Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Rambles

All right folks, I guess it's time to crawl back up in the saddle.  I've gotten several sweet notes recently from many of you, so I need to let you know that I'm all right, for the most part.  Thanks so much for your concern, everyone.  I'm sorry to have made you worry.

I came back from Thanksgiving with a nasty cold, which has really only cleared up in the last three or four days.  I don't understand how I can be doing all these immune-boosting drugs and still get a cold, but I managed it.  That really slowed me down for a while, as I was only venturing out to do what had to be done, then coming home to my NyQuil coma.

The cold was bad enough, but I've also been going through some really hard bouts of fatigue.  This isn't at all like the bricks.  I could function with the bricks, albeit very slowly.  I'm going through periods now where I have no energy whatsoever.  Sometimes, I'll be in the middle of something and will just run out of steam all of a sudden.  Sometimes, I'm down for the count, but usually I can recover if I sit down for a while.  I kept getting swamped this way all through our visit to Arkansas. I spent most of the trip sleeping on one couch or another.

I'm also having these dizzy spells all the time.  Mostly, it's just a constant light-headed feeling. What my grandmother used to call "swimmy-headed."  I can deal with that, but sometimes it's really head-spinning dizzy, often with queasiness.

I have yet to have any of the digestive/intestinal issues, which concerns me a little.  These effects have been talked up so much that I am actually worried that the treatment isn't working because I don't have them.  I know that sounds really weird, but it kind of nags at me.  The other night I told Keith that I would feel so much better if I would throw up just one time.  That look you all most likely have right now after reading that is exactly the same one he gave me.

The booths are running okay, but I am behind on what I wanted to have dome this month.  I keep making plans like a healthy person, forgetting that it takes me twice as long to do everything right now.  I do have most of my Christmas out, and it is selling steadily.  I am almost at my sales total for last December, and I still have half the month to go! One thing I've been happy about is that I've kept my four digit sales total going, despite the diagnosis and everything.

The new store is doing a lot better too.  I made rent this month faster than I have before, which is a good sign.  My Christmas is grooving there as well.  My biggest problem there right now is getting it together to go work that booth.  The other store demands more time because it's a lot more space.  Everything would still be doable if I were operating at full steam.  As it is, I'm having to constantly reschedule store #2 in order to finish up the work for store #1.  All of a sudden, two-three weeks have gone by and I haven't been over there.  That's no way to grow a booth.

I've had to cut way back on my work hours,  I am down to five hours a week, which has bummed me out a bit. I really miss everyone there.  Some people I don't get to see at all ,because my hours are all in the evening now and they're gone by the time I get there.  This is really a life-altering thing. I'm not totally sure that I was fully aware of everything I was slogging through last time.  I have no idea how I kept going.  I have to stop by work this morning and drop something off.  It will be nice to visit a bit.

A long-time vendor has also been battling cancer.  It's been an on-again,off-again fight for years, and it just came back this year.  He's just been told that there may not be anything else they can do about it.  At the same time, a friend where I used to work just lost her husband to cancer.  When I left there four years ago, he was in remission and doing fine.  It's all done such a number on my head.  I don't know where I am emotionally sometimes.  I've had long talks about it with my brother and with Keith.  Some days I am fine,  while others I can't string a coherent thought together.

I had a lot of plans for blogging this December, but I think I'm going to put them on hold for next year.  Some days I really want to, but the words just aren't there.  Other times, the words are there, but the energy isn't.  Hell, even reading takes too much effort some days.  Been watching a lot of cartoons on YouTube instead.  Some things even cancer can't take away.

I was afraid that this post would go downhill fast.  Sorry about that.  If it's all too much of a downer, you don't have to finish it.  I realize that my depression is also coming on hard and fast right now.

Treatment number three is tomorrow.  A week from today, we are leaving for Chicago.  By the end of next week, we'll be married!  Come hell, high water, or cancer, we are getting married. I don't care if I am in a wheel chair.

I'll try to get some pics from Thanksgiving up this week, plus some more overdue junk finds.  It's going to depend on how I feel.  Here lately, when I start tiring, I start lopping things off the to do list.  Taking pics for the blog is always one of the first to go.  Sorry about that.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Grateful Updates

Hello from Arkansas!  We arrived yesterday afternoon after seemingly endless miles of road construction.  Seriously, everywhere!

Today we're eating with Keith's mom and visiting some of the family.  Tomorrow, we'll visit some more of the family and eat some more.  Maybe we'll do some shopping too.  Saturday, we say good-bye and head back home to Chiquito.  The cat sitter says he's doing fine, but we miss the little booger.

I hope you all feast well and visit well and travel safely!  Enjoy today and remember how thankful I am to have each of you in my life!

Hugs all around!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Underground

Louisville is home to a giant cave system, with the most fascinating story.  I'll let you all read the details at the link, rather than summarizing it here.  I've always thought the whole deal was way cool.

There's a lot that goes on there, including underground zip lines and an underground BMX park that is in the planning stages.  During the holiday season, it becomes the home for Lights Under Louisville.

I've been wanting to go for several years, but always balked at the admission price, which is pretty steep in my book.  This year, Keith found a Groupon, so we set off to celebrate my port on Monday night.

It was a lot of fun.  Going on a weekday night meant that there was no traffic to speak of, so it flat like we were getting a private tour. Many of the displays are quite clever.  The first batch is a tribute to local sights and events, including a dump truck and bulldozer to commemorate all the road construction that we're going to be experiencing for the next several years!

This would have been appropriate for last week!

Santa riding down a pyramid.

I wish the dreidl was spinning!

My hometown.

I wanna live here!

5 Gold Rings, Baby!

I loved the 12 Days of Christams displays!

This one was our favorite.

It's under Louisville.  Who knew?
Well worth the (Groupon) price.  Still not sure about the regular rate.  At that price, I expect Brad Pitt to come drive the car through for us.  Still, lotsa fun.

What fun holiday stuff do they do in your area?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ENGAGE!

I got it!


My favorite part about these little hospital sojourns is the drugs.  Really.

They told me that I was going to be getting a "Purple Power Port."  Seriously.  Ever since it went in, I've been shouting "Purple Power Port Engage!"  in hopes of transforming into some sort of gigantic, mechanical dinosaur, but nothing so far.  I think I'm not doing something right with my hands.  When it heals more, I'm going to try smacking the port and shouting.  That seems to work for the Power Rangers.

