One tough sausage ball

mr-bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naturally.

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

Now it’s time to see if it worked.

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

Stay tuned…

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

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

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

Pretty radical huh?

That’s AGMA.

Mr. Feder…Part Deux

capsaicin

So I wrote a post last week while I was in the waiting room of a local gastroenterology practice.  Hubs was in the process of getting a colonoscopy.  I thought it would be a good idea to write about his prep.

Lucky for you, I came to my senses.

So…no post last week.

AGMA is out of control again.

I just got home on Monday from the first of  what will be three long weekends away.  Between February 24th and March 13th, I will be home for a grand total of 3 days.  Three days.

Out. Of. Control.

Last weekend, I did a half marathon in Florida.  I drove down with a friend and stayed at her 80 year old mother’s home.  Her mom was a wild woman cut out of the same AGMA cloth as yours truly.   It was a great time.

And I loved watching my friend’s mother “mothering” her.  It’s been about 25 years since I have been “mothered”…I forgot how (mostly) wonderful it was.  It made AGMA really miss her step-mother.  And feel a bit guilty that I didn’t appreciate her as much as I should have before first Alzheimer’s then the Grim Reaper stole her away from all of us.

Tomorrow, I go to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

ZZZzzzz…

I know I’m nuts, but this is a trip AGMA really doesn’t want to take.  I committed to it last fall before life took a turn for the cray cray.  It’s an el cheapo trip – a friend is renting the condo and invited me to come along gratis.  And I’m using airline miles to get there.  And I don’t think it will be terribly expensive once I get there.

But it’s six days I’d rather be doing something else other than sitting in the sun and walking along the ocean.

Huh?   I know that 98% of you think I’m nuts.  And you would be right…

I get back on Tuesday next week, then leave on Thursday for Chicago to hang out with B & V (my very hip, awesome grandchildren.)  This trip, I very much want to take.  Always.

But I will be missing a long run that Saturday.   So AGMA has to make it up because I’m signed up for another full marathon on 4/2.   Yeah – I’m nuts.

I’m planning on running 20 miles by myself the Monday after I get back.

That sucks.

Right now, it feels like I’m running through grape jelly when I run.  I’ve never been fast, but my half marathon time last weekend was abysmal considering it was a relatively cool day and the course was pancake flat.

I blame the prednisone and the shingles.  And the grand Cheeto-head.  Of course.

Prednisone update…  My GI guy wants me to take the low dose I’m on for another 17 days.  I’ve been on prednisone since early December.   Don’t tell him, but AGMA’s planning on only taking it for another 10 days.  Shhhhh…

I’m so over it.

Shingles update…  The rash is gone with nothing but discolored areas remaining.  Again, TMI.  But now I’m experiencing what they call Postherpetic Neuralgia.  Yuck.

Postherpetic Neuralgia is when the nerves in the area of the rash fire on their own.  And often.  According to Dr. Diagnoseanythingontheinternet, this condition can last anywhere from a few weeks to forever.

AGAM’s rooting for the ‘few weeks’ option.

The weird thing is that I’m not experiencing pain.  I’m getting an intense tingling, itchy, ticklish sensation.  Like really intense.  Like so intense that I feel compelled to scratch and rub the area.

This has been somewhat embarrassing since the rash was on my left buttocks, left hip and left pubic bone area.  You get the idea…

Oh la la.

I read that a topical lotion with capsaisin in it can help relieve the sensations.  Capsaisin is what makes hot peppers hot.  It somehow blocks the nerve signals to the brain.

So basically AGMA would be rubbing a red habanero on her crotch.

Let’s do this.  Sounds like fun.

I had a corporate chair massage gig yesterday.  Since didn’t want to be constantly itching and rubbing my nether regions during the job, I decided to try a topical capsaisin product.

I used the applicator to rub it on.  I wasn’t sure the lotion was flowing so I made sure I put extra on.  Alllllll the way from my spine to just above my pubic bone in front.  I covered it good.  Real good.

Turns out, this was not a wise thing to do.

Round about 30 minutes into the job, the itching and ticklish feelings were intensified and joined by a burning sensation.  Like a 13 year old middle school male,  I couldn’t keep my hands off of myself.

At one point, I managed to take a peek at my waist.  It was bright red.  I mean, fire engine red.

Yesterday is now in the top 10 list of AGMA’s most uncomfortable moments.  Ever.

Too much capsaisin can actually cause burns on the skin.  AGMA thought she was SOL.

