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(c) 2015 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2015 Sherman Lambert

Last night’s nightmare that woke me was about . . . raccoons? I guess Disney didn’t succeed after all in teaching me that those critters were adorable—sorry, Pocahontas, but your little masked sidekick is not welcome in my dreams—or my yard!

Raccoons are definitely roaming our neighborhood at night. Not sure if they’ve made it into our back yard or not, but in my dream they were wandering around just about everywhere back there. Little ones, medium-sized ones, big ones—on the walls of the house, on the picnic table, on the ground—and their beady little eyes gleamed in the dark of night as I tried to keep them from approaching me. says: (t)o see a raccoon in your dream signifies deceit and thievery. You are not being completely honest in some situation. Alternatively, the dream suggests that you are hiding something. You are keeping a secret.

Right—it’s all about me, not the possibility that raccoons could figure out how to access our costly stash of premium dog food, harm our dogs, and/or bite us. I’m being honest when I say I neither want our dogs to be hurt or require expensive surgeries nor do I want to go through that series of rabies shots in my ample mid-section, thank you very much. Plus, we just bought two 26-pound bags of food for our dogs and our daughter got 15 pounds for her pup.

I’m not keeping a secret—I’m just paranoid. However, as my husband likes to say, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. They, in this case, relates to those critters I saw slinking away in the neighbors’ bushes or the guy who watched us from the nearby sewer drain as we walked our dogs. None has tried to get me—that I know of—so far.

When I woke in the dark of night, I felt relieved to find myself in bed and not outside my house. Not saying that I was rattled or anything, but after I grabbed a sip of water from the glass I keep for that purpose in the kitchen, I set it down on the edge of the counter and heard it spill over the counter before it fell to the floor. Of course, I poured that water right into my pillbox with the huge (and expensive) supplements I take daily. Despite the hour, I threw on the light in order to save my supplements and clean as best I could, trying not to wake myself up more than I already was, thanks to the pounding of my heart and my overactive imagination.

Were there eyes glowing outside my darkened windows, beckoning me to test out my dream? Don’t know and didn’t look—just got myself back under the covers where I tried really hard not to think of those rabies shots while praying my next dreams would be raccoon-free—which I think they were.

If I keep this kind of thinking up, I’ll be screaming if someone asks me to watch Pocahontas. Sadly, it is no secret that the power of suggestion works a little bit too easily for me. For this reason, I no longer watch the news and horror movies. And now, Disney, it seems.

If you want me, I’ll just be hiding under my blankets.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

Took the long way home last weekend. I, for one, think of the place where I grew to adulthood as my hometown and that’s exactly where I was headed—for a 35th year high school reunion.

But I think memories from our early childhood days really are our homes—especially those from the years from which only fuzzy images and other sensory traces remain. The smells of burning leaves, the crunch of the snow under our boots, the vivid colors from tulips that came out in time for last day teacher thank-you gifts, the flashes of electricity that danced across the walls on hot summer evenings, and all the other tactile encounters, pictures, smells, sounds, and tastes that were first part of informing us what the world was.

Whenever I leave behind the city and its suburbs (and now exurbs) and travel east toward what used to be home, I feel an almost primeval relief as the sky opens up. On the way to that hometown get-together, I met with friends to visit another friend at her ranch. As we drove those roads less traveled, that feeling of relief increased as I journeyed deeper into memories I cannot even access but the sensations were oh-so-familiar.

When you grow up in the middle of nowhere, you spend a lot of time driving—either to another spot in the middle of nowhere or to somewhere where you can buy goods you can’t buy at home or where you can do activities not available where you live. Unless weather kept us from the roads, my family and I were often busy going from here to there, more often than not riding roads that were not graded but instead followed the natural contours, my stomach dropping as we swooped from each hilltop to valley and back again.

I got to experience that feeling again once my friend turned her minivan (with us three now city-slickers) onto the one-lane road that stretched north across now-flat, now-rolling terrain. As the car aimed to climb the first hill, I realized the images of hills in my dreams are not some made-up generic picture, but a conglomeration of the hills my family used to drive in my earliest years. The graded and tamed hills of town and city have obscured what I first knew.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

This is what I knew: a land of sky and grass and herds of horses and cattle. A space where hawks sat on fence posts while flocks of birds took to flight and various other types of wildlife moved along the periphery of the bubble of our car. I may have grown up a town girl but in a town nestled in the country and arranged around agriculture, not industry.

Childhood as I knew it ended the summer I turned ten when we moved from what I had considered small town paradise to a close-by but larger town. I could no longer ride my bike to the pool or roam the countryside alone for hours or walk either downtown or to the shopping mall where my father now worked. The nearly treeless lawns in our newer neighborhood made me ache for the established leafy maple trees that framed the early 20th century house I had called home for most of my memories. The paved roads stretched flat in every direction—there were no hills to make me wonder if my bike and I could reach the top or gravel roads to ride on school buses while going home to stay with friends who lived in the country. Many of my toys never made it out of the moving boxes. That new town became my hometown at an age when the magic of childhood was waning.

For me—no matter that I experienced all four seasons—childhood in my early town will always be the green, green days of summer when the hours stretched with nothing better to do but splash in the cool wetness provided by the hose or explore the almost cold creek (“crick”) or sit behind our Kool-Aid stand (for which customers??!!) with its sugary sweet smells or pedal that banana-seat Schwinn out onto the not often stationary gravel.

And yet it didn’t have to be summer for me to read—which I did with a passion. Town kid that I was, I devoured every horse book—fiction and nonfiction—I could find in the little local library or that I could con my mom into ordering from the colorful newsprint paperback book orders the teacher dropped onto my desk every month or so. Sure I read of racing horses and London town horses but I preferred tales of horses that roamed in hills that looked more similar to those around my town.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

So it came to pass that this small reunion that I got to experience was much more than a chance to talk and laugh and renew friendships with people whom I have missed for too long. No, “meanwhile back at the ranch,” as we made certain to say frequently, I had a reunion with the child I was—as well as the one I wished I was.

Not only has this summer been green at a level not too often duplicated—and the lands that sit on a sweet spot over the massive Ogallala Aquifer are especially green this year—but I also got to return to hills similar to those in my dreams and to achieve proximity to horses in a manner that had only happened in my dreams.

Urban woman I still am and still want to remain, but, please—no apologies for the early morning sun that streamed into the windows of the room where I lay sleeping. I had a room with a view—of fields gilded with dawn—and of the country girl who is also very much a part of me—even after all these years.

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

(c) 2015 Trina Lambert

Yesterday I wrote about how my mind has seemed rather blank—that may be true, but my dreams are never lacking for details. Though I’m not sure the specifics matter as to what the dreams mean, I wonder if those detailed dreams keep me tired during my waking hours and get in the way of how well I can turn my waking dreams into reality.

Example of a typical Trina dream:

My yoga teacher is teaching a computer-related course at the Eagles’ club where we have our yoga classes, so instead of sitting on our mats, we are sitting at tables. Of course I bring my laptop, but for some reason my husband decides that he needs to repair my computer right there at the start of class. He has everything out of the machine on both sides—yes, do you know there are soft materials located between the monitor and the outer shell, just as there is inside the section where the motherboard should be. I finally point out to him that maybe this isn’t the right time for working on my computer since I am supposed to be using it. Then I begin trying to stuff the material back in both sides so I can snap everything back together—but, of course it won’t fit. Does this bug my husband? No, is conversing back and forth with my choir director, both of them speaking in English but with a Hogan’s Heroes’ type German accent. And then the man clearly asks my husband, “So do you just program in C or C++ too?”

You can probably see why I woke up at that point. All I wanted to do was learn the lessons being taught, but that was not going to happen with my computer torn apart.

In most dreams I not only see it, hear it, touch it, or feel it, but I can also smell it—whatever it is. The houses I remember have more details than what I could tell you about my own house—I could probably draw out many a floor plan of those dream houses and record the colors in those fictional spaces. I could tell you whether the water body I’m in is a lake, river, or stream and just how cold or warm it feels. The conversations don’t necessarily make sense but the word choice stands out—what do programming languages have to do with fixing the hardware in my laptop anyway?

It’s as if I’ve been gathering details—some trivial and some not—for years and all that data and those pieces of information are stuck in random sections of my brain’s hard drive. Maybe I’m the one who needs to defrag and clean up my disc. Perhaps all this unrelated junk is just slowing down my processing time and keeping my memory from storing what is important.

