Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorable Moments in Motherhood

When Fio heard Daughter singing "Midnight" from Cats and realized that Daughter has not only a voice, which Fio at one time had, but also natural musicianship, which Fio never had.

When Fio heard Younger son tell his KidsActing group that the person he respected most was his family, because they never stop trying. (Fio's note: and he never does either.)

When Fio looked at the group-effort poster that Older Son's first grade class had just brought back from art class and noticed, in the center of it, a drawing of a bird, and wished her son had done it--and learned he had.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Goooooood Mornin'!

Today our Fio's
Feelin' good,
Great, in fact,
As well she should.
Had a nice dream,
But it fled
When she awoke
And got out of bed.
But the essence,
She can't forget
Its lingering glow
Warms her yet.
Gotta go--
A lot to do,
Were havin' friends
For barbecue.
(Really burgers,
But that won't rhyme--
We'll have ribs
Another time.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dawn Cracking

Husband and Fiorella are up and dressed at the crack of dawn. Ho-ho, ho-ho, it's off to work we go. Not to mine sparkling gems out of a dark cave while Snow White tidies up the house (ever noticed what a charge Disney heroines of a certain era got out of washing and cleaning?), but to chop cedar while Wendy Dog sleeps like--well--a dog.

Husband is armed with the chainsaw, and Fio, slathered with bug-repellent Skin So Soft, has her lopper in hand.

The cedar chopping is their contribution to the professional landscaping that's currently underway around the house. They're paying through the nose for it, and the more they do themselves, the less they bleed.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Keep it on the hush for now, but one of Fiorella's multi-contest winning friends is talking to an agent at this very moment, and everything looks good to go.

And people ask Fio why she wastes her time entering contests

Thursday, May 27, 2010


You are reading the blog of a happy woman. Fiorella has spent almost every minute of the week writing.

The first thing she's been doing when she comes downstairs every morning is turn on the computer. Breakfast has to wait till later, when she needs a break to get her thoughts straight. Lunch is a quick apple. Okay, she admits she devotes a couple of hours to Husband and dinner, but then she's back at it again. The other night she wrote till after ten, which was a mistake because then she had trouble sleeping.

And the great thing is that Husband supports her efforts. "It's your job," he tells her. "Go to it."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lost and Found

The time has come, the Walrus said, for Fio to clean up her desk. And the stack of papers on the coffee table. And the pile of miscellany beside her on the couch. You guessed it--Fiorella has lost an Important Paper, and she knows it's SOMEWHERE. So Fio will clean up her act.

But not today.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Write Away!

Yesterday was halcyon. With no outside commitments, Fiorella arose before seven, washed her hair and dressed, wrote about her dramatic tendencies, then spent the rest of the day working on her latest literary masterpiece. There was a brief pause at eleven for breakfast and at two for a snack, then a big break from five to eight to accommodate Husband, dinner, dwarves, piano practice, and burn-out. By eight, she was at it again, finally closing up shop around ten. Fio loves time well spent.

Now if she could just lose weight.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Save an Oscar for Fio

Fiorella has often been characterized as dramatic. Well, duh!

First there was the Sunday School play, in which she portrayed the the model wearing the hat which the prospective buyer liked best. Then there was the kindergarten end-of-year parade, in which Fio marched as a high-stepping horse, trunk-swinging elephant, and triangle player, all at the same time. In the first grade, she starred in the Easter play as the bunny who convinced the other bunnies not to strike against ungrateful children. In the second grade, she hit the bigtime as Child Two in the elementary school Christmas play. Maturing as an actress, she spent her after-school hours at Baylor Children's Theater in the third, fourth, and fifth grades. Sixth grade brought a school circus play, in which she was ringmaster. Seventh and eighth grades were devoted to puberty, but ninth grade brought roles as lady villains in two different plays. Fio wore a wig in one and cracked a whip in the other.

And did she leave out the summer plays she and Friend Ellen staged on her family's patio? Or the one in Friend Elaine's back yard?

In short, her formative years were spent playacting. Is there any wonder she's dramatic?

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Every morning Fiorella comes downstairs and, first off, opens the shades. From past experience, she knows that if she didn't do it, the house would be shrouded in darkness all day. Husband wouldn't think to welcome the new day and neither would any offspring in residence at the time.

