Friday, August 31, 2012

Serial Revisonist

Fiorella's dirty little secret is that she loves doing revisions.  Yes, while everyone else in her RWA chapter is complaining about revisions, she revels in them.  It's another chance to improve her manuscript, to get it right. 

Of course it helps that the divine Liza hasn't given her a deadline.  Fio may revise her  opinion of revisions when that occurs, but for now she's wallowing in perfectionism.

Besides, it's exciting to be on the cusp, not quite there, but able to see over the mountain.  Sliding down the other side might not be quite as comfortable.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Relative Height

Fiorella's not that tall, but she used to be.  In her sixth grade picture, she's the female steeple in the back row, center, but by the time she hit tenth grade, she was relegated to the front row, edging toward the side.  Yeah.  Five-four at age fifteen did not give her the same height advantage as  five-four at age eleven had.

Not that she saw it as an advantage.  Short girls  were petted and told how cute they were while tall girls were expected to be mature and responsible.  Besides, she was taller than the boys, which was becoming increasingly important to her because Fiorella was definitely heterosexual.  In fact, she has long maintained that her first words, five minutes out of the womb, were, "Where's my boyfriend?"  .

Her first indication she had shrunk, relatively speaking, was when the sophomore girls' PE teacher lined the class up for archery practice by height.  Fio walked automatically toward the front of the queue and was relegated to the tail.  She was short and cute at last

But even today, five-three and shrinking, she still feels like the tall, gawky steeple in the back row. 




Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Tail, mouth, and nose make up for dogs not having hands.

The wagging tail represents a waving hand, of course, and Sonya uses her mouth to carry around rawhide bones and grab my wrist to turn my attention to whatever she considers more important than revising Princess of Bosque Bend.  The nose is an all-purpose tool, used not only for nudging rawhide bones between couch cushions, into a trough she has dug outside in the yard, or under my leg while I am involved in said revising, but also for smearing up my computer screen when she is, again, trying to get my attention.

Even as I write this, Sonya is probably wondering why I have two utterly redundant upper body appendages while she has four sturdy limbs to take her anywhere she wants to go.

 Poor Mommy.  No tail, a useless mouth, and such a tiny nose.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eclectic Snippets

Like Dolly, Fiorella's back in town.  Not that she was actually gone, just knocked off the internet till about noon today, which drove her crazy.  No Google news, no e-mail, no blogging.  For someone who calls herself a Luddite, Fio is mighty computer-dependent.
Looking at the pictures Son took of her, Fio realizes she doesn't really look as good as she thinks she does.  But then, she never did.
Between the elections and the Longhorns, Fio's going to retreat into her snail shell for the duration.
What would Fio do without friends?  Tomorrow she's going to have lunch with Joan, and last week she lunched with Sharon.  Last night she wrote a long email to Suzy in England to bring her up to date.  Paula has stood by her for years.  Katie, Janece, and Jane have cheered on her literary aspirations, and Marion even read an early copy of P of BB.  Fio's sure to have left someone important out so please forgive her because she loves you all.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Backyard Safari

We have a hunter in the house, a mighty hunter who stalks the night, seizes his prey, and carries it off to his lair.

No, it's not Sonya, the mastiff, who has the equipment to do some mighty seizing herself, but Bosco, the pug, who last night chased down an errant frog hopping hell for leather down the backyard toward the pond.

Froggie never made it.

When Fio and Husband called Sonya and Bosco in for the night, Bosco didn't appear.  Panicked, Fiorella ran outside into the darkness and checked the gate to the yard to be sure it was locked while  Husband grabbed two big flashlights.  Sonya started barking at the narrow area between the barbecue and the fence, Bosco's favorite hidey hole, so Husband shone the light down into the darkness.  Sure enough, there was Bosco, growling fiercely, with a dead frog hanging from his mouth. 

Oh, yuck.

Fiorella took over the flashlights while Husband began poking at Bosco with a metal leaf broom to get him to give up his prey.  Sonya, of course, barked the whole time--she wanted the frog.  

The story ended happily.  Husband pried Bosco out of his den and flipped Froggie out of the yard, and Fio herded both dogs back into the house for the night.

But Bosco strutted.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Brain of Fire

Fiorella had trouble sleeping last night so she drew a hot bath for herself, selected an old favorite from the window ledge next to the tub, and wallowed in romance till her bath water cooled.

 Hearts of Fire is a historical set in the eleventh century, but Anita Mills' story is timeless--boy meets girl, they sorta like each other but sorta don't, he saves her butt and she saves his, they yearn after each other but he's promised to another, they become lovers and she runs off and marries someone else when she gets pregnant, etcetera on to the happy ending.  Sounds goosey when summarized like that, but the way the story is told makes it not only believable, but compelling.  Fiorella can only hope that while her body was wallowing in the tub, her brain was soaking up  voice, style, and technique.

