(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

This I believe: do good business and your business will do well, should the conditions for what you offer be at all favorable.

What is good business? To me it’s about operating in a manner that supports all stakeholders—not just the ones that write you the biggest checks, such as the advertisers, or the shareholders, who so often are focused on the near future’s bottom line, not the long-term sustainability. Employees are more than expense—they create the value of your organization. And in today’s complex world when so often the users of your products are not the customers who write the checks, it’s still good practice to keep the users happy so that they continue to use your services.

I get that these days it’s really common that the real customer (or at least the biggest customer) is often not the user. For example, in health care the insurance companies bring in most of the money. But without patients coming through the doors, insurance won’t be paying out for services. Same with online “free” services, such as social media and news outlets. We have always had to put up with advertising, whether it’s print advertising in our publications, which keeps subscription prices lower, or whether it’s to watch network television. Now, in order to use electronic services—paid and free—we have to consent to let all of our online activities be followed and sometimes, even when we don’t want to watch an ad, those ads keep playing anyway, using up valuable computing and server resources. Maybe we can’t opt out of necessary services, such as certain health care procedures or visits, but we can reduce using them for optional care. And with other more discretionary activities, we can stop using the service at all. With fewer users of services, the real—or the one paying the most—customer makes less money. Chasing away users of your services is bad for the bottom line.

It comes down to respect. Businesses need to respect all sides of the profit-making equation, even if not all equally contribute to the bottom line in an easily quantifiable manner. Reasonable employees and reasonable customers are why a business can provide what it provides in order to make a profit. Treat these stakeholders well, and your business should grow. Really, it’s not trickle-down, it’s trickle-up.

The hubris of scorning the “little people” is just not good business. Betting that the user will put up with almost anything is not a good long-term plan, especially in the face of an improving economy. Odds are most people remember how a business has made them feel—I know I do and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Treat me well and you might have me for life—without paying for any constantly playing videos or pop-up ads or whatever the next intrusive form of advertising is. (Visiting me in my dreams?)

You can say I’m a dreamer, but there are really no good reasons for it to be a dream for people to be treated well by corporations and other organizations.

(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

(c) 2010 Trina Lambert

Sometimes living in this old house gets, well, old. I kind of want to chuck it all and move into an apartment—until I see the price of rent for a one-bedroom apartment is almost $300 more a month than the mortgage payment on our 2200-square-foot home. Still, we are only the second homeowners in this place the first homeowners built themselves with its listed build date of 1947. Some parts of our home are put together in, shall we say, rather creative but not standard ways.

Yesterday I was entertaining a plumber here in our fair castle. The truth is more like I was staying away so I didn’t chat him up and raise the billable hours. The pipes draining from the sink were just worn out—and put together in some archaic manner. What started out as a minor leak had become more of a waterfall from time to time—good thing the only items directly below in the basement are a utility sink and a bunch of utilitarian storage—not that anything needs water damage. Oh, our pipes were draining all right—all over.

And don’t even get me started on the little critters that arrived with fall weather. In my 26 (and my husband’s 29) years in this home, we have never had mice inside the house, most likely thanks to the fact the garage is detached. We think we have taken care of the few that snuck in, because we have seen no evidence in all the places where they were partying down. However, I still have clean-up to do in hidden spaces. My family calls me “Safety Mom” because, of course, I would never not think of the possibility of such a thing as Hantavirus—which means I feel I have to go through a bunch of safety procedures before and during cleaning.

Oh, and we found out a few weeks ago that the leak that had sprung from our refrigerator’s icemaker looked suspiciously as if little rodent teeth had nibbled on the line. At least it wasn’t a problem with our not quite four-year-old appliance.

Speaking of appliances, though, not all maintenance problems in homes happen because of the age of the home. Just this past weekend my husband Sherman installed an over-the-counter microwave to replace (the expensive) one that had died earlier this year—or died for all practical purposes because the repair bill to fix it would have been as much as we spent for a new microwave. No, today’s appliances are no longer built to last as long as the appliances they replaced (although I have high expectations the life expectancy of this new microwave should at least beat its predecessor!) Gone are the days when I could rely on my trusty 20-plus-years washer and dryer—despite that I am still ignoring my Google calendar’s reminder to call for a dryer repair for the sensor that quit a mere year and a half into the current dryer’s life.

