Monday, August 31, 2015


Fiorella's paternal grandfather lived and died as an undocumented immigrant--an illegal alien, or whatever you want to call it.  And, like most other immigrants, he came to this country for opportunity, to make a better life for himself than he could have had in his native country.  He worked in the Pennsylvania coal mines--just as today's UIs pick the crops, clean houses, and mow lawns.  And on the side, he married and fathered four children, who produced seven grandchildren, all of whom would have made him proud--two teachers, an audiologist, an accountant, an entrepreneur, a lawyer,  and your Fio, who ain't doin' too bad either.

The only difference Fiorella can see between Grandpa and today's UIs is that he was blond and a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian empire, while they are dark and citizens of Mexico.

Racism by any other name can stink as sweet.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Newsworthy Snippets

In re Caitlyn saying she'd like to have a boyfriend so she could feel like a normal woman: Give it up, guy.  No matter how much "work," how many botox and Juvederm injections, you're the age you are, and a "normal" sixty-five year old woman does not attract that many hunky men.
In re Donald Trump and whatever trash talk will come out of his mouth today: Donald, you've got me hooked.  I'm addicted.  You've swept past Edge City as my favorite and most reliable cartoon.
In re Jennifer Aniston, who has been reported pregnant more times than Michelle Duggar. Jennifer, the only way the stories will go away is for you to have a sex change and call yourself Bruce.

Friday, August 28, 2015


Fiorella, who tends toward depression, feeds off the happiness of others.  Not in a vampiric way, but in a warming-her-hands-at-the fire sort of way.  When she was younger, she wept and raged at the unfairness of fate, but age has brought acceptance,

And Fio being Fio, she still hopes and prays and pushes on.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Medicine Cabinet

One for the thyroid
One for the brain
One for sleep
And one for pain

Eight for the heart
Three for the gut
And that pretty well
Sums it up.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Shifting Priorities

Fiorella has been trying to get back to writing again.  She really has, but everything she postponed until she had sent her revisions in.has come back to haunt her--the house, the yard, the laundry, the refinancing she and husband planned to do, the the critique she promised, the luncheon dates with friends she had canceled.

Writing can wait till another day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Donald, Donald, Donald

Donald Trump is trying to buy the presidency, and everyone knows it's for sale, that the candidate with the bigger war chest wins.  Why else is Fio's email inbox overflowing with pleas for donations?
The one good thing Fiorella can say about The Donald is that he's running on his own dime.  But that also means he doesn't have to answer to anybody.  Yes, he's free to bash anybody he wants to--and he does. Brown people, women people, hero people.
A lot of people comment about his hair, but Fio is more concerned about what doesn't lie under it.

Monday, August 24, 2015


How you gonna keep them down on the farm once that they've seen Paree?  How you gonna keep them in the Duggar mind-lock once that they're out from under Jim Bob's control?

Yep, Josh Duggar's done it again, but this time it was consensual and arranged via a website that's been hacked.  But what can you expect of a young man set loose in a tempting new world that, thanks to his parents' sequestration of the family from everything real, he is not equipped to deal with?  A family whose religious views are based on sexuality?

The sad thing is that Anna will bear the blunt of the shame and guilt, for "not satisfying" her husband.  The sad thing is that  the gravy train has been retired to a side rail, and the younger Duggars will be back to Goodwill clothes in no time. The sad thing is that, with nineteen kids who grew up as TV stars, Fio would guess there's a lot more crap to come.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Despite being an artist, Fiorella doesn't get a kick out of sight-seeing.  Thus, when Fio and family visited Britain, she wasn't that interested in looking at Big Ben or antique castles.  Instead, she wanted to experience the country. To stand on top of Hadrian's wall and call on the spirit of her old Latin teacher, Elor Osborn. To stop at a British Safeway and go through the aisles, then buy sliced ham at the deli, to walk through the doors of Harrod's and check out every department, to drive down a suburban street and see how people lived, to be walking through the tunnel under the Thames at the same time a herd of screaming school children were running through it, to eat fish and chips under the awning of a store in Greenwich and again, in the rain, in a little park in front of the Assembly Rooms in Bath.  To be kept awake until after midnight by a tenor singing out a window in Edinburgh.