Princess of Bosque Bend awaits.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pedal Probs

Fiorella is on a hobby horse, but it's a bicycle this time.

Leave Lance Armstrong alone.  He's past history, no matter how pathetically he tries to prep his aging body for competition again.  Maybe he was a myth all along, but so what?  Although, he passed years of drug tests, he's been indicted by supposed witnesses. Again--so what?  What about all the other contenders who passed the drug tests, the losers?  How about a decade-long persecution of them?

As Fio has said before, she thinks most of the the effect of so-called performance enhancers is psychological, like a lucky rabbit's foot.  But if something gave ol' Lance a second or two's edge, so what?

So what if a baseball player used steroids?  They might have allowed him to hit a couple of balls out of the park, but they also carried out their own punishment on his body and relationships.  So what if Olympic contenders ingested something they thought might make them come out on top?  Isn't Gabby Douglas's drive and self-confidence something that puts her a notch up on her opponents? Should we outlaw adrenaline, focus, and spunk?

Anyway, we're talking about sports, which aren't that important in the long run of things.    Let's spend more time and money fighting poverty, ignorance, and real crime.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Retro Attitudes

Todd Akin is not only insensitive toward women, but ignorant of basic biology.  Fio wonders if he also thinks men have something in their sperm that can prevent them from fathering children if they don't want to be bothered with kids.

Holding women responsible for being raped is not new. Fiorella remembers her late mother-in-law telling her about learning that an employee of YWCA, where she used to swim, was unmarried and pregnant.  "She was raped," the supervisor explained.

Mother-in-law was shocked and wasn't sure how to react.  "My own mother would have crossed to the other side of the street if she saw someone like this," she told Fio.

But she thought the situation over, then went back to to the Y and asked the supervisor if she could donate some money to  help the employee.

"She's okay financially," the supervisor told he.  "What she really needs is supportive friends."

Good thing Todd Akin wasn't on the scene.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Deep Thought

Fiorella thinks it's sweet that there are people out there dedicated to preserving rare species of salamanders, but she's not one of them.  Species live and species die--consider all the long-ago human species that have recently turned up dead.

No, Fiorella is more concerned about people, each individual a species in himself.  She's concerned about how people treat each other and about what they do with their lives before they waltz off to the great beyond. 

God has granted us long lives through the miracle of modern medicine.  Let's be worthy of His mercy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rhetoric Alert

The hallmark of a false prophet is speaking in the cadences of the King James translation of the bible.  Those "Lo and beholds" were faky even in the 1400's, designed to roll off the tongue and resound in the ear like, well, the voice of God.

Fiorella suspects the true voice of God is quieter--and more intelligent.  The psychotic rant against Obama she recently read accused him of everything from the steeple on down and predicted God's wrath on the populace and the planet because of him. Actually, Fio thinks God is not that interested in what happens regarding American politics, and she doubts if He considers the United States the linchpin of the world. 

Come on, people--put your thinking caps on.  If someone talks crazy, he is.  Forward.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thorougly Un-modern Millie

Since Fio seems to be in a self-revelatory mood, she'll confess that she's hopelessly out of date with popular culture.  She stopped going to movies years ago when she was working four jobs and taking care of a family.  Her favorite TV show is Big Bang Theory,  which she discovered five years after it premiered.  She's never worn thongs except back then that was what flip-flops were called. She's never squeezed herself into a bustier or a bikini.   Her nails are never manicured unless Daughter herds her to her favorite salon, and her toenails have never been any color but the one they were born with.

But it isn't just personal.  Fio also doesn't know how to do anything with a cell phone but talk, and, to her, a computer is just for writing.  She did play Tetrus on her computer several years ago, but asked Husband to remove it when she started dreaming about those falling dealies while she slept.

Maybe Fio isn't the source of the time warp--maybe pop culture is out of touch with Fio!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Better Tomorrow than Today

Fiorella likes to fix things, especially herself.  Yes, Fiorella is the self-improvement queen.  Born with Haverlock teeth, she went through orthodontics as as adult, later acquired a couple of caps, and recently had the last of her silver fillings replaced with porcelain.  Currently she's considering Invisalign.

And then there's the cosmetic surgery--the upper eyelids, the lower eyelids, the lower face and neck lift, not to mention the botox, lasering, and electrolysis.  It's a wonder Husband and kids still recognize her.

