Saturday, December 31, 2016

Easy to Spot

Who is this Fiorella Plum, you ask? She's the one who smiles and nods at everyone she sees. Who does physical therapy exercises while waiting at a red light or in the post office line. Who sits in her car in the parking lot and jots down notes for a novel on the back of her supermarket register slips. Who pulls wagons of rocks up from the creek to line the driveway. Who always has a project in the works. WHO CANNOT KEEP STILL AND NEVER WILL

And that's her New Year's resolution.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Declaration of War

Fiorella is late today
Not that she has naught to say
Rather that she has far too much
About the state of the world and such--
She wants to rouse the countryside
She wants to echo the world wide
In seeming contradiction, to fight
For love and peace and what is right

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Always Busy

When Fio was a child, she had dreams of seeing the world, just like all the TV and movies heroines, but once she got around to it--the family visited England when her kids were teenagers--she realized that she wasn't really interested in seeing the sights. Tower Bridge didn't interest her, castles bored her, the crown jewels looked crass. What she really wanted to do was drive down residential streets, check out Safeway, and connect with the everyone she saw, human to human. And if Fio ever visited a country that didn't speak English, you can bet she'd be doing her best to learn the new language while she was there.

Yep, your Fiorella is an odd duck. She's not content to look. She has to do.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Into the Past

Fiorella and Husband gave each other for Christmas, which should be interesting. They did the National Geographic thing about twenty years ago, when genealogy could only be determined to about ten thousand years back so now they're looking forward to learning about more recent developments. Not that any of it matters.  We all are what we are--not our parents, not our grandparents, not our distant ancestors. Which, keeping evolution in mind, is rather a good thing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What Would Jesus Do?

Donald Trump has not only legitimatized hate, but he has endorsed it. The hate of blacks, browns, Asians, women, the handicapped, anyone with a different opinion than his. At the same time, he has made it acceptable to lie, insult, defame, belittle, and attack. To be a liar, a lecher, a voyeur, ignorant, and vengeful.

Merry Christmas. Sounds like Jesus needs to throw the money-lenders out of the temple again.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Near Miss

Hey there you, the young stag who ambled across in front of my car as I was busting down the road--didn't your mother ever teach you to look left-right-left before crossing a street? And you came out of the twilight too.  These teenagers!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Armed for Christmas

WARNING: This is not Fiorella's usual joyful Christmas message because she is deeply concerned about the state of the world, her country, and her family. Her children are going through perilous passages in their lives, her country has turned itself over to an out-and-out crook, and her world is being rampaged by madmen who use religion as an excuse to kill and destroy. Ignorance is celebrated. Corruption is the name of the game. Hate and anger ride the air waves.

Where are laughter and fellowship? Where are goodness, mercy, honesty, and compassion? Where is love? Fio can only pray that God will prevail, and she hopes you will also.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Grinch Has Stolen Christmas 2016

Fiorella would rather be feeling all Christmasy and nostalgic, but she isn't, and it's not because the weather here in central Texas is running in the balmy 70's. It's because, despite herself, she's been keeping up with the news, and it's not good. Apparently Trump wants to play with that little red button Hillary warned us about. Ever since Hiroshima, previous presidents have, for the most part, striven for peace, to ease world tensions, to take the leadership in helping countries avoid going to war with each other with the idea that it's not going to help any of us if we're all pot-shotting each other with nuclear weapons.

But Trump, true to form, is planing to sow discord among nations, as if the world is a giant Apprentice sound stage, and Fiorella fears for her herself, her children, her country and the world.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Progress on the Christmas Prep Front

Fiorella is, as she predicted almost through with decorating. Last night she packed away all the left-overs except the new tinsel she bought to take the place of the garlands along the road that the storm had beaten to a pulp. She'll make those repairs and replacements today, add more decorations to the outside tree, and to pick up some butterflies at Hobby Lobby to finish off an inside wreath. Definitely, she'll be through by tomorrow evening, and that's the best time she's ever made. And if you're wondering, everything stays up for a couple of months to make up for all the intensive labor.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Seeking Gaye Larson

Good morning! Fio tried to send a copy of her Christmas card to you, but apparently she still hasn't gotten the hang of how too do it.  Speaking of technology, Fio has recently become aware of how much technology, which was supposed to bring us all together, has actually driven us apart.  What she is saying is that because we all have cell phones, we can't reach anyone whose number we don't already have. To be more specific, Fiorella can't call the woman who found her card case because she can't get her cell phone number. She was able to trace down an address and left a note on the door, but it turns out the woman--Gaye Larson, if you know her--had recently moved. looks like after Christmas, Fio will be knocking in doors in Gaye's old neighborhood to try to get a lead on her current whereabouts.

