Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Rounding Everything up

Happy almost 2020. Fiorella's 2019 has been tumultuous, to say the least, so she's hoping for a better year, starting tomorrow. Today, she's going to try to switch yet another of Husband's small investments into into her name.
One more carry-over--donations to The Caring Place. Friend Ann Bell, another widow, cautioned Fiorella about the $400/yr IRS limit so, on January 2, your Fio will be first in line with the many boxes and bags that have accumulated since she hit the magic number.
A crash of tinkling glass sounded from the front room as Fio and Sonia Dog were enjoying their respective breakfasts so after the kitchen clean-up, Fiorella grabbed the broom and dust pan and headed to the front of the house to discover that a framed picture, one of a set Bastrop son's godmother had given her, had fallen off the wall above the piano.
     Why? Was this a message to Fio that she'd better up her pace to vacate the house? Or a hello from Husband, whom she had driven to the Emergency Center for one last time on this date last year? Or even a nee-hau-ma from Son's godmother, a scholar in Chinese who had died of cancer several years earlier?
     Whatever, Fiorella cleaned up the glass and paced the picture in the nearest chair. After she's gotten dressed and shod, she'll go up a ladder and take the fallen picture's mate down, then box them for when Son and his family have a house of their own.
Fiorella is amazed at the size of her three-car garage, now that Minnesota son has cleaned out so much of it. It's BIG, about the size of the rental house Fio and Husband lived in quite comfortably for two years before they started moving up in the world--front room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms, even a front porch.
The cardinal is defending his territory again by attacking the dining room window. You'd think that after--what? fifteen years?--he'd have caught on that he's battling his own reflection, but men are like that. Wonder if whoever buys the house will get as much of a kick out of the redbird's dedication as Fio and Husband did.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Life Changes

The calendar is getting nearer and nearer to January 2, the date of Husband's death, and Fiorella is not sure how she will handle it. By then, of course, she'll already be under the stress of having to cover the dining table with pages full of income tax information for 2019, so don't be surprised if she just torches the house and heads for the hills.
Fio is so embarrassed. She's been saying that her granddaughter is three years old, but actually, she's just two. It was an easy mistake to make: Grandbaby is brilliant beyond her years.
Elder son and his wife are visiting for a while for Christmas and to help Fiorella empty out the house so she can put it up for sale, and although great gains have been made regarding the garage, the rest of the place has a long way to go. Your girl made another sweep-through of Husband's office, and it's hard to throw things out that were dear to a person you loved.
When Grandbaby visited Fiorella yesterday she ran out into el parke under the afternoon sun filtering through the oaks and elms, just like Fio has always dreamed a grandchild of hers would do. To make it even more heartwarming, Baby picked up two nice pieces of flint and three small acorns and presented them to Fiorella, along with seven dandilions. That thumping you hear is Fio's heart's response.
Remember the six iron firewood circles that Fiorella has been storing her winter fuel in? Well, she's going to try to sell them now. They're in great condition, but really need to be in a more showy location than the other side of a rural driveway Any takers?

Sunday, December 29, 2019

From Fireworks to Nervous Music

Buy-One-Get-Five-Free, our local itinerant fireworks shack, has unshuttered its windows and retitled itself AMERICAN FIREWORKS again, which is ridiculous because everyone knows fireworks are made in China, not  the US. Lying and deceit seem to be the style of the day.
Elder son and his wife kindly gathered several pounds of books and drove them down the road to Round Rock where the nearest Half-Price Books resides, then waited an hour and a half and only got thirty dollars for the lot, which they promptly handed over to Fio when they got back to the house. Fiorella lauds both their kindness and their fortitude.
Did Fio tell you that while she and she and Daughter-in-Law were walking the perimeter of the acreage, they encountered a deer that had tangled its foot in a fence it was trying to jump and was hanging by her ankle? D-in-L went back to the house to get her husband's help, but when they were finally able to free the deer, all she could do was scoot along the ground--which she did very quickly. Nothing to do but call 911 and report the situation. A while later, we heard two shots.
Fiorella needs to start in on her VOTER REGISTRAR badges again. Sadly, this batch will be her last. She's willing to do the labor, but can't afford another $300 investment, especially if all she can get from a huge library of books is just $30.
Fio had a bad night, despite moving from couch to bed and back again. Too much to do, so little time. And then there was a TV and the nerve-wracking background music.

Saturday, December 28, 2019


Do not your ears
Hear their cries?
Do not their tears
Scorch your eyes?
Children are born for us to love
Each and every one
For we all come from the same blood
And live under the same sun
When Hitler ran out of detention camps
He ordered The Children gassed
Then roasted them in his red-hot ovens--
Will the future return to the past?

