Sunday, January 31, 2010

True Grit-itude

You are so kind to always think of me
To let me know the error of my ways
To guide me, chide me, Procrustes bed-ize me
To nip my heels whene'er my footstep strays
Five minutes alone in an alley, you snit,
And I'll show you how much I appreciate it!

A ditty from Fio's chequered past she thought you might enjoy. (She's a little more mellow now.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blessed Saturday

To Fio, a good crossword puzzle is one she can breeze through in about fifteen minutes, like the ones the daily newspaper used to carry day after day. Egret, aerie, ebon, oboe, opal, ode, Audi--she knew all the words, even the smattering of French--ete, avec, tete, amie.

Then the paper introduced a new crossword puzzle writer--not overtly, of course, but Fio could tell the puzzles were different. Where were all the old familiar, uh, faces? It was taking Fio half an hour and an occasional Google consult to finish the puzzle!

Ah, blessed Saturday. From "Groucho's brother" to "Sherpa's sighting," "exiled Roman poet" to "Asian desert" to "sea eagles" to "zones," "pouches," and "little devil," Fio knew them all.

Welcome back, former crossword writer, and please, like Dolly, never go away again.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Media Update

Fio is contemplating the fact that the American-Statesman is now smaller than the Wall Street Journal--and it isn't that the WSJ has expanded lately either.

Yes, newspapers are on the downturn--going the way of the land line telephone. This situation makes us ever more dependent on ever more complicated technology.

And again Fio asks--what happens when God turns off the electricity?

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Every year, at least one of Fiorella's special Christmas tree ornaments breaks and she is sad. This year it was the banana.

Several years ago ornaments in the shapes of fruits and vegetables were on all the store shelves, but apparently they were all bought up because you don't see them anymore. There is no replacement for Fio's banana.

But such is life, which makes Fio treasure her watermelon slice even more.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Batten down the hatches--Fio has been thinking again.

Last week she was watching a wonderful program which followed the progress of the Metropolitan opera finalists through the run-offs. During the show, one the officials said that the Met was trying to attract a younger audience because the average age of its attendees was 60+.

Fio blames rock'n roll for the lack of interest in musical performance because one doesn't sing along with rock, one listens. (Can you imagine Snooky Lanson singing rock?) Yes, the western world has become musically passive. Students on bus trips don't sing about a duck being someone's mother anymore--they listen to their I-pods. Choruses and glee clubs--which used to abound because there was nothing else to do--have almost disappeared. One doesn't have to entertain oneself anymore when there are TV and DVDs and video games in abundance.

You out there! Lift up your voice and start yodeling--it's good for opera and it's good for the soul and it's good for you!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Return of the Nuns

Nunsense II, now playing at Georgetown's Palace Theater, doesn't make much sense, but that's beside the point. It's fun.

The show never stops. How the small, five-member cast can keep up with all the singing, dancing, and joke-telling is beyond me. The energy was contagious and the audience gave the ensemble a well-deserved standing ovation. Each individual member of the group was strong, a real accomplishment for a small-town civic theater. Fio's favorite, as always, is Sister Robert Ann.

The Nunsense series is probably twenty years old now, and many of the jokes wouldn't mean anything to a young audience, but the average age of a Georgetown theater-goer is about sixty, so the audience caught most of the outdated references.

Fio's major gripe was that everyone was over-miked, which made the sound piercing. Husband turned down his hearing aids and Fio closed off her ears. Then there was this weird echo that occurred from time to time for dramatic effect. Husband's theory is that the community theater sound system salesman had stopped off in Georgetown and the Palace bought the whole works. But why? The Palace is a small theater with good acoustics. It shouldn't need a special sound system.

Also, the singers seemed to be having a problem from time to time with pitch. Husband, more musically attuned than Fio, said that they weren't quite making the necessary key changes. All Fio knows is that the chorus in the opening number of the second act ("Angeline") sounded like squalling cats.

But it doesn't matter. Fio came out of the theater singing to herself and even dancing a little, so Nunsense served its purpose.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Alternate Universe

That 2:00 a.m. aural phenomenon DID throw Fio into another, more positive, universe!

