Friday, December 31, 2010


Fio is endlessly fascinated by the constant stream of slick-paper catalogs that stuff the mailbox every day. Not fascinated by what's IN the catalogs, but by the fact that they actually exist, and apparently prosper.

When Fio was a child, her mother bought a lot of things by mail--the Sears, Roebuck catalog, to be exact. Everyone did. Then the malls proliferated and the catalogs died. Now it's mail-order again, and we all do a lot of ordering on-line.

What's old is new, and what's new is old. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Down to Earth

Fiorella caught a documentary the other night on the thirteenth birthday of the McCaughey septuplets. You remember them, the first set of septuplets to survive infancy. They were all over the news thirteen years ago, but you rarely hear anything about them now. And that's how their parents want it.

Kenny and Bobbi Mccaughey are remarkably well-grounded. He works full-time outside the home, and she works full-time in the home, feeding her family of ten on $300 a month by thrifty grocery shopping, growing all their vegetables, using a meat co-op, and cooking, cooking, cooking. They still attend church, and their kids do too.

Fio's sure they have their ups and downs, but, all in all, the family seems to be healthy, happy, and thriving.

Too bad one can't say that about the Gosselins.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Life as Fio Sees It

It's not just crossword puzzles--Fio also adores jigsaw puzzles. In fact, if she looks a bit bleary-eyed, it's because she's been working on one for two days now during her post-Christmas break.

Jigsaws, to Fio, are representative of life. All the pieces are there; she just has to put them together right. Time, effort, and a good eye--that's all it takes.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Peace in 2011

Brought up in a church that talked more about sin than grace, Fiorella always felt "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others" hanging over her like a cloak of doom.

But the petition is really quite comforting if one thinks of it as a prayer that we all be forgiven our blunders and stupidities even as we forgive others theirs. It's a plea for peace.

Mother was good at that, living in peace. She grew up with her own mother's relatives not speaking to each other for various reasons, but, as an adult, refused to shun people herself, even ones she was mad at.

It's a matter of always leaving the door open. A matter of grace.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post Christmas

Fio just ate three cookies left over from Christmas, the ones Daughter calls crack cookies because they're so good they're addicting.

You know the ones I mean, those soft sugar cookies that are ubiquitous in the supermarkets and drug stores any time of the year. The ones whose icing and sprinkles vary by the holiday and sports season. The ones that never get hard or crumbly.

Hmmmm . . . . Wonder what sort of chemical actually IS is them?

Sunday, December 26, 2010


As Fiorella told you, she was a little blue just before Christmas. Then, on Christmas Eve, after a little party at the home of Daughter and boyfriend, she and Husband drove off to church with Daughter, Great-nephew, and Brother and wife. The service consisted mostly of carols.

Fio used to have a good voice, but she has been having trouble singing for the past several years, more especially since the open-heart surgery. However, on this year's Christmas Eve she sang--and sang well.

Fio is in ecstasy. Surely, if God cares enough to restore Fio's voice, he will also be generous to those whom she loves.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Winter Dawn

The naked trees define themselves anew
As separate from the slowly lightening sky
And dark clouds fade to gray and then to blue
While one lone brilliant star hangs high.
The sky turns bright, yet deathly cold and chill
But in the winter forest far below,
A single branch moves slightly and is still
As morning's warming blush begins to glow.
Suddenly, through the band of winter trees,
A spark, a glint of gold, a burning fire
Reflects its yellow in the oaks' live leaves,
Escapes the woods' confines, and rises higher.
The sun has risen. Welcome, joyous morn,
For night is dead and Christmas Day is born.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Blue Yule

It's the evening before the day before Christmas, and Fio is a little blue. Where is the picture book Technicolor Christmas season she's always wanted to be part of? The parties and caroling and holiday activities? Why does she receive fewer and fewer cards every year? Where is everyone? Where are the children?

Is this the way it is for everyone, or is it just Fio?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fio's Obsession

Okay, Fio will admit it--she's addicted to crossword puzzles. Which means that when she and Husband packed up for California last weekend, she bought a puzzle book and stuffed it in her carry-on so she wouldn't have to quit cold-turkey.

She worked crosswords in the airport, on the plane, when she couldn't sleep at night, and when plans got scrambled and there was nothing else to do. All in all, it was a forty-two puzzle trip. And when she got home, there were five newspapers awaiting her so she clipped all those puzzles out for a rainy day.

One-across is Fiorella. One-down is fanatic.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Fiorella's sick and tired of pop-up ads on the internet, especially the ones with sound tracks. And of the unremitting stream of sex ads on her e-mail--viagra, penis enhancers, Russian women who want to strike up conversations with her. Not to mention the "replica" watches, discount drugs, Nigerian financial opportunities, and quickie college degrees.

Whatever happened to the promise that computer communication would enlighten and educate the world?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mighty Fio Strikes Again

Even Fiorella is amazed at her super powers. Less than a week in California, and she practically destroyed the place--rain, snow, mudslides. Apparently Fio's mere presence can screw up not only electronics, but also weather.

Just think what might have happened if she'd stayed there a month.

Monday, December 20, 2010

LA in Brief

Her second day in LA, Fiorella nearly destroyed a rabbit-headed, peacock-tailed, angel-winged byzantine ostrich charmingly concocted by Younger Son's friend Pam. Trying to snuggle up to the cutie, Fio bumped it off balance. She grabbed for the neck to stabilize it and the head came off in her hands. Fio was aghast at what she had wrought, but Pam said it was repairable. (Thank you, God.)
Fiorella does not like the protective glass imposed over artwork in museums such as the Norton-Simon. Not only does light glare off the glass, but the barrier muddles the depth. The paintings look flat, dead--dead and embalmed. Fio thinks paintings should be allowed to breathe.
If you haven't gotten an e-mail you were expecting from Fiorella, it's because she seems to be able to receive messages, courtesy of the motel's hook-up, but not to send them. Chalk it up to either Fio's electronics-negating super power or the Rocky Mountains.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Girl in the Swirly Skirt (end)

Finally he got out and raised the hood. Maybe the poor thing had died of old age. A sudden breeze hit him and he shivered.

Reaching into his pocket, he realized his cell phone was still sitting on the kitchen counter in his apartment. There wouldn’t have been anyone to call anyway. It looked like he going to be spending Christmas Eve huddled in his broken-down car in the mall parking lot. He’d never felt so lonely in his life.

A low-slung MX-5 pulled up beside him.
“Need a ride?’

Rem looked up so quickly that he banged his head on the open hood. It was the girl in red again, but this time she was smiling.

“That--that would be great,” he stuttered, rubbing the back of his head.

“It’s the least I can do after giving you such a hard time. I’ll just call my mother to tell her what’s going on.” She reached for her cell phone and unlocked the passenger door. “Hop in.”

He crammed himself into the tiny two-seater and buckled the seatbelt.
“Hi, Mom. It’s me. I’m taking Remington home so I’ll be a little late for dinner. His car won’t start.”

He stared at the girl. “How did you know my full name?”

She laughed, put the car in gear, and headed out of the lot. “Remington Villalobos: tall, blond, chemical engineering major with a radiant smile. You were on my list.”

“Your list?”

“I’m your third mystery shopper.” She stopped at a light and fixed him with her own radiant smile. “I’m Meredith Montano. The mall hired my mother’s firm to ride herd on cart employees, and she asked me to check you out. I was really stinky and you did a great job. You can have a nice Christmas Eve on that hundred dollar bonus I’m about to give you. What are your plans?”

Rem moved his hands in a gesture of futility. “Nothing, really. I’ll just sit around and watch some TV.”

“You’re going to be alone for Christmas Eve?” Horror was in the angel’s voice.

“Well, yeah.

“Just a minute.” Meredith pulled to the curb and got on her cell phone again.

“Mom? Set another place for dinner.” She winked at Rem. “I’m bringing someone special home to meet the family."


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Girl in the Swirly Skirt (continued)

“No, no,” she complained. “It has to be orange.”

“Here’s an orange one that has a soccer ball on the front.”

She grimaced. “I don’t like that one. How about the one with the soccer player on it? Do you have that one in orange?”

“No ma’am, I’m sorry. We’re out of the orange shirt in that design. Maybe after Christmas.”

She glared at him. “That would be a little late, wouldn’t it?”

“Maybe your brother would like a cap,” he suggested, trying to save the sale. “We have several designs available.”

“No, I don’t think so.” She gave him a contemptuous snort, stuck her cute little nose in the air and walked away, her red skirt swirling around her.

Rem blew out his breath. Nasty customers were part of the job, but pretty girls should act pretty too. What a disappointment. His Christmas angel was a devil from hell.

Three customers later, it was time to leave. He locked up, tucked his hat in his pocket, and walked out of the mall into the Christmas Eve darkness.
The weather was a little brisk, but his old Chevy was parked close enough to the door that he didn’t need a jacket. He unlocked the door and slid in, turned the key, lost the engine, then tried again.

And again.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Girl in the Swirly Skirt (continued)

Rem took a few minutes to straighten his stock in preparation for closing. Suddenly, there she was, right in front of him, the girl in the swirly skirt. He waited a couple of minutes, then approached her with a friendly smile. “Looking for something special for tomorrow?”

She didn’t even glance at him. So much for his fatal charm.

“I need a T-shirt for my thirteen-year-old brother,” the girl said, pulling an orange shirt out from the bottom of a pile Rem had just straightened. She glared at the shirt, sneered, then stuffed it back into the wrong display. “Don’t you have, like, anything decent here?”

“Uh, what size does your brother wear?”

“Medium, of course! He’s just thirteen!” she answered, her dark eyes flashing. “Don’t they give you people any training at all?”

Rem told himself to stay calm and professional. Maybe Angel had had a bad day. “What are his interests—sports, computer games, skateboarding?”

The girl looked at him like he was crazy. “What does that matter?”

“Because then I might be able to find something that would work for you.”

She rolled her eyes upward as though trying to locate patience. “He’s into soccer. He lives and breathes soccer.”

“Let’s see what we have.” He walked the girl around to the other side of the cart and presented a shirt for her inspection.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Girl in the Swirly Skirt

There she was again, his Christmas angel, the same girl he’d seen yesterday and the day before. A real hottie--slender but curvy, with a cloud of shoulder-length dark hair. Today she was wearing a red dress with a skirt that swirled around her like dancing flame.

Rem watched the girl’s progress down the center of the mall. Probably doing some last minute shopping before an evening of holiday partying.

His own Christmas Eve was going to be spent alone. This was his first year in grad school, his family lived half a continent away, and he hadn’t socialized much. In the long run, he knew the straight A’s were worth it, but right now all he could think of was the pretty girl in the swirly skirt.

He checked his watch. Another half hour and his temp job selling t-shirts would be history. Some of the other carts had already closed, but he was keeping Treasure Chest open till the last minute. The mall management sent mystery shoppers around who could write him up for leaving early.

Rem touched the two gold buttons pinned to the rim of his Santa hat. The third button, the one that would have given him a bonus, had eluded him. One never knew who the mystery shoppers were, but Rem was pretty sure his third one had been the guy who lectured him yesterday about the wages paid to garment workers.

“Garment salesmen aren’t paid much either!” he’d finally told the man, who’d stormed off in a huff.



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Cool Yule

Sparkling ice is cold and slick, I know,
A driving hazard lurking in the gloom,
And, lovely in the dawn, the pristine snow
Turns to dirty slush by afternoon.
I know the winter winds rush swiftly by,
To chill the hands and chap the scarfless face,
And that the sheep-backed clouds that graze the sky
Will block all travel for the holidays.
But I am tired of the constant glare,
The usual boring sky, banal and blue,
Iced tea, short sleeves, and artificial air,
Last summer and her laggard retinue
Just a little winter, God, I pray--
Just a little frost for Christmas day.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Leave It at Home, Santa

There seems to be a lot of talk about 3-D television lately, but Santa can leave that one in his pack as far as Fiorella is concerned. She doesn't like the feeling of having spears thrown at her or blood gushing out at her. In fact, truth to tell, Fio, who is all too empathetic, prefers a little separation between herself and whatever drama she is watching. In fact, she'd often prefer more distance from her own life.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Looking through the stores this Christmas season, Fiorella has noted that little girls' clothes aren't as slutty as they used to be. In fact, the skirt length of children's dresses is just below the knees, and the dresses themselves seem to reflect an earlier era. Women's clothes too seem more, let us say, "classic".

Maybe the sleazy look had gone about as far as it could go.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

So Big

Today is Younger Son's birthday, and Fio will follow a long-honored family tradition and tell you about the day he was born. Younger Son was two weeks overdue and, we knew, a big baby. So big, in fact, that--well--he got stuck, and Fio was wheeled into the operating room for an emergency C-section. So big, in fact, that the nursery's newborn diapers were too small for him and the nurses had to send out for the next larger size. So big, in fact, that visitors would look their the window at their babies, then say, "And look at THAT one."

Not 7-11, but 11-7. Eleven pounds, seven ounces.

Happy Birthday, big boy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


The Nutcracker Doll may still be broken, as was the refrain in the recording of Tschaikowsky's ballet that Fiorella heard as a child, but Wendy Dog is in top-notch form. After Husband left for work yesterday morning and before Fio got up, Wendy invaded the pantry, pulled down a bag of walnuts, cracked them open with her mighty Weimaraner teeth, and left a trail of shells throughout the house.

Fio learned what had happened when she walked downstairs and her foot crunched on one of said shells, then another. Even after a thorough brooming, she's still discovering hidden caches.

Fio would punish Wendy with a lump of coal for Christmas, but she'd probably eat that too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ground Out

Fiorella was quite pleased that she was able to stake her four Christmas deer into the ground firmly this year--you know the kind, twenty bucks (heh heh) apiece at HEB. But apparently their time had come and gone--only two of them would light up, the front end of the stag and the rear end of a doe. And the doe was the only one who would work.

It figures. She's a woman.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

To Help, Not to Rescue

Friend Janece, a psychologist, explained it all to Fio. She says Fiorella is a born rescuer, as indicated by some of her dreams, and that Fio should consider pulling back. Helping is okay, but out-and-out rescuing is not good for Fio or the object of her attentions.

It's like the old Chinese adage--Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PC vs. Biology

Political correctness has reached the level of absurdity. Recently Fio read that former politico John Edwards "fathered a child WITH his mistress," a physical impossibility and an incorrect idiom. First, it's impossible for a child to have two biological fathers, especially if one of them is a female. Second, a man fathers a child ON his mistress not WITH her.

Which reminds Fio, she often reads or hears of a husband announcing that he and his wife are pregnant. Nice try, guy, but unless you're Schwartzeneggar or trans-gender, that's impossible. SHE is the one who is pregnant. You merely, uhm, fathered the child.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Farewell Matt and Amy. Fiorella will miss the gorgeous photography, the LPA conventions, Jeremy's girlfriends, Zach's soccer games, Molly's good sense, and Jacob's . . . well, Jacob.

She won't miss Matt's ever-increasing megalomania. In the final episode, he railed at the family for not taking care of the house and farm the way he thought they should. Yes, after building a monument to his own glory, Matt wants everyone else to maintain it. But what else did we expect from Matt Roloff? Remember when he set up the international dwarf soccer team in his name, and then, the second his foot hit European soil, scooted off for a fun tour with Jeremy, leaving Amy to pick up the pieces?

The hook for the last episode was that the Roloffs might sell the farm. Actually, Matt was using the threat to manipulate Amy and the kids into take over more responsibility for the monster he's created. It worked, supposedly, because at the end of the episode, Zach and Jer pledged to help more, in addition to their college classes and part-time jobs.

However Fio couldn't help but wonder about Molly and Jacob. Amy kept talking about "the boys" growing up and leaving home, as if the twins are the only kids in the family. Did she and Matt even consider their two youngest when they were prancing around to various mansions they might buy if they sold the farm? Did they really want to uproot Molly and Jacob from their home and school? Fio thinks M and J need to grow up on the farm like their older brothers did. Especially Jacob, the forgotten child who longs so desperately for his brothers' attention, his father's approval, and his mother's notice. Thank goodness Molly is there for him.

As a final note, Fiorella has some advice for Matt. First, see a shrink and get some pills. You're going around the bend. So what if Amy's car splattered oil on the driveway? That happens to driveways all the time--that's what they're there for.

Second, don't expect Jeremy and Zach to follow in your footsteps. Just because you were independent at age twenty doesn't mean they will be. They're in college, which you weren't.

Third, hire a staff. Not just a flunky to do the footwork on your projects, but a couple of maids and a gardener. Don't expect your children to act as your servants.

And a note to Amy: don't get so involved in saving the world that you forget about your two kids still at home.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Blues

Fiorella has always done Christmas up grand decorating-wise. Not a wall, window, door, fireplace, mantel, or table was safe from her. But this year she's lagging a little. Who is there to enjoy and appreciate her creations?

After all, Fiorella, Husband, Older Son and his wife, and Daughter will be celebrating an early Christmas while in California to attend Younger Son's college graduation. And if she gave a party when she and Husband got home, no one would come because she lives too far out.

Maybe next year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December Fifth

Mother was the prize of her family, the first one to go to college. After graduating as valedictorian, she became a high school teacher, married a man who didn't drink, and made a safe, secure home for their children.

Her own childhood had been less stable, with the family moving every year or so as her father picked up and lost various jobs. He was an alcoholic, which made life hard.

Mother was determined to give her children a better childhood, and she did. Thank you, Mother, and happy birthday.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Ever-fertile Brain of Fiorella

The ever-fertile brain of Fiorella Plum is stimulated by sleep. Her theory is that sensory deprivation concentrates the brain. She also gets brilliant ideas while driving, which she explains as her subconscious roving while her conscious mind is involved in getting where she is going.

Husband's explanation is that Fio is crazy and that she'd better start paying more attention to what is happening on the road or she's going to send their insurance rates up again.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Royal Engagement

Some critics seem horrified that Prince William will not be marrying a member of the nobility, but Fio thinks the royal family will benefit from the infusion of a little common red blood into the rarefied blue.
Judging by how his sons have turned out, Charles seems to have done a far better job as a father than he ever did as a husband.
Elizabeth must be thanking her lucky stars that Kate has a classic name. Just think what the royal family could have ended up with--Princess October.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hope Blooms

Fio hasn't washed her hair in a week, hasn't fixed dinner for five days, and can't sleep at night because the dialogue keeps running through her head. She's been concentrating on polishing off a manuscript for a big national RWA contest. And when Fio, concentrates, the rest of the world disappears.

It may pay off, it may not. Fio's given her full attention and effort to a number of projects through the years that haven't panned out. But one of these days . . . .

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Real Xmas

I've placed the proper plastic on the door
And wound the newel post with ersatz holly;
I've bought some flavored cookies at the store,
Commanded all the children to be jolly.
I've flocked the tree with simulated snow
And stained the mirror glass with cellophane;
I've stacked some carols on the stereo
And sprayed ice pictures on the windowpane.
I've listen to the store-front Santa's tale;
My duty gifts are underneath the tree;
My hundred slick-faced cards are in the mail
Signed "love" with holiday sincerity.
My halls are decked with manufactured zeal,
But the Christ Child in my Christmas heart is real.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lost Lives

Is it that we're hearing more about them now, or are miscarriages more common than they used to be?

Just in the past year, Cousin Hannah's daughter, Friend Sharon's daughter, and Friend Pixie have lost their babies. Friend Catherine had a tragic stillbirth. The number of similar accounts these last two evoked from RWA members was amazing.

Fio's first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, and, at the time, she thought she was the only one in the world. No one talked about it back then. Now everyone does.

And Fio thinks it's good. She still mourns the baby lost, and sometimes dreams about finding a forgotten baby dead in a crib (sorry to begin your morning with that picture). Now she can share her sorrow. We all can.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Fio spent most of Sunday morning writing, then dressed herself up to drive into Austin with Husband and celebrate a belated Thanksgiving and Brother's belated birthday.They had such a great time with Family that it was almost evening before Fio opened up her laptop again.

