Friday, November 30, 2012

Sleeping Beauty

Our Sonia wags a sleepy tail
And lifts a heavy head
There are no two ways--it must be said:
Our doggie is a slug-a-bed.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Advantages of a Cane

Fiorella is still tapping her way along with a cane.  She thought she was doing just fine without it, but the physical therapist told her to pick it up again because she is a fall risk--poor balance.  Fio didn't have the heart to admit she'd never had good balance, and that, in fact, some people consider her totally unbalanced.

Anyway, Fio's using the cane again, which means that her ever-fertile brain is coming up with any number of scenarios in which her cane could save the day. Like, what if a bad guy was running from the cops?  All it would take would be a cane tripping him up to send him sprawling to the pavement.  How about a thug attacking a shopper outside of HEB?  A quick swipe of the cane across the man's neck would take care of the situation.  And if someone came after Fio, a series of body jabs with the cane would discourage him.

Come to think of it, maybe everybody should carry a cane.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

To Get Published or Not to Get Published

Got a note from Liza Dawson yesterday.  Ballantine said Honeysuckle Dreams didn't work for them, NAL said it was too dark, St. Martin's said they didn't know how they'd sell it, and SourceBooks said it was too similar to a series they were already promoting. Avon and Mira like it so far, but haven't finished reading the whole manuscript.  Kensington, Gallery (Pocket), Berkley, and Grand Central haven't started reading it yet.

Fiorella prefers not to think about the situation.  If HD sells, it sells.  If it doesn't, it doesn't.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stretched Out in the Middle

Attention deficit disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder--two extremes of human psychology.  Actually, since they can be treated with prescription meds, Fio thinks they have a lot more to do with brain chemistry.  She could look the information up, but she's not obsessive/compulsive enough to do so.  On the other hand, she's not ADD enough to let the matter pass.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Sonya Dog sees the pantry as the womb whence issues rawhide bones, and Fiorella as the one who delivers them. Yes, our doggie is a rawhide addict.  Every morning after breakfast, she stands in front of the pantry doors and waits--and yelps if Fio has left her waiting longer than she deems necessary.

Oh well, it's better than when she was chewing on shoes.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Classic Heyer

Fiorella is cleaning out her bookcase of beloved paperback romances, ones she never thought she'd toss, but the time has come  (the Walrus said).  However, there's at least one that ain't a-gonna go, and that's The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer, the woman who invented historical romance--and don't send me corrective little notes mentioning Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott.  Jane was writing contemporary romances while Walt wrote adventure stories for armchair cavaliers.  Avant garde!

The plot of The Masqueraders is hard to explain without a few sniggers coming from a modern audience because it faetures a brother and sister being disguised as the opposite sex, but nothing untoward happens.  Not that sexual entendre is nonexistent in Heyer's works--it's just not played out on the public page.

Anyway, the story involves the sibs' father establishing his birthright, the son wooing his ladylove in the spirit of adventure, the daughter being wooed by the man she is in love with but does not feel worthy of, and a bad guy who plots with another bad guy to bring them all down.  Complicated and interwoven, but Heyer makes it work--wandering POVs, long expository passages, and all.. 

Yeah, The Masqueraders is a keeper.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Reviewing ALWAYS . . . PATSY CLINE

Fiorella slept late again this morning, not because she had insomnia earlier in the night like on Thursday, but because she saw a good production yesterday evening at Georgetown's Palace Theater and rested easy.

Fio says a good production because that's what it was--good, but not great.  Always . . . Patsy Cline featured twenty-six hits of the big-voiced country-pop star put into a pseudo-biographical order.  The singing and characterization of  Ysenia McNett was tremendous, especially for basically a one-woman show.  McNett, who usually sings lyric soprano roles, has great contralto pipes too.  She owned the role, portraying Cline from tender ingenue to swaggering star.   No one could totally  duplicate Cline's unique ability to switch registers with ease, but McNett came as close as you're gonna get.  And her styling was perfect.

