Monday, January 21, 2019

Widow Woman

When Fio was a kid, she lived with her parents and, of course, accomodated them. She had roommates for her first two years in college and, of course, accommodated them. As a married woman, she, of course, accomodated her husband. Now, suddenly, she doesn't have to accomodate anyone but Sonia Dog--who decided the two of them should drive over to Dairy Queen for a dipped cone and Puppy Cup. Bottoms up!
*
Fiorella has been putting about an hour a day over the past week into reclaiming the strings of Christmas tinsel she'd strung across the front of the property and down the driveway and yesterday was the day she started rolling and bagging it, which took about three hours. No way Fio is going to spend good money buying new tinsel next year.
*
Of course, Husband's death has changed everything, and Fio may not be living in this house next year. She'd been sort of preparing herself and Husband for an eventual move, but thought it would be at least three years in the future. Husband, of course, was totally against a move, and, in the end, he got his way--technically,he was still living in this house when he died.
*
 Fio's been building a lot of fires in la chimenea lately, partially because it's COLD, partially because she wants to use up the logs and kindling, and partially because it was what Husband, always the Boy Scout, used to do.
*
The 16x20 photo of Husband that was on display at the funeral is now part of the den decor, and Fio looks at it often for comfort. It makes her feel loved.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Nature Notes

When Fio glanced out the window yesterday, she caught sight of a squirrel scrambling from branch to branch. The wind was gusting hard so Fio hopes he had a firm grip.
*
Then, when Fiorella walked up the drive to rescue the newspaper, the birds were in full song for about twenty miniutes, then suddenly went silent, like their director had lowered his baton.
*
The weather forecasters keep teasing us with  the possibility of winter weather, but so far, snow-no-go
*
At this time of year, Fio should be outside trimmimg cedar, but husband didn't deliver on the new chainsaw this year, just like Fiorella scewed up about the drone he wanted. It was a "Gift of the Magi" inside out, but Fio and Husband didn't get a redo.
*
Fiorella's personal nature is two-sided. She's cold-steel analytic and red-hot emotional, sometimes both at the same time.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Reflections in the Fire

How is it that forest fires can start with one dropped match yet it takes Fio almost an hour to get un fuego started in a sheltered chimenea loaded with shredded periodicos and kindling?
*
Fiorella has the most wonderful family in the world. They have all been so supportive, so loving, thoughtful, and kind not only to Fio, but to their siblings. Nothing like the TV dramas.
*
Husband's death was preceded so many omens--the disappointment of the tree in the meadow, the breakage of two of Fio's favorite Christmas ornaments, the garage door problem, her printer going out, Baby Car quitting on her--and remember the hot water and broken pipe crises, which she had to handle by herself. It's almost as if she was being prepared for the worst.
*
Sometime this week, Fio will have to load Sonia Dog into the Queen Mary (translation: Husband's beloved Mercedes) and drive over to Dairy Queen as a reward for being so comforting during this trying time, even though it's been hard for her too. Doggie's taken to going upstairs to the master bedroom every evening, hopping up on the bed, and barking for Daddy.
*
It's odd, but Fiorella doesn't feel alone, even though she's solo now. It's like Husband is still with her in spirit.


Friday, January 18, 2019

Nature's Miracle

Fiorella awoke this morning a little tired and a lot depressed. Death is hard enough to deal with, but the aftermath, the ceremonies of funeral and interment, are daunting. Maybe that's why they were invented--to dull the sorrow by focusing on the mundane--making uninformed decisions and shelling out money. But, back to this morning: Fio was doubly upset by the lack of a newspaper on her front porch, partially because she's in the habit of reading one each morning and partially because she needs to reestablish her routine in order to reestablish herselself.

Damn--no choice but to gulp down her own brand of Dutch courage (a Russell Stover chocolate bar), and hustle up the winding driveway to the street.

And that's when the miracle happened. The air was clear, the sun was soft, and the rocks and trees were welcoming. Fiorella's energy level skyrocketed. and not only didshe pick up a couple of armsful of good-looking kindling and cache it beside the drive for future pickup, but she untwisted the twisties securing her tinsel garlands to each other. Give her a couple more days, and the driveway will be au natural again.

