Thursday Book Feature: Splitting an Order

Splitting an Order
by Ted Kooser
Copyright 2014

The release of this author’s poetry collection coincided with his 75th birthday. Most of the poems in this collection are apparently based on observances in public places. A good example of this is the title poem, in which an elderly man is seen cutting a sandwich in half and serving one half to his aging wife. Others are about ordinary life events such as a car pulling to the side of the road and the couple in the car changing places. The book also includes a longer narrative in which the author reflects on a house where he and his wife first lived, upon learning of a murder that was committed there after they moved out.

I like Ted Kooser’s poetry because it tells a story in a manner that is straightforward and not abstract. I was fortunate several years ago to attend a writers’ conference at which he was the keynote speaker. One point he made was that a poem’s title can be used to set the scene.

This is exactly what he does with his own poems. The title tells the reader either the location of the story in the poem or what action takes place. The poem is thus written around the title.

Take, for example, “At Arby’s, at Noon.” He starts by describing a typical lunch hour in a fast food restaurant. Then, he paints a picture of a woman who is blind kissing a man with a disfigured face while life goes on around them.

For this reason, I highly recommend Ted Kooser’s work. Even if you don’t like poetry, I think you’ll appreciate the way he weaves words into stories about ordinary and not-so-ordinary events.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Where’s Your Happy Place?

Believe it or not, even though I live in Sheridan, Wyoming, my happy place is a beach in Jupiter, Florida, where my brother and I often go when I visit him. I sometimes swim but am mostly content to walk alongside the ocean and feel cool waves wash over my feet, cleansing them of the tension from which I’m retreating. I also enjoy sitting in a lawn chair with a picnic lunch or lying on a blanket. Once when I got sick during my visit, my brother and his family encouraged me to accompany them to the beach. I went, against my better judgement, and to my surprise, the ocean breeze and the roar of the waves plus the occasional cry of seagulls made me feel better.

I recently red an article entitled “5 Ways to Re-Start a Bad Day.” One suggestion given here is to think of your happy place. This could be a place where you went as a child with happy memories associated with it. It could be a place where you’ve never been but would like to go. It could even be a made-up place. Now that summer is waning and fall is approaching, I want you to think of your happy place and tell me about it.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Song Lyric Sunday: Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, & Linda Rondstadt–Making Plans

Song Lyric Sunday was created by blogger Helen Vadahti. If you’d like to participate, click here for guidelines.

This week’s theme is “plan.” The song I’m featuring today is about planning to grieve and be lonely after your lover leaves you. I think this can also apply to when your significant other is about to die. During the last days of my late husband’s life, I think I was making plans to be without him, not that I wanted to of course. Enjoy the song, and have a great day.

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Disclaimer: I don’t own the rights to these lyrics, and copyright infringement is not intentional.

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Making Plans

[Verse]
You say tomorrow you’re going
It’s so hard for me to believe
I’m making plans for the heartaches
Because you’re making plans to leave
The tears for me will be falling
Like a tree shedding its leaves
I’m making plans for the tear drops
Because you’re making plans to leave
You’re making plans to forget me
I’m making plans to miss you
I’m getting ready ti grieve
I’m making plans to be lonesome
Because you’re making plans to leave
I’m making plans to be lonesome
Because you’re making plans to leave

Songwriters: Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Thursday Book Feature–The Star-Spangled Banner: Cornerstones of Freedom

The Star-Spangled Banner: Cornerstones of Freedom
by Deborah Kent
Copyright 1995.

This is a chronicle, for young readers, of how our national anthem was written. The author starts by explaining how an elderly doctor in Maryland was arrested for mistreating British soldiers when he refused them wine and ordered townspeople to arrest them. She then describes how Francis Scott Key, a lawyer who wrote poetry on the side, came to represent the old doctor and ended up on a small boat tethered to one of the British ships during the battle at Fort McHenry near Baltimore. She talks about how Key was inspired to write the poem, as he observed bombs bursting in mid-air and marveled that the flag remained at full mast until dawn when the British retreated. She then explains how the poem became a song and how the song eventually became our national anthem. The book includes the lyrics with all four verses, a glossary, a timeline, and other information.