Suddenly that last chapter, which had looked like a breeze in the morning, now looked like a monster, a Frankenstein's monster. Fio quailed, then gutted up and dived right into the mess.

When she closed her computer up for the night, she had four good pages. Four good pages and her confidence back. Out of the groove and back in again.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nose to the Grindstone

Thank you, Emily.

Fiorella was impressed when you told the RWA meeting how quickly you write under pressure.

Then came her own moment of truth. She wanted to enter Princess of Bosque Bend, the first thirty pages of which had just won single-title in New Jersey's "Put Your Heart in a Book," in the big National RWA contest for unpublished novelists. The entry fee was due the next day, but the deadline for submitting the entire manuscript wasn't due till two weeks later. Should she risk it? Fio wrote Princess twenty years ago and has been slowly revising it over the past several months. There were still six chapters to go.

Gritting her teeth and channeling Emily, she threw her hat in the ring. Focus, Fio, focus. She intensified her schedule, putting the newspaper aside for later and cracking open the laptop right after she got up in the morning. She let piano practice slide to the evening, preferably after eight, when she knew her brain was too shot for writing any more. When she had to go out for an appointment, she ran off the chapter she was working on and edited it while she was waiting. And when she got stuck, she didn't put the manuscript aside, but forced herself through the problem, no matter how much printing, editing, printing, editing it took.

Husband understood Fio's mission and supported her, staying quiet while she was concentrating and taking on extra responsibilities around the house.

And Fio, like Emily, has triumphed. The entry is due in on Thursday, which means Fio has to get it to FedEx it on Wednesday. Today, Sunday, she has nineteen chapters complete, with just one to go. She'll write four thousand words by nightfall and stand in awe of herself. That leaves her Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday till 7:00 PM, Fed Ex's witching hour, to review the entire manuscript.

Thank you, Emily.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ups and Downs

It's hard living in this world. Sometimes it seems like there's nothing but sorrow and hard times. Not just in Fio's life, but also in the lives of people around her.

Fio used to think she was the only one having it bad, that other people's lives were halcyon. In fact, their lives gave her hope--maybe one day, things would look up for her too. Then her friends' lives started going down.

But sometimes, like today, she awakens to a beautiful dawn.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Reality of Writing

Fiorella studies successful romance authors for style. Beside her, as she sits on the leather couch in the den and writes, are favorites by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard, and Jane Ann Krentz.

From grade school on, Fio's been a good writer. In fact, she's published in poetry, short stories, and journalism--massively in journalism. But every genre is different, and Fio's working on mastering the romance novel. It's a matter of story-telling combined with presentation. Fio's always had the stories, but trends in presentation are tricky.

So is getting an agent.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mirabella Speaks

Fio's older sister, Mirabella, says that no matter how young her hairdresser swears she looks, the cashiers at Long John Silver's give her a Senior Discount without even asking.
Mirabella said that when she first started reading the comic strip Cathy, she and Cathy were the same age. When the comic strip ended, Cathy hadn't aged a day, but Mirabella was the age of Cathy's mother.
One more thing. When Mirabella was young, you could tell how close you were to Christmas by the number of cards in the mail box. Now Mirabella counts her catalogs.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fly Away with Me

Fio has a wonderful idea for a political cartoon, and she will donate it to anyone who wants to draw it.

Picture this: a busy airport terminal. A person in a security uniform is handing a belt and a pair of shoes back to a man who has obviously just been patted down. The man leans against a guard rail, his eyes half-closed, smoking a cigarette. The caption over his head reads, "Was it good for you?"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TV on the Fly

Caught a few minutes of SP's Alaska--didn't realize Sarah was so sappy. Think I'll vote for Tina Fey.
Couldn't help but dwell on Sister Wives for a bit while Mr. Macho was tossing his new bride around on the sands of Waikiki. Uh--how does he pay for a Hawaiian honeymoon and, at the same time, support four other women and a gazillion children?

Between the polygamists, the Duggars, and the many women who are childless by choice (Joy Behar's show) the variety in the world's DNA is diminishing.
Little People, Big World is one of the few shows Fio watches all the way through--irascible Matt, scrappy Amy, the kids: tall Jeremy, little Zach, the girl, and the forgotten fourth child. Jacob has long been relegated to the role of tag-along, and now they're wondering why he lacks self-confidence.

Not only that, but with the two older boys growing up and leaving home, Matt and Amy are closing down the show. Maybe to divorce? That's the speculation among Fio's friends. Friend Sharon pointed out they never seem to do stuff together anymore.

Of course, they don't. Remember when Matt set up his own team for the international dwarf games, then shoved the responsibility for everything all off on Amy?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rock Around the Clock

You already know that Fiorella is a rock hound and collects flint, but now she's taken it one step further. She's lining her newly-repaired driveway with rocks to prevent any future erosion. Where does she get the rocks, you ask--well, Fio lives in the hill country, or, more properly, the rock country, and they are all around her.

Yes, all Fio has to do is pick up her little rock hammer and trot a yard or two off the driveway to gather a wheelbarrow load. Well, not really a wheelbarrow load because Fio, a dainty creature, couldn't push that much weight--just enough to let her edge a yard or so of the drive at a time.

Time, though, may be a problem, because Fio's driveway is 180 linear yards long, and she wants to line both sides of it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Collision Course

Husband, something of a clothes horse, dressed stylishly for his presentation last Thursday--black jacket of Italian wool, monogrammed Land's End button-down, coordinating slacks. In fact, he looked so good that Wendy the Weimaraner decided to kiss him good-bye. Her paws hit his shoulder and her snout hit his lips. The kiss rapidly turned into a dance, then a stumble. As Wendy did a full body hug, Husband stepped into her water bowl.

Husband put Wendy outside and went upstairs to change. Black wool, water, and silvery Weimaraner hair are not a good mix.

Newly outfitted, he slid into the driver's seat of his Mercedes and backed out of the garage, totally unaware that it was raining and his sun roof was still open.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bristol, Kate, Joan

One thing Bristol has proved: Palin fans are blind, deaf, and--uh--dumb, but also stubbornly loyal. And they vote.
Fio heard that two of Kate G's sextuplets were expelled from their private school's first grade. So much for her having the most perfectly disciplined toddlers ever seen on TV. Can't wait to read the tell-all book twenty years from now.
Speaking of over-the-top blondes, Fio caught Joan Rivers on Fashion Police the other night. Apparently she and The Joker patronize the same plastic surgeon. But at least she's funny--I think. Like Chelsea Handler, another over-the-top blonde, she laughs so hard through her own punch lines that it's hard to tell.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Manna from Heaven

Yesterday morning Fiorella rushed to the front room to find out why Wendy was barking so furiously at the window, and, before her very eyes, two young deer ambled down the driveway and grazed on acorns as a squirrel, also eying the acorns, peeked at them from behind a tree.

How dare they! Those are Wendy Dog's acorns!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pat or Scan

About this airport pat down thing--it's unworkable. Male checking out male and female checking out female is not enough. There are also gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, transvestites, transsexuals, hermaphrodites, and Lord only knows what else out there. In order to receive a hands-on from an appropriate patter,travelers will have to declare their sexual orientation, and so will the patters. Think about it.

The full-body scan won't work either. Theoretically, it's anonymous, but we all know a copy of the scan would be whipping around the airport faster than mach 10 if there were a celebrity or a particularly interesting physiology involved.

What we need is a more sophisticated profiling protocol.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Feelin' Great!

Fiorella woke up slowly, feeling great. The sun was filtering through the shades just right, and she'd slept all night long. There wasn't a ache, pain, or bad dream to mar the morning.

Happy as a lark, she did her early morning chores, read the paper--at least the comics--aced the crossword, then worked four anagrams in less than a minute. And she's on schedule to finish re-editing her novel for submission to a big contest.

In fact, Fio's pervaded with a feeling of optimism and joy. And she's not going to spoil it with "what if's."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bzzzzzzzzzzzz . . . .

There's always a skeeter lurking about
Who thinks it will be fun
To lance me with her venomous snout--
SWAT, SLAP! Got another one!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sheer Cussedness

In a way, Sarah Palin is an inspiration. For sheer gall, she takes the cake. What does it matter that she can't get out a coherent sentence, that she's ignorant of world affairs, that she resigned her governorship in mid-term? She's still in there plugging, insisting her way is the way, that everyone else is wrong or lying, that complicated problems have simplistic solutions.

You gotta hand it to her for her never-say-die attitude. Fio does admire focus and perseverance.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

First Fire of the Season

The weather's been getting colder, but Fio's urged Husband to hold off on making a fire because she didn't want to use any of the precious wood he's filled the wood rings with. How can one eat one's cake and have it too? But last night was THE night.

Husband brought in some light kindling which Fio had gathered and stacked in a metal set of shelves she fashioned from an old fireplace screen, then started the fire and went back outside for more substantial kindling. Wendy Dog tried to escape out the door as Husband handed the kindling to Fio, which caused Fio to accidentally snag him with a sharp stick. With the blood dripping off his hand, Husband pushed the dog back in the house and carried in a load of logs. The fire's blazing now and it's beautiful.

Oh, Fio forgot to tell you what Husband used to start the fire initially. You guessed it--some discarded pages from Fio's latest romance novel. Yep, Fio's love scenes are flammable.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Music to Its Ears

When Fiorella went outside yesterday to glory in the driveway repair and maybe pick up some flint in the bargain--the new dirt that had been brought in was rife with it--two deer peeked at her from out the wildwoods.

Fio froze still as a statue in the middle of the driveway, then started talking in a soft, singing voice, trying to assuring the deer she was friendly. One of them ran off, but the other one remained in place, as still as Fio, as she explained that she was a mother and would never hurt it. Only when she stopped talking did the deer dash off.

Ah, Fio's voice has soothed a savage beast.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sweet Susan

One of the nicest moments of my class reunion was when Susan Stringer told me she'd always thought I had such nice skin. "And you still do."

I wanted to tie her up, pack her into the trunk of my my car, and take her home with me.

Ah, Fio, your vanity knows no bounds.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Carry On!

