Definitions You Know: Sycophant

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Definitions You Know

This is a word I’ve read several times during my life, but never bothered to look it up. The context certainly proved to be accurate against the actual definition. As for sycophants themselves, luckily they’re pretty easy to spot, if you think to look.

syc·o·phant

From dictionary.com

/ˈsɪkəfənt, -ˌfænt, ˈsaɪkə-/

–noun
a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.
From the World Dictionary:
a person who uses flattery to win favour from individuals wielding influence; toady.
1537 (in L. form sycophanta ), “informer, talebearer, slanderer,” from L. sycophanta,  from Gk. sykophantes,  originally “one who shows the fig,” from sykon  “fig” + phanein  “to show.” “Showing the fig” was a vulgar gesture made by sticking the thumb between two fingers, a display which vaguely resembles a fig, itself symbolic of a c**t (sykon  also meant “vulva”). The story goes that prominent politicians in ancient Greece held aloof from such inflammatory gestures, but privately urged their followers to taunt their opponents. The sense of “mean, servile flatterer” is first recorded in Eng. 1575.
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**Yes, the “c” word. I thought the story entertaining, but removed the word that so many find offensive.

Move Update

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Friends, Health, No Whining

The house has been on the market for two weeks now, and I think we’re finally getting used to the new layout. We have not yet adjusted to the daily cleaning-as-we-prepare-to-leave routine. At least, I haven’t. It makes me grumpy to add an extra 15 minutes prep time to go anywhere. It has made me very grateful that I started the Home-Ec 101 program again.

I’ve been visiting friend Paulette Jaxton , who helped us get the house prepped, since Wednesday evening. I don’t believe I posted about it at the time, but she twisted her ankle in the garage as we were moving things around right before the Realtor arrived to take pictures for the listing the day it was put on the market. At the time, Paulette allowed no fuss over her ankle as she was sure it was just a slight twist. After a week with the pain worsening, she went in for X-rays and discovered that she had broken the tip of the bone off on her fibula(? Anatomy is hard!). Eek! Very worried I really wanted to visit to help out if she would let me, plus we’ve been trying to visit each other while we are both without full-time employment. (I’d say during our “free time”, but both of us feel pretty pressed by our projects.)

Luckily, the break doesn’t require a cast or “boot” and she still has lots of freedom with the heavy duty brace they prescribed. Her movement is not as limited and it’s far more comfortable than the other options would have been. I just feel terrible about it, especially since it’s the same spot, the little ledge in the garage that drops down about 2 inches, that twisted my ankle in 2008 (2009?) and also caused injury to Chooch a few months ago. It’s not something we’re able to alter, and I’m severely pissed about that fact. In fact, we had just relayed the story of both injuries to Paulette the day before, joking about how the house seems to demand a sacrifice from time to time. This is no longer funny, obviously.

But we’ve had a great time, staying up late and chatting and I’m glad I finally made it up to her place for the first time. Paulette hasn’t let me fuss over her, other than doing a few tasks for her, but I can’t fault her that. I don’t like a fuss either, I just hope I relieved some of her boredom.

As for the house itself, it’s been on the market for two weeks now, and it’s been viewed twice. No word back on either, but in the current market, we knew we’d have a wait ahead of us. The crazy storm system that came through town two nights ago blew down a section of fencing, which Chooch has already repaired. Otherwise, we’re just waiting.

Definitions You Know: Family

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Definitions You Know, Family, Firsts, No Whining, Soulful

My niece, her husband, her almost 3 year old son and 1 month old daughter are visiting from out of state. We’re hosting a celebration/baby shower for Baby M and a Welcome Home visit for the rest of them and another niece arriving today. None of these definitions exactly fit our relationship, as she and her sister are the daughters of my brother’s ex-wife. We have no blood or matrimonial bond, but try and tell me Baby M’s not family as I hold the sweet bundle in my arms and I’ll have to put a serious smack down on you.

As dear friend Heather Welliver says, “There’s the family you’re born into, and then there’s the family you create.” And we long ago accepted these girls into our hearts, where they remain regardless of the legal and blood-lines dictate.

