Ready . . . set . . . SHOPPE!!

Only three hours until Penneys opens (at 4 AM)!

Then only three more until Macy’s opens (at 6 AM)!

*rev your engines*

[The ONLY thing I need to get is a pair of backup black or charcoal gray pants at Macy’s or Penneys. I mean the tacky soccer-mom stretch kind to wear on the train. I want to save my fancy cloth pants for the big city. However, if they don’t have ’em, I’ll make do. I’m NOT going to go buy all those doorbuster specials. What would I do with all that stuff? I hope they sell enough to put them back in the black, although I don’t know anyone who hasn’t told me they’re tightening up the belts this year and only doing one or two presents.]


Happy Thanksgiving!!

I really don’t even LIKE turkey or dressing, and yams/sweet potatoes, potatoes, and broccoli-rice casserole are all so high in carbs . . . still, I forced myself. Just for the special day.

Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans–and anyone else feeling thankful for so many blessings.

I have been scribbling along on the NaNo novel when I could get a moment. Some of it is scribbled in an actual notebook, purple ink on flowery paper, so I estimated 200 words/page for those pages.

41000 / 50000 words. 82% done!

It’s not ALL keeper stuff; as regular readers know, I often have to go back and eliminate things. Some of this is clearly “underwater” stuff–you know, the iceberg is huge but most of it is underwater, with only the tip-top showing. Still, I like some of the scenes. And I think my train scenes will be even better once I can go back and edit/revise them using our experiences on the train.

On the train! Overnight! For two whole DAYS and a night. Each way. I don’t know if we can handle that. But we’re gonna try. All the sitting may turn me into a loon (I mean, an even bigger loon). I may have to hop off and jog through the station house at various waypoint/stops. If I do, I’ll get y’all some postcards. . . .

Press Release–About The Contest

Today I got a copy of the approved press release that finalists are being allowed to send to local news outlets. I thought this was as good an outlet as any. (Note that they’re using my mundane name–ugh–so it doesn’t say Shalanna, but it’s me. Google Alerts found a model today who shares my mundane name, and she isn’t me, but people will THINK so. . . .)

“Gifted” Guru from Richardson, Texas, to Compete in National Gift-Wrapping Contest: Denise Weeks Vies to “Wrap Up” $10,000 Cash Prize
New York, N.Y. (November 21, 2008) — Thinking “outside of the box” is one thing, but gift wrapping a set of golf clubs and a baby grand piano (yes, a baby grand piano!) would leave most with shaky scissors and reams of ruffled gift wrapping paper. But not Denise Weeks of Richardson, Texas, who will be wrapping these and other unusual, odd-shaped gifts at the 12th annual Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest. On Friday, December 5, 2008 at Rockefeller Center in New York City, Weeks will vie for the coveted title of the Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper and a $10,000 cash prize.

Weeks’ skill in wrapping odd-shaped gifts and disguising them for the recipient’s surprise has become part of her signature wrapping style. She once turned a hat box into a wedding cake and disguised a Frisbee as a foil-wrapped skillet topped with “fried eggs” made from felt. Starting with a bow maker at the age of eight and graduating to handmade styles, Denise has amazed friends and family with her sturdy, yet inventive, gift packages.

Christine Fritsch, 2002 winner of the Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest and author of Gifted Wrapping, selected Ms. Weeks and seven other gifted wrappers – three additional amateurs and four professionals – to participate in the contest based on a brief essay describing their talent and experience in the art of gift wrapping.

Denise Weeks is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and writes novels under her own name and her pen name, Shalanna Collins. She was awarded fourth place in the 2008 Robert Benchley Society Essay Contest by the final round judge, comedian Bob Newhart. She is a former baton twirler and the founder of the Semicolon Protection Society. Buy her books at or visit her LiveJournal at for blogtastic fun.

(Okay, that last paragraph wasn’t part of the OFFICIAL press release.)

Y’all got any gift-wrapping tips for me?

Miracles happen every day

“Be careful what you wish for . . . you might get it,” as the wag said.

I know I haven’t updated and LJ has all but forgotten me, but I’m the one in the third row wearing the orange hat with the purple tulle ball gown. You know, the quiet, shy one.

I only have a moment to type this and then I have to go pick up some prescriptions, but wow . . . everything happens at once. At least I can’t say I’m ever BORED.

I have been SO snowed under with events cascading down on my head like hyperactive dominoes that I haven’t had time to compose a decent post. I still may not do a decent post this time, but at least I’ll put some of the boring parts under an LJ-cut.

The short version is that first my mom went into the hospital and stayed three days (coming home late on Thursday before last), and then all three of us came down with an awful stomach bug over that weekend which lasted a week, and all of that washing of bedclothes and dishes and so forth literally ate my last two weeks. (Housework not only makes you ugly, but it eats your life. Especially when you can’t keep the, um, yuckstuff cleaned up for more than a couple of hours. The doctor claims we all three had DIFFERENT bugs that he thinks we picked up visiting the hospital–first when Mama was there, and later when hubby went to the E. R. the Sunday morning after that with that unstoppable rainbowyawn.) I’m trying to get ready for Thanksgiving and also for a trip to NYC from Dec 2-9, and it is overwhelming!

Yes . . . you read right!

That trip to NYC!

Update: Mama’s better

Now that I’m finally home and all is quiet (just talked to my mother in her hospital room and to the nurses’ station, and all is well), I can’t fall asleep! But . . . here’s an update.

We got good news. The battery of tests was tough on her today (and not so easy on poor me *sniffle* as I trudged along behind pushing the IV pole, as the nurses were overworked). They didn’t find a problem in her colon or stomach other than polyps that look benign (they will send them to pathology anyhow, of course)–so tomorrow she will swallow a camera that is the size of a pill, and it will take photos of her small intestine, the only place their probes of today could not reach. (Insert “South Park” probe jokes here.) They will look there for diverticulitis and so forth. It made her weak, but she’s stronger overall now that she has three units of blood from big, strong athletes and/or drunks who sell their blood. (But those people were healthy enough to give blood, so it HAS to help.)

We had a little scare/bobble when the blood arrived and it was A-positive. I said, “Wait!” She said, “I’m O-negative and so is my daughter. I’ve carried a card since I was a teenager that says so!”

This put the fear of all into everyone, and the doctor had the lab send a tech up for a blood sample so they could re-type. Sure enough, they redid it four times to be sure *(!) Good!*, and it came out A+. This is a surprise to us. You see, she had an emergency blood transfusion about eight years ago for the same reason (they said it was a bleeding ulcer then), and they gave her O+. However, that’s the Universal Donor, and they were in a rush. This time, they gave her the real type. Live and learn–back in the 1940s, they got it wrong with her. Go figure! I plan to get MY blood type and get a new card, just to be safe, ’cause hey, can I even BE O- if she’s A+? I *think* so, but. . . .

So now she has more blood and has gotten over all the anaesthesia and is resting comfortably. The primary physician said he’d hoped to see an ulcer because that’s easily treated, but the doc with the probe said he sees no ulcer in the stomach, but only the typical Pernicious Anemia plaques and oddities. She had a couple of polyps in both places, but they looked harmless to him (though he sent them to path anyway.) They say maybe it’s diverticulitis in the small intestine. What he doesn’t want is to NOT find anything or to find something BAD. Reasons for not finding something bad obvious. Reasons for not wanting to find NOTHING include that there is something hidden that is causing it and he wants to know what!

But she had a blood loss like this before, and my cousin Patty had one a couple of years ago. I think it must be something benign or she’d already have, you know, bled out or whatever . . . anyway, we’ll keep praying.

I am hoping to have her feeling well enough to let me go on the New York journey (the trip I won in the contest, so I can be in the contest finals.) I get calls every day from my darling coordinator, and we’re figuring this out. I need to book my Amtrak travel fairly soon, like tomorrow, and we’ve figured out how to do that so that I could cancel if I had to without owing the contest money. (I think.)

Hubby still says he won’t go with me, and it really hurts me–doesn’t a spouse usually WANT to go to a celebratory trip with you? He says he would be bored. This hurts my feelings. Maybe we aren’t compatible at all any more . . . he hates music now, doesn’t care for anything I write, and now doesn’t even want to go on a trip with me. I was fantasizing that Mama could go, but hell, we’re lucky this wasn’t worse, and she’ll have to stay home with a house-sitter. If I even get to go at all.

She was really out of it after her procedures, especially because they gave her a Darvon for her leg cramps (she’d taken Lasix and had a drip of potassium to try to correct that, but the cramps sneaked in) and all that stuff crocked her. Back in her room, she kept standing up and getting out of bed. They told me to KEEP HER IN THE BED for two hours. It was a trial. Then she finally got sleepy and zonked out. I sneaked home so I could get something to eat and feed the dog. I fell asleep on the sofa . . . I got three calls over the evening because the pulmonary doc had not written orders for her Advair, and their idea was for me to bring her old inhaler up there . . . I was willing, but when I paged the doctor he said he’d call the hospital and get her a new one. You really have to keep on top of what is happening with your family members as patients, as the nurses are overworked and things fall through the cracks! But I digress.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the one time I actually do get a break and win a chance to go somewhere fun, this happens. In the previous life that I am apparently doing penance/punishment for, I was obviously Eva Braun or Marie Antoinette or some other similarly high-powered bitch. I can only conjecture that I massacred an entire country or worse! I hope I had a blast doing it.

I’m stringing 3M/Scotch along telling them that I am indeed coming. If I have to cancel at the last minute, well, that can just go on my list of inconsiderate SOB sins that I have done . . .’cause I want to keep this possibility alive as long as I can! It would really be a blast.

I really SHOULD take another man with me. I don’t CARE how it looks to the neighbors. Would serve Hubs RIGHT!

