Jim, the Mischievous King

After reading the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book, I was inspired to write my own canine tale. I doubt Chicken Soup for the Soul will publish any more dog books, since they already have two on the market, so I’ll post my dog story here.

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In the spring of 1977 when I was a freshman in high school, and my younger brother Andy was in fourth grade, our family decided to get a dog. We were living in Sheridan, Wyoming. Before Andy was born, when we lived in Tucson, Arizona, we had a pooch that died as a result of Valley Fever, common in that part of the country. Despite the fact that we had two cats, my parents were now ready for another dog, and Andy and I liked the idea.

Mother found an advertisement in the newspaper announcing Irish setter puppies for sale. She called the woman who placed the ad and arranged for us to visit her and see the puppies.

The little dogs were in a box, and all except one were scratching and whining. The silent pooch sat in a corner, aloof. Mother said, “Oh, let’s see this little guy.”

She lifted him out of the box, and despite my limited vision, I could tell he had the sweetest face. He was red with floppy ears, which I immediately stroked and scratched, and he didn’t seem to mind.

“Let’s take him,” I said. The rest of the family agreed, and a week later, he was ours.

We debated what to call him. Dad, liking all things Irish, suggested Shem, the Irish name for Jim. Andy liked the name Clancy. Mother and I didn’t have a preference. We settled on Shem Shenanigan Clancy Leroy. Leroy was my grandfather’s name, and in Irish, it means king.

When we brought Clancy home, he was full of mischief and ruled his kingdom. When he wasn’t napping, he was running and playing with Andy inside the house and out, chewing on anything he could find, and antagonizing the cats. He eventually came to an understanding with our feline companions. Although they were never friends, they were civil toward one another.

In the summer, Mother enrolled Clancy in an obedience class for puppies. For Clancy, this was play time. At home alone, Mother was able to teach him to come, sit, and stay, but around the other dogs in the class, it was as if she hadn’t even tried to train him.

Andy tried training him with the girl next door, but that didn’t work, either. I suppose we could have hired a trainer like some of the authors in the Chicken Soup book did for their unruly dogs, but in the 1970’s, that wasn’t something to be considered.

Andy hoped that he and Clancy would be like Timmy and Lassie, but Clancy eventually became Dad’s dog, accompanying our father everywhere, even to the shop where he sold and serviced coin-operated machines. Clancy enjoyed riding in the back of Dad’s pick-up or in the station wagon with his head stuck out the window, eating air. This was before seat belt laws were enacted.

If Dad couldn’t take Clancy, he’d say, “not you.” With sad eyes, the dog would watch, as his master strode out the door. In Dad’s absence, Clancy would often follow Mother around, thinking she was responsible for Dad’s disappearance and that if he stayed by her side, she would magically make Dad appear.

Since the high school I attended wasn’t far from our home, Dad and Clancy often walked me there, through a park and up a hill. This was in the days before leash laws became more stringent, and Clancy ran free through the park, playing in a nearby creek while we walked. During the winter months, Dad drove me to school. At the top of the hill, where there wasn’t much traffic, he stopped and opened the rear passenger door, and Clancy jumped out and ran alongside the car the rest of the way.

Like any dog, Clancy enjoyed rolling in fish heads, cow pies, and anything else that stank. Andy tried hosing him off, but naturally, because the water was too cold, Clancy didn’t like that at all. Dad gave him a shower, which was a disaster, with water everywhere in the bathroom and Mother pissed. In those days, there was no such thing as a do-it-yourself dog wash, which is similar to a car wash and mentioned in the Chicken Soup book.

Despite his antics, Clancy was a lovable addition to our family for eleven years. He died suddenly in the summer of 1988, one of the hottest on record. By that time, my parents were separated, and Dad lived in a house halfway across town. I’d just completed a music therapy internship in Fargo, North Dakota, and was staying with Mother in our family home. Andy had graduated from high school two years earlier and was off somewhere for the summer.

One hot night, Dad let Clancy out so he could do his business, and the dog wandered off. He was found dead the next day by the creek near Grandma’s house. Here’s what I think happened.

Since Dad didn’t have air conditioning, Clancy was hot and wanted to get somewhere cooler. In gest, Dad always called him a dummy, but that dog had some smarts. For years, he’d been driven, along with the rest of the family, to Grandma’s house, which was air conditioned. He knew it was cooler, and he knew how to get there.

Unfortunately, Grandma was hard of hearing by that time. Upstairs in her bedroom, perhaps with the television on full blast, she didn’t hear Clancy scratching at either the front or back doors. When he couldn’t get into Grandma’s house, Clancy knew the next coolest place was the creek, so he went there. He no doubt passed as a result of heat stroke.

Dad said Clancy could have lived longer. Several years later after he moved to another house and acquired a second Irish setter, he bought a window air conditioner. That’s another story.

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Why don’t you tell me about a pet you had when you were growing up? If you have a blog, you can post your story there and a link to it in the comment field here. If not, you can just share your memories. I look forward to hearing from you.

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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.

 

His

While working on music I’ll sing next week at Greenhouse, I decided to perform a song I hadn’t sung in years, Vera Lynn’s “Yours.” As I was practicing this, I realized that I feel the same way as the woman in the song. This was popular in 1941, so I think it’s safe to assume that the woman is singing this about her loved one fighting overseas during World War II, wondering if he will return and knowing that even if he doesn’t, she’ll always love him and no one else.

