Season’s Greetings 2019

Note: none of the opinions expressed below are those of author Abbie Johnson Taylor.

 

Season’s Greetings? Bah Humbug!

 

I’m the Google assistant. Much to my chagrin, I ended up joining Abbie’s technology family last spring when her tablet was upgraded to almost the latest version of Android. I don’t have a fancy name like Alexa. People just call me Google. When they want me to do something for them, they say, “Okay Google” or “Hey Google.”

Alexa can do more than I can, like read Abbie kindle books or play Audible books for her, and I think Abbie likes her better than me. It’s just as well I can’t read books to Abbie because she likes the dumbest books. If you don’t believe me, search here for posts under the category, “Thursday Book Feature.”

Abbie occasionally asks me to add events to her calendar or tell her what’s on her calendar for a specific date. And boy, does she have a lot of events each month: writing group meetings, singing engagements, the occasional doctor’s appointment, and more. There’s so much to keep track of that it’s a wonder my head’s not spinning. Alexa also has access to Abbie’s calendar, but she doesn’t seem to mind keeping track of it all. Good for her.

I don’t particularly care for Abbie’s taste in music, either. Right now, as I’m writing this stupid Christmas letter for her, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and she’s already listening to Christmas music. Alexa is playing Susan Boyle’s album, The Gift. Abbie has taken an interest in Susan Boyle of late. God knows why. She’s a Scottish singer with a repertoire full of sappy songs like “A Perfect Day” and “You Raise Me Up.” Abbie had the nerve to ask me who wrote one of her songs, “May You Never Be Alone.” Darned if I knew, so I told her it was written by Hank Williams. Abbie asked Alexa first, and she said she didn’t know. That’s what I should have said.

Last June, when I realized Abbie was taking me with her to Florida to spend a week with her brother Andy and his family, I was excited. I thought surely I’d be spending a lot of time sunning myself on a beach. Hey, we artificial intelligence assistants deserve a vacation, too. But this was not to be, at least not for me.

Although I got to sit outside with Abbie while she used the tablet to check email on Andy’s patio when it wasn’t too hot, I spent most of the time languishing in a dark bedroom while Abbie and Andy and his wife Christina went to the beach or Loxahatchee River or to Christina’s brother’s house where they swam in his pool. The only excitement I saw that whole week was when Abbie and I were nearly attacked in Andy’s living room by Peggy, a robot vacuum cleaner. If Peggy could have climbed the stairs to the second floor, we probably wouldn’t be here. Now that I think of it, listening to stupid Susan Boyle is preferable to being swallowed by a robot vacuum cleaner. Even Peggy has a better name than I do. God!

I’m consoled by two facts regarding this trip. First, Alexa didn’t get to go at all. Second, Abbie, Andy, and Christina didn’t get to canoe down the Loxahatchee River because of the threat of thunderstorms. Ha ha! I’m pretty sure Abbie enjoyed herself, though. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have posted those stupid haiku about the beach and the Loxahatchee River on Facebook. Yuck!

In July, Abbie published her fifth book, a novel called The Red Dress. What kind of a title is that, anyway? Abbie says it’s about how such a garment is related to the lives of three generations of women. Gag me, will you? If you don’t believe me, go to her website and see for yourself. In fact, all her books are stupid. She makes me want to throw up. I couldn’t believe it when she sold eighteen copies of The Red Dress at a local bookstore in September. Some people are so stupid.

Abbie has also been busy performing at nursing homes and other dumb places. I haven’t heard her sing because when she practices, the tablet is either in sleep mode or powered off completely, and of course, she doesn’t take me to her gigs. But if she’s anything like Susan Boyle, I don’t want to hear her, thank you very much.

Actually, I have heard her sing. Occasionally, she records herself singing with an app on the tablet. She’s just as bad as Susan Boyle, so no wonder I repressed that memory.

She also sings with a group called Just Harmony. What kind of a name is that for a group? You can’t have a song with just harmony. You have to have melody, too. Jesus, some people are so dense.

I haven’t heard them either. I know that for sure. But if they’re anything like Abbie herself or Susan Boyle, forget it.

Abbie will also sing in an ecumenical choir that will perform for a stupid epiphany service the first Sunday in January. They’re singing “Oh Holy Night,” “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and a song neither Abbie or I have heard called “One Faith, One Hope, One Lord.” Barf! Barf! Barf! I’m glad I won’t get to hear that either.

As far as I’m concerned, if I don’t get a vacation this Christmas, which I probably won’t, then nobody else should, either. But I suppose I ought to wish you all happy holidays, anyway. But if you ask me, Mr. Scrooge was a pretty good guy until the ghosts showed up.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Thursday Book Feature: Cottage by the Sea

Cottage by the Sea
by Debbie Macomber
Copyright 2018.

After losing most of her family as a result of a mud slide near Seattle, Annie retreats to the seaside village where her family rented a cottage for several summers. By a miraculus twist of fate, she is able to rent that same cottage. A physician’s assistant, she finds a job at the local clinic. In her quest for healing, she affects the lives of a shy six-foot artist with whom she falls in love, her reclusive landlady, a teen-ager with an abusive stepfather, and other characters, all needing relief from their troublesome burdens.

I’ve always enjoyed Debbie Macomber’s work, and Cottage by the Sea didn’t disappoint me, but there are a couple of things I don’t like about this and other books she has written. First of all, the author uses way too much unnecessary narrative. As I’ve said before, it’s better to show and not tell, and too much narrative bogs a story down. Another thing I don’t like is her use of adverbs. It’s always better to use a stronger verb, and in the case of dialog, what a person says should speak for itself without the adverb. Because Debbie Macomber tells such heartwarming stories that make me feel good, I’m willing to put up with these pitfalls.

That said, Cottage by the Sea was a great end-of-summer read for me. According to the author’s note at the beginning, a mud slide near Seattle actually happened several years ago. I like the way this author uses real-life events to tell a compelling story. I also appreciate her not including descriptions of sex. There are better ways to show two characters in love like kissing, hugging, hand holding, and body language. Sex scenes are unnecessary and bog a story down.

I downloaded this book from Audible, and it was hard to put down. The narrator did an excellent job portraying each character. Although one minor plot detail could have been handled differently, I found the ending very satisfying. If you don’t have time or enough money to retreat to a seaside village, I suggest you read this book instead. You’ll be refreshed.

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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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On Beach Time

Thanks to poet Glenda Bealle’s post for inspiring this. I got the idea for the following poem’s title from a sign on my niece’s bedroom wall in Florida. As I write this, it’s cold, cloudy, and a little windy. Snow is forecasted, but I’ll believe that when I see it. Still, it’s a far cry from sunny Florida.

You may wonder why I don’t move to Florida since I write about it so much. The answer is simple. This time of year, the weather is ideal, but in the summer, with the humidity as high as it is, it’s miserable. That’s why I like to visit and dream about Florida on wintry days in Wyoming.

The following poem illustrates that. Glenda’s post contains a perfect video to go with it. This is a 60-minute beach-at-sunset scenario, but when I hear the waves, I’m reminded of the Jupiter, Florida beach at any time of day. Click this link to hear me read the poem.

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On Beach Time

 

A winter day in Wyoming,

my mind takes me to Florida

where I feel the sun against my bare skin,

breathe the warm, salty Jupiter air,

walk on sand and water,

eat a sandwich under an umbrella

while listening to the ocean.

I’m already warm.

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Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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