Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Day or the Hour

Fiorella is an April fool a day early. She thought March had just thirty days so she scheduled a blog for tomorrow which she thought was today so now she's red-faced and posting late. But at least learning there's one more day in March gives Fio leeway to finish the Christmas clean-up by her appointed time.

She's been playing catch-up in other ways too. She went through her notes and posted a lot of stuff to the back stories of her manuscripts, sent out some email stuff, paid the bills, and bought airline tickets to Toronto for the memorial service for Friend Nicole, who died in December. Yeah, Fio should have visited her last year, but who knew? Who ever knows?

Friday, March 30, 2012

March 30

March 30, crunch time. Fiorella has committed to having all Christmas decorations down and packed away in the garage by April 1, and she still has two boxes to go.
As Fio has told you, in order to clear her mind for sleep at night, she sets up interesting situations in Big Bang Theory. Like Danny DeVito being cast as Leonard's father. Or Howard's father reappearing. Or Alicia showing up again, having been mowed under by the Hollywood machine--maybe she and Raj can hit it off. Or Leslie Winkle marrying Raj and standing off his parents. Or Raj showing up married to Miss India, which actor Kunal Nayyar actually is.
Hey, before Fiorella closes up Christmas, she has to tell you something weird about Sonia Dog--she likes to carry glass ornaments around in her mouth. The only thing Fio can figure out is that she savors the smooth roundness of them.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Happiness of Verbenas

The wildflowers are blooming like crazy right now, especially the purple verbenas. Fio and husband have a lot of wild ones on the sides of their long driveway and several tame ones in their front planting bed.

Fiorella loves verbenas. They're faithful, coming up every year bigger and better, and they're grateful, reaching up their long arms to thank you for the water you've ruined your hip to give them.

The whole world should be like verbenas.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Her Ladyship

Sonya is such a lady. Instead of practically inhaling her kibble in one foul gulp, as Wendy did, she waits politely for Fio to place the bowl on the serving mat, ambles over to survey it, takes a few practice bites, wanders around the kitchen, comes back and takes a few more bites, then finally settles in and eats her supper--if she feels like it. And, like the well-bred lady she is, she always leaves a few kibbles in the bowl.

How this dog is ever going to end up at 150 lbs. is beyond me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bill and Jen

It's Tuesday and The Little Couple is back.

Fiorella loves following the lives of Bill Klein and Jen Arnold, even if they are rich as Croesus and getting richer by the episode, which sometimes irritates her. Talk about profligate spending--they never stint themselves: food, clothes, vacation trips, whatever. Of course, she's a doctor, he's a business owner, and they have a highly successful TV show so they can afford dropping a thou in the gutter every time they turn around.

Fio is not a dwarf, but the circumstances of her life have been rough from time to time. Maybe that's why she enjoys watching The Little Couple. It's nice to see good things happening to nice people. But that's how it should be for everybody.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mastiff Mastery

When Fiorella and Husband started talking about a new dog, they knew it could not be another Weimeraner because Fio would weep for Wendy every time she saw it. So, after a fair amount of research, they decided on a Mastiff--big, amiable, and looking not at all like Wendy.

What Fio didn't know is that a Mastiff, or at least our Sonya, is smart as a whip. Puppy learned "sit" and "stay" as if she'd been practicing in the womb, has figured out how to let herself back inside by leaping up and pawing the lever on the patio door, and hauls poor Bosco out of his hidey holes by his leash. You've never lived till you've seen a dog walking a dog.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Puppy Fare

As Fiorella was munching her shredded wheat yesterday morning, she heard an unfamiliar sound behind her. Turning around, she discovered Sonya chomping on the window sill. Yes, Sonya is still teething, and on everything that takes her fancy. Fio and Husband have supplied plenty of the standard fare--rawhide bones, cow bones, ropes, dog toys of every variety--but like children who prefer playing with gift boxes rather than their contents, our Sonya prefers to chew on furniture, logs of wood, and window sills.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Options for the Forever Theory

Fiorella clears her brain for sleep at night by replaying scenes from Big Bang Theory and pondering future plot twists for Leonard, Penny, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj.

Maybe Leonard could marry Penny and move into her apartment across the hall, which could set up a lot of new plot angles, like Sheldon trying to find a new roommate. Ultimately, of course, he'd settle on Amy Farrah Fowler, which would lead to its own complications. Then only Raj will be left without a mate so he'd have to be somehow relieved of his problem of not being able to talk to attractive women.

A baby or two, a la I Love Lucy could be added along the line.

And then there are all the relatives we have yet to meet--Leonard's father, brother, sister, aunts, and uncles; Penny's mother (or is she dead?) and brother; Sheldon's brother; Raj's four other siblings besides Priya; Howard's long-lost father.

Com'on, guys. There's enough fodder here to extend this sit-com till Howard finally gives in to peer pressure and gets a Ph.D.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Confessions of a Perfectionist

Come to think of it, Fiorella's disentangling technique is the same m.o. she uses to herd the dogs in and out of the house while preventing them from killing each other, to manage time allotted to her multiple-tasking self-assignments, and to write her romances. It's look, analyze, plan, perform, and re-assess.

The re-assessment is why you'll often see one of Fiorella's blog entries rewritten from one day to the next. It's also how Fiorella could continue to unsnarl the Christmas light cords as their weave continuously changed. It's what allows her to readjust her to-do list for best use of time when her prospective agent emails her that she's going to send her a mark-up of the first fifty pages of Fio's Princess of Bosque Bend revisions, which means Fio better wait to see them before continuing with her rewrite of the next fifty pages. And it's what hones her skills as a writer.

Yes, Fiorella is like that French artist, Cezanne maybe, who was caught adding finishing touches to one of his paintings in an art museum. She'll keep after something till she can do no more.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


When it comes to untangling, Fiorella is a genius. It's a skill she's exercised since youth on tangles of cords, delicate necklace chains, embroidery threads and, when she escaped from her backyard prison last week, a thick chain wound around, under, over, and through the fence and gate. All it takes is patience, persistence, and a good eye.

Last weekend, she was left her with a snarl of ten strings of lights when she finally got around to dismantling the Christmas tree. A lesser soul might have thrown them all away and bought new ones next year, but Fio is parsimonious as well as clever so she started disentangling. She won't bore you with her tried and true techniques, but, within two hours, each string was a unit unto itself.

Fio basked in her own glory for a few minutes and pumped her mental muscle in triumph.

Let's see Big Bang's Sheldon Cooper disentangle Christmas lights!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What If?

Does everyone have an active internal life, or is it just a few of us? Fiorella has lived in her imagination since forever, and Husband's the same way. Maybe that's what brought them together.

But does everyone daydream? Or do some people plod through life without plotting out alternative universes? Without envisioning thrilling romances and exciting adventures? Without fantasizing turns of fate that would lead them to fame, fortune, and happily ever after? Without being careful not to step on a crack and break Mother's back?

Is this the sort of thing that separates us from the beasts? Or does it?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fio's Addiction Rebounds

Fio's at it again--cosmetic botox this time. She got her forehead done last week and has been admiring herself in the mirror ever since. Later this month, she'll also be talking to the doctor about a facelift. Not that she's planning to sign on with the first plastic surgeon she talks to. Your Fiorella has just one face and doesn't plan more than one lift so she wants to be sure she gets someone who will do a good job right off the bat.

Then again, she may decide to leave things as they are--it all depends on fate and circumstance.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Unspoken Word

Fio's parents didn't use the "L" word. They considered it gushy and insincere. As Fiorella's mother explained to her, "Actions speak louder than words--'love' is about what you do, not what you say." Even as she lay dying, Mother restrained herself. "We love you, Grandma," her little granddaughter said. "I feel the same about you," Mother replied.

In a way, it worked: Fio always knew she was beloved. But she also longed for The Word.

That's probably why Fio went overboard with her own family. The kids grew up hearing her say "I love you." Constantly.

Which means they'll probably follow their grandmother's example, and "love" will once again be a word unspoken.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Deer and Drought Resistant

As far as Fiorella's concerned, spring is here. She's put away her jeans in favor of shorts, and Husband visited the nursery yesterday, where he sank a small fortune into yucca and rosemary, both of them deer- and drought-resistant.

Fio loves the new view. The grass is bright green, and wildflowers are beginning to bloom on the verges of I-35--baby bluebonnets in the midst of millions of little yellow dots. The pink primroses should show soon. And the red paintbrushes.

Fio and Husband don't have any bluebonnets on their property, but they do have purple verbena, wild and tame. Those weird butterfly bushes the landscaper planted are in full bloom, but Fio is preparing to replace them with rosemaries because she doesn't want to ruin her other hip nursing the butterflies through the drought this summer like she did last year.

Yes, summer will come, the rain will dry up, and the drought will be in full swing again, but this time Fio and Husband will be better prepared.

