Monday, August 31, 2009

One Hundred Plus

The cattle on the ranch down the way are massed together and motionless under giant oaks, the cedar are dying everywhere, and I'm carrying an extra bottle of water to wet down the steering wheel after I've had to park in the full sun.

Will this summer never be over?

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Spoonful by pureed spoonful I feed him, soon remembering how to turn the spoon just so, to scrape up the extras that didn't quite make it off his lip and get them into his mouth on the next try. Coaxing, cooing. Once a skill is developed, one never forgets it.

Just as I fed my babies, now I feed my father.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Rose by Any Other Name

Romance writers are always looking for a formula, a template, a golden list of do's and don't's that will lead them down the yellow brick road to publishing Oz.

Through the years, Fio has noticed a number of strange pronouncements--such as that an author should never use any dialogue tag other than "said". Apparently a current mark of Cain is the so-called cliche, as in "Let's get down to brass tacks," a figure of speech which Fio used in one of her recent contest entries.

Now, Fio's contest entries have been doing quite well lately so she isn't going to raise a ruckus with the judges, but she will vent a little spleen.

So said, let's get down to brass tacks.

Languages don't work by dictionary definitions alone. Over time, people work out clever ways to say things and they stick to them because these semantic constructions have become part of the language--everyone in the culture understands them. We call these figure of speech "idioms." The line between an idiom and a cliche is very fine. In fact, the line, if it exists, probably devolves down to this: if the figure of speech irritates you, it's a cliche.

I doubt if "Let's get down to brass tacks" was especially irritating. I suspect the situation was more that some conscientious person was trying to apply an unyielding template.

But it is impossible, Fio thinks, to judge the worth of a story by a set of rules. There are certain guideposts along the way, like the lamppost in Narnia, but the author has to figure out the rest of the way herself.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Ten little pills I take each day,
Five white, two orange, one pink, two gray--
To keep me healthy, brain and bod,
Ten little miracles of God.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reality Confessions

Okay,okay, after her rant of yesterday, Fio admits she watches some reality shows herself, notable the dwarf shows, the one about the Roloffs in Oregon and the one about the newlywed couple in Houston.

But what she enjoys about them is their normalcy. Sure the Roloff boys are hard to get up in the morning, sure Matt is an egomaniac, sure Amy's house is a mess--but Fio's sons were hard to rouse also, and Fio herself is something of an egomaniac, and she'll take Amy's messy house in preference to Kate Gosselin's squeaky clean house any day. Now, sometimes the newlywed dwarves' overabundance of cash is irritating, but Fio enjoys watching how they (especially 3'2" Jen) cope with living in a world too tall for them.

On the other hand, Fio has also been following Toddlers and Tiaras, about which nothing is normal.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Peep Show

That does it! We have become a nation of exhibitionists and voyeurs!

I read in news this morning that the Jackson family will be featured in a "reality" show. Yes, Joe will be making more money off Michael dead than he did alive.

Because we have too many channels and too little programming, our airwaves are full of the travails of Jon and Kate, the sleazy adventures of Hugh Hefner's girls next door, horny men sizing up dates. Have we no taste, no shame? For heaven's sake--our CHILDREN watch TV!

Bring back Leave It to Beaver. It may not have been reality, but it was at least a decent role model.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Questionable Snippets

Why does Michael Jackson's family keep delaying his funeral? Do they think he's gonna rise again?
How long do you think it's gonna be till The Sun runs a story saying that Michael faked his death, that he's actually living in Nova Scotia under a different name?
Have you noticed how the media, which previously delighted in running the most bizarre photos of Jacko they could get, are now using the ones that are more flattering? Think they're afraid he might pull a THRILLER on them?

Monday, August 24, 2009


I've got to tell you something that has me all excited--and a little anxious. That NJ contest I finaled in has asked me for a head shot. I don't have one so tomorrow Husband is going to stand me up against the wall and shoot me--oops, unfortunate wording--and take my picture. But I'm still considering sending a very old picture of myself (so old that I'm young in it) or a picture of my beautiful daughter. Or maybe a picture of Michelle Pfeiffer, whom I'm sure you all have noticed I strongly resemble.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Eye, the Hand

Younger Son and Fio are planning to paint together sometime this week while he is visiting from California, where he is studying at Pasadena's prestigious art college. Yes, in another one of her past lives, Fio painted portraits professionally.

