. I truly want to recognize when it’s time to throw the cards in and give up being lady of the manor.

That will be hard.

Lady AGMA’s had a manor to rule over since we moved into our first house 40 years ago.

But part of not aging gracefully is not being a major pain in the arse to your children as you age. Just a little nagging one…

Just enough to let them know you’re still around.

AGMA has to believe that no matter what living situation we’ll find ourselves in, that I’ll continue to be a crusader for coloring outside the lines and laughing as much as possible.

And tattoos.

And using colorful language.

And young men in spandex.

Pass the Depends!

Wars and wines (minus cycles)

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Our Epernay AirB&B host’s champagne brand! Just the thing to help make packing up to go home a bit more tolerable.

WARS:

Four years ago, AGMA borrowed a friend’s DVD set of Steven Speilburg/Tom Hank’s WWII HBO miniseries Band of Brothers (some 13 years after it aired.) It follows Easy Company of the US Army 101st Airbourne Division from their training in Toccoa, Georgia (right up the road from us!) to D-Day through V-E Day.

Then we saw George Clooney’s 2014 movie, Monuments Men. Based on the book of the same name, it’s the story of a group of museum directors, curators and art historians who, toward the end of WWII, were tasked by the US Government with trying to recover art treasures stolen by the Nazi’s.

We got hooked. Now I know we’re came late to the game, but Hubs and I got hooked on WWII history in Europe. And some WWI history as well.

Soon after, Hubs and I went to Belgium and France. Sound familiar?

To make a long story short, we visited a number of WWII and WWI sites on our 2014 trip. It was eye opening, heart wrenching and incredibly memorable, moving experience.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.

Return visit to Belgium and France. Here we go…

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The Cloth Hall in Ypres, Belgium. It looks old doesn’t it? It’s not… The Ypres Salient was the scene of intense fighting in WWI with some 450,000 lives lost on both sides.. The entire town of Ypres was destroyed as was everything else in the area. It all became a No Man’s Land. Every building in Ypres dates from after 1916. The rebuilt Cloth Hall is the sight of the In Flanders Fields Museum which is excellent in explaining the WWI history of the area.

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WWI recruitment posters in the In Flanders Fields Museum. Anybody who thinks the rise in Nationalism is a good thing needs to learn more about the causes of WWI, and the devastation that the Nationalist passions back then wrought to Europe. And 16 million people died as a result.

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In driving from Paris to Ypres we passed probably 25 small WWI cemeteries. And there were dozens of small WWI cemeteries around Ypres as well. They just buried the soldiers as they fell in skirmishes and came back after the war to formally mark the graves. The past is very much present and in people’s minds in this part of Europe.

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In Bastogne in the Ardennes where the Battle of the Bulge took place. The 101st was surrounded on three sides by the Germans during the brutal winter of 1944/1945. Supplies had to be air dropped to them and they prevailed until Patton’s Third Army advanced.

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A display of Patton memorabilia in the 101st Airborne Museum in Bastogne.

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Just outside of Bastogne is the Mardasson Memorial honoring the memory of 76,890 American soldiers wounded or killed during the Battle of the Bulge. The memorial itself is a huge 5 pointed star (one of the points can be seen in the distance) Each state name is carved in the parapet, the insignias of each participating battalion on the outside walls and carved in the inside walls are 10 passages describing the battle. They still remember…

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An uncentered photo (sorry…) of Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna in the Church of Our Lady. In Bruges, Belgium. It is breathtaking (AGMA’s photography isn’t!) It was stolen by the Nazi’s in 1944, and was found a year later by the Monuments Men in a salt mine in Austria.

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A view of Saint Bavo Cathedral in Gent, Belgium. The Gent Altarpiece (Adoration of the Mystic Lamb) done in 1432 is located in Saint Bavo. This was another priceless work of art stolen by the Nazi’s and recovered by The Monuments Men. We saw the Altarpiece in 2014, but got to Saint Bavos too late in the day to see it this time. Dang…

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We’re at the Verdun Memorial in Verdun, France. Verdun was the scene for some of the fiercest fighting in WWI. There were anywhere from 700,000 to 1,200,000 casualties in the nearly year long battle. Again, the museum inside the memorial did an excellent job explaining the battle and its aftermath.

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Our rental car’s passenger side mirror and the Douaumont ossuary memorial (around the phallic looking thing…) that contains the bones of 130,000 unidentified French and German soldiers. It’s surrounded by a cemetery of soldiers who were identified. War sucks.

