Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mourning Snippets

Husband waited till Fiorella was asleep to remove Wendy's princess bed to the garage. She suspects he was as depressed as she was at the sight of the empty pillow on legs.
We're all pressing Bosco into service as a support dog. Son, knowing the comfort his little black inkspot gives us, left his pug with Husband and Fio when he went out for the day; Husband encouraged Bosco to snuggle next to Fio when she was having another one of her crying jags; and Fio suggested to Husband that he take Bosco for a walk when the sunshine came out.
Fio has also been comforted by a heavy dose of Big Bang Theory--as many as six episodes a day. But today she's laying off. Too much of a good thing.
Fio cried so much she probably dehydrated herself. Wendy was an integral part of her life for ten years, and she misses her baby dog terribly.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Second Day Out

Fiorella usually handles emotional distress by racing around the house in a frenzy of housekeeping, but she was limited on this occasion because of the stupid hip thing. That means shes spent a lot of time staring into space, sleeping, and crying.

But she and Husband are talking about getting another dog, probably a rescue dog who's already house trained. Not now, of course. Not yet.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Fiorella did not grow up in a dog household, but she married into one. Parents-in-law had three mentally-stable chihuahuas and she and Husband soon acquired a female beagle, then a male. Tina and Freelove produced several litters, none of the pups of which Fio and Husband kept back for themselves because they had also adopted an orphan of the storm, Sandy, a big shepherd's collie, who breached the gap between T&F and Blackie, a small hyperactive dog prone to digging out under the fence. Hugo, a big ridgeback/labrador mix also joined the tribe somewhere along the line, as did Bella, a beautiful but crazy cocker who ended up having to be put down. Then came Wendy, beautiful Wendy, sweet Wendy, loving Wendy.

And now Wendy's gone. Husband has no one to take long walks across the acreage with, and Fio has no company on lonely days.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our Loss

Wendy Dog went in for emergency surgery about 2:30 this morning, but this time there was no miracle.

Lady Gwendolyn Gloriana, born July 21, 2001, died December 28, 2011. May her loving heart and joyous spirit forever roam the hills of heaven.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day of Discovery

The discoveries continue. The calendar that Daughter gave Fio for Christmas, which she was in fear and trembling had gotten mixed in with some of the wrapping paper trash, was found hiding under the artwork Younger Son had given her. And that humongous bag of chocolate kisses, which Fio thought she'd given away to someone and forgotten about it, turned up in the master bathroom--on Fio's side, of course. The only thing missing now is her little black purse, although all its contents have been retrieved.

And, at three this morning, Fiorella woke up with a brilliant plan to jump start Son's art career.

Thomas Alva Edison, you have nothing on Fiorella Plum.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Remember that airline baggage handler who was fired for refusing to load an emaciated dog which had body wounds and bloody paws? Although it turned out the canine had not been abused, a vet spoke up for the baggage handler and she was rehired.

But the baggage handler's action touched Fio to the core, first because the woman actually cared--this is a person who would hide Anne Frank from the Nazis. Second, because it's something Fio would do--defy "authority" for the sake of what is right.

That's the essence of your Fio, erring by action rather than inaction. All her sins are those of commission rather than omission. It gets her in trouble, but she'd rather be the kind of person she is than someone who sets up a lawn chair and watches as the cattle cars are loaded.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Hope

Again the patient cave is damp and chill
And dull-eyed, lowing cattle graze the hay
And at the humble manger eat their fill
Where once the blessed Son of Mary lay.
Again the heavy sky is dark with night--
There is no guide; the splendid star is gone.
No more the royal guests, the angel flight;
The shepherds and their flocks have wandered on.
The world is as before, the very same;
Nothing has changed--Herod still is king,
Brother still kills brother in God's name,
Women weep and war is ripening.
The world is as before its Christmas morn
Except--against all hope, Hope was born.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Running Late

Welcome to Christmas Eve. Fiorella is running late on her blog, late on her decorating, late on wrapping presents, and late on everything else in her life. Christmas is that way. 'Tis the season to go crazy.

There are three dogs in the house right now: Older Son's Staffordshire Terrior (aka pit bull), Younger Son's pug puppy, and our own reliable Weimeraner. And only two of the three seem to be able to co-exist at any one time, which means, in relays, one of them has to be caged or outside. But it's raining outside. We have never yet met a dog that appreciated rain. Fio is convinced that the dog-man relationship began when primitive human tribes sought shelter from the pelting rain in caves--and so did dogs. They love us not just for the food in their bowls, but the roofs over their heads.

And each one of the three has a stocking hanging from our fireplace mantel. With nothing in them yet, of course, but then, Fio has several hours before dawn.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Turn the Page

Fio has had an overwhelming month--Friend Nicole's death, her own hip problem, Younger Son's birthday, preparing for Christmas, designing and mailing cards, Daughter's wedding, Older Son's pneumonia--so it was not surprising that losing her purse, a big Christmas gift, and another, smaller, one had her down and out last night. After all she still had half the house to decorate and it was just four days till Christmas.

Then, before bed, she had a talk with Son, who was totally depressed about his job situation--he has none. Fiorella couldn't sleep. Instead she prayed and prayed and prayed. Begged and prayed, cried and prayed. Finally she got up to go downstairs. On the way down, she lifted a piece of paper from her art desk to reveal three family history books she's been looking for since forever. All she'd had to do the whole time was lift one piece of paper to find them.

If that was all it took, maybe she COULD find the missing Christmas gifts, maybe she COULD find her purse, maybe she COULD get everything done before Christmas. Maybe Son COULD find a job.

If we'd just turn the page.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Where, Oh Where?

Fiorella has lost two Christmas presents and a checkbook. She put the Christmas presents somewhere that she's forgotten, and the checkbook was in her little black purse that she took to Daughter's wedding. Ironic that she kept track of the purse all during the shindig, but lost it after she got home.

She's conducting a room-to-room search for all the items now. One of the presents is big and is bound to turn up, but the other one is small and will take a year or two to surface in the back of the pantry or some other inappropriate place so Fio will have to replace it. The purse and checkbook are anyone's guess.

Fiorella would attribute the whole problem to aging memory, but she's pulled this stunt before, even worse--forgetting the present entirely. Yes, twenty years ago she bought Husband a big, expensive book on clocks, which he was fascinated with at the time (men are like that), and when they moved out of the house, Fio discovered the book sitting on a closet shelf, where it had been ever since she'd hidden it there four years earlier.

Memo to CIA: do not use Fio on assignments that involve remembering anything she's hidden.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Real Xmas

I've placed the proper plastic on the door
And wound the newel post with ersatz holly;
I've bought some flavored cookies at the store,
Admonished all the children to be jolly.
I've flocked the tree with simulated snow
And stained the mirror glass with cellophane;
I've stacked some carols on the stereo
And sprayed ice pictures on the windowpane.
I've listened to the store-front Santa's tale;
My duty gifts are underneath the tree;
My hundred slick-faced cards are in the mail,
Signed "love" with holiday sincerity.
My halls are decked with manufactured zeal,
But the Christ Child in my Christmas heart is real.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pile It On! Fio Can Take It!

Fiorella has achieved Zen. The peace of the universe is hers.

Monday morning she planned to start an intense day of shopping like the world has never seen before, followed by an equally intense evening addressing and stamping cards. The next few days would be devoted to wrapping gifts and decorating the house. Then the cards would have to be stuffed and mailed. And there was Christmas dinner for ten to plan and prepare.

But Older Son woke up with pneumonia. No one knew what it was right off, but he was hurting bad so Fio and Daughter-in-law rushed him off to the local emergency room. He spent the night there, which changed everything. Daughter-in law and Fio stayed at his bedside for while, then dashed off on a couple of quickie shopping trips. It's amazing how Fio's list simplified once she was under pressure.

Everything will work out.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Too much to do, too little time. December has been a whirlwind of Fio's medical condition, Younger Son's birthday, Daughter's wedding, and now Christmas--decorating the house, buying gifts, designing and mailing the card. Gritting her teeth, Fio is determined to see it through, but that seismic event that will shake the nation on December 26th will be Fio relaxing onto the couch.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Wedding

Fiorella attended Daughter's wedding last night. Yes, the marriage actually took place two weeks ago in Colorado, but the celebration/reception was last night at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center, and it was wonderful. New Son-in-law had planned everything down to the nth degree--and planned well.

The most dramatic moment was when Daughter, escorted by her father, appeared out of the dark, walking slowly down a long hall to join her waiting husband. It was the traditional giving away of the bride, and however old-fashioned, it was the highlight of the evening.

But more was to come. There were friends to greet, people from various aspects of Fio's life, whose presence warmed her heart. There were relatives, ours and Son-in-law's. There were friends of the bride and groom. Fiorella loves a group hug.

And, to top off the evening, there was karaoke. Not that Fiorella sang--the selection of songs didn't include Christmas carols--but Daughter and Younger Son did. And they were GOOD! Fio's heart, which had already swelled to monstrous proportions, overflowed with pride and joy. In fact, she heard that after she and Husband left, Older Son, who is also musically talented, sang too.

Her Christmas stocking is full.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Hero

Okay, 'tis the season for sweet tears, but this news item nearly did Fio in. A baggage handler at the Reno-Tahoe airport, at the cost of her job, refused to load an emaciated dog who had body lesions and bloody paws.

Turned out the dog had been on a hunting trip and "worked very hard," according to a subsequent investigation, but not abused. It has now recovered, and the baggage handler, Lynn Jones, has also recovered, having been given back her job.

But Fio thinks she deserves more than getting her job back. Lynn Jones is Fiorella's Christmas hero. She cared, when so few people don't give a dam.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nicole Domingue, In Memoriam

My friend Nicole has died, and I, who always have so many words, am struggling to find what to say, how to explain what she meant to me.

Nicole Marie Zuber Domingue and I met in an intensified summer Hindi class at The University of Texas. We were both working on our doctorates in linguistics, and both were specializing in Indian studies. We met over academics, but we bonded in laughter. Nothing was sacred to this vivacious, down-to-earth Frenchwoman. She saw the basic absurdity of life and reveled in it. Everything and everyone was game for her quick wit.