The pseudo biography is where the play failed.  Unlike the similar Buddy Holley reprise,  Always . . . Patsy Cline intimates that the Cline's songs reflected her life, that she had experienced the let-down-by-a-man, honky-tonk life she sang about.  To that end, the playwright created a fake character to narrate the play--Louise Seger, a comic-relief fan whom Cline supposedly met along the way. 

But a little Googling tells a different story.  Cline was no shrinking violet tromped on by chauvinistic male arrogance.  Her songs were often the female counterpart to the country-western masculine wails about women who had done them wrong, but she was the one who divorced her first husband because he wanted her to dump her career and settle down to housewifery bliss.  Her second marriage was relatively happy, producing two children. And Cline has no need for a devoted fan to protect her interests.  In fact, she led the charge when it came to country performers being paid upfront rather than after the show, when producers often stiffed them.

But Fiorella quibbles. The minimalist stage setting worked well, and Fio was entranced by the way the band, often stuck off in a corner so as not to distract from the action, was rightfully front and center most of the time, actually part of story.  The costumes were spot on, and, for once, Fio has not a single complaint about the directing.  Needless to say, the theater was SRO and has been since opening night.  Extra shows have been added.

All in all, Aways . . . Patsy Cline was a treat.

CORRECTION:  Louise Seger was a real person and real fan.  But Fio still objects to her as a comic-relief character.


Friday, November 23, 2012

On the Run

Fiorella slept late,
Then hurried off to a post-Thanksgiving dinner date,
Got home again in late afternoon,
And, now again, will be leaving soon.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Fiorella is thankful for love and laughter, for friends and family, for yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  She is thankful for God's healing miracles, for material goods and spiritual strength.  For talent and skill and hope and achievement.  For this wonderful country.  For life itself.  For the promise of eternal life.

And that just about covers the waterfront.  Amen. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Kindergarten Creative

Fiorella strikes again!  Yes, she's come up with a Christmas card this year that's downright bizarre.  On a neon green background, she's pasted a true green Christmas tree of her own design.  On the tree, she's pasted a crossword-puzzle type design in red which uses all the family names.  Building off a vertical "MERRY CHRISTMAS," she linked Husband's surname, her own maiden name, the three children's first names, their two spouses' first and last names, everyone's pets' names, and Husband's sister's married name. At the top of the tree, which is shaped like a chocolate kiss, Fiorella pasted a loving red heart.

Mrs. Ruebright, Fiorella's kindergarten teacher, would have been proud.  That woman could make anything out of paper.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fio Has a New Toy

Fiorella has discovered Jacquie Lawson cards, those charming e-cards that change into something even more charming.  Well, actually she's known about them for some time because people have sent a couple to her, but now she's decided to subscribe to the service herself.  You can't beat an unlimited number of cards for just twelve bucks a year, and there are lots and lots of designs to choose from.  It's easy to send the cards too.  So today, three days before Thanksgiving,  she'll start barraging people with cards.

Duck and cover!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fio and Music

'Tis the season for Fiorella to practice Christmas carols on the piano.  Not that she's in the same league as Friend Marion, who, as she admits, was "born understanding how the piano works," or   Friend Mary's daughter, Julia, who has the same inborn talent, or Fio's high school friend, Jan Herring, who placed second in the Van Cliburn competition.  No, Fio is something of a dud.

For one thing, she's terribly self-conscious when playing the piano or singing.  Fiorella used to have a very good voice and was actually able to sing in public without choking up for a few precious years, but age, steroids, and a resurgence of her self-consciousness took their toll. 

One thing she can still do, though, is compose.  Yeah, good ol' creative, analytical Fiorella can compose the dickens out of you.  Her children's opera of the Three Little Pigs is loads of fun, and she's written a few carols too. Maybe someday you'll hear them.

PS: Sorry Fio ran late yesterday.  She set the date wrong.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Story, the Voice


It's easy to take the schoolteacher approach in critiquing manuscripts, marking supposed spelling and grammar errors.  Golden Template judges will go as far as counting the number of times a writer has used "that," fussing about  a character's last name not being given in the opening paragraph, or complaining about the margins or font, in the firm belief that agents and editors have a cookie cutter mentality.  But what Fiorelle has learned from hr own experience is that once a story hits the right person, the agent/editor takes over and helps that author shape her manuscript, making it stronger and truer to itself.    