Friday, December 27, 2019

Contemplations on Mortality

Fiorella made a list and counted it twice to find out who was naughty and who was nice, and she discovered she'd received only twenty-eight Christmas cards this year.
     When Fio was a child, she remembers watching her mother sitting at the desk for days, signing cards and addressing envelopes, with hand-written letters often included. But the times, they are a-changing, and your Fio is probably the last of the Christmas card dinosaurs.
     Of course, a major reason Fiorella likes sending out cards is that she gets a kick out of designing them. She also likes including her own poetry, and this year's sonnet was one of the best ever--if anyone takes the time to read it.
Elder Son and his wife are doing a great job clearing things out of the house in order to get it ready to sell, which Fio really appreciates as she stands there admiringly on the sidelines. Husband was not just a reader, but a collector, and the house has lifted itself up at least a foot now that his books are on their way to Half Price. Fio had hoped she could get some $$$ out of them, but Son consulted several markets, and old books are a dime a dozen now. What IS selling are the yard and garden tools--about $100 so far.
All of this makes Fio wonder about what will happen to her own treasures, her art, musical compositions, and writing. All her blogs, of course, have gone on line, but will that be the end of them? What about her books and booklets? And her poetry ? And her short stories? And her art? And her musical compositions? Will they all end up in a dustbin like most of the books Husband used to read?


Thursday, December 26, 2019

Winter Dawn, Second Time Around

One more Christmas sonnet, this one from 2010, and it moves me still.

The naked trees define themselves anew
as separate from the slowly lightening sky
and dark clouds fade to gray and then to blue
while one lone brilliant star remains on high.
The sky turns bright, yet deathly cold and chill
but in the winter forest far below
a single branch moves slightly, then is still
as morning's warming blush begins to glow.
Suddenly, through the band of winter trees,
a spark, a glint of gold, a burning fire
reflects its yellow in the oaks' live leaves,
escapes the wood's confines, and rises higher.
     The sun has risen--welcome joyous morn,
     For night is dead, and Christmas Day is born

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Tidbits

As usual, the whole local family came together for Christmas dinner today, and Fiorella thinks it was the best gathering ever, especially since Daughter ramrodded the kitchen crew and everyone joined in to clean up afterwards, even returning the goblets and china to their proper shelves with not a single casualty.
After a month of dedicating herself to Christmas arrangements, Fio was having a hard time adjusting herself to "mission accomplished," but after a long afternoon nap. she woke up with a new agenda. Well, really, it's her old agenda, but with more immediacy: preparing the house for sale, writing, and fighting the good fight.
Thanks especially to hijo minor, who, as requested, gave Fiorella un calendario de espanol. Fio was just about to panic. And, by the way, if you're hearing dischords in the air anytime soon, it's Fiorella playing with the roll-out-on-the-floor piano that her hijo mayor gave her.


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2019 Christmas Sonnet

                       SUDDENLY, the silence of the star-strewn night
                       Was broken by a newborn baby's cry
                       And choirs of joyful angels took to flight
                       To spread the word to shepherds camped nearby.
                       Then out of the East, three royal wise men came
                       To worship the baby born in a cattle shed
                       To a  family without wealth and famous name,
                       Who laid the babe to sleep in a manger bed,
                       But cared for him as every child should be--
                       Protected and valued, well instructed, and well fed,
                       Not locked away in a prison of misery
                       By decrees devised by the vile and bigoted--
                            For  God loves every child on earth the same
                            No matter its heritage, color, or family name

Monday, December 23, 2019

Holiday Prologue

Currently, Fiorella is wearing, from top to bottom, her usual gold-hoop earrings; a long-sleeved open shirt in red, blue purple, orange, and beige plaid; reddish-orange slacks; purple socks; blue Keds with white ties. Yep, she likes to stand out in a crowd.
Thank you, God, that Fiorella's donella came over yesterday and not only cleaned and cleaned and cleaned, but helped with Fio's Christmas decorations. Your girl has toned her holiday extravaganza down this year for obvious reasons, but there is still the overloaded dining table to clear.
Somewhere along the line, Fio has to run by Target to find a gift for her granddaughter--a cute dress, if she can find one. Her offspring will get checks and/or heirlooms. It's simpler that way.
Hoping it doesn't rain today because the inside wood pile needs replenishing. Fiorella meant to take care of the situation yesterday, but life intervened. Remember, she's set up a three-stack system in which she moves firewood to her covered front porch to dry out, then brings it inside the and piles it in the vestibule to warm it up, then moves it to the shelf beside the fireplace so it's handy.
Hmm.... Fiorella's Christmas card should have arrived in everyone's mail box by now, and she's curious about  the reaction it will get. Not worried, just curious. Fio wrote the truth and won't take back a word of it.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Dreamer

Here's one of Fiorella's favorites from times past. Can you tell that Fiorella was the top student in her Lutheran catechism class?

