Wednesday, October 17, 2018

October 17, 2018

I don’t know what to think of the fact that we’ve turned into one of those couples. You know the kind I mean. Their kids are all well and truly grown up, moved out, and off on their own leading exciting and busy lives. We—the older generation—are at home, alone, reportedly retired and in our September years. They probably would have been golden years if we’d done a better job of saving while we were working and raising our kids, but that’s another story.

So, as I said, one of those couples who no longer has children underfoot, whose grandchildren are also all off leading exciting and busy lives…and here we are, at home, just us…and the dog.

Our fur baby. And what do we do? Do I tell Mr. Tuffy to go and see David if he wants something? Does David tell Tuffy to go and see Morgan? No, of course not. Because he’s the baby, right? That means, he is told to think of us as mommy and daddy.

About the only point to our credit is we do not talk “baby talk” to him. Well, there might be a bit of a sing-song inflection in my voice when I tell him he’s so cute I just can’t stand it—but that’s the only time, I swear.

Thinking about it now, I wonder if it would have been better, right from the get-go, if we had referred to ourselves as grandma and grandpa? Or maybe, her/his majesty? Because I have to tell you, establishing ourselves as the “parents” of this little seven-pound, too cute for words Morkie of ours means that we are going through the whole child-rearing thing, all over again.

Complete with cheeky back-talk and a few nights of interrupted sleep when the baby is restless.

On the plus side, he doesn’t ask for money and hasn’t yet demanded the keys to the car. He might some day ask for those keys and then hide them, so I can’t find them, and we can’t, therefore, go somewhere and leave him alone, possibly never to return again leaving him to eventually starve to death! But that, too, is another story.

Of course, once you start this charade of referring to yourselves to the dog the way we have, there really is no going back. I’m his mommy, David is his daddy, and our daughter, Jenny, is therefore, his sister. He knows us by those names, too. The fact that Morkies tend to be devoted to their families is part of the mix. We are the only three people he loves absolutely. He’s happy when either of my two closest grandchildren, Emma and Gavin, come to visit. He gets excited and wants to be picked up and takes the time to sniff their clothes to see where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing.

New people occasionally come to the house, but he doesn’t want anything to do with them. He doesn’t bark at them, he just stays away from them. It took our son (Mr. Tuffy’s brother) about four times visiting after we got the dog for the dog to allow him close and tolerate being picked up. I think he’d be like that with others, too, if they visited more often. My brother and his wife don’t come over often enough to make any kind of impression on him, so it’s no, thanks. I’ll just stay with my daddy. He is absolutely the happiest when our daughter is here, so he has all of his humans present and accounted for.

We love the little rascal, of course, even if occasionally we wish he’d be a little less vocal—a little less diligent in his job as “Tuffy on Guard” as he feels he must alert us to every passing human (with or without a canine) as well as every squirrel that dares to venture close.

He’s the first small dog we’ve ever had, and there are marked differences between him and our previous large hounds. For one, he really is a lap dog, and having him on me isn’t cumbersome at all. Being the breed that he is, he doesn’t shed. The last dog we had—and the last cat, too—were fur shedding machines. One had to vacuum daily to keep up with the fur. I don’t miss that. He also sleeps a lot more than the bigger dogs ever did, and he’s easier to exercise. Heck, sometimes he just has to run for the pure joy of running, and runs laps from the living room, to my office, into the kitchen, around the table and back again.

Mr. Tuffy, being the baby, is spoiled. This house has three actual puppy beds in it. One is in the office, on the floor beside me, and has a towel for a blanket and several bones in it. Being creative, we call that the bone bed. There’s another with a towel for a blanket on the spare chair in the living room. That’s his television chair. There’s a third one, with no towel, that we keep on a bottom shelf of a shelving unit we have in our entrance hallway. There’s only about a foot and a half between the shelf the bed is on and the one above it, and we call that his “little house”.

Of course, when it’s bed time, it isn’t to any of these luxurious beds that he goes to. No, when it’s bed time he stands stoically waiting for his daddy to pick him up so that he can then carry him into our bedroom and the big, high bed (so high he can’t jump onto it). Yes, he sleeps on our bed, every night. He’s a restless little sleeper, too, finding his place on top of the blankets—sometimes wanting to be close to daddy, sometimes mommy, sometimes at the foot of the bed, sometimes by our pillows—and sometimes exactly between us and under the blankets.

Awakening at night, I know the males in the family are sleeping well and soundly when I see them both on their backs, snoring away.

In case you had any doubt at all, I will tell you that is, truly, how I like them both best.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

October 10, 2018

This past Monday was Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I can tell you that the history of this holiday as I was taught in school was that at its inception, it was a uniquely American one. I know I mentioned that last year at this time, (and likely the year before that and the year before that). My childhood memories of the holiday, at least in school, were of coloring pictures of the pilgrims and the Indians, and pumpkins and turkeys—and learning, of course about the Mayflower.

I definitely recall, as we heard the story of the first Thanksgiving, no teacher ever informed us that pilgrims were not a part of the Canadian historical story—or indeed, that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Canada in 1578. I didn’t learn that until very, very recently. Apparently, our Thanksgiving is more closely tied to the harvest celebrations held in Europe, usually in October. No, I never learned that in school, where we had to set out our Thanksgiving decorations of pilgrims and pumpkins and such.

We didn’t, in my personal experience, begin to make a big distinction between the United States and Canada until we drew close to our own Centennial. Yes, we stood on Main Street for the parade on July 1st, Dominion Day, which later was named Canada Day. But that and standing for our National Anthem (as often as not, in those days, God Save the Queen), was the full extent of Canadian patriotism that I’d ever seen displayed in public.

I recall the great flag debate of 1964. In our family it was a battle of sorts between my Mother (wishing to retain some semblance of the Canadian Ensign and the Union Jack on our flag) versus my brother, who wanted that beautiful new white and red flag with the Maple Leaf.

The only Thanksgiving Day traditions this family has are all related to food. In my house growing up, and as a parent myself, generally speaking, we had turkey twice a year: Thanksgiving in October and Christmas in December. The other Thanksgiving staples are sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. New Years Day supper, both in my mother’s house and in mine, more often than not was ham. I should qualify that and say that for just the two of us these days, New Years Day hasn’t generally in the last few years come with any special supper at all. Who knows what this upcoming New Year’s will be like? I’m on an every-other-day supper making plan here. We have soups (sometimes home made ones) and canned pasta or stew or frozen one-serving entrees, and of course “L.O.s” (left overs) for the day in between. Even with this new schedule, David has put himself on a diet, because he knows he needs to lose quite a bit of weight. Retirement for him has been a mostly sedentary life.

This year we had the local gang as well as two guests here for our Thanksgiving supper. It was a wonderful time, and really special because our Sonja cooked the turkey, so she was here for most of the day. I like spending time with her—I like spending one-on-one time with both of my girls. They’re interesting and funny, and even though they are both in their forties, they still need a mom every once in a while. I’ve had solid evidence of this the last couple of years, and I am grateful to be allowed to fill that role for them both. Our guests for Monday’s feast were two of Sonja’s coworkers. They appeared to enjoy themselves and that always pleases me.

And that brings me to the message I really wanted to express in this essay: gratitude. I’ve come to believe in my later years that an attitude of gratitude is a healing balm that can cure most emotional ills and bruised hearts. I try to take time every day to express my thanks-giving.

I’ve come to appreciate that those things I once considered truly awful that happened to me in my early years were in fact blessings—and for that I give thanks.

If I hadn’t been through some really horrific things, my writing—whether in these essays or in my novels—would lack depth. I have a friend who is a New York Times bestselling author. She has always maintained that while you occasionally have child prodigies in many of the arts and sciences, you don’t have one in novel writing. The reason is simple. Despite the possibility of gifted prose, unless one has some of life’s kaka on them, they can’t really write anything that touches us, or that calls to most people.

I am grateful, therefore, for the adversities I’ve endured and overcome, for they have made me relatable, which in turn allows me to help those going through similar tough times. I am grateful for the lean years where balancing the family budget felt like trying to juggle six balls in the air while standing with one foot on a thin wire, high above the crowd—and with no safety net below. If not for those times, I wouldn’t be able to offer counsel to others when asked, nor would I be as grateful as I am for our modest bounty today.

I am grateful for my family, whom it has been my privilege to serve and love—and for the chance to love our middle child, Anthony, for the few years we were granted with him. Loss has a way of helping to build bridges with others. And so, yes, I am grateful even for that loss.

I’m grateful that there are actually thousands of people who’ve read my words in the past, and fewer now, but still thousands who continue to read them today.

And I am grateful every morning to awaken to a new day—a day that if I choose to see it thus, can be as bright and full of endless possibilities as any new day should be.

I wish you all many days that are bright and shining and full of possibilities.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October 3, 2018

I often feel that I need to perform a very delicate balancing act as I pen these weekly essays. I’m a Canadian, and so I don’t feel I have the right to comment on the affairs of a country that is not my own. I can’t imagine that many of you who are my readers and are Americans would appreciate my poking my nose into your politics, and so for the most part, I don’t.