Fio also gets her hair highlighted semi-regularly and strives to maintain the forty-pound weight loss she achieved last year.  And if there's any medical problem, she signs up immediately for the appropriate treatment.

You could say that Fio is insecure in her own skin, but she thinks of it as presenting her best face to the world.  Smile--you're on Candid Camera!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Scheduled for October 17th

Think kindly toward Fio.  She's scheduled for hip surgery on October 17, and, from what she's read--in the 43-page and 50-page preparation manuals--the recovery is a bear.  But Fiorella would rather go through a grueling recovery than continue to hobble around like she does now, gulping down five half-hydrocodones by day and one in the middle of the night, often resorting to sleeping in the bathtub.

But afterwards she'll have to give up sitting on her comfortable cushioned couch while she writes or watched television.  And because she won't be allowed to use stairs for an unknown period, she'll have to sleep downstairs in the guest room.  And with the utility room upstairs, she won't be able to do laundry either. And all her cosmetics will have to be moved downstairs from the master bathroom.  And her clothes from the master closet.

On the other hand, Fio went through open heart surgery years ago and is all the better for it.  God bless modern medicine.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Driven to Do

Oh, the joy of a blank page, because Fiorella always has something to say.  Her house is filled with drawers and shelves and piles of paper on which she has inscribed ideas and inspirations, poems and parts of poems, sketches and plans for everything that her ever-fertile brain can  imagine.  Then there are the little scraps of paper she has written on when she's on the go and stuffed in her purse for safekeeping.

But she does get a lot of her self-assignments done and obviously never has a spare moment.  What more can one ask for?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dog, Refocusing, Writing

Sonia has just now discovered the joy of a flexible vinyl ball that's a little too big for her jaws, allowing it to continuously escape her as if it has a life of its own. And Mama prefers Puppy experience the joy of a flexible vinyl ball rather than her recently-discovered joy of tearing up the corner of the Persian carpet in the den.
After the excitement of the anniversary celebration and Older Son's visit, Casa Fiorella is settling into routine again. Having marked off everything on her old list, Fiorella has written out a new one, with stars beside the priorities.  Her primary focus today will be working on Princess of Bosque Bend for the divine Liza--and, she hopes, for you.

At her last romance writers' meeting, Fiorella learned that publishing is wide open now--indie, self, e-.  To think that she wasted all that time, effort, and money in building up her street cred with contests  when, if she had just waited a couple of years, she could have gone straight to the people.  On the other hand, working with agent Liza D has strengthened her story, and Liza knows the highways and byways of the publishing world, which Fio does not. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


It only made sense that Fio and Husband should adopt. Fio grew up with the concept--Friend Ellen was adopted.  Another girl in the neighborhood also was adopted.  And now Older Son and his wife are planning to adopt.  We just hope they can hit it as lucky with their child as we did with him.

In the meantime, Friend Ashley has emailed Fio two pictures of her darling newly-adopted baby girl. Blessings.

Years ago, Fiorella considered writing a poem about being an adoptive mother, but when she read this one, she realized Fleur Conkling Heyliger had already said it all:

Not flesh of my flesh
Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a single minute,
You didn't grow under my heart,
But in it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


What is it about a it about a list that it never seems to be finished?  As soon as Fio completes one assignment, another one pops up.  She needs a break. 

But a break would drive her crazy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Doggie Bedtime

Good morning!  Fiorella slept part of the night in the best bed in the house, the waterbed--i.e., the tub.  Yes, it's an ideal shape for your Fio.  The recline of the back is good for her spine, and she can easily rest her swollen feet up against the front wall.  And the water is hot, soothing to her joints and muscles. Of course, it was a real shock to awaken three hours later in ice-cold water.

Normally Fio would partake of her water cure on a night she couldn't sleep and the hydrocodone didn't seem to be working, but last night it was because Sonya Dog needed her old routine before she would consent to going into her crate.  (Fio and Husband had tried to shake the pattern up a little, but Sonya balked at entering her boudoir.)  So they recreated the usual bedtime, with Husband going to bed first, Fio bringing Sonya up by the bedroom door next to the stairs, leaving her with Husband, then going through the other bedroom door into the bathroom and taking a bath.  Three hours later she returned to the bedroom, lured Sonya into her crate, sang "Soft Doggy" to her, and went to bed.

The good thing is that everyone slept through the rest of the night.  But Fiorella is concerned about the future.  Sonya's crate seems to be shrinking, and it's the biggest one PetsMart has in stock. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Morning After

Fio feels a little sick, probably because she just finished off the remains of the utterly delicious anniversary cake, which tasted like it was frosted in sweetened lard. 

