Sunday Best: Entertaining at the Ridge

The best thing that happened to me this past week was my guitar playing and singing at Sugarland Ridge, an assisted living facility where I entertain during their monthly birthday parties. I did this on Friday, and it went well.

The residents seemed to enjoy the music, and many of them said they couldn’t wait for me to return the following month. I also had vanilla ice cream and chocolate cake to celebrate August birthdays, but I don’t do this just for the free goodies.

Some residents enjoy certain songs. One gentlemen likes “Beer Barrel Polka.” Another likes “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

One lady lived in Austria during World War II and the Nazi occupation and then during the filming of The Sound of Music. “Adelveis” always brings a tear to her eye. Another enjoys “Always.” The fact that my music brings tears and smiles makes it worth the hour out of my day.

What was the best thing that happened to you this past week? Please tell me about it in the comments 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.

 

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News from Abbie’s Corner April 2017

March has been a pretty quiet month. On the 2nd, I had an opportunity to hear pianist Andre Bohren at the Wyo Theater. On the 4th, I planned to attend a performance of Swan Lake at Sheridan College’s Whitney Center for the Arts, but I got a bad cold and decided to stay home. I’d already purchased a ticket but was able to give it to a friend who enjoyed the performance.

On the 18th, my singing group, Just Harmony, performed at an event at the local Methodist church they called a spudtacular. For dinner, there were baked potatoes with a variety of toppings plus salads and ice cream for dessert. We were the first to sing, followed by a group of kids who sang Irish songs, accompanying themselves on flute, guitar, and drum.

Besides a reading by former state poet laureate Rose Hill, a dear friend and church member, the event included a drawing for door prizes. I ended up with a mug that says, “Chocolate, always the answer.” So what’s the question? I guess it’s chocolate.

I gave two solo performances this month: on the 24th at Greenhouse and on the 28th at Westview. I’ll be at Sugarland Ridge for a birthday social on April 7th and Westview again on the 25th.

Since April is National Poetry Month, my Third Thursday Poets will give a reading on the 20th. We’re in the process of producing a chapbook to benefit the senior center, and this will be launched during our event. On April 29th, I’ll attend a poetry workshop in Buffalo, Wyoming, about thirty miles south of Sheridan, sponsored by WyoPoets.

Since we had a lot of rain in March, I was inspired to sing a medley of songs about rain at my solo performances. I’ll sing it again for you.

I’m using a different platform to post my audio files. If you have trouble with the player, please let me know in the comments field, and I’ll paste a link there that should work. If enough people have trouble with the player, I can use the link instead, so please don’t be afraid to share your thoughts on this subject or any other for that matter. Happy spring.

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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.

 

News from Abbie’s Corner December 2016

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As you read this, I’m flying the so-called friendly skies to Florida where I’ll spend about a week with my brother and his family before returning on January 9th. December was a busy month, as you would expect for a holiday season.

The whirlwind actually started the night after Thanksgiving when Just Harmony, my singing group, was one of many entertainers during the Christmas stroll in downtown Sheridan. We sang at a thrift store run by the local senior center called The Green Boomerang.

A week later on December 3rd, we performed for a Christmas open house at the Trail End Museum here in Sheridan. After that, our appearances came in quick succession: a memory service at Champion’s Funeral Home, an AARP Christmas party at a local senior apartment complex, a Big Horn Women’s Club Christmas party, and a Sunday morning service at Prairie Dog Community Church. We also sang at Green House and Sugarland Ridge.

I did some performing of my own with my guitar. The Monday after Thanksgiving, I did a poetry reading and sang for a cider social at Sugarland Ridge. The Tuesday after that, I sang for the monthly birthday party at Westview. The following week, I performed at Sheridan Manor, the week after that at Green House, and on the 22nd at the senior center’s adult day care facility.

On the 21st, I planned to participate in an open mic program at the senior center, but I was the only one signed up, so I played my guitar and sang for about half an hour while people played cards and chatted. The activities director asked me to come back any time.

I also went to a couple of Christmas parties. December 8th was our Friendship Club Christmas party at Ole’s Pizza and Spaghetti House. We ordered lunch off the menu, exchanged ornaments, and played Christmas bingo. On the 10th, Range Writers had its Christmas party at The Country Kitchen. Again, we ordered off the menu, and we exchanged gifts and each read something to the group.

Here in Sheridan, we definitely had a white Christmas. We already had quite a bit of snow on the ground. When I got up about eight o’clock Christmas morning, it was cloudy, but contrary to the weather prediction, it didn’t look like we’d received any new snow overnight. By eleven o’clock however, as I was waiting inside the kitchen door for the para-transit bus that would take me to the senior center for Christmas dinner, it was coming down. Actually, I think it was blowing more than it was snowing.

