Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thumbs Down on NY

Has anyone else out there been watching Selling New York? It's an HG TV show featuring NYC real estate agents. You know, those men with overly-bright eyes and too-ready smiles. Those women with short, tight dresses, mile-high stilettos, and huge handbags.

At first Fio was fascinated by the apartments and condos. So modern, so sleek, so expensive.

And so much the same. All with open floor plans, the kitchens observable and accessible to even the most casual drop-in. All with floor-to-ceiling windows. All with stupendous bathrooms and huge bedrooms.

Sorry, that's not Fio's lifestyle. Nor her pocketbook.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lenovo's Catch 22

Lenovo is crap and its people are slime.

Fiorella bought a shiny new Lenovo laptop on March 21, 2010, at Fry's Electronics. In August 2010, Click, her local repair shop, had to send it back to the company for a new motherboard and hard drive. Click noticed the lid was a little damaged when the computer came back, but Fio decided not to press the issue; she'd been too long without her computer.

Recently Fio noticed pages were flipping and, knowing her one-year warranty would soon run out, drove over to Click on March 17 for them to copy her data onto another computer and send the Lenovo back in for more repair. On March 21, the repair shop called Lenovo to check out the warranty and was told that Fio had purchased the computer in mid-February so the warranty had run out.

So, credit card statement in hand, Fio called 866-96THINK to straighten everything out. But a sharp-voiced Asian woman told her Lenovo's records showed the laptop had been purchased in mid-Feb and that Fio would have to supply a copy of the purchase invoice to prove otherwise. Fiorella promptly contacted Fry's, and the photocopy of the invoice arrived on Mar 28. Fio had indeed purchased the Lenovo on March 21, at 11:44:04 in the morning, to be exact.

On Mar 29, Fio called Lenovo to arrange for her computer to go in for warranty repair. The nice South Indian man whom she talked to understood the situation and said Lenovo would honor her warranty, no problem. He gave her another phone number, 877-453-6686, and told her to choose first option 2, then option 1.

Fio connected with a woman who told her that her warranty was now out of date because it was now March 29, eight days past March 21. Fio explained that she had been forced out of her one-year warranty by Lenovo's bookkeeping being incorrect in listing her purchase date as mid-February. The woman said there was no record of Fio calling on March 21 and that the only way she
could get warranty service was to pay for an extended warranty.

Fio asked to speak to a supervisor. Afraid this phone call might also be denied in the future, she got his name: Tony, PHO31448 (although she wonders if it was fake). In a smart-alec voice, he told her the same thing the woman had, adding that the machine had been manufactured in December. Fio pointed out that the Lenovo service center had trapped her, first by refusing to service her machine under warranty because their records mistakenly listed the laptop as having been purchased in February, then, when she had proof of the correct purchase date, by saying that she hadn't called on March 21.

Apparently Lenovo's recordkeeping is haphazard at best, convenient at worst: the basic motive of both Tony and the woman seemed to be to persuade Fiorella to extend her warranty.

Fio finally ended the call, but she isn't done with Lenovo by a long shot. She's contacting Verizon for her list of telephone calls on March 21, going to ask Click for a redacted copy of theirs for the same date, and then fire off a few letters to selected personages.

Don't mess with Fio. When it comes to combating injustice, Fio's a pit bull.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

H2O to the Rescue

Fiorella may not be a slug-a-bed, but she is a slug-a-tub. Get her in a hot bath and she'll stay there forever--or until the water cools an hour later.

For Fio, hot water has curative powers. If her muscles ache from chainsawing or she has a headache or she can't sleep, just dunk her in the tub for a while and she'll recover. Or, if she's already had her quota of baths for the day, supply her with a hot water bottle.

Hot water, the natural cure-all.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quick Recovery

Fiorella's said it before and she'll say it again: she's so shallow. Remember how she was sorta down on Friday about being bypassed by Golden Heart? Well, all it took was notification that she'd won the Linda Howard Award of Excellence, another writing contest, to put her sky high again.

Yeah, she got the email on Sunday morning, just in time for breakfast, and the sweetener was that the final judge, an editor, wants to see Fio's first hundred pages.

You don't get that kinda response from Golden Heart!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fifteen MInutes?

Whatever happened to Sarah Palin? She's been amazingly quiet the past month or so. Has her time passed? Was she just brief comet that whizzed by in a shower of publicity and smashed into the sun? Has she abandoned her absurd presidential ambitions and holed up in her igloo for the duration?

Not on your life. She's got campaign advisers now, and apparently the first thing they told her was to get herself some gravitas. So she's been junketing around Israel and India for the past couple of weeks, carefully not making an ass out of herself.

