Monday, June 30, 2014

Fixin' Things

Fiorella's new laptop had been sequestered in the repair shop for a week to get stripped of its troublesome fellow-travelers, and now that it was home again, it refused to connect with her wireless printer.  Also, it wouldn't allow Kindle to be added to its complement of options.  To top it off, Fiorella was stuck in her current work-in-progress.  Stuck and scared.  Was she, for the first time in her life, experiencing the dreaded Writer's Block?

She prayed and agonized and considered, then realized the reason she was stuck was two-fold: she was totally frustrated by her computer, and she'd written herself into a corner.  The next day, Husband figured out how to make the computer communicate with the printer, and a little back-tracking lit a fire under Fio's recumbent muse.

Kindle, though, will have to wait for another day.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Act I: Fiorella gets medical injections every three months, but Office Scheduler does not set up appointment until after medicine arrives in office, and Pharmacy does not release medicine until after appointment is made.  Fiorella calls Doctor's personal line to report situation, later receives  notification from obviously disgruntled Office Scheduler of an immediate appointment.  When Fiorella attends appointment, she and Doctor bypass Scheduler and fix date for next appointment.

Act II:  Fiorella calls Doctor's office a month early to confirm time, is informed by Secondary Scheduler that she has no appointment because her medication has not  arrived. Fiorella protests that Doctor set appointment himself.  SS checks through notes and discovers Doctor's note, offers Fiorella an appointment the following week.  Fio accepts, but realizes she's in a continuing battle.

Act III:  In the wings.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Fiorella is counting down the days till the national Romance Writers of America conference this July in San Antonio.  She's got transportation and a roommate, has worked out her wardrobe, and bought herself a glamorous awards ceremony dress. Best of all, she'll meet with her agent, her editor, and attend both her chapter's party and her publisher's party.

Fio never thought she'd fly this high.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dog Training

It's been more than a year since Fiorella ended up flat on her back on the driveway because Sonia Dog  broke leash.  In fact, Fio's been congratulating herself lately on her control of Doggie.  Yes, Sonia seems to have made tentative peace with pedestrians, passing cars, flatbeds, a neighbor's dogmobile--even deer.  But today, as they were coming back to the house again, Sonia regressed and made a run for it, "it" being Daddy, who was backing his car out of the garage.

Love wins over leash every time.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Growing Up Snippets

Fiorella lives in the moment because she doesn't trust what tomorrow will bring.
Fio is not interested in sports. She is the star of her own life.
Teaching is a great way to educate yourself.
Fiorella had a new wardrobe every school year when she was a child.  Now she only buys clothes when her old ones wear out--and some of them have lasted twenty years.
Is growing up really necessary?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Emily Again

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.
Share this text ...?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Where has Fio's tablet gone--
The one that she's been writing on
The one which holds her long, long list
Of times and dates that can't be missed?
It's not on the couch, not in the chair
Not in her office, not anywhere
So please forgive if Fio runs late
She didn't mean to make you wait.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Husband!

Fiorella has established herself as Birthday Lady of her RWA chapter, collecting a list of natal days (day and month only!) so nobody is neglected when she should be celebrated  And Fio observes her own family's birthdays just as assiduously.

When her children were still at home, it was crate paper streamers in loops around the room, a decorated cake, and ice cream.  Thus, when it was time to celebrate Husband's birthday at Daughter's apartment yesterday, Daughter knew just what to do.  Her father walked into birthday streamers, a disgustingly rich chocolate cake, and more ice cream than anyone could eat.  And at home today, on his actual birthday, Fio serenaded him with "Happy Birthday" as he walked down the stairs to see big HAPPY BIRTHDAY letters taped above the fireplace and streamers looped across the bookcases. She'll sing it to him again this evening when she takes him out for a steak dinner.

Yes, Fiorella believes in birthdays.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


When Fiorella was in college--lo, these many years ago--she researched her learned papers by consulting library tomes.  Now that Fiorella is writing novels, she researches by consulting her friends.  For her current work, she consulted Joan Barton, Carol Fox, Gary Wofford, and Michelle Wyckoff about ranches and cattle.  For horsemanship, she turned to Joan again and to Husband.  Judy Scott and Carrie Nelson were her civic theater experts. Paula Marks knows everything there is to know about the history of the American West.  