Yea, yea, and hip, hip, hooray!
My cheeks are stretching wide with grins--
I just got word the other day:
SECOND in "Where the Magic Begins!"

Yes, one of Fiorella's manuscripts placed SECOND in an RWA writing contest!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Speculation on the Infinite

Remember the big bang Fio had in her ear on early Friday morning? Well, what if it really WAS a big bang, like THE big bang, the one that supposedly birthed our universe?

Fio saw a TV show about the Big Bang, string theory, and membrane theory, and wonders if her own experience was similar to the one posited by various scientists, that a couple of physics-type membranes rubbed against each other and caused the bang which created our universe. Maybe the 2:00 a.m. EHS was Fio being hurled into an alternate universe, another membrane.

If so, she expects her life to sail in a completely positive direction and chocolate to be at the top of the food pyramid.

Or maybe she's just going to grow another head.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thank you, Mr. L

After being--uh--rushed to the hospital for chest pains, multimillionaire Limbaugh complimented his medical care, saying that his example demonstrates universal health care coverage is unnecessary. Which means, I assume, that he will be covering everyone's costs from now on.

Jump on Rush's gravy train, everyone!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dr. Fio Informs You

Fio awoke with a bang--literally.

Yes, at 2:00 a.m. this morning, she heard a loud bang in her left ear. No one had shot her so the sound must have been generated from within. Genteel panic ensued--an eardrum bursting, her coronary artery clotting, macular degeneration setting in, her brain frying?

She carefully sat up, then went downstairs to google "big bang in ear" and discovered (great sigh of relief) she was not alone. Fio had experienced EHS: Exploding Head Syndrome, and apparently a lot of other people have too. It is harmless.

But somewhat dramatic.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Fiorella cannot help but comment on the present state of show biz glam.

Julia Roberts, skinny, stringy, and brassy-haired, is looking more and more like Madonna every day--twins separated at birth? And Marie Osmond apparently got a full makeover along with her weight loss. But her face looks like a Halloween mask and her clothes are so tight that they seem painted on.

On the other hand, Mirren and Judy Dench look good--glamorous, yet age-appropriate. Maybe it's the British climate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


The pretty girl with the long golden hair stayed after class to talk to me. I thought she wanted some help with the theoretical grammar class I was teaching, but instead she told me how she was being hounded by the police and the media because her ex-boyfriend was suspected of killing his wife. She was innocent, she said, not having dated him until after the woman's death--and then mostly to help with his children. I was instantly sympathetic and hoped all would go well for her. It's hard when one gets entangled in someone else's snare.

That was two or three years ago, but this morning's paper had the full story of my student's trial testimony--for which she received immunity from prosecution. The affair had actually started a couple of months before his wife's death, she admitted, and she knew he was planning to kill his wife, and after killing his wife, he told her about it in grisly detail. She said she hadn't turned him in because she was afraid for her life, and that she herself had not participated in the murder.

In other words, the pretty girl with the long golden hair was still innocent.

But I wonder. I cannot help but wonder.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Angel Grace

This is an obituary for a dog not yet dead.

Angel Grace is a sweet little Staffordshire Terrier, barely a year old. Her only sin as far as I know is that she teethed on the watch I shouldn't have left out on the coffee table when Husband and I visited Minnesota last fall.

Angel Grace was limping when we saw her in Texas at Christmas, and limped even more when Older Son and Wife got back home. The vet diagnosed her with terminal bone cancer. When I talked to Son yesterday, he told me she was deteriorating rapidly.

The only comfort I could give was the truth. Angel's life will be brief, but it has been full of love, something all too many dogs never experience.

And which they have so much to give.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Against the Odds

What a wonderful evening.

Fio and Husband had Nephew Barrett and Wife Rachel over to the house for a one-day premature birthday bash in Nephew's honor--hamburgers and two-day beans and cake and ice cream. No crepe paper streamers or funny hats, but we sang "Happy Birthday" to him twice and hugged him a lot.

