Sunday, February 28, 2010


Not yet completely awake, but with a mini-essay fully formed in her head, Fiorella rose straight up and hurled herself out of bed--into the arms of total vertigo.

Momentum impelled her against a wall and she stayed there for a long time. If this didn't pass, she'd have to call to Husband, still sleeping, for help.

She should have known better. Usually she wakes slowly, staying in bed for as long as an hour to sample the morning. When she finally does rise, mindful of the day-long vertigo that ensued when she rose straight up from a doctor's examining table once, she always turns to the side and lifts slowly.

She's semi-okay now as she writes. Husband was allowed to continue sleeping. All will be well in Casa Fiorella--if she remembers to be careful about the way she rises from a recumbent position.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


When Fio did her early morning weather observation by stepping outside to get the paper, she noticed there were still several coin-sized spots of snow left in front of the porch. The largest was the size of a silver dollar.

Fio is rich indeed.

What happed to the snows of yesterday?
Sunk underground, the poets say,
To nurture the darling buds of May.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Five Ways

How y'all know it has indeed snowed in Central Texas:

1) The roads get sanded
2) Businesses and state offices release their employees early
3) It's the lead story in the newspaper
4) TV news stations run photos of every snowman they can locate
5) Fio devotes four rhapsodic blogs to the phenomenon

P.S. When stepping outside to retrieve the newspaper this morning, Fio bid farewell to the last of the snow, a pizza slice of white in front of her north-facing front porch.

Adieu, adieu, or, as Tennessee Williams said, ou sont les neiges d'antan . . . .

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On the Scene

Recognizing her scientific duty, Fio took extensive notes during Tuesday's snowfall. After all, there might never be another.

About 7:00 a.m., she heard an insistent pinging and discovered that little ice granules were attacking her roof and windows. They were too solid to be sleet, too small to be hail, and too hard to be snowflakes so she labeled the whole phenomenon an ice storm.

By 8:00, big, fat white snowflakes were falling like dandruff. They looked fake, similar to the soapflakes Hollywood uses in every Christmas movie you've ever seen, but Fio was afraid to look away for fear the miracle would cease.

Wendy Dog wasn't too anxious to go out and neither was Fio, but your correspondent did want to see everything. From window to window she rushed, trying for the best view. The east side of the yard was a little sparse still, but the west side of the yard was covered in white except for the gravel drive winding through it.

Soon huge flakes began to fall, floating down like chicken feathers. Noticing that the tops of trees were dusted with white, Fio ran upstairs to check the views from there--snow an inch thick on the metal roof, two inches thick on the northside window ledges. From Husband's study, she had a spectacular view of the snow-covered woods.

Then the flakes became smaller and the fall less dense, finally turning back into ice again.

By 9:00, Fio thought everything was over, but when she sat down at the piano and played several Christmas carols, the snow started up again--ten more minutes of it. Obviously music turned the tide.

By 10:30, she opened herself to the possibility the snow was going to keep coming. The ground was covered now, and most of the driveway. Now Fio became concerned about Husband getting home from work in the late afternoon--she doubted there were many snowplows available in central Texas.

This whole time, Fio was dashing around like the madwoman she is, calling Husband to report every flake, contacting daughter in Austin, even calling Friend Marion, who knows snow because she's from Nova Scotia.

By 12:00, the sky, yard, and trees were all blanketed in white. Husband came home soon thereafter, and Daughter phoned that her employer was also releasing everyone early. Husband being Husband, he immediately bundled Fio up in a warm jacket and had her walk the driveway with him and Wendy Dog. Fio being Fio, she burst into "Walkin' in the Winter Wonderland" as they surveyed their snowclad kingdom. Wendy being Wendy, celebrated by getting loose and romping through the woods until being lured home by promise of a treat.

The snow fell intermittently through the day and evening, probably three inches in all, although four inches piled up on the north-facing window ledges. It was glorious.

Fio anticipated rising the next day to a soggy but snowless nature; however, while the trees were bare, the ground snow was still in place, frozen overnight into a diamond crust which glittered in the bright dawn.

Oh, ecstasy! Thursday morning and patches of snow linger still in the shadows on the north side of the house!

God is good.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fio's Joy

It's 7:30 a.m. and the snow's still here, despite the rising sun. Fio is overjoyed. Maybe vestiges will still be there tomorrow, under the protective canopy of the woods surrounding her house. While they last, they will be Fio's secret treasure.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kinky Is As Kinky Does

Fiorella woke up to an ice storm--at least that's what she thinks one calls a weather phenomenon somewhere between sleet and hail. Ice crystals are coating the ground, and snow is predicted for the day.

SNOW? In Central Texas? In late February?

Fio can vaguely remember years ago, when snow fell every three years or so(occasionally several inches deep), but it's been a scarce commodity in recent times. And she can't EVER remember it snowing in late February. Everyone knows the best chances for snow`are in late January, early February, that if there is none by then, there never will be.

But here we are--first a drought of several years, then a lot of rain, now snow. The weather is getting downright kinky, just like predicted by global warming theorists.

What's next, will Pilot Knob, our local extinct volcano, start blowing its top?

Monday, February 22, 2010


Over the weekend, Fio and Husband put half an hour into the garage and unpacked the last of the boxes from their move five years ago. All sorts of things turned up--among them, several unopened model train kits, two old wall mirrors, and an antique picture frame.

Fio, who likes to hold onto things in case they might be useful some day, had a hard time parting with the mirrors, but the frame went straight to the "donate" pile. It had been painted over with white back in the day when white frames were all the rage, and Fio wasn't about to try to re-gild it.

Husband, though, couldn't let go of the model train kits. After all, he needs a hobby.

Toot-toot! All aboard!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hair Today

Has Fio told you she's having her leg hair lasered off? At last she can wear shorts without worrying that she's got a mane down the back of each leg.

Yes, our girl comes from a long line of clean-shaven men and mustachioed women. If grave goods were part of our culture, her mother would have gone to her final resting place with tweezers in one hand and a magnifying mirror in the other.

Fio reassures you that the leg-lasering is relatively painless.

Of course, the armpits may be different story.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Raptors Strike Again

Fiorella, lazy child of nature, usually depends on the rain to wash her darling baby car, but she had to take the hose and a wad of paper towels to it Thursday after she got home from Austin. Yes, while she was yukking it up with Friend Paula inside Dan's Hamburgers (Fio's exclusive social gathering place), some foul fowls bombed her little Miata so thoroughly it looked polka-dotted.

And she'd been so pleased with herself for snagging a parking spot in the shade.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Luxurious Awakening

For years Fiorella's brain commanded her to rise at the scream of a 5:45 a.m. alarm clock in order to wash, dress, eat, and be out the door in half an hour, then hit the highway.

Now she enjoys the luxury of taking a full hour to gradually awaken each morning, lying half asleep for a while--sorting out what was dream and what is real as her muscles react to the stirrings of a new day's adrenaline.

After a while, her eyes open to rosy-fingered dawn shyly lighting the horizon.

She lies in bed a little longer, enjoying the silence of morning. The alarm is shut off nowadays. Her body, not her brain, is what decides when she gets up.

Finally the moment comes: Arise, Fiorella--arise, shine.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hoarding--TV and Reality

Roloffs out, hoarders in. Yes, with the country dwarves on sabbatical, Fio is entertaining herself with a TV show called Hoarders on Monday nights. It features three different hoarding situations per episode, switching around for variety, suspense, and follow-up.

When Fio says "hoarding," she means obsessive/compulsive to the extreme: houses piled so full of things--JUNK--that their residents navigate by increasingly narrow paths, and some rooms are completely closed off. The the said residents can't bring themselves to let go of anything.

Talk about unsightly, smelly, dirty, and unsanitary!

Fio's seen a little of this sort of thing first-hand. Husband's late sister had the pathway thing going, although she did keep everything on the side clean and in neat stacks. His mother had the inclination, but kept it under control, being more of a collector. His aunt, though, was a hoarder.

