Into the fire

out-of-the-frying

So AGMA’s planning on ignoring the elephant (literally…) in the room.

There are those of you out there, far more eloquent than I, who will be addressing the news of late surrounding the orange squatter in our White House here in ‘Murica.  I’m pretty sure I’m out of words to describe just how loathsome Individual #1 and the GOP that is enabling him are.

But can I say that Nancy Pelosi is a total BAD ASS??  Please….

Last night, she created one of the most iconic moments of tyrannical resistance in US history by ripping up the traitor’s SOTU “speech” that was full of lies and hate.  The Boston Tea Party patriots would approve.

I wanna be like Nancy when I grow up.

Amid the backdrop of impeachment and Presidential primaries and the destruction of America as we know it by the GOP, AGMA has decided to jump out of the frying pan.

Hubs and I have decided to sell our townhouse this spring.

This may not sound like such a big deal to most of you, but for those who live in Casa AGMA, it’s YUGE.

Your first question might be…  Why?

And it’s a good one.  We LOVE where we live.  We love the neighborhood and our proximity to great restaurants, shopping and all that the city has to offer.  And we love our townhouse.

The reality is that Hubs mobility issue gets a bit worse (he has a genetic disorder that is causing him to lose the use of his legs) with every passing year.   And our townhouse has 4 floors.

Because of that, AGMA has always had to do the heavy lifting (so to speak) when it comes to hauling stuff from one place to another.

But now I’m having spine issues that make it difficult for me to fulfill my previous position as pack mule.  I’m more like a pack squirrel now.

Damn it.  I hate it when that happens.

We always knew that we’d have to go to a single level living situation eventually, but my back issues have accelerated that timeline.

Plus, we think that the this might be THE time to sell to get top dollar for our place.  “They” are all saying that the real estate market is due for a “correction.”  We’d like to bail before it corrects.

“But where will you go AGMA?”

I’m glad you asked and the answer is….  We have no idea.

Seriously.

Anybody got a spare room for two charming seniors with two adorable cats?  One is an introvert and keeps to himself.  The other is an AGMA.  The humans, not the cats.  The cats are sweet and loving as long as you ignore the occasional hairball and the fur clumps.

Anybody?

(crickets)

Barring any fabulous offers from one of you, we were thinking of renting a place in Chicago this summer to be closer to the grands for a few months.  Not really sure how Son#1 and my DIL would like that though.  They’d get used to us I’m sure…

After that, who knows?

We talked about getting an RV and driving around the country for a year, but the more I read about it, the less I liked the idea.  It all seems like a lot of work.  And from what I’ve heard, KOA’s are hotbeds of MAGA folks.  Now THAT would be interesting.

But I think we’ll take a pass.

We’ll probably rent for a while here in Atlanta.  But then again maybe not.  Son#2 may be moving soon for a job yet to be found.  He’s finishing up his MBA and is currently “in the hunt.”

If he moves, will we follow him?  Depends on where he goes.  Or we could move back to our adopted hometown of many years, Cincinnati, where we still have some wonderful friends.  Or not.  Or we could move full time to the Chicago area.  Brrrrrrrr (even with climate change.)

Also, Hubs and I want to see how the election in November turns out.  If the Big Orange Cheeto cheats his way back into the WH with his BFF Putin’s help, we just might be political refugees.

AGMA had my annual “check to see if you have any moles look weird” check-up this morning.  I passed inspection (whew!) and they asked if I wanted to make my appointment for next year.  I said, “No.  I might not be living in Atlanta next year.”

There’s actually something weirdly intoxicating to me about not knowing where I will be in a year.  Is this something that I should be worried about?

In the meantime, before the end of March, I need to clean out 10 closets, figure out what to do with all my Ebay sh*t I haven’t sold yet (boxes and boxes worth), go through about 20 boxes that haven’t been opened in 8 years since our last move, make untold trips to Goodwill, and arrange to get rid of furniture that is taking up too much room.

We also have to replace a broken ice machine, fix a broken gas fireplace and whirlpool tub, make repairs to our dormers, fix a hole in our garage ceiling, paint our main living level, have the bar on our kitchen island removed and replace all the counter tops, paint our kitchen cabinets and have a new tile backsplash installed.

Before the end of March.

But here’s the thing.  Hubs and I leave next Tuesday for 2 weeks in France.  Awesome, but bad timing.  Then I’m home for two weeks,  Then AGMA leaves on March 11 for a 2 week tour of Turkey with a friend. Again awesome.

But REALLY bad timing.

Oh…and I am also working my part-time gig 2 days a week when I’m home, trying to keep up with my running and attempting to keep my little Ebay business going.

And blogging.

TOTALLY into the fire.

