Wednesday, May 15, 2019

May 15, 2019

The Ashbury’s finally did something that has been a long time in the anticipation stage. There are arguments to be made on both sides of this issue as to why this hasn’t happened before now. But I’m one of those people who believes that things happen when they’re meant to, if you don’t insist on being the kind of person who has to have everything now.

Therefore, I’m pleased to share with you that finally, everything has come together just so, and I can confirm that the order has been placed, for the long awaited mobility scooters.

Anyone who’s met me at any of the various conventions I’ve attended for the last decade can attest to the fact that I rent a scooter whenever I have to attend one of these events. The gatherings are usually held at very large hotels or convention centers, and my arthritis simply won’t allow me to walk those long distances. In fact, I always get wheelchair assistance in the airport whenever I fly. That’s a necessity, because a lot of airports are facilities that go on for miles – or at least that’s how it seems.

Mr. Ashbury’s one and only experience on a scooter was gained a few years back when we took our most recent trip to Las Vegas. He loved it! In fact, on departure day, he got a little teary-eyed when it came time to say good-bye to Scotty the scooter.

We decided a couple of weeks ago, when we came back from the bookkeeper with our completed tax forms that this was the year we had to purchase our scooters. Mr. Ashbury took on the task of looking for the best options, and I think he hit a home run.

The scooters we’ve chosen are called “portable scooters”. When assembled, they weigh 92 pounds, and are rated for people who weigh up to 300 pounds, so good for both of us. They have a range of about 12 miles, and their top speed is 5 miles an hour. The major selling point? These scooters can be disassembled, so that you can put them in the car and go somewhere with them. And they should both fit in our Buick—one in the trunk and one in the back seat.

This also takes care of that horrendous problem: how to we get those suckers into the house? That was the major factor preventing us from buying them. If we’d ordered those large scooters like the ones I’d been used to using, we would have had to build an out-building to house them in.

When you enter my house through the front door, it’s after climbing several steps onto our narrow concrete porch—a porch not wide enough, if you used a ramp to get up there, to manoeuvre one of those scooters inside. The back door has a drop of about a foot or so—open door, step down.

Now all that is no longer a problem to be solved. In the winter, when they will only be used if the roads are clear or if we’re heading to a mall, they can be stored right here in my office—there’s room for them here. Although Mr. Ashbury thinks except for the batteries, they can be stored in the car. We’ll see which of us wins that argument.

The best thing about having scooters, however, is that Mr. Ashbury will finally have his freedom back. One thing I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned is that my husband no longer drives. Ever.

Before the COPD made physical exercise too much for him, he’d often take a Saturday and walk to our “downtown” area. He’d go down to get his haircut, and then pick one of the several restaurants to have breakfast. Sometimes he’d wander the main street in town to see who had what, with a stop at the real estate office to peruse the listings. He used to walk to the far end of town, a walk of about three miles from here.

He’d get an urge to roam and decide he wanted to go down to the building center store, or to the Canadian Tire store, which are in the north end. Now he’ll be able to do all those things whenever he gets the urge to do so, on his own, easily.

I’m not much of one for wanting to do that, and that even works out as a bonus, too. If he thinks he’s going to be gone a sufficient amount of time for those miles to add up, he can take the battery pack from my scooter with him. Since we bought the same make of scooter, the parts are interchangeable.

We placed the order last Wednesday, right after I posted the previous essay. The company called us a half hour later, to verify that we wanted two of these items, and hadn’t made a mistake. And then they called to announce they’d be in by the end of the week—next week at the latest.

We got a call yesterday about nine a.m. It was the delivery driver announcing he was on the way. My husband made quite the sight, pacing, looking out the door, waiting, waiting.

And then they arrived…and I left David in his happy place, as he prepared to unpack and “assemble” them himself. He's looking forward to taking Mr. Tuffy for a ride.

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

May 8, 2019

Ah, pansies! Have I mentioned how much I love pansies? Well, I do. I love them because they always look so darn happy. The way their varied colors are arranged, when you look at them, it almost appears they have faces, and those faces are smiling.

The only thing I don’t like about pansies has nothing at all to do with the flower itself and everything to do with the business from whence we purchase them. As you undoubtedly know, pansies are an annual flower. Apparently, according to the people running the greenhouse where I buy mine, they are a very short-life expectancy bloom, only good for early spring and then, bam! They’re gone.

The problem really isn’t the company, that is to say, the greenhouse where I buy my pansies, but it’s our geographic location, and Mother Nature herself. You see, I live in the “golden horseshoe” area of Southern Ontario. And early spring, quite often, features really chilly temperatures and almost omnipresent frost. So, according to the whole “pansies are good for early spring only” mantra, early spring can be defined, hereabouts, as about a week or three (at most) sometime in or between April and May.

We went shopping for our pansies, finally, on Friday, May 3. Let’s just say the selection was…wanting.

The plan each year is to fill our three window boxes, which we hang from the railing of our porch, with my beloved pansies. We had intended to get out to the greenhouse a couple of weeks before we did, but there were a few really cold days, and that can make my actually going someplace problematic. Plus, it was tax time, and I had some other errands that absolutely had to be done, and the next thing I knew, it was May 3.

So, when we arrived at the greenhouse, we saw they had an eight-shelf storage unit and another display with four shelves, this one two-sided, both with pansies, but that was it. We walked all the way inside until we found some staff to ask, just in case. But no, those on sale out front were all there was, and there wouldn’t be any more.

Because, of course, pansies, as we all know, are a springtime only flower. Except, I somehow manage to keep them blooming for the entire growing season, right up until the fall, but that’s just me.

This really was our last chance, if we wanted pansies this year, to get them. We hadn’t looked too carefully when we first spotted that “30% off” sign above the displays. But now, faced with the sure and certain knowledge that it was now or never; go big or go home; do or die…. we looked. And as we moved the pots, most of them round or square shaped, most of them of disparate sizes, colors and configurations, we found something interesting.

Usually, we’d buy a flat or two of pansies, those flats filled with boxes that held four plants each. We’d also buy some good soil, and then we’d spend a few hours on our porch, with the window boxes, getting each one ready, and then gently and lovingly transplanting those pansies into their new homes. We’d often buy a few different plants, too, so that we’d have an arrangement in each box that bordered on the artistic.

Yes, I’m an artist—with words. I’m not a visual artist, so I’ll leave it up to you, my friends, to decide just how artistic these boxes looked. Oh, what’s that you say? Perhaps Mr. Ashbury has a nice artistic flair? Oh, he does, be assured. His particular style is called junkyard chic.

But I digress.

So we stood back, after having a good look at all the available pansies to be purchased. We’d set out three selections separated from the rest, moved everything else a little bit back, and considered.

I looked at Mr. Ashbury and he looked at me. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” he asked. The beauty of having been married for nearly 47 years, now, is that shared thought thingy happens with us on a regular basis. On nearly every given occasion the answer to that question is yes.

This day was no different. “I am,” I acknowledged. And neither one of us particularly cared about the cost. We spent about twenty dollars more than usual, with the thirty percent off, and that was fine.

We bought our selection of three. We came home, lifted the 24-inch window boxes from their “hangers”, and set in their place these three, 16-inch oval planters….and called the whole thing done. 

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

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May 1, 2019

I’ve always had this “process”, which is instrumental not only in the work I produce, but how I’ve come to perceive the world around me. It’s how I reason things, eventually. Well, perhaps I should say that hopefully, it’s eventually.

My process sort of goes like this: I have a concept, an idea, that I want to investigate, that I want to set out for consideration, that I want to solve. In the case of the books I write, this would be a combination of the moral or theme of the tale, and the plot, the steps, by which that moral or theme is introduced in the telling of the tale, and then achieved/resolved by the end of the story.

In the case of my perceptions of the world around me…. well, that’s like the well-coined Face Book comment on relationship status. Yup, it’s complicated.

 We all look at the world around us and those of us who are civic minded, those of us who want to do something to make a difference, or even just understand what’s happening in the world around us, spot situations, or injustices that we feel need attention. We might contribute dollars, volunteer time, or add something in the search for a solution that might be considered working to make a difference in our world.

We’re not all given to serve the same cause, of course, because there are so many causes to go around. I do believe that it’s best to find a cause that speaks to you with the greatest amount urgency, that moves your heart until you can’t do anything but help.

One complication for me is that I have always been and will likely remain an optimist. Ah, but not just any kind of optimist I am; no, I happen to be a naïve optimist. Considering the number of challenges and losses I’ve suffered, that shouldn’t be possible, but hey, here I am.