Israel and India are smart choices because both countries had strong women as prime ministers, Golda Meir and Indira Gandhi. But Palin is neither Meir nor Gandhi. She's more like Lindsay Lohan.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pass the Oxygen Cannulae

Fio always scans the tabloid headlines as she wait in the supermarket checkout line. How else would she have learned that Elvis is still alive, Hillary Clinton hosted a space alien at the White House, and the world will end in ten days? Or about the "SAD LAST DAYS" of this celebrity or that, with the implication that something monumentally tragic was happening?

Come off it! It's death! Everybody's last days are sad!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bon Chance

Today is the day Fio's been dreading: RWA Golden Heart finalists will be notified. Her odds last year, she figured, were about one in a hundred, and she didn't make it. This year, she thinks they're even-steven.

She's not gonna make it this year either, but her heart will beat faster every time the phone rings. And at the end of the day, she'll console herself with a ginger cow--a pint of vanilla ice cream stffed into a big glass and drenched in ginger ale.

Bottoms up!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Back to Semi-normal

Fiorella's world has taken a turn for the better. Younger Son has a job interview tomorrow. And her new laptop is beginning to shape up.

Whew. Maybe there's hope after all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Third Time's the Charm?

Our culture thinks in threes, and Fio's no exception. Right now she's dealing with the Great Expectations contest, the upcoming Golden Heart announcement, and the triple agent possibilities.

The results of Great Expectations were disappointing, as she told you. The finalists for Golden Heart will be announced on Friday, and Fio is not feeling good vibes. If Golden Heart goes down, can the agents be far behind?

In a better-plotted world, two of Fio's dreams would crash, leaving her shaken but undaunted, and the third would work out. But this is real life, which is a lot more random. Pray for Fio now and in the hour of her death.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Fio is writing this blog on Sunday because she doesn't know if she'll get her laptop back on Monday like she's supposed to, and she wants to be prepared. It was murder getting a blog up for Saturday, but Husband's computer savvy saved the day.

Fiorella is terribly embarrassed: without even realizing what was happening, she, a sworn Luddite, had embraced the world of technology. She's lost without her laptop. Her world has stopped turning. She's had to get up off the couch and do physical labor. She's filled a little tablet full of notes that otherwise she would have entered into the "back story" file of her work in progress. She's watched TV.

And she's gone crazy.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Down in the Dumps

Fio is down. She had great expectations of Great Expectations, a writing contest, but her fate was the same as the characters in Dickens' Great Expectations. Despite her entry being top of the heap with the first tier judges, the final judge just gave her an honorable mention. Dang.

Can't have everything, Fio. Grow up. But that's hard for someone to do who decided when she was eight years old not to get any older.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Relative Time

Fiorella didn't realize there was so much time in the world. You'll remember that her accursed Lenovo started flipping on her again so she took it off to Click to get data transferered onto her brand-spanking new Dell (blessed be the name). Since she won't be getting the machine back till Monday, she now has lots of spare time on her hands, which means a forest of cedars have met their doom and--wonder of wonders--Fio has started cleaning up her office/study. She spent about twenty minutes in there yesterday, and will give it twenty more today. Limiting her time commitment is Fio's technique for handling tasks she doesn't want to do.

It worked for sluicing out the guest room when Younger Son vacated after two years' residence.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Sorry to be posting late today, but Fio's Lenovo is being shipped off to Arlington for repair--again--and the new Dell is still at Click being stuffed full of all my data . . . she hopes. The process may not be finished until MONDAY.

Fio is going crazy. She's anxious about the transfer, but she's out of her mind about not having a laptop at her beck and call. Yes. Fio is having withdrawal symptoms from her drug of choice, the computer. She's got so much hanging fire right now. She needs to finish up the taxes which are stored on the computer, to have email access for possible communications from those three agents who've requested mss, and to learn her final placement in Great Expectations. She needs to be able note down all her new brilliant ideas for her works in progress in their back story files. She needs to check out Lindsay Lohan's latest escapades and what's going on with that new fat-freezing technique.

Ah, you say, but Fio, you're writing on a computer as of this moment. Yes, but it's Husband's machine. Merely methadone. Fio wants her own crack, the real thing. Give me back my laptop. NOW!

Friday, March 18, 2011

It Marches On

Fiorella hates time changes, and this one came as a surprise. She'd heard something about plans to extend DST, but decided it wasn't important enough to think about until it bit her on the nose--which it did last Sunday.

At least it means the clock in her Miata is correct again. Fio, who has no idea how to change it manually, has been subtracting an hour for the past five months.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Murdering Cedars

Earlier this week, Fiorella grabbed her battery chainsaw, the little one Husband gave her for Christmas, and bounced out into the west yard to take down several small cedars. (She has to leave the big ones to husband and his gasoline chainsaw.)

