Thursday Book Feature: Words of Life

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Words of Life: Essays and Poems

By Ann Chiappetta

Copyright 2019

 

From the author of Upwelling and Follow Your Dog comes a short collection of poetry and prose on family vacations, vision loss, animals, and other topics. It also includes a work of flash fiction. An introduction by the author explains what inspired this compilation.

I met Ann Chiappetta through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities. I like how she writes about the lighter and darker sides of life. My favorite piece is one in which she describes how she rescued two baby sparrows, only one of whom survived, and the hard lesson her eight-year-old son learned from this experience. I recommend this book, which not only provides insight on vision loss but on other negative and positive aspects of life.

 

My Books

 

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

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

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Like me on Facebook.

 

Thursday Book Feature: AWOL on the Appalachian “Trail

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

By David Miller

Copyright 2010

 

In this memoir, the author explains how and why he left his job and family and hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia for five months in 2003. He describes conditions on the trail, shelters, hostiles, and other places where he stayed, and his encounters with other hikers and wildlife, inserting snippets of information about his life into his narrative. At the end, he gives advice to anyone wishing to hike the Appalachian Trail.

This book helps put life in perspective. My minor aches and pains are nothing compared to the agony David Miller suffered on the trail as a result of foot infections, a sprained ankle, and other complications, some of which nearly caused him to abandon his hike altogether. When I work out, I tell myself I’m only exercising for an hour at the most, not walking for ten hours a day through rough terrain. On frigid winter nights when I burrow under my blankets in bed, I’m thankful not to be soaking wet, trying to get dry in an equally wet sleeping bag.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail is quite a challenge. If you’re up to it, great. If not, I highly recommend this book. You’ll successfully hike this trail from the comfort of your own easy chair.

 

My Books

 

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

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Song Lyric Sunday: Me and You and a Dog Named Boo

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.The theme from newepicauthor this week is “animals.” Although this song is about traveling and living off the land, it reminds me of the time when my father and I took a road trip in 1971 when I was ten. We drove from our home in Tucson, Arizona, to visit my grandmother in Sheridan, Wyoming, and stopped to visit other relatives and friends along the way. Spring is coming, so maybe you’ll feel like getting back on the road again soon.

Lobo–Me and You and aDog Named Boo

Lyrics Courtesy of Google

 

I remember to this day
The bright red Georgia clay
And how it stuck to the tires
After the summer rain
Will power made that old car go
A woman’s mind told me that so
Oh how I wish
We were back on the road again
Me and you and a dog named boo
Travelin’ and livin’ off the land
Me and you and a dog named boo
How I love being a free man
I can still recall
The wheat fields of St. Paul
And the morning we got caught
Robbing from an old hen
Old McDonald he made us work
But then he paid us for what it was worth
Another tank of gas
And back on the road again
I’ll never forget the day
We motored stately into big L.A.
The lights of the city put settlin’
Down in my brain
Though it’s only been a month or so
That old car’s buggin’ us to go
We’ve gotta get away and get back on
The road again
Songwriters: Kent Lavoie
Me And You And A Dog Named Boo lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

 

My Books

 

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

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

Thursday Book Feature: The Cat Really Did That?

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

Edited by Amy Newmark

Copyright 2017

 

This book speaks for itself through the title. It’s one in a series of many anthologies of true, uplifting stories produced by Chicken Soup for the Soul. Here, cat lovers share all kinds of stories about their feline companions: rescued cats who thrive and become part of a family, cats who save people’s lives, and cats who alter negative behavior and comfort the dying. A quotation about cats precedes each story, and there are plenty of pictures.

I enjoyed reading of the antics of many cats in this book. According to the introduction, those reading it are encouraged to adopt a cat. I hope these stories inspire others to adopt cats, but I’m not one who will do so, at least not now.