Yucca and rosemary, that's the way to go.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Revision Blues

Fiorella feels strangely bereft today. She finished her requested revision of the first fifty pages of Princess of Bosque Bend and sent them off to New York--twice, in fact, because her "send" box went squirrely on her and didn't record the first time until after she'd submitted the pages the second time.

Fio hopes/prays she correctly interpreted said agent's advice/guidance. But, in the meantime, after four days of being dedicated to nothing but revision, she feels odd, like there's something she should be doing, but isn't.

Oh, yes, there it is--the Christmas tree needs to come down, her desktop needs to be unloaded, and she needs to start communicating with Husband again.

On the other hand, there are 250 more pages waiting to be revised.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Fiorella is a born rebel. Just tell her there's something that can't be done and she'll do her best to figure out how to do it--like escaping from a chain-linked backyard when she's been locked out of the house. But life's like that, isn't it? Persistence and perseverance win the day.

Keep at it, babe.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dump Daylight Savings Time!

I do not like Daylight Savings Time
The reasons why I'll state in rhyme--

Springing forward, falling back
Puts my system out of whack
Am I early? Am I late?
Is it seven? Is it eight?

I cannot see, when dawn is dark,
What is causing the dogs to bark
Is it a frog? Is it a snake?
Or are they barking for barking's sake?

Resetting clocks is a total pain
Forward and retro, then back again
While sun and moon the same remain--
Daylight Savings Time's insane!

It's insane

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Challenge

Fiorella had an adventure yesterday, more mundane than any romantic suspense heroine's, but challenging nevertheless. When Husband and Son locked up to go to work at 6:30 a.m., they didn't notice that Fio, barefoot and wearing her long, red, terry cloth bathrobe, was outside supervising the residents canines' early-morning toilet training. Once the dogs were finished, Fio tried to let them back in the house.

But the door wouldn't open. She banged on the glass and called out loudly, but the culprits had already fled the scene. Yes, Fio was locked out into a backyard enclosed by a six-foot-tall chain link fence.

Since the back porch light was her only illumination in a world of pitch-black darkness, she settled into the one remaining lawn chair to think things out.

When you live on acreage, it's no use yelling for help, and she certainly wasn't going to starve to death if she had to stay outside all day, but it would be terminally boring. Besides, she had two important social engagements for the day, and Sonya, who had not yet breakfasted, was hungry.

First things first--Fio gave Puppy all the treats in her pocket. Then she checked every window on the back side of the house and examined the gasket around the door, but to no avail. She tried to pick the door lock with a barbecue fork, but the tines were too big. She considered breaking a window, but didn't want to have to pay for getting it fixed.

Dang the expense! She wanted out of stir! She hurled a big rock at the window that would be the cheapest to replace. That should get the sheriff at the house within the hour!

The rock bounced back.

She threw a big cotton scale weight at the window. It bounced back. Fio had been safer from break-ins than she knew.

She sat down again and pondered. If she could just scale the fence, she could walk around to the garage, use the magic code to open it from the outside, fetch the extra house key from its super secret hiding place, unlock the door to the kitchen, and be in like Uncle Wiggly finally reaching his rabbit burrow.

But first she had to wait out the darkness so she could check her perimeter. Strangely, Fio never panicked. The situation was a challenge, but if she was clever, persistent, and kept her cool, she'd find a way out.

When the darkness finally gave way to a murky pre-dawn, Fiorella walked the fenceline of the backyard dog dump, looking for opportunity. The most likely spot, she thought, was at the upper gate where it was joined to the fence by a long, padlocked chain looped tortuously over, around, and through both of them.

Fio hauled a heavy dog house across the yard to the fence to get the proper uplift, knowing the tired old vinyl could collapse under her at any moment. Now she needed to get the chain lower to use it as a stirrup from which she would throw her other leg over the top of the fence. Praying mightily, she finally was able to push the chain over a prong that held it rigid, reducing the tension on it.

The chain separated from its padlock.

Hot dang! The chain had been locked on itself, then wound and tied to look more secure than it was.

With the sprinkler system hissing at her from every direction, Fio untangled the rest of the chain, walked out the gate, and followed her previously charted course to the kitchen door, hidden key in hand.

The door was unlocked.

Yes, Husband and Son had locked the back door, but forgotten about the kitchen door.

Fio could dine out for months on this story.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Early Bird

Fiorella has discovered for herself what authors have known since forever-if she gets up really early, she can get a lot more done without interruption or distraction. The dogs are crated, Husband and Son are asleep, there are no noisy household gadgets running, and no phone calls. Yesterday she cleared her docket of a couple of list's worth of chores, correspondence, and bill-paying by 11:00 so she could dedicate the afternoon to revisions of Princess of Bosque Bend.

