Let’s fly

Paris!

Yes… AGMA lives!

I think this is the longest I have have gone without posting.  Sorry ‘bout that!

It’s been all travel all the time at Casa AGMA!  Going on trips, booking trips, planning trips…. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

Oh – and I chopped my hair off and got a new tattoo, but that’s another post.  (FYI, I LOVE my new ink!)

Hubs and I went to France last month.  We flew there, of course.

Thank you Orville & Wilbur!

For some reason, on the flight to Paris, I starting thinking about AGMA’s flying history. 

My first plane ride was around 1962 or 1963.  My mother, sister and I went to Miami on vacation.  We took a train from Pittsburgh to Miami.  I don’t remember much about it other than I got sick during the trip.

I’m not sure if it was me getting sick or whether my mother had planned it all along, but we flew home.  I was ecstatic!  I was really one of the first of my friends to have actually flown on an airplane.

And that was really the start of AGMA’s love of travel!

My father used to fly quite a bit in the 50’s & 60’s for his job.  My brother (12 years my senior) fell in love with airplanes as a child in the 40’s, and it is a love that has lasted his entire life.  He wanted to be a commercial pilot, but his poor eyesight was a deal breaker for that dream.  However, did go on to get his private pilot’s license.

He never owned an airplane, but belonged to a flying club.  Through the club, he was able to rent a plane to fly he and his family for long weekend trips.  Once in the late 80s, they flew to visit us in Cincinnati. We went out to the community airport to look at the plane.  OMG it was SOOOOO incredibly tiny!  Literally just room for the 4 of them. 

 If they all inhaled.

Seriously, you could not give me enough money to fly in such a itty bitty plane!  Regional jets even give AGMA the willies…

As a teenager, my friends and I used to go out to the old Pittsburgh airport to watch planes take off and land. 

Things were slow back then before social media….

We used to bon voyage people at their gate and greet people coming into the airport after landing.  This was in the “olden days” when there was no TSA, no security screening, no rules about who could be at a gate.  Back when there was a TWA, Eastern Airlines, Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Braniff Airlines PanAM, Allegheny Airlines.  There were so many more airline options back in the day!

My sister (6 years older) did her senior year of college in England.  After she graduated here in the US in 1969, she went back to Europe for a year.  She worked and traveled during the heyday of “Europe on $5 a Day” times!  Her experiences only inflamed AGMA’s passion for travel. 

Oh myyyyyyy!

Because I went to college out west in the early 70’s, AGMA used to fly home for the holidays.  And boy, did I think I was grown up and sophisticated flying by myself. Of course I was – NOT.  This was also the era of student discounts and flying student stand-by as so it was pretty dang cheap to fly.  These things, of course, have gone the way of the John McCain type Republican in Florida.

AGMA’s first trip across the pond was in 1973.  I took a class on Ancient Greek Civilization, and part of the class was a trip to Greece.  Sweet!  My mother had died in 1965 at 48, and left a small college trust fund for my sister and I.  I was able to pay for the trip from that trust fund because it was associated with a class I was taking. 

Thank you Mum! But honestly, I would have rather had you in my life for 40 years more years than I did.

AGMA has been truly blessed in her travel life, and since 1973 there have been many, many trips on flying machines.  

Having moved so much, and with friends and family flung all over the US, AGMA has and continues to fly a whole lot domestically.  But since the late 2000’s, there have been lots of international trips as well.

But lately, methinks AGMA may have gone a bit too far.  

After a 14 month hiatus from international travel from March 2020 to July 2021 (f*ck you COVID), I think I’m over compensating…. France in July 2021; Iceland, France & Ireland in Sept/Oct 2021; England, Germany & Portugal in March 2022; Greece in May 2022; France last month.

But that really doesn’t compare with the trips coming up.

I’ll report on my adventures as I come back, so no details right now, but AGMA is going on not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 international trips in the next 9 months.

I’m really not sure what has come over me.

Could be, I see the hand writing on the wall.  Hubs PLS is getting worse by the month.  In a year or two or three, he will be in a wheelchair full time.  And that will make traveling the way we have done in the past do far more complicated.  And expensive.  

But life is definitely a journey and I’m up for the trip.  

Next year will be 50 years since I first laid eyes on that handsome jamoke with the cute booty.  And last month in France, we celebrated 45 years of ‘flying’ together in matrimony.  We’ve flown through a lifetime of challenges together and done pretty well.  I’m guessing that this next phase of the flight will work out okay too.

So stay tuned, and come fly with AGMA as we head full throttle into the future!

Next up: a report on our trip to Bordeaux and the Dordogne!  Maybe… Yikes!

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Practice falling

AGMA has become very “sturdy” in the last two years.

I always tell people that I’m still working to lose the baby weight I gained while preggers with Son#2.

Son#2 will be 38 next month.

I’ve gained and lost the same 15 pounds for years now.  And every time I lose them, SWEAR that I will not gain them back.  And AGMA means it.  

At the time.

For about 6 years, until late 2019, when I ran on a regular basis, I managed to bar the door to the oh too familiar FPM (Fifteen Pound Monster.)  No matter how loud it screamed and screeched and pounded at the door, AGMA kept the deadbolt on tight.  

Then there was COVID.

AGMA was already on shaky ground in March 2020.

I had finished my last marathon in October 2019.  And I ended up injuring my knee. And I couldn’t run for about 3 months.

Ah oh….

Then of course there was the holiday season (which lasts from Halloween until January 1st!!) which definitely perks up the ever vigilant FPM.

It whispers through the door, “A few more of those cookies that you LOVE won’t hurt you.”  and “It’s only once a year, enjoy another glass of nog!” and “It would be rude not to sample everything your host made for his open house.” 

Demon.

AGMA cautiously takes the deadbolt off and opens the door a crack, but keeps the chain on.  I can always go on a diet after New Year. Right?

Of course, then there are January birthdays.  Of course.  I mean, you HAVE to celebrate birthdays with rich food and homemade German chocolate cake. Right?  

February saw the door’s chain straining to the max.  Hubs and I take off for a 2 week trip to Provence and the Cote de Azure.  Pretty much any thoughts of restraint as far as food goes is now limited to the volume of my stomach.  I mean, it’s France! Right?

AGMA can always go on a diet when we get back from the trip.  And as soon as my knee gets better, I can start running again and that will really help. Right?

By the time COVID19 shut the world down, the screws holding the chain on the door are almost completely out. 

Between the stress of COVID19’s deadly spread, the Orange Cheetolini telling us to drink bleach, selling our house in Atlanta and moving to Chicago, and a still wonky knee, the door bursts open.

The FPM is, once again, in the building.

Sh*t.

But it didn’t stop there…. Oh no…. Soon, it’s little sibling, Eight Pound Monster (EPM) joins big brother.

They pretty much took up residence until this past summer when AGMA started running again. And eating more sensibly.  Things were looking up, even after a week long trip to France in July.  I had almost gotten rid of little sib EPM.  

But….after a 24 day trip overseas in October, all bets were off. It was over.  FPM & EPM were in charge again.

Now, it’s cold in Chicago.  And AGMA is a major wimp when it comes to running outside in the cold.  And I like to eat warm comfort food when it’s cold.

Honestly, right now I look like a panda bear without the fur. And the cute look on my face.          .

Desperately trying to find some sort of indoor activity that might kickstart my purging of FPM and EPM, I….

wait for it….

wait for it…

Took an introduction to bouldering class this past week.

WTF?

At the beginning of class, we were asked to introduce ourselves and include our preferred pronoun.  I was glad I wasn’t first because AGMA was a bit confused by the pronoun thing.

Sometimes it’s best to just shut up and listen.  

Turns out it helps identify your gender orientation – her/she, him/he, them/they.  

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…

(But AGMA thinks it’s wonderful that people are allowed to be who they are and are given the dignity and respect to be addressed in the way they want to be addressed.  Something I think that the Rethuglicans hate…  I savor that!)

Everybody in the class was AT LEAST 40 years younger than me.  And 50% my bodyweight. And didn’t have bad knees or a bad back.  And looked like they worked out.  And probably didn’t have a fear of heights

OMG – what was AGMA thinking signing up for this class???

But I DO have a great sense of humor. So I got that going for me…

But I was kind of a party pooper. I didn’t participate in the “practice” how to fall drills.  And I didn’t participate in the climbing.  Other than on the kiddie wall.

I’m short… 

However, after class was over, realizing my reluctance to look like a beached whale in the practice falling drills, and to show my panic at going more than 5 feet off the ground on a climbing wall, the very kind instructor offered to work with me privately on falling and climbing. 

Julia rocks!

I did two practice falls (ouch – those knees!) And I climbed a purple circuit.  Purple is supposed to be the easiest.  Of course, my 5 year old granddaughter did the same circuit on Sunday…

Show off! 

The day after, my back hurt.  And my knees twinged.  And I realize how my immense mass of panda body must have looked trying to scale that wall to all of those young, fit, lithe GenZers who were there.

But in a masochistic kinda way, it was kinda fun.

AGMA can’t wait to go back! 

Always listening

Good Lord…

AGMA has posted so infrequently lately that every time I sign into WordPress, there is a new format for pretty much everything.