After graduate school, she and her family moved first to Indiana, then to Canada, but we stayed in touch. We had to--we were part of each other.

And now part of me is gone.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Romance Writing Trends

Nostalgia is the flavor of the year in romance writing, with agents and editors combing their slush piles for stories set in small, warm-hearted towns. Last year, Young Adult hit it big. The year before that, paranormal was the name of the game, and four years ago, erotica ruled the roost.

But 2012 will be the year of Fiorella. Mark my words.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Hustle

Yesterday seems to be an eon ago, maybe because Fio slept like the proverbial log last night--and sawed some wood too. She's having trouble orienting this morning, which began by her putting on a housedress inside-out. Turns out the snaps go on the outside.

Now to get her bearings, clean up from yesterday, prepare for Older Son and D-in-Law to arrive on Friday, buy Christmas for husband, sons, daughter, and friends, and design the holiday card.

Not much to do today.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ever Onward

Fresh on the heels of Fio's paean of praise regarding hydrocodone and Lyrica, her meds failed her. She only got about three hours sleep last night, plus an hour of hallucination when she started double dosing.

It was just that too much was going on yesterday for her synapses to handle. After making a quick stop at Kinko's and buying some short bread cookies for the mailwoman at HEB, she drove into Austin on several errands, including searching for a dress for the wedding shindig, picking up Son's birthday cake, and dropping Husband's slacks off for lengthening. In the evening, after she wrapped presents, Fio, Husband, and Daughter, took Son and Girlfriend out to dinner.

Searching for the dress was an Odyssey in itself that included spending several minutes listening to a children's choir at Wolf Ranch shopping center. They were charming and made Fiorella cry, which meant, since she couldn't find a Kleenex, she had to leave abruptly. Luckily the clerk in Dress Barn had a spare tissue. Four stores later, in Lakeline shopping center, she found the right dress--purple to complement Daughter's mauve.

And all the time she was stumping away on her cane. The driving back and forth from Austin didn't bother her, but the "walking" did.

Not that people weren't kind, which also brought tears to Fio's eyes. She's never had so many doors opened for her in her life, and when she thought she'd lost her beribboned cane in the HEB parking lot, a woman two rows away hallooed her and waved it aloft.

Yeah, The day was good. Fio got a lot of Christmas stuff done and arranged a nice birthday for Son. Some things are was worth losing a few hours sleep over.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Son

Happy birthday to Younger Son. Fiorella has ordered the cake, arranged the out-to-eat dinner, and bought the on-line gifts, which she hopes will arrive later in the day. All of this was a little hard to manage, what with Christmas preparations to take care of, Daughter's wedding shindig in the offing, and Fiorella limping around on a cane and tossing down hydrocodones and Lyricas like they were candy. But it's nothing compared to YS's birth.

Fio was two weeks past due so Dr. Stahl scheduled her for induced labor. But even with the pitocin as high as it would go for several hours, the baby wouldn't budge. Turned out he was stuck, front facing, so Fio was wheeled off to the operating room.

Despite the epidermal, she felt the scalpel cutting her open. If anyone wonders, it feels like fire, of which she notified her obstetrician.

"Yeah, that's because of that back surgery you had," Dr. Stahl explained in a cheery voice. "Your nerves are scrambled."

In a trice he had the baby out, all eleven pounds and seven ounces of him. Yes, not 7-11, but 11-7. He was king of the nursery. In fact, he was so big that the hospital didn't have diapers to fit him and had to send out for a larger size.

When people came to look at the new babies, Fio would lurk beside the window awaiting her cue.

"And look at that one!" they'd say.

Fiorella would move forward. "He's mine."

She was proud of her big, brawny boy.

And she still is.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Fiorella's making her list and checking it twice. Not to find out who's naughty and nice, but to see if there's something she's forgotten to do. Fio, a first-born who is obsessive about keeping her commitments, woke up this morning with the dreadful feeling she'd forgotten something important.

Now, Fiorella has a lot on her plate right now, and she tries to keep up with her responsibilities by writing them down on her calendar and a daily to-do list. But if she's let you down somehow, please let her know, and she'll try to make amends.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Medical Snippets

Latest news from the Indy 500, also known as HEB--Fiorella's motorized cart rocked a wine display at the store yesterday. The bottles clinked, but didn't fall; however, three minutes later Fio did manage to take out a couple of rolls of wrapping paper on an end display. Husband wants to affix a sign reading "Hot Wheels" to her cart, but Fio prefers "Greased Lightning."
When Fio takes hydrocodone, she still feels the pain, but doesn't care. When she takes Lyrica, she feels no pain at all, which raises an existential question: where does the pain go?
Fio is considering buying a second cane which will better coordinate with her wardrobe. Ah, vanity--thy name is Fiorella.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Fiorella has been recognized. Let the drums roll and the trumpets sound. Pat O'Dea Rosen out of Houston, with whom Fio became acquainted through The Emily, West Houston's prestigious romance writing contest, has awarded her that green stamp of approval to the right. Pat's no mean blogger herself. You can check her out at

But before that, take a few seconds to bask in the glow of Fiorella's greatness.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blessed Med

Fiorella is healed! Well, not exactly healed, but she's hobbling round with a lot less pain, and she got a full night's sleep last night. In fact, probably ten hours worth--but then, she had a lot to make up for.

No, she didn't put her hands on the TV and pray. She took herself off to the doctor, who listened to her tale of woe and prescribed a little white pill. And although she didn't pray for it, God bless Lyrica.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I dreamed of wonders last night as I slept,
Of peace and joy and heavenly harmony,
Of God's great love, and of his promise kept,
Of his fulfillment of the prophecy.
Within my heart I dreamed an angel sang
To tell me of the Long-Awaited One,
Emmanuel, the Christ, true God and Man,
The Savior, Jesus, God's own Self and Son.
"Dreamer," spoke the angel in the night,
"Accept Him of your righteous piety,
Protect Him of your heart and strength and might,
And love Him of your sweet humanity.
Shun not Mary, Joseph, but reconcile
And wed the virgin, mother of God's child."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Contest Diva Speaks

Today's the day Fiorella learns where she placed in Portland's Golden Rose romance writing contest. She wants to win, but, let's face it, the odds are against her. In the meantime, West Houston's Emily has popped up on her radar so if she doesn't make first in the Golden Rose, she can console herself with hopes of Emily. And keeping hope alive is the very reason Fio likes to have a couple of finals in the air at all times.

But the air will get pretty thin in the next couple of months because Golden Heart, RWA's BIG BIG BIG national contest is looming. Fio has entered it too, of course, so think kind thoughts in her direction.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Fio had one of those horrible dreams last night in which, in typical Fiorella fashion, by trying to do everything right, even at her own expense, she ended up doing everything wrong and so the very people she tried to help were mad at her.

Fio has a lot on her plate right now and it's bound to happen. It's happened before, and Fio knows it's useless to try to defend or explain herself. Yeah, world. Here's Fiorella--aim all your paint balls at her.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Good Time Was Had by All

Fio attended Daughter's wedding shower yesterday morning. Friend Paula, who hosted it, provided breakfast tacos, mimosas, cupcakes, and her lovely home. Daughter's friends provided the fun. Twenty-some young, vivacious women dressed in colorful gypsy styles and knee-high boots, they tossed their shiny tresses and laughed and enjoyed. Fio adored them all.

But most of all, she adored Daughter, who handled her celebrity with ease and grace. But then, Daughter always has been a princess.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


According to the latest news, half the population of the German city of Koblenz is being evacuated so authorities can defuse a WWII bomb that's popped up in the Rhine River.

And, wouldn't you know it, today is the fifth day of Brother and Sister-in law's cruise down the Rhine.

Not what they bargained for.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Happy Joy Joy

O joy, O rapture unforeseen! Fiorella got word yesterday that she finaled in The Emily, a very prestigious romance writing contest out of Houston! In fact, she DOUBLE finaled!

Good things have been happening in Fio's world lately--finaling (and winning) contests, Daughter's marriage, some financial possibilities, etcetera. It's almost scary.

But there have been horrible times too so maybe this is when the scales get balanced.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Grocery Wheels

Fio gave in and used a motorized cart to get around HEB yesterday. The hip fire finally got to her.

If you've wondered, the cart's seat has no back-forward-recline settings and no safety belt. Its turn radius is wide, it emits a piercing beep when one moves backwards, and there is no rear-view mirror. Also, its speed is hard to keep steady, which means Fio's neck has cumulative whiplash from all the stops and starts she made.

But despite its drawbacks, the cart is the way to travel. Fiorella had a great time tooling up and down aisles in it, then slaloming through bins in the bakery area. No trouble with the traffic--people cleared out when they saw her coming. She'd like to think it was her big, happy smile, but maybe it was the maniacal gleam in her eye.

Clear the gangplanks! Fiorella's in the building!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's A New Day! Hooray!

Brad has his job back! All's right with the world and there's hope for the rest of us.

Fiorella is a faithful follower of Luann, the popular newspaper comic strip, and she's been quite downhearted about Luann's brother, Brad, losing his firefighter job, then his fast food job. But if Brad can get his firefighter job back, with an even better relationship with his girlfriend as lagniappe, that means Younger Son will find work, Older Son's knee operation will proceed satisfactorily, and Fio's romances will get published.

And Obama will be re-elected.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pull Together, Now

Fio has been thinking again, as is her wont. This time she's been thinking about support groups. There are ones that focus on drug addiction and alcoholism and every other kind of ism, and there are also ones that come together in the arts and sciences, like the Byron-Shelley-Keats literary clique and the Einstein-Goedel partnership. In sports, they're called teams.

In fact, one might regard all of society as a giant support group. Maybe that's the secret of humanity's success.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Woven Together

Fiorella gathered several old photographs to email to Cousin Norma for the family epic she's putting together. God bless Norma. She's researched Grandfather John back to his roots in an obscure Eastern European town, and even a few generations before that. Fiorella contributed a few family anecdotes and some "begats" she'd written down at some point, but that was about it.

