5 Photos of A Lucky Day
This is a LUCKY DAY
because I get
to share 5 PHOTOS of my ART with YOU!
I’d bet 5 bucks that you have just met the first
Talisman Maker and Mixed-Media Fiber Artist
in your life – Me.
For your viewing pleasure, I’m submitting 5 Photos:
5 Mixed-Media Fiber Art Works from my Studio
I’ve selected talismans, a bracelet, and wall works.
Now that you have enjoyed my work, it is complete Thank you.
Each is created from fabrics, artist’s canvas, gemstones, found objects, beads, mirrors, twigs, memories and my vivid imagination.
These talismans and wall works were made in my
River Road Studio
Layered in between raising our 5 children and communitee work, I have made art for the past 45 -plus years.
“Dance of the new Moon,” (Detail).
From the “Little Meditations” series.
This work is quite small – ab out 3 x 4 inches.
“Girl on a Bench Sees Visions of butterflies,” Won First Place in InSights18, Louisville, KY. This is a self-portrait of the artist as a child.
Art show sponsored by American Printing House for the blind, 2018.
Photo #4 My Bleeding Heart: A Talisman.
Ida Matilda’s Morning Glories, form my Grandma, Ida Matilda Kiesling Kirker who died when I was fourteen.
I remembered her flower gardens and created this piece from my memories of her gardens.
Visit me on FaceBook: River Road Studio
28 July 2018
Lynda McKinney Lambert & Miss Opal
If you are NEW to SCAN,
July 6, 2018
Christmas in July – a Song and a Poem
Every year my sister, Patti, tends her flower gardens from early spring to the first frosts of late autumn.
As she took me on a tour of her flower beds one afternoon, she grinned with pride when she pointed out her roses. Every flower gardener I have ever known has loved their rose bushes and each one has shown tremendous pride in the beauty of the flowers on a rose bush.
Last August, Patti brought me a birthday bouquet she had created from her flower beds – and the prize flower in the bouquet was a very stunning pink rose! I think no matter how much a gardener loves all the flowers they have blooming, it is the rose bushes that seem to elicit the most pride and happiness to them. Roses are the dazzling queens of the flower bids. They seems to be the proverbial “icing on the cake.”
***Photo by Lynda McKinney Lambert:
Patti’s Flowers on my Dining Room Table
Ah, yes, I contend that the rose is Queen of all Flowers!
I am certain of it! As you begin doing some research on the “rose” as an iconic image, you will soon find references to
Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Earth.
She is often depicted with a rose in her hand, or surrounded by roses. Roses are used as garlands in art and sculpture and roses are used to encircle the Queen of Heaven. Roses are a halo at times in Christian lore as well as in pre-Christian mythology. Mary’s son, Jesus Christ, is symbolized as a rose. King Solomon described Jesus as “the rose of Sharon.” You can find this particular reference in The Song of Solomon, 2:1. There are many other such references as well.
In a popular German Christmas song,
these words are from an Eighteenth Century poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe;
“es ist ein Ros entsprungen.”
This can be translated in English to
“A Rose has sprung.”
You may recognize this Christmas song as “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” or “A Spotless Rose.” This song is a Protestant Christmas Carol and a Catholic Marian hymn that originated in Germany. I remember it from my childhood when we all stood to sing carols together at the small Methodist Church in my village.
Listen to this song in English:
Click here SING ALONG with the music: Yes, I want to sing a long!
I sat down to consider the pleasure of
a visit with my daughter, Ilsa
Below you will read a poem about her visit and something we did together. Sometimes, it is unusual when we think of a child teaching a parent a lesson of some sort. But, here in my poem, a daughter teaches me a lesson in a unique way.
This poem, “When My Daughter Cuts the Roses,” marks the beginning of Advent in our home. The bouquet of flowers on my dining room table today reminds me that now is the Season of Hope. As I listen to the latest news from around the world, it feels like the whole world is longing for hope right now – Oh, I know! It does appear the the entire planet is in deep distress. The EARTH could be laboring for the birth of HOPE. Perhaps there is a longing for hope in the souls of Earth’s people and all of NATURE.
On the First Week of Advent we can choose to keep our thoughts and our eyes focused on HOPE as we light that first candle.
There is great beauty in the symbols of the weekly lighting of the Advent candles. When the FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT comes this year, we can pause to embrace the message of the ROSE and the coming of the LIGHT, who is promised from ancient times.
Ah, yes! As I complete the writing of this essay, I am hearing a tune in my mind.
This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.
(Final stanza of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming)
“When my Daughter Cuts the Roses”
My daughter looked
At the bouquet of fresh roses
noticed two of them were drooping.
“Let me show you how to trim the roses
so they stay fresh and strong.” she said.
Her hands held the roses firmly
one-by-one, trimmed off extra leaves
“These will make the water stink,” she said.
She found scissors in the drawer
put the roses in a bowl of tepid water
held each stem under water
sliced them all, diagonally –
“As I cut the rose under the water,
little bubbles of air come to the surface.
Now, when the rose inhales
it will only breathe water into it,
it won’t fill up with air.
The living water inside the stems
gives longer life to each rose.”
She carried the freshened flowers
In the tall glass vase
back to the center of the dining room table
darkest crimson buds, sunny yellow petals,
deep green fern leaves
and a frilly white carnation.
This essay & poem is brought to you by the author, Lynda McKinney Lambert.
Lynda is the author of 4 books:
Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage Buy it!
Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems Buy it!
Lynda has just completed her 3rd book
Star Signs: New & Selected Poems
AND… her FIRST CHAPBOOK
first snow, 16 Poems with a Wintry Theme.
Both new books are now available for publication. Editors, please contact Lynda for the manuscript.
Thank you for visiting with us today.
Miss Opal and Lynda McKinney Lambert
Contact Lynda & Miss Opal at: email@example.com
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Lynda’s Author ‘s Page
this blog post is the property of Lynda McKinney Lambert.
Copyright April 29, 2018.
Copyright July 6, 2018. Revised.
Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.
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Friday Favorite – Sacred Rest
Friday Favorite – Sacred Rest
Each week, I reflect on something I learned during the week.
Today, my topic is REST.
What does this word mean to you?
I discovered a book this week while watching Cornerstone Television.
Sacred rest might be just what we need right now.
Do you ever feel like life is exhausting?
Do you feel like you never get a break but simply slide from one situation or problem to another?
Do you yearn for quiet time alone just to regroup and get refreshed?
How do you FEEL when you wake up in the morning?
I think the answer we are looking for is outlined in this book.
I took the “rest quiz” and discovered the 7 different areas of rest and how I rate in each of them.
You might like to do this too. Here is the link and it only takes a few minutes to do. But, don’t worry about it or over think the questions. Just be honest and select the response that seems to be right for you. It is as easy as that. Try it and see how you rate on REST.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is the author of this book.
Sleep alone is not enough. You need time to mentally unwind, time to reconnect, and time to appreciate the blessings in your life. Here is a recent podcast I did on the difference between sleep and rest. Have a listen next time you’re on the treadmill or commuting to work.
Friday Favorite is brought to you by Pennsylvania author, Lynda McKinney Lambert.
View Publications Page for updates on my stories and poems being published.
Lynda’s Author ‘s Page
this blog post is the property of Lynda McKinney Lambert.
Copyright April 29, 2018. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.
(Quote in this article is by the author – Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith)
April’s Benefits Arrived
with the Spring Showers
Post #78 on this blog!
Today: I stand on the edge of the END of APRIL
I begin thinking of the CHANGES this time in the cycle of life can give us. I wrote a blog post on SCAN in April 2015. I looked back at that post from 3 years ago and edited it.
April whispers, “Move on!”
Bright spring flowers flourish all around us by mid-April.
I bought a little pot of yellow tulips recently. They brightened our dining room table and made me feel happy every time I glanced at them. I am not a gardener so I enjoy buying potted plants and floral bouquets throughout the year with the changing seasons. April’s flowers sparkle with brilliance in dazzling yellow daffodils, tulips in a range from vivid red and coral, to soft pink and white. By the end of April, Pennsylvania’s grassy meadows will be covered with blankets of purple-blue violets.
Our walk home from grade school took a bit longer when I was a little girl.
Our rural home was nearly a mile from the school and we walked along a meandering path morning and afternoon. By mid-April we found the delightful blooming violets in the fields.The small, fragrant blooms beckoned my sister and me to come closer!
We forgot that we were supposed to walk directly home after school
on those long-ago spring days as we stooped down low, extended our eager hands, and began picking violets to take back home with us. The hot afternoon sun beat down on us as we gathered a fist full of the fragile delights. Once home with our treasured flowers, we put them in little glass jelly jars. Our bouquets remained in a special space on our kitchen windowsill. To this day, many decades later, I still remember the joy of small wildflowers in the house
April signaled that it is now the beginnings of new life surging in Nature.
On mornings like this one, I take leisurely walks with the dogs. I became conscious of the subtle changes today. After a long lasting winter this year, each new spring day seems especially precious as it brings warmth, sunshine, budding bushes and trees.
We forget we have several senses that give us information.
We dwell primarily on the visual stimulation and distractions. I am legally blind and the entire world is a diffusion of shadowy forms that are distorted, foggy impressions. The positive aspect of sight loss is that I am more aware of a variety of nuances I missed out on when I was fully sighted. I was too focused on looking and learning only through my eyes.
On my morning walk, I listened carefully
to low sounds of an owl singing its final notes as the sunshine brought strong light to this new day. I thought about the owl and imagined it must be celebrating the end of a fruitful night of hunting for food. It sounded content.
While the owl can settle down and relax to have a nice sleep for the day, I am just beginning my day. I breathe deeply and felt the coldness on my face and hands. My face tingled with the cold breeze and my hands reminded me they are exposed and I have not brought along a pair of gloves to warm them up on this hour-long walk.
But, I am not so concerned with the coolness of the morning today.
Instead, my thoughts move on to the meaning of spring and how each day is bringing changes to the world around me. The cold air is just right for this new day. I reach down occasionally to tell my dog, “Good Girl! Heel. Good Heel. Good Girl!.” She glances up at me, and quickly looks back at the path before her and sniffs the air. When we come to a wooded place, near an abandoned mill, I relax her leash and allow her to enjoy tramping in the winter packed leaves that lay all around the trees. She digs down into them and pushes the soggy leaves aside. She seeks direct passage to the scent that caught her attention. Eventually, I pull her back to heel position and we continue on for the second half of our morning travels. We turn the bend to head back towards home together.
I know that we often think of January as a time of new beginnings.