I also got to wear a styling hat.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday Rambles

Subtitle this one as one of the following:

A)  Exhausted Monday Rambles

or

B) Medical Monday Rambles

There's a whole lot of both going on in here today.

I've spent most of the last three days working on booths, trying to get caught up and ready for Christmas.  All of my Christmas stuff was in the very back corner of my storage room, so I had to move a ton of shit to get to it all.  Then, I had to tidy and clean all my spots.  Then I had to assemble the trees.  Then I had to re-tidy everything because people kept coming through and messing things up.  Then I had to put it all out.  Along the way, I also closed one spot at the new store and moved everything out of it.  Plus, I finally got all the Halloween packed up and put away.  (I am so ashamed.  It's never been out for this long before.  I look like a rank amateur.)

But finally it's done.






This is just a part of the second store.  I was too tired to take any more pics when we got through yesterday.  I totally forgot to take pics at the other place.  Sigh.

In the middle of all this work, I had one of those moments that only seem to happen when I have made plans for an item.  The desk I was planning to put my trees on sold.  No problem.  I just put another desk in its place.  Then that desk sold.  (Two desks in two days!  Why can't this happen all the time?)  Problem.  Got no other desk or large flat surface to use foe those trees and they're table top size, so they can't go on the floor.  Had to do a quick run through the mall looking for another cheap desk.  Found a nice one for eight bucks and was back in business.

I did find time on Saturday to attend the "Cavalcade of Comics" put on by the Derby City Comicon.  A huge room full of cheap comics!  I was in a wee bit of heaven.  I got another huge batch to sell and a few (well more than a few) for me too.  I've got some winter reading!

We spent most of last week (during the cold, snowy days) with no heat.  The igniter on the furnace went out.  While the dude was fixing that, he found that our flue pipe was rusted all the way through, meaning we were in danger of carbon monoxide.  Everything is taken care of and we're all toasty again.  Chiquito was enjoying the electric blanket we were leaving on all day for him.  I think he might be missing it just a bit.

I go get my port today!  Yay!  No eating this morning.  Boo!  Not even coffee!  Double boo!  They'll have to give me an IV for the procedure, which means that the thing I am having done to avoid the crappy vein ordeal will require me to have one more crappy vein ordeal.  The irony.  It burns.  Oh, wait.  That's the crappy vein ordeal.

I have my next treatment tomorrow.  I do my last belly shot (BLAM!) for this cycle tonight.  I get a week off from those, which is good, since we are leaving for Arkansas as soon as I get up from the chair, and I didn't want to lug all that stuff with me.  Still have to do laundry and pack tonight.

I am kind of adamant about this  trip.  Keith is worried about me having side effects, but we need to see his mother.  She's getting pretty old now and this is the only time we get to visit.  I know he won't go if I don't, so I am going to soldier through (if that's what it takes).  It's important to me that he sees her right now.  I can rest in the hotel, if need be.

Keith got a makeover for the trip:



I'll set some silly little posts up before I go, then do some kind of update from the road on Thursday or Friday.  Hope everyone has a wonderful, wonderful holiday and feast!

Friday, November 21, 2014

It is time....

Time to pull the trigger and get it in gear, or as my mother would say "time to poop or get off the pot!"  (Eddie-torial Comments:  Your source for earthy humor in the morning!)

Thanksgiving is a week from yesterday.  I am not sure how that happened, since the last time I checked there were still three weeks to go!  I still do not have all my Xmas out at the booth!  Ack!  (As Chiquito would say.)  I am losing sales all the dang time.  In fact, my sales have all but stagnated.  If they were any slower, I'd have a zombie booth.  Sigh!

I have this weekend to get both stores in order for Black Friday, and that's it!  Monday is port day and Tuesday is Treatment #2.  Right after I get up from the chair, we are headed to Arkansas.  I am kind of adamant about seeing Keith's mother this year.  She's not getting any younger and not doing really well right now.  I may spend part of the trip in bed at the hotel, but I am insisting that we go.

It's a make it work moment!  (As Tim Gunn would say.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Rambles

It's a winter wonderland, it is!  And school is cancelled.  I am fighting the urge to crawl back into bed right now.  I really need to get out in this mess and go to that hot mess of a booth and try to whip it into shape.  With all of the other...well, let's call them distractions right now, I have not gotten my Christmas out. Gasp!  It kills me to think how many sales I have missed. I spent most of yesterday there just cleaning it up, and now I'm ready to restock.  I have so many empty spaces on the shelves.

Fortunately, I have plenty waiting to fill  them up.  My brother and his wife came up this weekend, so a family junking expedition was in order.  He has just started serious selling on eBay right now, plus he has a new side junking venture he shares with two other people.  Basically they have a warehouse full of estate sale leftovers that they open on weekends for folks to dig around in.  Sounds like a dream to me.  I have to visit there when all these damn treatments are over.

I took them to a couple of thrifts, plus a dude in our neighborhood who rents out a storefront to sell foreclosure clear out stuff.  We also hit one of the wildest sales I have ever been to.  More on that later in the week.  I have some stories to tell that need the pics of finds to go with them.

Da Bros Mitchell are on da loose!

There was a small family get-together on Saturday night to belatedly celebrate my birthday.  I decided earlier that I wanted a reason to see my cousins in a setting that wasn't in a funeral home.  We had a great time eating yummy Mexican food and laughing and talking.  We need to do that more often.

Me and Danny with our Uncle Mike and his daughter Maria
  
Plus their spouses (spice?)

Plus my soon-to-be spouse!

Safe to say a good time was had by all.

This is the first week in what seems like forever that I do not have some sort of cancer-related procedure or treatment scheduled, which is a relief.  Over the weekend, Keith took on the massive task of cleaning out our junk room, and I have some bits and pieces of tidying to do to finish that off. 

I'm starting to get a little bit of a rash on my belly from the shots, but it's not enough right now to crack out the steroids.  I'm going to try some Eucerin or similar lotion first.  I've also go to really get the holiday mojo going at my booth empire.  Sales have been okay this month, but the recent cold weather has not helped.  Today will be dead.  The store might even close early.