 So, when I see stuff happening that should never be allowed to happen in the first place yet not only is happening but continues to happen…well, my naïvely optimistic inner woman cries out in anguish and yes, supplication.

Me: God, can you please lend a hand and do something about this?

God: Of course I can, my child. But I gave humankind free will. And humankind must therefore freely choose to act before I can work through them.

I sort of get it, of course I do. Without the freedom to choose between being a part of the problem or a part of the solution, from where comes reward or salvation? Humanity is not a club of princelings laying around on pillows, waiting to be served up a platter of fairness and bounty by God.

God is not some cosmic bellhop to wait on us, no concierge to smooth our path. He is God, the Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Perfect Creator of the universe!

If we, in this life, are too lazy to roll up our sleeves and pitch in, then we truly reap what we sow, and deserve nothing more than what we have. We have to be willing to move, to do, to think, to opine, to walk the walk—even if we can’t actually physically walk.

You see, I think for a big part of my life, my perception of the situation has been skewed. It’s off, it’s wrong, and that is why I’ve been by turns frustrated and depressed when the world seems to be going to hell in a hand-basket (whatever that is).

But as I get older, I begin to understand the situation a bit better. I understand that it truly is not what happens to me, but how I deal with it that matters the most in this world. I understand that I am not an island, however much that does sometimes appeal to me. I actually have a mission in this life, a purpose on this earth, and that is really why I am here in the first place. Not to be coddled or comforted, although if I work at my mission, and work at fulfilling my purpose, I certainly will be Divinely comforted.

In fact, I have had it all backwards all these years. So let me try that supplication again, this time, as it should be. As it truly is.

God: Can you please step up and do something about this?

Me: Yes, thank you, Lord, for letting me help. I’m on it.

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

April 24, 2019

This last Wednesday in April, in this (still in my mind) brand new year of 2019 finds me wondering why time is going so darn fast these days. It’s very annoying. I no sooner get a good start on my day, and bam! It’s time for my afternoon rest. Not sleep, but rest.

I can’t help but recall just yesterday, when I was a child, that time absolutely crept along, so slow, it lagged behind a snail. And I have to wonder if there is a way to change my perception of the speed of the passing of the days. Really, is there anything to be done about this blight on humanity?

The only occasion anymore upon which the passage of time still feels slow to me occurs during those few nights when I have trouble falling asleep. That doesn’t happen much anymore, unless I’ve just returned to my bed after a trip to the bathroom and having gotten out of bed my mind begins working at hyper speed. The clock tells me I still have at least four hours to go until I should get up….and then that time drags out, as I lay awake, waiting for my mind to shut up so it can go back to the Land of Nod.

Before my heart attack in 2002, I used to get by with a lot less sleep than the suggested average of eight hours a night. It was not unusual for me to have no more than four to six hours a night for several nights running. And then came the heart trouble, and the triple by-pass surgery, and I began to sleep a lot more. I needed to sleep a lot more, and if I didn’t get at least 8 hours a night, I would have to have a nap in the afternoon.

I don’t quite know how or why it happened, but in the last two or three years, I’ve returned to the old ways. Just now as I was composing this, I checked my Fitbit which records such information. It’s been a month since I had as much as 7 hours sleep. That generally only happens now—getting 7 or 8 hours—if I’m fighting off a cold or am otherwise a bit under the weather.

My most usual amount of time spent sleeping is anywhere between five and a half and six and a half hours. I might doze in my recliner for a half hour or so in the afternoon, but I don’t go to bed for a nap midday. I haven’t done that for a long time. The recliner is perfect because the whole purpose of my rest time is to get my arthritic legs up.

I’m not sure what my sleep patterns have to do with my perception of the passage of time, except I suspect that I might not be sleeping as much as I should because the darn world just will not slow down. I think my subconscious is afraid I’m going to miss something important.

Time does seem to go faster the older I get. Maybe that perception is based on the very real fact that the older I get, the less time I have ahead of me. It’s certainly a more precious commodity now than it ever used to be.

You’ve heard that saying, “life, when you consider the alternative, isn’t that bad”? Well, I have been thinking a great deal about the perception of the speed of time and I may be coming to the conclusion that time rushing past isn’t such a bad thing, either, when you consider the alternative. Not the end of time, but time slowing to a monotonous crawl.

I keep busy. Not all the things I do are of equal importance. Some are vital—that would include writing and keeping in touch with my readers, and time spent with family. Some are less so—I do enjoy playing different games or watching videos on line. I’m grateful I can do both. I’m very grateful that I have a computer, and that I know how to use it, a little. I can look up almost any fact, and I do learn a fair bit in any given day. I don’t know how to correct things that might go wrong with it, but that’s what the Geek Squad is for.

I’m fully aware that there are people my age, and some older, who aren’t able to keep themselves busy. There are people who are lonely or are what we used to refer to as being “shut in”, who have little to do to pass the time and aren’t able to get out and about on their own. For them, perhaps time doesn’t speed past. Perhaps for them, it crawls.

Given the choice between one or the other isn’t my preference. I’d prefer that time passed at a moderate, comfortable rate. And perhaps, in this, I’ve finally hit upon a possible solution.

I would have told you yesterday that I do appreciate each day, each sunrise, and each moment for the gift it is.

Maybe all I really need to do is smell a few more flowers—or cups of coffee.

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

April 17, 2019

My daughter has a clear memory, and I won’t dispute it because it is, after all, her memory. I’m just confused by it. She insists that when she was growing up, I was adamant that one simply did not use a light colored purse, or wear white, until after Easter. Apparently, I made this point to her on several occasions.

That is not a memory I share—at least the part about my being adamant, almost to the point of “pounding it into her head” (her words, not mine). Now, the ‘no white until after Easter’ was indeed one of the fashion rules when I was growing up. Along with having to have a brand new, pretty outfit to wear to church on Easter Sunday. I can recall the first purse I ever owned was in fact part of an Easter outfit when I was about five or six—a white plastic purse that gleamed so bright you needed sunglasses. The outfit also boasted a scratchy coat and socks, and shoes I was not to scuff, no, not one little bit. Even as a child, I couldn’t understand what all that had to do with God. I couldn’t imagine He cared if I wore a brand-new prissy outfit or if my white shoes were scuffed, or not.

Fortunately, fashion is an ever-changing concept. I might indeed change my purse after this weekend, but only because the new black one I bought in Texas is a fair bit larger than I’m used to. And yes, I have a beige purse hanging in my closet because, while I no longer proselytize about the necessity of changing purses (if ever I did), I still somewhat practice the custom. I’ll likely change my purse sometime before summer.

Times change and fashions change, but apparently I do not, overly much.

My hair is very long now. Longer than it’s ever been in my life. My long hair is not a fashion statement, it is a testament to the fact that I don’t apparently seem to have any rats’ butts left, and thus can’t give any to anyone for anything. I just can’t be bothered going and getting a few inches lopped off my hair. I don’t like short hair, because I can’t make it neat. Bedhead, which I get every morning when I have short hair, has only one cure, and that’s water. Who wants a wet head every morning? Not me. I like my hair long enough so that I am able to put up without a thousand hair strands sticking out. My hair is well past that standard, now. Every morning I take about thirty seconds and use a scrunchy and a clip to put my hair up. It looks neat, nothing sticking out ala Albert Einstein, and that’s all I care about.

Despite the fact it’s now fashionable to wear colors and shades that are quite bright and in my opinion clash, I don’t do so. I’m sorry, but yes, my brain synapses that are connected into the part of my brain that denotes the concept of “eye-bleeding sights” have been completely formed, they’re solid, and you will never see me wearing orange and red together; nor pink and red; nor blue and green, which, according to an old saw, “should never be seen except, of course, in the washing machine”.

The fact that it doesn’t appear to be mandatory that women leave the house with their hair neatly groomed, smooth, and tidy-looking means hey, my “messy bun” original updo with a clip thrown in for good measure is just fine. I can’t tell you how relieved I am about that because, quite frankly I’m not. I really don’t care what others think. It’s what I think, at least when it comes to my appearance, that counts. I find it interesting that my inner curmudgeon, which has been emerging occasionally for some fresh air lately, doesn’t extend that same tenet to others. Sometimes, when I’m watching live television, I can be heard grumbling words to the effect of, “somebody ought to tell that woman about the modern inventions of combs, brushes and hairspray”.

The fact that I will think these things let alone say them out loud does not bode well for the kind of little old lady I may end up being when they have to put me in the home. I’m a bit concerned about that, because I really don’t want “miserable old bitch” to become a part of my name at that point. But I digress.

