What I Did on the Fourth #MondayMusings #Jottings #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.

When I was growing up in Tucson, Arizona, during the 1960s and early 70s, we attended fireworks displays on the Fourth of July, which were usually held at the university. Although I don’t remember too much about them, I imagine that during my early childhood years, the loud banging and popping scared me to death. But when I grew older, despite my limited vision, I loved sitting on the grass, looking up, and beholding the multi-colored lights and shapes that seemed to sail across the sky. I vaguely remember one year when I could see fireworks from our front lawn, and I thought they could be seen all over the world.

After my family moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1973, we stopped attending fireworks displays, because there weren’t any here. By that time, I was twelve years old and wasn’t nearly as fascinated by them as I was when I was younger. Dad decided that we should buy our own and shoot them off on the Fourth of July, even though it was illegal.

I remember one particular Independence Day when I was in high school. The street where we lived had little traffic. Relatives from out of town were visiting, and we were all gathered in front of our house to watch Dad’s makeshift fireworks display, which was taking place in the middle of the street. It was getting dark.

Dad was hunched over, igniting something, when suddenly, a car appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and drove slowly toward him. We all held our breath, fearing a neighbor had called the police about our fireworks. As the car drew closer, we realized that it was only Grandma. In her old age, she drove more cautiously than she did when she was younger. She pulled to the curb, stepped out of her blue Cadillac, and we all laughed with relief. After that, we went outside the city limits to shoot off our Fourth of July fireworks.

How about you? What have you enjoyed doing on the Fourth of July?

Thanks to Tom Kaufman, facilitator of The Breakfast Bunch, a program held on Zoom through ACB Community Calls, for inspiring this. The Breakfast Bunch is a weekly chat activity where we meet to reminisce about anything and everything. If you’d like to learn about other community programs sponsored by the American Council of the Blind, you can email:  community@acb.org  and request a daily schedule that will land in your inbox. I hope those of you in the United States have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

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And now, I’m pleased to announce that until the end of the month, all my books can be downloaded from Smashwords ABSOLUTELY FREE as part of its summer/winter sale. You can click here to visit my author page and download these books. Happy reading!

 

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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A Gouda Day for Jolene #Tuesday Tidbit #Fiction

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

At The Country Kitchen in Sheridan, Wyoming, Dolly sits in a booth, dressed in a pink pant suit, her blonde, frizzy hair sparkling in the sunlight. She barely touches her Gouda cheese omelet. Jolene sits across from her, wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt with “Wyoming Cowboys” emblazoned in bold black letters on the front. Her dark hair is cut short. She wolfs down her barbecued chicken sandwich, also with Gouda cheese.

“I’m surprised to see you,” she tells Dolly. “When I called and asked if we could meet, I didn’t think you’d come all the way out here from New York just to see me.”

“I don’t know what he sees in you, honey. You’re so plain.”

“Maybe it’s the fact that I’m always there for him. I don’t travel around the country, giving concerts, signing autographs, smiling at other men.”

“But that’s my work. He knew that when he married me. Why on Earth would he want to live in Wyoming of all places? None of these towns are like L.A. or New York.”

“He likes my ranch. In the evening, we sit on the front porch, drink coffee, play chess, watch the sun go down. It’s more romantic than some old penthouse in New York.”

“How long has this been going on?”

“We met at your concert in Denver last year. When he complained of a headache and told you he was going back to the Brown Palace, he was going there to be with me.”

“So, he’s been cheating for the past year?”

“I guess you could say that. While you were on the road, whenever he could take time away from the office, he’d fly up here. I’d meet him at the airport and drive him to the ranch. We’d have a high old time together.”

“All those times he called me from his cell phone, he was with you?” The corners of Dolly’s mouth tremble, and tears trickle down her cheeks.

“I guess so.”

“Those times I called him at home and there was no answer, I assumed he was working late,” says Dolly, taking a Kleenex from her purse and blowing her nose.

Jolene picks up a French fry, pops it into her mouth, chews and swallows. “Let’s face it, Dolly. He doesn’t love you anymore. Who can blame him? No man wants a wife who’s never at home.” She reaches across the table and takes Dolly’s hand.

“You slut!” says Dolly, jerking her hand away. She stands, picks up her omelet, flings it at the other woman, and hurries out the door, leaving Jolene, her face swathed in egg, smoked bacon, tomato slices, and Gouda cheese.

The above story was published several years ago in Magnets and Ladders and appears in the February edition of The Writer’s Grapevine. Click here to read past issues. To subscribe, send a blank email to: writersgv+subscribe@groups.io

I once heard a radio ad for a local restaurant, promoting their menu items containing Gouda (pronounced goo da) cheese. At the end of the promo, the announcer said, “Have a Gouda day.” That, along with the above song, inspired my story.

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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

Front cover 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 Tidbit: What Time is It?

Image contains: me, smiling.

On Monday morning after we moved off daylight savings time, my smart speaker woke me as usual at six thirty by playing a local public radio station. A minute later, I was horrified when the announcer said it was 7:31 a.m. I asked my smart speaker for the time, and she assured me it was only 6:31 a.m. Apparently, someone at the radio station had forgotten to set the clocks back an hour. I breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that the radio wasn’t my only source for the time.

This reminded me of a time that I talk about in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. Below is an excerpt. My late husband and I traveled from our home in Sheridan, Wyoming, about five hundred miles to Fowler, Colorado, to visit Bill’s sister. In our haste to catch a bus at three in the morning, I forgot to put on my watch after showering and didn’t realize it until we arrived at the bus station. For the next two weeks, I had to rely on Bill and other sources for the time.

