Elvis has left the building

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

That was a freakin’ fast 44 years.

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

Smart man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serious demotion.

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

But then again, you probably knew that…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bastard.

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

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

And that’s about to change.

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

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

That’ll keep him busy for a few years.

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

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

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

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My crappy week

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

Literally.

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

This isn’t going to be pretty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sh*t. Literally.

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

Nice.

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

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

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

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

Can you see where this is going?

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

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

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

I flushed.

It overflowed.

Double sh*t. Literally.

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

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

It was an exhausting effort.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DON’T FLUSH BLIND.

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

“History has it’s eyes on you”

 

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

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

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

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

“Wait for it”…

HAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL!!!!

OMG, OMG, OMG!

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

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

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

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

Kaboom!

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

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

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

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

I’ll never forgive myself.

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

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

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

He told her to go.

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

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

“Immigrants, we get the job done.”

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

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

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

And the casting concept is a stoke of pure genius.

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

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

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

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

Yikes!

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

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

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

Nor should it.

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

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

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

“Everything’s legal in New Jersey.”

Ciao Bella Italia Part Due

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I found my 2018 Easter outfit in Rome

OMG – how did three weeks fly by?

It’s been hoppin’ here in AGMA central since I landed back in Wonderland.

I’ve been working wayyy too much, visited the grands in Chicago and on top of that, I was in charge of Hubs retirement celebration 2 weeks ago.

 

More about the retirement later.  Probably a lot more…  AGMA just wanted to give a excuse (albeit lame) as to why she’s been so quiet. Again.

But now, it’s time to go back to Italy!  Picking up where I left off in my post of 4/19 (which seems eons ago)…

We left Rome the day after the marathon. AGMA was walking kind of slow.  Especially when I had to pick up and schlep my suitcase.  AGMA packs light for overseas adventures  – my bag was slightly larger than a carry-on.   But it felt like it weighed about 300 lbs.

It made my legs wobble.

We headed east to a small hilltop walled village circa 1000 AD where K’s old high school friend lives. Mr. D has lived in Italy for 40+ years so he knows a thing or two about lamb entrails…

He arranged for a private tour of the local sites – an excavation of a Roman villa and a church built into the side of a mountain that St. Francis hung out in for a couple of nights.  I’m a history geek so I loved it. K, not so much – I saw her eye’s roll, ever so slightly, back in her head.

We spent the night in Mr. D’s 700+ year old home up in the walled village.

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My guess is that the cooler is probably not 700+ years old…

And were treated to a cold shower the next morning. But it’s 700+ years old right? AGMA had a 30 year old house once that had plumbing issues too…

The next day Mr. D took us to the charming town of Orvieto that has a fabulous cathedral. Shelley at Destination NOW visited Orvieto in 2012 and has some great posts about her visit. We were there for 3 hours. Read Shelley’s first post here if you want to know more about this fabulous little town.

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After our visit, Mr. D loaded us on the train; we were off to Siena. Beautiful Siena. Hilly Siena. Very hilly Siena.

My legs were still wobbling.

I absolutely LOVED our hotel, the Albergo Bernini, primarily because of the view from the hotel terrace.

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We were right next to St. Catherine’s house (sort of) and just a stones throw (maybe a couple of stones.) from the Basilica of San Domenico where Catherine’s head and thumb are in residence.

Eeewwww…

You weren’t allowed to take a picture of her head, but it was open season on her thumb.

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Her thumb is on the left in that little coffee press looking glass thing.

We enjoyed aperetivo on Siena’s huge “square” (it’s not really a square), Piazza del Campo, but it was kind of chilly.  The drinks warmed us up.  It’s hard to imagine, but the Sienese having a horse race on this square twice a year called Il Palio that sounds akin to a jalopy demolition derby.

This might have to be an addition to my bucket list!

After 2 nights in Siena, we hopped on another train.  Destination – Pisa. In AGMA’s 5 past visits to Italy, I had never been to Pisa to see “it”.  I’d heard some uncomplimentary things about Pisa and her famous tower.   “The town’s dirty, full of cheap restaurants and tacky souvenir stands selling cheap, cheesy little Leaning Towers to sucker tourists, yada, yada, yada…”

Maybe that’s why it took me 6 visits to get there.

But our 4 hours in Pisa were delightful! We walked the mile from the train station to the Field of Miracles through the town, which is full of college students.  We strolled around the tower and cathedral.  Took the obligatory “Look I’m holding the Leaning Tower of Pisa up!” photos. Ate lunch.  Walked back to the train station and hit the road…eh, tracks again.  It was a great afternoon.

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Yeah, it’s got a tower that leans, but there’s a lot more to Pisa than that!

Destination – the big tamale – the Cinque Terre

And it was just as breathtaking as I’d heard.  But hilly.  Very hilly.  Mountainous actually.

At this point in the trip, my legs had stopped wobbling.  Sadly, this was a temporary condition.

We stayed at an Agriturismo farm waaaaayyyy up on a hill in Monterosso de Mare, the most northern of the 5 towns.  We didn’t have a car so the only way into town and back again was to walk.

