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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Florence,Colorado: Valentine's Day

Anything that celebrates love, friendship and joy is alright by me. That's why Valentine's Day is alway so fun.

I love that most all the merchants in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado go all out on their window displays for every occasion, including Valentine's Day.


Lots of red and hearts in the window display at The Loralie Antique Mall, at 109 W. Main St.


As I always say: Antiques are calorie-free gifts. Actually I've never said that, but someone should say it.


Here's some more shots of the Valentine's window. All that luscious and cheerful fabric in reds and pinks is from Loralie Harris of Loralie Designs, who recently purchased the antiques mall and opened a boutique upstairs at the mall.


The designer fabrics are making a graceful entrance from the ceiling into a vintage washtub. There are plenty of ideas and materials available to make one's own special Valentine's gifts.

And that's what is going on in just one corner of Florence for Valentine's. Hopefully we'll get more photos posted of all the artistic Valentine window displays in Florence.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Florence, Colorado: Bell Tower Cultural Center Class With Loralie Harris

One of my many hobbies (besides trolling antiques stores for bargains) is to highlight (translated brag bodaciously) about all the wonderful people in Florence and the fun things to do and see here.

Florence is the official antiques capital of Colorado, but also has one of the most vibrant art and cultural communities anywhere.

Obviously that is due to the talented and dedicated artists here, but it's also due to the efforts of countless volunteers at the Bell Tower Cultural Center, a division of the Florence Arts Council.

Several months ago, Florence welcomed Loralie Harris, a world-known textile designer, with fabrics and design components in fabric venues across the USA and world. Loralie purchased the former Iron Gate Antiques Mall at 109 W. Main St., which is now The Loralie Antique Mall. The mall also houses (upstairs) the Loralie Boutique, the only place, besides online, that stocks all her fabric designs.

And now folks will have an extraordinary opportunity to not only meet Loralie and learn about her creative world through samples and poetry--but have the chance to attend a class where she will teach participants how to make a 3-D Loralie Doll.



Yes, these elegant 3-D Loralie Dolls use vintage hankies for their skirts and using an open work design, Loralie will show class attendees how to color the the dolls and attach the skirts.

This project has many applications. The dolls can become free-standing figurine, a mobile, centerpiece, table decoration and so many other decorative functions.

The doll silhouettes will be provided as well as the vintage hankies in the kit, which is $10. Class cost is $20. The class is limited to 16 and the deadline to sign up is Feb. 8. The class is slated for Saturday Feb. 18 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Bell Tower Cultural Center at 201 E. 2nd St. Sign-ups can be made by stopping in the Fox Den on Main. St. or calling 719-784-2303.


While we are on the subject of Loralie Designs, here's another sample of Loralie's work, not associated with the doll class, but available at The Loralie Antique Mall.


This little doggy potholder is one of the most commented on by visitors to the mall. The fabric is available to make your own aprons, potholders, curtains, totes or whatever suits your creativity. He's also available in already sewn potholders. And Loralie Designs make it easy for people to sew their own items with many designs in kits with complete instructions.

More information on other Loralie Design items is available in previous blog posts and at: www.loraliedesigns.com

UPDATE: The class has been changed for Feb. 18 from the 11th and the date on the poster is incorrect. More information on Loralie's Feb. 18 class and other wonderful concerts, classes and cultural opportunities at the Bell Tower is available at: https://www.facebook.com/belltowerculturalcenter/

Monday, January 23, 2017

Florence, Colorado: Antiques Capital and Bargains Galore

I'm cheap. I could write a whole blog just on being thrifty. Wait, I'm thrifty and that sounds better.
Yet my house is decorated with all sorts of antiques and vintage items. How do I do it?

Years before I ever moved to Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado, I'd make the short drive from Colorado Springs to take a look at the stores here. That was a long time ago, before there were as many stores and galleries and there are today.



I purchased that art deco style bowl for $7 in Florence at the annual Junktique open air market, held in Sept. as part of Pioneer Days. That was the first bargain I purchased in Florence nearly two decades ago. And the Victorian solid oak sewing cabinet the bowl is sitting on--is the last thing I purchased a few weeks ago for under $150. No, it won't be the last thing I purchase though, because the bargains are just too good.


