August Reviews

Country by Danielle Steel. Copyright 2015.

This story is about seizing the day. In San Francisco, Stephany Adams, a stay at home wife and mother, discovers her successful lawyer husband, Bill, has been cheating on her. She decides to stay married to him for the sake of their children, but it’s a loveless relationship. Seven years later, her children have left home with two employed and one in college overseas. At the age of 52, Bill has a fatal heart attack while skiing, and everything changes. Stephany must deal with grief and her children’s anger at her for being alive while their so-called idyllic father is dead.

Several months later after a weekend with friends in Santa Barbara, Stephany is driving home when by accident, she ends up on the road to Los Vegas and decides to go there. After a night spent playing slot machines, she decides to drive to the Grand Canyon, a place where she’s never been. There, she meets country singer Chase Taylor. She follows him back to Vegas, attending several of his concerts, then accompanies him to Nashville.

Still reeling from her husband’s death and not used to being independent, Stephany needs to figure out who she is and what she wants to be. For the time being, she’s willing to be with Chase in Nashville while he’s recording another album and getting ready for more performances. After visiting her son in Atlanta and her daughter in New York, she returns to San Francisco and carries on a long distance relationship with him. Later, he comes to San Francisco, and she goes with him to Los Angeles where he meets with record company executives. While there, the press catches them together in public, and their photo appears in tabloids and on YouTube. Stephany’s family and friends are shocked, and Stephany still doesn’t know whether she belongs with Chase. She eventually figures it out, as they seize the day together.

Having once wanted to be a singing star, I’ve always been fascinated with their lives. After reading Willie Nelson’s and Linda Ronstadt’s memoirs, I believe Danielle Steel’s depiction of such a life is realistic. I downloaded this book from Audible, and the male narrator with a southern twang does an excellent job, especially with the voices of Chase and other male characters.

Reading books like this helps me put my life in perspective. I was also widowed at an early age, and before that, I cared for my husband who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. All the while, Bill was there for me, and I always felt loved.

That wasn’t the case with Stephany. Even before she found out about her husband’s affair, he rarely spent time with her and the kids, although after his death, the kids wanted to believe he was a terrific dad. I think that is worse than what I went through.

Here’s an interesting irony. Stephany’s first husband’s name was Bill, the same as my late husband. Chase’s last name was Taylor, the same as my husband. How about that?

***

Another Chance at Life: A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Journey by Leonore Dvorkin. Copyright 2009.

This is a short but to the point account of one woman’s experience with breast cancer. As the author states in the beginning, it’s for women who may develop breast cancer later in life. If you’re a man, you might want to skip this one.

Leonore Dvorkin starts by explaining how she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 and her decision to have a mastectomy. A resident of Denver, Colorado, she talks about traveling to Kansas City to visit her family and her mother and sisters’ wish that she would just have the lump removed simply because it was what they would have done. She also touches on her family’s reaction to her novel, Apart from You, before it was published in 2010. She discusses how she and her husband bought a Polaroid camera and took pictures of her naked body the night before her surgery.

She describes what it was like to have the breast removed, assuring readers that such surgery for the patient is nothing more than having a good night’s sleep. She knew what to expect since she had numerous surgical procedures in the past for varicose veins and other difficulties, and she touches on those. I was amazed to learn that HMO’s normally expect a mastectomy to be an out-patient procedure. Afterward, the patient is monitored for a few hours for complications and then sent home. In Leonore Dvorkin’s case, because she suffered from nausea as a result of morpheme she was given for pain, she was allowed to spend the night. I’m so thankful I don’t use an HMO for insurance, but it’s possible that nowadays, things may have changed. I hope I never have to find out.

Leonore Dvorkin then goes on to describe her recovery at home and the relief she felt upon learning she didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy. She talks about difficulty sleeping as a result of prescribed pain medication and a shoulder injury that made her rehabilitation more difficult. She touches on how her husband cared for her, not just after the mastectomy, but after other operations she had beforehand.

Several months after the surgery, she was ready to return to her job tutoring foreign languages at a Denver college and resume teaching weight training classes in her basement. She describes how she went to a store in Denver and bought a prosthetic breast and a mastectomy bra. In the end, she explains her attitude and how reducing stress and changes in diet and exercise made her feel better and gave her more confidence. She also discusses how she will age gracefully. This book includes appendices with resources and information about her particular type of breast cancer.