These are her fondest memories of Britain.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

What Has Fiorella Learned?

Fiorella has learned a lot about herself while writing WHERE THE HEART LEADS.

Craft-wise, she realized that she's been writing as a poet--agonizing over each sentence and every word as she goes along--which has seriously slowed her down.  As a novelist, she must write quickly to get the basic story down, then go back and add the curlicues.

Voice-wise, she realized that she is funny, sardonic, and quite dark.  She can't resist word plays, likes turning characters inside-out, and puts her heroine through hell before giving her a well-deserved happy ending.

Personally, she  learned that  if she stays up half the night finishing off a book, she's gonna pay for it the next night with a major attack of fire in the gut. But the good thing is that her take-no-prisoners approach has reaffirmed her belief in herself.  Fiorella is made of steel.  She can do anything she puts her mind to.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Fio will be sleeping late today.  She sent her finished manuscript to her editor at 2:15 a.m.  It was hell, but she did it.  A day off, and then she'll go back to her novella and hammer that out.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Locked in the Tower Room

Today is Fiorella's last chance with this book, and she's determined to make good.  The story's been stripped down to its core plot, peripheral characters have been dropped, and the ending's been rewritten. Now for the sanding, paint, and polish.  This sucker's going in tonight.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On the Run

The good thing about this book is that Fiorella's lost ten pounds to stress.  The bad thing is that she's running behind and has two days to top it off.  Ah, the carefree life of an author.

Wish her well. See ya tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Heil Donald!

Is Donald Trump the new Hitler?  Will we have to hide undocumented immigrants in our attics to save them from the Nazis nueves?  And what is this about denying citizenship to children born on American soil?

Doesn't Das Fuhrer realize we are ALL immigrants? And that movements of peoples have been going on from the beginning of time?  And that it's impossible to totally isolate a country without imprisoning it?

And that a president is a leader, not a dictator?  That he does not have the power of--say--a rich, egotistical reality TV star?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Drama and Trauma

Yes, Fio is running late on her revisions, but it's a miracle that she is running at all.  Everything struck at once--she's been burning the midnight oil on revisions, her printer gave up the ghost, and her internet connection disconnected.  And it all happened on the day before she'd promised her revisions.

One panic attack and three hour on the road to Click Computers and Fry's and Fio's electronicized again, but those revisions are even further behind.

Gimme a break!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Politics Unscripted

Bravado, showmanship, egotism
Increasingly bizarre
All the world's a stage
And Donald is the star

Saturday, August 15, 2015

To Sleep or Not to Sleep

Fio couldn't sleep last night--or at least she thought she couldn't.  She finally got out of bed at five, convinced she'd spent the past six hours lying in bed with her eyes closed, but her brain churning with activity. Then she went downstairs and snuggled on the couch for two hours, again with her eyes closed and her brain grinding.

Strangely, Husband, who was up several times during the night with his own problems, says she was sleeping like a baby.  And Fio has no memory of him getting in and out of bed.

Any theories?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Trumping His Horn

Now for the comedy relief--Fiorella searches through the news every day for the latest Donald Trump utterances. The sad thing is, though, that because the country is indulging itself in a nostalgic wave of deliberate and obstinate ignorance, he could actually end up as the GOP candidate.

Fiorella understands.  We live in a hard world, and it's easier to think of the Mexican government as deliberately leaking immigrants across the border to sabotage us.  And to think of women as uppity underlings.  And to think of the moon as being made of green cheese.

But sooner or later, the child in us has to give way to the adult.  Let's hope it's when we mark our ballots.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Short of stature, short of time
That's Fiorella, and that's her rhyme.

