Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

Are we there yet?

Those aren’t my beloved’s exact words, but they might as well be. After today, he has 307 days to go until he is retired. They’re still finishing up repairs and yard clean-up at the quarry where he works. It’s all part of getting ready for when the bulk of the crew returns and they can fire up the rock crushers for a new season of turning large limestone slabs into various sizes of gravel. When that happens, David will be back in his truck full time, driving from point A where his giant vehicle gets filled with the crushed stone, to point B where the product is stored in a pile on the floor of the quarry.

Until that time, he is doing whatever needs done—and it’s a more physical process than he’s used to. Many nights he comes home so spent he goes straight to bed for an hour before supper, just to recharge his batteries.

I feel for him. I’m not as young as I used to be, either. Each day I learn this anew as I set an aggressive agenda for myself—and then realize my to-do list was a bit too optimistic. Friends, getting older is not for wussies.

I tried to encourage him, when he took over driving the big truck, making his job more sedentary for him, to exercise and keep his stamina where it had been when he first climbed into that truck. After all, we don’t truly understand the meaning of the phrase “use it or lose it” until we’re over fifty. I’d like to tell you he heeded my words of wisdom—but I can’t. No, he gave in to the joy of not having to bust his butt, and simply reveled in the inactivity. The result of this, of course, is that when he has no choice but to be more active, it takes a lot more out of him than it should. Certainly, it takes more than it would have if he’d kept moving.

The other result of his lack of physical activity is that he’s gained a fair bit of weight over the last few years. That doesn’t bother me, image wise. I don’t tend to look at a person based on their physical appearance. But the added pounds are not good for a man whose body had always supported a very modest weight, a man who also suffers from COPD. I haven’t criticized, and was very happy when he announced over the Christmas holidays that he really wanted to lose weight and would, come the new year.

I’m doing my part to see that his goal is achieved. He needs to do his part by resisting the urge of the extra snacks. He knows this, of course. It really is all in his hands.

I take after my parents who were both overweight. I’ve been heavy all my life. Losing weight for me isn’t an easy process anymore and really never was. I have my own health issues, including hypothyroidism, diabetes and heart disease. I also have severe arthritis, in my ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. I had resumed going to the pool, determined to get back to where I had been before my gallbladder rebelled and interfered with my ability to go swimming.

Unfortunately, my reward for several months of increased activity was such a bad flare up of my arthritis that I could barely walk and really couldn’t even climb stairs without the aid of my hands—on the steps above me. The flare up and acute pain have eased off, but my new normal is a lot less active and a lot more painful than it had been. All I can do now is keep moving. I still wear my step counter, and I refuse to just sit still when it hurts like hell to move. I understand that to stay sitting on bad days will limit my abilities even more. As I’ve already said, getting older is not for wussies.

My beloved was thrilled when, just before Christmas, he got a letter from the government about his OAS – Old Age Security. It’s a stipend outside of the Canada Pension Plan that we receive up here, once we’ve turned 65. The letter confirmed his first check will arrived the month after he achieves that landmark birthday.

As for the rest of his future retirement income – his CPP and his company pension - he’ll have to make arrangements for those. He will, from time to time, mention this thing we have to do, or that thing, to prepare for his happy event of retirement. My only input here is that I’ve told him he needs to make a list of what has to happen, and any questions he has.

I don’t believe I’m being anything but fair when I tell him, like his eating habits, that’s in his hands, too.

If you’d like to see a picture of my beloved and his beloved truck, you can see it at my WW blog: or you can go to my website and view my “journal”.


Friday, January 13, 2017

New Release: BEASTLY RAPTURE, by Brenda Williamson

Beastly Rapture
by Brenda Williamson

Available from Amazon

Angelina Barlow doesn’t like being told what to do, even by a handsome man stealing her plane. Overpowered by him and his sidekick, she’s left no choice, and ends up in a doomed flight from Texas that crashes south of the border. However, her predicament isn’t as perilous as the attraction she has for the dangerously sexy man kidnapping her.

Desiderio “Dez” Chavez is on a mission to steal the daughter of a powerful rancher. When Dez inadvertently ends up with the wrong girl, he’s in more trouble than thievery or kidnapping could get him. The gorgeous young blonde stimulates a primitive ache in his loins that he can’t and he doesn’t ignore.

As they travel together in the lush beauty of the Mexican jungle, fighting their feelings, yet giving into sexual desire, an emotional bond is created. And what started as a savage seduction becomes a mutual and sacred awakening of their love-starved spirits. It’s this mysterious connection that presents a new threat to Angelina’s wellbeing.

The Chupacabras are gruesome, blood-sucking beasts and they want the woman Dez has claimed for himself. Can he protect his Angel from a fate worse than death, and if so, will she still want him when she learns the secrets he keeps about the legendary creatures?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesdays Words, by Morgan Ashbury

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been learning of some disturbing stories from people from all walks of life who’ve been attacked verbally, and a few who’ve actually been physically assaulted. These cases are many, and they are real, and I’ll even bet that most of you know someone who has been targeted (I refuse to say victimized) by the outrageous and unconscionable actions of those who can only be called thugs and bullies. These bad seeds appear to be pervasive, showing up unexpectedly, striking out at will, because now they feel entitled to do so—they’ve been given permission.

Yes, we seem to suddenly find ourselves in a time when people will do despicable things because they believe that truth, honesty, and integrity no longer matter, or worse, that those principles no longer have a place in modern life. It is up to all of us, and up to each of us, to stand for what is right. There are some people among us who look around at how being a pathological liar, a cheater, and a hate-filled bully has so recently been publicly rewarded, and have decided that if one person can get away with it in such an open, spotlighted way, then they can, too. As I said, they’ve been given permission.

This is a danger that is so elemental, so prevalent, that it truly can touch us all. We need to stand firm and stand ready to call out those who would abuse the rights of others, those who would practice their bullying openly on the unsuspecting, and those who would blatantly lie. This danger is real and it is serious, and it is urgent.

Words matter, my friends. The words we say, matter. They have power, more power than you can even imagine. You know the positive side of this truth. If we have words of encouragement and kindness for those who are struggling or suffering, our words lift their spirits and fill their hearts with love, and hope. I have seen this reality play out time and again in my years on this planet, and in my experience as an essayist. Many of you have written to me to tell me how my words have helped you, uplifted you, or encouraged you. The flip side of that coin, however, is just as true.

If our words are ugly, then they carry an ugly air to them, staining the atmosphere with such an ugliness that sinks into every nook and cranny of our lives and will thus eat away at the fabric of all that is decent. If our words are lies, again, those lies fill the atmosphere with an unreality that like a constant drip of caustic acid will burn away all that is true.

We will be left with a world filled with distrust and hate, teeming with untruths, and where nothing will be sacred—not our faith or our ideals, not our laws, not our most cherished historical documents, not even our lives.

We can no longer sit back and let things happen around us, trusting that saner minds and kinder spirits will eventually prevail. We are the saner minded and the kinder spirited. We must do all we can to ensure that our personal parts of this world—as in, everywhere we go and everyone we meet—is treated with kindness and respect. And when we see this bullying, this harassment, this blatant lying, we must stand up to it. We must use our sanity and our kindness to rebuke this unacceptable behavior. We must call out the liars among us every time they lie, no matter what office on earth they sit in.

I have often, in various of these essays over the course of the last ten years given examples of how one person taking action can make a difference. If I am kinder, saner, and stand up to the bullies and liars, and you do the same, and others reading these words do likewise, and all of us get others to do so as well? That, my friends, is an army. The future truly is ours to mould. What happens next really is up to us all. I reject the concept that we are all nothing but tiny little mice with no voice, no power, no hope. That we have no choice but to submit to the whims of the power-hungry and money-grubbers of this world.

We are mighty. We are powerful.

We are the hope of our future generations.


Saturday, January 07, 2017

New Release: SINFUL TIGER, by Brenda Williamson

Sinful Tiger
by Brenda Williamson

Available from Amazon

Escaping an abusive boyfriend is easy when Devra abandons him during their sailing trip to the Caribbean. After a storm traps her on a sandbar of an island cove, she’s forced to go ashore. Disoriented by too much wine consumption in the heat, and vulnerable to affection, she is seduced into an affair with a mysterious man, thinking he’s the tiger from her erotic dreams.

Gannon Tremain lives by the curse of a voodoo priestess. By day a man, buy night an animal, he struggles against an affliction that makes him especially dangerous to women. Then he encounters Devra. His instincts as the tiger demand he mate her, but as a man, he fights the urge until her sultry plea defeats his human will.