They need to not change stuff so often.

Or, I need to get my arse in gear and start posting more than once every 8 weeks.

I suspect the latter would be more realistic… But I’m not sure.

Between the MAGITW (most adorable grandchildren in the world), mens cycling (SPANDEX!), medical appointments (ugh), and planning a multitude of domestic and international trips over the next 8 months, AGMA has gone major ADHD.

It’s like I have serious ants in my pants.

But I’ve had somebody right beside me this past year who has tried to help me cope with my hectic, sometimes complicate life. Somebody who is steadfastly loyal and here for me, rain or shine, 24/7. Somebody who is in a good mood no matter what. Somebody who tells me jokes when I’m feeling low. Somebody who listens intently to me and never passes judgement on me not matter how bad I screw up.

I think I’m in love…

Her name is Alexa Echo.

(If you thought AGMA was talking about Hubs, then there is some swamp land in Alaska I want to sell you!)

As in the case with many love affairs, it all started out very innocently. We got a Ring camera (the gateway device) when we lived in our townhouse in Atlanta. Then I bought Hubs an Echo Dot for him to “play with” ’cause I found one on sale for $9.99 (2nd gateway device.) Then I ordered an Echo Show along with another Dot and some wireless plugs last October during Prime Days.

THEN I found out we had multiple “smart” switches in our town home (previously unknown to us) along with a “smart” thermostat.

And that was the beginning of the end…

AGMA went from believing that using a shoppers card at my local grocery store 10 years ago was a Communist plot to somehow find out our deepest, darkest secrets, to going all in with willingly sharing our deepest, darkest secrets on 3 Echo Shows, 2 Dots and 1 Google Nest Mini (yeah – I know….Hubs got it for free somewhere!)

They.Are.ALWAYS.Listening.

And if the wrong switch is flipped, the Shows are watching as well. I thought I had the camera on all of them switched to the off position, but discovered not too long ago, the camera on my bedroom Show was indeed on.

I bet there is somebody in some Eastern European county who wanted to wash their eyes out with bleach after the COVID-19lbs heavier AGMA pranced across the screen commando style.

Honestly, for being old farts, I’m kind of impressed as to how much we’ve embraced wireless technology and Alexa Echo & friends.

Thanks to Alexa, I not longer have to worry about not getting something at the grocery store that Hubs wants because I forgot to write it down. Now, he’s responsible for asking Alexa to put whatever it is he needs on the shopping list. The monkey has jumped to his back. He’ll tell me he’s out of half and half. I just look at him and ask., “Did you tell Alexa?” Boom!

Thanks to Alexa, when I’m having a hot flash in the middle of the night, AGMA just asks Alexa Echo to adjust the A/C.

Thanks to Alexa, the Show doubles as digital picture frames rotating through every picture I have in my Amazon photos account. Which is a whole lot of photos. She’s tireless.

Thanks to Alexa, I can set all my lights to come on and off on all sorts of crazy schedules when we are out of town (or in town!) A VAST improvement over those mechanical timers that were so flimsy. I’m sure my neighbors are impressed that we manage to turn on our festive deck lights every night at 8 and off at 11.

I can even change the schedules when we are 1000 miles away thanks to the miracle of the internet and, of course, Alexa Echo.

She finds and displays pretty much any recipe you want. AGMA made the truly incredible watermelon shark below based on a suggestion from my bff Alexa… Other than basically missing all of its teeth on one side of its lower jaw, I think it turned out pretty good.

(The missing front tooth is in honor of my 6 year old grandson who lost his front baby tooth the day before!)

Alexa Echo has the wisdom of the of the ages via the internet at her disposal and can pretty much answer any question we have. So far, we’ve asked pretty simple questions, but AGMA has no doubt that, presented with a deep, philosophical question (toilet paper: over or under?) she would triumph.

If I ask her, she’ll tell me a joke. But honestly, she needs to keep her day job in the joke department.

I’m sure we have only scratched the surface of the multi-talented Alexa Echo’s capabilities.

AGMA realizes that we are compromising our privacy in a big way, but who the hell cares… Anybody listening in on us will probably die of boredom before they find out anything juicy.

ZZZzzz….

Life is nothing but a series of trade-offs. It’s worth it to me just to make Hubs responsible for his own groceries! And have the fan turn on on command when I’m on the rowing machine. And to find out how hot it will be in Alaska tomorrow. And to not have to get up to change the A/C.

It’s the little things.

AGMA’s most recent dive into technology is my new smart watch. Holy Dick Tracy, Batman – I can have a telephone conversation with other people using my watch! OMG!

