Arizona

20200118_075002-1

AGMA’s on the road. Again.

Thank goodness.

We got back from our New Zealand trip on 12/7. I was getting antsy.

This trip is a total trip down memory lane.

Right now, at this very moment, I’m in Tucson, Arizona where the weather is spectacular and the Margarita’s are cheap.

But my first stop last Wednesday was – Sun City, Arizona.

I was there to visit my foster family. Well, they weren’t legally my foster family. I just lived with them when I was a toddler for a couple of years. They were friends of my parents.

It was a complicated situation.

Sun City is somewhat amusing to AGMA. It was a joke back in the 70’s with the Baby Boomers. Only the old folks went there. People who are just waiting to die. How sad…

Guess who’s living in Sun City now?

You would be correct if your answer is…

Wait for it…

Baby Boomers!

Irony is so cruel.

Second stop – Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona is absolutely gorgeous. Especially on a January day when the sun is shining on the glorious red rocks.

Good friends have recently moved into a house they have had custom built. The house has been under construction for 34 months. Yes, you read that right.

34. Months.

And it’s still not done.

The reasons are complicated.

And it will be spectacular when it’s finished.

The view is already spectacular. The picture above is what I awoke to every morning.

Crazy beautiful.

Third stop – Tucson, Arizona.

Tucson and I go way back. I transferred to the University of Arizona in 1973 as a junior.

Waaaaaaay baaaackkkk.

I met Hubs the first week I was there in 1973. That was nearly 47 freaking years ago.

Holy crap!

Does anybody else think that this whole passage of time thing is a bunch of bullsh*t?

Thank you…

Tonight, I took my mother-in-law out to dinner. And her daughter, my sister-in-law. I haven’t seen them in 3 years.

It’s complicated.

And Hubs is safely ensconced at home in Atlanta because he didn’t want to deal with the multiple issues between he and his mom. But I get it.

Complicated.

AGMA will have to say dinner went as well as I think it could have gone.

Afterwards, I went to an iconic Tucson restaurant/bar for a drink to help steady my nerves. Casa Molina. The bartender was very sympathetic and made me the most amazing skinny Margarita I’ve ever had.

So I am writing this under the influence.

Don’t judge me.

Casa Molina is a Tucson institution. It’s the same restaurant/bar that Hubs went to in the mid-70’s with his fraternity advisor/mentor, Danny.

AGMA could go on about Casa Molina and Danny and his Mexican heritage and his incredible influence with young men at the University of Arizona at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity in the 1970’s, but I won’t.

It’s just a place that has meant a lot to Hubs and AGMA from ages past.

I’m here for another couple of days. I have a couple of friends from “the good old college days” who still live here that I am going to connect with. I even have a friend from my former life in Ohio (my kids 4th grade teacher!) who retired in Tucson. He and I are meeting for pancakes tomorrow.

Interesting connections.

But AGMA won’t be seeing a dear friend the I’ve always visited on returning because he passed away too young in 2018.

This a complicated visit for AGMA with complicated emotions.

And I’m thankful for strong Margaritas.

Cheers!

Control freak

 

ControlFreakMeme

Source:  RotteneCards

Okay, I know this is going to sound morbid, but AGMA’s started gathering the pictures I want displayed at my funeral/memorial/celebration of life service.

Ewwww…  Who does that?

Note of disclosure:  There is no imminent threat of my departing this life anytime time soon that I am aware.  No new medical diagnosis or forebodings. Nothing (other than the normal ‘I could step out on a street and get hit by a car’ notion) that would lead me to believe I need to hurry up and get my affairs in order.

AGMA’s just a bit of a control freak.

I was trying to sort out the junk we have in our 4th floor closets.  Since we live in a townhouse with no basement, but a finished top level, the 4th floor has become what our basements used to be…  The place of collection of our precious belongs.

You know, the junk.

Found…a Lladro figurine collection.  They’ve been in a box since 2010.  Also found….the chachkies/pictures we had on our built-in bookcases two houses ago.  They’ve been in a box since 2010 too.

AGMA can’t say that I’ve missed them.

We have two walk-in closets on the 4th floor.  The wire shelving in both have collapsed and ripped out of the wall from the weight of the myriad of boxes I stacked on them.

Oops…

I haven’t told Hubs yet.

So in trying to bring order out of chaos before informing Hubs, I started digging into some of the boxes that fell.  There was one with shoeboxes – soooo many shoeboxes – of pictures from 1963 to the early 2000’s in them.

Of course, AGMA couldn’t resist a stumble down memory lane.

Fresh on my mind was my old friend Scott.  Scott had been a friend of Hubs and I since college.  He was younger than us by a few years and full of energy, life, fun and mischief.