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fam·i·ly

/ˈfæməli, ˈfæmli/

–noun 

  • a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not: the traditional family;
  • a social unit consisting of one or more adults together with the children they care for: a single-parent family;
  • the children of one person or one couple collectively: We want a large family;
  • the spouse and children of one person: We’re taking the family on vacation next week;
  • any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins: to marry into a socially prominent family;
  • all those persons considered as descendants of a common progenitor;
  • Chiefly British . approved lineage, especially noble, titled, famous, or wealthy ancestry: young men of family;
  • a group of persons who form a household under one head, including parents, children, and servants;
  • the staff, or body of assistants, of an official: the office family;
  • a group of related things or people: the family of romantic poets; the halogen family of elements;
  • a group of people who are generally not blood relations but who share common attitudes, interests, or goals and, frequently, live together: Many hippie communes of the sixties regarded themselves as families;
  • a group of products or product models made by the same manufacturer or producer;
  • Biology . the usual major subdivision of an order or suborder in the classification of plants, animals, fungi, etc., usually consisting of several genera;
  • Slang . a unit of the Mafia or Cosa Nostra operating in one area under a local leader;
  • Linguistics . the largest category into which languages related by common origin can be classified with certainty: Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, and Austronesian are the most widely spoken families of languages. Compare stock ( def. 12 ) , subfamily ( def. 2 );
  • Mathematics
    • a given class of solutions of the same basic equation, differing from one another only by the different values assigned to the constants in the equation.
    • a class of functions or the like defined by an expression containing a parameter.
    • a set.
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Roller Coaster Day, Part Two

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Dizzy, Friends, Music, Podcast, Too Long For Twitter

I finally got the message we were waiting for from the Realtor since we listed our house for sale on Friday, that someone was coming for a look. I know that the first buyer won’t put down a contract, but I’ve been terrified about the market. Just knowing that there’s an actual market for our home is reassuring.

After we left the dentist appointment, we returned home and sure enough, someone had indeed been there. What a relief! We then headed out for our planned outing with our dear friend Philippa Ballantine, her parents visiting from New Zealand, and the spectacular Sonic Boom (daughter of Tee Morris). Pip’s dad had business nearby and we were invited to join them for lunch and for me to make good on my long-promised pottery painting trip with Sonic Boom.

It was a sorely needed break in the day for Chooch and I, as we were able to put the other stuff to the side for a bit and just revel in their fine company.

After lunch, Chooch had to return to work, loathe as he was to do so. We jumped in the limo (why yes, I did say limo! The Ballantines travel in style!) and went to the pottery studio. I had promised a pottery painting trip to Sonic Boom as her birthday present last summer, but was then shocked to find that the three pottery studios I knew of had closed, including one by her house and two by mine. I happily discovered that one studio by me had actually just moved and that’s where we headed.

It was delightful seeing Sonic Boom’s excitement, even though she’d already done it before. She took her time picking out just the perfect piece and paint colors. As she painted, Pip and her mother painted a lovely piece together, and Pip’s dad impressed us all with the bold design he painted on his piece. Sonic Boom worked very hard getting her work exactly the way she wanted it, until she spotted the studio cat, Whiskers. She was a bit distracted after that, but who can blame her? He’s a lovey cat that just wanders around jumping into unsuspecting laps for scritches and such.

Happy with all the work done, we jumped back into the limo and they took me home. Everyone piled out for a pit stop before they headed back home, and ended up staying and visiting before waving goodbye to Chooch as he was on a conference call.

I had a wonderful time over lunch, and it was absolutely delightful meeting Pip’s parents. They are just as you’d expect of the people that raised her: intelligent, extremely kind and very funny. Keeping up with Sonic Boom is just as fast-paced as you’d imagine, and I was fairly exhausted from all the fun and laughter we shared.

After they left, I started trying to get caught up on the work I’ve been unable to do for the last few weeks. It was pretty hectic and I wore myself out, but got a lot done, including a quick 5 minute recording that took over an hour to get done. That’s right, an hour, thanks to a crashing computer. As usual, it took Chooch 5 minutes to figure out and fix the problem and I was able to get it done and sent off. By that time, I was extremely stressed and cursing (sorry for that, fine Twitter followers) and my jaw was killing me.

We got in the car to head to band practice, and I medicated the pain and worked on the laptop on the road. I love being able to take the work with me, but I most enjoy the drive when Chooch and I just get to chat.

At Phil’s, we headed down to the band lair and relaxed and chatted with the band while waiting for Dennis (guitarist) to arrive. I was finally able to exhale for what felt like the first time in a long time, and I believe Chooch felt the same way. I still can’t believe how well everyone meshes together and I love spending time with them, whether it’s watching them play or chatting about clothes, kids and pasta makers.

They made amazing music, as always, as they ran through the set list for their show at Axum on Friday night. They are playing two sets, as they were bumped up to headline the show. So they’ll be playing later (11 pm) but longer, which thrills me.

The door proceeds for the band are being split between my Breast Cancer fund-raising efforts for the Richmond Race for the Cure, and between another woman’s efforts for the Komen 3 Day. I’m still blown away that the band offered to do this, and will be there to support them no matter how late they play.

I hope you can join us, as it will be a fun-filled night. Details are posted in Facebook.

Home now as I finish up this post, and I’m glad the insane day is over. It definitely felt as if I was strapped on a roller coaster with all the highs and lows. I’m happy that there were more good things then bad, but the sleep I’m about to get is well deserved.

Goodnight, Dear Readers!

Roller Coaster Day, Part One

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Dizzy, Too Long For Twitter, Vestibular Migraine

Background, since I don’t remember writing about the appointment in January: The daily preventative medication has been causing sleep disruptions that have worsened as the dosage increased. Since the dosage I’m at now has resulted in the biggest reduction in dizzy spells, the hope was to keep the dosage and find something to help me sleep. The medication did nothing at the minimum dose, so I’ve been taking the full recommended dose for about 2 months. While it initially knocks me out, if anything wakes me I’m usually unable to return to sleep. The lack of sleep puts a strain on me, resulting in either more migraines and/or dizziness.

In addition, I believe it to be the cause of my growing comprehension and memory problems. Lookit, I know I’m no genius, but I’ve been having serious issues lately. Last Friday, I’d decided I had enough of it and stopped taking the sleep inducing pill without weaning off or my doctor approving the change. I felt it made no sense to get no sleep at night AND be stupid all day. (Please be kind in the comments about that last bit, okay?)

The results were bad. Very bad. Not only was I dealing with migraines and dizziness as usual, they were jacked up enough that I broke down and took my tier 3 migraine reliever on Sunday night. That’s the pill that essentially knocks me out so it doesn’t hurt anymore. I was finally able to sleep, but woke zombified. Literally dragging, mentally and physically. I still don’t feel quite right and it was three days ago. The pill usually takes me out for the next 24 to 36 hours, but this had me worried. Especially since I’ve had migraines since and honestly, I don’t want a pill that knocks me out for that long. Life is short, and I don’t want to be drugged out and miss it.

But the thing that really had me concerned was the near constant tremor in my right hand and also my jaw. I’ve had the hand tremor for most of my life, usually only showing up when my blood sugar drops. This was different as it was going on all the time, even after meals. And the feeling of a spasm-like trembling in my jaw that I was sure it was visible to others. Sort of like… you know when you’re cold for awhile and you kind of forget until you get a blast of warm air on you? That half a second of pre-shiver, almost painful sensation? Like that, only all the time with a “teeth chattering” kind of tremble. I know, I’m doing a terrible job explaining it, but it’s not easy.

I was afraid to continue any more without consulting him. If the tremble thing was a withdrawal symptom from stopping the sleep inducer and he felt it an appropriate change for me, then I’d deal with it. If it was a new neurological symptom or issue coming to light, then I needed him to know and do any necessary testing.

He ended up suggesting I return to a half dose of the sleep inducing pill, adding melatonin, and taking all 3 of my preventative migraine meds in the morning (instead of 2 in the morning and 1 at night). He also took out the useless tier 1 migraine breaker, so I now have two tiers of relief instead of three. He also let me know that for my now-tier 1 medicine, that insurance companies typically only allow for 9 to 12 of that pill a month (depending on the company) because it’s so expensive. What am I supposed to take for migraines number 13 and higher? Nothing, unless I want to take the pill that I mentioned earlier that knocks me out and turns me into a zombie. Thanks, insurance company. Thanks a hell of a lot.

After leaving that appointment, it was time for the dentist. I had a cracked filling replaced and two cavities filled back in the beginning of January, and I’m still having extreme pain. I haven’t needed fillings since I was a child, so didn’t remember what to expect. But I was only having minor discomfort before the fillings and they’ve been excruciatingly sensitive to temperature and pressure since the fillings. As in, a room temperature banana causing extreme pain because it’s too cold. Ridiculous, right? I haven’t had carrots, apples or anything of that sort since January because then we’re talking about serious pain.

I’ve been in several times since then, and he filed down the “high points” in the fillings, and later diagnosed me as possibly grinding my teeth, but more than likely clenching my jaw, while I sleep. This was because I was pointing out pain in a location where he hadn’t done a filling (the joint where your jaws meet). He decided that I need a $400 mouth guard to wear at night, but since we were broke I told him I’d have to come back after our tax refund arrived. Plus, I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea. It wasn’t mentioned during the sleep study I’d had recently after all, and they were able to watch my eyelids for R.E.M. state in the dark. But one discarded $30 over-the-counter mouth guard later (I had to try…), and I was still having pain. Once I realized the stress from the jaw pain began triggering migraines, I was able to get over my fear of dentists and scheduled to go back in.

