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!

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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.

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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?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

Song Lyric Sunday: Song of the Soul

Image contains: me, smiling.

This feature was created by Helen Vahdati. This week’s theme is “soul.” This song’s artist, Chris Williamson, is from my home town of Sheridan, Wyoming. I don’t think she’s as popular, although she’s made quite a few recordings over the years. These don’t seem to be on Amazon, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this song on YouTube. It’s one of my favorites, and it’s about one of the things I did as a registered music therapist, working with senior citizens in nursing homes and other facilities. Enjoy, and sing along.

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—Song of the Soul

Written by Chris Williamson

 

Open mine eyes, that I may see

Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me

Open mine eyes, illumine me

Spirit divine

Love of my life, I am crying

I am not dying, I am dancing

Dancing along in the madness

There is no sadness, only a song of the soul

(chorus)

And we’ll sing this song, why don’t you sing along?

And we can sing for a long, long time

Why don’t you sing this song? Why don’t you sing along?

And we can sing for a long, long time

What do you do for your living?

Are you forgiving, giving shelter?

Follow your heart, love will find you

Truth will unbind you, seek out a song of the soul

(chorus)

Come to your life like a warrior

Nothing will bore you, you can be happy

Let in the light, it will heal you

And you can feel you, sing out a song of the soul

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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

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My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Let’s Talk: The TMI Questions Tag

Image contains: me, smiling.Okay, it’s time for a little fun. I read this tag on Amaan Khan’s blog. Here are my answers to his silly questions. This shouldn’t be too much information.

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Q1. What are you wearing? I’m dressed in blue jeans, a pink sweatshirt with a design on the front, black socks and white tennis shoes.

Q2. Have you ever been in love? Yes, and I married him. Three months later, he suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side. I cared for him at home for six years before he passed. You can learn more about this by reading My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

Q3. Have you ever had a terrible break-up? No, but I did lose my man. Death is similar to a break-up, you know.

Q4. How much do you weigh? 132 pounds.

Q5. Do you have any piercings? Not now, but when I was in junior high school, I was crazy enough to have my ears pierced. Although it was done professionally in a jewelry store, my ears became infected, so I had to let them close over.

Q6. Do you have any tattoos? No, and I never will. I’m not that crazy.

Q7. How long does it take you to shower? That’s nobody’s business but mine.

Q8. Have you ever been in a physical fight? No, but I’ve been in plenty of verbal ones, mostly with my younger brother.

Q9. What turns you on? At my age, I don’t get turned on.

Q10. What turns you off? Incorrect grammar, too many adverbs, and too many descriptions of sex and other activities that aren’t relevant to a story.

Q11. Do you prefer loud or soft music? I mostly listen while I’m working, so for me, it’s better soft.

Q12. Do you have a favorite quote? Yes. “Sometimes I even amaze myself.” It’s what Han Solo says in Star Wars after Princess Leia marvels at her successful rescue. It’s what I say when someone tells me how amazing it is that I do what I do despite my lack of vision.

Q13. What’s your biggest fear? I’m terrified of fire. This stems from my younger brother’s fascination with it, resulting in his burning down an abandoned shack and starting a blaze in our basement when he was only five years old. He eventually outgrew this, and now he teaches physics at a private high school.

Q14. What’s the last thing that made you cry? Hearing a song that was included on a cassette that my late husband sent me on Valentine’s Day after proposing to me. You can listen to the song and read more about my experience with it here.

Q15. Who was the last person you spoke to? The gal who delivered my groceries.

Q16. What are the three qualities in a best friend? Honesty, empathy, and a sense of humor.

Q17. Do you like your name? I never gave this much thought. Besides, if I didn’t like it, changing it wouldn’t be worth the hassle.

Q18. If you could pick your own name, what would it be? I wouldn’t bother. I’m happy with the name I have.

Q19. What makes you happy? Writing, reading, eating.

Q20. What are five random facts about you? I live in Sheridan, Wyoming. I’m about five feet tall with short dark hair and brown eyes. I use a white cane when walking around town. I like dogs and cats but don’t want the responsibility associated with having pets of my own. I like most types of music except for heavy metal, hip hop, and rap.

Q21. Is there any religious persuasion? No, not anymore.

Q22. Have you ever given or received a hicky? No.

Q23. What do you think about the most? My writing projects and other obligations.

Q24. Is there someone you really hate right now? No.

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Now it’s your turn. I triple dog dare you to answer any or all of the above questions, either on your own blog or in the comment field below. If you do this on your own blog, please be sure to include a link to this post. I look forward to reading your answers.

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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

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Like me on Facebook.

Re-Blog: The Mystical Delicious Peach

I love peaches but prefer them either canned or frozen. I never could figure out how to eat a fresh peach, but my late husband Bill loved them. This blogger shares some interesting insights on peaches plus memories of canning and a recipe for a peach dessert. After you read this article, I’d love to hear about your favorite fruit and any memories or recipes associated with it. Happy eating.

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The Mystical Delicious Peach

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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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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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