LIBRARY Days

Thanks to blogger Alice Massa for inspiring this. In her post, she shares fond memories of visiting a public library as a child. Reading it brought back reminiscences of my own.

In the fall of 1973 after we moved here to Sheridan, Wyoming, from Tucson, Arizona, my younger brother Andy took an interest in library science. He’d started kindergarten, and I was in the sixth grade. Since Mother had taken us to a public library in Tucson on a regular basis, it was only natural that we would continue to do this once we were settled here.

The Sheridan library was an old building with a children’s section in the basement. Once a week or so, we would descend a creaking stairway to a world of wonder. The aroma in the large room reminded me of the library at the school for the blind in Arizona, where I’d enjoyed browsing shelves of Braille books. I couldn’t do that here, but there were records and cassettes containing stories and sometimes just plain music. Mother encouraged me to check out such books as Understood Betsy and Ann of Green Gables, which she read to me. Eventually, a librarian came to our home once a week and brought books on records that were issued by a library in Utah that specialized in recorded books for those with visual and other impairments that made reading difficult or impossible.

The check-out process at the Sheridan library was what fascinated Andy. He watched, wide-eyed, as the librarian stamped each of our selections with that day’s date. One day after we got home, we discovered that Andy had walked away with the librarian’s stamp.

Nonchalant, Mother told Andy he could keep the stamp for now, but the next day after school, he would have to return it and apologize for taking it. The librarian must have had extra stamps on hand for when we showed up the next day, and Andy handed her the stamp and told her he was sorry for stealing it, she only smiled and said it wasn’t a problem. At Christmas that year, Santa Claus gave Andy his own stamp and ink pad. For the next few months, he enjoyed playing “library” until he took an interest in something else.

A couple of years ago, Andy, now living in Florida, sent me, for my birthday, a t-shirt emblazoned with library stampings. He’d forgotten about his petty theft until I brought it up after receiving the shirt. It was apparently a coincidence that he, knowing I appreciated books as a writer, thought I would like the shirt, and he was right.

Today, the Sheridan library is located in a modern building with books and other items for both children and adults on the ground floor and an art gallery and meeting rooms on the second floor. With an elevator, it’s no longer necessary to ascend or descend any stairs. Instead of a card catalog, there are computers, and records and cassettes have been replaced by CD’s and devices called playaways, which contain one recorded book each. However, I download books from other sources, so I only visit the library to attend monthly Range Writers meetings and other programs. As for Andy, with a P.H.D. in physics, a family, and a full-time teaching job at a private high school in Jupiter, I imagine he has little time to visit a library, but we can still remember.

What do you remember about visiting your public library as a child? What kinds of books did you like to check out? Did you ever bring food or drink into the library, as Alice and her cousin did?

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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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Saturday Song: I Like Beer by Tom T. Hall

This was popular in 1976 when I was in the eighth grade at Central Junior High, a public school here in Sheridan, Wyoming. One day during home economics class, a bunch of us girls started singing the chorus. Our teacher was a stern woman who eventually told my mother she couldn’t teach me with my visual disability. She merely rolled her eyes and said, “Grow up.” In case you’re wondering, I myself am more partial to Dr. Pepper than beer. Enjoy this live performance, and have a great Saturday.

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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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Conversations with Me

Thanks to heylookawriterfellow for inspiring this. In his post, he shares things he and his wife do that drive each other nuts. It gave me a good laugh when I read it, but it also got me to thinking about one thing I did that annoyed my late husband Bill.

When I was a child, my mother talked to herself, even when I was around. As I grew older, I met a few other people who did the same thing, so the habit wasn’t hard to develop.

It was definitely a hard one to break, though try I did after I married Bill. He even hated it when I read my stories and poems aloud to myself as part of my editing process. That changed after he suffered his first stroke.

While he was recuperating in the nursing home, and I was home alone, I made an effort not to talk to myself. I vowed that I would be completely over this habit by the time he came home. I read my work to myself softly instead of out loud.

