Poem Depicts Florida Wildlife Adventure

Last week when I posted “Thirty-Foot Sloop,” a poem about my Pacific Ocean misadventure, someone asked me if I ever tried sailing again after that. Well, I have, but not on the high seas. When I visited my brother and his family in Florida, we often took trips down the Loxahatchee River, which is a lot smoother. Last year, we rented a canoe, and I wrote a poem about what happened. Click on the title below the picture to hear me read it.

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My sister-in-law snapped a photo of this creature with her iPhone before she and my brother back-paddled the canoe away from it as fast as they could. 

THE ALLIGATOR

 

A warm March afternoon under a cloudless Florida sky,

floating down the Loxahatchee River,

I sit on the canoe bottom, cramped,

while others paddle.

In a narrow section,

where we hope to spot wildlife, it appears.

Not a snake, but still a deadly creature,

it stands among plants on the bank,

gazes at its reflection in the gleaming water.

I don’t see it–they do.

After snapping a picture,

we sail far, far away

while icy fingers of fear massage my spine.

***

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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Letter to Mother Nature

Abbie-1

Thanks to Alice Massa for inspiring this post.

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Dear Mother Nature,

 

Since the week before Thanksgiving, all we’ve seen, here in Wyoming, is snow, snow, and more snow and bitter, bitter cold. At first, it was great. It got me in the mood to work on seasonal music for my performances and write Christmas letters and holiday blog posts.

Then, it got old fast. This year, thanks to you, Sheridan had a white Christmas, with ten inches of snow dumped on us and plenty of wind. For me and others not traveling out of town, it was okay. For those needing to get home the day after Christmas, it was not so good, as road closures abounded.

The snow and freezing temperatures continued after the holidays with no sign of warmer weather. Two days after the first of the year, as I was flying to Florida, it was so cold the pilot had to rev the engines several times to warm them, and I couldn’t help wondering if the plane would get off the ground.

Of course it did, and Florida provided a welcome respite from your brutality, with plenty of sunshine and 70-degree days most of the time. When I ended up spending the night in Denver on my way home because of a flight delay, I was pleasantly surprised to find no snow on the ground. I hoped you were showing our neck of the woods the same courtesy, but that hope was dashed the next day, as my plane approached Sheridan, and you created a great deal of turbulence. It’s a wonder I didn’t lose my breakfast. Soon after my homecoming, you gave Sheridan another eleven inches of snow.

I don’t know why they call you Mother Nature. You’re definitely not my mother. My mother would never have made it almost impossible for me to walk anywhere by depositing a multitude of snow and ice on the ground and not letting it melt before dropping more. She would never have frozen me to the core with sub-zero temperatures, then mocked me with sunshine that gave the impression it was warmer.

Why couldn’t you have given us the same treatment as Denver, warm winds and sixty-degree temperatures? I know Wyoming isn’t the only state you’re bullying, but places like California are still in drought, yet you ignore them and give the rest of us moisture we no longer need. I’ve just about had it with you.

 

Signed,

Frozen in Wyoming

***

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.

 

News from Abbie’s Corner

I’m trying something different. Other authors like Debbie Macomber and Danielle Steele have monthly newsletters which their readers can sign up to receive by email. However, these are bestselling authors who put out a new book every few months. I’m lucky if I can publish a book every few years. Who wants to sign up for a newsletter that describes my life which is just as ordinary as anybody else’s? On the other hand, since this blog covers my writing and other aspects of my life, why couldn’t I make this so-called newsletter a monthly feature like my book reviews? That way, those not interested in learning more about little old me can wait until the next Tuesday. As I used to tell residents at the nursing home when encouraging them to participate in a new activity, “You never know until you try.” So here goes.

The past couple of months have been busy. As you may know, I took a trip to Florida in March to visit my brother 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. My adventures in Florida this time around inspired a series of lunes.

At the beginning of April, I planned to take a trip 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. My brother told me about it later, and it sounded fun, but That’s Life.

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. One such pupil turned out to be another Abigail Johnson. As she read her poem about Alexander Hamilton, I saw myself over thirty years ago. The only difference was that I was sharing a poem someone else wrote and performing it from memory in front of an audience as part of my participation in the high school speech team. Oh, and one more thing, this girl didn’t appear to be visually impaired. I wrote a poem about this moment which I’ll share at our October reading and hope she comes.

