A Humorous Look at Marriage and Family #FridayFunReads #BookReviews #Inspiration

If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?

by Erma Bombeck

Copyright 1978.

 

What Amazon Says

 

The hilarious #1 New York Times bestseller: Erma Bombeck’s take on marriage and family life is “fun from cover to cover” (Hartford Courant).

Ever since she was a child, Erma Bombeck has been an expert worrier, and married life has only honed that skill. She gets anxious about running out of ball bearings; about snakes sneaking in through the pipes; about making meaningful conversation on New Year’s Eve. Married life, she realizes, is an unpredictable saga even when you know exactly how loud your husband snores every night—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. In this crisp collection of essays, Bombeck shows off the irresistible style that made her one of America’s favorite humorists for more than three decades. When she sharpens her wit, no family member is sacred and no self-help fad is safe…

 

Buy from Amazon.

 

My Thoughts

 

I first became familiar with Erma Bombeck in the 1970s when a fellow orator on my high school’s speech team presented an oral interpretation of one of her pieces. A couple of years ago, I was inspired to write my latest novel, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, by a quote from Erma Bombeck I read online. “Your grandmother pretends not to know who you are on Halloween.” So, I thought it fitting to read one of her books.

These essays were written during the 1970s, but I think we can still relate to many of the topics covered. Being a singer, I especially liked her opinion on our national anthem.

I obtained a recorded version of this book from the National Library Service’s Braille and Audio Download site and listened to part of it while in my recliner, suffering from indigestion. What can I say about laughter being the best medicine? It’s definitely cheaper than Pepto Bismol, which I didn’t have on hand at the time. So, if you’re interested in marriage and family and want some good laughs, this book is for you.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. She has short brown hair which 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?

***

Facebook

Website

 

 

A Novel About Loss #FridayFunReads #Inspiration #BookReviews

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Optimist’s Daughter

by Eudora Welty

 

What Amazon Says

 

This Pulitzer Prize–winning novel tells the story of Laurel McKelva Hand, a young woman who has left the South and returns, years later, to New Orleans, where her father is dying. After his death, she and her silly young stepmother go back still farther, to the small Mississippi town where she grew up. Along in the old house, Laurel finally comes to an understanding of the past, herself, and her parents.

 

Buy from Amazon.

 

My Thoughts

 

It should also be said that Laurel is a widow, having lost her husband, I’m assuming, during World War II. Because I lost my own husband and father, I can relate to her. Her stepmother, the New Orleans doctor, and the people in the small Mississippi town where Laurel and her stepmother return help create this short, heart-wrenching tale of loss. However, preferring stories with a more positive ending, I found this one’s conclusion disappointing. But I’m not sorry I read the book.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

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?

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

A Piano of My Own #Jottings #TuesdayTidbit #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

 

 

When my mother was alive, she loved to talk about an incident from my childhood that I don’t remember. When I was about five years old and we were living in Tucson, Arizona, my parents acquired an upright piano. I don’t know what brand it was or if it was new or used. It was intended as a toy for me, but one day, my mother heard me playing the opening notes to Beethoven’s fifth symphony and decided it was time to call a piano teacher.

I loved playing the piano, especially making up melodies and harmonies, which impressed my parents. I didn’t like the piano lessons so much because I had to play these boring exercises, then some classical pieces by Bach and Mozart, which I loved listening to but found hard to play. Because of my limited vision, I couldn’t read music. So, Mother had to teach me the pieces I was required to learn, and she had little patience. However, I endured the lessons until I was twelve. By that time, we’d moved here to Sheridan, Wyoming, and my mother had given up insisting I take lessons.

I enjoyed playing popular songs. Friends taught me how to play “Chopsticks” and “Heart and Soul,” which are two fun duets children can play together. My mother and I often played classical duets. I tried teaching her “Heart and Soul,” but without sheet music, she couldn’t or wouldn’t do it.

After we moved to Wyoming, I started using the piano to accompany my singing. When I was a freshman in high school, my father encouraged me to take a jazz improvisation class. But like classical music, although I enjoyed listening to jazz, I couldn’t get the hang of playing it.

As a junior in high school, I won first place in a local talent competition with my rendition of “You Light Up My Life.” My brother, seven years my junior, got a drum set, and we often had fun playing and performing together with me on piano and vocals and him on drums.

In college, when I majored in music for four years, I had to endure more piano lessons and learn to play classical music again. But I survived, and during my senior recital, I managed to do a decent job of playing Chopin’s Prelude in C Minor.