 

 

 

Hanging out in gym class

OldGymPhoto

When I was in high school, there was one thing that absolutely and totally terrified me.

Actually, as a 15 year old in the late 60’s, many things terrified me.  Wearing glasses, gaining weight, being shunned by the “cool kids”, talking to a boy, zits – you know, typical high school stuff.  For the 60’s.

But they were nothing, I repeat, nothing in comparison to the true terror of my young life.  That thing that sent chills up and down my spine, and caused my arm hairs to prickle.  The thing that happened twice a week, rain or shine, with sickening regularity, and caused me non-stop angst the entire day before.  The thing that, AGMA firmly believes, ruined a generation of potential female athletes.  I’m talking, of course, about…

High school gym class.

I blame Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson.  President Eisenhower established The President’s Council on Youth Fitness to counter reports that America’s youth were fat, lazy and sloppy.  Oops – seems like everything old is new again.

The scope was enlarged by President Kennedy, and in 1966, President Johnson established the Presidential Physical Fitness Award for exceptional achievement by 10- to 17-year-old boys and girls.

And that’s when trouble really started.

Schools started trying to whip their students into shape to win those damn awards.  My high school was no exception.  It was brutal.

First of all, I’m pretty sure they hired gym teachers educated in 1930‘s Germany and/or the Soviet Union. The frauleins were all sadistic dictators with whistles who showed no mercy.  God help the girl who was not naturally athletic.  Like me.

Secondly, we had to do all kinds of crazy sh*t.  We played crab soccer.  Yeah – I said crab soccer.  WTF?  And they made everybody play basketball – even the little, short, plump girls with no coordination.  Like me.

We had gymnastics and apparently everybody was expected to dance across a balance beam like Olga or Nadia.  Or flip over the vault a la Cirque de Soleil.  Or swing around the uneven parallel bars like monkeys in heat.  It was terrifying to your normal, typical, un-athletic, short, nerdy high schooler.  Like me.

Oh yeah – and we did all of this wearing these Orange is the New Black little one-piece numbers – our “gym suits” – that we were actually required to buy.  Like with our own money.  Talk about adding insult to injury…

Thirdly, they couldn’t just torture us in the gym or outside crab soccering.  No.  The agony ratcheted up to a whole new level when, four times a year, we were herded into…

The pool.  The indoor pool to be precise.

So no matter how frigid the Pittsburgh winter was outside, the temperature inside was always a balmy 65 degrees with the water being a roasty toasty 65 degrees as well.  Lovely.

Inevitably, swimming was in the middle of the school day.  You had five minutes to change into your swimsuit.  I don’t know what happened if it took you longer than five minutes.  We were too scared to find out.  Such was the fear of the Commandant…

Then it was jump in the pool in the deep end and tread water in the middle of the pool until the teacher told you to stop.  We treaded for hours.  Maybe that’s an exaggeration.  And you didn’t dare reach for the edge if you were tired or you’d have to tread for another two hours.  Again, possible exaggeration.

Exhausted, you would look up to the bleachers and enviously see the gaggle of “the unclean”.  These were the girls who had notes from their mothers telling the Commandant that it was “their time of the month”.  Since swimming lasted six weeks, every girl was pretty much guaranteed at least one week of “unclean time-out” unless they were slightly…ah…“irregular”.  Like me.  Ick.

We had ten minutes to get our suits off, jump in the communal (oh God I wanted to die) shower, get dried off, dressed and dry our hair.  Everybody in our class was bonded by mutual misery.  Sisters in suffering.  Good times.

We did synchronized swimming our senior year.  And we were awful.  That part was kind of fun because Comrade Gym Teacher would really get upset with us and blow her whistle.  A lot.  At that point we didn’t give a flying fig.  Senioritis had set in.

Over 44 years have passed since AGMA’s last high school gym/swim class.  Normally time tends to mellow distant unpleasant memories.

Nope…

I’m just glad I’ve been able to live a semi-normal life and don’t go into a catatonic trance watching women’s gymnastics.

I think I’m going to lobby the IOC to make crab soccer an Olympic event.  It’s really a beautiful game.

As birthdays go, this one sucked

catinthehataging

Aging is not for the faint of heart.

It takes guts to get up in the morning, mentally and emotionally feeling like you’re 35.  Then you walk into the bathroom and look in the mirror.  The horror strikes.

WTF?  When did that happen?

And it really is like that.  One day you’re young and the next day the cashier gives you the 5% discount on Senior Discount Wednesday at Kroger.  And you didn’t ask for it.  Or is Senior Discount Day on Tuesday?  I guess I should figure that out…

It all happened in the blink of an eye.  But I honestly don’t remember blinking.

Maybe it means that my life has been full and busy.  Time passed, but I didn’t notice.  Everything seemed pretty much the same day to day and year to year.  Yeah, and that’s exactly what the Grand Canyon said when it was little gully with a stream flowing through it…

I just had a birthday recently and turned 61.  Happy birthday to me!

But last year’s birthday was tough.  Not being one to really ever be age sensitive, the whole turning 60 thing last year kinda shook me. It took me nearly the whole of 2014 to get used to having a “6” in the first position of my age.  Now I’m very zen about it.

Not for the faint of heart.

And, not only do you age, those all around you are aging too. Friends, family, co-workers, TV and movie icons.  Except Meryl Streep.  My God, that woman must have a pact with the devil.  Did you see her at the Golden Globes?  So amazing…

As a Baby Boomer, I’m doing what all Baby Boomers are doing now. I’m “reinventing” myself in an attempt to defy the aging process. Becoming a massage therapist in my late 50’s, starting AGMA last year, going for my personal trainer certification in 2015, training to run a marathon next month, traveling overseas as often as I can. Didn’t you know, 60 is the new 40?  Yeah, right.

I’m running just as fast as I can.  But I can’t hide.

That was made brutally and tragically clear a few days ago on my birthday.

A woman in my running group turned around about a mile into an eight mile run saying she wasn’t feeling good and was a bit dizzy. Nothing she said gave anybody cause for alarm.  When we got back to the parking lot ninety minutes later, she was found non-responsive in her car.  One of our group immediately started CPR until the EMT’s came.  She was taken to the hospital and was pronounced dead.  Heart attack.  She was only a few years older than me.

Here one minute, gone the next.  Literally.

Two days later, the husband of another person in my running group died very suddenly, with no warning.  Seriously?  Has the world gone mad?  Maybe I should quit my running group.

Can’t hide.

But honestly, maybe I don’t want to hide.  If it’s my time, then it’s my time.  Frack the Grim Reaper…  Hell, I didn’t even eat the salmon mousse!

“Getting old is a privilege denied to many.”  It’s a corny saying going around social media, but it’s kinda true.  It was denied to my friend and my friend’s husband this week.  It was denied to too many generations of young people who dutifully marched off to war.  It was denied the victims of 9/11 and the Indian Ocean and Tohoko tsunamis.  It was denied to the staff of Charlie Hebdo.  You get the picture…

So I guess I’m actually feeling pretty good about this aging thing. Sure, some mornings the knees take a while to get moving and I’m getting cataracts and many times I don’t remember what I went upstairs to fetch.  But all in all, it ain’t bad.  Yet.

To celebrate, for the next week, I’m planning on eating some amazing food, drinking some outstanding wine and savoring some of the best coffee in the world in a city full of really old, ancient stuff. Way older than me.  Roma.  I expect I’ll feel like a tween at a Justin Bieber concert.  Oh Baby!

Ciao!

Table for one please!

samplelady

I have a friend who insists on posting a Christmas count down on Facebook every day.   Well – maybe it’s not every day, but it’s frequent.  Too frequent.

Five more Saturdays until Christmas.  34 more days until Christmas. 816 hours until Christmas.  And they all have a picture of some Disney character dressed up as lame Santa, passing out gifts and smiling.  Ugh.

Terror grips me when I see these posts.

My pulse gets faster, my stomach starts to get that “roller coaster” feeling and little droplets of sweat ever so gently start meandering down my forehead.  I told her these posts make me anxious. Evidently she doesn’t care.  The relentless countdown continues.

48,960 minutes until Christmas.

Of course, my response is Pavlovian of sorts, based on conditioning from holiday’s long past.  Novembers and Decembers that were nothing but a blur of non-stop activity and motion.  Back in the days when I worked outside the home, entertained friends and neighbors, volunteered at church and school, took care of aging parents and tried to give my kids the perfect Thanksgiving/Christmas every year. Yeah – good luck with that.

Basically I acted like the Tasmanian Devil in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Complete with the unintelligible grunting.  And I kinda looked like him too.  Still do.

But now, the holidays are a breeze.  The kids are grown and on their own, I live in a new city so there’s no entertaining old friends, neighbors and co-workers, my job is very part-time and my parents passed away.  Plus, gift buying on the Internet gives a whole new meaning to the term “easy peasy”.

But some days are still busy though.  Like yesterday.  Places to go; things to do; people to see.  Days like yesterday during the holidays make getting proper nutrition a challenge.  My morning banana and mocha only last so long…

My stomach started rumbling about 1 PM, but I still had a few stops to make.  I needed to get my glasses adjusted, buy toilet paper and get our Thanksgiving turkey.  What to do, what to do?

It came to me in a flash with a clarity of mind and reason I rarely experience.  I did what any hungry person of a certain age would do in the middle of a Friday who needed a spectacle adjustment, a turkey and mass quantities of toilet paper…

My name is AGMA and I ate “lunch” yesterday courtesy of the sample ladies at Costco.