Springtime is unfolding, with a few fits and starts, but unfolding, nonetheless. We’ll soon be headed to the garden center to purchase our pansies, and indeed all the perennial flowers in my gardens are poking their little shoots up, checking to see if the coast is clear, or not.

Spring truly is my favorite season. It reminds me that life is a cycle, and that no matter how dismal the winter, or how discouraged we may become thanks to cold temperatures and ice, green shoots and tree buds will ever, in their own good time, appear.

The constancy of nature proves to us that in the end, there is something in existence much greater than ourselves. Knowing that, is, for me, a great comfort.

To those who observe it, I wish you a Happy Easter. To those who observe Passover, chag Pesach samech.

To everyone everywhere, may joy and laughter be familiar friends in the days and months to come. 


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

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

April 10, 2019

This past week I overcame my intermittent tendency toward procrastination and performed a task that I’ve been meaning to do for the last month. I registered for my Canada Pension and Old Age security.

When I turn sixty-five, in July, I will have reached the “official” age of retirement in this country. Official, not mandatory. And as a person who reaches this age in July, I can look forward to my first monthly payment at the end of August.

 For the last dozen years, I have been earning money from writing. Every quarter, I’ve received my royalties from my publisher. Always on time, never late, and never wrong. Though my publisher, Siren-Bookstrand is considered “small press” there is certainly nothing at all small about the level of their professionalism, or their integrity. I have been blessed and highly favored.

I never have focused on the fact that I would someday receive a monthly amount based on all the years that I worked outside the home, contributing to the CPP (Canada Pension Plan). There were a few years when my children were small that I was a stay-at-home mom. But as they came to school age, I went to work. From roughly 1984 to 2002, I was gainfully employed, primarily in the field of accounting. I took some accreditation courses, though I never pursued a college or university degree. I’ve also contributed to the CPP these last several years, via my “self employed” royalty earnings.

Through my “working life” I took pride in doing the best job I could. More than once a colleague told me I treated my “job” as if it was a “career”. I’m reasonably certain I frustrated the poor woman by receiving the intended insult as a compliment. To me, that’s what it was. I couldn’t, at the time, see the point in not doing my best, in not working as hard or efficiently as possible. All these years later, I still can’t. I can look back on the positions I held and know I did my best and earned my salary.

While I enjoyed the various work through the years, I did have challenges getting along with coworkers from time to time. I’ve never been one to play games, or gossip. I could take a lot of B.S., too, without rocking any boats. However, I finally had to lodge a complaint with a company CEO about my supervisor, who believed it was quite acceptable for him to be rude and demeaning toward me—and in front of most of my coworkers.

The CEO, in his endearingly arrogant fashion, told me it might make my life easier if he fired the offending cad, but then he’d be out an accountant, wouldn’t he? I don’t think he was expecting my response. I didn’t want my supervisor fired; I didn’t want “compensation” for the mistreatment I suffered; I didn’t even want the cretin to be punished. When Mr. CEO asked me, then what I did want, my answer shocked him. I told him I just wanted the harassing behavior to end. Period.

The job I have now suits me better, not only because I’m doing what I love. It suits me because I no longer have any coworkers. I am my own boss, and in that regard, I have no complaints.

Despite being on the verge of collecting my pension, I have no plans to stop writing. As long as people are willing to buy my books, I will write them. I really do believe this is what I was always meant to do. Could I have started earlier? I don’t know. I think things happen when they’re meant to.

My first novel was published when I was four months shy of my 53rd birthday, at a time when I could no longer work outside the home. That was in March of 2007. Once I’ve finished this essay, I’ll focus again on my current work-in-progress, which will be my 60th title for my publisher.

I consider myself very lucky. Yes, there have been true tragedies in my life, but here I am, able to earn my way doing what I love, what I was always destined to do. We’re not rich, my husband and I, not by any measure. Our house isn’t fancy, it’s quite plain, and I must confess, perhaps not as spotless as it could be. But we’re careful with our pennies, our needs and our wants are modest, and we remain grateful for our many blessings.

We enjoy our routines, and our days speed by.

I have more stories yet to tell, and more readers I hope to touch. I have friends and family, and still, at my age, a bit of a curiosity about life and a thirst for knowledge.

All and all, I believe that I am living a most splendid life.

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

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

April 3, 2019

I’d like to know who it was that gave winter a standing ovation. As in all stage productions, you give the star a standing O, and the next thing you know, they’re back in front of you, with an encore performance.

The last time this happened, my husband blamed our daughter. She’d jumped the gun on spring, you see, and got her patio accessories in place. This time, however, she swears it wasn’t her fault. The canopy and sides for her gazebo are still in her basement. That’s one suspect down, and about a million to go.

We awoke on Sunday morning to find a couple of inches of accumulated pollen everywhere! It was one of those wet-snow productions, where the white sticks to every single tree limb and twig, no matter how thin. If I hadn’t had faith, that by the time I needed to post this essay that the kaka would be all gone, just a bad memory, I might have been truly disheartened.

My beloved got up on Sunday morning (a fair bit later, after I did) and trudged from the bedroom to the front hallway. We both have a habit of looking out the window of that front door first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. I heard his sigh. I told him not to worry, it wouldn’t last.

He told me he knew that, but it was still depressing.

Of course, by the end of the day, Sunday, the sidewalks and the road were clear, and only a little snow remained on the grass and on my car. But yes, I could concede his point. That new dump of snow just when we were about to start April felt like a bit much. I had to remind myself that I cannot discount the possibility of snow in this part of the country until after the 24th of May. This morning, looking out the window, I see now white kaka on the ground. I’m not standing and cheering. Don’t want another encore performance.

A cheery sign of spring, as I was driving through town on Monday, was provided by one of the variety stores that always sells hanging baskets. They had a nice selection of pansies out. I love pansies. Their little faces look so happy. They’re always smiling. The ones I’ll get in a week or two from the nursery just on the outskirts of town will be hardy enough, I hope, to withstand a bit of chill. Plus, I plant them in window baskets that I then hang off my porch railing. They’ll be about five and a half feet off the ground, so hopefully they’ll fare well when we get more frost. I might be tempted to cover them lightly if there is a frost warning. If I wait until closer to the middle of the month to get my pansies, I shouldn’t need to worry about it. But of course, that’s not a given.

I’m not as eager this year as I usually am to get my fingers in the dirt and my flowers in the ground and box. I’ve sort of been fending off a cold for the last few weeks. Stuffed up on some days, but most days not. It just seems to take a lot more energy than usual for me to get things done.

I suppose I really need to try and get my ashes to bed earlier than I have been doing. A couple of nights in the last week, I was in bed just after eleven, and one night, just a bit before. And then I forget that I’m trying to do that and the next thing I know, it’s nearly midnight and I’m still at the keyboard.

I continue to be staggered be the crap weather my friends in the U.S. have been having to deal with. Honestly, it doesn’t seem as if you folks ever get a break. Here, the weather is downright idyllic in comparison.

So I’m going to clap only politely, no standing O, for the disappearance of latest little dump of snow. And I’m going to assume that we’ve seen the last of it. By the end of the week we should be basking in 60 degree temperatures.

The only problem with crossing my fingers at my age is there’s always a danger they’ll atrophy and stay that way. 

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

March 27, 2019

The springtime birds are singing, and the sun is shining. On two separate days in the last week, I stepped out onto my porch, inhaled deeply, and smelled the fresh air I associate with spring.

According to Ashbury family lore, however, winter commences on October 1st and ends on March 31st. Yes, six months, because this is Canada, eh, and we take winter seriously here north of the 49th. Such has always been my experience.

There do appear to be several signs of impending spring. One might even include, just yesterday, the honking sound of geese flying north. Although that in fact can no longer be considered a sign of spring because the birds don’t always migrate anymore. Regardless of the signs, the temperatures remain quite chilly. Winter coat, scarf around the neck and gloves on aching hands chilly.

The temperature did reach its forecasted high, yesterday, of 41 and I do hope for 46 today, but I am not counting on it. Fifty on Friday they say, but I am beginning to think “they” really don’t know what the heck they’re talking about.

I’ve been feeling just a little antsy over the last week or so, and that has been a sign of spring for the last handful of years, too. My beloved has begun taking himself off to the front porch each morning, recently. He makes a cup of coffee upon his return from walking the dog, and takes that coffee—and the dog, of course—out to one of the lawn chairs to sit and sip and watch our street. For a good half hour, he enjoys that coffee and soaks up sun each day. Yes, it’s cold and he bundles up, but having worked outside for forty years, and in all kinds of weather, he misses being out-of-doors. I know he’s looking forward to the warmer weather so he can take his laptop out, either onto the front porch, or into the back yard gazebo. There he plans to write away, with no solid walls around him.