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,
Emanuel, the Christ, true God and Man,
The Savior, Jesus, God'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.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Counting Down to Christmas

Fiorella has nothing on her mind right now but Christmas preparations, although she's having to do a little bill-paying on the side. And yes, since you asked, she's finally mailed all but a few of her Christmas cards and should be able to finish off the others today--a few strays she needs complete addresses for.
The fireplace has been quite cooperative this year so Fio's been lugging in nice, dry split logs by the cartful to feed its thirst. Hoping it isn't wet tomorrow again because the inside stacks are almost all used up. How did the pioneers do it?
Thank goodness friend Fernando came over and helped Fiorella with the swaths of tinsel she hangs on the trees on el camino y la entrada each year because she didn't have the time or the energy to do it alone. How fortunate it was that a couple of years ago, Husband spotted Fernando mowing the yard of the house across the street, even though the family had moved out a month previously. Obviously, he had been hired to keep everything nice while the house was up for sale and was living up to his end of the bargain. A nice man to know.
Speaking of the house across the street, an old, dilapidated pick up truck covered in tarp had been sitting in its front yard for about a week, but, because of her own helter-skelter, Fio was only slightly curious about it. But when she drove out onto the street yesterday afternoon, she got the answer to the question she'd never asked--someone had outlined it with twinkling lights, apparently as a Christmas decoration. To each his own.
Fiorella will post her new new sonnet on Christmas Eve, but don't be surprised if she runs a couple more sonnets from Christmases past in the meantime. She's feeling nostalgic this year.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Savage Sonnet

Thought that you would like to see my  2016 Christmas card again. The first four lines referred to Trump, of course. The last two lines are, I hope, our future as a nation.

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 was to fight
    and win, as darkness always yields to light,
    as God prevails, and WRONG MUST YIELD TO RIGHT

Thursday, December 19, 2019

From Nostalgia to Nurse Marie to Firewood

Fiorella is exhausted. She spent most of the day in Austin visiting with college friend Kaye, teaching friend, Paula, and writing friend Evelyn, in reverse order, and then dropped by Lamme's Candies for chocolate to heal the knee-wound of another one of her Ohio cousins. As if that wasn't enough, she stopped at Office Depot on the way home to see if they had a machine that would fold her Christmas cards--WHICH THEY DID. The folded cards will be ready this morning. 
     Fio's grad-school friend, Nicole Domingue, died about ten years ago, and her choir-singing friend, Sharon Kite, died two years ago. May they always live in Fiorella's memory.
Friend Marie, a Registered Nurse, visited Fiorella yesterday evening to check out her blood thinner with the finger-prick apparatus, but the machine didn't work, even with three tries, so today, Fio will call Austin Heartless to ask them to send somebody out to fix the thing..
     On the positive side, Marie brought her seven-year-old daughter with her, and Maya had a great time playing with Sonia Dog, Fiorella was especially touched that, when Sonya tired of playing and lay down to rest, Maya lay down beside Doggie and stroked her back.
Needless to say, your favorite pyromaniac turned off the central heat as soon as she got home from her nostalgic tour of Austin and started a fire in the fireplace with all the newspapers she'd been saving for a week, At bedtime, she let the fire wear itself out so that she and Sonia could sleep in the after-glow.
     If you're wondering about the new wood Fio got out of the County when they broke their word about what trees they would cut down, it's too green to burn this year so Fiorella is using her old wood, la lena that was either felled or dragged in from the forest last year.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Christmas Cards and Chocolate

Fiorella put the of Carnation's Famous Fudge on the kitchen island, but that's as far as she got. Another busy day, first tending to the house--she has two major swags up--then taking off to Austin to get her somewhat shaggy hair given a once-over by the miraculous Deborah.  On the way home, Fio stopped at eight houses in her neighborhood, tied an assortment of Christmas candy on their doorknobs, and visited with the friends who were available. Remember, it will be Fiorella's last Christmas in her rural haven.
Before she took off on her jaunt, Fio picked up her Christmas cards, but balked at the extra two days and additional $$$ it would take for Fed-Ex to fold them so she now is trying to work out a good, simple way to do so herself. Hope she doesn't have to go back to Fed-Ex with her tail between her legs.
Somewhere along the way, Fiorella bought red-robed chocolate Santas that she'll pass out to various friends in days to come. And then there's the Christmas gelt....
Oh, she forgot to mention that she's also planning to stop in at Lamme's Candies and buy some of their special chocolate to send to a cousin in Ohio who's done something to her knee cap. Remember, CHOCOLATE HEALS!
Some Christmas gifts are all year round, like nurse Marie Valerio, who kindly comes over to Fio's house monthly to check on her blood thinner because Austin Heartless won't do it in the office any more and your Fio can't bring herself to deliberately stick a needle in her finger. Her mother didn't raise her that way.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

From Reality to Imagination

Interesting--Fiorella's audience has shifted again, and yesterday the majority of her followers were in the United States (118), with Italy close behind at 100. Following, in descending order, were Ukraine (43), Mexico and the UK at 21, then South Korea  (18), Portugal (9), Romania (8), Hong Kong (2)
and Indonesia (2). Wonder what the mix will be today?
Hoping today's cold spell will last a while because Fiorella has an overflowing load of paper trash in the fireplace she'd like to get rid of. On the other hand, she may have to spend the day working on the outside Christmas decorations, and definitely, she'll have to drive down to Fed-Ex Kinko's to pick up the 100 copies of her card she ordered when she dropped her card off yesterday.
Also definitely, your girl will whip up a batch of chocolate fudge today because yesterday she used every bit of anti-chocolate will power she had, and while she didn't make any fudge, she did pick up a Milky Way and two chocolate Santa Clauses when she ran into H-E-B for a baguette. If she's going to get fatten up like a Christmas ham, she might as well do it on the cheap at home.
Congratulate Fiorella. Wonder Girl not only knows how to write a check, but has retaught herself how to balance her bank account without using a calculator.
Fio has lived in books since she was a child, and she still does, but by now, the stories are more in her own imagination.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Holiday Frenzy

Fiorella keeps telling herself she has enough time to get everything prepared for the Christmas family get-together, especially since Son and his family came over and took care of the tree (which is BEAUTIFUL) and Daughter is ramrodding the kitchen brigade. Especially since today Fio completely finished off her Christmas sonnet except for the printing, which she always gets done at Fed-Ex Kinkos. Especially since she's hired her yardman to hang the driveway swags.
     But, on the other hand, she still has to go buy envelopes for her cards, address them, stuff them, and mail them.  And then there are the swags that go up the stairs and end in a covey of redbirds, which were always Husband's favorites. And all the manger scenes Fiorella has collected. And cleaning up her desk and everything else in the house.
     Mother never seemed to be rushed when it came to holidays, but then, except for the tree, she did all the decorating at home alone while Dad was at work and Brother and Fio were at school. Also, Mother was a spot-on housewife so the house was always, ALWAYS, just the way it should be. 
     But she was never a widow and never had to deal with a house in transition.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Christmas Elves

Fiorella's granddaughter visited yesterday to help with Christmas decorations, and her specialty was dressing the tree, of course. You remember that last year she grabbed swatches of gold wrapping paper and stuffed them in between the fake branches of our fake tree, then crowed at the beauty she'd created.  Fio, of course, being an artist and a besotted grandmother, left the swatches in place all during the season and even took pictures of them.
     Granddaughter is older, more sophisticated and verbal this year , but she's still a Christmas tree afficianada, and was entranced by the lights, which her beloved daddy let her help him string on the tree. she also helped with the ornaments--thank you, God, for plastic.
    Actually, Fiorella thinks Granddaughter gets her as much artistic nature from her mother as her father because Daughter-in-law was pretty good at figuring out how to distribute the ornaments. (She also has the patience of Job.)
     The highlight of the day for Fio, of course, was when Granddaughter finally made the connection between her and the disembodied "Grammy" her parents have put her on the phone with from time to time, AND SHE LET FIORELLA TOUCH HER! Yep, your Fio misted over.
      Fiorella intends to concentrate on the Christmas card today. Her sonnet has been rewritten several times, and she wants to get it on a mock-up, printed, and mailed, although there will be a slight delay regarding the latter because your girl, who thought she was terribly clever by making use of a pack of envelopes that had been sitting in her art closet for years, suddenly realized that, for a sonnet-bearing card, she needed envelopes of a different size--5x8 rather than standard 4x9.
      Whatever--Fio still has more than a week till Christmas.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Fiorella's Day Off

What did you do on your mini-vacation yesterday, Fio?
     Well, as usual, I lugged several loads of firewood into the house (with Sonia Dog tracking my every step), did some decorating, then went up to the mailbox on the road (with Doggie still in attendance in case I got lost) and picked up some Christmas cards from friends. Of course, that reminded me that I had to finish my card, which, as you remember, is always of my own creation and usually a sonnet.
      Two hours later I finally had the last quatrain saying what I wanted it to say, and I am now writing my return address on 100 envelopes in batches of ten.  After that, I will be signing my name on the card and, maybe, writing a little message on each one if I have the time and the arm strength left. The whole process will take about three days because I sandwich it in between decorating, writing, feeding the fire, and housekeeping.
     One thing I don't have to deal with anymore is buying gifts. I give the kids, all adults, a nice check and sometimes a family heirloom.
     Speaking of the kids, although I'll sit at the head of the dining table, they're taking care of the dinner again this year It will be our last family get-together in this house I love so much.


Friday, December 13, 2019

Fio accidentally wrote two blogs yesterday so she's on vacation today. It's Friday the thirteenth anyway.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

From H-E-B to HOA

Fio's got a full day, including calling friend Suzy in England, calling friend Marie to set an INR date, calling Fernando to get help with her Christmas driveway, and, most important of all, calling Younger Son to sing Happy Birthday to him. In the afternoon, she will drive over to Austin Heartless and meet her new doctor, then stop by H-E-B for groceries, then she will flop onto the sofa and pretend to be human.
Fiorella's fires may be top-notch, but she's still got a lot of Christmas prep to do. Son and his family will be coming over to help on Saturday so Fio thinks she'll assign them to tree-decorating duty while she runs a red and green chain across the tops of the back windows. The wreaths will have to wait till later or may not be used at all this year.
No, Fio hasn't finished the sonnet yet, she'll give you the first two lines:
      Suddenly, the silence of the night
      Was broken by a newborn baby's cry
Thank goodness Daughter has taken over the meal-planning for the holiday feast, although there will be a reduced number of us attending this year. As Fiorella has said before, some families flourish and some diminish, and, unfortunately, Fio's family is in the latter category--which she is one reason she is driven to write.
As you know, Fiorella is planning to move from her wooded haven this spring, but she will always remember the generosity and kindness of so many of her neighbors. She will also remember how the president of the HOA attacked her when she was most vulnerable, then never apologized.

Inoportune Inquiry

The yardman hasn't been notified yet and the sonnet is still unfinished, but Fio did get the little gifts out to her friends at Chase, Mazda, and Click yesterday. She promises to do better today.
     One thing that slowed her down was a carefully-worded email from one of her cousins who has been heavily influenced by an anti-abortion movement. Now, as an adoptive mother,  Fiorella has slipped back and forth under the fence on this topic for years, but Cousin seems to be taking a rock-hard stand which Fio doesn't like and which probably arises from ignorance.
     What Cousin seems to be unaware of is that "abortion" is a medical term that applies to any evacuation of a fetus, dead or alive. Thus, Fiorella's long-ago first pregnancy, which ended in a bloody, life-threatening miscarriage is on the books somewhere as an abortion. Yes, they pulled the offending fetus out of her limb by limb, when she thought they were saving her baby.
      Also labeled as abortion would be the evacuation of dead fetuses that mothers used to have to carry till stillbirths--or for the rest of their lives as "stone babies."
      Needless to say, Fio did not appreciate Cousin's inquiry in the harried middle of the Christmas season. Yours Truly, who, in addition to trying to make the house merry, in addition trying to prepare it for sale, in addition to trying to save the country from gun nuts, in addition to trying to keep people aware of the child abuse at the border, does not need to get involved in the stupid abortion debate.
     Also, it brought back too many bad memories.  Fio was shunned in the Catholic hospital and not even allowed a wheel chair ride when she when it was time for her to go home.
 No fire today. Fiorella's tired of lugging in wood and wants to speed up her Christmas preps.     

