Thursday, October 31, 2013

Masked Identity

When Fiorella was a child, her father was the pumpkin king.  Every year he would spread newspapers on the kitchen table and carve a grinning face on the orange squash, then set a candle inside it and set it on the front porch.  So, with Halloween fast approaching, Fiorella packed her trunk with the makings for a classic jack-o-lantern and took them to her father's retirement home--a Marks-a-Lot, newspapers, a nice big pumpkin, and a sharp knife.  She really couldn't spare the time because she was driving a round trip of seventy miles each day to her job at a rural college, teaching a double load of eight classes, and had a husband and house to take care of, but she wanted to make better connections with her father, who was having problems with Alzheimer's.  Surely the pumpkin would do the trick.

But it didn't.  Dad looked at the pumpkin and said, "What's that?"  Then he refused to participate in the designing, the carving, or the cleaning it out,  "You do it," he said with a slight smile, the same indulgent "women are so silly" expression he'd used when Fiorella wanted to spruce up the rusted lawn lamp in his front yard before he sold the house.  So Fiorella made carved the pumpkin with him looking on and placed the final product on top of his window shelves, hoping it would bring him some Halloween cheer.  As soon as she left, he carried it downstairs to front office.

Fiorella, of course, was hurt, but  she understood.  She now knew her father better than he knew himself.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"Just Who Do You Think You Are?"

Fio is constantly disappointed in herself, constantly berating herself.  She learned it at her mother's knee. Her parents were concerned that she not have a swelled head--think too highly of herself.  There was also probably a bit of  the protective "don't reach too far or you'll get your arm cut off" involved.

Dad always said praise never helped anyone, that he wanted criticism (although Fio never saw him take it well).  Maybe that's why when Fiorella made an impossible 98 1/2 on Miss Osborn's Latin test, he smiled and asked,"Why didn't you make 100?"  Mom, whose mantra was that one shouldn't praise kids for doing what they should do anyway, was more subtle, challenging Fiorella's confidence with comments like "You just THINK so," when Fiorella said she could tell whether Baby needed a diaper change or not. And questioning the price Fio paid for engine work on her car, when she herself didn't even hold a driver's license.

Yes, the practice drove Fio to strive harder, to achieve more, but it has also left her unhappy with herself. And now she feels bad because she's criticizing her parents, who loved her very much.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Of course, the idea that people think in words is ridiculous.  Every time Fiorella accords her characters interior dialogues, it's fiction.  People think in--well--thoughts, splotches of conjecture, sometimes inspired and immediate, sometimes long and drawn out.  When Fio plots out her romances, she starts with the relationship between the two leads, then opens her mind to whatever would logically follow, then tries to record what her inarticulate brain has told her.  When she is painting, she goes into the zone and lets her hand do the walkin'.  When she encounters life problems, she goes totally cold and lets her id/ego/anima/whatever take over.

Words are an artificial construct that we use to try to communicate the essence of our thoughts, but sometimes they aren't enough. As in the above paragraph.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: The Music Man

The best thing about the Georgetown Palace Theater's production of The Music Man was a little boy named Diego Rodriguez (Winthrop Peroo), who brought to life an audience which had been for the most part according the musical polite applause till he took over the stage.

Not trying to dis the adult leads--as usual, the vocals were great-but the  production seemed mediocre, from the opening in the railroad car--which would have benefited from a roll of scenery passing behind it and some clickety-clacks--to the unimaginative dance numbers.  The costumes seemed charmingly period, but the scenery looked cheap.  Staging was sometimes distractingly awkward. The full-chorus numbers were quite good when they were disciplined, but amateurish when too much independent action vied for the audience's attention.

But maybe it's the musical itself..  Maybe Music Man is tired.  Fio was.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Thought for the Day

We humans are an imitative species.  Our speech imitates what we hear.  Our art imitates what we see.  Our stories imitate life.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rocks in Her Head

Fiorella has placed a print-out on meteorites on the little table next to the front door so that someone who has the time and the inclination can check out the rocks the line our 180-linear yard driveway.  She's convinced some of them are of extra-terrestrial origin, just as she's convinced she's part Neanderthal, and that someday the planting beds will be free of armadillos.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fiorella's Ups and Downs

Fiorella has spent most of her writing time this past week getting Lolly's story organized.  She's pulled a thousand or so little scribbled notes out of the back of her tablet and typed them in, put all her ideas in chronological order, extended threads as necessary, and rearranged some action for better flow.  Full steam ahead, Fio.  Remember, you've got to turn out two chapters per week from now on.
Oh, joy!  Fiorella's voice pathologist has encouraged her to sing more.  Fio LOVES singing.
After three long sessions with the repair shop technician, Fiorelle still has problems with this new hard drive.  Why can't someone invent a permanent hard drive?

Thursday, October 24, 2013


When Fiorella was a child, she loved watching the hurdles event in the Olympics, and when she went to bed, she had dreams about leaping hedges as she raced from lawn to lawn down the street.  Ah, the joy of running, the leap, the rhythm, the achievement!

Unfortunately, Fio is short, stocky, and not athletically inclined, but she's still leapt her share of hurdles. Babe, that's what life's all about.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Life and Death

For the second time, Sonia Dog encountered death.  The first time was a couple of months ago, when we discovered the dead fawn at the entrance to the north driveway.  Fio tried to pull Sonia away, but ended up flat on her back in the gravel while Sonia made a thorough examination of the pitiful little corpse.  But this time, when Fio spotted a newly-dead squirrel in the road--the blood had not yet coagulated--she allowed Sonia to have her way.  Doggie nosed the animal, pushed it around a little, contemplated it, then continued the walk with Mommy. The next time around, she gave the squirrel a cursory nudge and moved on.

But for the rest of the way to the house, she seemed more somber.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Panic Mode

Panic!  Fiorella has done the math and realized that she's going to have to grind out two chapters a month in order to finish Lolly's story (with revisions) by May.  She used to write a lot faster.  What has slowed her down? Well, whatever, she'd better get a move on.  And she'd better start sleeping better too, in order to discharge all the demons of doubt and despair that have been plaguing her lately.

Yeah, that's one theory that makes sense to Fiorella, that sleep is vital to clearing the brain of all the trash.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Birthday, Welcome, Gifts

Yesterday was Sonya's second birthday and she celebrated by controlling herself while workmen were banging around on the roof, restraining herself while a doe and two fawns cavorted in the yard, and eating her fill of leftover pancakes and bacon.
Fio received a nice welcoming note from the president of Hatchette Group, the parent company for Grand Central, which is her publisher.  Of course, she panics whenever she sees there's something from her agent or her publisher in her in box.  Are they going to dump her?  Is the magic carpet ride over?  Your Fio is not one to take things for granted--or, as her students used to write, "for granite."
This is weird, but this year Fiorella has started buying Christmas gifts early, like normal people do, instead of at the last minute.  Could it be that Fio has finally turned into . . . an adult?  Nah.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fio Told You So

Aha!  Another popular theory that Fiorella thought was wacko has bit the dust--the right and left brain thing.  Fio kept her mouth shut, but she subscribed to that uh--lame-brained--theory as much as she believed that Neanderthals and homo sapiens never interbred or that, as was gospel in her schooldays, the matching shorelines of the New World and the Old were mere coincidence.

And she'll now come out of the closet and also say she doesn't believe there is intelligent life on other planets.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Dark Romance

Fiorella writes romances because she likes happy endings.  Of course, happy endings depend on exactly when the action stops being reported.  Cinderella's story ended in happily-ever-after only because the original yarn-spinner cut the story short with her wedding and didn't reveal that a week later, Cindy discovered Charming never bathed and had a foot fetish.

Real life is tumultuous and does not have a happy ending (which is the reason Fio does not read biographies). In the real world, we contend with pain, disappointment, and betrayal on our steady march toward the ultimate tragedy of death.  That is the world Fio writes about, although, wienie that she is, her stories also end with happily-ever-after. Yeah, she's a fictional sort of a gal.



Friday, October 18, 2013

Time Passes

Fiorella, as you know, has been extraordinarily aware of the irretrievability of lost time ever since childhood. Her personal solution is to make every minute count by (1) prioritizing and (2) multi-tasking.  Thus wherever she is in the house, she cleans up or rearranges things according to her aesthetic, while items that belong upstairs are stacked on the stairs for her next trip up and items that belong in the garage are stacked near the kitchen door for husband's next trip out. When Fio walks the dog, she is not only training her, but doing physical therapy to improve her own hip movement and posture, meanwhile checking out the property for landscaping solutions.  Yesterday, when Fio spent an hour on the phone with the repair shop as Paul fixed her address list, she completed her daily crossword puzzle and worked out the anagrams.

Smell the roses?  Hah!  Every minute wasted is lost forever.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Not in Fiorella's World,

No, people do not have the right to spend their money any way they want to, not the moral right, that is. Leafing through the Hammacher Schlemmer Christmas catalog, Fiorella has spotted such excessive items as the "genuine Robby the Robot" for $32,000; a replica "1923 garden telescope" for $76,00; the "killer whale submarine" for $90,000; and "the authentic 1966 batmobile" for $200,000.