But Fio is a mother, and that's what mothers do--let the light shine in.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Green-eyed Monster

Jealousy. It's different from covetousness. One covets something already possessed by someone else--fame and fortune, popularity, a particular literary agent. But jealousy is more personal: one hates the person who has what one covets. Think Iago, who orchestrated the downfall of Othello and the deaths of four people out of sheer jealousy.

"Ignore it. She's/he's just jealous," Fio's been told. But our Fio is wary. Even in real life, people kill out of jealousy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Selling the Cell

So, a synthetic organism has been developed in the lab. How exciting. How scary.

Exciting because of the potential for producing fuels and vaccines, maybe repairing various medical conditions. Scary because it breeds itself. If we can't control an oil spill, what will happen when a rogue cell runs riot?

On the other hand, Fiorella has had a plot idea playing around in her head for several years involving a society with complete control of its biology. Hmmmm--not only exciting and scary, but a literary opportunity.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No Can Do

Fio just discovered that she doesn't like graphic novels.

Don't get her wrong--she loves the art, the dramatic presentation in each panel, the lighting, the line, the perspective. But she spends so much time drinking in the artistic details that the plot line turns into a stop-action movie.

Maybe it's because, while she enjoys a good story, it's art that makes her world go 'round.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fio's Madonna Story

Fio fondly remembers years ago when she was one of the mothers who walked her son's fifth grade class to the roller skating rink eight blocks away. The students were getting a little rowdy so Fio suggested they sing. She started them on "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," but they quickly switched to their own choice: Madonna's latest hits.

Imagine thirty ten year-olds belting out "Papa, Don't Preach" and "Like A Virgin" at the top of their lungs as they walked down the sidewalk. Fio was appalled at how well they knew the lyrics.

But at least it kept them occupied all the way to the rink.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Have to confess
Fio's a mess--
Her hair is dyed,
Her teeth are capped,
She's been Botoxed,
Her eyes were zapped,
Her legs are lasered.
Her heart's electronic--
All in all,
Fio's bionic.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why Do I Write?

Why do I write? To empty my brain while it still has anything in it, and I write everything: poems, playlets, stories, novels, memoirs, opinion pieces, songs, and little operas. I write at top speed too, not a minute to spare. My plan is to live forever through what I've written--like Shakespeare, like Pepys--so when there is a little girl born sometime in the future who is different from everybody else, she can read all I've written and not feel so lonely.

Granddaughter who may never be, this is for you.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Drought Is Over

I never imagined I'd see wildflowers in my own backyard, but that's part of the joy of living in the hill country. A month ago, Husband carefully mowed around the mass of pale pink evening primroses outside our door, and they're still blooming away.

And when I walk down the driveway, I see verbenas, Mexican hats, and purple thistles. Down the road a ways are hillsides so enflowered that they look like gold paint has been splashed on them. Earlier in the month, it was blue paint.

God bless rain.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Way It Goes

Our lives are like parking lots. We leave wherever we come from, park ourselves, run around and do all sorts of things, then drive back to wherever we come from.

(And, yes, for those who noticed, sometimes we screw up and post something on Friday that was meant for Saturday. F)

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Super Fio!

Fiorella's gone and done it again--at her bank, no less. When she drove up to the window this morning to make a deposit, her super power asserted itself and knocked out the electronics, preventing the vacuum tubes from working. After about ten minutes of watching tellers scurry around trying to figure out what to do, Fio asked them to handwrite her a receipt.

Luddism rules!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Skateboard Skeptic

Speaking of door-to-door salesmen, which we weren't, I don't think Fio has told you about her most recent encounter with such.

It happened in the gloaming, that hazy evening time after supper but before night darkness has settled in. The doorbell rang.

Fio hopped up and and looked through the plate glass door to discover an overturned skateboard, its wheels still a-turnin', on her front porch, an interesting, uh, turn of events because Fio's driveway is gravel--all fifty yards of it. She opened the door and a man leaped onto the porch from behind the side of the house. Picking up the skateboard, he smiled with all his teeth and explained that he was part of some sort of college project which she can't remember now. Now, Fio has a soft spot in her heart for college students and their projects so she listened to his spiel sympathetically--until he said he had to raise money for a trip to London and this was what his professor had saddled him with, at which point he whipped out that laminated list of magazines we've all seen so many times.

