Nature’s Call #Fiction #TuesdayTidbit #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

NATURE’S CALL

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2021

 

Being a lady, I should be more modest, but I’m not. When I need to squat, it doesn’t matter where I go, on the lawn, on the sidewalk, even in the street if I’m there long enough. Most of the time, I’m not because when I wander into traffic, my humans yell, “Maud, get out of the street.”

They tell this story about Ed. He got me from a man who called me Old Glory because I was born on the Fourth of July. I hated that name and the fireworks on my birthday that always sent me scurrying into the bathtub for cover. So, I was relieved when Ed decided to call me Maud instead.

Anyway, during family road trips, when he was driving, even in broad daylight, he would sometimes say, “Piss call.” Then, he’d pull the car to the side of the road, jump out, and do his business right there. So, that’s me. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

One day, I was walking along with Ed and his daughter Abbie, who lived in an apartment across town. I suddenly had to go, and I spotted a beautiful green lawn. Being off leash, I scampered onto the grass and did my business, just as the front door opened. The woman who stepped onto the porch and greeted Abbie turned out to be her boss at work. Fortunately, Abbie didn’t lose her job over this, but I wouldn’t have cared one way or the other. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Once, I relieved myself indoors. It happened after Abbie told me she was moving to a different apartment complex where dogs wouldn’t be allowed to visit unless they were service animals. I thought I’d served her well over the years. I’d chased the white ball at the end of the stick she sometimes rolled along in front of her when she walked. I’d licked her face when she was sad and moved into the back seat when Ed picked her up so she could ride in front with him. Apparently, that didn’t qualify me as a service dog.

Abbie explained that this apartment complex would be better than where she was living now because there would be laundry facilities, and the apartment would have a shower, not just a bathtub. Also, there was a garbage chute on each floor. So, she would no longer need to slip slide through the alley to empty the trash. I wagged my tail as if I understood, but I didn’t.

The next day, while Ed was helping Abbie move stuff out of the old apartment, I had to go, and I wasn’t about to wait until I could get outdoors like I should have. I delivered a nice surprise on her dining room carpet, and it wasn’t pee. Abbie stepped in it. That’s what she got for trading a lovable Irish setter for laundry, a shower, and a trash chute. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

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The above is a fictionalized account of events involving the Irish setter my father had while I was working as a registered music therapist with nursing home residents. It appears in the current issue of The Writer’s Grapevine. I wrote it during a meeting of my local poetry group, believe it or not. We were prompted to write a poem about what goes on inside an animal’s head. Well, as I’m sure you now realize, my poem metastasized into a short story. You can click here to read this and other wonderful work in The Writer’s Grapevine.

 

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?

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Pets and Writing #Open Book Blog Hop #Wednesday Words

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is: “Do pets (or other animals) play an important part in your books? Tell us about them.”

Absolutely! I love dogs. I remember plenty of them when I was growing up. Now, I don’t want the responsibility of caring for them, but I enjoy incorporating them into my stories.

In my first novel, We Shall Overcome, my heroine’s boyfriend has an Irish setter named Molly. Last year when I was blocked on my novel-in-progress, a Great Dane puppy named Squeakers saved the day. Now, here’s an excerpt from my latest novel, The Red Dress, in which we meet Ginger, the family’s Black Lab.

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The clicking of Ginger’s nails on the floor in the hall and the jingling of her collar interrupted Eve’s thoughts. She turned as the dog loped into her office and to her side and placed her head on her knee.

“Oh, Ginger, I wish the kids would take more responsibility for you,” said Eve, stroking the dog’s head. “I’ve finished the proofs, now, so all I have to do is check email, and then we’ll go for a walk. Okay?”

Ginger flopped onto the floor at Eve’s feet and looked up at her as if to say, “I’m holding you to that.”

Eve smiled and turned to her computer, where she clicked the Accept button on Charlene’s friend request.

“We’ll see what happens,” she said.

In answer, Ginger wagged her tail, thumping it against the floor.

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What was Eve doing when Ginger’s jingling collar interrupted her? Who is Charlene? Read the book and find out. To participate in this week’s Open Book Blog Hop, click here.

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By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image 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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Thursday Book Feature: The Poetry of Billy Collins

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’m reviewing two collections by one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins. . Some of you may remember that I reviewed The Rain in Portugal last year, but I’ve since read it again, and it’s worth a second look.

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Aimless Love: A Selection of Poems
Copyright 2012.

The poems in this collection provide slice-of-life and often humorous reflections on such topics as nature, religion, and other poets. In “The Revenant,” a deceased dog talks to his owner from the grave. In “The Lanyard,” the author describes how he made a lanyard for his mother, who did a lot more for him. In “Suggestion Box,” he considers writing a poem about all the people who give him poem ideas. The title poem is about unconditional love. Some poems here are previously published while others are new.