These are very turbulent times in which we find ourselves. Looking at modern society here in North America, I have to say our social behavior has not been at its best, lately. The Internet and Face Book and Twitter have, in many ways, dissolved the borders between us, but they have also dissolved the norms of manners, civility, and veracity. When we’re simply writing words on an electronic device, we can pretend to be whoever we want to be, and we can also pretend that the rules of polite society do no apply to us. After all, there’s no one in our face to tell us otherwise.

The relative anonymity of the Internet has allowed people to leave their civilized self behind and let their inner savage flow. It would seem that sitting at home, with our fingers on the keys does something to dissolve our personal filters.

The truth is that human behavior is human behavior regardless of nationality or political affiliation. Good manners are good manners and truth is truth—oh yes, it is! And it doesn’t matter on which side of the 49th parallel one lives. There are core realities that apply to everyone, everywhere.

One day last week there was an “event” unfolding on television, a real “reality Television” event. I’ve chosen to call this event “A Tale of Two Testimonies.” It was, for many of us, a difficult spectacle to watch.

Act one was heartbreaking, because to listen was to hear pain—raw, traumatic emotional pain that despite the passage of time has not healed. It’s a pain that will never heal completely. And for many, that testimony evoked memories of a personal pain that the viewer had endured. Anyone who has been sexually assaulted, or sexually harassed, or has a loved one to whom this has happened, keenly identified with that pain. Act one as it played out was real, visceral, and credible. For those with open minds—or as Another put it in a book I’m fond of, for those who had ears to hear—act one brought them, figuratively, to their knees.

Act two—for me—was the most shocking of the two. The level of anger and hate made me step back, emotionally. All I could think was, what would this hate filled, angry and belligerent person be like, drunk? Having, through the course of my life been at the hands of an angry, belligerent drunk, the image made my blood run cold. It brought back memories I didn’t want to remember.

The vitriol unleashed during act two spread out and became a contagion, infecting others, until the entire proceedings, at that point, devolved into a name calling, accusation hurling free-for-all, with the filth being aimed by angry men in one direction, and one direction only.

Now, back to that human behavior that is common to us all. There are norms of human behavior. Norms we all recognize and for the most part abide by. You wouldn’t walk down Main Street in your home town, naked; you wouldn’t defecate on the sidewalk. You wouldn’t hold a gun on someone and demand their wallet because you were short of cash; you wouldn’t try to haul another driver out of their car to punch them because they may have cut you off in traffic.

Oh, people do these things, and we see them on the news, but they are not normal acts, and they all have legal consequences.

You don’t sexually assault a person—you don’t kiss them or put hands on them without their consent. Whether you’re a student in high school, the box boy at the grocery store, the clerk at a cosmetics counter, a member of an elected body, or a member of the clergy or the judiciary, you do not do these things.

And if you’re a witness to someone behaving with as much anger, vitriol and partisanship as I witnessed in Act Two of “A Tale of Two Testimonies”, then the question you need to ask yourself is not, “is this anger justified”. Often, anger is justified, and it can even be righteous. As a mother I was on occasion moved to real, deep anger, anger incited by one or the others of my children (believe me, they all had a turn at that). Now, if in response to my anger I decided to do things to “get back” at them over the course of time, then I wouldn’t have been considered a person with the temperament to be a parent.

No, if you’ve been a witness to behavior as shown in act two, the question you need to ponder is whether or not a person possessing the kind of temperament we saw in that hearing room is the kind of person you want imbued with the responsibilities and privileges of being an associate justice of the highest court in the land.

And that’s before we even discuss if a documented liar is suited for that position. Long story short under that heading, lying under oath is a disqualifying quality, period.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

September 26, 2018

This week heralds the first episodes of returning, and series premiers of new weekly television shows in prime time. David has always been more into television and movies than me, but by the end of the annual summer seasonal hiatus, even I am looking forward to a few hours each week in front of what we used to call the “boob tube”. We especially enjoy the Voice, which makes Mondays and Tuesday evenings times to anticipate.

I used to watch a lot more television than I do now. That really changed for me once I became published. I no longer felt guilty for preferring to read or write than to sit and watch. I’m not as stodgy as that statement might imply. In fact, what I do choose to spend my few weekly television hours watching is not, by any definition of the word, highbrow.

I will however admit to not being a fan of the modern sit-com. If a comedy show has a laugh track, well, I figure that’s a clue. In my opinion if the producers feel they must signal to the audience when to laugh, how funny can the “comedy” really be?

I enjoy clever humor, and a few stand-up comics. My husband feels the same way about the half-hour weekly comedic offerings with-laugh-tracks as I do.

I enjoy dramas that are thoughtful, especially if the plots are clever and the dialogue sparkles. I loved Castle the first few seasons it was on. The last year of that series however, when the network had new people take over as the “show runners”, was, again only in my opinion, dreadful. The one thing they got right the entire last season was not killing the pair off in the final episode.

 Some networks don’t know when to quit, when it comes to their programs. And some quit way too soon. I was happy to hear that Designated Survivor is getting new life through Netflix; I don’t mind waiting until next year to see those new episodes. That was an hour a week I always looked forward to.

We enjoy Madam Secretary primarily because of the writing, and Survivor—a so-called ‘reality’ program—because it gives us insight into the infinite possibilities of human behavior, good and bad. All right, mostly bad. Hawaii Five-O easily became a favorite despite the sometimes improbable plot twists and often questionable writing. I was a fan of the first rendition of that series, a program I used to watch with my mother.

MacGyver is another case of having watched it because of the original. This new one isn’t as good as the one with Richard Dean Anderson—I get the feeling they can’t decide whether to be tongue-in-cheek, or not—but it has kind of grown on me.

 And there you have the sum total of my viewing preferences. I’m not one to flick around the dial and fill my time with whatever happens to be on. That’s because I’ve usually got a lot to do every day. If I don’t have something specific in mind to watch, I tend to walk away from the thing. If I am sitting there, “channel surfing”, I can guarantee you it’s because I’m a little under the weather, and I’m looking for something good to doze off to.

David has far more programs he enjoys, and that’s fine. We have wireless headphones for the television, which are primarily for his use. That way, he can watch what he wants to watch, I can read what I want to read, and peace reigns supreme in the Ashbury household.

When we were younger, peace wasn’t necessarily a part of the equation for either of us. Now, in our September years, peace between us and in our home is very highly prized and much appreciated. 

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

September 19, 2018

One thing in life that makes me a little sad is the very real fact that some people don’t know how to laugh. They don’t have a sense of humor at all. They go through their days not only not smiling, but more, not enjoying that lightness of spirit and heart that smiling and laughter bring with them as their guaranteed side-effects.

Have you ever seen someone walking down the street with a face that looks as if its owner has just sucked a dozen lemons? Faces like that are, unfortunately, plentiful these days. These are people whose “resting expressions”, the one they wear when they’re alone, is an expression called “just plain miserable”. You don’t want to talk to these people, because you just know if you do they’ll either insult you or depress you. And that is sad for us.

How much better it is to be a person who can smile or laugh. Better still, to be a person who can smile or laugh often, and especially to be a person who can laugh at oneself.

If I’m feeling low, as I sometimes do—because hey, I’m only human and humans get down—I go to YouTube and search out videos of laughing babies. Babies are amazing laughers! They don’t have any emotional or mental baggage yet, so they laugh and give it their all! Trust me when I say that nothing will put a smile on your face faster than the sound of a baby’s deep belly laugh.

One of my favorite sounds in all the world is the sound of my husband’s laughter. I hear it a lot, and I always have. He has the kind of laughter that makes you want to smile in response. His laughter usually says he’s just tickled pink by something.

I can recall when we were dating. Sometimes, we would go to see a movie. In those days there was often a cartoon shown before the feature—even if the feature wasn’t a kid’s movie. Oh my, give him a Roadrunner cartoon, and no matter where he is—at home or in a packed movie theater—he’ll laugh, loud and long.

These days, the times I most often hear his laughter is well after supper, and after we’ve watched some television together. I’ll go to my office to try and wind the day down—record the number of words I’ve written that day, record my steps, and maybe—just maybe—play a game or two.

David? He’ll go to his computer, and, if he isn’t just looking stuff up, he will head over to Netflix and search out either favored or new comedians. He loves stand-up comedy. I always know when it’s door number two, because the laughter begins. If the comedian is exceptionally good, the laughter will be rich and full and nearly to the point of tears.

I believe have mentioned a year or more ago, that when I was a fairly young teenager, I happened upon a recording my mother had, of a speech by famed psychologist Dr. Murray Banks. One point the Doctor made in this particular speech, was that it was physically impossible for the human body to produce laughter and ulcers at the same time.

I recall thinking then that if that wasn’t true, it should be. I still feel that way.

People spend a lot of money trying to “feel good”. They take spa treatments, or they pamper themselves with “retail therapy”. They drink alcohol, and some indulge in drugs—be it legal or illegal. The faster life gets, it seems the more desperate folks become for some kind of panacea, some secret remedy so that they feel good, and have full hearts.

People don’t need to go outside of themselves to find a cure for life’s perceived miseries, for the stress of living, or the heartache of the news. The magic cure is right inside their very own bodies. All they have to do—all we all have to do—is laugh.

