Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Better Late Than

Yes, Fio is late posting, but she's been through the mill.  Her blog icon disappeared last night when she was working after everyone else had gone to bed--God only know where her cursor wandered or what combination of keys she accidentally brushed her fingers over. Anyway, a quick trip to Click at nine o'clock this mroning, and Fiorella is back in business again.

But Click is having its own problems.  Georgetown's popular computer repair shop was bursting at the seams so it moved across I-35 to a bigger spot between Shipley's donuts and Cricket.  Click has a nice painted sign which would fit the space above its door, but the landlord is insisting on an expensive sign similar to Shipley's and Cricket's--a large plastic number with raised letters.

Fiorella is behind Click all the way, and she's given Travis, who mans the front desk, the email address of the features editor at the local newspaper.  Meanwhile, her ever-inventive mind is mulling over the idea of suspending the painted sign right above the shop, but not touching it.  Where's that drone armada when you need it?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Telephone History

Fiorella's parents had a four-party line, then a two-party line, and, as time marched on, a private line.  But long distance was prohibitively expensive, especially when the family moved fifteen hundred miles away from relatives, which meant they called "home" only on Christmas and Easter.

Along the way, four-digit phone numbers went up to five, then received two digit prefixes, and long distance rates began going down.  Then area codes were assigned for long distance.  Next came the cell phone, and now, those area codes have become mandatory for local calls too, as in 123-456-7890.

Show this post to your children for history's sake, although they'll never believe people communicated without Smartphones.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

KImiko, Lady Eglington, vs. the Flight Attendant

I love this scene, but my editor wants me to cut it from WHERE THE HEART LEADS to reduce my cast of characters. Therefore, I'm giving it to you to enjoy:  

     Moira lounged about on the couch, reading a paperback romance she’d picked up at HEB.  Today had been easy.  She’d cleaned the house, washed some clothes, made sure the gown she wanted to wear tonight still fit, and even watched daytime television.  Life was good. 
     The phone rang.  Had she jinxed herself?  One of the principals could have come down with laryngitis or Vashti could have sprained her wrist. .
     But it was worse.  Her mother.  The catchy, cutesy breathing was the give-away.
     “Moira?”  Kimiko’s voice, the carefully-maintained pitch of a twenty-year-old,
had acquired a British upper crust cut-glass accent.
     “Moira, Suh-weetie Pie, I’m so, so sorry, but I won’t be able to make it to—uh—Texas
this trip.”
     An airplane engine roared in the background, and Moira could hear a flight attendant instructing passengers on the correct use of the drop-down oxygen mask.
     “You understand.  I’ve been talking to Covergirl about representing their line of skin products for—um—mature women.  Dawh-ling, I’ve let my hair go white—it’s the new blonde, you know, and makes my skin looks gorgeous”  Her voice dropped to a whisper.  “Hold on a minute.  There’s a hatchet-faced stewardess looking my way.  I’ll have to put you down and get a Vogue to hide behind.”
     Pages rattled and Kimiko picked up her cell again. 
     “I’m back.  Anyway, I’m on my way to New York to sign the contract before I fly back to England to attend a little birthday gathering for Princess Alexandra’s daughter.”
     “What about Arne?”
     “Your son.”
     Kimiko’s voice rose in indignation.  “Suh-weetie Pie, he absolutely defied me!  Said 
he hated me, and he didn’t want to leave his school.  School!  I could have introduced him to the world!”  Her voice lowered to a hiss.  “I’ve got to go.  That damn stewardess has spotted me. ”
     A stern female voice informed Kimiko that use of electronic devices was prohibited during take-offs or landings.
          “But, dah-ling, I’m flying first clawss!” were Kimiko’s last words before the call clicked off.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fiorella the Linguist Speaks

Sticks and stones can break our bones,but words can never hurt them--unless we let them.

At one time, the accepted term for people of African heritage was "Negro" which is Spanish for "black."  Then along came the plain-speaking Black Pride movement, and "Black" became the preferred reference.  Later, we adopted the somewhat cumbersome "African-American."  Correspondingly, what is now referred to as the "N-word," has gained in power. Too much power.

No word should be accorded that much emotional dynamite. Nor should sexual epithets like "c*nt."   Words are just words.  The combination of sounds that means "love" in one language might mean "hate" in another--or it might mean "applesauce."  (Thus "Dikshit," a respected surname in India, is somewhat startling to English speakers.)

The best way to defuse a "demeaning" epithet is to ignore is--or claim it.  If called a "c*nt," step back, smile, and say, "Yes, I'm a woman, and proud of it."

