Friday, May 31, 2013


Where did that dumb "never apologize" come from?  Gibbs on NCIS?  The Marines?

Fiorella understands that if one has done something untoward, excuses are--well--no excuse, but that a simple apology is called for and can clear the air.  It's a form of courtesy--of extending a peaceful hand to whomever one has, usually inadvertently, offended--and she wishes politicians and nations would take up the practice too.

Fio herself apologizes to everyone and everything--even the table leg when she accidentally knocks into it.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Midst the Madding Crowd!

Fio's world is full to the brim right now.  (1) Kensington turned down Kinkaid House because the story is too gritty for them, but the editor liked Fio's voice and wants to see more of what she's written.  (Sorry, guy, Fio writes gritty.)  (2) Fiorella's critique partner called and invited Fio to join her in Atlanta at the national RWA conference in July, and Fio said yes.  (3) The business deal seems to be coming to a head--again--and there's a concomitant lawsuit which Fio, Husband, and Nephew are filing. (4) Fiorella is almost nine chapters into the next book of her linked trilogy that starts with Kinkaid House.  And she's making notes for the third one.

Ain't it grand!!! Fio feels so alive!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Olive Oil, Sonia Dog, Kinkaid House

Ah, the joys of olive oil.  Husband uses it when he cooks and Fio sprays it on her nails.
Fio left her laptop open on the couch yesterday, and when she returned to it, she found Sonia, sound asleep,  her big mastiff head resting across the keyboard.  Fio would have gotten a snapshot of the scene if only she knew how to work her cellphone camera.  Remember, Fio is a Luddite.
The divine Liza, Fiorella's literary agent, sent Fio a nice email yesterday to catch her up on what was happening with Kinkaid House, which is making the rounds of the publishing houses.  No one's grabbed it, but no new turn-downs since Ballantine a couple of months ago. That leaves some biggies and a couple of smallies to go.  Wish Fio well.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sonia, the Huntress

Fio assumes the private behavior class in which Sonia Dog is enrolled has been effective because she no longer breaks away from Mommy and takes off down the road to chase passing automobiles.  Instead, she stands stock still and stares fiercely at them.

Deer, though, are another matter.  Yesterday, while Mommy was walking Sonia on the driveway, Doggie spotted two does, one as great with young a she might go.  Sonia froze and stared at them like she does at cars, but when one of them twitched, she whipped the leash out of Mommy's hand and raced after them.

The deer bounded away, of course, and Sonia, her ears flopping, came galloping down the driveway when Mommy called, so no harm done except for the leash burn on Mommy's finger.

The fallow doe might drop her fawn on our acreage, but Fio doesn't think Sonia would bother it unless it leapt up and away.  Given a little action, Sonia would bring down Bambi.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Adventure in Framing

A major project is finished, one that's been occupying Fio's dining room table for two months now: framing Son's 8x40 digital painting, "Time Flies."  The picture is set in Georgetown and features the stone archway to Wolf Ranch (the actual former ranch, not the shopping center), but most of the trees at the other end of the painting were drawn from those on our acreage.  The blowing leaves in the center, however, came from his imagination. The result is strangely moving, and we have the first print of a limited edition of twenty.

But--how to frame an artwork forty inches long and just eight inches high?  That's where the ever-fertile brain of Fiorella enters the--uh--picture.  Fio, who financed printing the art piece, didn't want to also drop $200-$300 on the framing, and she needed the frame to be light enough to be hung easily.  So she backed the picture with black foamboard, then attaching a specially-cut mat to the front to hold the art in place, then used a hot-glue gun to attach the four pieces of the stained pine frame which she had cut on the mitering machine. Small screws were drilled into a horizontal slat of pine glued to the back of the foamboard, picture was wire attached, and--voila!

Of course, Fio's leaving out the thirty dollars worth of molding that didn't work.  And the three other fixatives she tried to use before husband thought of the glue gun.   And the blood, sweat, and tears.   But now, she'll admit, she's eyeing a second of Son's paintings, also with odd measurements, though not as extreme.