Learn to see the ridiculous, the sublime, and the just plain silly. See them, appreciate them, and then let ‘er rip!

Like most muscles of the human body, the more you use your laughing muscles, the better honed they become, and the happier you’ll be. And if you want to give a booster to that laughter, so that the good feelings last longer and feel richer? Go and do a good deed for someone, help with a community project, just plain get involved with helping someone.

I guarantee the curative properties of your actions will be more potent than any pill you can name. 


Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

September 12, 2018

My beloved has a list, and I don’t know whether I should be afraid, or not.

After many years of not being able to bring himself to work on this house of ours, since he retired, he’s come to understand that there are things—cosmetic things, mostly—that need to be done. For appearances sake, yes, but also to add whatever can be added to the value of our house, with an eye to the future.

Eventually we will probably have to leave our home and go into some form of assisted living facility. We’re both hoping that won’t happen for at least a couple of decades. But the truth is, we’re not getting any younger.

There are still things my husband is capable of doing, and so he has a list. We had an excellent builder in earlier, as you may recall, who put drop ceilings in the kitchen and the living room. We still have a few projects we’re hoping this gentleman can handle for us in the next couple of years, but in the meantime, there are a few things my husband can do for himself.

Our entrance way, just inside the front door, was never finished, from when he and our late son worked on the renovations. This project was the next one on his list after the bathroom plumbing (done) and “finishing” the steps going to the upstairs (done).

 Mostly what the area needs is new drywall. He has two cordless drills which he uses alternately to install the screws in the drywall. He also had to buy another step ladder as the one he had is too short, and the extension ladder too difficult to use in the narrow space.

Getting the 4 x 8 sheets of drywall (you may know that product as gyp rock or sheet rock) was the easy part. Our local building supply store delivers. That arrived last week, and David had the driver and his assistant lean the sheets in the hall, blocking the door to my office. That was no problem. I have two doors in my office—opening into the hall and the kitchen. Being unable to use the one doorway was not a problem and moving past the other door into the living room was just a bit of a tight squeeze for me until he used up a couple of the eight sheets he’d had delivered. It was more a matter of side stepping for a few paces.

David did as much of the work as he could do each day, including replacing a small piece of drywall in our living room, a piece that had a hole in it. He was finished covering the area by Thursday, and we called our grandson to help him carry the left-over pieces upstairs. I had thought he’d ordered too much when it arrived but didn’t say anything. That very morning, he confessed he’d done just that. This isn’t a problem, because we have a few other areas that are in need repairs, and those two sheets will give him a good start on them.

He did a good job, and of course I told him as much. He had only one “oops” in the entire process, involving a part of the front door frame, but he was able to fix that. It’s one of life’s truths that as you get older you wonder if you can actually do what you need to do or what you want to do. Sometimes, you can’t. For this reason, I gave him lots of praise each day. It should be noted that he does the same for me, when I attempt a new recipe and actually succeed.

As we stood together admiring the installed drywall, we made plans to go to our local Canadian Tire store and get poly fill, so, he said, he could cover the screws, and be ready to paint. Hands on hips, he nodded, as if that nod meant, “and that’s all”. I agreed that we needed to get that, and, tape as well, for the seams between pieces of drywall. He gave me his best annoyed face. “Do you know what a pain that stuff is to work with?”

Once he understood that I wasn’t going to budge, he told me he guessed he could watch a couple of YouTube videos, and see how to do it. I told him I had faith in him. I didn’t really have to fight to get my way. There really is no sense in doing a job unless you’re going to do it right. And that sentiment is one that he’s espoused many times in our many, many years together.

He’s got one wall done now, taped and “mudded”. He gained confidence as he worked, and realized that, since he’s older now and has more patience, maybe that tape isn’t as difficult as he expected it would be.

Next week, hopefully, he paints. After having the entrance hall and living room be an interesting shade of pink/mauve for more than a decade (my choice), he’s told me I can choose any color I want for the newly prepared walls.

As long as that color is beige.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

September 25, 2018

I found it very gratifying to see the depth and breadth of the tributes paid to the late Senator John McCain. No matter who you are, from where you hail, what language you speak, there are core definitions connected to basic humanity that do not change. These were all honored last week.

Integrity is; compassion is; honesty is; heroism is—and Senator McCain embodied them all. I wanted to wait a week before I gave any comments, because I didn’t want to intrude. I am a Canadian, but that has never prevented me from seeing people as they are, for respecting those who exemplify the best of what we humans can be.

I have admired several of your luminaries in the past, irrespective of their political party. I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I’m just a simple woman who has tried to live her life according to certain principles and standards that I have come to expect of myself and pray to see in others.

I try very hard never to lash out in anger; never to return slights, or insults, or even injuries with like actions or words. I’ve come to believe that kindness and consideration are far more powerful weapons than are hate and vitriol. This does not mean that when I meet an injustice, I become a door mat. When I see or hear of a wrong, I stand up and speak out. Couching my opinions and actions in what some might see as meekness does not diminish them. You don’t always have to scream to be heard. Sometimes the most impacting words can be conveyed in whispers.

So, I was gratified to see the respect with which many responded to the Senator’s death. That he would ask two of his fiercest political opponents to eulogize him speaks more eloquently of John McCain’s character than even the most lavish words of praise could ever do.

The speed of life is faster now than ever it was. Solitude, peace and quiet, and moments of reflection appear to have lost their value in today’s world. These three qualities are invaluable to the individual psyche. When I meet people, ones who don’t like to be alone, who don’t like to take the time to surround themselves in quiet, then I pay attention, because in my mind—and friends, I have no scientific evidence to support this, just experience—I feel these people are troubled and lacking in some way. Sometimes, it’s a case of their having very low self-esteem—and sometimes it’s the complete opposite of that.

And once in a while you encounter an individual who wraps his inner sense of worthlessness in a gaudy cloak of loud egotism. People who have to always be the center of attention, who by their actions and words are constantly shouting, “watch me, watch me!”, are people who are deeply troubled and in need of help.

My late son, Anthony, was like that. I wish I’d been mature enough, wise enough, to truly understand the danger a narcissistic personality could be. I’ll always wish I could have done more, but I understand there are limits even to what a loving mother can accomplish. I remember one counselor telling me that there was no cure for narcissism. The very best you could hope for, she said, was if you could somehow convince the narcissist that they needed to behave differently. Then, she told me, you might be able to get them to modify their behavior and their responses, but, she cautioned, beneath it all, they would still believe all they ever had about themselves. They would still be narcissists.

Whenever I hear people talking about those who clearly are narcissists, I shake my head when I hear them say, “well, maybe they’ll stop doing this, and do that instead. Maybe they will see reason and understand they need to put others first.”

No, they won’t. Because as they see the world—themselves at the center of everything—that is their reality, that is their truth. They often will not accept that there is anything wrong with them, because they know they have no problem. They’re perfect just the way they are.

After my son’s death at the age of 29 caused by substance abuse, I sought the help of a therapist. We mothers will blame ourselves when our children make those wrong choices in life. I certainly did, and it took me a long time to understand that I could not have affected changes in my son’s behavior, no matter how hard I tried. He simply wasn’t wired in a way that would allow him to see the long-term implications of his actions, or that his choices were wrong, or that his actions hurt all those who loved him.

The last two years of his life, desperate to help him if I could and also to protect myself, I set boundaries. And if you don’t think that haunted me in the aftermath of his death, you’d be wrong. That was one of the reasons I needed the help of a professional. He’s been gone now for just over twelve years, and I have since come to accept that changing him was never in my power, and never, in truth, my right.

Expecting a narcissist to behave in such a way that they begin to have the welfare of others at their center has the same probability for success as expecting the sun to rise in the west.

The best you can do is to know there is nothing you can do that will change them. Accept that truth, and then respond accordingly.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

August 29, 2018

It seems to me that the last few years, we’ve been gifted with a week’s preview of autumn, occurring sometime during the last two weeks of August. I know I’ve mentioned this before in past essays. The expression I use is that it seems like the sky has “turned”. In appearance, it looks as if it goes from the deep blue of summer to the slightly fainter blue of fall, almost overnight.

I’m willing to admit the possibility that this is all in my head. However, it’s happened again, just in the last few days. When we headed out last Saturday to attend a craft show, I told my husband that it felt like autumn. He agreed with me. Then it rained very hard later that day, and I wonder if that was what I was sensing, an oncoming storm.

Rainy days are both wonderful and horrible for me. They’re wonderful in that aesthetically, I love them. I love the sense of coziness I feel, the sound of rain on the roof and windows, and that “let’s just snuggle down in a comfy chair with a nice blanket, a cup of coffee, and a good book” kind of vibe. I was driving home from the craft fair in the pouring rain and felt that was what I wanted to do as soon as I got home.

I think being attuned to the weather is one of those primal senses buried within us all. In the beginning of human life on this planet, paying attention to the weather was a matter, often, of life or death. Then as we moved from being cave dwellers to becoming an agrarian people, we knew the weather and our food supply were inextricably bound together. In those days, you had to grow it yourself, because there were no other alternatives.

Today our thinking vis-à-vis the weather, for most of us, is more of a secondary matter. We look to the forecasts to see if we need an umbrella, or if it’s going to be a good day for a picnic in the park—or hanging laundry on the line. But knowing the weather, having the ability to forecast is vital to a lot of people, especially those in coastal areas, in areas dubbed “tornado alley”, and of course, for those who live in the more usual paths of hurricanes and cyclones.

The horrible part of rainy days? I apologize for thinking of myself here, but the horribleness is that a series of wet days means that I’m bound for more arthritis pain that normal—and normal is pretty darn bad to begin with. I’m almost like that proverbial character of folklore, the grizzled old woman who lives on the corner and can predict the rain because of the throbbing of her aged joints.

Getting older is not for the faint of heart.

And neither, lately, is the weather we’ve been getting in North America! There are droughts and awful fires on one coast, torrential rains and flooding on the other. I watch American network news each night, and I have one thing I’d like to say to all of my friends in the U.S.: y’all just can’t catch a break, lately, and I’m sorry for it.

We’ve been lucky where I am the last couple of years. The winter has been not too early or severe, with a few milder days here and there; rain has fallen in the other seasons on a regular basis, but not enough to flood us out. And we’ve had a few very hot days this summer—in fact, we have had more than a handful of days of high, thick humidity with stifling heat, with more coming in the next couple of weeks, apparently. But it hasn’t been endless. I don’t tend to go out too much on those days. That’s why I have central air. Now, in our September years, my husband and I feel as if we’ve earned the right to stay comfortable in our home when the mood strikes.

I am, however, concerned about the coming winter. I haven’t looked at the farmer’s almanac, nor have I read the predictions of Environment Canada. No, I’ve been watching the squirrels just outside our house. Those little buggers are running around like crazy, gathering their bits of food, and hiding it all away. In the heat of August.

I may not know much but I do know this: that early industry by nature’s little critters just can’t mean anything good.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

August 22, 2018

Over the last several months, I’ve slipped into the habit of getting up fairly early in the morning, for a “retired” person. There are a couple of reasons for this. The one I’ll most readily admit to is, no matter how comfortable one’s bed is, after several hours, if one has arthritis, one’s body protests being horizontal.

Yes, I turn over from laying on my left side to laying on my right, but the moment comes when arising is really the best option to ease the pain. I aim for crawling into bed between eleven and midnight each night; it’s true that an adult my age is “supposed” to get eight hours of sleep, but let’s face it. That’s not happening for me. I don’t even, except if I’m under the weather, take an afternoon nap to add to my sleep hours. I might doze off for fifteen minutes or so in the afternoon when I have my legs up, in my recliner, but that’s it. So, in bed hopefully by eleven-thirty, up between six-thirty and seven, that’s seven hours. But then you take away the couple of trips (usually) to the bathroom, and you’re looking at about six and a half hours sleep on a good night.

With arthritis, I find that just getting up and moving helps. Even with morning stiffness adding a great degree of discomfort to the moment, by the time I’ve moved around for a few minutes, it’s easing up a bit. So getting up early and taking a longer time to officially begin my day, makes things more tolerable.

But there is another reason for me to get up early.

When the kids were here, and parenting was my major focus, and I worked outside the home in a job that was Monday to Friday, I would get up a little extra early on the weekends. I’d be up at five a.m., and I had a very firm rule: no kids up and about until I’d had my second cup of coffee.

That usually took between an hour and a half to two hours. And I figured, that meant the kids could get up at seven or a little after, and I was good; I’d had those precious, precious minutes of solitude. Just me in my domain, my trusty cup of coffee in hand. If I had that time to myself each weekend morning, I knew I could handle whatever came my way during that day. Usually.

Well, as you know, my children are long grown and living lives of their own elsewhere. For several years now, it’s been just the two of us here. And until last November 24th, I got to enjoy a high degree of solitude, as David left the house around five-thirty a.m. and didn’t get home until four-thirty, or sometimes, later.

Now of course, he’s at home all the time. And that has been a good thing. However, basic principles in life rarely change. And since my husband usually stays up past one or even two a.m. and has a wake-up call in (with me) for nine a.m. every morning except Sunday when he wants up at eight…my getting up early is a necessity, not a luxury, and certainly not a foible.

If I’m lucky, I get two hours of solitude each morning to begin my day. To do my devotionals, first, then wake up my mind by playing a few games. To have my first coffee, and yes, maybe even my second coffee.

It seems somehow appropriate that my Fitbit tracks my steps-per-hour beginning at nine a.m. – and the first steps that go into that count are from my office to the bedroom to awaken the males (man and dog) of the household.

Life of course is never perfect. Every once in a while—rarely, in fact, but it does happen—I get out of bed at six-thirty, head to the bathroom—and then head right back to bed. Yes, I do once in a long while sleep in until eight! Less rare but no less annoying vis-à-vis my daily routine? My beloved wakes up ahead of schedule—around eight—proud that he hadn’t needed his wake-up call that day.

Those are the days I recall that old truism: if one’s daily schedule is disrupted early, one’s entire day is shot, right out of the gate.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

August 15, 2018

I never thought I’d see the day. But I have, and now, as I reflect upon it, I can’t help but analyze the entire situation.

I’d often heard it said that couples who stay together, over time, tend to shift and change and more resemble each other than they did at the beginning of their union. They become two peas in a pod. Sometimes, they even begin to look alike!

I’m not altogether certain I ever believed that. I did know there was a quality of being married for a number of years that seemed to possess every married couple I knew who’d been together more than a dozen years. And that was an inclination toward bickering.

Not nasty fighting, not name calling or blame throwing, just nit-picking bickering. These back and forth exchanges at times resemble an existential one-act play—or a tennis match. I’d experienced it in my own marriage, of course, but I’d also witnessed it with my parents-in-law, my brother and his wife, good friends, and even our eldest son and his wife.

In fact, that last example? I can still recall the first time I heard my son and his wife begin behaving like old married folk. I laughed.

So the bickering, yeah, that’s normal. But that other thing? That becoming like two peas in a pod thing? Nah, that couldn’t be right. In fact, a part of me even thought, “say it isn’t so!”

For those of you who’ve read these essays over the years, y’all know that my beloved has been what I called a “traveling fool”. Nothing, in his mind, was worse than having a week or two of vacation time and going nowhere. He loves traveling, going and seeing and doing. He’s not a world traveler, but he’s a continental one, and even a slightly off-continental one.

Over the last dozen years we’ve been to a number of major cities in the United States, including Puerto Rico, as well as a few resorts in Cuba, The Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas, St. Thomas. We’ve even cruised to Bermuda—twice.

You may recall, as well, that at least once a year he and our daughter would head off to Cuba, for some sun, sand and sea. And, of course, reading. Our daughter is as voracious a reader as we are, and as is our oldest son.

I was worried, as the day of my husband’s retirement loomed, that I wouldn’t have much writing time in the months and years to come. I feared that he would want to be going and seeing and doing, that he would be loath to stay home all the time. After all, being the home body, preferring to be within my own domain as opposed to going and seeing and doing, was my thing. I was the hermit in training, not he.

The operative word in that last sentence: was.

The day I never thought would come has arrived, and it did so quietly, and without fanfare. We were coming back from the city next door about a week ago, having had to run a few errands, and my beloved said, “I’ll be glad when we get home. I really don’t like going anywhere anymore.” No traveling, I asked him?

“It’s just such a bother,” he said. “Maybe now and then, at some point in the future. But for now, I just want to stay home.”

When he said that, I very nearly protested aloud that he was stealing my lines! And then, I thought about it some more. And I thought about that theory, that long-married couples tended to blend. And I realized it was true, at least for us.

Time was we spent our days apart, he at work and me here, at the keyboard. Then he’d come home, and he’d relax, eat the supper I’d cooked him, then read or watch the television while I…returned to my keyboard. He was tethered to his job, and the routine that created, and I was here, being a hermit. 

And now here we are, two long married people, at our keyboards each day, loath to go out into human society. Not really wanting to travel so much as just…stay home. Weekly grocery runs are even an ordeal at times. We’re seriously considering having them delivered.

There remains but one major difference in our days: he likes to stay up later and then get up later than I do. So, he has a couple hours after 11:30 at night to have the house to himself, and my couple of hours of solitude come before nine in the morning.

His title of “traveling fool”, while well earned, needs must now be, as he is, retired. There’ll still be the odd excursion in our future, including one to San Antonio next February for a writer’s/reader’s event. But going and seeing and doing far away from home will be more a memory than a way of life.

Times, and life, change. We both believe in embracing what is, and in seizing the day, be it long or short. Happiness, in my view, is easiest realized when you cherish the moment that is and look fondly on the past as a lovely place you used to be.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

August 8, 2018

So many people today are broken. Sometimes, you can see that brokenness right there in front of you. It’s not hidden, but in plain sight. Some people see it and turn away, just in case it’s contagious. And some people have become adept at dismissing the condition from their conscious thoughts.

It doesn’t affect me, so I refuse to acknowledge its existence.

