Monday, December 31, 2012

Pre-Monday Rambles

I have to be at the hospital pretty early in the morning, so I'm writing this on Sunday.  There's still so much to do!  I'm getting a little cranky and stressed at this point.  I've been eating so much crap that I'm actually bloated and gassy.  Stress-eating combined with holiday feasting is never a good idea.  Ever.

We went to the big flea market at the fairgrounds yesterday.  Keith actually went with me, which doesn't always happen.  I had a lot of fun.  One of these days, I'll do a Junkin' Memories post about my history with this particular flea.  It's kind of part tradition, part junking, part something else for me.

In terms of actual merch hunt, the only time to go the big flea is New Year's and Labor Day, when they have the special antique wing.  There are a lot more vendors there and much better chances of scoring.  The parking fee at the fairground is just too much these days to go every month, like I did in the old (pre-booth) days.

The antique wing is great for three reasons.  First, it's a chance to see a lot of cool stuff in one place.  I've always loved browsing the antiques!  Second, it's a good chance to do some research and learn about things.  Finally, there are the dollar booths!  Yay!

There are always several dealers who are dumping a bunch of items that they got in bulk buys, box lots, and estate clean-outs.  They've pulled the big dollar items for their stores, which is where they'll make their money.  Everything else they sell at a buck a throw, just to get rid of it.  Sometimes, there's even overstock from their shops that they're tired of looking at.  Nothing is organized, but you can find some great bargains, if you're willing to dig a bit.  I'm always willing to dig!

Unfortunately, because of the surgery, I had to go on the first day of the flea market, instead of the last day, which is what I usually do.  On the first day, the items are two bucks each, which pretty much cut down on what I could buy.  Bummer.  I did find a couple of dollar booths, just not as many as there will be tomorrow.  I scored this awesome, clear Pyrex bowl for a buck!  It's huge!

I'll have a couple more posts on the flea market later in the week.

This afternoon, we headed out to look for post-Xmas clearance.  I've had such a sell-through on Xmas stuff that I definitely need a restock for next year.  For the most part the markdowns still aren't high enough for me, but Target had just hit the magic number!  I got quite a bit of stuff--more than I usually would.

I like to get several small stashes of Xmas from different stores, so that I've got a variety when the next year rolls around.  I'm kind of afraid right now that I'm going to miss the big markdowns due to the surgery. If they go low on Tuesday or Wednesday, I'm going to miss out for sure.  To be on the safe side, I decided to get a larger stash from target than I normally would.  I'll have a little less variety next Xmas season, but Target stuff is nice, so I should be okay.

I've still got a couple of blog post to finish for next week, a couple of YesterNook posts to write for the week, and laundry to do.  I know I'm not going to have them on very long tomorrow, but I would prefer to go into the hospital with clean undies.

By the time you read this, I'll most likely be in surgery, unless you're catching this early Monday morning, in which case I'm checking in and waiting for my turn to be sliced.  I haven't told Nigel and Sixtus what's going to happen.  I want the little bastards to be caught off guard!

Hopefully, I'll be back at the keyboard pretty soon!  Take care y'all and be safe this New Year's Eve!


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Special Musical Guest Sunday

Welcome to the last Sunday service of 2012 here at  First Ed-boro Episcabaptecostalicterian Church of God in Jehovah Jesus Christ of Saint Margaret-Mary-Vladimir-Athanasius-Bartholomew in Eternal Holiness and Mercy!  We've certainly got a special treat for you this morning.  Our musical guest is Sister Mary Clarence and her group of trained musical penguins.  You'll love watching them harmonize and dance and clap their little flippers!

Wait...what?

They're....not...penguins?  Are you sure about that?  Those puffy little white chests look awfully penguiny to me.

Oh....they're nuns!  Now I get it!  (Before I forget to mention it, the special offering this morning will go to help the Right Father Reverend Priestly Holy Brother Pastor get a new pair of specs.) 

