(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

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

Gold is the color around here right now but it’s absolutely free for the viewing. These are usually the best days of October in my neighborhood but I am often stunned by these glimpses of beauty. Photos cannot do these golden days justice—or at least with the skills and camera that my husband Sherman and I possess. The intense, low sunshine softens the captured images with a glare beyond even that seen by our own eyes.

Colorado may not have the range of fall colors that explodes in wetter climates but against the backdrop of a robin’s egg blue sky and snow-tipped mountains, the gold glows. Even the native grasses briefly turn from their mostly monochromatic schemes to shimmer in variegated glory.

This year, however, we really have had moisture throughout most of the growing season and even during many of the fallow times. The season’s usual colors in this year are set against grasses that remain green through no human intervention. The wow factor surprises me again and again.

Though the weather forecast calls for no frost in our near future and though we have protected our hanging plants indoors when temperatures have dropped low, it is too late in the season to play that guessing game nightly with the plants we plan to overwinter at Sherman’s office. Reluctantly I prepared those beauties for the annual trip to the office last week before we both carried that burgeoning jungle of greenery and bold blooms into the space with wide southern and western windows our house cannot duplicate.

Even those plants that relied so much on my hand watering, due to hanging in locations that only provide minimal rain access, are so much the happier for the rains that increased the moisture in the air. Humidity—what a concept around here. No, my plants have never had a better season with appropriate temperatures, increased rainfall, higher humidity, and just plain luck from avoiding the worst of the hail that often devastated neighborhoods all around our yard. Our little micro-ecosystem thrived this year with so little effort from me.

I may miss my hanging flower pots, but the delights outside my door remain too glorious for me to mourn their absence too much yet. On yesterday’s drive home from church, all those colors in the established neighborhoods told me I had to get out to see what Mother Nature was offering in her natural neighborhoods—and quickly before those fleeting moments of golden flashiness disappeared.

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

We took off to one of our favorite fall spots—a location that one day soon will be flooded to provide more reliable access to water for the residents of man-made neighborhoods, especially since most years here are nothing like this year of falling rains, green growth, and flowing waterways.

I’m not sure why there aren’t more songs about beautiful afternoons. Of course, the dawning of morning is such a metaphor for new beginnings and growth, but joy may also come in the afternoon. I know it did for me—and so, while walking one golden afternoon with my husband and dogs next to a river still wild enough to be dammed by beavers and not yet by engineers, I burst out in song.

“Who will buy this wonderful (afternoon)? Such a sky you never did see. Who will tie it up with a ribbon and put it in a box for me?” (All apologies to Oliver!—and anyone who really does have a clear, soprano voice!)

But you see, all that gold does not glitter—it was free for the viewing, but not for the taking. The only ribbon there is is the one that binds October’s shimmering golden dance into my memory to keep me until she returns again—next year.

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

Humor is reason gone mad. Groucho Marx

"Groucho" in 1992

“Groucho” in 1992

Maybe I need to share the funny side of my recent massage. Yeah, when you are letting someone pull your scalp and poke levels in your ears and such, it helps to keep a sense of humor.

Or maybe humor is just what I used to defuse fear—because trust me, there is fear with letting someone try to fix a body that hasn’t been treating you so well lately. Plus, getting a massage is just pretty awkward in the first place because—make no mistake—you are vulnerable when you are mostly naked and lying on a table in a darkened room.

None of this even addresses the fact I grew up in a very German-American family. We may hug at our reunions now but we definitely weren’t huggers back in the day—and I was probably one of the most hug-averse of the group. I remember going to church conferences away from home and almost breaking out in a cold sweat when I realized that people I hardly knew were going to hug me. Oh no, there was no excessive touch in my early years once I was too old for sitting on laps and such.

Did not have my first massage until I had been a mother of twins for several years—and by then I was a little touched-out, if you know what I mean. So that first massage definitely was not as relaxing as I’d hoped. Seriously, I have pretty much only used massage as pain treatment—my family calls me “Olga” because I only seem to give or want to receive hard massages.

OK, now that we’ve established that I have hang-ups about touch you might really understand why I think funny thoughts sometimes during massage.

No, my current practioner is not some big woman with an accent. She is slender, calm, and gentle (but firm—you probably already knew that!) The walls of her massage space are not just filled with peaceful images of animals and scenery; tangible proof of her knowledge and qualifications also shares those same walls, just as in offices of other educated professionals.