If we are such stuff as dreams are made on, then I’d rather my dreams not be quite so stuffed with useless details—unless, of course, I can figure out how to write a novel from them before my life is rounded with that final sleep.

What is home anyway but a place that houses your people and/or the best of your memories?

But even when a home is filled with love and good intentions, sometimes finding peace in the moment remains so elusive.

How strange that we are just placed (born) into these family units with one another and, yet, our differences and our similarities make it so hard for us to get along day in and day out over the years. Familiarity brings challenges, even when we want to maintain that peace.

Our pasts together and personality quirks are so complicated. And then there are the circumstances into which we are born, ranging from simple birth order factors to the family’s mood at the time of our arrival. During hard times, war, illness, or following death, children still arrive. Life in a family is not easy, even in the best of times, but it’s all that any of us knows in our early years. But with any luck, we will continue to know family life throughout all our years, regardless of the challenges it brings us.

Despite my growing up with only my parents and one brother, I come from a large extended family. My past is filled from memories of Thanksgivings and Christmases and summer visits to my grandparents’ home—a home where all my aunts and uncles and cousins would gather in noisy groups—and in my dreams I still return to that mythical home where I gather once more with those people who were so important to who I am and who I became. Those sorts of dreams come also to my relatives in their sleep. This sense of home is definitely with us when we gather in other places, but we have never truly dreamed we could return to the house that cradled us and shaped us so.

That is we thought we could never return . . . until my cousin and her husband realized the dream of buying back the house that had passed from our family over 30 years ago.

After over a year of a whole lot of elbow grease, blood, sweat, tears, and money, the house is again the home of our dreams. When my cousin called us home to our recent Christmas in July reunion, the house—and our ability to gather together in it—was a present like no other.

I would love to tell you that the dream realized was all twinkly lights and laughter and hugs and songs sung in perfect harmony and moments captured in picture perfect clarity. It was all that and more, and, yet, as in any family, sour notes remain: sibling discord, marriages dissolved, children who won’t sleep, favoritism, regrets, and disagreements over shared history. What’s past is not often past.

The truth is I did leave swathed in a feeling not unlike the sunshine that streamed through the large windows or the peacefulness that came to me as I took in the bucolic views from those windows. I chose to feel the love—which is real and huge and something I know not everyone gets to feel in this life—and also chose to push away the cobwebs that lurked in the dark corners because I realize I am lucky enough that those cobwebs are only a small part of this thing called family in my life.

And, yet, my own home is also a microcosm of that larger family home. The love here is real and huge and something not everyone gets to experience. But sometimes the reality of who we are together and alone is simply too hard to bear. We forget that together we are the protection for one another from what happens outside our homes and instead project what others have done to us on those who love us most. And despite our best intentions, so often we cannot figure out how to be ourselves without hurting one another. In those moments our home becomes just another house.

The real dream of my grandparents’ house or my house or of any house will be that the house can be the peaceful space we can call home: that feeling that comes in those moments when family members forget or minimize any differences and just give into the love that binds us together.

Blest be the ties that bind our hearts and bring about fellowship of kindred minds—and remind us just why peace in our families—no matter how imperfect the peace or the family—is what really makes a house a home.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

In my 20s, I knew this woman who often dreamed about her teeth falling out—she swore that dreams of teeth falling out symbolized death. And, maybe she did have good reason to worry about her mortality since she’d survived a brain tumor while in college. Of course, in typical twenty-something fashion, she didn’t really do that much to take care of her health, so maybe her sleeping brain had to remind her to do so.

I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed my teeth were falling out—both my grandmothers lived over fifty years longer than their teeth did, so maybe losing teeth doesn’t equate with dying in my mind anyway. If I’m going to dream about my mortality, I dream about my mortality. Isn’t that more attention-getting anyway than dreaming about your teeth?

Last week I had one of those dreams where you wake up unsure that what happened was a dream until, thank goodness, you conclude that it was. On the bright side, my dreams don’t seem to be predictive. No, they serve better to give me that proverbial kick in the head and ask me if I’m paying attention.

Long story short, but in my dream I ran into an old friend who is quite intuitive, but in real life she’s a dental hygienist, not a healer, and definitely not a medical professional in a women’s healthcare practice. After hugging me and spending a few minutes with me, she told me I had a growth somewhere in those often fatal regions of the abdomen.

