Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wonder Dog

Sonia Dog's opening of the back door is a two-step process.  First she leaps up against it, pushing down the handle and thus opening the door partway.  Then she throws herself against it again as it's closing, flinging it wide enough that she can easily scoot her massive body through the gap.  Obviously we have a canine genius in our midst.

On the other hand, Sonia still hasn't realized she could slide back any pocket door in the house that  is open wide enough for her nose to fit through.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Personal Observations

Fiorella is a multi-tasker.  When she takes the dog for a walk, she practices her physical therapy posture, walking with her shoulders back and her chin up like a soldier.  When she eats breakfast, she also reads the newspaper and does the crossword.  And when she goes to the bathroom--never mind.
When Fio studies Sonia's solidly-built Mastiff body and remembers the streamlined shape of  Wendy the Weimaraner, she wonders why she's constantly fighting her own body type.  DNA is destiny.
Fiorella is one of those people who used to have migraines with auras, which means, according to Google medical news, she's destined for brain lesions.  And the heavy birthweight of her babies indicate she'll get diabetes.  To top it off,  cancer runs in her mother's family and heart trouble in her dad's.  Guess all that means she's gonna die some day.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Let's Get Our Values Straight

It infuriates Fio when Antiques Road Show appraisers estimate the value of old furniture in the thousands of dollars because it means there are people out there who will pay huge amounts for trophies like these when what they should be spending their money on things that promote the public welfare--education, medical research, or maybe even raising the pay in the sweatshops that supply their good fortune.

Fio will allow for museum displays of old furniture, and she does have some sentimental (probably worthless) pieces in her home, but otherwise, old furniture is just old furniture, nothing that should be venerated, nothing that should be worth more than the cost of a decent community college education.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Literary Update

The ever-fertile brain of Fiorella is at it again.  Her new publisher wants two more books set in Bosque Bend, but Fio planned the remaining books in the trilogy being Lolly's story and Sarah's story, both of which are set in Austin.  What to do?  The Divine Liza asked Fio to think about it.

Ah, the seeds of Satan---now Fio can't STOP thinking about it, and she really likes the Bosque Bend story she's come up with.  But, again, like all her stories, it's going to be a tough sell to the publisher, and maybe to Liza too.  It's the story of a woman whose late husband was controlling to the point of abusive and a man who likes to run the show.  In other words, it's Fio's answer to to Sixty Shades. 

But for now, she's focusing on finishing off Lolly's story. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Busy Every Minute

Fio had a great day yesterday.  Despite having problems getting to sleep the night before, she woke up charged, ready to go.  And that's exactly what she did--she wrote two blogs, played the piano, lifted weights, sprayed her nails, did her vocal exercises and her physical therapy exercises, took the dog for walks in the morning and evening, edited four chapters of Lolly's story for her agent to look at, worked on the art desk she and Husband are putting together, researched Telugu script, tracked down an old friend's phone number, called Capital One about a strange charge, sent chapter birthday information to the ARWA newsletter, cooked dinner, and experimented with reading Nook.

Today she'll breathe.

Monday, August 26, 2013


SPANISH: uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez

GERMAN: eins, zwei, drei, fier, funf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun, zehn

TELUGU:  ఒకటి, రెన్ఢు, మూఢు, నాలుగు, ఐడు, ఆరు, ఏఢు, ఎనిమిడి, టొమ్మిడి, పడి

LATIN:  unus (-a, -um), duo, tres, quattuor, quinque, sex, octo, septem, novem, decem

FRENCH: un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix (which Fio will never learn to pronounce correctly) 


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Catching up with Fio

Fiorella rewrote yesterday's blog because it didn't flow right when she reviewed it that evening.  She's like that--a serial revisionist.  Anything worth doing is worth doing better.  Stay tuned.  This blog will probably get a revision too.
Fio's numeral-reviewing project in seven languages got bogged down somewhere along the line so she decided to work on just 1-10 instead of 1-20.  She can rattle off those  numbers in Spanish, German, and Russian again, and is working on Telugu.  Latin and French should be easy enough once it's their turn.  But, now Fio wants to add Mandarin to the list.  After all, she has an appointment with her Chinese dentist next month.
Husband and Fiorella started putting together an art desk last weekend, but they screwed in the center crossbar upside down and haven't had the time to fix it.  Ah well, there are seventeen more hours left in this weekend.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sonia's Cigar

Sonia is a real dog.  She buries bones behind the waste paper basket, under pillows, between couch cushions, under Fio's leg, or any other strange and wonderful place into which she can nose a piece of saliva-soggy rawhide.

Doggie gets a new bone every day which she promptly hides, then appeals to Fio to find for her.  Mommy makes a big fuss over locating the bone, re-gifting it it with all due ceremony, and Sonia walks off happy, bone hanging from her mouth like a good cigar.

Ah, if only Fiorella's life could be so good.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Going Upscale

No doubt about it--our area is gentrifying itself.  Yeah, the boondocks are sprucing up.  The people at the end of the street added a front patio last year, and now they've got a work crew out there laying a U-shaped drive across their front lawn, adding extra parking spaces, and pouring a graceful concrete walk to the new front door of their house which opens into the new addition they added two years ago.  Before that, they turned their back yard into a garden of Eden.

And the neighbors halfway between the end of the street and us are leveling their driveway and adding a concrete lip.  And across the street, a new house is going up, and it looks sorta GRAND.

Husband and Fio have done their bit by having the cedars on their front acre removed two-thirds of the way toward the street and also hiring handyman McHugh to clean out the western planting bed, but more work is going to have to wait till they've paid off the groom's share of Son's wedding.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Nursing Home Visit

He sleeps, but does he dream, my father?  When
I visit twice a week, he wakes with eyes
near blind and looks, then nods to asleep again
He sees my shape, but does not recognize
his oldest child, his baby girl all grown,
who shouts her name into his better ear,
who warms his death-cold hands within her own, 
who scrubs the crusted food off from his chair.
Father beloved. where have you gone?  You sleep
but do you dream?  I kiss his innocent face,
smooth back the unkempt hair, loudly repeat
my name again, and pray to God for grace
that he may dream within his cobwebbed brain
of righteous battles won and dragons slain.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

After Effects

Adrenaline does amazing things.  Monday morning, despite a good night's sleep, Fiorella spent another two hours on the couch after she woke up.  She was totally innervated--not an ounce of get-up-and-go in her body and her brain had an out-of-order sign draped on it.  She couldn't even think of what to do, much less get up the energy it do it.

That afternoon came the phone call from the Divine Liza.  Within five minutes, zing!  Fio's world went from dull to sparkling!  As soon as she was off the phone with Liza, she called friends, emailed her RWA chaptermates, notified friends and relatives.  Not only that, but she picked up her morning list and went down it, ticking off most of the things she had meant to do earlier.  And she got Husband to drive her over to Hobby Lobby to buy the art desk (40% off) she plans to put in the guest room.

And now she's still on her laptop at 9:18 PM when she usually packs it away at 8:00.  Oops--hope that doesn't mean she'll get up exhausted tomorrow and have to seek her adrenaline in chocolate.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Drum Roll, Please!



Monday, August 19, 2013

Dressed Appropriately

Back in the dark ages, when Fio was a child, little girls wore dresses.  Ah, the elation in finally being able to tie the sash in a bow behind  her back.  Ah, the joy in her aunt, valuing Fiorella's entrancement over Mother's eye rolling, buying her the dress she fell in love with and still remembers--pink with a black paisley border.

Fiorella thinks blue jeans and tees became popular children's wear during the 1980's, when women hit the employment market in droves, the decade when women couldn't afford to stay stay home any more and run up cute little dresses on their sewing machines.  Then somehow the cover-up of jeans and loose tee shirts morphed into the slut decades, when little girls were exhibited in miniature street-walker outfits--bling, sparkle, belly buttons, and skin-tight. 

But now, dresses are back--store-bought, of course, but little girls are being dressed like children again. And Fio finds it charming.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Helter-skelter Life

Why doesn't Fiorella have time to do things like takes vacations or travel or indulge in new hobbies?   Maybe because she can't spare time off from what she's already committed herself to: writing, physical therapy, voice therapy, the piano, dog training, getting the house in shape, taking care of family finances, handling the family business venture, keeping up with friends and relatives.  And  in the wings lurk the languages she wants to learn or refresh herself on, the paintings she wants to do or redo, the poems she'd like to bundle into little booklets for posterity. And soon she'll be attending to the groom's family's wedding responsibilities.  Then comes Christmas, which will require her to design a special card, write a new poem, and decorate the house.

Fiorella is active, intense, and insane.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sonia Sleeps Late

Still in bed
She'll come down
If she is fed

Friday, August 16, 2013


Fiorella keeps thinking about the dead fawn.  It was so small, so perfect, so peaceful lying there in the tall grass beside the driveway. She wishes it could have leaped up and bounded away, but she checked on it again yesterday and the resident buzzards had pretty well cleaned off the bones.

Life is sacred.  Fio prayed for the baby's soul.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

HB to SK

Fio and Friend Sharon first met many years ago through their church choir and have been supportive of each other through various illnesses, dramas, and traumas ever since.  In fact, their pastor frequently compliments them on their continuing friendship--apparently forgetting all the sermons they gossiped through while they were sitting up in the choirloft.

Today Fiorella celebrates Friend Sharon's birthday.  And graciously forgives her for being a natural blonde.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

All in the Attitude

As you've probably figured out, Fiorella is a serial self-improver.  Why else did she have the facelift?  Why else is she working with a voice pathologist?  Why else did she sign up for physical therapy to treat kyphosis?  Why else does she play the piano every day?

Which cleverly introduces her latest project--improving her attitude while tickling the ivories.  Fio's already admitted to you that she's a lousy pianist, but what she hasn't told you is that she browbeats herself the entire time she's playing, as if excoriation will make her fingers function better.  It doesn't, so she's trying to concentrate on the music more and not herself--visualizing people dancing to the minuet she's stumbling through, for instance.

She may not be playing any better, but she sure feels better when she gets up from the piano.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spoke Too Soon

Fiorella spoke too soon.  She couldn't get Sonia dog to "leave it" while on their evening walk--"it" being a dead fawn at the top of the drive next to the street--and the back of Fio's head ended up  hitting the driveway--hard.

Fio got scared. She's had far too many bonks to the head lately so she called the insurance nurse, who advised her to go to the local emergency room.  Four hours, one pint of blood, and a CT head scan later, hard-headed Fio was diagnosed as unhurt, then given a page of symptoms that, if they occurred, should send her back to the hospital.

Sonia's in the dog house, and from now on, Fio's promised Husband she'll use the nose leader with her, and release it if any deer--dead or alive--show up while she and Doggie are walking.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Positive Reinforcement

Sonia Dog is a joy to walk with now.  She matches Fio's pace and pauses when Fio pauses.  She automatically sits when she hears a car in the distance.  She sits on command when a car passes within four feet of her on the road.  She reluctantly obeys "leave it" when the neighboring dogs bark at her and when she wants to stop and examine an interesting scent.  And Fiorella encourages all of these good behaviors with treats.

If only Fio had followed the same  policy with her children, but, depending on what parenting expert she had read most recently, she dithered back and forth between positive and negative reinforcement.  And always in her brain was her own parental admonition that achievement and good behavior should be the norm and not require a reward, but inappropriate behavior should be recognized as such.  It was the wisdom of the times.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Wild Side Showing

Fiorella's split personality is evident in her choice of crockery.  Her previous plates and cups and saucers were sleek, sophisticated, and modern--white with a neat black line around the edge.  But when the set dwindled down to one cup, two plates, and six saucers, Fio and Husband went shopping for tableware.

The new stuff has a colorful border on the edge that would make a gypsy twirl around the campfire in joy.  Yes, beneath Fio's practical exterior, a wild child lurks. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Onward and Upward

Fiorella likes to live in peace.  This can be difficult when people screw her over, but she tries to stay calm because if she strikes back, she feels awful afterwards.  Hatred curdles up Fio's insides and gives power over to her to the person who wronged her.  Besides, why haul all her old baggage into the bright shining future?   Move on, Fiorella, move on.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Catching Up with Fio

The relationship in the comic strip Luann between Luann and Quill is too good to last.  Fiorella is steeling herself for his plane to crash into the ocean, for the whole adventure to have been an Australian reality show in which Quill was challenged to make a "Yank" fall in love with him, or for everything to have been a dream sequence, with Luann waking up as a high school freshman again.
Back on the farm in her own life, Fiorella had her first physical therapy session for kyphosis and everything looks good to go.  Her neck has not been irreparably ruined by hunching over her laptop for the past several years after all, and she still retains the ability to stand up STRAIGHT, although the necessary muscles need strengthening.  What a relief--her grandmother had such a bad case of kyphosis that the family said she could see around corners.
On the literary front, Fiorella's agent has suggested she write more stories set in Bosque Bend.  Fiorella was at a total loss for about two days as her ever-fertile brain mulled over the challenge.  Then, yesterday morning, Fio's pop-up toaster function spat out three different scenarios.  Yes, your Fio seems fixated by trilogies.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Sonia has advanced another step in her dog training.  Yesterday morning a golf cart with a dog attached passed us on the road while we were about four yards down the driveway.  Sonia immediately lunged forward, teeth bared, hackles on high alert.  At the same time Fiorella screamed "No!  Leave it!" at the top of her lungs. And Sonia let Fiorella control her, to pull her back.