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Like Ypres, the area around Verdun was obliterated by the fighting and the bombing. The chapel at the end of the walkway stands where the church in the village of Fluery once stood. The entire village along with several others was completely destroyed, and was never rebuilt. The craters from the bombs (they look like ski moguls) are still visible all over the landscape over 100 years after the end of the war.

WINES:

Yeah we did!

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The most charming, ancient town of Trier, Germany on the Mosel River. Trier is considered the oldest town in Germany. The Romans moved in back in 30 BC and things have never been the same since! Mosel River = Mosel wines! Cheers!

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No – this is not something in Disney World or Epcot although it looks like it. It’s Colmar, France in The Alsace. And our AirB&B was the white home on the right (NOT the pay toilet…) Our hosts started our visit off right by leaving a bottle of Pinot Blanc in our fridge!

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A canal runs through it…. This section of Colmar is called Little Venice!

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Some of the delicious Alsatian white wine from the Paul Schneider vineyards tasting room in Eguisheim, France. It’s exhausting work, but somebody has to do it….

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The enchanting town of Riquewihr, France. NOT Disney World. We did the Alsatian self guided ‘wine tour’ suggested by Rick Steves and it was nothing but one stinkin’ charming wine producing half timbered house village after another…

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More wine tasting in the tiny village of Hunawihr. We’d never heard of the Sylvaner grape variety, but it make some pretty nice wine!

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Our last stop on our trip was the Champagne region. We stayed in a charming AirB&B in Epernay hosted by the charming Michele who just happened to have her own small champagne house. This meant our fridge was stocked with 4 bottles of her champagne. AGMA did not want to be awakened from this lovely dream…. We had to pay for what we drank but at 14 Euros a bottle, it was an amazing bargain. And yes – Epernay has a glitzy Avenue de Champagne where all the YUGE, bougie producers have locations and you get to pay a premium for a tasting.

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This is ground zero for champagne lovers! This is the Abbey Church in Hautvillers, France where Dom Perignon sang hymns and did Benedictine Monk stuff. Legend says that after he got the fermentation process right for his sparking wine, he ran into the church and said, “Brothers, come quickly! I’m drinking stars…!” Yeah he was! He’s buried in front of the alter of the church.

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The big producers have vineyards everywhere!!

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AGMA and Hubs were very relieved that our precious cargo made it back to the US unbroken and unconfiscated. Four bottles in each of our suitcases. We pack pretty light when we travel so we have room to bring our booty home! There is always the wearing of sackcloth and gnashing of teeth when we drink the last bottle.

So there you have it…the good (wine), the bad (war), the ugly (my pictures) and the ‘makes AGMA’s heart sing’ (cycling!) It was an eventful 2 weeks with a lot of ground covered, great food consumed and fabulous wines tasted.

I’m so blessed.

But AGMA’s glad I’m home and staying home for the foreseeable future. Other than the 5 days in Chicago starting tomorrow…

Yeah we are!

P.S. After I published this, WP informed me that this was my 200th post! Where’s the champagne…???

Cycles, Wars & Wines

Frites all over Belgium.  All. Over. This was a shop in Antwerp that we enjoyed.  They have frites shops/stands like we have hamburger joints in the US.  Word has it that fries were invented in Belgium, but were given that name “French fries” because WWI soldiers got confused because the people in the Flanders part of Belgium speak French.

AGMA loves to travel.

But then you knew that.

Surprisingly, I’m getting a bit burned out on travel. Actually more than a bit.

WTF? Yes…

AGMA’s sure it’s just a temporary condition. AGMA HOPES it’s just a temporary condition.

But seriously….six weeks after I got back from a 2 week trip to Spain/Portugal with a friend, Hubs and I left for a two week trip to Belgium & France. Two days after we got back from Belgium/France last week, we left for a wedding in Nashville.

It was a beautiful wedding by the way…

We got back on Sunday and leave next week for 5 days in Chicago to visit the grands. And their parents. Of course.

Too much travel – definitely a 1st World problem and a really good one at that. But as Hubs can attest to, when AGMA gets pooped, she gets pooped.

And I’m pooped.

Today Hubs suggested a short getaway to NOLA in June because airfares were on sale. I told him to take Son #2, who will be soon unemployed (his choice – he took ‘the package’) and available for junkets. I hope they go.

I’d actually love to have the house to myself for a few days.

So before AGMA turns into a total travel troll, for your entrainment and delight (I’m sure…), I’m sharing a few of the best pictures (not the ones of the ground, my lap, my fingers, etc…) of what I like to call our Cycles, Wars and Wines trip.

I promise it won’t be the 240 pictures that Hubs shared on Facebook. OMG….

