Season’s Greetings 2017

I hope this finds you well, having had a great year. Mine has been pretty quiet.

In January of 2017, I spent a week in Florida with my brother and his family. It was a little chilly, so we didn’t spend a lot of time on the beach, but we went to a party and attended an epiphany celebration at an Episcopal church in West Palm Beach, the same church Donald Trump attends when he’s in town, wouldn’t you know?

In April, I attended the WyoPoets annual workshop in Buffalo, about thirty miles south of here. In June, I went to the Wyoming Writers conference in Gillette, about 100 miles south and east of here. Both were fun and informative.

In July, I sang with my group, Just Harmony, at the local ball park for a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) game. We performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” to start the game and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seven-inning stretch. This was a lot of fun. I always feel close to Bill when I attend a baseball game.

In July, I performed alone and with Just Harmony for two Vaudeville programs. Alone, I shared some of my poems. With the group, I sang several songs. I think both performances brought down the house.

In September, I went to Colorado Springs with Aunt Junior and Uncle Roger, who live here in Sheridan. My Uncle Tony and Aunt Kitty live in the springs, and a party was planned for Tony’s 75th birthday. It was held at a clubhouse across the road from their home. Some of the food was catered while other dishes were provided by local folks. There was plenty to eat, and I enjoyed seeing my cousins again and meeting some of Tony’s friends and former colleagues from his law office.

For Thanksgiving, Uncle Tony and Aunt Kitty came here, and we had a lovely dinner at Aunt Junior and Uncle Roger’s house, complete with turkey and all the trimmings plus appetizers and pumpkin pie. The day after, Just Harmony performed downtown at a thrift store called The Green Boomerang as part of Sheridan’s annual Christmas Stroll. A week later, we performed at a museum’s holiday open house and a nursing home and at a memory service at a local funeral home. We have three more performances coming up. Tis the season to be singing.

Speaking of which, I did plenty of that this year, not only with Just Harmony but on my own, accompanying myself on guitar. Each month, I went to senior facilities here in town and entertained the residents. I think I enjoy performing as much as they enjoy hearing me.

On December 8th, Rose Hill, a friend and fellow poet, and I did a program of music and poetry as part of Christmas at the Carriagehouse, an annual variety show that takes place at a local theater. Rose read a story she wrote about how “Silent Night” was written, and I led the audience in singing that song’s first verse. Rose then shared a humorous poem she wrote about Santa Claus being a cowboy, and I finished by reciting a touching poem I wrote about grief and singing “O Holy Night,” the song that inspired it. Here’s the poem. Click on the title to hear me read it and sing the song.

A MOURNFUL NIGHT

I wash dishes, mouth the words

to the familiar carol.

As soap washes away scum

from plates, glasses, flatware,

my tears wash away grief,

leave me at peace.

So far, I have no plans for Christmas. I’ll probably do what I did last year: have lunch at the senior center, then spend the rest of the day watching Christmas movies on my tablet. My favorite is the one about the little boy who wants and receives a Red Rider BB gun, then comes close to shooting his eye out. I hope your holiday wishes and plans don’t go awry and that next year is just as good for you as this one was.

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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.

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Sunday Best: 75th Birthday Party

A week ago today, I attended my uncle’s 75th birthday party in Colorado Springs. I made the eight-hour drive down the day before with Aunt Junior and Uncle Roger, who live here in Sheridan, Wyoming. We stayed with Uncle Tony, the birthday boy and a retired lawyer, and Aunt Kitty, who live in a beautiful home in a neighborhood controlled by a homeowner’s association with a clubhouse across the street where the party was held.

The weather on the day of the party was perfect, only in the 80’s, though a bit breezy. It clouded up in the afternoon, but nothing came of it. Most of us sat outside, enjoying barbecued chicken and pork with potato salad and coleslaw and other sides. For dessert, there was a chocolate cake. I met many of Uncle Tony’s friends and colleagues, and his daughters, my cousins, all came from Denver with their families. We all had a wonderful time.

What’s the best thing that happened to you this past week? Please tell me about it in the comment field. I hope something good happens to you this coming week.

 

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 February 2017

Abbie-1

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, January was a pretty quiet month. I spent the first week with my brother and his family in Jupiter, Florida. We went to the ocean one day and had lunch and rode a carousel in downtown Palm Beach Gardens the next.

The highlight was a boar’s head festival at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda by the Sea in a ritzy neighborhood in West Palm Beach. President Trump attends this church when he’s in the area. It’s huge with immense stained-glass windows, and the acoustics are phenomenal.

The boar’s head festival is something they do every year around the time of Epiphany. This year, music was provided by a chorus accompanied by organ and trumpets. There was also a drum and pipe band that led a processional at the beginning of the program when the symbolic boar’s head was carried in. Their rendition of “Amazing Grace” gave me chills.

There was all the pageantry of a Christmas program: shepherds, wise men, angels, Joseph and Mary, and of course the Baby Jesus. My brother told me there were two live babies: one dressed up as Jesus and the other outfitted as a lamb. With my limited vision, I wouldn’t have known they were there. They behaved remarkably well during the performance. I imagine with all the rehearsing they did, the babies were used to it so didn’t fuss. The congregation was invited to sing familiar carols with the choir. The program was a lot of fun.

A couple of weeks after I returned home, a gal in my singing group hosted a party for all of us. It was a potluck dinner consisting of ham, rolls, lasagna, and a variety of salads and desserts. I brought a Schwann’s chocolate cream pie which disappeared rather quickly. I was lucky to get one piece but glad I brought such a party pleaser.