Now to sit down and read the newspaper. Well, truth to tell, Fio just skims the "news," but she doesn't want to miss the comic strips (especially Luann) and the anagrams.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Excerpt from LEARNING PASSION

Another choice selection:



            Neil leaned back against the wall and inhaled deeply.   That gardenia scent  that Ann had started wearing lately was like a come-hither signal to his pheromones.  He studied her from beneath half-closed lids.  Her hair was coming loose from the stylish chignon, framing her face in curling tendrils, and her cheeks were still a little flushed from the excitement of the party, maybe from the alcohol. 
            What would alcohol do to her inhibitions?
            They disembarked from the elevator and he unlocked the house door, then opened the security gate and hauled it shut again.  Neither of them switched on a light. The room was in semi-darkness, lit only by the dim glow of the fire.  They were all alone, and he could feel a pleasant tumescense swelling in his groin.  He glanced sideways at his wife, speculating.    
            “Would you like another drink, a nightcap?” He moved toward the wet bar.
            Ann shook her head and a few more ringlets sprang free.  “No, I don’t think so.” She stretched a little, covering a small yawn with her hand.   “I’m going to bed.” 
            Neil watched her breasts move under the tight tunic she was wearing.  Hers were real, he thought, not the saline-filled hemispheres Melinda liked to put on display.
            He smiled his most charming smile and held out a hand in invitation.  “Stay with me for just a few minutes, Ann.  I need to unwind.”
            “Sure.”
            She made herself comfortable on the davenport, and he took a seat daringly close to her, then stretched his arm across the back of the seat, like a teenager on his first date. 
            She’d become accustomed to him, he realized.  In small ways, he’d been wooing her all evening—taking her hand to lead her through the throng of revelers, putting his palm on the small of her back to signal her to move forward, standing so close their hips touched as he introduced her to various managers and their families, holding her against his body warmth as they walked to the car.   
             He edged his arm a little further across the back of the davenport, willing her to accept his touch.   Then, holding his breath, he brushed her shoulder with his fingers. 
            She turned to look at him, her eyes wide in surprise. 
            But she didn’t leap up and run for the hills.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Christmas Past

Husband would be proud of Fio. She made un fuego en la chimenea yesterday afternoon and kept it going till bedtime.
*
Fiorella is blessed with good friends. She met with Friend Ashley in Georgetown yesterday and is looking forward to meeting up with Friend Paula in Austin today. It will be the first time she and Paula have  gotten together in about a month. Life--and death--have intervened.
*
Today will also be the day that Fio and Elder Son meet with the funeral home people to locate Husband's gravesite for the interment of the ashes on Friday. And the day when the new router is installed. And maybe the day that Son revs up the Miata again. (Fio thinks it's the bushings.)
*
Did Fiorella tell you that she's been wearing Husband's pulllover sweaters all week? They're not only warm and brightly-colored, but they make her feel secure.
*
Fio's started to take down the tinsel garlands along the driveway, and she hopes Son will lend a hand with the outdoor lights. That will take care of the outside decorations except for the beautiful rock her wonderful yard man gave her.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Let's Talk Politics

Fiorella has lost her DUMP TRUMP button, but it doesn't matter. He's pretty much dumping himself right now. Talk about self-destruction...
*
Fio is both proud and sad to remind everyone that she's been right about Trump from the beginning. He's a crook, con-man, criminal, and all the other alliterative terms she labeled him. Her cute little ditties hit the mark too, and, as she predicted, Trump Tower is falling down, falling down, falling down....
*
Of course, his adherents cling to him either because they're in so deep they can't get out or because they're still blinded by his sparkle. After all, he was a TV star...
*
Fiorella can't wait till we have a woman president. You know what Fio has  proposed--that Pence get kicked out of office first, which would allow Nancy Pelosi to become vice-president. Then, when Trump is knocked off his golden pedestal...
*
Whatever, Fiorella better get to work on that Trump opera she proposed a couple of years ago. It would be a tragi-comedy, of course, and would end up with his crazed followers eating him. Talk about self-destruction...