I like this author’s attitude. She doesn’t take cancer lightly but doesn’t wallow in self-pity or poor self-image either. I especially liked the way she describes how a prosthetic breast fits into a mastectomy bra and gives advice on how to buy and use them. I hope I never get breast cancer, but if I do, after reading this book, I hope to be able to deal with it and move on.

***

Apart from You by Leonore Dvorkin. Copyright 2010.

This novel, set in the 1960’s, depicts love and betrayal among college students. Elizabeth and Allan attend a university in Bloomington, Indiana, and are engaged. They endure a period of separation while Allan goes home to live with his parents and work for a year before returning to school. During the spring semester of that year, Elizabeth falls in love with Brian, a teaching assistant who was her instructor the previous year. She moves in with him and doesn’t tell him the truth until five weeks later when he proposes to her. The ending is predictable.

Breaking with conventionality is the book’s theme. When Elizabeth and Allan part, they agree to date and sleep with others, although they’re in love. Being old-fashioned, I believe that if you truly love someone, you shouldn’t even think about dating someone else. I almost decided not to finish the book, but the story is entertaining, especially when a former girlfriend of Brian’s and a former boyfriend of Elizabeth’s appear briefly. The scenes on campus brought back pleasant memories of my own college days, although they were in the 1980’s with a more modern culture.

This book contains explicit descriptions of love making, another thing I could have done without. In this case though, the erotic scenes effectively illustrate the irony of the fact that to Elizabeth, Brian is merely a distraction until she and Allan can be reunited. This book is probably more suited to young adults than old foagies like me, but I enjoyed reading it.

***

Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis. Copyright 2014.

This is a collection of whimsical short stories. In the title piece, a writer, considered lazy because of the use of too many contractions, is denied a writing prize. In another tale, two neighbors with the same last name are at odds over a rug. A third story takes the form of a letter to the manufacturer of frozen peas in which the writer complains about the picture on the front of the package.

Some stories are translations while others appear to be inspired by dreams. Some are humorous, others serious. Some stories left me feeling like I wanted to know more. This collection grew tiresome after a while so I didn’t finish it.

***

A Perfect Life by Danielle Steel. Copyright 2014.

Since this author’s birthday is in August, I thought I might read another of her books before September. However, this is the first Danielle Steel novel I started and decided not to finish. After the first chapter, I didn’t like the main character, a work-aholic television reporter with a blind daughter she rarely sees because the girl has spent most of her life in a school for the blind.

Others who read the book told me Danielle Steel’s portrayal of blindness is unrealistic and demeaning to those of us with visual impairments, but I didn’t read far enough in the book to determine that myself. The fact that the girl is blind isn’t even mentioned in the first chapter, but knowing this ahead of time made me despise her mother all the more. If I don’t like a main character, I can’t sympathize with her, and frankly, I don’t care what happens.

***

Love Letters by Debbie Macomber. Copyright 2014.

This is the third in the author’s Rose Harbor Inn series. Jo Marie, a widow, has opened a bed and breakfast in the fictional town of Cedar Cove, Washington, and each book in the series tells the stories of different guests who stay at the establishment for a weekend. When they arrive, there is usually some sort of conflict in their lives that is resolved by the time they check out.

This time, love letters are involved in one way or another in the stories that unfold Roy and Maggie’s marriage is falling apart, and Maggie’s discovery that she’s pregnant during their get-away weekend at Rose Harbor Inn doesn’t help matters. Eleanor comes to Cedar Cove to meet a man with whom she has been conversing online and ends up meeting her long-lost father who supposedly abandoned her and her mother when she was a baby. As usual, everything ends happily, and the reader gets a glimpse of what will happen in the next book.

This series reminds me of a television program I watched years ago, Fantasy Island, in which people with conflicted lives travel to a tropical island where there conflicts are resolved through their fantasies. The books in Debbie Macomber’s Rose Harbor Inn series have made me cry and laugh. I can’t wait to read Silver Linings, the next book in the Rose Harbor Inn series.

***

Speaking of love letters, during her introductory letter, Debbie Macomber expresses the hope that readers will come away from this book inspired to write their own love letters. I’ve done just that in the form of a poem dedicated to my late husband. Click on the link below to hear me read it.

***

TO BILL

Honey, I love you, always will.

Even now that you’re gone,

no one will come between us.

I know you want me to be happy,

but I was only truly content with you.

I hope you haven’t found anyone else,

like to think you were pleased with me.

When my time comes,

I hope you’ll be there.

Dying scares me,

but if you’ll take my hand,

as you did on our wedding day,

say, “Hi sweetie, are you nervous?”

I’ll respond as I did then,

“No, now that you’re here.”

***

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/to%20bill.mp3

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Vote for my new book idea.

Waves (Fiction)

“Why are we doing this?” I asked, as the van pulled into a parking space next to the beach.

“Honey, it’s your birthday,” said Mom, turning in the front passenger seat to face me. “You always loved going to the beach.”

“Yeah, when I could walk,” I said, tapping the side of my wheelchair for emphasis.

“Anna, all you’ve done since you got home from rehab is feel sorry for yourself. It’s time you got some fresh air. I made all your favorite foods: fried chicken, potato salad, corn on the cob. I even baked your favorite kind of cake, chocolate.”

“Mom, you just don’t get it. My legs don’t work anymore. I can’t surf, walk in the water. I can’t even sit on the sand and build castles like I did when I was a kid, let alone go back to college. I can’t do any of it.”

“Listen Anna,” said Dad in his no nonsense voice, as he turned off the ignition. “Your mother went to a lot of trouble here so the least you can do is show some gratitude.”

He was right of course, but I still couldn’t get out of the funk I was in for the past six months since I woke up in the hospital and realized I would probably never walk again after the car crash. I fought to keep from crying, as Dad opened his door and climbed out of the van. “You all stay here a minute,” he said. “I’ll run and find us a spot.”

“I’ll start getting stuff out of the trunk,” said Mom, climbing out on her side.

“Let’s get you out of here, Sis,” said my brother Will, flipping the switches to open the doors and unfold the ramp.

With a sigh of resignation, I unfastened the seat belt as both my younger twin brothers Will and Tim worked together to undo the tie-down that held my chair in place and maneuver me onto the ramp. “Okay, here we go,” said Tim, standing behind me.

I grasped the chair’s armrests, as we descended to the parking lot in the California June sun. “I hate this stupid thing,” I said. “I know. I know I should have thought of that before texting Monica last Christmas Eve while driving to the market for those eggs so Mom could make her world famous eggnog. If I hadn’t been asking Monica what she wanted me to bring to her New Year’s Eve party, I wouldn’t have hit that stupid truck, and Bonnie wouldn’t have gone flying through the windshield.”

“Hey, quit beating yourself up,” said Tim, patting me on the shoulder.

“Yeah, look at it this way,” said Will who’d jumped off the lift ahead of us and was standing on the ground. “The truck only sustained minor damage while Dad’s car was totaled, and the driver, unlike Miss Bonnie, was wearing a seat belt, and since the air bag worked, he was hardly hurt at all.”

“Yeah, but Bonnie’s gone, and I can’t walk, and how could I have been so stupid?”

“Anna, knock it off,” said Tim. “You’re not doing yourself any good.”

Of course he was right. Why did men always have to be right? I stared ahead of me at all the people sunning themselves on the uneven sand. “Oh God,” I said. “even if Dad finds a place, how will I get there? This is a wheelchair, not a dune buggy.”

“No problem,” said Tim. “I’ll carry you.”

“What?” I asked, as I turned to stare at my brother. He was a few years younger but a head taller. Since he played football in high school and lifted weights, his arms were strong, but I still wasn’t sure.

“Don’t worry, Sis,” he said. “I’ve picked up a lot of girls and haven’t lost one yet.”

Will guffawed. “Knock it off, Will,” said Tim.

“Both you boys stop,” said Mom, coming around from behind the van with the cooler. “Here comes your father.”

“I’ll take that,” said Dad, as he approached her. “I found us a spot a ways down. Tim, you get your sister. Will, you grab her chair, and I’ll help your mom with the food. Once you boys get Anna settled, you can come back for your boards.”