But then an amazing thing happened.  After nearly 3 hours of extreme discomfort, it suddenly went away.  Poof, goodbye.

No more itching.  No more tickling.  No more pain.

When I got home, I checked out “the area” and all the redness was gone.  Poof, goodbye.

AGMA felt like she did in the good old days before shingles.  Like four weeks ago.

The itching and tickley feeling came back around 9 PM last night.  Damn.  But not as intensely as it had been.

AGMA looked at the little bottle of the topical capsaisin by the sink.  With fresh memories of intense itching, extreme discomfort and semi-burning flesh, I decided to take extra ibuprofen instead.

As the old saying goes, sometimes the “cure is worse than the disease”.

I’m wondering if the Russians might like my almost full bottle of capsaisin lotion to use in their political prisoner interrogation program.

They’ll talk.  Oh yes – they’ll talk.

AGMA guarantees it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Feder…

rosanna-rosanna-dana

Rosanne Roseannadanna, played by the late Gilda Radner, was a reoccuring character on the original Weekend Update segment of Saturday Night Live.

And she rocked.

She read letters with questions from “viewers” and then give her advice/opinions which were always hil-arious. Lots of chuckles.

But it seems like the only person who ever sent letters to her was Mr. Richard Feder from Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Bit of trivia… There actually WAS a Richard Feder from Fort Lee, New Jersey. He was the brother-in-law of the guy who wrote that segment for SNL. But he never wrote any letters. Inside family joke I guess…

Gotta love the in-laws.

On one Weekend Update, Roseanne Roseannadanna reads (yet another) letter from Mr. Feder detailing the problems he’s having trying to quit smoking.

He writes, “Now I’m depressed, I gained weight, my face broke out, I’m nauseous, I’m constipated, my feet swelled, my gums are bleeding, my sinuses are clogged, I got heartburn, I’m cranky and I have gas. What should I do?”

“Mr. Feder, you sound like a real attractive guy.”, Ms. Roseannadanna said.

AGMA can relate.

Two weeks ago, I was blissfully hanging out with my grandchildren in Chicago. Minding my own business. Enjoying being Nana. A cool, newly tattooed Nana…

And that’s when I noticed the small red area on my left hip. Hmmm – my jeans must be too tight. Entirely possible since AGMA has been eating like Steve Bannon at a KKK recruitment pig roast.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I got alarmed. The little red spot had morphed into a painful, bumpy rash that covered my left hip. Hmmm – this is weird.

Concerned about what kind of creeping crud I may have contracted and being around my grandchildren, I asked my DIL to take a look at it. She’s a brave woman since I had to pull my pants down.

She took one gander at it and said, “I think you have shingles.”

WTF??

Turns out my son had shingles in the same spot a number of years ago and she said it looked just like his shingles. Mother and son matching shingles – how precious.

My primary care doctor talked to me about getting the shingles vaccine last month. But since I’ve been back on the evil prednisone since early December, she said I needed to wait. Evidently the prednisone can interfere with the shingles vaccine’s effectiveness.

Joke’s on her. Or AGMA.

Back in Chicago, I hurried to a local doc in a box to get “officially” checked out. Sure ‘nuff – shingles.

Damn.

AGMA admits she panicked a little. And almost broke down into tears. My sweet granddaughter is only 3 months old and I was afraid that she was going to get chickenpox from her tattooed Nana.

That would not be cool.

The Physican’s Assistant said that little Vi would have to come into direct contact with the shingles blisters oozing “goo” (OMG that’s so gross…) to get chickenpox. And given the location of the rash – on my hip, waist and (blush) bottom – that probably wouldn’t happen.

I texted my DIL that it was indeed shingles and that she should call her pediatrician for advice. I ate lunch at a local restaurant waiting for her to get a call back. I was fully prepared to be kicked out of the house until I flew home that Saturday. AGMA was on her phone during lunch looking for cheap hotel rooms…

But her pediatrician said the same thing the PA said and I was welcomed back into the house with open arms. I just had to wash my hands a lot.

Because I was able to go on an anti-viral, I haven’t had the horrible nerve pain that Hubs had in 2006 when he got shingles. And most (but not all) of the rash faded without blistering up and crusting over.

Again, so gross… Isn’t “crusting” kind of a digusting word?

But it’s kinda put AGMA down for the count and I’m dragging. I’ve still been able to run, but it feels like I’m running through jello with weights on my shoes. Slog.