Since Deborah Kent was a recent guest speaker at a meeting of Behind our Eyes, a writers’ group to which I belong, I thought it a good idea to read one of her books, which are written primarily for children. This book’s language is such that it can be appreciated by adults. Being a poet and a musician who has performed the national anthem, I was intrigued by how Francis Scott Key jotted the poem on a piece of scratch paper while watching the British bombardment of Fort McHenry. Although this song can be difficult to sing because of its wide vocal range, I can see now how fitting it is as our national anthem. This book not only teaches young people about that part of our history but can open their eyes to how a poet is inspired.

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Now here’s a little treat. Click this link to hear me sing our national anthem.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Re-Blog: Lemonade Memories and a Summer Cookie Recipe

In celebration of National Lemonade Day, which was yesterday, here’s a delightful post from Alice Massa on the subject. Although my mother baked cookies on a regular basis, sadly, our family’s lemonade recipe only involved opening a can of Wyler’s or Country Time. If you have a better lemonade recipe or other summertime memories, please feel free to share them either here or on Alice’s blog. Enjoy these last waning days of summer.

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Lemonade Memories and a Summer Cookie Recipe

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Song Lyric Sunday: Michael Jackson–Thriller

Song Lyric Sunday was created by blogger Helen Vadahti. If you’d like to participate, click here for guidelines.

This week’s theme is “fear.” I posted this song last Halloween, but it fits perfectly with this theme, so I’m posting it again. The video includes the lyrics, and I’ll paste them below as well. Enjoy, and stay safe.

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Disclaimer: I don’t own the rights to these lyrics, and copyright infringement is not intentional.

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Thriller
Michael Jackson
Ahahahahahahahaha
It’s close to midnight
Something evil’s lurking from the dark
Under the moonlight
You see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream
But terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze
As horror looks you right between your eyes
You’re paralyzed
‘Cause this is thriller
Thriller night
And no one’s gonna save you
From the beast about to strike
You know it’s thriller
Thriller night
You’re fighting for your life
Inside a killer thriller tonight, yeah
Ahahahahahahahaha
I’m gonna bring it tonight
Ahahahahahahahaha
You hear the door slam
And realize there’s nowhere left to run
You feel the cold hand
And wonder if you’ll ever see the sun
You close your eyes
And hope that this is just imagination
Girl but all the while
You hear a creature creeping up behind
You’re out of time
‘Cause this is thriller
Thriller night
And no one’s gonna save you
From the beast about to strike
You know it’s thriller
Thriller night
You’re fighting for your life
Inside a killer thriller tonight
Ahahahahahahahaha
I’m gonna thrill ya tonight
Get up, get up
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’all’s neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell
I’m gonna thrill ya tonight
I’m gonna thrill ya tonight
Ooh, babe
I’m gonna thrill ya tonight
‘Cause this is thriller
‘Cause this is thriller
‘Cause this is thriller
‘Cause this is thriller
Get up, get up (I’m gonna thrill you tonight)
I’m gonna thrill you tonight
I’m gonna thrill you tonight
I’m gonna thrill you tonight
‘Cause this is thriller
Songwriters: Rodney Lynn Temperton
Thriller lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Re-blog: Being a Caregiver Can Be the Same as Having the Disability in the Eyes of the Employer

Being a caregiver, I feel for Donna. I never had to work while caring for my late husband Bill, but before I even met him, I faced similar issues with supervisors because of my own disability. Many corporate executives are more concerned about making money than the well-being and satisfaction of employees and customers. If you’re one of those people, I want you to read this article and think. The corporate world must change for the better.

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Being a Caregiver is the Same as Having the Disability in the Eyes of the Employer

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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