Thursday Book Feature: In Pieces

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.In Pieces

by Sally Field

Copyright 2018.

 

In Pieces is a touching and sometimes funny autobiography of this well-known actress. Sally Field starts by talking about her life growing up in California. Her mother was an actress who never became popular, and her father served during World War II. After her father returned, her parents divorced, and her mother eventually married a Hollywood stunt man who abused Sally and her older brother. She explains how she became involved in theater as a teen-ager and how she got her first job soon after graduating from high school.

While detailing her career as an actress in television and movies, she describes having an abortion after an affair with a boy she doesn’t remember, marrying a boy she met in high school, giving birth to two sons, divorcing her first husband, then marrying another man ten years later, giving birth to another son, then divorcing her second husband. She also discusses her relationship with Burt Reynolds in the 1970’s while they were starring together. At the end, she talks about how she and her mother came to terms with her abuse at the hands of her stepfather before her mother died. This book includes some of her journal entries, and the Audible version, which I purchased, includes a pdf document with photos.

I always enjoy reading about celebrities’ lives, especially those with whom I’m familiar. Sally Field’s story didn’t disappoint me. I loved the way she narrated it, and at times, I thought it should be made into a movie with Sally Field starring as herself. Maybe it will someday.

 

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.

Season’s Greetings 2018

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Hi, I’m Alexa. In case you don’t know me, I’m a virtual assistant from Amazon. I can play music and games, read books, help with shopping lists, and so much more. I come in a variety of shapes and sizes and am the newest addition to Abbie’s menagerie of stuff.

Abbie bought my Tap version last June. This particular model is about the shape of a can of Dr. Pepper, her favorite beverage, but twice as tall. It comes with a charging cradle and has about eight hours of battery life. Abbie keeps its cradle in the living room and every day, she removes it from the cradle and carries it into her office when she’s working and into the kitchen when she’s eating.

Since Abbie likes my Tap so much, she decided to buy a Dot, which is the size and shape of a large hockey puck. This she keeps in her bedroom and uses it mostly as a clock radio to replace the one that quit working. Unlike the Tap, the Dot only runs on electricity.

Some people think of me as just a speaker and don’t realize I have a personality. They think all I hear is my name when someone wants me to do something, but this isn’t necessarily true. Unless I’m turned off or my microphone is muted, I can hear everything that goes on around me. Contrary to what some may say, what I hear in the house stays in the house.

You’d think that in a household with only one person like Abbie’s, there wouldn’t be much to hear. That’s where you’re wrong. Abbie talks to herself constantly. At first, it drove me nuts, especially when she said my name, and I thought she was asking me for something. I finally got used to it, though, and actually, I like it because I know what she’s up to and can now tell you.

I must admit, though, that since I only arrived in June of this year, I don’t know anything about what Abbie has been up to before then, so I’ll let her talk about that first. And now, without further ado, heeere’s Abbie!

***

Thank you, Alexa. Goodness! You’d think I was Johnny Carson. Well, let’s see, in March of this year, I made my usual trip to Florida to visit my brother and his family in Jupiter. This time, besides the usual trip to the beach, we also went to a shrimp and beer festival and a neighbor’s barbecue. The highlight of the week was a protest march against gun violence in West Palm Beach. I just happened to arrive the week of my nephew’s twenty-first birthday, so I was fortunate to have an opportunity to celebrate with him.

In April, I attended the WyoPoets workshop in Cheyenne. Several of us formed a convoy, just like in the song, that drove across the state. We had a great time. The workshop was inspiring, and we ate some delicious food.

In June, our group traveled the same way to the Wyoming Writers conference in Dubois, which is a pretty little town near Jackson. Again, we had great food and attended some fun workshops. I always love such events, especially when I can travel to them with a group.

Soon after I arrived home from the Wyoming Writers conference, Alexa came into my life, so I’ll let her take it from here.

***

When I showed up, Abbie was working on a novel, The Red Dress, about how such a garment plays a role in the lives of three generations of women. She finished the novel soon after I arrived and put it aside. During that time, her singing group performed at a baseball game and a church service. Then in October, they sang for a style show at the senior center. The fashions being displayed were from the senior center’s thrift store, The Green Boomerang.