At the end of April, my friend Rose Hill, who is our state poet laureate, and I drove to Riverton to attend the WyoPoets annual workshop at the Holiday Inn. WyoPoets is an organization that supports poets and promotes the use of poetry throughout the state. The night before the workshop, there was a reading at the Riverton public library, during which Rose unveiled our new chapbook, Labyrinth: Poems from Wyoming and Beyond. Yours truly and others featured in the book shared our work. My poem, “For the Last Time” will be featured here later.

The workshop presenter, Linda Hasselstrom, covered two topics: revising your poetry and performing your work before an audience. I must admit I didn’t take away much from this because she didn’t say anything I didn’t already know about these subjects. Anyway, it was fun critiquing others’ poems, and I got some helpful feedback on one of mine.

Another poem, a short story, and a creative nonfiction piece were published in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders. I’ll feature them here later.

In June, Rose and I plan to attend the Wyoming Writers conference which will also be in Riverton at the Wind River Hotel & Casino. This will feature Native American historian and storyteller Joseph Marshall, III, poet Lori Howe, and other authors, agents, and editors who will give workshops and hear pitches. There will also be open microphone readings, and Joseph Marshall will be the keynote speaker. Wyoming Writers is an organization similar to WyoPoets except we don’t do just poetry. Last year, I was elected to its board of directors, and I have one more year to serve.

This week is National Nursing Home Week. On Thursday, I’ll be playing my guitar and singing at a facility called Green House. On Friday, I’ll do the same at an assisted living center. The following Thursday, I’ll perform at an adult day care program, and on the last Tuesday of the month, as I usually do, I’ll go to another nursing home and entertain at its monthly birthday party. This was something I did quite a bit when I was a registered music therapist before I got married and started writing full time. Back then, my activities were more for therapeutic purposes, but now, I just entertain them, and they love it.

Well, that’s about all the news I have for now. I would like to add one more thing, though. In the past, I’ve been inserting my photo and books’ front cover images at the bottom of each of my posts. The only way I can do this is to copy and paste the images from another post. For some reason, this WordPress site no longer plays nice with any of the two screen reading programs I use, and as a result, this task is becoming increasingly difficult and time consuming. So it is with a heavy heart that I will no longer post these images unless I can find an easier way to do it. You’ll still see links to the pages on my Website where you can learn more about the books. The front cover images are on those pages, thanks to my excellent Webmaster, Julie Posey. Of course when I post to Writing Wranglers and Warriors, which I only do once a month, I will include the images in those posts since others who blog there do the same thing, and it’s always good to have consistency in a blog.

I realize this newsletter may have gotten a little long, but if I do this every month, I won’t have as much to report. Please let me know what you think of this feature in the comments field below. If enough people want to get this sort of thing in their in box monthly, that’s something I can consider. In the meantime, happy May.

***

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

South for Christmas

Greetings from sunny Florida where it’s two days before Christmas, and my brother and his family and I are in the midst of the hustle and bustle before our holiday festivities begin. Last month as part of Robert Lee Brewer’s poem a day challenge on his blog at http://www.writersdigest.com/editor- blogs/poetic-asides , I wrote the following poem which will eventually be included in another chapbook. It’s based on the lyrics to “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” I’ll include a link below to where you can hear me sing the song.

I’ll be South for Christmas

My Florida relatives count on me.

There won’t be snow but maybe mistletoe

and presents under the tree.

On Christmas Eve, we’ll go to the beach,

fly kites, maybe try boogie boarding.

It won’t feel like Christmas,

but Santa will come with bounty for the children.

I’ll be there if only in my heart.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/home%20for%20christmas.mp3

Where will you be for Christmas? I hope you have a good one.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Season’s Greetings 2014

Well, it has definitely been an interesting year. I spent last Christmas with my brother Andy and his fiancé Christina and their combined family in Jupiter, Florida. During this time, Andy proposed to Christina while I sang “The Rose.” I had fun despite the fact that I picked up a nasty stomach flu that forced me to stay in bed for a few days. I missed the family’s holiday festivities but felt well enough later to go to the beach one day and to a performance of The Nutcracker the next.

