Monday, January 31, 2011


Husband is insisting that he and Fio wash Fio's car today, but Fio thinks that's what rain is for. She doesn't wash floors either--because people walk on them. And what's the use of washing windows when Wendy Dog would just smear them up again?

No, Fio spends her time on useful things that will last forever--like this blog. Hello, Eternity!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Standing Room Only

The Texas Showboat--excuse me, the Texas Legislature--has a new performance on the boards: requiring voters to produce picture IDs.

Obviously this requirement is aimed at somebody, but who? The first thought is illegal Mexican immigrants, but they don't vote anyway. Staying under the radar is their modus operandi. The second thought is fraudulent voters who cast their ballots more than once. But all they have to do is run off another batch of driver's licenses in the back room. The third thought is political bosses who vote people from the cemetery. But political bosses that powerful can find ways to suborn picture ID requirements too.

The fourth possibility is that the Legislature wants to disenfranchise older people who no longer drive but like to clog up the voting booths. Aha! That's it! Golden Oldies might not want to go to the bother of asking someone to drive them to the nearest DPS outlet, often in the next county. And they might find it uncomfortable or physically painful to stand in line for things like ID cards.

On the positive side, I assume that requiring us all to produce picture IDs will eliminate the need for voter registration cards, which will save the State some money. Maybe even enough to pay for supervision of each voting precinct by picture ID police.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Slave of Destiny

Fio is spending a lot of time these days packing away Christmas decorations and, as you know, your Fiorella decorates A LOT. Why? Her mother decorated for the holidays, but in moderation, a word that Fio is not familiar with. Why not? Obviously because some distant ancestor passed on a special over-the-top gene that Fio tied with a red velvet bow. Thus Fiorella is merely fulfilling her heritage, her genetic destiny. Blame it on the DNA. Hey--we could write a song:

Don't blame me, it's the DNA--
Can't control what I do,
Can't control what I say,
And, tell you what--neither can you.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Fio's crashed Florida! Yes, one of her romances placed FIRST in a Florida romance-writing contest!

The folklore circulating in her own RWA chapter is that we can't win in Florida or California because they don't like Texans.

How, then, did Fio's entry beat the odds? Easy--she set the story in Minnesota.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stealth Raid

Muffins, popcorn, and bread--
Wendy has been fed.
In fact, she fed herself
From the pantry shelf
While Fio was abed.
Fie, Wendy! Siggu! Shame!
Fio's mad, and you're to blame.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Morning Prayer

For the new day, I thank you
For the good night, I thank you
For boundless hope and endless memory
For what once was and what is yet to be
Thank you, God.

(Obviously, Fio's feeling better.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The world is ganging up on Fio. The query letter is still hanging fire, her computer won't delete when it's supposed to, she discovered the top half of one of the expensive decorative trees the landscapers planted has been snapped off, the batteries in the TV changer won't charge, and none of her clothes fit right.

To top it off, after a harrowing one-hour drive to the Arboretum Barnes and Noble in near darkness last night (partially because she didn't realize she still had on her sunglasses), Fio accidentally walked out with Susan Elizabeth Phillips's newest novel, autographed but unpaid for.

So this morning she's calling the store to find out how much she owes. The check is in the mail.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Boondock Activity

Pepe le Pew has been visiting Fio's neck of the woods a lot lately. It seems like every time she steps outside her front door, she's been greeted by the odiferous evidence of his presence. Must be getting near mating season.
Speaking of the seasons, Fio loves to watch the new calves capering around while their mothers lie in the grass, soaking up the sun. The babies literally kick up their heels.
Fiorella has gotten more energetic lately too. In fact, yesterday afternoon she spent a couple of hours hauling away the cedar that Husband had chainsawed. It's all in a huge pile in front of the house now. Anyone want to cart it to the dump for her?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Color Rules

Fio's even weirder than you thought. Ever since she was a child, she's associated colors, not only with musical pitches, but with alphabet letters. F, for instance, is chartreuse. Don't ask her where this trait came from--maybe some long-ago alphabet chart, maybe a cross-wiring of her brain.

Whatever. At least it isn't fatal.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Two f-ing days! Fio has been writing and rewriting a crappy query letter for two f-ing days, and it still doesn't read right. She's written a 400-page novel, but no one will look at even the first twenty pages of it if the one-page query letter isn't super-duper special.

It's like there's a tiny keyhole in a big door, and Fio has to figure out how to configure a key to fit it so the door will swing open and her four hundred pages can enter the sanctum sanctorum, which is, of course, an agent's office.

Fio is doomed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Packing Christmas Away

Fio is dismantling her Christmas decorations ribbon by ribbon, ornament by ornament, wreath by wreath. It won't take her as long as when she put them up because there's no creative labor in taking them down. Just grunt work, which Fio despises.

Where are Harry Potter's house elves when you need them?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Been There, Worn That

Fio is fascinated by the pendulum swings of fashion. During her lifetime, hemlines have been way up high and way down low a couple of times. Waistlines also seem to move a lot, from the hips up to empire and back again. Even underwear changes: bras have gone from sturdy to flimsy, from nothing to those stupid coconut husk things on display now in the stores. And panties--don't get me started, except that we'll all probably be in bloomers soon.

In a way, I guess it's reassuring. There is nothing new under the sun, and Fio has a couple of things in the back of her closet she'd like to wear again--that is, if Daughter, her fashion arbiter, approves.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Fiorella is concerned about so many celebrators in restaurants singing "Happy Birthday" off pitch. And why are they off pitch? Because people may walk around with I-phones glued to their ears day and night, but they themselves rarely sing. After all, those songs they're listening to belong to specialists.

Think about it--your voice is your own special instrument, the original musical instrument of mankind. But using it, like everything else, requires practice. There's no way you're going to get kids to throw away their ear candy and launch into song during school bus trips anymore, and luring them to church just to sing hymns doesn't seem to be the right thing to do. Unfortunately, elementary school music programs seem to focus more on instrumental music than singing. So voice training is up to you.

People, SING to your children. Sing lullabies, nonsense songs, whatever you know. Let them hear a real person's voice in their ears and invite them to join in. Teach them to be active rather than passive, providers rather than consumers, givers rather than getters.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


According to the latest dietary studies, your Fio has a sixty percent less chance of getting diabetes than the average bear, and it's all because she drinks a lot of milk--whole udders of it, in fact.

Fiorella usually turns a jaundiced eye toward dietary reports because their they tend to be faddish, but this one makes sense to her. Her mother, who didn't like milk, developed diabetes when she was younger than Fio is now, and Fio has read that Hispanics--who have higher rates of lactose intolerance than the general population--also run higher rates of diabetes.

Fio's paternal cousins are all milk drinkers too. Her great-grandfather is said to have observed that when Poles get money, they buy a showy horse, but when Galitzians get money, they buy a cow so the children can have milk. One guess where Fio's father's line hailed from. And Dad stayed true to his heritage. Fio remembers when she, age twenty-five, was eating out with her parents and ordered a Coke with her lunch. Her father looked at her with sad eyes and, in a gentle voice, asked, "Shouldn't that be milk?"

Looks like Dad had it right: milk is nature's most nearly perfect food.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Laptop Adventures

Fio may be out of contact for a while. Her Lenovo's screen has been flipping lately, sometimes going totally white. It's annoying while she's working--and a little frightening--so she's going to be making a visit this week to good ol' Click Computer, where they know her by name. Luckily, the Lenovo is still in warranty. You probably remember that she bought it last March and had to have the motherboard and hard drive replaced a couple of months later. Wonder what will need replacing this time?

She should have bought a Dell.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Easy Morning

Sunday morning, sleeping late
Didn't wake up till after eight.
Winter sky is cold and gray
Think I'll stay inside today
Drink hot chocolate, pet the dog,
Read a novel, write my blog,
Lie around and appreciate
Sunday morning, feeling great

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mental Health Issues

Motive, schmotive. Loughner is crazy. Probably paranoid schizophrenia, which often develops in early adulthood. Fio knows. One of her nephews is paranoid schizophrenic. She's written about him before. He's the one to whom cats and mailboxes talk, to whom radios and TVs broadcast warnings that the police are after him, whose knees the Ku Klux Klan has damaged by sending electronic rays through the wall of his ratty apartment because he talked to a Black person.

He's the one who tried to kill his mother.

But he's still running around loose, on his own, and he doesn't take any medication. After all, this is a democracy, and he's entitled to make his own decisions regarding medical treatment. Except that's exactly what his affliction prevents him from doing, making his own decisions--at least rational ones. It's like requiring a blind person to see.

