Old-Fartitis

old fart

There’s a serious malady out there affecting our older citizens.

It’s actually been around for years and years with little or no recognition by the medical community.  Sadly, my father had it and now my brother has it.

The CDC evidently hasn’t seen fit to do any research or alert the general population to its existence and the dangers of contracting it.  This is puzzling and alarming.

AGMA is shocked that, until now, it has even gone unnamed.

“Old-Fartitis” is a serious condition has always existed, but is now reaching epidemic levels since November 8, 2016.  And it’s spread rampantly among some family members and many peers.

Oh, the humanity…

Old-Fartitis can be recognized by two unmistakable symptoms:

  1. The longing for the past. (Defined as “the good old days” to many, these days gone by were only truly good for a small segment of the population based on skin color, national heritage, gender identity and religious affiliation.)
  2. Resisting any change that is a perceived threat to one’s narrow view of how the world should “work”.

Old-Fartitis is a state of mind that will eventually, if untreated, destroy the soul.  It’s mental, emotional and spiritual imprisonment influenced by the 4 F’s of Old-Fartitis:

  • Faulty memory
  • Fading influence
  • Fake news
  • Fear.

AGMA is really just scratching the surface of the nature of Old-Fartitis.  Much more research is needed into this serious condition with emphasis on a cure.

Having my BS (yes, I said BS), I am familiar with scientific principals, and would suggest the following as mitigation steps until a cure can be found for Old-Fartitis:

  • Travel. As far as one is able to go and meet as many different people as one can.
  • Volunteer in some capacity with disenfranchised individuals (homeless veterans, immigrants, the disabled, at risk youth, abused women, etc.)
  • Reference multiple sources (NOT just one and you know the one I mean…) in print, digitally and on TV for local, national and world news.
  • Read books/poetry by diverse authors with diverse viewpoints.
  • Walk in nature.  Like, a lot. I mean, a lot.
  • Visit an art museum.
  • Listen to a musical artist who is younger than Keith Richards.
  • Nurture friendships with people who are younger and/or of a different race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation.
  • Develop a spiritual practice.
  • Extra credit item: get a tattoo (ya’ll know I had to throw that in!)

This is just a preliminary list I’m still fine tuning for submission to the CDC.

IMPORTANT!!!  Do not confuse being an old fart with Old-Fartitis.  While the two can coexist in one individual, they are separate conditions.

While an individual with Old-Fartitis will be always be an old fart, AGMA is here to declare that one can be an old fart without succumbing to Old-Fartitis.

Your relief is palpable.

An old fart is defined purely by the objective measurement of number of times a person has sucessfully circled the sun.  However, the specific number that defines an old fart is subjective to individual interpretation.  Some say you are an old fart at 60, some say 65, some say 70.

By my own definition, AGMA is an old fart.  I’m on my 66th journey around the sun.  My body is showing some of the wear, both internally and externally, that is bound to happen to a piece of finely engineered machinery after extensive use.  And massive quantities of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies over the years.

But I still look fabulous!

Until a vaccine is discovered for Old-Fartitis, I hope and pray that none of you become afflicted with this serious condition.

However, between AGMA and your tattoo artist, I think you’ll be just fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wanted: more joy

 

highclere

AGMA has noted of late that my posts aren’t the light-hearted romps into absurdity that they once were when I started blogging nearly 6 years ago.

I’m pretty sure the change started on November 8, 2016.

And with each

  • mass shooting (#MassacreMitch’s once again sending his NRA inspired thoughts and prayers to Midland/Odessa…)
  • report of innocent children being ripped from their parents, caged and denied basic health care
  • hurricane/drought/deadly heat wave/flood event/tornado outbreak
  • environmental protection dismantled
  • edict meant to take protections/rights away from GLBTQ people/racial minorities/women/immigrants/the military/labor
  • ally alienated
  • enemy of America, democracy, and human rights embraced
  • conviction of criminals placed in high government positions
  • innocent person killed because of the color of their skin, their place of origin, their sexual orientation, their religion,

AGMA strays farther from the “very light-hearted” state of mind.

Add to that the normal “stuff” of living and I’ve been downright morose.

Plus, I gained 8 lbs since the beginning of the year and my normal “mammoth petite” clothes are too tight.

Sh*t.

“Mr. Fader, you sound like a real delightful guy!” to quote Roseanne Roseannadanna.

Two things this past weekend slapped me in the face like a cold sockeye salmon and screamed, “You REALLY need to figure out how to put some joy back in your life AGMA!!”

First was dinner with Son#2.

Now I need to say that Son#2 has always been a bit like Eeyore.  He has a touch of SADD, and likes living in Atlanta with all the sunshine in the winter months.  He’s not one who would be called a raging optimist.  Much like his mom.