I think of it as a power lunch.  It allows you to power through shopping while enjoying the wide variety of outstanding food products offered by this membership-only warehouse club.  They graciously provide the fuel for your engine so you can shop until you drop.

Fridays in November and December is THE best time to dine.  The sample brigade is out in full force in preparation for the weekend of unbridled holiday food buying.  The Costco food departments are loaded with holiday favorites – ham, meatballs, cheese, chocolate, cheesecake, candied pecans – and they want to share it all with you. For free.  That’s the best part.

During the day on Fridays in November and December, the hoards of shoppers there on the weekends are delightfully absent.   This give you full accessibility to the “buffet”.  No wild children snatching the samples out from under your nose.  No elbows being thrown at you trying to get the last sample.  No lines to wait in to get that schmeer of spinach artichoke dip on the pita chip.  Lunchtime nirvana.

You’ve got to know the “unwritten” rules though.  Only take one. Dispose of the toothpick and napkin in an approved receptacles. And thank the sample lady.  Every now and then, buy what you are sampling.  If you can do that, sometimes you can get away with taking a second sample. “This is SO good, I think I’ll just grab another one!”

If I had some good Tempranillo with it, I’d swear it was just like eating tapas in Spain.  Kind of.  In a sick and twisted way.

Bon appetite!

Announcing a new stablemate for AgingGracefully

GrandmaCool

Next month, I start a new job.  It’ll be a something totally new that I’ve never, ever done before.  I’ll be navigating unfamiliar and possibly treacherous waters.

I’m going to become a grandma for the first time.

To most, receiving the joyous news from your precious son or daughter that a grand-baby is on the way would be an intoxicating experience.  After my son told us, I just felt like getting intoxicated. Or downright drunk.

First of all, we were almost the last of the “important people to tell” to know.  Actually, we were the last.  My daughter-in-law was damned near 5 months pregnant and all popped out when they told us!  She wore a very loose shirt when we arrived…  All of their close friends, co-workers and HER family knew weeks before were were privileged to receive the news about the impending “blessed event”.

WTF?

Now, I know my son’s closest friends very well.  I know that, if they get their hands on a juicy tidbit, their mother’s will know as soon know as possible.  They are incapable of not spilling their guts to their moms.  Clearly this trait hasn’t rubbed off onto my son.

When I lamented that the “moms” probably knew before I did, my son assured me that his friends PROMISED not to tell anybody.  I talked to one of the “moms”.  She knew before I did.  Her son spilled his guts.  My son is so naive…

Objectively, I kind of get why we were the last to know.  We traveled from Georgia to Illinois to visit them this summer for a long weekend.  They wanted to tell us in person.  They wanted to see our reaction.  I sorta get that in a detached kind of “isn’t that sweet” way.

But when I realize that scores of people knew before we did – their 3rd grade teachers, my 3rd grade teacher, our mailman and the cashier at Kroger – it made the news not quite as exciting as it should have been.

I’m just wondering what would have happened if we hadn’t gone up there this summer.  I guess I’d have figured it out when I got the first baby shower invite.

My son tells us were welcome to come up when his wife goes into labor to be there for the delivery.  We live a 12+ hour drive away. And it would be more than likely snowing for the last 6 of those 12+ hours what with the Polar Vortex and all.  To book a same day or next day flight would cost at least $630.  Each.

We opted to book a flight up two days after the due date in hopes that the little critter arrives on schedule or is maybe just a little late. That would be excellent if he was a bit late.  He would get his first Do Bee points for that.  Miss Janie would be proud.

We’ve been told we have to stay at a hotel when we come up because they don’t want anybody else in their house while they’re all “bonding”.  Good God.

Then we get a text a couple of weeks ago saying that we needed to get our “shots” before we come up.  Nobody without their “shots” will be allowed to get anywhere close to the baby.  Again, WTF?   I’ll get my shots alright – those little Candy Cane Jello shots from my last post.  Maybe I can find a happy hour close by.

So.many.rules.

But being the dutiful soon-to-be grandma who doesn’t want to piss off her son and really does want to see her newborn grandson, I got my “shots” yesterday.  And my arm is really, really sore today. Thanks Obama.

I’ve been thinking about my grandma “name”.  You know – what the little guy will call me when he starts talking.  Providing we will be allowed to talk to him.  You never know with all of the rules.

Grams, Nana, Grammy, Big Mama, Memaw – so many to choose from.

Hmmm…

GrannyMyAss has a really nice ring to it.

Martha Stewart’s Evil Twin

SNLtopless

With the holidays fast approaching, the American tradition of unrestrained gluttony is right around the corner.  Good times.