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Fiorella Reporting In

Sorry to be late. Fio was rushing around, doing all the morning things. when the fire in the fireplace suddenly flared into full bloom. She'd been half-expecting it because of the mutterings she'd been hearing from the banked coals, but she'd hoped she'd have time to gather new firewood from the front room stack beforehand.
     So, instead of sitting down with a mug of hot chocolate, she had to grab the newspaper, tear it to shreds and knot the mangled remains into breakfast for the Lord of Fire. Under pressure, she wasn't as careful as she should have been and accidentally tore up the pages with the comics featuring the comics and anagrams, then had to go back through the mess to find them.
     Sometime I feel like Lucille Ball reincarnated.
Met with friends Carol and Ashley at Starbucks yesterday and solved the problems of the world, then, as we left, stalked a tall, gorgeous guy dressed like a male model and toting a gun in his holster vest. Yep, old ladies can do that sort of thing and get away with it. Fio was all for interviewing him, but Cutie Pie went into the side entrance of the restaurant next door and sat down with a table of craggy-faced uniformed guys who looked like they wouldn't stand for any nonsense so we retreated. Besides, it was starting to rain.
Aside from keeping the fire going, what are you going to do today, Fiorella? Well, what I'm planning to do is add more to the Christmas decor, set up a time for my yardman to come by and help me put up swags of tinsel along the driveway, take gifts around to my friends at Mazda, Click, and Chase, and work on the sonnet, which is not as near finished as I thought it was. What about you?


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

From Donella to Downsizing

Fio loves su donella. Like everyone who has a maid, Fiorella runs around the house like a mad woman before her hired help arrives, cleaning up obvious messes and putting everything in shape as much as she can, but her donella is the one who not only makes everything sparkle, but helps Fio lug in firewood into the house.
Speaking of firewood, Fio is proud to say that because she knows how to start a fire in the fireplace, she hasn't had to turn on the central heat even once, despite the abnormally cold autumn. 
Sad to say, Fio had a GERD attack last night, sweats and all, and it was her own dang fault. She walked into H-E-B with the intention of preparing for Christmas dinner, but walked out with a bag of Pinwheels, then ate most of them on the way home. And she is not repentant.
Did Fiorella hear someone ask her about this year's Christmas sonnet? Well, it's on track so far--it's got a nativity theme, and first two lines and the last two lines have been set in steel since day one, but the in-betweens are still a little sloppy. You can only have so many angels flapping around before the story gets stupid.
Downsizing....Fio knows what the word means, but never thought it would apply to bigger-and-better her. What is going to happen to all her treasures?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Pre-Christmas Decisions

The maid is coming this morning so Fiorella is whipping around the house trying to clean everything up and, at the same time, proceed with her Christmas decorating and production of VOTER REGISTRAR badges. Hmm.... maybe she can also drag la donella into helping her fit the rest of the branches into the thirty-year-old Japanese Christmas tree.
This will be Fiorella's last Christmas in the house, and she's a a little tired, so this year, she'll probably hire her yard man to dress the driveway with ropes of tinsel. Husband's death has left Fio with more holiday preps than she can handle on her own.
One thing Fiorella is sure of is that there will be no paper plates or napkins at the family dinner. This one last time, your girl prefers to stick with the traditional Haviland china, Sir Christopher silverware, and cloth napkins. Come the New Year, of course, she might decide to sell it all--her bank account could do with a little extra cash.
And, throughout it all, Fio has been dashing into the kitchen to manufacture more buttons and badges, then out to the woodpile in the driveway to pick up firewood for the cold weather predicted for the end of the week. HOW THE HECK IS SHE NOT LOSING WEIGHT?
Nothing like waking in the middle of the night to ponder what is going on in one's life, and Fiorella's is like a country-western song. Several songs, in fact, and you can bet she's jotting down notes.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

No Title

For the first time since my husband's death in January, I miss him. Up till now, my subconscious has never let me accept that I am alone, telling me instead that he in another room, or upstairs, or in another hospital or rehab facility. But tonight, I know that Husband will never again come into the den and sit beside me to talk about the day. I am alone.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Christmas Season Minutia

If there's one thing your technology-challenged friend has learned, it's that there's always a back door that she can open up--or escape through.
Speaking of technology, Fiorella found herself picking up the TV remote yesterday, and, mistaking it it for a phone, she panicked when she couldn't remember how to dial somebody on it. Face it--there are just too dang many black plastic gadgets with numbers on them lying around the house.
Fio's on a winning streak--she found a water-proof red paint that she can use for her CHRISTMAS GREETINGS sign, was moved to the head of the line in the post office by  the people in front of her when they learned she was just buying Christmas stamps, was complimented on her car by a young woman who'd never seen a Miata before, came up with a brainstorm idea for the first verse of her yearly Christmas sonnet, gave out four DUMP TRUMP buttons along the way, then came home and ate three chocolate rounds. BURRRRRP.
How weird--our "autumn" was cold, cold, cold, and our "winter" season has been quite warm. Fio was wearing a heavy jacket this time last month, and now the heaviest thing she's wearing is a long-sleeved shirt.
Fiorella has self-diagnosed herself with tinnitus, which is when one hears music that isn't there, but it's not bothering her because the songs change with the seasons. Right now, she's hearing distant Christmas carols...all is calm, all is bright....