After all, it marks the New Year. Perhaps we might rethink this idea when we find ourselves walking in the early morning in April, with the warming of spring sunshine on our bodies. April truly is the time of new beginnings. April whispers to us, “move on!”
April affirms life and growth
We can DISCOVER, RECOVER, and REVISE our life.
This essay is brought to you by the author, Lynda McKinney Lambert.
View Publications Page for updates on my stories and poems being published.
Lynda’s Walking by Inner Vision.
Lynda’s Author ‘s Page
this blog post is the property of Lynda McKinney Lambert.
Copyright April 29, 2018. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.
Visit me: www.lyndalambert.com
Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage: Poems, Kota Press, 2003
Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems, DLD Books, 2017
First Snow : Chapbook, is ready for publication.
Editors: contact me for information & viewing.
I always knew it! I am Irish and German.
This year I joined Ancestry dot com
In Addition to Irish and German ancestry, I am
Scandinavian (over 30 percent)
Eastern European Jewish!
I descended from a wide variety of cultures
and I bet you did, too!
What big surprises you will have in store. All of the ancestral groups above moved around over the centuries because they were chased away, persecuted, and unwanted at some time in the past.
I would say that all of the various people groups, at some time in history, have been moved to a variety of locations and continents because of wars, religious persecution, slavery, and/or the desire to have a better life in a new place.
It didn’t take me long to find my ancestral roots in Europe. In fact, the first day I traced my paternal grandmother, Effie Pearl Rugh, back to my 8th Great-grandfather in the Palatinate area in Europe, which is now in Germany.
I WAS home.
Another few days brought me to the location from which my maternal great grandfather and my Maternal 2nd Great Grandparents came from in Bavaria, Germany. I was overjoyed to learn this because for about 12 years I traveled to Bavaria every summer where I taught a college course. Now, I know why I always felt like I came home when I arrived there every summer. I believe we have a collective unconscious that allows us to intuit such inner feelings as this. After all, we can know through our DNA that we belong to many different ethnic groups – it just makes sense to me that not only our DNA reveals this, but our MIND reveals it, too. We are home!
Photos and essay by Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.
Photo by Lynda McKinney Lambert
Meet my Guest Blogger for November:
November 1, 2016
Finding Home: Advice to a New Expat
Every man has two countries, his own and France. (Thomas Jefferson)
America is my country and Paris is my hometown. (Gertrude Stein)
When good Americans die, they go to Paris. (Oscar Wilde)
Expat in Paris. The words conjure up an image of Ernest Hemingway sitting in a smoky café on the boulevard du Montparnasse, scribbling in a well-worn notebook while rain beats steadily upon the sidewalk. Or maybe the words bring to mind the Lost Generation — Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, John Steinbeck, Henry Miller, and all the other novelists and poets who came to Paris after the First World War to find themselves. And then there’s me.
My story is fairly typical. I grew up in the suburbs of Orange County, California, home to endless beaches, palm trees, and Disneyland. Full-time sun and eternally blue skies, frequent heat waves, vast freeways, shorts, flip-flops, and surfers in wetsuits. So you can imagine how exotic Paris seemed when I spent my junior year studying at the Université de Paris Sorbonne. Oh, the thrill! The adventure! Winter coats and gloves and wool scarves! Real French people!
The grass was definitely greener in Paris. Every day was sparkling and fresh, and I discovered something new and exciting around every corner. Lectures were held in the ancient Amphithéâtre Richelieu at the Sorbonne, and grammar classes met in classrooms with old-fashioned wooden desks with inkwells. I sat in cafés in the Latin Quarter with fellow students of different nationalities and discussed worldly matters over doll-size cups of strong, thick coffee. I visited friends in their tiny chambres de bonne — maids’ rooms — on the top floor of buildings without elevators. I went to the theater and to concerts and saw intellectual French films in art-house cinemas. It was all so different from California.
Paris was a feast of glorious sensations: the mouth-watering odor of baking croissants wafting out of a boulangerie and the salty smell of seafood laid out on ice in front of a restaurant; the taste of farm-fresh butter and apricot jam spread on half a baguette, the warmth of a warm patch of sun on a frosty day; the melodic ringing of church bells on the hour; the buzz of scooters dodging cars like matadors; and the cacophony of car horns, sounding like Gershwin. I wanted to soak it all up and bottle it, like an essence that would fade with time.
The year went by in a blur, and suddenly it was time to pack my bags and head home to California. So it was with a heavy heart that I returned to my former life. But as soon as I got back I discovered that California had not changed, but I had. I was the same person, and yet I was not. Something was wrong, something was missing. I felt out of place, and I was filled with a sense of longing. And I knew why.
Paris kept whispering my name, and every heartbeat urged me to go back. I felt I had no choice. Six months after I graduated I emptied my savings account and bought a one-way ticket to Paris. With my whole life crammed into two overstuffed suitcases, I pulled up my roots and left my family and friends for the land of over a thousand different types of cheese, where I joined the approximately 100,000 Americans who call France their home. I was going to pick up where I had left off during my year abroad. I was determined to Frenchify myself and embrace the French way of life. A new chapter — a whole new book — in my life was about to begin. I was on the road to becoming a witty and cultivated citizen of the world.
At first I was star-struck, then reality struck me like a brick on the head. Once the honeymoon was over, once the novelty and excitement of living and working in Paris had worn off, I realized that, unlike the carefree student life I had led, expat life was a challenge. It wasn’t always la vie en rose, and my rose-colored glasses slipped right off my nose.