The celebration came off even better than  Fiorella's hopes and expectations.  The party room at Austin Land and Cattle was just the right size, the staff was very helpful with rearranging the side tables and supplying a couple more, and nobody turned a hair when Fio began taking paintings off the wall and replacing them with huge blow-ups of wedding pictures.   She and her minions shoved six tables together to hold all the family scrapbooks she had brought, a table in one held the cake, and two more tables in another corner held the appetizers.  

She should add that the banner, The best is yet to be!, which caused her so much worry and trouble, turned out perfect. Daughter-in law pinned above the scrapbook display for her, after which Fio flanked it with the lantana pots.

The service was impeccable, with one waiter and one follow-up guy.  The waiter was perfect, always available, always courteous, never forgetting a thing.

The only down side was that Brother's and Nephew's wives were ill and couldn't attend, but their husbands carried mementos home to them, the decorated coins Fiorella had designed, older son had turned into reality, Younger Son and Husband had aided with, and Daughter-in Law had cut out.

There was a lot of laughter, which Fio likes to hear.  There were also tears, tears of joy, when Older Son made a nice speech about himself  being adopted and announced that he and his wife are applying to adopt.  

Indeed, the best is yet to be.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

For a Very Important Date

Fio's arranged for everything, even cleverly buying two planting pots of Lowe's lantana, which she can later plant in her deer-beleaguered front yard, instead of ponying up for expensive flower arrangements that would have to be tossed out a day later.  Today, though, is the schedule day, the day she has to figure out how, in the most economic way, time-wise, to arrange the pick-ups, the print-outs, the deliveries, the set-ups, and Daughter doing her make-up. 

And somehow get some extra sleep because, as she writes this message, it is almost 3:30 a.m.

Expect Monday's update to run late.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Sandman Cometh

After two nights of hot water bottles, soothing baths, and mind-numbing 3 a.m. TV, Fiorella finally got a full night's sleep.  And just in time.

Yes, tomorrow night is the big anniversary celebration.  Fio put her money down on the restaurant party room two months ago and sent out invitations.  Earlier this week she ordered the cake, and the past couple of days, she's been involved with the banner, which should be ready tomorrow morning (fingers crossed).  Yesterday Older son masterminded a search for fifty-cent pieces and started working on the cute memento dealie Fio will affix to the coins--except we're now using one-dollar coins instead.  And today, not only is Daughter taking Fio off to get a manicure, but Fio will stop in and check out the venue again and maybe arrange for some flowers.

Yes, Fiorella is setting up an event her late father-in-law would have called "Fio and her cast of thousands."  Cecil B. DeMille had nothing on her.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dog Treats

The dog ate Fiorella's glasses.

With a teething puppy in the house, Fiorella's ears have become attuned to chomping sounds so when she thought she heard Sonya's teeth connecting with something other than rawhide, she tore herself away from writing a Fio to check, but too late.  The mangled remains of  her new glasses hung from baby dog's mouth.

Sonya is also attracted to shoes, especially the insoles.  And Fio has had to snake computer cords up between the couch cushions so Sonya can't get to them.  And she loves Husband's underwear.

Luckily, she never raises a fuss when any of these delicious treats are wrenched from her. mouth.  But she does look wounded.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


It's a wonder that Fiorella first saw the light of day above the Mason-Dixon line because she's a born rebel.  She doesn't take dares, but she does take on challenges.  Tell her there's something she can't do and she'll bust a gut figuring out how. 

"I'd never use precise anatomical terms in a love scene in my romances," she told Friend Katie a couple of months ago.  But even as she said it, she knew she'd contradict herself.  It was just a matter of time, and now Princess Redlander, the second book of her Princess trilogy, features a love scene using precise anatomical terms.

See--Fio even rebels against herself.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Grouch Speaks

Fiorella does not like it when solicitors try to maneuver her conscience to get money out of her by sending her a cheap gift which she is then supposed to feel honor-bound to pay for by contributing to their cause.   Even if it's the Audubon Society or the Natural Wildlife Reserve.  Even if it's the Salvation Army.

Fio makes regular charitable donations, but she does it on her own terms and at her own time.

So pack up your tambourines and buzz off.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

There's something about rhymes that lends itself to humor,  and those are the words that Fio will use to introduce a talk she is planning to put together on poetic humor, one of her fortes.