But there are more people who are broken than even the most empathic eye can see. Just as some people have trained themselves not to see the brokenness of others, other people have learned how to hide their own tattered condition from the world—not only from strangers, but, and likely most especially, from family and friends as well.

When you have a loved one who goes through horrendous circumstances, sometimes all you can do is simply be there for them. Be the shoulder that supports a head, the ear that listens to a heart that’s breaking, and the arms that hold body and soul together, allowing a moment of rest. You don’t always have to have answers. Most times, even when we’re the most broken, the only place answers can be found is within ourselves. You don’t hold my answers, only I do. I don’t have your answers—I can only support you while you search for your own.

Until we’re strong enough to take up the search for those answers, we need comfort and caring and to know that we’re not alone. We need to know someone else has been through this. And we need to know, that no matter how destroyed we feel ourselves to be, we matter.

People matter. In fact, if people don’t matter to you, then everything else that does matter to you is as worthless as ten-year-old mouse defiled hay.

I believe with all my heart that the main reason we are here, on this earth, is to help others. That doesn’t mean you must live 24/7 for other people. It does mean that when those moments happen, when those people come into your life, then you need to take care of them in the way that, if you look inside yourself, you understand you’re expected to do.

You see a homeless person on the street, and you feel the urge to feed them? Feed them. It’s nearly Christmas, and you feel the need to buy food or toys and give them to someone who needs them? Buy them.

The person in your office whom you don’t really care for is having a horrible time—take them for a cup of coffee or tea, and just listen.

Most of what we’re called to do to help our neighbors, whom we are supposed to love as ourselves, doesn’t cost us anything but time and a bit of compassion. And the wonderful thing about compassion is this: the more you give away, the more your human heart manufactures for you to give away.

The side effects of this process include but are not limited to: an easing of your own sorrows, a sense of achievement, an insight that you’ve done something good and righteous, a lighter step, and a heart more filled with love.

These days in which we find ourselves are rife with anger, sadness, and a sense of being adrift, of having lost our way. We feel the very foundations of our society—honesty, decency, compassion, and fairness—being battered by the forces of pure evil.

This is nothing new in human history, though it may be new to us as individuals. And the only cure, the only way to beat back the dark is to invite in the light—to bring our better angels to the fore and follow their prodding.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

August 1, 2018

Our gardens are not doing too badly this year. The ones in the back yard are especially thriving. We even have a kind of taking-over-everything in its path vine thing happening. Judging by the leaves and the flowers, it appears to be of the morning glory family. It’s very pretty and the flowers are white with a purple center.

And it was lush and beautiful, growing out of the old barrel as it does, spreading along the side fence. I say “was” because we discovered, on this past Saturday that some critter or other had been using that growth as an all-you-can-eat buffet. I’m not sure what was having a feast there—the candidates are squirrels, chippies, rabbits or caterpillars—but it damn near did all but lick the platter clean on an entire section of the vine.

The old barrel is just that—an old large, plastic barrel that we were using as a compost container. In the first few years of living in this house, my beloved used that barrel as a garbage can. And for the first few years, the collectors each week happily dumped its contents into their trucks.

Enter new regulations, and we discovered on a day when that barrel was about half full, that it no longer qualified as an acceptable receptacle. I had thought David had emptied the contents into another can that did meet regs.

Imagine rolling-eyes emoji here.

At about the same time as we discovered the unacceptability of the old barrel, I had mentioned to David that we really should have a compost container. He said, “You bet!” And since he duly took my compost deposits—all fruit and veggie rinds and coffee grains, opened tea bags and egg shells and such—each week without any comment, I assumed we had a composter.

And we did. Yes, that old gray barrel had been transformed as if by magic into a composter—and, I might add, no, it was not emptied first. Maybe I should suggest imagining another rolling-eyes emoji here?

About four years ago, after my beloved, having added some soil here and there, the compost barrel was full. It stood where it is now, in anticipation of his using the contents of that by now full of rich composted soil on the gardens, when we discovered that we had something growing in it. Weeds, I thought. Let’s just wait and see, he said.

And thus, began the takeover of the vine. We’re pretty sure it’s not necessarily a “weed”, because it has those pretty white flowers with the purple centers. The leaves and the flowers are both very similar in shape to the morning glory plants at the front of our house, as well as the moon flower plant that we put in this spring. We figure we have some birds to thank for this vine ending up in the compost barrel.

Each year, the vine comes back. We don’t cut or feed it, but it does seem kind of nice. Except not at the moment, when it’s somewhat chewed and mangled. My husband thinks it really could be chipmunks or squirrels, because seriously, it looks like something just chewed all the leaves off in one area, but the munchers left the stem part. We had the same thing happen in the very early spring to one of our cedar trees. Up overhead, several feet up, you could see a round, gnawed-away part of the tree’s foliage.

If the destruction had happened to one of my roses (which are not in this part of the yard) or to other plants that we purchased at the garden center, I’d be more than a little miffed. As it is, if it is one of nature’s little creatures availing itself of the buffet offering, how can I really complain?

Come winter we purchase peanuts and sunflower seeds to feed the squirrels and chippies, even going so far as to have a separate feeder for those rodents. We have a bird feeder too, and purchase bird seed for it. How can we complain if those same creatures then avail themselves of whatever they find here the rest of the year? Likely as far as they’re concerned, this isn’t a house where humans live.

It’s a twenty-four-hour restaurant, an all-you-can-eat salad bar. I’m okay with that. Just as long as they continue to leave my roses alone.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

July 25, 2018

I have to say, they sure aren’t making it easy, these days, to stay positive, are they? Between the weather which we’ve been getting lately, and newscasts with all the hair-on-fire headlines, doom and gloom and gloom and doom abound.

My beloved tells me he thinks we’ve passed the tipping point for the climate—that we’ve now crossed the threshold with Mother Nature, and the best we can do is to slow it down by the tiny increments available to us and then watch the consequences in the weather of failing to respond adequately to the crisis of global warming.

As for the headlines? Well, thanks to the constant barrage of news headlines, hand wringing, along with name calling and blame hurling have become the new national past times, in both our countries. Staying upbeat is becoming passé, as is using common sense and practicing the golden rule.

There are times when I am wondering if it’s the gold-plated rule, and if that gold plate wasn’t maybe fool’s gold, based on how many people seem to be ignoring it anymore. There was a time in life when I heard that golden rule spoken every single day—by a well-known radio personality in our neck of the woods.

Paul Hanover was with a radio station in Hamilton, Ontario and was so well known for his morning show, he was dubbed the “Mayor of the Morning”. Hanover ended every one of his broadcasts this way: “And remember, do as you would be did by.”

That simple, common, and yes, Biblical principle doesn’t seem to be a lot to set as a daily goal, does it? You wouldn’t think it would be difficult to accomplish, would you?

And yet, sadly, it is becoming out of date. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you has truly, and for the most part, turned into “do unto others before they do it unto you”, which is not the same thing at all.

We seem to be having an emotional crisis lately, and I am beginning to believe it’s a natural outgrowth of the twenty-four-hour news cycle. No, I am not blaming the media—or rather, not only the media. As it turns out there is plenty of blame to go around.

You could blame the media in that originally the “news” on television began as the evening news, and was, yes, in the evening, a half-hour presentation which was commercial free—a public service offered by the major networks. “Breaking News” used to be a banner you saw rarely—primarily when something truly newsworthy, or truly horrible happened. Today, it’s a banner seen almost daily.

When newscasts became just another way for the networks to make money, well, I guess we could say we should have known it would all go to hell.

You can blame those who seek to make news—those who have an almost atavistic need to draw attention to themselves on a constant, continuous basis. Anyone who seeks fame and notoriety by getting their name out there, by dominating the news cycle, anyone with a cause, can go ahead and do the outrageous or the unseemly, and be certain that someone somewhere will have a cellphone with a camera, and bam—instant news headline and hair-on-fire moment.

And you can blame us, the consumer of that twenty-four-hour news cycle. In fact, I believe you can blame us the most. They’ve taken advantage of one of the worst aspects human nature, that same instinct that has us slowing on the highway to get a good look at a horrific accident or stopping on a hill to watch an oncoming train wreck. Before we know it, we’re addicted to the news, wanting to see what happens next. The problem is—and maybe the purpose is—it can wear us out so we become desensitized to current events. To make us feel so awful, that we don’t care who does what to whom, we just want peace. Those are real consequences to living in these times, and they are dangerous. Very dangerous. That kind of horrible feeling/desensitization is the purpose of disinformation campaigns, to prevent people from keeping vigil on whatever it is the instigator of the “newsworthy” events is aiming to accomplish. The good old misdirection of the snake oil salesmen of the world…and they’re making headway, damn it.

Maybe we should form moderate sized mental/emotional, virtual “settlements”, just like in pioneer times. Folks congregated together then for protection and survival, and maybe we need to revisit that strategy. We could form groups, make a duty roster, and take turns keeping an eye on “breaking news”, and if it’s really bad, if it involves getting ready to duck and cover, then the one on duty could alert the rest of us. Other wise, the one on duty would monitor and the rest of us could just forget there is anything to monitor. And if it does get that bad, and we do get that notification?