I succeeded, for the most part, in breaking this habit, but when Bill came home, he said he liked it when I talked to myself because he then knew where I was and what I was doing. When you can’t see, and you only have the use of one arm and leg, hearing the one you love and depend on to care for you can be a comfort. You can learn more about our life together by reading My Ideal Partner.

Since Bill passed almost five years ago, I’m back to my old habit. I talk to myself all the time and answer myself. I even say a sentence out loud before I type it. When I finish writing this, I’ll go back and read it aloud to myself, as I correct mistakes and make changes. No one is around to hear, so what does it matter?

What do you do that annoys your significant other? What does your significant other do that annoys you? I look forward to reading about it in the comments field.

 

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.

 

Thursday Book Feature: MASH

This is a new feature I’m trying. I may not have a book to share every week, but when I do, it’ll go live Thursday. This should give you plenty of time to find a good read to get you through the weekend.

 

MASH: A Novel about Three Army Doctors

By Richard Hooker

Copyright 1996.

 

Before the movie and television series, this novel introduced such characters as Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John, Radar O’Reilly, and Hot Lips Houlihan. In 1951 during the Korean War, Hawkeye and another doctor named Duke are assigned to the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Trapper John soon joins them, and the three live together in a tent they call the swamp, drinking and raising hell when they’re not operating on injured soldiers. Their excellent surgical skills improve the quality of care at MASH 4077.

According to the author, many doctors working in such hospitals were well trained but too young for the job. As a result, some broke down. Others, like Hawkeye, Duke, and Trapper, let off steam by drinking, engaging in sexual escapades, and pulling stunts. In the book, they sell photos of Trapper with a long beard and hair, passing him off as Christ, to raise money to send a Korean house boy to college in the U.S. They pretend to have flipped their lids in order to be sent to a nearby hospital for psychiatric evaluation, then spend their time in a brothel instead. They play in a corrupt football game with a team from another hospital.

This book was an Audible daily deal, and having once been a MASH fan in college, I snatched it up. I saw the movie years ago but don’t remember it as much as the TV series. I noticed many differences between that and the book.

For example, Frank Burns, a captain in the book, is a major in the TV series. In the book, Hawkeye is married, but Trapper is not. On TV, it’s the opposite. In the book, Col. Blake is a completely different character, and Col. Potter, B.J. Honeycut, Major Winchester, and Corporal Clinger don’t exist. The book portrays the 4077th MASH as having more doctors than the four in the television series.

Despite these differences, I enjoyed reading the book, laughing at all the doctors’ antics like I did when I saw them on television. It would have been really cool if it were read by Alan Alda, the actor who portrayed Hawkeye in the TV series, but the Audible narrator did a pretty good job of portraying each character. I like the way this book shows us the horrors of war but emphasizes the idea that in order to get through tough times, you have to have a sense of humor.

 

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.

 

Barfing on the High Seas

One morning years ago at the Sportsman’s Lodge in Los Angeles, while most of my extended family was gathered for my uncle’s wedding, we were sitting around the pool, discussing what we would do that day. The men wanted to go sailing, and the women wanted to see some sights. At the age of twenty-three, I’d never been on a sailboat but had done my fair share of sightseeing, and being young and visually impaired, I didn’t find that at all appealing.

When I invited myself to go sailing with my brother, dad, and two uncles, they readily agreed, and we set off. At a marina, we found a captain willing to take us on a three-hour cruse for a fee, which would increase if we made a mess. Before heading out, we ate lunch at a nearby establishment where I had a cheeseburger with French fries and a Coke. Once we hit the high seas, I wished more than ever that I’d gone to look at museums and other attractions with my grandmother and aunts.

I wrote a poem about this experience several years ago. Kathy Waller’s 100-word short story inspired me to post it. Click on the title to hear me read it.

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THIRTY-FOOT SLOOP

 

In the summer of 1984, my family sets sail

from a marina at Redondo Beach, California.

The rented boat glides through smooth port waters.

 

A college kid, the only woman on board,

once we hit rough waters,

my stomach revolts.

Moments later, while holding the leaking sack

containing what was once my lunch, Uncle Tony asks,

“Will the EPA mind if I throw this overboard?”

 

“No problem,” says Shawn, the captain.

He hands me a bucket,

places a hand on my shoulder

while I let it all out.

 

A helicopter whirrs overhead.

“They’re making a movie,” Uncle Jon speculates.

Oh boy, I always wanted to be in a movie,

I think, huddled over my white bucket,

Barfing on the High Seas.

 

Later, Shawn reminisces about man overboard drills.

Still nauseated, I glance at the water, the shore.

If I jump in, try to swim,

will I make it?

 

After three hours, back in calm waters,

I step onto the dock,

exhausted, sunburned—it could be worse.

***

Afterward, I learned that the women not only saw some sights but also went to an ice cream parlor where they encountered a celebrity from Hill Street Blues. Oh well, some choices we make in life aren’t always good ones.

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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.

 

Of Falling Silver and Glass

Late one night while I was emptying my dishwasher, a couple of forks slipped out of my grasp and hit the floor with a loud clang. Normally, I would have been annoyed, since I was anxious to get this done and get to bed. However, I found myself laughing hysterically, struggling not to wet my pants. I thought back to a similar situation years ago in a different kitchen.

In 1988, I was attending the Wyoming Lions Summer School for the Visually Impaired on Casper Mountain. After supper one night, I volunteered, or was chosen, for dish duty. After accumulating a neat pile of dry plastic glasses, I was reaching for a wet one when my arm brushed the pile hard enough to set it off balance. Glasses flew everywhere, hitting the floor with a loud clatter.

The normal human reaction in this situation is to be mortified, but having always enjoyed the sound of disaster, it was all I could do to keep a straight face, especially since others were laughing. The staffer in charge of the kitchen knew I’d just completed a music therapy internship. Not known for a sense of humor, he said, “Is that what you trained for at Villa Maria?”

I should have said, “No, I trained as a music therapist, not a dishwasher.” At the time, I couldn’t say anything, speechless as I was with mirth.

Isn’t it frustrating when you think of something you could have said in a particular situation? Of course that’s better than regretting something you said but still…

So what’s the point of this post? Again, I’m speechless with mirth and have no idea. Maybe years from now, I’ll have a better answer to that question.

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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.

 

Scam the Scammer

Abbie-1

Thanks to A. Marie Silver for inspiring another post. For years when I had a landline, I got calls from a gentleman, usually with an accent, claiming to be from Microsoft. He told me he was getting error messages from my computer. The first time he called, my PC wasn’t even on. I hung up, realizing it was probably a scam. Until I had my landline disconnected, he kept calling, and I kept hanging up.

It has since occurred to me that I could have tried to fight fire with fire. Here’s how such a phone call might have gone if I’d been using my head.

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Me: Hello.

Scammer: Hello, Mrs. Taylor, this is So So from Microsoft. How are you today?

Me: Fine thanks, how about you?

Scammer: I’m great. Thanks for asking. I’m calling today because I’ve been getting error messages from your computer.

Me: Oh really, it’s funny you should call. I heard about your scam, but don’t hang up. I want to help you.

Scammer: Really?

Me: Yes, I’ll give you whatever information you need if you’ll do something for me.

Scammer: Okay, what?

Me: I’m a writer. Surely you’ve heard of me. My last ten books made the New York Times #1 bestseller list.

Scammer: No, I don’t think so.

Me: Well, anyway, I’m writing a book about people like you, social engineers. I need you to tell me about people you’ve successfully scammed and why you did it. This could be another bestseller for me. I could make a lot of money and maybe give you a percentage plus the information you need about my computer.

Scammer: Are you trying to scam me?

Me: Of course I am. How does that make you feel?

Scammer: Well, I’m pissed off. Duh!

Me: All right then, why do you like pissing off other people by scamming them?

Scammer: End call.

***

Now that I just have a cell phone, I don’t receive such calls anymore. I wish I’d thought of the above plan when I had the landline. Oh well, that’s life.

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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.