Kudos, Sonia.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Photos from the Past

If Fio looks at school photos from the 1950's, she often spots students with withered limbs or confined to  wheelchairs---the polio kids, as they were called.  But they were the lucky ones.  The children in iron lungs didn't make it to the photo shoot.

According to Wikipedia, "Until 1955, when the Salk vaccine was introduced, polio was considered the most frightening public health problem of the post-war United States.  Annual epidemics were increasingly devastating. The 1952 epidemic was the worst outbreak in the nation's history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis, with most of its victims being children."

Parents, make sure your children are vaccinated.  Polio is down but not out. Neither are mumps, measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, and a host of others.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lost Cause

Nine years ago, Fiorella's primary form of communication was her cell phone, and she even knew how to enter names and numbers into her directory.  Then she moved to the country, to five-plus acres on a dip in the local topography.  Yes, a cell-phone dead area--unless, of course, you walk to the top of the driveway next to the road or lean off the second-floor balcony.

Cell phones have changed a lot in the past nine years, but Fio, because she's home most of the time, is way behind the curve.   Husband uses his cell phone to take pictures, look up information, do calculations, record and play videos, monitor his stocks, check the weather, find a road map, even read a book on his cell phone. The only thing Fio knows how to do is charge the battery.

Another case of use-it-or-lose-it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sonia cum Laude

Sonia took two big steps forward on our morning walk around the driveway today.  And both of them were sitting.

Fiorella has been working with Doggie for a couple of months in regard to people, other dogs, and cars.  Sonia has always been welcoming of people who visit, and she got along well with Son's pug, whom she grew up with, but cars were another matter.  In fact, she broke leash and ran after them, whether because they were metal monstrosities invading her territory or she wanted to ride in them, we didn't know.  What we did know was that it was dangerous and we didn't want her to end up as just another dead dog on a country road.  

Fiorella's training tactic was bribery--treats.  Whenever she heard a car approaching, even while Sonia was a fair distance from the the road, she instructed Doggie to sit, immediately rewarded her, and kept stuffing treat down her till the sound  passed.  The closer Sonia got to the road, the harder it was to distract her, but Fio kept going and today was the big break-through--she got Sonia to stay seated while a car sped past her on the road! And to top it off, later, when Sonia heard the sound of a vehicle passing on the road while Fio had her halfway down the driveway, she looked up at Mommy expectantly and sat down on her own.

Then she burped.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Folly of Will Rogers

It's a little late, but Fiorella wants to register her revue of the Georgetown Palace's production of The Will Rogers Follies: it was a loser.  Despite the fact that the mikes were turned up so loud she spent most of the time with fingers in one or both ears, Fiorella had so much trouble staying awake during the first act that she left at intermission.

The singers were great, the actors were great, the dancers were great (thank you, Jessee Smart), the costumes and scenery were great, and the children's scene was delightful, but the play was b-o-r-i-n-g.  The jokes fell flat and having Flo Ziegfield booming from the back of the theater as an invisible speaker a la A Chorus Line didn't work. 

What Fiorella expected was resuscitated Vaudeville routines knit together by the character of Will Rogers, not a weak rip-off of The Buddy Holly Story.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Scenes with Sonia

Did Fiorella tell you that twice last month the security company had to alert a police cruiser to come out and check on the house?   The first time, it turned out that Sonia Dog was hurling herself against the locked glass patio door so forcefully that she set off the alarm.  The second time, she'd hurled herself against the unlocked back door to the garage until it popped open.  When Son found her, just before the cruiser arrived, the alarm was shrieking bloody murder and Doggie was racing around like a crazy woman.

So from now on, we're leaving Sonia, who has a cast-iron bladder and no longer chews on anything but rawhide bones, inside the house when we go out--because she is nothing if not dogged. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Post Depression

Fio's doing better now, but she's still searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that will make everything right.  She's still opening up Facebook and her email far too often, hoping that something wonderful will suddenly fix her and her life.  If she were the star of a Jennifer Aniston movie, she would have long since heard the orchestra crescendo in celebration and the air explode with firecrackers of joy.  But no, Fiorella lives in reality.

And that's where her books are set too, in reality, the location that Emily Dickinson termed less "fair" than imagination.  To which Fio adds, less fair in more ways than one.  Not that Fio doesn't give her struggling characters a happy ending--it's just that she doesn't seem to be heading toward one herself.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


She should have confessed
Though you might have guessed
That Fiorella is stressed--
Upset and depressed
And thoroughly messed

This too shall pass,
Though it seems it will last