Continued…(really)

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Port wine tasting in the Calem Cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia across the river from Porto. All of the big Port wine cellars are in Vila Nova de Gaia.

But wait.

Before AGMA wraps up her Barcelona/diarrhea & barf cruise/Porto travel post, I need to share an exchange that my travel companion, Mary, and I had during the trip.

It started out innocent enough. We were getting ready for dinner one night and she said something like, “That’s as good as it gets.” while looking in a mirror. Mary is a young looking 76 and very pretty when she has her hair done and all her make-up on.

So AGMA, being the magnanimous person that I am, told her I thought she was lovely. She thanked me then, about 5 minutes later said….

Wait for it…

“You know the saying that beauty is only skin deep? Well, they aren’t right about that because you are really beautiful INSIDE. No – I mean that. You have an INNER beauty about you.”

Huh? Did I just hear what I thought I heard? Was the beotch saying that I wasn’t pretty? To my face?

Evidently so. And I think she was pretty pleased with what she said.

Now I know I’m not beautiful in the classic sense. My nose is too big and I wear glasses and I have a receding chin (they used to call it a ‘weak chin‘ back in the day.) And I don’t wear any make-up.

I’m AGMA au naturale…. What you see is what you get. No nasty surprises.

But I always thought that ‘cute” was the word for me.

Yeah…I’m just real cute.

So rather than grabbing her by the hair, yanking and clawing her with my non-existent fingernails (I’m a massage therapist remember?), I just looked at her sideways and mumbled, “Well bless your heart!”

For those of you who have spent any time at all in the American South, you know EXACTLY what I was saying to her….

Okay. I really needed to get that monkey off my back.

Back in Barcelona, Mary rested in the non-sticky room while I finished up my Barcelona sightseeing. She was much improved by the end of the day and ready to roll.

That night we flew to Porto (Oporto to some,) Portugal to continue in the Griswold vacation tradition of, “Oh God…what’s going to happen next?”

But seriously, Porto was beautiful! Great food, beautiful architecture, interesting history.

And AGMA learned an awful lot about Port wine.

That was fun.

So with a nod to my travel friend The Wife of Bath at Picnic at the Cathedral’s latest post about bad travel photography that made me laugh out loud, I present to you AGMA’s photo journal of Porto and environs…

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The Riberia neighborhood waterfront in Porto on the Duoro River. Gotta love the satellite dishes!

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The fantastical (is that a word?) Livraria Lello bookstore. J.K. Rowlings lived in Porto for a year and was said to have gotten some of her Harry Potter inspiration here! It’s so popular that there is normally a long queue, and they charge a 4 Euro admission. But you get a 4 Euro credit on any purchase you make so of course AGMA made a purchase!

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The incredible tile work in the Sao Bento train station.

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The colors of Porto!

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This is an old Rabelo boat. They are wooden cargo boats that were used for centuries to transport people and goods (especially Port wine barrels!) along the Douro River.

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This street used to be the Beverly Hills 90210 of Porto back in the day.

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This is your cardiologist’s worst nightmare… It’s the famous (in Porto) Francesinha sandwich. It’s cured ham, linguica (a Portuguese sausage), fresh sausage and steak stacked between two pieces of fat bread smothered in melted cheese with an egg on top and covered in a special, slightly spicy tomato and beer sauce. We didn’t get the egg and got the sauce on the side. Party poopers….

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The beautiful Douro Valley where the Port wine grapes are grown. It’s about a 90 minute drive from Porto.

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The most elegant McDonalds ever! It’s called the Imperial McDonalds because they took over the old art deco Imperial Cafe on Liberdade Square.

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Italian churches ain’t got nothing on Porto churches! The interiors were all over the top, covered with gold leaf and life sized statues! This is Igreja do Carmo Catholic Church.

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We climbed all 200 steps to the top of the Clerigos Tower (built in 1763) for a spectacular view of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia across the Douro River.

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AGMA loves the contrast of the modern fountain with the traditional homes. In the Riberia neighborhood of Porto.