I couldn’t believe it. It was bad enough I couldn’t walk on the beach, let alone surf, but now, I had to sit there and watch them surf. They may as well have rubbed salt on an open wound. It was all I could do to keep from crying, as Tim flung me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and carried me through the crowd.

We reached our spot, and miracle of miracles, Will found a flat place to set the wheelchair. “We’ll be back in a few minutes,” said Tim after positioning me. Mom was spreading a blanket on the sand, and Dad was unloading the cooler.

A woman with a dog approached, and I took in a breath when I realized the pooch, a Golden Retriever, looked just like Bonnie. Was I imagining things? “Oh how cute,” said Mom. “She looks just like our dog.”

Apparently, I wasn’t. The dog came up to me, and without thinking, I reached down and stroked the soft head and scratched behind the silky ears. The woman smiled. “You must be Anna Martin.”

I stared at her. How could she possibly know who I was? “Yeah,” I said, not knowing what to think.

“I’m Judy Fridono, and this is Ricochet,” she said, patting the dog. “You might have heard of us.”

I shook my head. “Ricochet is a surfing dog. She likes to surf with people like you.”

“People like me?” Then I remembered. “Oh, I saw something on Facebook a while back about a dog who surfs with disabled people, but I thought she just surfed with kids.”

“No, Ricochet surfs with people of all ages. She’ll surf with you today if you’re up to it.”

It was then I noticed the two guys behind her, lugging a surf board. I couldn’t believe it. How could I possibly surf? My legs didn’t work at all so how could I even climb on the board? With only my arms, what would I do if I wiped out?

In answer to my unspoken questions, she said, “These guys will help you. They’ll get you on the board with Ricochet, take you out into deep water where you can catch the waves, and let you go. They’ll be there if you wipe out.”

“Happy birthday,” said Dad, opening a bottle of beer. He and Mom were both grinning. I looked at them and then at the woman and dog.

“Oh honey, this will be so much fun,” said Mom, rushing to my side. “Here, let’s get your shirt off.”

I now knew why she insisted I wear what I would have normally worn to the beach: my swimming suit with a long t-shirt over it and flip flops. Stunned, I lifted my arms while Mom helped me out of the shirt. Dad knelt and removed my thongs while Mom slathered me with sunscreen. Then, one of the guys put a life jacket on me, much to my relief. At least I’d be able to stay afloat if I wiped out. “You ready?” asked the woman.

“Sure, why not,” I said.

The next thing I knew, I was being lifted onto the board face down with Ricochet in front of me. I reached out and stroked her neck, and she licked my face and wagged her tail. “You set?” one of the guys asked.

“Yeah, let’s do this,” I said, feeling more confident, as we moved into the water. Before I knew it, we were past the shallows, and one of the guys said, “Okay, you’re flying solo, but your brothers are coming, and we’ll be right here.”

Hugging Ricochet, I found myself soaring to heights where I thought I’d never go again. It was as if the accident never happened. For the first time in six months, I felt the exhilaration of the waves, as they rolled over us, and we rode them with ease.

“Hey Anna, isn’t this fun?” I turned to see Tim at my left side on his board, smiling. I grinned back at him.

“Anna, look over here and smile.” It was Will on his board, balancing his camera.

“You’re gonna get that thing wet,” I said.

“So what? This is the underwater camera I got for Christmas, remember?”

Christmas, there it was, but for once, I didn’t feel angry or depressed. Another wave came, and we were airborne once more.

When the water became calm, I stroked the dog’s back. We were both soaked, but that didn’t matter. ”Oh Ricochet!” I said, kissing her forehead. “Maybe life doesn’t suck after all.”

***

Note: Ricochet actually exists. To watch a video of this dog surfing with two terminally ill teen-agers, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yksy4M6HRxQ . You can learn more about Ricochet by reading my review of Judy Fridono’s memoir at https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/riding-waves-with-a-dog/ .

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Vote for my new book idea.

Breast Exam

Note: I wrote the following in 2009 when my husband was still alive. I thought of it after I just finished reading Another Chance at Life: A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Journey by Leonore Dvorkin. I’ll provide more information about this in my end-of-month book wrap-up.