Family histories are important. They give you a sense of where you came from--not necessarily biologically, because God only knows who really hooked up with whom--but of the composition of your nest.

We've got family histories written by Husband's parents in their later years, and Fiorella has learned a lot about Husband by leafing through them.

Nature is the clay, but nurture is what molds it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Family Matters

So, Afghanistan and Pakistan are after each other now. It's only to be expected--polygamy means a lot of guys are footloose and fancy free, which means their testosterone rages around all over the place, mainly at each other.

A man without his own family is cannon fodder.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Canine Messages

Fiorella was touched when the dogs rushed into the bedroom this morning to inquire after her health. As she lay in bed with a hot water bottle clutched to her degenerate hip, sweet, faithful Wendy stood beside the bed and licked her hand, while bouncy Bosco, Younger Son's little black bowling ball of a Pug, was so desperate to greet Fio that he backed up a couple of yards, gained speed, and made a flying leap up onto the bed.

How sweet. Fiorella's grandpuppy loves her.

Half an hour later, when Fio got out of bed, she discovered he'd also left more personal remembrances--in the bathroom and utility room, and on the antique Persian carpet beside the bed.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Felicitations and Congratulations

Daughter is married. It was a different wedding than Fiorella's was. Daughter and Son-in-Law weren't married in a church, or her home town, or even her home state, but in a Colorado ski lodge belonging to a friend of theirs. None of his family or hers were present.

The circumstances were not as Fiorella had imagined for Daughter, but the important thing is that she and her new husband love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together.

Now for the party.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


On this day of all days, Fiorella is grateful.

She's grateful for Husband's support of her writing career, for Younger Son's construction work in the yard, for Older Son's repair work inside, for Daughter's joy in her new job and upcoming wedding.

She's grateful for Friend Paula hosting Daughter's shower, for Friend Sharon's humor and understanding, for Friend Joan's proofing of her THREE novels, for Friend Marion's sympathy and support, for Friend Suzy's communications from across the sea.

She's grateful for Austin RWA, especially Friends Katie, Janece, April K, and Gary.

She's grateful for the healing bestowed upon her friends and family this year and for the medical procedure that will repair her degenerate hip. She grateful for love and humor and strength and hope, for possibilities and opportunities.

She's grateful for life. Amen

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holding Back

There's a reason that underlings didn't push when it came to reporting Jerry Sandusky: he was a big cheese and they were little ones. Who would be believed and who would lose his job?

Justice is relative to privilege and power. That's what the crucifixion was all about.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mixed Bag

The thunderstorm last night was scary, but, on the other hand, it rained. The skittish armadillo hasn't been caught yet, but yesterday a bigger, fatter one wandered into the trap (number eight). Fiorella's hip still hurts, but her eye has healed. Last, but not least, Fiorella is so high on painkillers that she can't even remember her last name, but why should she care?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Part and Parcel

An analysis out of Johns Hopkins reports that Neanderthals had relatively short limbs, which is "a common adaptation to cold weather." Fio's been telling you all along that ancestral genes designed her for cold weather, but she didn't realize her short arms and legs were part of the bargain. Ah, for a vacation home in the Swiss Alps.

Ah, for a vacation home anywhere out of this heat!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Seeking Succor

Fiorella's right hip pain
Is clogging up her topside brain
Pray the x-rays will explain
So she'll have peace of mind again.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On the Blink

Sorry, but Fiorella is late signing in today. Yesterday she felt great, but today she doesn't. In fact, she can hardly move. It's her right leg or hip or something, and, yes, she's been to the doctor and he sent her off for x-rays (where, of course, she ran into a former student).

Anyway, the situation is more than painful--it's aggravating. Fio may not be athletic, but she likes to be active, up and about.

In the meantime, she's going through edits suggested by Friend Joan and working them into Princess of Bosque Bend. But that'll only take another hour. Then Fio will go crazy. Watch for lurid headlines about a romance author gone wild.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Fio woke up feeling good. Autumn is here. The leaves are rattling down the driveway, cold is permeating the house, and somehow the indoor light seems more welcoming than before. To top it off, hope is in the air for the family--medically, professionally, financially, and personally.

Wish us well.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sandusky, Perry, Plum

So, Jerry Sandusky's admitting to "horsing around" in the showers with naked boys, calling it athletic camaraderie, but denies sexual assault. It's the Michael Jackson defense, and if Sandusky would have a fatal accident soon, he also would be forgiven and canonized. Or, as Fiorella's mother said when she heard one of Fio's teachers had been arraigned on similar charges, "Those nasty boys."
Rick Perry is Fio's favorite buffoon. Whooda thunk he had so much comedy in him? She's getting a real charge of his planning of dismantle the government and start from scratch. He could name his new creation Perrymania.
Fiorella received another agent rejection today. She's beginning to think that, despite her ferocious contest record, she's going to have to go "indie," which means self-publishing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Fiorella had a strange dream last night, but she liked it. She dreamed that she ran into Suzy G-T, who was so jealous of Fiorella's success on the job years ago that she and her henchman, Henry C, conspired to get Fio fired.

In her dream, she and Suzy sat down at a table together and talked like old friends. Not about the past, but about their current lives and their hopes for the future, then parted in peace. Fiorella felt like a part of her had been healed.

She hopes Suzy G-T had the same dream.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seven Hours

Fio once spent half an hour stalled in a highway traffic jam so she sympathizes with air travelers stranded for seven long hours on the tarmac. If her thirty minutes felt like seven hours, just think what their seven hours felt like.

Surely there is a way to disembark passengers after an hour of no go--the doors do open out as well as in. Think about it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Prickly Encounter

Life in the country is fraught with misadventures for a city-bred girl. Fiorella is typing this blog with her left hand because yesterday her right hand encountered a hidden prickly pear. Husband had taken down a tree and was cutting it into logs which Fio was loading into the wheelbarrow. She moved backwards, preparing to turn the barrow, when her foot hit a rock. She lurched, the logs spilled, and Fio went down on her back, throwing out her hands to cushion her fall.

Husband put up the chainsaws while Fio rushed back to the house and tried to remove the hair-thin spines with duct tape. Multiple applications and no little pain later, she realized duct tape had gone about as far as it could go. Time to melt a couple of candles and set up a home-waxing center. Multiple applications and no little pain later, she head for the tweezers. Beyond that, she'll just have to grin and bear it till the things work their own way out.

Hmm. A scorpion sting and a run-in with a prickly pear all within the past few months. Please don't tell Fio what's next.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fire and Fuel

Husband brought in an armful of wood Tuesday night, and we had our first fire of the season, which always thrills Fio. Our own wood from our own trees on our own property--there's something so timeless about it, so eternal.

And equally eternal is the hunt for more firewood. Husband has marked several trees done in by the drought so we'll be out with our chainsaws this weekend. If you have some extra time, come join us. But bring your own chainsaw.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Skewed Priorities

If Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno's long-time assistant coach, had been stealing game receipts, he would have been arrested and jailed, but his penchant for sodomizing vulnerable young boys was easily tolerated, at least by Paterno. And now football fans everywhere are up in arms that the legendary sports figure was fired by Penn State when the scandal broke.

Since when did football become more important than moral behavior? Since when did sports trump protecting children from sexual abuse?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Artful Dodger

The dogs were barking like crazy at the front windows about 4:30 so Fio assumed Matt the Armadillo Man had arrived. She'd called him the day before because the yard looked like someone had taken a pogo stick to it.

Fiorella walked outside to greet Matt, but he wasn't there. The armadillo was. It started waddling toward the driveway.

Aware that Matt wanted to know what direction the creatures were coming from, Fio followed, like Nancy Drew. The armadillo suddenly picked up speed, bursting into a run as it turned abruptly to the right and scurried into the woods.

When Matt showed up half an hour later, Fio pointed out the damage and described her encounter with the perp. Matt said he thought it was the same armored car he's been trying to catch for the last month.

As we were talking, a shout rang out from up the drive. Younger Son, who had kindly taken out the trash for Fio, had spotted the beastie. Matt grabbed his gloves and ran up the drive. But it got away.

"It's Skittish," Matt said. "All banged up--maybe a car or a big dog."

Fio wishes he hadn't told her that. Now she feels sorry for the poor little thing.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

True Story

Woke up panicked
That I'd slept too late
Had an appointment
At half past eight
Dressed in a hurry
Tried to comb my hair
Glanced at the the clock
Oops--had an hour to spare.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Whoo-hoo. Fiorella is an official Grand Slam Diva in the Contest Diva list for 2010. In fact, on one posting, she was ranked first in Single Title. That means her manuscripts placed in more writing contests in the Single Title category than anyone else's.

Fio likes winning and she likes the recognition, but, again, she'd rather have a publisher.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Celebrity Immunity

It seems to Fio that, when it comes to "justice," celebrity usually triumphs. Of course, the California jails are crowded, but does Lindsay Lohan get to play in-and-out-the-window every go around?

And then there's Michael Jackson vs. Conrad Murray. Jacko, who's been canonized since his death--have you noticed that you're only seeing the flattering photos of him now, not the wacko ones?--won hands down, even though, basically, he killed himself.

And OJ Simpson vs. his ex-wife, a non-celebrity whose name Fio can't even remember. We all know what happened there.

Guess a little glam and glitter goes a long way in Lady Justice's eyes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Geological Changes

Earthquake time, and Fio is so excited! Change is in the air--well, really, in the earth. It seems to Fiorella that the quakes are happening where one never expected them, Oklahoma being the latest. And it wasn't just a flutter either.

Fiorella, of course, has a theory. She thinks the tectonic plates are on the move, that the world is reforming itself yet again, maybe moving back to form another Pangaea, the great uni-continent that divided itself to form the landscape we have today.

Yeah, she knows that these things happen over billions of years, but she also figures there's got to be a time, a moment, when the die is cast, when the water from the Atlantic Ocean bursts out of the mountains and starts filling the Mediterranean basin, when the land bridge across the Bering Straits becomes too deep to travel, when Spirit Lake is changed forever.

And she has to wonder if Pilot Knob will start spewing lava again.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Genealogical Nest

Fiorella has been interested in genealogy since she was a child, maybe because her father's work opportunities yanked the family out of its ancestral nest when she was just seven. Yeah, 1500 miles across the country, and--dare Fio introduce the concept?--cell phones and email weren't even twinkles in Steve Jobs' eye back then. No more weekend visits with cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunts, great uncles. Fio, her parents and brother, were four against the world in exotic, remote Waco, Texas.

So Fio started questioning her parents about their families and writing down the answers. Mother was forthcoming, but Dad was more reticent--his family didn't talk about the past.

Fiorella never got around to writing a family history, but now she doesn't have to. Cousin Tom's wife, Norma, a crackerjack researcher, has stripped bare the bones of Dad's family and is about to lay it all out on Lulu for the rest of us.

Now if Fio can just entice someone on Mother's side of the family to do the same.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thank You for My Emmy

Call Fio crazy (which is nothing new), but she's thinking of trying her hand at a sit-com script. After all, she wrote a couple of skits when she was in high school, participated in Baylor Children's Theater when she was eight, nine, and ten, acted in a couple of civic theater productions as an adult, and has loads of material in this blog to draw from, so what else does she need?

Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, watch out! Fio is feeling creative again.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Leaving, Cleaving, and Conceiving

Fio has accepted the fact that parents love their children more than their children love them. It's nature's way of protecting the perpetuation of the species. Thus parents will sacrifice and even die for the sake of their children, but children are hell-bent to pull away from their parents and live their own lives from the moment they're born. It's called maturity--they are preparing to assume the parent role themselves, in which the pattern will be repeated.

We all love our parents, but we love our offspring even more, which is as it should be. Parents are the past. Children are the future.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Best Wishes to All

Fiorella, as you know, is extremely competitive. She likes to be top of the heap in whatever she is doing. And she keeps an eagle eye on those who are upward bound or maybe even besting her. But she wishes them well. It's the right thing to do.

Besides, it hurts less that way.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

While You Work

Fiorella has taken up whistling again.

She learned once, with great effort, when she was about six but hasn't puckered up for years until Younger Son, a talented and prolific whistler, boomeranged home. To her shock, she discovered her lips had forgotten how to whistle. It took her a couple of days of work just to get out one weak little tweet.

So, in her own determined Fiorella way, she's been working on her whistle steadily and can now tell you that she's got a five-note range. Nothing to write home about, but it's a start.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Tidbits

Fiorella pledges never to eat again. Last night she stuffed herself full of leftover Halloween candy and this morning she still feels sickish.
Have you noticed how perfectly shaped the supermarket pumpkins have become in recent years? It's as if HEB molds them in the back room. Fio, who prefers a little individuality for her artful carving, searched until she found one that had more of a dumpling shape--like she does.
Gone are the pirates, cowboys, and fairy princesses of yesteryear. Last night everyone was a zombie. At least the costumes were easy to put together.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Better Late than Never

Fio never discovers good sit-coms until they're in reruns. Her latest is The Big Bang Theory. Yes, she know everyone and their chihuahua has been watching the show since forever, but a couple of days ago she got desperate enough while cruising the wasteland called television programming to pause for a few minutes as the Indian astrophysicist and the Jewish engineer were heading out for an evening of Goth. Last night she watched the whole episode in which Sheldon takes on the other three in a physics superbowl.

It was fun, harmless, and all ended well.

Life should be so good.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Autumn Chainsaws

Summer is over, at last. Temperatures are dropping, shadows are reaching across the road, and the voice of the chainsaw is heard in the land. Time to harvest summer's dead hardwoods to provide next winter's firewood. Time to cut cedar to protect against next summer's wildfires.

When Fiorella and Husband first moved onto their five and one-third wooded acres seven years ago, Fio wanted every tree to remain in place, but the drought has changed her mind.

Husband is sharpening the chainsaws.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Devotional Song

Here is my voice--
Use it as you will,
To laud, lament, rejoice;
My voice is yours until--
I can sing no more.

Here are my hands--
Use them as you will,
To comfort, help, and heal;
My hands are yours until--
I can do no more.

Here is my life--
Use it as you will,
To love, inspire, and teach;
My life is yours until--
I can live no more.

Here is my heart--
Use it as you will,
For faith, devotion, prayer,
My heart is yours to fill--
Forever more.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Unlucky Thirteen

A writing friend made a reference the other day to how well Fio is doing on Contest Diva, an internet site on which writers are ranked according to the number of contests in which they have made the final cut. Fiorella was aware of the listings, but had stopped checking them months ago when several of her triumphs failed to show up.

Surprise--the site had caught up with her. In spades. Fio has her own little niche--thirteen finals, second behind a woman with seventeen finals.

But she'd trade every one of those finals for one feisty little agent.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fire'em Up!

Fio forgot to tell you about the fire scare at last weekend's conference. It was the best floor show ever.

On Friday night, after the awards, we all went down to dinner, picking up our food from the buffet in one large room and moving into a second big room to sit around tables and enjoy each other's company. Both rooms were full of jabbering women.

Some red dealies on the wall labeled "fire alarm" began to flash, but no one paid any attention. When a loud ta-woot started sounding, we just talked louder. Finally the hotel personnel began herding us out to the plaza in front of the hotel. We waited awhile, the tumult growing, until six good-looking firefighters and a policeman, in single file, parted us like the Red Sea and strode into the hotel.

Genuine heroes for our books! After about ten minutes, the guys paraded out again and we all applauded.

If only they'd been Chippendales.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Flavor of the Week

Every day a new life-style study seems to come out. Eating chocolate extends women's lives by three months. Drinking coffee also adds some extra time. And quaffing red wine staves off dementia, as do fatty fish.

Fiorella's eyes are glazing over. It's like the late 1800s. when everyone and their dog was setting up eating regimens, one of which--Kellog--gave Fio her favorite breakfast cereal, shredded wheat.

But maybe we've got the cart before the horse. Maybe it's that the people who snack on chocolate, drink coffee, and eat fatty fish have more access to health care or were born with hardier genes.

Fio suspects most of these studies are question-answer surveys. She's withholding her endorsement until she sees medical reports explaining why these things work.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Fiorella admits it--she is a contest slut. And this weekend she traveled to New Jersey, where she attended a writing conference in coordination with the Put Your Heart in a Book contest for unpublished romance writers, where she won first in single title contemporary for the second year in a row.

Agents, editors--where are you? Fio's cute, she's charming and--wink, shoulder roll--she's available.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Communcations Gone Riot

No wonder the Occupy Wallstreet movement has taken off. It's hard for the super rich to hide their lifestyles these days, what with television shows spotlighting people shopping for million dollar Caribbean vacation getaways and newspaper stories about people paying astronomical amounts for pop art collector items.

And then there's the cell phone, which tells all.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

You'll Pay for It

Armadillo, it's your day
Come feast at Fio's grub buffet
And while you're at it, clever chap,
See if you can snap the trap

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Fiorella has a fairly good memory, but where it really shines is at remembering every dumb, embarrassing, humiliating thing she's ever done in life, way back to when she was a toddler, couldn't see past an adult's waist level in a crowded department store, and tried to take the hand of a woman not her mother.

You'd think she could laugh at accidentally spitting through her teeth while talking to a cute guy when she was a tenth grader, but no--the embarrassment and humiliation is always lurking in the back of her brain, waiting to leap into her consciousness.

At least it keeps her humble.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Up to Date

Fifty years ago women disdained the bra and discarded the girdle. Now we wear bras that look like padded coconut shells and embrace the embrace of latex Spanx. Just another example of fashion cycling round and round.
Fiorella hopes Mitt Romney gets the Republican presidential nomination because he seems to her to be the best candidate. Not that she'd vote for him for President--she's solidly behind Obama--but because she believes in a strong two-party system.
Israel released over a thousand Palestinian prisoners in order to get one Israeli soldier returned. Their own people's lives are cheap to the Palestinians, and that's why Israel has the moral upper hand.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

More than Decoration

According to news stories, a 100,000-plus year-old ochre manufacturing and stocking center has been discovered in South African caves.

Fio has long contended that art is basic to mankind and civilization. It is history, religion, and education all rolled into one. And the cave discovery tells us it was also one of the earliest occupational specializations.

Maybe art is what separates us from the rest of the animals on our planet. I know an elephant can swish a paintbrush on a canvas, but can it make a drawing of what happened to it yesterday?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Medicated to the Gills

Fiorella drove into town and consulted her PCP about a painful hip problem she's been having, mainly brought on by her tugging hoses around the yard and standing there watering stuff with her weight uneven, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, cortisone was prescribed. In a way, Fio is thrilled--cortisone makes her feel good. She reacts to it immediately, developing moonface in a New York minute, soon followed by a ravenous appetite and delusions of grandeur.

But those delusions of grandeur might be just the right thing for the NJ romance writing conference she's attending this weekend. However the wiry black facial hairs that will sprout out later are another matter.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Wendy has finally learned how to play with another dog.

Younger Son brought his one-year-old pug, Bosco, with him when he moved back in. Having a second dog around all the time was a difficult adjustment for Wendy, who has always been an only child, especially since the little guy wanted our ten-year-old couch potato to be more active. It took a while, but yesterday Fiorella was thrilled to see the two of them grab hold of a rope from opposite ends and tug on it back and forth.

Today they're barking like crazy and racing around the room playing tag.

Fiorella is less thrilled with this development.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crazy Lady

Meshugana Michele--Bachmann, that is--is at it again, pushing a Chinese wall along this country's long border with Mexico.

Yes, the queen of budget watchers wants to sink quadrillions of dollars, probably the country's entire budget for years to come, in a fence to keep out illegal aliens who work low-level, low-paying jobs.