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The narrow streets of the ancient Riberia. Don’t you love the color coordinated laundry?

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Quinta do Tedo – a small boutique Port producer in the Duoro Valley. OMG…they still stomp grapes with their feet to crush them in the Fall! AGMA feels as if she needs to go back in September to see that!

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Port sampling makes for new friends! AGMA the Cougar’s new BFFs from Croatia. The absolute BEST part of travel is the people you meet. I’m just thankful that most folks seem to speak English.

Can you tell how gorgeous Porto is? It’s an extremely welcoming city – the people could not have been friendlier or more helpful. It’s very compact & walkable (but lots of hills.) But Uber is really cheap if you poop out. And, overall, it’s less expensive that other cities in Europe. And the food is amazing!

Score!

AGMA’s advice…put it on your Bucket List!

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Just can’t do baby goats

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Okay…this isn’t a continuation of my vacation report post of last week.  For good reason.

Like most Americans with a soul (this excludes the GOP), my heart is broken over the slaughter of innocents in Florida last week.

Still.

My Facebook timeline is full of antigun memes that I’ve posted.  I know people on Facebook are wondering why I’m still harping on this gun control thing and the FL shooting.

I mean, wasn’t that so last week…?

That’s what’s become of us Americans.  Oh – another week, another massacre using semi-automatic weapons built to shoot between 4 to 8 rounds a second.  No biggie.  It happens all the time.

And as the gun rights advocates say, “Your dead children don’t override my 2nd Amendment rights.”  Seriously.

We are losing our souls and our ability to feel horror at the type of mass murder we tragically experience on a regular basis.

But I’m just not ready to move on and watch baby goat videos yet.

I still feel the horror.  Still hear the heartbreak in the parents voices who lost children.  Still think of the young children who lost their parents; brave teachers trying to shield their students from death.

But I sense a glimmer of something different happening this time.

Yes, the GOP lawmakers who’ve taken the NRA blood money will still continue to offer up their ‘thoughts and prayers’ and then do nothing.  And the NRA will probably double down on their efforts to buy our Republican Congressional cowards.  And the impotent gun loving lunatics who say they need an assault rifle to hunt ‘varmints and coyotes’ (I had somebody actually tell me that’s why they needed their assault rifle!) will go out and buy more just to prove the point that they can.

But there is something in the wind.  Something that feels new this time.

I won’t call it hope.  That would be too optimistic.

The students of Parkland, FL are speaking out.  Loudly.  They are calling out the ‘thoughts and prayers’ of the GOP for the B.S. that it is.  They aren’t stupid.  They know hypocrisy when they see it and hear it.

And the GOP has their hypocrisy on full display this time.

The students of Parkland, FL are sick of being told their right to live doesn’t supersede the crazies right to own high powered killing machines.  They are sick of their lives being sold to the NRA by their elected officials.  They are sick of do nothing politicians who care more about getting re-elected than protecting kids.

They are calling for a student and teacher walk out all over the country.  And a march on Washington DC and in as many other cities in the US that want to organize one.  They will be demanding our elected officials do something about these senseless, preventable slaughters.  They will be demanding sensible gun legislation that will aim to keep these killing machines out of the hands of the mentally ill, those with criminal or domestic abuse backgrounds, teenage kids…

And if you don’t like the the term ‘gun legislation’, let’s call it massacre prevention.

AGMA will be marching with them.

Because I don’t want my grandchildren to be afraid to go to school.  And I don’t want to be afraid for them.

#Enough

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing was sticky

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Best chocolate eclair EVER!!

Imagine that you’re trapped in an interior, windowless 8 ft by 14 ft room with recirculated air for 7 days with another human being who is NOT your significant other. Or even a semi-significant other.

Now imagine the 5 ft by 5 ft bathroom – so small you can brush you teeth in the sink while sitting on the “throne”. Not that I did that…

Well – maybe once. I was in a hurry.