Today Fiorella will be running late--
Must be out of the house by eight
So drink your coffee, please don't wait.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


You know those mornings when Fio leaps out of bed a-rarin' to go? Well, this isn't one of them. She presented the program at her monthly writers' meeting last night, talking about writing contests in general and her own experience in particular, and didn't get to bed till midnight.

The talk didn't take that long, but the self-evaluation afterwards did. Fio should have relied more on notes rather than text, should have arranged the material better, should have elicited more audience participation, should have described that nasty critic by saying her flying monkeys must have been giving her a hard time.

The good lines always come to you two hours later.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Acorns splatter the ground, we've hauled out the blanket for the bed, the shadows are long across the driveway, and all the wood rings are full.

Surely this is the very best time of year.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why Fio Watches HGTV

Husband leaves the room when Fio tunes in HGTV.

Why does she watch it? Because it's an oasis from the world of TV drama. No one is killed or raped or maimed. There are no sudden booms, no gushes of blood, no eviscerated bodies. Everyone is asininely sweet to everyone else.

It's also an oasis from the real world.

Husband reads his Nook, Fio watches HGTV.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Speaking of Wish Fishes

On Fio's wish list for Christmas is a vacuum tube transportation system between Georgetown and Austin. She's sick and tired of driving 35-55 minutes into town and back again.

But how would she get around once the tube delivered her to Austin? Hmmm.

On second thought, just give Fio a gift certificate for gasoline.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Political Tidbits

Fiorella is fascinated by criticism of Nancy Pelosi that centers on her appearance. Male politicians are usually judged by their politics.
Fio read somewhere that the Tea Party is secretly funded by Osama bin Laden in an effort to disrupt the American political scene. It's working.
In an effort to avoid the religious wars that plagued Europe for centuries, the founding fathers defined the United States as a secular entity. And various groups have been working to overturn that decision ever since.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Greek to Them

Fiorella has been brooding. A fellow attendee at her class reunion let it slip that "they" used to make fun of Fio for using big words that none of them had ever heard before. Embarrassed, Fiorella explained that she probably picked them up from reading, that she had no idea people didn't understand what she was saying.

Thanks goodness Fio met Husband, who also has a large vocabulary. Otherwise she might have pined away in maidenly seclusion, wondering if her deodorant had failed her.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Get Real

There's a rather tiresome thread on a national romance writers' loop right now about "the rules." Not the rules pertaining to the loop--that one was two months ago--but the supposed rules of writing, like not using adverbs or "be" verbs and never switching point of view.

What it all pertains to is people wanting absolutes, paving stones in the yellow brick road, Arthur Murray dance steps, a golden template.

But, in reality, the process is all relative. "Be" isn't a "weak" verb unless it's overused. Adverbs ending in -ly are just fine unless they're every other word. (A note here: many writers who jowl on about this topic don't seem to realize many adverbs, such as "now" and "ever," don't end in -ly.) And the only problem with POV switches occurs when they aren't done well.

For heaven's sake, people. The name of the game is seducing a reader, page by page, chapter by chapter, book by book. Skillful storytelling is more important than "writing right."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Generation Gaps

Almost forgot to tell you something funny that happened a couple of days before Halloween.

While Fio was a sitting in the doctor's office, an older woman signed in at the desk, eyed the receptionist's white fright wig and said, "Tell me about it."

"I'm Lady Gaga," the girl answered. "Uh--have you ever heard of her?"

Not an hour later Fio was standing in line at a Hobby Lobby register behind a young woman who spread several peacock feathers out on the counter, explaining to the clerk that these were for her Halloween costume.

"Who you going as?" the gray-haired clerk asked. "Sally Rand and her seven fans?"

The young woman looked at her blankly.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Fiorella is re-editing an older manuscript to get it ready for contests,and sometimes she needs inspiration. Usually she starts leafing through works by current authors, like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, to get herself into the swing, but yesterday she picked up one of her old favorites by Georgette Heyer.

Georgette Heyer was the woman who invented historical romances. Her plots were clever, her backgrounds meticulously researched, and her characters intriguing. Fio figured she could learn a lot from ol' Georgette's style and started skimming Venetia. And, forgetting that she had her own oeuvre to work on, didn't put the book down until two hours later.

Now, that's a style to learn from.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Milky Way Went That-a-way

Come Halloween, Fio and Husband had candy in the house, which they rarely do anymore. Too much candy, as it turned out. Fio ended up with so much chocolate in her that she couldn't get to sleep till 2:00 a.m.

She'd bought the candy a week before--four bags of small Milky Ways (Fio's favorite), four of Snickers (Husband's favorite)--and neither she nor Husband had a single piece of it until the appropriate day. Then they both scarfed down a bag each, leaving six bags total for trick-or-treaters, who only accounted for two. That left four bags hanging loose. Fio packed them up and sent them off with Husband for his staff to enjoy at work today.

Next year we cut down to six bags, maybe four. The whole situation was weird, anyway. Fio wasn't getting much out of the Milky Ways--somehow they didn't taste as good as they used to--but she still kept on eating them, sort of for old times sake. Egad--maybe all that healthy eating Fio has been doing lately is finally taking effect.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Happy Halloween, everyone!

Fiorella celebrated the holiday by attending her high school reunion in Waco Friday night, and it was scary. All logic to the contrary, Fio expected to walk in and find everyone else looked just like they did in high school, while she looked . . . well, like she does now. But, guess what? All of her former classmates looked older too. In fact some of them even looked older than Fio.

So there was no trick, but there was a treat.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hello, World!

On Thursday, October 28, Fiorella emailed a cover letter, a synopsis, and her full manuscript to an agent who'd requested it. Then she heaved a great sigh of relief and began to awaken from her coma. Yes, Fio has been doing very little but working on her magnum opus for the past two weeks.

But that's what it takes. Total concentration.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Out of the Closet

Fiorella's been hearing a lot about breast cancer lately, which is amazing. Amazing not in the fact that she's seeing more pink than she ever knew existed, but that she's hearing people actually use the word "breast."

During Fio's formative years, nice people said "bosom" if they said anything at all. We can thank Betty Ford for getting us over that nonsense. She not only talked about her own breast cancer, but made it respectable. I'm not sure what Gerald Ford did during his presidency, but his wife certainly was a winner.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Well-done Death

Mother died right. She informed everyone she had just six months, gave away what she wanted to give away, cleaned the house, and went through her desk, putting all papers in order. Fio also presumes that she destroyed what she didn't want anyone to see.

It's a good thing Mother was industrious because she didn't have six months--she had two. But we were all there at her deathbed--Father, Brother, Fio, Husband, offspring--and she knew it.

After she died, Father, Brother, and Fio opened her closet to select funeral clothes. There, on the inside of the door was a navy blue dress with an appropriate necklace looped around the neck of the hanger.

Mother died right, but then she did everything right. As for Fio, the klutz, when her time comes, she'll probably screw it up.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hide Me from the Trees

Basking in her recent writing contest win in the Garden State, Fiorella is printing out one of her romances for a final read before sending it off to an agent who's requested it. It's more than four hundred pages total, which means Fio personally has denuded more forests than Paul Bunyan ever dreamed of.

And she's got three other novels in the closet and two others planned. The Efts are coming for her any day now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Save Rocky!

Lock up your pets. In his ever-increasing mania to experience every aspect of life, now Matt Roloff is talking about killing his dog because it's old and might be in pain.

For heaven's sake, give the poor old pooch some aspirin and pamper him a while. Get him a cart for his rear legs, if needed--you have the money. But please don't shoot him. What sort of message does that send to your audience--that old dogs are open season for target practice? And your idea of having Jeremy,your alter ego, do the deed is even worse. Don't ask your kids to do stuff like that.

Sure, as you keep saying, they shot the dog in Old Yeller, but that was more than a hundred years ago, and the dog was rabid. We still shoot rabid dogs today, but we give docile old dogs a tender good-by at the vet's office, telling them how much we love them as they depart this world.

Be careful of the precedent you set, Matt. After all, you're getting old and infirm yourself.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Neanderthal Dreams

Anthropologists now say Neanderthals contributed up to four percent of our genome and, except for their thicker bones, protruding foreheads, and stockiness, were much like us.

Fiorella is thrilled. Years ago a bone scan showed her skeleton to be freakishly dense (no comments about her head, please), and, after a juvenile growth spurt that made her the tallest in her class, she ended up short and stocky. Prominent foreheads run in Husband's family.

Maybe putting Fio and Husband's genomes together, their children ended up with six percent Neanderthal. Fio is doubly thrilled!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Fio and Husband put on their glad rags and drove into Georgetown to justify their Palace Theater season tickets by taking in the first production of the new season, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.

The theater was stuffed to the gills, mainly with roe. Yes, every child in town was either in the audience or on stage. Obviously a G-rated production, but Fio doesn't need French farce to keep her happy so she sat back to enjoy the show. After all, how can one go wrong with Rodgers and Hammerstein, Fio thought, as she and Husband hummed along to the pre-show music, selections from Oklahoma, South Pacific, and other R&H Broadway hits.

Fio knew the original Cinderella, written for TV, had been a flop, but assumed it had been reworked for the stage. Apparently not. There was some awkward updating of the dialogue, but the story was a pastiche of stereotypical characters, attitudes, and situations, and there wasn't even one memorable tune to alleviate the misery.

The director seemingly couldn't decide whether to present the story as a fairy tale or as an eighties' sitcom, resulting in fake Disney. Fio expected the teapot to start dancing and singing at any moment. Most of the actors were very young, and the impression was that one was watching a high school play with elementary school extras. Only when the adults appeared--the king and queen, the stepmother and stepsisters, the preachy fairy godmother--did the play really come to life. The one exception was young Nick Orzech as Lionel. He's an old pro with a great voice who knows how to command the stage.

There were technical problems too. The first act was so loud that Fio kept her fingers in ears the whole time. The costumes were okay, although Fio questions the decision to swathe all the main characters in white for the wedding scene. But the hair was awful. Judging by the plenitude of ill-fitting, kinky, platinum blond wigs,
Cinderella lived in California.