Hubster is worried that if we go, “we couldn’t get back if there were an emergency.” Well, tell you what. If I got a call that there’s an emergency, I would gather my carry-on luggage and get off the train the next time it stops at any station at all. I will then use my cell phone to call a taxi to take me to the nearest rental car place (Enterprise will come GET you, and I’ll call them if possible.) I will then rent the car and drive it back here as fast as I can. That’s the best I could do. Someone here will have to take care of small emergencies. That’s all anyone could do, anyway, people who can’t fly (Don can’t fly because of that weird ear syndrome thing.) And what diff would it make if The Worst were to happen to the house or God forbid anything else–you couldn’t reverse it even if you were sitting there during the time it was happening. I think he just is ashamed to be seen with me, or thinks he should be allowed to do whatever he wants all the time and never have to do something because it’s the spousal thing to do.

Am I wrong–is it so different now? Spouses go to their different vacations, don’t do family things, go separately for Christmas to their different families. But I have always seen that as dysfunctional. I think that the way my parents and in-laws divided their time and “did the time” for the other spouse was more normal, or more noble, or something. Still, if it’s not that way now, it’s not that way.

I gotta sleep so I can get back to the hospital in the morning. Thanks for listening to the rant.


My mother’s in the hospital getting blood

Why the long radio silence from me? My mom has been getting weaker and more short of breath every day. Her doctor did blood work last Tuesday, but her appointment wasn’t until today, so even though I called his office, no one would tell me a thing. I suspected there was a problem other than her asthma/COPD, as the meds for those (new ones) were bringing her oxygen saturation up to 99%, but she still couldn’t walk across the room and get her breath.

She has had an upper GI bleed and has lost blood over the past few months. She has six units of blood . . . less than a large cat. So today when we got to the doctor’s office, they put her in a wheelchair and took her over to the hospital and checked her in. Finally! I had suspected this would be necessary. They’re giving her the first of three units of blood right now.

She has an ulcer, and it has been bothering her since she took steroids. She had this once before, years ago, and had to have a transfusion like this. However, that transfusion was before her bout with colon cancer. So they’re going to do a scope and have her swallow the camera (and go up the other way, as well) tomorrow or the next day. She’s getting three units of blood, each taking four hours, and that should be in by tomorrow morning. Her sciatica really acted up while they had her down to take the X-rays and draw blood, too. But now she’s settled in with the blood dripping in. Looks pretty scary, but I know it’s the right answer.

As always, she asks for your prayers and positive energies. For whatever reason, I’m not really scared at the moment, because she is FINALLY getting some treatment. I’ve been begging all the different specialists for three weeks to decide on something and just fix it. They changed her various medications, but that wasn’t the problem! Aarghh! At last, though, we’re getting somewhere.

I’ve been going along as if I’m going to get to take that free trip to New York City to be in that contest. I still feel as if I will be able to work that out. But not if she’s sick and has some larger issue. As it is, I’ll have to convince someone from the family to come house-sit, as I will (would) be gone from the afternoon of Dec. 1 to the evening of Dec. 9, and if Hubby goes with me, as I hope he will . . . then someone else has to be here. The dog is also neurotic and someone has to take care of him and feed him, as well. (We’re already going to be spending money on the trip and can’t swing a kennel–and he doesn’t do well away from home.)

Well, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll still get to go. But that isn’t the top priority right now.

I have a good feeling, so I’m goin’ with that. The tests tomorrow will be stressful–oy!!–and she’ll be exhausted. I’m already exhausted, and my feet hurt. This builds character. My character is way overbuilt already!

Thank you in advance, etc., &c.

NaNoThin’ but a NaNo Update-O

9706 / 50000 words. 19% done!

I have some introspective stuff in there that people will likely want me to cut, but whatever. It’s what April Bliss is thinking. What a name, huh? One of her earthly burdens to bear. Her sister June is another. . . .

Hmm-m-m. Writing fiction can reveal things about the author that the author doesn’t keep at the surface, things that, really, the author would just as soon not know.

1) When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don’t let her brush your hair.
2) If your sister hits you, don’t hit her back. They always catch the second person.
3) You can’t trust dogs to watch your food.
4) Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.
5) You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
6) Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
7) The best place to be when you’re sad is Grandpa’s or Grandma’s lap.

1) Fixing teenagers is like nailing jelly to a tree.
2) Wrinkles don’t hurt.
3) Families are like fudge: mostly sweet, with a few nuts.
4) Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground.
5) Laughing is good exercise. It’s like jogging on the inside.
6) Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy.

1) Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
2) Forget the health food. We need all the preservatives we can get.
3) When you fall down, you wonder what else you can do while you’re down there.
4) You’re getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster.
5) It’s frustrating when you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.
6) Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.
7) Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.

1) You believe in Santa Claus.
2) You don’t believe in Santa Claus.
3) You are Santa Claus.
4) You look like Santa Claus.

At age 4, success is . . . not tinkling in your pants.
At age 12, success is . . . having friends.
At age 17, success is . . . having a driver’s license.
At age 35, success is . . . having money.
At age 50, success is . . . being at your career pinnacle.
At age 70, success is . . . still having a driver’s license.
At age 75, success is . . . having living friends.
At age 80, success is . . . not tinkling in your pants.

# # #
Let us forget the difficult issues of the day. It is time for us to take a little breath and stop fretting. Rather let us concentrate on such eternally important rules/questions as, “Should the internal loop of the paper clip go on the front or back of the clipped sheets?”