And that’s when the wobbling started again.

But it was worth it for the view, our congenial hosts, the delicious meals, and the wine made from the grapes grown in their vineyard.

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Early morning view of all five Cinque Terra towns from our room

OMG – the wine.

One night, after consuming two bottles, K and AGMA videoed ourselves – in our jammies – dancing to “Dancing Queen” by ABBA  and Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk”.  Then sent the video to our families.

There was much remorse and gnashing of teeth in the morning.  And a slight headache.

We hiked, ‘cuz that’s what your supposed to do when you’re in the Cinque Terre.  We hiked between Monterosso and Vernazza one day, then between Corniglia and Vernazza the next day.

There were steps.  Lot of steps.  Lots and lots of steps.

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I had nightmares about these steps!

The wobbling continued.

We used the local train to visit Manarola and Riomaggiore.  But I think we did more hiking up and down and around these towns than on the hikes between the other towns.

AGMA felt like a mountain goat.  Or a bighorn sheep.  Without the horns.

We were blessed with incredible weather which helped take some of the sting out of all the walking and climbing.  The scenery was freakin’ spectacular!

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Riomaggiore looked stunning!

After four wonderful days exploring these beautiful 5 CT towns, we sadly said goodbye to our hosts, left our goat leggings behind, and headed back to Rome for one more night before flying home.

Overall, the trip was amazing.

But please tell me how, after running a marathon, walking all around Siena, Orvieto, Pisa, and climbing up and down the cliffs & towns of the Cinque Terre, AGMA managed to gain 6 pounds?  Sure, we ate well and drank wine, but we didn’t go absolutely nuts.  As a matter of fact, I felt like we exercised great restraint at times.

And K didn’t gain an ounce.

How is that fair?

Back to rabbit food if I want to fit into my new Easter outfit next year.

Now all I need is a bonnet…

 

Ciao Bella Italy Part Uno

 

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AGMA’s baaaacccckkk!

Actually, I’ve been home for over a week.

Jet lag’s a bitch.

Italy was lovely. That’s what I’ve been telling everybody…. Italy was lovely. Not that I had a fabulous time, or that it was great or wonderful or fantastic.

It was just lovely.

I think AGMA needs to stay home a while. I think I’m starting to get blasé about traveling. I’ll have to ponder that…

It could be that I traveled with a friend I’ve never traveled with before. CB’s a lovely, delightful person who’s been a friend for 30 years.  She’s also much loved by scores and scores of people.

Seriously.

And for a very long time, AGMA wanted to be CB. I wanted to live her life. I envied her rock solid marriage, her family – 4 sons who cherish her and get along with each other, her career (one of those $150/hr consulting things) and her gracious hostessing skills.

But most of all, I envied her scores of friends and relatives who absolutely adore her. A-D-O-R-E. I mean, if she would meet an untimely end tomorrow, there would literally be 1000’s at her funeral, all wailing and weeping and gnashing their teeth.  Me included.

So I pretty much thought CB was everything that I wanted to be. I always wanted lots of adoring friends, but it’s just never happened. And probably never will. AGMA’s a bit too crusty to be adored.

CB IS a lovely person and a good friend, but….

You never truly, really know somebody until you travel with them.

We are very different people. That became pretty obvious on our trip. There weren’t any major issues or confrontations, thank God. That would’ve been miserable. But we definitely have different “styles” and ways of approaching things.

AGMA’s not going to get into specifics. But while the feeling that I wanted to be her, to live her life, has faded over the years, I came home from our trip convinced that I did not want to be her, to live her life.

As imperfect as it is, AGMA kinda likes her own skin.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

So Italy was lovely.

We were in Rome for the first 5 days. Some of CB’s adoring fans are former business associates who live near Rome, so we had dinner with them (O & V) several evenings. It was awesome to have their translation skills and culinary advice.

One evening, O advised me to order the lamb entrails for dinner. She said it was a very typical Roman dish and was served for breakfast on Easter morning in many Roman households. “Hey”, I thought, “When in Rome…eat like a local. I like lamb. Why not?”

AGMA’s face was quite expressive when the server put my order on the table.

Nothing. Like. Lamb chops.

A heaping plate of brownish gray cooked lamb guts. I mean heaping. And I swear they were staring at me.

Watching my every move…

Golly, I can’t think of anything better to serve on Easter morning!

I made a brave effort to eat some of it, but thankfully there was plenty of other more than palatable food on the table that wasn’t staring at me. I think O was disappointed I didn’t chow down on it. She took the leftovers home to her dog who I’m sure did chow down on it.

But AGMA was somewhat subdued during our time in Rome.

I was running the Rome Marathon on our last full day in Roma and was worried about passing the medical exam that I needed to actually be able to run.

It’s a long story, but Italy has some weird medical requirements for people who want to run marathons. Marathons in the US will pretty much let anybody run. They really don’t care if you keel over with a stroke or heart attack. As long as you pay your entry fee and check the little box that you won’t hold anybody liable for anything, you’re good to go.

Evidently Italy doesn’t want you stroking out.

There was one test they required that would have been very expensive to get in the US, so I opted to get my exam in Rome two days before the marathon.

On March 31, I was whisked away from the Rome Marathon expo to parts unknown in a Smartcar by an Italian gentleman who didn’t speak English. CB anxiously waited for me at the expo, ready to call the police if I didn’t return.

This was going to be an adventure.

After a twenty minute drive, I met Guido, the Sports Medicine Man.

Guido was quite good looking. And much younger than me. And he asked me to take of my shirt.

Things were getting interesting…

AGMA felt like she was in a Fellini movie….“The Cougar and the Sports Medicine Man”

But alas, it was to attach the wires for the EKG to my chest. I wished I’d worn a nicer bra.

He also took my blood pressure. When I told him it might be a little high (I was nervous about failing the exam and not running in the marathon), he said in a husky whisper, “Maybe it’s because I am so close to you.”

Seriously. Sort of. He actually used a normal voice. The husky whisper part was in the dream that AGMA had later that night.

I passed my tests (but my BP was indeed high – probably multiple reasons…) and was able to run in the marathon on April 2nd.

And I finished! And didn’t stroke out. That’s always a good thing.

Just an FYI, it was not mandatory to run naked as the picture of the medal suggests.  That’s also a good thing.

Total self acceptance, lamb guts, Guido and a clothed marathon finish in the shadow of the Coliseum….

Okay, so maybe AGMA’s trip to Italy really was fantastic.

Stay tuned for Ciao Bella Italy Part Due (pronounced doo-eh)!

The prodigal child returns (almost…)

Hey’all!

‘member me?  AGMA…

It’s been a while and I kinda sorta left everybody dangling with some semi-dramatic stuff in my last post.  Then nada, nothing.

I’m soooooo sorry!

AGMA hit the road again and it’s been just a bit crazy.

I’m on the downside of a two week trip to Italy.   We fly back over the Big Pond on Tuesday.  I hope I.C.E. lets AGMA back in the U.S.

It’s been an eventful, interesting, fun trip.

I ran the Rome Marathon.  In Rome.  And finished.  It took me a long time – as usual.   But it was awesome!  More when I get home…

Hubs stayed home with the cats this trip so AGMA’s traveling with a long time friend who lives in a different city.  “They” say you really don’t know somebody until you travel with them.  “They” are right.  More when I get home…

Basically, I just wanted to let everybody know that I’m alive and okay.  And so is Hubs.

His CAT scan showed no other indications of cancer in his innards.  So we whooped it up over that!  Thank God.

My MRI showed the horrible, wonderful prednisone did it’s job.  The most unwelcomed mass in my pancreas is gone.  Poof.  Goodbye.  Thank God.

I’m still left with the ulcerative colitis that was an extra added bonus of the autoimmune pancreatitis, but so far, it has been extremely mild.  Thank God.

I got my two crowns.  It was traumatic (isn’t dentist stuff always traumatic?) but I survived.  With minimal whining.  Thank God.

And my shingles and the after effects are 99.9% gone.  Poof.  Goodbye.  Thank God.

So AGMA feels like a new woman!  Actually, after all of the wine, pasta and dolci I’ve had, I feel like two new women.  By the time I get home, I could be three new women

So hang tight.

I’ll be home soon and be posting some juicy travel stuff shortly.  All with the trademark AGMA “twist”.

And I’m really looking forward to getting caught up on everybody else’s posts.  And lives.

I really miss you guys!

Ciao!

P.S.  The massive picture at the top has nothing to do with this post. But you probably figured that out.  I couldn’t upload the one I wanted (it’s complicated…) so I just used one I had in my media library but hadn’t used yet.  AGMA will let you ponder what kind of post that was going to be…

 

 

One tough sausage ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naturally.

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

Now it’s time to see if it worked.

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

Stay tuned…

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

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

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

Pretty radical huh?

That’s AGMA.

Mr. Feder…Part Deux

capsaicin

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

Lucky for you, I came to my senses.

So…no post last week.

AGMA is out of control again.

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

Out. Of. Control.

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

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

Tomorrow, I go to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

ZZZzzzz…

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

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

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

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

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

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

That sucks.

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

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

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

I’m so over it.

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

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

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

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

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

Oh la la.

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

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

Let’s do this.  Sounds like fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’ll talk.  Oh yes – they’ll talk.

AGMA guarantees it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Feder…

rosanna-rosanna-dana

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

And she rocked.

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

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

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

Gotta love the in-laws.

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

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

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

AGMA can relate.

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

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

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

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

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

WTF??

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

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

Joke’s on her. Or AGMA.

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

Damn.

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

That would not be cool.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wake me up when it’s all over.

Inked!

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Yeah AGMA did!

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

The agony and the ecstasy.

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

What’s that all about?

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

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

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

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

AGMA’s getting mushy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

AGMA likes that.

Thanks for going on this fantastic journey with me!

Aging gracefully my ass.