On the other hand, Fio was totally impressed by the use of scenery on the small Palace stage, particularly the rotating platform as Cinderella was on her way to the ball. The use of lights was nice too, especially the dawn scene and the filter that produced the effect of light dappling through trees.

But Fio wants to pick a few bones with some of the singers. The kid playing the Prince seemed to be a nice young man, and his voice shows promise, but IT NEEDS TRAINING. He must learn how to place it for resonance because otherwise he sounds flat. Also, Cinderella and the narrator had hints of a country-western twang that seemed inappropriate to the fairy tale.

Fiorella almost didn't return to her seat for the second act because of the smoke in the air, apparently from fairy dust. If she dies of mesothelioma within the year, Husband will know whom to sue.

While the show wasn't Fio's cup of tea, the children in the audience seemed to enjoy it, and that was what was important. Fio's not crazy about a two-hour long singing lecture, even for children, but it's certainly more appropriate than The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, at which Fio saw far too many children in the audience.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Picketing Project Runway

Fiorella takes back everything she said about how well Project Runway has manipulated its plot this season. Michael C, the hero, was killed off in the next to the last chapter, leaving Gretchen, the villain, to rule the roost. Yes, just in real life, the good guy got screwed. Fio immediately switched off the TV and will not watch the finale next Thursday evening.

As an author herself, she promises you she will never do that in one of her romances. True life is true life, but we all deserve fiction.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weimers Rule!

Our Wendy is a sweetie dog
Who understands her place--
On pillow soft, on couch or bed,
Being patted on the head,
Lazing on the bathroom rug
Or licking at my face.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Underwear Freak

There are many things Fiorella can understand people getting a sexual rush from, but wearing underwear that doesn't fit isn't one of them. Yet Col. Russell Williams, a Canadian air force up-and-comer, committed two murders, two sexual assaults, and eighty-two break-ins in order to obtain the underpants of girls as young as eleven, then videotaped himself wearing them with--uh--everything overflowing.

Not only horrible, but weird.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Heavy Mail

Just twelve Christmas catalogs yesterday? What's wrong with us?

Fio remembers when the only holiday catalog she received was from Sears. Now it seems that everyone and their dog is sending one out. In fact, she recently received one that catered only to dogs. Fio would like to see that order placed.

What she really can't understand is how the postal service is going broke. Sure, no one writes personal letter anymore, but the postage on all those catalogs should have taken up the slack and then some.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Winter Dreams

Fiorella and Husband walked the driveway yesterday, looking for dead trees. It's that time of year again, and they need to fill the firewood rings before it gets too cold to run around chainsawing and stacking. Last year, they used far too much boughten wood to please Fio, who likes the romance of living off the land.

Besides, we may actually have a winter again this year, with freezing temperatures and real live snow. Naw--in my dreams.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Writers' Alert

If you want to see how to plot a story and engender reader sympathy for your main character, watch and learn from Project Runway.

Yes, a fashion show.

This season's major conflict has been between the humble Michael Costello and the arrogant Gretchen Jones, and they're not going to end up in each other's arms. She talked smack about him early on, rallying the troops around her, and even after Michael C won two challenges in a row, she continued to badmouth him. But one by one, her compadres who were dumb enough to follow her design advice were eliminated.

Then the villain resurged even as our hero sank to the bottom in the last three challenges. The viewer saw Gretchen embracing her mother, Gretchen weeping as she talked about the financial bind she was in, Gretchen wondering if Michael was an idiot savant or just an idiot. What would happen next? Would Michael C be eliminated and Gretchen stomp on his corpse?

Like a theater audience cheering on Indiana Jones during a chase scene, viewers sent encouraging notes to Michael on Project Runway websites, apparently unaware that the whole show had been filmed and edited for plot months ago.

But while there may be no justice in the world, it prevails in every decently-crafted story. The hero and villain have to stay around till the last hurrah. So Michael rose to the last challenge, and both he and Gretchen will be in the final chapter. Forget the other two guys in there with them. One of them may cop the top prize, but they're minor characters in the drama.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Deep Fried

There's a lot of talk about deep point of view right now, and, as far as Fiorella can see, nobody does it better than Susan Elizabeth Phillips, which is why Fio keeps a copy of Heaven, Texas by her side while she writes. If Fio's chapters seem to be bogging down, she delves into Heaven for a page or two and gets herself into gear again.

Fio's read prescriptions for writing deep POV, which is basically getting so far into the character's viewpoint that one is practically writing first person, but there's no substitute for feeling how to do it so that it flows naturally.

The oil's boiling. Dive in.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Buy This Book!

Sorry. Fiorella is late today. She had to get her act together early this morning and dash off to the local book store to read the sonnet and flash fiction short story she'd contributed to FLASHES OF FEAR, the little book put together by members of the San Gabriel Writers' League (available at

Being the first reader, she ended up employing her organizational skills to set up the scene, grabbing the microphone before the show began to hawk the book to the local populace. It meant she ended up with an audience of three--Husband, Friend Mike (awaiting his turn at the mic), and his wife Diane.

But that's better than none.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Broomstick in the Corner

They kept the witch. They had to. A good plot never defeats the villain until the last reel. Thus Gretchen Jones made the final four on Project Runway, even though her outfit was ghastly. April Johnston, a weak sister from the very first, was finally eliminated for AGAIN designing a sexy Halloween costume.

The other three finalists are Michael C, Mondo, and Andy. Michael C, in effect, won the challenge. Yes, the same Michael C about whom Gretchen earlier in the show had commented, "I don't know if he's an idiot savant or just an idiot."

Maybe he's just a nice guy loaded with talent.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Given the frequency Fio critiques TV shows, you probably think she spends all her time watching the boob tube, but actually she has only a few favorites: the country dwarves and the city dwarves, Project Runway, The Choir, and Income Property.

Income Property features Canadian Scott McGillivray, who transforms people's cruddy basements into high-dollar income property. It's fascinating. Fio's always liked before-and-after stories.

Now, if she just had a basement.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Pain, the Glory

That manuscript Fio thought was perfect--now that she's had a request for the full from an agent, she's completely reworking it. And it's amazing how much time editing takes. Two days and she's just done four chapters. But then, she's been fighting off armadillos in the meantime.
Did Fio tell you two of her entries placed first and second in a romance-writing contest? It's a real thrill, but contests are always a crap shoot. Critiques are subjective, of course, because the judges are real live human beings. In the same contest, one judge told Fio her entry had too much internal dialogue and description while the other judge said she needed more of both. Fio figured they balanced out and she was just right.
Fio writes romances with the hopes of a lucrative career, but she dumps whatever else she's thinking about into this blog. Thus she analyzed Project Runway's current dramatic set-up here a couple of days ago ("Gretchen is Hitler, Ivy is Goebbels, and Michael C is a hapless Jew"). Well, wonder of wonders, she was plowing through a Project Runway-based site and discovered her blog in a prime spot! National recognition!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To Age or Not to Age

British actors are odd in that they actually allow themselves to age--and continue acting till they die. It's just that their roles change.

Take three grand dames who appeared together decades ago in a TV performance of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. Judi Dench ("M")appeared as Titania; Diana Rigg, later to gain fame as Emma Peel, played Helena; and Helen Mirren, AKA Queen Elizabeth, took on the role of Hermia.
Now they play senior citizens

American actors, on the other hand, try to cling to the type of roles they first had when they hit Hollywood--young roles. And discreet trips to the friendly neighborhood plastic surgeon accommodate them. Think of Demi Moore, Pamela Anderson, and Priscilla Presley. And names like Jennifer Anniston, Eva Longoria, and Angelina Jolie are following suit.

Then there's Betty White.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Simplicity Itself

A psychiatrist put Fiorella on happy pills once, but Fio defeated them--when her life was going well, she was happy; when it wasn't, she was depressed. And that's the way it still is. Fio has a very simple nature.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Lives for Old

Some people have the knack for re-inventing themselves. Fiorella has known three extreme examples: Carolyn, Sue, and Andrew, all academics.

Carolyn changed her last name by marriage at least three times, then changed her first and last names legally, then changed her last name again by marrying again. Her personality went to the extreme as she became a guru of metaphysical enlightenment.

Sue was deliberately deceptive, adopting a British accent and letting her colleagues think her degree from a Canadian university called Oxford was from THE Oxford. It worked. Academic males go gaga for a British accent. Too bad she couldn't bring herself to pay her daughter's piano teacher.

Andrew who'd started using his middle name after an investment scandal, reinvented himself as a philosophy teacher. He imitated the behavior of other academics, got in good with everyone, and was up and coming until someone discovered that he didn't have the advanced degrees he'd claimed.

Fio liked all three of these people. They were charming. But she doesn't understand re-invention of oneself, maybe because she's gone the opposite direction, seeking out her core.

Yes, Fio's an open book, and you're reading her.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why DoThey Hate Michael C?

Q: What did Michael do to make the other designers hate him so?
A: Nothing.

It's classic bullying behavior, alive and well in every classroom in the country, and here's how it works. A strong, confident personality expresses opinions and attracts weaker personalities who shelter under the former's flapping wings. Like baby birds, they seek Mama's attention and approval by squawking loudly, echoing whatever she says in even bolder terms.

Finding prey is the key because there is nothing that unites a group like a common enemy, usually some innocuous soul whose only sin has been not to flock to the worship of the strong personality. Exciting, inciting rumors about the target add to the drama and further unite the group in a frenzy of self-justification.

Gretchen Jones established herself as the Project Runway workroom arbiter by winning the first two challenges. Then Ivy Higa opened her beak wide and became head baby bird. For her scapegoat, Gretchen zeroed in on Michael Costello, shy and self-effacing, and the other designers followed suit. To make matters worse, Michael promptly won two challenges in a row. Not even his worshipping at the feet of Gretchen's over-inflated self-esteem by choosing her first for the group challenge made her back off. In fact, it gave her an opportunity to-uh-throw him under the bus.

Logic has nothing to do with the bullying. None of the designers seem to have noticed that swallowing Gretchen's tasty worms of advice has gotten them, one by one, knocked out of the nest. Ivy, of course, blames Michael rather than Gretchen (or herself) for her ouster.

