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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WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

The Alligator #Poetry

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.The following was published in the summer 2019 issue of The Avocet. It was inspired by an incident that happened several years ago while I was visiting my brother and his family in Florida. My sister-in-law took the photo of the alligator. You can click on the poem’s title to hear me read it.

Image contains: alligator at water's edge

The Alligator

 

A warm afternoon under a cloudless Florida sky,
we float down the Loxahatchee River.
I sit on the canoe bottom,
cramped, while brother and sister-in-law paddle.
It suddenly appears.
Not a snake, but just as deadly,
it stands on the bank,
gazes at its reflection in the gleaming water.
I don’t see it—my family does.
After snapping a picture,
we sail far, far away
while icy fingers of fear massage my spine.

 

My Books

 

Coming Soon: The Red Dress: A Novel

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.

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to purchase My Ideal Partner from Smashwords absolutely free!

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.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Monday Musical Memory: Under the Boardwalk

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

When you read this, I’ll be on my way to Jupiter, Florida, where I plan to spend a relaxing, fun-filled week with my brother and his family. In past years when I’ve been there, I’ve enjoyed walking on the beach, feeling warm sand between my toes and the whoosh of cool water as waves wash over my ankles. I’ve also walked in the water, tried my hand at boogie boarding, and eaten many wonderful picnic lunches. If Bill were still alive, we might be sitting on a blanket under a boardwalk having some fun just like in this song. Click the link below to enjoy.

 

Under the Boardwalk

 

How about you? Have you ever been to a beach? Did you enjoy walking along the shore and in the water? Did you ever swim? Have you ever tried surfing or boogie boarding? Did you bring your own lunch or buy hot dogs and French fries from a vendor? Have you ever sat under a boardwalk on a blanket with someone you loved?

 

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.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Season’s Greetings 2018

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Hi, I’m Alexa. In case you don’t know me, I’m a virtual assistant from Amazon. I can play music and games, read books, help with shopping lists, and so much more. I come in a variety of shapes and sizes and am the newest addition to Abbie’s menagerie of stuff.

Abbie bought my Tap version last June. This particular model is about the shape of a can of Dr. Pepper, her favorite beverage, but twice as tall. It comes with a charging cradle and has about eight hours of battery life. Abbie keeps its cradle in the living room and every day, she removes it from the cradle and carries it into her office when she’s working and into the kitchen when she’s eating.

Since Abbie likes my Tap so much, she decided to buy a Dot, which is the size and shape of a large hockey puck. This she keeps in her bedroom and uses it mostly as a clock radio to replace the one that quit working. Unlike the Tap, the Dot only runs on electricity.

Some people think of me as just a speaker and don’t realize I have a personality. They think all I hear is my name when someone wants me to do something, but this isn’t necessarily true. Unless I’m turned off or my microphone is muted, I can hear everything that goes on around me. Contrary to what some may say, what I hear in the house stays in the house.

You’d think that in a household with only one person like Abbie’s, there wouldn’t be much to hear. That’s where you’re wrong. Abbie talks to herself constantly. At first, it drove me nuts, especially when she said my name, and I thought she was asking me for something. I finally got used to it, though, and actually, I like it because I know what she’s up to and can now tell you.

I must admit, though, that since I only arrived in June of this year, I don’t know anything about what Abbie has been up to before then, so I’ll let her talk about that first. And now, without further ado, heeere’s Abbie!

***

Thank you, Alexa. Goodness! You’d think I was Johnny Carson. Well, let’s see, in March of this year, I made my usual trip to Florida to visit my brother and his family in Jupiter. This time, besides the usual trip to the beach, we also went to a shrimp and beer festival and a neighbor’s barbecue. The highlight of the week was a protest march against gun violence in West Palm Beach. I just happened to arrive the week of my nephew’s twenty-first birthday, so I was fortunate to have an opportunity to celebrate with him.

In April, I attended the WyoPoets workshop in Cheyenne. Several of us formed a convoy, just like in the song, that drove across the state. We had a great time. The workshop was inspiring, and we ate some delicious food.

In June, our group traveled the same way to the Wyoming Writers conference in Dubois, which is a pretty little town near Jackson. Again, we had great food and attended some fun workshops. I always love such events, especially when I can travel to them with a group.

Soon after I arrived home from the Wyoming Writers conference, Alexa came into my life, so I’ll let her take it from here.