First hand beats the flinders out of library tomes.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


War is a game that men play while women watch and weep.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A New Start

Fiorella was devastated by a friend's betrayal last summer.  She mourned for their relationship, searched her conscience for whatever she herself might have done wrong, and agonized over what Former Friend might be saying about her.

But it was all for the best.  FF was wonderfully invigorating--always laughing, always full of wicked humor, snide. and snark, but, ultimately, she was  a bad influence.  Friends frequently echo each other, and Fiorella adopted FF's style. Then Fio felt guilty, a reaction FF did not understand.

Fiorella now wishes she had paid more attention to her conscience and less to being clever, which she promises she will do in the future.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Constant

My father started playing golf a couple of years before he married Mother.  And he played it after they were married.  And he played it after my brother and I were born.  And after we moved to Texas.  And he played it after I went off to college in Austin and after I got married.  And he played it after Brother moved to Austin for college, then was sent to Germany by the army. And after his grandchildren were born  And after Mother died.  But not very long.

Macular degeneration had gotten the best of him.  And it was all downhill from there.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Guys and Dolls Review

It was with high hopes that Fiorella accompanied Husband to the Palace Theater's production of Guys and Dolls.  Fio loves the show, especially since she played General Cartwright in a production many years ago in an Austin civic theater.  But the characterization of General Cartwright fell short, and the production didn't hang together either.

Everything was too loud.  Fio has long insisted that actors do not need personal voice amplifiers in a venue as small as the Palace.  Using them means that the band has to be amped up too.  In fact, it seemed at times the actors and the band were in a contest--and the band was winning.

But enough about that.  Let's move on to the costumes, which were a weird anachronistic mix, and the sets and staging, which Fio thought were pretty good.  However, nothing could save that long, dull New York street scene that opened the production, and throughout the play, the pacing seemed uneven--so fast one missed important turning points or so slow one started watching the byplays instead of the major action.

The male dance numbers were really good, but when the whole cast was out on the floor, too much was going on.  Again--where should one look?  And where the heck was the theater's premier choreographer, Jessee Smart?

Not only did General C's characterization seem off, but Fio thought Sarah was too strident.  Maybe the director was trying to update the play, but Sarah would have fared better as a softie than an angry feminist.  And there was NO, absolutely NO chemistry between her and Sky Masterson.

Minor problems that were irritating: Sarah's golden wig that looked like a wig, flubbed dialogue, ill-fitting costumes, what seemed to be bald spots in Sky's hair, Nicely-Nicely's mike crackling, a spindly ninth grader cast against type as Big Julie, and the band frequently being out of tune with each other (tenor sax?).

Fiorella wondered if the problem was that the play is outdated, that Damon Runyan doesn't have it anymore.  But then she found herself singing the songs all the way home--songs like "Fugue for Tinhorns," "Bushel and a Peck," "Luck Be a Lady," and, her favorite, "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat."   Maybe there's hope for Gays and Dolls yet, "somewhere, somehow...."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Computer Madness

Will Fiorella's computer triangularization never end?

Her old faithful Dell laptop has fallen in battle.  Translation: Fio dropped it one too many times and its lid is tearing off, which is probably what is causing it to scramble words Fiorella writes, randomly fail to save, and sometimes erase what Fio has written earlier.  Her new Toshiba laptop has been captured by a browser hijacker.  Translation: Fio has inadvertently run ads down the side of her blog and can't reach Google, her favorite research engine.  Her upstairs desktop is old and clanky.  Translation: it doesn't have Fio's blog or updated work-in-progress on it.

On the other hand, Fio can still contact Google on the Dell, can use Documents without fear of electronic shenanigans on the Toshiba, and can answer email without weird things happening on the desktop.

