Three Little Birds #Monday Musical Memories

I have a nasty habit of worrying. I keep telling myself it doesn’t do any good, that whatever worries me will work out one way or another, but that doesn’t always help. I started worrying when I was thirteen years old.

At the time, all my friends had baby-sitting jobs. So naturally, I wanted one. I didn’t need the money. I just liked the idea of caring for smaller children. My parents, who were active in community theater, finally decided I was old enough to be left home alone with my younger brother Andy.

I then discovered that baby-sitting wasn’t easy. Andy rarely respected my authority. He was supposed to go to bed at nine o’clock, but when the time came, getting him there was a feat comparable to climbing Mount Everest. I cajoled, threatened, begged. Finally, after about fifteen minutes of arguing, he gave in. He was six years old and could get himself ready and into bed. Once he was asleep, the house was oddly quiet, and the nightmare began.

I lay awake, waiting for the reassuring hum of my parents’ car pulling into the garage next to my bedroom. Most nights, they were home by ten thirty. But one night, they still hadn’t returned by eleven.

I lay there, wondering what to do. My stomach, after having been tied up in knots for the past hour and a half, finally revolted. I leaped out of bed and dashed for the nearest bathroom, which was off the master bedroom. Andy often slept in our parents’ bed until they came home. So naturally, my vomiting woke him up. For once, he was nice. He offered to call Joan, a family friend Mother said we could contact in an emergency. I thought that wouldn’t be a bad idea. Maybe she would even come over and stay with us until our folks came home.

When Andy reached her on the bedside phone and explained that I was sick and Mother and Dad weren’t home yet, she suggested I brush my teeth and get back into bed and she would try to find our folks. I did as she suggested. Andy let me snuggle with him in our parents’ bed, a rare treat since my baby brother was getting past the cuddly stage.

A few minutes later, Joan called back and said she hadn’t been able to find our parents. I burst into tears, proclaiming that they’d been killed in a car accident and we were now orphans. This possibility didn’t seem to bother Andy. He just lay there, saying nothing.

Joan was sympathetic and patient. She assured me that our parents were probably out drinking somewhere and they would be home soon. She stayed on the phone with me until I felt sleepy. When Mother and Dad finally came home around two in the morning, they found us both asleep in their bed.

Because I’d been sick the night before, I was allowed to stay home from school the next day. Mother told me that if the incident from the previous night happened again, she would hire a baby-sitter. I wanted to tell her she could do that. I was done with that career. But I was too proud.

Mother also berated me for scaring Andy with the notion that we were orphans. What would she have done in my situation? Dad told me I just needed to go to sleep, and they would get home when they got home. That was easier said than done.

From then on, play rehearsal nights and any time our parents went out without us became a source of dread. Most nights, they were home early, but other nights, they weren’t. I thought if I went to bed while Andy was still up, I could be asleep before our folks came home and wouldn’t be responsible if Andy decided not to go to bed at his appointed time. Although I fell asleep, I had weird dreams and woke frequently. I never rested easy until our parents’ car pulled into the garage.

When I got into high school, I finally stopped worrying about our parents when they were out late. But I’ve never stopped worrying about things beyond my control. I often think of “what if” scenarios. Because of my vivid imagination, that’s why I’m a writer.

If you’re not familiar with the song I’m featuring today, you’re probably wondering what three little birds have to do with all this. In the song, three little birds deliver a message that we shouldn’t worry, that every little thing will be all right. If I’d heard this song back in my first baby-sitting days, would it have changed my perspective? Who knows?

 

How about you? Are you a worrier? Have you ever worried unnecessarily?

 

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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A Walk in the Woods #Poetry

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.A couple of years ago, I wrote the following poem for a contest sponsored by National Braille Press, but it didn’t win. So, I submitted it to The Avocet, and to my surprise, it appeared in this week’s online issue. You can click on the title to hear me read it.

A Walk in the Woods

 

Bird songs fill the air.
I smell pine, flowers,
feel the whispering breeze,
as I pause to drink cool water.
I don’t see much,
but my other senses
help me appreciate nature.

 

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

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On an April Afternoon (Poetry)

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.The poem of mine that I’m re-blogging today appears in my collection, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems, and was published in The Weekly Avocet. You can also read it on my website.

I wrote it on an April afternoon, while sitting in my back yard, inspired by what I observed. Since then, the tree house has been taken down, so no more birds will be trapped there.

via On an April Afternoon (Poetry)

 

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.

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Spring Rain


Several years ago while I was taking a poetry class, the instructor assigned us a villanelle. In this tricky form of traditional verse, two lines must be repeated in alternating stanzas and the lines that are not constantly repeated must rhyme. This will be more clear when you read the following poem, which is what I wrote during that time. It was recently published in The Weekly Avocet. You can click the link below to hear me read it.

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spring rain.mp3

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Spring Rain

The bird likes the first day of spring.
Today, it’s brought nothing but rain.
Her heart is unable to sing.

The bird should be having a fling
to make life a bit more humane.
The bird likes the first day of spring.

It’s time for her to take wing.
Instead, she sits in the rain.
Her heart is unable to sing.

She likes everything about spring
except for the driving rain.
The bird likes the first day of spring.

She should believe in the King,
but the bird takes shelter in pain.
Her heart is unable to sing.

Life can be so inhumane.
It fills the bird’s heart with pain.
The bird likes the first day of spring,
but her heart is unable to sing.

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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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Memoir Portrays Unconditional Love Between Human and Wild Bird

Wesley the Owl: A Remarkable Love Story Between an Owl and His Girl

by Stacy O’Brien

Copyright 2008

This is a true story of how a California wildlife biologist adopted a baby barn owl she called Wesley and raised him for nineteen years during the 1980’s and 90’s. Most rescued owls are sent to rehabilitation facilities and eventually released back into the wild. However, Wesley had an injured wing and probably wouldn’t have survived if he were released.

Stacy O’Brien, who’s grandfather was a traveling musician, became a child actress, singing in commercials, movies, and television as well as with John Denver, The Carpenters, and other artists. As a child, she screamed when her mother swept a spider off the wall and flushed it down the toilet. Because of this and her overall interest in and love of animals, it was only fitting that, after her career in show business, she receive a biology degree and a job at a California lab.

She explains how she made a nest for Wesley from blankets and other materials and placed it next to her in bed at night so she could train him to sleep when she did. He spent most of his days on perches she adapted for him. She describes how she killed mice and fed them to him and explains why mice are an important part of an owl’s diet. After Wesley turned a year old, she tried encouraging him to kill his own mice, but it never worked out.

She describes how, as a toddler, Wesley took an interest in water while watching her brush her teeth and wash her face at night before going to bed. He enjoyed washing his own face under the faucet while she did this. When he grew older, he liked taking baths in the tub, even though owls aren’t usually water birds.

She explains that since day care and baby-sitters were out of the question during Wesley’s infancy and toddler stages, she took him to work and everywhere else she went, including on a date, which was a disaster. There were several men in Stacy’s life, but relationships didn’t last long once they found out she was raising a barn owl.

She describes how Wesley taught himself to fly, his embarrassment when he crash landed, and his pride when he finally mastered the skill. She describes what are called owl no nos, when an owl turns his head from side to side to indicate that he’s about to attack something or someone. She explains that because birds of prey perceive aggression as a threat, Wesley could never be disciplined like a child because he would never trust her, even if she only raised her voice to him.

She explains how Wesley developed mating instincts, even though he wasn’t in the wild with other owls. One night when a female owl appeared at her window, Stacy was tempted to either let Wesley out or the other owl in so they could do their business. She realized though, that she would never have been able to tame the female owl, and Wesley couldn’t have survived in the wild, even with a mate.

Because of a criminal movement to free animals in captivity and leave them to fend for themselves, resulting in these animals’ deaths, Stacy felt she couldn’t tell anyone about Wesley except her close family and the men with whom she developed relationships. She learned later, after her grandmother’s passing, that she, too, raised a barn owl.

She explains how she changed jobs and locations and how Wesley adapted to these moves. She describes how she discovered a family of barn owls on a roof and tracked their movements and recorded their vocalizations. She discusses how she battled a serious illness as a result of an inoperable brain tumor, how Wesley sustained her, and how she recovered, though not completely. In the end, she explains how Wesley, like any other species, aged and eventually passed. She then discusses her process of writing this book, which includes photographs of Wesley.

I loved her description of how the father owl feeds his family. When baby owls are older, he hovers over the nest, dumps his payload of dead mice, and zooms off, just like a fighter plane. I also chuckled at her explanations of Wesley’s bodily fluids. When she explained that owls aren’t water birds, I remembered a stuffed owl I had as a kid when I was hospitalized for pneumonia and how it fell off my bed and into a pale of water that was part of my oxygen apparatus. At least Oliver, my owl, was easier to dry off.

Wesley the Owl is similar to my own memoir, which was published last year. My Ideal Partner is about how I met, married, and cared for my late husband Bill until he passed. It describes the trials and tribulations of being a caregiver, as does Stacy’s book. At the end of Wesley the Owl, Stacy describes the guilt she felt, thinking she could have done more for Wesley when he went downhill, and I felt the same way when Bill passed. Stacy and I have one other thing in common. My grandfather was also a traveling musician. If you enjoy heartwarming stories of unconditional love, you should read both books.

 

 

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.

A Spring Constitutional (Poetry)

In the early morning, a cold wind blows.

Weak sunlight from a hazy sky offers little warmth.

Despite the chill, I’m glad to be out walking.

I smell fresh new-mown grass, hear bird songs.

In the park, a workman mows the lawn.

No one else is in sight.

 

I walk by the creek, hear its gentle babble,

neigh of horses from a nearby veterinary clinic,

smell the manure.

My white cane rolls from side to side in front of me.

 

In the late afternoon, I traverse the same path,

relieved to be out in the fresh air.

Despite the odor of manure,

my stomach tells me I’m hungry.

I quicken my pace, eager to reach home.

***

This poem was published in the April 19th issue of The Weekly Avocet and also appears in How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. Click below to hear me read it.

 

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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.

 

On an April Afternoon (Poetry)

A bird, annoyed at being trapped,

chirps, flits about in my tree house.

Finally breaking away,

it flies across the yard,

song celebrating its freedom.

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This poem was recently published in The Weekly Avocet and appears in my collection, That’s Life: New and Selected Poems. Click below to hear me read it.

 

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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.