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(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

Back when Sherman and I were young DINKs (dual income no kids), Sherman took on a major, major project: making our 1940s house warm. The outside walls were made of stucco and the inside plaster, but they housed no insulation! Add the insult of single-pane casement windows that wouldn’t even shut very well anymore and you’d understand why this house was cold—and bleeding energy. Even though we often kept the thermostat in the low 60s, we still had monthly wintertime energy bills that exceeded $250. We had to keep our windows covered to reduce the drafts just a little bit—even if it meant keeping out the sunshine.

Sherman sleeping under his completed window, 1991

Having more time than sense—sorry, Sherman!—Sherman decided he didn’t want to inject insulation in the walls. No, he would add insulation to the inside of the outside walls (got that?) and then drywall them and then texturize the new walls to match the remaining old ones.

Of course, we didn’t just need new walls—we needed new windows, too. Thank goodness we don’t live in a covenant-controlled neighborhood because our plan was to replace them two or three at a time until we made it all the way around the house. We paid as we went and that way he could work on one room at a time since he really didn’t have that much time—hey, he had work to do and places to go and people to see.

Windows in 1992

Although he was confident he could push out the old windows, he knew enough to hire a trusted “retired” contractor—Jerry, a man who had performed many “miracles” completing projects for Sherman’s father and brothers—to install the new windows while he assisted at his side. He didn’t want to repeat the previous owner’s slightly skewed installations—no, he wanted the accuracy that came from a professional who knew his way around a level. Not only did Jerry provide us with straight windows, but he also created beautiful frames to showcase those windows. Sherman completed the project by staining the wood until it glowed like warm honey.

New blind closed, 2012

And what did I do to that now warm living room/dining room area? I covered up those beautiful windows with long, formal curtains that my mother-in-law paid a seamstress to make out of the material we had chosen and purchased. That made more sense as we anticipated the births of our twins. If I was going to figure out to nurse two babies, I didn’t really need to worry about what the neighbors could and couldn’t see.

Well, those twins are grown now and though the curtains are not worn out, they feel too heavy these days, especially considering the delicious sunshine that can light up these rooms during the winter.

New blind opened, 2012

So we did it—we decided to open up the room by installing Duette blinds we can raise and lower as needed. Though the sun’s path across the room is glorious, we do need some way to control that intense sunshine so that it does not wreak havoc on our furniture and rug.

Now if I can only control myself enough to keep it out when I should. Here comes our sun and I can’t help but want to rest into its warmth like a cat in a window seat, but I have work to do, places to go, and people to see—and furnishings to protect, blah, blah, blah.

Still, I can’t help but think our future’s so bright—you know the lyrics—we’re going to have to wear shades.

(c) 2012 Sherman Lambert

So just under four years ago I got to run a five-mile race—my longest, at that point, since returning to running the previous year. I remember feeling giddy that I could do such a thing again, even if it wasn’t easy and I wasn’t that fast.

It was a day such as yesterday, only not quite as golden because the leaves had already fallen. Though we froze waiting to begin our running, most of us finished carrying as many clothing items as we could pull off—and still run without getting tickets for indecency. That race really told me that with proper training I could rely on running again.

My body did reliably keep my feet moving for another two and a half years after that glorious morning. The rest of the story is that one day my back just refused to let me run. In fact, it pretty much balked at moving across the living room.

I’ll just skip the details of many of the chapters that followed and just say that after a year of restrictions and a lot of boring (and painful) rebuilding exercises, my back started to feel much better. So I started running again, right? Not quite but I did say I’d begin my return in the fall—too much ozone and heat in the summer anyway.

And, yet despite a couple attempts last month. . . I cannot exactly say I have committed to that return.

While I may have conquered many of the physical problems, I haven’t really conquered my fear of returning to running (or jogging really slowly—whatever you want to call what I do!)

But back to yesterday: Sherman and I decided to take the dogs to walk in that area where I did that race almost four years ago. The trees and grass were gilded with golden hues that seemed to glow. The path was dirt, the temperature perfect, my clothes appropriate, and my feet must have had a mind (or two!) of their own—they seemed to remember that place and want to go, go, go.

Running joy can be just a little dangerous if we ignore our fitness realities, but I think I managed to find that fine line between pushing myself too little and too hard.

No precise “run this amount, walk this amount”, no timing watch, no inhaler, no plan—just a few running steps here and there from time to time throughout the whole walk. The best way to conquer my fear seemed to be to run whenever I felt like running.

This morning I didn’t wake up sore and, even in a yoga class focused on the hips and lower back, I felt no signs—warning or otherwise—from last year’s injury.

It takes more than one sunny run on a gorgeous path to merge from Memory Lane and all those roads not traveled back into the High Frequency Runner Lane. Yet, I think yesterday’s magical nostalgia tour might have done more for breaking through the fear than the precisely-timed track workouts I tried first. Those I did because I thought I should while yesterday I just ran for love.

(c) 2012 Trina Lambert

This year’s unusually long, dry growing season is coming to an end—yet I’m not ready to let go of the colors. Despite the early start to summer—that I could not believe in enough to plant early—and despite the rain that rarely fell, I managed to keep the color going all season long, even if our lawn’s color could not properly survive so well with such low moisture.

(c) 2012 Trina Lambert

Even though Mother Nature helped so much more during the past three summers, I could not sustain the color quite so well. Last year my body was in too much pain for me to put much care into my flowers and the two summers before I was distracted by care for my mother. My view was so inward that I was lucky to water my plants, let alone fertilize the low maintenance plants I seek out.

Even with the best of summer conditions, I am not anyone’s careful gardener. However, with just a little focus on watering, fertilizing, and pruning, the plants I choose can and do thrive—and that’s just how I maintained this summer’s riot of colors.

(c) 2012 Trina Lambert

When last week’s forecasts of snow and/or hard freezes came, I was too greedy for color to let Jack Frost take my flowering containers just yet. Knowing I’d probably lose all the flowers outside in the ground and that the covered flowers in the beds, though protected, would still lose much of their original vim and vigor, I brought inside numerous hanging planters for a little respite from our, no doubt temporary, cold temperatures.

After the sun came out again, I brought those containers back to places of outdoor prominence. And, the flowering vines that had suffered from the cold? I tore them down so as to let the color that remained not be marred by those tangled and dying vines’ proof of the looming end for summer growth.

(c) 2012 Trina Lambert

Oh, I will not miss the overly hot summer we had this year with its fires and droughts, but I will miss the colors intensified by the light from all that sunshine we received.

Even though fall is my favorite season, I hate saying goodbye to my glorious flowers. Can you blame me for prolonging their days just a little longer?

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Sometimes it is too much, being able to know about so many people’s sorrows and needs in real-time. Whether the news is about a baby with a life-threatening condition or someone in great pain or a terminal diagnosis or the loss of someone’s dog, with our social media networks we keep in touch with so many people that our awareness of loss and difficulties is heightened.

All these life events have always happened and perhaps we learned of them from a distance and after time passed. Of course, we ached for people, but often we had lost contact with those we knew in different phases of our lives. Their news was more some vague sort of “circle of life” thing that did not touch us in the same way news touches us when someone is currently in our lives.

And, yet, the benefit of remaining connected is gaining the understanding that what any of us goes through individually is part of some larger human condition. We are not alone in our paths—there really is someone out there who does know what we are going through, even if those closest in our everyday lives have never experienced what we are experiencing. Sometimes walking on a similar journey takes strangers or near-strangers and makes them into lifelong friends, whether or not they ever meet in “real” life.

Who is to say how the prayers of random people we may know just a little or not at all make a difference? Just God, I guess.

So, though our awareness of others’ burdens is increased, so also is our ability to lift up those in need.

For that reason alone, for me, the scales weigh in the favor of extending my contacts versus reducing them. Some days I may need to circle my wagons against the weight of the world, but that doesn’t take away the world’s great needs.

As much as others–including those who do not know me well–have given me support, I know the only way to live my gratitude is to pass on that support to others. Whenever I can, I open that circle—and pray.

(c) 2011 Sherman Lambert

Reporting to you live from Denver, Colorado, home of the first presidential debate for the 2012 election. In order to avoid the predicted major traffic snafus caused by closing I-25, the major artery through central Denver, my son was sent home early from work and my husband pedaled home, as planned—well, until he got a flat tire and called me to go pick him up. I know this is an exciting event but I’m rather glad I still have choir practice tonight.

In a 24/7 electronic world, I’m sure I can still hear what is said during the debate without listening to it as it happens. I’m already ready to cast my presidential vote but still have decisions to make on the local fronts.

I am so over politics as usual. These are difficult times, but if you listen to all the advertisements, the way to solve our problems is to put down anyone who isn’t on your side, whatever that side may be.

No! The way to solve our problems is to start working together and to stop thinking that compromise is a dirty word.

I am not sure why anyone would want to run for office in these divisive days. I’m especially disgusted by the attack advertisements promoted not by the candidates, but by Political Action Committees (PACs) and other faceless, nameless groups.

If I were a candidate, I’d be pretty upset that these people were slandering my opponent—supposedly in my name. We seem to be Ground Zero here because we have two young voters registered in two parties. Most of the literature comes addressed to them, not my husband or me. (Does that mean we’re committing mail fraud if we read those postcards before they do? Yikes!)

But according to those flyers, for example, we have a choice between voting for a “deadbeat” or an “ATM” for the legislature. (If I had no soul and wanted to make good money writing, then I’d write that sort of thing!) Really? And we wonder why kids are having trouble with bullies in school.

And don’t even get me started about all the money being spent on these elections. Wouldn’t it be nice if people with that kind of money just wanted to use it to take care of the problems we have?

Don’t mind me—I’m still looking for that kinder, gentler nation someone once said we could create. I know it can still happen, but it’s going to take the voters of this nation telling the attackers that we’ll never get there if we can’t even make it to Election Day without assaulting everyone who runs for office.

How can we expect our elected officials to be good at playing nice, if they first have to go through full-out battle—from all sides—to make it into those elected positions?

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert