Suck it up, Cupcake.

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Dizzy

Tomorrow I mail back the heart monitor. In spite of having five days off from it due to equipment malfunction, I’m barely keeping my sanity with this thing. It’s the constant feeling of being tethered that’s getting to me. I wake up in the middle of the night with it poking or itching or whatever and I have to fight the urge to throw it across the room. The pads themselves are itchy and tearing up my skin. The sound of the recording causes my headaches to spike.

Add to that the loneliness and feelings of being trapped due to being stuck at home and unable to drive, not to mention just feeling like spinny crap all the time. I know I’ve got many blessings in my life, and I’m extremely grateful for each one. I’m just really struggling to get through this part to find the solution and get my ass moving again. I’m jealous in a most evil fashion of those that are continuing with their health regimen as I struggle with losing the 20 pounds I’ve gained since this started. And worst of all, I desperately miss our three sons. When M and LT moved out, I had work to keep my attention away from the huge void. Now I’m just knocking around this house that’s too big thinking about them and J, and missing them so badly that I can’t allow myself to think about it. J lives with his mom on the West Coast and I should be used to missing him, but with M and LT gone now too it’s more acute.

If you know me, then you know that I try really *really* hard to stay positive. I know it makes a difference. I’m just desperate to move on to the treatment phase. I completely broke down after the January appointment when they said they still didn’t have a final diagnosis. I don’t know what I’ll do if they say it again. The isolation truly sucks, and luckily I have the phone, internet, I get to see friends (occasionally) and my family (less frequently). I know it could be worse, but I still wish it were just a little bit better.

I think it’s the NEEDINESS that is really getting to me. We’re in the middle of repairing / painting our bathroom and I need to go to Lowe’s. I need to go to the grocery store. I need to go to Costco. Kaylee has a vet appointment. I can’t do any of these things to allow my husband to rest after a really long week of hard work. Nope, instead he has to get up early and take me all these places because I still can’t drive due to the doctor banning me.

I didn’t mean this to be the whiny post it’s turned in to, but with the cooties I picked up at Farpoint it’s made for a very rough week. I can’t even drive myself to the damn doctor. Three different family members live less than a half hour away but I don’t like to ask my family for anything. Now when I’m feeling low enough to actually ask for help I can’t — don’t want to risk them catching whatever bug I picked up.

Our friends were going to visit this weekend and they had to cancel. The gaming party we were invited to? Canceled. All this cleared the way for us to be able to attend a friend’s birthday party, and I’m afraid to go and infect others.

I don’t know why I’m posting this. I’m not looking for pity or anything like that. I just needed to vent, and people shout into the abyss about this stuff, right? It’s actually pretty self-indulgent, as I got to spend copious amounts of time with friends just last weekend. I guess I got used to being around people again.

Going to shake off the blues and get over it. It’s been a rough winter all around, and I’ve just got to stay focused on the good things. After all, tomorrow I lose my leash and I get two days with my honey! Now if I can just keep from driving him crazy…

Farpoint 2010

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Convention Attendance, Dizzy, Knitting, Podcast, Twitter/Facebook

Chooch and I treated each other to Farpoint attendance this year as our Valentine’s Day gifts. Yes, it was waaaaay more than we normally spend for this corporate holiday, but due to the double blizzard whammy and extreme cabin fever we couldn’t resist the lure of friends and stars all gathered together into one big awesome pile of humanity.

Our last minute issue was whether or not the replacement wires for my heart monitor would arrive on Friday so we could leave early on Saturday to get our money’s worth out of the con. It’s not a cheap one at a door price of $75 for the weekend, plus the sharing of room costs with our dear friend Thomas, aka The Command Line. The package arrived on Friday, Hooray for Baldrick! *ahem* Sorry, Chooch has been playing his dvd set “The Black Adder” as our new lullaby as a break from “Seinfeld”.

We got there, and immediately walked right into our friends and luckily in time for Command Line’s panel which included some other friends, Marc Bailey (aka Grailwolf), Nobilis, and Paul Fischer. I was sad that his amazing wife and daughter could not attend due to illness but glad for the time with Paul. My bestie, M.A. in PA, and her hubby Dan Tabor arrived during the panel. It was also attended by our besties Heather Welliver and Grailpup, who are Marc Bailey’s wife and son (for those unfortunate enough not to know who they are).

We attended the Q&A discussion by Felicia Day, and she was as charming and adorable as ever. I had a question I wanted to ask her, but was having some of my health issues and decided against it as I didn’t want to end up stuttering and stumbling while speaking. There were many fantastic questions, and she was extremely entertaining. More later on this fey creature.