Knowing it would take a while, Chooch dropped me off and the dentist ordered new x-rays. Turns out, he’s now diagnosed me with TMJ. He believes that is why the tooth cracked initially and now the filled tooth is apparently cracked below the filling. Since the root/nerve is inflamed, I now need a root canal and crown. After that, I’ll need to sleep with a mouth guard. I panicked and asked Chooch to return because I could feel the usual stress reactions kicking in and I needed his clear head on the problem. Brain fog and migraines make it difficult for me to sort through information and remember everything. (As usual, I’ll ask him to comment if I’ve mixed up anything here.)

The only upside is that the dentist says there’s a chance, a very small chance, that once the mouth guard starts doing it’s job, assuming it does, that it may… wait for it… ease or eliminate my migraines. Yeah, it feels like too much to hope for since at this point I’ll just be thrilled if my teeth just stop hurting. So I’ve decided to put that hope to the side for now and focus on what’s in front of me and what I can control. Yes, I’m a worse case scenario planner, but it hasn’t failed me yet.

It’s going to cost around $2,000 and insurance won’t cover any of it. Nor will insurance cover any future TMJ issues, if the dentist is right. Lovely. I told Chooch I’d rather pull the damned cracked tooth out rather than hand over that much money to fix it, but he thinks that’s a bit nuts. So we’ve scheduled it over three appointments and our tax refund / savings will take the hit. But I’m grateful that we are lucky to have enough in savings and are not having to take the dental office credit program. I shudder to think what the interest rate must be.

Luckily, the day turned pretty damned awesome after that…

Home Ec 101 – Help For Your Housekeeping

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Consumer Info, Cooking, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Household, No Whining

The majority of the house prep is done and our home has been listed for sale. Now it’s just a matter of knocking out the yard sale to clear the garage and we can sit back and wait for the offers to come rolling in. Oh, I forgot, we have to keep the house pristine for potential buyers while living in it with a large dog that drools and sheds a lot. No big deal, right?

The site Home Ec 101 first came to my attention, guessing here, when author Mur Lafferty tweeted about it at some point in 2010.  I looked into it and was immediately sucked in. It provides all sorts of information for those that may have never learned how to do the basics of cooking and cleaning and find themselves in need of guidance. The site also gives guidance on home repairs and laundry solutions. The site is not just for beginners, as I’ve been maintaining a home of my own for over 20 years and still find lots of useful information. There is even a section on cooking, with information for beginners, along with recipes and food safety.

From the site, “Home-Ec 101 is an attempt to reach average people and teach them the domestic arts that make life a little less expensive, a little easier, and a little more enjoyable.”  Blogger Heather Solos gives a slightly different take on how to get things done, and I enjoy it. You don’t get beaten up for not being Martha Stewart and it casts a realistic eye on the availability of time and funds of American families.

My very favorite thing about the site? The cleaning schedule. When I first perused the site I jumped at a pre-made, no thought needed schedule for keeping the house clean. I fell off the schedule during the Christmas rush, but now that my home is clean and needs to stay that way, I’m back on the program.

It’s simple and straight-forward, although not easy. Yesterday was laundry catch-up and bedding day, and since I was otherwise occupied for most of the weekend, that means pretty a LOT of laundry had to be caught-up. I didn’t finish (four bedrooms and not being well), so I’m rolling it in to today’s tasks, which includes cleaning the floors and a 15 minute quick pick-up and smudge patrol.

There is a standard set of tasks to do every day, along with items like those listed above added on top. I really enjoyed the results when I did it before, and like everything else, consistency is what will make it a success or a failure. Miss one or two days and you can catch up easily without a major re-cleaning. More than that and you’d better put some real time aside. Being back on this schedule will also prevent me from feeling like I have to obsess for hours every day, just in case we’re lucky enough to have someone interested in viewing our house.

And while customization of the list may be needed to fit your individual households, it’s a great place to get into the mind set of keeping things tidy.

**Thanks to Mia for noticing the schedule posted in my kitchen, as it reminded me to share the site here. I hope you find it as useful as I have.**

Definitions You Know: Patience

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Definitions You Know, No Whining, Podcast, TV

I’ve always known that I’m an impatient gal. I hate waiting on people. I hate waiting on things. I even hate waiting to get somewhere and will leave extra early to make sure the drive doesn’t delay me from what I’m doing. And I get anxious from the anticipation and have to fight to keep my expectations from growing beyond possible reality. I’m even impatient for something I didn’t even want.

