A New Me

Abbie-1

Recently while my homemaker from the local senior center was cleaning, she found plaster falling from the ceiling near my kitchen door. Apparently, it had gotten wet. This could only mean one thing. My roof was leaking again.

Why didn’t I see this? Well, with my limited vision, I don’t see things unless they’re close to me. Although I walk by my kitchen door every day, it never occurred to me to look up.

When my homemaker pointed out the offending area, I saw it, and it looked awful. I could just reach it by standing on tiptoe, and when my finger touched the spot, more flecks of plaster went flying. Yuck!

My roof was replaced in 2008 when I bought the house, and I was assured it would last at least thirty years. It wasn’t even ten years old. I called the same roofer, and after taking a look, he reported that the material he used was only supposed to last ten years, and it was aging. Like me, I thought.

As long as I’m getting part of my roof replaced, why not have my me replaced? Maybe I could get a younger me who can see, a me who doesn’t recoil at the prospect of dealing with contractors and insurance bureaucrats, a me who doesn’t hate being around any kind of construction, a me who can drive and not rely on others to get me everywhere, especially in winter, a me with more confidence when walking in treacherous conditions and less fear of falling on ice, braking bones, and ending up in a nursing home.

When I suggested as much to a friend though, she pointed out that with better eyesight, I might not like the way the world looks. It also occurred to me that with no disability, I wouldn’t earn income from social security. To make car payments and support my writing habit, I’d have to go back to my forty-hour-a-week job conducting activities with nursing home residents who fell on ice and broke bones.

Although the other features of a new me would be nice, this investment will have to wait until I get the roof fixed. Apparently, although my homeowner’s insurance will cover fixing the plaster on my ceiling, it won’t cover the replacement of part of my roof unless the damage was a result of a storm. Hmm, maybe with a better me, I could get up on the roof and make it look like storm damage.

***

Note: After I wrote the above, the insurance adjuster came and said that a piece has fallen off the roof, so it’s definitely storm damage. Whether it’s the type of storm damage my policy covers remains to be seen.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

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More Humor from Italian Mother-Daughter Duo

Abbie-1

I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places

By Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

Copyright 2016

 

This is Lisa and Francesca’s latest collection of pieces on pets, dating, and other random topics. They span one year of their lives, Lisa’s in Philadelphia and Francesca’s in New York. Not all the essays are funny. Francesca and Lisa both write about a time when Francesca was mugged and how it affected both of them. Also, Lisa touches on hate mail.

If you were to ask me which one of these pieces was my favorite, I’d tell you they’re all great. I loved Francesca’s account of staying with friends in a rented beach house with a burglar alarm that went off whether you were going in or coming out. Lisa’s description of how she tried to make butternut squash soup reminded me of why I don’t cook very often. I could relate to the title. Whenever I visit a Florida beach with my brother and his family, I always get sand in the wrong places.

This book is available as a commercial audiobook with the authors narrating it. It gives a book a nice touch when you can hear the authors read it. According to the acknowledgements section, Lisa and Francesca love recording their books. I love hearing them. Whether you listen or read, I hope you will also enjoy this book.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Essays Insert Humor in Daily Life

Abbie-1

Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim

by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serrintella

Copyright 2012.

 

This is the fourth book by bestselling mystery writer Lisa Scottoline and her daughter Francesca Serrintella. It’s a collection of essays, written either by Lisa or Francesca that reflect on weight loss, shopping, animals, mother-daughter relationships, and other topics. Anecdotes about Lisa’s mother, affectionately called Mother Mary, add to the mix. In the end, they each share their hopes and dreams for the other. The book includes photos with captions.

I laughed at many of the pieces here like Francesca’s account of a problem she had with a furniture store while arranging to have a table delivered to her New York apartment. Lisa’s essays about her foot surgery reminded me of when I had a colonoscopy, and the gastroenterologist, after noting my age, said he hoped I was just as beautiful inside as I was outside.

While reading about Mother Mary, I thought of the song by The Beatles, “Let It Be,” in which Mother Mary always has an answer. This Mother Mary didn’t always have an answer and could be cranky. Francesca’s explanation of what she calls grandmother whispering reminded me of many times when I worked with nursing home residents suffering from dementia.

This book inspired me to try some humor writing of my own. Will see what comes of it. Meanwhile, I plan to enjoy Lisa and Francesca’s latest collection, I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

Circus in the Bedroom

Abbie-1

In light of the announcement that the Ringling Brothers circus is closing after 100 years of operation, I decided to re-blog a poem from a couple of months ago that appears in My Ideal Partner. At one point during the six years I cared for my late husband Bill, we had to purchase a mechanical lift to make it easier for home health care aides to transfer him from the bed to the commode in order to give him a shower. As you’ll note from the excerpt below, Bill didn’t like the lift, but I came up with a pretty good solution to that problem. Click on the poem’s title to hear me read it.

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At first, Bill didn’t like the lift, because it suspended him in mid–air while he was transferred from the bed to the commode and vice versa. I almost laughed when I saw the process for the first time, because it reminded me of the song about the man on the flying trapeze. Because Bill had no vision, I could imagine how insecure he felt during the process. We kept reassuring him that he was securely fastened into the sling and wouldn’t fall, but after his first shower, he said, “I’m not using that damn lift again.”

I was flabbergasted. It had taken one month to get the lift, and another for the carpet in the bedroom to be replaced. For two months, Bill traipsed back and forth to Eventide (the nursing home) for his showers. I had to dress him every day, not just on the days when his showers at home weren’t scheduled. My own back was starting to bother me. I was ready for a break. “Please, honey, just try it for another week,” I said. “It takes some getting used to.”