Dinner at Bertucci’s with Command Line, MAinPA, Dan, Chooch and myself and we were later joined by Paul Fischer. It was a delightful meal, primarily because of the company. Yes, the food was good but the conversations we have would make any meal enjoyable.

We attended the Masquerade, which was a first for Chooch and I at any con. We intended on staying only for the beginning, which our friends (Fantastic Foe, aka @patman23 on Twitter along with his beautiful wife Lisa and their endearing daughter ‘G’) would be in but ended up staying through a good portion simply because the costumes were so amazing! Our friends were actually there during the entire Masquerade, serving as The Ninjas that were assisting the participants with getting off stage and they even did an adorable but brief performance when they were introduced! They were fantastic and I’m really glad they lured us there with their presence. We left the Masquerade to take some pix of our friends and ended up wandering a bit and making our way back down to the Masquerade in time to see the most exciting auction of the night!

While waiting for the judges to determine the winners, an auction was held to raise funds for Vietnam Veterans of America. The previous two years had earned $3,000 each and the auctioneer was hoping to match or beat that. The real excitement came during the bidding for the coveted ‘Lunch with Felicia Day’ which had a proxy bid was $300.  As Thomas, Chooch and I watched in amazement the bidding continued and finally was won at $5,000! It was amazing to see, especially as Ms. Day was obviously blown away by the amounts being bid for, as she reminded the bidders, ‘just lunch’. She was blushing adorably, but occasionally vamped a bit in an effort to raise the bidding. The gentleman that won the auction was the subject of tweets and conversation for the rest of the weekend. Well done for a wonderful cause!

Afterward, Chooch, Thomas and I luckily were unable to find seating at the hotel bar. I say luckily, because we headed into the dining room instead and ran into a table filled with hawesome (Grailwolf, Heather, Grailpup, Laura Burns, John Cmar and Helen Madden) and joined them. We ended up staying for several hours having a raucous good time. We even experienced the debut of The Green Boner, much to our horror. Laura showed me some of her favorite knitting sites and books, which was a boon for this knitting noob! When actor Lee Arenberg walked through the restaurant we made eye contact and he said hello. He’s officially now my homeboy, right?!?  A few drinks and countless giggles later we split off and headed back to our hotel for an exciting adventure in parking in a snow-filled lot.

Next day found us at breakfast at the hotel restaurant, and I was anxious to get in line for the Felicia Day signing opportunity. When we met her, I was able to ask my question about resources for fun/funky/geeky knitting projects but having put her on the spot she was unable to think of any. It was otherwise a wonderful chat, and we were able to get a better picture with her than we got at Dragon*Con.  As we talked, she said she remembered our conversation back then so am assuming that we are now BFF’s.  I’m relieved to report that I didn’t embarrass myself as much as I did at D*C, when I ‘fangirled’ all over the place. Lookit, I’m growing! We also got a copy of Season 2 of The Guild signed, but there were no copies of Season 3 available yet, sadly.

We visited the Dealer Room, and made some purchases. I was thrilled to discover cartoonist Kevin Bolk and his hilarious comics “Watchbabies” (if the Watchmen were babies), “I’m My Own Mascot”, and “Wookie-Ookies” (Star Wars done with babies). All are creative, intelligent and beautifully done so I bought those items and Mr. Bolk was kind enough to sign them for us. I love finding unexpected new things such as this, and it made the trip through the Dealer Room well worth the time invested.

We later lined up to meet Lee Arenberg. He was delightful and it was a real pleasure to chat with him. We talked about all manner of topics, and he was charming and a truly fun guy! I was sad later when I realized that I forgot to mention our BFF moment in the restaurant the night before. He even gave me his email address to send him a link to our podcast, due to his interest in the topic of blended families. Score!

Our other sightings included Mira Furlan and Sam Witwer. I didn’t recognize the latter when he got on and then off our elevator and then got back off when he realized when we were going up rather than down. He only registered as being ‘teh cexce’ to me at that time, which he definitely is! Ms. Furlan was also there and while I spotted her several times, I didn’t get to meet her.

We caught the tail end of Command Line’s panel Copyright or Copywrong with Steve Wilson and Marc Okrand. I wish we could have met them as well, but they both bolted off in different directions after the panel. We grabbed Thomas, M.A., and Dan and headed out for a tasty lunch at Baja Fresh and returned in time for Dan’s interview with Ms. Day for his wonderfully written blog series on Geekadelphia. I cannot wait to read it, as he was very happy with the interview itself! Dan the Fan? Piffle. Dan the MAN!