Hubs and my discussion at dinner centered around:

  • our sadness at the banishment from seeing our grandchildren in the foreseeable future for reasons beyond our understanding (which we have been told is temporary, but we’ll see…)
  • the devastating effects of climate change and how more catastrophic storms like Dorian will be happening with more frequency (Hubs is a bit of a climate change expert.)
  • the book Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson that I had just finished to listening to on Audible.  It chronicled the migration of African Americans from the Jim Crowe South to northern and western cities between 1915 and 1970.  A long book and a very intense examination of the violence and systemic racism in both the South and North against African Americans.
  • the anniversary of Emmett Till’s murder in 1955.  He was a 14-year-old African American from Chicago visiting family in Mississippi.  His parents were part of the Great Migration.  He was lynched and his body desecrated in Mississippi on August 28, 1955, after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store.

OMG…weren’t we just a barrel of fun?!?!

And Son#2 called us out on it.  He said, “Can we talk about something that’s happy?  You know, there has to be something happy we can talk about.”

For a moment, AGMA bristled.

“Sure,” I thought, “Let’s just pretend that none of this injustice and corruption and sadness is in the world and we’ll act just like everything is just peachy dandy, and ignore the assault on humanity that is going on all around us.”

AGMA has been known to be a bit dramatic…

We changed the subject and started talking about fluff.

But it made me think.  Is there a way to hold both the righteous anger that comes from injustice assaulting us on so many different fronts, and the simple joy and delight in living?

Clearly AGMA has not been doing a very good job at that.

Second, I heard a piece on NPR about research study that concluded that optimistic people lived longer.  And that optimism can be taught to a certain extent.

Cha-ching!

I need a course in Optimism 101!

Maybe I need to sign up for Optimist International?

This weekend, after realizing that I DID need to do a better job of finding my joy, I took definitive steps.

I started watching….

Wait for it….

The Downton Abbey marathon that was on PBS this weekend!

Nothing says cheer up like the Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess telling her American DIL, Cora, played by Elizabeth McGovern, “I’m so looking forward to seeing your mother again.  When I’m with her, I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.”

I tuned in and out of it the entire weekend.  I managed to see the very first episode on Saturday and the last episode in Monday with a number of episodes in between.

I was in my happy place!

Keep in mind we have all of the seasons on DVD.  But I would never think of watching them sequentially.  That would just be crazy.  Watching them as I had time during the weekend seemed less like I was wasting my day staring at the TV, and more like I was becoming reacquainted with old friends in bits and pieces.

Only in the mind of AGMA…

And to make things even better, the DA movie comes out in the US this month on September 20th!

Son#2, who normally would poo poo the idea of something like Downton Abbey, said that a number of his friends, to his amazement and surprise, couldn’t wait for the movie to come out.   He was actually considering seeing it.

I told him I would be happy to loan him our DVD’s of all 6 seasons so he could get caught up with the 52 episodes he missed.

At which point his eyes rolled back in his head…

Then we laughed.

While we shouldn’t, we absolutely can’t, ignore the big things that are assaults on our fellow human beings and our Mother Earth, we also need to recognize and embrace the little joys that come into our life in unexpected ways.

AGMA promises to try to find more joy and happiness in the little things that move my heart and spirit, and turn those moments into a deep reservoir of hope.

And more light- hearted posts.

I promise!

 

 

 

You looking at me?

binoculars

“I always feel like somebody’s watching me
And I have no privacy
I always feel like somebody’s watching me
Tell me is it just a dream?”

Thus went the chorus of the 1984 song released by Rockwell on Motown Records titled “Somebody’s Watching Me”

Now – some 35 years later, AGMA can say to Rockwell, “No – it’s not a dream.  Somebody is indeed watching you!”

And all of us.

Hubs and I have resisted the urge to get one of those little eavesdropping devices.  What are they called…Alexa or Siri or Google (so original…) or Gladys (remember her from Bewitched?)   Despite the eyes-rolling-back-in-his-head assurances from tech savvy Son#2 that it would make life sooooo much easier for us and that NOBODY was actually listening, we have no plans to get one.

They creep me out too much.

Just this week Apple issued an apology to Siri users when it came out that they let contractors listen to Siri recordings of users asking questions.  Amazon does the same thing with Alexa unless you opt out (of course the default is to allow it) and Google’s suspended a similar practice in Europe this summer.  You can read about it here.

They all claim that it’s to “enhance” the digital assistant experience.

Sure – and the big Orange Cheeto is a great President….

Even our phones are tracking our every move unless we turn off GPS.  Even then, I’m not so sure they still aren’t tracking us.

And I can’t even imagine the data that is being collected on somebody wearing one of those innocent looking watches that are supposedly your best friend and will save you if you get into an accident.   Yeah – that’s what they want you to believe…

Or the data being collected and passed on from new, technology laden automobiles.  Or social media sites that seem to be so addictive.

Or, or, or…

They really ARE watching and listening and tracking us!

Or is AGMA just being paranoid?

An article on Comparitec by Paul Bischoff titled, “The worlds most surveilled cities” reveals that Atlanta – my current city of residence – is #10 on the list.   #10 for crying out loud!  Right up there with Beijing and Wuhan in China.  Actually 8 out of the top 10 were in China.

And we all know what a champion of human rights China is….

London was the other non-Chinese city on the top 10 list.

What the hell is going on??

I was recently in a home that has a Nest Hub.  Along with the cameras they installed, this allowed them to view and listen to what was going on the the basement and outside at the back of their house.  And they have Nest doorbells that have cameras in them at their front and back door.  They can listen to conversations on the front porch if the Nest doorbell is triggered and you have no idea.  They have little Nests (like Alexas) upstairs and downstairs that can tell you the current temp and play Baby Shark, but are always listening.

ALWAYS.LISTENING

They installed locks on the front and back door that are push button operated.  But the locks are connected with an app that tells them when a lock was locked and unlocked.

There was no sneaking out for a quick toke…

Quite honestly, I felt like I was being eavesdropped on and watched no matter where I was in the house.  Maybe the bathrooms were safe spots, but AGMA wasn’t going to take any chances.  I just did my thing and kept my mouth shut.  Any other “extraneous” noises weren’t under my control…

What George Orwell wrote about in his book 1984  has become a reality.  Big Brother (or Big Sister) is watching and listening and tracking.

Fu*k that AGMA says!

I plan on resisting what appears to be a total invasion of personal privacy for as long as possible.

While we don’t have any stand alone “digital assistants”, our phones and tablets and laptops have those horrendous people like Alexa and Siri on them, ready to pounce if the right button is pressed.  But again, what’s to guarantee they aren’t ALWAYS listening like those nasty Nests?  AGMA’s planning on contacting Apple, Google and Amazon to see if there is a way to fire those noisy people and delete their functions.

I’m going to go back to taping over my laptop camera.  I used to do that, then Son#2 gave me “the look” when I told him why I did it.  It did sound a bit crazy even for AGMA, so I untaped it.

The tape goes back tonight.

I plan on driving my technology bereft 2008 Prius as long as it has life in its engine.

And AGMA will not part with her fingerprints to a cell phone or a padlock.  Or allow my eye to be scanned by anything that isn’t going to buy me dinner or bring me flowers.

Although I use Maps a whole lot to navigate Atlanta traffic, I’m going to go back to turning off GPS when I don’t have to drive.

I’ve pared down my use of social media to pretty much follow cycling, my grandkids and sending nasty tweets to my GOP senator who honestly does think tRump is the Chosen One.

Small gestures that probably won’t protect AGMA from the inevitable, but it’ll make me feel better.

Make me feel as if I am not part of The Matrix quite yet.

Ship me off to Zion, Morpheus!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill, James and the Tot

grace

Last week was crazy.

AGMA had to work all week (the horror!!) and then we went to visit the Grands on Friday.

Between those two things, and the fact that tRump is indeed President and that it was NOT a bad dream, I was exhausted.

But visiting the Grands is always fun even if visiting with their parents is less than fun.  Long story that you don’t want to hear…

AGMA’s hoping time will bring them around.  Again.

Things weren’t too good before and after B, the oldest, was born.  We didn’t feel very welcomed when we would visit and got served a lot of cold shoulder.  With no sauce.

But after V was born nearly 3 years ago, things got much, much better.  The reason why is a mystery, but we were encouraged to visit often.  And when we were there, we felt very loved and welcomed.

After years of being emotionally distanced by them, it felt like a fairy tale ending where everybody lives happily ever after.

But, how does that old saying go…nothing lasts forever?

Dammit.

I noticed the change starting when DIL was 6 months along with their 3rd.  The distance started creeping back in.

Then we were told that we could not be there for the birth or even afterwards for the foreseeable future to meet our new grandchild.

WTF??

“Ah oh,” AGMA thought,  “they be going crazy again just like they did after B was born.”

And yes indeed.  They have.

They did invite us up to meet TT two weeks after he was born, but the notice was so last minute that airfares were quite high.  So Hubs decided to stay home.  I was NOT going to miss meeting my new grandson so I pulled out the credit card, swallowed my pride and bought the $400 ticket.

Thought a miscommunication, we also booked a trip for both Hubs and I to come up this past weekend.  I don’t think our son or DIL wanted us there, but the tickets were bought…

And Hubs finally got to meet TT (8 weeks old now.)  He was TOTALLY smitten.  I mean, he’s even crustier than AGMA, and he was complete jelly around the little guy.  He must have taken 200 pictures of him.

I now believe in love at first sight.

Who knows how long he would have had to have waited before we got “approval” for a visit?

Our welcome was cool, but at this point, AGMA didn’t care.  I was over their cray cray.  I just wanted to see my grandkids.  And to make sure they know they are loved by their Nana and Bumpa.