Now imagine that the person you’re trapped with has, not one, but two bouts with an intestinal bug during the 7 days you are in this itty, bitty, closed in room. The first occurrence manifested it’s self in the lower GI tract. The second was in the upper digestive area.

Both involved extensive use of the toilet, if you get my drift.

Welcome to AGMA’s Griswold European vacation!

Vacation blues indeed.

Our first 4 nights in Barcelona were great! Sangria, pinxto, tapas, cava, cider, chocolate. Pretty standard, awesome stuff for Barcelona!

Our hotel, The Denit, was wonderful. Not luxury, but nice amenities and location, location, location. We had a lovely terrace that would have wonderful to use had the weather been a bit warmer.

HOHO (hop on hop off) bus tour, walking tour of the Gothic Quarter with Runner Bean Tours, a Barcelona Guitar Orchestra concert at the Palau de la Musica (amazing place!), a tapas tour with Sandemans New Barcelona Tours (I managed NOT to get my purse stolen on this one), self-directed Monserrat tour, Sagrada Familia (for 4 hours), the Picasso Museum, dinner with an old friend who is in Barcelona for a few months.

Whew. Awesome.

Then the trouble started.

On Friday, Mary (my traveling companion) was struck with some sort of a bug during breakfast and promptly proceeded to act like she was prepping for a colonoscopy. Multiple times.

This was a problem.

We were supposed to board our cruise ship in the early afternoon. It was 10 AM.

Dutiful AGMA went to the pharmacy. My pantomime to the pharmacist the nature of the problem could’ve made me a YouTube star. The pharmacist he knew exactly what the problem was…

9 Euros later, Mary was downing a couple of “plug up” pills. A wonderful front desk clerk who knew of our dilemma allowed us to stay 2 hours past the checkout time so Mary could rest. And hopefully the magic pills would do their thing.

So, naturally, AGMA went out shopping.

Don’t judge me.

“Things” settled down with Mary. She managed to rally when we needed to check out. A quick cab ride to the dock and a painless check-in, and we were in our cabin on the MSC Meravaglia. Mary promptly went to bed where she stayed for the rest of the day and most of the next day.

AGMA was alone and on her own.

MSC is a European cruise line. Most of their customers are from Europe. And Asia I think, judging by the number of kimonos on the formal nights. While most folks spoke English, I was definitely in the minority as a native English speaker. And seriously in the minority as an American.

The ship was new last May and is sparkling. And HUGE. There were 19 floors. Something like 4 pools and 10 hot tubs. Four chocolatiers actually making chocolates in a very large, open shop. A mozzarella cheese making kitchen. A bowling alley with 2 lanes. An indoor tennis court. 10 lounges/bars (one just for champagne). A specially made Cirque du Soleil theater with 2 different CdS shows. An long (think shopping mall long) 2 story atrium with shops and restaurants, and digital projections and shows on the ceiling. A outdoor water park and obstacle course. A large casino, 3 large restaurants, a huge buffet and large theater for their live shows rounded out the offerings.

AGMA was overwhelmed.

Mary perked up on day 2 (Sunday) having missed a trip into Marseilles on day 1. I liked Marseilles. I had the best chocolate eclair EVER from a small bakery there…

All was well in Genoa (day 3), Rome (day 4) and Palermo (day 5).

Then, double trouble struck. Mary got another bug the evening of day 5. This time it was tummy issues. It also involved multiple visits to the bathroom.

But wait…AGMA got sick as well. All of the wine and spirits, and fatty foods I’d been ingesting for 9 days made my pancreas very, very angry. So I was down for the count with acute pancreatitis.

We both missed the tour of Malta on day 6 and I am very, very sad about that. FWP right?

I rallied on day 7 which was an ‘at sea’ day. Mary, on the other hand, stayed in bed for yet another day. AGMA has never seen anybody sleep for almost 48 hours. Because she is 76 and basically hadn’t eaten and had very little to drink for 2 days, I suggested she see the ship doctor.

Nah baby nah – she wouldn’t do it.