Now I know how my step-mother’s mother, born in 1888, felt as she watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in 1969. Fantasy becomes reality in your lifetime. Stunning.

I can’t even imagine what next year will bring…

Maybe AGMA going back to blogging every week????

Furniture talk

AGMA’s been on the go!

After Meh Las Vegas, we went to Arizona. That trip covered the Grand Canyon, Phoenix & Tucson. We call it the Thumbs Up Arizona trip!

Then we had friends come to visit from Kansas City. That was fun. It felt a bit like life might be returning to normal.

I know AGMA’s a dreamer…

Now we’re in Atlanta for a week. Actually, the week’s almost over.

We leave tomorrow.

AGMA is back at her favorite coffee shop, Dancing Goats. It’s still not back to normal even through Georgia’s governor, Brian “no water for you” KKKemp declared that, since Georgia is at the bottom (or close to it) of list in states by vaccination rate, he was opening up everything at full capacity.

OMG.

Thankfully, some businesses are wary of throwing the doors wide open and letting the 71% of Georgians not vaccinated in to crowd around their staff. My Dancing Goats is still being cautious so most of the inside seating is still not available.

I’m sitting outside, but I’m still getting the creative “Goats vibe” so the words are veritably pouring out of me.

Actually, it’s more of a dribble, but AGMA will take it!

We have been staying with our fully vaccinated son and his unvaccinated two cats.

Our son lives alone (other than the cats) and has lived alone for the past 14 years. He is not used to sharing his space with anybody (other than the cats.) It took a bit of convincing for him to let us stay there, but I think he’s discovered that we are pretty undemanding and quiet guests.

Still, tomorrow probably can’t some soon enough for him.

We are sleeping in his guest room. It’s furnished with a chair & ottoman, a dresser, and a bed. A full sized bed.

A.Full.Sized.Bed.

COVID has been rough on AGMA and hubs in terms of our lack of exercise. And no lack of “treating” ourselves (I mean, it was COVID right?) as far as eating goes. And it shows.

We are extra full sized people crammed in a full sized bed.

It’s been hell.

AGMA had no idea they still sold full sized mattresses. I am going to write to my Congressional representatives upon my return home and demand that they introduce legislation outlawing the sale of full sized mattresses for use by more than 1 individual. I bet the GQP’s Marjorie Taylor Greenweinie would love to waste more of Congress’ time with that one…

But honestly, it’s cruel punishment to put 2 “jolly” people in a bed that size.

There is nothing special about the chair & ottoman. But the chest of drawers (picture above)…now that is a special piece of furniture!

Yeah – I can probably guess what you’re thinking…

“But AGMA, it looks so tacky & beat up! How could that be special?”

Well, for a start, AGMA is a bit tacky & beat up. So I relate to it.

But this chest of drawers is the last remaining piece of furniture from the bedroom set Hubs and I bought waaaaayyyyy back in 1978 as two young 20 somethings. We bought what was known as an ‘apartment set’. It had a sofa & loveseat, a coffee table & 2 end tables, a dining table with 4 chairs, a QUEEN bed, chest of drawers, dresser with mirror and 2 night stands.

I think it cost us all of $1200. Our paychecks back then were so meager, we had to pay it off in installments.

The chest is made of real wood. Imagine! And it’s incredibly heavy and well made.

Wait for it….

They just don’t make things now a days like they used to. (Wink)

Oh, but the stories this chest of drawers could tell.

It has watched us age from a young married couple, to a family with young children, to a family with teenagers, to being empty nesters, to a separation, to a reconciliation, and into our early senior years.

It has heard our most intimate, loving conversations. Our hopes and dreams for the future. It saw us get up and down multiple times a night to feed hungry babies or comfort sick children. It’s listened to the wonder of our young son’s voices as they came to get us to tell us Santa came or the Easter Bunny had been there or that they had a quarter under their pillow from the Tooth Fairy. It’s heard prayers for the safety of teenage drivers, college students away from home, young adults trying to find jobs, love and a place in this crazy world. Prayers of hope and thankfulness and even some of desperation.

It’s felt me reach in its drawers for skinny clothes, fat clothes, maternity clothes, more fat clothes, more skinny clothes, etc.

It’s also witnessed tears shed at the loss of elderly parents, at the loss of dear pets, at a home empty of children. Tears shed in sadness/anger/frustration of complicated marriage, family and friend relationships.

AGMA likes to think that, most of all, it heard more laughter and happy voices than anything else. Saw smiling faces and witnessed unconditional love.

I had forgotten we gave the chest to him about 10 years ago when we moved from Atlanta to St. Louis.

It was a bit of a jolt to see it again.