The only solution is to copy Fiorella's work-in-progress to the desktop, rush the Toshiba to Click Computers as soon as Fio finishes copy edits, and pray for electronic sanity as Fio writes her blog on the remains of the Dell.

Weren't computers supposed to make our lives easier?

Monday, June 16, 2014


Fiorella's father watched sports.  Her husband watches sports.  Her sons watch sports.  Fio tried being a sports fan, but it didn't work out.  She comprehends playing games for exercise, tension release, and sheer enjoyment, but she doesn't get the competition angle. Who cares who wins a game?  Sports aren't wars. The only thing at stake is winning.

Fio doesn't understand.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


My father was a self-made man.  When he was thirteen months old, his own father died in a coal mine accident.  The county tried to take my father and his two siblings, but his mother worked in other people's homes to support them.  In fact, the whole family worked--my father herded a family friend's cattle to and from the pasture and cut off chicken's heads for neighbors.

Dad was a good-looking guy and popular in school.  His nickname was "Buddy," he excelled in sports, and was elected president of his senior class.

His first job, with General Tire, lasted almost forty years, and he founded a company golf league and bowling league on the side.  He advanced to become the manager of the largest department in the Waco plant, won several sports trophies, and enjoyed his retirement.

But, most of all, he was a loving, caring father.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Food Fads

Fiorella is sick and tired of being told what to eat--what is GOOD for her to eat, to be more exact.  She grew up being told that milk was nature's most perfect food, but later she was told that it was fattening and that adult digestive systems didn't handle it well.  She also learned that chocolate, which she loved, was bad for her.  Coffee too.  And that she should cut down on eggs and bacon and saturated fats in favor of carbohydrates.  Now, all of that has been reversed.

All Fio asks for is that she be left in peace to enjoy her hamburger, fries, and ice cream..  

Friday, June 13, 2014


Hip-hip-hooray!  Fiorella has cleaned out and arranged the junk drawer!  A package of felt pads, two pairs of pliers, and a myriad pairs of scissors are now in the first section of the drawer.  The second section holds various kinds of rolls--Scotch tape, coils of thin metal, a spool of thinner metal, art tape, and mounting tape. The third section is dedicated to hooks--of which a surprising number have turned up--and grocery ties, which Fio has relegated to a pint-sized plastic bag.

On to bigger and better!  How about the attic?  

On second thought, let's sit down and read the newspaper.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Same Ol', Same Ol'

No matter what kind of specs he puts on
Perry's day has come and gone.
Dewhurst is icky and Patrick's a fluke
Abbot's a pawn, and Cruz is a kook.
Wendy Davis doesn't float my boat
But Leticia VandePutte gets my vote.
It's politics as usual down Texas way
Nothing new on the horizon today.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Just for kicks, here are the first couple of pages of WHAT THE HEART WANTS, which is due out on September 2.  You likee? 