I’ve never been as wedded to being outside as he. The last few years especially, I have to be careful to keep a light blanket close, even on the warmer spring days. If the thermometer says it’s seventy-five, and there’s any breeze at all, my arthritic legs think it’s a cool breeze, and I pay the price in pain for my folly that evening.

Some days I don’t mind that so much. Some days, it’s worth it. But this time of year? Not happening. It’s not just chilly, it’s still damp. We went through a period just after he retired, my beloved and I, when he tried to get me outside with him, convinced that I needed the fresh air. I finally had to give in a few times so he could see that what was wonderful for him wasn’t necessarily a good idea for me. He really did just want me to partake of something he believes is good and healthy. I really wish I could with no consequences.

But as in everything, each of us in this life only knows what we know.

The ground is still frozen, and as the frost slowly leaves it, more moisture is put into the soil. Our yard is in need of a good raking, but it can’t be done yet. The ground has to dry a little more, the leaves and cedar seeds have to dry a little more, because David’s preferred method of raking is the leaf blower, a convenience he won a few years back at a company golf tournament.

I won’t wish the crocuses, hyacinths, or narcissi to appear too soon. I’m content to wait for the earth to prepare itself and the weather to settle down some. They’ll come in due course, my beloved flowers.

I’ve lived in this area all my life, and I’ve seen snowfall in May. We have a way to go yet before those buds should appear. I do believe I’ll appreciate the beauty of them more for the anticipation of their appearance. As I said, it’s still early days yet.

Why, counting today, by my reckoning, we still have five more days of winter to get through! And as we all know, almost anything can happen in winter.

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

March 20, 2019

As I approach my 65th birthday, there is one change that I never expected, and one that becomes more annoying with each passing year. I never really liked that whole “spring forward, fall back” thing we do each spring—or should I say, each near-spring. But lately, I absolutely hate it.

Strong language for me, right?

Here we are on day ten of this annual event, and I am still having one hell of a time getting with the program. Prior to “the change” I was waking up on my own at 7:30 each morning. That’s a good time to awaken, don’t you think? Unless I have a special reason to get up earlier, I refuse to set my alarm. I’m soon going to achieve official retirement age, but I retired from the “working world” in January of 2003, and the only concession I received as a prize for my years of going to the j.o.b. was to not have an alarm blasting me awake every morning.

However, for the last ten days I have been awakening at 8:00 a.m., and while that sounds good, it’s a case of an ongoing dispute between my mind and my body. Honestly, they remind me of my two younger children, growing up. The constant back and forth bickering between the two is enough to drive me to drink!

Mind: Holy crap, it’s 8 a.m. already! I slept in again!
Body: No, it’s not 8 a.m. it’s only 7 a.m. Need more sleep. We’ll get up at 7:30.
Mind: We don’t need more sleep. We were in bed by midnight.
Body: Wasn’t midnight. Was 1 a.m.
Mind: Now, that doesn’t make any sense at all.
Body: Makes perfect sense. Need more sleep.

Friends, it’s a sad state of being when you have this sotto voce argument happening within you, when part of you just wants to get that morning coffee and get the day rolling. Being the curious sort (as in, I am inquisitive about things as opposed to just being odd) I’ve done a bit of research on this, and I understand that I am not the only person having a challenge dealing with this annual transition.

It’s a universal enough problem that there have been medical articles written about it. One article stated that the rule of thumb is, it takes a person one day per hour of sleep lost to adjust to the new normal.

 Did you hear my sigh? Yeah, that was my patented, “I know you’re all physicians, all well trained and smart, but you’re only talking about some “median” human that doesn’t really exist and who, if they did exist, would have very few like-beings in reality” sigh.

I used to think this trouble adjusting I’d heard about was a myth. But here I am, nearly at that notable age, and it’s not a myth. Seriously, my mind is losing the battle with my body trying to convince it that it’s really 8 a.m. and we should strive to awaken earlier.

Of course, I’m not surprised. My body never has learned to listen to my mind.

I’ve tried going to bed earlier. No, let me rephrase that. I have tried intending to go to bed earlier. I do intend doing just that each night, but that’s been a challenge, too. I can report that the last two nights I’ve managed to lay my head on the pillow before midnight. But I need to try doing that little thing before eleven p.m. for it to make a difference.

I don’t go for a nap mid-day, and maybe that’s something else I’m going to have to reconsider. At about 1:30 or so in the afternoon I do leave my desk and head into the living room and my electric recliner. It helps my arthritis if I can have my legs up for a portion of the day.

So we both leave our desks, my husband and I, get comfy with our legs up in our respective recliners, and turn on the television. We watch news reports and such, and generally I might doze off for a few minutes here and there. But I don’t actually nap. Most usually I’ll spend about twenty minutes “floating” and that’s it.

I was discussing this problem I’m having with my beloved and he gave me an insight that I never once considered. He said to me, “Huh. I don’t have any problem with the time change at all.”

I thought about that and I realized, I might know why that is. For the most part, he gets up each day when he’s done sleeping, he stretches out with me at 1:30 and promptly falls asleep, snoring and all; then he gets up from his recliner at about 3 or so and goes for a two-hour nap in bed.

When he awakens, his supper is nearly ready, and when it is, he eats it. He does do the dishes after supper, and he does stay up until two a.m. or so each night. But as near as I can tell, that is the only truly structured part of his day. So maybe my real problem is I need to learn how to be a retired person, because looking at my own routine, I realize I’ve got a foot in each of two realms—structured, working day world and pseudo-retirement world. Yes, one foot in each and they are slowly but surely drifting apart.

One of the things my body has never listened to my mind about that little thing called balance. No matter how hard I have tried, I simply don’t have much of that ability.

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

March 13, 2019

It always amazes me how very quickly life can go back to pre-vacation “normal” as soon as the bags are unpacked and stored upstairs once more.

One thing I try to do now—now that time seems to be moving so much more quickly than it did even ten years ago—is to cherish each day, regardless of the circumstances. I try not to wish any time away by staying, as much as I can, in the moment in which I find myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t anticipate the days to come, but I don’t make the future my focus. Taking things one day at a time seems to help me hang onto that day just a tad longer.

And even doing that, the memories made during those eleven days when I was outside my own country, have already dimmed slightly. It’s a conundrum, in my opinion: plan a trip and prepare for it for several months or more prior to departure (in this case, WWW in San Antonio was on my appointment book for 2 years); leave on a jet plane, or by car; enjoy each day of the time away; actually sit back and relish the moments. Then come home and get sucked back into the routine that you forgot, while you were away, was something you love.

When I am having less kind thoughts, I chalk this need for a balancing act up to humans being mostly a fickle lot. The grass is always greener, and blah blah blah. I think this quality is human nature, but one that is neither good nor bad; it just is. Maybe our “fickleness”—our letting go of some of those memories so quickly—harkens back to the beginning of human society. If the cave woman let her head stay on yesterday’s party, she wouldn’t see the saber-tooth tiger about to pounce on her today.

I spend a lot of time watching people. I find them endlessly fascinating, of course, and it’s also research for me, all part of the way I spend my days. You can’t create relatable characters if you don’t understand humans and their foibles. You can’t express emotion in words if you don’t learn how to read facial expressions and body language.

The words I pen are my life’s work. I am convinced they’re the reason I was put on this earth—at the very least, they’re the reason I didn’t die when my angioplasty procedure in 2002 turned into an emergency triple bypass. Knowing this, I seek always to get better at penning those words and communicating the story—or the message—that I believe someone needs to hear.

I used to say that everywhere I went, everything I saw, everyone I met and everything I did—in short, all of my experiences—went into my “well”, and it is from this well that I draw to tell my stories. So if I didn’t go and see and meet and do, my well would run dry. I still believe that. My most recent challenge in this life has been to expand the definitions of going, seeing, meeting and doing. If the purpose is to inscribe knowledge upon the hippo-campus, then any knowledge one obtains through any medium qualifies. I still want to actually leave my home (occasionally) to physically go, see, meet, and do. But as that becomes more challenging, I have to improvise. So far, that plan is working. I just have to keep getting up each day, remain curious about the world I live in, and keep learning.

Oh, and I have to keep writing, too.

Life throws challenges our way on a regular basis. That is life’s job—and it does its job pretty damn well, let me tell you. Our job is to dig through the copious piles of crap life tosses at us, looking for that pony.

The memories that I know will remain with me of the trip so recently taken are the times I spent with good friends, sitting quietly and listening and sharing ideas. Life for me, at its core, is about connections.

It’s people that matter, more than anything else, because people—helping other people, touching other people—are the entire reason we’re all here on this earth.

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

March 6, 2019

We had a wonderful time on our trip to Texas. There were a few anxious moments as we traveled, wondering if we were going to make connecting flights, but it all turned out well in the end. I enjoyed meeting so many of my readers face to face for the first time, and making new friends as well, who will hopefully become new readers.

After the book event—Wild Wicked Weekend, excellently organized by Cate Beaumont and Trish Bowers—we traveled to an undisclosed location to visit with good friends. We had a tour of the Hill Country, and spent some precious time together, time to reconnect and talk of big things and small. Time for which I am very grateful.

The afternoon before our flight out, I was fortunate enough to have lunch with my publisher, Amanda Hilton. It had been nearly five years since we were face to face. I am so grateful to be published with Siren-Bookstrand. I first met Amanda in the late spring of 2006, when I pitched a book to her during the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention. That was twelve years ago, and the book in question became my first published novel.

I’m now working on my 60th title for Siren.

Ms. Hilton was accompanied by a woman with whom I communicate each time I have a book ready for publication. How wonderful to have a face to go with the name!

And then, too soon, it was time to head toward home. Even in the anticipation of the trip back to my everyday world, there was an opportunity to see something new. For all the traveling we’ve done, and the flights we’ve taken and the several times we’ve landed in New York City, we’d only ever been to La Guardia airport. This time, coming back from San Antonio to Buffalo, our lay-over was at JFK International Airport.

Of course, we were excited about that. We were going to be visiting one of the most famous airports in the world. The glitz! The glamour! Alas, the…disappointment. It began as soon as we landed. We waited on board the plane for all the other passengers to get off, before we deplaned. And when I got to the jet-way it was to discover there was no wheelchair waiting for me. There should have been, as I was on their “list”.

After several minutes, one of the flight attendants went up the jet-way (which turned out to have three levels), found a wheelchair, and brought it down, so I could at least sit. The amazing Delta Airlines flight crew attempted to call the gate, but the phone in the jet-way wasn’t working. They waited with me, and after another ten minutes, they took me up to the terminal proper themselves. There was another wait then, but at least I was no longer in the cold jet-way.

 Fortunately, we had a couple of hours until our flight to Buffalo, and eventually someone did arrive to assist us. We were able to grab a lunch, and then we settled in at our gate to read as we waited for the final flight of this trip.

It was good to have one more over-night in Buffalo after a long day of traveling. The hotel we chose across from the airport had an on-site restaurant, so it was easy to settle in for the evening. Having gotten up at three a.m. so we could get to the San Antonio airport on time for our early morning flight, we were exhausted by nine-thirty that night.

Now we’re home, unpacked, and reunited with our fur baby, Mr. Tuffy—and in the way that I’ve always found curious, back to normal so soon after our twelve-day excursion. All that’s left for me to do is to ruminate on the places we visited, the events we experienced, but most importantly, at least to me, the people we met.

We all have our lives, our minutia, our routines—we all take our life’s journey one step at a time. But among the choices we make and the moments we experience, the going and the doing and the sitting and the thinking, it’s the connections we make that matter the most. When we open ourselves up to meeting other people, to listening and sharing, we’re doing what I’ve long believed we’re all meant to do here in this life and on this earth, to one degree or another: we touch others.

For a space of time, we interact, and share, we lend our life force to those around us, we give, and if we’re lucky, we receive back that communion of spirits, that interlude of interaction. When you look into someone’s eyes, when you take their hand and open yourself to their presence, to their thoughts and their heart, when you acknowledge them, you’re giving a gift that is priceless, yes, even beyond gold or precious gems or fame.

Because this connection, one human being with another, is the most real and significant thing in the world—and the one thing that has the power to change lives.

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

February 27, 2019

A very short essay today, direct to you from me, on vacation in Texas!

We have been having a wonderful time here in Texas. Yes, we did arrive, although I have to tell you, it was a close thing—at least in our minds.

Our flight out of Buffalo left a bit late, and that was a worry because we had a connecting flight to catch in Atlanta. It was looking good, especially since we were seated in the 10th row, which boded well for getting off the plane fast. Usually, because I require wheelchair assistance, we wait until the plane is empty before we get off, but this time, it just wouldn’t be an option. And we were feeling good about our chances—until the pilot announced that we would be in a holding pattern over Atlanta due to a storm.

That didn’t last too long, but long enough for us to know we were landing after the scheduled departure time of our flight to San Antonio.

Sometimes, and in the face of facts that would appear to be to the contrary of what we wish them to be, it’s difficult to keep the faith. I was down to my fingernails hanging on, when we got off the aircraft. Fortunately for us, that flight out had been delayed too. In the end the flight scheduled to leave Atlanta at 7:35 p.m. didn’t go wheels up until a quarter after ten.

The event we attended “Wild Wicked Weekend” was delightful. I’m so grateful for author Cate Beaumont and all the effort she put into creating a place where authors and readers could meet. I’m very grateful for and to all the readers who attended, and sought me out. Thank you all so much. Some of you shared personal stories with me, stories of how my words had touched you. What a wonderful gift you gave me!

After the conference, we packed up our bags and headed to the airport—to rent a car. The next stop required a bit of driving as we were headed to an undisclosed location, off to meet up with good friends not seen in four years.

I’m actually writing these words on Wednesday February 27, but I have no idea if they will be posted today or not. I’m outside of San Antonio, in a hotel that purports to have a Wi-Fi connection. I’ve been here since Monday but haven’t seen a sign of that little thing yet.

So I’m trying something I’ve never tried before. I’m going to use my iPhone’s “personal hot spot” to see if it works. If not, I’m going to relax, tuck these words away, and send them to you when I get home. I do need to learn how to worry less about things I can’t control.

This seems like a good place to start.

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

February 20, 2019

Life really is 5 percent what happens to you and 95 per cent how you cope with it. As I write these words, we are ensconced in our hotel in Buffalo, because Wednesday is flight day. At least according to our tickets.

We’ve already had an adventure and we’ve barely begun our trip.

Mr. Tuffy is also having and adventure – a sleep over with his buddies at our daughter’s house. He was really quite happy to go, and while he’s having a few adjustments, we know from past experiences that he will do fine. If he shows signs of being anxious, our daughter will move their party to our house, where he will, of course, fare better.

So we awoke on Tuesday morning, dog-free, and planning to leave sometime after noon hour. I must at this point tell you a little not-so-secret secret about my beloved. When the day of vacation is at hand, he wants to leave five minutes ago. I thought, with this trip, things would be different because, well, he has vacation every day now. But, no. He’s still the same. At one point I suggested (this was actually on Monday night) that he could start walking to Buffalo, and that I could pick him up at some point, eventually.

Good thing he didn’t.

At a little before 1 pm, we went out our door, got into the car…and it wouldn’t start. Deader than a door-nail. We have coverage with the auto club….but my poor husband was convinced we were done. Never have I seen such a sad, disillusioned, I-knew-it-was-too-good-to-be-true face.

We went back inside and called the auto club. They promised to be out in an hour. Fortunately, we had no flight to catch. This was Tuesday and Wednesday is flight day.

While David speculated that the car would need more than a boost and appeared to be preparing for the inevitable cancellation of all plans, I started to look for our options.

I believe there are always options.

My daughter said she could take the day off when we were due to come home in order to come and get us, and so I looked into taking paid transportation to the airport. It would be a bit expensive but spending an extra 280 seemed better to me than blowing off the 800 we’d already paid for our flights.

I shared these options with my husband. He cringed, of course, and that told me that he thought it was a lot of money to spend. He was absolutely right, it was. But it was an option.

The man from the auto club arrived. He boosted the car, and it started and, he reported it was charging. He didn’t have the size of battery we needed with him, which turned out to be just as well. Then he left and we let the car running for a half hour. David went out, turned off the vehicle, then was able to restart it. But the head lights didn’t come on.

And then my daughter texted me, telling me that if we could wait to leave until 3:30, she would drive us to Buffalo. She was worried the car would act up while we were on route, and we’d be stuck on the side of the road.

Quite frankly, I was, too.