We hugged Wife Rachel a lot too. It was so great to see a happily-married young couple.

And, in our circle, so rare.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Literary Conflict

Fiorella writes sexy novels about dealing with adversity.

Of course, there wouldn't be a story if there weren't any adversity--where would Red Ridinghood be without the wolf, Goldilocks without the three bears, Cinderella and Snow White without the wicked stepmothers?

Harry Potter without Voldemort?

And each of these stories has a message: you CAN overcome adversity. And that's Fio's message too, in fiction and in life.

With a little sex on the side.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Packing away Christmas

Fio has started deconstructing her Christmas decorations--throwing away the lovely cards, the carefully cut paper snowflakes, the red ribbon bows around the necks of everything ribbonable. Packing away the multiple swags of artificial greenery heavily loaded with her extensive ornament collection--the fruits and vegetables, eggs, elephants, birds, little houses, nativity scenes, boat,school bus, and more. The huge, carefully constructed tree so embellished that one can hardly see the branches. The figurines of creches and angels and carolers. The red cardboard bells she cut out years ago and still uses. The multiple wreaths. The snowflakes she and Husband always hang from the tree next to the porch. The growing herd of lighted deer she stakes out in the curve next to the driveway.

She packs it all away into clear vinyl boxes and stores it in the garage until next Decemeber, when she will empty each box and compose new and different displays.

Sort of like those magnificent ice palaces the Norwegians build year after year, then mourn as they melt into oblivion.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Kitchen Comedy

Fio was tired after the RWA meeting, but before she went home, she stopped by HEB to pick up a pound cake mix, strawberries, and chocolate for Friend Suzy's visit the next day. The chocolate she tucked into the refrigerator. The strawberries, which needed to ripen a little, she stuffed into a niche above the cookbooks on the far reaches of the kitchen counter.

Come the dawn, she dragged herself out of bed and read the paper, then started on the pound cake. She greased and floured the pan, only dropping it on the floor and splattering herself with greased flour once, opened the box, poured the mix into a bowl, and went to the refrigerator for the two required eggs.

She was out of eggs. The cake mix went into the trash can.

Well, at least she had the chocolate.

But, rechecking, Fio discovered she had bought dietetic chocolate, which she didn't think would please the discerning palate of chocoholic Friend Suzy.

Two down, but she still had the strawberries. Or did she?

The niche was empty, and they weren't in the refrigerator or on top of it either.

With a sinking heart, Fio checked out the area around Wendy Dog's pillows. All that remained of the ripening strawberries was a cracked-open plastic container and a guilty-looking canine.

Visit Fio at your peril.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Forever More

Fio not only hoards words, but she hoards people.

Yes, Fio wants relationships to last forever. If you get caught in the glue of Fio's friendship, you are stuck for life. She feels the same way about family--husband, children, cousins, nephews.

Watch out! Even as we speak, her arms are reaching out for you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

By Any Other Name

Fiorella is fascinated by the fact that many unpublished romance writers want to be known by their future pseudonyms.

It's sort of like having a secret identity, Fio thinks, like when she formed a girls' "gang" in the neighborhood of her childhood. We all had wolf names--Fio was Silver Wolf.

It's like Clark Kent and Wonder Woman and Zorro. Any name but what our parents gave us.

Why else do I call myself Fiorella?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Consider the Source

You may have noticed that Fiorella is not as enthusiastic about building fires herself as she was last year. Instead, if Husband is not here to do the job, she just turns up the thermostat.

Last year, we were building fires with our own wood which we ourselves had chainsawed. This year, we're using mostly HEB wood and commercial firelogs.

Fio still likes the fires, but somehow, they just aren't the same.

Monday, January 11, 2010


My name is Fiorella and I am a hoarder.

Yes, Fio has been watching that TV show about hoarders and realized that, in her own way, she is one too. Oh, her house may be a little too full of stuff she cannot bear to part with for sentimental reasons, but her major sin is word hoarding.

