Sunday, September 30, 2012

Comfort Zones

Sonya used to sleep on the bed with Daddy while Mommy took her prolonged nightly soak.  Then Mommy would grab a nice chunk of treat, lure sweet doggie into her roomy crate, and latch the door.  But a week ago, when Mommy was finally ready for bed, she discovered that Sonya had deserted Daddy and was already asleep in the crate.  All that Mommy still had to do was latch it.  After a week of this, Mommy asked herself why the heck she was bothering to lock the crate--so last night she didn't.  And Sonya remained sprawled and snoring in the crate at night long.  Obviously, having slept in it for seven months, she regards it as her own private boudoir.  It's her nest, her comfort zone.

We wonder why people who have been abused stay with their abusers, why Jaycee Dugard didn't take advantage of opportunities to escape Phillip Garrido.  But, like Sonya, Jaycee and her sisters have been trained to their crates, their comfort zones.

We're all like that in one way or another.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

House Snobbery, Part 2

People, wise up!  Houses are for comfort and shelter.  They're to live in, not runway items to go in and out of style as HG TV dictates.  Fio remembers the first time she  saw popcorn ceilings--she thought they were beautiful.  And they still are, but fashion has turned against them.  Likewise wood paneled family rooms.  And red walls.  And sliding glass doors.  And carpet in the bathroom (good riddance to that one). What's the next to go--kitchen islands?

I'll tell you what Fio would like to see bite the dust--can lights.  They're an eyesore and the very devil to change, especially with those new-fangled twisted light bulbs that blow every time you turn around.  But I think we're stuck with them until someone invents the glowing ceiling paint that Fio's been advocating for years.  Actually, she thinks the paint has already been invented, but no one can figure out how to turn it off.

Friday, September 28, 2012


HGTV has turned people into house snobs.  Time and time again, perfectly good houses are belittled  as  "needing updating.  "  Working sinks, stoves, and refrigerators aren't enough for a kitchen--buyers insist on stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and dark cabinets.   Bathrooms must include double sinks,  double showers, and separate tubs.  Throughout the house, floors must be wood,  lighting fixtures brand-spanking new, and the floor plan "open."

People,  think for yourselves!  Choose a spacious, well-constructed house that suits your family needs and is located in a pleasant neighborhood because the next time you turn around, stylish appliances will be purple, counters will be leather, cabinets will be metal, bathrooms will be outdoors, flooring will be ceramic, lighting fixtures retro, and the floor plan "closed."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Times, They Are A-changin'

Fiorella just realized that the world is getting smaller in small ways too.  She may not be traipsing around Europe like Daughter, but she does do a fair amount of driving, a lot more than her mother ever did.  In fact, her mother didn't even now how to drive, while Fio thinks nothing of toodling forty miles up the freeway to meet a friend for lunch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Personally Speaking

Jealous of Mommy's attention, Sonya Dog regularly inserts her snout between Fio and her laptop, which means that Fio has to clean off the screen before taking it in for repair .  It's like being sure you have on  clean underwear when you go to the hospital.
While normal people look for paintings for their walls, Fiorella searches for walls for her paintings.  Yes, she still has several in storage.
When was it that Fiorella changed from a young filly to an old nag?
Husband insists that Fiorella's tombstone will read, "She was easily amused," which would be fine with Fio.  In fact, it makes her laugh.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Anagram Techniques

When Fio first got interested in the newspaper's daily anagram, she would write the letters down, cut them out, and test various random arrangements.  Stupid Fiorella--the first thing she looks for now are morphemes like er/re, ing, s and ed/de.  She also checks out  possible consonant combinations like sh, ch, th, sch, and ght.  She's also learned a few tricks along the way, like that doubled letters side by side in an anagram are usually separate when the word is decoded, and vice-versa. 

Take DONUH, for instance.  Fio knows English words rarely end in h unless it's in combination with c, s, or t.  She also knows ou frequently occur together  (as do ea, ai, and oi).  The answer is HOUND.

