Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Fio is feeling okay
Better than yesterday
But still she thinks she'll stay
From church, and in her closet pray.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


There's no getting around it. Fiorella, who is usually up, is down. There was all that telephone and internet trouble last week, followed by a horrible day-long migraine (which is still echoing around her brain), then the five dead plants in the expensive new landscape, the bank making her dig up more and more meaningless financial records for the prospective refinancing, and, to top it off, although she renewed two weeks ago, AVG telling her that her computer is unprotected, but not supplying a phone number for her to call to straighten things out.

Also, while Older Son was visiting, he discovered the plumbing for the downstairs bathroom is leaking behind the wall.

So Fio ponders all this stuff and of all the things that have happened in the past, and she feels overloaded.

But she can't even go to church because, while she silently prays for strength, the pastor's life, as he lets everyone know, is halcyon, which only intensifies her depression.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Good Time Gal

We had a family gathering last night, and Fio, who is a herd animal at heart, likes family gatherings. Older son and his wife were visiting from Minnesota so Fio invited her brother and his wife over, and Nephew Barrett and his wife also joined us. We would have loved to have added Younger Son and girlfriend plus Daughter and boyfriend to the melange, but they were unavailable, the former in California, the latter already committed in Austin. As it was, the house was full of laughter, the hamburgers Husband cooked were great, and the love flowed freely. Fio was in seventh heaven.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reluctant Judge

Fiorella has to write a one-page critique of an excerpt she is judging for a romance writing contest, and she doesn't want to.

In the first place, Fio is very aware that her viewpoint is strictly subjective, as is everyone's. There is no golden template, nor does Fio possess a map of a yellow brick road to literary stardom--if so, she would have rolled down it herself.

But there are realizations that help, and that's what she will try to provide. Fresh eyes often see what familiar ones miss.

Fio's been judging a fair amount lately, and a common problem seems to be sense of setting, or lack thereof. After an announcement of the setting--a snowstorm, for instance--there's no follow through, like snowflakes landing on one's face, problems stumbling on rocks or curbs hidden by the snow, the cold taking away one's breath. And in a restaurant, wouldn't one hear silverware clinking and the hum of other diners' voices? And smell the food?

Oooops--Fio has set off one of her pet peeves--jarring odors. In an effort to "use the five senses," a common literary admonition, all of a sudden, we learn that the heroine of the moment smells like roses, summer breezes, and fresh cinnamon. Might as well add that she likes long walks on the beach, evenings on a bearskin rug in front of a fire, and measures 36-24-36. Heroes are all too often described by their colognes. Fio thinks if a man's outstanding characteristic is his cologne, he has problems.

Oh, dear--Fio's being judgmental again. But what else can one do when one is judging?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In Flight

Be careful of my wings, my dear
They took so long thus to appear
And are quite tender, weak, and sheer.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Out of Touch

Fiorella is a creature of deliberate habits. She builds routines so she can save her active brain for more important things. Thus she arises early and takes a little gray pill, combs her hair, and brushes her teeth, the goes downstairs to read the newspaper and open up her laptop. Otherwise, dawn will not come.

Her blog is usually pre-written, sometimes a week in advance, but often she writes just after she gets downstairs--like today. On Wednesday, though, all the computers were off-line. Husband checked out every connection in the house and Fio called the server, but there was no respite--at last, God had turned off the electricity.

It was a bad scene. The telephones had been out for three days previous, with Verizon insisting the culprit was us and us insisting it was Verizon. Husband again checked all connections, and they were sound. Mysteriously, power was restored Wednesday morning--yes, just before the internet torpedoed.

All of this threw Fio for a loop. Sure, she could take her pill, brush her teeth, and comb her hair, but her communications were shot. No Fiorella Plum.

And that's what Fio saves her inventiveness for.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hello, Again!

Don't worry about Fio
She's just fine--
She was offline.

A call to the server
For a repair
And now she's fixed,
Back on the air.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Upside Down

Yesterday was full of topsy-turvies, which makes for great fiction but can be unnerving in real life.

Fio thought her day was all set. She'd meet Friend Katie at 1:00 for lunch and laughs, then welcome Older Son and wife, driving in from Minnesota, in the evening. In between, she'd telephone Beasley Mazda about the welfare of her baby car and work like mad on her latest novel.

Friend Katie canceled, Son and wife won't be in until THIS evening, the phones were out, and Fio spent most of her day trying to find her daily list and her JetBlue airline ticket to the Orlando conference, both of which had mysteriously disappeared.

She deserved that big slice of Husband's Father's Day cake she downed for lunch.

Monday, June 21, 2010

East Is East and West Is West

Part of Fiorella's degree is in Indian Studies--not warpaint and feather headdresses, but fatalism, ahimsa, and friendship. Fio has had experience with all three.

Years ago Fio and two Indian friends were being driven through downtown Chicago, under yellow lights turning red and down one-way streets in the wrong direction. Fio reacted to each near-tragedy with a jerk or wince while her two friends did nothing but placidly pull their pallus across their noses against the fishy odor of the waterfront. "How could you stay so calm?" Fio later asked Friend Uma. Shrugging her shoulders, she gave Fio an answer as old as India: "If it was my time to go, it was my time to go."

Fio also remembers when Friend Sushila pointed out an ant meandering across the page of the Telugu text Fio was laboring to translate. Fiorella, daughter of the West, promptly squashed the interloper flat; Sushila, daughter of the East, uttered a cry of surprise and horror. Sorry--Fio was brought up with a can of Raid under the kitchen sink.

Expressions of friendship could also be problematical. Male and female friends do not hold hands in public in India, although friends of the same sex often do. The American girls in the study program soon adjusted to walking around campus holding hands with their female Indian friends, but the American guys were more reticent.

Namaskaaram-anDi to all.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Today Daughter will bring the special chocolate cake and spend the afternoon.

Today, after mailing a gift a couple of days ago, Younger Son will call his greetings from far-off California.

Today Older Son and his wife are on the road from Minnesota to celebrate Husband's birthday with him on Wednesday.

God is good.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Baby Car

Fiorella's darling baby car is in the shop. It started acting odd Wednesday, sort of like it was trying to stop on her while she was racing up I-35 from Austin at 70 mph.

Anyway, the dealership called yesterday morning with the damage--Fio means the bill. Fifteen hundred to get baby car in tip-top shape. Fio hates spending the money, but she can't let baby car die. All the old guys at HEB give her the once-over when she eases out of her sassy little sports car. It's her image.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Five Things Daughter Has Done that Fio Never Did

1) She traveled to England for a solo visit.

2) She lived in an apartment all alone.

3) She bought her own car with her own money.

4) She fronted a rock band.

5) She's had a pedicure.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Luddite Speaks

I am a slave to my computer.

It honks at me, I plug in its umbilical. It runs out of paper, I feed it. It refuses to print, I buy it a new cartridge. It blows its top, I weep and comfort it with a replacement hard drive.

I use it to keep up with the news, to research any little item about which I am curious, to communicate with friends and family, to compose poetry, short stories, and wonderful novels.

And occasionally I lend it to Fiorella Plum to keep you entertained.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Georgetown News

Fiorella saw Satan yesterday. He was a wiry old man in a billed cap, behind a table on the post office lawn. A blue and white striped umbrella shaded him and the people he was signing up to impeach Obama. Approximately ten large printed signs surrounded him, reading everything from "Plug the BP Hole with Obama's Ego" to "Kill the Flea" to "It's War! Kick Out BP--British Puppet Obama." Each of the signs featured a large portrait of Obama with a Hitler mustache. Several of the signs also had "LaRouche" somewhere on them.

Fio googled the name. Lyndon LaRouche has quite a bio and his organization does too. Slander and violence are the name of the game.

Right here in Georgetown on the post office lawn. And the postal inspector okayed them.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lady Rebounds

Fio remembers the 1980's, when the brouhaha about the designation "lady" erupted. It was a women's lib thing. "Lady" was considered a linguistic symbol of stereotypical societal expectations of women. Females were not "ladies," but WOMEN. So the signs on the restroom doors changed.