First for the Cycles. And you know AGMA loves those young men in spandex!

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So the famous Cobbled Classic bike race, the Tour of Flanders (Ronde Van Vlaanderan) is a one day race that takes place in Belgium.  And it starts in Antwerp.  And at the frite shop that we went to in Antwep (pictured at the top of my post), this was ALL the sauces that you could put on your frites!.  Ketchup is so yesterday…

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Night falling on the Grote Markt (main square) in Antwerp.  AGMA loved Antwerp (over Gent, Brussels and even Bruges!)  The construction in the foreground became the main stage of the start of the Tour of Flanders where the riders signed in.

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A day of spring sunshine brought Antwerpians (??) out to the Groenplaats in Antwerp.  The sunshine didn’t last….

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We’re now in the tiny village of Kwaremont, Belgium where there is a very narrow , steep hill full of cobblestones (called The Kwaremont) that is one of the famous climbs in the Tour of Flanders.   Riders have to ride up not one, not two, but three times! AGMA could barely walk up it….  Oh – and the sunshine and mild temps of Antwerp did not show up in Kwaremont,

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Though a wonderful Belgian organization called Inter that promotes accessibility to sporting events and festivals, we had a GREAT view of the goings on at the top of The Kwaremont.  You know the riders are close when their team cars pass though.  AGMA’s excitement was building….

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My fav rider, World Champion Peter Sagan from Slovakia.  You can tell it was a cold day because the riders are somewhat (for professional cyclists) bundled up.  And so is the crowd.  And so was AGMA.  And Sagan didn’t win – he finished 6th.

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The main square of the town of Oudenaarde, Belgium.  The finish line is just outside of town.  We visited Oudenaarde the day before the race to explore the town, go to the Tour of Flanders Museum (yes there is!) and see the riders in the Tour of Flanders Sportive.  This event takes place a day before the ‘real’ race and allows any cyclist who thinks they have the right stuff to ride part of the course (some ride the whole course – 273km!) There were 3000 riders who rode the Sportive this year.  And I think they all stopped in Oudenaarde for a beer afterwards.

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The official finish line with Sportive riders coming in.  Son#2, the cyclist, rode the Sportive a few years ago and says the vast majority of the Sportive riders are MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Latex.)

Sunshine, mild temps, riders not bundled up…  Dorothy, I don’t think we’re at the Tour of Flanders anymore.  And you would be right!  We are in a tiny town in France called Maing.  This is another very famous one day Cobbled Classic race called Paris Roubaix.  We drove 100 minutes from Epernay, France and 100 minutes back to watch 5 minutes of bike racing in Maing.  Hubs is a total saint for indulging AGMA’s weird cycling compulsion!  Here’s Peter Sagan again.  And yeah – we were that close to the riders.  And he won!

The guy in the pink helmet is Taylor Phinney, the only rider from the US who was in Paris Roubaix this year.  One thing I adore about cyclists is how incredibly tough they are.  In 2014, at the age of 23, at the US Nationals Road Race, Phinney totally shattered one of his legs in a horrific crash.  He’s worked incredibly hard to come back from that near career ending accident to ride in the Tour de France last year and finish 8th at this Paris Roubaix.  And he is a total character.  When he’s interviewed, he sounds like a laid back California surfer dude, and has a never ending supply of wise sayings and smiles.

Sooo…yikes…this post has gotten way longer than I had intended so I’m going to give you a breather.

And let you heave a sigh of relief that that cycling “stuff” is done. Heathens…

Just kidding.  Not really.

Wars and Wine shortly…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loose end tied

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AGMA and Hubs got back from our two week trip to Belgium and France (and a couple other places) less than 48 hours ago. And we’re leaving early tomorrow for Nashville.

I’m not even unpacked.

But that’s okay, we’re driving. I can throw all my crap into a trash bag if need be. Except my dress for the wedding we’re going to on Saturday. AGMA hates wearing dresses…

But that’s another post.

So no time for a ‘real’ post today. Just kinda checking in with everybody to say AGMA is still a force for the universe to reckon with.

I promise I’ll post a trip report next week when I’m stationary.

But I do want to share what we did on our last full day of our trip. And I promise my trip report won’t be backwards (although that is an interesting idea…)

It was a fulfillment of a promise I made last October right here on AGMA. Here’s the post, No blinking .

And you know how these things sometimes (most of the time) don’t work out when you’re planning 6 months ahead. But this time it did.

And I’m so glad it did.

We made it to Avize and to the Le Burn Severnay champagne house. And we tasted Patrick’s delicious champages. And they were wonderful.

But why yak when pictures can say it so much better?