I go for over-the-top gaudy Victorian things at times. Don't hate me--I just can't help myself. I love this Victorian hanging magazine and periodical rack with the angel and all that fancy scrolling. I don't store anything in it--I just use it as a wall hanging. Under $40.

I purchased it at The Iron Gate Antique Mall (during a sale). The Iron Gate is now The Loralie Antique Mall, located at 109 W. Main St.

Speaking of sales and bargains... I find bargains all year round here. But I think January is one of the better months to pick up exceptional bargains. January isn't as slow as one would think in the antiques capital. Lots of people have Christmas cash and lots of dealers come into town looking to replenish stock in their out-of-town or out-of-state shops. And many dealers with booths and shops in Florence are having sales to make room for new spring and summer stock.

Naturally I don't have time to get to every venue in Florence to scope out every exceptional buy--but here's one of my favorites.


Yes, it's a vintage hand-stitched dinosaur quilt. Child-sized, but fairly big. I'm not a textiles expert, but I'd say it's from the 1920s to 1950s and in nice shape. I nearly fell over when it came into a dealer's booth at The Loralie Antique Mall, 109 W. Main St., because of the price tag of only $20. And then I really was delighted when the dealer marked it down to just $10. Wh-a-a-t? Yes, $10. Don't worry, it's still there. Or it was a day or so ago. I didn't snap it up for the simple reason, I don't have room in my house.

Then I got to looking at some of the other sales dealers at The Loralie Antiques Mall are having right now.


Yes, a whole shelf of markdowns in one booth.

And some dealers have put their whole booths on sale. Sales range from 20 percent to 75 percent off.


See, 75 percent off in one booth.

Yes, Florence has bargains galore.


Change At The Canon City Queen Anne: High Teas and High Fun

As a total fan of anything British, Victorian and cultured experiences in dining--of course I was a fan of the Canon City Queen Anne.

For those who don't know, the Queen Anne is one of Canon City's many architectural jewels and a wonderful place to enjoy a high tea, a luncheon or dinner in a Victorian atmosphere. Many an anniversary, birthday, girls day out or special occasion has been enjoyed at the mansion.

I recently enjoyed my anniversary dinner there (my first time at the Queen Anne) and just a few weeks ago enjoyed a Christmas Tea there with co-workers from a Florence antiques mall.

So, it was with sadness I read an email today from the proprietors of The Queen Anne, that things will be changing.

Change is often good, so we wish Al and Linda Ballard, the owners, the best as they embark on new adventures.


Linda will eventually be turning in her apron to tap into her interior designs training and skills to assist seniors. And Al will be planning bus tours to fun locations, also for seniors.

But not to fear. Even though there is a new chapter in the lives of The Queen Anne proprietors, the reservations-only Queen Anne teas and lunches and dinners and cooking and baking classes will go on through Dec. 23, 2017. Phew!

So there is plenty of time to enjoy a special Valentine's tea. An anniversary. A birthday. Just a fun experience for no other reason that one deserves it!

More information on the new chapter in the lives of the Queen Anne folks is available at: http://thecanoncityqueenanne.com/2017changesqueenanne.html

Florence, Colorado: New Vintage Book Dealer

Don't tell anyone. When I see books, I'm like a kid in a candy store. So I was delighted to see a new vendor at The Loralie Antique Mall, that specializes in vintage and books on history and Colorado.


Ah, pull up a chair and browse all the tomes. Everything is organized by category.


And the newest dealer at The Loralie Antique Mall also has a few Oriental antiquities for sale, as well as some other varieties, such as the lyre table, pottery, cameras and a bit of lighting.


It's always fun to see what's old (and new) in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado.


The Loralie Antique Mall is located at 109 W. Main St. and is open seven days a week.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Food Distribution: Compassion Food Bank Of Fremont County

The Compassion Food Bank Of Fremont County is holding its monthly food distribution on Saturday, Jan. 21 from 10 to 1:30 at the Bridge To Life, 222 N. Orchard Ave. in Canon City.

For a $20 donation, recipients can expect a big box of food that typically will include fresh produce, fruit, bread, meat, dry goods and much more. Each distribution is different, but usually includes about $100 worth of quality food.


