Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fast Away the Old Year Passes

Where have all the Christmas cards gone
Long time passing
Where have all the Christmas cards gone
Long time ago . . . .

As usual, Fio displayed this year's cards on the front of the folding doors between the living room and the dining room--all twenty-seven of them, when she used to receive twice that many.  Years ago, her mother easily received four times that many.

But times have changed. People can pick up a phone and stay in contact with friends on a regular basis rather than waiting to scrawl a year's worth of news onto the back of a Christmas card.  Besides, those paper cards cost money, and so does mailing them--Fiorella paid almost forty dollars to send her seventy-five cards off to the corners of the earth.

Face it, Fio--Christmas cards are old hat now.  How sad.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Edge City Down the Tubes

Nooooooooooooooooooooooo. . . . Tell me it ain't so! Doonesbury has dwindled down to a hit-or-miss Sunday strip, Luann flounders with an unsteady footing in college, and now Edge City is retiring.

What is Fiorella to do?  The comics are the main reason she still subscribes to a newspaper.  Well, that and the anagrams.

Dear God--are the anagrams next?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Silent "T"

Regarding the pronunciation of often, please consider the following: soften, hasten, moisten, listen, fasten, glisten, jostle, hustle, bustle, thistle, whistle, rustle,  mistletoe.

Think about it, people.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Sample Painting

Check back to "Artistic Advice" on December 12. This is the sample painting that Fio was trying to upload to illustrate painting what you see, using a pinkish background, and looking for red.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Name Time

Fiorella confesses that she has far too good a time naming the characters in her stories.  Thus, in Where the Heart Leads, she gave the great-grandfather of the hero the name of one of her favorite college teachers, Gilbert McAllister.  And the hero's mother was named after an old friend of Fio's, Enid Hallock.  And the pianist's daughters, Carmen and Micaela, were named after the female leads of Bizet's opera.  And the reason the hero's sister-in-law was nicknamed "Rocky" is because her birth name was Marcy Ann--think about it.

Knowing no shame, Fio borrowed the names of kids she went to elementary school with for the Bosque Bend police captain (Mervin) and the local drive-in burger joint (Hardy Joe).  And a crazy whitish horse was named Bella in memory of a crazy whitish cocker spaniel mix that Fio's family once owned.  To top it off, Fio named the kinfolk the hero ran into at a Halloween carnival after her own cousins.

There's more, but that's enough to give you the idea.  Manipulating reality can be a lot of fun.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Blessed House

Fiorella reporting in--our Christmas day was wonderful.  We were thirteen at the table, which was really the dining table adjoined to a picnic table that Fio and Husband had lugged out of the depths of the garage.  The chairs came from all over the house and were joined by four brought by Brother Bill and his wife. After the gift give-aways and dinner--turkey breasts, ham, salmon, boiled potatoes, corn, mushrooms, pies, pudding--we all set up camp in the den, Fio handed out the stockings, and everyone talked and talked and talked.  And laughed and laughed and laughed.  Some of the guests had to leave as the afternoon wore on so the party moved into the front room, still talking.  And laughing.

Everyone is gone now, but the house is still resonating with vibes of love.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day

Minnesota Son and wife arrived about six yesterday, Fiorella finished her decorating by about seven, and the rest of the evening was spent cleaning up and planning for today.

The kitchen crew will have its hands full--ham and turkey and salmon, green beans and broccoli and mushrooms, potatoes and dressing, salad, pies and pudding.  Husband, Daughter, and Daughters-in-Law will take care of most of the cooking, with Fio boiling the potatoes and baking the salmon--she already made the pudding last night (smart girl).  

God bless our table and our family. And God bless you and yours.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

One day to Go

Fio has just one day left to finish decorating, and Husband is breathing down her neck to hurry it up. She's had to cut back a lot this year, which curls her soul, but thirteen people will be sitting down at her make-shift Christmas table, and right now it's still covered with her decorating debris--ribbons, greenery, birds, butterflies, ornaments of all sorts.

Wish her well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Danger Everywhere

Fiorella walked up to the road at twilight and started looping a long string of tinsel garlands on the trees down into the driveway.  The sky was blue-gray, the moon was a smudge of white overhead, and the air was still.  Suddenly she realized she was all alone on the darkening road--a situation right out of Forensic Files.