I blame Donald Trump for my shingles. And the prednisone. Between the two of them, my immune system was flashing STRESS LEVEL TOO HIGH – DANGER, DANGER.

Since I’ve been back on prednisone, I’ve had most of the side effects I had when I was on it last summer. Oral thrush and trouble sleeping. Like big trouble sleeping. More than 5 hours a night is a special treat.

Added to the mix this time is numbness and tingling in my hands and feet along with a foggy head (more than normal…) and blurry vision. And a bigly yuge set of chipmunk cheeks. AGMA’s got some serious jowls going on right now.

And now shingles with most of the delights that come with that little gem of a condition.

Ms. AGMA, you sound like a real attractive gal.

Wake me up when it’s all over.

Inked!

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Yeah AGMA did!

I really love this picture.  My fabulous ink artist (Joey) took it right after she finished my tattoo.

The agony and the ecstasy.

I know it looks massive but it’s not really all that large.  I cropped it so you can’t see the flab on my back.  Or all the brown spots.  AGMA had no idea I had so many brown spots on my back.

What’s that all about?

My tat’s on my upper right scapula (that’s shoulder blade to the non-anatomy geek) and the blue larkspur is flowing over my shoulder.  Kinda girly.

I’m so grateful to Joey for pulling together all my crazy, random AGMA thoughts and Pinterest tattoo pictures into a design that I absolutely love.   But I do realize that it’s not everybody’s cup of tea…

I wanted a running theme because I believe that taking up running when I was 59 totally changed my life.  For the better.  For the way better.

But I also wanted to incorporate my family in the design.  They are, after all, the most important thing on earth to me.

AGMA’s getting mushy.

So the flowers coming out of the soul (get it?) of my shoe are my family’s birth month flowers.  I knew you would be wondering…

Holly for December, snowdrops for January, lily and larkspur for July.  And violets for my  sweet, little baby granddaughter…who happens to be named Violet.

AGMA thinks there’s room for more flowers if my son and DIL decide to have a third and he/she’s not born in December, January or July.  That would be fun.

But I think I’m going to go back to Joey to get something else added.  In a couple of months. As soon as I recover from this first round.  It was kinda ouchy.

Beneath the stem, I’d like to add “2 Timothy 4:7”

If you look it up in the New Testament (NIV) 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

AGMA likes that.

Thanks for going on this fantastic journey with me!

Aging gracefully my ass.

 

 

 

 

Pink pussies everywhere

womensmarch

Picture courtesy of AGMA’s crappy phone camera

Hats I mean…  Pink pussy hats.  Everywhere.

The Women’s March on Washington was awesome!

I’m sure you’ve read about it and seen the pictures by now.   You’ve heard about Ashely Judd’s reading of that incredibly powerful poem written by a young Tennessee  woman.  And Michael Moore’s five step resistance plan.  And feminist icon Gloria Steinem’s speech.

And Madonna.  She was…Madonna.  ‘Nuff said.

But as always, there is an AGMA version.  Of course.

I got to DC on Friday, 1/20.  Inauguration Day.  Tragically, another day in American history that will live in infamy.

The Dulles gift shops were stocked full of DT t-shirts and memorabilia and made in China “Make America Great Again” red hats.  Considering how sparsely attended the inauguration was, they would have been financially more astute to have stocked Women’s March stuff since there were sooooo many more people at the March.

Hindsight…

I stayed with my niece and her family in Virginia.  Before I left home, I got a text from my neice asking if I had my flu shot.  Ah oh…   Turns out her middle son had the flu, but before the end of the weekend, my niece also came down with it.  And her husband and oldest son got a severe, extra nasty colds.  It was the house of contagion.

Charming.

Friday was spent getting ready for the March the next morning.  I finished my poster which was truly a thing of beauty.   Front…

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And back…

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I loaded up my burner phone (OMG – yes I did…) with the ACLU DC Justice app.  And encrypted everything on my phone just in case it was confiscated.  AGMA created a new FB account thinking I would do FB live if things got “rough”.   I brought $100 with me and my medications in their original bottles in case I got tossed in the hoosegow.  I wrote emergency contact numbers on my arm with a sharpie.

Seriously.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw a grand total of two police officers the entire day until the March got to the park in front of the White House.

Not that I’m sad it was peaceful and I didn’t need to do all that stuff.  AGMA just felt a bit…over prepared.  Understatement.