Mulling Birth and Death

Fiorella is mulling over one birth certificate and two death certificates this morning.  Cousin Tom's wife was kind enough to send Fio the fruits of her most recent genealogy search, and now Fio knows the dates of her father's oldest brother's birth and death, and even the cause of his death--cholera infantism, whatever that is.  She also knows the date of her paternal grandfather's death, which was labeled as "accidental (caught in wreck of cars in mine)."

Even more interesting is the evolution of her grandfather's given name, which is spelled "Jno" in earlier documents, but becomes "John" later.  The surname also underwent an Americanization--of sorts.

Interesting how the family is now pouring over these documents.  They are our only connection with people we never knew, people who would have been dear to us.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Writer in Throes

Fiorella's life is a see-saw.  She's either hard at work on household affairs or hard at work on her writing.  Right now, the household stuff is shot to hell.

Yes, Fio is in the throes of final (or semi-final) revisions, which means she is tossing golden words--remember, Fio is a poet at heart--and rending the fragile cloth of her story from end to end.  Also upping the heat index.

WHERE THE HEART LEADS--written in blood.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Up, Up, and Away!

Step by step, Fiorella is catching up with ten lost years of electronics.  After some initial help from friend Claire, she was able to arrange her desktop icons the way she wants them.  And Austin Son taught her how to move photos from her desktop onto Facebook while Minnesota Son and Wife taught her how to text, which Daughter and Austin Son tested her out on.  And now Fio's advanced to writing daily comments on Facebook and is determined to figure out how Twitter works. She also has it in mind to reactivate her author webpage. And Husband has marked the cord on the router that she needs to pull out, then reconnect when her computer goes offline.

Brave new world, clear the way!  Fiorella is in her ascendancy!

Monday, August 10, 2015

From Kitchen Cabinets to Meal-planning

Husband is Fiorella's hero.  Of his own initiative, he bought a can of white enamel and repainted the worn edges of all the kitchen cabinets.  They look brand new!  Fio didn't realize a touch-up job would make such a difference.

Husband has also held down grocery-shopping duty while Fio is doing intensive revising of the book due out in November.  And hasn't griped about the amount of time she spends isolated in her so-called office or about the ran forests of paper she consumes in the process, most of which departs the house crunched up in a plastic trash bag.  Or about having to come up with his own meals--well, that's partially because Fio is on a GERD diet.

Anyway you look at it, he's a keeper.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Party House

Preparing for Daughter's late birthday party, Fiorella rushed around the house like a mad woman,  trying to make her house look as much as possible like her mother's house.  She failed, of course.  No one could match her mother for housekeeping.  The vacuum cleaner was Mother's weapon of choice, and Better Homes and Garden was her guide while Fio couldn't remember how to work her vacuum and hasn't read a magazine in years

But Daughter seemed happy about her party as it was so all is well in Casa Fiorella.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Coincidence Exists

Fiorella admits she is a pattern seeker, but, unlike conspiracy theorists, she also admits the existence of coincidence.

For instance, Fio used to have a neighbor whose unusual first name was the same as the middle name of one of Fio's sons.  And the first name of one of Neighbor's sons was the same as the first name of Fio's other son and husband while the first name of Neighbor's other son was the male form of the first name of Fio's daughter. The only person in Neighbor's family whom Fio's family did not share a name with was Neighbor's wife.

And only Fiorella would figure all that out.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Modern Living?

Fio came back from New York to discover that our wrinkled, rutted, old country road had undergone a facelift.  In fact, it had been totally repaved.

No more jolts, no more jerks
What else does the county have in the works?

A yellow stripe down the middle of the road?  Cell phone coverage?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

She Shall Leave Glasses Wherever She Goes.

Fiorella went to EyeMart yesterday morning and ordered two more pairs of glasses.  Yes, she admits she bought two pairs just six months ago, but she lost them, the most recent pair in New York.

Losing glasses has been a problem for Fio ever since she got her first pair when she was in the sixth grade.  And she knows why: most people wear their glasses full-time, but the ever-vain Fiorella will put them on only when desperately needed.