In the days before social media, for all of you young whippersnappers out there, the annual Christmas/holiday letter via snail mail was our version of a timeline.  Far flung friends got brought up to date with our lives over the preceding year through this annual ritual.

And so it was with Scott after we graduated.  For 30+ years, we communicated once a year with him.

Then, in 2011, we started making annual trips back to Tucson to visit my MIL and old friends still living there.  Like Scott.

We were delighted to discover that he was much the same – full of energy, life, fun and mischief.  30+ years older, yes, but with a positive outlook on life that was contagious.  He was like Peter Pan – the boy who never really grew up.  We always looked forward to visiting Scott, and hearing about his latest adventures and plans for the future.

Our last visit to Tucson was this past October.  We a lovely evening with Scott and his new wife.  I felt like he’d finally found his soul mate.  We had a great time with them.

Last week, we heard through a friend that Scott was in hospice.  WTF?  Two days later his wife let us know that Scott had passed away.

He was only 62.

So while AGMA was looking through those old pictures on the 4th floor, my heart was heavy at the sudden loss of our friend.  And I started wondering what his memorial service would be like.

I hope that it will be fun and uplifting just like Scott was.  And full of images from his life which was a wonderful mix of adventure, service to the less fortunate and family.  Hubs is going and will give me a full report when he gets back.

But then I started wondering what AGMA’s ‘celebration of life’ might be like.  Not in a morbid sense; more curious than anything else.   And what kind of images there will be to show the highlights/lowlights (gotta keep it real) of AGMA’s time on earth to those who come to party.  Because it WILL be a party.

Oh no – this is just too important to leave up to Hubs and sons…  They’re guys and wouldn’t have a clue.

So I started putting ‘AGMA approved’ pictures aside for that final hoorah.

I can hear the announcement at the memorial now, “AGMA selected all of the pictures in this montage of her life many years ago because she was such a freaking CONTROL FREAK!”

That’s cool…

At least I know I’ll look cute.

RIP sweet Peter Pan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crones of Anarchy

thats-not-how-this-works

Facebook and AGMA have been a ‘thing’ for over 10 years now.

Mostly, it’s been a positive ‘thing’. To prevent hacks, my page’s security is as tight as Melania’s face. And I’ve been able to reconnect with people I haven’t seen since Richard Nixon was pseudo-President and The Beatles were still making beautiful music together.

Facebook has changed a lot these past 10+ years.

Now it has all these algorithms built in it to target tons of advertising and the appropriate Russian trolls to on your personal FB page. They also dictate which one of your friend’s posts appear on your timeline. So you can have 400 ‘friends’ (serioulsy?) but only see the posts of 25 of them on your timeline. You can always pop on over to those 375 other ‘friend’s’ (seriously?) pages to see what they’re up to, but c’mon…

“What the hell is an algorithm anyway?”

I’m glad you asked.

According to the first definition that pops up on Google, an algorithm is “a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.”

Clear as the accounting on the Trump Foundation’s balance sheets, right?

I guess Facebook used special algorithms when it sent all of our personal information to Cambridge Analytica for the tRumputin campaign.  Those wacky kids!

But AGMA fully believed Mark Zuckerburg when he said Facebook would change it’s ways. And AGMA fully believed that Facebook would do an amazing job of protecting its users data in the future from unauthorized collection. AGMA also fully believed that Facebook would not need any government regulation – they would do just a dandy job policing themselves.

Oh crap! I misspoke. I meant wouldn’t! WOULDN’T!!

But despite the trolls and stolen personal data, AGMA still has her FB page. They say a bad love is better than no love at all…

However, the number of ‘friends’ AGMA can claim has dwindled a bit since November 8, 2016. My posts since that day have tended towards scathing criticisms of Putin’s Puppet and his band of merry traitors. I asked people to de-friend AGMA if my posts offended them. Some obliged. Quite a few actually.

Including my brother. He also de-friended my sister, who is the most gentle soul you can imagine, because she’s against caging children, supports common sense gun laws and wants a President who actually likes the rule of law, democracy, American, and Americans. And our allies.

Go figure.

One day, under the “Facebook Pages You Might LIke” side bar on my FB page (clearly al-go-rhythm driven), a page named Crones of Anarchy popped up. Clearly the name held great appeal for AGMA.

Why not?

AGMA’s definitely a Crone, and a little bit of Anarchy is good for the soul.

But to be a part of the Crone club, you had to take a test. AGMA hates tests. I guess they don’t want any posers – Russian trolls or males or unCroney women. Or Cult45-ers.

I get that.

The good news is that I passed! I’m in baby!! AGMA’s officially a Crone!

But then you knew that.

So if any of you ladies are on Facebook and have felt, deep on the inside, that you are and have always been a Crone, check them out.