Like expecting Jared Loughner to realize the inhumanity of his actions.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Up in Flames

Years ago Fiorella saw a reality show on TV in which a variety of families volunteered to live like old-time pioneers. She cheered on the enterprising couple that found a box spring mattress in the woods and toted it back to their cabin, arguing that pioneers would have made use of "found goods." And she booed the bitchy woman who smoked a pipe and was constantly carping about the enterprising couple. And she remembers how the adventure was called off after the amount of firewood that had been harvested for the winter was tabulated--the stacks looked like enough to warm all of Iceland to Fio, but the experts said they weren't adequate.

Now Fio understands. Husband chainsawed FOUR big iron rings full of wood this fall, and now, halfway through winter, two-thirds of it is gone.

Luckily he bought himself a new chainsaw for Christmas.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Arizona Aftermath

Fiorella is ready to speak now, and, sadly, not about the massacre, but the aftermath.

By claiming her own victimhood, Sarah Palin is robbing the graves of the dead. The mainstream press has been quite careful about discussing whether or not "vitriolic rhetoric" influenced the situation, raising a legitimate question rather than accusing. But Palin sees everything through her own designer glasses--it's all about her. Everything is about her. And if it isn't about her, she makes it about her.

Shut up, please, and let the nation mourn in peace.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Fiorella hasn't said anything about the Tucson massacre because she didn't know what to say. She's still in shock. The whole scenario is so bizarre, so horrific, so senseless.

But now the Westboro Baptists, the anti-Christs of the universe, are getting involved, planning to picket the funeral of the little girl who was killed. And Sarah Palin, cloaking herself in St. Ronald Reagan, is waging rhetorical war, complete with trademark hyperboles, against the concept of--well--toning DOWN the rhetoric.

Fio would rather they all be struck dumb, like she is.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Daddy's Chair

Hooray for Weimer Wendy,
Who's comfy in THE chair,
But only if the Snuggie
Is situated there
In the sloping lounger,
Stuffing up the crack
Between the shallow seat
And the reclining back,
Extending thus the space
Just long enough for her
So she can find some comfort,
Our dainty slumberer.

Monday, January 10, 2011

And Again

Fio tried "interview," twenty," and "winter" out in her own mouth and realized what the so-called pronunciation expert is hearing is NOT the omission of the T but the de-aspiration of it.

As Wikipedia explains, "English voiceless stop consonants are aspirated for most native speakers when they are word-initial or begin a stressed syllable . . . ," which means that sounds like T, P, and K are produced with a little extra puff of air at the beginning of words or a stressed syllable--but not when they don't have a starring role.

For a more complete discussion, Google Leigh Lisker. But take it from Linguistics Lady, Lisker ain't a-goin' ta tell ya that "ten" causes T to be silent.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

On the Rampage

So now Fio is hacked off. Some self-proclaimed language expert has a website on which she purports to teach the "correct" pronunciation of English. Fiorella doesn't know what neck of the woods the woman is from, but she actually tells people that "winter," "interview," and "twenty" are pronounced "winner," "innerview," and "twenny." Then she has the audacity to link them with the silent T phenomenon of the "often"/"soften"/"fasten" series, saying "ten" is the causative factor.

Fio's done a little etymological research, but she'd probably have to consult a Middle English expert to learn what's really going on with the silent T. One thing, though--she can guarantee you that "ten" is not the culprit. Look at some examples of true silent T: christen, moisten, glisten, Christmas, mistletoe, chestnut, hustle, rustle, bustle. Note that constant presence of the S before the T?

Linguistics Lady strikes again.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


So, the vaccine/autism link is utterly fallacious--not just mistaken, but a deliberate fraud. Several medical studies had disproved it already, but now we have an investigative reporter who's traced down the mechanics of it--and and the motive. Money, of course. A conspiracy between the good doctor and a lawyer to extort money from vaccine manufacturers.

Not that this will stop people from believing. It's like the birthers. You could produce Obama's birth certificate till the cows come home, and those who disbelieve it would continue to do so. It's important to their world view.

We all live within our own myths.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A WhisTle to the Wise

It's called a hypercorrection, and it's driving Fio crazy. Please, people, DO NOT PRONOUNCE THE "T" IN "OFTEN." It's silent, as in "sofTen," "moisTen," "fasTen," and "misTletoe." Linguistic Lady here does not know why it is silent, but it is. Please, lisTen to me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oprah the Octopus

Fio doesn't know about you, but she resents Oprah's eponymously-named network taking over from Discovery, Health. When all other TV fare failed, Fio could usually count on Channel 279 for a good feature on weird diseases, graphic plastic surgery, and specials on multiples and dwarves. She really isn't interested in hearing Dr. Oz tell her to lose weight or Dr. Phil lecturing her about her psyche.

The only good thing is that Fio's always wanted to have an occasion to used the word "eponymous."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lost Cause

Wendy Dog has had a tough time of it ever since Husband's old, plushy recliner was replaced by a sleek, low-lying Le Corbusier lounger. The newbie was just right for Husband's back, but completely wrong for a dog who loved to leap up into a warm, comfy chair right after her beloved daddy had vacated it.

Not that she hasn't tried. Fio watched in awe yesterday as Wendy finally got herself up into the lounger. For a minute or two, she sat with her legs cramped together and her nose almost touching the back of the chair, one of the stupidest poses she's ever gotten herself into. Then she delicately maneuvered around so she faced forward, which made her tail end sink down and her balance precarious. Finally she leapt off, looked at the chair, leapt on again, and immediately leapt off again. After a couple of sad final glances at the chair, she walked over to her own raised bed, lay down, and resigned herself to being just a dog.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Fio, as you know, is endlessly fascinated by the diversity of mankind. The European Neanderthals have been around for ages, but, in recent years, a lot more variety has turned up. The Indonesian Hobbits, at first thought to be a hoax or chance anomaly, have been verfied as genuine little people. Now we have Denisovians, Asian Neanderthals, traces of whose DNA appears only in Melanesians.

Fio, of course, is thrilled. When will the elves be discovered?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Heart of Drama

Leafing through the the program from Scrooge, Fio was amazed at how many of the actors' day jobs were at churches as pastors, music directors, and youth counselors. But, on second thought, it makes sense. Religious observance is where formal drama got its start.

The Athenian theater originated in an annual festival celebrating Dionysus, evolving from leader-audience responses to a playwright competition. The Romans followed up on the Greek tradition, but the performances got so bawdy that theater was banned by the Christian church--only to be revived in later centuries by Christian priests dramatizing Bible stories in the sanctuary for Latin-illiterate parishioners. Soon the plays moved from the church to, literally, the marketplace, and modern theater was born.

And, in Georgetown, religious leaders are still at the heart of it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Fio is late posting today, but with good reason. She has been battling the evil jigsaw puzzle all week, and TODAY SHE TRIUMPHED! Yes, at exactly 11:29 a.m. (write this down in your diaries), Fiorella Plum won her fight against chaos.

It was hard going all the way as she searched for three-legged men, egg foots, kink arms, and over-endowed uppers among the cardboard pieces, then judged them by color and design, but, I repeat, FIO TRIUMPHED!

Maybe there's hope for the world after all.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Not So Humbug after All

Fiorella and Husband drove into Georgetown for the Palace Theater's Christmas extravaganza presentation of Scrooge, the Musical, half-expecting to leave after the first act. We weren't that thrilled about the concept of the play and knew it would be stuffed with extraneous children, some of whom could act and some of whom--uh, needed further instruction.

We stayed all the way through. Scrooge couldn't compare to last season's Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat or the previous season's Grease, but it was well-done. The children's acting, as usual, varied in quality, some of the stage scenery manipulations were weird (notably Scrooge going upstairs to his bedroom and ending up downstairs), and the British accents were mangled and haphazard, but Joe Penrod as Scrooge was terrific. In fact, he was a one-man show--his voice, his movements, his every attitude brought the character to life. Penrod even triumphed over the stupid libretto which got all tied up in two-syllable rhymes, morals being pushed relentlessly down our throats, and having his "sister" call him "Ebby," which nearly cracked Fio up.

In fact, the featured males were all stand outs, and I especially hope we'll be seeing more of Justin Langford. The only featured woman, Yvonne Love, sang like an angel, but was totally poker-faced.

Do not go to this show expecting to see Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol." It's a gussied up Broadway musical meant for light-hearted holiday consumption. But it has its moments. Fio loved the scene when Scrooge unknowlingly danced on his own coffin,and she cried when the Spirit of Christmas to Come showed Scrooge the grave of Tiny Tim.

She always does.