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(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert (Puppy Pick-up Road Trip)

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert (Puppy Pick-up Road Trip)

Could barely watch as our old car crept onto the ramp of the vehicle that would tow it away. No, it wasn’t my father’s Oldsmobile—but it was my father’s Mercury, as well as my mother’s Mercury, before it became ours.

My father planned to go on many adventures when he bought a new Mercury Sable in spring of 2001. But soon after its maiden voyage—a joyful college reunion where he and my mother and their returning classmates of fifty years earlier were honored—he received a diagnosis of cancer’s return. Instead of driving off into sunsets to see his grandchildren, children, and friends, as well as sites previously unknown, he became a passenger in that car, chauffeured often to treatments and procedures back and forth through the canyons forged by the Big Thompson River. Nature’s beauty remained a constant companion on those final journeys he never chose to take.

This would not have been the car my mother chose for herself. But when he died before a year had passed since its purchase, the car was too much depreciated for her to sell it without a loss. So instead she drove off in it on her own solo adventures, as well as those with family members and friends, to locations near and far.

When my mother stopped driving almost six years later, that car came to us for our own adventures, both with and without her. We called the car the Grandma-mobile—which wasn’t really fair since she never would have chosen such a large car with such a long front end. This car most definitely did not fit the picture of what our two 16-year-old drivers preferred, but its ability to seat six worked well when we drove our kids and their friends during the period when their graduated licenses did not yet allow them to drive alone with their age-peers.

You know how the story went. Yes, I ended up with my father’s Mercury, which didn’t fit the picture of what a certain 46-year-old mother wanted to drive either. But we were grateful to receive a good car with low mileage, which was a much-needed answer to our burgeoning transportation needs.

That car played a big role in our own family stories and travels and transitions. It drove off to college loaded down with too much stuff, but returned home with two parents ready for a time of greater rest. The Mercury later transported our family to the sacred grounds where we laid my mother to rest. I picked up my daughter from her first year at college in it so she and I could take a classic western road trip to pick up my new puppy—not that my father would have ever allowed a dog in his car, let alone a puppy leaving his mother for the first time!

When this mom finally got a car more in tune to her dreams (a MINI S), my son Jackson was grateful to inherit the Grandma-mobile. True, he was no fan of parallel parking it but he most definitely appreciated the get-up-and-go as well as the ability to work and play without having to juggle cars with us. Unfortunately, the car (and its driver) got-up-and-went a bit too fast on an icy day last November, leaving the driver unscathed but every panel on the driver’s side damaged—enough so that the insurance company totaled the car due to its age—an age that reminds me just how long my father (and then my mother) have been gone.

Seems fitting that my father’s car left us on the last day of Mercury in retrograde. You may not believe in the power of the stars over our lives but this concept is just the right metaphor for saying goodbye to his Mercury. Astronomically, Mercury in retrograde is the time when the planet Mercury appears to reverse its orbit due to its position in the sky—which looks a whole lot like going backward. According to the StarChild site (linked to NASA), it is not doing so, but “. . . just appears to do so because of the relative positions of the planet and Earth and how they are moving around the Sun.” Astrologers, on the other hand, see Mercury in retrograde not only as a time of complications in areas such as transportation and communication (as Mercury is the god of both areas), but also as a time for returning to past connections.

So, Dad, thanks again for the Mercury—though we never, ever managed to keep up with your standards and plans for its cleanliness, we did our best to live up to your dreams of taking adventures in your chariot of choice.

Farewell, oh fleet-footed one—turns out you were just what we needed after all.

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(c) 2015 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2015 Christiana Lambert

Once upon a time I was a small-town girl living in a lonely world—well, while attempting to get my career started in the metropolitan area where I have since lived for over 31 years. I first came to Denver to study book publishing at the (University of) Denver Publishing Institute, returning a month later for good.

I didn’t find many openings in book publishing so I set out to information-interview the local publishing companies. After one such interview, my car (of the same vintage I was—young for human years, but old in car years) broke down at the side of the road—fortuitously by a gas station that still had working mechanics on site. The young mechanic got me back on the road (for free!) and I returned to the faraway suburb where I was staying with my mother’s friends during my initial job search.

Fast-forward (slow-forward?) almost 30 years and I answered a job post (through the Publishing Institute’s job listing) for the same company I visited right before the car’s roadside drama. Morton Publishing is still in the exact same location, although expanded, yet the people interviewing me were much younger than I was, including one I knew from yoga. I did not get that position but later that year Morton contacted me about doing freelance proofreading for them as they went through the busy preparations for the annual textbook releases. Completed two books for them in 2014 and four in 2015.

This loop in my life looks even more orchestrated when I think about how I met and married a man who owned a house less than a mile from Morton. I have lived and socialized and worked out in the same community as where the company is for almost 28 years. For 11 of those years I have attended the yoga class where I originally met someone who would eventually work at Morton because another student—who later joined our yoga class—worked at the company.

Over the years I’ve deviated from my original dream to work in book publishing. I began in magazine publishing, but fell into (and learned to like) numbers work there. I reasoned that I could do numbers work in a variety of industries, so I moved into a financial reporting business. At one time I was even an accountant—and, yet words kept calling me. I eventually wrote articles and compiled detailed charts for magazine articles. And then—through that yoga class—I connected with an author who needed an editor for two projects over many years.

And, now, I start a job as assistant editor at Morton in just over week. As my daughter pointed out, “It took you 31 years to get that job.” Right—while the company was growing, and while I was adding to my skills as well as raising a family.

Don’t stop believing.

(About the photo.)

(c) 2016 Trina Lambert

(c) 2016 Trina Lambert

If you saw me this past weekend you might wonder just how and why I became coated in the dust of ages. Well, about once every 10 years or so I have to clean out the office—whether or not it needs it. Truth? It needed it.

However, changing around the office is not exactly a new year’s resolution project, despite the timing. I likely would have lived with the hidden dust behind the furniture longer if we hadn’t needed to find more space. I am formally welcoming an officemate—well, a human one beyond the two or three dogs that often hang out in here when I am working at my desk. Welcome, Christiana, to the office down the hall. The dog hair is plentiful (although not as much after the recent cleaning spree) but the commute is short.

My daughter recently finished additional schooling (a certificate in graphic design) to round out her BFA and has begun her job search. But as a fine artist/graphic artist, she’s always going to have work-from-home projects in the pipeline and since this is her home for at least the near future, I’d rather those projects not take over the living room too often. We’ve already tried out working in the same space while she created and completed projects for her courses and, so far, we seem to be able to finish our work without causing each other trouble—but more space would allow that to happen with a whole lot more ease.

And in this 1940s office, more space means moving on up—at least as far as storage goes. (“Moving on up” is also the phrase my husband Sherman and I chose for 2016.) No more (horizontal) credenza that has served me a little too well over the years. Sherman and son Jackson moved it for use in our basement. So grateful for their efforts—and that neither of them died during the process. Yes, moving furniture in this 1940s house is often a life and death pursuit.

Non-hipsters that Sherman and I are, we had never really considered that homes such as ours are exactly what IKEA furniture is designed for rather than for those modern suburban homes with up-to-code doorways and large rooms with few walls. My friends, we are no longer IKEA innocents, but after a two-hour trek checking out everything (I mean everything) the store sells, we decided that for now we’d stick with the cheaper (and much bulkier) close-out vertical wardrobe we found at Lowe’s. Should the both of us (my daughter and I) one day decide to make our fortunes full-time in this space, we will likely put some of those fortunes toward IKEA and its Tinker-Toyification of storage solutions.

But for now we’re settling for sturdy upright storage and a whole lot less dust. I love how the office is shaping up but what the heck am I going to with all those piles I’d rather just forget crowding the dining room table and other furniture? The point of keeping my daughter’s doodads from spilling into the other rooms is moot if I replace them with my own.

Dust in the wind I may be, but without tackling my own copious baggage and putting more than a little of the dust from that baggage into the air by cleaning and moving it out, I’m destined to be held back by the whatchamacallits and thingamajigs I have collected. When my days on this earth are done, I’d rather that stuff and dust are not the only legacies I leave behind.

Pardon the dust—it’s got to get a little dirty in here first in order for me to move on up.

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert