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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Wyoming’s Spring Promise #TuesdayTidbit #Poetry #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.

Wyoming’s Spring Promise

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2022.

 

In the mountains,
buttercups dot the hillside
near ice-blue lakes.

They bring hope of spring
soon to come,
an end to winter.

Warm temperatures
around the corner
will melt snow, clear ice.

A new beginning
will soon arrive,
end nature’s tyranny.

White clouds
will dot the sky.
The sun will peak through.

Nature’s glory will erupt
to herald the coming season,
so we can rejoice.

***

The above poem appears in the April 3rd issue of The Weekly Avocet. You can click the link below to hear me read it.

 

Wyoming’s Spring Promise

 

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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Nifty Names #MondayMusings #OpenBookBlogHop #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.Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “How do you come up with the names for your characters?”

Most of my characters are named after people I know, but the characters usually aren’t anything like the people who’s names I used. Let’s take, for example, my latest novel, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me.

The father, Daryl, has the same name as the maintenance man in an apartment building where I once lived when I was single. I met someone named Marti once through social media and thought that name would be perfect for the mother.

One of my nieces had a friend named Natalie. I only saw her in passing when the girls were together and didn’t know her very well. But I thought Natalie would be the perfect name for a spunky teenaged girl who grows up in the course of the book. I knew many people named Sarah and thought that would be the perfect name for a ten-year-old girl. As for the dog, I thought it fitting Sarah name him Squeakers, since she finds him in the park, cold, alone, and squeaking, in other words whining, to indicate his fear at being abandoned.

How about you authors out there? How do you name your characters? You can click here to participate and read other bloggers’ responses.

 

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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A Dog’s Hunger for Words #FridayFunReads #Nonfiction #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.

How Stella Learned to Talk: The Groundbreaking Story of the World’s First Talking Dog

by Christina Hunger

Copyright 2021.

 

What Amazon Says

 

An incredible, revolutionary true story and surprisingly simple guide to teaching your dog to talk from speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger, who has taught her dog, Stella, to communicate using simple paw-sized buttons associated with different words.

When speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger first came home with her puppy, Stella, it didn’t take long for her to start drawing connections between her job and her new pet. During the day, she worked with toddlers with significant delays in language development and used Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices to help them communicate. At night, she wondered: If dogs can understand words we say to them, shouldn’t they be able to say words to us? Can dogs use AAC to communicate with humans?

Christina decided to put her theory to the test with Stella and started using a paw-sized button programmed with her voice to say the word “outside” when clicked, whenever she took Stella out of the house. A few years later, Stella now has a bank of more than thirty word buttons, and uses them daily either individually or together to create near-complete sentences.

How Stella Learned to Talk is part memoir and part how-to guide. It chronicles the journey Christina and Stella have taken together, from the day they met, to the day Stella “spoke” her first word, and the other breakthroughs they’ve had since. It also reveals the techniques Christina used to teach Stella, broken down into simple stages and actionable steps any dog owner can use to start communicating with their pets.

Filled with conversations that Stella and Christina have had, as well as the attention to developmental detail that only a speech-language pathologist could know, How Stella Learned to Talk will be the indispensable dog book for the new decade.

 

Buy from Amazon.

 

My Thoughts

 

I love dogs, although I don’t have one at the moment. But I must admit that at first, I was skeptical. Although I knew many dogs were intelligent, since they have been used to help humans, I didn’t think a dog was capable of pushing a button to communicate. Of course, I grew up with Irish setters, who, although loveable, aren’t the most intelligent of dogs.

But from the prologue on, my misconceptions were dispelled. I like how Christina Hunger starts her story at a pivotal moment and then goes back to the beginning. I found her process of training Stella and the way she connects this with her work with small children fascinating. I often laughed at Stella’s antics once the dog learned to use the communication board.

In the audio version I downloaded from the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, I could hear what the device sounded like when Stella used it. I’m sure dog owners will appreciate the takeaways at the end of most chapters and the appendix. You can click here to learn more about Christina and Stella and watch this canine in action. Even if you’re like me and don’t have a dog, I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading this book.

 

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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A Loathing of Little Pieces #SixSentenceStoryThursdayLinkUp #Inspiration #WritingPrompts

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.

I hate confetti. Being visually impaired, I don’t relish the idea of picking it up. Because pieces are so small, they’re easy to miss.

I hate vacuuming with a passion. I don’t do too well with a broom. Fortunately, I rarely have to deal with confetti.

***

Thanks to Girlie on the Edge for inspiring the above with her six-sentence prompt for this week, in which the given word is “confetti.” You can click here to participate and read other bloggers’ six-sentence creations.

 

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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Website