Fio has no problem with people coming across the river for a better life. What ticks her off are all the jobs that are being deliberately shipped overseas.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Competition, Sports, Money

Fio looked up at the TV just in time to see skateboarders coming down a ramp, somersaulting in mid air, and landing with their wheels still a-turnin'.

"Whatever the innovation, people will find a way to stretch its limits," Fio remarked to Husband.

"And turn it into a competitive sport," he replied. "Then charge for watching it."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Romancing TV

Due to the twenty-three mallow bars she consumed yesterday evening, Fiorella had a hard time falling asleep last night. So, being a romance writer, she occupied her caffeine-saturated brain by working out appropriate matches for the NCIS characters. (Uhm, did she mention that she and Husband watched three hours of the show last night?)

Anyway, McGee was the easiest to match up. The writers keep sticking him with sweet-seeming girls (who turn out to be killers) or fellow geeks (who get killed), but Fiorella thinks a change of pace is more appropriate. How about a smart, savvy blonde, maybe a real estate agent, who zeros in on him instead of Tony for all the right reasons. And for Tony, the smooth-talking Lothario who loves'em and leaves'em, Fio prescribes the sweetheart type, and here's the kicker: she's blind. Ziba approves because she brings out the best in Tony that lurks deep--VERY DEEP-- within.

Ziba is more difficult, and Fio will have to mull her situation over on another sleepless night, but Abbie should hook up with a straight-arrow rich guy who crusades for saving animals.

Gibbs will never remarry. Why should he? Apparently he has a string of one-night stands with women of a certain age lined up from here to eternity.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ups and Downs

Well, your Fiorella is back down on earth today. She hit the pavement with a loud thud yesterday when Friend Katie sent word that she wouldn't be able to go on the road trip to Houston because she was en route to Longview, where her brother had had his second heart attack.

Fio is sympathetic to Katie and wishes her brother the best, but she can't help but feel down about not having a girls' weekend out.

Oh, well. She has thirty-two half-gallon bottles of bath water stored on the balcony, a daughter who is planning a wedding, a son available to help clean out the garage, and enough time this weekend to key in edits to Princess of Bosque Bend.

Then next weekend, she's flying off to the New Jersey writing conference. And that pilot darn well better not have a brother in Longview.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

GOOD Morning!

The weather, it is a-turnin' and Fio woke up with a big smile on her face, snuggling under the covers for a while before rising. It was 73 air-conditioned degrees inside, but in the 50s outside, and the body knew it.

Fiorella was also smiling because yesterday afternoon she received word she'd made the finals in the First Coast Beacon, a Florida writing contest. Yes, Fio, who thought she'd never break into Florida, has crashed through the continental barrier for the third time.

And, to top it all off, she's going on a joy ride to Houston this weekend, traveling with Friend Katie to an RWA conference where Katie will pick up a ribbon and Fio will agent hunt.

A good start to a good day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Remember that rain Fio told you about the other day? Well, the ground is still soft, the bushes are sprouting new leaves like crazy, anything that can bloom is blooming, and the back yard looks like a bald man's head sprouting green hair.

In the meantime, Fiorella has stored thirty milk bottles of bath water--that's fifteen gallons. She could be banking more, but her bottle collection is depleted.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Show Biz Buzz

The Georgetown Palace Theater certainly knows its audience. Fio would guess that every boomer in this boomer-heavy town showed up for one or another performance of Beehive, which, according to its billing, "celebrates girl groups of the sixties."

It's a tour de force for six women, and they're almost all on stage at the same time, singing, singing, singing. And, boy, these six could sing: Jennifer Coy, Jacqui Cross, Katrina Davis, Naomi Emmerson, Timeca M. Seretti, and Samantha Ricker Watson. The latter was a delightful surprise because Fiorella has heard her in other productions and knows she has a lovely lyric soprano voice--but in Beehive she was singing the growly low notes. What a range.

The leading ladies' dancing wasn't as disciplined as Fio is accustomed to in Palace productions, but a new choreographer was involved. Bring back Jessica Kelpsch.

The wigs, which is what the play was all about, were wonderful, and most of the costumes were right on. The sound was a problem at first--not the band, which was fabulous--but the theater volume. Fio wished she had hearing aids so she could turn them down.

The first act of the play is a light-hearted romp, a pastiche of classic pop songs loosely glued together by clever, but dated, patter. It gets old after a while. Husband, who indulged Fio by accompanying her to the show, was ready to leave at intermission, but Fio insisted they soldier on.

The second act, post-Beehive, was like a different play: intense and riveting, with the singers allowed to be more into their characters. The audience, including Husband, was bowled over and ended up giving the show two curtain calls.

Fio was glad she saw Beehive once, but isn't sure she'd ever want to see it again.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Losing the Personal Touch

The announcement of Daughter's engagement appeared in the newspaper Sunday morning. It was brief and and did not include a picture, but still cost a mint.

Newspapers seem mostly to be political, entertainment, and fashion news now, with a few self-indulgent features thrown in. Births, engagements, weddings, and deaths--all the things that relate to our lives--are treated as classified ads.

And pundits ponder why Twitter has become popular while newspapers are becoming obsolete.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Rain! Wind! Thunder! Lightning!

Fio woke up about six, realized what was going on, and pretended to still be asleep for a half hour more so she wouldn't scare the storm away.

The sky was moody all day yesterday and even squeezed out a few pitter-pats of moisture, but nothing that did anything more than slick the inside of Husband's rain gauge. But this morning is the real thing, so real that Wendy Dog, a prissy missy, is refusing to leave the covered back patio to do her business.

Two inches and it's still coming down.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fio Votes "Not Guilty"

Let Fio make herself clear. She is not at all interested in the Conrad Murray trial. As far as she's concerned. Michael Jackson killed himself, and it was a long, slow, suicide occurring over his last twenty years.

The media is trying to make another Casey Anthony event out of it, but Conrad Murray is not Casey Anthony. He's more like a deer in the headlights, a struggling doctor who was targeted by Jackson because he'd be compliant with all Jacko's strange medical demands. And now he's the family's scapegoat, the villain who deprived them of the money-machine son who had already cut himself off from them.

Jackson is actually is more profitable dead than alive. Nostalgia sells, especially if the performer isn't showing up in supermarket headlines doing something weird every time you turn around. Especially if he isn't going on worldwide spending sprees. Especially if every one of his family members can score a TV interview out if it.

Lay off Murray. Michael Jackson's the villain, not Conrad Murray.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Into the Sunset

Pity poor Sarah Palin. Chris Christie got the last-minute groundswell of support to run for the Republican presidential nomination that she'd been waiting for, and then he grabbed even more headlines when he decided not to run--while Palin's decision was relegated to a back page.

In effect, she said that she'd rather be a gadfly, a well-paid, irresponsible celebrity. But Fio thinks a fear of the give and take of debate also had something to do with the decision. If the other candidates cut Perry down to size so quickly, just think what they would have done to Ms "I can see Russia from my front door."

It doesn't matter. Palin's irrelevant now. And she did it to herself.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

National News

So, the rebellion of the have-nots against the dominance of the have-a-lots has begun. What else would you call Occupy Wall Street?

Sociologists have been talking about the increasing disparity between the rich and the poor for years. We've all seen the erosion of the middle class. We've all seen the gluttony of the super-rich. We've all noticed that what "trickle down" really means is "I'll keep everything I can get and be damned if you get one red cent of it."

Is there a guillotine in our future?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Candles on the Cake

Today is Older Son's birthday. He was born with blue eyes, straight black hair, and red cheeks. The eyes soon turned brown (making his brown-eyed grandmother comment that dark eyes always looked so intelligent) and the hair curled and lightened to brown, even going blond in the sun, but the cheeks stayed rosy.

Son is a strapping six-three now. The hair returned to dark and even has a few white strands in it, but the cheeks are still rosy. And so is his nature.

Happy Birthday, Son. And many more.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Arachnid Adventure

Fiorella can no longer say she has never been stung by a scorpion.

Yesterday, right after lunch, she went upstairs to the bathroom and, because she had to go out, changed her shorts for her jeans, which had fallen from their hook onto the floor.

The skin above her left knee started prickling. Had something she was allergic to gotten on her jeans the last time she had them on? But what? She waited for the heat to go away, but it intensified. In fact, it burned. She pressed on her leg to relieve the pain and the burning spread around to the back of her leg. A beetle? Fire ants? Desperate, she ripped off the jeans and shook them. A small, one-inch long scorpion fell off onto the bathroom rug. It was still alive.

But not for long.

Monday, October 3, 2011

In and Out

Fashion is an endless circle. What's new is old and what's old is new. Case in point: engagement rings. Used to be the total design of the ring, setting and all, was the thing. Then the solitaire came into style,the size of the rock being what counted. Later, the engagement ring itself became passe and the gold wedding band was the way to go. And now, we're back to the total design concept.

For example, look at Daughter's ring:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cannibal Soup

So, New Jersey first-term governor Chris Christie is considering throwing his hat in the Republican presidential nomination ring. It must be tempting, especially when people like Nancy Reagan and Henry Kissinger are egging him on.

At the same time, of course, that myriad of other contestants has him under an electron microscope, searching for the slightest flaw or crack in his conservative armor. Look how quickly they took down Rick Perry.

Interesting when the name of the game is to turn on your own.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy Days Are Here Again

It may be autumn everywhere else in the country, but it's springtime in Texas. With the daily high finally dipping below one hundred, the bushes are putting forth little green leaves, the garlic plants are blooming up a purple fury, and the verbenas wave their friendly fronds at Fiorella every time she goes out to check on them.

Of course, she's still watering everything from the bathtub, but apparently that isn't going to change for another ten years.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Toting It Up

Add one more to the list.

Remember that Nephew Barney was married in September, Friend Paula's daughter will be married in October, Friend Suzy's daughter in November, and Fio's own daughter in December. Today Fio received a message from Cousin Sydney. Her daughter is engaged and, I cannot but assume, will marry in January.

Is there something in the air?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Perry's Good Points

Interesting that Perry is getting dinged for two of his stands that Fio likes--saying no to a border fence and saying yes to educating the children of illegal immigrants.

Fiorella thinks a border fence would be be useless. Haven't those Yankees heard of how many fully-fitted tunnels are found under the current fences each year? Besides, the expense would be horrific.

And about education, Fio votes yes. She always has. Education is the essence of civilization.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fresh Meat?

So now New Jersey governor Chris Christie is considering a leap into the lions' den. You can bet that the other candidates, Rick Perry's lone star blood still dripping from their mouths, are gnashing their teeth and sharpening their claws.

Maybe it's a mutual suicide pact. All the carnage sorta makes you yearn for the day when everything was decided discreetly in smoke-filled back rooms.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Population Prediction

The way it's looking now, a hundred years from now, half the population of the country will be descended from Duggars, Gosselins, and FLDSers. Yeah, real people just aren't breeding that much anymore.

But then again, the Martians may invade and put an end to all of us.

Monday, September 26, 2011

DNA Discoveries

Fiorella was surprised that the Australian Aborigine DNA had not been sequenced until recently, and now she's wondering about other unique populations, like the hairy Ainu, the African pygmies, some of the primitive tribes of India.

It's exciting, after years of political correctness about us all being exactly the same except for genetic accidents of skin color, to learn that we are all different.

But then, Fiorella has always been unique.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Continuing Guilt

It's not just guilt--it's a yen for control. Taking responsibility for the things that bad people do to us gives us the idea that somehow, we could have prevented our victimization.

In actuality, we have no control over our lives. People are mugged for no reason and stolen from at the least opportunity. Qualified, hard-working people can't get jobs or are fired out of hand. Madmen kill good people at random from university towers. We develop strange illnesses or conditions. We age when we don't want to.

So we, who are powerless, embrace the illusion of power and call it responsibility.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lutheran Guilt

Pastor Karl got mugged a couple of months ago. As he was picking up trash around the church, a transient walked across the grounds. Pastor gave him an innocuous greeting, and, when the man didn't respond, repeated himself. So man beat him up and stole his wallet. As Pastor Karl explained to Fiorella, it was his own fault. He shouldn't have tried to communicate with the man after he didn't acknowledge his first greeting.

Fiorella disagrees. What Pastor Karl did was give the man a second chance, which is a behavior pattern she admires--that he gives people second chances, and thirds, and fourths, and forevers.

But Fiorella understands his guilt. After all, she took personal responsibility for her purse being stolen in HEB. However, on deeper reflection, her guilt is just as misplaced as Pastor Karl's. People should be safe from mugging, no matter what they say or how often they say it. And purses should be safe, even if left unattended in a grocery cart.

Fio was a victim. Pastor Karl was a victim. The thief and the mugger are the guilty ones.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Original Aborigines

Fiorella is so excited about the DNA discovery that Australian Aborigines really are aborigines--original people! Yes, 70,000 years ago, when the oceans were low, they left Africa and wandered along the Asian coastline across to Australia, making them "one of the oldest continuous populations outside of Africa" as well as the "population with the longest association with the land on which they live today."

Geneticists are talking about several migrations from Africa now, and even some doubling back. The history of mankind gets more and more complicated very time you turn around. What next? Fio's Neanderthal blood zings with interest.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fiorella, the Prude

From the unisex of the 1970's to the sex, sex, sex of today--the pendulum has made its exaggerated swing. And it's all out in the open, from backless wedding dresses to celebrity sex tapes to children's beauty pageants.

The latest brouhaha (love that word) concerns the three-year-old dressed like Julia Roberts' Pretty Woman prostitute, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Magazines, movies, TV sit-coms--they're all focused on sex, and none too subtly either.

It bothers Fio that children are growing up in so sexualized an environment. People, how about some discretion?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Weddings are in the air. Friend Paula's daughter will marry in October, Friend Suzy's daughter's wedding is planned for November, and, over the weekend, Husband and Fio will meet with Daughter to work out her wedding plans.

Mothers out there, there is hope when you least expect it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Topping Off the Portents


Monday, September 19, 2011

Further Portents

Not only did it rain on Saturday, but Fio received an email announcement of Nephew Barney's marriage, And the custom picture frame she's making seems to be working out. And there's the possibility of an eye operation to repair a scarred macula, restoring Fio's depth vision.

Surely that literary agent is right around the corner.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wet Portent

It was like British rain when it began yesterday afternoon, genteel and ladylike. Then it strengthened to an all-American downpour, lasting for about an hour. For the first day in what--three months?--Fio didn't have to hand water. Her spirits soared. The deluge was unpredicted and unexpected, which opens Fio's imagination to other possibilities. Maybe she will land an agent and a publisher. Maybe her children will continue the family line. Maybe the drought will end.

What Fio was calling fiction yesterday is what she embraces as hope today.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


What separates us from the beasts is that we humans live in deliberate fiction--our political beliefs, superstitions, entertainment, whatever. Animals have no illusions and no imaginations.

They're the sane ones.

Friday, September 16, 2011


If her handlers would let her, Michele Bachmann would probably say the Texas wildfire is God's way of telling Rick Perry to bow out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination. But when Fiorella opened up the newspaper this morning, she learned there's a wildfire raging in northern Minnesota too.

Maybe God has a message for both of them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Varmint after Varmint

Fiorella is nothing if not obsessive. So, having racked up armadillo number six on her scorecard yesterday, she raced downstairs this morning and checked to see if there was a number seven.

Yes! The trap had been sprung, but what was that in it? It looked like--it was! A skunk!

Be interesting to see how the trapper man handles this one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Saving Grace

Fiorella came downstairs this morning and opened the Google news to stories of death, despair, and disaster. The newspaper then informed her that average family income has dropped, there's no rain in the offing for the next twelve months, and the Bastrop fire is still smoldering. To top it off, Fio realized she'd been so sleepy last last that she let the bath water out of the tub instead of saving it for watering the plants. Loser day all the way.

Until she checked the armadillo trap. Yea! Caught number six!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Realistic Fiction

People use fiction to escape from their own realities. The stories that have lasted through the ages have all been epic fantasies--The Iliad and The Odyssey, Beowulf. And think of our era's best sellers--a mistreated boy who becomes a renowned wizard, a teenager loved by a compassionate vampire.

But Fiorella also needs her fiction to be plausible. Even the one vampire novel she wrote made sense.

Dear God, she'll never get published.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Brave New World

Of course, there are no jobs. We've gone and automated everything.

The mantra was that once the work was handled by machines, there would be plenty of jobs designing, building, controlling, and repairing them. But that employment area has diminished, if not dried up.

Even the perennial stand-by, teaching, has taken a hit, especially in higher education. Why hire full-time live bodies for the classroom when one underpaid computer-savvy part-timer can handle twice as many students by remote control from three states away?

Look around. Our autos and appliances are more-and-more built by machines. Our records are kept by machines. Our finances are calculated by machines.

Let's face it. Humans are being phased out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Revenge of the Armadillos

Never throw a stick at an armadillo during the day because it will take its revenge at night.

Half an hour ago, Fiorella connected the hose up to her bathtub water to allay the thirst of the planting beds. Within five minutes, she discovered they'd been ravaged by a certain grub-eating hard-shelled beastie--or maybe a whole tribe of them. Yes, the deep hole next to the gas pipe has been redug and the mountain laurels have been virtually uprooted and the whole place looks like it's been harrowed.

But the trap was still empty.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Change of Habit

The armadillos are getting bolder, or at least one of them is.

Yesterday afternoon, about 4:30, Husband wandered into the front room and looked out the window. There, waddling down our driveway in the dappled sunlight, was a big, fat armadillo. As we watched, it hopped into the yard and start digging away at the zoysia grass. Husband got his shoes on, ran outside, and threw a stick at the beastie, which skedaddled back into across the driveway into the woods beyond.

And we thought armadillos were nocturnal.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Apparently after her first place finish in the Iowa straw vote, Michele Bachmann is fading fast. She understands why, of course--it's everyone else's fault. She's an independent thinker, a prophet in her own time, but her handlers reined her in, tried to smooth off her rough corners, like when they insisted she was joking when she said that bad weather was God's wrath directed at the current administration and modern mores.

Sarah Palin reacts the same way to adversity. The buck never stops with her--it's her handlers or sexism or the lamestream media.

Com'on, ladies. You're in the big leagues now. Time to man up.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Oz Again

When she was a kid, Fiorella played Glinda the Good in a Baylor Children's Theater production of The Wizard of Oz so there was no way she could miss the Georgetown Palace Theater's version. Both productions, of course, were based on the Judy Garland movie rather than the L. Frank Baum book. After all, the movie is what everyone remembers. But she sure wishes the Palace had put its own stamp on the story instead of directing its actors to ape every nuance of the Hollywood cast.

Dorothy, the star, was somewhat wooden but had a strong, good singing voice. However, her over-earnest speaking cadences quickly became irritating. In fact, somewhere along the line, they got so annoying that Fio found herself pulling for the wicked witch, who had a terrific laugh.

After a ho-hum first scene at the Kansas farm, the stage came alive in Munchkinland. Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion were well-cast, with Scarecrow appropriately commanding the stage. However, Lion's imitations of Bert Lahr didn't go over well because Lahr's distinctive cute-isms aren't familiar to today's audience. Actually, the scenes that were loaded with kids (the Palace runs a popular children's theater program) were the most electric.

The second act let down a little, but Fio loved the flying monkey. And the melting of the witch was riveting; Fio hadn't even noticed the trap door. A humorous flub that the audience enjoyed occurred when a "dog bark" came from stage right while Toto was supposedly stage left, unmasking the Wizard. (Full disclosure--in the BCT production, Lion's tail came off and he threw it offstage. Someone else threw it back, Lion threw it offstage again, etc. The parental audience was rolling in the aisles.)

The dance numbers were right on, us usual, but that's Jessica Kelpsch Smart for you. Fio especially liked the whirling tornado and the tap-dancing crows. The band was so faultless that Fio didn't realize till almost the end of the show that it was stuck up in the rafters, above the production. And the costuming was spectacular, especially the crows and the poppies, but Dorothy's wig looked like--well--a wig.