Surely, you think, the remaining workroom residents would wise up by now. But no, it's so much easier to let someone else do your thinking for you. And besides, how humbling to admit you were wrong, that you let yourself be duped by Gretchen. Mondo and AJ were big enough to do just that after they were forced to work with Michael and got to know him, but April is still spouting vintage Gretchen. Andy also seems to be goose-stepping.

Ivy is Goebbels, Gretchen is Hitler, and Michael C is a hapless Jew.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Brad the Stud

You know Fio is a Luann fan. She loves the comic strip's story lines, the way the characters are drawn, and the way they evolve. Brad, Luann's brother, is a case in point. Not only has his body shaped up, but his head has undergone subtle revisions as he's become more and more worthy of the divine Toni Daytona. The low hairline has receded a decent distance, the odd dent on the back of his head is gone, he's grown a neck, and his nose is less snub. And now, ta-da, he's developed a chin! Yes, Fio was thrilled to notice recently week that Brad's chin, formerly non-existent, now is pitched at a 90-degree angle.

But, as for TJ . . . .

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Some people leave trails of bread crumbs. Everywhere in the house he goes, Husband leaves trails of dimes--sometimes nickels or pennies, rarely quarters--but mostly dimes.

Darn. Wish they were hundred-dollar bills.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound

2:00 a.m. and Fio woke up feeling great, freed from her rind of headache and depression by the paring knife of hydrocodone. The future looked bright and everything seemed possible. Come morning, she'd finish her latest novel, clean out her study that's been a storage dump for a year, touch up those paintings she's been meaning to work on, gather everything she's ever written into one huge olio, and single-handedly fill in all the driveway ruts. She'd also lose twenty pounds. That should set her up for all the stuff she wants to do the next day.

Four hours later, in the cold light of dawn, Fio understands why people get addicted to drugs like hydrocodone.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy, Happy!

Today is Older Son's birthday so Fiorella is waxing nostalgic. She remembers the little baby with the pink cheeks and the big dark eyes. She remembers the boy who would climb everything and anything, fearlessly. She remembers the hulking teenager who taught swimming to children and, who so sweet and tender that all the mothers beamed at him and Fio forgave him for the extra trip out she'd had to make to bring him the lunch he'd forgotten on the kitchen counter at home.

There have been darker times too, but Fio is confident Older Son will overcome and triumph. He's that kind of person, always has been, and always will be. Go get'em, tiger!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shoes, Bras, and Stockings

Women's shoes have gone from hardly there to everywhere. Yesterday's strappy nothings have been swept under the wave of fashion by a tide of klunkies that cover everything from toe to ankle and even upward.
Bras have made the same journey. The style now is for big, molded hemispheres that look like they were designed to guard breast implants. Racks of them hang like grapefruits in the lingerie section. They're here today, but Fio hopes they'll be gone tomorrow.
It must be the cover-up age because leggings and stockings are also back in vogue. When cooler weather comes around, those might be fun, but Fio's legs will still run naked in the summer. How about yours?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Getting toThird Floor

One two
Me and you
Three four
Close the door

Two plus one is three
Three for three are we
I guess I'll see
You presently

Saturday, October 2, 2010


The afternoon shadows have shifted
Long and dark, they encompass me
Winter comes behind
Silent snow upon the grave

Friday, October 1, 2010


In case you receive a Viagra advertisement from Fiorella, beware--she's been hacked.

Some electronic mastermind, apparently under the impression that Fio has hordes of free-spending readers, has set up commercial websites that use some of her blog entries as a lure. Fio is flattered, but not pleased.

Always look for the real thing. Fiorella Plum exists only on this website.

On the other hand, if there's someone out there who would like to publish Fio legitimately, she's all yours.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Three Too Many

Well, I should think so! Law enforcement is now investigating Sister Wives. A man with four wives--isn't that bigamy times two?

Fiorella has been seeing TV ads for the upcoming reality show for a while now and wondering if it's for real. Maybe it's for real, but it won't be for long. Sorry, ladies of the harem. No big money coming your way after all. Guess you'll have to go back to the welfare checks.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guardian Spirit

Fio awoke at 3:30 a.m. with her mid-section hurting and started worrying about her health. Emphysema, cancer, congestive heart failure--they all ran through her mind as she lay there in the dark. Finally she fell into a light doze and dreamed that Sandy, a Shepherd's Collie from years ago, passed through the house.

When Fio awakened again, she knew all was well.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Necessary Enemy

Fiorella has been thinking about the mid-east situation. Actually, the Arabs and the Israelis are necessary to each other. Otherwise the Sunnis and the Shiites would be slaughtering each other even more than they're already doing, and the observant Jews would be at war with the secular Jews.

Nothing unites people as much as a common enemy, in politics great and small. Fio learned in Anthropology I.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Project Runway Stunner

Eeny, meeny, miney, moe/Which designer will have to go?

Ivy was obviously stunned at being tossed out of the golden circle Thursday night, but no one else was. Her blue-on-blue creation didn't even hang together. It looked like she'd draped crepe paper across a dress, then doused the whole thing with water. Yum, wet crepe paper, everyone's favorite.

Michael C was obviously stunned that he was in the bottom three, although he was saved, as Michael Kors said, by his impeccable fit and sewing skills--which must have been a further blow to Ivy, who had long said Michael C didn't know how to sew. Actually, Fio, who's no fashion expert, liked his over-the-top ball gown. It reminded her of "Modess because . . ." ads of her younger years, which she always thought were beautiful, although she never quite figured out what they meant.

And Fio was absolutely stunned that Gretchen made it to the top three. That rag-bag kimono thing must have looked better in person than on TV.

Of course, it was necessary to the drama that Gretchen make a resurgence--the villain must remain threatening till the last moment. And it was necessary that Ivy leave--as a sub-villain, she was taking too much attention away from Gretchen. And it was necessary that Michael stay because the drama is between him and Gretchen.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Written While Shoveling Gravel into Driveway Crevices

Fio believes in water. It relieves thirst. It helps one lose weight and one's system to work well. It washes off dirt and sweat. It soothes, whether in a hot water bottle or a bath tub. It participates in soup, tea, coffee, and lemonade. Vegetables boil in it. It feeds crops, flowers, and grass.

But she doesn't want it ever again to rut out her driveway.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


What's going on, you ask. Fio's last two posts overran each other time-wise, but that's what happens when she when posts early, usually for the next day. The doleful post was labeled for Thursday, but was written Wednesday evening. The post for Friday was written Thursday evening, after Daughter called. So now you know. The hand is faster than the eye.

Anyway, Fio's back to (ab)normal.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm Baaaaack!

Fiorella the bounceback queen is up and running again. She awoke this morning determined to get some things done, not matter what, then met Friend Paula for lunch, which is always a treat, then did a few more errands on the way home. This was all deliberate--Fio always feels better when she accomplishes something.

But by the time she got home, the headache had started, and it got worse and worse and worse until her whole body ached. Finally she gave in and took a magic pill. Thirty minutes later she started feeling better and better and better. In fact, after Husband came home, she felt well enough to go out and work on repairing the ravages of last week's storm. Maybe she can take care of the south driveway herself after all.

But the best thing was the phone call from Daughter later in the evening. She told me she had a dream about all four of her grandparents last night, and they were all together and happy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The depression began to hit yesterday afternoon. Fio'd gotten stalled on her writing, and she was discouraged about ever getting anywhere with it. All her past failures were haunting her.

Then there were the finances. Repair of the driveway will take a healthy bite out of savings, and every week it seems Fio receives another medical bill. And she's still upset about Smooth Solutions leaving her in the financial lurch. And she's afraid the back yard will never get enlarged and she'll never have that under-eye lift she covets and she'll never get to visit friends in Canada or recover the front room furniture or any of the myriad things she's had on her list forever.

Besides that, today is the first anniversary of her father's death. Fio weeps for him and for herself.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

No Go

When there's nothing else on TV, Fiorella watches Mystery Diagnosis to familiarize herself with rare medical conditions, just in case she might someday turn up with one. A recurring pattern is that the patient is initially misdiagnosed, which Fio can identify with. So far she's been misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis,diabetes (three times), arthritis, histoplasmosis, sleep apnea, and macular degeneration. She's also been suspected of cancer--ovarian, breast, thyroid, and kidney, none of which panned out.

Not to say that she doesn't have some other health problems, but, so far at least, not these.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cold Heart

Years ago, Younger Son, whom Sesame Street had educated, wrote a note to President Reagan in Crayola after seeing an anti-nuke television feature. I added a note explaining that Son was four years old.

Every day for a month, Son went out and checked the mailbox for a reply, but none ever came.

Fio had always liked Reagan as an actor and had no particular opposition to him as President. He seemed to be warm, a person who would be kind to little children, but it was all an act. He froze out Fio's child and, she later read, froze out his own children too.

Monday, September 20, 2010


The recent heavy rains eroded Fio's driveway, but they were a joy to a cardinal that perched at the very top of the tall bush outside Fio's dining room window. He fluffed and fluttered and capered in the downpour for about five minutes, a joy to behold. Wonder if, in the olden days, dinosaurs did the same.

Fio caught the last quarter of The Nineteenth Wife on TV the other night and wished she'd watched the whole thing. The story was a lot more intelligent than she'd thought it would be.
Fio's noticed that dresses are coming back in style--for women, that is.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just like Paris Hilton

Lindsay Lohan owns a get-out-of-jail free card. So what if she failed two drug tests and should supposedly serve thirty days for each one? She's an actress, a member of an elite class, which lets her get away with piddling little stuff like flouting court orders.

What do ya bet? A stiff lecture from the judge? A heftier drug anklet? Another short stint in a luxurious rehab with Mom Dina complaining to the press about how unfair everyone is to her meal ticket?

