Florida, Here I Come!

On Monday, I’ll be traveling to Jupiter to visit my brother. I’ll be there for a week, and I can’t wait to get away from winter in Wyoming for a while. The last time I visited my brother in Florida was several years ago, and I had a great time. The trip inspired two poems. The first was posted here. The second one I’ll paste below. This is an acrostic poem. If you look at the first letter of each line, you’ll note that they spell “Florida.” Enjoy!

FLORIDA

 

 

Favorable weather in January

leads to basking on sunny beaches,

or swimming in one’s own pool,

reading a book on the patio

in the shade, caressed by a cool breeze,

dining on hot dogs at a tropical island in the midst of

alligators.  It’s better than winter in Wyoming.

You can write an acrostic poem. Pick a word, any word. It can be a noun, adjective, adverb, or verb. It should probably be something that has meaning in your life. Write a poem containing as many lines as there are letters in the word with each line starting with these letters as shown above. Please feel free to share your work below.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Advertisements

I Could Pee on This

If you love cats, and even if you hate poetry, this book will give you some good laughs. I Could Pee On This: and Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano was a best-seller in 2012 and contains poems written from the viewpoints of cats on various topics including home, work, and play. Some are accompanied by illustrations. I was lucky to download this book in a recorded format where the reader described the pictures. I think they greatly accent the poems.

In the title poem, a cat muses on all the inappropriate places where he could relieve himself: on his owner’s sweater, her computer, her boyfriend, her lap. It reminded me of Wanda, one of the cats we had when I was growing up. She loved to pee in Dad’s shoes and on the couch where he liked to sit. The feeling was mutual since Dad doesn’t like cats.

Francesco Marciuliano is the author of Sally Forth, a widely syndicated comic strip. He writes and draws a satiric Web comic, Medium Large. If you have some vision, you might appreciate this site. I got a good laugh out of the pictures of cats and stuffed animals in his latest post.

He also writes for the PBS television series, Seemore’s Playhouse for which he won two regional daytime television awards in 2007. He participates in online discussions of Sally Forth and other comic strips. From 2007-2009, he was a featured panelist at Comicon New York at the JacobJavitsCenter in Manhattan. He is a contributing writer to The Onion News Network. He lives in New York City.

I Could Pee on This: and Other Poems by Cats is available from many online retailers. You’ll find links to where it can be ordered from some of these sources here. It can also be downloaded in a specialized recorded format from the National Library Service’s Braille and audio download site. Try reading this book to your cats. I think they’ll be able to relate to the poems here. I definitely give this book a wholehearted “Meow.”

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

A Perfect Day

I just finished reading a book by this title by Richard Paul Evans. It was published in 2003 and made into a television movie in 2006. I never saw the movie, but as I read the book’s prolog in which the main character describes a scene outside his hotel room window in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, a heavy snowfall, a car slip sliding up Main Street, I imagined Susan Boyle singing “Perfect Day,” as credits rolled across the screen. By the way, you can watch a video of Susan Boyle singing this song here.

A Perfect Day is a heartwarming tale of love and forgiveness. After losing his job at a radio station where he’s been working for eight years, Robert decides to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. His first book, also called A Perfect Day, is based on his wife Allyson’s story of the last few months she spent with her father before he died of cancer. The book becomes a best seller, even making the top of the New York Times list, but the life of a best-selling author, the traveling, interviews, book signings, meeting other women, all negatively affect his relationship with Allyson and their little girl Carson.

One day, Robert is approached by a stranger in a Starbucks café in New York City. This stranger appears to know everything about Robert, even some things he never told Allyson. He even knows that Robert’s meeting with his publisher’s sales team later that day has been postponed before Robert receives this information. He gives Robert the impression that he’s an Angel and tells him he only has forty more days to live. At this point, I wasn’t sure I wanted to finish the book because this sounded so crazy, but I’m glad I did. After another turn of events, Robert ends up back in the hotel room in Salt Lake City where the story begins, but that’s not where it ends.

Richard Paul Evans is the #1 best selling author of The Christmas Box and other books, each having appeared on the New York Times best seller list. He has sold more than 14 million copies of his books, and they have been translated into more than 25 languages. Several have been international best sellers. Besides A Perfect Day, three other books have been made into television movies. He received numerous awards for his books and his work with abused children. He lives in Salt Lake City with his wife Keri and their five children. You can read more about him here.