The season of parties and office potlucks.  The season of dinners that have five starches, four vegetables, three desserts, two meats and a partridge in a pear tree.  The season of eating three times the amount you normally eat, and then wondering why, come January, you’ve gained ten pounds and your LDL is 200.  The season of the unmovable, pepto bismol, “why am I constipated?” feast.

It’s the hap-happiest time of the year.

It’s the time of year when you are forced bring an appetizer-type thingy to your office “eat like you’re going to be out of a job by December 24th because you probably will be” holiday luncheon spread or to the neighbor with the dog that poops in your yard’s holiday party.  Or you may want to host your own celebration so you don’t have to Uber it home – you can just pass out on your own bathroom floor from all those candy cane jello shots.

You can only do veggies and hummus so many times.  “I need a new idea!” I hear you lamenting…

Well my friends – you have come to the right place!  AGMA is going to try her hand at giving holiday recipe advice.  You won’t find any of these on Martha Stewart’s website.  There’s a reason why.

I’m here to tell you that, in 2014, everything old is new again.

Now let’s dust off the AGMA recipe box and peek in for some suggestions from years gone by.  You’ll be the talk of your friends, neighbors and/or co-workers.  Because I guarantee they will most surely talk about you if you try to bring or serve any of these.

The first is the famous dried beef cheese ball.   This is for the cook in a hurry.  It takes 5 minutes to put this baby together.  You take an 8 oz pack of cream cheese, 3 oz of dried chipped beef, 2 green onions, 1/4 tsp onion salt, 1 1/4 tsp MSG (seriously, do they still make MSG?) and 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce.  Say that fast three times. Awkwardly mix it all together and voila!  You’ll feel like you’re watching An Officer and A Gentleman for the first time again.  After spending a couple of hours in the fridge, it’ll be ready to spread on Ritz.  Everything tastes better on a Ritz right?  Probably not this.

The second classic is the legendary sausage and Velveta hors d’oeuvre.  I don’t know about you, but my mouth is watering already…  Simple to shop for – only four ingredients.  1 lb. ground sausage, 8 oz Velveta, Worcestershire sauce – clearly the 70‘s & 80‘s go-to ingredient – and a couple of little loaves of cocktail rye bread. Brown the sausage then drain off the grease.  Cube the Velveta and mix it in with the sausage along with some of that fabulous, all-purpose Worcestershire sauce.  Cook until it’s a seething, bubbling cauldron of artery clogging goodness.  Plop a glop on a piece of cocktail rye; then when you run out of glop, pop the treats into the oven to get a nice brown crust on the top of each glop.  Serve pipin’ hot right out of the oven.  Bellisimo!  This is best served with some Lipitor on the side.

WARNING: The above recipes are not for the lactose intolerant.  The author is not responsible the mass exodus of party goers due to “side effects” if this warning is not taken seriously.

And last, but certainly not least, is the simplest, easiest of them all. Cocktail weinies in bbq sauce.  No lactose here – just pure Midwest Americana at it’s finest.  This is a no-brainer that can be quickly prepared ahead of time to free you up to make those last minute sausage and Velveta numbers.  Only three ingredients to this sweet yet savory snack…  One pack cocktail weinies, 1/2 bottle of bbq sauce (your choice) and 1/2 jar of grape jelly.  Throw them all into a crock pot set on low, mix it up, and forget about it until the good times start rolling and the candy cane jello shots come out.  The proper etiquette is to provide multi-colored toothpicks for your guests to use fish them out of the crockpot.  Be sure to supply plenty of napkins.

So good luck if you decide to prepare any of these vintage appetizers. And if anybody asks who made them, just act like you brought the veggies and hummus…

There are a lot more recipes from years gone by in the ol’ recipe box. When you least expect it, more posts may pop up featuring more AGMA retro-recipes.  The world needs to have these classics recycled if only as a warning for future generations.

Because, it’s a good thing.

The day before Black Friday formerly known as Thanksgiving

NoSanta

Did anybody notice that Costco had their Christmas stuff out before Halloween?  And the city of Decatur, Georgia’s streets are already festooned with holiday/Christmas decorations.  Fa la la la la…   We haven’t even gotten to double digits in November.  What the hell?

Enough is enough.

I’m not one to pine for the “good old days” because, usually, on closer inspection, they weren’t really all that good…  I mean, I’d never want to go back to the days when I couldn’t immediately look up the history of ketchup on my smart phone while waiting in the Steak N Shake drive thru.  That’s just crazy talk…

But I do long for the days when Thanksgiving was considered a real holiday instead of being relegated as an mere appetizer in the Christmas/holiday frenzied gluttony.  Now, it’s just barely tolerated for the sake of nostalgia and the fact that it’s the day that people use to rest and fuel up to prep for the carnage of Black Friday.