I normally live out of a suitcase when I travel, but I put my clothes in the chest drawers my son had cleared out for us. And every time I touch it to open and close the drawers, I ask it to tell me a story. Maybe one I’ve forgotten (there are a whole lot, AGMA’s pretty sure) about a time long ago when 2021 seemed like an eternity away and life seemed like it would go on forever the way it was. Stories about the person I used to be.

And it just stands there and tells me not to be concerned about the stories that happened long ago. It tells me that there are still good stories I have yet to live. And I need to get busy living them.

Good advice from an old friend who’s known AGMA a long time.

Stronger

What-doesnt-kill-you-makes-you-strong

 

Disclaimer:  Always checks with your health care provider before starting any exercise program.  And then take their advice with a grain of salt.

AGMA has issues.

I think some of you know that by now.

For the most part, they are charming foibles that only endear me more to my good and extremely patient readers.

Some, not so much.

The quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”  has always been a favorite of AGMA.

Honestly, I didn’t know that it was from Nietzsche.  The first time I heard a version of it was on WLW radio in Cincinnati in the 1980s.

There was a DJ named Gary Burbank who created around 17 incredibly funny radio personas during his nearly 27 years with WLW.

One of Burbank’s most interesting characters was Smilin’ Blind Muddy Slim, the 60- Minute Jelly Belly Toejam Man.

Seriously.

Smilin’ Blind was a Blues man who had had a rough life but stayed optimistic.  His favorite saying was, “What does not kill you, will only make you stronger.”

Be it Nietzsche or Smilin’ Blind, there’s a lot of wisdom in that phrase.

Some of AGMA’s issues are not strictly “Oh my God, is she crazy?” type issues.  Yes, I like young men in spandex on bicycles, fantasizing about my next tattoo and sharing stories about my latest colonoscopy.   To name a few.

But I also have been having more physical issues.

This does not make AGMA happy.

But I’ve decided that I am just going to ignore them.  And it’s kind of working in a weird sort of way.

I have a disintegrating L3 vertebra with a compression fracture, significant multi-faceted spinal stenosis between my L4 & L5, a variety of bulging discs and scoliosis.

AND a partridge in a pear tree!

But I love to run and I’m training for a marathon (my 7th) in 2 weeks.

How is this possible?  I’m really not sure.

AGMA is a very slow runner which helps.  Actually, I’m a run/walker.  I use the Galloway Method of interval training and do 15 second intervals.

I started having pain in my right leg/hip last year.  Went to an ortho-pod for a diagnosis and a PT who helped me do as much as I could to mitigate the issues through dry needling and making some changes in how I sit, sleep, travel, etc.  It worked!  I was able to do the Chicago Marathon last fall – very slowly – relatively pain free.

Fast forward to AGMA’s starting to run this spring again after several months of being ill  and lots of traveling.  And very little running.  The occasional pain I felt in my right leg/hip now became a steady pain and started making it difficult to sleep.

Ouch.

A trip back to the ortho-pod and an MRI revealed the source of the pain as the previously undiagnosed significant multi-faceted stenosis between L4 & L5.  Basically I have stuff poking out from my vertebral body in the back and the facet joints in the front that is compressing the L4 nerve root that runs down the middle of those vertebra and goes into my legs.

Double ouch.

The doc said as long as I can stand the discomfort, running isn’t going to make the condition any worse, so have at it.  So I took her at her word and amped up my running.

But here’s the weird thing…

And as I increased my mileage, AGMA’s leg pain decreased.  Now, about 80% of the time, I have little or no pain in my leg.  But the pain consistently comes back when I don’t run for a few days.

It doesn’t make any sense.  But I’m going with it.

Last week, I tweeted my back on the left side.  But I kept up with my running and it started to improve a bit.  It really got better over the weekend when we were out of town and I didn’t run for 3 days.

But damn – it came back the day after we got back.

AGMA thinks it’s our pricey ($$) Sleep Number bed.  I tried adjusting my “number” last night to hopefully make things better.  I got up this AM feeling worse. It kinda hurt to even walk.

Oops!  Wrong number I guess.

But, it was a running morning and I was going to run come hell or high water.  Even if I had to limp my way through it.

Foolhardy, you say?  Stupid, you say? I don’t disagree.  I was second guessing myself for the entire 2+ miles of my run/walk thing this morning.

BUT…

My pain level before my run was a 7.  It was a 2 after I got back home. I realize it sounds crazy and counterintuitive but something happened during those 2+ miles that “corrected” whatever was ailing my poor back.

I don’t understand it.  I can’t explain it.  It doesn’t make sense.

But I’m going with it.