Well, I got mad. I mean, as much as I’d been whining about all the complications in my life, I wasn’t ready to give it up. Despite everything that can and does go wrong, Life is sweet—a gift I don’t want to waste. Then, I clearly decided I was in a dream and I wanted out of it—it was time to open my eyes.

Sure, after I opened my eyes and loved on seeing even the clutter that is mine, I still felt disturbed for awhile. Had to keep reminding myself I’m not at all psychic, despite the fact my husband Sherman always called my dad the Amazing Kreskin, due to Dad’s ability to predict some things that happened. I never thought Dad was psychic, either, just intuitive.

So what did I do about the dream? First of all, I already have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the end of the month, so just in case I’m not crazy, I’m covered, right?

But, otherwise it was just another wake-up call to get back to doing the things I want to do.

That very afternoon I wrote the introduction to a fiction story I’ve been talking about writing since earlier this year. Though I had done some background research and written down some thoughts about the character and the plot, I hadn’t written a single word on the actual story–until last week.

The next day I got an e-mail telling me about a ZUMBA training session I could attend. I mean, I think I’m healed, but why haven’t I gone back to memorizing routines so I can put together a full session so I am ready to substitute teach? Sunday, I went. Now I have several new songs in my repertoire.

And, yesterday, well, I organized spools of thread. (Can’t win them all, right? Although if I start doing more sewing projects, I’ll be glad I did . . .)

Geez, if I’m going to live and live well, maybe I better start flossing my teeth again! Mortality dreams or not, teeth do come in handy—and buying dental floss costs a lot less than buying dentures.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Maybe I’ve always had mixed feelings about nighttime—or maybe those feelings didn’t begin until after my brother Scott and I saw a man in our bedroom when we were two and four.

As far as I know, that’s as scary as this story gets, but I don’t think that memory is ever very far from my consciousness. There’s not much to tell, really, except we both agree that it happened. One night, in the brief period when we lived in a rental house before moving to our own home, my brother stage-whispered to me from his twin bed, “Trina, there’s a man in the room. Hide under the covers.”

I hid and eventually fell back asleep. The next morning we both told the story to our mother, who doubted it until she discovered the cellar door unlocked. Though we had just moved to a town of no bigger than 600, apparently a man who was losing his battle with mental illness had a habit of entering peoples’ homes in the middle of the night. One resident woke to see a lit cigarette glowing in the kitchen and discovered the man relaxing at the table.

My brother Scott and I in 1964.

Put my early experience together with a vivid imagination and my quicksilver ADD mind, and you can guess that I didn’t really grow up falling asleep too well. My increasing levels of nearsightedness probably didn’t help either. Even though I lived in two more homes before I left for college and then again to strike out on my own for good, my insomnia never abated in my family’s homes.

Luckily, the worst of my insomnia ended with that final move. No idea why—I’ve lived in six places since—all different as far as I can tell.

Which is not to say I’ve made complete peace with the night.

First of all, let me say that I love staying up at night—it’s not just about avoiding falling asleep. I am the queen of getting a second wind around bedtime. However, I don’t really like mornings and I do “get” that if I stay up late all the time, then those mornings will feel even more unpleasant than they normally do.

Second of all, I know that sleeping with my husband makes a big difference. I’m lucky that I haven’t had to sleep alone much in past couple decades. Plus, he got me Lasik surgery which means I can see if any bad guys are in the house—haven’t seen any, thank you very much! Still, he’ll tell you that everyone in my family of origin—including my father, mother, and yes, my brother Scott, as well as our own two children—has or had some problems with sleep.

He likes to say something such as, “What do you people have against going to sleep? I like going to sleep—why don’t you?”

Good question. You see, I like sleep a lot—I just don’t like going to sleep.

After you go through all that sleeplessness when your kids are young—and then again when they’re teenagers and young adults—you really learn to like that sleep. Not waiting for someone to come home and/or living with someone on a vastly different time clock was one of the greatest benefits of our short empty nest period. Doesn’t it seem so ironic, though, that the time when my body slept best happened when I couldn’t sleep much because of my kids?

Let’s just say that lately we’ve been working on improving our sleep setting and our habits since these days it doesn’t seem to take much of a distraction to interrupt our sleep. First we had to deal with old dogs that had to go out in the middle of the night and who played musical dog beds all night—without the music, of course. Then we had to deal with a puppy—at the same time my back began hurting. Well, the puppy got older but then Sherman’s back started hurting, too.