Maybe we should just let them sing.

Take it away, sisters!



Salve Regina, folks!

Friday, December 28, 2012

When all else fails....

You can never go wrong with an Emmylou Harris video. especially one where she's accompanied by a dulcimer and nothing else!  If there is indeed a heaven, and by some clerical error I end up there, this is totally what it will be like.




Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post-Holiday Babbling

Maybe that should be "Inter-Holiday Babbling"?

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  We sure did here.

I got Keith these:



 And he got me this:


It might seem like I came out a bit ahead on that deal, but he loved the house shoes!  In fact, when he opened the package, he said to me those three little words everyone wants to hear from their partner:

"You're a nut!"

Chiquito liked the house shoes too!
There were other presents, but those are the highlights.  I was genuinely surprised by the Nook.

I'm off work until mid-January, so I'm trying to catch up on some stuff and get some rest, at least until my surgery next week.  I'm going to try to post every day until I go the the hospital next Monday.  I'm going to clean out some old stuff that needs to go up, so I can take the items I'm posting about to the booths.

I need to get out to the booths to tidy, but as long as it's freezing rain/light snow/nasty out, I'm keeping my tubby butt inside.  I absolutely cannot get sick right now.  

I'm also hoping to go ahead and schedule a few extra posts through the end of next week, so that there is some content here while I am in the hospital.  When I get home, I'll do a quick update to let you know how things went.  I'm not totally sure how long I'll actually be in the hospital.  I'm thinking only a day or two, but my primary care doc thinks it'll be three or four days.  Neither the surgeon or the hospital has been very clear on that point, so I'm just playing it by ear.

As soon as I can, I'll put up pics of the scar where Nigel and Sixtus used to be.  I'll make sure it's not a bloody mess before I do.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Monday Rambles

Okay, so I'm going to have to put the vintage cards on hold for next year.  At least it gives me a whole fricking year to get the dang things scanned and posted.  Works for me.

I spent the last few days of last week, including the dread end of the world day, in the dark with no lights or heat.  I was still house-sitting and a transformer blew across the street due to very high winds.  The crews worked on it for several days, and the power would flash back on and then cut out again.  This also happened to be the time that the temps dropped to true winter levels.  Dark and cold.  I almost started to believe that the Mayans were right.

I hope everyone is ready for tonight and tomorrow.  I finally got Keith's presents wrapped over the weekend.  We'll probably go to midnight mass tonight.  That's one of our off and on traditions. Maybe Santa will come while we're out.  I've been good.  Really.

Sales have been strong this month, until the beginning of last week, when they slowed to a crawl.  Things picked back up by Friday, though.  It did kill the momentum I had built up a little, which is frustrating.  Still, I am only sixty bucks off last month's total sales at the Peddlers Mall, and we still have a week to go (but the store is closed tomorrow).  I usually have a really good day after Xmas sales total.

Looking back at what has sold, I can make some preliminary conclusions:

Ornaments (new and vintage):  MOSTLY SOLD OUT
Wrapping paper:  SOLD OUT
Cards:  DID NOT SELL WELL
Dishes:  SO-SO SALES
Gift Items:  50% SELL THROUGH

I'm not going to end up with too many leftovers to store.  The gift items will be left out, just shifted around.  New stuff sat good prices is a good thing to have for tax season, which is our busiest time in this business.

My pre-surgery tests went well last week.  Nigel finally stopped bleeding and all the bloodwork was good.  There was a bit of a scare about my blood pressure, which was waaaaaay high.  I've never had blood pressure issues at all, mind you, even during stressful times.  The culprit turned out to be the cold meds I've been slugging in my dread fear that  I was going to get sick and could not have the surgery.

In other words, my hypochondria-driven preventative treatment designed to keep me healthy enough for the surgery almost made me ineligible for the surgery.  The irony, it burns.  I went back to my doc on Friday and my bp was normal, so it's full steam ahead.  This time next week, Nigel and Sixtus will be gone.  I, for one, can't wait.

Happy Merry Ho Ho, Folks!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Rambles

Nigel is bleeding again and I can't seem to get enough pressure on that spot to stop it. It's not like copious amounts of blood, but even just a small trickle of blood coming down one's neck is unsightly and disconcerting.

My pre-surgery tests are scheduled for Wednesday. If it hasn't stopped by then, I'll see if they can put a good pressure dressing on it. To make matters worse, I'm pet-sitting right now, so I'm bleeding in someone else's house. I'm terrified of ruining the sheets or the furniture.

I have no internet connectivity of any kind there, plus my laptop keyboard seems to not want to work, so I am typing this at work. Not sure when I'll get anything else up this week. I have to stop by the house tomorrow and pick something up in the morning, so maybe then.

I tried to make some fudge for a holiday party at the Peddler's Mall on Saturday, but it turned into a disaster. I've been away from the holiday candy-making too long. I hope I haven't lost the touch. I'm the keeper of the grandmother fudge recipes. I have one from each side. Maybe I should just subtitle this one "Fudge and Blood."

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Traditions? We has 'em!

One of the fun things about selling vintage Christmas items is imagining all the holidays those items have seen.  How were they used in holiday traditions?  That's kind of a fertile ground for thought:  Holiday Traditions.  Most of us have some variation on them.  For example,  I haven't yet posted the Hardrock, Cocoa, and Joe video, which has become one of my traditions for the blog.  The certainly do fit in with the vintage theme, don't they?
 


I'm thinking a lot about those holiday traditions these days, since a few of them have come to an end. There won't be a gift exchange with my mother this year the Saturday before Christmas, followed by a trip to the breakfast buffet.  I'm still having a harder time dealing with that than I would like to admit.

When I was a kid, about the first grade, I made a Christmas Eve devotional in Sunday School.  It was a pretty simple deal:  Sing "Away in a Manger." Pray. Sing your favorite carol. (I chose "Deck the Halls.) Read the Christmas story.  It was written on a piece of construction paper and decorated with crayon drawings and Christmas stickers.  Mom kept it tucked in her Bible and, every year, we would do it on Xmas Eve before we opened presents (another family tradition).  Even after she and I had both moved past our church days, we kept it up. It was a sweet little part of our Christmas.  It bothers me that I have no idea what happened to it.

Some traditions tend to evolve over the years, even here at the blog.  Usually, I bring up Suzy Snowflake at about the same time Hardrock comes out.  This year, I present a slightly more modern version of Suzy:



If her Exorcist-style spinning head creeps you out, here's a more traditional version:



What are some of your traditions?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Cheer

I've got a touch of a cold that I am desperately trying to both kick and keep from getting worse.  My pre-surgery tests are next Wednesday and I am terrified that if I am sick then, they'll postpone the procedure, even though it's nit until the 31st and I'll definitely be all well then.

I'm also sick to death of not having time to blog properly, dammit.

There's only one solution for all this trouble:

HOLIDAY MUPPET VIDEOS!!!!



Actually, there's very little that Muppet vids cannot fix.  

DING!  DONG!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This one is for Shara

In one of her recent update posts, Shara (aka monkeybox) asked folks to "decorate the bejeebus" out of their homes and share the pics with her, since she was doubtful that she would be able to do much decorating this year.  Thankfully, since that post, her mother has taken a turn for the better and she seems to now be on the verge of decorating.  I'd still like to do my part anyways.

We haven't decked the halls of our manor in a few years now.  Between booths and jobs and stuff, there's just no time or space any more.  This is the third Christmas without Mom, and there's still something that's not right about that.  The last holiday that she was alive, we didn't decorate either.  It just didn't seem right.  It's not like I'm a Scrooge or anything.  The same feeling isn't there for me these days.  Maybe it will come back some day.  I haven't even baked or made candy for the last few years, either.