Fast forward thirty years. Now everyone and their perra is a lady. A muscle-bound female athlete, the woman who cleans the toilets, the terrorist, the OctoMom--all are referred to as ladies. Although the designation of "gentleman" was never protested against, it too is applied in ways never originally dreamed of. Fio is especially amused when police officials refer to every "alleged" male perp--from joy rider to mass murderer--as a gentleman.

Language is always changing and endlessly fascinating. That's why Fio is in the business.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bug Bait

Fio's is the haute cuisine of the mini-muncher world. Mosquitoes, chiggers, you name them--they all step up to the table.

Two days ago she was the victim of a fire ant bite, and they don't call them fire ants for nothing. One little nip on her toe and her foot was aflame. Husband prepared her a baking soda poultice Saturday evening, but she had to stagger out of bed in the middle of the night to renew it in order to get some sleep. It's been that way ever since--about three apps a day to quell the pain.

So now she's going to use a fire ant episode in one of her romance plots. No pain, no gain.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Et Alia

Fio's parents were from the northeast--Ohio and Pennsylvania, to be exact. They never saw a tree they didn't want chopped down.
It's a good thing the teabaggers are rich--all those costumes must cost a pretty penny.
Have you noticed? These days, not even the glamorous movie stars can get guys to marry them.
Back when, learning to type meant the only career one aspired to was as a secretary. Since Fio wanted to be an artist and writer, she developed nice handwriting instead. Obviously that was before the computer was invented. Oh, the irony of it all.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Creat Cicada Caper

Yeah, I know, Fio's posting late. Usually an early riser, she didn't get up till 9:30 today. Blame it on the cicada.

For three nights running, her sleep has been rudely interrupted at random intervals by a sudden raucous rattling. On Wednesday, her first cotton-brained conjecture was that a rattlesnake had somehow crawled inside the house. But when she gathered her wits about her, she realized that no matter how sinisterly clever a snake was, it couldn't shinny up a brick wall. Besides, the sound had almost a chirp to it. Eventually she concluded it was a male cicada uttering arias of despair over lack of matrimonial opportunities.

Husband heard the sound Thursday night and assured her the bug was outside, yodeling from the balcony railing. In fact, he was sure he could see its red eyes glaring at him through the pane glass, but the sound really didn't bother him. At least not enough to risk the red eyes.

Fio thought that, after two days, the bug would dry up and blow away, but last night it was as loud as ever, and changing locations to boot, which made her realize the cicada was not outside, but somewhere in the room. Putting her untimely awakening to good use, Fio got on the internet and learned everything there is to know about cicadas, then resolved to seek the villain out the next morning.

But Husband, who got up at a decent hour, beat her to it. The great green bug was lurking the wall on HIS side of the bed. Now for the removal. Fio contemplated a fly swatter or PCV pipe, with someone inhaling--preferably not Fio--on the other end of it. Husband, of a more practical nature, grabbed a broom and dust pan. A sweep of the broom to knock the bug off the wall, another sweep to load it on the end of the broom, and it was out the balcony door.

Which brings up another concern. What about those red eyes glaring through the glass?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Right on the Mark

Always topical, Doonesbury is the only comic strip I know of to cover the Middle East war, warts and all.

Remember when BD's leg was blown off and the warmongers called it unpatriotic? Well, the leg was the least of it--he also needed extensive psychological counseling for post-traumatic stress syndrome. And then there's Alex's boyfriend, recovering from brain damage, and Melissa, who was sexually assauledt by a superior officer. All in all, from Duke, profiteering as usual, to the Protestant lady chaplain, administering last rites to Catholic casualties, every human aspect of the war is covered.

Kudos, Gary Trudeau.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Fiorella's mood
Verges on "brood."
So many she knows
Are hitting lows.
Hopeless despair
Is in the air
And nobody, nobody,
Seems to care.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Travails of Fiorella

As Fiorella left yesterday afternoon, she assured Husband she'd be home by 9:30, 10:00 at the latest, and tucked into bed by 10:30. Little did she know

Hopping into her darling baby car, she drove off to Target, where she bought a birthday card for Friend Ellen and met up with Friend Elaine, who was giving her a ride the rest of the way to the RWA meeting. The meeting got started a little past its usual time because of late arrivals, and it ran over because the presentation was especially interesting. Afterwards, Friend Elaine needed to make a twenty-minute side trip, and when Fio picked up her car again in the Target parking lot, she realized she would have to take an extra ten minutes to go mail Friend Ellen's BD card immediately because it would be past due anyway. Finally she arrived home, dead tired but still keyed up, at about 10:40.

How great to be home, to be able to relax for a while before trudging upstairs for bath and bed.

Then she stepped in some leftover from Wendy Dog's early morning gastrointestinal disturbance that she hadn't spotted before. Another twenty minutes cleaning various spots of it off the rug.

Then, checking her e-mail one last time before she turned off the lights and turned on the security alarm, she discovered that she'd messed up on her entry to Heart of the Rockies writing contest. She'd have to fix that, but not tonight.

Finally--up the stairs, turn on the bath, and settle down for a relaxing soak. Ah, that was enough water in the tub. She reached for the hot water faucet.

It came off in her hand.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Touch Ups

The country dwarves, the Roloffs, are in hiatus and the city dwarves, Bill and Jen, are back on the tube. And, wow, are they spiffed up! Can you spell Botox? Can you spell Restylane? Can you spell make-over?

And guess who got the make-over: BILL! Not only has he lost weight, but he's grown a mustache and goatee, and his artfully styled hair glows reddish with highlights.

Billy, I hardly knew ye.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Fio has struck again.

She had long schemed to get the long mirror on the inside of the closet door moved to the inside of the bathroom door, and Sunday afternoon was the day and the time. Husband gathered up his various drills, and together, he and Fio painlessly removed the mirror, then started preparing the bathroom door. The only problem was a drill that ran out of power, but was quickly replaced. They stood back and looked at their handiwork in triumph.

Then Fio suddenly realized that, at her direction, they'd attached the mirror to the bedroom side of the door instead of the bathroom side.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. They'll switch it later.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Feel Your Pain

Forgot to mention that toward the end of her presentation, the writing group's psychic lecturer said never to tell her about any operations or illnesses because she was so sensitive she would feel all our pain and anguish herself.

On the way home, Fio suddenly realized the remark may have been aimed at herself. Walking into the meeting area that evening, she'd run into Friend Joy, who was sitting and talking to the speaker, so Fio sat down and joined in. Somehow Friend Joy and Fio started talking about eye surgeries, of which your Fio has had several, all of which she described with her usual dramatic gusto. The psychic got up and left.

Now Fio's many eye surgeries were painless, virtually bloodless, and quite successful, so what was the psychic channeling?

Maybe she's just lily-livered. Or maybe she didn't like Fio taking over her spotlight.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thursday Night

Fio, as usual, had a great time visiting with friends at her local writers' league meeting Thursday night. She started out enjoying the speaker too, who was billed as someone who would talk about using the paranormal in one's writing. Fio expected to hear about world building, consistency, and the wide array of fantasy beings available for literary exploitation. But nooooo! The talk was, instead, all about opening ourselves up to the paranormal, thus making us smarter, more creative, and in tune with the universe.

Well, as you know, if Fio got any more creative, she'd be certifiable, and she's fairly bright too, so the speaker's basic premise didn't sit right with her. She let it slide, though, because she was enjoying the lady's style--humorous, anecdotal, and charming--until the disorganization and self-glorification started annoying the heck out of her.

Nothing hung together. Our psychic was turning the pages of a looseleaf notebook which she apparently usually taught a many-sessioned enlightenment course from, picking out items seemingly at random to talk about--sensitivity, intuition, ESP, auras, ghosts, you name it. Her time ran out before she got to UFOs and extraterrestrials, which--I kid you not--were also in her landscape.

The questions afterwards settled on auras. Now Fio has never seen an aura in her life, although she doesn't doubt some people do, just like she herself heard music as color rather than pitch before intensive ear training.