Can passion cure a curse when an old evil surrounds the lovers? Only time will tell if beauty can tame the beast.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Book Release: SAVAGE HEART, by Brenda Williamson

Savage Heart
by Brenda Williamson

Available from Amazon

On the western prairies of 1870’s Nebraska, young and beautiful Eden Cruthers befriends the handsome Pawnee half breed indian, Brant Sullette. Over the years, he treats her with unrelenting respect and they fall madly in love, vowing to be together forever. But then Brant suddenly stops visiting her. And when her father discovers she’s with child, he sends her far away to Boston.

But five years later, Eden returns home with her four year old son to settle her dead father’s affairs. And as she clings to a small hope that she’ll see Brant again, she faces a fear she never expected, Brant showing up to lay claim to his son. Eden’s heart is shattered to find the indian boy she adored no longer looks affectionately at her.

Brant loved Eden with an unconditional love he never thought would waver. But Eden abandoned him and gave birth to his child far from his reach.  Filled with anger and seeking revenge he takes his son from her. Yet, when Eden begs to go with him, vowing to do anything he asks, he can’t resist the possibility to win her back.

As they find the familiar affections they once shared still strong between them, a tragic injury with their son threatens to steal all chances of him and Eden having their long desired happy future together.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Book Release: THE HUNGERING WOLF, by Brenda Williamson

The Hungering Wolf
by Brenda Williamson

Available from Amazon

Sheep rancher, Etta Barlow is determined to protect her flock from slaughter by rampaging wolves. Grabbed by a band of outlaws while setting traps in the forest, she’s not sure if she can trust the man that rescues her, but that doesn’t mean she’ll fight her attraction to the handsome stranger or wonder if one night of sensual passion can lead to the forever kind of love.

Half-breed wolf-shifter, Blackie Larimore is in line to become leader of the pack. For a smooth transition, he has to have a mate or fight all challengers. Rulership has always meant power, riches, and respect, and it’s the only things he has truly wanted…until he meets the irresistibly beautiful Etta, and then he worries that the power of the Blood Moon is too compelling a force for a hungering wolf.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

Happy New Year! Did you celebrate with friends and family Saturday night? Did you party hearty?

We’ve gone to a few New Year’s Eve gatherings in our time, but for the most part, we’ve stayed home—as we did again this year. Although in the past we’ve sometimes gone to bed before the grand moment, this past Saturday night we stayed up. Our celebration was simple—we turned on the television in time to watch the ball drop in Times Square. Enjoying the quiet and the ambiance of vacation time, we were both into reading our individual selections from our TBR piles. So, we turned on the television at about twenty minutes to midnight, watched the silliness for a bit, participated in the countdown as we watched the ball drop, wished each other a happy new year…and went back to our reading.

Though my husband and I don’t indulge much in the end-of-year celebrations ourselves, I can say that, collectively, we humans get more excited about the beginning of a new year than we do about any other national or international occasion. It certainly is a curious thing, to see all those people wearing funny hats, waving banners and flags and noisemakers, to see the joy, and the hope. And, of course, we mustn’t forget the kissing. There’s always a lot of kissing.

I believe we tend to make a big deal out of ringing in the New Year, because no matter who we are or where we live or what our circumstances, we all crave two things: to get rid of all the crap that happened in the previous twelve months, and to earnestly seek out a brand spanking new beginning. It’s as if, when we toss the old calendar into the trash, we’re saying, “everything is new again!”

What a testament to the basic optimism of the human spirit!

The last few months have been filled with uncertainty and peppered with small tragedies. There have been wars, and rumors of wars. New phrases have entered the lexicon, the most unfortunate of which, in my mind, is “false news”.  We find ourselves in the position of facing the prospect of having to wage anew the battles for human rights that we fought in decades’ past. Many of us are filled with uncertainty for the future.

 And yet, millions of people gathered in town squares across the globe, and millions more who couldn’t gather in person, tuned in via their televisions or their computers or even their smartphones, to herald in, with great pomp, the arrival of 2017.

The New Year is a clean slate, ready for you to write upon it. What will you choose to do with it? As you may recall from past essays, I don’t really indulge in “New Year’s resolutions”. They are easily made and even more easily broken. Instead, I like to think of what, in general, I would like to accomplish.

