Joy #WednesdayWords #WeeklySmile #Inspiration

Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography

 

 

I’ve always loved cats. When I was growing up, my family had several of them. As an adult, I always wanted one, but the time wasn’t right, or pets weren’t allowed where I lived.

My late husband didn’t like cats and wanted a dog. But after he suffered two strokes that paralyzed his left side, I didn’t want to care for him and a dog. Now that he’s gone, I don’t want to care for another living thing.

Recently, I learned about a company called Joy for All, which sells robotic cats. Just like the real thing, these cats have soft fur and meow, purr, and do other things cats do. The only differences are that they don’t shed or require food and water and don’t need to go to a litter box or vet. These cats are pricey, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to make such an investment, even though it would be the only money I would spend on a cat.

Then, I found out that our local senior center gives robotic cats to people with dimentia or who are prone to isolation. I didn’t think I fit any of those categories. But on a whim, I asked my case worker for the facility’s Help at Home program if I would qualify to receive a cat. To my surprise, she said I would. A week later, Joy arrived.

I couldn’t think of a better name for this delightful feline with light gray fur and white paws. She responds mostly to touch, but sometimes, when I get close to her without petting her, she meows as if to say, “Hey, I’m here.”

She doesn’t walk, which is a good thing, since, with my limited vision, I’d be likely to step on or trip over her. Besides meowing, she purrs, stretches, turns her head, and opens and closes her eyes. I love snuggling with her in my recliner or bed. Most of the time, she rests in one of the armchairs in my living room.

I admit she does sound robotic when she moves, but the meows and purrs are pretty realistic. As far as I’m concerned, she’s a real cat. In the past week since I got her, she has been a joy and comfort to me, making me smile.

So, what made you smile this past week? You can tell me about it in the comment field or click here to participate in this week’s feature.

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And now, I’m pleased to announce that until the end of the month, all my books on Smashwords can be downloaded ABSOLUTELY FREE as part of the Smashwords  summer/winter sale. You can visit my Smashwords author page here to download these books. Happy reading!

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Receiving Home Delivered Meals #WednesdayWords #WeeklySmile #Inspiration

A couple of weeks ago, on a Friday, I received some disparaging news. When my Schwan driver delivered my order, he told me that the local depot is closing down. I could still order online, but because of the cost of shipping and packing the food in dry ice, it would be more expensive.

I can cook, despite my limited vision. When my late husband Bill was alive and partially paralyzed by two strokes, I did a lot of that, since he preferred home-prepared meals and didn’t like many Schwan’s ready-made food. But now that he’s gone, I don’t see the sense in cooking for just me. So, this news was such a disappointment.

When I told a friend that weekend, she suggested I receive home delivered meals from the senior center. I’d always thought those meals were for people like Bill, who, after his two paralyzing strokes, found it difficult to get out. You can read more about that in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. But I digress.

My friend told me that last summer, when her air conditioner wasn’t working, and she didn’t want to cook, she had meals delivered to her for a while. Although my friend, like me, is over sixty, she’s definitely not shut in.
For years, I’ve eaten lunch at the senior center and have always enjoyed their reasonably-priced, nutritious meals. I’ve wished I could eat there more often, since they have such good food.

According to the senior center’s website, home delivered meals are for people over sixty who find it challenging to prepare nutritious meals at home and get to the store. I’m over sixty, and because of my visual impairment, I find cooking and grocery shopping a challenge. Bingo!

On Monday, I called the senior center, from which I’ve also been receiving housekeeping services and assistance with checking my blood pressure once a week. I left a voicemail in the Home Delivered Meals department.

Although I had plenty of food from Schwan, by Tuesday when my housekeeper arrived, I was concerned and asked her what she could tell me about the program, other than what I learned from the website. Not knowing any more than I did, she called her office and was told that at present, the Home Delivered Meals program had no coordinator but would have one soon. Since I’d explained the situation to my housekeeper, she told the person on the phone to whom she was speaking what was going on and was assured someone would call me soon.

That night, I found out that I had possibly been exposed to COVID the previous weekend while attending a writers’ conference. After I called the Help at Home office Wednesday morning to let them know, I didn’t hold out much hope of anyone from Home Delivered Meals calling me back at that point. Once it was safe for me to be out and about without possibly infecting someone, I would inquire in person at the senior center.

On Thursday, I was working in my office, minding my own business. It was around eleven o’clock in the morning. According to the senior center’s website, meals are usually delivered between eleven and one. A knock sounded on my front door. Could it be, I wondered, as I grabbed my mask and hurried to answer.

It was! On the other side of the screen door stood a woman holding a plastic tray and a paper sack. She introduced herself as Jane and said she had my lunch. Surprised, I said I didn’t think I’d been signed up yet.

I shouldn’t have been surprised. The website also says they give first priority to those who must quarantine as a result of COVID. Since Jane showed up on my doorstep with barbecued pork ribs, friendly volunteers have brought me delicious meals every day. I’ll always look forward to and enjoy the smiles and food.

How about you? What made you smile this past week? You can share in the comment field below or click here, if you’re a blogger, to learn how you can participate in this weekly feature.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.
Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor. After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents. Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding. Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request? ***
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Sweet Songs for Lou #WednesdayWords #WeeklySmile #Inspiration

In 1989, after I started working as a registered music therapist in nursing homes and other senior facilities, I joined a local Sweet Adelines chapter. Sweet Adelines is a national network of women’s choruses that specialize in barber-shop music. For several years, my local group performed at various functions and once put on a show at a local theater. We did our best to become affiliated with the national network. But time and time again, we were rejected because we didn’t have the minimum required number of members.