During our visit, as I was lying on a couch with TT sleeping peacefully on my chest (OMG – does it get any better than that???),  I started praying for him.  I prayed that he would grow up to be a man like my recently departed friends, Bill and James.

Bill was a Deacon at my church.  I got to know him through volunteering for 2 years with our morning sandwich ministry.  AGMA’s church is in downtown Atlanta which has a massive homeless population.  Every Monday through Friday, we hand out bag lunches, bottles of water and cups of coffee to homeless men and women until 9:30 or until we run out.  I volunteered on Mondays.

Bill was in charge of this ministry and also the food pantry that gave out groceries to people in need.

Bill retired about 5 years ago.  What I didn’t know at the time was that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimers.  He continued to attend church and try to sing in the choir until about 2 years ago.

He was a gentle man of great faith, and devotion to both God and his family.  He also had great compassion for “the least of these.”

He saw God in the needy and destitute rejected by society.

He passed away on August 9th at 70 due to complications from Alzheimers.

James really wasn’t a friend, but I felt like he was.  He was a monk at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, just outside of Atlanta.  He’d been a priest for 20 years before he decided to enter the Monastery in 1994.

AGMA started going to retreats at the Monastery in the mid-2000’s.  It’s in a beautiful setting and I loved interacting with the monks.  They are witty, intelligent, engaging individuals who have lots of outside interests.  I spoke with Fr. James a few times and loved his humor and down to earth attitude.

James was a photographer and a writer.  He published 6 books, two of which contain his photographs of scenes around the Monastery along with inspirational writings.  He also wrote for various publications like the Georgia Bulletin, the Living Faith devotional and the local newspaper to name a few.

AGMA knew that he was a man of great gentleness, humility, and faith though his photographs and his words.  He had the ability to turn something very ordinary into something sacred and extraordinary.

He saw God in the simple, commonplace things around him.

He passed away on August 15 at 71 due to complications from a lung biopsy.

And so I prayed for that tiny precious little boy sleeping peacefully on me, lulled by my heartbeat.  I prayed that Bill and James would intervene somehow to help him grow into a man who, like them, would be compassionate, loving, faithful and able to see the sacred and holy in the ordinary.  That he could see the divine in those marginalized by society.  That he would have a heart capable of great love, great kindness and great forgiveness.

And my resentment of the cray cray of his parents dissolved into prayers for their marriage, and their physical, mental and emotional health as they try to navigate life in these uncertain times with 3 little children.

Thanks Bill and James, for not only watching over my sweet TaterTot but for giving AGMA a much needed attitude adjustment.

I’m sure I’ll be talking to ya’ll again soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A benediction

As I told my friend Marty today over at Snakesinthegrass2014, after more senseless mass killings, this time in El Paso and Dayton, I’m tired.

Very tired.

And upset and frustrated and angry and incredibly concerned about the soul of our country.  And the inaction of our elected officials.

I don’t normally post memes from the internet, but I found this to be encouraging and uplifting during this time of deep discouragement and sadness.

I hope it speaks to you like it spoke to me.

benedition

May God bless you…

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

pittsburghese-ron-magnes

Poster art by Rom Magnes

Hubs and I have been on the road again.

AGMA think’s you’re not surprised.

Last weekend I went back to where it all began.  Actually to where I began.  My hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

It’s changed immensely since I left for college in 1971.

The beautiful three rivers of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio are still there as are the skyscrapers downtown, Allegheny General Hospital, the Cathedral of Learning and the inclines up Mt. Washington.

But so much is different.

The demise of the steel industry over the past 40 years has been devastating for the steelworkers in the small neighborhoods around the mills and the small businesses they supported.  But out of those ashes, something new has emerged.  Pittsburgh’s become hotbed of tech.  There are new mixed use developments and beautiful parks where the old steel mills used to be.  And the air and rivers are much cleaner minus said steel mills.

Much cleaner.

The North Side that was home to Heinz (the ketchup you know?), Three Rivers Stadium and Allegheny General and little else, is booming.  Two new sports stadiums, Heinz Field and PNC Park, replaced Three Rivers, and the old Heinz plant is now loft apartments.  The original Allegheny General Hospital (where AGMA came into the world smoking a cigarette and drinking champagne) is still there, but is dwarfed by a huge addition.  Add the Andy Warhol Museum, The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Science Center, the Mattress Factory Museum and the National Avairy plus new hotels and restaurants, and the area is sizzling with life!

The Strip District was full of grimy warehouses, and blue collar workers from Italy and Eastern Europe worked in its streets and alleys.  It’s now turned into one of the hot, hip spots of the cities where Millennials and GenZ-ers go to eat, drink and play.

And AGMA of course.

We went to the Steel City to visit my niece and her family.  But we spent our first night downtown (dahntahn) because it had been years since I wandered the streets I used to haunt as a child and teen.

There was much that was new, but, comfortingly, much of what has been there for years and years was still there.   Even if it has been repurposed.