RREROT is fairly easy because Fio's also picked up the trick of  checking an anagram out by scanning it backwards.  TORERR alerts her brain to the obvious--TERROR.

STURHH.  Hmmm.  Just one vowel, which means just one syllable, and s is joined with t in the initial offering, which mean it should really be attached to one of the hs, which leaves the other h for the s.  Dawns the light: THRUSH,

And if all else fails, Fiorella writes the letters down, cuts them out and arranges them randomly.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dietary Advice

Beware the tasty porcupine
Short on temper, long on spine
Stick instead to fish or chicken
Floured, fried, and finger lickin'

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bad Apples

Well, there goes my image of the Amish as sweet, gentle people who only want to be left alone to till their fields and sew up quilts for the tourist trade.  Today's Amish--or at least some of them--are the Al Qaeda of their own small world.  You've read about those guys--they go around cutting off the head hair and beards of those who don't agree with their particular brand of Amish-ism. They're a sect within a sect--which, come to think of it, is exactly what Al Qaeda is.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Like everyone else, Fiorella is glad that our soldiers are coming home from Iraq, and you know they'll be greeted with welcoming accolades. But after the confetti has been swept up, where will they find jobs? The country's employment situation is dire, and it will only get worse when Johnny comes marching home again.

Jobs always go down the tubes when technological advances are made--think of the Luddite rebellion when mechanical looms were introduced in 1800s. And the outcome of the computer revolution was that jobs were flushed or outsourced. replacement of workers electronic devices. Of course, the downturn in the economy, brought on by tossing money into the bottomless money pit of war in the Near East, didn't help.

Obama's trying to get us going again, but Congress has even voted down plans to strengthen the nation's physical infrastructure, for apparently no other reason than to oppose Obama. In logic parlance, it's called an ad hominem argument: the GOP is against anything Obama proposes just because he's the one who proposed it.

But there's a historic danger when so many people are unemployed--especially if they're former military. The Occupy Wall Street movement may be a harbinger of more violent things to come.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fiorella Plum vs. Rick Perry

Fiorella considers herself a Christian woman, but she's definitely not Rick Perry's brand of Christian.  In fact, she's a firm believer in the separation of church and state, a concept  Perry calls a "Satan-fueled myth" and blames on the Devil and his minions, the "secularists."

Contrary to Perry's claim that the country's founders "relied on God's values and the message of his son to build the system that we as a society have enjoyed for the last 200 years,"  historical research tells us that the founding fathers were deists--basically, agnostics.  But then, Perry's academic career at Texas A&M was somewhat less than stellar, although his C in American History did outshine his F in Organic Chemistry and D in Principles of Economics.

Fiorella, who made an A in American History, contends that separation of church and state was a prime precept on which our country was founded, the goal being to avoid the terrible religious wars that periodically ravaged Europe  (cf. Fio's blog on zealots).

Also, she believes in keeping one's prayers in the closet and that religion should not be used as a club against one's political opponents.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

News Updates

Fio would like to be part of the forty-seven percent who don't have to pony up to IRS, but, except for the lean student years just after she and Husband got married, they've always had to pay the piper.  Now that they are more comfortably fixed, she'd still rather not pay--like the millionaires who've figured out ways to get around taxes.  Um--does that mean they support Obama?
Fiorella is amused that people have finally realized we've probably contaminated the moon and Mars with our landings, that minute microbes could have made it through the sterilization process and are seeding the universe.  She figured that out  some time ago, but her postulation goes even further.  Microbe or not, she thinks the capsules and payload themselves are contaminants because they cut the time/space continuum.

Lindsay Lohan has been arrested again.  But what's new?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Good News

Things are looking up.  Fiorella finished her revisions yesterday evening and will proofread today, with the goal of sending the ms off to the  divine Liza by Friday.  Also, Fio is beginning to get the hang of FB and has made contact with several old high school buddies who seem very interested in the fact that she is writing sexy romances.

Also, two of Son's submissions have been accepted in a local art show.  Also, he's survived both of his fall classes so far, despite the fact that he's been working an average of sixty hours a week. Also, most of his college loan creditors are off his back because he signed up for those two classes.   

And Husband's second-degree burns still hurt, but they're scabbing over nicely.

All is well.  All will be well. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Crunch Time

Let me tell you what happens when you've promised your agent that you'll get final revisions to her over the weekend.

1) Husband scalds thirty square inches of his foot and Fio must take him to the doctor's office an hour across town, then assist him around the house for the next several days.
2)  Son's pug eats through the printer cord in two places, dividing it  into three sections.   Even after Husband jury-rigs a substitute cord, the printer misbehaves, trying to print out the whole 400+ page manuscript when what Fio is working on is just he last chapter.
3) Fio confuses her new-style potassium chloride pills with her hydrocodone and winds up with a night of insomnia.
4) Fio discovers they've run out of dog food, dog treats, eggs, tall kitchen bags, and her own personal staple, spoon-sized Shredded Wheat.
5) Realizing Fio is not keeping her usual eagle-eye on him, the pug starts decorating the floor again.
6) The downstairs air conditioner drain backs up and floods the foyer.
7) Son gets mandatory overtime which means he's gone from7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and thus not available to help around the house

Also, Fio has not had time to wash her hair, practice piano, pay bills, or read the newspaper.  Nor has she raised the blinds, cooked, or picked up the house.  And she's nearly out of underwear.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Choose Peace

What does one do about people who are so fixated on a religious or political principle that they're willing to kill for it?  Fio doesn't mean the crazies, like the guy who tried to kill Arizona's Gabby Giffords, and the Norwegian who killed seventy-some kids, but the bread and butter people like the ones who stormed the US consulatein Libya and killed the ambassador--and this after we'd supported the successful rebellion against Ghadaffi.   And the radical Muslims who want to kill off not only us, but other Muslims,  the Christians who wiped out their Muslim neighbors in Bosnia, the Catholics and Protestants  who assassinated each other in Ireland.

It's a crappy kind of population control.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Dog Ate My Homework

Fio's having a a tough time of it.  She told the divine Liza that she'd send PRINCESS OF BOSQUE BEND in this weekend, the Lord be willin' an' the creeks don' rise.  Well, apparently the Lord WASN'T willing and we KNOW the creeks rose, so Fio is running late.  That last chapter isn't moving along as quickly as she thought it would, and she'll need a full day after that for  proofreading.

Maybe it would help if Fiorella had ever learned how to type properly.  Yeah, it's one finger on her right hand the and two on her left.  She can actually rev up to fifty words a minute, but, needless to say, strange things happen when she mis-aims.  Computers have all those auxiliary keys that can do such weird and wonderful things.

In her case, more weird than wonderful. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Red and Green

By all rights, Fio should be green as an emu egg.  Her bath water is green, and her drinking water is probably green.  It's iron, or so she's been told, which has become concentrated as the lake levels have sunk.
t Fio thought iron turned stuff red.

NOTE TO EARLY RISERS:  Fio often writes the basic idea of a blog in advance, then posts it after it's polished, but occasionally she mis-schedules and one of them airs prematurely, as happened this morning.  Thanks to Friend Paula for giving her the heads up.  Fio has removed her diatribe on zealots, but you'll see it again once it's in better shape.

Darkness at Noon

The morning started out bright, then darkened suddenly as a rainstorm pummeled Fiorella's windshield while she was on her way to Austin.  Experienced in bad-weather driving, Fio took her foot off the pedal and kept the car aimed straight ahead until she caught sight of a broken white line, then rode the side of it carefully for the next five miles.

The other cars had slowed down too, but not as much as Fio. What was her problem, and why was everything so dark?

Oops.  She still had her sunglasses on.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012


She doesn't have West Nile virus after all!

After several days of tossing and turning and taking multiple hot baths, Fiorella finally slept soundly last night, waking only twice at three hour intervals to gulp down yet another half-hydrocodone.  She can breathe freely, think coherently, talk without searching for words, walk without lurching.  The headache is gone.  She worked the crossword in fifteen minutes,  breezed through the anagrams, and generated enough Fio topics to last her through the weekend.

