Oh my…

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Yeah I did!!

That was fun.  I think.

AGMA’s not sure that I’ve ever thought of a marathon as fun, but this was probably as close to being fun as one can get.

No – it was definately fun!

To relieve the burning question you all have – I did finish.  Barely.

But let’s start from the beginning….

We arrived in Pauillac on September 7.  Pauillac is in the Haut-Medoc region of Bourdeux.  The wine in this area is spectacular.  But since AGMA was going to attempt to run/walk 26.2 miles (42KM) in two days, I needed some restraint.

I was semi-successful.

It was difficult.  There was/is wine everywhere.  Everywhere.  Good wine for very little $$. Great wine for very little $$.

There was wine at the little Expo.

Every marathon has an expo the day before (or sometimes two days) the run.  The runners pick up their running “bibs” (with their number on them and timing chips on back) and get a goodie bag (ususally).  There are also booths and displays from vendors trying to sell you running “stuff”.

This one had wine.  Lots of it.

Then there was the pasta “dinner” the night before the marathon at Chateau Livran.  For 1500 close friends.  That started – started mind you – at 8:30 P.M.

It was beyond description so I’ll just post a few pictures.

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The calm before the storm…  Because of Hubs mobility issue, they let us into the dining area early.

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This was a man who was dressed like a woman who evidently decided that undergarments were for the weak.  This was evident when he lifted his arms to dance or bent over, which he did frequently.  Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!

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Each time a new wine was served, the wine stewards marched out to music each carrying 6 to 8 bottles.

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The first of 4 bottles of wine – all from different wine Chateau’s – they brought for Hubs and I, and a couple from England we were sitting with!

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And then everybody danced.  And danced.  And danced!

OMG – the French sure know how to have a pasta dinner!

AGMA tried to be restrained.  I only sampled each wine and probably had 2 glasses total. Others were not quite so restrained.

Ah, to be young again.

I felt it was a poor decision for others to dance when they were going to run a marathon the next day.  Tut, tut…

That is until the band played Pharrell’s song, Happy.  And Earth, Wind and Fire’s song September.

Yup.  AGMA joined in the party.

Hubs and I tore ourselves away from the party and headed back to Pauillac at 10:15 P.M.  This was BEFORE they served dessert.   At that point, we’d been served 4 bottles of wine between 4 of us.  Who know how much was served after we left…

Every party needs a pooper right?  An AGMA pooper.

Thankfully, the marathon didn’t start until 9:30 A.M.  And AGMA was stealth in planning this trip – we were in an AirB&B in Pauillac, about a 10 minute walk to the start of the run.  And the finish.

So I got a good night’s sleep.

Thank God.

I’m not going to go into details about the run.  AGMA will just say it with pictures….

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Vikings!

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1st of 20 wine stops

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I saw this guy finish!  He ran 26.2 mile wearing an Eiffel Tower.  Yikes!

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The theme was 33 RPM because it was the 33rd running running of the marathon.  Lots of hippies, rockers and, especially Elvis’.

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Lots and lots and lots of men dressed as women.  tRump would have a fit.  Or try to pick one up…

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The guys in red had inflatable dinosaurs on them!  Normal for a marathon really… NOT!

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OMG – I got behind the sweep wagon!  If you are behind these guys at the finish, you don’t get a medal.  AGMA hauled butt after I snapped this!

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Just another Chateau to drink at!

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Caught guys (again, dressed as women…) peeing in the vineyards while I snapped a picture of one of several beautiful rainbows during the run.

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AGMA stems afterward!

There was a naked guy who had nothing but his bib in front of his twig and berries who threw up at one of the wine stops.  That picture might be TMI…

So AGMA finished.  I got the medal.  I got the backpack.  I got the bottle of wine.

Official time…slow.  Let’s just say I beat the sweepers, but I’m pretty sure they slowed down along the way.

This was a good thing since I was over 6 hours and 30 minutes…

I’m sore.  And still tired.

But boy, was it fun!

Next year?

 

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Love is love part deux

heartscherubs

So AGMA’s in France now. Oh la la…

I’m sure the wine and food and scenery are wonderful, but since I’m writing this before I go, I can’t swear to it. Pretty sure it is though.

As I wrote last week, I’m really going to try to write at least one post, maybe two, while I’m gone. One actually seems doable. I’ll never be a travel blogger…

AGMA isn’t one for beating a dead horse, but since I need some stuff to post this week, we’re returning to a familiar theme.

My WordPress SPAM folder.

Hmmm…Spam…I’m hungry…wonder if I can find any Spam in France?