Although I love cats and have many pleasant memories of the ones in our family when I was growing up, after six years of caring for my late husband, who was paralyzed by two strokes, I’m still not ready to care for another living thing. I realize a cat wouldn’t require as much maintenance and the reward would be worth it, but that doesn’t make the responsibility any less daunting. Maybe someday I’ll be ready. Meanwhile, I’ll socialize with cats when given the rare opportunity and continue to read books about them such as this one.

 

My Books

 

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

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Thursday Book Feature: Peanut of Blind Faith Farm

Peanut of Blind Faith Farm: The Heartwarming True Story of a Little Blind Lamb

Written by Jim Thompson

Illustrated by Rebecca Gavney Driscoll

Copyright 2017

 

Although this book was designed for children ages four to nine, I think animal lovers of all ages would find it inspiring. It’s the true story of how a blind lamb became the top sheep in her flock on a farm in Wisconsin. The author describes how he and his wife discovered Peanut was blind and how they helped her adapt to her blindness and surroundings. He also explains how other sheep interacted with Peanut and how he and his wife solved a bullying problem.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Thompson and his wife Laura when they attended a recent meeting of Behind Our Eyes, a group of writers with disabilities, of which I’m President. Through his experiences with Peanut, he seems to have developed a deep understanding of what it’s like to be blind. As a result, he has ensured that Peanut of Blind Faith Farm is available through the Wisconsin State Library’s Audio and Braille Literacy Enhancement program. Laura narrates their recorded version of this book and does an excellent job.

Jim has conducted presentations at schools and other locations and even given a copy of his book in braille to a blind boy who visited his farm. He has a knack for writing about his love of farming and animals, and I hope he will write more about this in the future. Meanwhile, I recommend Peanut of Blind Faith Farm to children of all ages, blind or not.

 

My Books

 

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

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Thursday Book feature: A Low Country Christmas

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.A Lowcountry Christmas

by Mary Alice Monroe

Copyright 2016

 

Christmas 2018 is looking bleak for ten-year-old Miller and his family in rural South Carolina. Miller’s father, a shrimp boat captain, has been forced to dock his boat by rising fuel prices and limited income while his mother works two jobs in an attempt to make ends meet. As a result, his parents have no choice but to tell him they can’t afford to buy him the dog he wants for Christmas. To make matters worse, Miller’s brother Taylor, a veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, receives a service dog, but a miraculous surprise is in store. Each chapter alternates the storytelling from the first person point of view of Miller, Taylor, and their mother Jenny and is preceded by a quotation from Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. Recipes are found at the end of the book.

I would like to have known more about what happened to these characters after that miraculous Christmas in 2010. The prologue and epilogue take place in 2015, and we learn that Taylor still has the service dog and is married with a baby, but how did he get to that point? We also realize that Taylor did not reconcile with his high school sweetheart, with whom he broke up after returning from Afghanistan, but how and where did he meet his current wife, and what sort of work did he find once he’d overcome, to a certain extent, his post traumatic stress disorder?

What about Miller’s family’s financial situation? In 2010, after docking the shrimp boat, his father was working whatever construction jobs he could find, but did he end up with more stable work after that? Did his mother continue to substitute teach and clean houses? The prologue would have worked better as part of the epilogue.

I liked the many references to A Christmas Carol. I was moved to tears when Taylor was first presented with his service dog and fascinated by the training process, not unlike that of preparing a guide dog for someone with blindness or low vision. This is a great holiday read. I know it’s a little late now, but maybe you can put it on your reading list for next year.

 

My Books

 

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

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

Weekly Poetry Challenge: Plan and Finish

I’m trying something new. This challenge was created by blogger Colleen Chesebro. For full guidelines, click this link. The basic idea is to write a haiku, Tanka, or other traditionally formed poem without using the prompt words she provides. Only use synonyms of the words. This week’s words are “plan” and “finish.” My submission is a haiku. Enjoy!

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at the end of summer
wildlife plots for survival
of brutal winter

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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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