To give you an idea of how much work I have to do today:  I took my brother and his wife to see my booths, even though I was completely embarrassed about the shape they were in.  My sister-in-law started cleaning them!  I told the manager that I wasn't sure which was more pathetic, that my booth was so bad my sister-in-law was cleaning it or that I was letting her do it.  hey!  You gotta take the help where you can get it.  If they'll bring the kids next time, they can probably knock the whole thing out in short order!  (Seriously, thanks for the help, Mary Pat!)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Retro Y'all!



I usually post these without comment, since I want the music to stand on its own, but I do have to say a few things here.

This song always makes me think of my mother, who was a feisty thing.  When I was in about fourth grade, I had a teacher who liked to take my glasses away or make the kids who glasses change pairs.  I have no idea what that was about.  She eventually got fired after she tied a student to a pencil sharpener.  Anyway, when my mother found out about the glasses thing, the fur really flew.  She loved a good scrap, my mom.

After she died, I listened to this song over and over for several weeks.  She loved it. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Just a little more...

Turns out that a touch of Pinky and the Brain is not enough.  I need to share a little more.  You have to admire Brain.  He's a nerd with ambitions.

Yet, like most of us nerds, nobody understands him.



Pinky, well, he's just Pinky.



NARF!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Brainiacs!

All this talk about my so-called "normal" brain yesterday has gotten me thinking about all the references to brains I have come across over the years.  I thought I would share some of them here.

Any talk about "normal brains" has to bring to mind this classic bit from a classic movie.  I first saw this in the theater as a young teen. This was back in the day when even little country towns had movie theaters.  I laughed so loud and hard through the movie that my mother said I embarrassed her!



A more recent brain find is this t-shirt.


One of the vendors at my new mall has one of these shirts at his booth.  I wanted to buy it for my birthday, but he only had a medium and that's a size I have not worn since I was, like, nine.  Most of the nerds I know are chubby dudes.  We like sizes that start with X.  (Note that I said "sizes" not "movies")

There's also this version of the zombie/nerd T-shirt, but I don't like the design as much. 

If zombies had blogs, what would they write about?  Brains, of course.  Check out that blogroll.  Turns out there are quite a few zombie blogs.  Who knew?

Moving away from zombies, we find these two:


That's the original version of the theme, from when they were just a segment on Animaniacs and had not yet been spun off into their own show.  Ahhh...the cartoons of my young adulthood!

Of course no mention of these two would be complete without this song.  I think I may have posted it here years and years ago, but it's a classic well worth revisiting.


All together now:  Brain Stem!  Brain Stem!

To wrap up this little survey, I give you Monty Python!


We were actually watching this sketch in the car on the way to my MRI.  I walked in to the hospital muttering about "Bits of Brain."  In fact, I've been saying that just about ever since.

Well, I have to go now. My brain hurts and I need to find a specialist.

All together now:  Bits of brain!  Bits of brain!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Results Are In!

Yesterday was the cancer center follow up for all these scans and things I have had lately.  Here's the skinny:

1.  No cancer in the brain!  Or as the doctor put it, "You brain is normal," which is the first time in my life anyone has ever said that to me.  If only they knew.  Turns out the brain is an even bigger deal than I thought.  Besdies being, you know, the brain and all.  The doc said that the immunotherapies I am on do not work as well in the brain or spinal column.

2.  On the other hand, the spot on my liver is cancer.  I've now metastasized to two organs.  One more and I have a collection.  I do not want a collection.  At least I do not have to have this one biopsied.

3.  I got the port approved!  I could not get it scheduled until the day before the next treatment due to work, but I am shifting my hours around to better deal with my treatments, so I am going to call and see if I can get it moved up.  I was all prepared to roll up my sleeves and show them my collection (and yes, I have more than enough for a collection) of bruises from the last week.  One of them extends down the back of my hand and around to the palm!  All I had to do was ask, and they said, "Eh.  Why not?  We'll schedule it for you."  That was easy.

4.  I got the clinical trial meds and all the stuff to do the belly shots.  BLAM!  It's these little bitty vials of powder that I have to mix with sterile water every time I do a shot.  I feel like some kind of junkie.  I had the first one this afternoon.  This is the one that is supposed to cause the most serious diarrhea, plus a rash.  So far, no sign of either.  Just a little lightheadedness.  Surprisingly, there are also none of the immune reactions that I was dreading.  (So far, anyway.)

"The Works"
Now, I just have to shoot myself in the belly (BLAM!) every night for the next two weeks, then it will be time for the next infusion.  I guess I'm taking kind of an active role in my own treatment, or something.  It sure beats having to go to the clinic every day for two weeks to get them.

More to come, I am sure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Help!

I've had this stuck in my head for weeks:



Now, it's stuck in yours.  You're welcome.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Rambles

I am currently typing with Chiquito on my lap in between me and the keyboard.  Any mistakes are his fault.  He has decided that any time I sit down at the computer, it's lap time.  He's become clingier since Kosh died, especially with me.  I'm not sure he likes being the only cat.

I've got tons to babble about this week, so let's get to it.  First, a couple of birthday deets (I'm not too old to say that, am I?) that I left out and some folks asked about.  Yes, they did sing to me in the cancer center.  I had one of the best nurses in  the clinic and she has a wonderful sense of humor, so we hit it off splendidly.  We totally made it to my birthday dinner as well. I was bound and determined to do that.  I even managed to work in some Halloween clearance shopping.  (More on that in a bit.)

 Before we go any further, I have to thank you all again for all the kind notes and support.  I have been getting tons of sweet comments, and they have made me feel so much better!  I appreciate them so much.  A lot of them have come from first time commenters, which is cool.  I had no idea I had that many readers.  I never pay attention to that kind of stuff.  It also amazes me that so many of you seem to "get" me, contrary snark and all.

Special thanks go to Lorraine at Clamco, who mentioned me in her blog and sent lots of readers over here with nice words of support.  Thanks, Lorraine!  I've never been very good at answering comments.  Reality is, I'm just a bad blogger.  I have been trying to get to everyone who has commented lately with a note, but it's taking me a while.  Some of you all have been so nice that it seems like just saying "thank you" isn't enough.  A couple of you have even made me cry a little.  I'm having a hard time finding words, but I will get to everyone by the end of the week.

Since we're dancing around the topic, let's dive right in.  I'm trying to push the cancer talk further down into this post, because I don't want it to seem like this blog is becoming all about my cancer.  I still need to talk about junk and post silly videos and such, you know?

I had a PET scan last Thursday and an MRI on Saturday.  I made sure to schedule the MRI early enough to allow time for what few sales there were.  A lad has to have priorities, you know.  The PET scan took SIX HOURS!  I was supposed to be there at 11:30.  I ran out of things to do that morning, so I actually got there at 10:30, prepared to wait.  They took me back right away because they were slow.  The machine had been down on the morning, and they had to reschedule several folks.  By the time it was up and running, I was there and they were bored, so in I go.

I'm thinking:  "Great.  I'll be out of here early."  Then, the vein ordeal began.  In a PET scan, they inject you with a radioactive isotope that has to go into a vein, which means an IV.  And I ain't got no veins, as we all know.  I even warned them about it ahead of time.  Five sticks later, including two bruising ones on both hands and a huge knot on my left forearm, they decided I was right.

There apparently are a couple of very deceptive-looking veins on the backs of my hands.  They look nice and juicy, but they blow out as soon as they're stuck.  They ended up sending for someone called "IV Therapy" who took FOREVER to arrive.  She came in with an ultrasound machine and went all the way up to my right bicep, where she got in first try.  My new hero!

It takes an hour for all that stuff to work through--and, mind you, I have not eaten anything all day due to this thing and it is now well after one.  The scan finally goes off well, or so it seems.  Keith and I head to a very late (3:30) lunch so I can head to work.  Right as we are entering the restaurant, I get a call from the PET scan people.  (Damn cell phones!  Nothing but trouble!)  They need me to come back and redo part of the scan.

It seems that the vein with the IV infiltrated, which means it leaked (sort of).  The isotope all settled in my right arm.  Sadly, this did not grant me the power to shoot white hit bolts of radioactive plasma from that arm, like it would have if this were a bad Marvel comic instead of just my ridiculous life.  I am disappointed in this, as I was making plans to don a costume and become the masked avenger known as....Radioactive Rightie!  Fortunately, however, it also did not make my right arm fall off in the middle of the night, for which I am thankful.  I am rather attached to it after all.  I take it with me wherever I go.

For the MRI (why do I always have to do everything with contrast?), the guy would not even try my veins.  He decided to go right to the "experts."  In this case, that meant an ER nurse, who was very good.  He even got one of the cranky veins on the back of one hand to cooperate.  He explained to me that with more fragile veins, you have to use less pressure with the tourniquet.  He just barely tied that thing on.  He said it increases the pressure on the vein, making it blow out.  Apparently, he was right.  He's the first one in ages to get it to work there.

I should get the results tomorrow.  And throw my hissy fit for a port.  I've already warned Keith that I am ready to play hardball if it comes to it.  I'll also pick up all the stuff for the belly shots.  Yes, I got approved for the clinical trial!  Belly shots for everyone, Barkeep!  BLAM!

To totally change topics, Loretta Lynn was fabulous on Friday night!  She had on this fabulous sequined gown that she said was her first new one in ages.  Her sister makes them for her.  I told Keith afterwards that it felt like the kind of set show that you would see at Branson or some place like that.  They've got it polished and worked out to the last little details.  There were even a few hints of those old traveling country shows from the 40's and 50's and a little bit of the original Grand Ole Opry thrown in.  You could tell it was the product of decades of work.

She did everything you would have expected her to do, which was awesome.  As much as I love those songs, it was a thrill to see them live.  She also held forth on various topics, as she is prone to do.  Loretta's always been a bit opinionated.  It certainly added a lot of humor and authenticity to the show, but let's just say that she and I totally agree about the state of country music these days and totally disagree about politics.

By the way, she's going to be releasing her first all new album of new material in over a decade next year.  I am looking forward to that!

Junk pickings were kind of slim this weekend.  It is getting progressively cooler around here, and the sales are getting progressively fewer.  The season is at an end.  Sigh!  (Maybe now I can get caught up on posting my finds!  Or not.)  There were two good church sales, including one that stays on my must do list.  I managed to pick up a few things.

We also hit one of the other Peddlers Malls, since we happened to be in the area.  It's got this great booth full of vintage oddities where nearly everything is $1.99 and under.  Filled my cart, I did.  When we went in, there was a Free Box sitting by the counter.  I've never seen one in a P-Mall before.  I made a note to check it out before I left, but forgot because I was having such a good time laughing with the cashier when I checked out.  As usual, Keith finished before I did and went to wait in Mazda.  When I opened the back to put my stuff in, there was the whole Free Box!  Gotta love that man.  We're a little over a month and a half to the wedding, and I will be well enough for that.  No two ways about it.

Halloween clearance shopping was a little iffy this year.  No one was following their usual patterns.  Walgreens was at 75% off by the fourth.  For the past couple of years, they've not gone above 50%.  I've been about ready to write them off.  Target went to 70% earlier than usual too and seemed to clear out quickly.  I'm bummed about that, since Target always has the best stuff.  I totally missed out on Wal-Mart and Meijer.  Fortunately, K-Mart stayed true to their pattern of holding out a little longer than everyone else.

Who's got skulls?  I got skulls!
I ended up having one of those conversations only junkers can have with the cashier as I was checking out.

CASHIER:  Are these all the same skull?  (Definitely not a senten\ce she ever expected to utter.)

ME:  Why, yes.  Yes, they are.

I think I did pretty well overall.  I need about 5-6 tubs of new stuff to have a successful year next year.  I pretty much have that now.  I don't have much left over from this year, which is good.  It's pretty much wrapped up, but I am going to try and hit a Big Lots, since they also tend to hold out longer than others.  besides, it'll be a good excuse to thrift, since there is a store right there beside them.

I left all my ghoulish goodies in the van and priced and tubbed them up right in back of the house.  We really don't need anything else coming in here that's not going to stay a while.  They went right from the van to the storage shed.  While was working I had a thought about what interesting conversations i have at work, thanks to junking.

"What did you do this weekend, Eddie?"

"Priced skulls."

No wonder people look at me strangely.

Gosh, but I sure do love junking!

By the way, if you ever go into this stocking up for next year thing, there's one thing to remember:  Dust is your enemy.  No matter how/where you store things, they're going to be sitting basically undisturbed for a year.  Dust will accumulate anywhere in that time.