Back in the day, three department stores anchored the downtown area – Gimbels, Hornes and Kaufmanns.  All three closed a long time ago and their massive buildings still stand partially empty.  We were a Hornes/Kaufmanns family with many a meet-up under the Kaufmann’s clock.  To see people walking past these once great retail powerhouses that teamed with shoppers without a glance sideways made AGMA a bit sad.

One change thrilled me.

I went past the Lutheran church I was baptized in and attended as a child.  It’s in an area of town called East Liberty which is coming back from being blighted for years.  Once great homes that fell into disrepair are again being restored to greatness.  My church was very formal and conservative back in the late 50’s/early 60’s.  Imagine AGMA’s delight when I saw the rainbow flag flying from the front door, a banner over the other door saying “Immigrants and refugees welcome!” and the electric church sign saying “Love everyone, exclude no one” with a rainbow background.

You go St. Andrews!!

One thing that, thankfully, hasn’t changed is the dialect, called Pittsburghese.

AGMA used to be quite proficient in Pittsburghese. As a freshman in college in Texas, learning the rest of the world did not call a rubber band a “gum band” was truly a revelation.  Or that everybody else called a Coke a soda and not a “pop”.  I had to quit using “yinz” and start using “you all”.  The first time my roommate heard me say, “We need to redd up the room and do the worsh,” she wasn’t sure what the hell I was talking about.  Still, to this day, I call people “nebby noses” if they’re being just a bit too inquisitive.

But I think “jag off” is a rude term.

Except as it applies to one particular individual with orange skin and hair, and tiny hands wearing a red MAGA hat over his KKK hood.  Jag off.

Sometimes I miss my hometown.  I miss my family and friends still there, the beautiful hills, the food, the scenic rivers and being grounded in the generations that came before.

But according to Heraclitus, change is the only constant in life.

This is true for Pittsburgh and AGMA.

Neither one of us wants to get mired down by the past. And we don’t want to accept the status quo. We seem to always have to be growing, changing, reinventing.

Aging gracefully my ass n’at!

Yinz alls rock on!

 

 

 

Of pelotons, echelons and musettes

pont du gard

Stage 16 of the Tour today went over the Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct built in around 60AD.  AGMA was there in May as part of the Grand Tour of France!

It’s the time of year that all AGMA followers (with a few exceptions..) dread.

It’s TOUR DE FRANCE baby!!

Once again I’ve been transformed from a graying, dignified village elder to a giggling tweeter.  And I have 5, count ’em, 5 Tour de France fantasy teams.

AGMA loves her men in spandex!

It’s all Son#2’s fault.

My son really got into watching Le Tour in the mid 2000’s.  It actually inspired him to become a serious cyclist, health nut and nature enthusiast.  Waaaayyyy better than sitting in his bedroom playing video games…

He was a pretty good cyclist and considered going semi-pro until a “series of unfortunate events” occurred.   A shattered wrist here, a broken femur there…it all convinced him that maybe this was not a wise career choice.

He still cycles, but for fun now.

And he sort of dragged me along for the ride as far as watching the Tour de France goes.

(Get it??  Dragged me along for the “ride”?? OMG – I crack myself up!)

People always assume that because I love men’s professional cycling, I must love riding a bike.

Uh…no.

AGMA never learned how to ride as a child.   I honestly don’t know why, but it just wasn’t part of what I did.

“Learn to ride now!” people say too me all the time.  Easy for them to say.  They won’t break their collarbones when they fall.

Truth is that I’ve tried to learn.  AGMA’s okay on a straightaway, but add some hills or dips or curves, and my palms start sweating.  The reality is that it’s really hard to learn to ride a bike as an adult.  All that balance “stuff” gets hardwired in kid’s brains when they learn young, but it doesn’t work the same with adults.

I made sure both of my kids learned to ride a bike when they were young not realizing that it would indirectly lead me to a late in life odd passion.

The 2019 edition of the Tour de France is turning out to be the best AGMA’s seen in my 11 years of being a spandex groupie.

The pre-Tour favorite, Chris Froome, who has won 4 previous Tours, had a horrific crash during the 8 day Criterium du Dauphine which is a pre-Tour warm up race.  And just in case he reads AGMA (ha ha ha), heal fast Chris!  All of us miss watching you ride!

Or some of us.

Last year’s winner, Geraint Thomas, crashed out during the Tour de Suisse (another pre-Tour warm up race.) And with very few racing days in his legs, he’s still an unknown for the Tour de France in terms of his conditioning and form.  And the tumble he took from his bike today didn’t help.

Ouch.

That’s all to say that for the first time in a long time, there is no clear favorite to win this year’s Tour.

That makes it especially exciting to watch as a fan!

I can hear you now…ZZZZzzzz….

But really, it IS incredibly exciting.