Some household tasks, though, are simply maintenance—too bad they are often costly. Am still waiting to hear from a furnace repair company. The only unique part about that is that we are unfortunate in that we have two furnaces to maintain. Despite the 1947 build date, the neighborhood story is that our humble abode began as an even more humble basement house during World War II because the owners could not get materials. That means the main floor is almost built as a separate house upon the original house. When we replaced the systems, we really wanted to pare down to one whole-house furnace but the house was too solid between the floors to make that happen in any sort of an easy fashion. Heck, in the basement we were happy to get three ducts chiseled into the more-solid-than-necessary walls in order to convert from a radiant heat wall-mounted furnace.

Enough, though. I’ll stop with the whining for now.

Because here’s the part where I remind myself how lucky I am that I get to maintain a home. Not only do I have a roof over my head (solid—thanks to the 50-year shingles we added about a decade ago), but right now it’s warm—as well as dry again—and all the systems are working well enough. Because it’s our own home, we can have dogs running in—as well as ruining—our yard, if we choose. No one lives right next to our walls and we can paint those walls whatever color we want—which we did just over four years ago.

Yes, I get to live inside this one-of-a-kind, now-pink house. All the maintenance—though sometimes overwhelming—is just the price we pay for getting to stay and grow old in this old house that became home—mostly sweet home—when we ourselves were also a whole lot easier to maintain.

How future trails traveled might look--and that's OK.

How future trails traveled might look–and that’s OK.

Still waiting for the thermometer to climb above zero, although the sun has been up for almost four hours by now. With these seventy degree drops in temperatures (from Sunday), most of us around here are a bit grumbly, despite having received great enjoyment from our previous exceptional fall weather. And yet, we’re not unused to cold weather—just not so soon after such unusual warmth.

My husband Sherman was home yesterday which meant we had plans to get out into the great outdoors—plans that we definitely adjusted in order to move in the warmest way possible. No casual hiking or walking—only running would do. Even if our running looks more like hiking or walking these days, what we call running does warm us up more than anything where one foot at a time stays on the ground.

Keep in mind that yesterday we were only dealing with a sixty degree temperature swing—almost balmy compared to today, right? So out we went in the middle of the day—with all our extra layers—to a quiet dirt path where our footing would remain sure, even with the light dusting of snow covering that path.

Well, at first I wasn’t certain my hands could survive—thanks to having two doggy-related potty stops right at the beginning where I had to remove gloves—but as is usually the case, the more we moved, the more our bodies and my hands begin to warm up. Pretty soon I was so glad we had not stayed in. There is something so peaceful about running in conditions that cause others to stay away. Just us and one other woman running (her=fast and us=slow) and another man and his Husky walking and nothing else moving except for hundreds of geese disturbed from their rest on a nearby lake.

I don’t understand it, but my body’s asthma is happier on a frigid day than on a hot one. On a cold day I feel younger and more able to move. The heat is less of a friend than the deep freeze we are experiencing. Now, keep in mind, I know better than to push myself—circulation and breathing as well as sore muscles, tendons, and ligaments—on such a day. Yet, I also don’t feel as if I am pushing myself in any other way than trying to get my hands warmed up enough to stay outside.

No, the biggest battle about going out for a run on a cold day—especially a surprisingly suddenly cold day—is getting out there. Well, that and getting yourself back inside before you start to sweat once you finish.

I have to say I almost loved it as much as I loved that day last week when I got to run at my sweet-spot temperature of fifty-degrees. In many ways yesterday was better because I got to do the run with my husband and dogs—and then after we finished, we got to go back inside to a warm space, so much the more appreciated for our having gone out into a cold that hadn’t been nearly as bad as we had thought.

Season’s plummet—the re-run—turned out pretty well after all.

. . . as we should call it in these parts.

'Tis the last rose of autumn 2014--and I'm not letting her die outside!