A Perfect Day is available at Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. You’ll find links on the author’s site to where the book can be ordered from these locations. It can also be downloaded in a specialized recorded format from the National Library Service’s Braille and audio reading download site. (BARD)

A Perfect Day touched me because it reminded me of losing my husband Bill. In the book, Allyson’s father asks her to come home for just one perfect day with him before he tells her he’s dying of cancer, and that’s what inspires Robert’s story. Bill and I did spend one perfect day together about a month before he died, not knowing we would be parted. He was living in the nursing home  by this time, and I took him out to lunch at our favorite Italian restaurant where he ordered his favorite pizza, all meat, and enjoyed  most of it. Even then, I didn’t realize he was deteriorating, and I didn’t believe I would lose him until his nurse told me he’d stopped eating, and it was time to think about end of life care. I’ll always cherish the memories of all the perfect days Bill and I had together.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

The Ikea Idea

Have you ever bought a piece of furniture that you had to put together? In the 1990’s, I moved from one apartment to another. The second apartment wasn’t furnished, but the first one was so needless to say, I needed furniture.

At Walmart, I found a table with a glass top and four chairs. I fell in love with the set the minute I saw it in the store and fingered the table’s smooth glass. At only $99.00, I thought it was a steal until I realized that I wouldn’t be getting what stood in front of me. What I got came in a box and required assembly. Fortunately, Dad was with me and assured me he could put it together without any trouble. Since he had actually built furniture from scratch, I wasn’t worried but felt bad that there was one more thing he would have to do to help me move.

On the big day, as Dad sat on the floor, surrounded by  all the pieces and the instructions, trying to figure things out, the paper boy wandered by. The apartment door was open, and as he stood and gawked at the pieces scattered on the floor and the perplexed look on Dad’s face as he studied the diagram, I could imagine the scenario that went through his young mind. Had there been an explosion? The poor kid finally managed to ask, “What happened?”

After we assured him no catastrophe had occurred, and he went on his way, Dad chuckled and said, “What happened? You moved. That’s what happened.” True to his word, he got the table put together, and that night, I enjoyed my first meal in my new apartment, a frozen dinner.

I heard something interesting on National Public Radio this morning. Ikea is a company that manufactures furniture you put together. The philosophy of the Ikea Effect is that you love something more when you’ve spent time and effort assembling it, and you love a piece of furniture or craft project more because of the work involved.

. I wondered if this philosophy would apply to care giving but immediately realized it wouldn’t. Bill wasn’t a piece of furniture. He was a man I loved, and although I loved him, I hated the work involved in caring for him. However, I was always rewarded with a smile, a hug, a kiss, and/or a thank you, even when I wiped his butt.

I told him many times, “If you didn’t love me, and I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t be doing this.” When you build a piece of furniture, you can love the work and gain a sense of accomplishment from putting it together, but when it comes to caring for a loved one, you can love the person but hate the work. Bill was worth more to me than any piece of furniture.

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

When I Was a Star

Have you ever wished you were a famous singer, hearing your music played on the radio? I once experienced the thrill of hearing a song I recorded over the air waves. In the 1990’s, the American Council of the Blind established an Internet station called ACB Radio. It started out as a talk station, featuring programs of interest to the blind and visually impaired and branched out into several channels with varying formats. One of these was a music station called ACB Café. This played songs by Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and the like, but it also featured work by amateur musicians such as yours truly.

In the days before high-speed Internet connections and the capability to record in mp3 format, I used a program on my Macintosh computer called Simple Sound to record myself singing “Memory” from the Broadway musical Cats, accompanying myself on my Casseo keyboard. I then used another program to convert the recording to mp3 format which involved dragging and dropping the file, no easy feat for someone with a visual impairment. I then e-mailed the file to the station. This took time and effort, but it was worth it when I heard, for the first time, that recording over the radio, preceded by the announcement, “Here’s Abbie Johnson singing ‘Memory’ from Cats.” I still have that recording and will provide a link below.

 

Memory

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver