Monday, May 14, 2018

Jack In The Garden





"Jack is watering your plants," Myra says, a hamburger bun splayed in front of her, ranch and ketchup heaping and generous.

"He takes such good care of me," I say. I picture the seventy holes he dug, post-hole-digger mastered and nimble in his hands, and how all I had to do was tuck my tomato plants into the ground and smooth the dirt over their roots and long stems.

"He does?" she says.

"Yep," I say, "taking care of all my plant needs." I layer bacon, onions, mushrooms, bbq, and mustard on my bun.

"Sounds like he's going to be a good dad some day," she says.

"Yep."

"Taking care of his wife," she say.

"Um hmm," we smile at the rightness of a man providing for his family. Even at eight, Myra understands.









Gratitude:

6571. My cousin stops by, a rare visit punctuated by children playing tag through the yard, the two of us laughing, and pleasant treasures of honey, asparagus, and tomato plants.

6572. A dearest friend visits and among more children chatter and play, we talk and pray, more riches untold.

6573. My parents join us for dinner -- bbq burgers, salads, round-robin visiting, relaxing, and lingering -- nourishment in many forms.

6574. A dear neighbor invites a couple of kids to work in her yard and sends them home with a meal for the whole family. Tetrazzini, delicious.







6575. Lucy turns ten, peace and contentment her continuing mark on this world.

6576. Craig and the children continue to stitch our yard into a harmonious union of lawn and gardens. We predict we will grow 150 tomatoes this year.

6577. So many friends, family, and new customers visit the greenhouse business. We enjoy every single one.

6578. Lucy and I learn the principle algorithms to solve a rubix cube. We laugh and laugh when I tell a neighbor that I can now solve five sides of the cube, just have to figure out the sixth one.

6579. A hot spring day punctuates Mother's Day and best of all we enjoy the summation of all the days we've grown love between us. For my children, my mother, and my mother-in-law, I am so very grateful.



Sunday, May 6, 2018

Myra's Birthday




"Can you put whip cream on mine?" Joe nudges a steel bowl, almond whip cream stiff and fluffy, the Kitchen Aid still on the counter. 

"Hmm," I say. He pushes his pancake a little closer. "Whelp, I can." Long swivel spoon, I circle the bowl, foamy white gathering on the end. "I can put on LOTS," I say, "but just 'cause you asked. Don't YOU do that. Ok?" He nods. He's all nods.

"Ohhhhh, that's LOTS," he says. I plop two blobs, shake the spoon a little and another drip slides off.

"Yup," I say, pancake buried.

"I'm gonna take my girl on a date today," Craig says.

"Mmm, good idea," I say, Craig blinking at Myra, shy eight-year-old eyes blinking back. He balances syrup and cream and eats another bite, smile and mooning eyes full like that cream.

"Ok!" Betsy chirps, joy garbled around pancake and a great herculean effort to swa-swallow that bite down. "I can go!" she chimes still swa-swallowing the tail end of that bite.

Craig shakes his head, smiles. Myra grins. And a smile slides across my face. Confidence blooming, twice and thrice, strikes gong reverberation. 








Gratitude:

6561. The plant sale opens, a smashing success.

6562. The children walk the neighborhood streets to deliver flyers. Confidence grows. Stress gives birth to ability. They speak for themselves and their business.






6563. Jane gives her first Toastmasters speech. Her confidence grows. The teacher encourages that the inevitable anxiety IS the goal. It's the only way to master public speaking.

6564. We celebrate Myra, sweet, light-hearted, deep-hearted Myra. She is a gift too big to appraise.

6565. I find the truth, that difficult conversations bring life, to be, well, true.

6566. We continue to teach the children that the most mature person in the room will do the most unfair tasks and without recognition. 






6567. I lament that the house has not gotten tidier this week, but rejoice at all the yard and plant sale work that is complete. I set my mind to embrace the extra tasks that lace through the next week.

6568. I think with anticipation about the children's next art lesson.

6569. I find a few moments to play piano.

6570. We land Sunday night with a promise to ourselves to get more sleep and find the weaving thread of contentment the hang the next week on.



