Have curriculum, will coordinate

We’ve been apart for what feels like forever.

AGMA found out that WordPress has a new editor! I’m giving it a try so who knows what this post is going to look like. Where the heck is the word count?

And Andrew at Andrews View of the Week moved from California to Nevada.

What other big changes have gone on out there while I was in hibernation?

Despite crazies like AGMA and Andrew who decide to sell their homes and move in the midst of a pandemic, I think that most folks are like Marty over at Snakes in the Grass and have pretty much been staying home. He complained that there’s just not much to blog about when there’s a wild virus raging outside your door. He volunteered to move to Chicago to help us grandparent TMWGITW. I told him that the children (5, 3 and 1) would indeed provide the needed inspiration for amusing blogging.

The 5 year old, my Boo, keeps himself entertained by asking Echo (at his house) and Alexa (at our apartment) to do fart sounds. There are even fart songs.

Who knew?

Evidently Boo knew….

We are closing on 4 weeks in Chicago.

Other than a horrific pandemic that has basically gone unchecked in the US due to totally incompetent leadership leading to close to 5,000,000 total infections, and, tragically and totally unnecessary, nearly 160,000 deaths, things are going pretty well for AGMA.

After living in a different city and state from our son and DIL since they were a “thing” and had kids, wondering how all of this togetherness was going to play out was sort of natural.

Comedy, tragedy, melodrama, tragicomedy, theater of the absurd…??

Adding to the concern was that our relationship has had it rocky patches over the years. Some very rocky patches. Like Rocky Mountain rocky patches!

If I was a betting woman (which I am!) I have a sneakin’ suspicion that son and DIL had the same concerns.

But due to AGMA’s diplomatic skills, charm, and easy going (WTF???) personality, not to mention the fact that the kids think Nana is the bomb because she risks her life in their bounce house, things have been going swimmingly.

My Boo will be in kindergarten this year. Thankfully Chicago Public Schools just recently announced that, for the first quarter at least, all learning will be virtual. No instruction in the human Petri dish called a school classroom.

It’s cute how some school districts (and businesses, restaurants, airlines, theme parks, etc) act like everything is okey dokey, back to normal, and have rolled out the red carpet for all comers.

Just adorable. If you’re the coronavirus.

Because Boo will be doing online learning, my DIL asked if I would be one of his curriculum coordinators.

Huh??

AGMA said yes, but I have no idea what that entails. I guess I’ll find out. Should I be worried?

But it will actually give me something to do. In between visits to TMWGCITW, activities in the AGMA Hobbit hole are few and far between. TV, social media, some reading. And it’s small and dark in there. And I’m together with Hubs almost 24/7.

Oh, the humanity!

So yes – I’d be HAPPY to be Boo’s “curriculum coordinator” if it gets me out of the cave!

One bright spot in a year full of huge spiders and venomous snakes is that professional cycling is back!!

OMG, there IS a God…

Those of you who’ve been reading AGMA for a spell know how much I LOVE men’s professional road cycling.

About 10 years ago, I found that the Tour de France was the “gateway race” to a late in life, absolute obsession with young men in spandex climbing mountains on bicycles with skinny wheels. And since it’s 2020, COVID sucks and I live in a “garden apartment”, AGMA’s gone all in with watching races on TV and online. I have subscriptions to 2 different streaming services that will be streaming different races.

AGMA was supposed to go to France last month to follow the last week of the Tour. Clearly that didn’t happen for multiple reasons. The Tour ended up not being cancelled, but postponed until 8/20. But since Americans aren’t allowed to basically travel anywhere in the WORLD because of the Orange Covidiot throwing up his tiny hands and saying “It is what it is.”, I’ll be staying in my Hobbit hole during the Tour. So AGMA figures that paying for a couple of subscriptions for streaming services is the least that I can do for myself!

‘Cause it’s really all about me…

AGMA hopes all of you are treating yourselves to some special things during this surreal apocalyptic year of 2020. Hopefully that doesn’t involve any controlled narcotic substances. Or alcohol.

Okay – maybe some alcohol.

Maybe more than some.

Stay safe my friends!

P.S. Did I say it’s sooooo good to be back??

