Thursday Tidbit: Winter, A Poem

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.With the season having officially arrived here in Wyoming, here’s another winter poem, this one from my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. It’s about my disastrous attempt of a winter sport that most of my family enjoyed.

Although it reads like poetry, it looks like prose. This is what’s considered a prose poem. You can click the Play button below the poem to hear me read it. Enjoy, and happy winter.

 

Winter

 

On a cold, cloudy day, we strap on our skis, boots, head up the trail. I inch along, sure I’ll fall at any minute, as my skis slide through the packed snow. “Left foot right pole right foot left pole. See if you can go faster,” Dad says. I prefer to keep my slow, plodding pace.

At the top of the hill, we retrace our steps. My feet slide out from under me. I land flat on my back. “Smile,” says my brother, as he holds the camera.

“Stick that camera where the sun won’t shine,” I want to tell him.

“You’re not falling right. You could get hurt,” he says. I remove the skis, walk the rest of the day.

 

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.

Saying No and Yes

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.I feel like the person in Hawaii who accidentally pushed the button to alert everyone of incoming missiles last year. My earlier post, “Saying No” was not meant to go live. I composed and scheduled it last week, then had a change of heart. I thought I’d un-scheduled it when I changed the status to draft but apparently not. I have since removed the post and apologize for any inconvenience to those receiving it by email.

Instead of my Tuesday posts, I think I’ll say no to Colleen Chesebro’s weekly poetry challenge, but I haven’t yet made a decision. I’m definitely skipping it this week because I have too many things going on, and there’s a remote chance I’ll lose Internet connectivity later in the week. Here’s the story behind that.

Last week, two days after Christmas, I woke to find no Internet connection. I called CenturyLink, my current provider, but all I got was their automated system, and just when I thought a human being would finally answer, I heard a recorded message saying there was an error or that all circuits were busy. I tried several times that day, and finally in the afternoon, I didn’t even get the automated system. Instead, I got a recording that said the number was no longer in service.

Since I don’t have a smart phone, I had no way to look for information online, so I called a friend who found sketchy information on their Facebook page. Later, she told me she’d seen on the news that the company was experiencing a nationwide outage, which could take up to forty-eight hours to fix. I resigned myself to two more days without the Internet, but miracle of miracles, it started working the next morning.

However, the lack of communication between CenturyLink and its customers during the outage is inexcusable. Even the power company had a message on its phone system during an outage last year, explaining the problem and giving an estimated amount of time it would take to fix the problem. This time, not even CenturyLink’s Facebook page provided useful information about the outage, which not only affected Internet but also phone service and even 911.

I haven’t forgotten last year when I was without Internet for six days. Apparently, it was just a matter of flipping a switch in the local office, but the person in the local office responsible for doing this was away for the Christmas holiday, so that didn’t happen. This is also unacceptable.

Yesterday, I contacted Spectrum, one of the few Internet options available here in Wyoming, and was pleasantly surprised to almost immediately reach a friendly young man with an American accent who was easy to understand, compared to the clipped foreign accents of the representatives from CenturyLink I’ve spoken to in the past. When I told this particular customer service agent I just needed Internet service, that was all he offered me. He didn’t try to sell any bundled packages like the folks at CenturyLink are in the habit of doing. He did tell me about streaming music and cell service, but I explained I could easily stream music with my Amazon Echo devices and that I was happy with my cell service with Verizon, and he understood.

A technician will come next Monday to install my new service. I’ll be paying about the same amount I was before, but I’ll be getting faster service, 100 megabytes, compared to the approximately 14 megabytes I was getting before.

Now comes the hard part, notifying CenturyLink, but I will stand firm this time. I won’t let them persuade me to re-consider with a lower price for my bundled Internet and cell service. It won’t be worth it if I have to endure such shoddy services as I have in the past year.

If they cut me off in a huff, so be it. I plan to finish my online work before calling them so I’ll be covered in case that happens. If you don’t see a Song Lyric Sunday post from me later, that’ll be the reason. I’m ringing in 2019 by saying no to slow Internet speed and bad service and yes to faster Internet speed and better service. I hope you all have a safe and profitable 2019.

 

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: Second Hand Rose

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.This blog feature was created by Helen Vahdati. The theme this week is “new,” and the song is about the opposite. Poor Rose is tired of hand-me-downs and wants to wear new hats, shoes, etc.

The song is in my singing group’s repertoir. Recently, someone suggested we perform it during a style show for a local thrift shop, but I pointed out that it wouldn’t be appropriate because it would give used items a bad name, and the others agreed. I hope you enjoy this second-hand song.

Second Hand RoseBarbra Streisand

Lyrics Courtesy of Google

 

Father has a business strictly second hand
Everything from toothpicks to a baby-grand
Stuff in our apartment came from father’s store
Even clothes I’m wearing someone wore before
It’s no wonder that I feel abused
I never get a thing that ain’t been used
I’m wearing second hand hats
Second hand clothes
That’s why they call me
Second hand Rose
Even our piano in the parlor
Daddy bought for ten cents on the dollar
Second hand pearls
I’m wearing second hand curls
I never get a single thing that’s new
Even Jake, the plumber, he’s the man I adore
He had the nerve to tell me he’s been married before
Everyone knows that I’m just
Second hand Rose
From Second Avenue
From Second Avenue
No
Songwriters: Grant Clarke / James Hanley
Second Hand Rose lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Carlin America Inc

 

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: 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.

Song Lyric Sunday: Poor Poor Pitiful Me

Song Lyric Sunday was created by Helen Vahdati. This week’s theme is “boys.” The song I’m featuring today echos my sentiment during the first few years of elementary school when I was the only girl in a class of boys at the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind in Tucson. The boys delighted in pulling my hair, calling me names, and making life miserable in other ways. Needless to say, I developed an aversion to boys which, during my teen years, may not have been a bad thing. I hope you had better `luck with boys when you were growing up.

Poor Poor Pitiful MeLinda Ronstadt

Lyrics Courtesy of Google

Well I lay my head on the railroad track
Waiting on the Double E
But the train don’t run by here no more
Poor poor pitiful me
Poor poor pitiful me
Poor poor pitiful me
Oh these boys won’t let me be
Lord have mercy on me
Woe woe is me
Well I met a man out in Hollywood
Now I ain’t naming names
Well he really worked me over good
Just like Jesse James
Yes he really worked me over good
He was a credit to his gender
Put me through some changes Lord
Sort of like a Waring blender
Poor poor pitiful me
Poor poor pitiful me
Oh these boys won’t let me be
Lord have mercy on me
Woe woe is me
Well I met a boy in the Vieux Carres
Down in Yokohama
He picked me up and he threw me down
He said “Please don’t hurt me Mama”
Poor poor pitiful me
Poor poor pitiful me
Oh these boys won’t let me be
Lord have mercy on me
Woe woe is mePoor poor poor me
Poor poor pitiful me
Poor poor poor me
Poor poor pitiful me
Poor poor poor me
Poor poor pitiful me
Songwriters: Warren Zevon
Poor Poor Pitiful Me lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

 

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.