It should be a snap.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mental Morass

The day is rainy, just like yesterday, and Fiorella is contemplating her sins--not much meanness, but a lot of stupidity and social blunders--most of which she can resurrect in minute detail.  They're always in the back of her mind and probably are what drive her onward.  After all, she can scarcely go backward.

If you see this in print, it's because Fio didn't delete it as she probably should have--yet another stupidity to add to her list.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hair's to Ya

My hair is thick and lank
And fine and fly-away
I'd look like a drowned rat
But hairspray saves the day

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fio's Dream

Fiorella had an unnerving dream just before she woke up this morning.  She was in Austin, driving south on North Lamar, one of her favored routes, but the road morphed into a hilly highway in a rural setting, and Fiorella realized she was driving much too fast--over the speed limit and gaining.  She let up on the accelerator, but there were cars in front of her and she assumed she would crash into them.  For some strange reason, she didn't use her brake, but there was no crash, although she did pass through a red light.

Fio forgets where she was going, maybe to UT for a gathering of some sort--a conference?  All she remembers is the crowd.  She couldn't find her car afterwards (a frequent occurrence in her dreams about UT) so she accepted the offer of a nice woman she'd never seen before to give her a ride home.  The traffic was horrific in the area, and the woman couldn't get out of it.  She parked the car and said she was going for help, but after a while, Fiorella realized she wasn't going to return.  A little man approached her, but she was suspicious of him.

Fio has no idea how she got home, but when she did, she discovered $250 was missing from her purse--the woman, the little man, the crowd?  Who knows.

The interesting thing is that Fiorella never panicked, although her heart did beat faster when she was speeding downhill toward the other cars.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fiorella's World

As usual, Fiorella has several special projects going: Princess Redlander, a family business deal, the custom frame for Son's 40"x8" digital painting, Spanish, Mandarin, the planting beds, diet, exercise,  dog training.  Coming up fast on the inside are cleaning out the attic and the garage. How does Fio manage?  Focus and follow-through, prioritizing, and by easy stages. She's now one-third through the first draft of Princess Red (her prime priority), is in a wait-and-watch phase with the business deal, will be hanging son's painting this weekend, puts in a little time daily on each language (plus some review Russian), tends to the planting beds on evenings when the weather or her stamina permit, figures out her meals the day beforehand, and walks the dog up the driveway  to get the mail every afternoon, for  Sonia's sake as well as her own.

And, of course, every morning, she publishes an original Fiorella blog.  Fio is nothing if not steadfast.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fiorella on Ibsen

Henrick Ibsen tried hard, but he was no Shakespeare.  His characters were skinny rather than round-- caricatures rather than characters; his plots were contrived and over-dramatic; and his stories lacked humor, charm, or fancy.  

Take Nora of A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler of the eponymous play, two of Fiorella's least-favorite leading ladies.  Nora is no forerunner of the feminist revolution: she is silly and immature and, in her quest to "find herself," ends up deserting her children.  Yes, Ibsen lays the blame on her father and husband, who supposedly cosseted and controlled her like a doll, but Nora was complicit--and stupid.  Hedda, on the other hand, is an out-and-out bitch who ends up rightfully destroying herself, leaving her foil, the self-sacrificing, more mature Thea, with her husband. 

What would The Bard have done with Dollhouse?  Maybe added a clown scene when Nora talks with the maid rather than going into the lugubrious tale of the maid's children?  Maybe had some clever punning talk between Nora and Dr. STD instead of the cautionary references to his father's indiscretions?  Maybe have made Torvald's reactions to Nora's revolt funnier?

How about Hedda?   Again, Shakespeare would have added humor--as always, it's needed to relieve tension so a new tension can build.  And he would have corrected the mawkish relationships.and one-dimensional characters.  And, as in Dollhouse, Shakespeare would have cut the inflated psychobabble to the bone and had some really dramatic scenes that stunned the audience and posterity.  Hedda's killing herself at the end was a relief.

Ibsen's plays were for their time.  Shakespeare's are for eternity.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fiorella Arises

After decades of leaping out of bed at the first screech of an alarm clock, grabbing for the clothes she set out the night before, gobbling down her Shredded Wheat, and rushing out to her car, Fiorella enjoys the long, s-l-o-w awakenings.