BREAST EXAM

I’m sitting on the toilet, moving the index and middle fingers of my right hand up, down, and around each breast as the radiology technician showed me. There are no lumps. I stand, repeat the procedure, and still find no lumps. In the shower, I rub a generous amount of soap on both breasts and repeat the examination a third time. Still, there are no lumps.

As I finish showering, I reflect on my first mammogram eight years ago. A friend e-mailed me a list of ways to prepare. One suggestion was to insert my boob into the refrigerator and close the door. Another was to place my breast behind one of the back tires of my car and have someone drive over it. Either way, I would have a feeling of what it would be like to have a mammogram. These suggestions didn’t make sense until I had my first procedure.

The mammogram machine was a tall contraption with an adjustable top. I stood, leaning against it while my breast was squashed between the top and bottom. I held my arm corresponding to the breast being examined straight out to the side and clutched a bar on the side of the machine.

Two views were taken of each breast, one side to side and one top to bottom. The top to bottom ones weren’t bad, but the side to side were excruciating because of my short stature. I had to stand on tiptoe so my breast could be aligned properly. At one point while the picture was being taken, I wondered what would happen if the power went out. Would the machine lock, trapping my boob between its metal jaws? For the next eight years, I allowed my bosom to be subjected to this torture, and for what?

As I climb out of the shower and reach for my towel, I think about my mother who died of cancer ten years ago. Not in her breast, it was the dreaded disease all the same. During the last six months of her life, she was weak from chemotherapy, and Dad took care of her. The oncologist gave her a good prognosis a couple of weeks before she passed. It was a shock when she lay down on the afternoon of December 15, 1999, closed her eyes, and never woke up.

Fortunately, this didn’t happen while I was a child in need of her care. I was living on my own and holding down a job, and I only needed her companionship and moral support. I realize now that if I were to die, my husband Bill would be lost without me. Unable to care for himself, he would be forced to spend the rest of his life in a nursing home. After working in one for fifteen years, I know they’re not bad places, but living in an institution, no matter how pleasant the surroundings or friendly the staff, isn’t the same as living at home and being cared for by the one you love.

So I’ll continue to examine my breasts once a month. When I receive a card in the mail from the radiology clinic reminding me it’s time for my yearly mammogram, I’ll pick up the phone and arrange to have my boobs squashed.

“What are you doing?” Bill asks, as I climb in bed beside him and reach under my pajama top.

“I’m doing my monthly breast exam. Remember? I do it when I’m sitting, standing, in the shower, and lying down.” There are still no lumps.

I turn, put my arm around him, snuggle against him, bury my face in his hair. “You don’t want me to die of breast cancer, do you?” I say, as I kiss him.

“No,” he answers with a laugh. “Can I examine your breasts?”

“Sure,” I answer, positioning myself so he can reach them.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Vote for my new book idea.

I’m a Star

I wanted to be a star ever since I sang Simon and Garfunkel’s “El Condor Pasa” while accompanying myself on piano in the Kiwanis Club Stars of Tomorrow contest in Sheridan, Wyoming, back in the 70’s. I was twelve years old at the time. A couple of years later, my younger brother Andy found an old paint can he used as a drum and a wood chip I pretended was a microphone. To hear me read a poem I wrote about that experience, visit https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/I%27m%20a%20star.mp3 .

Soon after that, Andy got a drum set. Our band moved from the front porch to the dining room with me on piano and vocals and Andy on drums. As a sophomore in high school, I again entered the Stars of Tomorrow contest. They had a silly rule that a younger person couldn’t accompany an older person so Andy couldn’t play the drums while I sang “You Light Up My Life,” accompanying myself on the piano. However, I could accompany Andy on piano while he played drums. In this fashion, we performed “You Don’t’ Have to be a Star to Be in My Show.” To hear the original sung by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nb9jJg_wIU . Andy didn’t win, but I took second place with my rendition of “You Light Up my Life.” Here’s what it sounded like. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/you%20light%20up%20my%20life.mp3

After graduating from high school, I decided not to move to Nashville, New York, or L.A. and try to make it big. I went to college where I majored in music and eventually got into music therapy. For fifteen years, I worked in a nursing home, singing old standards like this one. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/stormy%20weather.mp3 After fifteen years, I decided to become a writer when I married my late husband Bill.

