Thursday Book Feature: The Dog Really did That?

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Really Did That?: 101 Stories of Miracles, Mischief, and Magical Moments

Edited by Amy Newmark

Copyright 2017

 

This collection of true stories focuses on rescued dogs but includes many different tales about pooches. In “Geometry Dog,” a teacher explains how her canine friend helped her students learn arithmetic. “Jazmine’s Journey” is the story of how one rescued dog, abandoned in Wyoming’s Red Desert, traveled to her forever home in Canada with the help of strangers. ⠠⠔ “Brains Versus Brawn, the author shares her experiences raising basset hounds.

Most of the stories are written by women, but some have male authors. Some are funny, others touching. The stories begin with quotes, mostly about dogs, by celebrities and others. Proceeds from sales of this book go toward animal rescue.

In the foreword, Dr Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane, encourages readers to adopt shelter dogs but points out the responsibility involved in caring for a pet, a responsibility I’m still not ready to undertake. I like dogs, and although it’s been almost five years since the death of my late husband, who suffered two strokes and whom I took care of during the last six years of his life, I still don’t want to care for another living thing.

That said, this book can still be enjoyed, even if you don’t want to adopt a dog. Many of the stories made me laugh, and some moved me almost to tears. This book would make a great gift for any dog lover, and you’ll support a worthy cause by purchasing it.

***

     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.

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Poetry that Influenced Me

In a recent post, I mentioned a correspondence course I was taking from the Hadley Institute. I’m now pleased to announce that I’ve passed the course with an A Plus. For our last assignment, I was instructed to pick three poems, write about them, then compose a poem in the style of one of the poems I picked.

My three chosen poems are: “I Lose My Mind When You Leave the House” by Francesco Marciuliano, “The Lanyard by Billie Collins, and “In Praise of Joe” by Marge Piercy. “I Lose My Mind When You Leave the House” comes from I Could Chew on This, a collection of poems that tell stories from a dog’s point of view. This poem provides a humorous look at what can happen when a dog is left at home, reminding me so much of the Irish setter we had when I was a teen-ager. Marciuliano tells this story in one stanza with many short lines.

In “The Lanyard,” Billie Collins tells his story in a different way. Using several stanzas with many short lines, he shares a memory of creating a lanyard for his mother when he was a boy at summer camp. He starts in the present. Apparently bored, he’s thumbing through a dictionary when he finds the word lanyard, and that gets him to reminiscing. You can click below to hear the author read this poem.

 

Marge Piercy uses many stanzas containing several short lines, but in this case, she’s not telling a story. She’s describing the many ways she drinks coffee and extolling its virtues. It inspired me to write a poem about Dr. Pepper, which appears in my own collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver.

Now here’s a poem I wrote in the style of “I Lose My Mind When You Leave the House” and other poems in Francesco Marciuliano’s collection. It was also inspired by a visit to my brother in Florida, who has two dogs, and by something I see every day while walking. You can click below to hear me read it.

 

Four Ways a Dog Looks at Life

 

1.

 

I’m too outspoken

so must wear a special collar

during the day while no one’s home.

When I alert the empty house,

it vibrates against my throat,

feels weird, sometimes uncomfortable,

causing me to whine

when I speak my mind.

Life is “ruff.”

2.

 

“Turkey muffin, turkey muffin,”

you squeak, as my leash clicks into place.

What’s a turkey muffin, anyway?

It doesn’t sound nearly as appealing

as that rotten fish head in the alley.

Now that’s what I want.

 

3.

 

Oh, you’re hungry?

You don’t live here,

so you don’t know where anything is.

You don’t see very well, huh?

Well, how about some potato chips?

I know where they are,

in the pantry. Open this door.

They’re right here on the floor.

Now here’s one for you, five for me,

one for you, ten for me,

one for you, twenty for me,

one for you, forty for me.

Oh, the bag’s empty.

Just throw it away.

They’ll think you ate all the chips. Ha ha.

 

4.

 

What’s that on the other side of the fence?

A white stick it is,

rolling along the pavement.

A human pushes it.

I want to chase it.

I bark and bark and bark,

leap in the air many times,

try to fly over the fence.

I’m ignored.

Human and stick walk and roll away.

***

Have any poems ever influenced you? Please tell me about them in the comment field. I leave you now with the hope that someday, you can read a pile of perfect poems.

 

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.

 

 

Sunday Best: Lunch at the Branding Iron

This past Thursday, some friends and I decided to get out of town for a while. We drove to Dayton, a little town situated about twenty miles north of Sheridan at the base of Wyoming’s Bighorns. The town offers a splendid view of the mountains, but on this day, all we could see was smoke from the many forest fires raging in Montana.

We ate lunch at a restaurant called the Branding Iron. This is an ordinary café, located in the heart of downtown Dayton. It serves hamburgers and other items you usually find in such establishments. I ordered what they called a branding iron burger: two patties with bacon, cheese, tomatoes, onions, pickles, onion rings, and barbecue sauce, all on a bun of course.