Fiorella is scandalized and appalled and outraged that such items are even available for zillionaires to throw away their money on. Waste is wrong, be it talents, skills, food, time,or money.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fiorella's Life

Fiorella has her newly-refurbished laptop back, but Baby seems to be missing a few spare parts--like Fio's email address list and the tool bar across the top of the screen.  So much for computers making our lives easier.  In reality, they addict us, then DRIVE US CRAZY!
Fio attended a high school reunion over the weekend and stayed in one of the nicest hotel rooms she's ever experienced--big, clean, comfortable, fully equipped, not a chip or stain anywhere. And the hallway carpets were gorgeous.  Waco Hiltin, everyone.
Now that she's home, Fio has to gird her loins and set up an author website.  Actually Minnesota Son will be doing the work, but Fio has to give him guidance.  God have mercy on us both.
One thing Fio will admit is great about having Baby back is that it has Spellcheck on it, which, judging by the typos that crept into the blogs Fiorella wrote the past couple of days, the desktop lacks.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Fio spent all day yesterday in the den organizing her thoughts--literally, since she jots down almost every inkling that comes to mind, mostly on little scraps of colored paper left over  from her various art projects, then sticks them in the shelves besdie her desk. But now she's organized in files: writing, landscaping, craft ideas, poetry inspirations, TV ideas, character ideas and their clothes (torn out from ads), ideas for the poetry and romance classes she'll be teaching this fall, and, of course, topics for FIORELLA.  She  carried a lot of other stuff up to her study and dropped a couple of armfuls in the workroom, which doubles as crafts room and laundry.  She also filled three trash bags.

Onward, Fiorella!  If you can organize your mess in the den, you can conquer the world!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Furlough Comment

This government shutdown thing seems so very weird to Fiorella because she assumed stuff like this only happened in other countries, the ones with more volatile personalities, not in the good ol' staid U.S. of A--just as she assumed that volcanoes didn't erupt here until Mt. St. Helens blew its top off.  Mt. St. Helens is recovering more quickly than predicted and Fio hopes the government will too.  But both have concomitant losses, of view, if nothing else.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Fio was born with her engine running.  She can't remember any time during her life that she hasn't been busy with one project or another.  And right now she's super busy.

Basically, Fiorella is a creator and an organizer.  She's always thinking, considering, designing.  And because her current literary project is held captive in Click Computer's repair shop, she is turning to other projects like--gasp--the house.  Her mother would be pleased.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Machines Rule

Fiorella's Baby needs a lot of work, including a new hard drive, but Fio doesn't want to buy a replacement computer because she doesn't have the time to learn another system.  Window 7 nearly did her in, and now that she has it down pat, she doesn't want to change gears.

The whole situation is driving her crazy as it is.  She can't work on Lolly's story, she can't communicate with people, and she can't research interesting stuff.

Let's face it. Fiorella, who calls herself a Luddite, is slave to a machine.  They're taking over all of us.  The power is theirs unless we find a way to--uh--pull the cord.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fio on Furlough

Fiorella is bereft.  Baby, her laptop, is at Click for what Fio had hoped would be a quick fix, but has turned out to be an extended stay.  Life is odd without Baby.  Fiorella has figured out how to maneuver her way through Husband's entangled programs to find her blog and thus can post every day, but she can't reach the morning news, can't research idle items that come to mind, and can't get to her email or her romance work-in-progress.  You might say she's on furlough.

On the other hand, she's cleaning up her downstairs desk, working out plans for those purses she told you about, and venturing upstairs to try to redeem her supposed study from Son's occupation.

But she'd rather have Baby back in her loving arms again.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Reunion Nerves

Fiorella needs to pick up a nice outfit for her upcoming high school reunion--something that says she's chic, semi-mature, and successful; something an up-and-coming author would wear; something that will make people want to buy her book when it comes out. Maybe a signboard would do.

Fio isn't sure why she's going to the reunion anyway.  Sure, it's nice to talk with old high school buddies, but our lives have all taken different paths, and the conversations will tend to be short.  And we have to be careful not to tread on each other's political toes. And Husband, who is not gregarious, won't know a soul there.

But there's a double mission going on here.  We're also going to stop at the cemetery and lay flowers on Fio's parents' graves.  And that's worth the whole trip.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Addition

Fio has noticed a disturbing trend lately toward bigger and bigger homes on smaller and smaller lots.  She and Husband drove through a new addition of $350,000 homes a couple of miles down the highway and were shocked to realize that a person stretching his arms out could touch the air conditioner units of the long, shotgun-style houses on either side.   Why not just make the houses attached and be done with it?  After all, any claim to country living has already been lost to the chainsaw massacre of the native oaks and cedar elms.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thus Saith


Is a one-way street,

But it’s the better way

Monday, October 7, 2013

Exult wth Fio!

Fiorella had a WONDERFUL day yesterday!  She went out to walk the dog in 65-degree weather and her whole body screamed YES, YES!  Cooler temperatures do that to Fiorella--instant invigoration.

Just before noon, she and Husband made their weekly trek to HEB, and the weather was still great.  Everyone in the store seemed to think the same because they all looked so happy bundled up in their jackets and sweaters--or maybe they were smiling because Fiorella, grinning like a jack-o-lantern,was totally over the top herself.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Fiorella showed Son's fiancee how to make a boat last night, a small paper boat, that is.

