Saturday, November 2, 2019

For Your Viewing Pleasure . . .

Our store sent me a link to a new Jennifer McGuire video on Distress Oxide Sprays -- said it's very well done (no surprise -- everything Jennifer does is very well done), and has turned some customers on to Distress Oxide Sprays who had never considered them before . . .

Enjoy!  If you get the urge to try some after you watch the video, you can find them here . . .

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

An Audience With Royalty . . .

While I was in Sevierville, Tennessee a couple of weeks ago, I got to spend a few minutes with my dear friends Picasso Gaglione, Darlene Domel, and Fred the Wonder Bear -- they came to visit from their retirement villa in Knoxville.  How they got from San Francisco to Chicago to a Rocky Top retirement is beyond me -- but it works for them.

You can't see it in this picture, but I am wearing a little button with Picasso's picture on it -- he gave me a selection of them a few years ago.

Darlene and I enjoy tormenting each other -- there have been those over the years who think we actually hate each other, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  We took several pics grimacing at each other, but the best by far was the one with Sam the Photobomber (Sam Solis from Stamp on It).

I have written several posts about Picasso and Darlene over the years -- if you are not familiar with their legacy in the world of papercrafting, you might find this one from six years ago enjoyable --

The obligatory shot of our booth at a busy moment on the first day -- had a fun couple of days in the booth with my friend Suzanne Reed.  She has helped out in our booth for nearly 20 years, through two pregnancies (the boys are both teenagers now) and a move from Texas to Tennessee.

These three ladies were all in the booth at the same time -- I referred to them as "The Unicorn Triplets" and they were kind enough to pose for me.

I see this every year in the parking lot at the hotel where I stay -- and every year I wonder how many stencils got turned upside down in the process.  At least three . . .

And I am still going through the change when I open new rolls, looking for oldies for my nephew.  Have reached the point where I shoot pics of coins that I find and text them to him to see if I have discovered one that he needs.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

A Pleasant Stop Along the Road . . .

This started two weeks ago while we were setting up for a show in York, Pennsylvania – Pat Huntoon from Technique Junkies was across the aisle from me.  I heard her mention that she was doing a show in Sevierville, Tennessee the following weekend and a show in Southfield, Michigan the weekend after that – and she was going to stay on the road in-between and couldn’t figure out what to do to pass the time.

I said, “Our store is on your way and ten minutes off the interstate – why don’t you stop there, set up a trunk show on our front sidewalk, and do a make and take in our classroom?”

And that’s what happened today.  I got to the store just as Pat and Dawn were unloading her carts onto the sidewalk – I jumped out to help them finish, and didn’t think to shoot some pictures until Pat had already put her van behind the building.

Then I came back after lunch.  Was told that I missed the full house that was there earlier – both in the classroom and on the sidewalk.

Gary says we need to do this more often – perhaps some of you could remind your vendor friends that I-70 and I-75 intersect just a few minutes north of our little corner of the world . . .

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Mishaps . . .

When you come into our booths at shows, you see the finished product that takes us hours to build.  But sometimes there are a few monkey wrenches thrown in along the way.  This story is from setup at the Syracuse show in May . . . and I should begin by saying that I took the first picture because Julie told me to . . .

Julie and Tom Creek from Creek Bank Creations were rolling one of their carts past where I was setting up my own booth when I heard Julie yelp and looked up to see her going to the floor.  I was afraid that her back had gone out, or worse -- and when I ran to her, she couldn't talk for a moment.  Then she gathered her senses and explained that one of the wheels on the cart had rolled over her toes.  Ouch . . .

I had packed my lunch, so I had an ice bag in my cooler and Julie put it to good use.

By later in the day, we were laughing about it -- and Tom and rigged a way to get Julie around the room without putting weight on her foot.

You had to know that I couldn't tell the story without an image of the affected digits.  Julie is a trouper -- worked the whole weekend and I don't think a single customer knew that she was less than 100%.  And fortunately, nothing was broken.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Superheroes Assemble . . .

"Superheroes Assemble" was the costume theme for the Stampaway USA Preview Party three weeks ago.  Didn't see as many customer entries as I have some years, but several of the vendors went all out.  Here are some of the best that I saw . . .

Brett and Michelle from Stamp-N-Storage won the customer vote as Best Dressed Vendors -- and deserved it.

But, of course, by Saturday morning the costumes had been put away . . .

And we were back at our posts dealing with booths full of happy customers.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Best Thing I Saw All Summer . . .

I have traveled thousands of miles this year – haven’t even tried to count the number of states I have rolled through.  At every show, there is at least one image that burns itself into my brain.  Some are better than others – and this one is the best I have seen so far . . .