(c) 2012 Trina Lambert

So our latest step in the quest for a good night’s sleep was saying goodbye to our waterbed (with much regret!) and hello to a new mattress, box springs, and bed-frame. The almost eight-week transitional process started when we put the mattress in the waterbed frame (can’t we ever pick anything not on back order??!!), then continued when we set up the new frame and added the box springs, and ended when I also got fitted sheets (never needed those before) and a new comforter.

Even if I’ll never quite forget my early experience, we are finally enjoying sweeter dreams.

Crescent moon on high.
Handful of stars in the sky.
Night—sweet guard of dreams.

by Trina (Lange) Lambert, Age 10

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

This is, after all, Holy Week. This walk to Golgotha, sad as it is, gives me comfort in facing mortality. Yet still, I am not so ready for myself or anyone else to test out Jesus’ love for us. I continue to be pretty firmly grounded in my humanness, for better or for worse.

Family members, friends, beloved pets, loved ones of friends, celebrities—it seems mortality will not be ignored right now, no matter how many times I say I’ve had enough.

Death is not in my hands, it turns out. Yet, thank God, neither is eternal life solely in my hands.

I like to believe I’m ready, that if it were my turn, I could rest in Jesus’ arms and go toward that proverbial light we’ve all heard about from those who’ve returned from near-death experiences.

Last week as I was sleeping, I had a dream that told me I have more work to do with my faith. (Or is it not work per se, but the need to let go of control?)

I’ll make the disclaimer that it could have been a metaphoric dream that had nothing to do with real death. It could have been about death to old ways, especially since I am firmly set on a life transition as I learn how to be the matriarch of our family while at the same time my family responsibilities have reduced. Despite all the recent sadness, I am returning to a time when I can focus more on my own real life dreams.

But this dream tells me old habits die hard.

I am prone to strange dreams, but this one seemed pretty normal at first. I had walked into a room where Indian music was playing. As I stood there, I clearly heard the woman sing, “Glide on into infinity . . . ” and then my body felt a strong pull upward.

There was no white light and I knew I did not want to go. As dreams go, I was suddenly lying down. With all my might, from head to toe, I held my body down while shouting, “No!” The next thought was that neither Sherman nor Christiana could handle my loss so closely after the other losses. (Lest you think I didn’t care about Jackson’s loss, just know that he is more like me—he builds walls around his grief rather than falling into it.)

No, in the dream I didn’t think nice thoughts about how good it would be to be in the presence of the Eternal. And, I didn’t even think about all the things I still wanted to do here. Nope, I fell right back into care-giving mode.

However, as I lay there awake with my heart pounding, I did think about myself. While I’ve decided that dying in my sleep is preferable to going out in many of the horrible ways I’ve seen, all I could think was, “I didn’t mean yet!” Yes, I was scared I was going to miss out on my own time now that I had finally gotten it back. I discovered I was not at all ready to submit to Divine Will should it be my time to go.

Nonetheless, why would it be my time? Just to calm my nerves, I asked Sherman, “Did I sound funny at all in my sleep?”

He replied, “Well, you were making all these loud breathing noises and then suddenly you stopped. I thought you had died.” And then he rolled over and fell back to sleep.

You can guess who didn’t fall back to sleep right away. I mean, do I have apnea or a heart rhythm problem or just a lack of trust in the Big Man? Or all?

I’m trying to convince myself this is a story about my need to grow my faith. Or about how I should not float around without making concrete steps toward the next phase of life. Or how much I do want to live. Maybe, once again, the answer is all of the above.

Then into all this emotional turmoil, I hear of another death—of someone who was a mere 4 days older than I am—and he died unexpectedly the day of my dream. Of our onetime group of four friends during the early months of college, two have now died and one has experienced a brain tumor. As I grieve for them, I look in the mirror and wonder, “Why them?” “Why not me?”

Somehow I have to remember that this walk to Golgotha is about Jesus and how because of his walk, he walks with us on our own walks to the cross. We are not alone, whether we are left, hearts pounding in the dark, to ponder our own numbered days or whether we walk our own holy week, “gliding on into infinity”—and beyond.

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