Despite the inclement weather, the senior center’s dining room was crowded. The delicious meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, asparagus, fruit, and custard was paid for by a local philanthropist. Someone played Christmas songs on the piano while everyone ate. I ended up eating and visiting with people I knew.

Afterward, as the bus made its way through the storm, windshield wipers at full speed, I wondered if it would have been safer to eat Christmas dinner at home alone. I had a mini beef pot roast from Schwann I could have cooked in the microwave along with some frozen mashed potatoes and green beans, but although it would have tasted good, it wouldn’t have been the same. Once I arrived home safely, I was glad I went.

Aside from my trip to Florida and my usual appearance at Westview’s monthly birthday party, I have no other plans for January. Just Harmony will start practicing music for programs in the winter and spring months. I have a completed full-length poetry manuscript I recently submitted to the National Federation of State Poetry Society’s Stevens Manuscript Competition, and I may send it out to other publishers and then resume work on the short story collection I started last summer, Welcome to Wyoming.

Here’s a song we associate with the coming of a new year. I wish you all a great 2017 and will have more news in February.

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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.

News from Abbie’s Corner October 2016

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As I write this, it’s a beautiful Indian summer day in late September. The sun shines in a cloudless sky. Through my open front door, as I sprawl in my easy chair with my feet up, I hear the occasional car going by, dog barking, and a neighbor’s weed eater. Guitar music flows from my device’s speaker, courtesy of the public radio station in Billings, Montana, about 150 miles north of my home town of Sheridan, Wyoming. It’s 77 degrees, and the only thing that keeps me from writing outdoors is my tablet’s low battery.

By the way, I’m working with a new device, a BrailleNote Touch from Humanware. This is the world’s first Google-certified Braille tablet. I like this a lot better than my iPad. I don’t have to swipe, flick, double tap, or triple click. Although using the touch screen is an option, most functions can be performed with the Braille keyboard and thumb keys.

The down side is that it’s running an older version of Android, but most apps I’ve tried work pretty well, and the word processor is a lot better than other Braille note takers I’ve used. After I finish writing and proofreading this, I’ll upload it to Dropbox so I can access it on my computer, add finishing touches, and schedule it for posting. It’s nice not to be tied to my PC all the time.

Believe it or not, I’ve also been doing other things this month. On September 10th, Range Writers was pleased to have as a guest state poet laureate Eugene Gagliano. He did a wonderful presentation on character development and other aspects of writing. September 10th would have been our 11th wedding anniversary so I thought it only fitting that former poet laureate and dear friend Rose Hill read a poem she wrote for our wedding in memory of my late husband.

On September 17th, I attended a writing workshop in Buffalo, about 30 miles south of here. It was conducted by Lori Howe, University of Wyoming instructor and state humanities council road scholar. She gave us prompts and plenty of time to write and share our work. A poem I wrote during this time was posted here earlier.

On September 29th, I returned to Buffalo for a reception for Eugene Gagliano. Again, he did a great presentation where he talked about his life, read some of his work, and demonstrated some activities he does with children in the classroom. I had a great time.

Of course I’ve been busy singing as well. My group, Just Harmony, is working on Christmas music and already has several performances scheduled in December. On the 9th, I performed at Sugarland Ridge for a fall social. On the 27th, I sang at Westview for their monthly birthday party. I’ll be at Green House on October 4th and at Westview on the 25th. Sugarland Ridge has invited me back in November to do a reading and music in an attempt to promote my new book.

Speaking of which, I did a signing this month at Sheridan Stationery on the 24th and sold books in the lobby of the Sheridan Senior Center on the 27th. On October 8th, I’ll be part of a National Indie Author Day presentation at the library. I still have plenty of copies of My Ideal Partner to sell, and it’s also available online through Createspace, Amazon, Smashwords, and other sources.

Well, that’s all the news I have for now. Happy fall, everyone. I’ll be back next month with more news.

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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.

 

News from Abbie’s Corner September 2016

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My Profile Picture

August has been a busy month with the promotion of my new book. I’ve been sending press releases to reporters and announcements to family and friends. On August 30th, I was interviewed on a local radio station’s public affairs program. On September 24th, I’ll be signing copies of my new book at Sheridan Stationery Books and Gallery. I’m working with Cameron Duff, director of the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library to host an event to commemorate National Indie Author Day on October 8th. By this time next month, I should have more details about that so stay tuned.

I’ve also been busy singing, as usual. Earlier this month, I played my guitar and sang at the Sheridan Senior Center’s adult day care program. My group, Just Harmony, performed for a service at the United Methodist Church on August 28th. On August 31st, I played my guitar and sang for the monthly birthday party at Westview. This month, I’ll be at Sugarland Ridge on the 9th and Westview on the 27th.