But it’s better to prepare for the worst and get the best, which is what happened!

There were 9 of us who went down to the March.  We got there around 9:50 AM. We couldn’t see the stage, but had a jumbotron in front of us so could hear and see the rally.  I didn’t realize that there were soooo many people there that 70% of them couldn’t see or hear anything.

My first inkling at the size of the crowd was when a friend who came up from Atlanta called me.  She said that they were in front of the National Archives and couldn’t get any closer.  That was a loooong way away.

The rally was great, but long.  Too long.  The organizers, in wanting to be inclusive of all groups, let too many of the many speakers go on a bit too long.  So instead of being the 3 hours and 15 minutes it was supposed to be, it went over 4.5 hours.

It was chilly and crowded and was nearly impossible to get to a port-o-let.  I didn’t try.  Thankfully, AGMA is good at managing stuff like that.  TMI right?

By the time the March started, AGMA was by herself.  My niece and the other 7 ladies bailed at 3.5 hours.  They were cold, hungry, had to pee and tired.  And my niece looked awful.  Remember, she was coming down with the flu.

But AGMA had no intention of leaving.  I was there to march and, by God, I was going to march.

And I did.  And it was a glorious thing.

Despite the long rally and tired feet and hungry bellies and full bladders, when the march finally started, the marchers were polite and peaceful and considerate of each other.  The energy was amazing.

I’ve never been in a crowd of nearly a million people.  It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.  Words fail AGMA if you can believe that…

Once we got to the Elliptical in front of the White House, I found a bench to stand on and watched for nearly an hour as people poured it the park.  Again, it was a sight I really can’t describe.

At 5:15 PM, it seemed like it was time to leave.  It was getting dark, things were winding down and I had to figure out how to get back to my nieces house.

But AGMA had two urgent needs.  I needed a toilet and some food.   I brought one banana to the rally.  Not good planning.  I was starving.

Thankfully there were port-o-lets close by and no lines.

But the lines at the food trucks were crazy long.  AGMA opted to head to the Metro to get somewhat close to my niece’s house.

It took my niece about 20 minutes to drive to the Metro stop to pick me up.  There was a Subway, a Chinese food place and a BBQ place across the street.  That was cruel.  The smell was intoxicating.

Bless my niece’s husband for having dinner ready when I got back.  They all kind of stared at me in disbelief as I inhaled the food.  Then had a second helping.  Protesting and marching evidently requires a lot of fuel.

Oh, and my burner phone could barely take pictures let alone do Facebook live.  I guess you can’t expect a lot for $29.99 from Walmart.  And I came back with my $100 and all of my meds.  And I had sharpie on my arm for a few days afterwards.  A reminder of what didn’t happen.

This time.

But in the 10 days since the inauguration, it’s far worse that I imagined.  Probably far worse than anybody imagined.  Our free speech, our free press, the rule of law, our Constitution are all under serious attack.

I keep thinking of Theoden’s line from The Two Towers from the Lord of the Rings series by JRR Tolkien, “What can men do against such reckless hate?”

What indeed…

Every American has to answer that question for themselves.  My prayer is that each one of us will be brave.  And not be silent.

Ever…

P.S.  On a lighter note – OMG, OMG, OMG…I got inked yesterday.  It’s glorious!  Stay tuned for a picture once it quits looking red and nasty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bloomin’ n struttin’

clydesdale

Time’s a cruel bastard.

Yeah – that’s right. I said it.

Time’s evidently decided to run at a full gallop in 2017, and passed me so quickly that it’s already been two weeks since the last AGMA post. Yikes!

When I was young, Time seemed to be extremely lazy and liked to lolly gag around. Like he had nothing else to do but to taunt me with possibilities beyond my reach. I thought I would never turn 16. Or graduate from high school. Or go be grown up enough to go on a date…

Louise, my sweet step-mother, in the midst of my late 1960’s teenage angst, used to tell me I was going to be a late bloomer. She was trying to comfort me on those many (most) Friday and Saturday nights I would be chilling at home or over at one of my girlfriend’s. And not 16. Or a high school graduate.

And definitely NOT on a date.

But she was right. As usual.

AGMA turned 63 last week. And miracles of miracles, I think, just maybe, I’m starting to bloom. Like one of those century plants that flowers every 100 years.

But it only took me 63.

It feels like, after so many long, tumultuous, crazy  years, I’ve finally – finally – started to hit my full stride. And gotten my sh*t together. Sorta kinda.