The measuring processes she performed require several tools—some with technical names I didn’t catch. But I did recognize the levels she used for verifying, well, my levelness, as well as the chopsticks (!) she used as visual props. Of course, she required me to stand with correct posture—well, my best version of correct posture for now—and to look her in the eyes all while she measured up and down and across and backward and forwards.

So the first crazy thought I had had to do with seeing her eyes close-up in her glasses, which she does not usually wear. The concentrated focus reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s description of the Dr. T.J. Eckleburg billboard (with the seemingly all-seeing eyeglasses) in The Great Gatsby. Somehow I worried that under such close scrutiny, I would be found lacking, just as the characters were in that novel.

However, it was hard to feel too serious with a couple levels sticking out of your ears. And then when she used the chopsticks as a visual aid—by my head, of course—all I could think was that I hoped she wasn’t a zombie seeking out brains for an afternoon snack.

What a picture this whole process must have made. The visual would be great for a movie—well, with other people playing the roles. Even some of the massage techniques look funny although there isn’t really anything too funny about getting long-held pain to release—but I’m sure Hollywood could figure out a way to minimize that minor factor.

All I can tell you is that, despite the awkward moments and the discomfort as well as the pain, every time I leave I walk out a slightly newer woman—or at least a woman who is shedding some of the damage added over the years. There is nothing funny about that, except that the better I feel, the more I want to laugh. And while I might let you hug me, don’t even think about pulling my scalp—let’s leave that to the professionals! My madness has its limits.

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

Had a facelift yesterday. OK—not really, but somehow I look younger for having my cranium, of all things, worked on in order to help reduce my hip pain.

I’m at the point in my pursuit of healing where I’m chasing down subtle treatments—well, subtle in that it’s not always obvious how something such as the head’s placement might affect the hip. Not so subtle in the treatment—which was fairly intense and involved working on the connections around bones in my head with names that mostly escape me. But, trust me, the painful work on my mandible (the lower jawbone) had me realizing just how much I had to trust my neuromuscular massage therapist to let her do this.

How did I know that getting my jaw worked on would help my hip? I didn’t—but I had to trust the process based on past experiences with the practioner and the healing she’s brought me so far. I absolutely believe one of the bigger problems with seeing a physical therapist or an orthopedic doctor (which I haven’t done but my daughter has) is that those professionals see the body more in pieces. For those of us who didn’t get injured from an event, perhaps knowing how to fix the ache won’t be enough to prevent it again, if nothing else changes.

Am I a case in point? Possibly. My trigger-point-dry-needling and exercises from the PT—along with time—definitely healed me from my bulging disc. I felt good after I healed, but I didn’t want to do therapy exercises just to feel good—I wanted to do those exercises so I could get back to doing other activities I enjoy. And that isn’t the craziest thought since I do not have any major musculoskeletal damage.

But what about my biomechanics no longer allows me to do my activities as I’d choose, even with a fairly regular maintenance exercise routine? This, my friends, leads me to an even grayer area than that of how to treat initial lower back/hip pain. If you think all the different types of professional experts have opposing opinions about how to treat such pain in an acute situation, just try to get treatment for that pain in a chronic situation. You can find all sorts of valid scientific research to point you in a treatment direction, but so little is absolute in how such treatments will best bring about healing in your particular lower back/hip.

No, I’ve done yoga long enough to realize that all those pieces of our bodies are connected. My slight understanding of physics tells me that change one part of the body and another part will respond or act in a different way. By now I’m aware that a holistic approach as to why a certain section of my body isn’t working well very likely will include some other section of my body, but I have to admit I never really thought my head might be that section damaging my hip. (And for today, not even going to go into depth on the mind-body connection which adds a whole ‘nuther layer to the holistic approach.)

Just so you know, the practioner didn’t just start yanking around on my head. She measured quite a few sections of my body, looking for quantification of discrepancies. Who knew that a pair of levels could be used to analyze how various bones in my body compared side-by-side? Turns out I’m not as crooked as she expected and the crookedness I demonstrate is focused in a few crucial areas.

Sometime during the post-measurement massage session I realized my hip was not screaming quite as loudly as it had been—and not just because other body parts were receiving more focused attention. When I finally stood from the table, I really did feel the shift.

And last night? I slept better than I had in ages and woke more with the stiffness of a good workout than from the stiffness of chronic pain.