Fio would like to see Lindsay serve her original sentence, like real people do.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Now You Know

Yesterday morning, Fiorella sent a rather starchy letter to a website for Smooth Solutions, telling them they did not act in good faith in regard to her prepay for laser treatment of her legs and armpits, plus a microdermabrasion. Yesterday evening, she received a reply:

You have the wrong Smooth Solutions. We are a scanning company in New Jersey. Sorry about your problem. Mike

Ooops--to a perfect stranger, Fio revealed some very intimate information. It's a good thing she hadn't signed up for a bikini line or a Brazilian.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sleep, why dost thou leave me . . . .

'Tis music soothes the savage breast, as they say.

Fio couldn't sleep lst night. Her mind kept going round and round on her troubles. Finally she got out of bed and went downstairs to watch TV, hoping the boob tube would lull her into slumberland.

The problem was finding something interesting while avoiding Nancy Grace's coverage of the Connecticut massacre. Finally Fio stumbled on something called The Choir. She'd noticed it other times she was surfing channels, but never stayed around to see what the show was about.

Miracle of miracles, it was actually about a choir, a British choir, to be exact. Or rather, two choirs, one of adults, one of children, untrained community members joining together under the direction of a professional musician to learn choral pieces for a choir competition. The singers were from a place called called South Oxhey, which apparently has a rough-and-tumble reputation.

The show was charming, and the singing was lovely. Fio was entranced and, after the program was over and the choir had won its standing ovation, she toddled back up to bed and fell asleep at last. Happy dreams.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Fio is upset because the laptop keeps telling her that her security system has lapsed, which the idiot machine refuses to realize doesn't matter since husband installed a better system last week. And because she's been working like a dog on rewriting an old story and doesn't seem to be getting anywhere. And because her laser salon closed down on her without warning and she's afraid the refund isn't going to cover finishing up her legs and armpits at another place. And because the driveway still looks like it was ravaged by an earthquake. And because she lost her sunglasses again. And because the landscapers dyed the concrete slab in front of the house dark red instead of brown. And because she ate an eight-ounce bag of Swedish Fish for lunch. And because Blue Cross keeps paying less and charging more. And because husband left the pantry door open and Wendy Dog ate half a loaf of bread and an English muffin. And because of everything else that is going wrong with her life.

Uhm--just got an e-mail from Friend Kathryn that she found my sunglasses in my car. Maybe everything else will work out too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Snippet Olio

Leftovers: Maybe someone told Lady Gaga she needed to put some meat on her bones, but how the heck did she keep the flies away?
It's autumn--plaid dresses, dappled light, dreams of not being prepared for a test . . . .
The speaker at last night's RWA meeting was a woman Fio recognized from years ago, when they were both involved in civic theater. They embraced, as women do, and had a nice chat about old times. Like herself, Fio noted, Lana was no spring chicken. Hmm, maybe that high school reunion Fio's been regretting signing up for isn't going to be so bad after all.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Respect Food!

Fio is not as out of the loop as you might think. She's heard about Lady Gaga's meat dress, an attention-getting turnabout of dressed meat, and she's appalled. Not because of the stupidity of it, but because of the waste.

Fio objects to food fights and eating contests too. With so many people in the world hungry, even in the United States, food should not be used for anything but what it is--necessary sustenance. God bless our food.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stars in Her Eyes

You've heard it before, and she'll say it again: Fiorella wants her own reality show. She's sure it would be a big hit because Fio, as an aspiring romance writer, would attract a previously untapped audience--romance writers and readers. Watch Fiorella dance and sing when she wins a contest! Watch her land an agent! Watch her win the Golden Heart, the Rita! Follow her progress to best-sellerdom!

Or not.

Whatever, it would still mean a couple of extra bucks in her pocket for repairing the driveway.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


In romance jargon, "hero" is the male lead and "heroine" is the female lead. The aim of the story is to get the two of them together in a happily-ever-after.

But, in the classroom, Fio always taught her students that "hero/heroine" referred to a value system and indicated a virtuous, super-good person (think Mighty Mouse). The main character of a story, she taught, should properly be referred to as the "protagonist," while whoever or whatever opposed the protagonist was the "antagonist."

Thus, in romances, the lead female is the protagonist while the lead male is the antagonist. How odd that even though the story is about a relationship, not about values, value-heavy terms are used.

But, what the heck. Fio's finally jumped on the band wagon. Please excuse her now. She has to rewrite chapter two to deepen her hero's point of view.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Armadillos in the front yard, a skunk in the back. Ah, the country life. At least we haven't spotted a rattlesnake winding across the yard, like our next-door-neighbors neighbors did when we lived in the city.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Fiorella has a blister! From honest labor, no less!

Fio and Husband's long gravel driveway is majorly messed up,thanks to the recent torrential rains, so much so that they blocked the north end of the drive with a saw horse and placed a stool, a big yellow bucket, a wheelbarrow, and a dolly in the big rut along the edge of the south end. Then, when Fio and Husband walked up to the street to pick up their mail yesterday, they took a rake along, and Fio worked at grading some of the gravel back into the ruts whence it came.

Within five minutes, she discovered the burning sensation on the vee between her thumb and finger was a blister that had developed and broken open. Dropping the rake in the ditch for future reference, she scurried back to the house for the Neosporin.

Sympathy cards would be appreciated.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

LBJ Revisited

Fiorella's father-in-law was a long-time LBJ crony, and thus Fiorella can feed you two tidbits you won't read anywhere else.

When Father-in-Law asked about the notorious Duval County election, Johnson told him that all he knew was that "Boss" Paar had promised he'd turn out the votes.

When Father-in-Law asked him about John Connelly turning Republican in mid-gubernatorial stream, Johnson admitted he'd lost control of the Texas political scene.

Maybe not earth-shaking, but interesting. And it's long enough ago that Fio doesn't feel like she's blabbing state secrets.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Fiorella has left a trail of lipsticks, eyeglasses, and umbrellas everywhere she goes. The strange thing is that she's also the person Husband turns to for help whenever he's misplaced something--and she usually finds it.

But not her own stuff. She still mourns her little yellow, duck-handled umbrella, the Crayola one, and the bright red foldable. As for glasses, she swears they get swallowed up whenever she visits HEB (the sunglasses especially). Sometimes the lipsticks reappear as melted masses under the seat of her car, but mostly, they just disappear.

She can only hope that whoever finds her treasures will get good use from them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Exit Stage Left

The country dwarfs are retiring from TV stardom. Maybe it's that they've depleted the network's dime on all those product-placement trips. Maybe it's that Matt's gotten a new medication for curbing that megalomania. Maybe it's that they've paid off the mortgage, set up college funds for the kids, and established profitable side businesses--the hotel stepladder, the pumpkins cum amusement park, the speaking engagements, etc.

Fio will miss Matt and Amy, et al, but, in this, their final season, it's nice to see Jeremy and Zachary on the verge of changing from teenagers into people. It's nice to see steadfast Molly coming into her beauty. It's nice to see Jacob taller than his parents and finally getting his due share of the attention.

Fare thee well, Roloffs. We all related to the spousal spats, the messy house, the parental challenges, the patient dog. And, in the end, we saw Matt and Amy, not as dwarfs, but as people who happened to be dwarfs. Mission accomplished.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thursday Night at Eight

Fio thinks the best drama on TV this season is Project Runway. PR has it all--glamor, intrigue, mystery, dirty doings, even a wicked witch. A reality show, you say? Not really. Skillful editing is what forms the plot. That's how we know Gretchen, in effect, set up a sweat shop in episode six, with her team members manufacturing her designs for a team loss. That's how we know she and her compadres spend their time sitting around and sneering at sweet Michael C., who's won just as many challenges as Gretchen. That's how we know that someone spread the rumor that Michael had been stabbing Ivy in the back, although he denied it and the cameras didn't catch it.

The teaser for the next show is that someone is accused of cheating. Who? How? When? Why? Fio can hardly wait for Thursday at eight.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Fiorella would like to be above the law, like Paris Hilton. She's not interested in marijuana or cocaine, though. Her sins would be more pedestrian, like undertipping a waiter or running a red light--or speeding.

Speeding? Oh, sorry, she does that already.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


The best thing about The Wedding Singer, playing at Georgetown's Palace Theater, was the enthusiastic reaction of the teenagers sitting in front of us. But Husband and Fio were not that enthused.

The stage sets were great, as was the musical accompaniment (including Robbie's own strumming), the costumes were good, and the singing and dancing were fantastic--especially the dancing. This is civic theater, but there were no left feet. Choreographer Jessica Kelpsch's presentations, as always, were perfection itself, in double time.

That's one of the perks of local theater, spotting familiar faces in the line-up: Jessica, Sister Amnesia, and the uber-sexy Kenicke. But, in a play like Wedding Singer, which requires a large cast, it's also a drawback, because recognizable actors end up playing multiple parts. Thus Pete Munoz (Reuben), a bridegroom in the first scene, proposed to another woman a couple of scenes later, which triggered a "Who the Bleep Did I Marry?" reaction in Fio.

Fio has to hand it to them--the actors were extremely energetic, over the top, in fact, especially Sammy. His action and speech patterns were so loud and fast that Fio often had problems figuring out what he was trying to get across. In fact, sound was a problem throughout the production. Those d**n face mics. Some people needed them, some people overwhelmed them.

Fio does have a bone to pick with the silly stereotypes of the gay George and the geriatric grandmother, but Husband and the teenagers in front of us thought they were hilarious. MaybeFio's reaction is a clue to what she found lacking in the play: coherence. Wedding didn't hang together, and that's the fault of the playwright. George and Granny were cartoon characters in a realistic setting (at least as realistic as one can get with people bursting into song and dance every time one turns around). The story seemed to be a cross between Little Shop of Horrors and Grease.

Robbie did a great job, but Julia was top-notch. A pretty girl with good acting skills, she has a voice that sparkles. Linda was a real scene stealer. Husband liked Holly a lot too.

The cast worked hard, maybe too hard, but somehow the show didn't click with Fiorella. On the other hand, she didn't insist they leave at intermission.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Please, Please, Please, Please, Please

Fiorella's been doing well in the writing contests this month: three finals and a first place. But what she really wants is for an agent to request the full manuscript.

