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.

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 in 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.

Randy virus’ and men in spandex

cold

So AGMA has a great idea for a post. It’s gonna be good – starts out with a quote from Shakespeare.

High brow stuff, ya know?

But then I just stared at the quote for 5 minutes trying to figure out how to cleverly ease into my topic as I am wont to do. Ya know?

And nothing. Zip. Nada. Blank. Like the Orange One’s cerebral cortex.

But it’s not writers block.

AGMA’s sick.

‘member how, last week, I was in Chicago helping my son and DIL move into a house? And ‘member how I wasn’t really sure I was looking forward to it?  And ‘member how I wasn’t sure I would even survive the week?

The good news is that AGMA did indeed survive. The bad new is that the whole Chicago crew was sick.

Son and DIL had horrible hacking coughs. Cutest Grandson In The World had an ear infection. And 7 month old Wonder Woman Jr. had a cold. A bad one.

Poor critter. She was coughing, sneezing and runny nosing most of the week. But surprisingly, she was in a delightful mood, babbling sweetly away at me. Most of the time.

I won’t bore you with AGMA’s obsession with her oh so cute and oh so delightful grand daughter. Just know about the only thing I didn’t catch on video was when fluids and solids were flung out of various orifices.  Her’s not mine.

And the gal can fling…

Every piece of clothing I wore during the day received their fair share of baby spit up. My shoes too. Even though most of the time she wore a bib the size of a Mexican serape. I’m not really sure how that happened.

Because she didn’t feel well, she need a lot of attention and holding. I mean a lot of holding. Every nap. And she takes 4 naps a day.

The first nap of the first day, Nana AGMA held her until she fell asleep. But she was having none of it when I tried putting her in her crib. She screamed. I picked her up and rocked her. This little scene played out four…count ‘em…..four times.

I gave up. She slept on me for an hour.

Then I had an epiphany. I only get to see her once every couple of months. I didn’t want to be known as the Nana AGMA who let her precious grand daughter cry herself to sleep. Oh, of course it was all fine and good for my kids to do that when they were babies, but not my sweet V. Funny how that works.

She took her naps on my shoulder for the rest of my visit.

Her mom put her down in her crib at night. I figured my DIL could deal with the “Nana effect”.

At one point last Wednesday, Wonder Woman Jr. sneezed directly in my face.

Bullseye.

It all happened so fast. There was no time for protection or deflection.

Even though I washed my face a few minutes after being doused, AGMA knew it was just a matter of time. I could feel the cold virus‘, who beat a hasty retreat up into my nasal passages, marching relentlessly toward my adenoid area. They were positively giddy at the thought of reproducing in my nose.

Gross.

Actually, I probably was already a goner before she sneezed.

According to the Mayo Clinic, colds spread by:

  • Skin-to-skin contact (there were plenty of hugs)
  • Saliva (lots of kissing a drool covered face)
  • Touching contaminated surfaces (bib’s, burp clothes, toys, you name it…)
  • Airborne respiratory droplets (sneezes and coughs)

See…goner.

I got home Saturday evening. Coughing. But I though I had dodged the bullet because I felt okay.

Until this morning.

AGMA has fuzzy brain, a sore throat, coughs, muscle aches and is sleepy.

So.very.sleepy.

But even though I feel like crap now, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about last week. AGMA, as it turns out, was very happy to help out. And get all of those hugs, snuggles and kisses.

Priceless, even if they were virus infected.

So for the next few days, AGMA’s going to be laying low. I’ve got to get better.

Fast.

I’m running 15 miles on Saturday with my marathon group. And another 6.2 on Tuesday, July 4th. With 59,999 of my close friends. In AJC Peachtree Road Race, the largest 10K in the world. Yes – the world.

Running in Altanta in July. Heat, hills and humidity.

It’s gonna be great!

So, Happy 4th of July USA friends! AGMA wants you to take hope, courage and inspiration from our founding mothers and fathers in that we the people can successfully defeat an oppressive regime.

“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…”

Thomas Jefferson. Very smart man.

#resisthate

And OMG, OMG, OMG – don’t forget – the TOUR DE FRANCE starts on Saturday, July 1!!!!!!

Three glorious weeks of the men in spandex. And ya’ll know how AGMA feels about the men in spandex.

I’m starting to feel better already…

 

 

Blessed exhaustion

Tired

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

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

Not.

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

Moo.

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

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

Then something happened.

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

WTF?

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

AGMA is bracing herself for the week to come.

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

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

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

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

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

As James Brown said, “Have mercy!”

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

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

I honestly have no idea how we managed.

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

Crazy.

Now we come to moving week.

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

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

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

Seriously?

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

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

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

I’m just suffering from blessed exhaustion.

ZZZZzzzz….

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

It’s gonna be one wild ride.

I repeat…

ZZZZzzzz….

Mr. Wizard, my hero

glass

Science geek.

That’s me.

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

Huh?

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

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

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

I blame myself for global warming.

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

But I never lost my love of science.

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

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

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

ZZZzzzz….

AGMA’s not a huge fan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Chemcraft chemistry set.

science-4

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

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

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

This could explain a lot…

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

Chemistry evidently is not down with “close enough”.

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

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

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

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

Picky, picky.

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

Damn carbon molecules…

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

BS for AGMA!

A life mantra…

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

GenXers and Millennials, eat your hearts out.

Unspeakable guilty pleasures

costco-shopping-toilet-paper.jpg

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

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

Actually, they’re probably not THAT bigly yuge…

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

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

It’s all air right?

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

It was a BOGO of course at….

COSTCO!!!!

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

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

We don’t have a pool.

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

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

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

Temporary insanity.

You get the picture.

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

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

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

So plentiful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ZZZzzzz….

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

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

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

American excess – ya gotta love it…

Elvis has left the building

elvis3

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

That was a freakin’ fast 44 years.

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

Smart man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serious demotion.

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

But then again, you probably knew that…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bastard.

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

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

And that’s about to change.

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

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

That’ll keep him busy for a few years.

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

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

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

elvis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My crappy week

Poopfairy

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

Literally.

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

This isn’t going to be pretty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sh*t. Literally.

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

Nice.

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

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

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

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

Can you see where this is going?

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

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

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

I flushed.

It overflowed.

Double sh*t. Literally.

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

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

It was an exhausting effort.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DON’T FLUSH BLIND.

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

“History has it’s eyes on you”

 

10dollar_front lg

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

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

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

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

“Wait for it”…

HAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL!!!!

OMG, OMG, OMG!

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

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

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

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

Kaboom!

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

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

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

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

I’ll never forgive myself.

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

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

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

He told her to go.

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

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

“Immigrants, we get the job done.”

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

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

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

And the casting concept is a stoke of pure genius.

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

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

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

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

Yikes!

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

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

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

Nor should it.

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

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

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

“Everything’s legal in New Jersey.”