But seriously?

At this point, there’s a heck of a lot less time to stride than when I was angsting in my parents home in the 60’s.  A lot less time to show off my lovely sh*t.

Round about early January, I got this sweet notice from WordPress congratulating me on 3 years of blogging. “What?” I noodled, “I’m pretty sure it’s only been 2 years. It can’t be 3 years already. I couldn’t have lost a year in there right?”

I was wrong. WP was right. Show offs.

So I was at my local tattoo parlor last week…

Did you you hear that? I said I was at a tattoo parlor!

Yeah baby – the ink’s gonna happen in 2017!

Last week was the first round of the design phase. After a couple of years of indecision and the inability to commit to a design, suddenly it all became clear. It was like divine inspiration. I knew what I wanted and why I wanted it. And where…

I’m not a Pinterest person, but I filled up my Tattoo ideas board with 23 pins. Typical AGMA.

The guy at the tattoo place was really nice. The woman I want to actually do the tattoo wasn’t in yet, but Stan helped me pull together the ideas I had into one design. It’s not there yet but it’s a great starting place.

AGMA’s pretty excited.

Stan said something to me that really struck me. It was something practical like needing to be careful about something because it could cause the colors to fade over the course of time. And, before I even knew what was coming out of my mouth, I said, “Honestly, I probably won’t live long enough for that to happen.”

Stan kinda looked shocked. AGMA, the good time tattoo buzz killer.

I guess I’m feeling a little angry at being a century bloomer. It just feels like I’ve wasted a hell of a lot of time. Time that I will never, ever get back. A lifetime almost.

But then a wise person might say that I wasn’t ready; I hadn’t learned the lessons I needed to learn. Until now. So that makes now the perfect time.

To everything, there a season and all that crap.

And I remember Ken, my 58 year old friend who died suddenly in December with still so much life ahead of him.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, is guaranteed.

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”   Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Act 5, scene 5, 19-28

I guess that decides it.

I’ll bloom whenever and wherever, strut my together sh*t whenever and wherever, for as long as I have.  And get my ink ASAP.

Watch for AGMA blooming and strutting this Saturday at the Women’s March on Washington.  I probably won’t make The Guardian this time, but then again, maybe I will!

My next post could be from the pokey (great word!) asking for a donation to my GoFundMe page for bail…

2017 comes a roaring’ in

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Photograph: Zuma/Rex/Shutterstock

Rebecca Solnit is a writer for the US edition of the British publication The Guardian.  On December 29, she wrote an brilliant article for The Guardian titled “Another, more beautiful America is rising. Trump will be resisted.

Please click on the link and read it.  It’s a hopeful message in a time of darkness for our great nation.

The picture above is the picture used in the the article.  The photograph credit says Zuma/Rex/Shutterstock.

It should also say AGMA.

Because this is a picture of AGMA.

Holy sh*t.

It was taken at the 12/19/2016 peaceful demonstration at the Georgia state capital in order to encourage the Georgia electors to have the courage to put America first and not cast their votes for Trump.

It didn’t work.  They all put party politics above love of country and voted for the unpresident anyway.  Now it’s up to history to judge their actions.

Imagine AGMA’s shock and surprise when I innocently opened a link on Facebook that a friend had posted yesterday.  And saw me staring back at myself.

Holy sh*t.

It was unnerving.  It was unsettling.  It was flabbergasting.

AGMA’s a very private person.  I guess you figured that out after 3 years of not knowing my name or even what I look like.

I hope you aren’t too disappointed.

I had quite a few people take my picture with my homemade sign on 12/19.  But I never imagined that, out of all of the gatherings all over the U.S. and of the thousands of pictures that were taken that day, that AGMA would be a headliner for The Guardian.

And 2017 comes a roarin’ in.

I posted this meme yesterday on my Facebook page before I saw The Guardian article.  Maybe it was an AGMA premonition.

kickers

So let’s get started.

Aging gracefully my ass!

 

Ho ho ho dammit

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It’s been a weird lead up to Christmas here in AGMAland.

After going away to Germany and France last year in December, I swore that I’d never go away right before Christmas. Things just were too hectic; too discombobulated.

No time to do Advent devotionals or meditate on the the true meaning of Christmas. Ohmmmmm…

The Christmas tree went up late, the baking was done late and there were no AGMA holiday cards sent.

So naturally we decided to go away again this year right before Christmas.

We got home from Australia on 12/1, but we might as well have gotten back last week.