Pig innards maybe.  Probably not Spam though. Which I think is made from pig innards…

My first post on blog spam, Love is Love, was actually the 7th top liked post of AGMA ever. I’m not too proud to play off of that modest success.

Especially when I get such AWESOME spam!

So without further ado, love – extreme love – from Emmett sent on 8/22/17 on my post No Close-Ups… (take a deep breath)

“I was very pleased to discover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it and i also have you book-marked to check out new information in your website. Can I simply say what a relief to uncover somebody that truly understands what they are talking about on the net. You actually realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people should look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you’re not more popular because you surely have the gift. Good write-up. I absolutely appreciate this site. Keep it up! It’s hard to find well-informed people on this subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks You should be a part of a contest for one of the most useful sites on the web. I’m going to recommend this site! A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. I believe that you ought to write more about this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but typically people don’t speak about these issues. To the next! All the best!! Hello! I simply would like to offer you a huge thumbs up for your excellent information you have right here on this post. I am returning to your web site for more soon. When I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment. Is there a means you can remove me from that service? Kudos! The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it does not fail me just as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, nonetheless I genuinely believed you would probably have something helpful to talk about. Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Many thanks, However I am having issues with your RSS. I don’t understand why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having similar RSS issues? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!! An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your site. After exploring a number of the blog posts on your website, I seriously like your way of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website as well and let me know your opinion. This website truly has all of the info I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask. There’s certainly a lot to know about this subject. I really like all of the points you’ve made. You made some good points there. I checked on the net for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day. It will always be exciting to read through content from other writers and use something from their web sites. I blog often and I seriously thank you for your content. This great article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to book mark your website and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well. Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Many thanks for providing these details.”

Exhale.

AGMA had 3 other posts in my SPAM folder that were every bit as long as this one. Two were almost identical to the one above.

Great minds right?

The third was indecipherable but I think it had a political spin to it.

Here’s a small excerpt – it was really long – of Gene’s comment from 8/29/2017 on Ciao Bella Italia Part Due

“many pastime “Grandmas intended for Bernie” switches, Laud the guy because of the length of his eye-sight, and moreover seem message to refuse the chance to put Clinton to a traditional way to the blue accommodate, playing that particular you will have another shot down the line.”

???

John Lennon was right, “All you need is love!” (dat da da da da…)

I run my marathon in 2 days.

Pray for me.

Hic…

Parlez-vous bucket list?

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AGMA’s getting ready for a bucket list experience.

Okay – it wasn’t really on my bucket list, but then again, I don’t really have a bucket list.

Well, I do, but it’s a dynamic list. Most things get added after I’ve done them.

It’s also a mental list. God forbid I writing/type anything down. That would be a bit too ‘restrictive’. And concrete.

AGMA likes flexiblity.

It’s just soooooo satisfying to add things to my mental bucket list after I’ve done them, then mentally check them off the list.

I think there might be a diagnosis for that.

Hubs and I leave on Sunday for 23 days in France.

What?? 23 days?? Are you crazy?? Are you rich??

23 days in France. Yes. Maybe. No.

We made the airline reservations way back in January right before the inauguration. Getting out of the country for an extended period seemed like a really good idea at the time.

Still does.

And we caught an amazing sale. $394 RT per person from ATL to CDG.

Yeah we did!

And we were heady at the prospects of Hubs impending retirement and no restrictions on vacation length anymore. We really didn’t think through the budget restrictions we would have after retirement…

But AGMA’s a ‘value’ travel planner so I think we’ll be okay.

Lots of Airbnb’s and budget hotels. But they all have good reviews, so no bed bugs. Hopefully.

And lots of ‘value’ meals. We need to cut back on calories anyway.

AGMA’s going to try to post while we are gone. ‘Try’ being the operative word. I might just post a “Hello, we are in ______. Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.”

We’ll see how things go.

Getting back to the bucket list experience that I didn’t know was on my bucket list until February…

Since I was planning on running the Rome marathon in April, I figured AGMA would make 2017 the year of the international marathon. I started looking for a marathon to run in Europe during this trip.

And boy, did I find one!

It’s called the Marathon du Medoc and is unlike any other marathon in the world.

Turns out, it’s on many runner’s bucket lists. Who knew?

It’s in the Bordeaux region of France where some of the best wines in the the universe are produced.

So it would be natural that instead of water stops for runners, there are wine stops right?

Twenty (20) to be exact, from some of the top wine Chateau’s in the world. Actually, you can get water at the wine stops too, but seriously?

Wimps.

Aside from the wine, there are ‘nutrition’ stops. But instead of the orange slices and bananas and energy gels you get at a normal marathon, they will have breads and sweets and meats and cheeses.

BONUS – at mile 20…oysters!

Finally, all the runners dress up. Well – the fun ones dress up. Which is about 90% of the 8500 runners.

Hey, AGMA’s fun.

But AGMA has to schlep my costume across the Atlantic in my little suitcase. So I opted for compact, easy to run in and cheap so I can pitch it all afterwards.

And nothing says compact, easy to run in and cheap like HULA GIRL!!

Yes – AGMA is going to be a hula girl. But don’t expect any pictures. Nah baby nah.

I don’t mind exposing my chubby arms and midriff to a bunch of crazy, drunk French strangers, but to post a picture of Hula AGMA for the rest of the world to see…

Oh, the humanity!

The marathon time limit is 6 hours and 30 minutes. My fastest marathon was 6 hours and 10 minutes. And I thought I was going to die afterwards.

This does not bode well. Especially since there’s wine involved.

But then again, maybe the wine will help.

So AGMA’s decided not to stress about it and just enjoy what is sure to be a once in a lifetime experience. If I end up swimming in the pond at Chateau Lafite Rothschild for the afternoon, so be it.

Two things I know for sure. It’s going to be unlike anything I’ve ever done. And I’m gonna come back with some pretty good stories.

Aging Gracefully My Ass!

Catch you on the other side of the Pond.

P.S. If you are in the US and haven’t yet donated towards the relief efforts of the historic, devastating Texas floods, please consider donating today to the charity of your choice. Just make sure it’s legit… Love you all for your generous hearts and spirits!

Eclipsing small minds and hands

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picture by Steven Greenberg 2017

Sorry ‘bout last week.

AGMA really does try to post every week. But sometimes life gets in the way or I do a really sucky job at time management. Most of the time it’s the latter.

You’re probably sick of hearing about it, but how many saw the total eclipse last Monday?

Let me put it another way… Those of you in the US who didn’t get the opportunity to see the total eclipse are probably sick of hearing about it.

Those of us who experienced it can’t stop talking about it.

When it comes time for AGMA to say goodbye to this early life, I’m pretty sure that this eclipse will be on my top ten list of life events. It’ll probably be right above the tRump impeachment…

I started out feeling ambivalent about it. Eclipse, smeclipse – what’s the big deal?

In Atlanta, we were going to have a 98% eclipse. 98% is good enough right? Get the glasses, step outside at 2:30 or so, ooooh and ahhhh, and that’s it.

Surely it wasn’t worth 2% more to fight the “soul crushing” (as one article I read put it) traffic to and from the path of totality in Tennessee or South Carolina.

But some little voice inside of AGMA told me that I needed to have my soul crushed in traffic. Hubs was always on board with 100%. I gave in.

But where to go? So many people I know booked hotels in North Georgia or South Carolina months in advance. Not really a great idea if you have the luxury to travel to multiple areas of totality in 3 to 4 hours. The “experts” advised to wait until the day of to decide based on weather reports.

Luckily, in Atlanta, we could travel to a plethora of totality areas easily within 3 to 4 hours. If we left early enough in the morning that is….

So Monday morning we check the weather in Toccoa, GA, Greenville, SC, and Athens, TN. Athens won out with clear skies forecast for the day.

We left at 6:30 AM and three hours later, we were parked in a lovely shady spot in Athens Regional Park to watch the eclipse with 10,000 close friends.

We whiled away the 3.5 hours until the start of the eclipse in our little part of the park visiting with the lovely people around us. There were a few Indian families, an Aisian family, a Hispanic family, several African American families and lots of pasty, pale folks like Hubs and AGMA. And they came from all over – Ohio, Florida, Georgia, DC. And Tennessee. And nobody mentioned politics once.

We had a great time!

The excitement really started to build when somebody announced the eclipse was starting in Oregon. OMG OMG OMG! People were buzzing.

At 1:03 PM, we all threw on our glasses and looked up. And waited. And waited.

Eclipses are slow to develop.

Over the next nearly hour and a half, we watched as the moon slowly swallowed the sun.

It was very hot that day – 93 degrees – and even hotter in the sun. AGMA got all gross and sweaty when I was in the sun watching the early stages of the eclipse. TMI? Luckily we had plenty of shade to step back into when the heat got too intense.

But at some point in the eclipse, I stepped out into the sun and it wasn’t hot. Huh? The air felt as cool as the air in the shade. Freaky… At some point, the automatic lights on the highway went on. The daylight looked strange.

