Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stacking the Plates

Back to the religion dealie again, Fiorella thinks churches are like dishwashers. Everyone is invited in, but not all will not be cleansed. Sometimes the machine is at fault, sometimes the china. Sometimes the dishwasher powder gets stuck in the dispenser or the machine the machine is old and worn out. But sometimes the plate is too dirty to be cleaned by anything less than a blast furnace.

What Fiorella is trying to get at is that, even is the message is there, sometimes a listener doesn't hear it.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sinister Dexter, Role Model

Fiorella's toaster brain has been hard at work lately, popping up plot twists and clever wording while she sleeps, then presenting them all ready to digest when she wakes. At the same time, her writing style is being sharpened by that skillful wielder of the word, knife, and scalpel, Dexter Morgan.

Yes, Fio is reading Jeff Lindsay again, catching up on the exploits of the TV's favorite serial killer. The books, though, follow a different story line than TV: Rita, Dexter's wife, is still up and running; the kids, Cody and Astor, remain on the premises; and Dexter's baby is a girl rather than a boy.

Let's face it--most of Lindsay's plots are preposterous--but the stories are so well-written that we don't care.

"...the clouds glower and bunch and wait, letting the need build. and the tension grows with it," Lindsay writes. "In only a few moments these dark and silent clouds will shatter the silence of the night with the unbearable bright omnipotence of their might and blast the darkness into flickering shards--and then, only then, the release will come."


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bird House

A bird flew into the house yesterday. Then another bird zoomed in after it. Fio had left the back door open to allow Bosco, Son's pug, to go in and out, but she didn't expect any visitors. Husband, whose mother had national standing in the Audubon Society's birdwatcher list, immediately identified the invaders as wrens, probably a mating pair--at least that's what the male was intent on.

Husband caught the female in a towel after a half-hour chase around the den, but the male was more difficult, soaring up to the second floor, then swooping downstairs again to perch picturesquely on the pan holder over the kitchen island, the frames of several paintings, the Christmas decor, and anywhere else he was unreachable. Two hours later, Husband still hadn't cornered him or chased him outside, despite Bosco Dog's best efforts--turns out he's an excellent pointer.

Fiorella wishes she could tell you the end of this tale, but she doesn't know what happened to her avian Lothario, whether he escaped out the still-open back door while Fio and Husband were taking a breather, or whether he's still lurking in the house somewhere, ready to take to flight the second they fall asleep, setting off all the security alarms.

The other option is that birdie gave himself a fatal blow to the head while trying to kamikaze through the dining room window, and his small, dead body is rotting behind the Javanese folding screen.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Morning Snippets

Fiorella has started taking down the Christmas decorations--slowly. Why should she hurry? After all, it took a month to get them up.
Younger Son commiserated with us about Bowser, Daughter sent a link to the Austin animal shelter and even researched a couple of dogs for us, and Older Son phoned us from Minnesota because he was so concerned. Obviously, Fio and Husband have raised children with compassion, and what more can you ask for? It's what separates good people from bad, us from the beasts.
Did Fio tell you that she seems to be recovering, that she's no longer using a cane? The orthopod said her hip will not get better, but something's happening. Maybe it's that Fio is exercising more, or maybe it's the pain pills she wallows in. Or maybe, being Fiorella and strong-minded, she's healing herself with positive thinking.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dog Tail

For the past week, Fiorella has been anticipating a blessed event--a new dog, a big lug the animal shelter calls Bowser, but whom Fio would rename Jericho. He's a beautiful American bulldog, all one-hundred plus pounds of him. Fiorella likes big dogs, and living in the boondocks, and often in the house alone, she also likes having extra muscle around.

Bowser needed some eye surgery common to bulldogs so Fio and Husband had to bide their time, but yesterday was D Day--Dog Day.

Except it wasn't. Turns out Bowser's heartworm testing had fallen through the cracks and he wasn't free of the wigglies, as we'd been told, although he needs further testing to determine just how bad the infestation is. If it's light, he'll do just fine on the monthly pills and we could handle it. If it's dire, he'll need to be given a heavy dose of arsenic, which just might kill him, and be kenneled for three months. The shelter would pick up the tab, but the anxiety would be all ours.