Fio is a born skeptic, and there were a few problems with his story. Number one, he was in his thirties, too old for a skateboard. Number two, the college project story was ridiculous. Number three, he tried to tell me his family lived in our neighborhood, but no one lives in our area by the name he gave me. Number four, when I tried to put him off and asked for a phone number, he couldn't give me one, not even his "father's." Number five, he grinned like a maniac.

And then there was the stupid skateboard.

Fio pondered the skateboard all evening and finally came up with a likely scenario. Picture this. Fiorella answers the doorbell of her urban home and discovers a skateboard upside down on her front porch. A man appears--or maybe he gets up from the ground--and says he slipped off her porch. He limps. Fiorella, afraid of a lawsuit, signs up for multiple magazines.

Yeah, like heck she would.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bad Test, Good Cop

See that woman sitting in her car in front of a Valero convenience store scarfing down a huge chocolate bar? That's Fiorella and she's just had a stress test.

Just what is a stress test, you ask. It's an invention by devil doctors to find out how well your heart is working by half-killing you. Fio hates stress tests and is always sure she'll die mid-process

Which brings us to the chocolate. The test is not painful per se, but it is uncomfortable enough that Fio has been known to whimper and moan, uh, under stress. When the test's over, you're supposed to get hold of any sort of caffeine to offset the remaining side effects.

So when Fio bounced out of the doctors' office in her usual high-flying style and slithered into her darling baby car, she headed towards Lamme's Candy for a medically-prescribed double helping of chocolate fudge (shades of Harry Potter). But after she'd been on the road for a few minutes, she started feeling funny--short of breath, woozy--exactly the symptoms the techie had described. Gasping like dying cow, she tried for a shortcut to Lamme's.

Unfortunately, the shortcut involved an illegal right turn onto Airport Boulevard and she got nailed. Fio panicked. What if she passed out before she got any caffeine?

"Do you have any chocolate on you?" she asked the policeman, breathing even harder. She waggled her red-bandaged hand him. "I've just had a stress test and need caffeine immediately."

APD's finest lived up to his vow of community service. "There's a convenience store right down the street," he said, pointing to the right. "Just don't make this turn again."

Fio was at the store in three minutes and sitting in the parking lot munching on chocolate two minutes after that. Within ten minutes, she'd also circled around to Lamme's and scored some chocolate break-up.

But not before stopping in the turn lane at the fateful intersection, spotting her own particular Good Cop, and yelling, "THANK YOU! I THOUGHT I WAS DYING."

That's a story he'll tell over doughnuts.

May Be or No

May has not been a good month for Fio. She got confused from the get go--probably all because of that missing thirty-first day. You already know she screwed up Sister-in-Law's birthday dinner, but what you don't know is that she also was almost late to Friend Joe's Pecos Bill shindig the next Friday, and that she thought last Saturday was the tenth, then that Sunday was the tenth, then finally discovered that Monday was it. Speaking of Sunday and Monday, she also got it into her head on Sunday that it was Monday and thus the Roloffs would be on at seven, which, of course, they weren't because it Sunday, not Monday--uhm, following all this?

Anyway, Fio, vowing reform, is continuously consulting her overloaded calendar and making meticulous lists of what each day entails.

Lessee now, where's that list go?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fair Enough

Husband is not much for throwing things away. I'm not sure he understands the purpose of waste baskets. On the other hand, he's also kept Fio around for forever.

I guess I can handle garbage duty.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Mother

Of course, Mother was obsessive about the house, obsessive about stability, because her childhood had been distinguished by a lack of it as her family moved from rent house to rent house, depending on her father's employment/unemployment of the moment

She was a remarkable woman. Her single-minded ambition was to lead a respectable, middle-class lifestyle and to raise her children to do the same--and she succeeded. Education was the key: she was the first person in her family to graduate from college--at the head of her class, no less. Liquor was the enemy; she did not drink, nor did the man she married.

And anger was her constant companion, an unrecognized inheritance from her alcoholic father.

Eighteen years after her death, I understand more where she was coming from, which helps me benefit from what she did give me rather than resenting what she didn't--or couldn't.

