Staring

We went on a vacation!

Sort of…

Loyal readers will recall AGMA’s brilliant decision to go to Turkey in March, 2 days after the WHO declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. We ended up coming back to the US 72 hours after we landed in Istanbul.

Nobody has ever accused me of being the sharpest needle in the pincushion.

But this trip was safe. Or as safe as you can get these days that is.

Friends of 30+ years, K & S, own a vacation cabin in a small town in NW Michigan near Lake Michigan. And they let us use it for a long weekend this past weekend.

K’s parents used to rent a house for the summer there in the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s, and as young parents, K & S would bring their children, and K’s sister and BIL would bring their children, and it was a big ol’ family memory maker.

When her parents passed away, they left K with a nice monetary legacy. So to honor the memory of so many wonderful summers, she and her hubs bought a small vacation home on the very same street as her parent’s rental cabin. This was about 15 years ago.

K & S & sister & BIL and cousins have continued to gather there in the summers albeit the siblings & spouses aging (hopefully not gracefully!) and the cousins now being adults.

AGMA has a sneaking suspicion that the ultimate goal was for the grandchildren, who were only twinkles in K’s eyes at that point, to gather there each summer and create the kinds of memories her children did when they were little.

Now the grandmother of 7 (!), that is indeed what’s happened even though K’s children and nieces and nephews are now spread out over the US. At various times during the summer there can be a wide assortment of grandmas & grandpas & nieces & nephews & great nieces & nephews & cousins & second cousins making new memories.

Pre-COVID that is.

It’s been a quiet summer up there this year. K & S were up their with 2 kids and 4 grandchildren last month, but that’s pretty much it. Everybody is just too far away to drive and they don’t want to risk flying. Since all adult children and spouses work, and all have small children, it’s just too difficult to make it happen.

This makes me sad. The whole thing just makes me sad.

Damn virus.

That’s a very long and wordy way to say, because the place was open and we needed a place to escape our Hobbit Hole for a few days, K & S gave us their blessing to stay there for a long weekend. They weren’t there (on their way to CA to meet grand baby #7), but they figured we couldn’t do too much damage.

Fools…

So Hubs and I rattled around by ourselves in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house that is ABOVE GROUND and has a beautiful view of the Traverse River across the street.

Sweet!

We spent 3 days of socially distanced sightseeing since this was our first trip this far north in MI. The weather was fantastic and it was a much needed break from our tiny, basement apartment in Chicago.

Because MI has pretty strict social distancing and mask regulations, and the county we were in only has 34 confirmed coronavirus cases and no deaths, we felt somewhat safe in going out to eat a few times.

Damn virus.

We lived in Cincinnati, OH for 30 years (where we met K & S) before we moved in 2006. During our time there, we realized that 95% of the population of Cincinnati goes up to Michigan for at least 1 week in the summer. Okay, maybe AGMA is exaggerating a bit.

Maybe only 93%…

Because of this and because 90% of the people we saw this past weekend were baby boomer types, AGMA kept wondering if maybe I knew any of them. After all, it is a small world (according to Walt Disney right?)

Do you ever do the same thing? Do you ever stare at somebody and think, “Did I work with you in 1978?” or “Were we freshmen together in college?”

“Did I know you years ago?”

AGMA does.

Again, not the sharpest needle…

I know a couple of women in knew in college and haven’t seen since then moved to Chicago in the 70’s. Maybe one is sitting across from me on this lovely French bistro shaded patio right now and I just don’t recognize her. Actually, everybody here (except AGMA) is a millennial, but you get the idea.

There was a couple behind us in one restaurant in MI who were wearing Cincinnati sports team shirts. Did Hubs or I know them way back when? When our hair was raven and we actually had waistlines? BC (before children?). When the Cadet Orange Cheeto Bonespurs was content in just bankrupting his businesses (rather than a whole nation.)

Some people change dramatically in the course of 40 years. Some don’t seem to change very much at all. I have some friends from high school and college who, other than the gray hair and lack of waistlines, look pretty much the same. Others, I couldn’t pick out of a line up even with the threat of something horrible happening to me like turning me into a MAGA Republican if I didn’t.

