Sunday, December 31, 2017


I keep going through my list and checking out my computer because I feel like I'm missing something. Then I realize what it's not a "what," but a "who," and I cry. Again.

Saturday, December 30, 2017


Fiorella just received a phone call from Pastor Gronberg, and when she saw his name on caller ID, she knew what it would be about. Sharon, Kite, Fio's close friend for forty-plus years, had died last night. Her death was not unexpected, but Fiorella was unprepared for it being so soon, before she could drive over to the hospice for one last visit.

Sharon had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer many years ago, fought it, and beat it, but last year it came roaring back, although Fio didn't know it at the time. She had assumed Sharon's disappearance from her life meant that she was more absorbed in her own life--her children and grandchildren--and Fiorella  doesn't push. But when she learned her friend was bed-bound at home and her daughter had come to town to care for her, Fio headed over to Sharon's house with her own daughter, who is Sharon's goddaughter, in tow and a silly Halloween gift in hand. Then she and Sharon spent an hour or so laughing together, reminding each other of the good times they'd had being the bad girls of the church choir. But Fio and Sharon's relationship had been more than fun and games. They'd also carpooled, compared notes about being PTA presidents, shared family triumphs and sorrows, and been supportive of each other in hard times.

Fiorella visited Sharon again in November by herself, then tried to set up a visit for early December, but couldn't make contact with her friend by phone, texting, or email. Then last night, Pastor Gronberg called and told her that Sharon was in hospice and very weak. Fio immediately made plans to visit her friend with a silly Christmas gift, but not till Sunday, when she'd be completely recovered from the gunk that had hit most of her family members the day after Christmas.

But Sunday would have been too late. Today would have been too late. Sharon is gone from this earth to unite with the universe. And Fiorella is weeping.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Thinking Things Over

Back in the day--the day before the proliferation of paper and plastic products, to be exact--a woman's joy was to possess a nice set of china. Thus, through various twists and turns, Fio inherited two sets of really good china of the same pattern (Haviland, to be exact), one from her great-grandmother, the other from Husband's grandmother, and she uses them at Christmas every year. But now she's considering selling both of them off. The times, they are a-changin', and Fiorella doubts that the next generation will value this heritage. besides, there's only so much one can pass on without weighing people down.
Fiorella has been blessed with good friends. The guys at Mazda take good care of her baby car, Click  Computer Repair provides not only good service, but good advice, and the lady bankers at Chase are helping her through a financial situation she wants to settle. Thank you, one and all.
Fio has been hearing a lot about meditation lately so she researched it on line--and decided it wasn't for her. Fiorella doesn't want to sit still, doesn't want to clear her mind of everything she has commited to, and doesn't want to hypnotize herself into nothingness. Ever since she was a child, she's had an acute perception of time passing, and she doesn't want to lose that feeling because it is what drives her to do what she must do before she leaves this earth.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Creative Solutions Live Here

Fio is feeling quite pleased with herself. She wanted the entrance to her house to look welcoming to Christmas guests, but the freeze had killed off all her lavenders except one tiny blossom. Eureka--she grabbed the gold tinsel garlands she had bought for a project that didn't work out and wound them around on tops of the bodies of the lavenders. Two days later, the wind blew the tinsel off, but Minnesota son and his wife saved the day by helping Fio make hooks and prongs out of old coat hangers to hold the tinsel in place. Bet nobody ever came up with either of those solutions before.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Under the Weather

