Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thoughtful Gift

Fio had a delightful time playing around in the snow yesterday. Elder Son and his wife gave it to her as a Christmas present.

Oh, not the kind of snow that falls from the sky and covers the ground. It's a chemical concoction that expands into semi-packable stuff with the addition of water.

It's the kind of snow that love provides.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Obama calls it a catastrophic security breach. Fio calls it life.

It's impossible to set up a perfect security system because human beings are involved, and human beings are notoriously fallible

The great thing is that human beings also foiled the Christmas bombing attempt. Bureaucratic checks may have failed, but individual airline passengers took the initiative and handled the situation quite well.

One point against us, one point for us.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Now You Know

Now you know some of the inner workings of Fio's scrambled brain.

Sorry about that, but Fio didn't check her site after she posted yesterday morning and didn't realize that most of her notes, which she keeps on the blog by assigning them a future publication date, had been published. She's spent the last half hour deleting them and assigning dates a year off to the others.

If this makes no sense at all to you, ignore it. Fio probably doesn't make much sense anyway.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Treacher's Credo

1) Meet the students where they are
2) Prepare, prepare, prepare
3) Keep a steady course
4) Be wise, be kind, be fair.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Puzzling Time

Fiorella has set up the card table and is working on a 750-piece jigsaw puzzle of Dubrovnik. All those red roofs and blue waters--aargh!

Jigsaws are Fio's secret addiction, her own private crack. The puzzles take time, patience, and a good eye. Fio would like to think of them as metaphors for life--that if one is clever and diligent, everything will work out.

But right now Dubrovnik is driving her crazy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Political Rant

It's the day after Christmas and Fio is tired and feeling grumpy so she's going to rant a little.

LAY OFF OBAMA! During his campaign, he told you what he wanted to have happen, from bringing our soldiers home from Iraq to instituting universal health care to to fixing the economy. And now he's being criticized for not waving a magic wand and accomplishing all those things in less than a year.

NEWS FLASH--he's president, not king. It takes cooperation and time for all these things to happen, and there are people out there who are literally praying for the worst possible outcome just because it's more important to them for Obama to fail than the country prosper.

Jesus was crucified for his endeavors. Let's not do the same to Obama.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Dress

Fiorella's parents didn't speak of love. In fact, they were deeply suspicious of of people who did. We were supposed to be a tough lot, practical to the bone, holding no truck with the softer emotions.

Practicality meant that Daddy sacrificed his creamy white tennis flannels for Mother to cut and sew for my Christmas dress. Practicality meant that the only decoration on the dress was the red and green yarn which Mother painstakingly backstitched around its square neck and cap sleeves.

After all, it was just after World War II and good fabric was hard to come by, much less nice Christmas dresses for little girls.

My parents may not have spoken of love, but they lived it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Written in Stone

Every day, after Husband comes in from taking Wendy Dog for her walk, I notice a new collection of flints washed and drying on a paper towel beside the sink.

Husband has never been that crazy about flint, but he knows I am, so he gathers it for me, like one of those birds that courts his mate with pretty stones.

Thus I know I am beloved.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Greek Guidance

I learned everything I know about pacing from Sophocles.

Remember Oedipus Rex? First off, the townspeople come to King Oedipus and detail how everything is going to hell in a handbasket. "I know," says he, "and I've sent my bro-in-law, Creon, off to consult the oracles at Delphi (the local psychic hot line) to find out what's coming down. Oh, look--Creon's just gotten back!"

How's that for a quick five minutes of script?

The story builds and builds, with the the audience catching on quickly. Finally, at the climax, Oedipus learns what everyone else has long since figured out and the denouement is swift. His wife/mother hangs herself while he skewers his eyeballs with the pins from her robe.

And that's the technique my romantic novels are based on. Less the blood and gore.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Gratitutudes

Fiorella is at peace this morning, and she's going to tell you why.

1) She's grateful that all three of her offspring want to be with her and Husband for Christmas, even though it means thousand mile journeys.

2) She's grateful that all three will insist on attending church on Christmas Eve, even though some no longer attend any other time of the year.

3) She's grateful that she and Husband can house the two out-of-towners with no problem. In fact, if push comes to shove, they can even set the third one up on the couch.

4) She's grateful that she had the time and energy and determination to decorate early enough this year that everything was finished in time to do leisurely shopping.

5) She's grateful that she and Husband have enough in the bank to pay for Christmas.

6) She's grateful that the weather is cooler and thus more comfortable--exciting even.

7) She's grateful for firewood from the acreage.

8) She grateful for her writing successes this past year.

9) She's grateful that Husband's health has held steady.

10) She's grateful that her sons' machinations led her into rediscovering art this year.

11) She's grateful for e-mail, through which she's reconnected with her extended family.

12) Finally, she's grateful for Fiorella, who provides an outlet that keeps her semi-sane.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Update

Four days before Christmas and one son is here
Another, with wife, is on the way
Daughter has said that she'll arrive
Early on Christmas Day.

Brother, his wife and mother-in-law
Will be joining us when we dine
All in all, from start to stop
We total up to nine.