Detective work always looked a lot easier on TV.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Is Coming

The gypsies have parked their porta-potty and RVs at the back of the fireworks lot, loaded the shelves of the sales stand, and turned on the string of lights across the entrance off the road. Yep, it's Christmastime in Texas.
Fio  drove into Austin today to visit with friend Paula and brother Bill at Dan's Hamburgers. She almost missed her turn off I-35. but her baby car made it automatically. Yes, the car knows the way/To pull the sleigh/ Through bright and drifting snow-o.
What is it with the balmy weather and summer skies? Fio had to turn on the car air conditioning on the way back from FedEx Kinkos. Is this any way to celebrate Chrstmas?
It looks like Fio will have the house fully decorated by Friday...or Saturday.  Whatever, it's moving. Now to leap in the car again and drive in to FedEx for more cards and envelopes. She'll try to put the cover of her card on the blog for you--it's her sonnet, but decorated, and she's sending it out to the world.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Miracle Needed, Please

Count-down to Christmas, which means Fiorella hasn't worked on her Spanish for a week (una semana) written a word on the book (el libro) for two days, and didn't lift a single rock (una roca) today. What she did do was finish off her card and take it to FedEx Kinkos for printing, run around to several stores to buy up the last of the tinsel in town, and populate the fake greenery swag over the dining room (el comidor) window (la ventana) with small birds made of feathers and ornaments that look like fruits and vegetables. She's hoping to have all her Christmas preparations finished on Wednesday, Thursday at the latest, but we'll see.

Meanwhile, send healing thoughts to Fio. She's been crying again--the Electoral College thing. She didn't expect anything, but had prayed for a miracle. Maybe, maybe, maybe, there still is one in the offing. It's that time of year.

Monday, December 19, 2016


Fio has to report this, but she feels strange about it. As you know, she went hysterical for about two hours after she lost her card case.  Later, after she'd exhausted herself, she began trudging around the house, putting up holiday decorations, but her heart wasn't in it.  About an hour in, she started talking to God, begging to get her card case back, begging for mercy.

She'd deployed the contents of most of the bags and boxes when she came across a cheap little woven basket with  a pine cone and fake mistletoe in it so she added tinsel to it and walked it into the guest room to put on the dresser.  As she left the room, she noticed a small circle on the floor. IT WAS HER WEDDING RING, THE ONE SHE'D LOST TWO MONTHS AGO!  Apparently it had bounced to the floor, swooped around the corner and down the hall, then skidded under the guest room door.

As Fio said, she feels strange reporting in. Maybe she shouldn't have. Maybe this was supposed to be personal between her and God. Maybe finding the ring was God's way of saying that all will be well. Conjecturing further, maybe God wanted a family that wasn't going to have much of a Christmas to pick up the card case and buy their children gifts with it. After all, Fio can get her cards replaced (again).

But she will truly miss her card case.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Fiorella Wants Her Card Case Back!

Fiorella is very upset, screaming upset, crying upset, cursing upset, throwing things upset, questioning God upset. Her card case, the one she got at the New York RWA conference in 2015, the one that has her two credit cards in it as well as her business cards, is gone, gone, gone. She and Husband had bought a few groceries at H-E-B yesterday evening, and apparently when they took them to the car, she put her precious card case in the tray of the small cart they had used, then did not retrieve the case when she parked the cart back at the store. She realized what had happened fifteen minutes later and drove back to the store, but no one had turned in her card case. She is now offering a $100 reward for its return.

Why is this happening to Fiorella? She is a good person, a nice person, someone who works hard, who gives and gives an gives, who pushes herself to do better every day in every way, a person who prays for others, who tries to help others, who puts up with a lot of crap, who has the patience of Job. But every now and then she cracks, and this is one of those times.

And she asks again--why, God?  Doesn't Fio have enough on her back right now?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fiorella Loves Languages

Fio is feeling prognosticative. The two languages she wanted most to study during her undergrad years were Russian and Mandarin. Who would have guessed they'd be the two languages of most importance to world relations right now? (Fio confesses that the only reason she was drawn to them back then was that they were exotic and different.)
Unfortunately, Fio never had the chance to learn Mandarin. Despite being Phi Beta Kappa material, she couldn't get a scholarship because she was a woman, a married woman at that, and "would probably get pregnant and drop out," which meant that she had to work full-time her last two undergrad years, which meant she couldn't attend the intensive Mandarin class the required five days a week.
Fiorella's Spanish program has slowed down during the holidays, although she did throw out gracias a few times to the tech in her eye doctor's office yesterday. When the tech replied with de nada, Fio asked her if she spoke Spanish, and they exchanged a few phrases, which FIO ACTUALLY UNDERSTOOD! Feliz Navidad!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ah, Chocolate

Good morning!  Fiorella slept late and almost didn't make it out to the trash pick-up at the head of the driveway. Not to put the trash out--she and Husband had wheeled six bags out yesterday evening--but to top the large vinyl can with her yearly gift to those knights in soiled uniforms who dispose of what she does not wish to deal with.

Fiorella goes wacko at Christmastime. If she could, she'd gift the world, and she does always pray for its welfare, but more specifically, she likes to give chocolate. Thus she delivers holiday bags of chocolate kisses not only to the trash pick-up stalwarts, but also to the guys at Click Computer Repair, which has been her safety net and rescuer for many years, and to her peops at Georgetown Mazda, who have played the same role in regard to her baby car.

For herself, Fio brings way too much chocolate home at this time of year.  She stocks up on Russell Stover chocolate bars because they're available only during the holiday season, can't resist chocolate in the shape of coins (especially the ones that are about nine inches across), and has a weakness for chocolate Santas. To top it off, she and Husband always make chocolate fudge for themselves to celebrate the season. Oh, and her role in the Christmas dinner is to make a big bowl of chocolate pudding for dessert.

Ah, chocolate. The world would be in so much better shape if everyone could grow a patch of chocolate, complete with golden wrappers, in his own back yard.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Perceived Value

Fiorella's Christmas tree ornaments are precious to her. Not that they're worth a lot of money--the most she's ever paid is $12 for a nine-inch long yellow school bus--but because they are fragile. She loses one or two of them every Christmas, and, because styles in ornaments change yearly, replacements are impossible. Thus the Virgin and an angel are the only two she has left out of a charming nativity set she bought fifteen years ago, but, on the other hand, she picked up a dump truck, a food stand, two choo-choos, two fire engines, and two aviones (airplanes) last week and has hung them from the artificial greenery swag above her mostrador de madera (wooden counter), an interesting trade that might have something to do with what is happening in the country today.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Poetry That Talks

This one of my favorite poems. I love the way Anthony Hecht uses everyday words and a set rhythm and rhyme scheme to express so chilling a topic. Hecht wrote this poem in reference to Nazi Germany, but for me, it also pertains to the fear, vulnerability, and helplessness so many of us in the United States are feeling since the "election."

It Out-Herods Herod. Pray You, Avoid It.

Tonight my children hunch 
Toward their Western, and are glad   
As, with a Sunday punch, 
The Good casts out the Bad. 

And in their fairy tales 
The warty giant and witch 
Get sealed in doorless jails 
And the match-girl strikes it rich. 

I’ve made myself a drink. 
The giant and witch are set 
To bust out of the clink 
When my children have gone to bed. 

All frequencies are loud 
With signals of despair; 
In flash and morse they crowd   
The rondure of the air. 

For the wicked have grown strong,   
Their numbers mock at death,   
Their cow brings forth its young,   
Their bull engendereth. 

Their very fund of strength,   
Satan, bestrides the globe; 
He stalks its breadth and length   
And finds out even Job. 

Yet by quite other laws 
My children make their case;   
Half God, half Santa Claus,   
But with my voice and face, 

A hero comes to save 
The poorman, beggarman, thief,   
And make the world behave   
And put an end to grief. 

And that their sleep be sound   
I say this childermas 
Who could not, at one time,   
Have saved them from the gas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Thanksgiving

Merry Christmas to Fernando, who has done our heavy yard work for the past two years. Yesterday he not only neatened up our stacks of firewood, but pulled fallen tree limbs out of the dry creek area and chainsawed them to add to the pile. He also whooshed our front porch, back porch, and the entire length of our driveway free of leaves, plus pulled a couple of loads of rocks up from the creek to place alongside the driveway. All in all, it was about four hours work, which was twice as much as Fio pays him for. Oh, and as Fio helps him learn English, Fernando has been helping her learn Spanish. Muchas gracias, mi amigo.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Politicians Don't give a Damn about Real People

Actually, there is someone Fiorella hates, and he's dead--Ronald Reagan.

