"Don't use this all up, but," Jane presses an orange Chiclet box into my hand, "you guys can have some." It's a heavy stone of a box bowed and bulging, the compilation of three or gum four packs. "Mom, I want you to make sure and have a good time with Jack." She sways, a shawl of curls around her shoulders. Me, half in the suburban, perched on its balcony seat, I smile at her flushed cheeks, freckles, blue eyes.
At the coffee shop Jack totes a plastic shoebox of crayons. My shoulder bag anchored down with animal magazines, we scout out tables. We eye a row of round ones.
"Let's pick this one," he gestures to the one on the end. "It's a little bit bigger."
"Ok." And we settle in, bag loped over the back of the chair, crayon box propped open, papers shuffled out, steamer and hot water somewhere near the middle.
"Mom, could you please read?" He paws through the crayon box. I reach for Nature Friend and leaf through.
"There's one on a woodpecker," I say. He stirs the grumble-growl of those crayons, rakes his fingers through cerulean and dandelion, magenta, deep midnight blue. "Blue whales. How about blue whales?"
"Um. Ok." He tilts his paper and smooths on a streak of orange.
"Blue whales can be 70-80 feet long," I pause. "70-80 feet, whoa." He looks up arches his brow, boings his head. "Do you know how big that is?"
"That means it's longer than from the front windows to the back over there." I motion to a trio back by the bathrooms. A twenty-something with jet black hair looks away. I turn back to Jack, grope for words to capture the whale-size. "A telephone pole's about 30 feet so it would be like two telephone poles and a bit more stacked up or laid end to end."
Jack rounds his eyes to match a forehead wrinkled in anticipation. He drops his voice. "We've GOT to tell Jane that when we get home." I scribble a note of the gargantuan whale. "I wish I had a blue whale as a pet," he blurts. "Then it would scare away all the people that are not on my team." I try to picture an 80 foot whale playing cowboys and indians. "I've GOT to tell Jane this," he repeats.
I memorize the flabbergasted blue of his eyes, the unselfconscious shake of his head, how the coloring rests completely forgotten there at his elbow.
"I wonder what is in the INSIDE," he furrows his brow. "That would be interesting to me." That picture in his mind so vivid, so pungent and full, I feel almost invisible. And then, "Oh, my," he says. "I want you to read more about that. I feel like I can't be patient." And so we do.
Eighty feet, 174 tons, a sight to behold, our imaginations split like overripe fruit.
4146. "I've got a couple of favorite foods," Lucy announces. "Some are protein, but some are not, but I'm just learning to like beans."
4147. "Lucy your bathroom's FLOATING," Myra blusters from the bathroom to report a flooded toilet.
4148. "Air is blowing out," she shouts. "Get OTTA here. SMOKE." She points to a pot of boiling pasta. "Guys DON"T touch that. Go, go!"
4149. A lovely afternoon with a dear friend sipping coconut tea.
4150. "If we put poopy in the house that NOT be funny," Myra blurts.
4151. "Jesus keep me SAFE," she nods.
4152. "I'm gonna brush my teeth. You can smell my breath, Momma," she offers.
4153. Lucy empties a sink full of dishes, loads the dishwasher, and scrubs 10 pounds of fresh dug carrots.
4153. "Joe's not in your heart," Myra offers. "JESUS inside your heart. Jesus in your heart and my heart."
4154. "I'm smelling the onion with my EYE," Myra blinks away tears.
4155. "I've got a question for you," I say to Lu, "Do you know how much I love you?" She looks straight into my eyes and in her soft drawl, "Maybe as much as God."
4156. African peanut soup, chicken bacon bean soup, it's a soup bar and we play Be The Person On Your Left with our guests.
4157. Baby white bowls.
4158. The kids try weaving like the people in ancient Mesopotamia. Jane weaves the first three inches, and Jack reflects, "It was probably pretty special to get clothes back then."
4159. Thursday slows to a gentle pace of spelling tests and art projects. "I just love spending time with us here," Janie says.
4160. "Do you think Obama knows that absolute power corrupts absolutely?" she asks that night.
4161. "If I wait longer to get the thing I really want, I will like it more," Lucy says.
4162. I slip into warm sheets at night and like Corrie ten Boom thank the Lord.
4163. Curry sauce.
4164. Broccoli salad with bacon and cashews.
4165. We have guests for chicken and soup, dinner rolls and apple slices, salad. All the children, ours and theirs, participate and make the night perfect.
4166. Lucy gets a date with Gramma complete with Gobblet challenge and treats for her siblings.
4167. I join the SpoKenya Team meeting and run errands with Mom.
4168. Craig presses this year's first geranium seeds into potting soil, tucks them in for spring.
4169. We make an afternoon of American Sign Language.
4170. Blackberry pie.
4171. I tell Jack blue whales live in every ocean. "Well," he says, "I never seen any whale fins sticking out of the water," and shakes his head.
4172. Someone turns the faucet on full blast down the hall. "What's dat snoring?" Myra demands.
4173. "Jack," Lucy says, "when you feel water dripping out your lips, that is DROOL."
4174. "Guess how many carrots I ate?" she asks me later. "Nine," I say. "Say eight," she whispers in my ear. "Eight." She smiles, "Yup."
4175. I land in bed an hour early one day this week. Bliss.