AGMA’s idea is heaven is that, at some point during the “orientation” (seriously, there has to be an orientation…), we are allowed to ask any questions we want. You know, like what REALLY happened to Jimmy Hoffa or did Putin blackmail the Covidiot with a “golden showers” video?

One of my questions will be, “Who did I bump in that I knew way back when that I didn’t recognize? Can I see before and after pictures? Did they think I looked familiar?”

Until then, AGMA will just have to keep wondering and staring.

The staring may get me into trouble…

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

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AGMA’s on the road. Again.

Thank goodness.

We got back from our New Zealand trip on 12/7. I was getting antsy.

This trip is a total trip down memory lane.

Right now, at this very moment, I’m in Tucson, Arizona where the weather is spectacular and the Margarita’s are cheap.

But my first stop last Wednesday was – Sun City, Arizona.

I was there to visit my foster family. Well, they weren’t legally my foster family. I just lived with them when I was a toddler for a couple of years. They were friends of my parents.

It was a complicated situation.

Sun City is somewhat amusing to AGMA. It was a joke back in the 70’s with the Baby Boomers. Only the old folks went there. People who are just waiting to die. How sad…

Guess who’s living in Sun City now?

You would be correct if your answer is…

Wait for it…

Baby Boomers!

Irony is so cruel.

Second stop – Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona is absolutely gorgeous. Especially on a January day when the sun is shining on the glorious red rocks.

Good friends have recently moved into a house they have had custom built. The house has been under construction for 34 months. Yes, you read that right.

34. Months.

And it’s still not done.

The reasons are complicated.

And it will be spectacular when it’s finished.

The view is already spectacular. The picture above is what I awoke to every morning.

Crazy beautiful.

Third stop – Tucson, Arizona.

Tucson and I go way back. I transferred to the University of Arizona in 1973 as a junior.

Waaaaaaay baaaackkkk.

I met Hubs the first week I was there in 1973. That was nearly 47 freaking years ago.

Holy crap!

Does anybody else think that this whole passage of time thing is a bunch of bullsh*t?

Thank you…

Tonight, I took my mother-in-law out to dinner. And her daughter, my sister-in-law. I haven’t seen them in 3 years.

It’s complicated.

And Hubs is safely ensconced at home in Atlanta because he didn’t want to deal with the multiple issues between he and his mom. But I get it.

Complicated.

AGMA will have to say dinner went as well as I think it could have gone.

Afterwards, I went to an iconic Tucson restaurant/bar for a drink to help steady my nerves. Casa Molina. The bartender was very sympathetic and made me the most amazing skinny Margarita I’ve ever had.

So I am writing this under the influence.

Don’t judge me.

Casa Molina is a Tucson institution. It’s the same restaurant/bar that Hubs went to in the mid-70’s with his fraternity advisor/mentor, Danny.

AGMA could go on about Casa Molina and Danny and his Mexican heritage and his incredible influence with young men at the University of Arizona at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity in the 1970’s, but I won’t.

It’s just a place that has meant a lot to Hubs and AGMA from ages past.

I’m here for another couple of days. I have a couple of friends from “the good old college days” who still live here that I am going to connect with. I even have a friend from my former life in Ohio (my kids 4th grade teacher!) who retired in Tucson. He and I are meeting for pancakes tomorrow.

Interesting connections.

But AGMA won’t be seeing a dear friend the I’ve always visited on returning because he passed away too young in 2018.

This a complicated visit for AGMA with complicated emotions.

And I’m thankful for strong Margaritas.

Cheers!

Control freak

 

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Source:  RotteneCards

Okay, I know this is going to sound morbid, but AGMA’s started gathering the pictures I want displayed at my funeral/memorial/celebration of life service.

Ewwww…  Who does that?

Note of disclosure:  There is no imminent threat of my departing this life anytime time soon that I am aware.  No new medical diagnosis or forebodings. Nothing (other than the normal ‘I could step out on a street and get hit by a car’ notion) that would lead me to believe I need to hurry up and get my affairs in order.

AGMA’s just a bit of a control freak.