I know enough to understand that my body can shift back again. I still have to train it to learn these new alignments, just as I have done with other changes made over my lifetime from wearing orthotics or doing drills at a track practice or practicing yoga or being treated with dry needling. Muscle memory is both what holds me back and what may save me with intention and practice as I attempt to teach my body new memories.

Once again we’re back to the head—and the mind-body connection. All I know is for today I’ve got a good head (straight) on my shoulders—which may yet bring the crooked (back and hip) in line.

(See Neurosomatic Therapy.)

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Before all this current brouhaha in a neighboring school district got national attention, I didn’t like what I’d heard—not from that district and not from another neighboring district.

Schools belong to our communities, but there is nothing to say that everyone in a particular community will get along or will share the same vision. That’s a fact of life we just have to deal with—even when the majority makes choices that go against those we would make.

In fact, when I finally took my kids out of the local district for their high school years, it was because I was tired of teachers and community members resisting change at the high school level because “we know our community’s kids” and “these new ways aren’t right for our kids” and so on. Based on my volunteer accountability experience at the district level, I knew their current ways weren’t right for my kids.

I still believe our family made the right choice for our kids, but I was sorry to have to bow out of supporting the schools in our own neighborhood. I was a visitor in that other community, not a decision-maker from a voting standpoint.

But the thing is, I believe our communities have the right to make educational decisions based on what feels right for the people who live there. And whoever wins the school board elections earns the right to continue making decisions for the community—as long as they understand that they serve the whole community and are held accountable by the statutes, legal framework, and community within which they work.

What I really, really don’t like is this trend of political parties and PACs getting into our local school board elections and of people running for the board as a slate. Sure, there has always been the possibility of graft and bias within many of these organizations, but that graft and bias should at least be reflective of what people in our communities believe matters most. It shouldn’t be influenced by what someone sitting in another state wants us to do. There is a platform for national concerns and it shouldn’t be our local institutions.

Yes, our schools have to work within state and national restrictions—and for good reason in many situations. What we don’t need is more outsiders telling us exactly how to educate our kids.

I want individuals in our school boardrooms making individual decisions for kids within the framework of the board. I want pressure on the school board to come from our own stakeholders: the local parents, teachers, students, business people, and residents. We’re still going to have to struggle to make decisions together that reflect our community’s values and needs and some of us may still decide our kids’ needs might be met better elsewhere, but at least our decisions will be ours.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

My years of supporting my kids’ schools and working on academic accountability committees are long gone, but I’ve seen the effects of some of our educational failings for this generation. Too much standardization and test-taking passes for providing a rigorous education. I worry that our current systems reward passive thinking and even lead to disengagement for those who might want to think more deeply.

For years I’ve been saying that in order to create rigorous educational systems that we have to get the students engaged. The factory model of grading students well if they can parrot what teachers say or if they do well on multiple choice tests does not encourage critical thinking. What it does encourage is shallow learning at the best and group think at the worst.

The question students need to ask is what does this information mean? And then to think about how what that information means may vary for many reasons. What does it mean in these times? In previous times? To me? To others who are not like me? Education isn’t really about giving people answers but about giving them the tools to ask the questions and to do something with what they know and understand.

It’s too easy to dismiss today’s students as pawns or lazy thinkers—and if they have bought into learning only what’s going to be on the test and what a specific teacher wants them to think about what they are learning, then, yes, that is true.

But today’s students also have access to an infinite amount of external information. If they do not feel right about something they have been taught, they can do their own research and reach out to others to try to discover what might seem truer to them.

Is that dangerous? Oh yes. But is that any more dangerous than not even questioning what one particular person or group wants them to believe?

We need students who can break through the spins that are coming from media outlets, politicians, researchers, community and world leaders, business people, the so-called man on the streets, educators, and even parents—really, from anyone who is trying to convince them of something because “they” say so. Our students need to be taught to strip away the bias and read and listen and think for themselves. Peer pressure is not just something that happens in high school—and yet the consequences from peer pressure in the real world are even more devastating for the whole of society.

Go ahead and try to teach patriotism by stripping away access to knowledge of the events that made past citizens fight to get this great country back on track. But don’t be surprised if those who choose to think deeply consider themselves just as patriotic as those who would tell them to believe blindly.