But I remember the days, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, when no store would dare to put up a sprig of holly or a wreath until after Thanksgiving.  No self respecting Santa would show his face before THE REAL Santa made his appearance during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  And the “buy a Chatty Cathy” Christmas commercials didn’t start on Saturday mornings until almost December.

You couldn’t go out to do any Christmas/holiday shopping on Thanksgiving Day even if you wanted to because all of the stores were closed.  Up tight.  Doors locked.  Going out to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t an option either.  They were all closed too.  So, unless you had a medical emergency that landed you in the hospital with a wishbone lodged in your throat, you were stuck at home or going over the river and through the woods to a relative’s home for Thanksgiving.

But, back in the old days, for some strange reason that will be lost to future generations, people actually wanted to be home with their families.  Huh?  For better or worse.  In sickness and in health.  The good, the bad and ugly.  Even the cousin who picked his nose was okay on Thanksgiving.  Kind of.

My mother and aunts cooked all morning and well into the afternoon preparing the Thanksgiving feast.  The uncles would drink Iron City beer and talk about how the Pirates would do better next season.  Except in 1960 when they won the World Series.  That year they just drank more beer.

Aunt Ann made her cranberry jello mold and Uncle Jim mashed the potatoes and carved the bird.  And Aunt Mildred always made her rockin’ poppy seed roll.  Uncle Johnny and Aunt Sadie yelled at us kids for making too much noise fighting over who got to pull the wishbone.  But even they got a pass on Thanksgiving.

My family was far from perfect.  As a matter of fact, we were downright dysfunctional in a charming Eastern European kind of way.  But on Thanksgiving, the house always smelled and sounded like happiness and love  To a seven year old AGMA, that was a magic all of it’s own.

The good old days.

Heed my warning – Thanksgiving’s in danger.  I think it’s going to go the way of Pluto.  Remember, Pluto got a planet “demotion” in 2006 because it just wasn’t up to snuff?  People think that Thanksgiving’s not really a real holiday because there’s no big money to be made with it as a stand alone holiday.  Because it’s not really a “job creator” holiday and it actually encourages people NOT to work, don’t be surprised if there is “holiday demotion” legislation introduced in 2015 from the Koch Brothers Fan Club (formerly known as Congress.)

Thanks, Obama!

Ocular Misadventures

EyeExam

Hot on the heels of my post of a few weeks ago about the explorations in the deepest, darkest parts of my colon, I’m going for another doctor related post.  It’s what we Boomers do – talk about our visits to the doctor.  ZZZzzzzzz…

Last week I went for my bi-annual eye exam.  I went to a new O.D. Everybody in the office was very nice and extremely friendly. Everybody told me how happy they were that I chose their practice. I was immediately suspicious.  This is Atlanta.  Nobody in a customer service position here acts like that.  Must proceed with caution.

I don’t like going to the eye doctor anyway.   I hate the inevitable “gives you farsighted vampire eyes unable to read or be in the sunlight” drops to dilate your eyes.  And I always seem to get the techs who were former Abu Ghraib interrogators.  They position the eye dropper 4 feet above your eyes and then squeeze.  You endure the agony watching the drops fall and fall and fall before they plop into each eye stinging the crap out of them.  I’m sweating now just thinking about it.

But last week, I was offered a choice.  I could have the normal “Guantanamo Bay Special” eye drops or, for $35 extra, a new procedure that takes a picture of the inside of your eyeball.  No drops, no sting and no vampire blindness.  They could have charged $135 and I still would have signed up.  Don’t tell them that.

After the pictures and some other odd tests (“Click the buttons when you see the shimmering lines appear.” WTF?), we moved on to what is second only to the eye drops as my most stressful and anxiety ridden part of the eye exam.  I like to call it the “Is it better here or (sound of lens clicking) here?” conundrum.

They put this huge mechanical contraption in front of your face that looks like the old big binocular machine that was at the U.S. Grand View Hotel on Rt 30 in Pennsylvania back in the 60’s.  You’d put a nickel in and you could see three states and seven counties.  Only I don’t see three states and seven counties from the OD’s contraption; just lines of random letters of different sizes.  Downer.

Then starts the incessant, relentless questioning.  Can you read the third line down?  No?  Then they spin the dials and flip things around.  Can you read line three now?  Is it better here or here? Over and over and over…

At this point, I have line three memorized so it wouldn’t matter if they put a hood over my head.  I could recite line three in my sleep. This whole process could use a little more creativity.  It’s really easy to cheat.

They continue to madly spin dials and flip lenses.  “Can you read line three better with #1 or [click] #2?”  Sometimes the answer is obvious. But most of the time it pretty much looks the same to me. But they want an answer.  They’re insisting on an answer.  Now. Dear God in heaven….I can’t tell a difference!  My hands start to get clammy, my respiration gets shallow and I feel my heart pounding in my teeth.