Yes, Fio cannot bear to throw away anything she has written, and the pages are everywhere--on her desk, in bookshelves, in file drawers, on the Internet. In fact, she cannot even bring herself to delete her seemingly golden words when she is writing novels and has to edit herself. Instead, she copies the useless verbiage to another file, telling herself she will use it somewhere later. Which she never does.

But that's what hoarding is about--possibility, not prose.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ode to Cold

We're having a cold snap
So every water tap
Is dripping to avoid a freeze
We'll be billed
But we are thrilled
It's worth it to be at SIX degrees!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vitamin C: Coffee and Cell Phones

Aging boomers will be glad to know that some studies have shown that coffee and cell phones can stave off Alzheimer's.

Unfortunately, Fio never did develop a taste for coffee and she lives in a cell phone-dead area.

Maybe chocolate and electric rollers could suffice.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Here, Ducky , , ,

If you ever want to know the places where Fiorella has been all her life, just follow the trail of lost umbrellas and misplaced eyeglasses.

She is especially upset about losing her favorite umbrella this fall, a yellow number with a duck head handle. Umbrella like these used to be all over the supermarkets, but now that Fio needs a replacement, there's not a fowl in sight.

Oh, well. Who knows when Ducky might turn up again. After all, when Fio was unpacking her Christmas decorations this year, lo and behold--at the very bottom of the last box was a pair of glasses that she had thought was gone forever.

Fly home, little yellow duck.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

St. Louis, My Hero

I love you, St. Louis office, whoever or whatever you are. You made my day. Fio's been tentatively emerging from her funk, and your comment warmed her all over.

On the plus side, since Fio's method of fighting off depression is to engage in unrelenting physical activity, the laundry is all done and the house is in a lot better shape--straightened up and cleaned out, of course, but not vacuumed.

Depression or not, Fio knows her limits.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Fiorella finally figured out how to adjust the controls so readers can comment if they wish to. But please be nice. Fio's always a little blue at the beginning of the new year. It's something about lost opportunities and dreams that never will come true. And fear of the ever-shortening future.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Listen Up!

Fiorella has become fascinated with words that feature a silent "t," words like "nestle," "castle," "listen," "often" and "soften." She's collected a fairly long list of them. Now she's wondering where they all come from.

Which just goes to prove that you can take the girl out of linguistics, but can't take the linguistics out of the girl.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year Blues

The year is new--
What to do?
You'll have to wait a moment, mate,
While Fio sets her sextant straight.
Focus, Fio, and concentrate!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Look at Nook

Labor-saving devices are getting more complicated every day.

The new dishwasher is terrific, but the levers that raise and lower the upper rack are tricky. The new car can darn near drive itself--but only if one has mastered the two-hundred page instruction manual. And you already know that Fio considers vacuum cleaners too rocket scientisty for her Luddite brain.

First came Kindle and then came Nook. Santa gave Husband one of the latter for Christmas. Fio doesn't know about Kindle, but no written directions were provided with Nook and it is NOT what one would call user-friendly. Husband has studied the hard-to-find on-line information, driven ten miles over to the nearest B&N for mano a mano instruction twice, and waited on the telephone for almost two hours in order to get personal assistance.

He says he likes what Nook does, but so far Fio notes all it's done is cause him a lot of extra work.

Meanwhile she sits on the couch and turns the pages of her book with an easy flip of her hand.

Five Musical Accomplishments

My mother could play the piano and the harmonica by ear, which I couldn't. On the other hand, I have:

1) Sung solos in church
2) Sung in local opera
3) Established and led a women's chorus
4) Composed Christmas carols
5) Led caroling groups

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Confessions of a Vacuum-a-phobic

Every two weeks the maid vacuums the floors, thank goodness, because Fiorella doesn't.

Fiorella has several rationalizations for not vacuuming. Like that there are more important things in life than floors. Like that it doesn't matter whether she vacuums them or not because they'll just get dirty again. Like that if push comes to shove, she can always use the broom.

But the plain truth of the matter is that Fiorella was a yappy little Spaniel in her past life and is still afraid of vacuum cleaners.

Friday, January 1, 2010


The future is here--
So be of good cheer
And have yourself
A Happy New Year!