Many enjoyable hours in the atrium were spent with friends between panels, events and meals. Laura brought in her case of packed full of BPAL and her knitting and I was very envious of both. Later I got another quick knitting lesson from M.A., this time on purling. Turns out my previous attempts were correct, but I needed M.A. to guide me through it anyways.  All the time spent with friends between other events truly made the weekend even more special. We returned home exhausted but exhilarated with our filled heart containers.

Playing with Yarn

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Friends, Hobby, Knitting

Years ago, I wanted to learn how to knit but was overwhelmed at the complexity and lack of people who could teach me. I tried crochet instead and did a decent job of it making a few scarves and two blankets (unfinished edges).

Now that I’m stuck at home, usually in a chair or bed due to the dizziness, I considered starting to crochet again. A conversation with my dear friend M.A. got me going on knitting. She’s an accomplished knitter and thought I might enjoy the conversion from crochet to knitting. While she was staying with us in order to attend the memorial service for another dear friend, we zipped off to the craft store to get the basic supplies including a “How To…” kit. She had to leave shortly after that, so we never really got a chance for a tutorial.

I became very frustrated with the instruction guide in the “How To…” kit, and gave up after a few tries. The book just was not translating into action for me. She said she had a book for me to borrow, and to bring my supplies along the next time we met up for a tutorial. A few weeks later, we were at Tee Morris’ home and we stole away for a quick 10 minute lesson sitting in the hatchback of my CRV. It was much quieter than inside the house, and we needed some ‘us’ time regardless. In spite of her belief that she’s a terrible teacher, she had me casting on and stitching wobbly stitches in no time!

I was very grateful, but warned her not to expect much progress since I would likely get home and have forgotten what she showed me. To my great luck, she lent me her autographed copy of the Stitch ‘n Bitch book to keep me going.

After getting home, I was confused again. Which hand held the stitches after they were cast on? I remembered the basic movements, but not the finer details. I tentatively reached for the lent book, and started reading. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the non-instructional introduction. It’s a lovely story, and at one point I got teary eyed. Even if I’d not learned a thing on knitting I enjoyed the book.

Thanks to the hands-on time with M.A. and the detailed and logically phrased guidance from the book I was soon mangling the yarn in a somewhat continuing pattern. I was practicing my stitches and learning from trial and error, not really concerning myself with what it looked like other than as a learning opportunity. At one point I had several rows that looked much nicer than the previous, so I unraveled the whole nightmare and started fresh. I was pretty amazed at how neat it looked, and how much quicker (still slow) I was stitching.

That was a couple weeks ago, and since then I’ve knit two scarves. On the first, I had Chooch select the yarn he wanted for a ’2 hour scarf’ patter that I found from the Lion Brand Yarn site. I still get email from my crocheting days, so just wound up browsing their site. I used size 19 knitting needles, with two strands of the Wool-Ease Thick and Quick. Normally I’d have gone for a fancier acrylic for more color options at our local store, but M.A. had explained the basics of the different yarns and with a blizzard forecast I wanted to make sure the would stay warm.

On the second, I was actually looking for yarn for a friend that asked me to make one for her. When I laid my eyes on the the white Wool-Ease Jiffy with a white metallic thread, I quickly decided that I had to make this scarf for a different person. That scarf is now finished, and I can get back to the one for the other friend.

I bought a bunch more yarn, and already have a long list of projects in my head. I don’t plan on making sweaters or socks, they are too intimidating. I previously crocheted a hat, so may try that soon. I also want to crochet something again, just to compare the two processes and results. Crocheting for me is ‘easier’ in that I only have to really pay attention to one hook rather than two needles, but I think I’m enjoying the results of the knitting better.

I’m posting various pictures of what I’ve used and my results. Next up? Stripes!

A Work in Progress, aka Kaylee FAIL

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Household, Kaylee

As mentioned in a previous post, our beloved pup Kaylee has left her mark on our master bath. Truth be told, it’s not her fault because we decided to use the room as ‘her room’ when I started my job waaaaay back last March. Instead of using a crate, we just penned off our bathroom with a baby gate and she would stay there at night and during the workday. She was almost immediately housebroken, and it worked out beautifully in all ways. Well, except for the drywall and moulding. She has eaten, scratched and generally brutalized the walls, door, and baseboards. It’s truly hideous.

We finally got a big crate for her, and spent a few days acclimating her to it. She now goes in there at bedtime, and I also keep her in there for several hours a day so that when I return to work she will still be used to the schedule. It sounds mean, but I had a dog go through what I would classify as separation anxiety after going from companionship all day to being left alone while I went to work. She’s used to the schedule, I’m just making sure she maintains her comfort with it for when I’m back to working at Belvoir.

So now begins the repair on our bathroom. I had begun the redesign over a year ago when I finally snapped and tore down the lame train wallpaper border. Yes, in the master bath. We moved here in 2005, and just never got around to taking it down. GAH!  We were going to paint the room before we got Kaylee and decided to wait until she was settled in and I’m glad we did. I’d have been furious to have had this damage on freshly painted walls.

Here are pix of the train border, I forgot to get a picture of what that looks like now. The rest are all of damage done by Kaylee, and the work done so far.  You may even notice the guilty party having returned to the scene of her crime…

To keep me off the ladder in case of dizziness, Chooch will be cleaning up the wall paper border area and spackling where needed. He will then be replacing the chewed-up moulding where needed. This will be a nasty task, and my hopes of getting it done before guests arrive on February 19 are likely unrealistic. But a girl can hope, right?

I’m still deciding on a color. Since we are tentatively planning to put the house on the market, I’m not going for a personal preference. Most likely just a neutral color that will be pleasing to potential buyers.

Since I’m still dealing with my health issues, this is slow going. But with Chooch handling the ladder stuff, and me going very slowly with frequent breaks I think we can handle it without complications. Well, other than missing my self-imposed deadline.

We are tied to the colors in the floor since we aren’t changing that out. It’s linoleum with dark blue and dark green diamonds. You can sort of see the floor in one of the above pictures. Any suggestions on a color? If so, please post as a comment here and not on twitter. This would actually be appreciated for all comments, since they aren’t viewable from the blog. Much obliged!

Superbowl? Was that today?

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Games, Kaylee, Kids, Video, Weight Loss

Neither Chooch or I follow any sports, so the Superbowl has been something we’ve only observed for others. If either of the sons that lived with us was interested, or if we were invited to a party we would certainly watch but not when left to our own devices. Since it’s just the two of us today, we followed our usual protocol of recording it to skip through and watch the commercials and half-time performances and found other things to enjoy.

Chooch walked over to the store to get nacho fixin’s, and that’s all we ended up having for dinner. We settled in and watched Team America: World Police which we had neglected viewing previously. Needless to say, we found it very entertaining even though we were grossed out by the sex scene. Yes, we had been warned, but … wow. I had no idea puppets could do that!

Afterwards, the chocolate cake I was craving and baked was finished and we ate some of that. I’ve been dieting and am ramping up big time tomorrow and so this was kind of my ‘last meal’ of sorts to purge the cravings that have been haunting me. Mission accomplished *burp*

Chooch then headed upstairs to work on a video of Kaylee’s snowy adventures this weekend while I played some PS3 demos I’ve been wanting to try. I gave Peggle and Critter Crunch another try, but for mindless quick games I don’t know that I’ll get any further enjoyment outside of replaying the demos. Critter Crunch is more likely one I would get, simply because I can’t seem to get past that BLASTED level 5! Peggle is too easy, so no point in buying that.

A new game I tried was Bayonetta, and it was the graphics that really sucked me in. I usually prefer puzzle vs. fight games, but this one is really gorgeous. I greatly enjoyed the demo, in spite of the mildly graphic violence simply because the action moves so quickly it’s not gory to me. The most irritating thing for me was trying to ignore the catwalk strut she has. But her shoes, OMG, her shoes! WANT!!! Flashes of nudity as her clothing/hair unwind to do massive damage, but in the demo there was nothing you wouldn’t see on 10pm TV dramas. This may go on my wishlist, but I’m weighing it carefully since I already have so many things to distract me from projects around the house.

My least favorite moments of Superbowl Sunday? Sending a necessary but unpleasant email that would place complications on a friend, and later washing all the filters on my vacuum cleaner. Total frustration at my circumstances on the first, and a major gross-out on the second.

My favorite moments of Superbowl Sunday? A (too brief) visit with Man-Child, and later finding out that OPM already determined that the DC area offices will remain closed tomorrow. Another day with hubby, huzzah! Now we can brace for the snow storm that is currently predicted for Tuesday.  Shoveling is great exercise, at least.

Destructive Kaylee is Destuctive

Author: Chooch  //  Category: Kaylee

December 28, 2009

You wouldn’t think it to look at her sweet face, but she’s done hella damage at our house.