The real deal breaker is that we've been told Bowser has recently exhibited an antipathy toward small dogs--and we have Son and his pug living with us now. As a last ditch effort, we're making a family trip to the shelter this morning to check out how Bowser reacts to Bosco, but the situation does not bode well.

Fiorella is a master escape artist. She's good at finding solutions, of creating happy endings in impossible situations: story plots, family finances, the summer drought. She's even dodged diagnoses of multiple sclerosis, diabetes, histoplasmosis, and cancer. But sometimes there is no way out.

She mourns the Jericho that never will be.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Church Within

When Fio took catechism class years ago, she learned about the church without and the church within, the visible church and the invisible one. Just because a person's name is on a church membership list doesn't mean that person will do the right thing.

Fio isn't talking garden-variety trespassing, which, being human and born to eviln as the sparks fly upward, we all do, but big-time stuff--crimes, like, say, being an accessory to murder, which Vanessa Bulls was. Yes, this beautiful sugar-plum fairy with the long, flowing blonde hair and sweet smile knew all along that her preacher-lover was going to kill his inconvenient wife, but she didn't blow the whistle on him. In fact, she maintained her wide-eyed "we were just friends" line for a couple of years afterwards, until the cops finally broke her by promising her immunity from prosecution.

Vanessa may change her name, cut her hair, move to another city, and join another church, but she will never be a member of the church within until she realizes the error of her ways and repents in her heart.

Organized religion wasn't the problem. Vanessa was.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Don't Waste Your Time

Fiorella is putting on her bitchy cap to review The Village, which is totally lame. Not that she saw much of it. Husband had it tuned in for only half an hour before Fio asked him to turn it off.

The movie was so bad that it was embarrassing. The actors didn't so much speak as declaim, unless they were being flint-faced and portentous. At first, Fio wondered if the film was some sort of pseudo-Shakespeare dealie, what with the women wearing long dresses in FLDS pastels and none of the characters using contractions when they spoke. Then she wondered if the village atmosphere was leading up to a Shirley Jackson lottery. Everyone acted so unnatural, as if they were being...uh...filmed

Curious, Fio consulted Google for the plot and learned the whole set-up was a rip-off, that the village had been established in 1970 as a retreat from the world where a small group of suffering people could have new lives and raise their families safe from harm. Safe from modern health care too, as it turned out, which was the crux of the plot because when someone (another of the crop of currently stylish wonder women) broke through to 2010, the gig was up.

It wouldn't have lasted anyway. No group that small can be self-sufficient, and the gene pool would have been totally inbred in another generation.

What a loser. And a pretentious one at that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Baby Fever

The Chinese Year of the Dragon is also supposed to be a time of fertility, and Fio's hoping for a couple of babies in the family sooner rather than later. Fiorella adores babies, their pink cheeks and soft skins, the way their eyes follow your every movement, their warmth and cuddliness, their sweet smell--well, except when the smell isn't so sweet.

Come on, Dragon, ROAR!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pray for Rain

Fiorella has read that a fifteen-day celebration starting today ushers in the Chinese Year of the Dragon, especially the Water Dragon.

Living in Central Texas, which is anticipating a ten-year drought, Fiorella hopes the dragon will favor us with rainfall, lots of it. Not a flood, of course. Just enough to keep the reservoirs full, the rivers flowing, and the lawns green. Just enough that Fio doesn't have to siphon water from her bathtub out to a hose and carefully ration it out to thirsty plants again this summer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


For Christmas, Fiorella and Husband gave their children photocopies of the family histories his parents had complied in their later years--three inch-thick books of genealogy, anecdotes, photos, and research. Fio doesn't know if either son has even flipped through the pages, but Daughter has. She's sort of the family historian and even obtained copies for all of us of the interviews that her paternal grandfather conducted regarding his long association with LBJ.

Anyway, what Fio is getting at is that Daughter, who is musically talented, has discovered her grandmother's brother had his own band and a record contract. But what else do you expect of the great-uncle of a young woman who can not only trill coloratura, but also sing the soul out of karaoke?

