A Caregiver’s Gift #TuesdayTidbit #BookReviews #Inspiration

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair 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.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography

Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

 

Today, I’m delighted to share a review of my poetry collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap, from friend and fellow author Carrie Hooper. Carrie lives in Elmira, New York, where she teaches music and foreign languages, occasionally performs, and writes poetry of her own.

As she says in her review, we met in 2005 through Newsreel, an audio magazine where the blind and visually impaired can share ideas, music, and more. I had the pleasure of reading her poems and reviewing a couple of her books here after she joined Behind Our Eyes, a writers’ organization to which I belong. Now, here’s Carrie.

 

A Caregiver’s Gift: A Unique Book of Poetry

by Carrie Hooper

 

I recently read Abbie Johnson Taylor’s book, How to Build A Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, published by iUniverse Inc. in 2011. I met Abbie in 2005 through Newsreel, a magazine produced by and for the blind. She and I are members of Behind Our Eyes, a writers group for people with disabilities. I have had the pleasure of reading several of her essays, stories, and poems on the group’s email list, and I also read her book, That’s Life. I always love to read her work, and How to Build A Better Mousetrap, a collection of sixty-eight poems, was no exception.

The book consists of four sections. In Part 1, “On Being A Family Caregiver,” Abbie reflects on caring for her husband, Bill, who suffered two strokes which paralyzed his left side. Abbie’s use of the future tense when describing the events surrounding Bill’s first stroke, give the opening poem a potency it would have lacked had Abbie simply related the story in the present tense. She seems to sense the impending tragedy. I felt Abbie’s frustration as she struggled to dress and feed Bill, and I could relate to her computer problems. I chuckled at her humorous account of a romantic moment, interrupted by nature’s call. Abbie’s love for Bill permeates the poems in this section. She rises above despair and completes all tasks without complaint.

Part 2, “Recollections,” offers scenes from Abbie’s childhood and adulthood: a family picnic, a road trip with her father, unforgettable audio at a writers’ conference, etc. The poem, “Junior High,” reminded me of my middle school days. I could hear the humming of the buses, the bells, and the slamming lockers.

Part 3, “Reflections,” covers a variety of topics: a trip to Florida to escape Wyoming’s winter, a spring stroll, favorite foods, a driving mishap, and much more. I especially liked the poem, “I Admire My Handiwork,” in which Abbie contrasts a poem shaped like a Christmas tree with her attempt in fifth grade to make a Christmas tree with soda can lids on felt. Part 4, “Aging,” treats the challenges of aging and requiring care. I found the poems in this section poignant, especially “Reta’s Song” and “I Remember.”

I would recommend Abbie’s book even to those who don’t normally read poetry. Her poems are easy to understand. They are verbal snapshots which engage the senses and touch the heart.

***

Thank you, Carrie, for such a wonderful review of my book. Reviews are important to authors because they boost sales. If you’ve read any of my books, please leave a review where you bought the book and/or on GoodReads. Alternatively, you can use the contact form to email me your review, and I’ll be glad to post it here and on my website. Thank you for reading.

***

If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my email list to receive my twice-yearly newsletter and other announcements. This is a one-way announcements list, meaning the only messages you’ll receive will come from me. So, you can rest assured that this list is low-traffic. Send a blank email to:  newsfrommycorner+subscribe@groups.io  You’ll receive a confirmation email. Reply to that with another blank message, and you should be good to go.

***

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?

***

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Spring’s Hopelessness #TuesdayTidbit #Poetry #Inspiration

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.

Spring’s Hopelessness (A Haibun)

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2011

Spring comes wet with little sun. Hope is dashed by the wind that buffets the house, rattles wind chimes, rain that drums on the roof. Without enough warmth, grass, flowers, trees, shrubs won’t grow.

He loves the sun, can’t get enough. It’s one of his few pleasures since he can no longer walk or use his left arm or care for himself. After a brutal winter with endless snow, frigid temperatures, he longs to enjoy the sun’s healing warmth.

wishes for the sun
fall on deaf ears of nature
wait for warmth to come

***

The above poem appears in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and was published in the April 3rd issue of The Weekly Avocet. You can click below to hear me read it.

 

Spring’s Hopelessness

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?

***

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To Be Or Not to Be a Pepper #TuesdayTidbit #Jottings #Inspiration

This is the question Hamlet would have asked if he and his doctor had the same conversation my doctor and I had last week during my annual wellness visit. “Your triglycerides are slightly higher than normal,” she told me. “Although they’re getting into the pre-diabetic stage, they’re nothing to worry about yet. You just need to cut back on sugar. Do you drink soda?”

“Yes, I drink Dr. Pepper but only one can a day.”

“Well, that one can a day has too much sugar.”