Ah, the joy of a good night's sleep!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Emma Jane

Friend Ashley brought her new baby to the meeting of Endor at Starbucks yesterday.  Fiorella and Friend Carol were thrilled.  And so was Starbuck's, who took our orders, but not our money.  Talk about good customer relations!

Of course, it might have had something to do with the manager, who'd been sitting at table next to us working on accounts, being obviously pregnant.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Squeezing Time

Are males capable of multi-tasking or is it strictly a female trait?  Are men capable of planning dinner while putting on make-up?  Of composing a sonnet as they drive to town, even noting new commercial construction on the side of the road at the same time?  Can they read a newspaper as they watch Big Bang Theory?

Or is it that women have always had so many responsibilities in so many different areas that they've learned to make their time do double duty?

Monday, September 10, 2012


Sorry to have been so self-revelatory lately, but Fio is nothing if not introspective, maybe because her outward vision is so screwed up.  The macula of Fiorella's left eye has been scarred since her late twenties.  Whatever she looks directly at with that eye, she cannot see.  It's a blank, like a TV screen,  and the remaining peripheral vision just messes up what she sees with her right eye.  She's a little wall-eyed now and, because the defective eye tries to compete with the right eye, fuzzing her visual field, she  often closes her left eye when she draws, drives, reads, or plays the piano.

Yeah, Fiorella is, for all intents and purposes, monocular, which leaves her with no depth vision.  She has trouble seeing curbs and estimating distances, which has led to a couple of alignment problems for her darling baby car.

Fio tells you this because she doubts she's alone.  In fact, she knows it: Friend Ellen's sister-in-law also has a vision hole in one of her maculae.  How many others  like us are out there?

We need a cure.  The operation Friend Ellen's sister-in-law had didn't work, but maybe there's another solution to the problem, like, say, a special contact lens that would optically contract the blank area.  Opticians of the world, unite, put your thinking caps on, and fix Fiorella's vision! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Defining Fio

Fiorella apologizes for all the dumb, thoughtless, embarrassing, and insensitive things she's ever done or said in her life, the things that infiltrate her spare moments and haunt her dreams.  Fio's an overflowing cornucopia of faux pas, but she can assure you she's never been purposefully cruel or mean.  And that she always tries to help.

Fiorella will state her viewpoint, but she is not a fighter.  In fact, she rarely even gets angry.  It just isn't worth it.  Arguing never changes a person's viewpoint--it just makes Fio feel sick to her stomach and leaves the other person more adamant than ever.

Fiorella is a good time gal, and she likes to be around enjoyable people.  Laughter scares off demons, improves the digestion, and stimulates the brain.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Continued from Yesterday

Here is an example of Fiorella's type of poetry, a tight little sonnet on suicide she wrote years ago when she was very depressed.  The "Dorothy" to whom it is addressed is Dorothy Parker, who wrote "Razors pain you;/Rivers are damp;/Acids stain you;/And drugs cause cramp./Guns aren't lawful;/Nooses give;/Gas smells awful;/You might as well live."  Ol' Dorothy wrote pretty tight herself--and used punctuation out the wazoo.

I called this cheery little ditty "Suicide."

            Ah, Dorothy, your choice was much too rash:

            There are other options I could recommend

            Than poison, razors, nooses, guns, or gas

            To bring about a graceful, private end.

            The suffocation of the spirit's one--

            On shallow breaths, hope is inclined to smother;

            An assault on the heart can get it done,

            The strangulation of the soul's another.

            Then you still could walk about, though dead,

             A lumbering, slack-jawed zombie, hollow-eyed,

            You'd grin and bow and nod your pleasant head

            With no one guessing you're a suicide.