The romanticized Paris you see in the movies or read about in books or on someone’s Facebook page, that picture-perfect city you visited during your European holiday, does not paint the whole picture. Despite what you might imagine, living in Paris is not always glamorous or fun. Unlike tourists who spend a week in Paris, or a student who stays for a semester or two, when you pack up all your worldly belongings and move to a foreign country you have to adapt to a whole new way of thinking. You are rebuilding your life from scratch, and it’s not always easy to come to terms with being a foreigner. As an expat you are expected to understand all the unspoken rules, those tricky “do’s and don’ts” of another culture. You don’t spend the afternoon people-watching and discussing existentialism in a sidewalk café, or strolling along the banks of the Seine while accordion music plays in the background. In the real world there are errands to run, and you can’t just pop into a big U.S.-style store and pick up everything on your list. There are sheets to wash and hang up to dry, toothpaste to buy, the utility company to wait for, long lines to stand in. Life goes on, just like back home, only in Paris everything is more complicated.
Life just seems harder here, and the frustrations of everyday living can be an exercise in patience. Nothing is simple or straightforward, and many things are downright mind-boggling. Everything is time-consuming, and the smallest of errands seems to take forever. So you learn to be patient, especially when it comes to the seemingly insurmountable administrative red tape you find yourself battling. Sometimes it feels like you are being asked to leap through a flaming hoop. Your wallet swells with five, six, seven oversize photo identity cards. Official papers needing your immediate attention pile up alarmingly on your desk. The woman behind the counter sends you away because you are missing a vital paper that was not on the list of documents needed. The only way to get through it, I’ve learned, is to do like the French: give a good Gallic shrug and tell yourself: c’est la vie. French people know this, hence the shrugging.
There are times when you miss the convenience of America. Everything in Paris is so much smaller — apartments, refrigerators, washing machines, soft drinks and coffee cups — and a lot more expensive. Shops close early and on Sundays, and many are shuttered up during lunch, so you have to plan ahead. There are frequent strikes — transit workers, Air France, the post office, sanitation workers, radio stations, administrations — and there are pot-banging and megaphone-blasting protest marches through the streets, turning whole neighborhoods into gridlock. Truckers and taxi drivers and farmers with livestock block the freeways. Streets are chaos; there are no stop signs, only yield signs and traffic signals at intersections. Pedestrians and drivers fight for the right-of-way, and cars, motorcycles and scooters are parked helter-skelter on the sidewalks and in crosswalks. Everyone smokes. You find yourself longing for tumble dryers, public drinking fountains, customer service, ice cubes, window screens and air conditioning. But these are little things, minor inconveniences. Annoyances. And when you think about it, do they really matter?
I don’t think they do. Paris may not be perfect, but it is a great city, perhaps the greatest city in the world. Paris is a mixture of ancient and modern, a vibrant and unique place that continually delights and surprises. Paris is the Ville Lumière, the city of enlightenment, rich in history and culture, renown for its breathtaking beauty, its statues, museums, monuments, and parks. Paris is the world capital of fashion and chic, and even French dogs have a certain je ne sais quoi when they trot down the sidewalk in their winter trench coats with their heads held high.
Paris is a morning walk through the mist in the Jardin des Tuileries, a hot chocolate with whipped cream on a cold winter’s day, a Vivaldi concert in a centuries-old church, or a moment sitting on a bench in a hidden square listening to the birds enjoying themselves. These are times when Paris really does belong to you.
There is a certain art de vivre here. Even though they can be as harried as other big-city dwellers, Parisians know how to pause and enjoy the little pleasures of life, things that really matter, like friends, family and good food. Sit-down meals are still the norm. They can last several hours, especially on Sundays, when the whole family gathers around the table. Food is savored and commented upon, wineglasses are held up to the light, and wine is sipped slowly, with pleasure. Cooking is taken seriously, and most people do their shopping daily. Neighborhood markets teem with fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables arranged in perfect pyramids like works of art. There is fresh butter, milk, cream, and flats of brown eggs straight from the farm. At the fromagerie there are dozens of different types of artisanal cheese to choose from. Some are pungent, some are delicate, some come in individual wooden boxes, while others are cut like slices of pie from enormous wheels. Legs of ham and strings of sausages hang from beams above the charcutier’s stall. And where else in the world can you walk to the boulangerie around the corner and buy a warm, just-cooked baguette or a pain au chocolat?
Southern California weather is predictably sunny, so the changing seasons in Paris are a delight. Summer brings warm thundershowers and daylight until almost 11 p.m. The city sleeps through August, when Parisians flee to the countryside; Paris slows down and you can stroll along the sidewalks and navigate narrow store aisles without getting jostled. In autumn the days are crisp and dry leaves crunch underfoot as you cut across the park. Street-sweepers gather up fallen leaves with fluorescent-green plastic brooms, and the city smells of roasting chestnuts and sweet crêpes. But nothing compares to the joyous feeling of the first rays of the springtime sun after a long, bleak winter. Parisians sit outside on café terraces, loosen their scarves, and turn their faces up to the sun like flowers. Birds serenade the early morning light, forsythias explode into bloom, and tulips and daffodils poke their heads out of the earth. Your mood lifts instantly and you are glad to be alive and living in Paris.