She hasn't painted for years, though, and decided to look over her supplies to make sure she had some decent brushes left--which of course, she didn't, so she'll drive off to Hobby Lobby later this morning to buy whatever is cheap.

Which brings her to her comment for the day. There are some very nice, very expensive brushes on the market, but Fio considers them to be for the tourist trade, wannbes who are just visiting their artistic side. It isn't the brush that's important--it's the artist.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Batten down the hatches--Fiorella has been thinking philosophically again.

This is not the best of all worlds. It is a place of hardship and sorrow, of cruelty and injustice. That is the reason, she thinks, why religions propose a life AFTER death, be it streets of gold, sexual delights, a blending with the universe, or comporting with mythic heroes.

Whatever, it's an escape.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Recently Fiorella confessed to friends Carol and Ashley that it took her three years of YWCA swim classes, at ages six, seven, and eight, to learn how to float on her face. She just couldn't trust the water.

She did get the hang of floating on her back right off, though, but she always had to keep sculling because otherwise her legs would sink lower and lower until she was virtually upright in the water. Apparently even back then her feet were heavier than her head--which gives one pause.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Calling Esther Williams

Fiorella went swimming for the first time in years the other day, in a friend's pool. Well, actually, it was more like she hung onto the side and talked to friend Ashley, who also hung onto the side while they both watched friend Carol, who dived into the deep end and swam a couple of lengths without even breathing hard--but then, it was Carol's pool.

Fiorella doesn't own a standard swimsuit anymore so she put on a pair of red, white, and blue plaid seersucker shorts and a red T-shirt with an American flag on the front of it and called the outfit her drugger--er, Dugger modesty swimsuit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Can't Take It with You

Dad's hearing aids (two pairs), belt, glasses, and now his false teeth have gone by the wayside in various nursing homes. Now I understand why they say we go out of this world as naked as we came into it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

As Go the Boomers . . . .

Viagra and Cialis, facelifts and anti-aging creams, new treatments for Alzheimer's and familial tremor, hearing aid shops on every corner, older admen on TV, older lovers on TV . . . .

The baby boomers still dominate the national scene.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Choosing Feathers

Fiorella is a nestbuilder. The girl can't help it.

In college, she and Roommate Cornelia designed an African room, with spears constructed by Roommate's brother, dorm chairs recovered in leopardskin print, and bedspreads a coordinated orange. Her nestbuilding since then has encompassed, in turn, a small duplex, a rent home, and three family homes. She's still going strong; however now she's into fireplaces, leather sofas, and Persian carpets.

But Fio's nursing home of the future had better beware. She may revert to spears and leopardskin any second.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


People believe what they want to believe.

Some people insist the Holocaust never happened. Others insist that George W. Bush was the best president ever. Still others say the moon landing was filmed in Arizona.

And Fiorella describes herself as young, slender, and beautiful.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Coming Soon to Your Bookstore

Fio has been reading about Dick Cheney writing a book attacking his former boss.

We used to have a dog that kept attacking Husband--sent him to the emergency room twice, the last time with his hand looking like hamburger. We finally had the dog put down.

Give you any ideas, George?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Night Life

Visited Dad yesterday morning and noticed his current roommate's name was off the door and his bed was all made up. Checking with an aide, I learned Mr. Laurentzen had died over the weekend.

That makes four of them--George the klepto, Joe who never talked, the army hero whose wife and daughter visited, and now the music lover. Daughter's theory is that, during the night, her grandfather has been sucking a vital life force out of them. I think she's been reading too much Twilight. On the other hand, it is odd that Dad, at 95, has outlasted FOUR of them, three of them younger than he..

Maybe he's determined to have a private room.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New TV

Older Son and his wife introduced me to a TV show that is probably familiar to everyone else, but new to me--America's Got Talent! I enjoyed the old-fashioned variety show concept as opposed to American Idol, which showcases only aspiring singers.

Two of the judges are just fine with me, Pierce Morgan and Sharon Osbourne, but I have to turn away from the TV when "The Hoff" comes on. He's over the top. How about replacing him with Paula Abdul?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reaching for the Brass Ring

Fiorella had a wonderful time at her RWA meeting last night (which by now you should know stands for Romance Writers of America). The crowd was large and noisy, the speaker was funny and inspiring, and Fio was feted to the skies for finaling (RWA-speak for making the final cut)in her third writing contest so far this year.

Yes, your Fio is on her way.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Back to Jon and Kate again. Groan.

Fio has been thinking. No wonder their marriage went south. Kate has her standards-- and they're higher than anyone else's. Jon has his standards too--and they're lower than anyone else's.

Never the twain should have met.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Return trip

Fio takes it all back about American Airlines. The trip back home was a dream--smooth sailing, no bumps or grinds or tight squeezes this time. And, to top it off, a nice AA employee got Fio and Husband tickets on an earlier flight from Dallas to Austin so they didn't have a three-hour layover in Big D.

Fio doesn't mind eating crow when it tastes this good.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Time Squeeze

Fio's writing late today
Not that there's nothing left to say
Rather there's so little time
That all she offers is this rhyme.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Celebration Time

Yip, yip, yip and hip hooray--
I'm flying high as a kite today
'Cause I got word from New Jer-zee:
My vampire's in the topmost three.

Yes, Fio's bloody vampire novel is in the finals of the New Jersey RWA's "Put Your Heart in a Book" contest! Celebrate with her/me!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cold Dawn

Truth dawns when I rise in the early morning
Before anyone else in the house is awake,
When I am alone with just enough light
Through the slanted blinds to see my way,
When I am alone with the nighttime silence,
When I am alone, alone with myself
And the bittersweet memories of my dreams.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Info and Tips

Basically, I entertain myself with Fiorella, and anyone else who wants to tag along for the ride is welcome.
My fictional heroines are inside me; yours are inside you. Different people will write the same story differently--which is why plots can't be copyrighted.
Fio gets high on writing. It sucks her in like a drug. And she resents it when she has to come out of her highly-charged fictional world for such pedestrian chores as laundry. Let them eat cake.
A word to the wise: one can do only so much with sex in a romance without getting perverse, boring, or ludicrous.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Obvious

Question: Why do baseball players clutch each other's rear ends?

Answer: Because they don't have breasts.

Reaction: BADA-BING!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tight Squeeze

Greetings from Minnesota, where the living is easy. Yes, the temperature is in the 60s, the windows are open, and the air smells good. Fio is in hog heaven.

Can't say Fio enjoyed getting here. American Airlines has leg room only a Roloff parent could love, she and Husband were separated by three rows, and her way-at-the-back seat provided her a magnificent window view of a crack down the right engine casing. The plane also provided unnerving sound effects when the flaps moved and the wheels were let down. Husband, an airplane afficianado, noted the rusty, oil-stained flaps had a small piece of metal dangling loose.

And we're scheduled to return home on the same airline. Pray for us.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Fiorella Einstein

Fiorella has a theory. It came to her in the middle of the night as she massaged her left foot to assuage pain in her right foot.

Remember reading about those two sub-atomic particles that originated as one which, when separated, mirrored each other's reactions to stimuli (rotating in tandem, etc.)?
Well, Fio's theory is that the two are still attached even as they are separate because they are not subject to time constraints: their history is also their present. Maybe they are too primitive, maybe too advanced--maybe they are time itself.

Fio is ready to graciously accept her Nobel.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Last Time We Saw Paris

Jon and Kate are now old hat,
Michael Jackson's wearing thin--
Our tabloid news is getting dull--
Hey--how's ol' Paris been?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Touch

Fio has been waxing nostalgic lately so she thought she would tell you about the (one and only) time she was hailed as an electronic genius.

It was years ago when computers were first being used to tally school board election results. Several of us were gathered around a screen that had the first returns on it. Everyone knew more vote results had come in, but no one knew how to make the screen advance safely--we were all afraid that one wrong move would cause us to lose the data.

Fio was just as ignorant as everyone else, but Husband wasn't, and she remembered from watching him that "enter" was always a safe bet. So, like Moses parting the waters, she reached her arm across the gathered throng, down to the keyboard, and pushed "enter."

The screen advanced and everyone turned and looked at Fio with worshipful wonder.

I guess some of us just have the touch.