‘Tis the last rose of autumn 2014–and I’m not letting her die outside!

Wind chimes peal, switching back and forth from more constant rhythmic songs to bursts of noise, made from frantic beats. Leaves swirl and twirl, cascading to the earth, looking almost as if they are some form of moisture. Big change is coming to this sweet weather I might have said came from some other season if only the fall colors had not been so prominent.

Around these parts (front range of Colorado) we so often do not get transitions. Come late spring, it’s cold and then—boom—it’s hot. With fall, the opposite is true. What’s a body to do?

Well, not deal with the changes very well. In late May, I sweat too much and feel too lethargic for the burgeoning joy of spring that feels more like the summer that will soon seem normal or even a little cool. Usually late October is when the pattern reverses itself—I shiver and hunker down until my body realizes that the cold isn’t that cold. So I should be happy we’re one third of the way into November before I get to make this often harsh transition.

But by now I am so, so spoiled. Some nights have barely dropped into the 40s. The extra blanket has remained at the foot of our bed. The only gloves I’ve worn are lightweight.

And for me, this introduction to wintry blasts often comes with our first snow removal job. Other than my hands that seem to want to mimic some of my son’s Reynaud’s Syndrome symptoms, the rest of me often likes being out in the elements while I am pushing the snow blower. The air feels crisp in a good way and, after the initial shock of leaving my warm bed, I give in to the joy of being outside in what’s often a quiet (well, quiet if I drown out my own snow blower’s sounds) and peaceful time without much of the usual bustle of so many of the city’s citizens. However, part of my ability to feel contentment outside comes from realizing how much calmer the winds are here than in my native Nebraska—wind is a real game-changer but here our winds often only mark the initial changes.

Unfortunately, if I am called to spend extended time out in the snow in the next few days, it will be with this body that only yesterday was sweating even while I was driving around with my sunroof open and the windows rolled down.

Mother Nature, one year could you just give us a little time to get used to the idea of a new season before you drop us into one? No? I didn’t think so—why start now? Now, where did I put the hat and those socks, boots, and gloves—oh, and, shudder—the shovel?

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

Memory is usually one of my strong points—or at least it was until I was really deep in the sandwich of raising my kids and watching over my mother. And even if my memory is nothing like it was in my youth, it’s still pretty good if I am listening and/or participating in something. So why can’t I remember much about one particular activity from my freshman year in college? Usually the phrase isn’t “What happens in Bach Chorale stays in Bach Chorale.” As far as I know what happened is that I practiced with the group every Monday night until we performed a good part of Bach’s St. John’s Passion during Holy Week.

I now realize this experience should have been a big deal. The St. John’s Passion is very difficult. And while I come from a very musical background—having played piano, clarinet, oboe, and violin, as well as having sung in parts since I was 10—I am a generalist who has never taken musical theory—or practiced much individually—I’m rather a musical bum. Or as my music teacher mother finally said of me and my brother, “I don’t know why I wasted so much money and energy on your music lessons if you were just going to turn out to be jocks.”

That is, musical “jocks” who didn’t take musical preparations as seriously as we took our physical workouts. My brother has almost perfect pitch and we both picked up reading music easily with our first piano lessons back in kindergarten. In some ways music was so much of our early childhood that we don’t even know how we know what we know and too often we get by on that easily developed knowledge.

From time to time I discover I “know” many parts of the St. John’s Passion my choir is practicing even if I can’t tell for certain what all I have sung of this music. For certain, my choir did not sing the words in German, but I have had particular English phrases from the songs stuck in my head ever since that one “lost” year—and I sing them, too—just ask my dogs who have been called malefactors many a time.

So it seems very strange to me that I can’t access exactly what I did in those practices. Did I find the music hard or not? Shouldn’t it stand out if it seemed that way? Maybe my malleable 18-year-old brain was just in the middle of constant learning and it found the music neither harder nor easier than anything else I was learning in my first year of higher education. I do know that while the choir itself was geared toward generalists, music majors who did not have time to be in the traveling choir were required to participate in this choir instead. Perhaps we amateurs were paired with these people deliberately as I do remember one person who I would say was my mentor during rehearsals.