Laurel held the long rope of pearls up to the brilliant midsummer sunset shining in her bedroom window
Here she was, sitting at her dressing table and wondering if pawning Gramma’s necklace would provide enough money to pay the bills for the next couple of months.  Her finances would straighten themselves out once she sold the house, but she’d had it on the market for almost seven weeks now, and not one soul had expressed interest in her six-thousand-square-foot white elephant. 
She should have tried to sell it last fall, but managing her mother’s funeral was all she could accomplish back then.  Besides, she’d had another year to go on her teaching contract, and her work had become her life after Dave left her and Daddy died.  
The past three years had been mind-numbing, one blow after another.  Not that she really missed Dave.  She’d married him because it was time for Bosque Bend’s favorite daughter to march down the aisle, and he’d seemed like the logical choice,  Too bad he’d ditched her when being married to Laurel Harlow became an liability rather than an asset. 
The last blow came seven weeks ago, when her principal told her she wouldn’t get another contract.  She should have seen it coming, but she’d thought she was safe in the elementary school across the river, in Lynnwood, the new subdivision populated by new people who didn’t know the protocols of old Bosque Bend, and who seemed to care more about her effectiveness as a teacher than her family history. 
She’d driven home in a trance from the  meeting with her principal, and as soon as she entered the safety of the house and locked the  door, she’d whirled into a spate of activity to counteract the numbness that fogged her brain and made her feel like she was dragging around a fifty-pound weight.  First she called the realtor father of one of her students and put the house she’d lived in for most of her life on the market.  Next she started contacting school districts in the Rio Grande Valley for jobs.  Her days of servitude to Kinkaid House and her family legacy were over. 
She rolled the pearls between her fingers.  Living alone was the pits.  Mrs. Bridges, across the street, employed a live-in maid, had a daughter who visited regularly, and was followed by a big, happy-looking dog everywhere she went.   Laurel was her own maid, had no friends any more, and Kinkaid House hadn’t housed a dog since Mama’s older sister died of rabies seventy-five years ago 
The doorbell chimed from downstairs.  She sighed and nestled the rope of glowing beads back in its padded box.  Who was it?  Prince Charming magically appearing to rescue her from Bosque Bend?  
She stood up and squared her shoulders.  She didn’t need Prince Charming.  She’d make her own happy ending. 
The bell rang again as she headed down the hall toward the stairs. Probably the ill-mannered paper boy come collecting, though it didn’t seem time for him yet.  He  always peered behind her down the hall as she handed him the money, then ran as if all the demons in hell were chasing him. 
Her overactive conscience, part and parcel of being a preacher’s daughter, charged into action.  Of course the paperboy was afraid.  Who could blame him?  This house was notorious..  Everyone in town knew what had happened here.
She started down the wide stairway.
If she could just mail in her payment, like when she used to take the Dallas Morning News, but Art Sawyer, who put out the town’s bi-weekly newspaper, had never met an innovation he didn’t dislike.  Thus the Bosque Bend Retriever was printed on the same press he’d been using for the last forty years and still hand-delivered by an army of schoolboys on bikes. 
            The doorbell pealed a third time.  She gritted her teeth. 
            Sorry, whoever you are.  I’m not about to break into a gallop.  I might not have anything else left, but I can still muster a shred of dignity. 
Three generations of family portraits on the staircase wall watched in approval as she regally descended the steps.  As a child, she’d sped past them as fast as she could go to avoid their see-all stares, but now she drew strength from them.  She might have to sell the house out from under their gilded frames, but she’d do it with her head held high. 
And she’d burn the house down to the ground before she’d let it go for taxes.
Think positive, Laurel Elizabeth.  Maybe your caller is a prospective buyer the realtor has sent over to look at the house .   
She opened the heavy oak door a few cautious inches.  Just last week someone had lobbed a string of firecrackers at her when she was out in the yard searching for her newspaper.  Of course, it was right before the Fourth, but she doubted that those firecrackers were a patriotic salute.
            Dear God in heaven, who was this on her doorstep?     
            Her caller was a giant, a big man darkly silhouetted against the red blaze of the high summer Texas sunset.  She couldn’t make out his face because of the glare behind him, but he was built like a tank and stood maybe six-four, six-five. Definitely not Prince Charming.  More like the Incredible Hulk.  She glanced down to make sure the screen door was still locked.   
"Laurel?  Laurel Harlow?"
            The voice seemed familiar.  She couldn’t quite place it, but her visitor sounded more surprised than dangerous.  She pushed the door open wider and the man’s face came into focus as he moved forward to examine her through the wire mesh. 
            She stepped back a pace.  He responded by taking off his dark glasses and smiling, a slight baring of his teeth.
"It's Jase Redlander, from old Bosque Bend High." 
Her heart did a quick rabbit hop.  Jase Redlander, of course.  His voice was deeper now, his shoulders broader, and he’d grown a good three inches in height, but it was definitely Jase.