But she HAD to get up and dressed on day 8 because we were back in Barcelona.  Our cruise was over.

Our original plan was to go to Park Guell and do some other sightseeing before our flight for Portugal took off that evening. But Mary didn’t have the endurance to walk down the street let alone walk around Barcelona. She had no clue what to do.

AGMA (cue the hero music) to the rescue! I found service called ByHours that rents hotel rooms in 3, 6 and 12 hour blocks.

And I know what your thinking…

Yes, maybe it’s used for that. Okay, for sure it’s used for that, but it is also for travelers with long layovers (no pun intended.) I got Mary a room at a small hotel on Las Ramblas for 6 hours.

It was a nice room. And nothing was sticky. That was encouraging.

To be continued……

Pass the cava

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Even though I’m in Barcelona now, AGMA’d love to tell you that I’m enjoying a cafe con leche and writing this post in a small cafe in the Gothic Quarter.

But I’m not.

As much as I want to dash off a post after our first few days in Spain to let everybody know how it’s going, AGMA is a realist. I’ve been through this too many times before. It ain’t happening.

So I’m in my favorite coffee shop in Atlanta. And I’m going to use that future post date function in WP.  I love that.

This trip is going to be really interesting.

Hubs is staying home taking care of the Princes of Casa AGMA, otherwise known as our cats, Max and Gus.

So I’m traveling with a dear friend who is getting ready to turn 77 in March. She’s young in mind and spirit, and is in great shape physically.  Plus she’s a voracious international traveler.

However, she’s hard of hearing (and won’t get a hearing aid) and I think she’s starting to have some memory issues.

And she has really fuzzy personal space boundaries.  This kinda makes me more crazy than I already am.

You know the type…physically, she moves really close to you whenever you interact. We spent 9 days in Paris 5 years ago and by the time AGMA got home, I wanted to move into a monastic hermitage and live alone the rest of my life. We would look at something in a store window and she was practically right on top of me. I may have gently thrown an elbow at her once or twice.

Don’t judge me.

It was a relief to be in a restaurant and have my own side of the table.

I think it might be related to her hearing loss?

So I’m looking for some suggestions as to how I might let her know in a sweet, kind, but firm way that she tends to get a bit to up close and personal. Anything?

Since I’m getting over the flu, I can use that for a few days.

“Don’t get to close to me Mary, I still have an active virus inside of me and could soon be a biter on the Walking Dead.”

Our trip is in 3 parts.

Part 1 – Barcelona. Cava, tapas/pintxo, paella, cava, crema catalana, bombas, cava, jamon ibericao, cava.

Can you see the pattern? AGMA loves me my sparking!

Since my last visit in Barcelona was so brief, I’m anxious to see what I missed the first time around.

Added bonus…AGMA has a former co-worker working on her masters in Barcelona so she’s going to hang with us on some of our adventures. Nothing beats having an insider show you the local scene!

Part 2 – ‘The Cruise’  THIS is going to be the true adventure. We are going on a 7 night Mediterranean cruise on a cruse line that gets terrible ratings on the all of the cruise bulletin boards. The ship itself is new and supposedly amazing, but everything else pretty much sucks according to the reviews. But it’s cheap – really cheap – and we’ll be seeing places we’ve never been (except Rome and you really can’t visit Rome too much…)

AGMA’s a firm believer of going into something like this with the lowest possible expectations. That way, if something is actually decent, it’s thrilling!

I’m planning on bringing lots of hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes.

Part 3 – Porto, Portugal. Portugal is hot right now. Not with heat (although temps aren’t too bad) but as a tourist destination. In 2017, it was voted by the Word Travel Awards as the Best European Destination. Portugal actually took home 37 of the 123 awards.

Smokin’ hot.

Who knew?

AGMA visited Lisbon and the Algarve about 5 years ago. Since Mary abdicated all of the trip planning responsibilities to me, I decided that we’d go to Porto, home of Port wine. It’s supposed to be incredibly charming and a throw back to “old” Portugal (whatever that means…), and prices for food ‘n stuff are less than in Lisbon.