Kaylee enjoys the usual dog treats, but we’ve discovered her to be on the extreme end of the ‘power chewer’ spectrum. We’re unable to give her most dog toys (tennis balls, rubber toys, fabric toys) because she eats them.

Because of her powerful urge to chew, which we have conflicting reports on the desire waning as she ages out of puppy stage, we keep a constant supply of things to satisfy this urge. We’ve not lost any shoes or furniture yet. And we count ourselves lucky for having dodged a bullet last fall in which a huge piece of rubber was missing from a toy that she had previously shown no interest in eating. She was having stomach issues at the time so we ended up getting x-rays to see if she had blockage, but luckily she ‘worked it out’ on her own without needing surgery.

Meet her latest victim, a ball with holes that drops little treats out as it’s rolled. She immediately learned the trick and began rolling it on the floor in a most adorable fashion. When the treats stopped falling out as quickly as she wanted, she went to her usual process to get to them.

I should also include the play equipment in our backyard. It is made of wood, as are the picnic table and stair case leading outside. Apparently Kaylee is part termite, because she LOVES eating these wooden items. She also enjoys baseboards, but that is for another post. We have not removed the equipment in spite of our kids being way too old to use them because we have friends that come over with their little ones, and this equipment is one of the few things we have to entertain them. Plus, we’re kinda lazy.

So, Kaylee’s amazing urge to chew combined with her strength only leaves us with super hard Nylabones, actual bones (blech), and the flossing ropes. The latter she is able to disassemble, but she takes her time doing it. Also, the fibers are unlikely to cause her huge problems if she does ingest any pieces before we can remove them.

We remain vigilant.

EEG and Lyme Disease Test Results

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Dizzy, Health

I just got a call from the doctor, and the EEG results came back normal and the Lyme Disease test was negative. We immediately felt disappointed because we are so ready for a diagnosis. However, on second thought I think I’m happy that the results are what they are. Yes, I want a diagnosis. However, I do NOT want Lyme Disease, especially as late as treatment would have been after the bite. That is very terrifying stuff based on my research today. Also, I don’t know if the normal EEG rules out or confirms what the doctor’s think is wrong. I have to say that I don’t really want that either, though. Can’t it just be a brief weird illness that goes away? Does it have to be something wrong with my heart / brain? Is that too much to wish for? It certainly feels like it at this point, but I’ve been told that has been the case for two different people with the same symptoms I have.

I have about two weeks left on the heart monitor study, then I’ll meet with the doctors. Have I mentioned how impatient I am? No? Well, the phrase that best describes me is from the movie “Postcards from the Edge”, with Meryl Streep from years ago. In it, she says “Instant gratification takes *too* long”. That is me to a ‘T’.

Continuing to be grateful for my loving and supportive husband. He rocks my socks, y’all! You would NOT believe what he had to put up with yesterday morning as we tried to trigger the stutter and other severe symptoms.

Stay safe, and hug your loved ones tight!

Mom Always Said I Was Special…

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Dizzy, Health

… and now I have the gear to prove it!

Chooch and I got up bright and early this morning to get started on my 24 hour monitoring EEG. I have to wear the recording devices on my left hip, since the right is already taken up with the heart monitor recorder. When I’m having vertigo/migraine/nausea/whatever I have to hit a button on each. The EEG recorder marks when the symptom occurs and I keep a journal detailing what symptoms I was experiencing. The heart monitor recorder actually triggers a recording of my vitals for about 90 seconds after I hit the button.

The first time I had a dizzy spell, I froze and went for both buttons and was instantly reminded of the Old West, when a gunfighter would go for both holsters in a gunfight. Hence, the silly pose with my strangely intense expression.

If only I had the necessary pieces (and skill), I think I could fashion this into and interesting photo. If the sensors were sticking straight out, and the wires were copper… If I had some copper foil to wrap the ‘umbilical’ wrapped jumble of wires that comes out from the back of my head, down my shirt and connects to the device… Ah, well. The lost theatrical opportunity is just one more regret in all of this.

Luckily, I’ve had several dizzy spells today. They have been minor and brief, but it’s all data for the diagnosis so I’m not complaining! And in case you are wondering, yes. It’s extremely itchy where each electrode is ‘cemented’ to my scalp. I’m sure I’ll be in heaven once I get it taken off and wash all the gritty cement off my head. I’m not complaining, mind you! I know how lucky I am to have good insurance, a thoroughly intrigued set of doctors, a patient boss and lovingly supportive husband.