Happy day-after-Mother's day, Mom. I love you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Return of the Neanderthals

Fiorella, eagerly following the newest Neanderthal info, is interested to learn that, according to DNA studies, non-African homo sapiens show evidence of Neanderthal DNA, but Neanderthals show no evidence of our DNA. The obvious conclusion is that Neanderthal men could sire children on Cro-Magnon women, but Cro-Magnon men could not mate productively with Neanderthal women.

All of which ties in with a theory Fio has held for years, that the females of the species are the key. Neanderthal women's pelvises were built differently than those of homo sapiens, they carried their babies in utero longer, and their children had more developed bone structures at birth--all of which could have negatively affected them giving birth to sapiens babies.

And Husband has chimed in with the theory that children born to Neanderthal mothers and Cro Magnon fathers could have been mules, unable to breed.

Scientific world, do you hear us?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mixed Heritage

Ha HA! Fio was right all along. The human genome, at least of non-Africans, is one to four percent Neanderthal!

There WAS intermingling, which is only logical. If people do it with sheep, they'll certainly try hominids.

Fio has a further theory. Maybe modern man got his brains from Africa, but the lighter complexions some of us sport came from the Neanderthals. That makes more sense to Fio than claiming it was all in the sunshine.

But in the meantime, Fiorella is reveling in her new Neanderthalism. One to four percent, the researchers say, but from time to time, Fio's encountered people who seem to have gotten more than their fair share. Right now, most of them are wearing Indian costumes and picketing the health care bill.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Nephew Barrett has his on viewpoint of a media room. In fact, he said . . . .

Don't forget a Blu-ray player (PS3?) and a home theater computer! I find it funny to read Fio's horror at the cathedral-esque setup of a home theater room while it just makes my mouth water to think of it.

The experience of watching Master and Commander in 1080p with 7.1 surround sound in a dimly lit room will transport you to that world. I can only imagine that it would be a truly immersive experience.

My wife says it must be a man thing.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Variety of Life

Fio refuses to spend more than $20 per month on sunglasses, which means she invests about $240 per year in them. Hmmm. That's a lot of money. Is there any way to keep from losing those suckers?
Fio's usual transport, Friend Kathryn, won't be able to make it to the next RWA meeting, but Friend Gary has kindly volunteered to fill the gap. The traffic islands of the world, for whom Fio's nighttime driving is a constant menace, are breathing a sigh of relief.
The national RWA conference has had to be moved from Nashville to Orlando. All this and Goofy too.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Fio is concerned about the safety of people who live in houses wide-open open to nature. There's a reason walls and doors were invented. Nature is indiscriminate. Nature includes sidewinders and rabid raccoons and black-widow spiders and passing strangers who see an easy target.

Fio herself prefers doors, locks, and an alarm system. And a big dog.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Fio did something awful Saturday. She forgot. She and Husband were supposed to take Brother and Sister-in-Law out to dinner to celebrate SiL's upcoming birthday, but Fio, the calendar-keeper of the family, screwed up. Half an hour after the appointed time, SiL called her from the restaurant, and Fio was so rattled that she set another day to meet when she should have bundled Husband into his glad rags forthwith and headed for the car.

Everything was entirely her fault, and, call her a control freak, but Fio doesn't like to make mistakes. Especially ones that hurt other people.

So now, on SiL's natal day, she publicly apologizes to all. Mea culpa.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Under Attack

Fio tends to squirm at the concept of a home theater, a cathedral-like room dedicated entirely to the worship of a frightening large LCD viewing screen. Checking the Internet, she learned that even an economy theater runs at least $50K. It's not just the 60" TV, but the special lighting to prevent glare on the screen, the comfy seats or couches equipped with cup holders and food trays, the DVD player, the stereo and speakers, and, of course, the sound-absorbing carpeting. Bypassing the TV entirely and going to a projection system adds even more buck$.

The monetary waste horrifies Fio, but it's more than that--it's the whole idea of sitting in a darkened room and staring at an imaginary life for hours on end. The zombies are coming, and they are us.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


My children lie to me
As did I to mine.
How is everything today?
Just fine, my dear, just fine.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I feel antique,
So old I creak,
Body's weak,
Can hardly speak.
At least that's how I feel today--
Tomorrow I'll feel another way.