For me, Paris is not just a home away from home. I have put out roots and built a life here. I have my own family here. But I often feel tugged in both directions, split in two, with one foot in France and the other in the U.S. Sometimes I wonder if I am still considered a “true” American. Actually, I’m not exactly sure what I am. I have the blue passport, I file my U.S. income tax, I vote in the U.S. elections, I celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey cutlets and gravy, and I read and write and think in English. I wouldn’t miss my American news podcasts for anything. But there are times when I feel more French than American.
I’m far from being a Parisienne, but I have picked up a few French customs over the years. I’m no longer a fashion faux pas — I can drape a silk scarf around my neck without it looking like a noose, I wear good shoes whenever I go out, and my wardrobe comprises mostly black clothing. I kiss my friends on the cheeks when I greet them, and when I’m annoyed I have been known to mutter, “Oh là là,” which the French really do say. I drink my coffee bitter and black. I have even tried (once) the breakfast ritual from the north of France, which consists of dipping bread and strong-smelling Maroilles cheese into a bowl of coffee. My English fails me sometimes; I accidentally insert French words into English sentences, or I’ll forget an English word and give a dismissive wave of the hand to fill in the blank. I have never bungee-jumped or explored the Amazon rainforest, but I’m more adventurous, in my own way. I have done a lot of exploring — and getting lost — so I know the city and the métro like the back of my hand. I prepare French dishes (with variable results), and I have eaten veal head and sea snails and frogs’ legs and various other creepy-crawlies. I can pick out the best camembert by gently palpating it, and I’m learning how to appreciate fine wine. All these things are part of me now. Although this country often leaves me scratching my head, and even though there will always be a part of me in California, I feel at home here.
People often ask me, “Don’t you ever get homesick?” and I tell them I do. Of course I do. Like most expats, I miss my family and my friends back in California. I miss out on all the milestones and the celebrations. I miss Thanksgiving and Halloween and the Fourth of July. When a loved one is ill or going through a hard time, I am filled with sense of guilt and selfishness for not being there. Sometimes I would like to reach out and give a hug, but I can’t. When people ask, “Would you ever move back home permanently?” I tell them the truth, that I don’t know. I really don’t.
Anyway, where is home for me? Many expats ponder this question. What exactly defines “home”? When I say “home,” do I mean California, where I grew up? Or is it France, where I have spent so many years? Is home the address on your passport? Is it where you were born? Is it where you keep your toothbrush and hang your hat? Is it the place where you sigh and put your feet up? Is it, like Robert Frost said, “the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in”? What if your heart is torn between two places? Does one’s heart have room for more than one home? Must I choose one place over the other?
These are difficult questions and I don’t think there is a simple answer. The way I see it, home is not just a house, a physical place with four walls and a roof on top. Home is not a geographical location, an address on a mailbox, or a thumbtack stuck in a map on a wall. Home is a feeling. It is where you want to be when you are not there. It is the place you can count on, the place where you are happy, the refuge where you feel safe, whether it’s California, Paris, or Timbuktu. Home is where you are surrounded by loved ones who understand you, and where you have built lasting memories. Maybe the answer is that home is within you, wherever you happen to be.
When I visit my family in the States, California is a mixture of foreign and familiar. I’m disoriented and a more than a little overwhelmed. I feel like a tourist from the planet Mars, an outsider who doesn’t know a thing other than the language. Being able to wear a silk scarf, or eat chicken wings with a knife and fork, is no help. I’m completely out of the loop — I don’t know the latest local news, the slang, or the celebrities. New stores have popped up, old favorites have closed. Hearing English all around me makes me feel like I’m hallucinating. I don’t know how to do the simplest tasks, like swipe my Visa card, bank at an ATM, or how to tip in a restaurant. Everything is enormous. Supermarkets are chock-full of items you need and don’t need, and the shelves are well stocked, the wide aisles free of boxes of merchandise being unloaded. It feels wrong to eat barbecued ribs with my fingers, but I can eat my fries with ketchup instead of mayonnaise without being teased. I hand over euro coins instead of nickels and dimes. I’m amazed you can buy medicine or Band-Aids after 8 p.m., or pick up a forgotten item at the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon. The whole world seems upside-down, and by the time I have started to turn myself right-side up, it’s time to go back to Paris.
Being an expat is not always easy, but I would never trade it for another way of life. Yes, it was tough in the beginning, and still is sometimes, but following my passion and living abroad is has been an enriching and rewarding experience. It has shaped me and changed me into what I hope is a better person. I don’t look at things in the same way I would if I had stayed in California. I have expanded my horizons and developed a broader view of the world. Being an expat allows you to see America in a different light, and you understand and appreciate it even more. I have discovered a lot about myself as well. I am more accepting and respectful of other cultures. I have grown stronger, more self-confident, and independent. I have learned to be humble and how to open my heart. And I have changed my priorities. I know how to slow down, let go of things, and make do with less. I have learned to focus on the positive and embrace new experiences. I feel blessed to have met incredible people, and I am thankful to have two places to call home.
