"Actually she does have a strong personality," Jane chats. She lobs a wet paper towel my direction.
Paint tray slung in my left elbow, I snag the towel and dab a green drip out of the carpet. Jane flops a spare cloth across her wrist.
"She has a strong personality, but it's under control," she says.
I nod, toss the paper towel, and slick more paint on the sunroom wall. It flicks specks into my hair, across my arm.
"I want to be like that," she says, eyebrows furrowed as if tracing her own quirks and drives.
It's 2am, the sunroom one and a half coats apple green. Two hours of Bible commentary and now we talk, just talk. We catalogue everyone we know, trace philosophies of discipline and education, faith, success, failure. We talk and talk and the words never run out. They just grow and grow.
"I just love talking with you, Momma. I just love that we get to do this together," she whips the wet paper towel again and hops off the arm of the couch. "Here, do you need another one?" she says.
It's the grand staff and we're composing the tune. All those strokes of paint and it's the scaffolding, all the notes just hanging there in mid-air waiting to be sung. And so we do.
4657. "Mom," Jack tolls, "grasshopper turds are a little littler than mouse-turds. You wanna see one?"
4658. "Mom," Jane inquires, as I scrub another drip out of the carpet, " do you think a carpet cleaner would approve of how you are doing that?"
4659. "Lucy, I'm making a REAL tomahawk," Jack bounds into the sunroom, "so I can be an INDIAN."
4670. Jack constructs an Indian headdress out of rope he crocheted and chicken feathers. "Mom, look at my Indian HAT," he exclaims.
4671. Dan comes over and calks the sunroom for me before I paint so I can surprise Craig when he gets home from camp.
4672. My baby brother lets me borrow Duck Dynasty, the one we gave him for his birthday that he hasn't had a chance to watch yet.
4673. "Is this meat?" Jack frowns as he strips a chicken. "It looks like a strip of fat, but..."
4674. Jack tears meat off the roasted chicken and passes the good pieces to Lucy first.
4675. BEST summer salad. Green leafs, peaches, raspberries, roasted pecans, vinaigrette, whipped-cream-cheese-greek-yogurt.
4676. We meet for small group barbecue. The night ends in a splendrous game of tag.
4677. I read an excerpt of The Brothers Karamazov and Jane responds, "It sounds like he's thinking the way real people think."
4678. Lucy grouses about all the biting bugs. "Do you think they're gonna have to say SORRY in heaven?" she says.
4679 Craig's mom brings two buckets of raspberries, a clutch of sugar snap peas and bush cherry syrup up to town. The kids take her on a tour of the garden.
4680. We make raspberry pie.
4681. Jane and Grammie go pick up the pottery they painted. They return with a sketchbook.
4682. "Jesus, thank-you that we can love you all the time," Lucy prays, "even in situations where people say we can't."
4683. Cerissa and the boys come over to play on her birthday.
4684. A family of six invites us to dinner. About twenty years ahead of us, we watch the inner workings of their family and take note. Each and every member infuses us with worth. It's astounding. Beautiful.
4685. "Rosebud," Janie chides Myra Rose, "did you know the person whose right doesn't have the last word? They don't have to have the last word 'cause they're RIGHT."
4686. We have ASL in the newly painted sunroom. We share tears over stories of God's grace.
4687. Trader Joe's run: coconut cream, green beans, heirloom tomatoes, Everyday Spice, blue corn chips.
4688. Make-up remover.
4689. Face cream.
4690. Dried cherries.
4691. Craig preforms a wedding. Jane and Jack tag along, internalize everything about their hero.
4692. Logan turns eight. We meet at the pool and perfect exhaustion makes that one degree turn to perfect satisfaction.
4693. Zeke turns three.
4694. I prune and stake the 71 tomatoes. Sweat drips glistening stripes down my arms and legs.
4695. I mention how sweltering and tired I am. Jane disappears and then shows up with ice cold water to cool my throat.
4696. We roll out a picnic blanket for the city's royal fireworks display, the backdrop for a summer symphony performance. The finale leaves us breathless.
4697. I observe again the rhythm of hard physical labor interwoven with the rubric of mental disciplines: kindness, prayer, literature, organization.
4698. Hard work seasons our days and the food tastes delicious.