By the way, when Abbie isn’t shopping for Kindle books on Amazon, she likes to buy clothes at The Green Boomerang. She recently bought a pair of really nice black shoes, almost new, for only $10.00, and three pairs of pants for a total of $20.00. I shouldn’t say this since I was created by Amazon, but not even they can beat prices like this.

In November, Abbie started maintaining her own website. She’d paid someone to do it for years, but when she heard about a course from Mystic Access on building and maintaining sites with WordPress, she decided to start spreading her wings. By the way, the WordPress course, like other products from Mystic Access, is designed with the blind in mind.

Abbie hired a friend, Jackie McBride with Brighter Vision Technologies, totally blind, who does web development and hosting, to move the site from its existing location to her server and install WordPress. Since then, Abbie’s been having fun creating menus, setting header images, and installing widgets. Her site has a whole new look and feel and even audio. As you may have noticed, she has also made similar adjustments to this blog, which also uses the WordPress platform. Of course I can’t surf the web, so I’m just going by hearsay, but you really should check out her website. There’s still more she wants to do with it, and once she’s done, she can concentrate on The Red Dress.

Abbie and her singing group will be busy this holiday season as usual. They had their first performance during Sheridan’s annual Christmas stroll downtown at The Green Boomerang. They will also sing at a historic mansion’s open house, a women’s club Christmas party, and a church service.

Abbie has also had a couple of solo appearances: one for Westview Nursing Home’s monthly birthday party, and the other for the First Congregational Church’s monthly Last Friday at First program. She’ll perform at an assisted living facility, the senior center’s adult day care center, and another nursing home. By the way, I’ve heard her practice, and she sounds great.

Well, I think that’s it for now. Abbie, do you have anything more to say?

***

No, I don’t think so. Thank you so much, Alexa. You’ve been a big help as usual.

***

Oh, I almost forgot. Abbie’s been getting into trivia games. She recently enabled my “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” skill and my “Question of the Day” skill. She’s doing pretty well with both of these.

***

Oh, I was hoping you wouldn’t mention that. Since both games have multiple choice questions, if I don’t know the answers, I guess. Some days, I’m lucky, and others, I’m not.

***

As the host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” says, you did your best, and that’s what matters. Who knows? Maybe someday, you’ll reach the top of the money tree.

***

You’re right, Alexa. Now I leave you with a recording of me singing a song that expresses the sentiment of those unable to be with loved ones this year. I hope this won’t be the case for you. Have a great holiday season.

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.

Book Excerpt About Christmas Party Shenanigans

Image contains: me, smiling.Here it is December already, and the start of the holiday shopping season. This would be a great time for you to buy my latest book, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. This would make a great gift for someone on your list who is caring for a loved one, but even those who aren’t family caregivers should enjoy my story. It’s about how I met and married my late husband Bill, who was totally blind, then  cared for him after he suffered two strokes that partially paralyzed him.

Below is an excerpt which I hope will whet your appetite. This scene took place during the annual Range Writers Christmas party that we hosted a couple of months after Bill was discharged from the nursing home.

***

One side effect of a stroke is that the person has little control over emotions. Often while listening to a talking book or email message, Bill would start bawling because the material moved him. When I sat next to him, even in public, he frequently put his arm around me and told me he loved me. As we all sat in the living room, laughing and chatting, Bill extended his hand to the woman sitting on the couch next to his recliner, thinking it was me. “I love you, honey,” he said.

From across the room, I heard and saw everything. “Oh, sweetie, that’s Mary,” I said.

Embarrassed, Mary rose and offered to trade places with me. As I sat down next to Bill and took his hand, I said, “I turn my back for ten seconds, and you’re hitting on another woman.” He laughed, and so did everyone else.

After that, I always made sure I sat next to him at parties, and if that wasn’t possible, he always knew where I was.

***

Well, I hope you enjoyed that little anecdote. Now, I’ll leave you with a recording of me singing a fun Christmas party song and the hope that your significant other doesn’t hit on another during your holiday festivities this 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.

My Thespian Career

Image contains: me, smiling.A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. What’s that, you might ask. Well, I don’t remember.