Pack it all in containers that have tight fitting lids, preferably not cardboard boxes.  Wrap everything, even things that are not breakable.  (This will also protect items made of metal, wood, or plastic from getting scratched when you move the containers.)  If you have plush or fabric items, put them in a plastic grocery bag and tie it tightly closed before putting them in the container.  This will keep them clean if the lid comes loose or dust works its way in.

Price everything as you pack it.  It will be too hard/time-consuming in a year to remember/look up what you paid.  Label the outside of the container and try to store them all together, so you can find them easily next year.

I'll let you know what I find out about the scans and the port tomorrow.  I'm pretty excited for this week.  My brother is coming up for a visit at the end of the week.  I'm having a small late birthday dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant on Saturday.  My uncle and a few of my cousins are coming, too.  It should be fun!




Sunday, November 09, 2014

Checkmate! (Finds Catch-Up Vol II)

A little while ago, I found a box of odd little stoneware pieces at a sale.  There were a bunch of them in a box marked "Two dollars for all."

Aren't they cute?  Those little cup things are the pawns.
The dude running the sale told me that they were part of a custom, artisan-crafted chess set, but that he had lost several of the pieces.  Since they would be impossible to replace, he was selling the rest off to get rid of them.



I thought they were both interesting and unique, the two main things I look for when I am out trolling for merch, so I bought the box.  I thought that they were quirky enough to sell as individual pieces for people who like interesting accessories and decor.

After sorting and cleaning them out, I realized that there were four pawns missing.  Additionally, two other pieces were damaged, sadly including one of the queens.

The bishops look kind of...well..phallic.  (Someone had to say it!)

I've priced them as individual stoneware peices, with no mention of the chess set.  So far, they're selling pretty well.  I've made the two bucks back and then some.

Sometimes this junking thing is about having the vision to see beyond what something is to what else it could be, then helping others to see it too. I will eventually work a few of the pawns into my religious item section, because they look like cool little chalices.  The bishops I will add to my adult novelties section. 


(Suitable pause)


No.  I do not really have an adult novelties selection!

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Retro Y'all!

You just knew this was coming, right?  (Get ready.  I may be on a classic country kick for a while.)



That Loretta, she's a feisty one!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Guess who I'm going to see tonight?

Here's a hint:



Loretta Lynn is on my short list of performers that I want to see while we're all still on this planet together.  She is one of the few last links to the days of "classic" country that we have left.  She's in town tonight and we're going to see her as an extra special treat for me!

I can't wait!

Have another:



One more won't hurt:



And one for the road:



She's still got it, Baby!


Thursday, November 06, 2014

All in Vein

So this was how I spent the majority of my birthday:

That's my chemo birthday grimace!
Well, I wasn't hooked up to the IV the whole time, but I was in the cancer center for most of the day.  I was in the consult room for HOURS!  This doctor in.  That doctor out.  This question.  That question.  Maybe an answer, but I'll check on that.  Oh, look!  Here's a new nurse!  Oops!  She's gone!  Don't forget to fill out the survey about your bowel movements!

That is not a comfy spot for an IV.
And then of course, there was ther LOOOOOOOOONG stretches of just sitting and waiting.  Here's a recap:

1.  I have Stage 4 melanoma, which is the highest stage.  After this, I get my diploma and graduate.  I don't remember taking the first three levels, but it must have been all those frat parties.  This is because I now have melanoma that has metastasized in a "distant organ."  I love that phrase.  It makes it sound like my spleen is miles away from the spot on my neck where this all started.  As if I needed anything else to make me sound fat.

2.  They still think that they can cure this thing.  I guess we'll see about that.

3.  They really want to get me into the follow up drug treatment to the one I am taking now, as that is the hotshot new treatment that everyone is doing and I want to be one of the cool kids.  I missed out on the whole twerking thing, so I want to catch this fad while I can.  Per FDA regs, you can only get the new treatment after you take the one I'm on now.

4.  They want to upgrade me to a clinical trial that uses the drug I am on now, plus a series of shots of another drug--kind of like what I did before, except that it's like three weeks worth of daily shots each treatment cycle that I would most likely do at home.  Blam!  Right in the belly.  At least it's a target I could not possibly miss.  It all hinges on insurance approval for me joining the trial, which is supposed boost the efficacy of the drug I am already on.

5.  There is a spot on my liver that needs to be checked out, so I have a PET scan today.  Chiquito really hates those things, but I keep explaining to him that it's a pet scan, so he has to be there.  He wants a second opinion on that one.

6.  Just for shits and giggles, I'm having an MRI early Saturday morning.  I don't know exactly why they're sending me to this one, but the brain is a place this crap can spread, so they're probably just checking things out.  I did not know that I was going to have this one until I was sitting with the scheduler.  They're probably just going to find that my skull is full of old comic books and pop tarts.

This is my "I'm relieved all the poking is over" face.
After all of that, I finally headed down to the clinic for the actual infusion, where three nurses poked me four times to find a vein.  I am getting ready to kick and scream for a port.  I've had quite enough of this stuff, especially if I am looking at treatments into the spring, which it seems I am.  Thankfully, it was the three best nurses in the place.  There are more than a couple there who are nice enough to be sure, but who just aren't good with the difficult sticks.  One of them is a digger who just can't let go of the idea that she can get that vein if she just....twists....the needle....the right way.  She was headed out when we got there, which made me happy.

The infusion itself was pretty quick.  There were no pre-meds, so the whole deal took about 90 minutes after the drug got there.  I didn't have a problem with burning, but I got this weird pressing sensation in my arm, like someone was pushing down on it.

So far, I feel fine, just a little bit draggier than normal.  The first session is usually the easiest.  If get to shoot myself in the belly, then that will amp up the side effects considerably.  Every time I go to the bathroom now, Keith asks me if I have diarrhea.  They played up the diarrhea as a side effect to watch for.

Honestly, at this point, I don't know how I feel about any of this, besides pissed that I am doing it again.  I'm finding it hard to put a lot of trust in these drugs.  They all keep carrying on about how astonishing the success/survival rates are, almost 20%!  Wow!  I know that's a big improvement over, say, 0%, but everybody keeps saying that to me like it's some magical, mystery number that means I get to be one of the elect automatically.  All I keep thinking is:  "What about the other 80%?"  That is a much bigger number after all.

Bring that up and you get told to "focus on the bright side"  and not to "give up hope" and "keep fighting" and so on.  I feel like I am being asked to totally ignore the dark side of this equation like it does not exist.  I can't do that, especially if my organs are hosting little melanoma franchises.  The numbers last time were much more in my favor, yet here I am back in this pickle again.  Twenty percent is a long shot and I would be dishonest with myself if I didn't admit that.

It's a long shot I am willing to take, however.  As long as I am able physically and fiscally, I'll take every shot and chance I can get as many times as I can get them.  I'm in this deal for the long haul, wherever it heads.  I just want people to stop asking me to only acknowledge one of the possible destinations.  How am I supposed to avoid it, if I have to pretend it's not there?

More as it develops.   

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Birthday Rambles

And today, I am the big 5-0!  Half century!  Woo hoo!  I keep waiting for someone to give me the golden birthday crown.  I thought it would be waiting on the porch for me this morning, but no.

We'll be trotting off to vote this morning in just a few.  I hope the line isn't too long, since I have to make it to the cancer center after that.  Birthday election days make me nervous.  There have been a few in my life, and they don't always go the way I would like.  You'd think being the birthday boy would mean I would get to choose the winner, but the system doesn't seem to work that way.  Still, there's a certain senior Senator from Kentucky that I would love to see get the boot today.  If that were to happen, this would be a happy birthday indeed.

Please remember to do your civic duty and go vote.  Do it as a birthday observance, if nothing else.  Cheaper than a card, after all.  Even if all your votes cancel all mine out, please vote.

I spent the weekend starting the annual birthday thrifting run.  In case you're newer around here, every year, starting the weekend before my birthday and running through the weekend after, we have a massive orgy of thrift store runs, Halloween clearance shopping, flea market raids, and any yard sales we can find.  It's my grand stock up for winter spree.

Saturday was FREEZING, but we did hit two yard sales.  Due to the temps, we didn't head out until about ten (and it was still COLD), but we got some great deals, because the sellers were giving up and packing it in.  We also went to one store that I know goes to 75% off on their Halloween on November 1, only to find that this year they did not.  Then we started thrifting.

I needed to go move into my new booth set up in the new store, so I planned the thrift route to go right over the bridge and across the river.  I had hoped to do some shopping while I was in the mall, but did not have time.  It took five solid hours of work to get everything moved and set up.  I also decided to price and put out the majority of the day's purchases right then.  It was exhausting, but worth it.  My sales picked up right away and for the past two days have been at the same level as the other store.  Woo hoo!

It's not perfect just yet, but it's workable for the moment.  The previous vendor left all this really crappy beat up shit in the booth that she had used for displays.  I'm talking really crappy, crappy stuff:  a computer desk with none of the parts attached, a china hutch with no drawers, an entertainment stand with no shelves.  And all of it had really badly done swatches of maroon :accent" painting that was supposed to tie it all together--a shelf here, a drawer front there, one piece of trim out of seven pieces, etc.  I think it was supposed to look shabby and eclectic, but it really just looks like someone watched HGTV while on a pot binge.

The mall said the vendor didn't want to move all that crap out and that I could have it if I wanted.  I'm still needing some more fixtures for display, so I kept most of it.  I did however throw away the Rubbermaid storage drawer tower that did not have any drawers in it.  It had been used as a shelf!  Can you believe it?  I think I can sue HGTV over that one.  The rest of it I have priced real cheap.  I have no reason to keep it for too long, but most of it is huge and heavy and I am not too inclined to try and haul it out.  I sold one of the shelves while I was setting the space up.  The customer hated the maroon paint on the trim, but loved my five dollar price.

If it's still there after the holidays, I'll take a chainsaw and wood chipper to it, but for right now I can live with it.  I'll have some pics as soon as I can remember to take them.  I forgot on Saturday.

Well, today is also big treatment day #1.  I will make everyone at the cancer center sing to me.  I think they should also let me be in charge for the day, but I would probably order free pain killers for everyone, so maybe that's not the best idea.  I want a special hat though.

I'll update you all tomorrow with all the details on the treatment.  I'm just hoping that my veins decide to cooperate this time around.  Tonight, if I am up to it, we are going to my favorite local restaurant to eat.  I intend to be up to it.  Cancer meds or no, I only get to eat at Zen Garden a couple of times a year.  No damn melanoma on my freaking spleen is going to make me miss this one. 

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Retro Y'all!

Since we didn't get the whole thing yesterday, here's a Shaun Cassidy encore!

With leather pants and guitar playing!



He always had such good hair!  Sigh!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Retro-Halloween!

And what is more Retro Halloween than Shaun Cassidy singing "That's Rock and Roll" to a room full of monsters?

Enjoy!



"This is one of my favorite songs!"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Finds Catch Up (Vol I)

Here's an unused Mazda shot from a couple of weeks ago.  Yes, I bought another school desk.  It's kind of an addiction.  Most of the pics to follow are actually from last Saturday's rounds.


I forgot to take a Mazda shot on Saturday, but here is everything unloaded at the new booth, waiting for placement.


Well, everything except for that ratty footstool on the left.  That's not mine.  I also got some great deals on small handmade furniture pieces.



That's three small benches/tables made from reclaimed/repurposed wood.  Tee lady I bought them from said her brother had made them.  The thing on top is a step stool that I so helpfully turned the wrong way.  Doh!  It's actually two step stools that the maker then joined together with a piece of wood across the top of both.  It's awesome!

I bought these cool decorative plates at the American Legion sale with the DING!  They're really heavy.  I think they might be pewter.


They have these Germanic/Nordic designs on them.  Cool!


Cute Syroco bookends.  The little boy is playing with a pig!


I bought four of these awesome wood bowls with hammered metal edging.  They're sitting on the double step stool.


Bowling league score pins from the 60's and 70's.  I love these things!



Cast iron ashtray from Reading, PA with a cute Amish dude on it.  It's marked "Dale Craft" on the bottom.  I need to look that up.


Gavel noisemaker.  It really is quite loud, as long as you don't smash your thumb of whack yourself in the head.  Then you're the loud one.


This corkscrew/bottle opener set may be the cutest thing I've gotten in a while.  Anyone know anything more about them?


One of my best finds last weekend was this antique folding table.  It's got some condition issues, but someone will love it, eventually.  In the meantime, it's a great display piece and I need more of those.