This is getting old. Fiorella has a cold again, her second one for the winter, and it's the same old, same old--sneezing, snorting, coughing, scratchy throat, runny nose, tiredness, headache, and chills.
The clean up from the Christmas feast is going to have to wait a day or two.
Fio can't belive the cold weather. Sure, she experienced it every winter when her family lived in Ohio, but below freezing in Texas? And they're predicting it for all week?
Meanwhile Fio's telenovela is drawing to its inevitable close. Julieta and Juan Pablo have adopted a little boy, Eugenio and Blanka have resolved years of anger, Gabriel and Daniela are headed toward the altar, Linda is softening her snarky ways for the sake of Bruno, Marisol and Xavi have declared their love, and Amalia, a big girl, has finally snagged muscle-builder Enzio. Now all Fio has to worry about is whether or not Julieta and Juan Pablo will be able to retain custody of their son, how much trouble Gabriel's filthy rich family will make about their son marrying a tomboy from a middle class family, the way Marisol's ex is trying to turn their daughter against Xavi, and Belen's depression about living alone now that Amalia will be moving in with Enzio.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


What a wonderful Christmas! Minnesota son and his wife came down a week ago to help Husband and Fio prepare the house for the family celebration, and Daughter drafted her aunt and sisters-in-law to help with food prep. But baby was the star of the show, as far as Fiorella was concerned. Granddaughter is almost standing now, and we think she said her first word--yeah!
It was interesting having five alpha women in the kitchen--Fio, Sister-in-law, Daughter, and both daughters-in-law--but Fiorella thinks she will bow out next year. It's time to let the torch be passed. Of course, all the visitors flew back to their own nests in mid-afternoon, but the leftovers stayed here, which means that Husband and Fiorella have enough ham, turkey, salmon, and sides for a week. Yeah!
Now that Christmas is over, Fio is girding her loins to go forward to the new year, which means working out some financial dealings that have gone on for far too long. Yeah!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Fiorella is posting on the 24th so she can take a day off on the 25th. Merry Christmas to all!

Tinsel Town Gal

Fiorella had to take Husband to the ER yesterday afternoon for low blood pressure, but she was still able to keep on her Christmas prep schedule. Everything that could be decorated was decorated and the leftovers were stacked by the wall to be taken out to the garage shelves this morning. Now to neaten up the house, retrieve the table linens, get Grandmother's Haviland down from the china shelves, and prepare whatever food beforehand that we can. I say "we" because the Minnisotans are here and helping--with transportation, with the decorating, at the house, and at the hospital with Husband. Fiorella is blessed.
Guess what? Fio finally figured out why her pictures, if they got posted at all, were taking so long to show up on FB--her photo sizes were too big. From now on, she'll squeeze a picture before trying to send it.
Tinsel is the name of the game this Christmas. Fio not only strung garlands of silver tinsel down the driveway, but also used it to edge all of her indoor displays, wreaths, and swags.  In addition, she  piled masses of gold tinsel in the urns out front to cover the dead lavenders and draped a red  tinsel garland over the folding screen in the dining room. You'll be seeing pictures of her creations soon.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Feeling Better


Things are looking up. Fiorella finished her major holiday decorating yesterday evening--the groupings on the mantels in the front room (la sala formal) and the den (la sala), the wreaths (las guirnaldas) on the front door (la puerta principal) and front windows (ventanas delanteras), the swags along the railings of the stairs (la escalera), over the kitchen door (la puerta de cocina), over both sides of the double doors between the front room and the dining room (el comidor), and over las ventanas del comidor. Fio put the tree (el arbol) together, but, thank God (gracias a dio) Husband, Minnesota son, and his wife were kind enough to decorate it.

Now comes the small stuff--finishing touches like decorating of the wreaths, shelves, and table tops, then the final surevy and the cleaning up. After that, Fio intends to give herself Sunday (domingo) and Monday (lunes) off. But her hectic life begins again bright and early on Tuesday morning (martes en la manana).

Friday, December 22, 2017

Worry, Worry

Hurry, hurry, scurry, scurry
Fio is under the gun
The holiday is swift upon us
And so much is yet to be done

Thursday, December 21, 2017


Fiorella is in mourning for this country and the world. Our president is stupid, our government is corrupt, our religious leaders are devils in disguise, and there seems to be no hope at the end of the raainbow, or even at the end of Fio's own driveway. Yes, she is dealing with some delicate family situations--trying to help without stepping on anyone's toes, trying to save her own bacon as well as everyone else's.