I was trying to sort out the junk we have in our 4th floor closets.  Since we live in a townhouse with no basement, but a finished top level, the 4th floor has become what our basements used to be…  The place of collection of our precious belongs.

You know, the junk.

Found…a Lladro figurine collection.  They’ve been in a box since 2010.  Also found….the chachkies/pictures we had on our built-in bookcases two houses ago.  They’ve been in a box since 2010 too.

AGMA can’t say that I’ve missed them.

We have two walk-in closets on the 4th floor.  The wire shelving in both have collapsed and ripped out of the wall from the weight of the myriad of boxes I stacked on them.

Oops…

I haven’t told Hubs yet.

So in trying to bring order out of chaos before informing Hubs, I started digging into some of the boxes that fell.  There was one with shoeboxes – soooo many shoeboxes – of pictures from 1963 to the early 2000’s in them.

Of course, AGMA couldn’t resist a stumble down memory lane.

Fresh on my mind was my old friend Scott.  Scott had been a friend of Hubs and I since college.  He was younger than us by a few years and full of energy, life, fun and mischief.

In the days before social media, for all of you young whippersnappers out there, the annual Christmas/holiday letter via snail mail was our version of a timeline.  Far flung friends got brought up to date with our lives over the preceding year through this annual ritual.

And so it was with Scott after we graduated.  For 30+ years, we communicated once a year with him.

Then, in 2011, we started making annual trips back to Tucson to visit my MIL and old friends still living there.  Like Scott.

We were delighted to discover that he was much the same – full of energy, life, fun and mischief.  30+ years older, yes, but with a positive outlook on life that was contagious.  He was like Peter Pan – the boy who never really grew up.  We always looked forward to visiting Scott, and hearing about his latest adventures and plans for the future.

Our last visit to Tucson was this past October.  We a lovely evening with Scott and his new wife.  I felt like he’d finally found his soul mate.  We had a great time with them.

Last week, we heard through a friend that Scott was in hospice.  WTF?  Two days later his wife let us know that Scott had passed away.

He was only 62.

So while AGMA was looking through those old pictures on the 4th floor, my heart was heavy at the sudden loss of our friend.  And I started wondering what his memorial service would be like.

I hope that it will be fun and uplifting just like Scott was.  And full of images from his life which was a wonderful mix of adventure, service to the less fortunate and family.  Hubs is going and will give me a full report when he gets back.

But then I started wondering what AGMA’s ‘celebration of life’ might be like.  Not in a morbid sense; more curious than anything else.   And what kind of images there will be to show the highlights/lowlights (gotta keep it real) of AGMA’s time on earth to those who come to party.  Because it WILL be a party.

Oh no – this is just too important to leave up to Hubs and sons…  They’re guys and wouldn’t have a clue.

So I started putting ‘AGMA approved’ pictures aside for that final hoorah.

I can hear the announcement at the memorial now, “AGMA selected all of the pictures in this montage of her life many years ago because she was such a freaking CONTROL FREAK!”

That’s cool…

At least I know I’ll look cute.

RIP sweet Peter Pan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old friends

washer

When Son#2 was around 4, our dishwasher died. Feeling rather panicked at the idea of…OMG no…hand washing all of our dishes, AMGA and Hubs went out to purchase a new one immediately. When the delivery/installation people pulled out the dead dishwasher and hauled it away, Son#2 started wailing.

Evidently he and the dishwasher had a ‘special relationship’. Like Putin and Cheeto Man.

Only the passage of time and M&M’s managed to calm him down. It took about 15 minutes. I think he liked the look of the new dishwasher.

4 year olds tend to be a bit fickle.

Once upon at time, AMGA laughed at what’s become known as “the dishwasher incident”.

Not anymore… I get it now.

Some of AGMA’s best friends are machines.

Take Goldie for example.

Goldie is my 2008 Toyota Prius. I bought her in September of 2007 after I was T-boned in my 2006 Prius – Bluie – on I-75 at about 50mph.

The good news was that AGMA was basically unharmed from the accident. The bad news is that Bluie was totaled.