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve hung 4 wreaths, put 4 fake poinsettia plants around the house, and put my 1964 scary stuffed Santa out. The under the tree manger set-up is still in our attic. Our artificial tree has been up for a week or so, sans decorations. I finally got around to hanging some ornaments on it last night.

Three days before Christmas.

Unheard of.

AGMA’s jumping on the minimalist bandwagon this year and have a minimally decorated home and tree. After 40+ years of Christmas decorating, we have tons of house decorations and a sh*tload of ornaments. That all takes time to unpack, unwrap, hang, then take down and wrap up again in a week to store away for next year.

Basically, I’m being lazy.

I also did all my baking yesterday. AGMA’s Christmas baking consists of three types of cookies so it’s really not as labor intensive as it sounds. It just takes time to roll each one of those little damn cookies in the nuts.

I was drinking spiked eggnog all night so it all worked out.

I don’t normally wait to do all this stuff only a few days before Christmas.

Old AGMA would have been going crazy waiting so late. Decorating the house and tree, and doing the baking were essential to have a successful Christmas. At least I thought so.

It really didn’t seem to have much to do with what it all means.

No wonder I felt let down deep inside. My family couldn’t see it, but it was there. Emptiness where there should be an abundant overflowing of fullness. Sadness when there should be joy beyond measure.

AGMA was kind of a AGMess.

But this year’s different. This year I get it. Again. I got it for a while as a child and teenager, and then when I was in my 40’s. But I lost it to time, life, circumstances…

Two very different things have helped me in my “rediscovery” of the babe in a creche.

#1 – Donald Trump. Weird right? It’s a very long story and I’m not even sure I can explain it. And I feel pretty sure you wouldn’t want me to try. AGMA has a tendency to blather.

But in the midst of the incredible hate and corruption and greed and danger that this unpresident elect and his evil hench people represents to humanity, I feel the movement of the incredible power of Love.

I see the face of a young middle eastern brown man with gnarled hands from woodworking with gentle, slightly sad eyes, and a heart that is both human and divine.

I hear this young man say, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who insult you and persecute you,” I also hear him say, “Blessed are the peacemakers, the meek, those who mourn, the merciful, the poor in spirit…” And finally, I hear him whisper to my heart, “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

#2 – Ken. Ken was a good friend of mine at my church. He was a big man in his 50’s who went through a dark valley of alcohol and drug addiction for 25 years and came out on the other side injured, but alive.

He always had a smile for everybody and always called me beautiful.

AGMA liked that.

I have never met anybody who lived a more anti-Trump lifestyle. He was a man living on a meager disability income, yet who would take somebody living in poverty to Walmart and buy his groceries. He was devoted to the care of his 80 something mother. He drove people who didn’t drive to their doctor appointments. He recorded magazines and circulars for the blind – he had a great voice. He served weekly at our church’s Saturday dinner for the homeless. He lived his life serving others in gratitude for his own salvation from his dark night of the soul. What little he had, he gave gladly from his heart.

Like I said, the anti-Trump.

Ken died suddenly last week. It was his heart.

And my heart is broken. I’m still in shock.

I have it from people who are in the know that his last words were to tell his mom he loved her. That was so Ken…

The day I found out Ken had passed, I made him a promise. I promised to love more. Not only love more, but love with wreckless abandon like he did, not holding anything back. To love without regard to merit or status or color or nationality or religion or politics.

To try to love as I am loved, as the whole world is loved, by the child in the manger.

The child who grew up to be the young middle eastern brown man who taught Ken to give everything in the name of Love.

And I’ve felt that Love coursing through me. It’s really indescribable. And amazing.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!”

With thanks to Dr. Suess…

Grinchy AGMA says may Love fill your home this holiday season!

A wombat, quoll and Tasmanian devil walk into a bar…

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Okay – not really. That would be just crazy. None of them drink.

As part of our trip to Oz (Australia that is, not the one with the witches and munchkins) last month, we spent 5 days in Tasmania.

For those you who don’t know, Australia has 6 states and numerous territories. The states are New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. Tasmania is actually an island state off the south eastern coast of the mainland. Kinda like Hawaii is to the US but with Tasmanian devils, wombats and quolls.

AGMA likes critters. Except snakes. And spiders. And animals that want to eat me.

Part of the delight in traveling in Australia is the amazing wildlife. Except the snakes, spiders and AGMAovores.

