OMG…I’m back!!

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Picture of a Hobbit Hole taken by AGMA in New Zealand last November,

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG

I can’t believe it!  I can’t believe it!  I can’t believe it!

AGMA’s back.

“AGMA who?”

I deserve that.

But we have reached the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel!  Hubs and I are now living in the Windy City.  Homeless.  Sort of.

More about that later…

We closed on our home in Atlanta at the end of June.  It’s been 8 years since we sold our last house and I forgot what a “treat” selling a house can be.  Like watching a WH coronavirus “task force” briefing.

So. Very. Painful.

For those of you who are regular AGMA-ites, you know I’ve complained over the past few years about how I just can’t seem to multi-task anymore.  Younger years were spent juggling the many balls of growing kids, aging parents, work and volunteerism.  And I was pretty darned good at it.

Modesty is overrated.

But once I hit 60, I seemed to lose the ability to manage multiple projects at once.

Well…I’m very glad to report that AGMA still has what it takes!  It wasn’t that I lost the ability; it’s just that I didn’t really HAVE to do things like when I was younger.  Once upon a time, kids had to get to ballgames on time and projects had to be done for work on time and volunteer commitments needed to be fulfilled on time.

It’s truly amazing what you can pull off when you have hard and fast deadlines.  When things HAVE to get done because you don’t have any other option.  When there can’t be any Plan B

I HAD to find temporary apartments in Atlanta and Chicago, HAD to sort and pack all of our belongings and find a place to store them, HAD to make arrangements to give away, get rid of the stuff we weren’t taking/storing, all before the movers came. And I HAD to buy a car that could fit 3 car seats before we left for Chicago.

Yup – I did it all.  And, mostly, it pretty much sucked.

I went to bed exhausted every night.  I quit using my blood pressure cuff because I had so many spinning plates to keep up in the air.  Similar logic to the Orange Covidiot’s logic on coronavirus testing…  If I didn’t take my BP, it couldn’t be high, right?

Basically, I was pretty much a bitch.  And with the pandemic on top of it all, AGMA found herself in some dark places mentally and emotionally at times.

So be glad Debbie Downer didn’t post for a while.

Another one of my “issues” with writing is that I didn’t have any place to write.  My muse of a coffee shop in Atlanta – Dancing Goats – was closed for all but carry out because of the pandemic.   And even after the Orange Arse Kissing Covidiot of a Governor in Georgia opened everything back up and invited COVID-19 to have field day infecting Georgians, Dancing Goats is continuing to only do carry out.

AGMA didn’t realize how important DG was to me as far as blogging inspiration goes.  I tried a few times writing from home, but…nah….

Then we moved out of our 3400 sq ft townhouse into our 700 sq ft temporary apartment in Atlanta for 3 weeks until we were able to move into our 700 sq ft temporary “garden” (meaning it’s in a basement and a bit like a cave) apartment in Chicago 2 weeks ago.

It’s cosy.  And dark. But it’s nicely appointed, has lots of high end touches, and is less than 2 miles from the MWGITW (most wonderful grandchildren in the world!)

That’s really why we did this.  All of it.

Seeing them, spending time with them, playing with them, hearing them laugh, having them hug and snuggle with us has made all of the tears and stress and anxiety and curse words (oh yeah – there were a lot of them!) of the past 4 months worth it.

Totally.

And yesterday, hopes of AGMA rising like a phoenix from the ashes of unwritten blog posts were rekindled!  I think I found my new “Dancing Goats” here in Chicago!  It’s a delightful French bakery/cafe with a nice big shaded patio and only an 8 minute walk from our Hobbit Hole of an apartment!

And OMG…they sell bottles of lovely French wine for patio consumption for a pretty reasonable price.

Alert: drunk blog post coming soon!

Damn…it’s good to be back!

 

 

 

 

 

2020

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...there was an AGMA who used to blog once a week.

And then 2020 happened.

And then the pandemic happened.

And then we decided to sell our house.

And then we had to get it ready to show.

And then we had to buy a lot of masks.

And then we had to keep the house clean ALL THE TIME.

And then we had the stress of negotiating a contract.

And then we had to put a new roof on.

And then we had to find movers.

And then we had to find a place to store our furniture.

And then we had to find a furnished, 4 month rental in Chicago.

And then we had to find a furnished, short term rental in Atlanta until our furnished 4 month rental in Chicago was available.

And then we decided to do our own packing.

And then we had to sort through every box, closet, cabinet and drawer to decide what to put into storage, what to take to Chicago, what to throw out and what to donate.

And then we had to pack everything in boxes. 

And then I had to get crowns get put on two teeth (ugh!)

And then we had to buy a “new” used car as a NanaMobile in Chicago.

And then there was George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and more.  So many more.

And then there was still a pandemic.

(AGMA will return to regular posting soon!  I miss you all!!)

 

 

 

Into the fire

out-of-the-frying

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

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

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

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

I wanna be like Nancy when I grow up.

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

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

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

Your first question might be…  Why?

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

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

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

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

Damn it.  I hate it when that happens.

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

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

“But where will you go AGMA?”

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

Seriously.

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

Anybody?

(crickets)

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

After that, who knows?

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

But I think we’ll take a pass.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before the end of March.

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

But REALLY bad timing.

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

And blogging.

TOTALLY into the fire.

 

 

 

That Depends…

Purple

Hubs and I have been put on notice.

We went out to dinner with Son#2 who also lives in Atlanta. He is #2 strictly because he is our second son, born 18 months after Son#1. Son#2 in no way alludes to his position in our hearts and affections.

Although after last night, we may revisit that.

After some discussion about a class Hubs was taking in a seniors continuing education program at nearby university, my younger son made an announcement. I could tell that he had been thinking about this for a while and was waiting for the “perfect time” to bring it up.

Not sure he got the timing quite right.

He told us that it would be best if we found an senior living facility to move to sooner rather than later where we could get involved in “activities and arts & crafts.” He cautioned us no to wait too long. He said he didn’t want us to insist on living in our house until we got “old and bitter, and then fall on the floor and poop all over.”

Yes – those were his exact words. You can’t make this sh*t up.

No pun intended.

Hubs and I burst out laughing. It was just so unexpected and graphic. He was laughing too.

When the belly laughs subsided, he assured us that we were a “long way away from getting to the point of pooping all over.” We must be a bunch of middle schoolers…everybody started laughing again.

We moved on to other topics, which with Son#2, is always interesting. Since he was little, he’s always had strong opinions about things (translation, he was a pain in the arse a good deal of the time…) That hasn’t changed. But at least now he has the maturity and wisdom to select his words and timing, except when he’s talking about us falling down and pooping all over.

But it got AGMA thinking…

When is the right time to give up your home for an alternate living situation due to aging issues/concerns?

We may not be as far away from that as Son#2 thinks.

Hubs is afflicted with that $^#%@%*& neurological disorder. It’s robbing him of the use of his legs. We live in a 4 story townhouse.

Lots.O.Steps

And he has to be very careful going up and down all those steps because the weakness in his legs causes him to lose his balance easily.  He almost tripped this morning.

While we may not be ready for a senior living situation quite yet, we may not be that far away from moving to one level living.

AGMA’s father believed in reactive crisis decision making. And because he was an absolute monarch in a kingdom of two, my poor, sweet step-mother had to go along with whatever he said.

After my step-mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1990, we lobbied very hard to have them move closer to us after they sold their home. They lived a 4 hour drive away with no family close by. Not really easy or convenient for us to pop by… We got a realtor involved to try to find a place that they (my father) liked in Cincinnati (where we lived at the time.)

In the end, they (my father) decided to stay where they were, 228 miles away, and rent a townhouse.

Then my father promptly had a nervous breakdown due to the stress of trying to care for my step-mother, and had to be hospitalized.

Within 3 weeks, we moved my father to Chicago with my sister to recover after his release, moved my step-mother to Cincinnati to live with us, packed up their townhouse and had movers put it in storage. And that was just the beginning of some pretty major changes/upheavals in their/our lives brought on my father’s refusal or inability to admit they needed to live nearer to family.

Needless to say, AGMA was close to a nervous breakdown after it was all said and done…

I DO NOT want to do that to my children. I truly want to recognize when it’s time to throw the cards in and give up being lady of the manor.

That will be hard.

Lady AGMA’s had a manor to rule over since we moved into our first house 40 years ago.

But part of not aging gracefully is not being a major pain in the arse to your children as you age. Just a little nagging one…

Just enough to let them know you’re still around.

AGMA has to believe that no matter what living situation we’ll find ourselves in, that I’ll continue to be a crusader for coloring outside the lines and laughing as much as possible.

And tattoos.

And using colorful language.

And young men in spandex.

Pass the Depends!

Blessed exhaustion

Tired

Yeah – that’s what I’m in store for this coming week.