Well, then we can put away our coloring books and our pencil crayons, and brace for impact.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

July 18, 2018

Y’all might find this hard to believe, but I have the darnedest time keeping friends. I really don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I sure wish someone would tell me. If I knew what it was, I might actually stop doing it. Then again, I might not. I suppose it depends on what the truth is.

My beloved gets annoyed with me, because, he says, I don’t put up even the simplest of barriers to protect myself. He’s right, of course. I meet new people, and I am completely open to them, taking them at face value unless, of course, I see direct evidence that I shouldn’t.

It never occurs to me that some people may only be interested in me for what I can do for them because, well, I don’t behave that way myself.

I suppose in a way I represent the flip side of a coin we’ve all become way too familiar with. We all know people who are liars. And liars, more often than not, truly believe that everybody lies because they do. The same with people who will cheat the system, trying to grab a little something more for themselves they maybe shouldn’t have. “Everybody does it,” they haplessly proclaim, as they stuff their pockets with their ill-gotten gains.

So I guess I’m one of the folks on the opposite end of that spectrum. Despite having been figuratively kicked in the teeth by those I’ve believed in and believed, in the past, to be my friends, I go ahead and eagerly take on new friends. I don’t even consider that these new friends might do me dirt, because I wouldn’t do that to anyone and—more truth—I choose to not even consider it.

That’s right, I choose not to believe that the people I befriend are anything but what they appear to be. Because if I acted suspicious, if I narrowed my gaze on them, looking and waiting for the first sign they’re insincere, that would make me a cynical person.

Given the choice between being naïve and hurt or being cynical and pain free, I will choose naïve every time.

One of the things I have trouble doing in life is asking other people for anything. Seriously, I’m the first one to offer to help, if I can. If you’re my friend, and I see you have a need, if that’s something I can help with, hey, I’m there. Why? I guess because I believe that’s what friends are for, especially if it’s me doing the giving.

I have on occasion been met with suspicion myself. That always confuses me, and if that suspicion is nasty in nature, hell, I don’t even get mad. I just get hurt. Hurt is a lot more difficult to cope with than anger. Anger by it’s very nature burns off the chaff of the experience—the right amount of anger and it’s a one-time cleansing, without a refueling stop.

Hurt? About the only thing I know to do in response to feeling hurt is to batten down the emotional hatches for a while and let the pain slowly work its way through, and hopefully out.

Anger would be a healthier response. But just like that thick skin everyone has always been after me to grow, I don’t really believe changing my response from hurt to anger is in my DNA.

Friends have always meant more to me than they really should. I know that. I’ve often quoted that wise saw: people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I believe that with all my heart. I’ve experienced it time and again. I can look back over my life and see the people who’ve touched me who, I thought at the time, I touched in return and would be forever friends—but who are now at this point long gone.

I just wish people wore signs. Then I would know, if they’re here for a reason, or a season, or a lifetime.

The most likely truth is that they do wear those signs—I just don’t know how to see them.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

July 11, 2018

What an amazing, miraculous, happy-ending story!

We became alerted to the drama taking place on the other side of the world, in Thailand more than two weeks ago. Twelve boys and their soccer coach had gone exploring in a cave complex in the northern part of that country. A flash flood from seasonal monsoon rains had hit the area, trapping them, and even while rescuers were being assembled, fears ran high that the missing team had drowned.

As I watched this emergency unfolding on our television screen, I was taken back to the Copiapó mining accident in Chile in 2010. That emergency involved grown men, not boys. Thirty-three, in fact, who were rescued after an astounding sixty-nine days trapped underground. Despite the differences, at their core, that accident eight years ago and this emergency just past, are similar.

In both instances not only were the attention, the hearts and prayers of the entire world engaged, but so too were the resources, experts and rescue personnel. For a time, in both instances, the world was united in hope.

The effort to affect a rescue once the children were found to be alive—and oh, what a moment that was!—was an international endeavor. People came together, worked together, prayed together with little in common except for one major thing: these were children at risk of dying.

As we’ve recently learned, nothing draws the involvement and cooperation of complete strangers like a threat to children, any children, all children, can do. I believe that’s because in a very real sense children in dire need belong to us all—whether they’re trapped in caves underground or trapped in a heartless bureaucracy.

As the days passed we all watched and prayed and hoped for the best but feared the worst. These were young boys, whose entire time in the dank and the dark spanned eighteen days and nights.

From June 23rd, when the team was discovered to have entered the caves, until July 2nd when British divers found them to be alive, we tuned in, and hoped, and prayed despite our fear. The parents of these boys gathered at the site, camping out, joining together to support one another, share stories and pictures of their sons, and to await their return.

Anyone who is a parent identified with those moms and dads, clinging to each other and to hope, as the days passed. Their hope was first rewarded when their sons were found to be alive. They had images then, and a few words from their boys, and the chance to send a few words back, a down payment for the time, the certain-to-come time, when they would be able to actually hold and hug their babies again. It would happen, I imagine they said to themselves, and to anyone who could hear them, over and over again. They will be saved. It will happen.

Experts debated on the best way to execute a rescue. All sorts of ideas were floated, from bringing them out in scuba gear, to leaving them for a few more weeks, until the monsoon season passed.

But oxygen was running low, and the threat of more rain was running high. One brave Thai navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, who had volunteered to help, died during the operation.

Though it was a very dangerous plan—most of the boys could not even swim—the decision was finally made to bring them out, one by one, through the dark and chilled waters flooding the narrow nearly two-mile-long path.

They didn’t announce that the method of rescue had been decided, or that a team of divers had been dispatched to begin. They only announced, on July 8th, that the first four boys had been brought safely out of the danger zone after an eleven-hour long effort.

 Amid the cheers and jubilation, organizers announced the teams would rest and return for more in a day or so. Speculation was this rescue could take up to five days. But in truth, they worked much faster than that. The next day, four more boys emerged. And yesterday, the remaining boys and their coach were led to safety.

Other divers re-entered the cave, intending to retrieve their equipment; they had to abandon that effort when the caves began to take in more water after the main pump they’d been using to keep the water level as low as possible, quit. As it turned out, there hadn’t been a moment to spare.

With so much negative news lately, this event drew us together, and drew us in. Our hearts ached for the parents waiting, waiting, to be reunited with their children. And we were inspired by the bravery of those children. They weren’t seen to be crying, or unruly. They were smiling and calm, proving that sometimes you don’t need to be the biggest or the strongest or the best.

You just need to be pure of heart, and to have faith.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

July 4, 2018

On Sunday we celebrated Canada Day, and today is the Fourth of July! We celebrate our national birthday here in Canada in much the same way as you Americans celebrate Independence Day. There are picnics and parades, a lot of flags waving in the breeze, and there are fireworks at night.

We here in Canada, just like you in the United States, began existence as colonies of Great Britain. However, our two countries came into being in vastly different ways, and in different centuries, and those earliest of roots have set the course for our disparate destinies and unique national personalities. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’ve boiled our main differences down to a few sentences. This was not done to try and ridicule or denigrate, but only to understand.

Canada became a nation through an act of British Parliament (The British North America Act of 1867). The United States became a nation through the American Revolution, which began in 1775 with “the shot heard round the world” and reinforced a year later when patriots created and enacted the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution of the United States, and fought a war for the right to be one nation, under God.

As a result, Americans hold fast to the second amendment of their Constitution, and we Canadians hold fast to being polite and diplomatic.

I think that main difference is why, as a student in both high school and later, university, it was the study of American history I was drawn to pursue. Seizing the moment and making something happen was so much more exciting to me than talking something into existence.

For those of you who’ve been kind enough to read these essays over the years you know I hold the United States in high esteem, and many of my best friends are in fact Americans. This will never change, and because this is so, I keep abreast of current events below the 49th parallel.

Ronald Reagan, the great American president, referred to the United States as a “shining city on the hill”. In his farewell address to the nation, he said in part, “I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it and see it still.”

It is still all of that, your nation, even if a bit of smog at the moment is making our view of that shine a little less than it was. The United States was molded by the framers of the Constitution to be a country that would endure. In their time, these brave patriots had broken away from a ruler they deemed a despot; therefore, protecting against having a despot within their newly minted borders anytime in the future clearly was a central focus for them as they crafted that most amazing of documents, the Constitution of the United States. The checks and balances built into that document’s structure guarantees that yours is a nation of laws, and not of men, and that the nation itself is greater than any one person or group of persons, and that it will endure long after all who are alive now have turned to dust—provided, of course, that the majority of America’s citizens work together and work hard to keep it so.

Freedom is a gem more precious than diamonds or rubies. People who are free represent the most cherished and sought after state of being in human existence. How could personal freedom not be one of the highest human ideals? God Himself created us with free will—the right to choose our own destiny—the right to choose between good and evil, and the ability to do so.

There are many nations whose citizenry do not have personal freedom, or who’ve had it but traded it away, either wittingly or unwittingly, for a gilded cage. That makes us—the citizens of Canada and the United States—two very special peoples. But this freedom we have isn’t free.

It has never been free.

Men and women have died, first seizing and then protecting this right of ours. They’ve fought wars, and some have paid the ultimate price, to guard our blessed heritage of freedom.

As we celebrate our nations birthdays let us remember the purpose to which we were originally called, the sacrifices made on our behalves, and the responsibility we have to guard not only our own rights and freedoms, but to work to establish and then to guard the rights and freedoms of all our fellow citizens, not just here in North America, but all over the world.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

June 27, 2018

On Saturday, June 23, I once more did that thing that likely would have made my mother curse, if she’d been here to see it. I turned off the air conditioning (again) and turned on the heat (yes, again). And I’ve come to the conclusion that my inner curmudgeon isn’t only not so inner anymore, she’s taking over my mind and worse, much worse, my mouth!

I was sitting in my office, early in the morning. David was still asleep. He tends to roll into bed sometime after two a.m., so it’s not surprising that he’s not up with the sun. Neither am I, for that matter. I aim for six-thirty, unless I’m extra tired, and then it’s seven-thirty. Saturday, it was the latter. As I looked out my office window, which is behind my monitor, I couldn’t help but notice the overcast skies and wet glass. As I began my daily routine, the sound of rain played a lovely background symphony. My blanket was on my lap yet even so I…. shivered.

I turned on the electric fireplace I have here in the office, which since I rearranged some of the furniture in the last couple of weeks, no longer blows in my direction. Fortunately, there is a fan on a stand in this room, too. I put the fan on low, aimed at the electric fireplace, and that helped. But I wouldn’t be spending my entire day in the office and I wasn’t the only one in the house.

Perception is everything. In January, if the temperature soared to sixty-three, we’d throw open the windows and step outside in shirtsleeves. At the end of June after steadily warm (and at times too warm) temperatures, sixty-three feels chilly. Sixty-three and rainy makes it feel twenty degrees colder.

So yes, I turned on the furnace. It’s only set for seventy, but most important, the bit of heat from the vents should defeat the damp. And, with the system controlled digitally, I need only press a couple buttons to turn off one (a/c) and turn on the other (heat).

Where my burgeoning curmudgeon comes in? I think it was when she grumbled all the way to the system controls, words that sounded like, “I’m too damn old and been through too damn much to be so fricking cold and shivering in my own damn home in the last days of June.”

I’ve noticed a tendency—or perhaps I should characterize it as a growing compulsion—to speak aloud such mutterings. When I’m alone, or even with my husband, this is not a problem. In the past when I would be alone, I have often spoken aloud, explaining to anyone who did happen upon me and heard me that I’m a writer, and I’m testing out dialogue. Some folks actually believed that. As far as my husband is concerned, he usually just chuckles, especially if some poor sap on the television news is the target of those mumblings. And if he’s the target? Well, he is mostly deaf, and his hearing aids don’t always work well—especially if he’s tuning out the world—or his wife.

I recall the older people often saying, when I was much younger, that the temperature fluctuating so much will cause a body to come down with…well, something. I’m not sure if that belief has any real basis in fact. Just lately, I’m trying to be careful and make sure that what comes out of my mouth, or off my keyboard, is the truth, and not false.

I don’t know about all y’all, but I am so darn sick of hearing falsehoods—aka lies.

As I was finishing up writing these words, I decided to check the web site I have stored in my “favorites” for a weather update. At the top of the page were these words: “Enjoy these comfortable temps in Ontario, extended heat wave (those three words in all caps) is coming. Plus (all caps) a strong (all caps) storm threat.” The temperature at the time was 57.

I’m trying to figure out if there was ever a time in my life when I thought 57 degrees was a comfortable temp. There might have been, but I don’t remember a specific moment, which tells me it was likely more than a few years ago.

And that lack of recall is probably just as well.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June 20, 2018

As you may recall, four years ago, after much debate and back and forth between us discussing our two options, we decided to give our back yard—the part of it that is immediately accessible to us—a face-lift. Originally, we thought we’d get a small on-ground pool installed, but aside from the hassle of the red tape with the town, we realized that doing so would take the entire back yard away from the dog.

So instead, we bought ourselves a gazebo, some outdoor carpeting, and a patio set consisting of a table with four chairs, and called it done.

At the end of that first season, when we were close to getting snow, my beloved disassembled the arrangement, and stored everything in the outside shed that he’d just built. Also spending time over the winter months in that shed, as it turned out, were some chippies—chipmunks to those of you less familiar with the cute little critters. Now, to give those tiny rodents their due, they never chewed the canopy of the gazebo—just the ends of the “screens”, that part of the screens that touched the ground when the gazebo was erected. And since, when David put the gazebo back up the following spring after we bought it, we could no long technically use those screens, because they no longer met so they could not be zipped up, well, that wasn’t a real problem for us. (A slight digression here—he admits he may have had challenges recalling just how the metal frame went together, and sort of winged it, making the structure just a teeny weeny little bit not quite as it was.) The screens continued to hang bunched together in the corners of the gazebo, and the tattered ends weren’t particularly noticeable.

However, we decided as we took the canopy down last November, that this year, 2018, we’d get a new gazebo. In the fall, we thought, when such things might go on sale. But thanks to the skewed sense of seasons as calculated by the retail community in our country, we found a clear-out sale in May, and ordered our new back yard shelter. This one is a bit bigger than the lst, a bit fancier, and cost about the same as the first one did four years ago.

It is also a nice, bright, cheerful, sun-courting red! And, (this is really the cherry on the cake), it arrived last Thursday, in time to be erected for our Father’s Day barbecue supper that we’d decided to hold.

Armed with the invaluable munition of experience, David began to erect the new gazebo on Thursday about noon, taking his time, determined to get it right. He’d already decided that in the fall, when he takes it down to store, it will be stored in the house—upstairs, in fact, where there are (knock on wood) no chipmunks, and where there is no possibility of theft. He will also only take down the canopy and the side panels. The metal structure, he will leave standing. Our back yard is somewhat sheltered, and the metal structure of the last one weathered three winters just fine.

Neither of us are overly active these days, and our dog is so small that the remaining yard really is sufficient for him to exercise in. He does get a walk each day, and as a bonus, he has a “run”—aka our front porch which spans the width of the house and upon which he runs back and forth whenever there is a person or a dog walking down the street. And by whenever, I of course mean at least ten, possibly fifteen or even twenty times a day. Every single day.

Mr. Tuffy believes himself a guard dog, thinks he’s a BIG guard dog, and takes his responsibilities very, very seriously. And we love him for it.

We had our little family party last Saturday, with our oldest and his wife, and one of his three children—the other two, sadly, had to work. I was so pleased they came, and we all enjoyed a good meal. It was special having them come, and for me, that’s the best part of any holiday—the time I get to spend with my family, whether that family is by blood or by tradition—and with friends.

I hope the fathers reading this enjoyed a day last Sunday of spending time with your kids, grandkids, and loved ones. I hope there was lots of love and laughter—and, of course, food!

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

June 13, 2018

We’re nearly at the half-way mark for 2018. So far, I’m not sure what to make of this year. The last couple of weeks have been particularly notable because the actions of two celebrities have brought the subject of suicide into the spotlight once more.

We think we make progress, we humans. We continue on with our various social experiments as the decades roll past. We divest ourselves of the concept of division by class, with most of us moving toward an attitude of inclusion. Some have said that the technology of this modern age has worked to keep people apart. Others claim just the opposite—that thanks to the Internet and social media, people who were uncomfortable or had challenges mingling with their fellow humans, face to face, feel freed now, with the various forms of online “gatherings” to open their metaphorical arms and minds to their fellow persons.

And yet at the heart of it all, regardless of the strides we’ve made or the modernity of our times, we remain singularly individual beings. We appear to live in a “herd” with our cities and our towns and our villages, with our high rise apartments that house thousands of souls at one address, but in fact we are, at the end of the day, alone inside these shells we call bodies, alone and far too often, we are lonely.

This state of loneliness is, for some, a difficult state in which to exist. Our bodies may decree that we’re separate entities, but I don’t believe we were made to be isolated. Indeed, people invest a lot in the quest to seek connections with other people and sometimes fail utterly to make ones that last. Most of us aren’t very good at judging the difference between “a reason, a season, or a lifetime” when it comes to allowing people into our lives—into our hearts. Because we are individuals and different, each of us, all of us, one from the next, there are any number of ways we react to this situation we can find ourselves in, to this, for some, crippling loneliness. We can appear, on the outside, to have it all including the proverbial gold rings of human existence—fame and fortune. And yet, on the inside of our hearts and our minds and our souls, there is a hunger, a need, a desolation, and eventually, there can be a hopelessness.

I don’t claim to hold a degree in psychology, but I believe with all my heart that at the base of every suicide, and every suicide attempt, is a sense of being trapped in a state of hopelessness.

Hopelessness sprouts not only in the lonely, but in the hearts of those coping with difficult life circumstances. People lose jobs, relationships, fortunes and loved ones. They can be abused, mistreated, and stripped by others of their dignity. We get in these very tough times, and we think—we come to believe—that no one, ever has gone through this. No one knows the pain, the heartache, the weariness—the hopelessness that we feel.

This is a situation so pervasive, I wouldn’t be in the least surprised to learn the number of people inflicted with this feeling is nearing epidemic proportions.