Friday, December 6, 2019

Christmas Musical

In keeping with the season, Fiorella is going to treat you to the lyrics of some songs she wrote for her characters to sing in her second published book. The heroine, a former child actress has come to Bosque Bend, Texas, to direct a Christmas-themed musical, Gift of the Magi,  but with a happy ending, like Fiorella always thought O'Henry's short story should have had.

 Della's song:
     If I sing enough, if I pray enough
     If I am very, very good
     Maybe everything will turn out
     As I hope it will, as it should
     As it should....

Jim's song:
     If I were as rich as Rockefeller, John D,
     Whenever I walked down the street
     The gents would tip their hats at me
     And I'd give dimes to all in need

     If I were rich, I'd buy Della those hats
     And beatifyl dressed for her to wear
     And neautiful shoes with stylish spats
     And beautiful combs for her beautiful hair 

     York New York evening, New York night,
     Everyone is snuggled up tight
     Asleep in their beds, asleep in their dreams
     Where nothing is really what it seems
     And problems are solved by love and a song--
     Everything is right, nothing is wrong

Where nothing is wrong, everything's right
And try as you might,
Try as you may,
You won't find anythig
Wrong to say
About this wonderful New york night
Everything will be right tonight

You won't find anything
Wrong to say
About the wonderful  New York nigh
Everything will be right tonight

Love triumphant wins the day
Now we are happy, happy and gay
Happy New Year
Be of good cheer
Times may be tough
Times may be rough
But there's always a way, always a way
Always a way if you love enough
Be of good cheer
Happy New Year
Love triumphant wins the day

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Mixing Chocolate with Politics

It's chocolate season, and Fio has already packed on three extra pounds. Carnation Chocolate Fudge should be declared illegal, but then Your Girl would find a way to buy it on the black market.
Fiorella had a ten-minute scare yesterday in late afternoon--the electricity went out. Immediately assuming her technological incompetence was to blame, she ran around the house like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off, trying to figure what her adventures in decorating might have knocked loose. Then, just as she was preparing to run over to the neighbors' house to see if their electricity was out too, everything lit up again. Scary--Fio never realized how dependent she was on Thomas Edison.
Sonia is out in the back yard barking again, probably at a deer (uno cierco) seeking his lady love--it's that time of year. And yes, Fiorella is telling you this so she can use her new Spanish vocabulary word.
Speaking of words, if only Fiorella knew a magic word that would decorate the house exactly the way she wants it to be without her having to raise a finger--or balance on one foot on the kitchen stool as she reaches up to the top of the window to hang a Christmas wreath.
Fio had a wonderful visit with long-time friend Paula at a Starbucks yesterday, and while they were there, a young woman commented on the two DUMP TRUMP buttons that were, as usual, pinned on Fiorella's bosom. Recognizing her cue, Fio said, "I make them," unpinned a button, and held it out to the woman. "Do you want one?"
     As soon as the woman had the button in her hand, Fio pulled three more buttons out of her purse and asked her if she would like more, perhaps for friends. The woman grabbed all three of them.
     Yes, Fiorella is trying to do her part, and she hopes her mother, who was born on this day 100 years ago, would be proud of heršŸ§”.


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Too Much to Do, Too Little Time--As Usual

Stress is Fio's middle name at this time of year. Now that she's moved the 34 bags and boxes of decorations into the house, she has to put their contents in place, which means scotch tape and ladders at  this point and,  all too soon,  wrestling with the twenty-year-old Japanese Christmas tree. She can handle all these things herself, but draping the lights on the tree will require the help of someone about a foot taller than she is.
     Yours truly has decorated the same way for the last several years (with added embellishments each go-round, of course), but, maybe because it's her last year in this house, she's switching things around some, making her decorations simpler and...well...more avant garde. Thus, instead of her usual double-wreathed front door, guests will see a Christmastime version of her Halloween door--with red and green snowflakes and a big red bell instead of bats and pumpkins. And her front windows aren't going to be as heavily wreathed as usual because Fio is Scotch-taping stockings and snowflakes onto them.
     The outside of the house will not get  as much attention as it received last year, when Fiorella created an extravaganza of tinsel ropes down both sides of the south driveway and Husband put up about twenty strands of lights, and Fio doubts that she'll have the time--or the energy--to decorate the tree  in the meadow.
     To top it off, in between times, Fio is working on a sonnet for her holiday card and she's still producing VOTER REGISTRAR badges and DUMP TRUMP buttons.
     Maybe this wasn't the best time of year to try to start working on Lolly's story again.


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Here I Stand--I Can Do No Other

After spending half the day hauling seventeen crates of Christmas decorations out of the garage, Fio had to drive over to the Tax Assessor-Collector's office to submit the final paper that would transfer ownership of Husband's car to her name. Sitting in a crowded room for an hour twiddling her thumbs before her name was called did not put her in a good mood, but the breaking point was when, as she left the office, she was approached by two young men with big smiles on their faces who wanted her to sign a petition regarding their "Second Amendment" rights.
     Fiorella blew up. First, she gave them a well-deserved lecture, informing them that Second Amendment gun rights applied to well-regulated militias, not to just anyone who took a hankering to having a gun in the house. Then she hit them with her own story, the one that has haunted her life for almost fifty years--the University of Texas Tower massacre.
     People can't argue someone else's story so the twosome had to listen to Fio's, and I made sure that every passer-by heard it too.
     The long and short of it is that one sunny summer day, a lone gunman went up into the UT Tower, killing a guard and four-member  family on the way, and then, from the highest vantage point, cut loose at everyone he could see on and off campus.
     Among the twenty-some dead was Fio's nephew, Paul Sonntag, age eighteen. From a block away, he'd been shot through the mouth.
     The family was stunned--old men die, not newly-minted high school grads on their way to college in the fall.
     Friends, including Lyndon Johnson, offered consolations and the funeral was well-attended, but that didn't change anything. Paul was dead, and the family has lived in a shadow ever since, even down to the third generation.  You think you've packed the horror away in a dark closet, but every now and then, the guilt for still being alive breaks out, then the anger. Paul didn't have to die, and neither did any of the people who've been killed since then at outdoor concerts, in their offices, in churches, schools, and department stores.
     No, Fiorella will not sign a petition supporting "Second Amendment rights," and neither should anybody else. The blood will be on your hands.




Monday, December 2, 2019

From Ernie to Fudge

Fiorella, who's been towing holiday decorations in from the garage all day, plagiarized Tenneesee Ernie's lyrics:
      Sixteen bags
     And much to my sorrow,
     Sixteen more bags
     Left for tomorrow
     St Peter don't call me 'cause I can't pause
     I'm preparing for the arrival of Santa Claus
Fio played around with her Christmas sonnet today, but it's early stages and she doesn't know whether or not it will work out.  Some poems come to her immediately, some take a couple of weeks, and some never leave the dock.
Those dang paper snowflakes are still missing, despite Fio caving in and, with the idea that like attracts like, cutting out two new ones.
Yes, your girl is going to put her CHRISTMAS GREETINGS sign at the front of the driveway again, despite her experience last year when some idiot stole her campaign signs, then stole the sign she put up rebuking the theft. The GREETINGS sign did stay up last year, but who knows what will happen this year. Fio has not exactly made herself the belle of the ball.
Fiorella and Husband used to cook up a box or two of Carnation's FAMOUS FUDGE each Christmas so, to honor his memory and delight her own palate, she bought five boxes of it at H-E-B. Following the directions on the side of the box was a little hard to manage with just two hands and two eyes instead of four of both, but, although Fio overcooked her first batch last week, her second batch, which she made yesterday, turned out perfect and was exactly the fuel she needed to drag he rest of the boxes and bags into the house.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Paper, Fiorella's Daily Ncessity

Fio's received her first Christmas card, which means she has to start decorating. Now if she can just find the envelope containing the giant red and green snowflakes she tapes to the windows to announce the holiday every year. Dang! She spotted it a month ago in the garage and moved it to a more obvious location, which she now can't find.
     Fio's also lost track of a blog she's written about gun violence from a personal viewpoint. Hopefully, it will turn up, but she's already gone through all the notes tucked in the back of her tablets, and nada.  
     Then there are the ideas she's jotted down for this year's Christmas sonnet. Where are they? She saw them this morning....
     Did you notice that all three of these losses involve paper, a product that is necessary to Fiorella's happiness and always has been? During WWII, her father brought home reams of discarded quality-control pages from the plant so little Fio would have something to draw on. She also remembers when she was in about the third grade and squawked so loudly about there being no paper in the house that the next-door-neighbor overheard her and brought some over. (Thank you, Mrs. Johnson.)
     Yes, Fio is a paper fiend and if those snowflakes don't show up. she'll be up till the wee hours cutting more of them--which brings you back to where this blog began.