                     Don't think that, knowing, any would be grieved

                    My own experience is, they'd be relieved.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Poetic Preferences

Fiorella's taste in poetry runs counter to the current trend, which seems to be overlong flowery essays with the punctuation omitted.  She's more of an old-fashioned kinda gal.  In fact, she prefers rhymed verse, though not exclusively, because she thinks it has  a stronger impact, is a better mnemonic, and presents a more of a challenge to the writer.   She also likes poetry that speaks strongly in as few words as possible, in which the message outweighs the words.

Like, ahem, her own.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Small World

Daughter and Husband are heading out on their eight-month-delayed honeymoon tomorrow.  Husband and Fio had  a delayed honeymoon too, but it was seven years late.  And we went to Mexico while they're going to Europe for three weeks--France, Spain, and Germany.

When Fiorella was is college, the pundits kept talking about how the world was getting smaller.  Fio didn't believe them then, but she was wrong.  The world is MUCH smaller now.  While her parents traveled from Texas to Ohio en famille once a year at the most, Fio has traveled to New York or its environs solo three times.  And she and Husband have visited Older Son and his wife in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Minnesota--and Younger Son in California,  Fio was even scheduled to visit Canada earlier this year, but the plane got stuck on the runway too long and she had to disembark.

Smaller and smaller. When's the next shuttle to Mars?

Nighttime Troubles

Fio woke up about 2:30 in the morning feeling hot and cold at the same time. And the air seemed too warm to breathe and she ached all over.  Her head hurt, her facelift scars hurt, her jaw and cheekbones hurt, her back hurt,  her legs hurt, her right hip hurt A LOT.  Lesser beings, she believes, call it pain.

No choice but to stagger to the bathroom, exercising her arms and neck along the way, grab a pain pill, and run herself a hot bath.  She slept in the tub till about 5:00, then transferred back to bed.  A slight headache was all that remained of her nighttime troubles.

Sonya Dog awoke her at 6:30 and Fio's been up and running ever since.  It's gonna be a great day.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pondering Sonya

Fio's power cord is safe now.  Sonya has moved on to vacuum cleaner attachments.
As alpha dog, Sonya bullies Bosco unmercifully, but she also depends on him for company, yelping and whining until he comes downstairs every morning.
We lock our big girl into her crate while we sleep, but she'd probably stay in her appointed boudoir all night even if we removed the door. It's easy to accustom animals to captivity, to get them used to being in a cage, to convince them that's where they belong.  People are like that too, but we create our own cages.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blind Eye

Years ago, when Forella was finishing her schooling and working part-time in the Sears credit department, she befriended a new hire named Lisa.  Lisa was unusually short, had a lame leg, and her forehead was in continual flake from some kind psoriasis, all of which probably made Fio more sympathetic to her.  Then one day Lisa told Fio about asking a stupid black girl to hem a dress for her while she was visiting her parents' home in Mississippi over the holidays.

She'd told the girl she would pay her three dollars, but when the time came, she offered her a choice between the three dollars and an old skirt of hers.

"She just looked at me," Lisa exclaimed.  "I couldn't get her to make a decision!"

Fiorella wasn't as friendly toward Lisa after that, and not in the least sympathetic.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Ah, the luxury of being allowed to wake up at my own speed, to snooze on and off till the bright morning sun penetrates my closed eyelids, to have someone else answer the desperate yips of a dog insisting she needs to get outside pronto.

Now I know that Husband loves me. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cross Your Fingers

Fiorella was astounded that eBay has disallowed psychic sales.  She's even more astounded that eBay allowed them in the first place.

Now, Fio, like half the people in the world, thinks she has a bit of the psychic in her.  After all, she foresaw a couple of deaths--admittedly of people who were on their last legs anyway--and she's good at reading Tarot cards if she has the explanatory book beside her.

Her cold brain tells her she's fooling herself, but because she's susceptible, she avoids putting herself in the position to be swayed by soothsayers, just in case they are naysayers. After all, her life so far has been one surprise after another, with opportunities going down the drain when they should have put her on the high road and unexpected bounties when life looked bleak.    Everything is looking up right now, but don't say it too loud.

Not that Fio is superstitious.