"How'd you get Daddy to do that?" Janie yanks Jack's arm, give it a flop.
He, a sack of grain slung over Craig's shoulder, chortles, guffaws. Craig pokes the little boy washboard-ribs. Jane capers around their feet. I clear picnic shrapnel from the yard and the pageant cavorts inside at my heels.
I guide the last of the silverware safely to sink and dishwasher. Myra patters up behind me.
"I got somethin' out of him's nose," she blurts, "and it was a booger." I turn, she, a golden silhouette, evening sun behind her. "I got it with THIS." She gestures an index finger in the lambent evening light.
"Oh," I say, the dishes a sluice at my elbow.
Another day orbits by. Evening spindles into place. A company of soup bowls encircle the big black table -- drips, puddles, cracker crumbs, Joey's turquoise booster seat slung to the side.
I appeal for help, and Jack, there suddenly across the table, splashes sloppy bowls into a puddly stack.
"I know why some people don't want to have five kids or a lot of kids," he says.
"'Cause they think that the kids won't help." He wobbles the shock of bowls, spoons heaped atop.
"Yup," I say, the bowls stacked like a neck with a crook.
"But they will if you make them." He trundles off the table-bench, teeter totters the bowls for balance, trit-trots to the kitchen.
I hose the bowls off, overspray dampening my shirt. Myra stands on tiptoe, peeks over the edge of the sink. She wrests the black spool-stool over hardwood and rug, clanks it into the cupboard. She pops up at my elbow.
"Oh, I see what you're doing," she says. "Thanks Mommy for cleaning."
And she lingers at my elbow, all eyes on the spindrift and clean bowls, damp elbows.
And then she stands tiptoe on the black spool-stool. "I'm really BIG," she explains, "because I got a really BIG arm." She reaches up, up, big arm high above her head.
I nod and fix in my mind all the bigness of three years old like stacked up bowls teetering to the sink. She blinks, grins, offers to help.
Help. The children help. We weave the threads of the day into a single cord.
4460. "It's turning like a butterfly," Myra watches the cream swirl into tea.
4461. We ask Jane how she would feel about babysitting. "I'm just afraid I'll go feral when you leave," she confesses.
4462. Lucy goes to coffee with Grammie and has her first drawing lesson.
4463. Jude gets a blue cast to fix his broken arm. "This is not a muscle," he explains to Grammie, "This is my CAST."
4464. The cousins come to play.
4465. Craig takes the suburban in for maintenance and repairs, gathers quotes, and picks the best one.
4466. Dad and Mom loan us Person of Interest Season 1: date nights for Craig and me!
4467. Mom makes chicken lime cilantro salad. We gather at Cerissa's, call in the afternoon with salad and fresh bread, coffee and chocolate, pretzels, the children a running parade of bicycles, skinned-knees, sunshine, and cogs of friendship. I'm so rich.
4468. Craig muds over all the scarring on our beloved walls, preparation for fresh moss-green paint.
4469. Myra wonders what the mud is, prods the tub of it. I explain it's for patching. Patching. Lucy patches. "Is Lucy going to eat that?" she befuddles.
4470. We barbecue burgers with Dad and Mom, first ones of the season -- fresh burgers, Lays original potato chips, tartar sauce, leafy salad, coconut ice cream.
4471. Myra eyes the burgers, buns, condiments. "Can I have a crumbly one?" she elates and points to the burger.
4472. Craig reschedules a meeting so Mom and I can catch coffee together.
4473. Mom. Encouragement.
4474. Shortie sportie socks.
4475. Black leggings.
4474. Dan and Cerissa find out their new baby is a GIRL. Four sweet boys and now a GIRL.
4475. They celebrate 10 years of marriage.
4476. Plastic balloons. Purple. Aloe green.
4477. Farmer's Market, Walla Walla sweets delivered right to my door. Generosity. A friend gives the gift of generosity. And onions.
4478. The wind blows a snow storm of aspen seed pods all over the yard and us.
4479. Jack sweeps the seeds up with a shop broom.
4480. My friend Sharon stops by with Lisa. A new friend, I have a new friend.
4481. Jack carries the groceries for me on our date.
4482. We skeedaddle down to the country church of Craig's childhood. A potluck. We celebrate Great-Grammie's 98th birthday. Auntie Carole even makes it from two states away.
4483. Ninety-one tomato sprouts, now 12-18 inches tall, lounge in the sunroom. All that tender care in Lynn's greenhouse and they are ready for planting.
4484. Craig woos me again, another week with the man I love.
4485. He installs a new faucet in the kitchen, whisks away the broken handled one. Bent down there under the sink, he muscles our world back together.
4486. Jack manages two frying pans of scrambled eggs all by himself, feeds us all.
4487. Jane bakes apple crisp.
4488. Help. I love their help.