And after sharing a tiny interior cabin on the cruise for 7 nights with a person who has personal space boundary issues, I booked a 2 bedroom AirB&B in Porto.

Of course.

I’m hoping to be able to post while we’re on the cruise (or at a port with wifi) so you may actually get some real time AGMA updates from the road. Or water.

‘May’ being the operative word…

AGMA has to admit that I’m so looking forward to 2 1/2 weeks without hearing about the Massively Yuge Sh*thole Cheeto every minute of every day. Ignorance is definitely not bliss when it comes to the attempted destruction of our democracy, but a little respite now and then is good for the soul.

The only problem is that, when people find out we’re Americans, EVERYBODY (I know this from experience) will be asking us, “What the hell is going on with the US??”

I think my answer will be, courtesy of Molly Shannon’s horrible alter ego comedienne, Jeannie Darcy….

“Don’t get me started. Don’t even get me started.”

Pass the cava.

Three strikes…

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AGMA channeling Bob Ross

…and AGMA’s out.

I have the flu.

At least I think it’s the flu. Fever, mild chills, congestion, coughing, just feeling over all crappy. I’d be willing to write it off as a cold if it wasn’t for the fever. AGMA rarely gets a fever.

I need to get rid of this. Fast.

AGMA’s going on another juant… Back to Barcelona to track down those darned would be purse thieves. Read about my harrowing adventure here.

And I leave on Sunday morning which doesn’t give me a lot of time to heal.

(Just kidding about the purse thieves. I’m not on steroids anymore so they’d probably beat the crap out of me.)

Son #2 wants me to go to a Doc-in-a-Box.

Great idea, but it snowed last night in Atlanta. Again. And it’s really cold so…once again….the whole city has shut down.

Including the Doc-in-a-Boxes…

Evidently getting sick in Atlanta when it snows is a risky proposition.

I emailed my regular doc. I love her, but she tends to be very conventional. She said it ‘could’ just be a cold. Some colds present with fevers. And they can last anywhere from 24 to 36 hours, and if mine lasts more than 36 hours, I should come in.

Except they were closed today. I plan to be on the phone bright an early tomorrow morning.

I’m sick of being sick if you know what I mean.

I started to get a cold in mid-December but immediately did my Kung Fu cold fighting moves. Oil of Oregano, Umcka drops, zinc lozenges, neti pot (such a delightful experience…), fizzy vitamin C.

And it went away with nary a sneeze.

AGMA was feelin’ pretty, pretty cocky.

Strike 1.

Then, I came down with the mother of all colds on Christmas Day when we were in Chicago. Courtesy of TMAGCITW otherwise know as the adorable germ factories.

And I didn’t have any of my Kung Fu voodoo stuff with me.

Oh the humanity!

It took me a while to shake that cold. I must have gone through 3 boxes of tissues. I had no idea one person could produce that much mucus. Except Trump of course. I’m sure he can out mucus/snot anybody with the best mucus/snot from the best sinus’ ever.

Strike 2.

Then I awakened on Monday and whispered those 4 little words that Hubs really never wants to hear.

“I think I’m sick.”

Actually, I croaked them.

So I was hacking and coughing and snotting. And feeling really, really lazy. Then yesterday I had some pretty serious body aches and started to get chills. “Mr. Feder, you sound like a real attractive guy.”

And I though I felt a bit warm, but AGMA couldn’t find out new fangled thermometer that you stick in your ear.

But I honestly didn’t suspect the flu. What a dolt….

So I went about my business yesterday. I had a corporate chair massage job in the afternoon. I loaded up on cough suppressant and the kids stuff that dries your nose up. I had 10 clients. Oops.

Then I went to a “Paint like Bob Ross” night at a local pizza place. I felt like sh*t, but we’d paid for it already so I went. AGMA didn’t want to be a wimp.  After all, I’m a mom, I know how to power through.