Anyway, since I don't have decked halls to show off, I thought I would include the following shot from one of my booths instead.  I think she'll like it just as well.



That's my little chorus of vintage Anna Lee mice, all for sale at YesterNook.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Belated Monday Rambles

Welcome to another chapter of my so-called life.  Things are just too damn hectic right now, and I have no idea how to bring them under control.  None.  I feel like Chiquito is my life organizer right now.  Work wraps up next Thursday for a three week hiatus, so there's a lot to do there before the break.  I'm trying to get some things done at home before my surgery at the end of the month lays me up for a bit.  Both booths are running through merchandise right now and I can hardly keep up with them.  It seems like everywhere I look all I see is more stuff that needs to be done.  That doesn't even count anything holiday related!  Ack!

I know I sound like a broken record on Mondays, but I feel like the blog just kind of fell apart this month, after doing so well for so long. It's a little discouraging.  I hope you're all enjoying the Cthulu carols.  That may be the only holiday spirit (heh!) you get from me.

I had a couple of nice customer encounters while I was working at the booth yesterday.  Usually, I just try to get me job done and work around them, but from time to time they want to talk.  I met a couple of Coke glass collectors and helped them find some other booths that also carry them.  I also had a lovely chat with a woman who told me that she always makes a point to come to my booth when she's in.  She said she always finds something there.  Then, she turned around and snatched up four holiday bowls!

I need to get a pic of my Christmas display before it all sells away.  I'm down to only three sets of boxed ornaments.  My dishes are selling well.  Individual ornaments always do good for me too.  The gift items are starting to move, finally.  I need to get a Craigslist post of them up.  Can't believe I haven't done that yet.  I'm out of wrapping paper, but my Christmas cards, Holiday music, and tree toppers don't seem to be moving at all.

Chiquito has taken to waking me up in the middle of the night for attention.  If he doesn't get it, he attacks my C-PAP hose or my pillows until he does.  Sometimes, I just want to sleep.  Thing is, he'll just lay there, if I'll put a hand on him, but he almost always tries to lay down behind me instead of in front of me, which causes problems.  When I'm sound asleep, I'm not keen on rolling over, which means the shenanigans start.

A couple of nights ago, I'm fussing with him and trying to get him to stop bothering stuff and either lay down or leave, when Keith rolls over and says:

"Angela Merkel is coming to take care of that!"

"What?"  (The only response I can think of to a statement like that.)

"Angela Merkel will take care of him."

"Chiquito?"

"Yes!"

"But Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany!"

"I know!"

And then he goes back to sleep.  In the morning, he doesn't remember the conversation at all.  Apparently, Chiquito and I are causing an international incident.  Or something.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Secret Origins

Continuing the story of Nigel and Sixtus.

I've always had lots of moles.  My mom's side of the family is pretty moley.  Most of mine are just flat spots of color, but I do have a couple of not-so-attractive protruding ones.  Thankfully, those are all on my back.  I'm the only one that ever has to deal with them.

The mole that turned into Nigel was one of those flat spots of color on my neck.  He was small, light brown, and fairly unobtrusive before he went wild.  A couple of years ago, I rubbed my neck while I was sitting around watching TV and noticed some bumps on the surface of my skin that had never been there before.  When I looked in the mirror, I saw they were forming on top of this mole, which had grown larger and darker.

I knew about the darker and larger part, but the bumpy was something new to me.  People had been asking me about that "dark spot" for a while, but I passed it off as nothing.  Somehow, I convinced myself that it always looked that way and was therefore okay.  It wasn't until after I noticed the bumpiness that I looked at a picture from 2006 and realized that it didn't look the same.  That it used to be small and brown, not big and dark.

I started checking it every few days to see if it was getting bumpier and that was how I discovered Sixtus.  My hand strayed off the mole and I felt a small, hard lump under my skin.  I thought it might be just a swollen gland, but I couldn't find anything corresponding to it on the other side of my neck.  That's when I first realized that I had a problem.