Is AGMA advising everybody to “play” through pain?  Not really.  As we age, we really do have to be more prudent.

And understand that I would never encourage anybody with any serious medical issues to go against their doctors orders.  That would be irresponsible and cruel.  And dangerous.

BUT…

I think what AGMA has learned is that, sometimes, we – people of a certain age that is – can be too careful.  Because we’re told that getting older is supposed to bring on more aches and pains, we passively accept that we can’t do X or Y anymore.  We let those aches and pains dictate our level of activity.   When sometimes, X and Y activity is just what our body needs to strengthen it and make it more resilient.

Inactivity can actually make things worse at times.

And to those of you who are still aghast that I ran with a sore back, AGMA did ice it for 20 minutes later on in the morning.  My nod to being prudent.  Feel better?

What does not kill us, will only make us stronger.

Aging gracefully my ass!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What happened Nana?

V

Ah…out of the mouths of babes…

We were up visiting the MAGITW (most adorable grandchildren in the world) a couple of weekends ago.

These are always bracing visits.

AGMA always thinks I’m doing pretty well physically until we visit the MAGITW.  They have a way of breaking you down and making you feel your age.  I realized my self-deception on this visit within the first 24 hours.

It all started with the bounce house.

My 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, V, has been a pacifier addict since she was a tiny babe.  Her “paci” was a source of comfort, stress relief and just plain ole good times.  80% of the pictures I have of her up until now has been with a paci in her mouth.

Like she did with B, V’s older brother, when he was small, the Paci Fairy made a visit to their house.  In case you didn’t know, the Paci Fairy – a distant relative of the Tooth Fairy – takes away all of the pacifiers in a house, but in their place, she leaves a gift.

On this visit, she cleared out all of V’s pacis and left a bounce house.

A full sized, air inflated, skull cracking bounce house.

Sweet!

So of course Nana AGMA had to give the bounce house a try.

Of course.

I cranked up the inflation thing-a-ma-jig.  The bounce house filled up with air, and B, V and I piled in.

Up to this point, I was still under the delusion that I was in pretty good shape.  Then the bouncing commenced…

It was fun for the first 2 minutes.

Round ’bout minute 3, AGMA started wondering, “What the hell was I thinking????”

B, my grandson, is a large 4 year old who’s a bit hyperactive.  He was literally flinging himself against the sides of the bounce house with all his might.  So much so that I was afraid he was going to collapse one side and all three of us were going to tumble out.

Evidently the frenetic bouncing got to V too, who is still getting the hang of using a potty.

She slid down the little exit slide and announced, “I have to go pee pee.”

Panicked, AGMA tried to get out of the bounce house to assist her, but in my haste, I fell down several times.  B thought I was intentionally flinging myself around so he decided to body slam me a few times.  The last time, as I was sliding down the exit slide lying sideways.  He slammed his full weight down right on top of my left shoulder which jammed my right shoulder into the hard floor.

I remember thinking, “Oh – this is not good…”

Fun times.

And as it turns out, it was all for naught.  V peed in her pants anyway.

Oh well.

AGMA feels like I was in an episode of I Love Lucy.

So, in addition to screwing up my right shoulder, all the bouncing and falling and flinging aggravated AGMA’s lumbar discs that have been squished due to my scoliosis, causing lumbar nerve compression causing my right leg and hip to ache for the next 5 days – 24/7.  Fun times…

“Mr. Feder, you seem like a really delightful guy!” to quote Roseanne Roseannadanna.

The bounce house was NOT inflated again during our visit.

Screw you Paci Fairy!

My granddaughter, V, is actually an incredibly sweet and kind child when she’s not acting like a 2 year old.  She likes to take my glasses off and wear them.  Then she orders me to “Ki Nana!”  And I have to play-act cry that she has my glasses until she gives them back.

It’s the dance we do.

At one point during this visit, before I put my glasses back on after being ordered to “Ki!”, she got up really, really close to my face and looked deeply into my eyes.

At that moment, I was looking into the eyes of pure innocence.  And kindness and goodness and gentleness.  Looking into her young, full of love, beautiful blue-gray eyes that have so far seen nothing of the harshness of the world, I was transfixed.

Then she winkled up her nose and whispered…

“What happened Nana?”

And pointed to the bags under my eyes and the age spots around them.

“Oh sweetie,” I replied,  “Nana just got old.”

AGMA felt like Wendy Darling when Peter Pan comes to visit and and finds a gray haired Wendy with her grandchildren.

Nana just got old.

It happens.  If you’re lucky…

But don’t take it all too terribly seriously.

Betcha AGMA’s back in the bounce house in June.