For the first time in like a kazillion years, a Frenchman, Julian Alaphilippe, is leading the Tour after 16 stages and wearing the Yellow leader’s jersey.  The French press and public are going WILD!!   It’s been 34 years since a Frenchman won the Tour.  Will this be the year?

Who the hell knows??

Alaphilippe wasn’t supposed to be in the Yellow jersey after 16 stages.  He’s a Classics rider (1 day races) and a puncheur (a rider who is specializes in rolling, hilly terrain with short, steep climbs.)

He’s not a GC rider.

GC stands for general classification (as opposed to sprinters , puncheurs, climbers and time trialists). A GC rider is a rider who, at the end of a 7, 8, 9 or 21 day stage race has the fastest times, so he’s sort of a jack of all trades.  They are the riders groomed to win stage races.  ALL Tour de France winners are GC riders.

But maybe not this year??

Who the hell knows??

And that’s what makes it all so exciting!

It’s going to be a knockout, drag out fight the next 4 days.  Tomorrow’s stage moves into the foothills of the Alps.  Then all hell breaks loose on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with 3 brutal Alpine stages that will push the riders to their physical and mental limits.

Even if you’ve never watched the Tour before, I urge you to tune in later this week.  AGMA promises that you will not be bored.  It’s going to be a battle royal between some of the best male athletes in the world in some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

Then on Sunday, what is left of the 176 riders that originally started the Tour on July 6th, will ride, battered and bruised, into Paris, and finish up with a sprint on the Champs-Elysees.

What’s not to love???

And the winner of the 2019 Tour de France will be…

Who the hell knows??

OMG – I can’t wait!!

(Peloton – The main field of cyclists in a race.  Sort of like a swam of cyclists. NOT the exercise bike/program called Peloton…  (but now you know where the name came from!)

Echelon – The staggered, diagonal line that cyclists form to deal with crosswinds.  Each rider is slightly downwind from the previous rider.  Kinda like one side of the V when geese to their thing.  

Musette – bags that carry food and drinks for cyclists on long races.  Basically it’s a cyclist lunch bag.  And like kids, they throw away the stuff they don’t want to eat.)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put me in coach!

 

KnuteR7

According to a piece on NPR’s Marketplace yesterday, parents are now hiring screen-free coaches for up to $200 an hour to “…guide parents in the implementation of “screen-free” activities.”

WTF???

And AGMA heard a couple of young mothers talking a few days ago.  One said that she had to call the ‘sleep coach’ because their 3 year old wet the bed because she didn’t want to go to sleep.  The mom seriously had no idea how to handle it.

I ask again, WTF???

That’s right up there with the ‘postpartum doula’ concept.  They tell you what to do when you get home with your new baby.  Seriously?

At $100 to $200 per hour, AGMA wants to get in on this action.

Talk about easy money…

I can slap up a website and call it “AGMA’s ‘that’s what mothers and grandmother are for’ coaching”.  But that name might just be a bit off putting for some….

Thoughts?

And for their $100 to $200 per hour, I’ll cover all the bases from bringing the baby home to helping them get the baby/toddler to sleep through the night to thinking of stuff for the little critters to do besides look at a screen.

AGMA will be the one stop coaching shop for parents!

To tease all of your folks out there who are itching to pay me $100 an hour (to build up my clientele, I’ll use the lower end of the pay grade…), I’ll give you a small sample of the my coaching wisdom.

Question:  What to do with the new baby when you get home?

Answer:  Feed it, burp it, change it, put it down for a nap, hold it, snuggle it, kiss it, sing to it, love it.  Pretty simple really…  

(AGMA is going to get serious for a hot minute…  Postpartum depression is real and nothing to joke about.  If this is an issue, mom needs seek help right away.)

Question:  I’m sleep deprived because my newborn needs to be fed every 2 to 3 hours.  What can I do?

Answer:  Welcome to the new parent club!  Did you really think you would get to sleep with a newborn?  Don’t worry about the household chores or ordering cute baby clothes on the Internet or getting on Facebook or Instagram or anything else having to do with technology.  When the baby sleeps, you sleep.  Period.

Question: How do I get my baby to sleep?

Answer:  When your baby gets tired, it will sleep. Trust me on this. Unless it has colic and then, yikes….you need to call in the reserves!

Question:  How can I keep my children busy/out of my hair without resorting to screen time?

Answer:  What did your parents let you to do?  You were raised pre-screens so let you kids do that same stuff.  Duh.

That’ll be $50 dollars please….

AGMA is wondering how we’ve gotten so far away from tapping into the wisdom of the elders in our society.  For millennia, young parents have been looking to their parents and grandparents for advice (free no less!) with great success.

You know, the village concept.

And although their parents and grandparents have successfully (most of the time…) raised children, some new parents refuse to tap into that rich source of knowledge.  They’d rather pay somebody with who knows what kind of credentials to tell them what to do with their kids.

Huh?