This was a couple of months after Mom died, so the cancer idea was pretty strong in my mind.  I'm educated and aware enough to know that all the signs are not healthy and point to something serious.  The problem was that I had just lost my job and had no insurance.  It may have been a dumb thing to do, but I decided the best course of action for the moment was to keep quiet and keep an eye on things.

I wasn't going to let it go forever.  If it had gotten noticeably worse, I would have done something.  As things stood at that moment, though, I felt discretion was the better part of valor.  I was still sorting out my employment options, for one thing.  I didn't want to take any action that would cause this to get labelled as a "pre-existing condition" and not covered by any future insurace policies.

Keith was another concern.  I knew how much he would worry about it and I was afraid he would try to make some heroic gesture that we really couldn't afford at that moment.  I knew it was very risky, but keeping quiet seemed like the best option at that time.

Time passed.  I started getting some decent part-time work.  The booths started doing well.  I was in a place that really made me happy.  I just had no benefits.  Nigel didn't really grow that much, although the mole got splotchy and ugly.  Sixtus just acted plain weird.  Sometimes the lump seemed bigger.  Sometimes, it seemed smaller.  It was really hard at times and not so hard at others.  It was not like anything I had ever heard of.

This past summer, I was able to get insurance coverage through Keith's employer, who added domestic partner benefits.  I figured I still needed to wait a few months, to get out of "pre-existing" land.  I also picked up a gig with really steady hours and some regularity descended upon my schedule.  It looked like things were going to work out and then something threw a spanner in the works.

In September, my neck swelled on that side and turned red.  It was warm to the touch and very tender.  That was a scary moment and I finally told Keith the whole thing.  He freaked out on me, got justifiably mad at me, and insisted I get medical attention immediately.  I wanted to hold out until January, just to be safe with the insurance.  I also wanted a few months to bank some co-pays, because I knew there would be more than one doc involved.

He would not go for it, so I struck a Faustian bargain with him.  I would talk to our doctor about it, if he would make an appointment to get some things seen to that he had been putting off.  I am not above a little emotional blackmail.  Of course, right after I did this, the swelling, redness, and pain all went away and have never come back.

Due to my schedule, I couldn't see my doctor for afew weeks.  After that things happened pretty quickly--referrals, ENT doc, dermatologist, biopsies, scans, more biopsies, consultations, and now a scheduled surgery.  After Sixtus comes out, he's going to be biopsied again, and the results of that biopsy, plus what they find when they open my neck up, will determine if I need any other cancer treatment.  I'm thinking the surgery will be the end of it, since the scans didn't show that anything had spread.  I could be wrong, but I feel like I'm almost out of the woods.  I guess we'll see.

The biggest hassle for me right now are the little annoying things.  Nigel bleeds a lot, sometimes at really awkward moments.  That has been worse since the biopsy.  Monday night, I ended up in the ER because of it.  It was a totally unnecessary visit, but Keith was insistent.  I'm also getting really tired of doctors. 

More than once, I've gotten really pissed off by one who either schedules something for me without consulting me, talks to me like I'm an idiot for insisting that everything work around my work schedule, or really seems more interested in getting his cut of the insurance pie.  Through this whole process, there have only been two doctors that have taken my concerns into consideration and let me make the decisions.  One of them is our primary care doc, who is wonderful.  The other, thankfully, is the surgeon who will be performing the procedure.

By the way, the name Nigel comes from the ENT doctor, who biopsied that spot.  He kept referring to the "nodule" on my neck, except that it sounded more like "nojul" when he said it. It was a short jump from that to Nigel for me.  Sixtus comes from the radiology folks who did the scan and biopsy on the lump.  They kept thinking it looked more like a cyst on the ultrasound.  My odd brain turned that into "Sixtus" and they both had names.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Adventures of Nigel and Sixtus

I've picked up two new friends in recent days, so I thought it was about time to introduce them.  They've been hanging around a lot and are having quite a bit of impact on my day to day life.  Let's start with a photo, shall we?