As I write this, I’m, once again, partaking in one of AGMA’s favorite activities.

Not.

I’m flying the ‘friendly’ skies. More like flying the ‘you should feel humbled that we let your natty butt on this airplane at a ridiculous price for no service’ skies. As anybody who has flown in the past few years knows, it ain’t what it used to be.  But it’s a means to an end, so AGMA will put up with the poking, prodding, starving and herding.

Moo.

Destination – Chicago and the cutest grandchildren in the world (TCGITW).

A year ago, this journey was relatively inexpensive. With several discount carriers having recently entering the Atlanta market, we could fly round trip for around $125 per person. AGMA’s all time fabulous fare was $56 RT with no bags, no food, no drinks and a randomly assigned seat. Those were the good old days…

Then something happened.

I’m not sure what or exactly when it happened. But fares soared to $200+ RT. Even on the no service airlines, the cheapest fare you can get if you go on an odd numbered Tuesday in a month starting with ‘A’ in an even year is $176.

WTF?

For this trip AGMA used sky miles. Our next trip coming up in August is BOGO, but that still averaged out to $160+ a person. At this rate, I’m going to have to start using getting bumped from flights as a discount airfare strategy. Sadly, there were no calls for volunteers today.

AGMA is bracing herself for the week to come.

Just between you and I, I’m not sure I’ll survive.

Normally, a 3 day visit to TCGITW leaves me as tired as Donald Trump when he has to read words.  Any words.

Between going to bed late to spend some quiet time with my son and DIL, getting up early with my grandson so said son and DIL can sleep in, being a bucking bronco for said grandson, walking my granddaughter around to try to get her to sleep and lack of food because I’m too busy to eat, AGMA comes home exhausted.

Because Hubs had his mobility and balance issue, he can’t do any of the heavy lifting (literally) with TCGITW. But he can provide entertainment and a lap for reading and give a bottle. But even with his help, I still get pooped.

This trip will be 6 days. By myself. Because they are moving.

As James Brown said, “Have mercy!”

Hubs and I moved twice when our kids were tiny – 22 and 4 months and then again when they were 4 and 2.. And we had a dog and two cats. We fixed up/cleaned up our houses by ourselves to sell them. And kept them clean with the two munchkins causing the normal munchkin havoc until we sold them. When we moved, we did everything by ourselves – packing, moving the boxes, unpacking – other than moving the big pieces of furniture. I actually think some old neighbors helped us move our piano both times (which nobody really played…) in a UHaul because it was too expensive to have the movers do it. Money was tight. Money was always tight.

With no family in town or willing to come in to help, it was a two person show.

I honestly have no idea how we managed.

When my son & DIL put their condo up for sale, our DIL took TCGITW to her parents house for a week so the place would stay clean for showings. Cheaters. The Chicago real estate market is hot right now so they were counting on a quick sale. They were right. 3 offers for above asking price.

Crazy.

Now we come to moving week.

Thankfully, they have hired packers to pack their ‘stuff’. AGMA’s a master packer, but I’ll gladly abdicate that responsibility. But I still forsee early mornings and late nights, and nothing but kick ass busy in between. Probably with a few bronco rides thrown in.

Can I run a marathon instead? 26.2 miles is nothing compared to what the next 6 days will be like.

But I’m happy (maybe) to help them and so glad (sort of) that they took me up on my offer. “I’ll be glad to come up and help when it’s time to move.” I said.

Seriously?

AGMA was actually thinking of how wonderful it would have been to have family support for our young family. At any point in our lives when our kids were young, not just when we moved.  But it never happened. And while we managed okay, sometimes I wonder how different it might have been…

So I AM happy I can fly the mediocre skies to help them. And I’m very happy that my DIL’s family is a 3 hour car drive away. It makes for two sets of Nanas and Bumpas who, like good Baby Boomers, can’t do enough for their grandchildren and are delighted to help out.

This is all to say, if you don’t hear from AGMA for a few weeks, don’t get alarmed.

I’m just suffering from blessed exhaustion.

ZZZZzzzz….

UPDATE: It’s Tuesday now. As usual, when I got to TCGITW’s home, AGMA got caught up in the whirlwind. It’s been 48 hours since I wrote this post on the plane and this is the first time I’ve had 10 minutes to myself. Other than sleeping. And that’s a survival necessity, so I sleep as much and as often as I can. All is well, but AGMA can read the handwriting on the wall.

It’s gonna be one wild ride.

I repeat…

ZZZZzzzz….

Home improvements

diy-gone-wrong-5

My friend Andrew over at Andrew’s View of the Week, besides being a poet, humorist, author and wise (cracking?) sage, is quite the woodworker and handyman. Show off.

His current project is building an enclosed raised bed garden. But, in the course of my following his blog, he has reported on completing a myriad of other projects around the house. I get exhausted just reading about his DIY exploits. Show off.

But really, I do adore him. In a jealous AGMA sort of way…

Hubs and I used to be handy around the house. Real handy. We did a lot to our first house, purchased in 1978. We were young, strong, foolish and broke back then. AGMA remembers the agony of steaming the wallpaper off of the first floor plaster walls then sanding the walls down to get them smooth in order to paint them. We must have eaten plaster dust for the next 2 years…

Yuck.

We put an island in our kitchen and installed a new countertop on all of the cabinets. We built shelves and installed tile around the fireplace. I made our curtains, and stained and installed interior shutters.

We did plumbing and electrical projects too. With some very mixed results… There always seemed to be elusive leaks that defied detection on the plumbing projects. The good news about the electrical projects is that nobody got electrocuted.

But we needed a larger home when our family went from two to three to four in a short 18 months.

Our second house was an upgrade. We went from 3 to 4 small bedrooms, 1 to 1.5 bathrooms and driveway parking to a 2 car garage. But the house needed work so we rolled up our sleeves and went at it again. It was just a bit more challenging this time around with a baby and a toddler.

We were restless though. Like many other young families, we were in search of that panacea, “a good school district”. And we found it. And moved again…

We stayed in that house for the next 15 years. Still 4 bedrooms, but we scored a tiny master bathroom so we were up to 2.5 bathrooms. AGMA was in 3 toilet heaven.

And you know how I feel about toilets.

But home improvements in this house were few and far between. It was a season of busyness with kids, work, volunteer “stuff” and aging parents, so there wasn’t time for DIY. And $$ was still pretty tight so we couldn’t pay anybody else to do the work.

So the dismal kitchen that was in the house when we moved in in 1987 was the same dismal kitchen when we sold the house in 2002.

We did replace things as they “died” (dishwasher, garbage disposal, carpeting, etc), but we did very little by way of improvement. We did make a half hearted attempt to finish the basement. Clearly an amateur effort, but good enough for a gathering place for kids and friends.

2002 started our new, innovative approach to home improvements.

We literally improved our “home” by trading up. As in going from one home to another on a regular basis. We moved and upgraded before things had time to die or break or go out of style.

Brilliant!

Since 2002, AGMA’s lived in 6 – count ‘em – six different homes. Other than the home we’re in now, the longest we’ve ever lived in any of of them is 3.5 years.

Therein lies AGMA’s current dilemma. This past June, we celebrated 4 years in our lovely townhouse.

Waaayyyy too long if you ask me.

Things are starting to need attention/improvement. Our alarm system hasn’t worked for the past 6 months. We have like 20 foot ceilings and our tallest ladder is 12 feet so we have multiple burned out light bulbs in closets. A door in my bathroom cabinet is catywhampus. And we have a built-in, inoperable Jacuzzi tub in our bathroom. Nothing says 2001 like a Jacuzzi tub…

The roof and all of the kitchen appliances are 15 years old.   As well as 2 of the 3 (count ‘em three!) HVAC units.  It’s past time to replace the 3 year air filters (to the tune of $500 each) on the fancy, smacy air filtration units that are attached to 2 of our HVAC units. When we put them in 3+ years ago, AGMA had no idea we’d still be living here and have to replace them yet again.  Ouch.

Our town home has great bones, but the flesh is starting to sag a bit.

Just like AGMA.

So the question is, do we do it the old fashioned way and actually replace/upgrade things. Or do we move. Again.

The moving on a regular basis strategy really worked for us. Even through the housing crisis, we managed to upgrade in amenities and location, and still be in the black. Our home now is probably the nicest we’ve live in and is in a fabulous neighborhood in Atlanta.

But moving is hard. Really hard. Especially as you get older. Even when it’s a “corporate” move and somebody else does most of the packing and moving.

The last move nearly did AGMA in.

So I guess it’s time to put on the big girl AGMA pants, and start dealing with that sagging flesh. Hubs checked out of the DIY thing years ago, so I’m going to be on the hunt for a good handyman.

I forget, where do you live again Andrew?