As AGMA watched the last sliver of the sun get gobbled up, cheers started.. Lots of whooping and hollering. We all took off our glasses to total darkness around us. The night critters started singing their night songs.

And I looked up to the most spectacular heavenly sight I’ve ever seen. There are no words that AGMA can use to describe the power and beauty of a total eclipse. But I felt like I was standing in liminal space and was being showered by ancient stardust from the beginning of time.

There was gasping and cheering and laughing. Some folks were crying.

It was a solar orgasm.

It lasted for a magical 2 minutes and 35 seconds.

When when the first sliver of the sun appeared again, there was a YUGE cheer.

I wanted a cigarette. I don’t smoke.

Getting home was more of a challenge than getting to Athens. It took an hour to get out of the park. And another 5 hours to get back to Atlanta on I-75. Not quite soul crushing, but pretty bad.

But it was totally, completely, without question worth it. AGMA’d do it again in a heart beat.

Everybody who traveled to this specific place on this specific day for this specific time experienced something very special together. For 2 minutes and 35 seconds, we were a unified in wonder and amazement. We were all equal in our place in the universe. We experience joy and happiness together.

After the hell of the Nazi/white supremacist hate in Charlottesville, this wonderful group experience of the total eclipse was heaven. Literally. And isn’t this how life should look in these good old United States? Everybody together in equality sharing a common experience of wonder and unity.

It totally eclipsed the small minds and hands that seek to tear us apart.

That’s why AGMA is (drum roll) starting a petition to have a TOTAL ECLIPSE EVERY WEEK!

We need an eclipse every week. Desperately.

I wonder who I would send it to? Neil deGrasse Tyson? Stephen Hawking? Bill Nye? Raj Koothrappali?

Surely one of those guys can arrange it.

If not, we’ll have to figure out this unity stuff some other way. Quickly. Please.

Only 7 years until the next total eclipse.

April 8, 2024. Meet me in Dallas.

I’ll bring the chips.

Transfiguration

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OMG, OMG, OMG…

On Sunday, I read an article in the New York Times titled Researchers Track an Unlikely Culprit in Weight Gain that just might change AGMA’s life.

And the life of every apple shaped post-menopausal woman with wonky bones and a draggin’ booty.

I mean, this is BIG!

Researchers have discovered that the suppression of a single hormone in ovary-less female mice did amazing, wonderful, marvelous things.

From the article… “In mouse studies, blocking the hormone solves those problems, increasing the calories burned, reducing abdominal fat, slowing bone loss and even encouraging physical activity.”

A single hormone. Let that sink in ladies.

Can it really be that simple? Can we really transform from apples back to pears? And have stronger bones and more energy?

AGMA loves to imagine an alternate pear universe.

The offending hormone is F.S.H. – follicle stimulating hormone. In women, it stimulates the production of little eggies that can eventually turn into little humans. Given a little Barry White playing in the background…

AGMA’d think after enduring a lifetime of monthly cramps, bad moods, and having to deal with tampons, pads, gross leaks and ruined clothes, our bodies would be happy to be done with all that when our reproductive system start flipping the off switches.

Nah, baby nah. The retribution has just started.

Among a myriad of other things, menopause really pisses off the pituitary gland. It starts pumping out mass quantities of F.S.H.

And that’s when the trouble starts.

We wake up one morning and search in vain. What happened to our waist? It was just there yesterday.  WTF?

And we find it’s been replaced by a large blob of grossosity.

That never. goes. away. ever.

And, on the nights we manage to get a decent night’s sleep – which doesn’t happen very often because of some other body chemicals that go cattywhampus – our arse is still dragging the next day.

That never. goes. away. ever.

And a DEXA scan shows that some of our backbone, which has always been a symbol of our endurance, resilience and courage, is slowly leaking away. We’re given big pharma meds with potentially dangerous side effects, and warnings about brittle bones.

And, for all but the most determined individuals, the combination of these often work together to cause women to get very sedentary.   It get’s real easy to sit in on the couch, surf the ‘net, snack on whatever’s in the fridge or in the panty, and watch Antiques Roadshow reruns.  Which only exacerbates things.

Yikes – exacerbate – now there’s a word AGMA is sure would flummox 45 and the mental giants that surround him…

In the words of my grandson, “No fair!”

Hell, AGMA runs flippin’ marathons, and I still can’t get rid of the grossosity. Or replace lost bone. Or feel energized.

“No fair!”