Yes, this is the same Fiorella who loudly decried the way her neighbors had massacred their cedars, virtually balding their acreage. After all, Fio reasoned, with oak wilt two houses and one deep ditch away, she should value every tree on the place. As it turned out, her reasoning was specious. Half those trees Fio thought were live oaks are elms, which are immune to oak wilt. Enter the chainsaw. Fio and Husband plan to take out all the smaller cedars inside the driveway loop and trim up the grandfathers.

The frightening thing is how quickly Fio adjusted to becoming a destroyer of the young. At first she mentally apologized to each of her victims, mourning the life that was not to be, but now she's relishing her role as destroyer.

Is this how mass murderers begin?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ba-a-a Works

Fiorella couldn't fall asleep last night, and with good reason. Checking her email just before she went to bed, she discovered a third literary agent had sent her a request for a partial. Fio was thrilled, of course, especially since the agent had replied within hours after receiving Fio's query.

Fio went to bed a very happy girl, but that adrenaline kept a-pumpin' and she couldn't sleep. She got up and watched TV till midnight, then took a wallow bath, then read a little, but nothing worked. Finally, when she went back to bed for the fourth time, she decided to try counting sheep. Now, Fio being Fio, those woolies didn't all jump over the fence. Some somersaulted, some vaulted, a few stumbled, but Fio counted every one of them as long as she could.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beware Lenovo!

The Ides of March seems an appropriate time to warn you off Lenovo computers.

Fio bought one last year at about this time, and it's been in the shop all too often ever since, notably when it had to be mailed off to Arlington because the hard drive and motherboard had gone bad. Unfortunately, in replacing these, a little hickymadoochy in the connection between the laptop and its lid got bent, causing the computer pages to flip. This week Fio will be shipping said laptop off to North Texas--again.

She should have bought Dell.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Health Update

My nose, my nose
It glows, it glows
Red as a rose--
Thar she blows!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Ick

Fio won't have much to say
Because she woke up sick today
Throat feels raw, head seems hot
Doesn't know what she's got
But wishes it would go away.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


It's easy to go fall asleep at night and wake up happy in the morning when yet another agent wants to see your magnum opus. Yes, Fiorella had a request for a full from an agent she had queried last week, and she loves the way it was worded--if the manuscript is still available--implying that hordes of eager agents must be pounding at Fio's door.

Fiorella tried querying last year about this time and got nothing but form rejections or even worse, silence. But she's won more contests by now and kept her ears open at RWA meetings. She's also better prepared: her query letter is sharper, and the Jessica Faust hullabaloo produced not only a biography, but a contest and publication history.

Is the Emerald City in sight yet, Dorothy?

Friday, March 11, 2011


Fiorella came out of her Lutheran church Wednesday with ashes smeared on her forehead and the words of scripture ringing in her ears. You know the ones, the passage about being humble, praying in your closet rather than advertising your piety to the world.

It's Fio's yearly quandary--when to wipe off the ashes. If she leaves them on for the rest of the day, is she witnessing or showing off?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Literary Eyes

The eyes are windows of the souls, they say, but let's not give them super powers.

Fio is judging a contest again, and the manuscript she's currently looking at has the eyepower revved up high. In one brief glance as she's falling off her horse, the heroine notices the hero has green eyes that sparkle with flecks of gold when he's angry. And from twenty yards away, the hero has already discerned the innocence of said lady's soft blue orbs. All of which recalls to Fio's mind the saleswoman who walked up to her in a clothing store and, close enough to spit on, said how well purple would go with Fio's dark eyes.

Fiorella's eyes are so pale the ophthamalogist had to double lase them when he treated her for glaucoma.

*PS: Ms somewhat disguised to protect the guilty

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Get a Job! If You Can . . . .

Earning one's daily bread, supporting a family--it's never been easy. The number of job seekers has always exceeded the number of available jobs, at least during Fio's lifetime.

The current impasse, she thinks, started in the '80s, during the economic downturn. When men lost their jobs, their wives hit the workforce bigtime. Then came the boom, expectations skyrocketed, and women kept on working in order to fulfill them. But the number of jobs hasn't kept up with the expanded workforce.

At least that's how Fio sees it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Give and Take

It requires the knowledge of a lifetime to work the daily crossword puzzles. Fiorella calls upon her late father's golfing days for terms like tee, fore, putt, eagle, and birdie, names like Slammin' Sammy Snead. Dad's interest in baseball gives her homer, Mel Ott, Matty and Felipe Alou, Babe Ruth, Shea stadium. Her own history supplies her with such as (Yoko) Ono, Nehru jacket, and the Indian honorific, Sri.

On the other hand, Fio has also learned about things from crossword puzzles--things like the Ural and Altai mountains, several obscure European rivers, cold weather terms from the Northeast U.S. Today she discovered that the call of a moose is called a bugle.