And that, my friends, is how a writer's mind works.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holiday Decorations

Fiorella likes decorating for Christmas, and she does a bang-up job of it.  Wreaths, red bows on everything bow-able, paper snowflakes she cuts anew each year, a tree that should be able to be seen from Mars--the works.  But what she doesn't understand is  the mindset of people, individuals, who spend thousands of dollars covering every inch of their homes and yards with displays that should be able to be seen all the way to Pluto.

Bling upon bling is not only wasteful, but tasteless, no matter what holiday it is.  

Monday, December 21, 2015


This much, my dear, is clear:
I have the knowing eye
You have the knowing ear.
You look, but do not see
I listen, but do not hear.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


It's almost Christmas so, reverting to her childhood, Fiorella is sick.  Not the scarlet fever or chicken pox of her youth, but a sinus infection--just enough to make her miserable.  She got up at four this morning and ran a hot bath to warm herself and press a hot washcloth against the side of her nose so she could breathe.  Today will be a chicken-rice-soup and hot-water-bottle day.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday Hysteria

Each political party has its loons--the Republicans have Trump and the Democrats have Sanders. Trump bellows and Sanders froths. Fiorella hopes they'll both give it a rest for the next two weeks, and let us all enjoy the holidays, although Fio's life is still wrought.  She hasn't received the financial settlement yet in re the scamming handyman, and that home refinancing, which was signed sealed, and delivered weeks ago, is still rearing its ugly head in the form of a letter claiming she hadn't submitted proof of insurance, which she darn well had, but now Fio can't find a copy of the letter or the insurance declaration page.  In fact, in the pre-Christmas melee, it's hard for her to find anything.

Ah, well. There's always chocolate.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Snippets

The noose draws tighter--the Christmas Eve noose, that is.  Only seven more days left for Fio to decorate the house and the driveway.  Send your energy vibes her way.
The yardman cut down two dead trees on our property, doubling our supply of firewood. It's the right thing to do.  Fio is always saddened by the sight of broken and fallen trees on the side of the road.  Leaving arboleal corpses to rot in the rain is a disrespectful and a waste of natural resources.
Fiorella appreciates the fact that plastic ornaments can last forever, but she prefers the limited lifespans  of the traditional glass ornaments.  Their very fragility makes them more precious.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Starbucks, Snowmen, and Christmas Cups

What's going on with the stupid hullabaloo over Starbucks' red Christmas cups and delicious red-scarfed snowmen?  What is the source of all that negative publicity? A rival coffee shop, a red-and-green-only organization, a snowman-protective movement?

Fio, of course, has her own theory.  She thinks a Ku Klux Klan-type hate group has declared war on Starbucks because the coffee shop developed a social conscience a while back and tried to spread the good word with the rather innocuous "Race Together" message inscribed on its cups.

Therefore, Fio being Fio, she has decided to patronize Starbucks a couple of extra times this season to show her opposition to racism and her support of snowmen and red cups.

On the other hand, maybe Fio and her ilk are being maneuvered.  Maybe Starbucks itself is the source of the outcry.  As 'tis often said, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Big House

When Fiorella was a child, she dreamed of living in a Cinderella castle. As a young woman, she cast an ambitious eye on pictures of celebrities' palatial homes.  But in her maturity, she has realized that a large home is never quite one's own. If Fio, with her 3000 square feet, employs a bi-weekly maid and a once-a-month yardman, and is now looking for an as-needed handyman, how many people--full-time staff--would the upkeep of a 10,000 sq. ft. "home" require? Or a residence twice that size? There's no way Fio could slip into her Cinderella gown and waltz her way through that large a house without bumping into a squadron of maids dusting, cleaning, and mis-arranging her furniture.  Pity Queen Elizabeth.  Her castle is not her home.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Holiday Schedule

Fiorella assured Husband she would have all the Christmas decorations done by the end of the week.  Then she lost yesterday to his medical procedure and a fall she took while she was trying to get up on an outside chair--one of those heavy wrought iron things--to rehang the plastic snowflakes that had fallen off a misshapen little front-yard tree. She hit the back of her head on the ground and twisted her right foot. The head seems to be okay, but the arch of Fio's foot is so swollen that she's holding onto whatever's handy as she limps around the house.  No ladder-climbing for her for a while.

Sigh.  Looks like the decorations are going to be the usual count-down to the wire.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Creative Explosion

Fiorella is the most creative person in the world and her mother is to blame for encouraging her.  Of course, Mom tried to rein Fio in at a certain point, but it was too late.

The above is a prelude to the main story: Fiorella finished off her Christmas sonnet and the card design today, and, in five minutes, will be busting down the road to FedEx Kinko's, which, under one name or another, has been printing out her cards for too many years to count.  The poem is always the hardest part, with Fio revising it even when she's in her design phase, like today.  "Christmas Fire" is the title, and you can guess the topic.  But how to illustrate it?  Fio made a quick sketch of the family fireplace, but it looked stupid.  Then the lightning struck--that bolt of creativity that borders on insanity--use the fire, but cut it out of red paper and use it to border the poem!

Okay, the euphoria is fading and the insecurity is setting in.  Will people like Fio's cards, realize the treasure they have received?  Or will they toss the card in the waste basket and wonder why Fio doesn't go out and buy cards like everyone else.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Happy Birthday, Son

Austin Son had another birthday yesterday.  Fio is happy to celebrate with him, but she really doesn't like him adding another year.  Fiorella's car is more than ten years old, her Christmas tree is more then ten years old, and she herself is more than ten years old, but she would like Son to stay steady.

Com'on, kid, hold your ground.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Artistic Advice

If there's one piece of advice I have for young artists, it's to paint what you see, not what you think you see.

Oops, a second one: look for the red, especially regarding portraits.

And another one: start by painting the whole canvas pink.

And if Fio can ever get her laptop to cooperate, she'll give you an example of her own work.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ins and Outs and All Abouts

Everywhere Fio went yesterday, she got herself into trouble.  She missed the turn to Mimi's Cafe and drove round and round Premium Outlets, stopping to get guidance from everyone she saw.  Later on, she couldn't find her credit card in HEB and had to leave her cart with the front desk while she went back to the car to search for it.  And when she got home,  she lost the new roll of Scotch tape she'd bought to affix her paper snowflakes to the window.  To top it off, that evening, her computer froze, and she had to turn to pen and paper to work on her Christmas poem.  But the words just wouldn't come.

However, she did finally reach Mimi's and had an enjoyable lunch with Friend Jane, she eventually found her credit card in her purse and reclaimed her groceries, and, after a thorough search, she found the tape and decorated the windows.  Then, this morning, as she was waking up, the key lines of her poem came to her, and when she came downstairs and pulled her laptop out from under the couch, Sonia Dog's nemesis worked.

All's well that ends well.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cops and Killers

As a male, Husband can watch episode after episode of cops-and-killers shows, and they bounce right off of him.  As a female, Fiorella absorbs every gruesome detail of the dramas, and her GERD starts rumbling.

Ergo, Fiorella must henceforth absent herself from the den when said programs are on TV.  If you can't join'em, leave the room.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Cops and Robbers

Fio had an adventure yesterday.  While she and Husband were in the garage discussing his workbench extension, two black vehicles flashing red and blue lights send the gravel flying as they pulled into the driveway.  Fiorella walked out of the garage to find out what was going on, and one of the officers yelled "Get back inside!"

With images of a deranged psycho killer flashing through their heads, Fio and Husband sprang into action, closing the garage door and locking every other door in the house.  Then they watched out the window as a German shepherd led its handlers across the driveway into the wild area between their property and the neighbor's.  Was an escaped felon hiding there? Had someone reported a body? How about a snarling bobcat or a rabid dog?  Maybe that guy their daughter has a protection order on?

Twenty minutes later, the officers packed away the dog and zoomed out the other end of the driveway, again spraying gravel.  It didn't seem to Fio and Husband that the dog had found anything, but they didn't know whether it was safe to unlock the doors so Fiorella called the sheriff's office. The incident had been taken care of, she was assured, although her informant wouldn't any give her any details.  There was supposedly no continuing threat or danger, and Fio and Husband could go back outside.

But for some reason, they decided to spend the rest of the afternoon indoors.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Political Advice

Dear Republican Hopefuls:

A word of advice.  Do not take on Donald Trump. He will pull you down to his own level, drowning you in a swamp of egotistical bombast and unfounded assertions.  Your best bet is to ignore him.  His idiocy will run his course.

Sincerely yours,

A Democrat who believes in a strong two-party system

Monday, December 7, 2015

Joseph Speaks

Just to get you in the mood for Christmas, here is a sonnet I wrote years ago.