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Christmas, 2012

Fiorella loves decorating for Christmas.  She loops den windows with red and green paper chains.  She hangs ersatz greenery from the big dining room window and loads it with her beloved fruit and vegetable ornaments, interspersed with butterflies and birds.  Greenery also festoons the front door and the kitchen door and the door to the guest room hall and the double-door opening between the front room and the dining room (on both sides) and the display cabinets between the kitchen and the den.  Then Fiorella loads the greenery with her other special ornaments--miniatures and paper storks and feathered birds.  In the upper hall she nestles redbirds in the greenery draped from the railings.  And, of course, snowflakes, which she cuts out fresh every years, decorate every window pane downstairs and even some upstairs.  The front door is treated to wreaths back and front, as are the front windows, the area over the door to the guest room hall, and the tall window at the top of the stairs.  Three nativity scenes are tucked into the mantel decoration in the den, two more in the extensive buffet decoration, but the mantel decoration in the front room must make do with "Twelve Days of Christmas" bells  plus more butterflies and lots of tinsel.

Fiorella's light-up deer bit the dust last year, but she still has big snowflakes and for the trees outside and a plastic bow for the mailbox.

Then there's the Christmas tree--aah, the Christmas tree, laden with so many garlands and ornaments that Firoella can scarcely see the the sturdy iron(?) boughs that have sustained the tree for ten years.

Fiorella usually spends hours and days and weeks on Christmas decorating.  It's her love, her splendor, her artistic achievement. But not this year.  Recovery from hip surgery, which Fio didn't realize would take months rather than weeks,  precludes climbing ladders and carrying in boxes of ornaments and greenery and lights and all her other decorating goodies.

And Fio is very sad.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Function of Government

Fiorella keeps trying to hang up her political hat, but then people say stuff she objects to, like Mitt Romney, after such a gracious concession speech, saying that Obama won by giving "gifts" to the poor, the young, and the dark-skinned.  To Fio, it all boils down to how one looks at the function of government--is it to tell people how to think and what to do, or is it of the people, by the people, and FOR the people?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Viewpoint Snippets

Fiorella is amused by all the secessionist talk.  It's like a kid saying that he's picking up his football and going home because he didn't win the game.  But she's horrified by all the blatant racism that's  involved.
Fiorella is resigned to Rick Perry running for governor again and winning, but she doesn't like it. Surely Texas deserves better.

Fiorella is tired of politics.  She needs to refocus from the national scene to her own garden and start working on PRINCESS REDLANDER again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Importance of Electoral College Vote

And Fio repeats: the election wasn't even close. LOOK AT THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE. Obama's campaign, which concentrated on the electoral college numbers, was just plain smarter than Romney's, which was built around the popular vote.

Fio first ran up against the Obama campaign savvy four years ago when she backed Hillary at her precinct convention.  Obama folks were not only in the majority, but were in take-charge mode.  The only conclusion Fiorella could draw from the situation was that Hillary's people didn't know how important the precinct conventions were in Texas--and Obama's did.

It's that same savvy that re-elected Obama.  His people looked at every state through an electoral college lens--and they won.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Waste of Money

Fiorella is on a tear again.  She read that Judy Garland's WIZARD OF OZ dress went for $480K at auction.

How ridiculous.  It's not art--it's a costume, a dress,  fabric, for heaven's sake.  And the person who wore it was an actress, not a princess or a statesman or anyone we laud for her contributions to society. Why do people spend money on dumb things like thus? The dress is more souvenir than anything else. What can one one do with it but watch it gradually decay into dust?