“It’s not a problem,” said Bonnie. (Bill’s case worker) “Jean said you can keep getting your showers at Eventide if you don’t want to use the lift.”

I wasn’t about to settle for that. Because Bill joked about girls seeing him naked, I got an idea. “Okay, honey, just imagine you’re naked on a flying trapeze in a big circus tent, and fifty women are in that tent who paid $50 each to see you naked on that flying trapeze, and you’re going to get all that money.”

It sounded outrageous, but it worked. After another week, he seemed happy as a clam, being propelled across the room, hanging in mid air.

***

UNDER THE BIG TOP

 

Like the daring young man on the flying trapeze,

he glides through the air, smiles down on me.

I wink, say, “Bravo!”

 

We’re not in a circus but in our bedroom.

His left arm and leg useless,

a mechanical lift raises him off the bed,

propels him across the room,

lowers him to the commode, ready for the shower.

***

It’s too bad men on flying trapezes don’t bring in as much money for circuses as elephants do.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Poem Speaks Out Against Trump

Abbie-1

I usually don’t get political here, but when someone in my Third Thursday Poets group suggested we each write a poem about the meaning of January 20th for critique at our last session, I couldn’t resist. Click on the title below to hear me read what I wrote. You’re welcome to comment, whether you agree or not, but if you don’t like what you read or hear, I hope we can simply agree to disagree.

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INAUGURATION DAY

 

 

Today, our country turns over a new leaf.

A different leader takes the Oath of Office.

A billionaire, racist, bigot

with no grasp of foreign policy,

little respect for women or minorities

or concern for impoverished Americans,

the economy, environment,

he won the Presidency, not by popular vote

in an election possibly rigged by Russians.

What will become of America?

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

 

Leia Speaks

Abbie-1

The Princess Diarist

By Carrie Fisher

Copyright 2016

 

In this funny and poignant memoir, actress Carrie Fisher shares her experiences filming the 1976 production of Star Wars. She touches briefly on her life beforehand: her father, singer Eddie Fisher, leaving her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, for actress Elizabeth Taylor, her step-father squandering all their money, leaving her mother nearly penniless, and her roles in Shampoo and other theatrical and film productions.

She explains how she auditioned to play Princess Leia in Star Wars and Carrie in the movie Carrie on the same day and of course got the part of Leia. She then describes the filming process in England: spending a week at a Texas fat farm in an attempt to lose weight beforehand, the Irish hairdresser who gave her the Princess Leia hairstyle, her affair with Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo, and friendship with other cast and crew members. She includes a series of diary entries she made during that time.

She discusses the aftermath: the shock of Star Wars’ unexpected popularity, dealing with fan mail, and signing autographs. She explains how her love of shopping and two years with a dishonest business manager impoverished her and how as a result, she was compelled to write travel pieces and appear at Disney Land with four-year-old daughter Billie in tow to make ends meet. She touches on other Star Wars episodes and points out in the end that if she weren’t Princess Leia, she would have been just herself, Carrie Fisher.

The recording I downloaded from Audible is mostly narrated by Carrie Fisher. Her daughter Billie Lourd reads the diary entries, most of which I skipped because they really don’t add to the story, and Billie Lourd’s reading of them was bland.

Although Carrie Fisher’s voice has aged since the original Star Wars production, I enjoyed the way she read the many anecdotes from her experiences and commentary on other subjects. Having once been a Star Wars fan, the miniscule details in the filming process fascinated me: the hairstyling and make-up, how she re-worked one of her lines because she thought it would sound better her way. I would like to have known more about the characters of Darth Vader, C3PO and R2D2.

When reviewing this book for Audible, I was asked who my favorite character was. Well, that was a no-brainer. It was Princess Leia, aka Carrie Fisher, may she rest in peace. I loved her spunk, determination, and courage. May the force always be with her.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Anthology Depicts Disability Culture

Abbie-1

Dozen: The Best of Breath and Shadow

Edited by Chris Kuell

Copyright 2016

 

Breath and Shadow is an online magazine featuring poems, stories, and essays by authors with disabilities. Pieces here focus mainly on what it’s like to have a disability and how others treat a person with a disability. This anthology showcases the best work that appeared in the publication over the past twelve years.

It contains dark pieces such as Susan M. Silver’s short story, “I’ll Be Looking at the Moon,” in which the protagonist is dealing with a serious illness. In contrast, there’s Amy Krout-Horn’s essay, “Who Dresses You?” in which she talks about a humorous way she answered this narrow-minded question from a waitress.

Many pieces portray the relationship between a person with a disability and health care professionals such as Lizz Schumer’s essay, “Peace Protest,” in which she talks about convalescing after a fall and wondering if she inherited her grandfather’s brain cancer. Then there’s Chris Kuell’s short story, “The Interview,” in which a blind woman retaliates against a prospective employer who is unwilling to even consider the possibility of hiring her.

I would like to have seen fewer dark pieces. Nevertheless, I think this is a must-read for everyone, especially those in a profession that requires dealing directly with others: waitresses, doctors, nurses, cab drivers, etc. You don’t have to read the whole thing cover to cover. You could read perhaps one or two pieces a day. If you’re one of those narrow-minded persons who take a dim view of what people with disabilities can do, this anthology will force you to think outside the box. If you’re a person with a disability, you’ll read this and realize you’re not the only one. The people in this book, whether real or made-up, will speak to you of their experiences.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.