Pictured above is a box of food from a previous distribution. The foods are always different each time, but the picture gives you an idea of the variety.

There is no qualifying and everyone is welcome. The event usually happens on the third Saturday of every month.

More information is available by calling 719-423-9138 or going to the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/compassionfoodbankoffremontcounty/

The group always has boxes on hand, but appreciates if people bring large boxes. Volunteers are welcome and how to volunteer to assist the non-profit group is also available on Facebook.

Food distributions also take place throughout southern Colorado, by the group that works to assist the working middle class. More information on locations in Pueblo and beyond is also on Facebook at Compassion Food Bank Of Southern Colorado.

Florence, Colorado:Florence Pioneer Museum Chili Bowl Fundraiser

Yum! It's time for the 2nd annual The Chili Bowl In The Chilly Museum fundraiser at the Florence Pioneer Museum and Research Center at 100 Pikes Peak Ave.

What a deal. For just $5 you get a steaming bowl of chili in a handmade pottery cup, crafted by the local P & G Pottery.

Last year I couldn't wait to get my mitts on those pottery bowls. But another treat (besides helping the museum) was the chili. Lip smacking good.


Yes, those are the two chili bowls we purchased at the museum last year. I use them all the time for soup, chili and ice cream.

The bowls alone are worth more than the $5. And the chili, well that's worth a few more dollars.

But the best part of the deal is IF the museum can raise a bit over $30,000 for an HVAC system, they will have heat and be able to stay open year-round. There is a matching grant to help with the purchase. Last year the museum raised about $3,000 from the fundraiser.



Let's all show up and help the hardworking folks at the museum to keep one of Florence's jewels toasty warm in the winter.

The Chili Bowl In The Chilly museum is from 11 to 2 this Saturday, Jan. 21.

More information about the Florence Pioneer Museum And Research Center is available at: http://florencepioneermuseum.org/events/


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Florence, Colorado: Loralie Designs--The Cat's Out Of The Bag

Loralie Harris, of Loralie Designs, is a world-known textile designer. And fans worldwide anticipate the release of her new fabric designs. That's no secret. But now the cat is really out of the bag, since Loralie has opened a boutique with all of her designs in Florence, Colorado.

Florence has long been known as the official antiques capital of Colorado, but has been coming into its own as a exceptional artistic and creative community, attracting world-class artists and artisans.

Here's a sneak peak of Loralie Designs newest collection: Calico Cats.


Adorable! I like the lavender background and the complimentary striped fabric, pictured in the upper left.


My favorite is the cats on the black background. And notice the fabric on top--larger Calico Cats in pastel hues.


Ah, but the best thing about this new collection is the individual personalities of these winsome kitties.

So, now you know the latest collection is available at the Loralie Boutique, which is located upstairs in The Loralie Antique Mall at 109 W. Main St. The shop is open seven days a week, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Hours are 10 to 5, Mondays through Saturdays and 11 to 4 on Sundays.

And now you also know why I refer to Florence as one of the most interesting towns in Colorado.


Florence, Colorado: All I Want For Valentine's Day Is Lamb Livers

Are you totally stumped about what to get your Valentine? You know, the person who has everything? Never fear, I have found the PERFECT gift. Lamb Livers.

More accurately,--a vintage tin that used to hold lamb livers.

No, no. I am not suggesting you give your Valentine anything gruesome that would remind them of the Valentine's Day Massacre.


I'm suggesting that you can purchase the weirdest, I mean, um the most unique Valentine's gift ever in Florence, which is the antiques capital of Colorado. Now we might be able to dub Florence as the epicenter of the most tasty and funky Valentine's gifts ever.

I've never been probed by aliens and I've passed all my mental health exams, but I am convinced there are hidden messages in some of the window displays in Florence.

IF you have the courage, continue reading this blog to see what I mean. Or better yet, next time you are in Florence--see for yourself.

Yes, this tasty vintage item is actually in the Valentine's window display at The Loralie Antique Mall, located at 109 W. Main St.

Read on--we'll have some more interesting views of what happens in Florence.

And always remember: What happens in Florence, doesn't stay in Florence.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Florence, Colorado: It's A Good Year For Tomatoes & The Rialto Theater

It's always a good year for the 1923 Rialto Theater on Florence's Main Street. Because each year that passes, the old beauty (one of the last opera houses built in Colorado) is closer to being restored to its former glory.

It's always good to support the Rialto and all the fundraising efforts. But now is your chance to give to a good cause and have some fun.

OK, it's not a good year for tomatoes at all. But it's a great time to attend the play: It's A Bad Year For Tomatoes, being performed at the Rialto to raise money for the restoration.

The tomatoey play is being brought to Florence by the Fremont Civic Theater. Did you know that the FCT is Colorado's oldest continuously active theater organization? I did not know. But I do now. So I've redeemed myself. You'd know that interesting tidbit and much more though if you visited the group's Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/FremontCivicTheater/






Oh, the poster is a bit chopped. Sorry. I notice the play is rated PG-13, so I'm going to guess that perhaps a tomato or two might also get chopped. Perhaps made into ketchup or something.

I have no idea what the play is about. Tomatoes maybe? But I do know I am going.

This will be the first performance held at the Rialto for decades and buying a ticket or two is one step closer to seeing the total restoration of the Rialto, located at 209 W. Main St.

Tickets are available by calling 719-275-8989 or at Absolute Accounting and City Market in Canon City. Or at Heartland Antiques and the Fox Den in Florence.

And while you in town gawking at the beauty of the Rialto and planning to see the tomato play, you might as well come a little early and browse the town's many antiques shops and art galleries. And of course, have a morsel or two to eat at some of Florence's great restaurants.

I was just stuffing my cakehole at Ito's Japanese Restaurant and Steakhouse the other night, thinking it was totally cool that I don't have to leave our tiny burg to get some of the most awesome food ever.

And now I don't have to leave town to have a fun night at the theater!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Florence, Colorado: What's New At The Loralie Antique Mall

There is always something new (and old) in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado. No one could keep up with all of it, but some of us have to try.

Here's just a little of what's new at The Loralie Antique Mall, 109 W. Main St.


This picture is from one of the mall's newest and most popular vendors. As we like to say in the antiques trade: Hoosier Daddy? Actually we don't say that--we just think it. We say, Hoosier cabinets and they usually sell pretty quickly. Notice the very large dough bowl with a stand. If I told you the price, you'd be amazed. Reasonable! Dough bowls and dough troughs sell quickly in Florence.


Here's some more treasures from this new vendor. Yes, that's a huge bank of post office boxes! And yes, that's a Brach's Candies rack. Sorry, it already sold--for under $50.


More items from one of the newest vendors. Jars, sleds, tools, primitives galore. Notice that well bucket on the table between the sleds. SOLD! But don't worry, they brought in another one. This vendor specializes in farm-fresh primitives and is always bringing in fresh finds at great prices.



This picture is from another vendor's booth. It's the wall of hankies. And these vintage beauties are priced reasonably. Why am I showing the famous WALL OF HANKIES? It will make sense an upcoming blog post why vintage hankies are very useful for an exciting new crafts project.

The CellHouse In Canon City, Colorado: Fun Shopping Experience Bar None

When I close my eyes and imagine a fun shopping experience, I imagine a shop where I can buy a motorcycle, a cutting board, some office furniture and perhaps pick up a bit of salmon or goat cheese for my next soiree, all at one store.

Actually I've never imagined that. But now that is possible to buy all those things in one place at The CellHouse in Canon City, Colorado.



This unique shop, located at 602 Main St. offers a huge selection of prisoner-produced items in conjunction with the Colorado Correctional Industries.

And the shop also has many items that are not produced by inmates, such as surplus office furniture at low prices.

So far, on my one visit to this semi-new business I purchased a big jar of honey and will probably return for more.

It's worth a visit to The CellHouse just to see the quality and diversity of the inmates' work.

More information on this fascinating business can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/thecellhouse/

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Antiques Store Humor: Seeded, Please Keep Off

I never knew there was such a thing as antiques store humor. And God help me, I wish I'd never found out.

Not really. I enjoy a good joke as much as anyone.