I promise we'll be a merry crew
And hope your Day will be fun too
Merry Christmas to us, Merry Christmas to you!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Morning

'Twas five days before Christmas and all through the house
The decorations were up, the tree was alight,
The dinner was planned, the gifts were bought,
The rooms were cleaned, the bathrooms bright.

How different from usual, was something wrong?
Or is this how NORMAL people have lived all along?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Caroling, Anyone?

The voice is everyone's own personal musical instrument, the one we are are all born with. In olden times, singing was often the only form of entertainment people had.

What's going on nowadays? What's happened to singing? It's given way to the I-pod. We've become a world of listeners rather than doers.

How sad. There's so much joy in singing, alone or in a group. Fiorella grew up in a singing family and tried to pass the tradition on to her children, but she's noticed that the number of singing venues available seem to decrease year by year.

Welcome to the mute world of music.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Iago and Montresor--Twins Separated at Birth?

Fiorella has been thinking literary again. In a past life, she taught English Lit, and it's all still roiling around in her brain.

In particular, she's been thinking about the story construction in which the villain tells the story. Shakespeare used this plot device in Othello, with Iago announcing in the very first scene that he was a dirty dog and was going to bring the noble Moor to his knees. Poe did the same thing in "Cask of Amontillado" when Montresor tells us from the get-go that Fortunato is in for it.

Hmmm. Wonder if Fio could set this up in any of her own stories.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Historical Precedent

There's always been tumult and trouble, ever since the world began--nation vs. nation, parent vs. child, brother vs. brother, husband vs. wife.

As Tiger Woods has demonstrated once again, we're all animals underneath our skins.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fio-stradamus Predicts:

Fiorella is fascinated by the currently stylish notion that the world will end in 2012 because the Mayan calender leaves off at that date.

Now, in the first place, the Mayan world itself ended a long time before 2012--more like 1697, when the Spanish subdued the last Mayan stronghold. In the second place, even during Fio's lifetime, the world has survived a fair number of similar disaster predictions. The first one she remembers was back when she was in the sixth grade and the local Davidian sect said the Apocalypse would occur on May 27th. Fio was a little nervous walking home from school that day, but nothing happened.

The most recent prediction was at the turn of the millennium, when everyone was stocking up on dehydrated food and bottled water.

Nostradamus is usually pulled into all these messages of doom, but he's vague enough to be used for anything. Natural catastrophes and socio-ecnomic political upheavals are also cited as proof of the coming whatever, but think about it--there has seldom been an era in the history of the world in which there WEREN'T natural catastrophes and socio-economic/political upheavals.

Actually, Fio thinks what we have to be wary of is a time that no one has predicted and all is going well. Sort of a surprise package.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On a Personal Note

Younger Son's birthday was on the twelfth so Fio is running a few days late in mentioning it. But then YS was two weeks late himself.

Yes, he was born two weeks overdue and weighed eleven pounds, seven ounces. You read that right--not seven-eleven, but eleven-seven. YS was so big that the newborn diapers were too small and the nursery had to send out for the next larger size.

Fio has gotten a lot of satisfaction using her own personal factoid to stop other women's big-baby-boasting in its tracks, but she's gotten even more satisfaction seeing YS grow to (normal-sized)adulthood, decide on a career of his heart, and pursue it with everything that's in him.

Happy Birthday, WNLB.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Clinton, Cosby, Edwards, Clooney

Why did Tiger do it? Because, as Bill Clinton explained about himself, he could.

Success is power, and power is a a psychological pheromone. Women are drawn to it.

But remember, guys--in the end, you're just a trophy, a gold-plated notch on a bedpost.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas ANNIE

Fio and Husband drove off through the winter darkness Friday night to see ANNIE at Georgetown's Palace Theater. The show was an enjoyable respite from the pressures of the holiday season. Sometimes constructing glittering deer, climbing the ladder again and again to adjust a recalcitrant cardboard bird, and discovering the dog has eaten all the candy canes gets a little old.

The cast was huge, although it was fun to spot the same actors showing up as different characters from time to time. To complicate matters, there were three different casts, probably because of the large number of children involved. Fio has no idea which cast she saw because she forgot to bring home her program, but she was impressed that the girl who played Annie, who has to carry the show, didn't flub a single line, sang on pitch, and kept her smile going.

Of course, everyone's favorites were the character roles, like Rooster and Lily. Fio adored the Hannigan-Rooster-Lily "Easy Street" combo.

In the back of her mind, Fio was still running the movie, which was richer than the play. First off, Carol Burnet owns the Miss Hannigan role, and there's little any actress can do to take it any further. Second, the movie added in other iconic characters, like Punjab and The Asp. Third, the movie featured dog Sandy, while the play uses him only for two scenes, then drops him like he's been carted off to the pound.

The theater was stuffed, SRO, which was a bit claustrophobic, but Fio survived. About a third of the audience gave the play a standing ovation, but Fio and Husband remained in their seats. ANNIE was enjoyable, nice holiday fare, but not spectacular.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Einstein's Brain, Yours, and Mine

Fiorella has some clips in the back of her to-write tablet about scientists slicing through the bumps and furrows of Einstein's brain to find out how he came up with E=MC2.