The director made good use of the aisles on either side of the audience, but Fio didn't think the switching between the real and the stuffed Toto worked, although she must recuse herself on that score because in BCT's production, a child played Toto. A bigger problem was the double casting of very recognizable characters. Thus Nikki Bora, who started the show as Aunt Em, also showed up as an Oz lady, a Winky guard, and a monkey. In fact, because of the scarcity of males in community theater, the uber-macho Winky marching brigade was almost all female.

The biggest problem with The Wizard of Oz is that it is a derivation of an iconic movie, and Fio admits that although she carped about the slavish imitation of the original actors' performances, the production would have seemed wrong without them. RIP, Dorothy. It's time to retire.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fio to the Rescue

The weather has changed! We're down into double digit highs again, and last night our low was 55.

Now if it will just rain.

But wait--Fio has a plan to take care of that situation, a plan that will benefit the whole nation. Those planes that are swooping up all that water from reservoirs and dropping it on the wildfires--when the fires are out, how about having said planes suck up loads from places that have too much water right now, like Louisiana and the East Coast, and dropping it all over the parched earth of Central Texas?

Thank you for your applause, and, no, Fio is not running for office.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


As far as Fio can tell, the Muslim and Mormon visions of heaven are similar--they're both for men, with women as accessories.
With the earthquake in Alaska and the wildfires in Texas, Fio is surprised Bachmann hasn't blamed them on Palin and Perry for posing a threat to her political ambitions.
Eighty days of temperatures in the triple digits. That's almost a quarter of the year. Tell me again that the weather extremes of global warming aren't real.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Fio was thinking about writing a review of a play she and Husband saw Friday night, or perhaps a nice tribute to Labor Day. Then a fire raging in the Central Texas area consumed the home of a family she knows.

Daily we read the newspapers and watch television reports about human tragedy, but reality hits home when someone we know is involved. Our hearts go out to the victims, but their loss reminds us that we too are vulnerable.

Husband checked the hoses last night, as though he and Firefighter Fio could hold off a blaze on their own, and Fio has made a list of what to grab, just in case. In fact, she's going to stow family photos in her car this morning.

God bless. Be prepared.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Got number five the other night!

Yes! After gorging itself on grubs and worms and half-destroying one of our planting beds, a big, fat armadillo waddled into the trap set next to the gas pipe which feeds our house. Apparently armadillos aren't too bright--two others have been caught by the same trap in the same location.

And now the trap is set for number six.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Fio has had an idea for a short story rattling around in her head for a couple of months. It's about a It's a planet sucked into itself--a dwarf star.

The gimmick is that heaviest, densest woman in the world gains one last pound and starts sinking into the earth. Her gravity pulls everything in after her and the world turns inside out. Then, pop! and it's gone, a black hole in its place.

Couple of kinks to get worked out yet, but maybe Fio will apply her ever-fertile brain to it after she finishes her current romance project.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Size of It

That explains it.

Fiorella, who has been all sizes at one time or another, couldn't understand how buxom beauties on TV could claim to wear sizes that seemed to Fio would be way too small for them. Then yesterday she read in the newspaper that manufacturers of women's clothing have been "adjusting" sizes for the past several years so that what used to be a "6" is now a "0."

Now, back when Fio wore the old size six, she had some friends who wore size two, which makes her wonder. What size do teen-tiny women wear now--are they into negative numbers?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Summer Squall

Hey, Mr. Weatherman,
You told a lie!
Said our temps were going down
Instead of staying high!

What happened to that ninety-eight
Predicted for today?
And what about those thunderstorms
You said would come our way?

I'm tired of rising from my bed
At the crack of dawn
To empty out my bathtub water
On our browning lawn.

So, you'd better fix our weather fast
The way that it should be
Or, sure as shootin', I'll fix you--
By turning off TV!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Monday morning, just before she woke up, Fio dreamed she had walked into a large IBM-type building, teeming with people. She peeked into various rooms and finally found an empty one that looked remarkably like a hotel room so she moved in for the night. The next morning, a woman came in, shepherding another woman who looked sick. They acted startled to see Fio there, but she assured them she was just leaving. She also suggested the sick woman use the other bed because the woman was sick already, which meant her immune system was down, and Fio figured she might have left some germs on the bed she had used.

Then Fio packed up and left, which was okay with her because she understood that, if she looked, there would always be another room somewhere.

Fiorella's life has had its ups and downs, and, being Fiorella, she's taken the downs hard because she thought it was the end of the road. But now she thinks she'll try to take it easy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

St. Michele

St. Matthew tells us that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike, but Michele Bachmann begs to differ. According to her, the earthquake along the Spotsylvania Fault and the hurricane that swept the Eastern seaboard are signals of God's dissatisfaction with the state of the union--gay marriage, national health care, inheritance taxes, environmental protection, etc.

Whoops--her spokesperson says it was all a joke. But then, that's our Michele. Not a serious bone in her body.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Good Eats

Willie Wonka and Harry Potter--they knew it all along. Turns out that all chocolate, not just dark chocolate, is good for you. A recent British study seems to show that consumption of chocolate is beneficial to the heart, helping to stave off heart attacks and strokes.

So any day now, Fio is expecting a study touting the benefits of eating fried chicken. Col. Sanders may yet be hailed as a pioneer in dietary health care.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Succor Denied

N-o-o-o-o-o-o! Tell me it isn't so! Local meteorologists are calling for a temperature of 110 today and extending our triple-digit weather into early September.

What teasers those weathermen are. They made forecasts of rain possibilities that never materialized and now have reneged on their promise of cooler weather come September.

At this rate, Fio and Husband are going to be trekking gray water out to the landscaping till they themselves are old and gray.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Concerning the Diamond Star

Apparently everything we have here on Earth is out there, to greater or lesser degrees, in the universe too. The stars, planets, and asteroids are composed of the same stuff we are. In a way, it's a little disappointing--Fiorella expected new and different elements. But then, we only view things through our own lenses and, like dogs can't see colors, might be missing something.

Hmmm. If everything is the same in hardware, maybe it's the same in software too. Maybe somewhere in the universe there are equivalents to the life forms we have here on Earth, not the same, but similar, like the way eco slots are filled by varying species on different continents.

But she's not betting on it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

All Together

Well, it's official. The most up-to-date DNA analyses have shown that everyone's a mongrel. All humans have the genes of Neanderthals or their recently-discovered cousins, the Denisovans, incorporated into their DNA. For a while, it looked like Africans had escaped the melange, but further research indicated some of the blended humans had returned to the dark continent and infected its stay-at-home inhabitants too.

In a way, it's sort of comforting, like learning that a rare, interesting species didn't die out after all. In fact, it's living within us.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Ah, the end of the drought is in sight. Our Special Utility District has ratcheted us down from Stage 4 watering restrictions to stage 3. We can now use our in-ground system once a week on our designated day and hose by hand on another designated day. Fio and Husband ran the system yesterday evening and the ground is still damp this morning.

We'll continue supplying bath water to the planting beds on the other days, of course, which leads to a problem. What can we do with our agua usada on the days we can legally water with agua pura? Certainly not just send it down the drain like we used to. Maybe buy a couple of big vinyl trash cans to siphon it into for when times get tough again.

And they will.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wreaking Geologic Havoc

No, no! This is wrong! the United States isn't supposed to have an earthquake--maybe in California, but anything can happen there. Certainly not up east, where people mind their own business.

Fiorella grew up with the perception that the earth convulsed only in places with unstable governments, like South America, Africa, and the Balkans. What a shock when Mount St. Helen's blew. And now there's the Spotsylvania Fault acting up.

Do you think it's the Tea Party?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Is it time to rethink the rear-facing carseat for infants?

How many times has Fiorella opened up the paper to read about yet another young child dying from overheating in the back seat of a loving parent's car? Of course, one should always check to see if baby is still on board, but schedules change and young parents' lives are occupied with fifty million other concerns so it must be hard to remember whether or not there's a sleeping baby on the other side of an ever-present carseat.

Let's face it--the rear-facing carseat gives better protection in case of wrecks, but puts the child in more danger of being forgotten. Maybe it's time to run the comparative statistics.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Morgan Wins

Christine O'Donnell walking out on her interview was a publicity bonanza for Piers Morgan.

O'Donnell appeared on his talk show to promote her book, Troublemaker, but more so to promote her own particular political viewpoint. Fio gives her credit--she's articulate as all get-out. Yet, in the end, it's all slogans.

What ostensibly got O'Donnell's goat was Morgan questioning her about her views, as expressed in her book, about same-sex marriage, masturbation and something else Fio can't remember. Even though O'Donnell was on the program to promote her book, she didn't want to talk about these points, which might interest prospective readers, but about her views of government, which were sort of boring and ran toward demagoguery.

She also objected to Morgan's "rudeness," saying that, as his guest, she should be the one to determine the topics of conversation. Sorry, babe. It doesn't work that way. It's a talk show, not your own private infomercial. Morgan is after ratings and people are less likely to switch channels if you're talking about hot topics than lecturing at them about the founding fathers.

Christine O'Donnell--she might not be a witch, but she certainly is a troublemaker. And an egomaniacal one at that.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Join Me!

Fiorella got up ten minutes ago feeling Tony Tiger g-r-e-a-t! Maybe it's that she and Husband celebrated Fio's birthday belatedly by going out to eat with Brother and Sister-in-law last night. Maybe it's that Fiorella had a glass of wine with dinner--okay, half a glass, but that's half a glass more than she usually drinks. Maybe it's the half a hydrocodone Fio took earlier in the day. (Hmmm--Fio does things by halves.) Maybe it's that, for the first time in four days, she slept through the night, despite the pain in her hip joint--trucking several half-gallon bottles of water up and down the stairs every day has its consequences.

Whatever, Fio feels fabulous, and hopes you do too!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Miracle Man

Rick Perry's selling the "Texas miracle" like snake oil, but he's attributing it to himself rather than the Almighty.