But Dr. Mone Zaidi of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City wants to change all that for us. He’s currently working on an anti-F.S.H. antibody to test on humans.

God bless Dr. Zaidi!

I wonder if he’s accepting test subjects in Georgia?

Pick me, pick me!

AGMA can’t imagine the implications if his research proves that suppressing F.S.H. in women will do all the wonderful things it does in mice. At the very least, he will instantly become a rock star-like celebrity and possibly could have his likeness added to Mt. Rushmore.

Dr. Zaidi for President 2020?

Women’s fashion will need to be totally resized.  Donations of large waist/hip pants to charity organizations will surge. Profits of the big pharma companies that make those questionable bone replacement drugs will dip. And Antiques Roadshow viewership will decrease dramatically.

And AGMA would be a glorious pear again.

Pick me, pick me!

P.S.  If you haven’t had a chance to read my reblog of Monday of my friend Dooke’s post please take a look at it.  I know it’s long, but it’s a beautiful story of a life quest realized.   And it might bring a tear to your eye like it did to crusty ol’ AGMA!

Explaining a Special Place – Col du Galibier

This is one of the most beautiful, moving pieces I’ve ever read on WordPress. True, my beloved Tour de France figures in the story in a large part, but it’s so much deeper than that, and it touched my heart. I hope you enjoy readiing this as much as I did! Dookes definitely has a way with words…

Hogrider Dookes

In a post last week I talked about Col du Galibier in the high French Alps and how it is a place that is very special to me.

Then regular commenter on my posts, AGMA, posed the question;

“Why is it special?”

I started to write a reply for AGMA, then paused and thought that probably it would be a good idea to explain “why” to a broader audience.

We have to rewind the clock back about 50 years…

Young Dookes was exploring the darkest parts of his father’s workshop/garage. At the very back, almost hidden from view and next to the engine of an old BSA motorbike, young Dookes found a man’s bicycle. In the eyes of Young Dookes, this was a prize of great beauty for not only did it have racing style drop handlebars, but there on the rear wheel was a set of derailleur gears…

View original post 1,524 more words

Lazy or just terrified perfectionist?

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AGMA has a very, very busy week ahead of her.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I am working all day. I have two private clients in the late morning/early afternoon, then am off to a corporate chair massage job in the late afternoon.

I’ll be catatonic tomorrow evening.

Wednesday is cleaning ladies day. So it’s always hectic cleaning before the cleaning ladies arrive to clean.

I know…oxymoron.

Then, Wednesday afternoon, Hubs and I jet off to New Orleans for two nights. It’s been 8 years since we’ve been to NOLA. Way too long. A cheap airfare, a nice but cheap hotel (who wants to broil in New Orleans in July?) and memory of the chargrilled oysters at Acme Oyster House sealed the deal.

And being antsy because AGMA hasn’t traveled anywhere in over 4 weeks.

Oh, the humanity…

We get back on Friday. I have to run 20 miles on Saturday and then we’re having the long postponed retirement party for Hubs on Sunday.

Today is really the only day I have to plan and do most of the shopping for Sunday. And get all my other “life stuff” taken care of before the weekend.

So what am I doing?

AGMA has spend a good part of the afternoon on WordPress, reading blogs and making my wry, witty, and/or poignant comments. And enjoying it immensely. It’s as if I’m as carefree as Trump Jr.s at one of his “adoption” meetings with that Russian lawyer.

La di da di da…

A friend posted this article, “You Aren’t Lazy – You’re Just Terrified: On Paralysis And Perfectionism” on her FB page. It hits the nail on the head. Not that AGMA is terrified. Or a perfectionist. A quick scan through my blog will confirm that.

And while I don’t “spend days at a time in bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking of all the things I could be doing but can’t because I know I would do them imperfectly” as #OCDame does, AGMA does tend to get a form of mental paralysis if I feel overwhelmed.

Like now.

Let the procrastination begin!

I know…oxymoron.

“Screw it all…I’m going to just do what I want to do and not what I really need to do.”, seems to be where my head has been today.

I’m mostly stressed about the party. And what AGMA’s going to serve to drink and eat. And how the house is going to look. Everybody coming is very “Atlanta urban.” Many have really superb taste in food, wine and decor.

AGMA doesn’t want to come across as lacking.  Too badly that is.

But 20 miles in my legs on Saturday is going to really limit my energy level.

Who’s idea was it to pick this date for Hubs party anyway?

Hmmmm…I think that might actually be AGMA.