(Can you guess the colors my last two cars? AGMA’s creativity is simply astounding and can’t be contained… I’m like an American Dali.)

So I’ve had Goldie for nearly 11 years. That is the longest I’ve ever owned a car. It’s 25% of my car owning life.

I feel old.

AGMA tends to take my cars for granted. I get Goldie regular oil changes and check-ups, but other than that, I basically ignore her.

My interior looks like I am homeless, and live in my car. On any given day you can find a treasure trove of banana peels, energy bars, half empty coffee cups, a plethora of napkins from Starbucks, mail, a variety of plastic utensils, salt and pepper packets, 15 reusable shoppings, empty soda cans and used dental floss (ewww…) in her interior.

There’s a large chocolate spot in the rear hatch back carpet area (spilled mocha), the carpet under the gas pedal is thread bare. Her glove compartment is stuffed with oil change receipts that date back to 2008.

But despite my treatment of her, Goldie has been very, very good to me. She’s been the most dependable mode of transport I’ve ever had. And she hasn’t been fussy at all.

Plus, she gets killer gas mileage – 48mpg. Her hybrid battery, that was supposed to last only 7 years, has far exceeded expectations.

Which is exactly why AGMA is thinking that it might be time to start looking around for a late model used car.

Shhhh – don’t tell Goldie.

Truth be told, I’d love to have a car with all that hands free stuff and blue tooth and the internet and the loud alarms that let you know you’re too close to the mailbox when you’re backing up.

My son and DIL have a car that parallel parks itself! WHAT?? Yeah it does!

But then I look at Goldie. And I realize that she’s a lot like me. Not fancy, not flashy, not a lot of bells and whistles. But sturdy, dependable, cute in a 2008 way and wears her mileage well.

I’m pretty attached to her. I’m real attached to her actually.

I think it might be love.

And then there’s AGMA’s washing machine and dryer.

We bought them waaaayyy back in 1995. Well before the advent of high efficiency (HE) front loading washers.

There’s something about those front loaders that I don’t trust.

My son and DIL have one, and I watch it sometimes when I’m visiting.

Seriously.

It just sort of tosses the clothes around in what looks like 1/2 cup of water and a tablespoon of detergent. I guess it’s fine for now while their kids are little. But there’s nothing like a full tub of soapy water and a violent agitator to knock the crap out of the clothes to get the the grime out of a 10 year old’s play shorts and shirt.

AGMA’s going to be sad when they need replacing. Which may be soon. Actually, at this point, every load they do is a gift.

I’ll be sad not only from a “Holy sh*t…a new washer is how much???” perspective, but from a ‘tug on my heartstrings’ one as well.

I washed/dried innumerable soccer, baseball, football and track uniforms in them. I washed/dried the last couple of years of little boy play clothes before they turned into teenage angst clothes. I washed/dried pants & shirts that were worn to junior and senior high school dances. And I washed/dried massive loads of clothes brought home from college on breaks.

Call AGMA crazy, but I kinda miss those days…

I washed/dried throw rugs that were ‘messed on’ by our dog, KC, and our cats, Wart, Willie, Caesar, Gus and Max. Okay – maybe not such a fond memories of the messes, but 4 out of the 6 critters have gone over the rainbow bridge. I still miss them…

I washed/dried my sweet step-mother’s clothes in them weekly while she was in the Alzheimer’s unit of a local nursing home. And AGMA was very grateful for the long soak cycle at the beginning, the extra wash cycle and the extra rinse cycle. If you catch my drift. She’s now been gone for 17 years. I will always miss her…

Yeah…AGMA is just one big sentimental blob about my washer and dryer.

And Goldie.

I’ll probably cry like Son#2 did so many years ago when they reach the end of the road.

Anybody have any M&M’s?

 

Stalking friends

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So I’m still working on my holiday cards. Yup. The past month hasn’t quite worked out like I had hoped. As evidenced by, once again, not posting on AGMA for two weeks. *sigh*

I’m shooting for mailing them out by Easter. But Easter’s early this year so I might be overly optimistic…

I was updating some addresses in my contacts app today. This app links to my calendar and Google Maps and Email and probably five other apps I don’t know anything about. Boggles the mind.  My mind at least.