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This isn’t Avize, but I just wanted to give you a sense of what the Champagne region looks like.  Because it was early spring, the vines weren’t leafed out.  But it was still stunning.

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The Le Brun Severnay champagne house on the Avize town square.  Avize is in the Cote des Blanc area of Champagne.  Most champagnes from Cote de Blanc are 100% Chardonnay.

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This shelf was in one corner of the tasting room.  Of course nosey AGMA found it…  Turns out Patrick was a marathon runner!

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Patrick’s words (French words) about his vintage 2006 100% Chardonnay champagne that won honors from the wine gurus in France.  I think he’s basically saying “Try it, you’ll like it!”

 

 

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AGMA’s toast to Patrick (drinking his delicious rose champagne!)  I hoped, but didn’t honestly didn’t think we could manage to do this when I wrote my post in October.  So glad I was wrong!

Helen, the assistant in the tasting room, didn’t mention Patrick at all during our tasting.  Until afterward when I told her about our cancelled visit in September.  And then it all came pouring out…

Listening to her only confirmed the sense that I had that he was a pretty amazing guy.  “He was my boss,” she said “and I am passionate about this champagne because he was so passionate about it.” (with a very cool French accent)  Her tribute to him was incredibly touching.

We brought home two bottles of Le Brun Servenay.  Not nearly enough.

Maybe another visit is in order??

Here’s to you Patrick, and the reminder to be passionate about life.  And not to take life for granted.  And to live the sh*t out of every single day!

 

 

 

 

H-O-P-E

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 Photo by Alex Brandon, AP

Over the past week, AGMA has run at half marathon, helped newly naturalized citizens to register to vote, worked five corporate chair massage jobs, had one table massage client, went out to dinner with friends, attended a Bible study, had a bang trim, and marched in the Atlanta March For Your Life march (after running 6 miles in the morning before the march.)

I’m freakin’ exhausted.

And I leave on my trip in less than 12 hours and still not done packing. So why am I writing this post? Great question….

This is not normal AGMA modus operandi.

Once upon a time, I was bored. AGMA reflects upon that time fondly…

This was pre-blog, pre-running, pre-tRump, and before I transitioned over to corporate chair massage work. Post-blog and running, things were still a bit slow so I started a little eBay business. All was chugging along nicely.

Then November 8, 2016 happened.

All hell broke loose and life hasn’t been the same since.

My new interest in saving the US from the grip of a wannabe fascist, Putin loving, pussy grabbing, narcissistic, homophobic, xenophobic traitor nudged out my little eBay business.

It’s for a good cause..

AGMA knew I hadn’t sold anything for a the past few months, but I didn’t realize how bad I had neglected things until I went to put my “store” on “vacation”. To clarify, vacation is when you tell people they can still buy stuff from you, but it just won’t get shipped out until you get back.

Sweet.

Turns out I never turned off my vacation settings from my LAST trip in late January/early Feb.

Oops…

No wonder I haven’t been selling anything.

Things will be better when we get back from our trip

Well, actually no. We leave 2 days later for an out of town wedding. After the wedding things will settle down.

Well, actually no. We are home for nine days then got to Chicago for almost a week.

Now we’re into May.

But probably not even then. Benedict Donald is still around and is even more batsh*t crazy than ever.

No wonder I’m freakin’ exhausted.

But the March For Our Lives. Ah, the March…

Organized and put on by students survivors of the Parkland mass shooting a mere 5+ weeks afterwards. Teens who are far braver than I and stronger than most. Teens who are more eloquent than I could ever hope to be. Teens who have allowed me to hope again, I mean really hope, for the future of our country.

The March was worth whatever extra energy I had to expend to be there.

I’ve seen estimates of up to 70,000 marchers in Atlanta. Not sure about the exact number but AGMA can testify that there were a sh*tload of people downtown on Saturday.

But our crowd looked minuscule compared to the “mother ship” in Washington DC. Half a million plus? And YUGE crowds in Boston and Chicago and LA and New York and Miami and, and, and….

And like the Women’s March in January of 2017, there were sister marches all over the globe.

All.Over.The.Globe.

And all orchestrated by teens who less than 6 weeks ago saw friends and teachers murdered in cold blood at their school.

If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, then I don’t know what will. I honestly have goosebumps as I write this.

The winds of change are starting to blow…do you feel it?

And AGMA plans to be available to help these amazing young people as much as I possibly can, exhausted or not.

But that’s okay…I can always pick up my eBay gig after November 10, 2020. Or after the Orange Cheeto-head goes to jail.

Which ever comes first.

Gotta go finish packing…