Believe it or not, I took time out to have some fun. I went with Rose Hill and Christine Valentine, two writer friends, to Prayer Lodge near Busby, Montana, where we enjoyed a delicious potluck supper and listened to some great live music. This was actually an informal jam session so I brought my guitar and played and sang a few songs.

A week later, Christine and I attended a bluegrass and burgers event at the local senior center which was a lot of fun. A couple of weeks later, Rose and I attended a lecture at the Brinton Museum on the history of cowboy music. Dave Munsick, the same singer/songwriter who sang for our wedding over ten years ago, played his guitar and sang some old cowboy songs during the lecture, and that was very interesting.

My brother’s in-laws from Florida came to town one day. They’d been traveling across the country for several weeks, occasionally on motorcycles, and they took me out to dinner at Frackleton’s. The food was delicious, and I had a great time visiting with them.

Well, that’s about it for now. I hope you all have a great month, and I’ll have more news in October. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to check out My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds. Also, I have a new Facebook page which I hope to eventually link to this blog.

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.

 

News from Abbie’s Corner July 2016

Friday, July 1st, 2016 1:45 p.m.

 

I’m composing this during what’s called a writing marathon, sponsored by the Wyoming Writing Project, a program developed by the university to facilitate writing. Here’s how it works.

After gathering at the agriculture building at Sheridan College, we split into groups. Each group’s goal is to travel to two or three locations around town and write for about fifteen or twenty minutes before sharing with others and moving to a new setting. Right now, I’m sitting at a picnic table at Whitney Common, a local park I often walk through on my way to other places.

Here’s the big news. My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, is soon to become a reality. David Dvorkin is in the process of formatting the manuscript for Createspace. It will also be available as EBooks on Smashwords and Amazon.

This month promises to be busy, what with my book coming out. I’ll write and send press releases to the media and mail sell sheets to bookstores and libraries. I’ll also plan as many appearances as possible to promote my book. It’s always exciting when a new book comes out.

On the last Tuesday of June, I did my usual monthly gig at Westview, where I played my guitar and sang, much to residents’ delight. This month, I’ll be at Sugarland Ridge, an assisted living facility, on July 8th. They’re doing a red, white, and blue social, so I’ll supply some patriotic music along with some country and western songs, since our annual national rodeo is the following week. On July 26th, I’ll be back at Westview.

Speaking of the rodeo, that’s the week my brother, Andy, from Florida, will be visiting. He and his wife Christina will fly into Denver on the 12th and rent a car. After spending time with relatives in Colorado, they’ll drive here the weekend of the 15th for his 30th class reunion. They also want to spend some time in Yellowstone Park, so I hope they’ll do that the following week and come back that weekend before returning to Colorado and flying back to Florida on the 26th. Will just have to wait and see what they have planned.

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Friday, July 1st, 2016 2:15 p.m.

I’m sitting downtown across the street from the post office. After sharing what we wrote at Whitney Common, our group has moved here. Time drags by on this hot July afternoon, as I sit on a hard bench with no back and watch cars go by. After about ten minutes, Aaron, one of my traveling companions for the day, says if we’d been using our heads, we could have gone kitty corner to the Pony Grill and Bar, sat on the deck, and had a drink. Oh well…

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Friday, July 3rd, 2016 2:45 p.m.

 

I’m in the Sagebrush Community Art Center, located near the Sheridan Inn next to the railroad tracks. I’m sitting in a cool, quiet room, surrounded by walls sporting paintings, most of which I can’t make out from where I am. On the way here, Aaron pointed out a yellow truck where a vendor sells a variety of foods including barbecue and stir fry. This reminded me of a food truck festival I attended with Andy and Christina when I visited them in Florida last March. The streets were lined for miles with nothing but food trucks selling everything from pizza to Chinese food. Anyway, after we’re done writing and sharing at the art gallery, we’ll return to the college and wrap up.

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Sunday, July 3rd, 2016 12:32 PM

 

Two days later, on another hot July afternoon, I’m reclined in my air conditioned living room, trying to put this writing marathon in perspective. It’s a fun activity for those who need motivation and inspiration to write. It provides a safe environment for writing and sharing, where no feedback is allowed, and readings are followed by a respectful “thank you” from others in the group.

Since I had an agenda, to write this blog post, I found the constant interruptions to share work and move to different locations an unwelcome distraction, reminding me of times when Bill was alive and I had to drop what I was doing every so often to take care of him. I guess I should have expected that.

Others in my group shared work inspired by their surroundings: a poem about children playing in the fountain at Whitney Common, a narrative about a homeless man wandering downtown streets. Next time, I’ll just go with the flow and write about what I see, smell, and hear around me. Who knows? A poem or story may come forth.

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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