Years ago, in another life in another universe, AGMA was a Midwestern Soccer Mom. I threw parties two or three times a year. I had my standard, solid Midwestern table snacks that I served over and over and over and over. Meatballs with sauerkraut in cranberry bbq sauce, toasted sausage cheese topped rye bread, cocktail wienies wrapped in Pillsbury croissant dough, ambrosia salad.

Low fat, low calorie stuff, ya know…

It was all very 90’s.

That stuff’s not gonna fly in July in Atlanta. Okay, well, maybe the meatballs. EVERYBODY loves those crockpot meatballs no matter how refined their palate or how hot it is outside.

And then AGMA remembers that they are friends. Friends we love to get together with. And laugh with. And get a little tipsy with. And laugh a lot more with.

They don’t expect perfection from themselves and they sure as hell don’t expect perfection from me.

Okay, so now I don’t feel so bad about hanging out on WP all afternoon.

Hubs and I are gonna have a great time in NOLA. And I’ll survive the run on Saturday.

Somehow.

And we’re all gonna eat meatballs on Sunday. And laugh. A lot.

It’s gonna be a great party!

H-E-L-L Ohhhhh

11.10 Bicycle Hell (from "Puck")
Source: Library of Congress
Format: RGB tiffAGMA’s going to hell.

I’ve made that declaration in the past, but now I’m sure of it…

All thanks to that once a year sporting event that to me, is like catnip to a cat. Like an empty New Jersey public beach to Chris Christie on the 4th of July. Like a Mar a Lago chocolate cake to tRump.

In other words…totally irresistible no matter how fat you are.

I’m speaking, of course, of my totally inexplicable obsession with men’s elite cycling, espeically the Tour de France.

This year, AGMA has three TdF fantasy teams. I spent hours pouring over rider data on procyclingstats.com.

I agonized over whether I should have more GC riders than sprinters. Or more sprinters than punchy Classics riders. Or visa versa? Should I have a time trial specialist? Should I look for a ‘dark horse’ rider to emerge out of the peloton to do great things?

It was harrowing.

But the real trouble started when I shelled out $39.99 for NBC Sports Gold Cycling coverage. Live streaming coverage to your phone, laptop or tablet, unlimited replays, special features and over 30 hours of extra coverage. And the live streaming includes both commercial free coverage with some Thunder from Down Under commentators or the NBCSN coverage with commercials.

“Why would anybody choose the streaming coverage with commercials over commercial free?”, you ask?

Oh dear ones, you have so much to learn…

Because TdF announcing royalty, the Harry Caray and Vin Scully of cycling, Phil Liggett (73) and Paul Sherwen (61) are announcing on NBCSN. They do the commercial world wide English language coverage (except in Australia I guess) and are cycling announcing icons.

Plus you get to hear the NBC team of Bobke Roll, Christian Vande Velde, Steve Porino, Steve Schlanger and, my favorite retired cyclist of all time, Jens Voigt.

Be still my heart.

Numerous times in the past several weeks, AGMA’s had my cell phone propped up on the outside of our glass shower enclosure while the bluetooth speaker blasts Phil and Paul (and all of the commercials.)  I did this today as a matter of fact. God forbid I miss any of the action while I’m showering.

But this is a huge improvement over past years when I tried to shower and get ready in the morning during the commercial breaks.

We’ve never, ever had a TV in our bedroom so I would have to run up and down the stairs during the commercials. Round about 4 days into the race, AGMA moved my toiletries and hairdryer down to our 1st floor powder room so I could finish getting ready within ear shot of the race call.

But no more.

AGMA’s free to go where I want to do what I want and not miss a minute of the action as long as I have my phone.  I love technology!

I had a MRI scheduled a few weeks ago. I checked in, then settled into a comfy seat in the waiting room with my phone and earbuds. Based on past experience, I thought I had a good 20 minute wait at least before they called me back.  They called AGMA back 5 minutes later.

Seriously?

But the worst, and the reason I’m pretty sure I’m doomed, is that I’ve been watching the Tour in church. During mass.

H-E-L-L

I have my muted phone on the bench beside me sort of covered up with my sweater. But I only glance over a few times to see where things stand. As I told a friend, “I only watch during the Psalm singing and the offering hymn. Nothing’s really happening then anyway.” He burst out laughing.

H-E-L-L

But as Luther Ingram sang, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” And I DO love my boys in spandex!

Sadly, my fantasy teams are not doing well. A combination of riders dropping out of the Tour for various reasons and just plain stupid team selections have got me in the middle of the pack in most of my leagues. Not bad, but not the top 5% finish AGMA had last year in the Velogames league.

First world problem.

Stage 16 went off today. Australian Michael “Bling” Matthews won with a brilliant Team Sunweb plan and fabulous team support. He’s also very close to taking the Green Jersey away from German Marcel Kittel.

I can hear you now.

ZZZZzzzz….

But, mercifully for you, it’s all over soon.

Sunday is Stage 21. They finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris. It’ll be so exciting! It always is.

Then Monday. Monday. Monday starts PTDFM (post-Tour de France malaise)

Back to the present. Back to the news. Back to reality.

And back down the rabbit hole with the Family Von Trump.

H-E-L-L

From rebels to rainbows

foto_georgia_007_stone_mountain

AGMA loves the Ken Burns documentary, “The Civil War”. Originally broadcast in 1990, it was digitally restored to high definition for it’s 25th anniversary in 2015.

PBS is airing it again.

For the 14 people in the US who haven’t seen it and my friends in other countries, the series is nine 1 hour episodes that documents through still pictures and historian comments, America’s horrific Civil War (1861-1865) that changed the course of the nation and lead to the end of slavery.

At least “officially”.

AGMA was watching episode 1 a few days ago and a quote from Abraham LIncoln startled me out of my Facebook stupor.

Facebook stupor – you know, you’re allegedly watching something on TV, but you’re also surfing FB to see which member of the Bloated Pumpkin’s family or inner circle committed treason today. The standard stuff.

So you’re sort of watching the show on TV, but sort of not.

Well, this quote snapped AGMA back to the TV.

In a letter to Joshua Speed (who?) in 1855, Abraham LIncoln wrote:

“As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

Sound familiar? Just replace Catholics with “any other religion but bat-sh*t crazy evangelical pseudo-Christians” and it’s a match.

And I’m pretty sure we all know who the Know-Nothings are…

AGMA’s a stranger in a strange land.

I’m a Yankee living in the South.

Raised in southwestern Pennsylvania, Civil War history was rich in my family. The Union side that is. My paternal grandfather’s family all hailed from Mercersburg, a little town in south central PA. My dad’s grandfather was a Union Civil War veteran who fought at the battles of Mercersburg and Gettysburg.

As an adult, I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for 30 years. Ohio was part of the Union.

For those who have no idea exactly where Cincinnati is on a map, it’s in the far southwestern part of Ohio, directly on the Ohio River. Kentucky, part of the Confederacy, is across the river.

That made for some interesting, complicated family and business relationships in the 1860’s.

Because of it’s proximity to the Confederacy, Cincinnati became a major stop on the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves escape to become free people in the North.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati is a excellent museum dedicated to not only documenting the history of the Underground Railroad, but “it serves to inspire modern abolition through connecting the lessons of the Underground Railroad with today’s freedom fighters.  The center is also a convener of dialogue on freedom and human rights.”

Then in 2006, AGMA moved to Georgia.

To some folks here in the South, the Civil War is still going on.

A short drive OTP makes that evident.

Side note: Atlanta is divided by the circle highway around it. You are either ITP (inside the perimeter) or OTP (outside the perimeter). ITP tends to lean more blue; OTP more red.

AGMA, of course, lives ITP.

Stone Mountain Park is a beautiful Georgia State Park about 15 miles outside of Atlanta. It was the site of the tennis, archery and track cycling events durin the 1996 Olympics. It has a beautiful lake, camp ground, golf course, hiking and biking trails, picnic grounds, and wonderful special events throughout the year.

It’s also the site of the largest piece of exposed granite in the world.

Stone Mountain – get it?

And on that large granite outcrop is carved, 76 feet tall and 158 feet wide, the figures of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis and Confederate Generals Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson on their horses.

Ride ‘em rebels!

The official address of the Park is 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd. And the museum in the park that educates visitors and school groups about the geology, ecology and history of the park is in Confederate Hall.

AGMA wonders if they tell the school kids that the land around Stone Mountain, was the site of the rebirth of the KKK in 1915? Or if the docent explains the history behind the different versions of the Confederate flag?. That all still fly on Flag Terrace.

Are you starting to get the picture?

The War ain’t over folks. General William Tecumseh Sherman’s destruction of Atlanta and his devastating (for the Confederacy and Georgia) march to the coast might have as well happened only a few years ago.

I mean, we all saw Gone With The Wind right? It was awful. But at least Tara was saved…

Which brings me to why AGMA loves Atlanta.

During the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950‘s and 60’s, Altanta was spared most of the violence that occurred in other southern cities. A combination of progressive policies along with being the center of several major Civil Rights organizations, Atlanta was dubbed “The City too Busy to Hate”.