That multi-colored blotchy thing is called Nigel.  I'm not sure if you can make him out or not, but next to him is a kind of lumpy spot.  His name is Sixtus.  They live on the right side of my neck.  Well, Nigel lives on my neck.  Sixtus is more like inside my neck.  The consensus is that he's made himself comfy on my right parotid gland.  He might be related to Nigel, but we aren't sure about that.  Nigel, you see, is a malignant melanoma.  The red spot is because he bleeds from time to time.  Sometimes a little.  Sometimes a lot.

Yes.  I have cancer.  Even as I type this, feel like a bit of a fraud saying that, like I'm going for the dramatic or something.  I know cancer.  I've seen cancer.  My mother died of cancer.  I was there.  Keith's brother died of cancer.  This is cancer.  Me?  I've got an annoying spot on my neck that bleeds sometimes. 

I'm not saying this out of false modesty or denial or anything else.  I know what melanoma is and what it can do, but I feel like just about everyone that knows about it wants to shove me in some kind of a convenient box that I really don't want to be in right now.  I think there are other people hurting and tired and sick and worried from this disease or other medical situations, and they are the ones that need attention and concern.  Not me.  They're the ones who need it and deserve it.  I'm just trying to live my life and deal with this thing until it comes off.  It's an annoyance and an inconvenience to me, but nothing near the level other people are dealing with.

The coming off of Nigel and the coming out of Sixtus (always knew he was gay) is scheduled for December 31.  Happy New Year to me.  We won't know for sure how much stuff will be removed with Sixtus until they get in there.  The whole parotid may have to come out.  Lord, I hope not.  I'm also not sure how they are going to replace the skin they remove with Nigel.  I fear having bits of my buttocks attached to my neck.  Around the house, I'm already referring to myself as a "buttneck."

They've been on the scene a while now, but I have held off on writing about them until now, because I really didn't feel like drawing attention to something that is going to be gone soon.  However, they have been really asserting themselves into my life more and more lately and it's getting on my nerves.  I needed to start getting this off my chest (and neck).  There's more to their story, but I've said enough for right now.  I'll continue later.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Monday Rambles

Gaaaaah!  Last week sucked!  I ended up with no time to do anything.  Got hit with a double whammy at work and it just took the life right out of me!  Nothing got done.  Well, work got done.  But that was it.  Nothing.  I'm discouraged and disappointed about that.  Seriously.  I mean, this is it.  It's post 200.  And I have nothing to say, because I really had no time to plan anything.  Oh well.  Story of my life, I guess.

Still, compared to what's happening to other people, I really have no room to complain.  I'm just tired and cranky with too much to do.  I know I've asked this before, but please go back over to Monkeybox and show Shara and her family a little more love.  They're having a helluva a time right now.

I'm gonna try to get caught up this week.  Work should level out a bit, hopefully.  I managed to get a couple of projects caught up tonight, so I'm kind of ready for the week ahead.

Booth sales were strong last week.  I'm totally out of wrapping paper, now.  Still have too many of my Christmas dishes and holiday gift ideas, though.  Still November ended strong, saleswise.  The extra week in November after Thanksgiving has been playing tricks with my mind.  It feels like it's later in December than it actually is, so I still have time for more stuff to sell through.  It's weird.

Geez!  This has got to be the most pathetic blog post ever.  I almost don't want to post the damn thing.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Have Yourself a Lovecraft Little Christmas!

Despite appearances to the contrary, I'm not really all that into the Lovecraft mythos.  It just never really clicked with me.  However, there is something about a choral group that bases its music on the tales of Cthulu and the like that appeals to my inner nerd, not to mention my twisted sense of humor.  So, in honor of the season, I present Cthulu carols!