Perry's interested in medical miracles too, like the HPV vaccine that he tried to make mandatory for young girls and the recent experimental stem-cell surgery he himself underwent to cure his bad back.

But Fiorella thinks the major miracle is that Perry's stayed in office so long. And Fio knows for sure the Almighty had nothing to do with that.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mornin', Ma'am

Fiorella Plum, pioneer woman. She got up at dawn, fed the livestock, watered the crops, and fought off hordes of pestilent varmints.

Okay, okay--she staggered out of bed at seven, gave Wendy Dog her kibbles, hosed the planting beds with used bathwater, and put a couple of deer to flight just by opening the front door.

That's just about as pioneer as Fio gets.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cowboy Rick's Latest Adventure

If Rick Perry's going to run for president, Fio wishes he'd be more statesmanlike. Sure, the Texas stereotype is fun when one is visiting friends and relatives out of state, but when one is trying to get the nation to take you seriously? Perry's acting like a leftover from the B-Bar-B Riders.

Attention radio fans, boys and girls! The hombre in the ten-gallon hat just galloped onto the political stage with laser-sighted six guns a-blazin'. Your cue, Rick!

Gonna hang Bernanke from the highest tree, podnuh, and them pointy-headed scientist fellers who think the world's a-gittin' hotter can swing right along beside him.

As a Texan, Fiorella finds all the play-acting downrght embarrassing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

En Pointe!

Dancers really get around, especially when they're around pop stars.

We all remember Britney Spears and dancer Kevin Federline, who, post-divorce, gets a big chunk of her income for taking care of their kids while she's off regenerating her career. And now there's Madonna and French dancer Brahim Saibat, but, unlike Britney, Madonna seems to be keeping her pas de deux partner at home.

Just think, guys--do a few plies and you too can--uh--dance with the stars.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Converted to Crime

Fiorella and Husband have long despaired of the current television scene--you know, only a couple of decent shows a week buried in five hundred channels of desperation programming. Husband doesn't like reality shows and will leave the room when Fio's favorite, The Little Couple, comes on. And Fio doesn't like crime dramas, which are Husband's favorites, so she did other things while he watched his favorite, NCIS. Gradually, of course, she started watching it too.

The show grew on her, and now she's just as big a fan as Husband. She likes the definition and interaction of the characters: smarmy Tony, idealistic McGee, up-tight Zeeba, intense Abbie, philosophical Ducky, flint-hard Gibbs. In fact, she likes NCIS so much that she gave Husband the go-ahead to buy a season of it on DVD.

Now if she can just get him to watch The Little Couple.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bachmann, Palin, and Perry

The Iowa straw poll has demonstrated its irrelevancy for the second electoral season in a row. Four years ago it ranked Mitt Romney at the top of Republican voter selection and John McCain tenth. This year, Michele Bachmann placed first, but Fio just doesn't think she's gonna pan out.

Speaking of not panning out, Fio notices that Sarah Palin's star is fading fast. Wonder how much she can get for that tour bus on resale? Maybe Rick Perry could buy it and travel around the country putting on tent revivals.

Speaking of Rick Perry, have you ever seen such a showboat? Brings to mind Elmer Gantry.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Snippets of the Drought

Fiorella is pleased to announce that Miz Duggar has a new offspring. It's midway between her and the next verbena, which, since they sleep in the same bed, Fio is now calling Jim Bob.
Husband discovered the sugar water in the hummingbird feeder had fermented into alcohol. So did the hummingbirds.
The only good thing about the drought is that we'll have more dead trees to cut down for firewood come October. How's that for making lemonade out of lemons?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hard Head

Did Fiorella ever tell you she has extra dense bones? She first learned about it several years ago when a medical techie told her that she'd never get osteoporosis because her bones were more dense than those of women half her age.

But it makes sense. Fio's favorite beverage is milk, she's never broken a bone, and, as a child, she had trouble learning how to float in the YWCA pool because she sank like the proverbial stone. That also accounts for the fact that--ahem--she's always looked like she weighs less than the scales say.

One drawback, though. Fio read that people with dense bones are more likely to get prostate cancer.

But Fio doesn't think she's gonna lose any sleep over that one.

Friday, August 12, 2011

In Thrall to a Watering Schedule

The bathtub watering system was sort of fun at first, but now it's gotten onerous. Fio is tired of hobbling up and down the stairs to set the pond motor and straighten the hoses. She's tired of spending at least an hour a day outside in the 100-degree heat with watering. She's tired of filling milk bottles with the bath water left over from the siphon.

But losing the plantings would be worse. Pray for rain.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Zion's Barnyard

One more thing about the FLDS and then Fiorella will let the topic drop--maybe.

The ratio of women to men--doesn't it make you think of a herd of cattle with just one bull? Of course, Jeffs was generous and allowed subservient bulls to accumulate their own small herds, but he kept the sweetest, freshest heifers for himself.

To further the bovine analogy, consider the African tribes in which wealth is measured in cattle. Using that standard, Jeffs, with his seventy-nine wives, is a modern Croesus. And with him collecting welfare checks for seventy-eight unemployed single mothers, he may be even richer.

Yes, the FLDS women are not just cash cows, but the geese that lay the golden eggs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Fio wants to save the world. She wants to repair the economy, to give everyone jobs, to provide medical care as needed, to break up abusive religious sects, to bring hope to the hopeless, to persuade people to love one another.

But all she can do is write her stories and paint her pictures and sing her songs. She hopes you can do more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Loose Men Alert

Ever noticed that women and children dominate the television screen in news reports about the FLDS compounds? That's because the ratio of women to men in the sex sect is at least five to one. Or perhaps Fio should say, to the men allowed to stay in the cult. By now, everyone's heard about the "lost boys," the young males thrown out on their own when they are old enough to compete for wives with the older men.

Some people advocate legitimatizing polygamy as a means of opening up that "lifestyle" to scrutiny and regulation. Fio disagrees because every plural wife means one less woman in the pool of availability, which means one more male is on his own. And loose males are a dangerous commodity. Just look at the continual upheaval in the Arab world.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Five purple verbenas front our north planting bed, and Fiorella waters them daily to be sure they survive. Yes, the drought has brought out the nurturer in Fio, and she especially prizes the verbenas. Her favorite is the large one that's sent up several shoots around itself, like cloned children.

Fio calls it Miz Duggar.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Fiorella finds it distressing that Warren Jeffs raped children in the name of Jesus and former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford said God had hooked him up with his extra-marital soulmate.

That's not God talking to you, guys. That's your gonads.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Paranormal Parade

It dawned on Fiorella the other day how much of our classic literature is what we now classify as paranormal. Think about Homer's epics--the appearances of the gods and goddesses in the Iliad, plus the bizarre creatures encountered in the Odyssey. Think about Grendel and the dragon in Beowulf. In fact, think about Beowulf himself, swimming around for--eight days was it?--fully armored. Think about Spenser's Fairie Queen.

Shakespeare was something of a realist, but in Midsummer Night's Dream, he too dipped into the paranormal.

Fiction lets the mind run wild, and apparently human minds tend toward the abnormal--uh, paranormal.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Eye of the Beholder

Gypsies and Travelers are reviled for their penny ante con games, while the FLDS gets away with bilking our tax dollars for millions.

Black women with eight children on the public dole are criticized for their irresponsibility, while FLDS women with eight children on the public dole receive sympathetic news coverage.

Throwing one's young teenage sons out into the world with no education and no means of support is considered child abandonment in most jurisdictions. In FLDS territory, it's the norm.

Odd how things change if you're wearing pastel dresses and "keep sweet."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tabloid News

Fio thinks Warren Jeffs and Casey Anthony should be locked in the same cell and the key thrown away. He could rape her and she could murder him.
To think, the whole nation was fooled by a glissando of pastel dresses. And all the time, the FLDS was a sex cult.
It looks like Casey Anthony won't have to return to Florida to serve her probation. Apparently her get-out-jail-free card is even better than Lindsay Lohan's.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ever Inventive

Despite the 107-degree temperatures, our plants are thriving.

They should be. Fiorella and husband devote an hour very evening to caring for them-- and considerable ingenuity. She's told you about using plastic milk bottles, but the delivery systems have been adjusted too. The harness holding the milk bottles as they descend from the second-floor landing to the first floor dining room has been simplified to a loop on the end of the rope, and every bottle is capped to avoid accidentally washing the said dining room's floor. And Husband is, as of Monday morning, hooking the bath water hose up to a sprinkler. After all, it's agua usada so drought watering restrictions (hand-held hoses only) don't apply.

Humans, ever inventive. No wonder we trumped the Neanderthals.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Private Literature

Latest info from the trial of FLDS "prophet" Warren Jeffs is that the reason he claims the sect records are sacred is because they're meant only for God to read. Apparently the Almighty is not as all-seeing and all-knowing as we've always heard, but must rely on account books written by mere mortals . . . in English.

What a treasure trove for a the prosecutor in the case--written records of "celestial marriages," apparently even tapes of the consummation of such.

Both bizarre and terrible.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Third in Three

Our third scorpion in as many days. Fio's getting nervous. She's shaking her shoes before she puts them on and watching the floor as she walks. Pray God, ever-curious Wendy Dog doesn't encounter one of them.

Fiorella has had two close encounters with scorpions in her lifetime, once when she was a young'n in Waco and last year out here in the boondocks. The first time, the thing raced down her leg and off onto the floor. The second time it was racing up her leg and she brushed it off with her hand. Yeah, Fio has a panic reaction quicker than a scorpion's stinger.

Remember that.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rain, rain, come this way . . . .

Today, Fiorella's brain is as empty as the local lakes and as dry as the parched earth. Yes, for once, she has nothing to say. Except to plead for rain. She's tired of spending her evenings toting plastic milk bottles of water outside to her thirsty plants, the ones she can't reach with the hose by pumping last night's bath water out of the tub. But looking at the ten-day forecast, the weather ahead is going to be even hotter, up to 106 degrees.

Now she understands why those ancient southwestern Indians abandoned their pueblos when the weather cycled hot one too many times.