I try to stall for time.  I ask them to see #1 and #2 again.  They’re not happy with me.  They’re starting to speak in clipped phrases with tight lips and a slight Brooklyn accent.  They aren’t going to take “I can’t tell the difference” for an answer again.  I think might wind up in the cornerstone of some new building or at the bottom of a river if I don’t come up with an answer.  Fast.  I desperately try to figure out if #1 is truly better than #2.  I blurt out an answer. “NUMBER 2! IT’S NUMBER 2!

I need a Xanex after we are done with the binocular machine.

Satisfied that I’ve been beaten into ocular submission, the doctor puts my eyeball pictures up on the computer screen.  I perk up.  I’m an anatomy geek so it’s very cool to see the inside of my eyeball.  He says my optic nerve looks great.  He says my macula looked perfect. In both eyes.  He says that I have the eyeballs of a 20 year old.  I’m thinking, “Yeah I do!”

Then he says, “Except for the cataracts that are starting. See the cloudiness?”

Yeah, I do.  Shit.

So I need to be careful when I’m in the sun.  Aside from the sunscreen I have to slather myself with to prevent skin cancer, age spots and wrinkles, now I have to wear polarized sunglasses all the time to protect my eyes from the evil UV rays seeking to destroy my vision. This will “delay” the development of the cataracts so that I probably won’t need surgery for 10 years or so.

You can run but you can’t hide from a body that has been around for 60+ years.  Some wear and tear is creeping in.  It happens to all of us who are lucky enough to stick around for this long…

Aging gracefully my ass!

Racking up the Skymiles!

BedBugs

Big trip coming up tomorrow.  Again.  Whoo Hoo!  My husband and I are in a season of travel right now.  I like this season. Travel is one of my passions.  Don’t tell the Tea Partiers, but seeing the world can expand your thinking.  I know – I’m a Socialist…

We’re very fortunate to have the means. But only because we are “value” travelers.  Bargain airfares (mostly offseason), bargain accommodations (sans bed bugs!), bargain tours, bargain car rentals, bargain food.  I do get a bit tired of the doner kababs sometimes.  But they’re cheap and filling if the sodium content doesn’t cause a stroke…

We have the time.  Remember, I’ve been on hiatus.  And my husband has been working for the same organization for nearly 40 years.  He has something like 10 weeks of vacation every year.  You’d think we were French, right?  And because he’s the boss where he works, with a few exceptions, he can go when he wants.  Mel Brooks is right – it’s good to be the king.

We have the physical ability.  For now.  My husband has a neurological condition that’s robbing him of the use of his right leg. He can walk, but only very slowly and with a cane.  He can’t walk very far – about a half a mile in a day is it.  So I have to plan our trips carefully for easy accessibility to sights and transport. Sometime that ratchets up the cost of our lodging.  But, it’s still possible to get value digs without having bed bugs as your bunkmates.  It just takes a little extra time to research.  Okay – a lot of extra time.  Trip Advisor has become my travel BFF.

The upside of his condition – if there is one – is that flying is easier. Back in the day, flying used to be easy for everybody.  Now it sucks. Too many people, too few flights, too little space, too much customer “no-service” from the airlines…  S-U-C-K-S.

We get to board first because we need “extra time”.  Translation – guaranteed overhead bin space!  I look back at the teeming humanity in the gate area all pushing and shoving to get near the front so they can dash on when their zone is called to find a space for their roller-boards, and I think, “Suckers!”  But payback’s a bitch… When I’m flying alone, I’m part of that teeming humanity.  I imagine I’m a lioness getting ready to take down a wildebeest.  Zone 2 may now board – take no prisoners!!

We always need a wheelchair to meet us at our destination.  When you’re traveling to another country, this is handy.  Very handy. Actually, unbelievably handy.  You get to skip all of the immigration and customs lines.  Like totally.  They whisk you past all of the cranky people with whining children who have been up all night in the 12 inch economy seats.  Right to the front of the line.

Now I’m also cranky after an international flight.  And whiny.  And I look like sh*t because I’ve been up all night in my 12 inch economy seat.  But my mood improves significantly as we pass go and collect our passport stamps before the last person on our flight has deplaned.  Score!

After every trip, my husband says it’s his last.  He would gladly trade early boarding and our speedy trips through immigration and customs for the ability to walk normally again.  So would I.  He thinks I should travel alone.  He thinks he holds me back.  If I was honest, I’d say sometimes he does.  But I also think I see with wider eyes when I go slower.  I see things that I’d have missed going my “normal” breakneck speed.  A cat behind a lace curtain in a window in Dingle or a beautiful wrought iron doorway in a courtyard on Rhodes…  Poetic moments that you don’t normally notice when you rush by.

He really doesn’t do so bad.  He’s been able to climb the Acropolis in Greece, walk through the Alhambra in Spain, cross the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Northern Ireland, walk through the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and most recently, hiked the Grampians National Park in South Australia.  All very, very slowly.  But he did it.

So I continue to plan trips for us to new places to see new things. This time it’s the beaches of Normandy and the poppy fields of Flanders.  We love history.  We can’t wait.  It’s supposed to rain in Belgium.  The cobblestones in Bruges could get interesting…

How long this season or travel will last, I can’t say.  Maybe the means will run out before we anticipate.  These days it seems like no retirement income or lifetime of savings is a guarantee of financial independence.  Maybe our time will be taken up by other things like my restarted business.  Or aging parent care.  OR OUR FIRST GRANDCHILD WHO IS DUE IN DECEMBER!!

Oh – did I say that too loud?

Maybe in a few years he’ll not be able to walk at all.  I think we’ll still be able to travel, but it will look much different than it does now.  So I just continue to plan one trip at a time.  And we both continue to enjoy the hell out of each one!

I’m not taking my laptop with me this time.  I think I’ll go old school with a notebook and a pen.   How quaint…

See y’all in September!

Sweatin’ With An Oldie

sweaty

It’s July 30th.  I live in Altanta, Georgia.  I’m sitting outside on a shaded patio at my favorite coffee shop.  It’s getting close to noon. It’s 77 degrees with low humidity with bright sunshine.  A slight breeze is blowing and giving me goosebumps.  I’m glad I brought a light cardigan with me.

Does anybody else think this is strange?

For those of you in other countries or Texas, July in Atlanta is normally fairly miserable.  Fairly a nice way to put it.  It actually sucks.  Hot and very humid. The average temp in July is 89°F. That’s 32°C for those of you who, like me, have the “Fahrenheit to Celsius, Foot to Meter, Ounces to Grams Remedial Conversion Syndrome”…

An average monthly temperature is calculated using the high temps for each day of the month.   So each day is usually higher or lower than the average.  Until now, there have been lots more days higher than the average. It’s been hot.  But as the old saying goes…

“It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”

This statement is true.  I lived in Arizona for three years. 105° F with zero humidity isn’t too bad. Sure, you might have to use oven mitts to grab your steering wheel.  Even though your car has a windshield sun blocking screen in it.  And it’s been parked in the shade.  But to the human body, it doesn’t feel as hot as it really is because there isn’t any water vapor in the air.  The lack of humidity helps your sweat evaporate quickly, keeping you cool.  Or cooler.  I feel like Professor Proton…

Add the water vapor and that’s when the stifling misery, the bane of my existence, begins.

Being the sensible, rational person I am – translate that as wimp – my past MO has been to just stay in air conditioning.  I realize I’m very fortunate to be able to pull that off.  Going from an air conditioned house to an air conditioned, garaged car to an air conditioned final destination worked swell.  Hey – I’m one of those “elderly” people they advise stay inside in the AC when it’s hot, remember?  Plus I’m my own heat source because of the big M – menopause.  Some days you just can’t take off enough clothes, you know?

This summer is different.  I started running last year.

I really like running.  I like my running group.  I like running half marathons.  My goal is to run a full marathon soon.  Slowly. Running here is great in the fall, winter and spring.  I asked if I could skip running in the summer.  I got the “stink eye” from my group leader.  Guess not…

So I’ve been running in the heat and humidity.  Outside.  The humidity has been so bad that I start sweating just thinking about going out for a run.  I wring out my visor after every run.  I drip on my cats.  They’re not happy with me.

Speaking of sweat, I’m pretty sure that I’ve set a new record this summer as far as volume goes.  It’s actually been rather alarming – I am not an attractive sweater.  I’m going to contact the Guinness people about getting in their record book.  Or at the very least, try to get a free beer for my troubles.

It’s quite surprising to me that I haven’t keeled over yet.  I do take “sensible” precautions…  Lots of water during the week and on my runs, running in the early morning when it’s infinitesimally cooler and seeking out every leaf and twig for shade even if it means crossing the street multiple times.  But every mile feels like three and about halfway through each run, I start looking at my Garmin every five or ten seconds.  Are we there yet?

I ran this morning in the freakish, but blessed cool of 59°F.  I know the universe playing a cruel trick on me.  This won’t last.  It’s not even August.  Average temp – 88°F.  I’ll be back to wringing out my visor and dripping on my cats sooner than later.  They give me the “stink eye” too…

But as Howlin’ Blind Muddy Slim, Your 60 Minute Jelly-Bellied Toe-Jam Man, always says, “What does not kill you, only makes you stronger.”

So I got that going for me…