Fio started out liking Ronnie because he seemed to be, well, a likable kind of guy, so when Son, a devotee of TV news, asked her to mail a letter to him (Son was against something or other), she thought it would be a good civics lesson. To play it safe, she added the information to the bottom of the crayoned letter that Son was seven years old.

Fio, being naive, assumed all letters to the President were answered in some way or another, if just by a mimeographed "thank you for writing" so she watched out the window with interest as day after day, Son ran out to the mailbox for Reagan's reply.

But it never came.

And Fiorella's heart broke for Son's loss of innocence and her own..

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Holiday Preparation Reformation

Fiorella is planning to do something strange and wonderful this holiday season--finish Christmas decorations by the 17th. Usually she's hanging ornaments, flinging around tinsel, and pasting together paper chains till Husband finally pulls her off the ladder at midnight of the 24th, but this year, because she saved last year's snowflakes (for the windows), she doesn't have to spend a couple of days cutting them out, plus...she has a secret weapon. Actually it's four secret weapons. Austin son and his wife came over last Saturday and decorated the tree for her (THANK YOU!), and nephew Barrett and his wife are coming over today to help get the wreaths and swags up (BLESS THEM!)

Fio will still have enough to do to keep her busy because she'll be the one decorating the wreaths and swags, and she's also the one who sets up displays on every surface in the house. But what about Christmas dinner, you ask?  Well, Fio's only contributions are boiled potatoes and chocolate pudding. Husband takes care of the rest (THANK GOODNESS!).

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Fiorella's Rock Tree

Some people have an apple tree, some have a peach tree, and some have a cherry tree. Fiorella has a rock tree. That's right--it grows rocks (rocas).  The tree, maybe sixty inches around, is located on the other side of Fio's dry creek, and the ground under its canopy is solid with rocks, a few of them too heavy for Fio to lift, but most of them a good size for carting up the slope to line the driveway (estacionamiento).

Why does Fiorella think the tree gave birth to the rocks, you ask? Because they pave the area under the tree in a circle, which obviously means that when the baby stones ripened and got too heavy for the tree limbs to support, they dropped off onto the ground below.

The apple never falls far from the tree.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Eskimo Energy

Fiorella must have Eskimo genes somewhere along the line because she loves cold weather. It was 36 degrees outside yesterday afternoon when she put on her jacket and wound her way through the south woods down to the semi-dry creek to pull rocks (rocas) out from around a tree which she and Husband call, appropriately enough, the rock tree. She loaded the rocks into the garden cart, pulled it several yards uphill, and laid the rocks alongside the driveway (estacionamiento) to prevent washouts. Then she took the cart back down to the creek again and started pulling out more rocks, hurling them up toward the cart for this afternoon's pick up.

Reviewing the day, Fio is thinking (1) that she must have been a laborer in her past life because she LOVES tossing rocks, and (2) that if it were summer, there is no way in the world she could have been dragged out of the house.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Politics and God

As, one by one, Trump's choices for governmental positions are announced, Fiorella prays all the harder that either the recounts or the Electoral College will propel Hillary into the Presidency. What a wonderful Christmas present that would be to America.

But how in the world did Trump get this far? How did a blustering bully propel himself into being a legitimate candidate? What role did Russia play in the show? Where did the fake news stories come from? And most important, where is God?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cliche Heaven

A leopard can't change his spots. Trump, true to form, is playing his presumptive President-elect role like an episode of his TV show, making deals which he may never be able to fulfill in return for thunderous applause from his fans in the pits. For these fans, it's a cliche of bread and circuses when his victory tour hits town. But as for those who disagree with him, especially another TV show, they're out, as fired as he can make them because it's his way or the highway. Unfortunately for America, his way is the low way.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Precious LittleTime

Shock--Fio forget to post today, which is understandable with the schedule she's trying to keep. She raced out of the house this morning to meet with a friend at Starbucks--the same friend she stood up the day before because Fio was waiting at the wrong Starbucks--only to wait again because this time she was 24 hours too early. What else to do but drive off to the post office to buy Christmas stamps. The machine didn't carry them so she had to join the tail end of a l-o-n-g line. Bored to tears after finishing off all her physical therapy exercises as she waited (neck, shoulders, plies), she started talking to the people standing behind her.

The line refused to move, but Fiorella overheard a post office lady (who was moving up and down the line with a whip to keep the lions in check) tell someone that H-E-B sold Christmas stamps so Fio said good-bye to her new friends and sped on up to H-E-B, only to stand in a new line, this time at a register. Fio asked for nativity stamps, but the clerk said she only had Santa stamps, but that every register had a different stamp. Now your Fio was not about to spend her precious time standing in line at twenty registers to find out which one of them carried a stamp appropriate to her Christmas card so she walked over to the service desk and--voila!--the clerk had an acceptable batch of stamps on hand. Fio bought 100, which should put the national treasury back in good shape, then zoomed down to Hobby Lobby to buy more red ribbon for decking the halls, then drove home via Walgreens, where she picked up pildoras (pills) and a few Christmas treats.

The whole journey, Fio smiled a lot, talked to everyone, and even exchanged cards with a few other artist types. Yes, Fiorella on the roll is a sight to behold--and perhaps beware of. She is not the person her mother wanted her to be, but  Mother is long dead, and although  Fio feels her maternal love more and more every day, her strictures have faded away. Fio is Fio, and she will continue to devote every minute of her time to saving the world.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Finger Practice

While Austin son and his wife were at the house decorating the tree, Fiorella started thinking about "O Christmas Tree" and "Deck the Hall" so of course she pulled out the carols book and headed toward the piano. She hadn't played any of the carols for a year, but now was the time to start practicing. Surprisingly, her fingers half-remembered the notes, and she even sang a little. This is going to be a good Christmas,

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tis the Season

Step four of Fio's Christmas decorating. She decked the driveway with strands of tinsel last weekend, got all the storage bins in during the week, and yesterday she put together the twenty-year-old family Christmas tree. Come afternoon, Austin son and his wife drove up from Bastrop to put up the lights and decorate the tree, which is a monumental undertaking because Fio has MOUNDS of ornaments. She posted a photo of the wonderful results on FB this morning, but she still has to roll her mother's embroidered tree skirt under the branches. Step four will be the swag along the staircase railing, which will take at least a day, and step five will be hanging the plastic snowflakes from the little tree out front, which Husband usually is kind enough to help with. Later will come the swags over the living room door jamb, the dining room door jamb, and the dining room window. By Christmas day, every shelf and surface in the house will be loaded with tinsel and Christmas what-nots. Yes, Fio is a decorating fool. ENJOY!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Luann Rules!

Back to Luann. The comic strip has really picked up speed since its rocky transition from her high school days to her college career. Fio has especially enjoyed following the maturation of her brother, Brad, and his relationship with Toni Daytona. She likes Luann's parents too, and she also appreciates the fact that some of the students from Luann's high school are still in the scene--Bernice, Gunther, Tiffany--and that some have reentered the story lines, namely Leslie (the high school bully who is reforming himself), that Goth girl  (but where is Knute?), and Ox,  Now Fio wants to follow up on the teacher, the guidance counselor, little Elvis, and Bernice's brother. Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Christmas Sonnet, 2016

Fiorella has received her first Christmas card of the season so now it's time to release her own greeting, a sonnet by friend Jeanell. And yes, it's political. She calls it her battle cry.


HE COULD have come at the head of a howling horde,
a mob of wrathful demons recruited to scour
the earth and ravage it with fire and sword
in a full-court press to prove his might and power.
HE COULD have loosed the rivers, burned the sky,
melted mountains, destroyed the face of the moon,
have swept the planet clean, to purify
it for a New Creation, coming soon.
INSTEAD, he came as a child, a helpless babe
born in a stranger’s stable on a death-cold night
with neither shield nor buckler nor armored plate
to defend himself in the battle he would fight
and win, as darkness always yields to light.
As God prevails, and wrong must yield to right!

Christmas, 2016
Copyright,  Jeanell Bolton

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Language Addiction


That's how you say "hello" in Egyptian Arabic, which adds yet another greeting to Fiorella's ever-growing repertoire.  She learned it from the golden-haired  clerk who checked her out in H-E-B a couple of days ago, then solidified it in her brain by repeating it to the woman yesterday when Fio realized she'd wound up in the same register line.

Where did Fio's fascination with languages come from? Maybe from the early exposure Fio has previously described--her great aunts and uncles teaching her a "soft Russian" phrase ("God, give health") to use when she sneezed, maybe from a Louisiana-born neighbor teaching her to say "I love you" in French, another neighbor teaching her hose to count to ten in Spanish, her mother teaching her how to count and recite the alphabet in German. Maybe from moving from Ohio to Texas and having to learn a whole new version of English. Maybe from her desire to communicate with everyone she meets, or from her own weird brain, which seems to be attracted to unraveling intricacies.

Whatever, Fiorella is hooked. The next time she goes through Goldie's line, she'll ask her how to  say "thank you."