We had quite a few close encounters with kangaroos and koala’s in the wild on our trip to Oz in 2013. And of course we had our snuggle session with the sweet little joeys at the Kangaroo Sanctuary outside of Alice Springs on this trip.

But Tasmania was a new experience as far as critters go…

Sans wildlife, Tassie reminded me a lot of Ireland. It’s roughly the same size and topographically similar. The western part is wild, wooly, craggy with an untamed beauty all it’s own. The eastern part is much more “civilized” with beautiful rivers winding through flatter land. No Guinness Storehouse, but lots of great vineyards.

Did I mention the fabulous wine?

Hubs and I met friends, C & J, from New South Wales at the Hobart airport on November 19th to begin “The Great Tassie Adventure”. We were very thankful for these friends who were willing to drive the rental car. They drive on the “wrong side” of the road in Australia.

AGMA didn’t realize just how thankful I would be until we starting winding up and down narrow mountain roads heading towards Strahan on the western coast. Pass the Dramamine.

And that’s when we started seeing the wombats. Dead wombats. Road kill.

Wombat – the other yellow meat.

It was hard to tell if they were cute or not. They were all kinda puffed up and keeled over on their sides with their little legs up in the air. All of us wanted to see one that was actually alive. We put “spot a live wombat” on our to do list.

The third day out, we struck pay dirt.

We were in beautiful Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park when it happened.

I need to mention that the weather was atrocious that day. Even though it was early summer in the southern hemisphere, Tasmania evidently did not receive that memo. It was in the low 50’s with rain. I was wet, cold and miserable. And our friends, who are very hardy Australians, decided that we should picnic outside then C & I take a hike afterward.

Huh?

Given Hubs can’t walk too well, he and J were going to drive there & meet us.

But J pulled out his super duper x-ray vision binoculars before they left and bingo! He spotted one. A wombat. A really, truly live wombat in the field next to the boardwalk trail.  Not all bloated on it’s side with it’s legs sticking up.

OMG OMG OMG

Then we found out from “real” hikers that wombat sightings were not all that surprising given that there was enough wombat poop on the boardwalk trail to turn the Saraha into a lush, garden paradise. Just add water. I mean, piles and piles of wombat poop.

As the old joke goes – dig down deep enough and your bound to find a wombat in there somewhere.

Or something like that.

After 30 minutes of wombat watching – two more showed up – we figured that 129 pictures and 12 videos of wombats would be good enough.

Ah – but that was just the beginning of the critter sightings…

We saw a paddymelon hop across one of the roads. Yeah – I said a paddymelon. Google it.

Then we went to Devils@Cradle. It’s a wildlife conservation sanctuary for Tasmanian devils and quolls in the National Park. Yeah – I said quoll. Google it.

Turns out, real Tasmanian devils don’t look at all like the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil. And the females don’t wear lipstick. At least AGMA didn’t see any with lipstick.

Sadly, there is this nasty facial tumor disease that is taking a huge toll on the Tasmanian devil population. That, along with devils being right up there with wombats as road kill isn’t a good thing. Their numbers are greatly reduced and now wildlife biologist are having to deal with the implications of that. In other words, the genetic weaknesses from inbreeding.

Despite their sorta ugly appearance and their decidedly nasty disposition – they make a horrific sound –  I found myself feeling sorry for the little unpleasant carnivorous marsupials.

Not so much the quolls. They’re not endanged. They’re too nasty to be endangered. They can put multiple male devils in the same compound, and while the boys might not like it and kinda rough each other up (a la The Soprano’s) the quolls are ruthless (a la Scarface). Put two male quolls in close proximity to each other and it’s a bloodbath. One of them will die. They can’t even put females too close to two males in separate cages. They die from the stress.

Sounds like the post-election United States.

Hubs and I also went to The Platypus House outside of Launceston after several delightful hours sampling the fine wines of the Tamar Valley. Those platypi were sooooo darned cute!

Hic…

And so were the echidnas. Yeah – I said echidnas. Google it.

We loved Tasmania and realize that 5 days were woefully inadequate to even begin to explore this beautiful part of Australia.

Or drink it’s fine wines.

Guess we’ll have to wait for another $528 round trip airfare from Atlanta to Melbourne.

So many vineyards – so little time.

Hic…

 

Kangaroo Dundee

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Hi!