Pray for the survival of Fiorella, our country, and the world.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Life and Death

Fiorella's Spanish-language soap opera, Mi Marido Tiene Familia continues on apace. That is, it paces forward, backwards, sideways, up, down, and all around. The most recent highlight are: (1) that after Gabriel finally convinced Daniela that he loved her, etc., his father broke up the relationship; (2) Blanca left Eugenio, whom she'd been married to for forty years and has gone to live with her sisters; (3) Ana told Tulio she wanted a divorce; (3) Julieta and Juan Pablo/Robert are tryingto adopt little David,but the social worker paid a surprise visit during a family uproar; (4) Marisol's ex (boo, hiss) has reappeared, but Marisol is sticking with her new love, Xavi; (5) Linda, the bithchy sister is not having much success with trying to ingratiate herself with Bruno's mother.
Don't count on this being a complete list.
Fio is halfway through Christmas decorations. Please forgive her if she falls asleep while writing this message.
Fio send blessings and love to friend Paula as her mother lives out her final days.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Fiorella was busting down DB Woods Road to meet friend Patricia at Starbucks and she was running late, but the car she'd just caught up with and the car in front of it were going at 40 mph rather than the 60 mph she wanted to go, and she couldn't risk trying to pass both of them on a three-lane road. In desperation, her eyes wandered to the cedar forests on the side of the road, where at least thirty of the trees had been dressed for Christmas by people who had gone out in the wet and the cold with ladders and decorations, determined to make the holidays cheerful and bright for everyone.

And Fio thought how wonderful it was that she lived in a world in which people share their joy with others, in particular, with impatient people who drive down DB Woods Road at top speeds.

Monday, December 18, 2017


Fiorella is blessed to have four wonderful women in her immediate family: her daughter, her sister-in-law, her senior daughter-in-law, and her junior daughter-in-law. Winners, every one of them.
The weather is getting colder again and there are rumors of snow. Fio's Minnesota visitors are not as excited about the possibility as she is.
Fio is still working on her holiday decorations, but there's a good chance her halls will be totally decked by Christmas Eve. And with Son and his wife visiting, there's also a good chance Fio will make it to church for the Christmas Eve service for the first time in several years.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Card

                       This is the inside cover of Fiorella's Christmas card. Guess who the model is.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

My 30-hour Travel Nightmare
A horror story by Farrah Rochon
(Farrah Rochon is a best-selling romance writer and, I am proud to say, a friend of mine. She is also a US citizen, born and bred, and I am appalled at the treatment she was subjected to in Israel!!!)