This is not a political party thing. This is not a generational thing. When kids have learned to think for themselves, don’t be surprised at what happens when they put those thinking skills into action. I have been worried that we have taught out the thinking skills—so glad to see thoughtful engagement in practice anyway. These kids—and consequently our country’s future—may just be all right after all.

Reference: Jefferson County (Colorado) students protesting curriculum proposal.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert

When I gave birth to my twins, the experienced moms from my running club’s board gave me a bath gift set. At first I thought, “I never take baths. And when will I ever have time for one now? Are they crazy?”

But they weren’t experienced moms for nothing. In those days of the too-muchness of early parenting years, there is often too little time or money to do big things for oneself. Sometimes the easiest way to take care of yourself is to create a little retreat time in your own home while the other parent makes certain you won’t be interrupted—even if such times rarely happen.

I think it took me years to use up that gift set. I barely had time to sit down let alone to soak in a warm tub by myself, but the few times a year I did sit in the tub really helped me to keep doing all those things I did when I wasn’t sitting down.

I never really developed a bath habit until much later when aches and pains from skiing or a particularly hard workout would chase me into that tub. Even then I wasn’t very consistent with hot soaks until I encountered the chronic pain of injuries that did not heal nearly as quickly as I hoped.

Oh, thank goodness for the decent size of our 1940s bathtub. Lucky for me most of those aches and pains really do fit into that space of healing.

No, I’m still not a bubble bath, spa kind of a woman in the pampering sense. I’m more of an Epsom salts bath devotee seeking to keep those physical therapists out of my life, or a post-traumatic-massage bather.

By now I’ve learned that time in the tub is not wasted time—it can get me moving after a tough night when my body refuses to allow pain-free sleep or it can get me back out on the track when I’m more than a little stiff. And if I know I overdid it on said track, a quick post-run bath can alleviate the likelihood of another sleepless night.

If there were an Epsom salts bath council and it ever needed a representative, I would be that person. These days I believe in baths, I really do. Health, sanity, whatever—baths keep me on track, one way or the other. After ducking into a bath, I always feel just ducky.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Wondering if I dropped off the face of the Internet? Still here, but was limiting most of my Internet visits to searching for references for my most recent work project. And, boy, did I need references!

I realize that you’ve probably heard me yammering about the value of the liberal arts and how important I think it is to study a variety of subjects. I really do try to live the liberal arts; however, I do have to admit that some subjects are natural fits for me, while others continue to be a bit of a struggle.

But struggle is good for the brain, right? And my brain should be so much fitter than it has been after the last two weeks of proofreading a chemistry textbook.

Yes, chemistry was the course that derailed my quest for becoming valedictorian. You could say that chemistry was the teacher that started me on the road to understanding that education is not about the marks you get, but about what you learn. You can struggle with the concepts of a subject, but still learn quite a lot about what they mean, even if you don’t have the aptitude or desire to learn more.

Despite having a father who was a pharmacist and despite having a high school lab partner who is a big name on the Genome Project, my understanding is not as developed as I’d like. I was really glad my son Jackson was available to help me with some of my questions—even if I was asking more for my own understanding than for what was needed from me in the scope of the assignment. Finally I had to concede that I was letting past emotions get in the way of the work—I acted as if I personally had to know how to solve the equations even though my job was simply to look for discrepancies. People with deeper knowledge than mine had done that work—and I could check their work by using references.

After my asking several questions, Jackson said, “You really don’t get this (chemistry) like you do most things, do you?”

No, but I got it enough not to be bored while working through the textbook—which shows that I am much more interested in learning for learning’s sake than I was when I was chasing grades. It’s safe to say that while I am much better at understanding the theoretical aspects of beginning chemistry now that I am older, I am still not likely to understand the hows as well as I understand the whys.

I’m still not going to grow up to be a chemist—and that’s OK.

“What’s next?” you ask. Astronomy, baby. Seems my (lifetime) liberal arts education is taking a decided trend away from the arts and toward the sciences right now. To infinity and beyond! Yup, the sky’s the limit—or limitless—or something like that—and all sorts of other metaphors I won’t even pretend to understand. If you don’t hear from me for awhile, it will only seem as if I have fallen into a black hole.

Odds of my growing up to be an astronomer? As likely as odds of my becoming a chemist—which is zilch. Odds of stretching my brain? Somewhere further on the spectrum of possible than if I just stick with what I already know.

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