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!