Game of Thrones, the first book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, was picked up by HBO for a new series. I was infuriated, even though I think that HBO does a fine job with their original programming. I railed against the idea that any could be so presumptuous as to try and bring what lived in the pages of his books and my imagination into some tangible experience. I knew it would fail to live up to even HALF what the series represents to me. Then I started seeing the casting, and I started to get excited. Over the months, my excitement has continued to grow to see if they can, in fact, pull it off.

In this and many other things going on in my life right now, I’m spending a lot of time learning patience. It’s about time, but is torturous nonetheless. Two weeks ago, HBO aired the first 15 minutes of the first episode as a special sneak preview and we watched it. I only have one more day to go, and my patience will be rewarded.

Who else will be happily watching the debut tomorrow night? HBO means no commercials and no need for a buffer to skip through them. Come back and tell me what you thought of it, if the mood strikes you.

pa·tience

[pey-shuhns]

–noun 

  1. the quality of being patient,  as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
  2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.
  3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.
  4. Cards (chiefly British ) . solitaire ( def. 1 ) .
  5. Also called patience dock . a European dock, Rumex patientia,  of the buckwheat family, whose leaves are often used as a vegetable.

Obsolete:  leave; permission; sufference.

Origin:

1175–1225; Middle English pacience  < Old French  < Latin patientia. See patient, -ence.
And if the mood strikes, check out the new podcast that my husband and I are on from SpecFicMedia, Beyond The Wall – A Game of Thrones Podcast.
I promise, the audio will be vastly improved on the next episode. And promise I’m not a cylon. Pinky swear.

Rules of Etiquette, Lesson Four

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Breast Cancer, Health, Mom

This week addresses a breach of etiquette. Having had to deal with this exact situation when my mother was terminally ill, I cannot stress enough the kindness in the simple phrase:

“To go to the room of an invalid unless invited (is a breach of etiquette).”

When someone that there is a less than pleasant history pops into your room on the palliative ward unannounced, it doesn’t matter how lovely the flowers you bring are. The patient is in whatever state allows them momentary comfort and they’re suddenly left scrambling to improve their appearance for the well-meaning visitor. And that’s what it was, someone from the past that knew that Mom was terminal and stuck in hospital and wanted to come by and show support. There was no malicious intent at all.

Nevertheless, an act of kindness when one is struggling through illness should also give thought to the wishes of the patient’s comfort. Surprises sound like a great idea, but are not in this situation. When she was expecting guests, we had a beauty routine that made her more comfortable as to her appearance and allowed her to fully enjoy the visit.

So yeah, check first and then shower them with as much love and attention as they welcome.

It is about them after all.

Move Update ~ House Prep

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: 5k, Consumer Info, Household, No Whining

I’ve been working like mad, mad I tell you, trying to get the house ready for the arrival of the Realtor at 2 pm today, which you know if you follow me on Twitter. I’ve been a pain in the butt complaining about it, so you have my apologies. Doing what I can to stay sane with the accompanying dizziness, migraines and nausea for such high stress levels as I’m running.

I’ve had no exercise since Saturday’s 5k run. Did I write about that? I’ll check later. I know that’s seriously impacting my mood and I crave a good long run.

I’ve been eating all the right food, but am on a weird schedule and haven’t been tracking my Weight Watcher points. I only eat when I’m hungry, no more than once every four hours and I stop at a regular serving. Easy to do since I’m home and it’s all the same stuff. Weird thing is, I feel squishy and think I’ve gained weight this week. Again, no run since Saturday morning, and even with all this hard physical labor, it doesn’t seem to be maintaining me, let alone helping me lose.

I’ve only been able to nap the last few days, and wake in a panic to start working again. It’s kinda working, in that it’s the only thing I can manage right now. But, I’m sure that’s thrown my metabolism way out of whack.

Back onto a normal schedule after we get past this hurdle, and hopefully I can salvage the week, weight-wise. But if not, I’m cutting myself a damned break. I deserve it.

Prodigal Niece Returns

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, Kids, No Whining

We got some troubling news on the living conditions of my oldest niece, which was immediately followed with news that she’s returning to live in the area. She will move in with a friend and get settled into a new job and resume life, hopefully none the worse for wear for what she’s been through. No, this is not the niece that just gave birth to Baby M, it’s her older sister.

I’m crazy excited to see her and it’s had me floating around during this chaotic period of house prep and never ending work in getting this place ready to list for sale.

So, instead of whining about something, I thought I’d share that happy bit of news.

“On a scale from one to awesome I’m the shit. Get over it.”
~A Gym Class Heroes quote that always makes me think of her.