It happened by accident. A communication glitch between Fio's PCP and her pharmacy meant her Lyrica prescription went unfilled. She figured she was tired enough that she didn't need it, but ho-ho--that was one on ol' Fiorella! She woke up hurting about 4:00 and had to take a hydrocodone, then realized she'd slept just enough that it wouldn't do her any good to go back to bed. Besides, hydrocodone peps her up. Since sleep was a lost cause, she decided to put this "found time" to good use.

Obviously, this isn't something Fio can do every day without getting to bed a lot earlier than her customary 11:00. But maybe if she watched the 6:30 Big Bang Theory instead of the 10:30 one, and if she gave up bathing, it would work.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Extra! Extra!

The mighty Statesman is striking out.

Fiorella is repelled by the new format of blaring headlines, larger font, lack of right justification, and page reorganization that the Austin American-Statesman has embraced. The impression she gets is that there is more white space and less news. The Sunday comics have undergone a revision too. Some of the dumber strips have been enlarged while Doonesbury has been reduced so small that Fio has to squint to read it.

Fio can only surmise that the Statesman, tired of contending with the electronic trend, wants to fold, and is deliberately alienating the faithful. Amen.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hope Abounds

Pregnant women and birthdays are sacred to Fiorella. Come to think of it, they're both about the same thing--hope, which Fio values mightily. She's been through some pretty tough times, and there will probably be more to come, but it's that tiny glimmer in the distance that keeps her going.

Right now the flame is burning brightly. Older Son has had the knee replacement surgery he's needed for so long, and he has exciting career plans. Younger son has picked up a job he enjoys which has great potential. At the same time, he's launching an art line Fio thinks will take off big. Daughter, newly married, loves her new job. Husband's experimental lupus treatment seems to be working. And yours truly is revising Princess of Bosque Bend for an interested agent.

Nothing is guaranteed, but we all have hope.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

You've Saved My Life

Fiorella is a hoarder of everything she's ever written, and she's tried to write down everything. Be thankful her most recent efforts have been saved to the computer because otherwise her house would be a fire trap of stored paper--journalism, poetry, personal letters, essays, short stories, a vampire romance, first chapters of unfinished novels, random notes and observations on the human condition. You name it, she's written it.

Yes, stored on her faithful Dell are a hundred or so poems and partials, four complete novels (again, with partials), carols she composed years ago when she was in her music phase, old essays and new ones, twenty-some short stories, correspondence with her friends and relatives, and every stray thought she's ever had.

But her first line of defense against the house burning down, of course, is this blog. Thank you.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Canines: First Rate

Wendy sat crooked, Sonya sits straight
Wendy trained early, Sonya was late
Wendy ate quickly, Sonya will wait
Two different dogs, both of them great.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Now the Bad News

Husband and Son are at work so Fio is taking care of Son's adolescent pug and her own mastiff puppy. She's also trying to ramp up The Princess of Bosque Bend as per the prospective agent's request.

At this very moment, Sonya is deigning to finish off the rest of her breakfast, but only because Mommy dumped the remains of her cereal milk on it, while Bosco is whining at the top of the stairs, where he's sought sanctuary from Sonya, who's now bigger than he is and herds him around like he's a sheep. When the two of them are together, they run around the den like--well, wild dogs--yelping, tussling, and occasionally leaping onto Fio's open laptop. But when Fio separates them, they howl and scratch at doors.

This has gotta change. When Husband and Son come home tonight, we're establishing a dog-sitting protocol and procedure that will (1) establish which dog is fed when and by whom, (2) give Fio some peace so she can write, and (3) allow her to change out of her bathrobe before noon.

Rotsa ruck.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Good News All the Way Around

It's been a semana buena en la casa de Fiorella. Su hijo menor has a job, a real live job, and his art is being showcased by un amigo of his. And the knee replacement surgery de su hijo mayor went very well--he's undergoing physical therapy as we speak. Meanwhile Fiorella is talking to a real live New York agent about Princess of Bosque Bend.

The nexus was the birthday del padre de la Fiorella en Lunes, and having Nephew Aaron's cumpleanos en Martes augmented it.

Gracias al buen Dios, muchas gracias. Merci, grazie, danke shoen, spaseeba, shyeh shyeh.

Okay, Fio took a flyer on this one so any corrections to her linguistic prowess are welcomed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Late Night Last Night

About 12:30 last night, Sonya started clawing at the floor of her sleeping crate and wouldn't let up so Fio heaved herself out of bed and knelt down beside the crate to soothe Sonya with the lullaby she's lifted from Big Bang Theory. You know the one: "Soft doggie, warm doggie, little ball of fur/ Happy doggie, sleepy doggie, grr, grr, grr."

Puppy seemed to calm down so Fio went back to bed, but not for long. Sonya not only started clawing again, but added muffled whimpering to the mix. Now, Fiorella's biological imperative impels her to tend to high-pitched whimpering muy pronto so she got out of bed again, Maybe Sonya, who's finally housetrained, needed to pay a late-night visit to the backyard. Accordingly, Fio put on a robe, grabbed a handy leash, unlocked Sonya's crate, and invited her out, but Sonja just stared at her in a dazed sort of way, settled back down, and closed her eyes.

A little dazed herself, Fio went back to bed, leaving the crate shut but unlocked in case of emergency.

Half an hour before Husband's alarm clock rang, Sonya pulled herself up on the bed, spread her ample self across the area below Fio's feet, and went to sleep. Item of information: a double bed is not big enough to house two adults and one fourteen-week-old mammoth...uh...mastiff. Fio squirmed around to give herself more room, but sleep was a lost cause until Husband vacated.

Fio and Sonya slept another hour before Fio's inner clock and a nasty little dream dictated she rise and shine. Miracle of miracles--because Puppy's inner clock was running a little slower, Fio actually got to brush her teeth and put on some clothes before inviting Sonya to go downstairs with her.

The stairs are still a little tricky for Baby Dog, especially when she's just awakened, but she made it down with only a few hitches and trotted decorously to the patio door to go out and do her business.

In retrospect, Fiorella has decided that Sonya was having a doggie dream last night and wasn't even aware she was scrabbling against the floor of her crate. That would also explain why the whimpering had a muffled sound, why she seemed dazed, and why she wouldn't leave the crate: Mommy was interrupting her beauty sleep.

The important things Fio learned are that Sonya accepts the crate as her own bed, she's now strong enough to haul herself up on our bed, and that we need a soft, fitted mat for the floor of her crate to avoid further nights like this.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Too Many Rushes to Judgment

How many strikes does Limbaugh get before he's called out?

Fio remembers the furor when he accused Michael J. Fox of faking his Parkinson's symptoms. And when he was bum-rushed off ESPN for saying the major reason Donovan McNabb was quarterbacking the Philadelphia Eagles was that he was black. And when he was arrested for paying his maid to score Oxycontin for him.

And now there's the Sandra Fluke flap.

Isn't it time to retire ol' Rush to the dugout?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Noisy Planet

Seven a.m., when Fio takes Sonya Dog into the backyard every morning, is a very noisy time out in the boondocks. The air is full of high-pitched chirps, tweets, pipings, rattles, coos. and crows, an orchestra of soprano instruments.

Lower the pitch a couple of octaves and Fiorella would be hearing dinosaurs. The din must have been deafening. Fio wonders--has the planet ever been silent? Maybe Earth's vocalizations are what distinguish us from the rest of the universe.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Not THE call, but A call

Fiorella had a very nice conversation with an agent today--the first time one has ever called her on the phone. No, wait a minute, an agent called her about this same story years ago when it was in its embryonic stage. The agent said the story was too short, which Fio took as a rejection. Dumb Fio, she should have said she'd make it longer.

This time, Fio's a little wiser and she's taking the agents comments as calls to action. Yeah, Fiorella's going to be doing a lot of revision in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Yes or No?

Fiorella's conversation with the agent was postponed till today; however, she did have a great time at her dentist's yesterday. Getting the old filling drilled out and a temporary crown put in place wasn't much fun, but she really enjoyed practicing her Mandarin--all six phrases of it. And she learned two new words so listen close. "Yes" is "sih," but the vowel is sorta a cross between a short "i" and a long "u." And the word is cut off at the end.

"No" is "booh-sih," which means "not yes."

Makes you think, doesn't it? Linguistically, the Chinese can always be persuaded.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I'm flying on wings of wax
Right on up to the sun!
Look out, Icarus,
Here comes another one!

Has Fio shown you this little lyric before? She wrote it when she was in high school, and, since Fio hasn't changed much since then, it still holds true. Right now, she's as high as a kite because a literary agent wants to talk to her about edits to Princess of Bosque Bend.

Pray for Fiorella, that she doesn't crash and burn.