Monday, December 31, 2012


Quarantine, unclean, unclean!
Fio's feeling icky
Do not breathe while you read this page
In case she turns out sicky.


Fiorella went to bed happy, slept well, and woke up happy.  What a wonderful holiday--Younger Son got engaged, Older Son and his wife visited from Minnesota, and Daughter and her husband hosted the family, including Aunt and Uncle, for a great party last night.  There were some bad times during the past week, of course, like when Husband fainted after Christmas dinner as a prelude to three days of fever and flu, but all turned out well, and the party was a wonderful finale.  Daughter scheduled it for six to eight in the evening, which meant everyone would be able to get home for a good night's rest--essential to OS and his wife, who were pulling out for home at 4:00 the next morning, but good for Fio too, whose sleep had been feverish and fitful lately.

Yes, Fiorella is happy.  She's always happy when everyone around her is happy.  Let's hope the holiday ia a prelude of the year to come.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Floyd and Ives

Husband, a music nut, has been playing a lot of Pink Floyd and Charles Ives lately, both of which bother Fio to the extreme.  They didn't used to in times gone by, but since then she's had a psychotic episode with post-operative painkillers, an episode in which she got an entirely upside-down view of the universe, a very scary one--one like the world portrayed by Pink Floyd and Ives.

Wonder what they were on.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Paean to Older Son

Older Son is a mechanical genius.  We first became aware of this, lo these many years ago, when  he succeeded in unfastening every child carseat we buckled him into.  I remember Son, as a three-year-old, getting down on the ground beside a slowly rotating merry-go-round to see what was making it work.  I remember him being able to unlock every door in the house.  When he was older, he repaired his own car--he told me he just looked at the engine and figured out how everything worked.   Later his understanding expanded to cover electronics.  But right now he's concentrating on the basic stuff.  Yes, while he's here for Christmas, Son has committed himself to fixing the automatic door closer, the bathroom dimmer, and the shower, as well as replacing my broken tail light.

Give him long enough, and he'll fix the world.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Finally woke up
Good morning today
Brain still asleep
Nothing to say

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Husband is sick, Younger Son is sick, and Fio doesn't feel quite right.  Older Son and his wife arrived for a holiday visit, bringing their Staffordshire  to co-reside with pug Bosco and mastiff Sonya.  This could be an interesting next couple of days.  But it's nothing new--last year Older Son got pneumonia when they visited.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best Gift

On Christmas Eve, Son's fiancee attended church with us.  The next morning, she joined us around the tree that she and Son had decorated and we all opened our gifts in turn, with Son acting as master of ceremonies.  Then she helped with Christmas dinner, the table setting, and the clean up.

Son has a winner and we do too.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Winter Dawn

This was Fio's Christmas sonnet in 2010.  She wrote it from notes she took over a one-hour period as the sun was coming up.  Every word of it is true.

The naked trees define themselves anew
As separate from the slowly lightening sky,
And dark clouds fade to gray and then to blue
While one lone brilliant star hangs heaven high.
The sky turns bright, yet deathly cold and chill,
But in the winter forest far below,
A single branch moves slightly, then is still--
As morning’s warming blush begins to glow.
Suddenly through the band of winter trees
A spark, a glint of gold, a burning fire,
Reflects its yellow on the oaks’ live leaves,
Escapes the woods’ confines, ascending higher.
      The sun has risen. Welcome, joyous morn,                 
      For night is dead and Christmas Day is born.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Night Before Christmas Snippets

Fiorella woke up about 4:30 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep so she watched television for a while, then, at 5:00, took advantage of the siituation and stationed herself with a book near the front door, waiting for the sweep of headlights that would tell her the newspaper delivery man was racing down the driveway.  At 5:55, she dropped her book, ran to the door and yelled "Stop!"  Fio handed the delivery LADY the envelope, wished her merry Christmas, then headed back into the house.  Mission accomplished.  
As you may have figured out, Fio overspoke when she glowed at you about how everything holiday-wise had been taken care of.  Since then, she's been out shopping for more gifts, wrapped and wrapped and wrapped, and finally taken care of the newspaper tip.  Just one more gift to buy (if it's available) and she can start glowing again.
Fio and her family belong to a church but are not regular in attendance--except on Christmas Eve when they sometimes even manage to round up stray relatives to join them.  But this Christmas Eve will be special because Younger Son's fiancee will be accompanying them.  And this is the church she and Son will be married in.  Fio's heart is happy.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pre-holiday Snippets