So that is what we did. By the time my husband and I were in the hotel’s restaurant, ordering supper, he had recovered the spirit of vacation. Now, we are traveling in February and there is another winter storm about to wreak havoc on part of the United States. Today as you read this, we’ll be heading to the airport just after noon hour, for a four-thirty flight. There could still be delays. We’ll have to wait and see.

But even if there are, I am determined to have the best possible attitude about this time as I can have. I’m a worry wort at times, yes. But beyond that, I’m an optimist—just one of those irritating people who’s convinced that where there’s manure, there has to be a pony.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

February 13, 2019

I don’t remember a great deal, first hand, about my father. He died when I was eight and a half years old. I wasn’t a sophisticated eight-year-old, not by a long shot. I don’t think many kids were in those days. Television didn’t have a huge influence on our lives, back then. You might say it was the golden age of parental controls. If it was a nice day outside, no Saturday morning was spent in front of the television, except for maybe a half hour or so. Then it was, “get outside and don’t come in unless you have to use the bathroom.”

Most of what I know about my father I gleaned from the few times, when I was an adolescent and then a teenager, that my mother would tell me little things about him. I do have a few personal memories, ones I’ve held close because there really are so few of them. I believe the trauma of losing him when I was at such a young age did something to my memory, which is why I don’t have many. I mean, I really didn’t know there was such a thing as a parent dying, and then one of mine did!

One thing I do recall both in reality and from my mother mentioning it was that the name of this second month of the year was generally preceded by a very bad word, when my father said it. I don’t know if that’s because it was the month of his birth, or if it was because traditionally, at least in those days, February was the harshest month of the winter.

Yesterday as I read the new winter storm warnings, and as I looked out my window at the white precipitation and heard the sound of ice hitting the glass, I realized this month still is the harshest winter month.

And of course, it’s this month in which we are flying for the first time in a couple of years. Go figure.

While I excel at maintaining a positive, and basically happy attitude on the outside, I do tend toward worrying on the inside. Some worry in life is unavoidable. I recall that for a few years after my father died, I lived in fear that my mother would, too. About a month after he passed, my mom “threw her back out”. She had to lie on the sofa for a time, and I was convinced she was dying.

If she was late getting home from work, or if she didn’t arrive home when I expected her, I would tremble in terror until she arrived safe and sound. In point of fact, she did leave us thirteen years after my father, when she was 57 and I was 21. She died at home of a heart attack.

To this day if somebody isn’t here when they say they will be, my first thought heads down that same dark fear-strewn trail. And into this rich psychological background and history, I’m introducing something new, something never before contemplated: a drive to Buffalo and a flight to Texas in expletive-deleted February.

I’m pretty good at setting my worries aside, and I have denial down to a fine art, so I’ll probably be fine. But still.

I’m not looking forward to the travel, but I am looking forward, eagerly, to the people who await me at the end of this trek. My best friend lives in Texas, just a half hour from San Antonio and I can hardly wait to see her again. Another very dear friend lives in Utah, and she’ll be in San Antonio at this time, too. The friend I’ve had the longest in my life winters in Texas, and there’s a slight chance I may see her, too.

I’ll be spending some time with my publisher, and what a magnificent bonus that is!

There are also some wonderful people who’ve been kind enough to read my books and support my career, cherished friends! Some I will be hugging again, and some, for the very first time. I’d pledged to attend this author/reader event, “Wild Wicked Weekend”, two years ago, and let me tell you the intervening time has sped!

There’s so much to plan and get ready, I’m in just a bit of a quandary at the moment. I haven’t even begun my list, and if all y’all know anything about me after all these essays I’ve written, it’s that I always have a list, and I have it early.

“Morgan, don’t worry. Clearly, you’re simply mellowing in your September years,” you might say. Ah, how I wish that was so! Unfortunately, the truth is a bit less cheery a thought than that.

I have a darn good memory – it’s just that lately, it’s really, really short.

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

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

February 6, 2019

The deep freeze finally left us, and within two days of that, practically all of our snow had melted. It had been fairly deep, five or six inches, and I was amazed at how quickly it simply vanished. Today, there remains but small isolated piles, remnants of snow and ice, where the snow had been shoveled into mounds. The stairs leading down from my porch and my walkway are completely clear, for which I’m grateful.

That means there’ll be only one layer of ice to worry about, and that’s the one placed there by the freezing rain now falling. It’s morning, and this ice will taper, supposedly, this afternoon.

I’m not kidding myself that the white stuff is done for the season. I understand that winter still has a few howls left in it, I’m sure, before full spring blooms. That was the second-deep freeze of this winter so far. We had one in November, I think. It only lasted a few days, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as this most recent one.

Now here I must digress for just a brief moment, to share with you one of my pet peeves. I really feel the television and radio meteorologists suffer from a lack of specificity. For example, I must insist that once cold gets to a certain “temperature” it’s just frigid. And when the “weather people” say the next day is going to be warmer because it’s going to be minus eighteen instead of minus twenty? Then I submit, it is not warmer at all, it is merely slightly less cold. People, there is nothing warm about minus eighteen. Can I get an amen on that?

I don’t think I particularly mind the on again/off again approach Mother Nature has taken this winter. Immediately on the heels of that week of extreme cold, we had a couple of really warmer days—one day it went up to (plus) fifty degrees. While the back and forth of fluctuating temperatures might cause havoc for some, I feel it’s better to have a few days break than to have an unrelenting winter. I’ve experienced a lot of those in my lifetime, and having breaks is definitely better.

On either Sunday or Monday, I heard geese passing overhead. I don’t believe they’re geese that have returned from migration. I think they’re birds that are wintering here. I don’t even know if they all “fly south” for the winter any more. If they do, do you suppose they get stressed out to arrive in to Georgia, or northern Texas, only to find there’s snow there, too?

It’s odd, the questions that occur to me sometimes.

Our dog, also, is happy that the extreme cold has left, because he doesn’t like the frigid temperatures any more than we do. He’s just a little guy—barely eight pounds—and not very tall, so we’re particularly careful of him. We don’t let him out for more than a few minutes when it’s really cold, and in fact, he just goes out, takes care of business, and hurries right back in.

Because he is so little, we need to ensure there is a path created for him in the back yard, a “path to peedom”, using a phrase coined by a friend. Little dogs don’t do well in deep snow. Additionally, Mr. Tuffy is a male, and if the snow touches a certain part of his anatomy, well, he’ll have no part of that at all, thank you very much. Generally speaking, we need to ensure he has a path for any amount of snow approaching four inches. He’s really that short.

I want to try and impart a positive message here. I want to always try to uplift, but if I can’t uplift, I’ll settle for amusement. That’s not always easy to do, and I don’t always succeed the way I’d like to. I do try, and I believe the need is urgent.

You see, I heard a speech yesterday and I didn’t feel there was much positivity in it, no plans to make things better and certainly no uplifting. Hence, I do feel called upon to give some here. I’m pleased to inform you that three of the four North American groundhogs I know about, Punxsutawney Phil, Wiarton Willie, and Staten Island Chuck, have all predicted an early spring. And truthfully, if you think about it, the earliest sign of spring has in fact arrived.

The days are a noticeably a little longer now than they were a month ago. I noticed, because at five-thirty p.m., yesterday afternoon, there was still enough light to see the neighbor’s back yard out of our living room window. The sun did not set, officially, until 5:50 pm.

The sun will set today at 5:52 p.m., two minutes later than yesterday. So spring is arriving, and at a speed of two minutes per day. This is not only positive, it’s something else that’s rare these days.

It is the unvarnished, unapologetic, unaltered truth.

I’m a big fan of the truth, and I’m more sad than I can say that I have to turn to the weather in order to find some.

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

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

January 30, 2019

We’re getting ready to take our first trip out of the country in a couple of years. In February, we’ll be flying to San Antonio, Texas. I’ll be appearing at a reader/author event called “Wild Wicked Weekend”. The event is hosted by author Cate Beaumont, and I gave my word two years ago I’d be there.

 There will be a lot of my friends attending this event, some friends who are readers and some who are authors. Friends I’ve missed and haven’t seen in person for a very long time. So, I am very much looking forward to this—but it’s not a trek I undertake lightly, and it will require a fair bit more than my last book event in the U.S., which was quite some time ago.

Getting older is not for the faint of heart. It’s been, as I said, a couple of years since we’ve gone beyond our border. My last trip out of the country was a drive to visit friends outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana in the early fall of 2016. I managed the drive in less than eight hours and stayed with them for a few days. Prior to that, we’d gone to Pennsylvania to visit our friends in the eastern part of the state. That trip we’d taken in early July. It, too, is a single day’s drive.

In the last couple of years, we attended only one writer/reader event, and that was in 2017 and just down the road from us - a thirty-five mile drive to one of our neighboring cities. It was hosted by American author Kallypso Masters. I’ve actually never attended a Canadian event hosted by a Canadian group as a published author. The stars just never quite aligned for me.

This trip is different from the one in 2017. I have “swag” to get ready, though I’m not taking a lot, because we’re flying. I have some new pens and note pads, and I also have some book “covers”. I had wanted to take some actual print books with me for the book signing, but this whole going across the border thing makes that challenging.

When I used to go to the RT Booklover’s convention, I could arrange with the organizers of the book fair to have them get the books for me. I just had to guarantee my sales. I didn’t have to lug them and fill out forms and pay extra freight for them.

This event is a smaller a scale event than RT, and there is no bookstore organizing the signing. Most of the authors attending are self-published. That’s not a complaint by any means. It’s just the way it is. Each author is responsible for their own appearance at the venue, and for me that calls for a creative approach. So I’ve announced, several times, I won’t have books there, but that readers should feel free to bring whatever books they’d like me to sign.

The event itself is scheduled to last a few days, Thursday through Sunday. The schedule looks like fun and provides a lot of interaction between authors and readers. It doesn’t sound too overwhelming.
Ah, but there’s a catch.

For the last two years, I’ve let my age catch up with me a bit. My pace has been steady around the house, and I’ve had a routine of sorts, and I’ve kept moving, more or less. But I’m not really busy. Busy and I don’t seem get along as well as once we did. I’m really looking forward to this trip. At the same time, I know it’s going to be a challenge for me, and for David, too.

Of course, I’ve reserved a mobility scooter for myself, for the period of time I’ll be at the hotel in San Antonio. After the event, we’ll be traveling a small distance away from the major city to see friends for a few more days. We fly back to Buffalo on March first.

I’ve got my lists started, but again, I’m moving much slower than in the past. I never thought it would happen, but I strongly suspect that I’m mellowing out, where my anal tendencies are concerned.

I’m trying to decide if that’s a good thing, or not. I guess I’ll know for certain, after this event is over.

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January 23, 2019

Last Saturday—all day and into the night—we finally got some snow. It was the kind of snowfall that looks innocuous. You know the kind of snowfall I mean. You peer out the window and can barely make out that snow is actually falling. The flakes don’t look like flakes, but like nearly-microscopic specks. Because the wind is blowing, you’re almost lulled into the sense that, yes, it’s sort of coming down, but the wind is carrying it away…very far away.

The sun sets, and it gets dark out. Is it still snowing? You have to look at the street light to tell. In that small circle of light you once more see those same nearly-microscopic specks. So technically, you know it is snowing. Then you look at the ground and the car, and you begin to comprehend what’s happening. It’s a silent but getting deep invasion.

Of course, you are slow to this realization because, while you looked out every hour or so, you really didn’t see much change in accumulation between the first hour and the second. But by Sunday morning—well, it was enough for me to alert our sixteen-year-old grandson that we were going to need his assistance in the “digging out” department. His mother assured me he’d be by on Sunday at some point to take care of that for us.

I like snow, if I can stay safe and warm indoors and simply peer at it outside the window. I like snow in the Christmas season especially, because, well, all those Christmas cards showing cozy cottages covered with snow, and of course the city sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style…. However, Christmas is past. Mother Nature gave us a green Christmas this year, and that’s not a complaint, just an observation.

So snow is pretty to look at and I don’t mind this snowfall, as long as it doesn’t last too long.

I think the lack of the white stuff so far this year has spoiled me. Basically, I believe this is just one of those off winters. The usual situation in our neck of the woods is that we get a lot of snow, that it comes sometimes as early as October and is still here into March. I say it’s an off year because I am hearing of some places in the U.S. that are getting hammered, that usually see no snow and ice at all. I guess that’s where our snow went this season. Of course I know with global warming, everything is in flux. It would be handy if those who are deniers would wake the heck up. I’ll stop there as I don’t want to digress.

Fortunately, I don’t actually have to leave the house until later in the week, though we had planned to nip out and pick up a few things on Monday. That was easy enough to cancel. Waiting until late in the week leaves plenty of time for snow plows and shovels to come into play.

 But while the snow stopped falling, the temperatures didn’t. The bone-eating cold that came on the weekend was a surprise. Yes, I check the forecast each day, and I register that it’s going down to the minus digits, Fahrenheit—but it’s a shock to the system when one actually opens the door and a block of ice tries to enter your lungs.

I don’t mind imitating a hermit. Actually, the older I get the more comfortable that state becomes. One of the questions I get asked at my doctor’s appointment every three months is this: “Do you still enjoy going out?”

That’s not a good question to ask me, because I don’t believe I’ve ever enjoyed going out. I especially don’t relish the act in winter, when I have to dress carefully for warmth, wear my boots which I sometimes need help to get on, ensure the ice claw is extended on my cane (but not until I’m at the door), and then step outside as cautiously as if I have vials of nitroglycerin strapped to the bottom of my boots and the teeniest tiniest wrong step will result in—kaboom!

Seriously, who can enjoy that? But I usually answer “yes”, because once I’m where I’m going, I always find a way to have a good time—despicable winter weather notwithstanding.

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 16, 2019

It’s already the middle of January! And, I’m kind of sorry to have to confess this because I know what a lot of you are going through, weather-wise. But as I post this essay (January 16) we do not have any snow on the ground.

Not one bit. Zip. Zilch.

This is so not normal for where I live. You know that place, the TRUE NORTH (a phrase from our national anthem). Oh, it’s cold enough. At the moment, at eight-thirty in the morning, the temperature (in Fahrenheit) is 28 but “feels like” 18. We just don’t have any snow.

When I think back to the winters of my childhood, they featured snow mounded so high on the side of the road, after the plows went down, that those banks towered over the cars so you couldn’t see over them. We’re not talking the sleek little cars of today, either. Think 1959 Studebaker, and you know I’m referring to a heavy, steel, behemoth.

We used to make snow forts. The kids in the neighborhood—our rural neighborhood had about six counting me—would divide into two groups and build the snow forts and then we would have snowball fights. Or, if the snow was deep enough, we would make tunnels between the forts. Oh yes, we did, in the open field beside my house and, no, we didn’t know at the time how dangerous that was! We just did it and had fun.

The other winter fun thing was the natural skating area right across from my house that extended more than a quarter of a mile. In those days the land on the other side of the road was very boggy, and if the water had been deep enough when it froze, you could skate from my house to the last neighbor’s house, no problem. Of course, we had to clear off the ice, and keep it maintained (repairing any ice divots created when one of us was clumsy—but hey, that was a small price to pay for free, unlimited skating.)

I mourn the loss of those carefree times. I mourn the loss of the joy that seemed to be just there for the plucking, as you roamed and explored and did. I’d leave the house some days right after breakfast and not come back until dusk. To my knowledge, my mother never worried where I was, nor did anyone’s mother worry about them. That thought is taking me slightly off topic. But y’all are used to that, aren’t you?

Were we naïve? Yes, most definitely. Bad things happened to kids back then, it was just never broadcast. It isn’t that things are “worse” in the current time than in the “good old days”, necessarily. It’s that back then, no one spoke of the dangers that were lurking in the shadows for kids. Back then, there was no such thing as the twenty-four-hour news cycle. The news came on as 6 p.m. for a half hour, and that was that.

If you saw the words “Breaking News Alert” or “Special Bulletin” on your television screen, something very bad—or really exceptional—had happened.

I’m not sure why it was, that we weren’t more up front with kids in those days about the dangers they faced. As kids, we were warned “don’t talk to strangers” – but that was it. No details were offered about what dangers lay in wait if we did. There was a vague sense that a stranger might take you and you’d never see home again. Certainly, there was no warning about private space and inappropriate touching. A part of me feels as if that failure to alert and prepare kids for the dangers they could encounter was a kind of complicity—because we know today that a lot of the sexual abuse crimes committed against children are not committed by strangers, but by “trusted adults”. And not knowing of the dangers that non-strangers posed gave us all a sense of well being. It also gives a shading to the phrase and concept of “good old days” that’s completely false.

Once more, I digress.

So here we are, mid-January, no appreciable snow fall—and I’m okay with that, for this year. I know there were green Christmases here and there all through my life. And I’d rather not have to fight my way through snow and ice, thank you. Walking is difficult enough without Mother Nature’s hissy fits thrown in.