About a week after I got home, I came down with a bad chest cold and didn’t recover from that for at least two weeks. All things considered, it was a pretty good Christmas, better than staying at home alone, twiddling my thumbs, and feeling sorry for myself. I plan to go again this year and hope for better health conditions.

By the end of January, my new poetry collection, That’s Life, was finished, and I sent it to several publishers. In February, I was surprised to receive word from Finishing Line Press that they wanted to publish it. After agreeing to their terms, I spent several busy months readying the manuscript according to their specifications and promoting it.

In April, I attended our annual WyoPoets workshop in Casper where the presenter was our state poet laureate, Echo Klaproth. Also, my singing group, Just Harmony, performed at the Daughters of the American Revolution state convention here in Sheridan. We sang at other times for different venues throughout the year including a local baseball game, a church service, and an assisted living facility.

In June, the Wyoming Writers annual conference was here in Sheridan with a variety of presenters including Echo Klaproth and Creative Nonfiction editor Lee Gutkind. In August, I gave a reading at the local public library to promote my new book. By this time, it was in the pre-publication stage which meant I needed to secure as many pre-orders as possible to determine how many copies could be printed. Thanks to those of you who pre-ordered a copy. I hope you’re enjoying it.

In July, I went to Florid again, this time to attend Andy’s second wedding which was held at a bed and breakfast in West Palm Beach. I participated in a fun-filled week of festivities including lunch with Christina and her friends, a pool party, a rehearsal dinner at a restaurant in West Palm Beach, and a trip to a Jupiter park for a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

The ceremony took place on the bed and breakfast’s front porch where I was a bridesmaid and sang “The Rose.” The reception was held behind the facility in what they called a back yard bar. There was plenty of room for eating, dancing, and socializing. Andy hired a band consisting of old college buddies he played with years ago. During breaks, I sang “Annie’s Song” and others. I accompanied most of my songs on the guitar. I had a great week there but was glad to get home after a rough flight from Denver to Billings, Montana, where we encountered a severe thunderstorm, and I was afraid I would be sick again.

About the middle of October, That’s Life was finally released, and in celebration of National Poetry Day, I sat in the local senior center’s lobby and sold books for a couple of hours before participating in a reading with my third Thursday poets group in the facility’s community room. In November, I did a reading for a poetry class at the local high school and at an assisted living center. I also did a signing at a local bookstore.

If you haven’t already ordered my new book, I encourage you to do so at one of the links below or by going to my Website. I wish you all an enjoyable holiday season and a happy new year.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

A Yellow Wedding

Last summer, I attended my brother’s wedding in Florida. It was a beautiful ceremony on the front porch of a bed and breakfast in West Palm Beach. The reception afterward was held behind the establishment in what they called a backyard bar. With plenty of food and drink and dancing to music by my brother’s old college band, despite the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes, it was a lot of fun. This inspired the following poem that appears in the fall/winter issue of Magnets and Ladders. You can read it at http://www.magnetsandladders.org .

YELLOW WEDDING

Swathed in yellow, she glides to the altar,

attended by bridesmaids, also in yellow,

carrying bouquets of yellow flowers.

 

A blackbird sadly calls

as if knowing this is the second time around,

wondering if this time, their love will last forever.

 

Is there a particular wedding that stands out in your mind?

 

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

To My Little Brother After His Wedding Day

This poem was inspired by a blog post at http://retconpoet.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/for-my-sister-on-her-wedding-day/ .

TO MY LITTLE BROTHER AFTER HIS WEDDING DAY

I should have given you this on your special day,

but until now, almost three months later, the idea didn’t occur to me.

You once proclaimed my brain was the size of a pea so go figure.

That’s water under the bridge—this is about you.

 

I was proud to watch you say I do for the second time.

It was my pleasure to sing songs that brought you closer

amid heat, humidity, and mosquitoes beneath the Florida sun.

I’m happy to call your new love my sister-in-law and her daughters my nieces.

 

I only hope you learned from past mistakes,

but if I must make another trip to wherever you are

to sing for a third wedding, I’ll do it

because you’re my brother, and I love you,

and I’ll rent a guitar.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.