H-E-L-L Ohhhhh

11.10 Bicycle Hell (from "Puck")
Source: Library of Congress
Format: RGB tiffAGMA’s going to hell.

I’ve made that declaration in the past, but now I’m sure of it…

All thanks to that once a year sporting event that to me, is like catnip to a cat. Like an empty New Jersey public beach to Chris Christie on the 4th of July. Like a Mar a Lago chocolate cake to tRump.

In other words…totally irresistible no matter how fat you are.

I’m speaking, of course, of my totally inexplicable obsession with men’s elite cycling, espeically the Tour de France.

This year, AGMA has three TdF fantasy teams. I spent hours pouring over rider data on procyclingstats.com.

I agonized over whether I should have more GC riders than sprinters. Or more sprinters than punchy Classics riders. Or visa versa? Should I have a time trial specialist? Should I look for a ‘dark horse’ rider to emerge out of the peloton to do great things?

It was harrowing.

But the real trouble started when I shelled out $39.99 for NBC Sports Gold Cycling coverage. Live streaming coverage to your phone, laptop or tablet, unlimited replays, special features and over 30 hours of extra coverage. And the live streaming includes both commercial free coverage with some Thunder from Down Under commentators or the NBCSN coverage with commercials.

“Why would anybody choose the streaming coverage with commercials over commercial free?”, you ask?

Oh dear ones, you have so much to learn…

Because TdF announcing royalty, the Harry Caray and Vin Scully of cycling, Phil Liggett (73) and Paul Sherwen (61) are announcing on NBCSN. They do the commercial world wide English language coverage (except in Australia I guess) and are cycling announcing icons.

Plus you get to hear the NBC team of Bobke Roll, Christian Vande Velde, Steve Porino, Steve Schlanger and, my favorite retired cyclist of all time, Jens Voigt.

Be still my heart.

Numerous times in the past several weeks, AGMA’s had my cell phone propped up on the outside of our glass shower enclosure while the bluetooth speaker blasts Phil and Paul (and all of the commercials.)  I did this today as a matter of fact. God forbid I miss any of the action while I’m showering.

But this is a huge improvement over past years when I tried to shower and get ready in the morning during the commercial breaks.

We’ve never, ever had a TV in our bedroom so I would have to run up and down the stairs during the commercials. Round about 4 days into the race, AGMA moved my toiletries and hairdryer down to our 1st floor powder room so I could finish getting ready within ear shot of the race call.

But no more.

AGMA’s free to go where I want to do what I want and not miss a minute of the action as long as I have my phone.  I love technology!

I had a MRI scheduled a few weeks ago. I checked in, then settled into a comfy seat in the waiting room with my phone and earbuds. Based on past experience, I thought I had a good 20 minute wait at least before they called me back.  They called AGMA back 5 minutes later.

Seriously?

But the worst, and the reason I’m pretty sure I’m doomed, is that I’ve been watching the Tour in church. During mass.

H-E-L-L

I have my muted phone on the bench beside me sort of covered up with my sweater. But I only glance over a few times to see where things stand. As I told a friend, “I only watch during the Psalm singing and the offering hymn. Nothing’s really happening then anyway.” He burst out laughing.

H-E-L-L

But as Luther Ingram sang, “If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.” And I DO love my boys in spandex!

Sadly, my fantasy teams are not doing well. A combination of riders dropping out of the Tour for various reasons and just plain stupid team selections have got me in the middle of the pack in most of my leagues. Not bad, but not the top 5% finish AGMA had last year in the Velogames league.

First world problem.

Stage 16 went off today. Australian Michael “Bling” Matthews won with a brilliant Team Sunweb plan and fabulous team support. He’s also very close to taking the Green Jersey away from German Marcel Kittel.

I can hear you now.

ZZZZzzzz….

But, mercifully for you, it’s all over soon.

Sunday is Stage 21. They finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris. It’ll be so exciting! It always is.

Then Monday. Monday. Monday starts PTDFM (post-Tour de France malaise)

Back to the present. Back to the news. Back to reality.

And back down the rabbit hole with the Family Von Trump.

H-E-L-L

The bad granny and the boys in spandex

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So my post last week was unexpected, and interrupted AGMA’s travel blog from her trip to Europe in July. I’m back in the swing of things now!

But rest easy. This is the third and last (keyword being last…) travel post. Then it’s back to the normal AGMA nonsense.

So in my last travel post, I was in Provence and had a mouth full of creeping crud from my prednisone. Remember?