"Get one of those librarian things that latches onto the frames and hangs the glasses around your neck," you counsel Fio.  She tried that, and the handle of the glasses broke off and she lost the whole kit and caboodle.  "Put them down in the same place every time," you suggest.  And Fio tries to, but she moves around so much.  And, to complicate things, because she has permanent lenses for close-up work, she rarely wears glasses inside the house except to watch TV.

Pray for her and to her--Fiorella, the patron saint of the eyeglass industry.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Now What?

What to do with a captive armadillo?

Yes, Fio and Husband finally caught one of the beasties that has been plowing their yard and trying to dig up their water pipe.  Husband figured out how to set up the trap and Fiorella, who got friendly with the pest control service guys she used to employ, knew exactly where to put it and how to place the side pieces so they would funnel the armadillo into the hair-trigger cage.

But now they have to get rid of the beast and reset the trap for the rest of the tribe.  The pest service guys would throw trapped armadillos into the back of their truck, take them further out into the boondocks, and shoot them, then take their remains to the dump, but Fio and Husband are squeamish about killing things.

City friends are all for transporting our armadillo out of the area and releasing it, but transporting it in either one of our cars is not going to happen--armadillos are vile creatures.  Also, the pest control people told Fio that armadillos will usually return to their accustomed habitats.

Maybe the neighbors will blast the armadillo for us. Check back later for a follow -up.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mal Voyage

Fiorella doesn't like traveling.

She doesn't like the pain and exhaustion caused by hauling around an overloaded suitcase on which she has incorrectly piled a heavy portfolio.  She doesn't like going insane on a a three-hour flight because the terminal vendors don't carry crossword puzzle books anymore.  She doesn't like her prepaid car not showing up at the NJ airport curb.  She doesn't like not being able to find her hotel room and being so exhausted that she has to sit down in the hall and lean her back against the wall  to rest.  She doesn't like having to live out of her suitcase for two days because the carpet in said room was soggy and it took a whole day for a second room to be available.  She doesn't like her prepaid car to JFK never materializing.  She doesn't like being scheduled with such a short time (an hour) between her arrival at DFW and the flight to Austin that, despite the Sky Lift, the doors were closed when she got to the terminal.

Oh, and she lost her glasses.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Castrating Calves

In her research for realism in her current book in which the hero is a rancher, Fiorella has learned far more about cattle than she ever wanted to know.  Did you know that there are three general methods of castrating the little bulls--knives, bands, and squeezers?

It's usually done when the calves are five to ten weeks old and not only improves the meat, but insures that only the best bulls breed.

Put that information in your factoid file.


Sunday, August 2, 2015


Fiorella's paternal line has Galitzian roots, which means she has milk bred into her bones.  As her great-grandfather explained, "When the Poles come into money, they buy a smart-looking horse. When the Galitzians come into money, they buy a cow so the children can have milk." Further on down the line, one of the saddest days in my father's childhood was when the family's rent-a-cow was reclaimed by its owner because Dad's widowed mother couldn't make the weekly payment.

To fast forward, both Dad and his brother made sure their children guzzled milk by the gallon, even  through their teens.  In fact, Dad gently called Fiorella (age twenty-five) down because she ordered a Coke when the family was out to eat.  His exact words were, "Fio, shouldn't that be milk?"

Fiorella did go through a rebellious Coke phase for a while there, but now it's back to the basics. She's a milk girl all the way.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Paper Cups

Fiorella is a big supporter of the paper cup industry.  She uses one per day as her water cup and another one as her morning milk cup.  Paper cups are not only easy to use, but save on dishwasher use, which is important when one has a septic system. And when one has three thirsty children.

Fiorella grew up using a common cup for casual drinks of water.  The whole family drank from the same yellow plastic cup which was in a holder next to the refrigerator. And, yes, Virginia, the family that drinks together also catches everything that comes along together.

Live on, paper cups.