If you are an expat struggling with culture shock or feelings of loneliness, whatever you do, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you are homesick, know that it’s perfectly normal. Homesickness is something almost every expat experiences; it’s part and parcel of living in a foreign country. Remember, it takes time to adapt to another way of life and bloom where you are planted. It helps to be curious, flexible, and open-minded. Don’t compare countries. Laugh whenever you can. Be brave, challenge yourself and climb out of that box in your comfort zone, but don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it. Try to speak French whenever you can. Make small talk, even if you mangle your words and your accent is cringeworthy. Eat everything on your plate and always carry an umbrella. Banish all negativity, find joy in everyday things and be delighted by what you find. Even though not everything makes sense in the beginning, when you are feeling lost, as though you are standing on the other side of the Great Wall of China, know that some days are tougher than others. Nothing in life is ever a smooth ride, no matter where you are. There are ups and downs and not everything goes according to plan. But if you are patient and willing to learn from your experiences, good or bad, I believe the journey is worth it. If you take it one day at a time, eventually things will start to fall into place, and one morning you just might wake up and realize that Paris, too, is home.
My guest Blogger for November is Carrie Delecourt , a writer who lives in Paris.
This guest blog is provided by courtesy of Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights to this essay belong to Carrie Delecourt, Paris, France.
I present this piece with gratitude to Carrie for her generosity in sharing her thoughts with SCANdalous-Recollections Blog. Thank you, Carrie!
Contact Lynda Lambert: firstname.lastname@example.org
Silver Cloud Dancers
Silver Cloud Dancers
At the Andy Warhol Museum
Photo and poem by Lynda McKinney Lambert, 2016
Silver clouds swirl & spin in circles
Inflated silence above her golden head. She
Levitates above the floor & reaches for
Variable visions of mesmerizing cloud-pillows.
Eternally drifting in uncertain lifecycles
Round & square. Touch the floating orbs.
Cloud dancer stretches her slender hands
Longevity is unpredictable, uncertain
Out-of-the-box survival fluctuates
Determined by chemistry & chaos.
Dance your memories in silver clouds
Air and pure helium lift in rhythm
No one can calculate your journeys
Choreography of individual flights
Every Friday morning new clouds arrive
Repeat the process of new expectations
Some silver clouds will last for a week.
Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.
This is an ACROSTIC POEM.
PHOTOGRAPHS by Lynda McKinney lambert, 2016.
“Delaunay Yaromey dances among the Silver Clouds at the Andy Warhol Museum.
Delaunay is the great-granddaughter of Lynda and Bob Lambert, Ellwood City, PA. She is a freshman at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.
Lynda’s latest book will be coming out in late November. “Walking by Inner Vision: Stories of Light and Dreams.”
Special thanks to the Andy Warhol Museum for this amazing exhibition.
For more information on the Silver Clouds please go to: Information on Silver Cloud display at the AWM.
The Living Room
I Believe in Christmas Eve!
Esther looked forward to one special night of the year when she won’t be lonely in her quiet home. Esther walked slowly through the stillness and then she stopped briefly to look out the large picture window in her spacious living room. She checked once again to see if anyone had arrived yet. She won’t be alone tonight because it is Christmas Eve. Every year Esther’s four grown children returned home with their families to celebrate this special evening together. Esther’s face will be radiant with happiness throughout this evening and she’ll be transformed into the queen of the night. Esther is the lone matriarch of the family.
The elongated living room will quickly fill up with her children, grand children, and even great grandchildren tonight. This room was built with enough space for holding large gatherings for all sorts of family events. Along the one long wall, there is a gray stone fireplace. As she had done for many years previously, it was decorated with her hand painted ceramic angels.
The three elegant angels are glazed all over in pearly white. Each carried a different musical instrument. She had accented those instruments with a glittering gold paint that matched the halo on each angel’s head. She always placed cranberry red candles among the angels and carefully arranged boughs of pine across the mantle. The graceful holiday decorations created shimmering reflections in the wide mirror that stretched out the entire length of the mantle behind them. The reflections made the room seem joyful and optimistic as the little multi-colored twinkle lights flashed brilliantly around the edges of the mirror. . When Esther’s husband, Bill, was still alive he always made a crackling fire in that fireplace. Now it is bare and unused. She did not turn on the stereo tonight because she did not think about it
For this special occasion, Esther selected her favorite Christmas sweater. She has had it for years. The bright holiday sweater makes her feel happy. It is a warm sweater in bright Christmas red and on the front it has white poinsettias and golden ribbons woven into the fabric. She did not think about what her two sisters will probably be wearing when they arrive tonight. The two elderly women, Fanchion and Bettie arrived early in the evening and as usual, each lady wore a noticeably similar Christmas sweater. The three sisters always shopped together and most of the time, when one sister selected something to buy, the other two bought one just like it. Bettie, the youngest sibling of the trio, complained to someone, later in the evening about it. She remarked, “I pick out this pretty sweater for myself. I found the sweaters first when we were shopping, and the other two had to copy me and buy one just like mine! They do this all the time. Why can’t they just pick out things for themselves?”
The three often grumbled about each other, but the siblings went shopping together often. Shopping helped fill the emptiness of their long days. The sisters each lived separately, in their own hone. They lived about two miles apart. They came from a family of seven children. At this time, only four girls survived. They had lost the two brothers and one sister in the last decade. Esther did not think about them very often any more. Sometime she even forgot they were no longer living and seemed surprised when someone mentioned they passed away. She became agitated; her eyes widened as she said,
“They died? Oh, no! I didn’t know that. Why didn’t you tell me they died? I wanted to see them again! I wanted to go to their funeral. Why didn’t anyone let me know about this?”