Fio visited Aunt and her husband in their small duplex once and was goggle-eyed at the piles of stuff sitting around. Being Fio, she wanted to help remedy the situation so she volunteered to visit Aunt later in the week and help her with some of the boxes of crafts projects she had piled up on the kitchen counter. Fio's idea was to paint and weave and whatever so the kits could then be tossed. But when she returned to Aunt's house, that good woman greeted her with the news that she had gone out and bought even more crafts projects for them to work on together. Fio spent the whole afternoon just paring Aunt's inventory down to its original stack.

It was Aunt's own private midden and she wanted to keep it that way.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Fio has to get right back on that horse, but she doesn't want to. After all, once burned, twice shy.

Yes, Fio does not want to return to the HEB where she was robbed last Friday--someone stole her purse and extracted all the folding money therein. She did get the purse back with all IDs and credit cards intact, but she still feels violated, like when someone swipes something off your front porch.

Fio was upset all weekend, which is probably why she screwed up by e-mailing the ARWA loop when she meant to respond to an individual member, and why she really screwed up in submitting unedited entries to two writing contests. In fact, she messed up so badly that she put off opening up her trusty Dell this morning.

Since you're reading her right now, you know that she did gut up and take the plunge. But it's gonna be a while before she goes back to HEB on Williams.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More Gaity

Two more stories.

My Spanish teacher friend invited several of us to her commitment ceremony, and we showed up in droves, gay and straight. You could easily discern each person's orientation, though--the gays usually came in groups or pairs, while the straights arrived singly, each one carrying a package prettily wrapped in white and tied with bells and silver ribbon. We knew what to bring to a wedding.

My friend told me her brother, also gay, was visiting her one week. She said she suggested they visit the Rainbow Alliance headquarters or see the local museum's gay rights display, but he and his partner wanted to check out the discount shopping mall in San Marcos instead. Go figure--playing right into the stereotype.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Room 300

When Fio taught English at Austin Community College, all of the liberal arts adjuncts were housed in a bull pen office together. As Fio was sitting at her desk one day, she couldn't help but listen in as a good-looking male student talked to his Spanish teacher about how he should be in a higher level class, etc. He smiled a lot and sparkled his eyes at her, and she seemed to be buying it all.

After he left, Fio wondered if she should say something to the young teacher, casually mention that some golden boys think they can charm female teachers into their good graces? No, Fio decided. Let her figure that one out for herself.

Fio later learned that Prince Charming hadn't moved the young teacher in the least. She was gay.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Gift

Wesley wasn't quite as tall as she was, but he was the fourth cutest guy in the seventh grade, and he was her boyfriend. He walked her to her classes and he text messaged her all the time and he had promised her a special gift for Valentine's Day.

Lily liked being walked to classes and answering his texts, but she was not at all sure about Valentine's Day. After all, Wes had promised her something for Christmas and for her birthday, then not come through. Each time he had told her that he would get her something really nice for the next holiday.

"It doesn't matter," she'd told him, but it did. It embarrassed her. She wished he'd just shut up. She hadn't pressed him but her friends had. It wasn't as if she needed anything, but it would have been nice to have one of those heart necklaces like Amber’s last boyfriend gave her, or a balloon bouquet, like Justin gave Megan before she moved to Michigan.

So now Wes was talking about a gift for Valentine's, and Lily was preparing to hang loose and act as though she didn't care when he didn't produce.

"If only he'd just quit mentioning it," she had told Justin during English. “My friends are laughing at him.”

She and Justin had been talking quite a bit lately because he was still glum about Megan moving.

Lily grew more and more tense as Valentine's Day approached. Wes was acting oddly too, not text messaging her as much. He had to spend all of his time studying, he said, but she didn’t believe him. Then, two days before Valentine's, he walked out of English with Amber, completely ignoring Lily. She felt like a boulder had hit her in the chest. Heat rushed up to her head and her ears completely stopped up. Was this for real?