But obviously, at that price, this type of coaching is only for folks of a certain income bracket.  Those outside of that income level are “stuck” with the wisdom of the village.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

The Marketplace report did report on an interesting and disturbing result of the income gap regarding screen time.  Children in lower income families who generally live in low income areas tend to have more screen time because of cuts in funding for their schools.  In order to make up for the reduced budgets for teachers, they are forced to offer more material online.  More time staring at screens.  

We can ‘afford’ (not really…) to give the rich millions and millions in tax breaks, but we can’t seem to afford to educate our children in a healthy manner.  How does that work again?

As for AGMA, my new business is still in the concept phase.

I like the tough love approach, but realize that to make the big bucks, I need to act like my potential clients are the only people in the world who ever had children.   And that their children will certainly be the most brilliant, unique, talented and successful individuals who ever walked the earth.  

AGMA needs to get her schmooze on big time.

But I’m not sure I can pull it off.  

I’m much too practical, and believe that you’re not meant to be your child’s friend until they are adults and living on their own.  While they are young, you are the parent and they are they child.

And yes, you ARE the boss of them.

If AGMA would get a call in the middle of the night from the parent who’s child peed in the bed, I can see me telling them to just ignore it and go back to sleep.  A night spent avoiding a big wet spot on the sheets is a ‘teachable moment’ and very likely, won’t happen again.  

Yeah – I can’t see that conversation going over very well.

But honestly, it costs next to nothing to put up a website, and I do have real life experience AND an MBA (that really has nothing to do with parenting, but it will look good next to my name…)

Maybe if AGMA offers a free 10 minute chair massage with each consulting session?

Cha-Ching!!

 

Table for 5

tater_tots_closeup.0

We have a baby!!

AGMA is happy to announce the birth of a male grandchild, who will forever be called my sweet little tater tot!

By me.

HIs parents must never know.  They don’t approve of “cute” nicknames.

Party poopers.

We’ll just call him TT for short.

Actually, he was born before I posted my last post on June 26th, but we weren’t privy to this information until several hours after he arrived.  I guess they were bonding or something.

Whatever…

I fly up to see the little critter and his older siblings on Thursday.  And Son#1 and DIL.  Of course.  

AGMA has to be honest.  I feel a special bond with TT even though we’ve never set eyes on each other yet.

We’re both the #3 child in the family pecking order.

There have been many studies done about the impact of birth order and a child’s personality and emotional development.

Experts smexperts…AGMA isn’t sure I buy into all of it.

According to an article titled How Birth Order Affects Your Child’s Personality and Behavior in Parents Magazine from 2015, third children are:

  • Fun loving
  • Uncomplicated
  • Manipulative
  • Outgoing
  • Attention-seekers
  • Self-centered

I beg your pardon??  Manipulative??  Attention-seeker??  Self-centered??

AGMA is many things but NONE of those three things.  Well…maybe a very teeny tiny, itty bitty bit attention-seeking.  Minuscule really.

I have a blog after all.

Because there were 6 years between each of my siblings, and I went to foster care as a toddler, and then only lived with my sister & mother after my parents divorced, AGMA thinks that perhaps some of the typical traits of 3rd children don’t apply to me.  There are other, “atypical” traits I developed.  ‘Nuff said.

Little TT has an entirely different situation.  Born to loving, emotionally and financially healthy parents, he has an absolutely adorable sister, V,  2½ years older and a charming, witty brother, B, 4½ years older.  Who both adore him. Right now.  

Poor little guy has an uphill climb a head of him.

Nana will help you my sweet little TT!!!

According to the Parents article, B, as the firstborn, will tend to be:

  • Reliable
  • Conscientious
  • Structured
  • Cautious
  • Controlling
  • An achiever 

So far, the only thing I can say about him for sure is that he, like his father who was my firstborn, is VERY cautious.  Like his dad, he has a strong instinct for self-preservation.  At the playground, his younger sister will climb up on the highest slide possible and slide down, while he just watches.  And he’s just fine just watching.

Self-preservation in action.

My feisty little V is now the middle child.  She is much like I imagine Megan Rapino was as a 2 year old…  According to the article, she will tend to have the following characteristics:

  • People pleaser
  • Somewhat rebellious
  • Thrives on friendships
  • Has a large social circle
  • Peacemaker

Not sure about the rest, but as a 2 year old, people pleasing doesn’t seem to be in her life skills toolkit right now.  AGMA realizes this when I hear her high frequency, 100 decibel screams when she doesn’t get her way. 

Pass the ibuprofen please…

I’m really not sure what to expect when I fly to Chicago on Thursday.

But oh my…AGMA can already tell there is a YUGE difference between the arrival of B 4½ years ago and the arrival of TT 2 weeks ago.

Hubs, Son#2 and I all had to get shots (I’ve blocked out what “horrific” disease it was to protect the baby against) before we were allowed to visit baby B.  And they had a 5 gallon vat of hand sanitizer that we had to use AFTER we washed our hands before we touched him.  And nobody could make a peep when little B was down for his nap.  He HAD to be in his crib or bassinet, and every bit of light had to be blocked out.  And I was not allowed to change his diaper anywhere else but on the changing table.