Monday, January 14, 2019

Marching On

     Fio's gotta cut down on the number of car keys she's carrying.  Con su lista en su mano, she drove off  to H-E-B in Husband's car (the Queen Mary) picked up a few items like milk, eggs, and bread plus, of course, a few extras, like Pinwheels and Spanish peanuts. All went well until she got back to the  car.
     She couldn't unlock the door.
     Puzzled, Fio rechecked to be sure she hadn't tried to hijack someone else's silver car, then sudenly realized she'd been trying to unlock Husband's Mercedes with her Miata keys. Whew! What a relief. All she had to do now was fish the right keys out of her purse, and she'd be home in no time.
     But the Mercedes key didn't work either.
     Angry, Fio was determined to get that door open, no matter how long it took. After trying several combinations of choices offered by the keys, she finally got the driver's side door to open. and, using gymnastic contrortions she didn't know she possessed, was able to toss all her groceries--including three one-gallon milk bottles--into the back seat of the car.
     As she got herself into the car, Fio saw why the key wouldn't work. She'd used one set of keys to drive to the store, left it in the ignition, and locked the door, and then, coming out if the store, she'd used another set of keys to open the door.
     Got all that?
*
Maybe the day was destined to be frustrating for everyone. Fiorella got home to discover that the modem had gone out and that Elder Son was going crazy trying to get in touch with our internet provider, figuring out how his father had everything set up, and replacing the router
*
On the other hand, Fiorella began to take down the tinsel garlands along the front of the property in the morning, was able to pick up a few palabras of a rapid-fire conversation en el espanol at the surpermarket in the afternoon, and made una fuego en la chimenea in the evening.




























.

Sunday, January 13, 2019


CHANGE OF PACE--an excerpt from one of my prize-winning stories. 
Mik yawned sleepily and suddenly realized he had no idea what he’d read on the last two pages.  What time was it?  He looked at his watch—almost eleven.
 Putting the paperback facedown on the coffee table, he stood up and stretched, then let his arms hang loose. 
There was a clicking sound in the bedroom hall, and he was instantly alert.  Every door in the hall was being opened and closed. 
Sigrid was walking in her sleep, walking and searching just like she used to.
He waited.  Finally she appeared in the doorway, her eyes glazed and staring.  His manhood twitched with interest.  Her pale aqua spaghetti-strap gown dipped down to the tops of her breasts and ended just above her knees.  It wasn’t exactly see-through, but it didn’t need to be.  Mik remembered everything that was beneath it. 
At seventeen, she had been his own private goddess, golden and glowing, with high, pink-tipped breasts and thighs that seemed custom-designed to cradle his passion.  Her breasts were a little heavier now and her butt a little tighter, but it was all for the better.  Blood pooled in his loins.  He’d wanted her then and he wanted her now.
But it wasn’t the right time yet.      
She came into the room slowly, looking neither to right nor left.  “Mommy?  Where are you?”
 He walked over and touched her arm.  “Sigrid, sweetheart, wake up.  You’re sleepwalking again.”           
Ignoring him, she padded across the room to the front door.
He intercepted her as she fumbled with the lock.  “No, you don’t.  I draw the line at you parading down the hall in that snazzy little number.”
She nudged him aside as if he didn’t exist and continued to work on the locks.  Gently he encircled her waist with his arm and led her to the couch.  “It’s all right, baby.  Just sit down and rest for a minute.  I’ll get you some water.”
The second he released her, she stood up and headed for the door again.
In quick strides he returned her to the couch, staying beside her this time.  “Sigrid, it’s me, Mik.  I’m here and everything is okay.  Can you hear me?”
Her only response was a shiver.
He put his arm around her shoulders, a dangerous thing to do, but she needed his touch.  “Wake up, dooshuh muhyáh, my darling.   You’re safe.   Yah lyooblyoo tibyáh.” Oops, that just sort of slipped out.  I love you.  It was what he used to say when he was trying to awaken her.  And  he didn’t know if it was true anymore. 
“Sigrid, wake up.”  He spoke louder, closer to her ear.
Her body was warm and pliant, her pale hair loose and flowing like a shower of gold, not imprisoned in that twist thing she usually wore. He’d wondered how long it was.  He lifted a strand and watched it fracture into a golden prism as it fell to mid-back, then nuzzled her cheek lightly, inhaling her feminine scent, and kissed her frozen brow.  They’d always made love after he awakened her from her night wandering, and the old instincts were still there.
She sighed.  Her eyes didn’t waver, but her arm flailed helplessly in the air and came to rest across his groin. 
He shuddered and moaned to himself.  How much longer could he take this?  He gritted his teeth.  As long as he needed to.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Reporting In on Aftermath