Thinking fast, she hissed at her neighbor. "Justin, walk with me to my next class."

He understood the situation in a glance and grabbed his books to comply--like a medieval knight rescuing a lady in distress, Lily told her girlfriends. He walked her to all of her classes that day, then the next, and gave her a rose and a heart necklace on Valentine’s. Megan was history.

Later she heard that Wesley had told Amber the reason he didn’t give her a Valentine’s gift was that he was saving up to get her a really nice gift for her birthday.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

All Too Public Lives

Fiorella is fascinated by the accounts of various married celebrities who announce they are engaged, as if that lends legitimacy to the relationship, before they get divorced from their current spouses. Down-the-tubes politico John Edwards is the latest, following in the slimy footsteps of Jon Gosselin.

Gosselin's engagement lasted only as it took for a new hottie to come on the scene. Fio's not taking any bets on Edwards'.

Sorry this is coming out so late,
Fio scheduled the time but not the date.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Rain Lady

It rained again yesterday, and Fio admits responsibility.

Yes, rainmaking is one of her minor superpowers. All she has to do is go to her hairdresser and the heavens flood over. Even if the day is clear when she enters the salon, it's raining when she leaves. This happened even during the drought.

Darn--she should have hired out to the county and filled the reservoirs.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rolling On

One of the joys of watching the country dwarfs, the Roloffs, is seeing their kids grow and mature--Jeremy and Zachary, for instance. The twins are unlike in appearance, with Zachary being an achondroplasia dwarf and Jeremy not. When Fio first started tuning into the show, Jer was difficult around the house, doing poorly in school, and looking for a girlfriend. Zach, meanwhile, was supportive of his parents, did well in school, and not too interested in girls.

The years march on. Jer now acts maturely in family situations but Zachary doesn't. Both boys have graduated from high school, Jer settling down and doing quite well, but Zach barely making it through his senior year. Jer, who's had two serious girlfriends on the show, seems to be a bachelor now, while Zach has hooked up with an "average-size" girl.

The Roloffs are a microcosm of the world. Jeremy and Zachary may be twins, but obviously Jeremy hit adolescence earlier than Zach. He's out of it now, and in another year, Zach will be too (Zach--Those zits you keep picking at will be gone too.)

Welcome to adulthood.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thinking Twice

Fio thinks twice when stories appear about bygone male movie stars being suspected of gaity because, when they first hit Hollywood, they roomed together, sleeping in the same bed.

In the first place, it's nobody's business. In the second place, twin beds, kings, and queens had not been invented yet, but poverty had. Check out the circumstances--sometimes back then a whole family had only one bed, which they shared. And Fio bets you could find the same situation in poorer sections of town today.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Have you noticed how reality stars are taking over the covers of People and other celebrity-oriented magazines? Even the Duggars have made it.

What's going on? Have we become bored with the standard celebs and their antics? It's no surprise anymore when a sex tape featuring Paris surfaces, Britny bares her shaven crotch, or Charlie roughs up his wife. Even the politicos are predictable--the ones who are playing around on their wives with other women, the anti-gay ones who spice up their lives with homosexual hook-ups, the ones who have taken bribes. And the athletes . . . .

So now the Duggars are on the cover of People with a teaser about them planning to have more children even though their last one was born way too early.

Fio isn't registering an opinion. It's their lives.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Brad's Chin

Fio is a fan of Luann, the comic strip. The art fascinates her. The characters are well-drawn, their bodies at least. The heads tend to be comic-strippy stereotyped, although they do change. The evolution of Brad, Luann's older brother, has been especially interesting. From a pudgy, snub-nosed kid, he has matured into a well-built, nice-looking young man. His head first lost the odd dent in the back. Then his hair settled down a little, and his jowls receded. He developed a neck and his eyebrows thinned. Last week he had a definite ninety-degree angle to his chin. And I think his nose was a little less tilted.