That's nonsense. It's not what he thought with that was important, it's what he thought. Focus is the key, and that's in the personality--nature shaped by nurture. Just enough obsessiveness to get the job done, not enough to land him in the local shrink's waiting room.

The people Einstein hung around with were also key. They always are. Think of Shelley-Byron-Keats and their crowd. Think of today's political Tea Parties. Think of homicidal motorcycle gangs. Interest groups support and empower their members.

Which is why Fio finally joined Romance Writers of America.

I think her brain is safe from post-mortem examination.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Gratifying News

Fio has been grousing and grumbling about the amount of news space given to Tiger Woods' sexual shenanigans lately, but she should be grateful. That means Al Qaeda hasn't blown up any more New York skyscrapers, no huge airplanes have crashed, mass murders have been kept to a minimum, and that Britney, Lindsey, and Paris haven't come up with any new, even more shocking, behavior.

For all of which, Fio gives thanks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Paper Dreams

Has Fiorella ever told you about Mrs. Ruebright, her kindergarten teacher? Armed with that most wonderful of all devices, a stapler, she could make anything out of paper.

Fio remembers how honored she felt when selected to try on Mrs. Ruebright's prototype Pilgrim lady's hat and apron for the Thanksgiving program.

Yes, Mrs. Ruebright was an inspiration to Fio, which is why Fio requested a stapler for Christmas when she was six years old.

And why her Christmas halls are always decked with boughs of paper.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Don't Eat the Kleenex!

Wendy Dog, I know it's hard
I know that you have issues
No squirrels to stalk, too cold to walk,
But please don't eat the tissues.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

O Tree of Green Unchanging

Fiorella had promised Husband that this year we'd discard our old fake Christmas tree and get a real one. So we looked around a little.

But the real trees seemed puny in contrast to our steel-armed fake one, they were quite expensive for one time use, and Husband was nervous about transporting one of them home on the top of his shiny new car. Besides which, there's be all that business of straightening the tree in the holder and keeping the water bowl full.

Yesterday evening, Fio started reconstructing Old Faithful.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Recipe

No more parties, no more sweets,
No more tastey Christmas treats--
Times have been too good of late
And Fiorella has gained weight.
So stay away from her, beware--

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Planting Deer and Other Tails

Fiorella had a wonderful time yesterday planting deer.

Yes, she is putting up Christmas decorations, and yesterday she tackled the outside stuff--the deer, the small fake tree on the front porch, and the snowflakes in the real tree out front.

The stag was the hardest one to deal with, of course--you know how men are. Finally Fio commanDEERed a sharp stick, malleted it into the ground, and attached his leg to it. Stability at last. The two does were more amenable, although both had mental problems--one had lost her head and had to be reconnected, and the other had developed a bobble in her head when she moved it up and down to graze.

The lights on the fake tree had gone out so Husband drove off to Walgreen's for a small supplementary string. He also picked up more silver garlands. Fio drapes them from branch to branch along the driveway, to make visitors feel more welcome.

The snowflakes were the most fulfilling. Husband and Fio worked together. He went up the ladder and she disentangled each glittering flake and handed it to him. Then she went up the ladder and tied a big red velvet bow around a branch above a patch of mistletoe. Then he kissed her.

Fio likes Christmas.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Aching Dogs

It's a wonder Fiorella didn't give birth to three-horned monsters. After all, she spent half her childhood staring into the ghostly green hues of the x-ray machine in local shoe stores, checking out the fit of her Mary Janes.

So it's no wonder that her feet hurt like heck this morning. All those rays must have done things to her bones.

And for those of you who don't know what Fio is referring to, x-rays were chic in the first half of the 1900's--until the technicians' fingers began falling off.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Predicted rain--
Rain came.
Predicted snow--
No show.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

News Coverage

Is it just me? I couldn't care less that Tiger Woods is having an affair or that Meredith Baxter has decided she likes women.

On the other hand, I'm really glad to read that Susan Boyle's first album hit it big and that Roman Polanski is still under arrest.

Personal is personal but justice is justice.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fair Enough

Husband is not much for throwing things away. I'm not sure he understands the purpose of waste baskets or trash cans. On the other hand, he hasn't dumped me either.

I guess I can handle garbage duty.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Little People, Big Problems

All of that reality show money seems to make for bad bedfellows. Will Matt and Amy go the way of the Gosselins, or are their current marital troubles just a ploy to rev up interest in their aging show?

They've always had their differences, of course. Matt is egocentric and, discounting Amy completely, can justify anything he wants to do as being for the family. Amy used to be somewhat blustery and preachy, but that's calmed down as time goes on, at least in front of the camera. Now she's just syrupy and disgruntled.

The episodes this season have shown them becoming increasingly estranged. Is divorce in the future? When they had a young family to take care of and a strained budget to boot, they were more likely to pull together. But Jeremy and Zachary are heading off to college next year, Molly has blossomed into the most mature person in the family, and Jacob is finally coming into his own.

Fio hopes the Roloffs will work out their differences. No more solo flights, Matt. And Amy, learn some grammar--if you say "for he and I" one more time, I'll leap through the plasma and throttle your little dwarf neck.