Fall trimester Monday rehearsals seemed hard because by Monday night I would realize just how little I and my poor time management skills had accomplished over the too-short weekend. But by the second and third trimesters, I also had added track practices—that jock thing—and sorority meetings. It’s possible I was just in a daze at choir practices due to panic over what all I had to accomplish after my longest day of the week ended and before I could go to sleep.

Whatever the reasons, I don’t really know what I did or did not do in that choir. I did decide I didn’t enjoy being in the choir enough to do it and track together for several months. Ever the generalist, I didn’t really care about all the music theory and jokes bandied about between the director and the music students. However, what I most learned from the experience was that I liked Bach.

Bach still appeals to me, even as my brain feels so much less malleable than it did when Bach and I first met, well, first met in choral singing anyway. The genius of what to me is a call and response between the various vocal sections of the choir is just a marvel and adds so much to the meaning of the pieces. I love all the counting—even when I get lost. Learning German is a bigger stretch and though I loved learning foreign languages in my early days, I am glad that I learned these songs first in English—the emotions of the words I don’t yet understand are stuck to the notes in my mind already.

Each time I practice this particular music I re-discover a little bit more of what I learned so long ago. So glad to get back to these specific works of Bach that somehow are a part of me—despite my not giving them the attention they deserved the first time around.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

This continues to be an “am-I-dreaming” sort of fall. Yesterday we had mostly clouds, some lower temperatures, and a nasty bit of wind and then—it got better. Though the grass was crunchy this morning, I’m not sure we’ve still had a major hard freeze. All I want to do is take pictures of this glory, but today, memories and the descriptions will have to do. Out on yet another picture-perfect outdoor excursion, this time I had to give in and just experience the beauty—thanks to leaving my cell phone at home.

So I kept my eyes open and looked around knowing that I could not visually preserve what I saw. Oh, but what I saw . . . you’re just going to have to believe me on this one.

And not only couldn’t I record anything I saw, I also couldn’t obsessively preserve how far I went and how fast (slow) I ran. I couldn’t listen to my “coach in a box” tell me how to sense how my body was doing—I just had to feel the signs without relying on any data.

How’d I do? I don’t know but I also don’t care. I felt good simply because of all the beauty and wonder surrounding me. How could I not have a good run?

I ran between geese, saw all sorts of very happy dogs running and walking beside their humans, watched moms and nannies basking in the sun while wearing infants or pushing strollers, listened to other footsteps crunching on the path, faster and slower, and—kept wondering if I should pinch myself to see if it was all real.

The mirror-like surface of the lake showed me a double view of all that human and not-so-human activity, blue skies, snowcapped mountains, and trees—bare or leafed in colors ranging from green to autumnal. Houses shimmered in that backdrop—an urban wonderland called home for some very lucky souls.

My soul, however, soared just for the chance to be there doing what I was doing in that moment, no matter if I appeared to all the world like a middle-aged woman bound to this earth. But that earth—oh my, what an earth it was.

And when I turned to leave that Garden of Eden of a space—paradise even with its planted gardens turned back to fallow dirt—I walked out into the neighborhood where colors continued to surprise me—especially at ground level—maybe more so for the barrenness of many trees. A few tattered but boldly colored non-native annuals remained peeking from protected spots. But hardy xeriscape perennials continued in full bloom in colors of purple, orange, and gold, scoffing at the minimal nighttime low temperatures we have experienced, as if to say, “You call that cold?”

As I turned my eyes upward, I searched my memories but came up short for the names of all the yellow, brown, orange, and red shades found in my 64-pack of Crayolas I so treasured. I could not find enough words to describe what I saw: this tree with the leaves turned the exact shade to match the burgundy house’s paint, that tree’s fluorescent yellow and orange leaves electrified by white-bright sunbeams, the true green leaves tipped only with gold.

(Only now at home can I access the palette of those shades: maroon, raw sienna, burnt orange, burnt sienna, brick red, ultra orange, orange red, red orange, goldenrod, yellow orange, orange yellow, lemon yellow, and mahogany. Still, I know I saw them all today, along with a spectrum of greens, and it was enough. Really it should have been more than enough, but can you blame me for being greedy enough to want to savor every detail I can?)

Words I can share with you—the pictures you’ll have to imagine for yourselves. These moments of gold are the currency we hoard to keep ourselves through the long nights and muted landscapes soon to come.

2014 Sherman Lambert photo of sidewalk chalk art

2014 Sherman Lambert photo of sidewalk chalk art

Years ago—almost two decades ago—my husband Sherman and I attended classes at church based on a series of short stories and essays—more often secular than not—where readers were challenged to hear God in the words, even if the author had no intention of addressing God from a faith tradition. Over time we studied all four volumes in the Listening for God series.

I liked the classes. They reminded me of the “Portraits of Jesus” class I had taken in order to meet the religious course requirement at my college. I wouldn’t have signed up for the course, but I was studying abroad and had to rely on my fairly unconventional advisor to register me for the next term. I was surprised he had chosen this class for me after receiving my instructions where I told him to find me something different since “I had gone to church and Sunday School all my life.”

But, boy was I wrong about what that course was about. The first day of class the professor handed each of us a sheet of paper with various facial features for us to cut and paste into a portrait of who we thought Jesus was. Dr. Wolff presented Jesus in the varying Christian gospels, from readings from other faiths, and through all sorts of secular literature and movies where we looked for the Christ figure. He did not tell us what to think though I knew for a fact he attended a Lutheran church close to campus. Surprise, surprise, but at the end of the course I still thought Jesus was the guy I was taught he was while growing up, even though a bit grittier and more nuanced.

Our church is revisiting the Listening for God story series and this time Sherman is taking turns teaching the course with the woman who originally taught it back in the 90s. Sadly, since I sing in choir now I can’t attend most classes, but I’m still re-reading the stories so I can work with him as he ponders the coursework.

What I realize is that these stories are much darker to me now than they were the first time around. I and the world have changed. I see depths I could not see then—I am not quite the sunny optimist I must have been years ago. Is this part of the natural process of aging or have my own life experiences dimmed my ability to read with a more objective eye?

Frederick Buechner’s words in “The Dwarves in the Stable,” an excerpt from his autobiographical Telling Secrets hit me hard, especially now that they were so personal to me. In it he discussed a time in his life when his daughter was dangerously anorexic and how trapped he felt in his fear. He compared himself to C. S. Lewis’ dwarves who cannot accept the food and drink offered by the lion Aslan (of the Chronicles of Narnia) because they are so afraid that they cannot see love when it is offered.

“Perfect love casteth out fear,” John writes (1 John 4:18), and the other side of that is that fear like mine casteth out love, even God’s love. The love I had for my daughter was lost in the anxiety I had for my daughter.

This time I really got what he meant when he stated, “My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours.” Maybe it was the daughter part—which I now understand to my core having lived something similar—but somehow in earlier days I hadn’t connected with how fear—of anything—drives out God’s love. Maybe all fear for me pales compared to the fear for a loved one’s life.

Oh, the darkness was always in the stories but now I know fear much more personally. Unlike Buechner, though, apparently I have not done enough of the hard work of putting aside my fear in order to receive the love freely given to me.

That God’s love is greater than fear and darkness is a lesson I seem to have forgotten. As I once read those stories from a place of innocence and light, my bigger task now seems to be re-learning to see the light that is also in all those stories—and all around me.

Fear not, indeed. And so I renew my search for light—and continue listening for God.

(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

Just stop calling—now! With four registered voters at our address—and a land line—we just can’t get enough election phone calls. Of course, I don’t answer, but so many of these people feel compelled to leave detailed messages. Please note that while I wrote this, I have had at least four messages to erase. Lucky me—I just keep getting more examples of what people shouldn’t say to try to convince me what to believe and do.

But I just can’t seem to erase those messages without first listening to what sort of crap I’m being told this time—it’s as if I want to validate my anger or something.

Back when I studied writing, we just talked about statements being true or not, but my son Jackson is always talking about logical fallacies this, logical fallacies that. Oh my gosh, are the people who write these advertisements the evil geniuses of logical fallacies, are they just that stupid, or have they sold their souls just to earn money?

Speaking of money—I just can’t stand to note how much money must be being spent on flyers, phone scripts, and television ads these days during elections—which would be at least a little less painful if advertisements shared factual statements such as voting records and gave us context for what candidates have said or what they have done. What if someone were just willing to donate that kind of money toward solving some of this world’s problems? But, no, much of the donated money is just being used to twist words and take those words and any actions out of context.

A favorite of mine: “Did you know that so-and-so voted to take away money from senior citizens, veterans, soldiers, students, children, dying people, highways, orange people, etc.?” Then this is quickly followed by how we all need to live within our means and so-and-so is busy spending your money—but apparently spending it on the green people or whoever doesn’t matter as much to the caller. At the same time, no context is given explaining how much total had to be cut from the budget, how many other officials voted the same way, or any mitigating circumstances that could explain the record. The old “that person is doing a bad job but if I were in that position I would never cut money for the orange people—no matter what” regardless of any circumstances that might change the perspective is an insult to my intelligence about the complexities surrounding decision-making.

And how about the assumption that anyone registered in a party votes party line? Sorry but being told to be a good party person and vote as expected—and that all your other party members have already voted and you better vote soon to make certain that other party does not win—is an insult to my ability to think for myself. As if there could be no validity to candidates from the other side or to issues supported by “those guys”—who are not like us, right? This is an especially questionable technique in a famously purple state such as ours.

Here’s another favorite: while you’re at it, don’t forget to insult my values and call me anti-whatever if I don’t agree with you about how a person in a certain group should vote—in other words, you=values-based and me=lack-of-values-based. Because, really, why would I look to values in my decision-making—I can’t have any if I disagree with you, right?

OK, OK, it’s time to stop this diatribe before another call comes in to provide me with another example of why I don’t answer my phone these days. And time to try to remember what might be right about the election process in this country.

Yes, despite all my anger and frustration over what is wrong with our elections these days, I am grateful I get to vote and that I really do trust that my ballot will be counted.

Though all these people can try to buy our votes with all that advertising, we are still free not to answer their calls and free to vote as we choose.

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

I try really hard to love my life for the people and the experiences in it and the beliefs I hold. Life for me is not about status or what I own or where I live or anything like that—expect for when it is.

I’ve always feared consumerism in others and I try to snuff it out in myself, but deep down I realize that I am at least still materialistic. Not a material girl in the Madonna way, but just that I know sometimes I get really attached to certain material things. For me consumerism is about wanting stuff for the sake of having it or getting something new or impressing someone else or trying to create an image—all that I try to avoid. No, I’m not quite to the level I’d like to be in the “store up your treasures in heaven” attitude, but I try.

So it’s hard for me to admit that I love my car—and that it is the kind of car that also appeals to hipsters and people who do care what others think. Last month I felt like some sort of fraud while hanging around while getting the car serviced (after 10 months—oil changes only once every 10,000 miles—awesome!)—even the waiting area felt too trendy for someone like me. Who’d have thunk I’d be driving a MINI Cooper S? Not me.

You see it’s my husband’s fault we have this car—and Sherman’s no hipster either. He’s just been coveting them for years. Last year, it became painfully obvious we needed another car around here due to everyone’s differing schedules. Finally, I told him to go drive one. How was he going to know if he really liked them if he didn’t check them out?

So when he found a “pre-owned” (what people like me call “used”) one with reasonable miles, he took it for a spin. He liked it, he really liked it, even though he was out driving it on a dark and stormy night. Throughout the week while we vacillated—I just didn’t want to spend any money, period—the salesperson kept calling—and the price dropped.

When Sherman took me and our son Jackson to see the vehicle in the daylight, I didn’t think anything would come of it, no matter how cute the darn thing was. Both my guys took the car screaming over the hills outside the (BMW) dealership. Our fill-in salesperson—the finance guy who used to work at the MINI location and who knew all about them—was not too excited to squeeze himself into that back seat for that type of journey, but he actually knew more about the car than the BMW salesperson did.