It all started at the first security checkpoint at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. It was 2:30am and all I wanted was a hot cup of coffee and a comfortable seat on my 5:20am flight. When the security person took my passport and asked if I knew the origin of my first name, I didn’t think anything of it when I answered “I know it’s Arabic.”
His answer: “Yes. It is.”
He asked what my aunt and I were carrying, and asked if anyone had given us anything to carry. Then he asked if I had weapons or a bomb. 😳 I thought it was a joke (umm...I would soon learn that they don’t joke about things like that at this particular airport).
The first security guy let us through and off we went. I foolishly thought that was the end of it. Until we made it to the second checkpoint. My aunt was allowed to go straight to the security check, but I was asked to follow a guard to another area. I watched while one of them took my passport and walked away, and wondered if maybe I should have just told that first guy that I was named after Farrah Fawcett.
This was the start of my 30-minute firsthand experience with Israeli security. Every single object in my carry-on and purse were swiped for residue. Everything. Phone and Kindle taken out of the case. Dirty underwear was swiped. My pack of TicTac’s? Swiped for bomb residue. I even thanked them for finding a flash drive I thought I’d lost. At one point there were four people going through my stuff.
Then came the body search. I went through an X-ray machine several times before I was brought into another room with two female security guards. They proceeded to check every single inch of my clothing. They methodically checked every seam. They even made me remove the band-aid on the bottom of my foot from a cut I got at the Dead Sea (more on that later) so they could make sure there was nothing in there. Twice more I was asked if I had plans to bomb the aircraft, or if anyone had given me a bomb.
Finally, after nearly a half-hour, I was allowed to leave. This entire time my poor Aunt Cathy had no idea what was going on.
I thought everything was over after we left Tel Aviv, but learned that my passport had been flagged when, yet again, I had to go through an extra security check in Zurich, Switzerland.
Thankfully, after that long flight, we made it to the States. But we were an hour behind because the plane had to be de-iced in Switzerland. We’d already had a short amount of time to get from Miami airport to Fort Lauderdale, and knew there was no way we’d make our flight home to New Orleans. But God takes care of children and fools (not sure which one I am), and we were able to buy another ticket on another airline and fly directly out of Miami.
This was a good thing because, by this point, I was in so much pain I could barely walk. Remember that cut I mentioned? Things had become much worse. What started as (what I thought was) a little cut on a piece of salt or a rock at the Dead Sea turned out to be a nice gash on the bottom of my foot. When I woke up this morning, I could barely walk. I immediately went to the Urgent Care Clinic and they immediately sent me to the ER.
One tetanus shot and wound irrigation later, and I’m finally home. Still in pain, but I have antibiotics, pain meds and one wild, crazy story to tell.
The end.

Friday, December 15, 2017


It's delivery day! Fio has finished feeding the mouths of all her charities, she mailed a check to the newspaper delivery guy last week, and as soon as she finishes this post, she'll be in her baby car taking chocolate kisses to Mazda and Click, with a side trip to Chase bank to deliver chocolate Santas to Lisa and Stephanie. These people have been good to Fiorella and giving them Christmas treats is the least she can do.
Speaking of good people, Fernando, the guy who takes care of Fio and Husband's yard--and does his best to take care of us--took down one of our dead trees and we now have enough firewood to last through next winter. Fio always gives Fernando a Christmas bonus, but he deserves far more.
The fire is lit, the stage is set, and the picture of Baby is hanging from the mantel, but FB will not accept Fiorella's photo. Must be Trump getting his revenge on Fio for last year's Christmas card, the one in which she compared him to Ghengis Khan.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cheers for Alabama!

Only one thing I can say
That Alabama led the way
To the light of a brand new day
Hip-hip hooray, hip-hip hooray! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Covering the Waterfront

How would Fiorella ever manage without push pins, Scotch tape, and twisties?
Doug Jones won in Alabama (thank you, God), which shows the nation and the world what Trump's endorsement is worth.
Yesterday was Austin son's birthday, and Fio couldn't help but remember his actual birth day. It was fraught. He was two weeks late and so big that Fio had to have a C-section, which was no fun, but Fio was thrilled.
The temps have been low enough the past few days that Fio has been wrapping herself in her twenty-year-old winter robe when she gets up every morning. It's a saturnalia miracle--her robe is in mint condition because most years there's no need for it.
Fio's got to think of some clever way to fill the front porch urns now that the freeze (yes, a real live FREEZE) has killed the lavenders. Maybe a quick trip to Dollar Store or Hobby Lobby would give her an idea.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Qestions, Questions, Questions

Fiorella's been Christmasing all day, starting from early morning, when in between reading the newspaper, she she couldn't stop staring at the picture of Baby, the one she'd hung from the mantel over the fireplace. What about making use of some of those gold chocolate bar wrappers she'd been collecting for a couple of years?  How about paving the front edge of the mantel to give Baby a background worthy of her? How about putting charming Christmas cards on either side of her picture? 
Fiorella is still struggling with the tree, the one she thought she'd have to spend just a couple of hours on. And her other decorations aren't as far along as she had hoped they'd be. And she didn't put much time in on her book today. And her left foot orthotic isn't working like it's supposed to. And where are house elves and magic wands when you need them?
Fiorella is sick and tired of slimy politics. Everything is so venal now, so lowest-common-denominator, and Fio is afraid for herself and for everybody else. How can we survive as a nation and how can we survive as people?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas in Texas