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Fiorella just hung up an invitation to participate in a telephone survey "pertaining to the nation's debt crisis." Sorry, Fio appreciates the fact that she was "carefully selected," but she also recognizes the right-wing vocabulary and knows this is a biased poll loaded with "do you support Obama putting our nation on the brink of bankruptcy" questions.

A second after Fio hung up, she realized the error of her ways. Anyone who is of the more liberal stripe hangs up on the "survey," which thus gives the pollster the desired results, like "according to a recent survey, ninety percent of Americans are dissatisfied with Obama's handling of the debt crisis."

Next time, she'll stay on the line and throw a monkey wrench in the works.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Time for TJ

Fiorella has been following the latest story line in Louann with a great deal of artistic interest. As those of you who read the comic strip know, not only has the cartoonist's drawing style evolved, but the characters have too. Louann has--uh--matured physically, and her brother, Brad, has turned into a hunk.

And now maybe it's TJ's turn--TJ, Brad's smarmy but good-hearted best friend. Currently TJ finally has his own story line, facing off with Ann Eiffel the Awful, the wicked manager of Wienie World who mistreated Brad, so maybe it's also time to give him an artistic re-do. How about a decent profile and maybe a more defined hairstyle?

By the way, Fio has noticed that TJ and Ann have the same face, except that she wears lipstick. Obviously they're made for each other.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gingrich's Jam

Newt Gingrich reportedly said he would like Sarah Palin to have a role in his administration. But a little bird tells Fiorella that the high-flying Sarah wouldn't accept the vice-presidential slot again, and that not even Newt would be--uh--newt-brained enough to make her Secretary of State. So what does that leave? Well, Fio has an idea, which involves another headline story.

Yesterday the TV talk shows were dominated by the news that celebrity chef Paula Deen has diabetes. Every time Fio switched channels, there was yet another skinny-faced sourpuss blaming Deen's diabetes, along with the ever-increasing obesity of America and the fall of Rome, on the amount of butter Ms. Happyface uses in her recipes.

So--maybe Gingrich could make Sarah, who is slender and athletic, his Secretary of Health so she could regulate the country's dietary habits.

But no, he'd have to put her in the pillory with ol' Paula. Sarah's the one who countered Michelle Obama's healthy-eating campaign by charging over to her local public school with a batch of homemade cookies in hand.

Secretary of War?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Proper Costume Drama

Fio is healed. She didn't have to struggle to consciousness even once last night to clear her nose so she could breathe. No squirrely dreams either. She awoke as Husband's alarm clock rang at 5:30 in the middle of a sane dream she was having in which a delightful restaging of The Mikado was being performed on a private stage on an English country estate, somehow solving all the problems of the heroine of the main story.

Now, this is a dream that makes sense to Fiorella, but she wishes she could remember the details. All she can recall is a lot of colorful costumes and maybe interference from HMS Pinafore.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Too Soon, Too Soon

Contrary to yesterday's report, Fio is not yet totally recovered. After enjoying a wonderful and productive morning, she went down in the afternoon. As usual, though she recovered as evening approached, which did give her some time to ponder.

And what she pondered was Big Bang Theory--have you noticed that all the male characters have issues with their mothers--except Raj, of course, who has issues with both parents? And Penny has issues with her father. Hmmmm. Wonder which parent the writers had issues with.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fio Bounces Back

Fio seems to be on the road to recovery, which is good news. at least to Fiorella. During her convalescence, she'd barely been able to crank out her blog, but this morning she sprang out of bed, grabbed a pen and the tablet she keeps ever-ready, and wrote, wrote wrote.

Now she has to ponder the mysteries of the world that have arisen since the mighty brain of Fio was incapacitated by a lowly virus, such as why the engine light of her beloved baby car has suddenly decided to turn as red as a zit on prom night.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Television Fare

Husband and Son have been great in taking care of Fiorella during her incapacity, but what's kept her on track mentally is Big Bang Theory, which she, in her fevered state, thinks of as Top Gun. It overrides the squirrels in her brain by replacing them with squirrelier squirrels. How can disembodied hallucinations compete with the long-suffering Leonard, smarmy Howard, panicky Rajesh, and--well--squirrely Sheldon?