The first order of business was to eat the onion rings perched on top of everything else. Once they were gone, I put the sandwich together, but it was still huge. So, to the amusement of my companions, I picked it up with both hands, held it over the plate, opened my mouth as wide as I could, and dug in. That branding iron burger soon became a part of Wyoming history.

My father, may he rest in peace, would have been proud. My scale, on the other hand, was not happy. Oh well, you only live once, right?

What’s the best thing that happened to you this past week? Please tell me about it in the comment field. I hope something good happens to you this coming week.

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.

 

 

Saturday Song: Shrimp Boats by Jo Stafford

I first heard this song on the television series MASH, sung by members of a USO troupe while traveling to a gig somewhere in Chorea before encountering enemy fire. One of the singers suffers an appendicitis and is rushed to MASH 4077, where she falls in love with Hawkeye, the chief surgeon portrayed by Alan Alda, but I digress.

After I married Bill, I discovered that this song was one of his favorites. Since he enjoyed shrimp, was interested in boats of all sorts, and had a couple of model ships, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I hope you enjoy this song, even if you’re not interested in boats or don’t like seafood. Have a great Saturday.

 

 

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.

 

Thursday Book Feature: Notes from a Small Island

Notes from a Small Island

by Bill Bryson

Copyright 1995

 

Journalist Bill Bryson, author of A Walk in the Woods and other travel books, grew up in Iowa, then moved to England, where he married and started a family. Later, his family moved back to the U.;S. so his children could be exposed to American culture. Before doing so, he took one last trip through England and parts of Scotland, sometimes on foot but mostly using public transportation. A couple of times, he rented a car.

Notes from a Small Island describes this journey, starting at Dover and ending near Inverness. Bryson describes each town he visited, giving some history and sharing memories of earlier visits. With humor, he reflects on the idiosyncrasies’ of the English bus and train system and of the English people in general. He emphasizes his love for England.

I found this book not only informative but also amusing. Bryson’s descriptions of English people reminded me of Garrison Keillor’S comic depictions of people in Minnesota. His account of a shopping trip with his wife, while taking a break from his travels, reminded me of James Thurber’s short story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mittee, in which the protagonist daydreams to escape his demanding wife. Bryson’s descriptions of times when his guidebook misled him reminded me of a trip with my father to Mexico years ago when we had the same problem.

Why waste time, money, and effort on a trip to England when you can read this book instead? Of course things may have changed since Bryson made the original journey, but it’s still a good read.

 

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.

 

Let’s Talk About Music

Thanks to My English Cup of Tea for inspiring this. Before I started writing full time, I was a registered music therapist, working for fifteen years in nursing homes and other facilities that served senior citizens.

I understood and still appreciate the power of music to heal. Even today, music relaxes me when I need to unwind and motivates me when I need to get up and do something.

When I ran across Kathrins’ musical tag, I decided to give it a try. Here are my answers to the questions provided on the site.

 

What sort of music do you like to listen to?

 

I enjoy classical, jazz, and some standards from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. I also like a little contemporary music once in a while.

 

Do you play an instrument? What is your favorite instrument?

 

I play piano and guitar. Although I no longer work as a music therapist, I still visit nursing homes and other facilities from time to time and play my guitar and sing for the residents. I like the guitar’s portability, but I can do more with the piano.

 

What is your favorite quote about music?

 

I’m not sure where this came from, but I remember it being the theme of a concert I attended years ago featuring a college choir along with a children’s group sponsored by the YMCA. “Music is the doctor.”

 

Who is your favorite singer/musician?

 

My favorite singer is Linda Ronstadt. I read her autobiography a couple of years ago. She had an interesting life. “Heart Is Like a Wheel” is still one of my favorites. I don’t think it was as popular as her other work, but it echoes my sentiment after my husband passed.

 

Who is your favorite songwriter/composer?

 

I don’t have any favorites here. From Beethoven to Joni Mitchell, I don’t think any one is better than another.

 

Who is one musician or composer you secretly like but won’t admit?

 

I don’t have any, and that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

 

If you had to get stuck on a desert island with only three works of music, what would they be?

 

I would choose songs representing different turning points in my life. Simon and Garfunkel’s “El Condor Pasa” was on one of my first eight-tracks when I was a kid. It was the first song I sang for a talent show, accompanying myself on the piano.

Barbara Streisand’s “Songbird” was one I listened to frequently during my music therapy internship in Fargo, North Dakota. At the time, my supervisor didn’t think I would be successful as a music therapist. The song echoed my sentiment.

I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You” from The Mask of Zorro was a song my late husband and I enjoyed listening to together while snuggling. Even today, I’m amazed that a man wanted to spend his lifetime loving me. You can read more about this in My Ideal Partner.

 

What kind of music do you dislike?

 

I hate heavy metal. It grates on my nerves. I also don’t like modern atonal classical music. It sounds more like noise, but then again, one person’s noise is another’s music.

 

Now it’s your turn. If you have a blog, you can answer the above questions there and link to your post here. Otherwise, you can share your answers in the comments field. Either way, I look forward to hearing from you and wish you many more happy hours of music listening.

 

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.