This is the back.  It's all wood, except for four little door hinges that connect the legs to the top.  All of the mechanics that hold the legs upright when they are folded out is wooden.



The top.  This thing has been well-used and is loaded with character and patina.  It's also very sturdy.




The wood tongue that holds the legs up fits into this groove.  It's really awesome!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Interesting

One of the most interesting things I have found lately is this gem:


It's a pedestal or some kind of column and it's ceramic.  It was pretty filthy when I found it, but it cleaned up really well.  Take a close look at the face at the top:



Zeus?  Yahweh?  Odin?  I've never really seen anything like it.  It has a religious tinge to it and makes me think of sacrifices, but it's definitely a column and not an altar.  It's far too narrow for that.  The imagery rules it out as any kind of ancient Hebrew item, but the old guy sure does look like some of the depictions of God I used to see in Sunday School.

There's a different image on every side.  Some are slightly racy, if you think semi nude ladies are racy.  This one reminds me of the birth of Aphrodite, except for the dude hanging on to her.




Seems like she would be a little chilly like that.
 There are some things that seem to just lie in wait for me to come and buy them.  This would definitely be one of them.  I fell in love with it when I saw it.  I feel like the King of the Oddball Finds sometimes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Rambles

Shoulda been Monday Rambles, but you know how that goes sometimes.

Thank you all so very much for the kind notes and thoughts and encouragement and inspiration you've been sending over the cancer recurrence.  You have made me smile so many times over the past few days and I appreciate that so very much.

Here's the latest update/wrinkle in the saga:  I am not starting treatment today after all.  There's been a hang up with getting insurance approval for the treatments, so I have been pushed back to next Tuesday. As in November 4.  As in my 50th birthday.  I intend to make everyone at the cancer center sing for me.  Only in my life.....

I'll be posting updates about the whole treatment process here and on Facebook.  I will probably do Facebook first and in the moment and follow up with a longer post here the day after.  If you want to follow me on Facebook to get the fastest updates, you're more than welcome to.

Let's change the subject, okay?  How about some junk news?

I've gotten behind in my junking updates and sale tales lately with everything else going on.  Fortunately, I've also gotten behind in stocking lately.  I've had a hard time keeping up.  The Peddlers Mall finally got the sign put up so the world knows that we are open during construction.  Overall, the mall is still slow, but my sales have picked back up to summer levels, so I am really happy.  I have sold out of nearly all my Halloween stuff and can hardly wait to hit the clearance sales this weekend.

The second store remains problematic at the moment.  Part of the problem is me.  I still haven't worked a regular visit over there into my regular schedule, so there's no stocking and cleaning pattern going on.  Here lately, with everything else happening, I've been more irregular than normal.  I know this is part of the problem, because I spent Saturday and Sunday over there, and every day since has been really good sales-wise.  With the treatment coming, I may have an even harder time than normal working them into my schedule, but I am sure going to try really hard.

Another thing that's going to help that store out is that I am moving to a double spot in November.  Right now, I have two spaces that are not together, so having a double will give me more continuous space to work with and stage.  It's also several aisles closer to the store entrance, which will probably make a difference in a store that large.  I'm planning on keeping one of the single spaces through the holidays and turning it into a Christmas booth, as I have a TON of Christmas stuff this year.

One of the good things about the treatment delay is that it will give me a chance to do this booth move before it starts.  

Back to the finds.  I think what I am going to do is do a bunch of short posts of things as I come across them.  I've really had a good junking run lately.  There are now several vendors at both stores who do storage buy-outs and they have tons and tons of interesting items at rock bottom prices.  I pick up  a few things every time I come in.

I am trying to lay in a good stock, just in case the treatment goes roughly.  I am going to price it all, so that all I have to do is pull and box and put things out.  Or I can send Keith to do it, if need be.  I've got a lot to do, but I think being prepared for what may come is a good thing.

Before I sign off, let me share one little junking story from the weekend.  I was at an American Legion hall for their annual sale, which was being run by a group of older women.  We all know how great the old lady sales are, don't we?  I did find some good stuff, but this is about one of the things I did not buy.

I found this tin music box on the very last table in this very large hall.  It was shaped like a barn and had a little car that was supposed to drive around the shed as it played.  I tried to turn the crank for the music box, but it wouldn't budge.  Like a lot of old music boxes you find, it was completely stripped out, so I put it down and walked on.

I got across the hall and, all of a sudden, it started playing!  Not a song, but just notes.  Intermittent notes with long pauses in between.  DING! (pause of at least a minute)  DING! (another long pause)  DING!  It would not stop!  I was in there for at least another 20 minutes, and it just kept dinging and pausing!  Since the room was so big, I didn't think anyone would notice, but the ladies at the other end of the room started going bonkers trying to figure out what was going on!

DING!
"There it goes again."
"Sounds like a bell."
"Did we have anything that plays music here?"
"No.  Well, there was that one thing, but we sold it already."
"Did it stop?"
DING!
"I heard it!"
"What is it?"
"Where is it?"
"Is it in here or outside?"
"I heard it!"
DING!
"Maybe it's an ice cream truck."

It did not help matters that someone's car alarm started going off in the parking lot in the middle of all this.  That caused much consternation, especially when the alarm stopped and the dinging didn't.

"I tell you it's in here!"
"Well, I'm going to find it."
"Check every table!"
"I will!"
DING!

One of the women set off on her hunt, and I gathered my things and checked out.  I could have told them what it was, but why spoil their fun?  They were certainly going to have a story to tell after the sale.  I wonder if they ever found it?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Return of the Cancer

Apparently my body has given me an early birthday present, but it's not necessarily one that I really wanted.  My cancer is back.  This time it is in my spleen, which is one of the places that melanoma can go, since it spreads through the lymph system, and the spleen is a part of that system.

My last scan turned up a lesion/mass (I'm not really sure which it was.  They have used both terms.) on my spleen.  I had a biopsy Friday before last, which took most of the day. When they biopsy an internal organ, they take a long-ass needle and stick it in your side down to the organ in question.  That needle is hollow and they shoot other needles down that one to collect the needed tissue.  Of course, you are numbed and semi-sedated during the whole process, but it's still a little unnerving.  After that, you have to hang around and doze and let the anesthesia work out of your system.  I went in at nine and did not leave until four that day.