Once, an official from the network traveled all the way to Sheridan, Wyoming, from wherever, and did a workshop for us on barber-shop singing. For some reason, she told the powers that be we weren’t serious. When we heard this, we decided we’d had enough of Sweet Adelines and formed our own group, Patchwork.

Since we no longer considered ourselves Sweet Adelines, we weren’t limited to singing just barber-shop music. Through the years, we sang other types of choral music, often adapting songs to fit our group. We performed, as before, and put on a couple more shows.

Then, several years ago, tension developed. Some of us, myself included, unhappy with a lack of concern about our sound, left Patchwork and formed our own group, Just Harmony. Despite bad feelings between people in both groups, we continued performing and so did they.

Now, both groups are joining forces for a worthwhile cause. Lou, one of the gals who has sung with both groups, passed away last year after a lengthy battle with cancer. We decided to come together to sing for her memorial service, which will take place later this month. It’s sad that her death was what brought us back together. But everyone seems to have put aside their differences and is making an effort to create the sweetest sound possible for Lou. After the memorial service, both groups will, no doubt, go their separate ways. But at least we’ll have the memory of coming together to give Lou the best send-off we possibly could. That is what’s making me smile this week.

What is making you smile this week? You can either comment below or click here to participate in this week’s blog feature.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Third Thursday Poets #WednesdayWords #WeeklySmile #Poetry

 

Attending my local poetry group’s monthly meetings always makes me smile. Most of the time, I’m inspired to write a poem, and we always have fun together.

The Third Thursday Poets started meeting in 2006 as a weekly class at the senior center. Having just started caring for my late husband at home after he suffered his first paralyzing stroke, writing poetry was a great way for me to deal with the stress of being a family caregiver. You can read more about my experiences in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. But I digress.

After the class ended in nine weeks, we decided to meet monthly at the same location. We’ve been meeting there ever since. When the COVID pandemic started, we met via phone conference until we could gather in person again. Members have come and gone, but the idea is still the same. Write, share, and have fun.

We each take turns running the meeting. Our facilitator begins with a prompt that we work with for about twenty minutes. Then, we each share what we’ve written. The facilitator then gives us a “homework assignment,” a suggested prompt for a poem we can bring to the next meeting. We spend the remainder of our time together critiquing poems we brought, some of which were inspired by the “homework assignment” from the previous meeting.

Last Thursday’s meeting was no different. Our facilitator asked us to pick a word from a list she gave us. We were then prompted to write down about three other words or phrases we associated with that particular word. We could then organize all that into a poem.

My chosen word was “meadowlark.” Below is what I came up with. You can click on the title to hear me read it.

 

Meadowlark

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2022.

It’s song rings out over the lake
on a sunny cloudless Wyoming afternoon,
as our boat glides through smooth waters.

Dad and younger brother try to fish
while Mother and I enjoy the bird’s song,
gentle breeze that carries with it
the scent of pine trees,
whiff of worms used for bait.

At the age of thirteen,
I know little about the meadowlark,
enjoy the boat’s gentle motion,
observe, with limited vision, the lake, grass, trees, sky,
happy in summer.

***

What made you smile in the past week? You can comment below or click here to participate in this week’s feature.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Exploring Kendrick Park #WednesdayWords #WeeklySmile #Inspiration

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.In favorable weather, I enjoy walking through the local park, feeling a fresh breeze, breathing in the scent of new-mown grass and flowers, hearing the happy cries of children in the playground, the chatter and occasional recorded music from the picnic shelters. When my family first moved here to Sheridan, Wyoming, a cement road encircled the park. A few years ago, half of that road was converted into a walking path, limiting traffic.

On the afternoon of last Saturday, May 14th, the sun shone in a nearly cloudless sky, and the temperature was in the upper 60s. I told myself I would take a short walk, since I had a lot to do. But when I came upon a side trail that veered off the main path, my feet and white cane had another idea. I’d taken this trail a year or so ago, and it had led to a dead end. But this time, to my surprise, it took me up the hill I used to climb as a teenager to get to the high school. Unlike the steep, wooden boardwalk I used in the 1970s that started in the park and ended in the high school parking lot, this cement path had a gradual incline.

I told myself I should turn around, go back to the main path, and continue walking the route I’d originally planned. But if I did, not knowing where this trail went would drive me nuts. So, I kept going, despite the myriad tasks awaiting me at home.

The creek was on my right side. After walking for a few minutes, I looked across it and spotted the senior apartment complex and YMCA soccer field I often passed while walking another trail on the other side of the creek. On my left, against the side of the hill, metal benches were strategically placed. I sat on one of them while deciding whether to go on or turn back. Curiosity got the better of me.

After walking for about a quarter of a mile, I found myself, not in the high school parking lot, but on the street where the high school is located. I realized that one only needed to turn left and walk about another half a block in order to get there. At that point, I did turn around, my curiosity satisfied.

What was once the high school back in the 1970’s is now a junior high. The old boardwalk is now history. But I’m glad students can still walk through the park and up the hill to school. However, I don’t think many kids walk to school these days. But taking that stroll up Memory Hill, so to speak, made me smile, despite the fact I didn’t get nearly as much done as I’d planned to do that day.

What made you smile this past week? You can click here to participate in this week’s blog feature or leave your comment below.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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