Dawn peeks in the window.  Fiorella's dreams fade and her pop-up toaster brain flits freely from topic to topic, solving problems, playing with ideas,  composing clever sentences, like the first paragraph above, which she repeats to herself again and again so she won't forget. After a while and as it will, her body begins to move.  Eventually her arms stretch out, and finally her eyes open, and her body--not her brain--impels her to rise, arise, shine. 

Fiorellla wanders into the bathroom, picks up the pen that always awaits her, and scribbles down the fruit of her sub-conscious.  Her day has begun.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dog World

Son brought Bosco Dog over Friday night to spend the weekend with Fio and Husband.  Inkspot's coat was glistening black and he was strutting with pug-nacious self-importance.  But by the time Son picks him up this evening, Sonia will have dusted him up some and cut him down to size.
Sonia's appetite evolved from power cords and window sills to shoes and wood carvings, then on to foot-long rawhide bones, and that's where Fio hopes it will stay for a while.  Doggie demands a new bone every day, and they're rather expensive--but less so than power cords and shoes.
You've never lived till you've come out of Home Depot and walked toward your car, where Husband and Doggie await, Husband in the front seat and Doggie in the back, with her big mastiff face hanging out the window, smiling at you.  If everyone were as nice as dogs, this world would be a better place.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Fiorella assumed Friday's comic strip was the finale of Candorville's touching tribute to author Darrin Bell's grandfather.  But more was to come.  Saturday morning Fiorella had a three-Kleenex cry when she saw Roscoe Bell entering heaven, throwing away his cane, and becoming young again--with a military cap on his head that looked strangely like a halo. In the last cell, Lemont/Darrin lay asleep with the cane propped against his bed. Grandpa was still watching.

And while writing this, Fiorella is grabbing for yet another Kleenex.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Loving Tribute

Fiorella's eyes moistened yesterday morning as she read one of her favorite comic strips, Candorville. It was the last installment of five about Lemont, the main character, being awakened in the middle of the night to accompany  ninety-four- year-old Emmett  Roscoe Bell, Sr., on his train trip to the afterlife.  Bell introduced himself as  a normal, working-class man, not rich or famous, who had served in World War II, driven a bus for forty years, and cherished his church and family.

Fio figured something was up because she noticed Bell's face was drawn portrait quality and that he and Lemont were wearing the same kind of caps, but yesterday's strip blew her out of the water:  Bell was the author's grandfather.

Then she researched Candorville on Google and read Darrin Bell's tribute to his grandfather.

And Fio wept.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lady Cyclops Confesses

Fiorella had a panic attack yesterday while she was driving in South Austin, trying to find Ben White Boulevard.  She turned off South Lamar an exit too soon, attempted to move over, and ended up God only knows where several miles down the road.  Being Fio, she was still game for another try, but got caught in a forced right turn.  She even stopped at a Capital One drive-thru for help, but apparently didn't quite understand the directions.  Trying to reconnoiter, she decided to move to a lower level, not realizing the byway circled like a snail shell.  Her brain froze, her heart rate accelerated, and her hands went wet with sweat..  She slowed to thirty miles per hour, clutched the steering wheel for dear life, and, somehow, despite the honking and the angry motorists whizzing around her on the one-lane turn-off, survived. 

Fio's problem is that she doesn't see right--or rather, she sees right, but not left.  Fiorella lost the central vision in her left eye when she was in her late twenties, which means she has no depth vision.  Thus three-D is meaningless to her, curbs and street islands are hard to tell from any other concrete, and she panics when she is trapped in a byway with a concrete bottom and sides, the curve of which she can't discern.

Ad now you know why Fio never offers anyone a ride.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Neverending Contest

As of today, your Fio has published 1828 daily blogs since May, 2008.  Last year she downloaded 2008-2011 and put the -pages in loose-leaf notebooks by year, but now that she wants to download 2012, she can't remember the torturous process she figured out a year ago to do the deed.

And again, it's electronics--1, and Fiorella-0.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mercy Killing

Please kill Prince Valiant.  Fiorella avoids even glancing at the Sunday strip anymore.The art is not only painful, but terribly dark, probably to to hide the fact that the current artist can't draw.

Fio has a history with Prince Valiant.   Even before she could read, she was mesmerized by the art--it's one of the few strips that use an illustrative style rather than the standard caricaturing. But, like the aging prince himself, the strip is way past its prime.

Time to put it down.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Electronic Ignorance Revisited

Will some kind soul out there who has a big heart and an electronic brain explain Fiorella's "stats?"  She discovered them about six weeks ago along the side of her table-of-contents page and has been semi-enjoying them ever since.  But what do they actually mean, except that Fio's strategy of refusing to market herself has actually produced  a couple of faithful viewers?

First, what is the following "Pageviews" as opposed to the one below it?.

May 9, 2013
May 8, 2013
May 7, 2013
May 10, 2013
May 6, 2013

Pageviews today
Pageviews yesterday
Pageviews last month                                    
Pageviews all time history

Second, why, according to the ever-changing dailies, does Fiorella usually have more audience in the old USSR than in the USA?  (This list was an aberration.)

United States
United Kingdom




Monday, May 13, 2013

Compromise for a Commuter

Fiorella loves this poem by Janece Hudson.  It's deep and shallow at the same time, a consistent inconsistency, a mobius strip of relativity, and written in as few words as possible--a lot fewer words than Fio has used describing it..

This morning I passed the midpoint
And wished I were nearer town.
But in the evening when I returned,
It was the other way around.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Gifts

Fiorella adores children, especially babies.  She loves their bright, searching eyes, smushy noses, and Cupid's-bow mouths.  She loves to cuddle their soft, warm bodies, to count their tiny fingers and toes, to kiss their fat bellies, to hold them, sing to them, to rock them to sleep.  She always wanted to be a mother--could not imagine herself otherwise--but her path to maternity was hard, beginning with a horrific miscarriage.

But then there were three, the best three in the world, and today Fiorella thanks them for being her children, for making her their mother.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Never Falls Far from the Tree

Turns out that Fiorella is half Rusyn, also known as Ruthene.  The Rusyns are a Slavic (what else?) populace native to the Carpathian mountains, but also with settlements in a narrow strip along the Slovakian border, which is where Fio's father's family hails from.

How exotic can you get?  Yet that side of the family is all as staid and steady as they come.

On the other hand, her mother's family is a mixed bag--Polish, German, Swiss, with even some English thrown in.  But in contrast to her staid paternal ancestry, this side of Fio's family is loaded with characters--a supposed gypsy, a mechanical genius or two, a witch, and a concert singer, to name a few.

Now you know why Fiorella is always coming up with yet another clever project, but she's solid as a rock.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Does Fiorella write in order to avoid doing housework, or does she do housework in order to avoid  writing?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Babel Reconstructed

Fiorella, whose college degrees are in linguistics,  is all excited about the new study out that connects seven far-spread language families by means of twenty-two stable cognates.

The Google stories and abstracts are just teasers. Fio wants to read the whole study.  After all, she has experience with English, German, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Hindi, Telugu, and now, Mandarin.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Nice to Be Noticed

Fiorella almost picked up an extra job yesterday.  Dressed in her best black and white, she had driven up to Belton to attend the funeral of Friend Paula's father, and on the way out, noticed that the funeral home lady standing near the door was also dressed in black and white.

"Looks like I should be working here," Fio said, indicating her own attire.

The funeral lady's eyes brightened. "Oh, do you need a job?  I'm looking for someone--we could go back to the office--"

"I live in Georgetown," Fio said, trying to get out of the situation tactfully.

But the lady's enthusiasm did not abate.  "That's okay!"

Nothing to do but beat a quick retreat. In so solemn a setting, it didn't seem appropriate for Fiorella to say she spent all her time writing lurid romance novels.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


When Fiorella was a child in Ohio, her family grew vegetables in a communal garden--corn and cucumbers and the like.  Fio remembers her mother doing a lot of canning.  When the family moved to Texas, her parents started up a garden in the backyard behind the garage, where the previous owners had kept a horse.  Back then, everyone in the neighborhood had vegetable gardens and fruit trees of some sort, and bushel baskets of excess regularly crossed the street.