At the top of that list is always a prayer to God, that He helps me to become a better person, in every area of my life. I am a work in progress. I have mountain-top moments and then great swallowing valley ones. In other words, I’m like most everyone else. I want to be a kinder me, as there are enough times when I’m not to prick my conscience. As I said, a work in progress, with lots of room for improvement.

This is also a notable year for our family as my beloved begins his last year in the work-a-day world. In the note he left me yesterday, (he usually leaves one for me to find on work-day mornings) he announced that he had 323 days left as an employee of the company. In recent years, he’s lost the love he always had for his job, a fact that in my heart and mind is a tragedy. But his words yesterday were optimistic. He wrote, and I quote, “I hope they are good days and I’m going to try and enjoy them. You enjoy them, too.”

Sound advice from my beloved that I plan to follow, and I am happy to share them with you.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

Was your Christmas wonderful? Was it the best one, ever? I’ve found that the way to make each holiday the best it can be, is to believe it is the best one, ever. Attitude is everything, and an attitude of gratitude and positivity will bring you the most blessings in life. With everything in me, I believe this, one hundred percent. I believe that in the future, it will be discovered that some of that 90 percent or more of our brains that we don’t currently use, can indeed perform miraculous feats of healing, and create a copious amount of happiness if we just believe it’s so, and are open to learning how to use it.

Why not try positive thinking, and telling yourself not only how lucky you are, but how grateful you are for all the blessings in your life? Please, don’t tell me that you’ve struggled, and can’t be grateful because life is hard. My friend, we all struggle, and life is hard for all of us. There have been many times in the past when I didn’t know how we were going to make it to pay day; many times, when we didn’t have much of a pay day to look forward to in the first place. We’ve all lost something or someone. I’ve lost 2 homes to fire, an eight-day old granddaughter, and my middle child. Yet I have been blessed in this life and I’m grateful for all I’ve been given. Simply try it, believe it, and see what happens inside your heart.

It’s that time of the season for the “best of” lists for the year that’s about to end. It can be useful to take a bit of time and look back on the year—the good, the bad, the ugly that happened in the world at large. It can be very useful to make note of the lessons you learned, the wonders you saw, and maybe learn from the inevitable mistakes you made. I keep trying to do that last one, learn from those mistakes. I think I’m getting a bit better at it, because either the mistakes really are fewer lately—or I simply don’t notice them anymore when they happen.

I really hope it’s the former and not the latter.

We spent a quiet Christmas Day here, with just David’s sister joining us for supper. She lives about forty minutes away, and has been spending Christmas Day with us the last couple of years. She and I have always enjoyed a fairly close relationship. Her son and his family, lately, have gone to his wife’s parents on the 25th, and we’re always glad to welcome her here.

We enjoyed our annual Boxing Day brunch at my brother’s on Monday, with all his family there. Later today we’ll head on over to our daughter’s house on the other side of town for another Christmas get-together. This time it’s with the girls and their families. We see them all on a fairly regular basis. Considering we all live in the same small town, that’s as it should be. But we really enjoy the special occasions together. Sonja loves what she calls “family dinner”. I for one will appreciate this gathering, because although I will be taking my meal contributions—sweet potatoes, and my Christmas Pudding—I don’t have to worry about waiting on people or doing the dishes. Then, tomorrow, it’s off to the next town, and lunch with our oldest son and his crew.

It’s now been more than a year since my gallbladder surgery, and my ability to enjoy food, while not completely back to how it had been prior to those problems starting up, is better than it had been for a few Christmases. I don’t generally eat a great deal at any time, but it’s nice to enjoy a few special dishes—like warm crab dip, smoked oysters, and roast goose (not all at the same meal). Christmas pudding, as well, is a very special treat, but I’m quite happy with a small sample of that. I tend to prefer the savory over the sweet.

The holidays for me, more than anything, signify family and tradition. It’s seeing those ornaments on your tree that you remember your mother hanging; it’s knowing your daughter is putting a huge orange in the toe of her grandbabies stockings, just as my daddy did with mine; it’s visiting with loved ones, and sharing special moments. I look forward to giving, and I really don’t care if I get any gifts in return—because what I do get, without fail, is better than any thing wrapped in paper.

I get a sense of legacy, a sense of harmony, and a feeling of joy when the eyes of the children are filled with magic and wonder. I think we could all do with a little more magic and wonder in our lives. Don’t you?

May the coming New Year be all you wish it can be—prosperous and filled with love, laughter and happiness.