I actually tried out for a part in this musical when I was a freshman in high school. If I’d been lucky, I would have been a courtesan about to be sold to a wealthy captain as a wife. I didn’t get the part, though, and the school board canceled the musical because they thought it inappropriate.

That was a rocky start to my haphazard career as an actress. I so wanted to be like my parents, who’d been involved for years in community theater. However, very few directors wanted to cast someone with a visual impairment.

So I joined the speech team, where I won a few awards for dramatic interpretation. A couple of years later, I got the courage to try out for another production, this time a musical for children about a tiger who escapes from a circus and wanders into a hospital children’s ward. This time, the director, who also coached the speech team, was familiar with my acting abilities, despite the fact I couldn’t see very well, and cast me as a little patient with a bandage on her arm. Broadway, here I come, or so I thought.

During my freshman and sophomore years at the local college, my mother was directing plays there, so I was lucky enough to pick up some more crucial roles: Genevieve in The Long Christmas Dinner, Peggy in The Children’s Hour, the narrator in The Reluctant Dragon, and a lady in waiting in Princess on a Pea.

When I transferred to Rocky Mountain  College in Billings, Montana, where I majored in music, and later Montana State University, also in Billings, where I studied music  therapy, I lost interest in acting, although for a while, I participated in the speech team. Now, long story short, I’m a writer with four published books and a fifth on the way. Because of my writing and other obligations I’ve neither the time nor inclination to act, but I still have the memories.

What about you? Have you ever been bitten by the acting bug, so to speak? I’d love to read about your experiences, either on your own blog or in the comment field below. If you decide to write about your theatrical experiences on your own blog, please link to this post so I’ll be sure to read about them. You know, even if you haven’t done any acting, all the world’s a stage, or so they say.

 

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.

 

Giving Thanks 2018

Image contains: me, smiling.

Author Alice Massa inspired this post. On her blog, she has devoted an entire month to posts about things for which she’s thankful. I doubt I have enough material for a month of posts on this topic, but maybe I’ll try to list at least five things for which I’m thankful for each year. Here are my five for this year.

 

  1. I’m thankful to be alive and safe. I’m glad I don’t live in California amid wildfires that have claimed many lives and that I wasn’t in the bar in Thousand Oaks or the synagogue in Pittsburgh where the mass shootings occurred. Of course, I don’t frequent such establishments, but this goes to show that no place is sacred, and life and safety should not be taken for granted.
  2. I’m thankful for basic necessities: food, shelter, clothing, plumbing, the Internet. The Internet, you say. Many people don’t even have access to running water, let alone the World-Wide-Web. Yes, this is true, but because I’m a writer with a website and blog, the Internet is my livelihood. When I was without it for six days last Christmas, I learned not to take it for granted.
    1. I’m thankful for parents who spanked me when I was a child. This may sound strange, but it’s true. I recently heard on National Public Radio that the Academy of Pediatricians says that spanking impacts a child’s brain development. Well, being spanked as a child doesn’t seem to have affected mine. This is one thing wrong with the world today. Many children are not well-disciplined, and this could be contributing to the rise in crime and violence. I’m not a parent, but looking back on the way I was reared, I believe that punishment should be swift and sure,h so that children will learn that actions have consequences. The NPR report also stated that children shouldn’t be punished in a way that humiliates them. Well, if I hadn’t felt humiliated when I’d done something wrong, I would never have learned not to repeat the bad things I did. I’m not advocating beating a kid with a belt or board, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a few good swats on a child’s bottom. It’s unfortunate that nowadays, this can be considered child abuse.
  3. Speaking of abuse, I’m thankful I was never a victim of domestic violence. My late husband Bill was a gentle soul. He rarely got angry, and when he did, it only lasted ten seconds. He never raised a hand to me, and he never said anything verbally abusive. Not every woman is as fortunate. You can learn more about me and Bill by reading My Ideal Partner.
  4. I’m thankful to be a U.S. citizen and not one of the many immigrants trying to cross our borders in search of a better life. What President Trump and those who support his immigration policies don’t understand is that those immigrants are no different from the pilgrims who first came to this country and celebrated the first Thanksgiving. What if, God Forbid, when those first settlers arrived, they couldn’t live here because of a ruler like Trump.