Guys…AGMA doesn’t know what to tell you… Maybe the Crones of Anarchy can start a fraternal branch. You know, like the Eastern Star is to the Masons?

I’ll make that suggestion at our next Crone meeting and get back to you.

 

P.S. AGMA sincerely apologizes for my unexplained absence these past 2 weeks. Been visiting the MAGCITW (the grands) which is always exhausting and all time consuming.

I missed a lot of sh*t that went on in the world while I was immersed in Peppa Pig and playing good car/bad car/good train/bad train.

Sending late, but very hardy KUDOS to my friends living in the UK (or is it England, or Great Britain, or the United Kingdom?) for the AWESOME BABY TRUMP BALLOON!

And having a Queen who, very passive aggressively, wore her Barack Obama gifted brooch when meeting Putin’s Poodle. You rock Beth!

Hail Britannia!

Who’s the fairest?

snow-white-magic-mirror

“Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief” – Jane Austen

Beloved author and all around awesome English babe, Jane Austen lived from 1775 to 1817. She died waaaayyy too young at 41 from, what scholars believe, was Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Unlike “I can’t sit still” AGMA, Jane never went more than 150 miles from her home in the south west part of England. But nevertheless she had a keen understanding of human nature that shines in her works. Her characters are just like people we come in contact with everyday. I mean, we all know somebody like Mr. Darcy or Elizabeth Bennett or Lydia Bennett or Mr. Wickham.

Did I mention Pride and Prejudice ROCKS!

Emma was updated on the big screen in 1995 for a new generation by the movie Clueless.

And who can forget the 2016 movie classic, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

Jane understood people, and their flaws and their strengths, and how it all impacts them in their relationships . Because she was so spot on in her assessment of the human condition, her books transcend time, culture and geography.

Can you tell AGMA’s a fan?

And she sure as hell knew about vain people.

Just look at the massive Orange Cheeto in the WH with his hair transplants, his fake tan and his Twitter account.

Weak head? Check. Mischief? Understatement.

Baby Boomers are in their 60’s and 70’s. Our youth obsessed culture is more obsessed than ever.  Forever 21 is more than a retail store; it’s a way of life.

There is a pot load of money to be made out there from folks like us.

Google “anti-aging products” and you get like a kazillion hits. The global (‘cuz nobody, no matter where they live, wants to look old…) was 250 billion – with a “B” – in 2016, and is expected to reach nearly $331 billion – with a “B” by 2021 (according to a report by OrbisResearch.)

Holy Hyaluronic Acid!

I am not immune to the power of the dark side.

Don’t judge me.

AGMA has always been an “au natural” beauty. I kind of grimaced when I typed the word “beauty”…

I’ve never worn much make-up. A touch of eyeliner here, a bit of blush there for the last umpteen years. Of late, I’ve given the eyeliner and blush.

And AGMA has never had a skin care regiment. I wash my face and smear a moisturizer with sunscreen on afterward. The sunscreen part makes my dermatologist happy.

While my extremely oily skin was a cause for much gnashing of teeth, wearing of sackcloth and sitting in ashes when I was young, it’s served me nicely as I’ve aged. Once I stopped getting zits. In my 50’s.

OMG.

But of late, AGMA has wondered if I need to start a “formal” skin care regimen. Should I wade into anti-aging money pit?

“What do you mean you don’t use retinol on your skin? You should use it everyday Aunt AGMA!” exclaimed my 46 year old niece when I visited her a few weeks ago. I should?

Maybe I should.

I did some research when I got home. Evidently there are things that I could be doing to my face that would make it “brighter, clearer and removes fine lines and wrinkles”.

Welcome to $250 billion band wagon AGMA!

The basics seem to be a mild cleanser (check), a toner, a moisturizer during the day (check) and a cream with RETINOL at night. I call them the Big 4. Plus you need to add a facial mask once a week to “pull out the impurities”.

Sounds like something that needs to happen at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So companies will sell you their specially packaged skin care regimen. The cult of Mary Kay and the pink Cadillac has been doing this since 1963. My MIL has been selling and using Mary Kay for years.

Based on her skin’s appearance (somewhere between the basketball from the first NCAA championship in 1939 and my old hiking boots), AGMA will pass on that one.

There are a lot of other companies that want me to contribute my share to the $250 billion.

One has the Big 4 for $170 on Amazon. Plus eye cream for $65. And “Renewing Serum” for $94.

Does anybody actually know what renewal serum is? Sounds like something they used in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

As usual, AGMA went in a “value” direction.

I ordered a witch hazel (an oldie but a goodie) hydrating toner for $13, a night cream with RETINOL (my niece would be so proud!) for $24.00 and bentonite clay for a facial mask for $9.00. I already had the other stuff.