And then there's Penny, the foil for them all.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Friend Marion pointed out that Fiorella was using a long soak in her bathtub as a treatment for both her hip pain and her current cold/sinus infection/whatever. Confessing all, Fio also uses her wallow tub to decompress before she goes to bed. In fact, Fio views hot water as her first line of attack for anything that's bothering her. Probably something to do with a return to the womb.
Fiorella should have realized she had a fever--the squirrels had been running around in her brain for a couple of days and she had trouble doing the newspaper crossword puzzle yesterday morning. However, being Fio, she soldiered on, and it was only when she was in her cardiologist's office and he told her she was sick that she realized why she couldn't remember Husband's doctor's name and was having trouble concentrating.
Fio, who rarely gets sick, is writing down all her symptoms in case she needs one of her future heroines to be ailing.

Friday, January 13, 2012


A month ago, Fiorella was sleeping in the bathtub because of her hip pain. Now she's sleeping in the tub because of what seems to be a sinus infection. Her ever-productive nose is red and raw. She wanders around the house with a Kleenex box in hand and self-pity in her heart.

Woe is Fiorella (honk, snork).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

April Kihlgaard's Marketing Pen

Her pen doesn't skip
Or hitch or splot
Which is the reason
I like it a lot--
In fact, it's just
As nice as she
And that's the best
A pen can be.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Up'n at'em

It's a good day and Fiorella is at peace. All is going well right now. She's losing weight again, wrote several pages of PRINCESS REDLANDER yesterday, and is on top of a family business deal. Husband is chainsawing dead trees around the acreage and using the new log-splitter, then building wonderful fires in the fireplace with the fruits of his labor. Son has some job possibilities, has found places to display his art, and has started working on a new piece.

In other words, we're all engaged in worthwhile, productive activities, and that's the secret. Years ago Fio's father implored her to "slow down and smell the roses," but Fio's the sort of person who always has to have a project going.

She suspects you're that way too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Update Snippets

Fiorella seems to have won the newspaper war. For the third straight day, the Statesman has been delivered onto her porch.
Fio has found a wonderful new orthopod who treats her like an individual and did not ask her, as the first one did, if she has any of her own teeth. (FYI, Fio's teeth are all home-grown.)
Fio wants to amend her theory that dogs and homo sapiens bonded over shelter in caves from the rain, sleet, snow, etc. She thinks there was also a concomitant factor: body heat. There's nothing as warm and comforting as a furry little body cuddled up next to you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Anagram Addict

Fiorella is an anagram addict with a high success rate, but she got stuck on the daily Jumble a couple of days ago. What the heck was SCAIOF? Was the great Fio stymied at last?

Fio tried all sorts of combinations over the next two days, but nothing worked. Damn, would she have to resort to the internet anagram solver? But no--her subconscious had been hard at work all along and popped the answer into Fio's brain while she was eating breakfast:

It's F-I-A-S-C-O, which seems all too appropriate.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

And What Do YOU Think, Fiorella?

For several years, some of Fiorella's closest friends have been psychologists, including a school district school psychologist, a college school psychologist, a college psychology teacher, a psychology adjunct/licensed counselor, a psychologist/romance writer.

Fio suspects she is the subject of an in-depth study, and they're all passing the responsibility off on the other like a relay baton.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


S Rozhdyestvom Khristovym yescho raz!
Merry Christmas again!

Fio thinks the calendar has been changed for the Russian Orthodox in the past decade or two, but she still glories in her paternal heritage and celebrates a second Christmas on January 7.

Which gives her another excuse for not taking down her holiday decorations.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Newspaper War, Chapter Two

This time the newspaper is totally missing. It may have been delivered, but not to Fio's door. If it was left at the street, anyone walking by could have picked it up.