Sunday, April 29, 2018

Birthday





"My birthday is in one week," Myra says. The two of us lilt through the kitchen groggy with sleep but breakfast at hand. "I was like, it's in seven days, wait, that's ONE week," she says.

"Yep," I say. "You're at seven and then suddenly down to ONE."

"Yeah," she nods. I gather the third cup and the eighth cup measures, head to the oatmeal cupboard, then circle back to pluck an oatmeal bowl from a waining stack.

"Is there anything special you want or are interested in?" I say.

"Hmmm," she looks to the left. Her eyes roam the ceiling. "Ummm," she says. "There is actually one thing."







"What?"

"I was wondering if you could read us one of those Bibles with the pictures in it," she says.

"Oh," I say, "Yes, yes, I will."

The ribbon leash of a birthday gift flutters away, and I'm left with a red-headed wisp.

"You can read a story and then we can worship together," she says. Not cute or self-aggrandizing, it's like she's forgotten herself encircled in the satin liturgy of morning devotions gone by.









Gratitude:

6546. Joe, Betsy, and I spend a morning lingering with friends. We iron Monday morning smooth with fellowship, deep, deep friendship.

6547. Oxtails. Cooking with friends. A dear friend teaches me to cook oxtail. It's like a bell that cannot be unrung. The children rave it's their favorite soup.

6548. A neighbor surprises us with a plate of gingersnaps.

6549. Craig continues to slave away on the kitchen remodel.







6550. A new pair of pants in linen.

6551. "I remember when Jack and Lucy and I used to work out," Myra says. "Yeah? What'd you do?" I say. "Oh, just sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, and walk around the yard with bricks in our backpacks."

6552. "Daddy can have five cookies if he wants 'cause he's a grown-up," Betsy says.







6553. Jane gets a chance to babysit.

6554. The children excavate all manner of landscaping debris from the backyard to have a dinner picnic with my parents.

6555. The plants in the greenhouse grow larger and lusher, a real garden paradise.

6556. We while away an afternoon down on the farm.







6557. Jack and his buddy pour over a cooking subscription. He comes home and promptly bakes a loaf of artisan bread.

6558. "I cut you choose," he says of the slices of fresh bread. When I linger long finishing chores he whisks by me, "I took a bite our of this one, so the other piece is bigger now," he says, impish grin splaying his face.

6559. The week rounds out with an afternoon of rest. We drink in its deep waters. As evening turns to night, I remember my Saturday's prayer was for a sabbath.

6560. We set our hearts to be glad at the work of the week.



Sunday, April 22, 2018

These Times





"Wasn't that neat seeing a fast-forward video of a dandelion last night?" I say.  Fresh up the front drive, morning run in our wake, Jane and I visit, sun soft on our cheeks.

"Yeah," she says. It was." She pauses as if "was" were large and round. "Though I have to admit," she says, "to having a chronic dislike of dandelions."

"Hah," I say. "I know what you mean." And like that we are through the front door, the house quiet for encircling nine, warm light skittering across the hardwood floors. The morning turned past noon, I herald everyone in.

"We have to leave by 1:00," I say. Everyone pulls hard on the oars of time to row, row us all ready and set to leave.

"Joe's hair needs a little bit of guidance," Jane calls, hand cupped around her mouth, eyebrows and cheeks drawn up in bow. I snicker, but swept in the twirl-wind of gathering seven children into the car and off to Toastmasters, I forget about Joe's masterful hair.

"Oh," I say when the speech teacher pauses and admires the high-in-front doo. "That's self-made hair," I say.

"Yep," he says. A masterpiece.









Gratitude:

6543. We take a vacation to the ocean. So much family surrounding us, twenty-seven of us, we savor the relationships, roam the beach, and play and make worship together. Magnificent. We store up the memories like special treasures.







6544. Our greenhouse plants continue to grow-grow-grow into lush specimens.

6545. We settle into the comfort and routines of home like the chorus a song sung a hundred times. We determine to enjoy it as much as the sea, each thing in its time.