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One morning, soon after we arrived in Fowler, Bill shook me awake and told me it was seven o’clock. Shirley’s cleaning lady was due at eight, and I didn’t want her to catch us in bed. At a quarter to eight, after having showered and dressed, I settled in a recliner in the living room with my radio and headphones.

Shirley wasn’t up yet, and this seemed odd. I also noticed that it didn’t appear to be getting any lighter. I tuned in a public radio station out of Pueblo, and after fifteen minutes of national news, a local announcer said, “Good morning. It’s six a.m.”

Barely able to contain my anger, I stomped into the bedroom where Bill was dressing. I didn’t want to yell for fear of waking Shirley. “You idiot! It’s only six o’clock.”

Bill laughed. “I thought my watch said it was seven.”

“Yeah, right,” I said, as I sat on the bed and took off my shoes. “That’s why I don’t use a Braille watch anymore.”

“Well, let’s go out to breakfast.”

“You go out to breakfast,” I said, as I lay on the bed and covered myself with the blanket. “I’m going back to sleep.”

I turned on my side and closed my eyes. I heard him leave and knew he was mad, but I didn’t care. As I drifted back to sleep, I vowed never to forget my watch again. Little did I know that this was the last trip Bill and I would take together.

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My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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

We Shall Overcome

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Where’s Your Happy Place?

Believe it or not, even though I live in Sheridan, Wyoming, my happy place is a beach in Jupiter, Florida, where my brother and I often go when I visit him. I sometimes swim but am mostly content to walk alongside the ocean and feel cool waves wash over my feet, cleansing them of the tension from which I’m retreating. I also enjoy sitting in a lawn chair with a picnic lunch or lying on a blanket. Once when I got sick during my visit, my brother and his family encouraged me to accompany them to the beach. I went, against my better judgement, and to my surprise, the ocean breeze and the roar of the waves plus the occasional cry of seagulls made me feel better.

I recently red an article entitled “5 Ways to Re-Start a Bad Day.” One suggestion given here is to think of your happy place. This could be a place where you went as a child with happy memories associated with it. It could be a place where you’ve never been but would like to go. It could even be a made-up place. Now that summer is waning and fall is approaching, I want you to think of your happy place and tell me about it.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Our Buddy

The first vehicle I remember from my childhood was a white Mercedes Benz with four doors and a trunk. The interior seats were of a gray and white decorative pattern. Before my younger brother was born, my parents and I took many trips from our home in Tucson, Arizona.

We called the car Buddy. After my younger brother was born, when he was old enough, Dad started calling him Buddy, and I was confused. My brother’s given name was Andy, so why was Dad calling him Buddy? I was too young to understand that “buddy” was also a term of endearment.

Three years after my younger brother was born, after a second car was purchased, Buddy took Dad and me all the way from Tucson to Sheridan, Wyoming. The year was 1971, and I was ten years old. Dad would have gone on his own, but on the night he planned to leave, while we were eating supper, he asked if I wanted to come, and I said yes, since I was always up for an adventure.

We left that night. Because it was close to my bedtime, I camped out in Buddy’s back seat while Dad drove for a few hours. When we stopped, he unrolled a sleeping bag on the ground near the car. We were still in Arizona.

The next day, we drove through the Navajo Reservation and into Colorado, stopping at Four Corners, where Dad said we lost an hour. That night, we ended up in Durango, and I remember thinking it strange that it was still light at eight o’clock in the evening. That night, we visited several bars. Years later, this experience inspired a poem from my collection, How to Build A Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver.

The next day, we stopped at Mesa Verde, then spent the night with friends in Beulah, and the following evening, Dad left me in Denver with my maternal grandmother while he drove the rest of the way to Sheridan.

I stayed with Grammy and Granddad Hinkley in Denver for several weeks. During that time, Dad and his mother, Grandma Johnson, went to Las Vegas and back to Denver, where they picked me up. We drove to Sheridan in Grandma’s Cadillac because Buddy quit working after Dad reached Sheridan the first time.

We’d come here because Grandpa Johnson died in the fall of the previous year, and Grandma needed help with the family’s coin-operated machine business. During the weeks I spent in Sheridan, Buddy sat neglected in front of Grandma’s house. Dad was too busy running the business and keeping me entertained to worry about fixing the car. When we drove anywhere, we either used Grandma’s car or one of the company vehicles. When it was time for me to start school, Dad drove me to Denver, again in Grandma’s Cadillac, and I boarded a plane for Tucson. I wondered if I would ever see Buddy again.

In October of that year, Buddy somehow managed to get Dad home safe and sound. Two years later, we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, so Dad could run the business full time. We had two cars: Buddy and the other Mercedes Benz we called 220S Baby. We rented a U-Haul truck to carry our earthly possessions. Dad drove the U-Haul, towing Buddy, while Mother drove 220S Baby.

After we settled in Sheridan, Buddy eventually retired and was relegated to a space in our driveway behind the garage. When Andy became a teen-ager, Mother wanted him to fix up and use the old car, but Andy wasn’t interested, and Dad didn’t like the idea for some reason. She eventually gave Andy her old Fiat when she bought a new Subaru. There were other cars, a gray Buick station wagon, a number of pick-up trucks and a van that were used mostly for the coin-operated machine business, a Plymouth Reliant station wagon, a Mitsubishi, and a red Subaru station wagon that Andy inherited after Dad passed away and gave to his son as a graduation present. For a couple of years when my husband was alive and partially paralyzed by two strokes, I owned a red wheelchair-accessible van. However, our Buddy, a reliable car for years, will always be foremost in my memory.

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How about you? I’d love to hear about the first car you remember when you were growing up. What color and brand was it? What did the interior look like? Do you remember where it came from? Can you think of a specific road trip you took with your family in this car? Please share your thoughts either in the comments field or on your own blog with a pingback here.

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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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