The Dreamer

I dreamed of wonders last night as I slept
Of peace and joy and heavenly harmony
Of God's great love, and of his promise kept,
Of his fulfillment of the prophecy.
Within my heart, I dreamed an angel sang
To tell me of the long-awaited one,
Emmanuel, the Christ, true God and Man
The Savior, Jesus, Gold's own self and son.
"Dreamer," spoke the angel in the night,
"Accept Him of your righteous piety
Protect him of your heart and strength and might
And love Him of your sweet humanity.
     Shun not Mary, Joseph, but reconcile
     And wed the virgin, mother of God's child."

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Here and There

Fio doesn't know which is worse, the Trumpery or the Duggary.
Fiorella is a repository of secrets.
If Fio had her way, the whole world be safe, sound, and secure, and all the drama would be restricted to fiction.
Each baby is God's gift of another chance for the world.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


No matter what, Fio must gather her grit and proceed.  She's made another list and checking it twice, gonna find out what will serve and suffice.  It's all up to Fiorella.  Santa Claus don't stop here no more.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Stressed Out

Well, folks, yesterday didn't turn out to be as glorious as Fio thought it would be.  She had to take her computer in--again--because the email was acting up--again--so she left it overnight this time, which meant she was adrift all day. Yes, your Fiorella is addicted to her laptop.  She couldn't work on her book, couldn't research the thousand and one random questions she comes up with each day, couldn't follow what was happening in the world, and couldn't communicate on email or Facebook.

So what she did do (because Fio is also addicted to activity) was drive over to Home Depot with a photocopy of one of the checks in re the scamming handyman that Amy Bullock had said she hadn't received and ask their people to send Amy an email copy of it.  This was the fourth "send" of the pc of the check, and Fio had sweated blood over getting it out of the bank.  Fio will admit it--she almost broke down and cried from total frustration.

Fio does not understand why Amy didn't receive the three previous "sends," but maybe whatever was wrong with the Nemesis's email may have caused it.  ("The Nemesis" is Sonia Dog's name for Fio's laptop.)  On the other hand, she said she received the first one, then "lost it."

Fio also went through the house and wrote down (on a paper tablet) the overheads that were out--fifteen in all, and noted down the three areas that need new drywall because of the mold, called the yardman and the neighbors to arrange a get-together on Monday for us all to talk about a property-line fence, put together some promotion ideas for Where The Heart Leads, made a start on her Christmas sonnet, paid bills, thought about Austin son's upcoming birthday, mentally reviewed the refinancing of the house--and wilted.

She tried to take it easy yesterday evening, then awoke in the early morning with a burning mouth and a rumbling tummy.  GERD.  Three hours later she'd pretty well cured it a powerful antacid pill and milk, but it still lingered.  Husband is going to pick up potato chips, vanilla ice cream, and bagels at the store for her.

Fio dragged you through her personal hell because (1) she is a modern Samuel Pepys, and (2) this morning she realized that what she eats plays only a minimal role in her affliction.  STRESS is the  key factor.  Fio is responsible for many, many things,  and having to operate without a computer was only the tipping point.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


The morning is glorious
The day is bright
Gone is the darkness
Of the night.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


This will probably be the last time that Fio decorates the house for Christmas. It has always been a joy to her to construct the tree, supervise the placement of the lights, hang the ornaments, and fling the tinsel.  For years, she has wrapped the banisters with ersatz greenery, then added ribbons and ornaments.  She's tied red bows around everything she could, hung wreaths, put up one swag of birds,  butterflies, and ornamental fruit and vegetables, and another swag of exotic birds.  She's even decorated the bathroom closet door.  And, of course, the windows got their share of attention too.

But lately she's realized that she's the only one who enjoys her efforts.  After all, the children are all grown and they've seen their mother's miracles before--year after year, in fact.  Somewhere along the line, Fio thought there would be more children whose eyes would look in wonder at Fio's decorations, like she did at her own mother's.  But such is not to be.

Hang up the Santa hat, Fiorella.  Your time is past.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Prep

Fiorella finished putting together the Christmas tree yesterday so next will come the lights, which are Husband's domain, then the ornaments, which she hopes Austin Son and his wife will help with again this year.  And maybe she can get Daughter to come over too.  Then, of course, there are all the swags and wreaths and displays that Fio sets up, plus the plastic snowflakes she and Husband hang from limbs of the little tree just outside the front door.  Yeah--Fio knows how to do Christmas up right, but it takes work.

Volunteers welcome.