If you’re a poet, Billy Collins might inspire you. After reading “The Revenant,” I wrote a poem in which one of our cats speaks to my father from her grave. “Istanbul,” in which the poet shares his experience with a Turkish bath, inspired me to write about a similar experience I had in a California spa run by Koreans. Even if you’re not a fan of poetry, you might enjoy Billy Collins’ work, since most of it reads more like prose, although it looks like poetry on the page.

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The Rain in Portugal: Poems
Copyright 2016.

In the author’s usual humorous style, poems in this collection reflect on jazz, writing poetry, and other subjects. In “Lucky Cat,” Collins suggests betting with other humans on the actions of felines. In “Only Child,” he longs for a sister to help care for his aging parents. In “The Bard in Flight,” he imagines what Shakespeare would do on an airplane. The collection’s title comes from the poem “On Rhyme,” in which he reflects on such common sayings as “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”

I heard about this latest collection when he appeared on A Prairie Home Companion. . Of course he read a few of his poems, and I was hooked. Needless to say, I downloaded the book and spent a delightful evening reading the poems aloud to myself.

According to an author’s note at the beginning, the electronic version of this book is designed so that formatting isn’t affected when the font size of the type is changed. Words at the ends of lines that are moved down when text is enlarged are indented to indicate they’re part of the same line. This didn’t make any difference to me, since I read the book in Braille, but I’m glad those with low vision can enjoy the poems the way they were written. These poems are meant to be recited, preferably by
Billy Collins, but I enjoyed reading them aloud.

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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
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Thursday Book Feature: Follow Your Dog

Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust

by Ann Chiappetta

Copyright 2017.

The author, blind as a result of retinitis pigmentosa, shares her experiences with a succession of dogs that influenced her life, focusing on her first guide dog, Verona. She describes her turbulent childhood: her parents’ divorce, her father berating her when she broke or lost her glasses, and how she found a way to escape through nature and books.

She talks about the dogs she and her husband and children had as pets before Verona came along. She explains the process of applying for a dog through Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, New York, about a forty-minute drive from her home in New Rochelle: why she was rejected the first time, how she applied to other schools and was eventually accepted by Guiding Eyes for the Blind and started training in January of 2008.

She then describes the arduous twenty-six day process of learning to work with Verona: her apprehension and excitement on the day she first met her, the full days of walking routes in bitter winter weather, the exhilaration upon graduation. She explains the adjustments her family had to make since Verona wasn’t a pet.

She then describes reactions of others to her dog and how Verona impacted her life until 2015 when she was compelled to retire her. She explains how she returned to Guiding Eyes for the Blind and obtained Bailey, her second dog, describing how Verona adjusted to Bailey doing the work she once did. She then talks about how Verona became a certified therapy dog. Inserted at strategic points throughout the book are essays, poems, and blog posts, and at the end, a list of resources for those interested in applying for a guide dog.

I met Ann over a year ago through Behind Our Eyes, a group of writers with disabilities. I’ve always enjoyed reading her material.

I like dogs but am not interested in getting a guide dog. For one thing, I do really well with a cane, so I don’t think it’s necessary for me to have one. For another, they’re a lot of work, as illustrated in the book, whereas with a cane, when you arrive at your destination, you just fold it up, put it somewhere out of the way, and forget about it until you need it again. It’s a matter of personal choice.

Since November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, after reading this book, you might want to think about adopting a retired guide dog. Verona was lucky that Ann and her family were willing and able to keep her after she was retired, but other former guide dogs aren’t as fortunate. In any case, this book would make a great gift for a dog lover or someone with a visual impairment interested in getting a guide dog. It would also be a good educational tool for anyone training in a disability-related field.

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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.

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More Humor from Italian Mother-Daughter Duo

Abbie-1

I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places

By Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella

Copyright 2016

 

This is Lisa and Francesca’s latest collection of pieces on pets, dating, and other random topics. They span one year of their lives, Lisa’s in Philadelphia and Francesca’s in New York. Not all the essays are funny. Francesca and Lisa both write about a time when Francesca was mugged and how it affected both of them. Also, Lisa touches on hate mail.

If you were to ask me which one of these pieces was my favorite, I’d tell you they’re all great. I loved Francesca’s account of staying with friends in a rented beach house with a burglar alarm that went off whether you were going in or coming out. Lisa’s description of how she tried to make butternut squash soup reminded me of why I don’t cook very often. I could relate to the title. Whenever I visit a Florida beach with my brother and his family, I always get sand in the wrong places.

This book is available as a commercial audiobook with the authors narrating it. It gives a book a nice touch when you can hear the authors read it. According to the acknowledgements section, Lisa and Francesca love recording their books. I love hearing them. Whether you listen or read, I hope you will also enjoy this book.

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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.