"Mom, 'Tunia's laying an EGG." Red hair a firestorm, Myra trounces through the back door. Dolly under one arm, she clatters navy wellies over the hardwood.
"Her chicken's in the nesting box," Jane says, self-appointed diplomat two steps behind.
"Yeah, 'Tunia's in the NESTING BOX," Myra blusters.
Paraded through the kitchen and now humped up on the back of the black couch, she presses her cheek to the window, leans her chin out, eyes glued to the coop.
Joey clangors around the couch arm. He makes eyes at Myra, grunts his approval, then whops the couch with a rogue Tinkertoy.
"Joe-Joe," Myra chimes.
With agility that defies the navy wellies, she hops off the couch, snaggles Joey's hands and sashays over the old wool rug. Tinkertoy lost in the burst, Joey stomps his feet, howls disapproval.
I prop a foot on the hearth, loosen a gray running shoe, ease free, shed my sock inside out, drape it over the shoe. It's the running liturgy. Myra promenades Joey into a bear hug. Jane retrieves the orange Tinkertoy, wheedles it into his hand. I wrestle a white running jersey over elbows and hair-sticks, then reassemble it to normal shape.
"Joey likes Rhode Islands," Myra assesses. "Joey just LIKES Rhode Islands," she says.
"Oh," I say trying to remember if the Rhode Islands were the red chicken or the goldens. I flop the limp running jersey over my shoulder.
"I like BLACK chickens," Myra continues, "'cause I can pick them up."
I hook my fingers through the mouth of each shoe, iPod and cotton running gloves forgotten on the hearth. I start for the bedroom.
"I pick them up, and they just WIGGLE their toes," Myra narrates. "And they just FLY out of my arms." She flies her arms open. "Some time we have to cut off their wings so they can't fly any more." She nods in a chairman sort of way, chest full with wing-clipping knowledge.
I dispatch my running shoes in the closet, sprawl the jersey over the end of our bed. I shuffle the covers straight, puff the pillows, shamble them into place.
"In the morning if him's done laying an egg," Myra says, "I can get it 'cause him's a nice guy. My 'Tunia's a NICE guy." She gives a spontaneous hop to punctuate the niceness. I toss the last pillow in place, pat the red fringe.
I pull shearling slippers up to my shins, ensconce my toes in soft warmth. Perpetual almanac at my elbow, I catch her willowly hand. It folds up like a paper crane in my palm, those slight fingers lined up edge to edge.
She grins. I smile, the narrative broken. Her blue eyes huge and merry, I swing her into my arms, tiny pleat of a girl. And with soft deftness, she folds into me, all the diagonals align, perfect origami against my chest.
4973. "Don't give me the STINK-eye," Myra warns Joe.
4974. Veteran's Day. Sacrifice on my behalf -- I feel the weight of this gift.
4975. Family pictures! Rose Emily posts our family pictures.
4976. "That white shirt," Jane says as I swoon over the photos, "is terribly uncomfortable. I have no intention of ever wearing it again. The sleeves pinch your arms in half, and I had to keep pulling it down. As soon as I got home I changed." Then we laugh and smile over the love in each picture.
4977. We finally meet together for Tuesday at Mom's after a whole month absent. Libby nourishes us with white bean chicken chili. We rejoice in our the bond.
4978. "Can I draw you a picture?" Lucy asks. "It's gonna be a really pretty one. I'm gonna try to make it look like something you really like."
4979. Dad and Mom come for dinner. Pizza, kale salad, Dutch butter cookies, Mom fresh home from Kenya, the rest of us fresh in from the daily grind, we feel it again, that bond, the deep roots of family.
4980. "Mom, Mom," Myra shouts, Joey fresh out of the bath and tottering through the living room. "Joey gots him's TAIL on," she says.
4981. Joey wakes up in the night, cries, then mumbles Jesus Loves Me to fall back asleep.
4982. Spearmint rosemary bar soap.
4983. Green dye.
4984. Pine scented icicles.
4985. A whole fresh book of Christmas piano music.
4986. Coffee, almond croissant, the talking, the hours, the special bond of love -- Mom and I catch up after her trip.
4987. Our dear Miss Lynne invites us to dine with her and her family. Sparkly beads, a stone falcon, books, and stories, and guitars, pizza and salad, lavender cake -- the framework of friendship is visible for a night.
4988. Quilting fabric, more fabric. Marion-berry honey. Primrose soap.
4989. We have dinner on the farm. Spaghetti. Can you believe some of our kids didn't know what it was?
4990. Jane finishes Miss Frisby And The Rats of NIHM. In search of a new book, I read aloud the first bit of the original Wizard of Oz. "So what do you think?" I ask. "Sounds like a really good one," Jack says, "It's usually a really good one if the starting is sort of boring."
4991. Boring. Yes, the best things often have unimpressive beginnings. I take this to heart. Boring, the gentle lull of ordinary. I embrace my ordinary life. It encircles me with love.