Wednesday, June 30, 2010
"Love, love, love," Lulie chants as I smear jelly on bread. My children call the jelly love.
"Careful, don't fall."
Lips puckered, she points to dark berry jam, "Dat love. Momma, dat love."
The kitchen orbits around a wooden cutting board. The children balance on stools and lean in, crowd my elbows. I smooth down bumpy mounds of peanut butter.
"Jack," Janie pauses, "you can have anything you want that I can give you." She's on the brown spool stool, the tall one, the one she took but then Jack gave it to her.
It's a contest. I wonder who can win at doing nice things for each other, I'd said. And suddenly, there we are caught in the chase. It's a game, irresistible gravity pulls them in.
We serve each other sandwiches and join the children's bouquets at the table. Jelly squishes out the sides. Love. We lick it off, cheeks and fingers stained sweet.
Monday, June 28, 2010
"Ok, they close in 11 minutes." Craig's blue eyes track oncoming traffic, "Do you want me to just run in?" He makes a left, then lobs over two lanes.
"Sure," I crunch a roasted almond, "3.6 miles and then a right onto 99."
"A right?" he flips the blinker. "I still can't believe there were 12 at the last place." He grins and noses us into the right lane. 12. Puzzles.
"Now you want to look for Aurora." We wade through more dot-to-dot directions. Craig squeezes our big car through traffic and into a front row parking spot.
"Love ya, bye," he calls and sprints under big red letters into another thrift store. I grab my book, bent open still to page 88, and savor a few more paragraphs. It's a treasure hunt.
Now and then I spot him tall and giddy through the store windows. He scans shelves bulged with games and puzzles. Puzzles. Yes, there he is; he bobs back to the car plunder under arm, opens the back and calls, "Guess how many."
Between doctor visits and big city traffic snarls, we weave thrift store to thrift store. 93. We've collected 93 since last winter. Puzzles. Springbok, of course. We spill our inbetween-evenings in puzzles and chatter and the quiet pressing of pieces into place. The good life.
65. Mint chocolate and coffee, roasted almonds.
66. Sweaty curls around Lulie's face after nap.
67. Expositional comentaries on line for free.
68. Family gathered around barbecued meat, beans, watermelon.
68. Black beans simmered in cumin.
69. Strawberries, leaves and all.
70. Lucy's hug for the surgeon who still checks her eye.
71. Boy hair bleached red in the summer sun.
72. Burnt hot dogs my children ate anyway.
73. Popsicles dripped down their chins.
74. Tomato plants stretched tall toward the sun.
75. Hands of love that sprouted them for me. All 29.
76. Marigolds and cosmos and trailing planter that came with them.
77. Cool night air.
78. Soft bed sheets.
79. Bare feet on wood floors.
80. Tired shoulders that sigh into bed.
81. Cherry ice cream Janie ate on our date.
82. Lulie's swimsuit on backwards. Three times.
83. Baby fat.
84. Baby smiles.
85. Stinky baby feet.
Friday, June 25, 2010
"Momma," Janie says. I dab a make-up brush at my cheeks, raise my eyebrows. She leans up to the mirror, "why can I see blood-hoses in your eyes?" She squints.
"Oh, do I look tired?" Apparently.
Later, we sit around the lunch table, "Just because it's funny doesn't mean you should talk about it," I say. Jane licks a blob of jelly from her finger.
"Like pooping your pants."
"Yeah," Jack smiles, "It would be SO wrong but SO funny." He slaps his knee, a tsunami of giggles breaks over the table. Even little Lulie 'bout rolls off the bench.
Later we find TOOT, POOP, and PEE scrawled on the kids' whiteboard, the letters all warbled with laughter. That Janie's a speller. Only PEE was spelled wrong. Anyone else remember the hilarious poop and pee?
Sunday, June 20, 2010
"Can I hold my little girlie?"
Towers of laundry surround me, "Ok."
He balances Rose over skinned knees, wedges one hand under her head. He tilts his head to match and whispers warm secrets to her. Between bricks of laundry I lean into their small world. "I will protect you," he croons and presses cheek to cheek.
She squeaks. He rocks. She chirps. He rocks some more and looks up, "She makes that noise because she LOVES me," he says. He lifts her tiny head and begins to sing, "My little Rose, my little little Rose, my baby Rose..." The turrets of laundry fade into the walls, and I watch to see the boy begin to be man.
The legacy continues. Thanks Daddy, Grandad, Grampa, and all the Greats, Uncles too, our men of renown.
52. Little boy who hums at the table and eats deep bowls of oatmeal.
53. Five-year-old sister who pours and cooks oatmeal while I rest on the couch.
54. Eight azure eyes of my children that SEE.
55. A surgeon, all blue scrubs and gray hair, who saved Lucy's sight.
56. Popsicles, watermelon, grass clippings up to the knees, sprinklers, and sop-wet children.
57. My mother, the measure of a woman, friend to me all these years.
58. Husband, bean-sprout-counter who points to each newborn leaf for the children.
59. Slow paced days, little ones gathered underfoot.
60. Cookies, nuts and chocolate chunks, oat flour, real butter.
61. Tides of laundry that ebb and flow like sand over the house.
62. Husband who wades the tide and calls our home a life on the beach.
63. A heritage of man-strength passed down from father and father's father and his father on down the family tree. A legacy of manhood.
64. "Hold me, Momma," and Lulu clamors up my creaky chair, grabs me in a bear-hug.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Yup. 10. I thought it would feel longer. Leafs of days page by. The prologue. Each day I awake next to the best man I know. I falter, and he picks me up. I soar, and he calls me higher. Lord, help me keep stride with this man that serves with the loyalty of a soldier and the mirth of a boy.
I am unworthy.
Friday, June 11, 2010
95. She turned 95 this May.
We named our boy after her husband. Gordon. Such a man. Such a husband. Wish he were here. Even so, a daughter unfurls the yellow table cloth and we celebrate. Grammie wears a blue sweater made years ago; all that blue coaxed in to stripes and a curving collar to encircle her shoulders.
Over rosemary roasted chicken, we open cards. The great-grandchildren cipher out scrawlings. Grandsons give hosta and a daisy. Her children surround her. Grammie blesses each like the strains in an old hymn. Each verse rings sweeter than the last.
Every day Grammie prays for us. Every day like Daniel of old, she marks time by her prayers. There on old blue carpet, brilliant blue in the living room, she speaks our very names to the Lord in heaven. Her knees grow tired, but her voice is strong. Each day she comes again, bows in prayer. Each day she calls out blessing and healing as she waits for heaven. Such riches I've married into.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
"Momma, I think I know what Lucy did," Jane tip-toes into my bedroom.
"Oh," my eyes still closed.
"She put her hand in her diaper."
Later Lulu bites Jane, a nice circle imprint. She screams. Lulu cries. Jack retreats. I reorder the chess board of our morning.
Before baby Rose wails for Momma, I hear whispers in the sun-room. Jane and Lulu cuddle cheek to cheek. "I still love you, Lulu," Janie lulls. Lulie sucks her thumb, pats big sister's cheek.
Monday, June 7, 2010
A mother's tenderness begins here when the girl holds baby sister. She sifts her from shoulder to shoulder until cries lull into stares and blinks. They watch each other. The older counts baby toes and fingers, presses her lips to soft cheeks, and whispers into the tiny ears. It's a serenade. Before long baby falls asleep nestled into sister's warm neck.
31. Ten baby toes, lint in the cracks.
32. Weight in my elbow of a nursed full baby.
33. Rows of bean sprouts in wet dirt.
34. Black coffee, just ground.
35. Sunglasses, blue and yellow polka-dot, forgotten in the grass.
36. Sister love that whispers baby to sleep.
37. Brother love that sings Zacheaus Was a Wee Little Man in full soprano at each nap.
38. Husband hands that sort the kitchen junk drawer into piles that captivate our children.
39. Husband's clean shave.
40. Cookies stacked on wire racks, crisp out of the oven.
41. Salty Greek olives.
42. A little girl who still calls herself OLIVE.
43. Cucumbers and peppers, tomatoes, olives fresh chopped.
45. My brother home from Africa, fresh and new and yet all the same, sea blue eyes and red beard.
46. Refreshment that flows from my parents to us, a river of friendship.
47. A husband quick to humor and slow to anger.
48. Tall glasses of water, small cups of coffee, black chocolate.
51. Jelly smudges on the walls.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Work. Janie feeds the dogs and shuttles them to the dog run each morning. Jack empties the dishwasher. On Saturdays Daddy pays them. Money. REAL money.
He parses it out in neat stacks. Tithe. Save. Spend. They carry around slips of green and clanking change in zip bags. They roll and unroll them in sweaty hands and wad them into pockets. We find the tattered bags tucked under bunk bed boards, down couch cushions, half emptied in Lulies gentle care.
Bananas. They buy bananas. Janie labels them with Sharpie.
They eat banana after banana until each bunch disappears. Bananas all their own, the sweet joy slides down into their tummies.