It made me think about how much my “address book” has changed over the past 40 years.

Of course, back in ancient olden times, when men wore stovepipe hats and women couldn’t show their ankles, we used physical address books. Like the kind with paper in them. Like a real book with pages in alphabetical order with blank spaces for names and addresses. And you would actually write somebody’s address with a  pencil or a pen. Quaint.

I still have every one I’ve kept since I was 19. Seriously. Just a little OCD AGMA showing…

Perhaps not the most efficient way to store friend and family address information compared to digital options today, but to me, my old address books are absolutely priceless. They are the story of my life and the lives of my friends in just a few lines.

Kind of a Twitter type of biography/autobiography.

My early address books reflect the life of a confident young woman just starting out in the world. That would be me. I was so naive…  Lots of information about college friends and still some high school friends. And old boyfriends. Most of whom got crossed out.

As an aside, crossing somebody out of your paper address book is far more satisfying than just deleting their address card from your contacts app. Far more. I mean, think about it. You can slash through their name with your pen like you’re Dexter. Or press your pink eraser to the page, and scrub and scrub their name until tiny beads of sweat start popping out on your upper lip and you lick them off with triumphant delight.  Satisfaction.

Those early address books had a lot of crossed out and erased addresses as friends left the cocoon of home and school, and entered the big wide world. Young professionals starting out in apartments, moving from city to city, buying their first house. Lots and lots of address changes as we all tried to find out where we belonged. And who we belonged with.

Then came the additions. Lots of additions. Cute Kathy Collins became Cute Kathy and weird Gene Wilson. Or Collins-Wilson. It was the 70’s after all… The single names morphed into two names (or three) and the address almost always changed along with it.

In a few years, there were even more additions. In the column beside cute Kathy and weird Gene’s name & address, I added other names along with birth dates. Nicholas 10/31/79. Corrie 7/8/82. Stephen 1/25/84. And more addresses were scratched out/erased as people moved to make room for growing families.

You’d think at this point I would have quit using a pen. Evidently AGMA’s not that smart.

Things stayed pretty stable for a while as people settled into their marriages, homes and families. My address book started looking better than it had in years.

And that’s when some the names started getting scratched out. Uncle Jim, leaving Aunt Ann strangely alone in the name line. And Uncle Harry was alone as well after I crossed out Aunt Mildred. Older relatives and co-workers. In a few sad cases, college & high school friends.

Then, once again, addresses began to change. Children graduated from high school and college. Some friends downsized. Some moved to new cities. Some turned from one into two entries as couples decided to go their own separate ways after years together.

I switched over to digital address tracking about ten years ago. First it was just a document that had all of my contacts in it. That was just a pain in the arse.

Now it’s a contact app that is sooooo much more efficient than my simple paper address books could have ever dreamed of being. So simple to delete a name or change an address or add a new last name. And it wipes out all traces of the previous entry. Completely.

I’m not sure that’s such a good thing.

My old address books are full of amazing memories. Of friends made and lost. Of new love and injured hearts. Of the joy of children and new places, and the sadness of loss and broken relationships.  Priceless.

Because when you cross out a name in a paper address book, you can still read it.  It’s still there. When you erase an address, there is still a faint trace of it on the paper. There’s a history there. A history of how life evolved for my friends and family over the past 40 years. And a history of myself through my relationships with them.

That’s pretty awesome.

I’ve had to delete two names this year. One, a former neighbor, and one, a friend we ran with when we were all 20 somethings. Deleting always makes me incredibly sad.  I don’t mean to be morbid, but I have a sneaking suspicion, at this age, the deletions are just really beginning. The circle of life and all that you know?

But today, I added two new entries. One is a Facebook friend who is going to the “next level” – I’m going to visit her next week! The other is the son of one of my longtime paper address book friends. I’ve known him since he was six. I added him and his wife, and in the notes section, the names and birthdate of both of his young children. That made me smile.

So here’s to a 2016 with more additions than deletions! We’ll throw that out the the Universe and see what happens…

Aging gracefully my ass.

Happy New Year and keep your fingers crossed!