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.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Friend Sharon is a natural blonde, younger than Fio, and has strong, beautiful finger nails. But Fiorella forgives her because Sharon has a good heart and a cheerful irreverence. Friend Sharon used to gossip with Fio in the choirloft during sermons, has been cheering on Fio's stuttering literary career for decades, and still puts up with Fio's daily drama, o'erweening ambition, and weird sense of humor.

Happy birthday, my friend.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Geographical Solution

Eat, Pay, Love--as if stick-thin Julia Roberts has ever eaten a decent meal in her entire life.

Aside from the irony, the movie follows a trend of dramatizing the angst of single almost-middle-aged women. Think Under the Tuscan Sun, think that Meryl Streep loser in which she galloped around like a circus horse at the head of a whole herd of equally clomping Italian women. In romance literature, think of Susan Elizabeth Phillip's Breathing Room.

Not to say that almost-middle-aged women don't have angst, but most of them also have a brood of children in tow and lack the means to pay for a trip out of town, much less to Italy, where all wonderful things seem to happen.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Don't Buy Lenovo!

The new computer is back home, supposedly repaired, but the repair people in Grapevine cracked the upper case a little in the process. We thought the disc drive wasn't working at first, and whisked the laptop back to Click Computers, but that turned out okay. Except that I got home without the power cord. So I've hauled out the old Dell again, the one with three cords dripping out of it.

Faithful Readers, truth to tell
Lenovo's the laptop from hell
From now on I will stick with Dell

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Happy birthday to Friend Marion, whom Fio bonded with years ago when they walked home together from a community school class and confessed to each other that their husbands thought they were crazy.

And they still do, and we still are.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

LImericks Forever!

At the San Gabriel Wriers' League meeting last Thursday, Friend Joan seemed to think Fiorella didn't approve of limericks. Far from it, as Fio informed her:

There once was a woman named Joan
Who thought she was all, all alone
In exploring the tricks
Of composing limericks
Until she saw one of my own.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


So, Pretty Woman is now a Hindu. Who woulda thunk it?

Hinduism has long held a fascination to Westerners. Think Emerson, Thoreau, Annie Besant, the Beatles, the Hari Krishnas. But although actress Julia Roberts has her family chanting mantras now, it might come as a shock to her that she and hers do not enter the system at the top, as Brahmins. The caste system is a vital part of Hinduism and Roberts and her family are in the foreigner class, not as bad off as Harijans (pariahs), but not truly part of the fabric of the culture/religion either.

And how strange that Ms. Roberts felt she had to publicly renounce Christianity. Doesn't she know that Hinduism is an all-embracing religion? That Hinduism allows you to be whatever else you want to be at the same time?

Maybe all that Madonna-blonde bleach on her hair has finally corroded her brain.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Did you know adult armadillos can be as long as two feet and weigh almost twenty pounds? And that they have claws like daggers and usually carry leprosy? Yeah, Fio's been doing a lot of research lately, and the leprosy bit is no old wives' tale.

But how to kill-o a dill-o? Poisons don't work, but .22s do. Since Fio isn't that bloodthirsty--yet--she's planning an aversion campaign of cayenne pepper, mothballs, and urine.

Don't ask where the urine's coming from.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Riding the Record

Fiorella doesn't care whether Lance Armstrong doped or not. It's too far in the past to register with her. Besides, if he did, so did everyone else. And Fio suspects the effect was more psychological than physical.

Not that Fio's that much of an Armstrong fan. Yeah, she cheered him on for America's sake while he was riding, and she thinks his foundation work is great, but she doesn't like the way he dumped his wife and kids for the bachelor circuit. Also, Daughter reported that he tried to strike up an acquaintance with her in a downtown bar once, which Daughter thought was smarmy since she's quite a bit younger than he is.

Besides, sports records are just not the important to Fio. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Drama Update

Happy days are here again!

Husband set up the external drive so Fio can call up her docs with a single touch. It's like Fio's regained her third hand--a prosthetic hand, but a hand.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Light at End of the Tunnel

The IRS stuff is slowly trickling in so Fio has fond hopes of not being hauled into court or formally audited. The septic people came out on Tuesday and pumped the tanks, then will return later to rewire the aerator. The AC repairman has promised to show up today. The computer people recorded Fio's life's work on an external drive which she will try to attach to this old, life-support laptop she is using. Her "new" computer is in the mail to the factory.

All it took was three days on the phone and driving around like a maniac, then writing check after check after check.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fio's Superpowers Strike Again

So far, Fio's mere presence has fried a motherboard, turned off an AC compressor, and screwed up the wiring on the aerator. Then, yesterday, she walked into the post office to find the automatic mailing machine had gone down. Yes, Fio wreaks havoc wherever she goes.

Maybe she'd better stay clear of missile silos.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tit for Tat

Fiorella recently read that dinosaurs, specifically those nasty Raptors, used to toss down small mammals for nutritional variety way back when.

Which makes her feel like she's getting her own back whenever she orders chicken wings at the Col. Sanders drive-through.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Continuing Electronic Tragedy

Fiorella has a friend whose husband, realizing his wife had become addicted to daytime television, pulled the plug. Apparently, God, realizing Fio had become addicted to her laptop, did the same.

Yes, the motherboard is fried. I know that Fio told you one of her superpowers was to screw up any electronics she encountered, but she didn't realize she was quite this powerful.

Oh well, haul out the old pen and paper.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Return Trip

As a child, Fiorella was often addressed as "Sweetheart" or "Dear." Later on, she was called "Miss." Then came the dreaded "Ma'am." Sunday, during her return trip from Orlando, the flight attendants kept calling her "Sweetheart" or "Dear."

Time for plastic surgery.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Travails of Travel

Fiorella was completely organized when she left the house, which meant, of course, that within fifteen minutes, she couldn't find her driver's license.
Because of some medical problems, Fiorella is patted down by hand by airport security rather than being put through the magnetic imaging machine. The security guards always emphasize that they are patting down Fio's more feminine parts with the BACKS of their hands. Fio, who is past prime time, doesn't care if they feel her up. She just wants to get through the line and on the plane.
Fio knows Husband truly loves her because he kept the newspapers for her so she could catch up on the comics when she got home. And she didn't even ask him to.