Once I started training in music therapy, I was free of the obligation to play classical music. Since I decided to focus primarily on nursing home residents, I used the piano to accompany my singing of standards from the earlier part of the twentieth century, which were popular when many older people were growing up. After I got my first apartment and job here in Sheridan, my grandmother gave me her piano, an upright Kimball, since she didn’t play. Others in my family were musical. My grandfather played the saxophone, and two uncles played piano and guitar. But since my grandfather had passed away and both uncles were no longer living at home, Grandma didn’t want the piano. I was delighted to take it off her hands. I’ve moved three times since then, but I’ve always found a place for it and treasure it still today.

I no longer work as a registered music therapist, but I entertain at nursing homes and other venues. So, I use the piano to practice what I’ll perform. I recently started playing the piano and singing in on-line talent programs through ACB Community Calls, a series of activities held on Zoom, sponsored by the American Council of the Blind.

In case you’re wondering what happened to the original piano my parents bought, my nephew in Colorado has it. He teaches piano and writes songs, and I hope he’ll make good use of it. As for my piano, as long as I’m able to play, it’ll be with me always.

How about you? Did you ever learn to play a musical instrument? Do you still have such an instrument today? Please feel free to share your memories in the comment field.

***

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

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?

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

Hurricane Matthew and Me #Tuesday Tidbit #Poetry #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

 

 

In Sheridan, Wyoming, a Florida hurricane
was far from most people’s minds
on the morning of Thursday, October 6th, 2016.
I texted my brother in Jupiter,
got no response, not unusual.

In the afternoon, he called,
said they were putting up special shutters,
preparing for shortages of power and food.

In the evening, while munching a sandwich,
I found a Florida radio station online,
pictured my relatives in their shuttered home amid wind and rain.

Before going to bed, I tuned in the same station.
Phone and power lines were down, shelters open.

Friday morning, I tuned in the station a third time.
The storm had passed, left damage in its wake.
I sent a text to my brother
before dashing off to my water exercise class,
found a response on my return.
They hadn’t even lost power.

***

The above poem was published in the current issue of Magnets and Ladders, which can be read here. Click below for a recording of me reading it.

 

hurricane matthew and me

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

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?

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

 

 

 

A Satisfactory Trilogy Conclusion #FridayFunReads

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Goodbye Cafe (The Hudson Sisters Series Book 3)

by Mariah Stewart

 

What Amazon Says

 

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Chesapeake Diaries series comes an “irresistible” (Publishers Weekly) novel in her Hudson Sisters series, which follows a trio of reluctant sisters who set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish and discover themselves in the process.

California girl Allie Hudson Monroe can’t wait for the day when the renovations on the Sugarhouse Theater are complete so she can finally collect the inheritance from her father and move on with her life. After all, her life and her fourteen-year-old daughter are in Los Angeles.

Allie’s divorce left her teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, so to keep up on payments for her house and her daughter’s private school tuition, Allie packed up and flew out east. But fate has a curveball or two to toss in her direction.

She hadn’t anticipated how her life would change after reuniting with her estranged sister, Des, or meeting her previously unknown half-sister, Cara. And she’d certainly never expected to find small-town living charming. But the biggest surprise was that her long-forgotten artistry would save the day when the theater’s renovation fund dried up.

With opening day upon the sisters, Allie’s free to go. But for the first time in her life, she feels like the woman she was always meant to be. Will she return to the West Coast and resume her previous life, or will the love of “this amazing, endearing family of women” (Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author) be enough to draw her back to the place where the Hudson roots grow so deep?

 

Buy from Amazon.

 

My Thoughts

 

In fiction, characters change in the course of the story. Unlike that of her sisters, Allie’s character takes more time to evolve. So, I can see why The Goodbye Cafe is told primarily from her point of view, whereas in the first two books, the point of view shifts between each sister. The epilogue, told from the point of view of the sisters’ aunt and Hudson family matriarch, sums things up nicely.

If you read the entire trilogy in order, starting with The Last Chance Matinee, then The Sugarhouse Blues, and finally The Goodbye Cafe, what I’m saying should make more sense. You can’t read just one of these books because although the second and third volumes provide some background information, you won’t get the whole story. I like the way the last book brings it to a satisfying conclusion. This is a trilogy I highly recommend.

***

For those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

***

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image 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.

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website