Fiorella has a tree.  Son finished constructing it for her after her hip gave out, and yesterday he and his fiancee decorated it with lights and ornaments.  Last night it was bright and twinkling.  Fiorella's heart is happy.
When Fio was out shopping yesterday, the traffic was heavy, but polite and accommodating.  True holiday spirit.
Fio has a problem--she can't get hold of the name and home address of the guy who speeds through her driveway every morning at 5:30 a.m. to deliver the newspaper so how can she give him his Christmas tip?  Set her alarm at 5:00 and lurk about on the front porch in her thick winter robe until his lights cut through the gloom, then hurl herself in front of his car with check and pen in hand?  Put up a trip wire that attaches to a mechanism that lowers an envelope containing a twenty-dollar bill in front of his windshield?   

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Not a single pain this morning when Fiorella got up--and she slept seven peaceful hours in bed without resource to the bath tub or the downstairs couch.  And Younger Son is engaged--and also got a raise at work.  And he and his fiancee are going to help with the Christmas tree and both will be with us for Christmas dinner.  And so will Daughter and her husband, as well as Fiorella's brother and his wife.  And so will Older Nephew.  Fiorella's cup runneth over.  Three days till Christmas and she'd bursting with happiness.

Oops--cross your fingers.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Almost Done

The last gifts have been ordered, and the cards have been sent. Fio's tipped the maid and the guy who delivers the newspaper.  She's written checks to charities and her church.  She stuck a couple of boxes of shortbread cookies in the mailbox for the postperson.  Just a few more things to wrap and Fiorella will be prepared for Christmas.

It's a miracle.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rawhide Addict

Every morning after breakfast, Sonya leads Fio to the kitchen and points at the pantry, whence she knows all good things come.  But Sonya doesn't want more kibble--she wants a rawhide bone that she will tear to shreds by the end of the day.  The bones are fairly expensive, but Fiorella shells out gladly because Sonya's other options have been metal screwdrivers, wireless landline phones, the television changer, Fio's shoes, and her eyeglasses (two pairs so far).

Just give Sonya another year, say the experts, and she'll be through teething.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shooting from the Hip

Rick Perry is crazy.  Now he wants teachers to be armed.  Fio pictures a Bushmaster in every classroom--that's what it would take to hold off another Adam Lanza.  Also, Perry wants everyone who's carrying concealed  to be able to come out of the closet.  Imagine your neighborhood with a Glock on every hip.

Fio sees one advantage to arming teachers--kids would think twice about misbehaving.  A few warning shots through the ceiling would calm them down pronto.  A flesh wound would have even more effect.  On the other hand, the students just might shoot back.  Billy the Kid was twelve when he killed his first man.

Rick Perry is crazy.  And this is the man who's building a campaign fund to run for President again. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Re Lanza's Mother--Not

Well--it turns out journalist Liza Long is NOT Adam Lanza's mother.  Lanza's mother was even nuttier than he was, a righter-than-right-wing survivalist who fantasized an economic apocalypse which she was going to survive by killing anything that moved, to wit her obscene collection of weapons.

Fio supports the Second Amendment, but draws the line at a private arsenal.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Women and Domination

It's no wonder that women let themselves get into abusive situations, maybe even seek them out--the hero of the romances they read is usually the physically and psychologically most powerful guy in town.  He's alpha--he dominates.

In romances of an earlier era, he batted the heroine around at some point, often raping her, which allowed the reader to accept her as a "good girl" because, even though she was sexually attracted to the guy, she had to be forced.  Of course, one time around with such a good-looking, masterful man and she was converted and in love.  Think Rosemary Rogers.

And now we have the bondage books on every doorstep.  Yeah, love comes from being totally submissive.  Fiorella feels like burning her bra.

But why do women read these books?  After all, romance authors aren't coming up with this stuff on their own--they write to sell.  Think--is there something in female psychology that draws us to this scenario?  Are we naturally attracted to the idea of being the sex toys of Ghengis Khan? Is masochism in our DNA?

Fiorella is troubled.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Update

Fiorella has most of her cards in the mail and about half of her shopping done.  Husband has put up a few yard decorations, and tomorrow afternoon Daughter and her tall husband will come over to, Fio hopes, put up the tree.  It's a far cry from Christmases past when Fiorella has dedicated the whole month of December to decking the house, but there's always next year.