Remember me? I’m AGMA and used to have a blog. I wrote about all kinds of stuff but mostly how not to age gracefully and the humorous side of getting older. And there is one if you look really, really hard…

So we got back from Australia about 48 hours ago. Since I get jet lagged flying to Chicago and changing one time zone, AGMA’s beside herself with a 16 hour time change.

I might fall asleep any minute.

And we had date changes.

AGMA crossed the International Date Line.  Twice.  How the hell does that work anyway? We lost a day flying there. November 16th – nonexistent, poof, goodbye. And we landed in LA 5 hours before we left Melbourne on December 1st. WTF?

Sounds like some sort of a evil plot cooked up by Vladimir Putin and his BFF, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

But it was a great trip. Sophia, my very overworked guardian angel from our summer trip to France and Spain, got a break this trip. I behaved.

But I had fun anyway.

Again, AGMA’s not a travel blogger. I don’t have the ability to write about a trip in a way such that the reader isn’t sound asleep by the end of the piece.

ZZZzzzz….

Friends have asked about our Australian trip highlight. Normally, it’s really hard to come up with just one thing.

But Hubs and I both agree that our unanimous favorite thing on this trip was…

(drumroll)

The Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

BBC/National Geographic/PBS is airing 6 part series made in 2013 in the US called Kangaroo Dundee.  It’s about this slightly quirky (in the best way!) man named Chris Barns. But his friends call him Brolga.

He lives in the Outback outside of Alice Springs and has devoted his life to saving orphaned baby kangaroos. Otherwise known as joeys.

Cute, sweet little trusting joeys.

Hubs and I saw the series last summer and were throughly enchanted.

AGMA wants her own joey.  I wonder if I could teach it to use a litter box?  The cats might not be too wild about that idea…

When I realized that Brolga’s sanctuary was close to Alice Springs, and we were going to be in Alice Springs, and that he did tours of his sanctuary three days a week, and we were going to be there one of those days, I entered a state that can only be described as rapturous.

AGMA immediately bought tickets for the tour.  Five months in advance.

The big day – or evening – arrived last week!  Brolga came out to greet the bus. AGMA was the first one off (of course…)  I ran up to meet him and shook his hand. You’d have thought that he was a Tour de France cyclist. Without the spandex.

Friendly, kind, unassuming with a joey in the sack he had hanging off his shoulder, Brolga was awesome!

Did you hear me?  HE HAD A JOEY IN HIS PURSE!

If a female kangaroo is hit and killed by a car, more often than not, the joey in her pouch will survive. Interesting right? You just have to look in the pouch and pull the little critter out.

Turns out, when a little joey is orphaned, you pretty much just stick it in some sort of pillow case or sack and it’s happy. And feed every 4 hours round the clock.

Brolga is one of those unique individuals you come across once in a blue moon who feels he has found his true calling, passion and purpose in life. He’s a surrogate mom to hundreds of kangaroos.

After the election debacle in the US, it was totally refreshing to meet somebody not interested in fame, power or fortune. He just wants to save joeys and raise his kangaroos in peace and without fuss. He’s turned down a 4th series for the BBC because his said his ‘roos need a rest and he needs a break.

What reality star does that?

Before the income from the BBC series and the tours he personally leads 3 days a week for half of the year, he was holding down 2 jobs to pay for sanctuary expenses. He shared a tin shack with no electricity or plumbing with mice, spiders and (shiver) the occasional snake.

Now he’s able to devote 100% of his time to his kangaroos. He’s even built a Kangaroo Hospital and will be needing volunteers to hold joeys when it opens next year.

Pick me! Pick me!

He’s since gotten married to a joey crazy lady and moved into a real house across the road from the sanctuary. No mice but full of joeys. Probably in diapers. Hopefully in diapers.

We all got to hold the two joeys he had with him – Poppy and Anastasia.

OMG. OMG. OMG.

As it got dark, we walked around his sanctuary to meet his mob of adult kangaroos. He pens up the males, but only during the tours for the protection of the guests.  The “boys” can get kinda nasty.

Remember those Looney Tunes cartoons with the boxing kangaroo?  Yeah – the males really do that. A few years ago, Roger, the dominant male in the mob that Brolga raised from young joey, gave him a kick in the groin that required 6 stitches.

Ingrate.

As our bus was taking us back into town, we passed a dead kangaroo in the road. Our driver pulled the bus over and called somebody. He asked this person to call Brolga to check it out to make sure there wasn’t a joey in the pouch.

Kangaroo Dundee’s on duty 24/7.

More tales from Down Under soon…