Finaling's great,
Winning is best,
And now, dear judge,
How 'bout a request?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Adult Orphan

Born in March,
Died in September,
Died in April;
Born in December--
Dad and Mom;
Fio, remember.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Looking Down

Remember Fiorella's obsession with flint? It's still alive and well. In fact, she can't seem to walk down the driveway without spotting another prime specimen to add to her collection. Which brings her to the obvious question: why is she always looking down?

It's probably a habit developed from living in the country. Fio would rather not be stung by a scorpion, and those little devils are sneaky. Fio's spotted them in a puddle of water in front of the refrigerator, on the guest room floor just as she warned Daughter-in Law Jen about them, in the front hall as she bade Nephew Aaron farewell, in the bathroom, traversing the erstaz-bearskin rug, on the richly-patterned oriental carpet as she wrote Fiorella.

Indoors, they're squashed flat as soon as Fio can put on shoes or grab a fly swatter, but outdoors, she lets them live, especially the mothers carrying babies on their backs. Anyway, she's too busy picking up flint to bother.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Feeding Time

Fiorella has a secret vice. She's supposed to be working on the last three chapters of a manuscript she'll call Princess, but instead she keeps switching over to Princess's as-yet-unnamed offshoot, which is just in its first chapter. She calls her dereliction of duty a break, but it's not. The offshoot is rapidly becoming her main interest.

I guess it's always that way when you've got a new baby in the house.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tightening the Belt

Fiorella doesn't mind her daily paper slimming down some. Newspapers have gotten bloated, as far as she is concerned--bloated and, uh, full of themselves (word play intended).

As a kid, Fio would read the Waco Times-Herald, through and through, even before the hyphen occurred. It was manageable--the sports report was just one page and often combined with business news. The Sunday paper would be whomping, though--maybe three whole sections.

When you think about it, newspapers started out as rag-tag scandal sheets. Then they became respectable, portentous, and self-righteous. Everyone and his dog got a by-line.

Fio doesn't want newspapers to disappear altogether, but it won't hurt them to lose a little of the avoirdupois.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Wake up, World, come dance with me!

Fio's feeling good today. Better than yesterday, when she bloated herself silly on glazed doughnuts.

Uhm--a bit of warning about the dancing, though. In keeping with with her little problems with mechanics and electronics, Fio has two left feet.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cheezy Chelsea

Chelsea Lately--vulgar, juvenile, stupid--everyone's watching it. Not that anyone has much choice at that time of night.

The show can be hilarious when you can understand what the comedians are saying. They tend to all talk at the same time or swallow their words with laughter at the their own wit.

Chelsea Handler, the show's host, keeps the show firmly focused on sex, and there isn't anything she won't throw out for discussion. Not a night goes by without a reference to male and female genitalia, in specific terms. Sometimes Fio wonders if Chelsea's aware there are any other body parts.

Fio likes the show best when it roasts celebrities like Lindsay Lohan. But when the interview portion comes on, she switches off the TV and heads for bed. Whatever the show's faults, it does help her sleep well.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Ah, the country life--the armadillos, the mud daubers, the sudden floods.

The army-dillos seem to have traveled on to fresher battle fronts, repelled by cayenne pepper, flashing lights, urine, or sheer boredom with such easy pickin's. The mud daubers are retreating from the front door after inhaling several good whiffs of insecticide. But the flood is another matter.

What flood, you say. The one that started when Fio, with Gretchen Jones-like confidence, opened one of the in-ground sprinkler system controls and turned it on for a short dousing of the north yard. Then she went inside and forgot about it.

Four hours later, she remembered. Husband was already in bed so she grabbed a flashlight and went outside, braved the wet, opened the control again and tried to turn off the water. Unfortunately, the flashlight wasn't much help and, operating mostly by feel, she pulled out something that shouldn't have been pulled out.

The water has been running all night now. As soon as it's light enough to see anything, Fio will try again. Pray for Fiorella.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Psyche Triumphant

Fiorella went to bed last night somewhat bummed. The Lenovo is acting up again, refusing to make contact with the Internet, which means her e-mail is also down.

Then she had a wonderful dream, a dream of triumph, like standing on the topmost Olympic step, overwhelmed with adulation. The dream was so intense it stalled, and she had to wake up and drink some water to recover before returning to bed. Another, less intense, dream followed and there was more success, but in a broader way that Fio can't remember.

But when she awoke in the morning, her Lenovo, like the nutcracker doll, was still broken.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Today is Husband and Fiorella's wedding anniversary. Three children, three houses, seven dogs, four cats, innumerable guinea pigs, and at least fifteen vehicles later, they're still together, with more to come. Happy anniversary, honey.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Did Fio ever tell you that she once had a student who, in class discussion, revealed she thought it was so rude to blow one's nose in public that she taught her children to go to a restroom so to do?

As Fio later learned from a newspaper crime report, this woman, trying to get her ex's attention, also tried to poison said children.

Talk about rude.

Monday, August 23, 2010


So many know my name and yet so few
Know me; I'm more and less than what I seem
To be, called friend by many people who
Know me as I know night by chance moonbeam.
Chameleon-like I change my psychic skin
Depending whom I'm with and what the day,
Unending fitting, never fitting in,
Amending how I look and what I say.
Unclothed and mute, inside myself I know
My soul complete, its multiplicity
A whole; but outside actorlike I show
The role I choose, or you assign to me.
And as no one can know my entity,
I know no one, but only simile.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pardon Me

Fio is queen of the faux pas. Yes, she's taken enough false steps to supply a sit-com with material for years. She started at about age eight, greeting her fecund aunt, whom she hadn't seen in a year, by asking if she was pregnant again. This was back in the day when one never talked about such things.

Progressing onward, when she was about ten, Fio stared at her mother's face assessingly for a while, then announced to Mom that she must have been pretty when she was young. Fiorella's mother, not yet forty, graciously said thank you.

There have been more blunders along the way, but the one that stands out in recent years was when Fio met historical romance author Victoria Alexander and enthused about how thrilled she had been to see her walking across the stage at the national conference because then Fio realized heavy women also could be romance writers. Ms. Alexander avoided Fio for the rest of the evening.

Sometimes it's safer that way.


Saturday, August 21, 2010


It's called ad hominem, a classic logical fallacy, and means name-calling, slander, carrying the argument "to the man" rather than debating the topic.

Like trying to affix the label "Muslim" a president who's getting things done. A recent headline asks if people will vote for a person they think is a non-Christian. Fiorella thinks that's a matter of putting the cart before the horse. The ones who think Obama is a Muslim are people who wouldn't vote for him in the first place.

People believe what they want to believe, then manufacture reasons to support their viewpoints.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Runway Recap

Oh, how Fio loves a happy ending. Prima donna Gretchen (who's no Irina, but would be better off if she kept her mouth shut), didn't even make the top three, Kristin got eliminated for a real loser dress reminiscent of Ping, and sweet Michael won, which made up for his gorgeous red creation not reaching the finals last time.

It's Project Runway in top dramatic form--Tim Gunn nailing designs with cut-to-the-quick similes, the contestants constantly snarking at each, and a weird challenge--designing dresses that would coordinate with the wildest collection of hats you've ever seen.

But our Cinderella, Michael, who had to can his first dress and make a new one in what little time remained, won. He can't follow through on the fairytale, though, and marry the Prince. He's the only straight guy in the crowd.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

And the Livin's NOT Easy

It's high summer and Fiorella is fighting off marauding armadillos,determinedly nesting mud daubers, and the relentless sun. It's a good thing jigsaws, crosswords, and anagrams are her sports of choice--anything more active would guarantee her a heat stroke. And she isn't too fond of sunburn either.

There's one good thing about August--it heralds eleven wonderful months till the next one.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Up, Up, and Away!

Fio awoke this morning wondering about superhero capes. Superman had one, as did Captain Marvel. Following the trend, Batman had one, but Wonder Woman did not, and today's major superhero, Spiderman, doesn't either. On the other hand, Wonder Woman had that special plane she traveled around in and Spiderman doesn't need a cape because he's always hanging from ropes.

Fio theorizes that the early capes, billowing behind the superhero as he leapt tall buildings in a single bound, were used to indicate the air travel. Superman and Captain Marvel provided their own locomotion while Batman used jet packs. Whatever, the capes were the essential factor. At least that's how it came across to six-year-old Fio when she pinned a bathroom towel around her neck and leapt from the front porch step.

She landed hard.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Heal Thyself

Fiorella watches Mystery Diagnosis when desperate, and the show has informed her about quite a number of weird, rare diseases and conditions. Each episode follows a certain format: 1) we meet the victim, 2) the the symptoms start, 3) doctors diagnose the condition incorrectly, 4) a wise medic steps forward and identifies the problem, frequently after someone in the family has already figured it out from extensive research in the web.

The episode concludes with a mellifluous voice-over saying that the family doesn't understand why it took so long for the medical community to come up with the correct diagnosis, then explaining it was because the condition is so rare.

So why didn't the doctors do what the family did--get on the internet and Google till the cows came home?

Monday, August 16, 2010

A for Effort

Fio and husband watched V for Vendetta last night, a B-movie in which a Dr. Who/X-Man type guy with a Phantom of the Opera mask, a Zorro cape, and Blade knives takes down a corrupt theocracy ruling Britain of the future. Think Cromwell, think Hitler, think spittle, bad teeth and a scraggly beard.

It's very British in that it doesn't quite hang together for this American reviewer. Reminds Fio of a black-and-white Brit film of years past when a cathedral got destroyed as aliens invaded.

The story's over the top--preposterous, in fact--and doubles back on itself far too often. The characters are blatant stereotypes. V himself is very Shakespearean, a latter-day Hamlet who can't stop talking and analyzing and philosophizing in a mellifluous, ultimately boring, voice. And he ends up like Hamlet--beautifully dead from a duel which he wins. There's an Everyman witness to the whole scenario, of course, a long-suffering police inspector. He survives, just as we do.

V for Vendetta is somewhat silly, with lots of blood which you know is fake and elements of sadism which are flimsily justified, but I liked the bright colors and the acting, and all in all, it's spellbinding. Better than Iron Man.