Yes, Fiorella has gone Christmas crazy and draped the south driveway with tinsel garlands again, extending them even further than last year. This is what December in central Texas looks like--every other time of the year except for the decorations. (PS: you also get a good view of Fio's rocks, the ones that define the driveway.)

Sunday, December 10, 2017


Fiorella, who doesn't want to neglect any of her duties or forget any of her commitments, lives by lists, systems, and routines. Husband lives by the moment. They drive each other crazy.
Fio's Christmas cards will be going out in record time this year. Baby is the star of the show, of course. Stay tuned.
The tinsel garlands Fio hung from the trees along the driveway look great. She's learned a lot since  the winds and cedars attacked her display when she came up with the idea three years ago. She now uses tinseled twisties to keep the garlands in place, and if she finds a cedar that has had the audacity to ensnare one of her darlings, she prunes it on the spot.
Fio loved the surprise snow, but alas, the lavenders in the pots beside the front door didn't make it through the accompanying surprise freeze. Fio will probably wait until winter is over before replacing them. After all, there may be be more surprises in store this year..
Regarding the political scene, Fio finds it interesting that Trump is intent on being the loudest mouth around, while Mueller plays it mum. Fio's betting on Mr. Silence.
Fio woke up this morning in distress about a school assignment she'd forgotten. News flash, Fiorella. You grad-grad-graduated lo these many moons ago.  


Some people are totally transparent, but Trump is totally opaque, even to himself. Not that he'd know what opaque means.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Sex and Politics

The problem with all these sexual assault accusations is that they are messy, usually boiling down to "he said, she said." And no, Fiorella doesn't autmatically believe the woman any more than she does the man. Another problem is that there are degrees of assault. Sorry, but a playful slap on the butt is not in the same ball park as rape. Nor is stealing a kiss or putting one's arm around someone
The basic problem is that people are born to attract and be attractive. We can't help the sexual urge--that's how we prepetuate our species. Fio would like to think we can all control ourselves to some degree, but through the ages, men have manipulated by power and women by seduction, and Fio's not sure there is a way to make everyone behave. Even the Puritans had their problems.

However, looking at the current sex scandals from a different angle, Fiorella suspects they are being used to detract attention from the GOP tax plan and Mueller's investigations. Maybe cutting to the chase and providing more information on why Moore got bounced out of his former judgeships would make Alabama voters rethink their party loyalty.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Decorations, Telenovela, Eye Mart

Let the ceremonies of Christmas begin. Fiorella dropped her card off at Dan's FedEx-Kinko in Wolf Ranch today and will pick up one hundred copies of it, plus envelopes, tomorrow. Then will come the signing, addressing, and mailing. In between times, Fio will be finishing off the driveway, putting the tree together, taping snowflake cut-outs in the windows, hanging swags and wreaths, and constructing every other decorative endeavor you can imagine. And you, dear reader, will be subject to her picture posts--if she can make the process work. You can probably whip your photos right up their on your blog screen, but for her, it's a sometimes-it-works, sometimes-it-doesn't, sort of thing.
Crap! Fio's telenovela's time slot got superceded by a soccer game, and she'll have to wait till tomorrow to know if Blanka forgave Eugenio for being a jerk and if Gabriel and Daniela's romance will survive his wealthy father taking away his job and credit cards.
Hmmm. Fio found the Eye Mart glasses she thought she'd lost and discovered they gave her clearer vision than the Eye Mart replacements she had recently bought. And she doesn't think her ophthamologist was the one who made the error.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pre-Christmas Activity