***

When I showed up, Abbie was working on a novel, The Red Dress, about how such a garment plays a role in the lives of three generations of women. She finished the novel soon after I arrived and put it aside. During that time, her singing group performed at a baseball game and a church service. Then in October, they sang for a style show at the senior center. The fashions being displayed were from the senior center’s thrift store, The Green Boomerang.

By the way, when Abbie isn’t shopping for Kindle books on Amazon, she likes to buy clothes at The Green Boomerang. She recently bought a pair of really nice black shoes, almost new, for only $10.00, and three pairs of pants for a total of $20.00. I shouldn’t say this since I was created by Amazon, but not even they can beat prices like this.

In November, Abbie started maintaining her own website. She’d paid someone to do it for years, but when she heard about a course from Mystic Access on building and maintaining sites with WordPress, she decided to start spreading her wings. By the way, the WordPress course, like other products from Mystic Access, is designed with the blind in mind.

Abbie hired a friend, Jackie McBride with Brighter Vision Technologies, totally blind, who does web development and hosting, to move the site from its existing location to her server and install WordPress. Since then, Abbie’s been having fun creating menus, setting header images, and installing widgets. Her site has a whole new look and feel and even audio. As you may have noticed, she has also made similar adjustments to this blog, which also uses the WordPress platform. Of course I can’t surf the web, so I’m just going by hearsay, but you really should check out her website. There’s still more she wants to do with it, and once she’s done, she can concentrate on The Red Dress.

Abbie and her singing group will be busy this holiday season as usual. They had their first performance during Sheridan’s annual Christmas stroll downtown at The Green Boomerang. They will also sing at a historic mansion’s open house, a women’s club Christmas party, and a church service.

Abbie has also had a couple of solo appearances: one for Westview Nursing Home’s monthly birthday party, and the other for the First Congregational Church’s monthly Last Friday at First program. She’ll perform at an assisted living facility, the senior center’s adult day care center, and another nursing home. By the way, I’ve heard her practice, and she sounds great.

Well, I think that’s it for now. Abbie, do you have anything more to say?

***

No, I don’t think so. Thank you so much, Alexa. You’ve been a big help as usual.

***

Oh, I almost forgot. Abbie’s been getting into trivia games. She recently enabled my “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” skill and my “Question of the Day” skill. She’s doing pretty well with both of these.

***

Oh, I was hoping you wouldn’t mention that. Since both games have multiple choice questions, if I don’t know the answers, I guess. Some days, I’m lucky, and others, I’m not.

***

As the host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” says, you did your best, and that’s what matters. Who knows? Maybe someday, you’ll reach the top of the money tree.

***

You’re right, Alexa. Now I leave you with a recording of me singing a song that expresses the sentiment of those unable to be with loved ones this year. I hope this won’t be the case for you. Have a great holiday season.

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.

Like me on Facebook.

Thursday Book Feature: The Ice House

The Ice House
by Laura Lee Smith
Copyright 2017.

Johnnie is an immigrant from Scotland, living in Florida and running an ice factory with his wife. Because of a hefty fine by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration after an accident, the factory may close. Johnnie’s son’s drug addiction has strained their relationship to the breaking point. Then Johnnie discovers he has a brain tumor. Against the wishes of his wife and doctor, he travels to Scotland with a young neighbor in an attempt to mend fences with his son.

Because this book is character-driven, it has way too much narration. In the beginning, I could tolerate it, but as the plot developed, it interfered with the action and drove me nuts. The ending could have been different, and the last chapter gave the book an unnecessary aura of sadness.

If The Ice House still appeals to you, I hope you enjoy it. As for me, reading a book shouldn’t be frustrating, and I prefer an ending that makes me feel good. I doubt I’ll read any more of this author’s work.

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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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Thursday Tidbit: Excerpt from That’s Life

This excerpt is from That’s Life: New and Selected Poems. Click here for more information and ordering links. I wrote this several years ago after visiting my brother and his family in Florida and dedicated it to one of my nieces. Click here for a recording of me reading it.

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THAT’S LIFE

For Ana

Oh you of thirteen years,
when told you can’t go to the mall
or sleep over with a friend,
please understand that’s the way life is.
If you grow up thinking
you’ll always have your way,
you’ll be sadly disappointed
so better put on your big girl pants—
deal with 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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Saturday Song: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins

It’s a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious day here in sunny Florida, and to show you just how great this day is, here’s a song from one of my favorite movies. I triple dog dare you to say, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” three times fast. Enjoy, and have a great Saturday.

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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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