My husband Bill isn’t fighting overseas. He left this world four years ago and isn’t coming back. I’ll always be his and could never love another man. Please click this link to hear me sing the song.

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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.

 

Review: Rushing Waters

 

Abbie-1

Rushing Waters

by Danielle Steel

Copyright 2016.

 

Fictional Hurricane Ophelia, worse than Sandy, hits New York. Starting in the fall, when the hurricane hits, and ending around Christmas, this book details the lives of several people affected by flooding as a result of the storm. Characters include an interior designer from London visiting her mother in New York, a hospital emergency room doctor, two college students, and others. Some of their paths cross, but most have separate stories of loss and re-building after the storm.

I love this author’s work, but I’m starting to notice an undesirable pattern. If you’re a writer, you’re probably familiar with the concept of showing versus telling. Showing is using dialog and action to tell the story. Telling involves narrative. I’m sure this is prevalent in many of Danielle Steel’s books, but I think there are times when she does way too much telling. I know she’s a best-selling author, but in my years of writing, I’ve come to believe that showing is more effective. Nevertheless, her stories are so compelling that they’re worth wading through the narrative.

I was only too happy to snuggle in my recliner, safe and secure, while reading about characters dealing with no electricity, a supposedly crumbling apartment building, and high water. The recording of this book I downloaded from Audible was great, narrated by Dan John Miller, the same person who read Hotel Vendome. This book made me thankful that I live in a place like Wyoming, which doesn’t have hurricanes.

Hurricane Sandy struck New York at about the same time as my husband Bill passed away, in October of 2012. While those affected were dealing with the loss of loved ones and property, I was dealing with grief of my own that was not caused by a natural disaster. You can read more about this in my new memoir.

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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.

 

Review: After You

After You

by JoJo Moyes

Copyright 2015.

 

In this sequel to Me Before You, Louisa struggles to go on after watching Will, a man she loved, a quadriplegic, take his own life. After traveling through Europe for a while, she ends up in London, living in a small apartment and working at an airport bar. An accidental fall from her apartment building’s roof catapults her into a series of interesting circumstances, further complicated by the arrival of Will’s teen-aged daughter, the result of one of his numerous affairs before his accident that left him almost totally paralyzed and before he met Louisa. The ending is more positive.

I enjoyed a recording of this book produced by Randomhouse Audio in which the British narrator did an excellent job. As I mentioned in a previous post, Me Before You delivers a negative message about people with disabilities taking their own lives. After You centers on hopeful themes of love and moving on after loss. My favorite scene was one where Louisa, while eating lunch with friends in a French restaurant, mistakenly orders beef cheeks, and I don’t think they were the ones located on the cow’s face, either. Louisa is the most memorable character in the book. With no real direction in her own life, she’s only too happy to try and sort out the life of Will’s teen-aged daughter, who is misunderstood by her own family.

Like many books I’ve read, After You helped me put my life into perspective. Losing a loved one is hard enough, but imagine how you would feel if that loved one took his own life, and you felt powerless to stop him. I’m so thankful that wasn’t the case with my late husband Bill. You can read our story in my new memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

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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

 

 

Mourning Has Broken: A Book Review

I would like to read this book, but I can’t find it in an accessible format, even from Audible. However, I thought I would share this review along with my rendition of a song that went through my head, as I read the review, never mind that the spelling of “morning” is different. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/morning%20has%20broken.mp3

Annika Perry's Writing Blog

mourning2

I read this book during a time of loss and sadness. When my spirits were so low neither music nor books could enter my heart. Numerous books remained unread, the words and stories therein unable to penetrate the wall. 

Then I recalled reading about Carol Balawyder and ‘Mourning Has Broken’; her book on loss and grief. On a whim I bought it.

My attention was seized from the very first few sentences and as I devoured it within two days ‘Mourning Has Broken’ left a deep and profound impact on me.

The writing is exceptional and beautiful. Poetic in places, full of wisdom. Her words spoke directly to me, then at times mirrored my experiences of loss exactly. I have never highlighted so much in a book since my student days. Nor have I I talked so much about a book – I am sure my family by now feel…

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What is Red?

During our last third Thursday poets meeting, we studied the poem, “Color Me Red” by Starr Williams, which you will find at http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/color-me-red/ . We then each wrote our own poem about red. I came up with the following. Click on the link below the poem to hear me read it.

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WHAT IS RED?

the heart of the one I still love,

his face when he was mad or embarrassed,

the shirt he sometimes wore

with a breast pocket for his red kerchief,

hat that adorned his head,

sweat pants that warmed his legs,

beets I once gave him,

thinking they were cranberry sauce,

cherry tomatoes he liked,

his blood that no longer pumps through his veins

now that he lies underground

where it’s dark, damp, cold,

where red no longer brings cheer.

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https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/what%20is%20red.mp3

Now, it’s your turn. What do you associate with red? You don’t have to write a poem, but you can share your thoughts below.

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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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Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

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At the Graveside

A cold, windy November morning,

the sun provides little warmth

as we sit in chairs under an awning.

In the casket, he lies,

not a wretch, but a man I love,

his passing my life’s eclipse.

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This poem appears in That’s Life: New and Selected Poems. Click the link below to hear me read it and sing a song I sang at my late husband’s graveside almost three years ago.

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https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/at%20the%20graveside.mp3

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Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Vote for my new book idea.