Rush Hour

Fio woke up blank today
But that's not the way
She's going to stay--
Lots to do--
First of all, to write to you
And when she's through
Her day's fast-paced 
Hurry and haste,

Not a minute to waste

So at this time
She'll wrap up this rhyme
And proceed to eat
Her Shredded Wheat
As her doggie sweet
Sits on her feet
And awaits a treat.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Brave New World

Fiorella never ceases to be amazed at the wondrous developments in her universe--wondrous in that she wonders about them, not that they're wonderful.  Did you know that your flat screen should be updated regularly and that you're the one who's expected do it?  The process involves drilling down to the basic components of your TV with a computer and various controls.  Something about hardware and software and something called firmware, which Fio assumes is midway between the two.  And if you're not updated, you can lose the audio, which is what happened with Fio and family.

Thank goodness "family" temporarily includes Younger Son, who spent an hour diagnosing and solving the problem.  Husband's response had been to look at Fiorella and say "What buttons did you push this time?"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Plaints and Complaints

House and Garden TV has opened America's eyes to the excesses of the excessively rich.  Fio never realized people could casually drop a couple of mil into a Caribbean vacation home.   She never realized people could sink a cool million into one room.   She never realized people could be so picky about what their kitchen cabinets were made of when half the world be thrilled just to have roofs over their heads.
The sound is out on Fiorella's TV, Mozy messed with her when she was trying to sign up, and she is worried about getting everything ready for the arrival of Older Son and his wife on Friday, not to mention the anniversary celebration on Sunday.  She's stressed.
Fiorella is a Facebook idiot.  She can't put up pictures on her own and there's some weird lock on her clever comments that is probably keeping people from replying--or they're just not interested.  Email is so much simpler.  Handwritten letters would be even simpler.  Heck--take it down to the smoke signal level.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


We're all driven to fiction one way or another.  Some of us write it for publication, some of us generate it to explain what we don't understand, and some of us live it.  Fiorella is one of the first type, conspiracy theorists are examples of the second type, and the third type is the most interesting--people who reinvent their own lives.

Okay, we all do that to a certain extent, celebrating or mourning our lives as the mood hits us, but Fio is talking about people who live the part, like Andrew, a fellow teacher at Fio's last college gig.  Fio liked Andrew a lot.  She considered him a close friend--after all, he supported her when the Hand and the Hammer ganged up against her with their own fiction.   But Andrew got tossed out on his ear when it was discovered he'd falsified his educational credentials.

Fio should have figured out there was a problem.  Andrew was evasive when Fio tried to pin him down on his graduate studies, the academic and publishing connections he set up for her never quite panned out, and somewhere along the line she learned he was telling people people that he and Fio had known each other at another college, which wasn't true.  But she disregarded these red flags because Andrew was charming and funny and told her all the inside gossip, which might have been as fake as he was.

Fiorella doesn't know what became of Andrew, but she would bet he's set up another full and fictional life somewhere.  She wishes him well.  He never did any harm to anyone but himself.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Shady Story

Have to weigh in on Fifty Shades of Gray, just like everyone else in the world has.  Not having read the book, I speak only from hearsay, but I think it sets up a bad role model for women.  And women do identify themselves with romance heroines

It's too easy to let a man control us.  After all, they're bigger and stronger than we are, and more prone to violence. Also, it's been going on for centuries.  But it's wrong, not so much in the bra-burning sense, but in the relationship sense, as Nora, bless her addled little brain, finally realized in Ibsen's  Doll House.

And it's too easy to imagine our suffering as a man's redemption,  a Christ-like image if there ever was one.

Reading The Story of O years ago, I realized that by volunteering herself to be abused, O had surrendered her humanity.  She considered herself to be in a loving relationship but her "master,"  but he  saw her as nothing more than a plaything.

No happy ending there.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Been wondering if comic strip cartoonists have a Yahoo loop going to coordinate their themes because last Sunday, characters in Doonesbury, Luann, and Sally Forth all indicated an awareness of their existences being fictional and on public  view.  Doonesbury was the most direct, talking to readers about the strip centering more on Alex and her agemates in the future.  To tell the truth, Fio will be sad if that's the case.  She wants to keep up with the, uhm, oldsters too. 

Fiorella couldn't start her day without reading the funnies, as she's done all her life, but, sadly, her children couldn't care less, which means her comic strip friends may soon be going the way of the dodo bird.  What a loss when all the world will be playing video games in which they kill each other  rather than enjoying a clever ten minutes with the comics page .

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Facelift, Two Months' Out

A stranger used to be able to tell Fio's age at a glance.  Now it would take two glances--one behind her right ear, one behind her left.
Fiorella's facelift must have worked--when the was in HEB yesterday, not only did the cashier refrain from calling her "dear," but she didn't automatically signal for a carry-out.
Fio's gotten so used to her facelift that her old photos look foreign to her, like they're of . . . her mother.