After we ate, we practiced some songs we’ll sing for an event at the Methodist Church in March. We start regular practices this month.

When I heard that my writer friend, Joan Feagins, was giving a reading at Sugarland Ridge, I thought it would be a great idea to follow that with some music. The activity director agreed, and it was arranged. Residents enjoyed both Joan’s reading and my music, and I had a good time, too.

The next day, I performed at Westview’s monthly birthday party despite the fact that it was snowing pretty heavily. As the para-transit bus was driving me home afterward, we passed a car that had slid into a ditch and was being pulled out. I wondered if I should have stayed home, but the residents enjoyed my music. One gentleman who requested Christy Lane’s “One Day at a Time” told me I sang it a lot better than she did. In that case, it was worth it.

Well, that’s all the news I have for now. I hope your year is getting off to a great start. I’ll have more news next month.

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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.

 

My Senior Year in High School

Tis the season for class reunions, and this past weekend was my brother’s 30th. With the help of the following questionnaire posted on Facebook by the spouse of one of his classmates, I got to thinking about my senior year in high school.

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The year was: 1979-1980

  1. Did you know your spouse? No, he was nineteen years my senior, and at that time, I think he was living in California.
  2. Did you car pool to school? No, I either walked through the park and up the board walk, or one of my parents drove me.
  3. What kind of car did you have? I didn’t have a car which was a good thing, since I was visually impaired.
  4. What kind of car do you have now? My vision hasn’t improved since high school, so I still don’t have a car.
  5. It’s Friday night… Where were you? I was either home watching television or reading a book, or out of town at a speech meet.
  6. What kind of job did you have? I wasn’t employed. It never occurred to me to find a job when I was a teen-ager.
  7. What kind of job do you have now? I’m a writer with three published books and a fourth on the way.
  8. Were you a party animal? NO! NEVER!
  9. Were you a cheerleader? No.
  10. Were you considered a jock? Definitely not!
  11. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? I sang in the concert choir.
  12. Were you a nerd? I hope not.
  13. Did you get suspended? NEVER!
  14. Can you sing the fight song? No.
  15. Who was your favorite teacher? Natalie Wright was not only the greatest English teacher I ever had but one of my best friends, who fueled my interest in books. She went out of her way to be sure the material I needed for her classes was in an accessible format and even loaned me books on cassette she didn’t assign in class like Anna Karenina and The Time Machine. She’s now at Westview, and I visit her from time to time. She hardly remembers the material she taught, but she always knows who I am and claims I was her best student.
  16. Where did you sit for lunch? I ate in the cafeteria with a few friends. I wasn’t that popular, probably because of my visual impairment.
  17. What was your school’s full name? Sheridan High School.
  18. What was your school mascot? The Bronc.
  19. If you could go back and do it again, would you? Believe it or not, I like being in my mid 50’s, living on my own, and doing what I want. Although I have some fond memories, I wouldn’t go back.
  20. Did you have fun at Prom? Yes, Dad took me when no other boy would. I had more fun than he did.
  21. Do you still talk to your Prom date? No, my father passed away in August of 2013.
  22. Are you planning on going to your next reunion? That depends. If I hear about it and can find a ride, I’ll probably go, but I don’t think we’ve had a reunion since 2000, or at least I haven’t heard about it.
  23. Are you still in contact with people from school? No, not very many.
  24. What are/were your school’s colors? Blue and gold. ***

Now, it’s your turn. Tell me about your senior year of high school. If you have a blog, why don’t you copy and paste the above questionnaire, delete my answers, and provide your own? If not, you can still answer any or all questions in the comments field. In any case, I’d love to hear about your high school senior experiences. The longer ago you were in high school, the more fun your answers will be.

***,

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

 

 

 

Holiday Reading

I was recently invited to read some of my poems at a meeting of Akcita Win. This is a women’s organization that does community service projects and offers scholarships every year here in Sheridan, Wyoming. My grandmother founded this group in the 1940’s, and I didn’t know this until the night of the meeting which was held at the First Christian Church.

My presentation was preceded by a delicious fried chicken dinner catered by a local market and followed by a rousing game of Christmas bingo and door prize giveaways. I didn’t win, but that didn’t matter. It was still a lot of fun. I was invited to join the organization, and I suppose I should since my grandmother founded it, but I don’t have time.

One of the group’s money making projects I remember from years ago was a vending stand at the local fair grounds during our annual rodeo, county fair, and other events. When my brother and I were kids, Dad took us to the fair grounds for whatever event was going on, and we often stopped by the stand where Grandma gave us each a Coke, paying for it of course. At the meeting, I spoke to a lady who worked with Grandma at the stand, flipping burgers, and she reminisced about those days. She told me that too many safety regulations make it difficult for organizations to undertake such money making projects, and that’s too bad. However, it was nice talking about those good old days.

My reading lasted about twenty minutes. I sang a few songs, a Capella, incorporating them into my poems, finishing with a parody of “White Christmas” that I wrote. I then sang the original words with everyone joining in. The audience loved it, and I passed around business cards. I brought copies of my poetry books, but nobody seemed interested.

I was able to record my program, and you can click below to hear it. Because of the file size and limited Dropbox space, this recording is contained in a zipped folder so you’ll need to download and extract it. If you’re not sure how to do this, please leave a note in the comments field, and I’ll try to help you. Be sure to check the appropriate box so you’ll receive my reply by email. Enjoy! Happy holidays.

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https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/akcita%20win%20reading%2012-1-2015.zip

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