But nothing is really all good. We’re reasonably pleased, because we haven’t had to worry about digging out the car or clearing our walk as yet. However, those who make extra money in the winter by plowing are having a lean time. Those who count on snow to have their leisure activities via winter sports are also likely feeling glum about now.

I try not to be selfish when it comes to my wishes for specific weather. Sure, I’d love to see it about seventy-seven degrees the year round, with maybe a week or two of cool, crisp temps in three of our four seasons—and maybe one hot summer day. But that would be selfish. So, I’m content with however much snow we need to have in order to provide extra money for the part-time entrepreneurs and to put as much moisture in the ground as the farmers need for spring.

But beyond that? Mother Nature can keep the deep piles of that white stuff—I call it kaka (and I don’t mean the Brazilian ‘football’ player, either)—and she can take some anger management for those hissy fits, too.

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

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

January 9, 2019

I recall watching an ABC news special, a few years ago, about the amazing medical recovery of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. As you may recall, Representative Giffords was attacked in January of 2011 when a man opened fire at a mall where she held a “Congress on Your Corner” event, meeting and greeting her constituents. Eighteen people in all were shot, and six people—one of whom was a nine-year-old girl—died.

After having taken a bullet to the brain, initially it was believed that if Miss Giffords did survive, she would spend the rest of her life in a vegetative state.

Of course, now we see how well recovered she is, and while she’s not back to where she was before the attack, she walks and talks and understands her world, and now, her new role in making it a better world than it had been. She didn’t let this attack send her into hiding but used her experiences to help her chart a new path.

Two of the major factors cited by many in her recovery are pure force of will—and the use of music therapy.

I have heard it said that music is a universal language, and I believe that’s true. I also believe that music accomplishes more to the benefit of our bodies, our minds and our spirits than we truly know right now. The science isn’t there yet, but I believe that music is as fundamentally necessary to a healthy and happy existence as is food, air, water, and shelter.

I’m at that point in my life when sometimes, words escape me. I have to really think to remember things that a few years ago, I had no problem recalling. Our brains do change as we age, and that is something I’ve long known. The fact that I’m pushing 65, and that I do have several health issues means I’m not surprised to have a few lapses here and there. It doesn’t really bother me, at least not overly much.

A couple of weeks ago, I was going through my iTunes library. I wanted to make a Christmas play list on my PC. As I looked down the list of songs that I had purchased over the last several years, I saw that I had music I’d forgotten that I had (my library consists of more than 800 songs, a realization that left me a little slack-jawed).

There was a girl-group that was quite popular in 1990, when they came out with their debut album. They were active for a few years, and then fell off the radar, returned in 2004, and then made a comeback again in 2010 and are, according to what I can tell, still performing on stage.

The group’s name is Wilson Phillips, and their first big hit, Hold On, hit so many non-musical chords for me, that it quickly became my favorite song of all time. Well, until it was superseded by the next one.

That’s my usual relationship with music. I love so much of it and times change, and my favorite song, if I have one, depends on the moment I’m in. Right now, I have two: This Is Me, from the Greatest Showman, and Baba Yetu (The Lord’s Prayer in Swahili), by Christopher Tin.

So, there I was, in the last two weeks of 2018, doing a mental fist-pump because I had discovered that I have two Wilson-Phillips songs in my iTunes library: Hold On, and Release Me.

Task at hand completely forgotten (and that does happen fairly often), I put on the headphones, turned up the volume, and listened to the opening chords of that first hit. And then…I began to sing when the group did. To my astonishment, I remembered ever word, every pause, every extra little “uh-huh” along the way.

It was the most wonderful moment for me, because it was a moment when I realized that, as much as I focus on moving, and playing a couple of strategy games each day to keep my body and mind active, I realized there was one more thing I should be doing at least once a week, too. Something that really lifted me up and made me feel younger.

I need to do this more often—put on those headphones and reconnect with songs I have loved in the past…and maybe, who knows, it might prove to be the tonic I need, if not physiologically, then at least emotionally.

If you have access to music and a few minutes to yourself every day, I recommend that you do the same. Music not only soothes the savage beast; it can give us respite, and calm our busy, modern-day souls.

Music lifts us up and leaves us better than it found us—and that’s a wondrous thing.

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

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

January 2, 2019

Happy New Year!

Thinking back, I’m willing to admit I may have grown up with some “different” notions on things—notions that in this day and age may not make any sense. For example, when I was a kid, it was held that Christmas was for children but New Year’s? Oh, baby, that was all about the grown-ups. I thought that meant, you know, adults partying along with Guy Lombardo at the Waldorf Astoria on their TVs, dancing at a club, the big ball at Times Square…and the endless toasts, the silly hats, and the noisemakers and confetti. You can’t forget the noisemakers and the confetti!

Now that I’m one of those grown-ups, I have come to the conclusion that this really is an amazing time of year for adults. For a few brief hours, we adults can let go of our sour moods, our cares, and the weight of the world that is constantly dragging us down. For just a breath of time, we can believe once more that anything is possible. It’s a time of new beginnings, and as we enter the New Year, as that clock chimes and the sound of Auld Lang Syne rings in our ears, we can once more feel that everything is new again—yes, even if only for a brief moment.

We’re not indulging in silly pipe dreams or flights of fancy, we’re simply celebrating the New Year!

I always feel that way, every New Year’s—and I don’t go out anywhere in order to feel it. It’s a right here in my humble home kind of feeling—likely a right here inside my mind sort of thing. This is not a logical thing, it’s completely emotional and subjective and yes, I know that in many cases it’s not based on any facts what-so-ever. Nope, it’s an off-shoot of pure living, made of pure emotion, and in thinking about the fact that it is both of those things, I have come to another conclusion.

If some people can avow with a serious looking face that truth is not truth, or that truth is unknowable, then I can say any conclusion I may draw based purely on emotion is valid and true.

This sense of new beginnings is the reason I’ve always considered spring to be my favorite season. The air smells fresh and new, there are new buds on the trees, and new flower shoots poking above the ground. It doesn’t matter how bad the winter just past has been, that sense of newness abounds.

With spring comes nature’s new birth, a sign that life does indeed carry on and the future is waiting for us to make it.

That said, I do not make any New Year’s resolutions. Yes, I know it’s a tradition, but not all traditions are necessarily good ones, as far as I’m concerned. And this one is just a giant trap, in my humble opinion, waiting to gobble me up. Created, no doubt, by someone who believed that where there is hope, there must also be disappointment.

And should anyone press me about this failure on my part, I have the perfect answer. I do not need to make resolutions for the New Year as I am asked to make them on a regular enough basis as it is. 

Allow me to explain: Every three months, I go to the doctor. I’m a diabetic, type 2, and so this is my quarterly diabetic check up. I go for blood work a few days before my appointment, so that when I get there, the doctor and nurse can see all my important medical information, including what they call a “six-month sugar” level. And every three months, at this appointment, I am asked what my goals are for the next three months.

I don’t want to portray myself as a difficult patient. I’m really not. But this is silly. I’m not a person who makes new goals every three months; I’m a long-game sort of gal. So I give them the same two goals, every three months—to keep moving, and to stay alive. They’ve also encouraged me to have a “minimum step per day” target, since I do in fact wear a step-counter.

It’s a Fitbit these days, but in past days I had a step counter pinned to the waist of my slacks. Healthy adults should aim for ten thousand steps a day. My stated goal at the moment is four thousand, but in fact I am managing between four and six thousand most days, depending. I even, every once in a while, hit that magical ten-thousand step count, but not while my arthritis is in flare-up mode.

By anyone’s definition, four to six thousand steps a day is moving, even if it isn’t at a “brisk walk”. At this point in my life I’m not capable of a brisk anything. So it’s one foot in front of the other, and I ensure I get up every hour, and I take whatever progress I can get.

I always keep “staying alive” as a goal because—well, who wouldn’t? I usually call it “staying on top of the grass”. Those were words said to me in a chat/bingo room when I first went on line in the aftermath of my open-heart surgery, back in December 2002. The “room” was filled with women, older women, most of whom had health issues. I disclosed my sad story—yes I did feel sorry for myself for a few months as I coped with this major life change at the ripe old age of 48—and one sweet lady, who was a paraplegic and also a shut-in, typed, “Morgan! Stay on top of the grass!”

Her command made me laugh and was the moment I began to not feel so sorry for myself. She gave me good advice, don’t you think? So I keep that as a non-negotiable resolution the year round, and consider that it, along with the determination to keep moving, are really the only two all year’s resolutions I really need.

I hope this new year of 2019 is a good year for your and yours. And I hope all y’all keep moving and stay on top of the grass.

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