In the meantime, here's this year's sonnet, with no idea why Blogspot divided it at such an awkward place:

No decorating of the house this year
No wreaths upon the door, no mistletoe
Outside, no giant snowflakes, nodding deer
No boughs of holly or jaunty mailbox bow
No tinsel garlands, shiny paper chains,
No fireplace mantel dressed in red and green                      
No clever cut-outs on the window panes
No charmingly depicted manger scene
No dining table draped in rich brocade
No sentimental cards from years gone by
No precious ornaments of glass displayed
No metal bird, nor feathered butterfly
     But though the house is unadorned this year,
     Our hearts will overflow with Christmas cheer

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Second Guessing

What was his homelife like, we ask.  How did other children treat him when he was a kid?  What was the final trigger?

It's not really a blame game.  It's a prevention tactic--an attempt to figure out how to avoid a future tragedy, an attempt to make sense out of the senseless, to reassure ourselves we can establish control over the uncontrollable.

Better gun control will help, better school security will help, a kinder society will help, but, ultimately, we are at an impasse because there's no way to predict where the next threat will come from. Who can chart the course of a human brain?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Toting It Up

Yes, Fiorella has surgical scars.  There are two down her spine from back surgery and two down her stomach from C-sections.  There's one across her right palm from repair of a carpal tunnel problem and one under her right arm from a lymph-node biopsy.  There's one down her chest from an aortic valve replacement, one above her heart marking the insertion of a pacemaker, one across her throat from a partial thyroidectomy, one on her right thigh from a total hip replacement, and two in front of her hairline from a facelift.

Fiorella doesn't try to hide her scars.  They mean she's alive and well.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Solution

Have you noticed how the mug shots of so many public mass murderers--the ones who open up in restaurants, malls, movie theaters and the like--resemble each other?  The wide open, goggly eyes and broad, tight-lipped grin?

Couldn't we just put a look-out at each public location to spot these guys before they cut loose?  Or, maybe even better, catch them earlier and put them into forced therapy?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Birthday to YS

Today, 12-12-12, is Younger Son's birthday.

Thirty-seven years ago at five o'clock in the morning, Husband took Fiorella, who was two weeks overdue, to the hospital for induced labor.  They had faithfully attended the Lamaze classes, but such was not to be: the pitocin didn't work so later that afternoon Fio was wheeled into the operating room for an emergency Caesarian.

No wonder--Younger Son turned out to be a whopping eleven pounds, seven ounces.  He was king of the nursery.  The staff had to send out for larger-sized diapers, and his neck muscles were strong enough for him to lift up his head when the nurses photographed him.

Son's taking the day off from work today, and the family is getting together at Austin Land and Cattle tonight to celebrate the first day of the rest of his life.  Things are looking up for him right now--but then, he's always been an up-and-comer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Rose

                  The Christmas Rose

      As steel is smelted from the iron ore,
      And coal is compressed from the common sod,
      As oil leaks out of sand and, from earth's core,
      Uranium erupts to etch the face of God--
      As diamonds are pulled from lesser clay,
      And emeralds wash from alluvial dirt,
      As oystered pearls in ocean beds display,
      And gold and silver clog the veins of earth--
      As corn crops draw from dust their bounteous yields,
      And oak trees lift themselves from roots earthbound,
      As flaxes flourish in their flooded fields,
      And orchids raise their grace from foul ground--
          On Christmas Day, the seed of Heaven's birth
          Was drawn from out the tainted womb of earth.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Another Irony

Interesting how the desperation of poverty--viz  such as Les Miserables and La Boheme--make for such engaging theater.  The reality is less artistic.       

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Have a Seat

We're looking for a new chair for Husband.  The Corbusier lounger is literally falling apart--Husband has been tying it together with rope for the past six months.

The Christmas season is a good time to shop for a chair.  Every furniture retailer in town has a sale going on, although nothing is as good as advertised once you get there.  Our wallets are wearing thin right now so we're looking for a comfortable black leather recliner that fits in with our--uh--decor and costs less than a thou.

Dream on, you say.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Fiorella is back on the cane and the painkillers again.  Apparently she overdid it at her last physical therapy session--she was in so much pain when she got home that the armadillo man had to help her get out of her car.  Two days, a couple of cold packs and several hot baths later, she's moving around better, but not as well as she was BEFORE the PT.

Physical therapy is administered in a large room full of torturous-looking machines and of beds which move up and down as needed.  There are usually three to five therapists in the room, and, like in a beauty salon, they tend to keep a loud conversation going among themselves about weekend plans, their families, and holiday shopping.  Long-time patients also chime in.  Today Fiorella heard the story of a woman recovering from rotator cuff surgery whose younger daughter got a pebble in her ear when a fellow student upended a bucket of gravel on her head.  The family doctor accidentally pushed the pebble in deeper.  Just as the mother got her weeping child to the emergency room, her older child's school called and told her she needed to come pick up her daughter, who had gotten sick.   Needless to say, Daddy was out of town making a business delivery.  And Mama was supposed to have spent the day packing for a family trip.

Maybe Fiorella's pain isn't so bad after all.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Spirit

There's a big to-do in Austin about an elementary level after-school teacher telling her charges that Santa was fake, which reminds Fio of her own enlightenment, probably when she was in the second grade.  Fiorella had heard classroom murmurings and playground assertions so she took the question to her all-knowing mother--is there really a Santa Claus?

Her mother told her the absolute truth: "Santa Claus is the spirit of Christmas."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mitochondrial Contact

Yesterday was Mother's birthday, and Fiorella thought about her a lot.  Mother died several years ago,  but her spirit is still floating around somewhere nearby.  Fio now understands why people pray to saints--not that she actually asks her mother for divine intervention--not that Fio's mother was one--but she does channel strength from her.  She also seeks strength from the spirit if her paternal grandmother, who died when Fio was three.  Grandma had a hard life--widowed when she was in her early twenties, with three young children to care for.  Fio has Grandma's handbag, which contains her Russian Orthodox missal and her "mourning clothes"--a black blouse and black print scarf.  Thus may seem crazy, but in times of dire despair, Fio holds the handbag close and feels comforted.

Your mother is always with you, and so is your grandmother.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bad Start

Fio woke up feeling pretty chipper this morning, then discovered the newspaper had not been delivered.  Now, your Fiorella always begins her morning with the newspaper, after which she checks out the Google news and her emails, after which she does the newspaper crossword and anagrams.  Obviously the non-arrival of the paper has messed up her routine.

The world is off-kilter. Don't be surprised if the sun sets in the east this evening.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Down in the Dumps

Fiorella must be psychic because she received a note from her agent yesterday afternoon that Harper-Collins had also passed on Honeysuckle Dreams, saying its middle sagged. The editor also said she would look at the ms again if Fio revised it, which was hopeful, but puts a heavy burden on Fio right now.  She's still "in recovery" from the hip replacement, which means she moves slower, can't do things like climb ladders or walk up the driveway to fetch the mail, rides a cart around HEB, and has physical therapy three times a week.  And it's the Christmas season, which means she's working on her card, finishing off the Wendy book,  planning gifts, and must SOMEHOW get the house in shape.  The latter includes switching the guest room back from an invalid convalescence room to a guest room for Son and his wife, who will be here during New Year's.

Besides, she can't see the saggy middle.  Where?  Which chapters?

There are five more publishers to go, but Fio doesn't hold out any great hopes.  Oh well--there are always farmers' markets and garage sales.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Future?

Fio's imagined herself standing up in front of her RWA chapter and announcing that a major publisher has bought HONEYSUCKLE DREAMS.  She's also imagined that Mira, Avon, Gallery, Kensington, Berkley, Grand Central, and every other publisher in the world turn her down and she's reduced to running off  copies of the manuscript at Kinko's, putting them in loose-leaf notebooks, and hawking them at farmers' markets and garage sales.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Update

Fiorella messed up some tendons in her right leg and had to use an electric cart at HEB again yesterday.  She's gotten pretty good at it--backing up, cutting corners on a dime, allowing for the overdrive before the "stop" sets in.  The store was rather  crowded, but if you smile a lot, people don't mind if you run into them.
Fio finished off the Wendy book yesterday and will take it off to Kinko's today to see what the techies can do with it.  She plans to have fifty copies made. She's also gotten everything together for her yearly Christmas card--the cover, the poem, the greeting, and Kinko's will be getting that too.  Watch your mailbox.
Fiorella loves the green traffic lights and the red tail lights of the holidays. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Magic Hours No More

What's happened to late night TV?  Not just late night, but early morning?  Fiorella is talking about from 11:00 p.m. to about 4:00 a.m.

Years ago when Fio was up late, she'd catch all sorts of interesting, weird and outlandish shows.  That's when she discovered Forever Knight, for instance.  But now, those magic hours are dominated by reruns of shows from earlier in the day, true crime sagas, and TV hucksters. 

Obviously there are way too many TV channels out there and not nearly enough decent programming.