Despite the hurry-flurry beforehand, all went well at church yesterday. Fiorella and her contingent arrived before the pastor did, and, being Fio's offspring, they sprang into action, setting up the 16x20 picture of Husband on an easel, checking out the nave, and greeting whomever wandered in, friend or relative. 

The floral arrangements were gorgeous, and the attendance was satisfying--all the kin within a fifty-mile span, joined by several former Boy Scouts and several of Fiorella's and the children's friends. The music was beautiful, Pastor was sensitive, consoling, and inspiring, and afterwards, everyone was invited to the multi-purpose room, where they stuffed themselves with treats and sandwiches as they caught up on each other's lives.

Now Fio is home again, tending to her list of responsibilities plus a few more. Onward, Fio! Always march onward!





Friday, January 11, 2019

Funeral Day

Today's the day, Husband's funeral, and Fio will wear a dress, an actual dress, to honor him. It's the same navy blue dress she's worn to other funerals for the past twenty years, but she got rid of the shoulder pads this go-around, and she'll admit it's a little looser on her than in years past.
*
As far as Fiorella can tell, everything is in order. The funeral home did its part, the church has done its part, and the family has done its part. The kids went through hundreds of photos to put together books of  Husband's life for those who might be interested. Elder son and his wife saved the day regarding the memory book  Younger son gathered memorabilia for display. Daughter contributed a recent photo of of her father for display. Fiorella selected meaningful hymns for the service. Most important, everyone was supportive amd cooperative.

But how do you feel, Fio? At this point, I can't relate to the funeral except in the abstract. It's like a stage production I'm trying to pull off--everything has to be perfect, and the buck stops with me. I'm guessing that the abstraction is a built-in buffer that allows me to function effectively during a very emotional time. My mother, I think, would have done the same. Take care of business first, then grieve.  

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Keeping Up with Fio

Fio drove off to Austin yesterday to make sure everything was set up for the funeral, and on the way home, she went by the family's former homes on North Oaks and Parkfield. She'll do it again with Elder Son next week and, to tie everything up, show him the home she and Husband lived in before he was born.
*
Two last-minute problems: gotta get that blow-up of Husband backed or in a frame, and gotta ask Dan at Fed-Ex Kinkos to work his magic on copying extra pages for the memory book (which Fio, ex-teacher tthat she is, keeps referring to as the attendance book).
*
A friend sent Fiorella a BIG box of more chocolate than she knows what to do with. Well, actually, she knows exactly what to do with it--hello, ten extra pounds!
*
Did Fio tell you about her wonderful daughter-in-law who's been cleaning up the house for Fio between engaging in high level telephone conferences with her team at Boston Scientific?
*
WOW! Remember a while back when Fiorella's former high school friend got so vicious that Fio unfriended and blocked her? Well, said classmate was kind enough to email Fio a sweet note of condolence, but, interestingly enough, there hasn't been a peep out of Former Friend.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Day Seven