The same day Fiorella read about the WIZARD OF OZ relic, she also read that the bamboo which pandas survive on is in trouble because of climate changes.  Wouldn't that $450K have been better spent on research for alternate food sources for the pandas than on a stupid dress? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fio Likes Chris Christie

It wasn't that long ago that Chris Christie, Republican governor of New Jersey, was a party favorite.  He was popular, tough talking, and ran a tight ship.  Not only was he considered for the vice-presidential slot, but he also was a prominent speaker at the convention in Tampa.

Then came Sandy, the hurricane that devastated New Jersey, and Christie worked closely with President Obama and FEMA to clean up the mess, supply displaced families with food, clothing and shelter, and reestablish some degree of normalcy. The GOP demonized him.  He's even been accused of losing the election for Romney by expressing his gratitude to Obama and FEMA.   So now Christie's future with the Republican party is cooked, and all for doing the right thing--taking care of the people he was elected to take care of.  What was he supposed to have done?  Spit in Obama's face?  Refuse all federal aid? 

Fio didn't know much about Chris Christie except that he was a Republican up-and-comer, but she'd liked what she'd seen, and she likes him even more because of the pragmatic way he handled the Sandy crisis.  It was nice to see someone who could work together with the federal government and someone on the other side of the aisle.   Here's a Republican she could vote for in four years.

If he ever gets the chance to run.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Behold the mighty Fiorella!  An artificial hip, a heart valve replacement, cataract lenses--she's a bionic woman! 

When does she get the new brain?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bloody Battles

Fiorella is not happy with her coumadin nurse.

Because she has an artificial aortic valve, Fio takes a daily dose of coumadin/warfarin to thin her blood and thus keep her from forming a blood clot. The goal is to maintain her INR (a blood analysis figure) between 2 and 3.  But whenever she has surgery, Fio has to stop taking coumadin--usually five days beforehand because coumadin has a three-day bounce--to enable the wound to heal properly.

Starting the coumadin again afterwards is tricky.  After her facelift, Fio was started too soon with dosages that were too high and ended up with an INR of 3.9 and coagulated blood in her cheeks.   

Once burned, twice shy, Fiorella informed everyone involved in her hip replacement of the coumadin bounce problem before the hip surgery.  The surgeon emphasized he wanted her in the low 2s after the surgery.  But before Fio knew it, by following the dosages prescribed by the coumadin nurse, she was up to 3.4--and a second hematoma was forming.

She called the coumadin nurse, who was too busy to take her call.  She called the surgeon's office and was told to call her cardiologist.  She called the cardiologist's office and was told to call the coumadin nurse.  Finally she got hold of someone else in the coumadin nurse's office and was told what dosages to take. Four days later, she still high, at 3.1.  The remedy?--she was told to take high dosages five days a week and lower dosages twice a week, which is sure to send her up to 4 in no time.

Despite the temptation to go all passive aggressive and bleed out in an emergency room just to prove how wrong the nurse was, Fio's not going along with it the nurse's prescription.  She's putting herself on a reasonable dosage, then requesting copies of her records for the past two years so she can figure out her dosages for herself.

Friday, November 9, 2012

One Bullet Away

Fiorella knew she was plotting a dangerous course and that, as she strove to become a better and better teacher, the danger increased.

Students flock to good teachers because they are interesting, have solid academic backgrounds, and have figured out how to make hard subjects seem easy.  Good teachers also interact with their students--ALL their students, not just the stars.  And thereby lies the rub, because no one, no matter how caring, can be everything to everyone, and some students will resent that.  It's like Santa Claus letting them down.  How many times have news reports featured stories about a disgruntled student killing "the most popular teacher in the school?"

But Fio struck it lucky.  Ultimately, it was a jealous supervisor who took her down, not with a bullet, but by refusing her tenure.  But the wound soon healed as Fiorella launched a new career.  And look at her now: she's a contest diva, has a New York agent, and Honeysuckle Dreams is out to publishers for consideration. 

And she's a lot safer.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Talk About the WSJ

Talk about wishful thinking--the headline in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal (which we didn't receive till today) read "Down to the Wire." The accompanying illustration showed Romney ahead of Obama in the popular vote, 50% to 48%, while the feature story was titled "Close Race Reflects Divided Nation."

