Saturday Song: Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer by Elmo & Patsy

In 1973 after we moved from Tucson, Arizona, to Sheridan Wyoming, my grandmother, who lived close by, often came to our house Christmas Eve. No doubt she had too much to drink, but she somehow managed to return home in her maroon Cadillac without encountering any reindeer. The grandmother in this song was less fortunate. Enjoy, and have a great Saturday.

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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.

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Season’s Greetings 2017

I hope this finds you well, having had a great year. Mine has been pretty quiet.

In January of 2017, I spent a week in Florida with my brother and his family. It was a little chilly, so we didn’t spend a lot of time on the beach, but we went to a party and attended an epiphany celebration at an Episcopal church in West Palm Beach, the same church Donald Trump attends when he’s in town, wouldn’t you know?

In April, I attended the WyoPoets annual workshop in Buffalo, about thirty miles south of here. In June, I went to the Wyoming Writers conference in Gillette, about 100 miles south and east of here. Both were fun and informative.

In July, I sang with my group, Just Harmony, at the local ball park for a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) game. We performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” to start the game and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seven-inning stretch. This was a lot of fun. I always feel close to Bill when I attend a baseball game.

In July, I performed alone and with Just Harmony for two Vaudeville programs. Alone, I shared some of my poems. With the group, I sang several songs. I think both performances brought down the house.

In September, I went to Colorado Springs with Aunt Junior and Uncle Roger, who live here in Sheridan. My Uncle Tony and Aunt Kitty live in the springs, and a party was planned for Tony’s 75th birthday. It was held at a clubhouse across the road from their home. Some of the food was catered while other dishes were provided by local folks. There was plenty to eat, and I enjoyed seeing my cousins again and meeting some of Tony’s friends and former colleagues from his law office.

For Thanksgiving, Uncle Tony and Aunt Kitty came here, and we had a lovely dinner at Aunt Junior and Uncle Roger’s house, complete with turkey and all the trimmings plus appetizers and pumpkin pie. The day after, Just Harmony performed downtown at a thrift store called The Green Boomerang as part of Sheridan’s annual Christmas Stroll. A week later, we performed at a museum’s holiday open house and a nursing home and at a memory service at a local funeral home. We have three more performances coming up. Tis the season to be singing.

Speaking of which, I did plenty of that this year, not only with Just Harmony but on my own, accompanying myself on guitar. Each month, I went to senior facilities here in town and entertained the residents. I think I enjoy performing as much as they enjoy hearing me.

On December 8th, Rose Hill, a friend and fellow poet, and I did a program of music and poetry as part of Christmas at the Carriagehouse, an annual variety show that takes place at a local theater. Rose read a story she wrote about how “Silent Night” was written, and I led the audience in singing that song’s first verse. Rose then shared a humorous poem she wrote about Santa Claus being a cowboy, and I finished by reciting a touching poem I wrote about grief and singing “O Holy Night,” the song that inspired it. Here’s the poem. Click on the title to hear me read it and sing the song.

A MOURNFUL NIGHT

I wash dishes, mouth the words

to the familiar carol.

As soap washes away scum

from plates, glasses, flatware,

my tears wash away grief,

leave me at peace.

So far, I have no plans for Christmas. I’ll probably do what I did last year: have lunch at the senior center, then spend the rest of the day watching Christmas movies on my tablet. My favorite is the one about the little boy who wants and receives a Red Rider BB gun, then comes close to shooting his eye out. I hope your holiday wishes and plans don’t go awry and that next year is just as good for you as this one was.

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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.

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Review: Christmas on 4th Street

Abbie-1

Christmas on 4th Street: A Fool’s Gold Romance

by Susan Mallery

Copyright 2013

 

This story is set in the fictional town of Fool’s Gold, California, where Christmas and other holidays are taken seriously with parades, festivals, and other activities. Noel has moved to the little town from Los Angeles, after surviving a serious illness and leaving her law practice, to open a Christmas store. Gabriel is an army doctor visiting his family for the holiday season. When he and Noel meet by accident, and he offers to help in her store, romantic sparks fly between them.

After Gabriel’s experiences with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he’s not ready to commit to a relationship. Although Noel has loved and lost, she wants to move on and tries, unsuccessfully at first, to convince Gabriel that love is worth taking a risk. Then the two of them are snowed in at a deserted mountain cabin while searching for the perfect Christmas tree. The rest isn’t exactly history.

I used to enjoy this type of book. Boy meets girl, and girl falls in love with boy. Boy leaves girl heartbroken. Boy apologizes, and there’s a Christmas Eve wedding.

This is not very realistic. Yes, there are men and women who have fought overseas and are dealing with their own demons, but unlike Gabriel, it may take them longer than six weeks to propose marriage. It took my late husband Bill six months to work up the courage to ask me to marry him, and he wasn’t a war veteran. I hoped this time it would somehow be different, that a couple of days snowbound in a cabin with Noel would be a turning point for Gabriel, that he wouldn’t run off and break her heart, only to return at the end of the book, ready to marry her, but as the story wound its way to a conclusion, the outcome became more predictable.

Also, who in their right mind opens a Christmas store, even in a town like Fool’s Gold? I suppose a venture like that might be profitable from Labor Day through December, but after that, then what? It would have worked better as a Hallmark store. Oh well, such is life. On a more positive note, click this link to hear me sing a familiar song about winter romance.

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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.

 

Holiday Writer’s Block

Abbie-1

Thanks to Neva Bodin for inspiring this. When I read her poem last week, for one split second, I was tempted to re-blog it but decided instead to write my own Christmas poem. The following is a mirror sonnet. I learned this form years ago from local poet Jane Wohl. It has fourteen lines, and each line has ten syllables. The first seven lines are repeated in reverse by the second seven lines. Click this link to hear me read it.

 

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HOLIDAY WRITER’s BLOCK

 

The weather is cold, yet sunny and bright.

I sit in my chair, look out the window.

With Christmas approaching, what shall I write?

I really don’t know. I really don’t know.

There’s so much to think of, so much to do.

Presents to wrap, parties galore, oh my!

I must think of something, think of it now.

I must think of something, think of it now.

Presents to wrap, parties galore, oh my,

there’s so much to think of, so much to do.

I really don’t know. I really don’t know.

With Christmas approaching, what shall I write?

I sit in my chair, look out the window.

The weather is cold, yet sunny and bright.

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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.

 

Season’s Greetings 2016

Abbie-1

This year has been busy as usual. I took a trip to Florida in March to visit my brother Andy and his family. This trip was a lot of fun. The weather was perfect, and highlights include a food truck festival in downtown Jupiter, a canoe trip along the Loxahatchee River where we encountered an alligator, and a trip to the beach.

At the beginning of April, I planned to fly to California to attend my uncle’s wedding, but I developed a bad chest cold. Two days before I was scheduled to leave, I woke up and could barely talk and decided to cancel my trip. I didn’t want to travel when I felt so miserable and risk passing my crud on to anyone else. I was sorry to miss the wedding. Andy told me about it later, and it sounded fun.

In the middle of April, my Third Thursday Poets group gave a reading at the local senior center to commemorate National Poetry Month. We were joined by twenty-five high school students, some of whom shared their work.

At the end of April, my friend Rose Hill, who was our state poet laureate last year, and I drove to Riverton to attend the WyoPoets annual workshop at the Holiday Inn. The night before the workshop, there was a reading at the Riverton public library, during which Rose unveiled WyoPoets’ newest chapbook, Labyrinth: Poems from Wyoming and Beyond. Yours truly and others featured in the book shared work.

In June, Rose and I returned to Riverton for the Wyoming Writers conference, held at the Wind River Hotel & Casino. This was more of an adventure than most conferences we attended. In order to get from our hotel room to most of the meeting rooms, we had to cross the casino, full of noise and cigarette smoke. Needless to say, “Luck be a Lady tonight,” was going through my head all weekend.

A couple of months earlier, I finished my new memoir and contacted Leonore Dvorkin, of Denver, Colorado, who, along with her husband, David, helps authors publish their work online through Amazon, Createspace, Smashwords, and other sources. She encouraged me to send her my manuscript but said she wasn’t sure they could get to it until possibly after the first of the year.

At the end of June, though, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Leonore, saying that she’d read through my manuscript, and because it was so well written, she thought it could be published this summer. To make a long story short, Leonore and David were true to their word, and in August, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, was published.

Also during the summer months, I started taking a poetry class from the Hadley Institute, a school that offers free correspondence courses to those who are blind and visually impaired. You may wonder why I’m taking a poetry class when I already have two poetry collections under my belt. Well, there’s always room for improvement. Because of my new book’s publication and other activities, I haven’t been able to devote as much time to it as I would have liked, but I hope to finish it next year. I’ve already written several poems as a result, so maybe I’ll have enough for another book. Who knows?

In July, Andy and his wife Christina spent a weekend with me. They also visited friends and relatives in Colorado and hiked in Yellowstone Park. While they were here, we attended the rodeo parade, explored our old neighborhood, got ice cream in the park, and ate dinner with friends and relatives. I had such a great time while they were here, and I hope they’ll come again next year. I’m planning to spend a week with them in January.

On July 20th, fellow poet Christine Valentine and I were featured as part of the weekly Vaudeville program at the Wyo Theater. We performed a poem Christine wrote, “Driven Insane by Mitzi Gaynor,” which talks about songs that get stuck in your head. The songs mentioned here were “101 Pounds of Fun” from South Pacific and “Go Home with Bonnie Jean” from Brigadoon. Christine read the poem, and we sang the songs together when she got to them. It was a lot of fun, and the audience loved it.

In August, my brother’s in-laws from Florida came to town one day. They’d been traveling across the country for several weeks, and they took me out to dinner at Frackleton’s. The food was delicious, and I had a great time visiting with them.

On October 8th, I participated in a national event for independent authors at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library. Many libraries across the country hosted this program which was open to the public.

We watched a digital presentation featuring leaders in the publishing industry giving advice to authors wanting to self-publish. After that, several authors, myself included, participated in a panel discussion where we shared our experiences. We then sat at a table and tried to sell books for about half an hour. Although I didn’t make any sales that day, I enjoyed networking with other writers.

On October 20th, my Third Thursday Poets gave another reading at the Sheridan Senior Center to commemorate National Poetry Day. Several poets, myself included, shared work. Some read poems by other authors. I performed a poem I wrote about my memories of listening to music with Dad when I was little.

My Thanksgiving this year was pretty quiet. I had the traditional turkey dinner at the senior center, came home, took a nap, and did some reading and a little writing. It would have been wonderful to gather with family for this occasion, but it was nice spending the holiday alone. As far as I know, my Christmas will also be a quiet one.

Of course I did my share of singing. My group, Just Harmony, performed at various functions in the past year, and we’ve got several Christmas performances lined up. I’ve also been singing at nursing homes, an assisted living facility, and an adult day care center on a regular basis. I enjoy doing this and will continue to do it as often as I can.

Well, I believe I’ve gone on long enough. Speaking of singing, I leave you now with my Christmas wish for all of you. Click on the Dropbox link below to hear it. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a terrific new year to come.

 

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/merry%20little%20christmas.mp3

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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.

 

A Poem About My Mother

One thing I remember about my mother is her cooking. The following poem illustrates this and her inferiority complex when it came to meal preparation. This poetry form is a haibun, consisting of two paragraphs of prose and one haiku. Of course you’ll note here that the haiku has nothing to do with nature, but in my view, anything goes. Click this link to hear me read the poem.

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MOTHER’S CUISINE

Mother considered herself a mediocre cook, but I thought otherwise. I loved her meatloaf, steak San Marco, calico beans. When complimented, she said, “It’s too dry, too salty, needs more pepper, should have been cooked longer.”

When I was in college, she mashed potatoes for the first time: boiled, peeled, sliced them, added milk and butter, attacked them with an electric mixer. They turned out chunky but still good. On Christmas Day, with family and friends gathered around the table, when I asked for a second helping of potatoes, she said, “Well, you’re used to cafeteria food.”

mother’s chocolate cake

evokes happy memories

of a child’s delight

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Mother and her cooking are long gone, but I still remember. What about you? Happy Mother’s Day.

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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

 

Holiday Review: The Thirteenth Gift

The Thirteenth Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith. Copyright 2014.

In the fall of 1999, journalist Joanne Huist Smith’s husband passed away unexpectedly. In this memoir, she details how an anonymous gift left on the family’s doorstep during each of the twelve days leading up to Christmas helped make the holiday season more than bearable for her and her three children. Instead of a partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, etc., they received one poinsettia, two bags of bows, three rolls of wrapping paper, four gift boxes, five angel gift cards, six holiday cups, seven golden apple ornaments, eight Christmas cookie cutters, nine holiday candles, ten paper doll Santas, eleven candy mice, and on the twelfth day, a miniature Christmas tree with twelve ornaments. Each gift came with a card signed, “Your true friends.”

At first, they tried to figure out who left the gifts, thinking it was someone they knew. Then, they realized the gift giver’s identity wasn’t important. The book has twelve chapters describing each day in the gift-giving scenario. In the thirteenth chapter, the author describes how over ten years later, she met the anonymous donors, complete strangers, who were the second generation of a trend that started back in the 1980’s.

This writer draws the reader into her story. Like Martin Sixsmith, author of Philomena, she writes terrific prose that make you forget she’s a journalist. I also like the way she illustrates the concept of paying it forward during the holiday season. However, I found the ending to be a bit of a disappointment. I guess I expected something more spectacular, but this is a true story, and as stated by Lee Gutkind, editor of Creative Nonfiction, “You can’t make this stuff up.” To learn more about Joanne Huist Smith, go to http://www.13thgift.com/bios/joanne-huist-smith .

Now, click below to hear me sing the song that inspired this gift giving idea. This is one of those songs I can practice until the cows come home and still mess up so I hope you enjoy listening to it.

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https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/12%20days%20of%20christmas.mp3

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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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