Three months after our wedding, Bill suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side. I became a caregiver but found time to publish two books and write poems and stories and submit them to publications. Now that Bill is gone, I have more time for that and have published a third book and am working on a fourth. I still sing but not as often.

Recently though, I became a bit of a celebrity in my home town. I entered a talent competition connected with our monthly third Thursday festival that runs during the summer months downtown. To my surprise, I won and was asked to sing the national anthem at a polo match. Andy and his wife Christina, who were visiting from Florida, managed to catch most of my performance on video. The sound you’ll hear in the background is the wind, not bombs bursting in air as you might imagine. It may take a little longer for this one to come up when you click on it. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/national%20anthem%20polo%207-26-2015.MOV

If you’re within the sound of my voice, I’ll be performing on the main stage at the next third Thursday festival in downtown Sheridan on August 20th. It’s located in front of the old Woolworth building on the corner of Main and Grinnell. My program will run from five to five thirty p.m. I’ll accompany myself on guitar instead of piano.

I’m not a super star like Olivia Newton-John or Debbie Boon, but that’s okay. I love to perform when I get a chance, and audiences love me. That’s what matters.

It’s the same with my writing. I’ve published three books with a fourth on the way, but I’m not a best-selling author. That doesn’t bother me. I love what I do, and my readers enjoy my work. As the song goes, “You don’t have to be a star.”

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Vote for my new book idea.

Books I Read This Month

It’s a Long Story: My Life by Willie Nelson. Copyright 2015.

This month, country super star Willie Nelson received a prestigious award from the Library of Congress along with Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, and Stevie Wonder. I thought it would be a good time to read his memoir.

He starts by talking about his early life growing up in Abbott, Texas, where he and his older sister Bobbi were raised by their grandparents because their parents, who were also musicians, did a lot of traveling. Willie took an interest in music at an early age. He describes how he felt after his grandfather died when he was about five or six. Soon after that, his grandmother made him sing a song at a church revival meeting. He was apparently so nervous that he picked his nose constantly before the performance, and by the time he got on the stage, blood was pouring out of his nostrils and onto his clean, white sailor suit. That earned him the nickname Booger Red.

As a teen-ager, he played in various bands that performed in bars and dance halls in the area. He curbed his grandmother’s disapproval of this by giving her the money he earned. His sister Bobbi became proficient at the piano while he played the guitar, and they often played together, even as adults.

After graduating from high school, Willie went to work trimming trees but gave up on that when he fell out of one. He then entered the Air Force in the hope of being a pilot in the Korean War but washed out a year or so later.

After returning home, he married the first of four wives, a waitress at a drive-in restaurant. She gave birth to three children, and the family traveled around Texas, California, and Oregon where Willie worked as a disc jockey and at other odd jobs and performed in various night clubs. Eventually, they settled in Nashville, Tennessee, where he got a job as a songwriter at a local music publishing house. That was when his career took off.

He then describes the next five decades of his career: what inspired him to write and record many of his songs and albums, associating with Waylon Jennings, Chris Christofferson, Johnny Cash, and others, the purchase of a myriad of properties in Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, and Hawaii, and his movie career. He describes his divorce from his first wife and his marriages to and divorces from two other wives before finally settling down with a make-up artist at one of the locations where he was filming in the 1990’s. He talks about giving up alcohol in 1971 after releasing “Whiskey River” and his continued use of marijuana. He explains how he wormed his way out of scrapes with the law as a result of his drug use and avoided many unhappy returns from the IRS by giving them all the proceeds from some of his concerts.

In the end, he talks about pot and his opinion of the music industry. He believes marijuana should be legalized and isn’t bothered by the fact that nowadays, with the use of music subscription services online, record sales are down. He never depended on royalties from the sale of his records but on the sale of tickets to his concerts. If people listen to his music on computers or smart phones, and that inspires them to hear him in person, that makes him happy.

The recording of this book I downloaded was produced by Hachette Audio. Although Willie doesn’t read the entire book in this recording, he narrates the introduction at the beginning, and at the end, there’s a recording of him singing one of his songs, “It’s a Long Story: My Life,” the same title as the memoir. To me, this isn’t as good as his other songs such as “Pauncho and Lefty,” “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,” and all the songs from Stardust, my favorite Willie Nelson album which I still have on cassette.

On April 29th, 2015, Willie Nelson turned 82. One thing he loves to do is travel so here’s a song that illustrates this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBN86y30Ufc . Willie Nelson is still on the road.

***

Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir by Linda Ronstadt. Copyright 2013.

Linda Ronstadt details her life from her birth and childhood in Tucson, Arizona, to her life as a singer in Los Angeles and New York, to her retirement. She talks about her childhood in Arizona: receiving her first pony at the age of five, her mother becoming paralyzed from the waist down, attending a parochial school, making music with her family, and how her music was influenced by her Mexican heritage and such artists as Frank Sinatra. When she decided to move to Los Angeles after graduating from high school in the 1960’s, her father presented her with his guitar and pointed out that as long as she had an instrument, she wouldn’t be hungry.

She then goes on to talk about her career over the next few decades until her last performance in 2009. She explains how her first band, The Stone Ponies, was formed and then describes how she performed with the Eagles and then a myriad of other artists including Emmie Lou Harris and Dolly Parton. She explains how her style evolved from country and rock to old standards and Mexican music.

There are a couple of things I didn’t like about the book. First of all, Linda tells her story mostly as a narrative with little dialog. Although I found her experiences fascinating, it would have been nice if she did more showing and less telling. Also, at the end of the book, she says that she lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her two children who are transitioning from being teen-agers to adulthood. I would like to have known if these children were her own or if she adopted them. If they were her own, who was their father?

The book also includes a discography that lists all the albums she recorded through the years. As a teen-ager, I listened to many of these albums on eight-track tape including Heart Like a Wheel and Prisoner in Disguise. In the 1980’s, I had a cassette recording of What’s New, her first album of old standards. Today, I still have on CD her first trio album with Dolly Parton and Emmie Lou Harris and Cansiones de Mis Padres, her first recording of Mexican songs.

My favorite Linda Ronstadt tune is “Heart Like a Wheel.” In the book, she describes how she fell in love with the song. I can see why. It touched me when I was thirteen, and today, it reminds me of my love for my late husband Bill and how I lost him. To hear it, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OABmOJdMoU .

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Vote for my new book idea.

I Remember

In my childhood,

I helped Mother in the house,

went to school, was praised by teachers,

threatened with an eighteen-inch ruler,

played with siblings and friends,

was harassed by schoolyard bullies.

 

As a teen-ager, I went to high school,

to the prom, graduated.

 

In my adult years, I went to college,

got a job, was married.

 

When I grow old,

can’t see, hear, or walk,

depend on others,

I’ll remember my life.

***

This is the last poem in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. To hear me read it and sing a song about an old cat remembering her younger years, visit https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/i%20remember-memory.mp3 .

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Vote for my new book idea.

7 Best Things to See & Do in Walnut Grove, Minnesota

abbiejohnsontaylor:

A while back on this blog, I reviewed material by and about Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane. Now, here’s an article about Walnut Grove, the town in Minnesota where Laura Ingalls Wilder did some of her growing up.

Originally posted on The Cottonwood Tree:

It’s easy to characterize Walnut Grove as just another sleepy town in south western Minnesota. On the surface, there is little to distinguish it from other villages in the region. There’s a water tower, a small diner and the ubiquitous railway line. Peak hour traffic and traffic lights are non-existent. But dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that Walnut Grove has special literary and historical significance. As the former childhood home of pioneer author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, the town offers more for visitors than is immediately apparent. Instead of driving straight ahead, slow down and take the turn into town. In doing so, you’ll discover plenty of ways to spend a full day in the real locale that inspired the famous Little House® book, On the Banks of Plum Creek.

Walnut Grove is located on Highway 14, approximately 3 hours drive west of Minneapolis.  It is the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Laura Ingalls Wilder never mentioned the town of Walnut Grove by name in her books, but in 1974 when…

View original 1,466 more words