Fiorella, who sticks to her guns, called the American-Statesman again and complained again. Kristin (remember that name) assured her the situation would be rectified. We'll see. For a newspaper whose readership is dropping daily, the Statesman certainly is cavalier about pleasing paying customers.

Fio phoned Husband at work to bring home his newspaper for the day. At 5:30, he drove in with not only his newspaper, but two more he'd picked up in driveway.

This story is not yet over.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Newspaper War

FIO WON! The American-Statesman is being delivered to her door again! She doesn't know what did it--Husband's phone call, her phone call, her letter to the editor, sending her Fio column to the editor, the usual carrier returning from a holiday vacation, whatever--but Fio's day is starting as it should again.

But she's going to think twice before giving the carrier a twenty-dollar tip again next Christmas.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Just Messin' with You, Guy

Fiorella has a theory about the vicissitudes of the Republican political polls. She thinks the Iowans were sick and tired of being questioned every time they turned around and started giving the most preposterous answers they could think of just to have a little fun. How else can you explain the rise and fall of Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, and Paul? And if Santorum is on the rise, can Huntsman be far behind?

The situation reminds Fio of when she got tired of receiving a string of slanted questionnaires from a far-right think tank--which wasn't too bright because it assumed her serving as a local Democratic precinct chairman meant she was a deep-water conservative. One can only resist temptation for so long, and Fio finally filled out one of the forms. Yes, she was in favor of destroying the economy for the sake of the environment. Yes, she opposed our Constitutional right to bear arms of any kind, even squirt guns, sling shots, and watermelon seeds. Yes, she was in favor of making Islam the national religion.

She'd like to tell you she never heard from the so-called think tank again, but apparently the only thing that mattered was whether or not she'd included a check, and, since she hadn't, she kept on receiving questionnaires. Now she just tosses them.

Which is maybe what the Republicans should have done with the Iowa polls.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Throw That Damn Paper!

Fiorella's been stuttering lately, accidentally scheduling two blogs on the same day, then having to correct herself--one per day is her limit--by repeating one of her commentaries the next day. Sorry about that, but maybe she's all discombobulated by the newspaper delivery problem.

Wherever she's lived, even out here in the boondocks, the Austin American-Statesman has been delivered to her door (or into a nearby bush). Starting December 26, 2011, it hasn't gotten any further than six feet down the driveway, which is approximately eighty yards from Fio's front door, a distance which Fio, currently hobbling around on a cane, is not in any condition to undertake.

Husband called the Statesman last Thursday and was assured the problem would be rectified immediately. Not knowing Husband had called, Fio also called, and was assured the problem would be handled within two days and the newspaper would be at her front door again. When these promises were not met, Fio started firing off letters to the editor.

Her porch is still bare.

Fiorella wants to support the newspaper because she believes in the value of print news, but the Statesman is making it hard for her to do so. It's a new year and Fiorella is sorting through her life, tossing out things she no longer needs. Maybe the Austin American-Statesman is one of them.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Let's Start the Day Over Again

The alarm, which Husband said he set for 7:30, didn't go off, or maybe Fio slept through it. Anyway, she awoke at 8:00. when she had a doctor's appointment forty-five minutes away in Austin at 9:25. By 8:30, she was semi-ready, morning pills in a plastic bag to take with water at the doctor's office after she ate a breakfast of graham crackers in the car.

But her car wouldn't start. The battery was dead. And no one else in the house was awake. And, although it didn't matter, her cell phone was also dead.

She trailed back inside and called the doctor's office to tell the medical minion who managed appointments that God had ordained she not come in this morning.

To top it off, despite two calls to the Statesman, the newspaper is STILL not making it past the mailbox and down the drive. And Fio, who is cane-bound, can't even drive up to get it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year

Fiorella predicts that 2012 will be a year of fulfillment, that several things that have been seeded and nurtured during 2011 will come to fruition.

Younger Son's art career will vault into high gear. Daughter's life--new husband, new job, maybe a new house--will explode with opportunity. Older Son's health will drastically improve and there may even be an addition to the family. Husband will be able to retire and immerse himself in books and electronics. And Fiorella's great agent search will land her a top-notch representative and a fabulous publisher.