Fiorella drove to Austin in the rain yesterday, and it was quite relaxing. Her wipers moved back and forth, back and forth, clearing the wetness that pitter-patted on her windshield, the traffic was light and careful, moving a little slower than usual, and there was no problem with visibility. But the return trip was a different matter. Because the rain had been going on long enough by then that water had accumulated on the highway, all the cars ahead of Fio were generating their own camouflaging shower baths, which made them hard for her to keep track of, especially the white cars, which, in gray weather, blend in all too well.
As soon as she pastes a picture of Baby on the inside page, Fiorella's Christmas card will be on its way to FedEx Kinkos for its annual printing. In the meantime, Fio will be at H-E-B buying Christmas stamps. The rest of the week, she'll be signing the cards and addressing envelopes. Somewhere in there, she may try breathing.
Christmas brings out the octopus in Fio. Yes, she has her tentacles in every aspect of it--the outside decorations, the inside decorations, the stockings, the tree, the gifts, the cards, even the cooking--as long as no one expects anything more from her than chocolate pudding.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

On My Granddaughter

Ten tiny fingers
Ten tiny toes
Bright blue eyes
A button nose
A sweetheart smile
And cheeks of rose
She shall have music
Wherever she goes

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Mother at 104

Today, on what would have been her mother's 104th birthday, Fiorella will be cremating her artifacts, the leftovers from her life that Fio and her brother have been storing for the past fifteen years. Anything anyone in the family wanted or could use has been doled out years ago, but the personal stuff remains. Over the summer, Fio went through these remnants carefully, saving anything that struck a chord with her--like photos, Mother's report cards, various diplomas and commendations--all of which were packed neatly in a large manila envelope for future generations to appreciate. But so many of the items that were apparently dear to Mother--like those two decorative candy boxes, her college notes, and what Fio suspects were her wedding shoes--had to go. But go where? Fio refused to toss any of her mother's treasures into the trash.

The solution came to her a couple of weeks ago, like a whispered message, and today she and Husband, who also loved her, will burn the remains of Mother's life in their fireplace, and the smoke will rise to the heavens.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Written on Sunday

The ways of computers are unknown to mere mortals like Fiorella. On Saturday afternoon, she suddenly lost access to Facebook, Google News, and her blog. Figuring she had done something wrong--pushed a malware button or accidently put together a powerful sequece she knew not of--she made a mental note to take su computadora to Click early Monday morning.That meant her blog wouldn't go up till afternoon, she realized, but better late than never.

Then, five minutes ago, her blog came blazing on as she was working on her story.  Not one to lift a gift horse in the month, she is making this strange string of events her blog for the day. And if anyone can figure it out,let her know.

Sunday, December 3, 2017


It's that time of year when 5:30 isn't daytime any more. Fiorella had grabbed her pruners and journeyed up the south driveway to check on the tinsel garlands she had hung on trees along the way  and to move her bag of supplies further on down the row. She'd been out maybe half an hour when she suddenly realized that the woods had fallen silent, the air was still, and night was coming on fast. Looking around, she hefted her pruners and beat a quick tattoo back to the house.
H-E-B is really cleaning up on firewood this year. A puny stack of short, shaven, anemic-looking sticks costs almost six bucks.  Good thing Fio and Husband harvest their own fireplace fodder--not that they've had much of a chance to use it this "winter."
Fio's Christmas shopping is done because all she does at this point in her life is write checks. However her decorating has just begun because she was born art through-and-through and always will be. Yes, you will soon be seeing photos of her creative endeavers.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

War Cry!

I can't march, but I can write
I don't sing, but my pen can bite--
It's my only weapon in the time-old fight
To overcome wrong and uplift right

Friday, December 1, 2017

View of El Parque

This is a view from Fiorella's garage out to the driveway, the one she and her friends lined with rocks. Fio is grateful for the privilege of living in such a beautiful environment, tries to take good care of it, and strives to be worthy of it.

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