A lot of you know Debby Drabik – either from Just for Fun or as the promoter of the two StampFest shows in Florida each year.  Her dad, Jim, was the “Sheriff of StampFest” along with Bill Mielke for years – they would sit by the door and watch the masses go in and out of the hall.  They actually had little toy sheriff’s badges that they wore.  Health issues have kept both of them away for the past few years, but Jim was able to make an appearance in Kissimmee at the end of June.

When I found out that Jim was in the hall, I ran over to the Just for Fun booth to make sure I got to see him.  Then I went back to my cash register – and a few minutes later felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was Jim – he had made his way across the room to visit with me. 

Jim Drabik is in his 90s now, and it was a special moment to get to see him again.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Frozen . . .

The other story that needs to be told before we can move forward (or at least bounce back and forth) started last November 2.  I had just gotten off the phone with my friend Ben Andrews, who called to tell me that his prostate cancer surgery had been scheduled.  Went back to my computer and checked e-mail – and in my inbox was one from my family doctor’s online system with the heading “Test Result” – so I logged in to get my bloodwork results from a couple of days before and found myself staring at “PSA – 5.1”

FIVE POINT ONE?  I have had bloodwork every six months for more than 20 years because of my high cholesterol.  About the time I turned 50, my doctor added a PSA check once a year – and my numbers were always fine so I was shocked, because anything above 4.0 is cause for alarm.

And so the journey began.  I had bloodwork done again two weeks later, just to prove to me that the first reading wasn’t a mistake (and, of course, it wasn’t).  Then I was sent to a urologist at the University of Cincinnati just before Thanksgiving, because in our area that is where the cutting edge prostate treatments are performed these days.  The urologist sent me for an MRI the week before Christmas, which discovered a mass on my prostate “suspicious for malignancy.”  (Side note – the MRI was very cool – I had never had one, and mine was the first on UC’s brand new MRI machine – the control room was full of doctors who wanted to see how it worked)  In mid-January, I had a biopsy that confirmed the MRI’s suspicions.

Up to this point, Ben and my brother Blake were the only people who knew what was going on – Ben because I wanted to pick his brain about his surgery, and Blake because I figure anything medical that happens to me might eventually happen to him.  But I started slowly bringing the rest of my family into the loop.

In mid-February, I went to a “Multidisciplinary Clinic” at the University of Cincinnati – the head of prostate surgery, the head of radiation, and a world-renowned expert on MRIs went over my test results in the morning and then individually met with me in the afternoon to present their recommendations.  As it worked out, mine was caught so early that I was a candidate for a relatively new procedure called focal cryoablation – essentially it’s the male version of a lumpectomy where the surgeon goes in with needles and freezes away the cancerous portion of my prostate, with a minimal recovery time.  This sort of thing has been done for years on larger organs, but the prostate is only about the size of a walnut and the expertise of the MRI expert makes this possible – she could combine my MRI with a live ultrasound image so precisely that the surgeon would know exactly where to put the needles.  They told me that my other options (surgery or radiation) were essentially overkill at that point.

So on April 2, I reported to the hospital at 5:30 a.m. – this picture was taken just before I was wheeled to the operating room around 7:30.  When I came to, I was assured that they had removed all of the malignant tissue (and a little more just to be sure).  And I was home by noon.

My nursemaid was on constant watch – Zoe wouldn’t even move at mealtime until I forced her, and then she came right back to her duties.

The next day, I ached everywhere – I’m told this is common after general anesthesia.  But other than that and having to drag a catheter around with me, I was pretty much fine.  Also was having trouble remembering some details, but I decided that I could follow a recipe.

Went back to the surgeon on the third day and the catheter was removed – and I went straight back to work.  Probably not the smartest move I have ever made – I was worn out at the end of the day, and was tired off and on for the following ten days or so.

But this is the only scheduled thing that I missed – Emily and I were supposed to walk a half marathon five days after my procedure.  When the surgeon told me that the catheter would come out on the third day, I said “Then I might be able to walk the half marathon with Emily!”  He just laughed at me.  Needless to say, I was not up to it – but I drove Emily there and was there to greet her when she finished.

My PSA was checked again six weeks after the procedure, and it had dropped from 5.1 to 0.4.  The surgeon was thrilled (so was I) – he said that was a number they might have hoped for if he had frozen away my entire prostate.  Another PSA at the three month point had the same number.  I will go back in October for another MRI and biopsy – assuming they come back clean (all have so far after this procedure), I will go back once a year for an MRI for several years.

I have shared this story for one reason – if you or your significant other are male, get that PSA checked.  That is the only way my cancer was detected – I had no other symptoms.  And if reading my story helps to save even one of you or one of your loved ones, I will be very pleased.