And it still is.

Although not perfect by any means, Atlanta is pretty chill. Mostly ITP, but some OTP too…

It’s a welcoming and very diverse city.

We are home to the Martin Luther King National Historical site, the Carter Center (gotta love Jimmy!), The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and one of the best Pride parades in the country.

Have you seen our permanent rainbow crosswalks?

Atlanta-Rainbow-Crosswalks-1-889x352

Hubs and I went to breakfast at HIghland Bakery in the city the other day. (OMG they have the BEST cinnamon rolls!) The staff and customers were themselves a rainbow of diversity and, you know, it wasn’t a big deal. To anyone. People were kind and courteous to each other independent of their color, religion or sexual preferences.

Kinda the way Abe envisioned it all working.

And I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude toward my newly adopted home.

AGMA initially didn’t like living here. Too many memories left behind. And while I still long for my home of 30 years in Cincinnati from time to time, I recognize that Atlanta has made me into the woman I am today. A far different woman than I was in 2006 when I moved here. Stronger, more confident, more open, more engaged.

And AGMA crazy. Of course…

So let’s not let the Know-Nothings have the last word. #Resist

Abraham Lincoln. Very smart man.

Love is love

Paddy

AGMA is postponing writing my extremely clever post for yet another week. To be honest, I’ve forgotten what I was going to write about.

I do remember a Shakespearean quote was involved. And that always elevates whatever you’re going to write about doesn’t it?

More on this topic – whatever it was – later…

Have you browsed your SPAM folder in your WP Comments sections lately?

It’s something I rarely do. But I did this morning.  And honestly, I read through mine and am mystified as to why WP considers them SPAM.

The bulk of the ‘alleged’ SPAM comments were on my No Close Ups! post from waaaaayyyy back in early 2014, three months after I started AGMA.

I peaked early in my blogging career; this was the post that earned me my 15 minutes of fame on WP.

This was my post that was selected to be (and I am getting goosebumps as I write this…) Freshly Pressed.

Why shouldn’t people adore it?

Online Fortune Reading gushes:

“Thanks for sharing your extraordinary and amazing ideas. I will not be hesitant to share your website to any individual who should be given ideas such as these.”

Nor should you be hesitate OFR! The world desperately needs this information about light bulbs.

From Daily Tarot Card Reading Online:

“Amazing article, I’m going to invest more time researching this topic.”

One word. Google. 5 minutes max and you’ll learn all you ever wanted to know about sources of flattering and unflattering artificial lighting.

Daily Tarot Card Reading Online NEW AGE (not to be confused with Daily Tarot Card Reading Online. Please) said:

“Loving the info on this web site, you have done an awesome job on the blogs.”

Okay, well, it’s not really a web site and there is only one blog, but AGMA so appreciates the thoughts DTCRONA!

Here’s one from Sign On Aol (which AGMA finds this a bit ironic since they have a gmail email address…):

“To be in a position to acknowledge your own image as an icon, you will certainly probably need to click the option All of the Companion Symbols simply because the choice that icons to simply accept.”

???????

Nellie doesn’t go the flattery route. She’s got something to say and she just lays it all out there:

“Buy now $49 easy spy cellular phone spy $49.”

AGMA’s intrigued. I always wanted to be a spy. I loved watching James Bond movies as a child. The REAL James Bond movies with Sean Connery that is.

Don’t judge me.

Changing gears, this was on my About page. It comes from Cheap NFL Jerseys (oxymoron perhaps?):

“We strategy income unique today.”Former Yankee War Pilot Jerry Coleman Dies At 89 – RealGM WiretapCommissioner Bud Selig issued the following statement regarding the passing of 2005 Ford C. LaVar Arrington broke his arm and leg in a motorcycle accident. There were more than 50 Californians in the field, and Thomas went to elaborate lengths to update each player’s card, hole by hole, on the Web. It’s a truism in the golf industry.”

CNFLJ probably had a set of those helicopter parents who forced him to do tennis, football, soccer, baseball and golf. All at the same time. And yelled at the coaches when they didn’t play him. The confusion is understandable.

But I think my favorite is from Latia on No Close Ups:

“insert your data”

For some reason, AGMA finds that very profound and thought provoking. I’ll be using that as a mantra during my morning mediations for the next week.

I plan on visiting the SPAM area more often for more uplifting comments.

AGMA loves feelin’ the love.

Even if it’s from folks mixing their pharmaceuticals together and downing them with a fifth of whiskey.

Hey, love is love.