Each time she learned again that one of her siblings was dead, she wept all over again. It always happened as someone brought up a conversation about their deaths. Each time it was the beginning of grieving for her.
When Esther’s children look back through old family photos they laugh when they see the three sisters sitting at a wedding reception. Each sister is dressed in a delicate little flowered dress. Very often another sister, Jeanne, is there in the photos and sometimes her outfit looks like the other sister’s clothing. Strange, isn’t it? They all have the same taste.
Esther’s husband, Bill, died eleven years before tonight. It happened suddenly one Saturday morning. It was in July. While Esther prepared their breakfast in the kitchen at the opposite end of the home, Bill had left this world. He was in their bedroom and had not yet come out to have his breakfast with Esther. His sudden departure was a shock she never really recovered from, I recall several occasions when she grew silent and it was apparent she was overcome with sadness as she spoke. I turned my head away for her words were too hard for me to take in. I tried to hold back my own tears as I silently inhaled and held my breath.
“I never got to even say good bye to Bill. I realize he didn’t come out of our room yet, I am in the kitchen reading my morning devotions. I hear him get up and go to the bathroom. Then, I think he should have come out for breakfast by now. Where is he? I walk through the living room and into our bedroom He is just laying there on the bed. All stretched out on his back. His arms are wide open and his feet hang down almost touching the floor. He is wearing one sock but the other foot is bare. I see he was putting on his socks. But he’s not moving. I scream and rush over to him. I shake him, but he never moves. I try to put my mouth over his open mouth, and I try to breathe into him to wake him up. Nothing is working. I leave him and I run as fast as I can run, through the house, out the door, across the lawn to the neighbor’s house. I need help! Bill needs help he isn’t breathing and I cannot wake him up.” Bill left Esther alone at 6:30 am on July 17th, 1988. This is the year they would have celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary, on Christmas Day!
Esther was now seventy-nine years old – still a beautiful woman. Her sharp, deep amber-brown eyes had clouded over. They looked like a gray film had grown over the rich darkness of her eyes. She was still tall and looked stately. Her dark raven hair had slowly transformed into a soft, short silver color. She patiently watched out the thick glass window at the end of the living room.
“I am sure someone will be here soon,” she whispered to the empty living room.
Some people told Esther she should sell her house and move into a smaller one. They said she needed one without such a big yard to take care of since Bill isn’t here anymore. Her four children spoke about this to each other and once in awhile one of her children told her she needed to move out of the big house so she would not have so many things to worry about and such a large yard that needed tending. But, Esther’s response to everyone who said something like that was,
“No, Bill built this house, and I can never leave it. And, if I sold this house we would not have a place for our Christmas Eve party.”
Esther was stoic in her determination to stay in the home she helped build. She managed to hold on to her home because it was built just for her and she loved it. The walls of every room surrounded her with a lifetime of memories. And, it held future possibilities for her Christmas Eve parties for her family.
Bill and Esther did build the house, just like they had planned. When they were younger and their four children were all at home, Esther and Bill dreamed about the house they would build some day. Bill, a good artist and draftsman, entertained the children with his drawings of cartoons and animals. He made sketches of the ideas they formulated and envisioned their new house. Each of the children can recall the many times their parents poured over plans for a new home they wanted to build. . Bill even constructed a meticulous scale model of the house they planned together. The model he built was large. It was on a sheet of plywood. Bill spent the long, solitary winter months in the basement working on the model. One of the features they planned so carefully was the spacious living room. It was the most important room in their home.
Now, so many years later, Esther is here all alone inside their dream house. They had worked side by side to build this home. Esther was 38 years old and Bill was 42 when they moved their young family of four children into this house. It is the house where the children grew up together.
Esther and Bill had dreams of living in a nice neighborhood and in a house that they built. They made their dream come true. It was a little at a time, as they could pay for the things they needed when building it. Bill was a Pennsylvania steelworker. I can remember so many times when the men who worked in the steel mill went out on strike or when there would be lay-offs, and those times were difficult for our family. After they started building the house, there would be several times when things came to a stand-still due to unemployment. Our whole family actually moved into the basement of the house. I was fifteen years old that summer. While our family lived in that basement, the upstairs was being built. In a year or so, we all finally moved upstairs into the newly finished house.
It was exciting for me, as a fifteen year old girl, to be part of this new adventure in our life.
“It is a sultry, warm summer day and the men are here to start mixing up the fresh batches of plasterer. They set up all the equipment outside the front room, right there in the mud. They laid down some boards and they are walking back and forth on the boards, pushing the wheelbarrow. Some of the men are carrying the wet plaster on large boards. They hold the boards up with their arm and balance it on a shoulder, and walk as fast as they can towards the house. They are really strong men and this is hard work carrying all the plaster into the house and to the room where they are putting it on the walls. With each trip into the house the men start to cover the open studding. They are making wet walls that are getting thick and strong. I like to hang around watching the men and joke with them a lot. When they came today, I told them I wanted them to make the plaster lavender for my room. The man told me they never made lavender plaster before, but they said they would see if they can do it. I really want lavender plaster in my room! They worked at it for a while, and then, they did start carrying in the lavender plaster for my room. I have to share this new room with my sister, Patti, and I hope she likes lavender because that is just what we are getting! And once we get the room plastered, then Mom said we can go pick our fabric for the new drapes she will order for it. I am going to pick out fabric that has black and white abstract print on it.”