Do not allow yourself be controlled by other people's thoughtlessness, ignorance, or venom.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Poltical Snippets

Fiorella was planning to list the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, but a quick look at the Google list left her reeling--TWENTY people have declared, are considering to declare, or have announced they will declare.
Please, leave your political hate posters, right or left, at home.  Do not post them on FB.  Fio thinks the less of you.
Is it just Fio, or does Perry look old and tired when compared to the young lions?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

So Sorry

Fio is late
She had to wait
For the numbness
To abate.

Yes, your Fio was in San Antonio yesterday for a medical procedure on her vocal chords, and the numbing shots to her throat left her brain a little too numb to write.  But now she's back to her own and ready to prowl, howl and g-r-r-r-owl.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"That's My Spot!"

Like Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper, Fiorella has her own spot on the end of the couch, and  Sonia Dog knows to quickly vacate it when Fio wants to sit down.  But then, Sonia has her own exclusive spot on the other end of the couch, and if that big maroon pillow is in her self-appointed place, she moves it off onto the floor with several strokes of her powerful nose.

We ladies know our due.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Prose to Poetry

Here is the first page of WHERE THE HEART LEADS in iambic pentameter:

In autumn, when the leave were turning brown,
Moira drove her aging car to town
And parked it in a lot across the street
From a museum where she'd finally meet
With her employers, a civic theater guild
Who'd hired Moira, sight unseen, to build
Their fledgling act into a point of pride
For Bosque Bend and all the countryside.

Monday, June 22, 2015

CHICAGO Is a Winner!

Can Fiorella pick'm, or can Fiorella pick'em?  Three hits in a row--Anything Goes, Spamalot, and now, Chicago!  And yes, your Fio chose them all!

Husband and Fio hosted Brother Bill and his lovely wife at the Georgetown Palace's production of Chicago over the weekend, and it was STRONG.  The cast was small, just twenty-three actors listed on the playbill, so everyone but the leads did at least triple duty. The songs kept coming, the dances kept coming, and the play moved along like sixty.

Chicago is cynical, a noir snapshot of an era--sort of the seamy underside of Anything Goes.  The corrupt characters come out on top, and the only two decent characters in the show end up, respectively, (1) hanged and (2) played for a fool.  Shades of Three-penny Opera.

The plot is hitched together like train cars hurtling toward hell.  Both acts are performed against a semi-dark background, with a descending staircase stationed center stage and choir stalls on either side of it housing band members.  Spotlights follow the action.

Emily Niswonger (Velma) knocked Fio over with her rock-hard voice, as did Jennifer Tucker (Mary Sunshine) with her sweet voice.  Kirk Kelso (Billy Flynn) owned the stage. BJ Ortwein (Matron Mama Morton) was fabulous, and Craig McKerley (Amos Hart) stole Fio's heart,

'Nuff said.  Go buy your tickets.  The show's been so successful that the Palace is running matinees.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


While the rest of the country was horrified by the massacre in South Carolina, Rick Perry referred to it as an "accident" and leapt onto his anti-gun control platform.  Oops, "accident" was a slip of the tongue, and what he really meant "incident."  

But whether he meant "accident" or "incident" is not relevant.  The racially-motivated killing of nine people was beyond awful, and then add to it the fact that the victims were respected members of their community, and that they were in church for a Bible study.

Fiorella herself is repulsed, repelled, and not as forgiving as the victims' relatives.   

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dance and Sing

Dance and sing, clap your hands, leap for joy!  Fiorella's revisions are few and far between!  Yes, she has received the critique of WHERE THE HEART LEADS from her editor, and whole clumps of pages go by without a single red mark!

Now to tackle those pages that do have red marks on them.  And to consult the critiques her beta readers turned in.  And to finish writing COMFORT OF THE HEART, or whatever she's going to name the novella.  And to celebrate Father's Day and Husband's birthday.  And to clean up the house.  And to go through all the old photos and label them.  And to repair some old oil paintings,  And to get those little booklets made up for the NRWA conference.  And to revise and publish her short stories and her poetry,

Somehow, your Fiorella will work it all into her schedule.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Shallow Mind

Fiorella doesn't care if Bruce Jenner gets himself emasculated.  She doesn't care if Rachel Dolezal has been passing for black.  She doesn't care if The Donald announces runs for president--although she does find that one hilarious.

What she's following are the spectacles: Mama BooBoo making an ass out of herself, and Michele and Jim Bob trying to crawl out of the giant hole they dug themselves into.

Oh, she also follows science news--if it's brief.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Teaching Philosophy

In a former life, this was my teaching philosophy.

My teaching philosophy is very simple:  I assume responsibility for each and every student in my classroom, not just the eager scholars on the front row, but also the long-legged guys in the back of the room, the shy girl hiding in the corner, the rambunctious rebel who sees every teacher as an enemy, and the paraplegic woman who cannot even raise her hand.

To this end, I work to establish a supportive atmosphere in my classes. I encourage students to consult with me during my office hours, and I list my home phone number and e-mail address on my syllabi. I often end up doing personal counseling too—of students, former students, and absolute strangers whom my students have referred to me. 

I run a rigorous classroom, with daily question-answer sessions that run up and down the rows, with comprehensive exams at various points in the semester, and with specific requirements in writing assignments.  

Above all, I strive to be the very best role model possible as a teacher and as a human being. I want my students to learn not only composition techniques and literary analysis, but also cooperation, tolerance, and kindness. 

Students frequently ask me about a pin I often wear.  A gift from a long-time friend, it symbolizes a helping hand and a loving heart.  I try to live up to it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Friendship of Fiorella

Fiorella is a fast friend and a mild-mannered enemy.  She likes people so it's easy to become her friend.  And she'll stick with you through gaffes and disagreements, as she hopes you will with her.  But she will not accept betrayal. Not that she will wreak vengeance--Fiorella would rather move forward than look back--but she will discharge you from her universe.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Double Thanks

Dear Diary,

Instead of taking Sonia Dog to the vet the next morning, Husband took Fio to the emergency room.  Yes, Sonia was much recovered, but Fio couldn't seem to catch her breath.  By the time she reached the hospital, she was breathing just fine, but she spent three hours in a treatment room being checked out for everything from congestive heart failure to blood clots, eventually receiving a clean bill of health.

All Fio can say is that the whole episode was weird, and that she thanks God it wasn't more serious.  She is also thankful that Sonia is up and running.

Amen.  Amen.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sonia Slipped

First things first--Fio and Husband are taking Sonia Dog to the vet this morning.  She slipped last night while she was trotting up the stairs and slipped again while she was trying to get her footing.  Fiorella grabbed her collar so she wouldn't fall all the way down, then yelled for Husband to come help.  With Fio pulling and Husband pushing, they got Sonia up to the landing. That's when they saw that she was holding her rear passenger-side foot up.

Somehow they got Sonia down the stairs again, and Fiorella slept on the couch so doggie, who usually shares the upstairs bed with Fio and Husband, wouldn't be alone.

Think good thoughts toward our sweet girl.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Like Mother, Unlike Daughter

Whenever Fiorella's mother had to go in for surgery, she carefully explained to the medical crew that if she used vulgar language when she was under anesthesia, it was because she had been reading Steinbeck.

If Fiorella spouts vulgarities when she's under, she hopes someone will write them down so she can use them in a book.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Vacation Time

What is this thing called "a vacation?"  Fio understands children having summers and holidays off from school, but what is "a vacation" to adults?

From what people tell her, it involves going to a new locale--a beach or a resort or a city they're unfamiliar with and "taking it easy," which is a concept Fiorella does not understand because Fio is  always busy.  She cannot envision herself without a task at hand and several others scribbled on lists taped to the doors of the corner cabinet in the den.

So much to do, so little time.

Friday, June 12, 2015


You  can come out of your bomb shelter now. Fiorella is at semi-peace again.  She took her laptop to Click, where Patrick, despite working on it for about twenty minutes, couldn't get the "send" file unclogged and had to give her a reference to someone else.  But when she got home and opened up her computer again, everything was A-OK.  Apparently Patrick had fixed the problem, and a fresh boot-up was all that was needed to finish off the job.  Yea!

Now to conquer her other electronic problems.  And to ace that interview she intends to have with the American Statesman book reviewer.

Be strong, Fio.  Remember that BuzzFeed said you are a warrior!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Oppressed by Electronics

I cannot take it anymore--being oppressed by electronics!  Every day, it's something new.  No sooner had Friend T fixed JustCloud, which had refused to unload itself, then scolded me for it, than my "Sent" box clogged up after Husband and I tried to copy some desktop photos to an email, which means that after I wrote TWELVE emails, including a long, carefully-worded analysis of a manuscript, and sent them off, everything had dissolved into the ether.

And if that problem isn't enough, I have several more to deal with--finding a decent cell phone, having too many icons on my desktop, needing to refresh my website, setting up an author site, and storing pictures.

Ispend so much time tending to electronics that I don't have time to write!.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Electronic Wizardry

There is nothing as wonderful as friends who are electronic wizards.  Friend T dropped by the house yesterday and fixed Fiorella's laptop, which had decided to show only wallpaper, then got Cloud, which Fio had been wrestling with for two days, to download and run.  Next, Fio will impose upon wizardly friends to clear all those photos off her desktop and put them in storage somewhere.  Then she wants to rearrange her icons. resurrect her author website, and set up an Amazon author page.

Needless to say, Fio's going to pass the opportunities around.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cloud and Sun

Fiorella is down, but not out.  She tried to install JustCloud on her computer and got lost in a labyrinth of instructions impossible to follow, then an avalanche of requests to change her password.  Husband took over and the same thing happened.  And the whole time, Fiorella should have been writing, writing, writing.

On the other hand, Fio was successful in getting a newspaper interview.  She put on lipstick to match her red shirt and whipped into the Williamson County Sun office to talk about her wonderful book and her wonderful self, and, of course, she made a total ass out of her wonderful self.  But the reporter wrote pages of notes and took her picture so she hopes he can clean her up enough for print.

Maybe it all evens out.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Fiorella's Careers

Fiorella was a star debater in junior high, but something of a dud in high school, which turned out not to matter because, along the way, she discovered that she didn't like to argue.  Thus she eliminated law as a future profession.  She was a good actress too, but didn't have the time for it.  She'd been born with a talent for art, but the starving artist cliche is a reality so she dropped out of that scene and started teaching.  The money was regular, and Fio liked her students, but the whole time--in fact, most of her life--Fio was writing poems, stories, and novels.  So now, Fio's major employment is writing novels, at which she has been semi-successful.

Wish her well.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Icon Madness

There are fifty-one icons on Fiorella's desktop, and when she's tried to drag them hither or thither, they mess up her other icons.  In fact, not only did her blog icon get buried and become an enormous orange B, but when she opens it, the page is one of her old blogs instead of the current one, which means she must go through extra steps to get to her composition page.

Fio wants to be able to arrange her icons  and repair her blog, and she wants to be able to move most of the photos off her desktop into some sort of storage bin. And she wants to write down the steps to do these things for her own private laptop instruction book.

Any takers?  Fio has a PC.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Newsing Snippets

Fiorella asks again--have we become a nation of sexual voyeurs? Why must we know all the details, stroke by stroke, of other people's sexual experiences?  Why is it that the Hastert scandal, the Duggar scandal, and the Jenner thing are today's biggest "news " stories?  Why is Fifty Shades a best seller?  Why are "mainstream" movies on the edge of pornographic?
The Duggars don't seem to understand.  There isn't anything Jim Bob and Michelle can say to regain their places in the sun/limelight, and it isn't just Josh.  Like every long-running TV show, the time has come for them to fold their tents and fade away.
One last question--why is Bruce such a "hero" for turning himself into Caitlyn when his action is an act of pure self-indulgence?  Hmm--is Kris running the show?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Cycling Through

Okay, Fio will admit it.  She recently had a total breakdown.  Everything had been piling up--the writing, the house, family stuff--plus, several things Fio had been anticipating fell through.  Fio's reaction was to take a long look at her life and feel like a failure, and she  didn't see much future either.  Nevertheless, she tried to be strong, to keep moving forward.  Then came the last straw.

And she blew.  For several hours.

The next day, she woke up totally drained.  That afternoon, she started coming back to herself, and that evening, she was back to normal--whatever that is.

Until next time.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Put Asunder by an Air Conditioner

The upstairs air conditioner is out, and the new one won't get installed till next week, which means Fio, who likes to sleep cold, is bedding down on the couch in the den for the duration while Husband, who actually likes the warmer temperature, is staying upstairs. Sonia Dog is rotating between them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Trend Bucker

Fio's bucking a trend (what's new?), but she doesn't think Bruce Jenner wants to be "himself."  She thinks he wants to be a Kardashian and doesn't have the--uh--nerve to spell Caitlyn with a K.

Bucking another trend, Fio thinks Josh Duggar is less guilty than his parents, who have been hypnotized by their own piety--and how they look on camera.

Fio's third buck pertains to the soccer scandals.  No big deal--as soon as sports move off of the sandlot, they get dirty.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Fiorella of the Chainsaw

Fiorella is queen of the chainsaw!  All hail!

Yes, when Husband said there was no way the fallen tree in the north driveway could be taken back to the house and hacked up for next winter's firewood, Fio decided to find a way--and there you have the essence of her personality.  Anyway, she took chainsaw in hand, marched up the driveway and commenced sawing, hacking off all the limbs and cutting the ones she could handle into eighteen-inch lengths.  The rest of the tree she figured, could be hauled back to the area in front of the house, where Husband has a couple of big logs set on end to use as a work table.

Fio wasn't as successful with the tree that fell across the street during the storms.  The neighbors had kindly maneuvered it to the side of the road, but Fio wasn't about to kneel down on sloping ground to cut it up into firelogs so she had to be happy with trimming off a few inconsequential limbs.

And as she swaggered back to the house swinging her chainsaw, the nasty cedars along the way cowered in fear. Mercy, Fiorella, I beg you.

But Fio took a few swipes at them anyway.  Chainsaw Lady knows no mercy.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Jigsaw Reprise

Forgive Fio, but she's opened up another five-hundred piece jigsaw puzzle, a sunny Italian seaside scene.  However, she's using a different tactic this time to avoid getting caught up in the puzzle when she should be writing: restricting herself to three movements at a time, even when she's on fire.