On the other hand, TT went to Whole Foods at 3 days old and Costco at 10 days old.  He and his mom went out to lunch yesterday at the ripe age of 12 days with a stop at Starbucks.  And, through the miracle of technology, on July 4th we saw him sleeping peacefully in his father’s arms in their sunlit living room while his brother and sister were running around screaming.

And, if AGMA was a betting woman (which we all know I am…), I would say his diaper has already been changed while he was lying on a couch.

Oh the humanity!

What a difference 4½ years and two children make.

No longer a table for four with peaceful nights, self-feeding children and no diapers, they’re now a table for five with delicious chaos and mayhem on the menu. 

This weekend’s going to be fun!

Welcome to the world my sweet, darling, wonderful TT!

 

The Fugitive

the fugitive2

So that title is a little dramatic.  AGMA hasn’t gotten into any sort of trouble.  

Yet… 

But I AM escaping.

This weekend I’m headed out to Arizona to visit the foster mother of my early childhood.  Jane and her family took me for 18 months when I was 1 1/2 years old to help out my family.  Due to some very nasty circumstances that you really don’t want to hear about, my mother was temporarily out of the picture, and nobody in my immediate family could care for an 18 month old.

Jane was a friend of my mother.  They went to nursing school together and remained close after they each started families.  Jane’s daughters were 8 years old and a 14 years old when I came to live with them.

AGMA has no memories of the 18 months I lived with them, but I know that I received far more love and attention than I would have had I stayed in my home.

That being said, it was a horrible trauma for a 1 1/2 year old to be given to, in her mind, strangers.  I’ve been told that I cried and cried and cried for my “real” family. 

Much like the children who have been separated from their parents and put into cages at the US Southern border.

Science has shown that this type of early childhood trauma actually alters the brain chemistry of the child as they try to cope with what is happening around them. 

Permanently.

This can lead to all kinds of issues from emotional to cognitive to physical to economic.

To add to the trauma circus, AGMA was reunited with my mother when I was 3 years old and removed from Jane’s family.   As part of the nasty circumstances I mentioned earlier, I had not seen my real mother since I was an infant.

So now I was living with another “stranger”.  My mother.

Again, AGMA has no memory of this time.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned this in a previous post when I wrote about Jane, but I remember visiting Jane and her family with my mother when I was older, but I had no idea who they really were.

All I knew is that the always gave me great Christmas presents!

After my mother died in 1965 when I was 11, I went to live my my father and all contact with Jane and family was cut off.

Fast forward to 2012 when Janes youngest daughter “found” me through Hubs online genealogy profile.  They were overjoyed and I was thrilled to find my lost foster family (as an adult, I found out about their existence from my brother.)

AGMA’s been traveling to Arizona every year since then to visit Jane and her daughters.  I wrote about her last year when I went out for her 100th birthday celebration.

Guess what?

Janie’s 101 now!

And she still lives in her own house and still (last I heard) drives her car short distances.

So AGMA’s heading out to Arizona again for a visit with these good people who took me in and selflessly cared for me so many years ago. 

It’s a short trip – only 2 nights – and I’m going solo.  Hubs is staying home to take care of the cats. 

The first half of the trip I’m hanging with Jane & family.

The second night, I booked a room at a posh resort in Scottsdale.

I’m escaping.

For one night, I am going to do exactly what I want to do.  Or not do.

Part of the effects of my early childhood trauma is that AGMA has always been a pleaser. 

When you are “abandoned” by your primary care givers 3 times before the age of 4, a small child’s mind is not able to reason or understand what’s happening.  A small child internalized the fact that people keep leaving them as a sign that they are not lovable, or worthy of love and care, or they have been too naughty.

As the child grows, they think they have to “earn” the love of those close to them by trying to please them and not do anything that could be interpreted as misbehaving.

Hence, AGMA was an obedient, compliant pleaser for years.  

And I’m here to tell you, you can lose yourself in all that obedience and compliance and pleasing.

In the past, I would have never dreamed of bailing on Jane’s family early – I would have felt too guilty.  Or spending money on a one night getaway at a resort by myself, without Hubs “approval”.  And I would have tried to get together with old friends (who are Don the Con supporters – ugh…) from college who live in Phoenix.  Or I would have invited another old friend from Tucson to come up and spend the night with me on my dime.

But then it wouldn’t be a “selfish, only for AGMA” escape.  I’d have other people I’d have to “worry” about.  And please.

When it’s just me, I don’t have to be concerned about making anybody happy but myself.  At least for a night.

Years of therapy and a powerful spirituality journey toward wholeness have helped immensely in breaking old, unhealthy patterns.  

Honestly, I’m still a work in process.

But then aren’t we all?

See you at the pool!