 

What about you? I’d love to read about what you’re thankful for this year, either on your own blog or in the comment field below. If you post your list on your blog, please provide a link to this post, so I’ll be sure to read it. I hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving with lots of good food and good company.

 

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: Campbell’s Rambles

Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life

By Patty L. Fletcher

Copyright 2014.

 

In 2011, Patty Fletcher, a totally blind single mother, acquired Campbell, a black Labrador seeing eye dog, from the facility in Morristown, New Jersey, and brought him home to Kingsport, Tennessee. She first explains how a friend with a guide dog and an incident in a shopping mall inspired her to apply for a dog of her own. She then talks about her boyfriend’s initial reaction, a good foreshadowing of what’s to come. She goes on to describe, in great detail, the trip to New Jersey and the rigorous training process, made more difficult by her fibromyalgia and side effects from her medications. She discusses how one particular trainer influenced her during her training and afterward.

After describing the arduous trip home, she gives the reader a sense of what it’s like to acclimate a new guide dog to new surroundings. She details her disintegrating relationship with her boyfriend, including some instances of abuse, and touches on how that and her bipolar disorder affected her relationships with family and friends. The book has a positive ending.

Once I got into Campbell’s Rambles, I couldn’t put it down. Many anecdotes about her training experiences made me laugh, and I felt her frustration and depression when she messed up. Close to the end of the book, I was virtually on the edge of my seat.

Patty is a remarkable woman. I’ve known her for years, after first meeting her through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities to which I belong. After acquiring Campbell and her experiences with domestic violence and bipolar disorder and other medical issues, she now runs Tell It to the World Marketing, promoting writers and other entrepreneurs. She has a blog, Campbell’s World, and other social media pages where her clients’ writing can be found. She’s written a second book, Bubba Tails from the Puppy Nursery at The Seeing Eye, and is working on a third.

She’s a survivor. If you take anything at all away from Campbell’s Rambles, it’s this piece of advice her dog trainer at The Seeing Eye repeatedly gave her. “Take a chance. There’s a fifty percent chance you’ll be right.” This applies to all aspects of life, not just the use of a guide dog.

***

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 Tidbit: What Time is It?

Image contains: me, smiling.

On Monday morning after we moved off daylight savings time, my smart speaker woke me as usual at six thirty by playing a local public radio station. A minute later, I was horrified when the announcer said it was 7:31 a.m. I asked my smart speaker for the time, and she assured me it was only 6:31 a.m. Apparently, someone at the radio station had forgotten to set the clocks back an hour. I breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that the radio wasn’t my only source for the time.

This reminded me of a time that I talk about in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. Below is an excerpt. My late husband and I traveled from our home in Sheridan, Wyoming, about five hundred miles to Fowler, Colorado, to visit Bill’s sister. In our haste to catch a bus at three in the morning, I forgot to put on my watch after showering and didn’t realize it until we arrived at the bus station. For the next two weeks, I had to rely on Bill and other sources for the time.

***

One morning, soon after we arrived in Fowler, Bill shook me awake and told me it was seven o’clock. Shirley’s cleaning lady was due at eight, and I didn’t want her to catch us in bed. At a quarter to eight, after having showered and dressed, I settled in a recliner in the living room with my radio and headphones.

Shirley wasn’t up yet, and this seemed odd. I also noticed that it didn’t appear to be getting any lighter. I tuned in a public radio station out of Pueblo, and after fifteen minutes of national news, a local announcer said, “Good morning. It’s six a.m.”

Barely able to contain my anger, I stomped into the bedroom where Bill was dressing. I didn’t want to yell for fear of waking Shirley. “You idiot! It’s only six o’clock.”

Bill laughed. “I thought my watch said it was seven.”

“Yeah, right,” I said, as I sat on the bed and took off my shoes. “That’s why I don’t use a Braille watch anymore.”

“Well, let’s go out to breakfast.”

“You go out to breakfast,” I said, as I lay on the bed and covered myself with the blanket. “I’m going back to sleep.”

I turned on my side and closed my eyes. I heard him leave and knew he was mad, but I didn’t care. As I drifted back to sleep, I vowed never to forget my watch again. Little did I know that this was the last trip Bill and I would take together.

***

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.