Sunday Best: Lunch at the Senior Center

On Labor Day, I had lunch at the Sheridan Senior Center. The building was recently renovated. The lobby contains a lounge area and café where homemade soup, salad, sandwiches, and desserts can be purchased to take home during the week.

In the dining room, the food is now served on plates instead of the plastic trays they used in the past that reminded me of school cafeteria lunches. The tables now contain silverware, napkins, pitchers of water, and glasses. Before, you had to collect your silverware, napkin, and drink when you got your tray.

During the week, besides a main entre, there’s a soup and salad bar option. This wasn’t available on Monday because it was a holiday, so for lunch, I had a sloppy Joe, sweet potato fries, baked beans, apple sauce, and chocolate cake, which were all delicious. I’m looking forward to returning for lunch another day.

What’s the best thing that happened to you this past week? Please tell me about it in the comment field. I look forward to hearing from you and 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.

 

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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.

 

 

Novel Brings Generations Together

Francesca’s Kitchen

by Peter Pezzelli

Copyright 2006

 

In Providence, Rhode Island, Francesca is an Italian widow who misses her grandchildren. She finds a job baby-sitting for Loretta, a single mother with a boy and girl in elementary school. Francesca becomes a grandmother figure to the children, who appreciate her culinary efforts. As an added plot twist, Francesca’s son Joey develops a relationship with Loretta, and Francesca becomes acquainted with Loretta’s boss. The book includes an interview with the author and family recipes.

I enjoy positive family stories like this one, but the pace is too slow. The author devotes too many chapters to the development of Francesca’s character as a despondent widow whose grown children live elsewhere. He also inserts too much description and back story in places where the story needs to move along. This is one of Peter Pezzelli’s earlier works. I may try one of his more recent books to see if his style has improved.

Despite the slow pace, some parts of the book brought back memories for me, like the scene when Francesca and the children are playing spoons, a card game my family used to play around Grandma’s kitchen table. I was right there in the kitchen with Francesca, as she prepared mouth-watering Italian delicacies and shared them with the children.

I like how the author uses this book to emphasize the importance of families coming together. I rarely see any of my relatives anymore. Maybe I need to be the one to bring everyone together once in a while, but that’s a lot of work. However, Peter Pezzelli says in his interview that if you take one thing away from this book, it’s the idea that any effort you put into bringing generations together is worth it. He makes a good point.

***

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.

 

Guest Post: Ida Matilda’s Cream Pitcher

Today, I’m pleased to have Lynda McKinney Lambert as a guest. She’s the author of Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage (Kota Press, 2003) and Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems. (DLD Books, 2017) She’s also an artist and teacher who suddenly lost her eyesight ten years ago. You can read reviews of Walking by Inner Vision on my blog and on the Vision Aware site. Here’s one of her poems, which you can also read on her blog. It’s about her grandmother’s cream pitcher, a photo of which is below.

***

Ida Matilda’s Cream Pitcher

by Lynda McKinney Lambert, 2017

 

I loved to spend endless, languid

days at Grandma’s house, sitting

around her plentiful kitchen table. Ida

Matilda’s raisin-filled cookies, sprinkled with

granulated sugar,

apple pies and yeast breads served hot from her oven

tart cherry desserts and homemade blackberry jam.

I poured heavy cream this morning, from her

old ivory creamer, a

little piece of McCoy pottery, circa 1940, Art

Deco, with faded daisies and pale green

leaves, beside

a glass vase of old-fashioned pink roses on a

soft cotton table-cloth, the color of Ida’s blushing cheeks.

Creamers like this had a mate but the open sugar

bowl, now lost.

Reservations were never necessary

even when times were tough, she served her

husband and 7 children

around the abundant table. A tolerant

Mother, she filled her creamer with sweet

milk every day.

Patiently I touch the smooth brown glazed

handle

Ida’s cream pitcher felt cool in my

septuagenarian hand

today. It spilled out the sound of her laughter

caused me to cinch my fingers around its girth

her pale eyes were the ice blue winter sky.

Every time I hold her cream pitcher it

reveals memories of refreshing new cream.

***

The picture to the left is of Lynda’s grandmother with other family members. Now click below to hear me read the poem.

 

***

Pictured above, Lynda stands next to a bouquet of flowers. You can read more of her work on her blog. Here’s a link to where you can learn more about Walking by Inner Vision and order the book.

***

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.

 

News from Abbie’s Corner February 2017

Abbie-1

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, January was a pretty quiet month. I spent the first week with my brother and his family in Jupiter, Florida. We went to the ocean one day and had lunch and rode a carousel in downtown Palm Beach Gardens the next.

The highlight was a boar’s head festival at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda by the Sea in a ritzy neighborhood in West Palm Beach. President Trump attends this church when he’s in the area. It’s huge with immense stained-glass windows, and the acoustics are phenomenal.

The boar’s head festival is something they do every year around the time of Epiphany. This year, music was provided by a chorus accompanied by organ and trumpets. There was also a drum and pipe band that led a processional at the beginning of the program when the symbolic boar’s head was carried in. Their rendition of “Amazing Grace” gave me chills.

There was all the pageantry of a Christmas program: shepherds, wise men, angels, Joseph and Mary, and of course the Baby Jesus. My brother told me there were two live babies: one dressed up as Jesus and the other outfitted as a lamb. With my limited vision, I wouldn’t have known they were there. They behaved remarkably well during the performance. I imagine with all the rehearsing they did, the babies were used to it so didn’t fuss. The congregation was invited to sing familiar carols with the choir. The program was a lot of fun.

A couple of weeks after I returned home, a gal in my singing group hosted a party for all of us. It was a potluck dinner consisting of ham, rolls, lasagna, and a variety of salads and desserts. I brought a Schwann’s chocolate cream pie which disappeared rather quickly. I was lucky to get one piece but glad I brought such a party pleaser.

After we ate, we practiced some songs we’ll sing for an event at the Methodist Church in March. We start regular practices this month.

When I heard that my writer friend, Joan Feagins, was giving a reading at Sugarland Ridge, I thought it would be a great idea to follow that with some music. The activity director agreed, and it was arranged. Residents enjoyed both Joan’s reading and my music, and I had a good time, too.

The next day, I performed at Westview’s monthly birthday party despite the fact that it was snowing pretty heavily. As the para-transit bus was driving me home afterward, we passed a car that had slid into a ditch and was being pulled out. I wondered if I should have stayed home, but the residents enjoyed my music. One gentleman who requested Christy Lane’s “One Day at a Time” told me I sang it a lot better than she did. In that case, it was worth it.

Well, that’s all the news I have for now. I hope your year is getting off to a great start. I’ll have more news next month.

***

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.

 

Two Final Holiday Books

Abbie-1

St. Nick

by Alan Russell

Copyright 2013

 

Nick, a divorced cop, feeling depressed after being suspended from the San Diego police department, grudgingly agrees to work undercover as Santa Claus at a mall, where muggings have frequently been occurring. Not only is Nick expected to catch the bad guys, but he’s also compelled to grant a Christmas wish to a terminally ill child and find another child who wrote an anonymous letter to Santa, asking him to visit. He then meets a female television reporter, and things really get interesting. The realistic ending is predictable.

I usually don’t read detective stories, but the plot of this Audible daily deal intrigued me. It’s funny, sweet, moving, and not your run-of-the-mill mystery tale. I loved the way the narrator, Patrick Lawlor, portrayed Nick and other male characters, and his depiction of women and children wasn’t bad. This book is also available from Amazon. I know it’s a little late now, but maybe you can put it on your holiday reading list for next year.

***

A Literary Christmas

Published by The British Library

Copyright 2014

 

This short anthology of Christmas stories and poems includes excerpts from such classics as A Christmas Carol and Little Women and work by Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare, and others. Of course no holiday collection would be complete without “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” also known as “The Night Before Christmas.”

This was another Audible daily deal with two excellent British narrators, Juliet Stevenson and Simon Callow. I could read some of the timeless classics in this collection over and over again. I was especially touched by the excerpt from Little Women, where the girls give their breakfast to a poor family on Christmas morning.

The recording was re-produced from a two-CD set, as evidenced by announcements of “Disc One” and “Disc Two.” With today’s advances in modern recording technology, you’d think those could have been deleted. Also, there should have been more of a pause between selections, especially when switching narrators. It seemed that one barely finished a selection when the other jumped in.

This book is also available from Amazon, so it would make a good family read during the holiday season. Children, depending on their ages, may find some of the pieces hard to grasp, but “The Night Before Christmas” and excerpts from A Christmas Carol and Little Women could surely be crowd pleasers. In any case, I hope you’ll also put this book on your holiday reading list for next year.

***

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.

 

A Thanksgiving Day Memory

Abbie-1

When I was growing up, the holiday usually began early at our house. Mother was up at the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven. It roasted all day until mid-afternoon when we sat down to eat. One year while we were living in Tucson, Arizona, my uncle, aunt, cousins, and grandparents from Denver, Colorado, were expected. Uncle Jack, Aunt Sharon, and their daughter Kelly drove down from Denver because Aunt Sharon was afraid of flying. Granddad had his own plane, and he and Grammy flew down with Kelly’s brother Bill, who was about two, the same age as my younger brother Andy.

Kelly and I were both eight years old. Uncle Jack, Aunt Sharon, and Kelly arrived first thing Thanksgiving morning, before Mother had even gotten out of bed to fix the turkey. Grammy, Granddad, and Bill were due to arrive later that day. Meanwhile, Kelly and I did the Hokey Pokey umpteen million times and swung in the front porch swing while anticipating their arrival.

Because of mechanical difficulty with Granddad’s plane, they were forced to land in Phoenix and drive the rest of the way in a rented car. Thus they arrived later than expected. When they did, Mother and Aunt Sharon made us change into nicer clothes, and we all sat down to the Thanksgiving meal. Grace was said, and Dad carved the turkey.

After eating, Kelly and I played in my room while the men collapsed in front of a football game on television, the women cleaned up, and Andy and Bill ran around the house screaming and occasionally crying. It was a mad house until about eight o’clock when the little ones were put down for the night. All too soon, it was time for us to go to bed as well, and we were soon asleep.

Our family had many other happy Thanksgivings in Arizona and Wyoming with many other relatives. Now, here in Sheridan, with my parents and grandparents gone, my brother in Florida, and uncles, aunts, and cousins scattered across the country, I partake of my Thanksgiving meal at the local senior center, then come home and collapse in my recliner with a good book, sometimes doze, and often reflect on holidays when I was younger.

What do you remember about Thanksgiving Day when you were growing up? I now leave you with a song synonymous with the holiday. Have a great one.

***

 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.