Sunday, April 8, 2018

Chess





"Look, I can take two of your pieces," Joe says. A leisure Sunday afternoon, Joe and I play chess. The big brown table a fortress beneath us, I lean, lean an elbow out to the middle.

"Huh," I say my bishop and rook now both kitty-corner to his pawn. "I guess your right," I say.

"Only gonna be able to move one of them," he says.

"Huh," I say. A little bit of knowledge and suddenly strategy arises from nothing. The awakening of the mind is such a grand affair. And in this case it cost me my bishop. Brilliant.









Gratitude:

6533. Resurrection Day came again with all the celebration and humility that it brings.







6534. Joe turned SIX. I relish his generous spirit.

6535. Coleslaw, the best coleslaw, the world over -- red cabbage, sweet onion, fists of basil, and lemon avocado mayo dressing. We eat it with pulled pork. Then the pulled pork runs out so we start eating it on nachos. Then the nachos run out so it's just chips and still transcendent.







6536. Fresh groceries, the kind that fill up a paper sack and they have to double bag it. Lemons and cabbage and basil and mustard and ginger ale and cheddar and oranges and a mechanical pencil and lead. Perfection.

6537. The children have another art lesson and continue to progress in their artwork.

6538. The older four kids join a Toastmasters club. The first meeting leaves them chattering with excitement.







6539. Two beautiful baby wraps come to live at our house.

6540. I make elderberry syrup and turmeric golden milk from scratch.

6541. Craig and I squeeze in a date. We arrive at the movie theatre to find the film started 30 minutes ago. We have a mid-afternoon lunch together instead.

6542. The days gradually grow warmer if still wet. Signs of spring appear. Tiny green cotyledons poke through the ground and begin the new cycle of gardening. The yearly liturgy of seasons lulls us with it's familiar face.



Sunday, March 25, 2018

Eraser





"Hey, what is this?" I say. I pluck a white cube-ish eraser, pea-sized from a pile in Lucy's pencil box.

"Oh," Jack says, nose, for the moment, no longer in his math book.

"What?" I say. "What is it?"

"I think that's the eraser that Lucy put in the vice," he says.

"What?" I say.

"She thought it would just compact and then go back, but it broke into a million of pieces."

"Ahhhhh," I say. "Huh." And so it is, another mystery solved. I nod, then shake my head. "Makes sense," I say. Sense, that pile of eraser pieces, saved in a pencil box, that's usually how it finds me too. And good Lord, who knew it would crush like that?









Gratitude:

6526. The children recover from a bout of croup.

6527. Jack and Joe continue to learn endurance, preserving, and resilience through wrestling.

6528. Chicken soup with rice made from scratch.

6529. News of dear friends pregnant.

6530. I pass notes with a dear friend from decades past.







6531. The greenhouse plants continue to get stronger and bigger.

6532. We visit long over Sunday dinner and enjoy the voices of all the children.



Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hand-Me-Downs





"Whelp," I say, "I think we are on at least step seven of organizing the hand-me-downs." The words leave my mouth pearled together in a long looping sigh.

The living room a castle of bins, clothes bundled and ordered by age and gender, I sink into the couch. We save meticulously, sometimes too much. A tower of donation items holds down the entryway. Bins on one side, bins on the other, it feels like parting the sea.

"Hmm," Jack says, "step seven of seven hundred." He grins. I shake my head, then nod.

"So true," I say. We laugh and laugh. So many hours wrangling organization out of so much blessing. It's harder than it sounds. I wonder what step eight will be.









Gratitude:

6522. Jack adds humor to our days, leafed in, gentle and without expectation of the hilarity that ensues.







6523. Jack and Lucy bake ginger snaps.

6524. A dear friend sends me a wrap to try with chunky fringe.







6524. The kids continue to work hard practicing art lessons.

6523. I learn again the good fruits of forcing myself to do dreaded tasks. Strength, peace, and tidiness appear, guests adored.

6524. The children continue to watch me flounder and then step into strength. So humbling. And yet so good.







6525. I sigh another tired sigh, contentment close on its heels. Sleep, the reward of the weary, I measure its goodness.