From Provence, we trekked to the Principality of Andorra high up in the Pyrenees Mountains between the boarders of Spain and France.  You have to REALLY want to visit Andorra to get to Andorra. There is no easy way to get there.

And I REALLY wanted to visit Andorra. We were going to watch Stage 9 and 10 of the 2016 Tour de France.

Cyclists in spandex! My kinda creepy obsession…

I went to France in 2013 for the last week of the 100th Tour de France.  It was electrifying. I was hooked and have been trying to get back every since. Long suffering and patient Hubs agreed to take 3 days out of our trip to fuel AGMA’s creepy obsession.

What a guy.

We watched the cyclists on Stage 9 on their way up to a rain and hail filled finish from the comfort of the Andorran village of Ordino. No rain or hail 18K from the finish. My cowbell got a real workout.

And I found the perfect TdF T-shirt for my 20 month old grandson (pictured above.) Might as well get him indoctrinated early to his granny’s creepy obsession right?

The next day was a rest day. Normally, when I’m watching from home, I hate rest days. AGMA gets bored with no Tour to watch. But I loved the rest day in Andorra.

Rest day = cyclist stalking day.

The cyclists don’t really rest on rest days. They go out for a 2 to 3 hour easy ride in the morning so their bodies don’t freak out from no activity. They have to keep the engine running so to speak or it will shut down. And that’s not good.

Armed with my list of team hotels, I went in search of my favorite cyclists. Unfortunately, AGMA left our hotel too late to catch the teams going out for their rides, but I knew I had a chance of catching them when they got back.

AGMA went after Team Sky, a powerhouse cycling team based in Great Britain, and the team of two time TdF winner Chris Froome. He was also in the lead of this year’s TdF (with the yellow jersey) after Stage 9.

He went on to win the whole tamale this year and got his 3rd TdF win.

After waiting over an hour, the team finally came in from their ride. All but Chris Froome. The cell phone cameras went crazy. Mine included. Sadly, I lost most of those pictures the next day due to a smooth move on AGMA’s part.

I hate technology.

The fabulous thing about being a cycling fan is access. You get nearly unfetterd access to world class athletes like no other sport. You can just walk up and start talking to them and/or you can take a selfie with them and/or get their autograph. They looked tired so I opted for an autograph.

AGMA is a bad granny.

Instead of getting autographs on the notebook I brought, I got out my grandson’s cute TdF shirt, looked at the cyclists with pleading eyes and said, “Can you sign this for my grandson please?” How could they say no?

They couldn’t.

30 minutes later, Chris Froome finally rode in in his yellow jersey. The access thing doesn’t always apply to the yellow jersey – the teams tend to be very protective of their big “stars”. He pretty much stayed away from the small crowd of stalkers, but he was close enough for AGMA to get some great pictures. Most of which I lost.

He finally came up to the small group of remainig fans and signed a few autographs. I gave him the doe-eyed look and said, “Mr. Froome, could you sign this for my grandson please?” And he did.

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AGMA is a bad granny.

I have no intention of giving that T-shirt to my grandson. His parents have no appreciation of cycling. They might actually let him wear it. The horror!

AGMA’s going to wait until he gets older. Hopefully, with my influence and that of his uncle – my cycling crazy younger son – he’ll become a cycling fan too.

Then he can tell the story of how his crazy, cyclist stalking, spandex loving Nan met the best cyclist in the world and got his autograph for him.

It was a grrrrreat trip!

Oh yeah, after Andorra, we went to Lourdes, France which was amazing, then onto Pamplona, Spain for the Running of the Bulls which was insane. Totally insane!

We spent the last night of our trip, July 14th, in Barcelona before we flew home the next day.

July 14th is Bastille Day in France. The Tour de France went through Provence that day and up Mont Vonteux. Chris Froome actually RAN part of the way up due to a freak accident with a moto that crushed his bike. Nothing like that has ever happened in the TdF.  It was crazy.

It was also the day of the horrific attack in Nice that killed 85 innocent, peaceful people who were enjoying being out with friends and family, celebrating Bastille Day. Let’s hope that nothing like that ever happens again. It was beyond crazy.

AGMA went to bed that night incredibly sad, but determined to continue traveling. We can’t let this type of evil frighten us, and keep us from sowing the seeds of peace and understanding all over the world. If we stop traveling, the bad guys win.

And we can’t afford to let that happen.

Australia in November anybody?