“But I drink it for the caffeine, and I don’t care for coffee or tea.”

“Caffeine is good for you, but the sugar isn’t. Do you drink any juice?”

“Yes, one glass of orange juice with breakfast.”

“Many juices have too much sugar. Genetically, your body can’t handle it.”

“But I drink orange juice for the calcium.”

“Since you consume plenty of dairy products, you’re probably getting plenty of calcium.”

“What about protein shakes?” I asked. “Would they be a good substitute for orange juice?”

“Many of those have too much sugar,” she answered.

For once, I wished I wasn’t wearing a mask, so she could see my face. Needless to say, I left the clinic with a heavy heart.

Then, I got to thinking. For years, I’ve been consuming only one can of Dr. Pepper a day. Why now are my triglycerides slightly higher than normal? Granted, soda plus orange juice plus protein shakes plus the hot chocolate, ice cream, and brownies I forgot to mention might be a bit too much sugar. So, I can cut back on everything else, but I’ll never give up my daily Dr. Pepper caffeine fix. I’m a Pepper through and through.

To prove it, here’s a poem I wrote years ago that appears in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. You can click the link below the poem to hear me read it.

 

Ode to Dr. Pepper

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2011

 

I like to swallow its cold carbonation,
feel it come back into my mouth in the form of a belch.
Oh, that feels so good!

I drink it in mid afternoon.
It helps me get through the day.
I sometimes consume it in the evening
when I’m sleepy, and it’s too early for bed.

In the good old days,
I drank a lot of it,
just what the doctor ordered.
Now, the doctor says it has too much sugar
so I limit my consumption to one or two cans a day.
What would I do without it?

 

Ode to Dr. Pepper

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?

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

I Need to Pee #OpenBookBlogHop #Poetry #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

 

 

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “Share some of your favorite lines from your writing. How about some of your worst ones if you still remember them?”

My favorite line is something my late husband Bill said many times during the six years I cared for him after he suffered two strokes that paralyzed his left side. I included it as the last line of the poem below, which appears in my collection, How to build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver. The line illustrates the fact that Bill needed help performing even the most mundane of personal care tasks. You can click the link below the poem to hear me read it.

 

The Bedroom

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2011

 

At three in the morning,
I’m mildly aroused
by the gentle touch of his hand.
He only has one good arm and leg
but still knows how to please me.
As he strokes me,
and I breathe the scent of his sweat,
I purr with anticipation.
The mood is shattered
when he whispers, “I need to pee.”

The Bedroom

 

How about you authors out there? What are your favorite and worst lines? You can click here to participate and read other bloggers’ responses.

 

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

 

 

In the Garden #OpenBookBlogHop #TuesdayTidbit #Poetry

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “Do any of your characters garden? Or keep houseplants? How about you?”

***

Neither my characters or I have really taken an interest in gardening. In fact, the few house plants I had didn’t last long. Once when my supervisor at work gave me a plant as a gift, and I showed it to my mother, she said, “Why don’t you let me take it? You’ll just kill it.”

Naturally, I was surprised when, after Mother’s passing, Dad brought me one of her poinsettias, saying, “I think she’d want you to have this.”

When I tried to explain that plants didn’t usually last long in my care and told him what Mother had said about me killing a plant, he said, “Bullshit!”

With advice given by a friend of Mother’s who had a similar plant, I tried, but the plant only lasted six months. To my credit, it was the longest I’d ever had a plant.

That having been said, when I was in my tweens, we lived in a house with a garden. One year, we grew vegetables, and I loved watching Mother water them and eating them after they were harvested. Believe it or not, I was one of those kids who liked vegetables, especially if they were cooked.

The following poem was inspired by a memory of my parents first attempting to plant those vegetables. It appears in my collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver and has since been revised. You can click the link below to hear me read it.

 

In the Garden

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2011

There are no trees, just an expanse of dirt.
While Mother and Dad work, I sit on the steps,
with limited vision, study seed packets of peas, corn, tomatoes,
read the labels, gaze at the pictures.
I’m only twelve.
Little brother Andy, five,
is riding his bike around the neighborhood.

In the distance, sirens wail.
“Sounds like fire engines,” says Dad.

In the house, the phone rings.
I hurry indoors to answer it.
A male voice asks for my mother.
I rush outside, call her to the phone.

“Oh my god! We’ll be right there,” she says.
“Ed, we need to pick up Andy at the police station.
He was playing with matches near the shack
at the bottom of the hill when it caught fire.”
The garden and I are abandoned.

 

in the garden

 

How about you? Do you or any of your characters garden or have house plants? You can either sound off in the comment field or click here to participate in this week’s hop and read what other bloggers have to say.

 

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