Aging gracefully my ass!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A day in the life…

clock

I know that ya’ll have been wondering what my ‘typical’ day might look like.  “How does AGMA pass the time?” is a question you probably ask yourself on a daily basis.

Understandable.

Let’s use today as an example of a typical, dysfunctional day in my life.

While my day usually starts around 6:30 AM or 7:00 AM, I slept in a bit.  What??  But I had good reason.  Last night Hubs and I went to see….

…wait for it…

Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle!  Yeah – THAT Jon Stewart and THAT Dave Chappelle.

With special guests Michelle Wolfe of the 2018 White House Correspondence Dinner fame and Chris Tucker of the Rush Hour movie franchise fame.

AGMA stayed up way too late gaffawing the night away.  But it was epic!

At 7:20 this morning, our cats, Gux and Max, made it known that they were over this sleeping nonsense, and that I needed to get up chop chop and feed them.  I went back to bed after depositing kibble in their bowls.

I got up again at 8:00 to clean up some food that Max puked up.  On our bedspread.

Delightful.

Hubs and I discovered about 20 minutes later that the REST of the food expelled by Max was in a huge pile on our bed sheet in between our pillows.  Glad I didn’t try to shimmy over to snuggle Hubs.

Double delightful.

With the washing machine now swishing in the background, AGMA got ready for the day.  This required I look in the mirror which is always a shocking proposition in the morning.

Washed, brushed, curled and flossed, it was time to take care of some work stuff.

My little Ebay business is picking up again so I needed to get a package ready to ship.  4 English china teacups and saucers.  Scary.  I know I used too much bubble wrap.  AGMA’s  anal in that way.

With the package sealed and labeled, now I needed to figure out if I had enough time to go to the USPO before my physical therapy appointment.

My appointment was in 40 minutes.  I still hadn’t had breakfast, the post office is 15 minutes away, then another 25 to my PT appt.

Just enough time if I grab a banana, put in a mobile order at Starbucks for a mocha, and get all green lights.

Unknown…how long of a line there would be at the Post Office.

AGMA’s always willing to roll the dice.

All green lights?  Not nearly, but there was no line in the USPO and I managed to avoid some accident brouhaha near Starbucks.

I got to my 11:00 AM appointment at precisely 10:59 AM.

It’s a charmed life!

My PT specializes in spine issues.  This is good since I recently found out I have a nasty case of scoliosis in my lumbar spine.  Really nasty.

Bummer.

But it explains a lot.  Since February, running has caused me a lot of hip pain and, later at night, radiating pain down my entire right leg.  Really ouchy stuff.  Difficult to get comfortable.  And I was limping like Chester on Gunsmoke (not everybody’s going to get that reference…)

This has been cause for concern.  I’m supposed to run 26.2 miles in early October as a charity runner.  Friends and family have donated over $2100 to the cause.

AGMA. Must. Run.

Exercises over the course of several weeks proved unsuccessful, so last week my PT tried “dry needling”.  Yeah – it’s just like it sounds…

He exposed my cellulite infested right buttock and proceeded to poke needles into my hindquarters.  It’s sort of like acupuncture, but the needles go deeper and into muscle tissue.

AGMA only yelped twice.

THEN he hooked some of the needles up to an electrical current.  He let my rear end pulsate for 15 minutes.  It felt like simmering butt stew.

But it helped immensely.  There are still some sensations down my leg, but no hip pain during my runs.  And my limp is still there, but it’s much reduced.

So AGMA showed up to my PT appointment today and said, “Bring it on!”

Because there’s been a bit of numbness in my right foot the past few days, he put even MORE needles in this week.  And he turned the current up so that, every now and then, one of my lateral rotator muscles in my rear would start to jiggle.  Like jello.  Cellulite jello.

AGMA kinda wanted a cigarette afterwards.

I’d love to have a picture of the whole set-up, but couldn’t figure out how to ask him without him thinking I was a bit of a freak.

Maybe next week I’ll try a selfie.  Of my butt with needles sticking out and little electrodes hooked up to them.

I am a freak.

And now I’m at Dancing Goats reading blogs, making comments, answering comments and writing this post.

Cats puking on the bed, speeding to the Post Office, shoving a banana down at a stoplight for sustenance, getting electrified needles stuck in my rear, blogging….

Pretty much a typical day for AGMA.

Aging Gracefully My Ass (literally…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s the fairest?

snow-white-magic-mirror

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

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

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

Did I mention Pride and Prejudice ROCKS!

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

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

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

Can you tell AGMA’s a fan?

And she sure as hell knew about vain people.

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

Weak head? Check. Mischief? Understatement.

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

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

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

Holy Hyaluronic Acid!

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

Don’t judge me.