I think he was happier with my cautious driving style than with the let-‘er-rip style practiced by my guys, but he wasn’t so thrilled with my cautious buying style. Don’t think he’d met many with my level of reticence for spending at that place—I mean there were cars there selling for $132,000. My inclination was to run out of that oh-so-precious space and go find some bucket of bolts that probably would have nickled and dimed us to our last penny. But thanks to my habit of not spending too often, I had built a credit number that was the highest Mr. Finance had seen—at the BMW place, no less. (That my husband’s score was slightly lower is due to the fact he’s the one who has the reliable salary and whose credit we typically use, but he’s no slacker either—let’s face it, we are just cheap—usually.)

And with those credit records we could obtain financing that made a lot more sense than paying for a bunch of repairs on a less reliable vehicle.

Can I help it that my reliable and safe vehicle (yes, Sherman checked the reports and ratings even before that first drive) is just so fun to drive? Note: I don’t even like to drive, but I do now. Errands? No problem. City traffic? Still a problem, but so much better with all that zip as well as the as-easy-as-it-gets parking of such a small car. Decent insurance rates, reasonable gas mileage, and ergonomically suitable for my touchy lower back—and with racing stripes on it! So what if the heater takes its time—I’ve finally got heated seats!

OK, enough with the exclamation points. But you get the point—I like the material possession that is my car. Turns out I’m a bit of a material girl, after all.

Nonetheless, I doubt I’m going to respond to all those email ads I get telling me “ the new MINIs are in, new MINIs are in” within anything close to the next decade. Our closest “new” vehicle is the car I drove and now my son drives—the 2000 grandma-mobile my mom gave us in 2008. Sherman just replaced his 1994 with a 1998—after we realized buying a “newer” vehicle would be cheaper than repairing his. And our daughter still drives the only car we ever bought new—back in 1998.

Yup, that’s me smiling like the Cheshire Cat behind the wheel of my little striped car. I’ve got the car I didn’t know I wanted—and I’m keeping it.

P.S. Happy almost anniversary (November 2) to us and our little car–it’s been a great year! Here’s to many more happy miles together!

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

My kids will tell you I’m more likely to post pictures on Facebook of the dogs than of them—which is true. Hey, the dogs spend more time with me than my adult-aged kids do. Access to my iPhone camera makes me much more likely to take pictures of the everyday and the ordinary than in my pre-smart phone days. However, I have always preferred taking pictures of things that don’t move—and all the better if those “things” are living plants and/or plants in front of some gorgeous view.

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

So can you blame me if all I seem to do lately is take pictures of my zinnias? Every few weeks since August I have felt compelled to take—and post—pictures of the zinnias, especially since I keep thinking that someday soon the frost will get them. The irony is that the closest they came to experiencing their demise was on September 12—just around six weeks ago.
(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

Even though I didn’t know we were going to have such a warm fall, I did know that we would have many more growing days around here—if only a sheet or two could protect them through the worst of the early temperature drops.

Well, those old sheets did the trick and those zinnias are still out-performing every expectation I ever had for them. Frankly, when I first planted some expired zinnia seeds two summers ago, I had no idea how they would do in a spot that few plants I’ve tried so far have liked. Thanks to the unrelenting western afternoon and evening sunshine that dominates the area during the heat of July and August and even that of early September, most plants wilt and give up. But zinnias love that spot, so much so that once the plants get established, they require very little water—even in a year much drier than this one.

Not only do these flowers grow easily for me in a tough spot, they also bloom in all different colors, sizes, and shapes. I never know what the next bloom might look like—which is one of the reasons I don’t want the seemingly endless summer of these zinnias to die out a day sooner than—oh, never! I’m always so curious to see what’s going to pop out next. Until the flowers are gone, I’m just going to keep drinking in—daily—whatever they have to offer. Color me zany for zinnias, if you will.

Enough words about the flowers, though. Might as well continue with my tradition of being that annoying person who posts picture after picture of her flowers even though—this time—I’m stopping with five—pictures, that is, not flowers.

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

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