In hindsight (and I have spectacular hindsight), I wouldn’t have done the chair massage job. But the Bob Ross night was a total HOOT – we got wigs and painted a snowy mountain scene. I probably would have still done that.

Don’t judge me.

I got concerned today when I finally found the ‘stick in you ear’ thermometer (honestly, are those things really accurate?). I was at nearly 101.

Hmmmm…

Then I looked up the symptoms of this 2018 version of the flu. I had 6 out of the 8 symptoms.

Hmmmm…

Strike 3.

AGMA has cleared my calendar until I leave.

I missed dinner with Son#2 tonight. It was his early birthday dinner – I’ll be gone on his real birthday. This makes me sad. Hubs went out with him instead.

And I’ll be missing an event called Power to the Polls GA on Saturday to mark the 1 year anniversary of the Women’s March in DC and Atlanta. Instead of marching again this year, the organizers are maturing the local resistance movement to bring together amazing speakers, have workshops in grassroots empowerment and provide plenty of volunteer opportunities as the 2018 mid-terms approach. And considering the Yuge Girth Cheeto Sh*thole’s antics of the past week, those mid-terms can’t get here fast enough.

AGMA will certainly be engaged in continued resistance to the attempted dismantling of our democracy. But it’s just nice to be around folks who have really put some skin in the game. And are wearing pink pussy hats.

*sigh*

I know, a barely 1st world problem (because we’re barely a 1st world country anymore.)

AGMA’s out after her three strikes.

I’m tired and sad that I am missing fun and important stuff. And I’m concerned about flying in an enclosed metal tube with recirculated air for 9 hours on Sunday.  And coughing.

So AGMA’s going to tuck in for the night and pretend like everything is going to be fine.

Hope springs eternal.

See you in Barcelona!

Christmas rewind

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Whoa.

Christmas is over already? What?

And it’s 2018 already? When did that happen?

Well – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to ya’ll! A bit late…

AGMA’s been taking an mini-sabatical. Unplanned.

Between spending a week in Chicago for Christmas and catching a pretty bad cold from TMAGCITW (otherwise known as the adorable walking petrie dishes), finding the time and energy to write’s been challenging. Actually, finding the time and energy for most of AGMA’s recreational activities has been challenging.

No running, no writing, no reading.

‘shame since I have Fire and Fury downloaded on my Fire. I just haven’t regained quite enough strength to tackle the inside scoop on our like, really smart, stable genius Twit-in-Chief.

OMG – I think I threw up a little in my mouth.

Since it’s early January, AGMA did muster the strength to take the Christmas tree down with Hubs this past weekend. We sucessfully wrestled all 4 sections into the box in the garage.

Score!

11 years ago, we gave up, after 30 years, having a fresh cut Christmas tree. It was traumatic.

For nearly all of those 30 years, we went to a “cut you own” tree farm outside of Cincinnati. And for about 20 of those years, we plunged deep into the bowels of the tree farm to find the Griswold Family perfect Christmas tree and cut it down. We DID remember to bring a saw… Then Hubs and I schlepped the tree 1/2 mile back to the parking lot. And onto the top of the car.

Imagine our euphoria those last 10 or so years when our two strong sons we old enough and big enough to take over the schlepping duties!

But we had built some beautiful family traditions around our annual Christmas tree farm visit. Traditions that disappeared when we moved to Georgia.

AGMA has this thing about traditions. I hate to let them go.  My head told me it was okay for multiple reasons, but my heart was sad.

It’s difficult to say goodbye to some seasons of life.

But our 11 year old artificial tree is big and pretty and doesn’t need water and doesn’t drop needles and looks pretty realistic.

Hubs bought our first tree Christmas Eve 1976 for $5 from a gas station tree lot. He brought it back to our apartment, decorated it with lights he got at the drug store, and surprised me when I got back from a doctors appointment. No ornaments; just lights.

To a 22 year old AGMA, it was beautiful.

Things have changed since 1976. This year, there were still lights on the tree. And some garland. And 184 ornaments. That’s 1 – 8 – 4.

To a 63 year old AGMA, it was beautiful.

The tree was up and decorated when my son and his family visited us in mid-December (see the Pink Paradise post…) My DIL asked me, “How did you get so many ornaments?”

“A lifetime of collecting.” I answered.

My answer hit me like a ton of bricks. It HAS been a lifetime since I’ve been collecting ornaments.

Holy sh*t!

And almost every one has a story to tell about our family. It takes me a long time to hang them all on the tree because I like to hold them and remember…

Some hung on our Christmas tree when AGMA was a child. They’re old!  I have “Welcome baby” ornaments from 1982 and 1984. And 2014. Poor V doesn’t have one!

Some ornaments were made by my sons when they were children. There are intricate dough ornaments I bought in 1987 from my neighbor’s sister. 30 years is a pretty good life for ornaments made of flour and water!

Of course, there are many, many ornaments from our travels. And ornaments that others have given us from their travels.

I have ornaments that aren’t really ornaments, but AGMA made them into ornaments.

We have a set of The 12 Days of Christmas ornaments I bought in the 80’s, a particularly happy time in my life. A lovely local family in Cincinnati who worked in ceramics started designing them in 1981 and produced a new “day” ornament every year. They accelerated their production and completed the last 4 in 2 years due to family illness.  These are some of my most treasured ornaments because they are so beautiful and were purchased during a season of AGMA acute happiness.

Sadly, the entire family has passed on – the mother, father and two children (who would be in their 60’s had they lived), but I think of them every year at Christmas. I remember how gifted and warm and welcoming they all were when I hold their creations in my hands.

And how life was so sweet.

Many ornaments have been retired over the course of 41 years. And there have been ornament ‘casualities’. Some of our dough ornaments have lost appendages. Other ornaments are missing the hangy things. A few years ago, one of my childhood ornaments was broken. And this year we lost a glass Santa from Ireland my sister gave us. But they were all individual ornaments, not part of a set.

AGMA knows that it’s just a matter of time before one of my 12 Days gets broken. And it will be irreplaceable. And I will be devastated in a First World Problem kind of way.

But I think that maybe it could be a sign from the Universe that it’s time to move into a new season.

Or in AGMA’s case, dragged kicking and screaming into a new season.

A season of dispersing instead of collecting. A season for a tabletop tree rather than a 9 foot monster.

A season of greater simplicity as I get ever closer with each passing year to encountering Child of Bethlehem in person.

Until then, I’m going to go for 190 ornaments next Christmas.

Happy 2018 my friends!!

 

Pink Paradise

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AGMA’s headless chicken act worked.

It was a great weekend last week with the grands thank you very much…

That is other than the 6 inches of snow we got on Friday that left us homebound for about 24 hours.

Because I live in Atlanta, and we don’t get 6 inches of snow at one time. Ever. Or sustained periods of freezing temps. And the official snow removal strategy on the state and local level consists of “wait until it melts.”

Remember the great Snowmageddon of 2014?

We don’t do snow well here.

On Thursday, weather.com reported a chance of a ‘wintery mix’ on Friday with little to no accumulation. Perfect. We planned to take the MAGITW (Most Adorable Grandchildren In The World) to The Pink Pig on Friday.

Imagine AGMA’s surprise when I awoke on Friday to the dulcet tones of a Winter Weather Advisory warning of up to 6 inches of snow for the Atlanta area.

Huh??

Seems that little rascal of a winter storm Benji was dipping farther south than anybody expected. That little sh*t…

Planning excursions for a 1 year old and an almost 3 year old is tricky. Everything has to be planned around naps, meals and BMs.  TMI?  AGMA, being the OCD person that I am, took at drive to the Pig to scope out the location and pre-bought our tickets. I was prepared for everything.

Except a snow storm.

But let’s talk about The Pink Pig. Please.

Her full name is Priscilla the Pink Pig. It’s an Atlanta thing. And from what I understand, much beloved by folks who grew up here.

The original Priscilla opened in 1956 on the roof of the old Rich’s Department Store in downtown Atlanta. It was a monorail that was painted pink with a snout, pig ears and a curly tail. The kids were literally caged in.

I guess so they wouldn’t have any jumpers…

Rich’s was acquired in the 1970‘s by Federated Department Stores and the downtown store was closed in 1991. The PInk PIg relocated but closed down in 1995 because it was too expensive to run.

Sad face.

But Priscilla was miraculously resurrected in 2003 as a train in a big tent on the top parking deck of the Macy’s in Lenox Square Mall in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.

Happy face.

And it was to that outdoor, unheated tent that AGMA bought my precious grandchildren in a snowstorm last Friday.

I probably won’t win the Grandparent of the Year award.

The Pink Pig is less than 5 miles from AGMA’s house. Even with the snow starting, it only took 15 minutes to get there.

So far so good.

The Priscilla character was sitting near the entrance of the tent on what appeared to be a swine throne. The idea is that you get your picture taken with her and then you can purchase said picture as you leave. Naturally.

And everything was pink. Really pink. And the train ride lasted only 4 minutes. (But AGMA bought the tickets with the DOUBLE ride so we got to stay on for about 8 minutes.) And the displays were sort of cheesy with narration by Priscilla with a very southern accent. And the adults were squished into these tiny seats in the train. And it was frickin’ freezing in that tent.

But my 3 year old grandson was totally enchanted. And the 1 year old didn’t cry.

Score one for Nana AGMA.

By the time we left the charming Ms. Priscilla, our cars had over an inch of heavy wet snow on them.

Ah oh…

We took two cars to The Pig. Hubs and AGMA each have a Prius. ‘Nuff said.

To give Son#1 and DIL a little respite, Son#2 who lives in Altanta and ADORES his nephew and niece, rode with AGMA and the kiddos. This was fine for the 15 minute ride over.

But this is Atlanta. In the snow. In the short time that we were canoodling with Priscilla, everybody, and I mean everybody, who works anywhere outside their home in Atlanta decided that they needed to go home. Right now.

So our 15 minute drive turned into an hour drive. Can you spell g-r-i-d-l-o-c-k?

It was SnowmageddonII.

Then, about 5 minutes into the drive home, Grandson started chanting out of the blue, “I want a sucker.”

We found out later that his mother had promised him a sucker if he was a good boy at The Pink Pig.

But at the time, we had no knowledge of this bargain that was struck nor did we have a sucker. The suckers resided it the diaper bag. That was in Hubs car.

Initially, we calmly explained that we didn’t have a sucker and had no way of obtaining one at the moment. Oh what fools we were…

No surprise that this did not seem to make an impact on him. After several attempts at explaining the situation, it became clear that he wasn’t going to quit chanting until he received said sucker.

“I want a sucker!” It got louder and started mixing with tears.

“I want a sucker! I want a sucker!”

Son#2 texted Son#1 regarding the dilemma. Son#1 texted back, “Welcome to my world.”

Truth.

20 minutes later we distracted Grandson by opening the window. Some of the snow fell into the car. He started laughing.

There is a God.

Meanwhile, 1 year old Granddaughter sat quietly in her seat playing with a few toys. And every now an then she made a cooing sound. Awwww….

It could have been so much worse.

After both cars safely landed at AGMA’s house, we were basically stuck there for the rest of the day. The roads got so bad that Son#2 didn’t go back to his home that night.

My entire family under my roof for 24 hours.

AGMA was in paradise.

Yeah, it was a great weekend!

Nog, lots of nog

12.09.11_FA_Eggnog

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

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

Extra bourbon? Yes please.

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

The holiday season of stress is upon AGMA.

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

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

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

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

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

AGMA’s so glad you asked.

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

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

My left eyelid’s twitching.

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

Wonderful! Exciting! Fantastic!

But…

This is both a blessing and not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THOSE boxes.

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

But oh my…  The memories are intense.

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

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

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

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

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

Only 6 more boxes to go.

But oh my…

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