I got the results Tuesday:  positive.  I figured that was the way that things were going to go.  My feeling was confirmed before I even got the news when they sent in the happy, gentle, kind of goofy older doc to give me the news.  When everything is normal, you get the slightly smug, "I'm a doctor" dude.

I'll start treatment next week.  Dr. Happy tried to paint a lovely picture about how easy this treatment is and how I'm just going to skip through daisies the whole time and ask for more when it's over.  I know better.  He said the same things last time.  While it is true that there have been some great advances in the treatment of melanoma in the last several years, nothing with cancer is ever easy.  There are just degrees of difficulty.

Speaking of treatment advances, the drug I was on last time were touted as having a 75% rate of non-recurrence up to five years after treatment.  I guess I'm in the minority 25%.  Figures.

Technically, my new treatment is not chemotherapy.  It's a drug called Yeravoy, which is immunotherapy.  I'm still going to have to go to the cancer center, spend a couple of hours there, get poked with needles, screw up my veins, then go home and have side effects, so it's pretty much all the same to me.  Not fun is not fun, no matter what you call it.

This drug is supposed to stimulate my own immune system to fight the cancer on its own.  One of the drugs I had last time was the same type of thing and it gave me chills and body aches and fever like you would not believe.  It was like the flu on steroids.  One I lay in bed under like a half dozen blankets, with Keith on one side of me and Kosh on the other and I was still shivering so hard that I shook the bed.  I am not looking forward to that again.  In side effect terms, they describe this as "flu-like symptoms."  I call it "flu driving a Mack truck."

The other side effects are supposed to be similar to what I had before:  some nausea, rashes, loss of appetite, and fatigue.  Yes, the bricks are coming back.  They call it fatigue.  I call it "bone-crushing tiredness that will not go away."  I didn't really have a lot of nausea last time.  I hope that's still true.  The fatigue is about all I can handle.

If this treatment doesn't work, then there's another new drug they can try.  If that doesn't do it, then surgery will be a last resort.  You really don't need your spleen as an adult.  I'm figuring, based on my track record so far, that I'll end up under the knife sometime in the spring.

I know I sound bitter.  That's because I am.  I am fucking pissed off in fact.  This shit was supposed to be over.  That's what I drug my ass around for seven months last year feeling like I was going to drop at any moment in order to accomplish.  I don't know if I will get over this feeling and, frankly, I'm not sure I want to.  At this point, it's my anger that's getting me up in the morning.  Otherwise, I'd be completely deflated.

This is only supposed to be a short run treatment--four treatments administered every three weeks.  If it all goes as planned, I'll be done before Christmas.  I just don't want the fatigue and side effects to spoil our wedding trip.

I have a lot to do this weekend to get ready for treatment to start.  Both booths need to be cleaned and stocked.  (Why did I open a second store????)  I need to think more about work.  I decided that I am absolutely not working on treatment days, like I did last time.  It was just too much.  I need to catch up on laundry and house cleaning.  I need to pre-write some blogs and get this thing back to life.  I'm not going to want to do some of that stuff once the fatigue starts hitting hard.

I don't want to do this.  I'm dreading it, in fact.  The whole ordeal of finding a vein for the IV is already giving me nightmares.  They fried them all out with the chemo last time!  Every blood draw and IV I've had since chemo has been torture.  Sometimes even when they do find a vein it's so shot they cannot use it.

And I don't have Dr Kosh around any more to make me feel better.  I'm just not sure that Chiquito is up to the task.

Fuck cancer.  Fuck it hard.


Friday, October 10, 2014

What is your quest?

Post title from the ever classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail:



A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Saturday where I kept showing up at sales and finding these awesome vintage items at near giveaway prices that had already been scooped up.  As I was leaving one house, I thought to myself:  "I'm glad I'm not out here looking for vintage items only.  I'd be a wreck after seeing all that."

That got me to thinking about my quest.  What is the driving force that puts me out there every Saturday and as many other days as possible.  Do I have a Holy Grail?  When I walk up to a table and scan my eye over the goodies thereon, what do I want to see leaping out at me?

The short answer is pretty obvious:  Anything that I think I can sell or that I think I might want at a good price.  But that's awfully generic and boring, isn't it?  It's also wonderfully wide open and leaves me so much room in which to roam.  I've gotten several comments lately about the wide selection of items I seem to pick up.  Let's break that short answer down a little more.  Have a glimpse into what's in my head as I go out on the hunt.

I think I have an advantage by selling in a flea market style mall.  I'm not bound to any rules or perceptions of what is or is not "vintage" or an "antique."  If I want to buy and sell that Teletubby, then I can buy and sell that Teletubby.  I also do not have to worry about fighting the myriad of ever-changing eBay rules and regs.   I don't feel bound by what my smart phone might say about what an item is bringing right now in online auctions.  It's incredibly freeing and allows me to take chances and be creative.

Not that there is anything wrong with any of those other venues or styles of doing things,  There's more than one way to be a re-seller.  You have to find what works for you and do it consistently.  I use those tools.  I look things up.  But I also already have a strong innate sense of what is right for me to sell, what my customer base likes, and what my venues will support.  You can't find that in an app.

I'm also a seller, not a maker or re-maker or fixer upper or doer.  I have no, I repeat no discernible talent for that  kind of thing and no patience to try and learn one. I admire those who do, especially the ones with the vision that takes them beyond what they see in front of them and leads them to make it into something classy and timeless, not trendy.  The ones who know when to stop embellishing at just the right moment.  The ones who are quirky and have a sense of humor about what they're creating.  I cannot do this, and it's really better if I don't even try.  I consider myself a sourcer of raw materials for these people.  I have no doubt that there are things that have come out of my booth that are now vastly different from the way they were when they were bought.  I'm happy to have given someone something to work with.

Besides, I battle my own overwhelming sense of procrastination and disorganization every day just to get things priced and placed in a timely fashion.  Like within a week of purchase.  And I still have a store room full of stuff and a mound I call "Mount Backlog" at home.  I shudder to think what it would be like if I were saving things to refinish and repaint and repair.  I think I'd be single for sure!

Somewhere along the path, this turned into a two-parter.  I'm going to cut my general thoughts off here and come back later with something slightly more specific (or at least slightly less general).  If the pics in this post look familiar, it's because they come from previous posts of my hauls.