Our long-awaited new house was completed over the next week as the laborers made trip after trip from the mixing place outside, into the rooms inside the new ranch style house…
“I have always loved real hand crafted plaster. The walls seem so solid and give me a feeling that I am safe inside of them. When I rap on a real plastered wall, I can hear the dull thud that does not make an echo. The house seems to have a nicer voice once it is dry and has aged. The older it gets, the clearer it sounds. Handmade plaster sounds soft, and friendly. When I lay my ear beside those walls, I can listen to the men talking as they carried it and slathered it onto the walls. I can hear the men bring in the plaster and the sounds of my two brothers and my sister as we danced about inside the bare, unfinished house. Memories whisper to me and I can hear the many voices from the past .The plastered walls have the power to speak and the voices of our family remain inside the plastered walls.”
One of the loveliest sounds that echoed through the house was Esther’s voice as she sang hymns. She was a strong singer with a ringing alto voice. The living room was her concert hall as she dusted the table tops or washed the large picture window.
Esther Luella Kirker started singing as a small child with her family. Almost her entire family sang or played a musical instrument. Everyone who knew the Kirker family always remarked about the music they all made together at the local Wurtemburg Methodist Church. Esther’s father, James, played the coronet in the church orchestra. Her oldest brother, Clair, was there, too, because he played the tenor saxophone. Sister Jeanne played the Piano. Esther sang along with the family musicians. Her voice was her instrument. Esther sang at church. Members of the congregation often asked her to sing their favorite hymns. She continued singing those old time heavenly songs by memory her entire life. My Mother had forgotten many things these days, but she never forgot how to sing. She never forgot the words or the melodies of the old hymns. “How Great Thou Art” and “In the Garden” are two hymns that still ring in my memories today. I remember my Mother’s voice.
Around 7 PM everyone began to arrive tonight. They parked on the blacktop driveway at the Mercer Road residence. Cars soon lined the driveway and even down the sides onto the frozen lawn. Our entire family members came bursting through the front door. They called out, “Merry Christmas” and laughed as they greeted each other with hugs and smiles. They carried in holiday foods wrapped up with foil and they juggled boxes and bags of bright wrapped gifts. Each person wore holiday outfits for this special night. Christmas Eve at our house was a grand affair and everyone always dressed in their sparkling new outfits; velvet, silk, and taffeta dresses were on all the little curly haired granddaughters. Their little brothers had slicked down hair and they arrived with small metal model s of cars and soft stuffed toys to keep them busy.
Once her family members began arriving with their arms stacked with wrapped gifts and foods, we quickly put out the colorful holiday food on the table Esther had prepared for this feast. Esther served the very same punch every year. It is a fruity punch and we all expected to enjoy it. If she ever changed and used a different recipe, it would not be the same for us. We loved her frothy pink fruit punch. When my father was still living, I brought him his favorite pie, an old fashioned Shoo-fly Pie or a mincemeat pie.
When the new house was nearly finished, Bill brought some spindly trees home from the woods. He planted them around the house and down the driveway. One neighbor remarked, “Those trees from the woods will never grow.” Tonight, the bare winter branches of the Maple and Sycamore Trees stand tall and strong in the early darkness of a Pennsylvania winter. They were just like my Father and Mother might have imagined them forty years ago. Our Father’s hands were hardened by years of labor in the steel mill yet he carefully crafted this house and surrounding beauty of the yard through years of sacrifice and labor.
Tonight, in the gently beating heart of our family home, our Mother’s swollen arthritic hands struggle to open the gifts are stacked around her. She looks so fragile and seems almost like she is drifting away to another place while we sit and watch her surrounded by her unopened gifts. These days, she struggles with almost everything. She often forgets ordinary things she had done for many years in earlier times of her life. She does not say very much tonight but she keeps on smiling. It is almost like she is part of a dream. She is like a Christmas angel, surrounded by her many offspring. She is quieter tonight. Sometimes she looks lost in the middle of the family celebration in the living room. At times, I watch her and try to imagine what she might be thinking about in the middle of this noisy laughter.
As I glance over at her, I wonder if she is listening to the walls, hearing the voices from the past years. Esther looks out over the five generations who have gathered here every Christmas Eve. The annual photos record the changes in the family. Small babies who once crawled on the floor now bring their own little babies to squirm through the ocean of wrapping paper. Bill is no longer in any of the family Christmas photos. Esther looks frail, and smaller than she looks in the old family photos.
The living room has now become a witness in the house we filled with laughter, tears and secrets. The living room is part of a conspiracy tonight.
We all know that this Christmas Eve gathering is Esther’s last Christmas Eve party in her home. We will never again be here as a family gathered around together. We are all facing a shift in our life. We will all be going in different directions after this night. While we smile and chat, we are lonely and deeply sad. I wrote a special poem about the house and gave a copy of it to every family member tonight. There are tears behind our smiles. We all feel the meaning of the word “bittersweet.”
The day after Christmas, I took my Mom to the local hospital for an evaluation. As we had all suspected, she was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. She lived another eight years but we would never again be in the living room of our childhood home for another celebration… This was the end of all our happy holidays together as a family. Our Mother’s life changed and so did we. Each Christmas Eve, the living room remains the same as we always knew it, in our memories.
TONIGHT, I miss the Living Room!
Lynda Lambert. Copyright 2012 and 2014. All rights reserved.