Excitement filled Casa AGMA when my Amazon package appeared two days later (Prime of course.) Next stop…clearer, brighter and less wrinkled/fine lined skin!

So it’s been 2 weeks now. And while AGMA’s skin is softer to the touch I can’t say I look much different. Not clear, not brighter and definitely not less wrinkled/fine lined.

Bummer.

Maybe I need to adjust my expectations?

Maybe AGMA should keep on keeping on because what I’m doing now is healthier for my skin, and not worry about that other stuff?

Maybe I should embrace my aging skin and celebrate the wisdom behind the wrinkles?

Maybe I should rejoice at the smile lines that reflect past laughter and joy?

Nah…

Botox anybody?

“Vanity is the quicksand of reason.” – George Sand

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.

Alma Mater memorial

hsdance

AGMA is going to go to her 45th high school reunion in September.  Up until a couple of months ago, I had very mixed feelings about going.

I went to high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but I didn’t grow up in the community my Alama Mater is located in.  My parents moved there right before my freshman year of high school.  That’s a tough time to move in a teenagers life.

Hard to believe but AGMA was so shy and introverted, it was hard for her to make friends.  It took about a year before I found my niche.

Not the cool kids.  Not the nerdy kids.  Not the honors kids. Not the band kids or the sports kids.

They were the AGMA kids.  All female because, God forbid I actually talk to a boy.  My face used to get red and I’d break out into a sweat when I talked to boys.  Seriously.  It was so embarrassing. Just better just to try to avoid them.

No wonder I never went to a high school dance where you did the date thing.  I didn’t go to one dance – not even my senior prom.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  I’m really not sure.

But I do remember going to dances at the local community center.   We just went to hang out and get out of the house.  And away from the parents.

These dances were terribly awkward affairs.  It was the late 60’s so there were a lot of black lights and glow in the dark things  and rock music and  “clumps” of teenagers littered around on bean bag chairs.  My friends and I would go and hang out for a few hours.

And not talk to boys.

We all managed to get over the boy thing.  All of us got married at least once at some point in our adult lives.

As my step-mother used to tell me,  we were a “late bloomers”.  I still haven’t figured out what that means.

I’m still in touch with my five closest friends from high school.  We live scattered about in the Midwest and the South.  Only one still lives in Pittsburgh.  They’re the only reason I’ve gone to past reunions.

Oh – I need to mention that, up until this year, we’ve only had reunions every 10 years.  We’re starting to have them every 5 years now because we’re all getting to “that age”.  I guess we’re starting to drop like fruit flies in a biology student’s genetics lab.

We have a In Memory page on our class reunion website for classmates who’ve gone over the rainbow way too soon.  I was shocked when I went into it last week and instead of having the 10 names it had listed a couple of months ago, there are now 45 names.

We had 700 and some in our graduating class.

45 names.  Even out of 700, that seems like an awful lot of names to me.  And that’s only the ones they know about.  We have a lot of MIA’s from the class who can’t be tracked down.  The list could grow.  Dismal prospect.

To be honest, for a while there, I was a bit concerned I might end up on that list sooner rather than later.

After (and I know that some of this is definitely TMI) 6 blood draws, one set of “specimen” collection tests (still a traumatic memory), an ultrasound of my pancreas and gallbladder, a colonoscopy, an MRI (with contrast), an endoscopic ultrasound and biopsy of my pancreas, and multiple pathology reports, I’m feeling much better about my odds of not being on that list for my 50th.

Instead of having the suspected pancreatic cancer, I have something called autoimmune pancreatitis (AIP).  That darned AIP can mimic pancreatic cancer.

What a little dickens.

So having AIP means my white blood cells are waging war on my pancreas.  Charming.  And my pancreas isn’t very happy about it.  Understandable.  Why can’t we all learn to get along?

But I’ll take the AIP any day over cancer.

Oh, a lovely side “benefit” of my AIP is my newly discovered ulcerative colitis.  The GI doc expects the AIP to pretty much clear up with a course of steroid treatment which is no less than miraculous.  I’m stuck with the colitis.  But I’m okay with that.  There are some amazing pharmaceuticals out there these days.

So AGMA will be glamming it up and dressing to the nines to go to her 45th reunion!  I might even put on make-up and heels.  Because, unlike 45 of my former classmates, I can go to our 45th reunion.

I’m sure there will be toasts and fond remembrances of them, and we’ll all feel sad at their premature loss.  It’s right to pause and remember them.

But then I hope the dancing and wild rumpus will start!  I’m pretty sure there aren’t going to be any black lights and glow in the dark stuff or bean bag chairs.  But, oh yeah – there will still be rock and roll!  Lots of rock and roll.  And we’ll all celebrate being able to celebrate making it to this milestone.

And this late bloomer is actually planning on talking to some boys!