If only we could get through those who are in these emotional and mental quagmires that they’re not alone. They’re not the only ones going through those rough patches. I can guarantee you that whatever it is any one individual is experiencing, they’re not the first and not the only person to be dealing with that exact circumstance. We can think we are and believe we are, but we are not.

Help is available, but one has to reach for it. Perhaps you have a friend, an acquaintance, a relative that you feel may be in dangerous straits, emotionally. Or maybe it’s you who’re in that place. Maybe you feel as if there is nothing left for you but the end.

There is help, and I urge you to reach for it. I urge you to tell others who you may feel are too close to the edge. There’s no shame in that, in reaching out and asking for help. And no shame in providing the information below to a friend, and acquaintance, a relative. Or maybe, it’s information you can use yourself. There are thousands of professionals and volunteers dedicated to the cause of suicide prevention. Here are some links:

In the United States: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/  or call 1-800-273-8255

In Canada: https://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/  the website has a link to each provincial center.

In the UK: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide/

People are waiting to help. Hopelessness doesn’t have to be terminal. Some decisions, once taken, cannot be undone.

I urge you, for you, for your loved ones. Reach out. Get help.

Love, Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June 6, 2018

I’ve been trying my hand at some new recipes over the last few weeks. I enjoy cooking, and even though I’ve cut back on the number of meals I make for us each week, I try to change things up. I also believe that just as playing a couple of games each day helps to keep certain of my synapses firing well, so, too, trying out new recipes keeps another part of my brain thriving.

I sat down and calculated it out. Well, maybe calculation implies a heavier reliance on logic and mathematics and than I actually employed. I suppose the closer truth is that I performed a combination of calculation and guessing. Here then, are the results of my guessulations (guessing/calculations): I will have been a wife for 46 years on July 14th. Since number 46 isn’t yet completed, I used 45 years as my base, figuring on 11 leap years in that time. This gave me 16,436 days. Allowing for times when we might have eaten out, ordered in, or gone to someone else’s house for supper, I took off 14 days per year. Now, for most of our married life, we rarely went out and didn’t take more than a scant handful of vacations until I became published, in 2007. So I don’t think I’ve allowed for too few times not cooking. Taking out those two weeks per year, leaves me 15,806 days. Let’s make allowances for a possibly faulty memory and therefore possibly skewed perceptions and cut that back to 14,000 days. That’s still a lot of suppers that I have created in my lifetime! Even the most enthusiastic chef would get tired of preparing the same meals over and over and over again.

Which, of course, I have, mainly because there aren’t that many varieties of meat to center our supper around. Beef, pork, poultry, lamb, and only very occasionally—because my husband really doesn’t care for it—fish.

I always was one for trying new things. When we married—in fact, on the very afternoon when we got home to our small apartment after our weekend-long honeymoon—my beloved told me he eats roast beef, roast pork, mashed potatoes, creamed corn and canned peas. [Imagine shocked face emoji inserted here.] After I got over that shock, I told him that since he didn’t make enough money to buy only roast beef and roast pork, he’d have to eat what I could prepare based on our grocery budget. We compromised. I’d make it, he’d try it, and if he really didn’t like it, I wouldn’t make it again. In those early days the only thing he didn’t like was liver, which now is one of his favorite meals.

That whole give-it-an-honest-try mindset worked very well for us, to the point that he eagerly looks forward to each new concoction I set before him. He’ll tell you that I have had very few fails over the years. I think I’ve had more, because he liked some of the things I’ve made that I didn’t.

Now that I have more time, I have more freedom to let my adventurous spirit peruse new recipes—primarily ones I see on my friends’ Face Book walls. Recently I’ve made potato crusted quiche, potato and leek soup, Colcannon soup, French toast bake, and cashew shrimp. Not all at the same meal, of course. Sometimes I have to look up baking equivalents. Sometimes I have to hunt up ingredients that I don’t have and sometimes, that means ordering an ingredient online because not even the local grocery stores have what I need.

 My beloved and I were talking, as we often do, about how things used to be, and we both remembered fondly the gravy that I used to be able to make from hamburgers. There would be an option on the menus of the local restaurants back in the day called “hot hamburger”. Basically, this was a hamburger patty with gravy all over it. No condiments necessary, just the bun, the meat, the gravy inside and outside the bun, and a fork and knife with which to eat it. Kind of like SOS but with a hamburger patty. And at my table, usually served with a veggie instead of fries, of course.

I have noticed, in this day and age, even using what’s billed as “extra lean hamburger”, it’s practically impossible to be able to make a pan gravy from it. Normally that wonderful hamburger pan gravy would have remained a fond memory of the past.

Unless you’re me and go out and buy a beef roast when it’s on sale super cheap—and then proceed to cut that roast down to chunks and then put it through a meat grinder.

The meat grinder we have is an old one, and only has one cutting face, and the holes are very small. I do have a food chopper, and I ended up using that this time, and while it did the job it wasn’t the best it could be. However, I took that roast and ended up with 12 very good-sized patties. The first couple we cooked in a frying pan. Ah, the gravy! That was a real blast from the past. The rest of the burgers I cooked outside on the grill, as I wanted to freeze the bulk of them, which I have done. For us, twelve burgers equal 4 to 6 meals, and that’s a darn good value from a piece of meat that cost less than 17 dollars.

My husband loved the results so much he told me to order a new electric meat grinder. His exact words were, (and said around a mouthful of meat) This. Is. So. Good! I’m rubbing my hands together in anticipation of the fun I’m going to have with my new kitchen aid, just thinking about the hamburgers, and ground pork and maybe even ground chicken creations that may be in our future.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

May 30, 2018

Watching the news anymore is an onerous task, and one that causes me considerable inner conflict. On the one hand, I believe in being informed. To the best of my ability, I believe that I should be aware of what’s going on in my world, so that I can contribute what I can, when I can. On the other hand, it’s darned depressing. Did I say depressing? Add on disheartening and dispiriting. Yes, an onerous task indeed.

One of the greatest bits of research anyone who’s a writer can carry out, is to study real people; their mannerisms, how they think, how they react. That research extends to trying to puzzle out why people think and react the way they do. I look for patterns, and I try to find the clues of motivation that are sometimes quite clear, and at other times deeply hidden.

I was raised in a household where the newspaper was read daily, and the television news watched that often as well. My mother was a nurse. She only ever had to work eight-hour shifts in her career, and not the twelve-hour shifts many nurses do today. In addition, when I was about eleven, she received a promotion to assistant head nurse for her ward. That meant she no longer had to work afternoons or nights. In her last working years, which ended when she was in her mid fifties, she confessed it was an effort when she worked her seven-day stretches, twice a month. Her schedule was staggered, with 7 days on, three off, three on, one off.

Mom gardened in her spare time, and she also read mystery novels, watched television and kept up on the news. She was very well informed and had very definite opinions about people and events and why people behaved as they did. She was a single parent, not by choice, but as the result of her husband’s—my father’s—early, unexpected death. She was not a feminist, and yet how she lived her life inspired a core of feminism within me.

I watched her do it all—cook, clean, fix the toaster, get down on her hands and knees to plane the pine plank floors in the upstairs of our house to level them out, build valances for our living room windows—and go to work at a full-time job to support us all.

And yet, in the days leading up to my wedding, she told me words I have never forgotten—and mostly, never heeded, at least not in the spirit in which she intended when she said them. I must have been giving her a hard time in the moment, being a brat, because she told me that while I was still under her roof, I would obey her; and when I got married, I would obey my husband.

If you have ever wondered what carries more weight, the example you set by your words or the one you set by your actions, wonder no more. My father died when I was only 8. Despite those words of my mother’s, I do not recall ever seeing the woman behave in a subservient or submissive fashion at all. What I did see with my own eyes was that even a woman who believed the man was the head of the household could be the head of the household if necessary. In my children’s eyes, I always deferred to their father. But between us, my beloved and I have been an equal partnership. Yes, I do confess that was a relationship dynamic I insisted upon. At the time, it was the only possible choice for me.

Remember, I was a child of the sixties and the women’s movement.

Being raised in the days before the twenty-four-hour news cycle, I remember what it was like to be “informed” according to that day’s standards. But how informed were we, really? We knew what the powers-that-be wanted us to know at the time; things happened around the world’s seats of power that even reporters kept to themselves. It wasn’t until much after the fact we learned, for example, the extent to which some in power were philanderers, and some played fast and loose with the truth when it came to the Vietnam war.

I might occasionally lament the loss of “simpler” times, but that’s the inner whiner within me, the self within wishing for a reality that, when you think about it, never truly was. In all likelihood, we came a lot closer to Armageddon in the 1960s and 70s and 80s…than we could ever have known. The more complete truth is that we’ve never really existed in a painting by Monet, or a poem by Sassoon.

Those were merely our secret refuges, where we’d escape from the real world, where we would rest and recoup, and seek the path to the kinder, gentler times of our imaginations. As far as I can tell, that’s still about the only way we can catch a break from the harsh realities of the day.

Love,
Morgan
http://www.morganashbury.com
http://www.bookstrand.com/morgan-ashbury