Things to Know About Me

Thanks to Jodie Llewellyn at http://www.wordsreadandwritten.com/blogging-2/twenty-things/ for inspiring this. In her post, she answers some questions about herself. A while back, I did a similar post as part of a blog tour where several of us writers provided information about ourselves and our writing. Now, here are some answers to more questions about me.

How tall are you? I wish I could say I’m five foot two with eyes of blue, but I’m not. I’m only five foot one with brown eyes so naturally, I’m not the girl any man in any song would be looking for, but that’s just as well. My late husband Bill was nearly six feet tall, but that didn’t bother me. Before he became paralyzed as a result of two strokes, I loved standing with him while he held me.

Do you have a hidden talent? Yes, I have perfect pitch. I wasn’t born with it, and it’s not related to my visual impairment as a lot of people might think. It was acquired through constant exposure to music when I was a small child.

What is your biggest pet peeve? I really hate it when people ask me to sing a particular note or hit a glass with a spoon and ask me what note it is. People are amazed when they hear about something like this, but for me, after years of dealing with the supposed incredulity, it’s getting pretty old.

What’s your favorite song? I like “Memory” from Cats. I love cats, although I don’t have one, and in the song, an old feline longs for when she was young. When I worked for fifteen years as a registered music therapist in a nursing home, one of the things I did was use music to help residents reflect on their past. To hear me sing the song, go to https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/memory.mp3 .

What other activities do you like besides writing? I enjoy reading and walking. I also participate in water exercise classes at the YMCA and sing in a women’s group called Just Harmony and go out to eat and to concerts, plays, and other events with friends.

What’s your favorite junk food? I adore chocolate ice cream, pudding, brownies, pie. If it’s chocolate, I’ll eat it. I don’t care too much for candy, though.

Do you have a pet? As I said before, I love cats. I also like dogs, but after caring for my late husband Bill for six years, I’m not ready to take care of another living thing yet. I’ll be content to read and blog about them.

What books do you like to read? I enjoy memoirs, poetry, romance, and some historical fiction. I can do without explicit descriptions of sex and violence.

If you could only drink one beverage besides water for the rest of your life, what would it be? Dr. Pepper.

What kinds of movies do you like to watch? I like comedies and dramas, but I don’t particularly care for violence or sex.

What extracurricular activities did you participate in when you were in high school? I sang in the concert choir, acted in plays, and was on the speech team. I was also in the Spanish and French clubs for a while.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? I’ve lived in New York, Colorado, Arizona, Montana, and North Dakota, but here in Sheridan, Wyoming, is where I’ll spend the rest of my days.

Do you use a PC or a Mac? I use a PC now, but back in the 1990’s when I first became interested in computing, Dad talked me into getting a Mac. When I married Bill in 2005, I discovered that his PC’s screen reading software was better than that on my Mac. Since my computer was getting old, I decided to switch, much to Dad’s consternation. Fortunately, I waited until Dad finished paying for our wedding so we wouldn’t be left to cover those costs if he disowned me, which of course he didn’t.

Now that you know more about me, I’d like to learn more about you, my readers. If you have a blog, you can answer one or more of these questions on your blog and leave me a link in the comments field. If you don’t have a blog, you can answer any or all of these questions in the comments field. Please feel free to skip, modify, or add questions. Have fun with this. I look forward to hearing from you.

By the way, my new poetry collection, That’s Life, is now available from Amazon. If you’ve read it, please go to http://www.amazon.com/Thats-Life-New-Selected-Poems/dp/1622297067/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413835674&sr=8-1&keywords=That%27s+Life%3A+New+and+Selected+Poems and leave a review. If not, you can order the book at the above link. You can also order it from Finishing Line Press, using the link below. For those of you like me who prefer it in a specialized format, it’s also available on Bookshare, and you can download a recording of me reading it from my Website at http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com/thatslife.htm .

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

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Riding Waves with a Dog

Dogs can do incredible things. When I first started reading Ricochet: Riding a Wave of Hope with the Dog Who Inspired Millions by Judy Fridono, I thought it was just another one of those uplifting dog stories I enjoy reading from time to time. Although the book starts out as a story of a service dog in the making, it turns into something totally unexpected, at least for me.

Judy Fridono starts out talking about how she spent a year raising a service dog puppy while living in Chicago. She describes the agony of having to return the dog to the training facility for service dogs once her year was up. After that, she talks about her life growing up in a tough Chicago neighborhood. Her father was an alcoholic and a drug user, and this made her childhood difficult at times. When she was a teen-ager, both her parents died. She was attacked once and robbed another time, and all this caused her to have nightmares and panic attacks. She also contracted rheumatoid arthritis which didn’t help matters.

She then talks about how Rena, the puppy she raised for a year, helped her overcome her fears and inspired her to train service dogs. After she returned Rena, she moved to San Diego, California, to attend a dog training school. Through a miraculous twist of fate, Rena was returned to her, and after completing a dog training course, she formed her own service dog training organization.

Ricochet was part of a litter of Golden Retriever puppies, and Fridono started training her soon after she was born. However, although Ricochet was intelligent, after several months, she became stubborn, reminding me of the Irish setters we had when we were growing up who would only do something for us if it pleased them. Ricochet loved to chase birds, and since this is not a good trait for a service dog, Fridono became increasingly frustrated with her.

Ricochet also loved to surf, and on a whim, Fridono entered her into a competition. She feared it would be a disaster because of the dog’s obsession with birds. Fridono was afraid the dog would jump off the surf board after a flock of seagulls instead of focusing on her task. To her astonishment though, Ricochet stayed on the board through several waves and didn’t even look at a bird. She then realized that Ricochet had a different purpose in life and started looking for other ways the dog could be of service.

Fridono then describes how Ricochet inspired many people through surfing and other activities: children with autism and physical disabilities, veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress, even a teen-aged boy in Florida with terminal cancer. Ricochet put smiles on their faces and gave them the courage to go on, despite their limitations.

Ricochet also raised money for therapy and other essentials. She even helped Fridono when she underwent open heart surgery. The dog’s efforts gained world-wide attention through Facebook and other media. I’d never heard of Ricochet until I read this book, but I was touched by her story. To learn more about Judy Fridono and Ricochet, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8tUI3EC66M . This video consists of an interview with Fridono and footage of Ricochet in action.

In the summer of 2005 before my late husband Bill suffered the strokes that paralyzed him, we took a trip to California to visit friends and relatives for a couple of weeks. One of our stops was in Valley Village, near L.A., where my uncle lived. After he demonstrated how he does sound effects for movies, Bill asked, “Is there any chance I could work for you?”

At the time, we were living here in Sheridan, Wyoming, and I had no inclination to move anywhere else so I laughed, and nothing more was said. After reading Ricochet’s story, I can’t help wondering what might have happened if we did move to California. Although Judy Fridono lived in San Diego, she and Ricochet didn’t just work with people in that area. Would synchronicity have brought Bill and Ricochet together? He would have loved surfing with this dog. Would Bill still be alive if Ricochet had given him a reason not to give up?

I’m just a 53-year-old writer living in Sheridan, Wyoming. I’m able to walk and care for myself, and I don’t have any serious emotional problems. The only parts of me that don’t work well are my eyes. Because others need Ricochet’s care more than I do, I doubt I’ll have an opportunity to surf with this incredible dog, but maybe I’ll give boogie boarding another try the next time I go to Florida. When I visited my brother in Jupiter last summer, we went to the beach, and I borrowed a boogie board from one of my nieces. After I paddled around in the shallow water for a while, my brother offered to pull me into deeper water so I could catch a wave. The sky was growing cloudy, and the waves were getting choppy so I chickened out. Perhaps next time if the sea and weather are calm, I’ll take him up on his offer. Who knows? Maybe I’ll ride the wave of my life for Bill.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

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To My Little Brother After His Wedding Day

This poem was inspired by a blog post at http://retconpoet.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/for-my-sister-on-her-wedding-day/ .

TO MY LITTLE BROTHER AFTER HIS WEDDING DAY

I should have given you this on your special day,

but until now, almost three months later, the idea didn’t occur to me.

You once proclaimed my brain was the size of a pea so go figure.

That’s water under the bridge—this is about you.

 

I was proud to watch you say I do for the second time.

It was my pleasure to sing songs that brought you closer

amid heat, humidity, and mosquitoes beneath the Florida sun.

I’m happy to call your new love my sister-in-law and her daughters my nieces.

 

I only hope you learned from past mistakes,

but if I must make another trip to wherever you are

to sing for a third wedding, I’ll do it

because you’re my brother, and I love you,

and I’ll rent a guitar.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

A Song About Apples? Not Really

During this time of year, our thoughts turn to apple pie, apple butter, apple sauce, etc. Years ago when I was single, I had an Apple computer and an idea for a satirical song I didn’t get around to writing. At our last Behind Our Eyes writers’ group meeting, it was suggested as a prompt that we write about apples, and the idea re-surfaced.

“Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” was a song I sang many times in the fifteen years I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home. It was made popular by Glenn Miller and the Andrews Sisters during World War II. You can learn more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Sit_Under_the_Apple_Tree_(with_Anyone_Else_but_Me) . To hear the original Andrews Sisters version, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPJZTRqQ1Xw .

Nowadays, in light of our troops in the Middle East and today’s technology, this is how the song might have been written. Click on the link below to hear me sing it.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/start%20up%20apple%20computer.mp3

DON’T START UP YOUR APPLE COMPUTER

I e-mailed Mother.

I e-mailed Father.

Now I am e-mailing you.

I love my mother.

I love my father,

and you know I love you too.

 

Don’t start up your Apple computer with anyone else but me,

anyone else but me,

anyone else but me, no, no, no,

don’t start up your Apple computer with anyone else but me

till you come flying home.

 

Don’t go surfing the Internet with anyone else but me,

anyone else but me,

anyone else but me, no, no, no,

don’t go surfing the Internet with anyone else but me,

till you come flying home.

 

You’re on your own, but you’re not alone

in that desert far away.

Be true to me if you care for me

and listen when I say,

“Don’t start up your Apple computer with anyone else but me

till you come flying home,

till you, till you come flying home.”

What do you remember about apples?

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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