Day seven, and Fiorella still doesn't believe Husband is dead. Still thinks she's hearing him rummaging aorund upstairs or in the next room. Still saves the newspaper for him and marks the comic strips she likes. Still smiles at  things she wants to tell him, things that would make him laugh. Is it that way for everyone?
*
The basic funeral arrangements have been made so the frenzy is over, but Fiorella is still wrestling with getting the Austin newspaper people to take her payment for the obituary.  It's that ol' on-line thing that Fio is so bad at.
*
Fio's driving in to Austin today on a three-pronged mission--to meet with friend Paula, go by the church to make sure everything is in order, and stop in at Heart Hospital to have her pacemaker checked. She's thinking of driving by some of the places she and Husband have lived in too, for nostalgia's sake. (Oops, just got news that Paula can't make it.)
*
What will Fiorella do now that she is single? Probably what she is doing now--writing--but more intently. After all, she has her own sell-by tag.
*
Fio may do a little painting too, if she still has "the eye." And, of course, she'll do her best to get the house and grounds in the best shape possible. Again, she has her own sell-by tag.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Preparing

When Sonia gets to heaven, she will tell St. Peter that her name is "Mommy's Good Dog." So will half the other dogs romping around in the clouds. The other half will tell Pete that their name is "Daddy's Good Dog."
 *
A childhood friend called Fio from Virginia when she learned of Husband's death, and she confided that her husband also is in poor health. Men are fragile creatures.
*
Fio always knew that Husband loved her. After all, he went along with her when she insisted on a parade of firewood rings along the driveway instead of the usual long stacks, which would have been much more practical.
*
Fio may have been more artsy than Husband, but he left her in the dust when it came to technology.  She's had ten wonderful years expressing herself anonymously because he set her up in this blog.
*
Fiorella has finally finished off the obituary. Now to decide on appropriate hymns. She never realized how taxing death can be to the survivors. She should have told Husband it was imperative that he not die. But wait, she did tell him that--several times.😢

Monday, January 7, 2019

Day Six, Baby Steps

Fiorella finally made person-to-person contact with her granddaughter yesterday while riding next to her in the back seat of Son's car. Fio talked to her, sang to her, accepted the pretty stick Baby gave her, helped Baby take her shoe off (and put it on her again), and was even allowed to touch her.
*
Fio and family will meet with Pastor tomorrow to plan Husband's funeral. Fio, who's never done this before, is quite anxious about getting things right because no re-dos are allowed.
*
The Christmas decorations are still up. Fio meant to take the driveway garlands down yesterday, but didn't get around to it. She also needs to do the laundry. And maybe hem an old dress to wear to the funeral. For the last several years, she's been a jeans and shorts gal, and the hemlines of her few remaining dresses are woefully out of style.
*
Friends and family are everything. Ever since the news got around, Fiorella has been fielding phone calls locally and from across the nation. Thank you, one and all.
*
Fio continues to be in awe of the gold fireplace mantel she created. It seems to glow warmer every day, especially in the early morning when Fio first awakes, like a message from God.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Day Five

People are like jigsaw puzzles. Sime pieces are splashier than others, but they all are important. If even one piece is missing, the puzzle is incomplete.
*
Her life is going to be different from now on. Fio has never been a widow before.
*
Almost everything Fiorella does is is tempered by "will this be okay with Husband?" Before he died, it was because she wanted to please him, now it is because she wants to honor him.
*
The insurance money is going to start rolling in, but it's not as much as Fio had thought it would be. Still, everything helps.
*
Michael Jackson wanted to teach the world to sing, which Fio is all for, but she also wants the world to learn how to laugh.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Emotions

So much for the show biz portrayal of a new widow as being someone who sits on the sidelines and grieves. Fiorella is doing her fair share of the weeping, but even with all the kids gathered around, she is running the show for everything from the funeral to the financial arrangements to the state of the house.
*
Sister-in-law could never have imagined what a wonderful gift that jogsaw puzzle was when she gave  it to Fio at Thanksgiving. Fiorella has it spread out on the dining room table and works on it a little each time she goes by. It's her anchor.
*
Habits are hard to break. Fio keeps trying to mark the comics in the newspaper that she wants Husband to look at.
*
Daughter was surprised that Fio had to buy a plot in a commercial cemetery because she'd thought we'd get a free plot in the State Cemetery like her grandparents had. Fiorella had hoped for the same, but she's never been recognized for her art or writing as she should have been. Yet.
*
Is there anything sweeter than a large, loving dog lying across your feet to keep them warm as you wake up in the morning?

Friday, January 4, 2019

Afterwards



Fio and her elder son spent most of the afternoon in the funeral home yesterday setting up the burial, which is so complicated by regulations that it won't take place for at least a couple of weeks. It was amazing how many services and trinkets the place offers--for outrageous prices.
*
When Fiorella came home from the funeral home, she looked around at husband's precious possessions and realized that not one of them will follow him into the grave. He is dead, gone forever, and Fio is wearing his leather jacket because it is now up for grabs. In days to come, she will distribute his belongings and donate his clothing, put his old recliner out for the trash pick-up, and sell off his riding mower and power tools. She will also deprive him of his most private privacy, going through everything he owned, wrote, or hid in the back of a drawer. And the same thing will happen to her when her times comes--and to all of us.
*
Fio has done a fairly good job of keeping herself under control emotionally because she has to be the one to make the hard decisions, but her stiff upper lip wobbles when people are kind to her, like when Mazda sends one of its guys over with the two large flower arrangements that sit on her mostrador de granito. Or her childhood best friend calls her long distance from California. Or her neighbor spends hours repairing her garage door.



 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Death

Fiorella's husband died last night, which caught her by surprise. There had been so many midnight dashes to the ER that she thought he was invincible. Yes, it was penumonia, but apparently, that was only a symptom. The cold virus, the lupus coating his lungs, COPD, and associated health problems were what did him in.

As you can tell, Fio hasn't fully processed the stiuation. Husband spent so much time in hospitals this year that she grew accustomed to being alone, but this time, there will be no one to welcome home.

The doctor and nurses were sympathetic, the kids have rallied around, and our neighbor totally rebuilt the garage door for us--or rather, for me. There isn't any us anymore.

Now to contact the church and hope our old pastor will be able to handle the service. Then Fio has to go through all the desk drawers and find all the documents she and Husband signed so many years ago. She also has to reconsider her budget. As she understands it, she will only receive half of Husband's Social Security check.

Wish Fio well. She's trodding into unfamiliar territory.




Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Husband, Grandfather, Husband

Fiorella thought she had lost the drone she bought Husband for Christmas and posted online that it must have flown off on its own of gotten mixed in with the laundry. The latter came to her strange and wonderful mind because it was so preposterous. In the meantime, she was frantically searching the house, the cars, and the the trash cans for the delinquent , finally giving up. Two days later she gave up and turning her attention to clearing the pile-up of clothes on her side of the bathroom. You you guessed it--there, in the center of the pile, sat the drone.
*
Mother frequently quoted her grandfather as saying "Feed your animals first and they will feed you." Obviously Fio's ancestry is not of the aristrocratic variety.
*
With Husband in the hospital, the house is unusually silent, which Fiorella enjoys to a certain extent, but she admits to turning TV on to a low volume every evening so she and Sonia Dog have some company.



Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Activities and Speculations

Fiorella restricts herself to one jigsaw annually, and this year, the winner was Sister-in-Law's Santa Claus puzzle, which is now spread out on the dining-room table. Fio's got the edges pretty well defined and is now working by shape and color.
*
Okay, Fiorella confesses that she bought herself a cute little baby doll from the H-E-B Christmas left-over shelf the other day. It was a matter of love at first sight--the eyes, the soft skin, the sweet face. Odd--when Fio was a child, except for the procelin baby doll inherited from her mother (which four-year-old Brother deliberately dropped when she asked him to hold it for her), she characterized all her dolls as adults. PS: Baby Doll has told Fio that her name is Elspeth.
*
What with Husband being in the hospital for the fourth time this year, Fiorella has decided to go through her desk drawers and pull out all the end-of-life arrangements to make copies of them for the kids.
*
What if Fio's father had died before her mother? Mom would have been up a creek, with no way to get anywhere--to the grocery store, the beauty shop, the doctor, church, whatever--except by bus or taxi.
*
While Husband is in the hospital, Fiorella is cleaning out her side of the long, built-in desk in the den. She's filled half a trash bag and still isn't finished yet. When he comes home, Husband will think he's in a new house.