Husband and Fio were dining at Chili's and, as is her habit, Fiorella denuded her napkin-wrapped utensils of their three-inch binding strip, tore it in two, and folded each half-strip into a tiny boat.  What else does one do while waiting for one's dinner?  In slow-serving restaurants, Fiorella has been known to launch flotillas.

After being presented with the first boat, Son's fiancee, who was sitting across from Fio, watched the production of the second one intently and tried to make a boat of her own, but ran into trouble.  Fiorella promptly grabbed the strip off of Husband's utensils and instructed her step by step.

It will take a while for Fiancee to get the technique down, but Fiorella is thrilled that she is interested.  Fiorella's father was the one who taught her how to make the little boat and now his legacy of love will live on.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hello, Starbucks!

Two soaks in the tub last night.  In and out of bed, and in and out of bed, and in and out of bed.  Watching TV and trying to read.  Yet Fiorella still couldn't sleep.  The internet is down in Casa Fiorella and how can Fio survive without email, Google, and Facebook?  Yes, Fio has a communication addiction to feed.  

Neither Husband nor ECPI seem to be able to fix whatever the problem is so Fio's last hope is Son, who's coming over this evening.  Wish us well because otherwise Fiorella's going to be establishing permanent residence in her local Starbuck's, where she is now sitting and keying in this message.

Hooray!  We went back on line suddenly right after Fiorella returned home from Starbuck's, but we're not sure what happened.  Husband's theory is that ECPI's signal was too weak and someone finally amped it up.  Fio's theory is that the house electronic systems realized that if they didn't get on their game, Fio and Husband would be taking all their business to Starbuck's.

Whatever.  The internet is running and Fio has all sorts of things (yawn) to do, but she's a little worn out (yawn) from her sleepless night so she thinks she'll lean back for a moment and--zzzzzzzzzz . . . .

Friday, October 4, 2013

LIngo Across the Ocean

Fiorella, who, as you know, delights in all things linguistic, is fascinated by the news from British friend Suzy that Brits have been picking up all sorts of interesting idioms from American films, which appear to be all the rage in Queen Elizabeth's realm right now.  Serves'em right--think of all the British idioms we've been aping over here.  Just another example of communication making the world a smaller place.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Catching Up with Fio

If it makes,  Fiorella will be teaching a poetry class at the local library this fall.   She enjoys discussing  iambic, trochaic, anapestic, dactylic, and the varieties of rhyme forms while her co-teacher talks about free verse, inspiration, and emotional responses.  Yeah, Fio's friend is ethereal while Fio is more earth-bound.  If they had a party, Fio would bring the sandwiches while her friend supplied the wine.

In other news, the news has disappeared from Fio's computer.  For as long as she can remember, Fio has opened up Google for her morning update, but that option no longer exists.  Even Husband's computer-wise tinkering couldn't bring it back to her.  Good thing they're still taking the newspaper.

Speaking of Husband, he's now reading a chapter a day of Lolly's story--and he ASKS for the chapter if Fio forgets to run it off for him.   But now he's up to chapter seven and, since Fiorella's just written ten chapters, she'd better sign off and get to crackin' on the other ten.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Half-way Home

Working crossword puzzles is good training for writing a book.  The vertical words have to interact with the horizontal words just like the hundreds of literary threads, big and small, must weave into each other to form a cohesive story.

In other words, Fiorella has just finished writing chapter ten of Lolly's tale, which means she's about half-way through the book.  And she's happy with it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Twitter, Style, Age and Health

Fiorella has to bite the bullet--it's time to join Twitter and set up a webpage.  But why do people want to know about the authors of the books they're reading?  Fio never did.  In fact, she didn't even like to see their pictures on the back cover.  She thought of the stories as being real somewhere out there in the universe and being faced with a picture of an author brought her down to earth.
All the child clerks at BatteriesPlus are sporting the currently stylish two-day-beard look, which means the fad is omni-present and soon will pass--or so Fio hopes. 
The young have an innate disdain for the old, as do the firm for the infirm, all under the assumption that people should be able to control their own  age and health.

Twitter, Style, Age and Health

Fiorella has to bite the bullet--it's time to join Twitter and set up a webpage.  But why do readers want to know about the authors of the books they're reading?  Fio never did.  In fact, she didn't even like to see their pictures on the back cover.  She thought of the stories as being real somewhere out there in the universe and seeing a picture of an author brought her down to earth.
All the child clerks at BatteriesPlus were sporting the currently stylish two-day-beard look, which means the fad is omni-present and soon will pass--or so Fio hopes.
The young have an innate disdain for the old, as do the firm for the infirm, all under the assumption that people have control over their own  age and health.