Talk about egg on the face.  Talk about putting the paper (which wasn't delivered to Casa Fiorella till this morning) to bed way too early.  Pollsters had been predicting a solid Obama win from--what?--about 10:00 on?  Maybe the WSJ, like Karl Rove, didn't even believe the Fox News team when it conceded Obama had won the day.

We received Thursday's WSJ this morning too.  Talk about sour grapes.  The political story is about "How Race Slipped Away From Romney."  Get real, Wall Streeters--it didn't "slip" away.  It ran away.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Elation!

Not a good night for sleeping, but a great night for politics!  Bronco Bamma--FOUR MORE YEARS!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Up, Up, Up!

Fiorella was bored yesterday, which is a good sign.  It means she isn't falling asleep during the day as much, that she has more stamina, and that her body is urging her to be more active.  Accordingly, she's been using a cane to amble around the house, even going upstairs and finding more clothes for the week.   Today she's planning to drive around a little in prep for a journey to Austin on Wednesday.  She'll also be setting up outpatient treatment for the next two weeks.  This weekend she may be able to move back upstairs to the master bedroom.

Wish her luck.  Fio makes a lousy invalid.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Loving and Loss

Daughter and her husband are mourning the loss of their oldest cat, just as Fiorella and her husband mourned for Wendy Dog, and Older Son and his wife for Angel Grace.  People are a very loving species.  We set up relationships with each other and with our animals and even with inanimate things, like houses and belongings.  Some people carry it too far and turn into hoarders.  And some people go the opposite direction and, don't seem to be able to relate to anyone or anything--we send these people to psychiatrists, but they often end up in jail.

Whatever, loving seems to be built into humans.  It's one of the nicest thing about us.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

For Better or Worse

Has Fiorella told you about the phone system Husband rigged up between the downstairs guest room, where Fio is now residing,  and the upstairs master bedroom, where he sleeps?  And not only did he set it up, but also has answered each and very one of Fio's calls for help in the middle of the night.

Thank you, Husband.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Luddite Reflections

Ah, the complications of the electronic world.  Special aides had to guide each voter, Fio included, through the electronic ballot at the polling place yesterday.  And that evening she spent almost an hour working her torturous way through thirty-seven lines of small-font instructions in order to volunteer to judge in the national RWA writing contest.

Fiorella worries about us getting too far away from basics, like paper ballots marked with pencils,  like fill-in-the-blank forms.  Like burning wood in a fireplace for heat.  Like making one's own clothes.

What will we do when God turns off the electricity?

Friday, November 2, 2012


Fiorella and Husband are voting today so Fio thought she'd better gussie it up. Last night, with Husband's help, she made it up the stairs to the big bathroom, chose clothes for the big day, then took a hot bath to wash off the skank smell and shampooed her hair.  Nothing but the best for the democratic process.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Evolution of the Political Wife

When was it that the candidates' wives became so involved in the presidential campaigns?  Eleanor Roosevelt was a national figure because of her humanitarian causes, but she didn't introduce FDR at conventions.  Bess Truman didn't even want to move to D.C. after Harry S became president.  Mamie Eisenhower was reclusive--or maybe exclusive. Jacqueline Kennedy was a national icon for taste and style, which may have been the start of it all, while Lady Bird Johnson was involved in the human factor of her husband's campaigning.  Pat Nixon, though, was more formal.

Betty Ford really burst through the First Lady curtain when she was frank with the American public about her facelift, breast cancer, and problems with prescription pills.  And next came Roslyn Carter, who was her husband's political partner, upping the ante.  Then a brief step backwards with Nancy Reagan (who provided Ronnie with the services of seer Jeanne Dixon),  and forward again with the irrepressible Barbara Bush.

Hilary Clinton was probably the first total campaign wife, with Laura Bush following more decorously in her wake. This year  Michelle Obama and Ann Romney are all geared up and out there stumping for their men--as a necessity.  The public expects it.

Or at least that's how it seems to Fiorella, who's writing this at 10:30 pm when she would rather be sleeping.