On being instructed to trust their guts and look at auras of people around them, various members of the audience began seeing the glows and told the speaker hers was green, which she explained as the color of a healer. Fio focused on the speaker and sent her own subconscious roaming around, but instead of an aura, it came up with the word "evil." At Fio's nudging for a further explanation, her "gut" came up with "not who she claims to be." Fio received the distinct impression of a second identity, and shivers a little even now as she writes her intuition down.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fio The Toaster Pops Again

My characters usually awaken me at five every morning with revelations about themselves. Today I learned that Cotton's brother is older than he is, serves in the State Legislature, and is a pompous ass. I also got a tantalizing insight into the brothers' parents' relationship. Speaking of families, Laurel's father formed himself more fully overnight, as did the glamorous Marguerite.

That's why I keep paper and ballpoint on the bathroom counter. By the time I fully awake at seven, the info would all be gone, dissipated by reality.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Don't Miss It!

Fiorella and Husband hustled Brother Bill and his wife and Friend Paula and her husband off to see the matinee performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Georgetown Palace last Sunday. Extra performances had been scheduled, which Fio assumed meant the show was a hit. But was it any good? When guests have driven in from Austin and Buda, one hopes the post-performance conversation does not center around what a loser the entertainment turned out to be.

Not to fear. The show was the best thing Fio's ever seen at the Palace, better even than Grease, with the fabulously sexy Kenickie that Fio and Friend Paula are still swooning over.

Except for an excerpt once on TV, Fio had never seen Dreamcoat before, although she knew it was based on the Biblical story of Joseph, he of the coat of many colors, who was sold into Egyptian slavery by his jealous brothers and, because of his Jungian skill at interpreting dreams, ended up as the Pharoah's head honcho, then gave his brothers a hard time when they sought succor in time of famine.

But Dreamcoat is a lot more than that. It's a fast-paced pastiche of musical take-offs, each one more shameless than the last, crowned with a performance by THE KING--over-tanned, shaven armpits, lacquered pompadour and all.

Every character was perfectly cast, for once. And the voices! The female narrator was absolutely fabulous, as was Joseph, and--well--everybody. Fio was especially struck by the gorgeous tenor of Joseph's father.

Kudos to director Mary Ellen Butler. Something was always going on somewhere, and nothing seemed pointless. Choreographer and lead dancer Jessica Kelpsch did herself proud.

And, oh--Fio forgot to mention the settings, props, and costumes, which were right on. She especially liked the prison bar shadows, the city lights, the corn girl outfits, and the dreamcoat itself.

Fio had a few qualms when the show first began--the Sunday School scene, as she interpreted it, seemed a bit fakey, but the second that was over and everything started moving, the action never stopped.

And blessing of all blessings, the actor's mikes were adjusted perfectly. For the first time ever, Fio understood every word, and didn't have to hold a finger over her good ear to protect what little hearing she has left.

Keep it up, guys! Guess we'll get season tickets again next year.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Born Outside the Box

It's official: Fiorella is insane. According to the latest in scientific research, people with an intense creative drive are on the schizophrenia spectrum.

But then, Fio always knew she was crazy, and Husband is inclined to remind her of the fact from time to time. Who else would insist on painting a house pale blue in the center of an ochre and brown neighborhood? Who else would eschew the usual straight line of bushes across the front for a boxwood curve down to the sidewalk? Who else, with no architectural training, would decide to design a house?

Home and family are the least of her sins. She also had no qualms about trying her hand at musical composition, writing playlets, and publishing a neighborhood newspaper. In her time, she also did portraits (all you have to do is paint what you see) and wrote a boatload of sonnets (if Shakespeare could do it, she could do it).

Her teaching was so creative it got her bounced out of her last job. She color-coded characters from Mid-Summer Night's Dream and sang Bottom's donkey song to her class in a way they'd never forget.

And you, dear reader, have been the beneficiaries of her many off-the-wall forays into philosophy, physics, anthropology, psychology, etc.

Sure, creativity means Fio's been depressed and down several times--but never out. Like Emily D., she lives in possibility, a fairer house than prose.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Travel Plans

The world has gotten smaller. Two of Fio's bosom buddies are out of the country right now. Friend Suzy and husband are, as usual, spending the summer in their native England, and Friend Marion and husband are visiting Ukraine with their son and Ukrainian daughter-in-law.

Fiorella would love to go globe-trotting too, but will have to wait till she gets a hefty book contract or scores a big lottery win.