So if you want to start your day off right,


Monday, March 7, 2011

How to Tell a Joke

Watch a comic in action. He acts confident, sure of himself, sure of the audience. His joke is quick. He doesn't waste words

Then he looks at his audience, waiting. That pause is the key. It's called "comic timing." It tells the audience he expects an acknowledgment that they share his view of the vagaries of the world. They oblige with laughter.

She can do it too. Watch Chelsea Handler, who wrings laughter out of even the lamest comments just by pausing, posing, and grinning.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Size Counts

Fiorella and Husband gussied up last night and took Fio's brother and his wife to dinner and the local theater. The Palace's production of Evita had garnered rave newspaper reviews so Fio was looking forward to being wowed from the outset.

She wasn't, but she hung on gamely, thinking maybe she was subconsciously comparing this Evita to the one she'd seen a road company perform in UT's Bass Hall years ago. Or maybe she'd just been expecting too much because of the over-the-top reviews.

But, no. The singers were great, especially Kirk Miller as Juan Peron, Steve Williams as Che Guevara, and Ann Pittman as Evita, although she couldn't quite reach the sexy lower pitches. The ensembles were fantastic. The opening of the second act was mesmerizing.

That being said, the cast was too small, "small" being the operative word. This is small town and the actor/singer pool is small so cast members were easily recognized as their previous characters when they moved from part to part, which got annoying. Also the Palace stage is small, which necessitated several distracting methods of changing it around for different scenes. One thing that wasn't "small" was the volume of the stage mikes, which irritated more than Fio, judging by the comments she heard in the women's restroom.

The direction was also problematical. The cast members often stood around looking awkward, and there were too many detracting conversation groups, when what the heavily-stylized Evita needs is frozen tableaus. The dance sequences were hum-drum, with lots of circle dances, odd little hops, and throwing of hands up into the air. Fio misses former choreographer Jessica Kelpsch and her crackerjack routines.

The SRO audience reacted with polite applause after the big numbers and a perfunctory standing ovation at the end of the show, but Evita was not a wowzer. It was just too big a production for so small a theater.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spirit of Love

How appropriate that Brother Bill and I are socializing this evening. It's our late father's birthday.

Dad believed in family. He didn't always agree with his siblings or some of the things they did, but he loved them. So when Husband and I are dining with Brother and his wife this evening, then all attending the theater together, Dad's spirit will join us.

Happy birthday, Dad. Thank you for your love.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Not at My Best

Friday morning
I'll confess
Didn't sleep well
I'm a mess
Tired and cranky
That being said
Think I'll now go
Back to bed.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Up and At'em

It started when Fio decided to actually DO something about that pile of cedar that had been sitting in the north yard for almost a year. She told you the story--within a week it was gone.

Inspired by accomplishment, she gutted up and sent in a query to Jessica Faust,and you know that story too. What you don't know is that once the package hit the ether, she picked up the phone and made an appointment for that ultrasound that had been hanging over her. Another phone call set up a consultation about a lower eyelid lift. Then she searched the internet for a local auto window tinter. Today she'll send off a query to literary agent Liza Dawson.

She'll also re-read chapters 4-8 of one of her own manuscripts for editing and score at least one of the manuscripts she is judging for a writing contest. Practicing piano and hauling rocks out of the creek for lining the driveway are also on her list. And maybe chainsawing more cedars.

Fio, some days I love you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fio's Broadway

Fiorella has been the star of her own mini-drama lately, getting everything ready for uber-agent Jessica Faust. The first act was scouring the three requested chapters for perfection. The second act was recapping the initial cover letter without repeating it word-for-word.

The third act was the personal bio. Eek! Here's where the poo hit the fan. What sort of bio did Faust want? A resume, a life story, what? Fio appealed to her RWA chapter and came up with what she thought was a charming one in the third person. However, when she accidentally posted it on the chapter loop, she reaped the whirlwind. Her bio was totally off-base. Helpful PANs (published authors) leaped to the rescue, thank goodness, and by the next day Fio had a satisfactory bio, in the first person.

The story isn't over yet. Act four turned out to be an addendum: a list of her contest results and publications. They took a while to compile and compose on the page, but she finally got the job done.

The fifth act was gathering everything together in one e-mail, plus attachments, to send off to New York, which took a couple of days. Finally, yesterday afternoon, she pushed "send," and promptly developed a migraine from the sudden release of tension.

Applause please, but the encore can wait.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Questions, Questions, Questions

If Libya is divided, will its capitol be demoted from Tri-poli to Bi-poli? Or even Mono-poli? (In which case, I want Boardwalk.)

So, judging by the ever-decreasing viewing audience, nobody cares about the Oscars. But why should they when they've got U-Tube?
Where is the real Charlie Sheen and who is this clown running around with his face on?