The other day a customer came into ye olde antiques mall and told me he had purchased a sign many moons ago, similar to the one pictured below, in the store I work in.


I wondered where this was going.

The customer, an older man, proclaimed,"The first one of my daughters that gets pregnant, I'm going to post my sign on her lawn: SEEDED, PLEASE KEEP OFF."

I chuckled, then replied, "Oh, dad!"

He admitted his girls might have reason to say "oh dad" but I could tell he was going to do it anyway.

Hmm, I was thinking his proposed public use of his antique "seeded" sign might be one of the most ingenious methods of birth control devised.


Florence, Colorado: Outspokin' Bike Rentals The Beacon Of Hippery

Last year I suggested that Outspokin' Bike Rentals in Florence, Colorado was the beacon of hippery. Ouch, that sounds painful. But it's not. It's fun. And a little naughty. And we like that kind of stuff around here.


I love this sign on the bike rental store at 124 S. Pikes Peak Avenue. I usually pass by the store on my way to the credit union, but have never stopped in. One reason is I am REALLY old. Ancient. And if I rented a bike, I might break my hip or my beacon of hippery. BUT now that I know that there might be a bunch of hunky folks hanging out without shirt or shoes, I might be more inclined to loiter on the street. Ya know, grab my binoculars and gaze at shirtless folks from the credit union, where I am cashing my old age pension check.

I'm liking Outspokin' Bike Rentals more and more. I've always been a sucker for double meanings. And I'm thinking these folks are outspoken and outspokin'.


Push it real good. Um, naughty. I think that refers to not only what to do to the door, but some popular rock song from decades past that was slightly naughty. Yes, I'm old enough to remember that spicy song.

I suggest people stop by Outspokin', not only to get their boards waxed, bike rentals and outdoor equipment. I want people to see the flying saucer recreation in the window. You'd think I would have gotten a picture of it, but my fat, old finger got in the way. I wonder what the saucer is doing in the window. I would have poked my nosy head into the store and asked, but the store was closed.

Winter hours and all. Outspokin' Bike Rentals winter hours are Friday through Sunday, noon to 5.


Florence, Colorado: Taxidermy On Steroids At The Loralie Antique Mall

It's been way too long since I did a Taxidermy On Steroids post.

Most of us know Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado. And those of us who live and work here know it's a quirky, fun and creative place with some of the most interesting things for sale.

A little known fact is that Florence (at one time) had one of the most scary collection of clown collectibles for sale--probably in the known universe. And another little-known fact is there is a dealer in The Loralie Antique Mall (formerly The Iron Gate Antique Mall) that probably has the most interesting selection of taxidermy anywhere, outside of a taxidermy emporium. OK, there probably isn't such a thing as a taxidermy emporium, but dang it--there should be.


No, no, no. This dog is not stuffed. He's just amazed at the selection of Taxidermy On Steroids in Florence.


Leaping lizards! What the heck is that? I have no idea. It would have been too easy (and not as amusing) for me to just read the tag. I'm thinking this would go excellently as part of the decor in a mother-in-law's cottage or perhaps a spare bedroom where you hoped the company would get a hint it was time to move along.


Nothing fishy going on here. Yes, this is actually for sale in The Loralie Antique Mall. But you know what else is for sale? One of those BigMouth Billy Bass things from the 1980s. You know, it's a big rubbery fish on a plaque and you push a button and the fish starts wriggling and singing a song very loudly. Yes, people push the button--and there's no hazard pay working in an antiques mall when a Bass is screaming a song across the dignified mall.


Two birds for the price of one.

Not that long ago a customer filled his van with taxidermy from The Loralie Antique Mall. If you don't think it's hard boxing and wrapping stuffed birds for an out-of-state trip, then you don't know the antiques and collectibles trade. It was especially tough to wrap the bat. Oh my gosh, when I was a young person, I never thought I'd grow up and type the words: It was especially tough to wrap the bat.


Hmmm, this bird looks pretty miffed. He's probably miffed because we had a stuffed bear cub a few months back, but it flew out the door to a new home and the bird is still there.


Ok, this bird is definitely miffed. He's literally giving us the bird. He's turned his back towards us.

Oh, deer.


Well, that's it for this installment of Taxidermy on Steroids. If I were you, I'd get myself down to The Loralie Antique Mall. It's a win-win. Even if you don't purchase anything, it's like a free trip to natural history museum. And if you do purchase, it's a true win-win. You get home or lodge decor that will be conversation pieces and you also get to watch antique mall workers wrap the bat, or lizard or whatever you choose.

Yes, It's True World-Known Textile Designer Loralie Harris Is In Florence, Colorado

Yes, it's true Loralie Harris has arrived in Florence, Colorado. And it's also true what I said in a previous blog post that Florence (for a small burg) might be one of the most exciting towns in Colorado.

On Sept. 1 of 2016, world-known textile designer, Loralie Harris, purchased the building at 109 W. Main St. in Florence that used to house The Iron Gate Antique Mall.

The exciting thing is that everything has stayed the same and yet changed in so many fun ways. How can that be?

Most of the antiques vendors are the same. In fact there are a few new antiques dealers in the mall. But we'll get to that in another blog post.

The employees (dealers at the mall) are still the same.

The attentive customer service and huge selection are still the same.


But what's new is a whole fascinating dimension of fabrics, kits and embroidery from Loralie Designs.

On Oct. 22 the unveiling of the new Loralie Boutique (upstairs) took place during an open house and grand re-opening that over 100 folks attended.


Yes, that's a picture of Loralie Harris and Rena Pryor. Rena is the new manager of The Loralie Antique Mall and Loralie's executive assistant.


I took that picture during the soiree. Yes, that's a Loralie pincushion that is beyond fantastic.

I didn't know who Loralie Harris was when I first met her. But I did a little research and discovered she's quite famous in quilting, sewing, textile and craft circles.

Loralie has a worldwide following.

My first clue of the devotion of her fans came very early when a group of ladies asked me if it was true that Loralie Harris was coming to Florence. The boutique hadn't been completed yet, but I said, it was true.

Some other ladies in The Loralie Antique Mall overheard the good news and went running to other ladies and they literally joined in a circle and started dancing with joy. I'd never seen anything like that. It reminded me of a joyous dance Jewish folks often do at weddings. It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

These ladies apparently knew that is exactly the kind of joy and happiness that comes alive in Loralie's designs and creations.

Here's another picture of the Loralie Boutique upstairs taken during the unveiling in October. That's a cutting table. I love the antique iron bed. The cutting table is self serve and customers can cut as little or as much fabric as they desire. But there is also pre-cut fabric available. Sewing fans will know what I mean when I say there is a selection of fat quarters that is dazzling.

And the entire collection of Loralie Designs fabrics is available there. It's the only place that all of the designs are available besides online. Loralie Designs has fabrics in stores across the country, but it is only in Florence, Colorado where all the collection is presented in person.


This was a recent window display at The Loralie Antique Mall. Notice the kitty quilts? Several hundred people did. This adorable kitty fabric is one of the most popular items in the line.

Here's a picture of The Loralie Antique Mall's current window display. Samples of Loralie's aprons and fabric are on display, as well as some of the nifty sewing related antiques available for sale at the mall.

The Loralie Antique Mall is open seven days a week. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 to 4 on Sundays.

More information on the all the products the Loralie Designs showcase can be discovered at: www.LoralieDesigns.com

And a visit to Loralie's facebook page takes viewers on a journey of projects people all over the world are creating. https://www.facebook.com/loralieharris

Stay tuned to The Loralie Antique Mall Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/TheLoralieAntiqueMall/ and this blog. Blog readers will be kept updated on the fun class with Loralie that is in the works and many more happenings at The Loralie Antique Mall.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Florence, Colorado: I Want To Know Something

If you've browsed this blog even surfacely, you know Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado. It's also a fun, friendly, quirky place to visit.

Here's what I want to know. Have you made a visit to Florence based on something you read on this blog? If so, please leave a comment saying so.


Your comment doesn't have to be long. But I'd be interested to know what made you want to visit, where you are from and what you liked best about your visit.

I'm not gathering or mining information. This blog is just for fun and is in no way associated to any chamber of commerce, merchants association, etc.

I'm just curious...