Yes, our Brad is becoming a stud, a fitting mate for the lovely Toni Daytona.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mental Health

Fio grabs Husband's old shirts because she she thinks they look cute on her--like a bobby soxer of a bygone age. Husband thinks Fio is crazy--but then, he always has.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

On the Wing

Like carrier pigeons
My e-mails fly
To cousins, offspring,
Friends, while I
Sit anxious by
Their empty roosts,
And wait for a reply.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Either Or

Fiorella has lost two pounds and already her wrists seem smaller and her clothes feel looser. But then, Fio possesses amazing powers of self-delusion, almost as strong as her power for fouling up electronics.

Yes, she's done it again. Her laptop won't recharge, despite the new battery being just a couple of months old. Maybe Fio should wear a lead shield. But think of how much THAT would add to her weight.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vanity Revisited

As said before, Fio, thy name is vanity.

So she got a microdermabrasion yesterday. Mainly because it was free, one of those samples designed to lure the customer in for the fuller package ($79 apiece, $149 for three). And also because she wondered if it would work--Fio is all for looking better.

Too early to tell if it had any effect because the aesthetician told her results take a couple of days to show, but what Fio can tell you is that it didn't hurt. In fact, all that minute facial massage was relaxing. And the procedure didn't leave red streaks either, like Friend Paula ended up with when she tried one at a different salon.

Will she try it again? Who knows. Maybe what Fio really needs is a face transplant.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Oasis, omelet, orate,
Piton, posse, and sate,
Veto, arson, maxi
A new one even--airtaxi
The crossword puzzle was easy today--
The old writer's back! Hooray!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


For supper last night, Fio and Husband had popcorn and Slumdog Millionaire. From the reviews, Fio had expected a heartwarming Bollywood fairy tale--a sweet and charming story to wash down the popcorn on a Sunday evening.

Slumdog Millionaire is anything but. Instead, it's a gritty expose of everything that is awful about India--the hustling, violence, venality, poverty, disgusting living conditions, social snobbery, corruption, and crime, all stitched together through the vehicle of a quiz show contestant.

Jamal Makil is an Everyman of India's downtrodden, literally covered in excrement, but somehow shining with purity, a prince in a social cesspool. And when he meets his princess, it's a forever commitment.

The romance is unbelievable, but so what? The movie has to be tied up somehow, and after all the sh*t Jamal has gone through, no audience would settle for the inevitable ending. Instead, his destiny is to win the quiz show (despite the machinations of the sleazy host) and to win the girl.

The acting was first rate, from the children up through the various types of adult sleazeballs, thugs, and predators Jamal ran into. Fio's only complaint about the movie is that the cuts between "now" and "then" were so abrupt as to be disconcerting. Maybe a little more cinematic finesse would have been appropriate.

Fio remembers that other people had other complaints--that "slumdog" is not an actual term used in India, for instance. A more serious complaint was that the child actors were exploited, not paid enough--although their very exploitive parents seemed to be the primary ones making that charge.

For Fio and Husband, it was an unexpected Sunday night movie, but a good one.

Monday, February 1, 2010


The medical shows about conjoined twins, parasitic twins, people with giant tumors or facial deformities, men whose skin resembles tree bark--Fio watches them all. It's the "before" and "after" aspects that fascinate her. They tell her there's still hope in the world--miracles even.

Last night she caught up on Julianna, "Born without a Face." It's Treacher-Collins to the extreme: one displaced eye, stubs for ears, no nose, and a gaping mouth where her lower face should have been.

Five years and twenty-nine surgeries later, Juliana's face has made a lot of progress: two eyes now, a nose, some work on her skull. Last night the surgeon tried a skin graft to give her a cheek, but it didn't work.

Juliana doesn't like the surgeries so her parents are thinking of calling it quits. The kindergarten kids accept her as she is, her mother reports. And obviously her family loves her.

But I vote for continuing the surgeries, doing everything possible to give Julianna a better face while she is still young enough to heal well. As she gets older, her peers will be less accepting of her appearance. And her family will not always be with her. Besides, eventually she'll want to be independent, to react to the world on her own terms.

Mom and Dad, let her put her best face forward.

Let the miracles happen.