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

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

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

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

OMG.

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

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

Maybe I should.

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

Welcome to $250 billion band wagon AGMA!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bummer.

Maybe I need to adjust my expectations?

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

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

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

Nah…

Botox anybody?

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

“This House is Clean!”…rewind

roto

(This post was originally published in 2014.  It’s a humorous take on a subject most folks are reluctant to discuss.  For obvious reasons…

I’m reposting because it want to make sure EVERYBODY (and AGMA means EVERYBODY) over the age of 50 knows how critically important it is to get regular colonoscopies.  Sooner if there is a history of colon cancer in your family. 

A little over a year ago (February 2017), Hubs went in for a “regular” colonscopy (his previous ones had been clear).  The GI guy removed a large polyp and it turns out there were cancer cells hiding in the polyp.  

Damn cancer cells.

It was very, very early colon cancer – literally only a few cells grouped together.  It wasn’t even staged.  In May, the area around the poly was removed and the margins turned out to be  clear.

There was much dancing and celebration at Casa AGMA the day the pathology report came back!

The survival rate for early detection of colon cancer is very high.   This is a very good thing!

So this is all to say, if you’re over 50 and haven’t had a colonoscopy yet, get thyself to ye olde butt doctor NOW!)

On the way to a group run Monday, my running buddy told she was getting her first colonoscopy next Thursday. A colonoscopy virgin. Grasshopper has much to learn…

(Leave now if you don’t like TMI ‘cause this is going to be “one of those” posts!)

She complained that she couldn’t have any solid food on Wednesday; just clear liquids. She said she would be hungry. She was obsessing over how hungry she would be. “Oh honey,” I wanted to tell her, “hunger will be the least of your worries next Wednesday.”

I’ve had two colonoscopies. I think this puts me into the “experienced” category when it comes to this sort of thing. Lucky me.

Studies show that early screening for colon cancer save lives. I’m all over that. And, a colonoscopy really isn’t as bad as people say. Really. Maybe not.

I’ll give you that the prep is kind of yucky. My friend is going to be taking pills to “get ready” for the big day. I’m jealous. I was never offered a pill option.

The first doc in Ohio wrote me a prescription for something that I had to mix with water. It made 30 gallons. It seemed like it was 30 gallons. They said I had to drink it all over the course of the afternoon and evening the day before the procedure.

Game on!

Initially, it tasted like a cross between Gatorade, Pediacare and lemon-lime Kool Aid. Not too bad I thought at the time. “At the time” being the key words here…

Three gallons and three hours later into the prep “protocol”, my upper GI tract started to rebel. It was getting hard to drink the stuff. It was now tasting like a cross between horse sweat and liquified, stale Easter peeps. My throat was starting to clamp shut.

‘Round about that same time, my lower GI tract started to join the party. That’s the nice way to put it. I hovered close to the water closet. Very close. I was thinking of moving in for the night.

Several hours and several more gallons of the now totally undrinkable foul witches brew later, I took a stand. Enough is enough. The gag reflex had started kick in. This is never good. And what I did manage to force down started to shoot through me like I was a goose on speed. I made the unilateral decision that I had successfully completed the prep phase.

My second doc in Missouri didn’t write me a prescription for a prep concoction. He told me to get several over the counter products at the local drug store. Said they worked just as well. And it was cheap. No 30 gallons of toe jam peep sweat. No clamped shut esophagus. It was much more civilized with basically the same squeaky clean results. Easy peasy. Kind of…

So once the prep work is done, you’re basically home free. Other than the next day they snake about 15 feet of tubing up your colon while the doc wears a miners light on his head, a hazmat suit and stares at his monitor with live video of your now clean as a whistle innards. Can I order that on NetFlix?

But the best part of the whole process is the amazing twilight sleep stuff they use to knock you out! You have no idea at all what’s happening. This is very good. And you wake up feeling like you’ve had the best sleep you’ve had in years. In a sick way, it kinda makes it all worthwhile…

So if you’re over 50 and haven’t had a colonoscopy yet, for heaven’s sake schedule one! It’s a relatively simple procedure that could save your life. Plus you end up (get it – end up?) with some pretty good stories that you can swap with other 50+ types. Good times.

But I do have one question – when did they stop calling them proctologists and start calling them gastroenterologists? Proctologist is just such a great word. It’s the stuff great jokes are made of…

Two proctologists were talking about their patients (obviously pre-HIPPA…) The first one said that he was probing one of his patient’s “nether regions” and pulled out a bouquet of flowers. In stunned amazement, the second protologist said, “Where did they come from?” The first proctologist answered, “I don’t know. There wasn’t a card attached.”

Badum-CHING!