Later, the vegetable garden was allowed to grass over, and Mother redirected her agricultural instincts to lining the house and back yard with flowers. 

Fio and husband have never planted a vegetable garden, but they have sodded lawns, landscaped with trees and bushes, and hosted a vast array of indoor plants, from a venus fly-trap to a peace lily.  But Fio's favorite is the Christmas tree, and it's a fake.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Three More Sonia Snippets

Our Sonia is a multi-tasker.  Her specialty is keeping track of Mommy by lying on Mommy's feet at the same time she (Sonia, not Mommy) is tearing a rawhide bone to shreds. 
Husband and Fio have been taking Puppy to PetsMart every Sunday for a private class in confidence training.  Apparently her aggression with other dogs and strangers is defensive.  She's protecting herself and us from possible attack by anyone.  Even little children and chihuahuas.
A couple of weeks ago, Sonia swiped a cyan laser printer cartridge and chewed it senseless, dyeing not only her muzzle and maw, and also her legs, feet, and behind.  Yes, our blue-blood belle had a bright blue butt.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rebellious Populace

Fiorella read that Americans aren't meeting the daily requirements for  exercise.  And they aren't eating like they should.  And they don't always floss or wear sun screen.   And they don't get regular physical or dental check-ups.  And they don't get enough sleep.  And they do whatever the hell they want to do instead of what they should do.

Let's face it.  The only perfect person is Dr. Oz, but he looks like an animated stick and is from another dimension, the capitol of which is the Emerald City.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Where, O Where Has that Contract Gone?

Fio is looking for a family business contract she put away somewhere special last year so she wouldn't lose it.  She's searched her business drawer, her checkbook drawer, her shelves, her bulletin boards, and her memory drawers--all of them twice.  The only thing left is the shelves in her study, which she can't get to until Son clears out the rest of his stuff this weekend.  Wish her luck--otherwise, she'll have to go back through her business drawer, her checkbook drawer, her shelves, her bulletin boards, and her memory drawers a third time.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Fio was hanging over the email yesterday because she knew two big developments could be coming her way.  Or one could fly and the other could flop.  Or they both could go down.  But when the end is yet unknown, one can still hope, which brings her to a sonnet she's run before, but seems appropriate.  Besides, Fiorella's revised it somewhat:

      Hope is a snake that curls within my breast,

     That strikes from time to time--a sharp-tongued dart,

     A blood-cold serpent, most unwelcome guest,

     A venomous viper aimed against my heart.

     Hope  is a Scaramouche, a handsome fool
     A honeyed braggart, slick, a worthless flirt,

     A quack deceiver, lord of ridicule,

     Who gulls my brain when I am not alert.

     Hope's a misshaped bloom, a crooked tree,
     Which grows unbidden in my dismal yard,

     The honey fruit of which will poison me

     If I fall prey to sweet, let down my guard.

          But do not slay it--let the villain be;

          For murder hope and murder all of me.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Personal Snippets

The dentist told Fio she has small teeth, which is lucky because then they fit inside what his assistant told her is a very small mouth.  (Strange--Fio's always been told she has a big mouth. Guess appearances can be deceiving.)
Fio got distracted yesterday and ended up driving the wrong way into a one-way street, then into another one to set everything to rights.  Thank you to all the drivers who honked warnings and even stopped dead in their tracks as she came at them.  What distracted her?  She was thinking up new threads for her current oeuvre.  Now you know why you should never ride with Fio.
Fudge mallows and Spanish peanuts--they're a cure-all--good for the brain and for the body. Fio's energy revived, and she slept well too.
Most writers' romances reflect a more sanguine view of life than Fiorella's do.  That's why hers are called dark.  She's realistic.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I call my computer Baby because she has a shining face, I carry her against my bosom, I'm always sitting her up in my lap, and I feed her through an umbilical.

Sonia Dog calls my computer Competition and has been known to try to take a chunk out of her.