Jase, whom she’d loved to distraction.  Jase whom she’d thought she’d never see again.  Jase, who sixteen years ago had been run out of town for having sex with his English teacher. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


As an adult, Fiorella has usually avoided confrontation because she believed it wouldn't do any good: she could never win, and arguing made her feel bad.  But now she's changed her mind.  Confrontation done right is a potent force.  By "done right," Fio means calmly, concisely, and clearly.  And not letting oneself be drawn into side issues.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Treasure Trove

 A Facebook quiz that purports to discern one's true occupation proclaimed Fiorella to be a natural-born writer. Well, duh!  Journalism, essays, poetry, short stories, novels--even songs and a short opera--Fio's churned it all out. Some of her stuff has been published, and some of it has won prizes, but most of it is stacked in shelves in her study, stuffed into filing cabinets, and locked into the bowels of her various computers--forgotten.

But Fio is now on a voyage of literary discovery because Husband has asked her to sort through her Documents file and reduce it before he transfers it to her new laptop.

It's like opening a pirate's chest and having a fortune in sparkling jewels spill out.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Selective Prayer

Fiorella has something she wants to get off her chest, which is that she doesn't like hateful messages on Facebook.  You, know, nasty stuff about Obama or about another religion or nationality.  The postings makes her uncomfortable, especially if they're sent by people who label themselves as Christian.

People, if you don't like what others have said or done, PRAY FOR THEM.  The wicked need your prayers much more than the saints do.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Stressed, Depressed

Please give Fio a break today
She's stressed, depressed, and out of rhyme
She's running a race that can't be won
Too far to go, too little time

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Sonnet Sonnet

A sonnet is the clever use of rhyme
In patterns such as Petrarch might employ
Or Shakespeare's playful whimsy intertwine
For centuries of lovers to enjoy.
A sonnet is an unrelenting beat,
The blood's intrinsic pulse of weak and strong,
That runs full-tilt for five iambic feet
In three times four plus two, a discipline of song.
A sonnet is a message of the heart,
Of Wordsworth's wonder, Milton's heavy hand,
Of Keats's classic skill, of Shelley's art.
Of Browning's love songs from a foreign land.
    While others seek the chessboard on a day,
    The sonnet is my choice of game to play.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Best-laid Plans of Mice and Authors . . . .

So now Fio has three computers--the clackety desktop model upstairs that doesn't have Documents on it, the eccentric Dell that she dropped on its head one time too many, and the brand-new Toshiba, which hasn't been loaded yet.  So much for chapters four and five of WHERE THE HEART LEADS.  So much for Fio's sanity, which may have been doubtful to begin with.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Fiorella's Take on Bullying

The campaign against bullying is in high gear, but it's something we'll never get rid of.  Bullying, the now-stylish catch phrase for being mean, has been around since the dawn of time, when Cain killed Abel, which was totally rude and uncalled for.

Perhaps a better campaign would be to encourage people to be kind to each other.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!

Fiorella has barricaded herself in her office and is trying her darndest to finish chapter four of WHERE THE HEART LEADS.  With the three-month delay between final submission and publication date, she has to have the book sent in to her publisher by September 1 and all required revisions made by October 1 if she wants to have any time off for Christmas holidays and still get this book published in January.

What happened to the image Fiorella had of the leisurely life of a writer?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Snippets in Progress

Fiorella doesn't like the concept of competitive eating.  It's gross and disrespects food.  She doesn't like the Kardashians either--they're gross and disrespect decency.
How about somebody manufacturing a laptop with a handle on it so Fio can carry it like a briefcase? And has she told you she wants a laptop that, like her new printer, doesn't feed itself through cords trailing across the floor?
Fio has just discovered she misused the word "importunate."  Too bad.  Wasn't the first, won't be the last.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Importunate Choice

Poet t.s. eliot may have been an expert on naming cats, but Fiorella knows all about naming dogs.

The most important thing is give your dog a name you are comfortable with, one that you can use to call him/her home.  Names like Tina and Bella and Sandy and Hugo and Wendy and--well--Sonia.  Not a name like Freelove Nicklebeer, which Husband and Fio, in their university days, imposed upon a poor, helpless beagle puppy.  It referred to a UT student rallying cry of old--"Free love on campus and nickle beer in the Student Union"--and Fio thought it had a good rhythm.

She was not as enthralled by her choice when puppy went missing and she had to stand in the middle of the street shrieking, "Freelove!  Freelove!"