"Did you see me working?" Lucy says. She lopes to the front door, waves at me, her therapy goggles covered in fingerprints.
I pull the storm door open. "Yeah, I did." I smile. I had been watching her on the front porch after my run. I pull the orange cord of my ipod up through my shirt, snap the cord out and wind it around my hand.
"Did you see ME?" Myra does a two-step gallop from the kitchen.
"No," I say, " I couldn't see you from where I was standing."
"I was working in the kitchen," she says, "with a vacuum to get all the crumbs. And SPIDERS." She titters and peals giggles. Joe and the dust-buster clatter after her, she half down the hall already.
Then it's almost lunch. A colony of papers litter the table. A collapsed fort leans across the living room floor. The sprawling arms of Myra's comforter completely cover the rug. I sigh, weave my dismay into a plan.
"Hey kids," I call, "can you come in here? I have a special treat for you."
"Is it vinegar?" Jane calls.
"No," I say. I snap a panel door closed over the washer and dryer. "Go get the kids."
"Lu-cy, My-ra," she calls, "come in here. Mom has a treat, and it isn't vinegar."
Vinegar, the all purpose seasoning, I shake my head. We rally to clean up the house, fold up fort supplies, turn in the papers, capture a rogue breakfast bowl, dunk it in the sink. We clean. Cleanness, we get to keep it. Cleanness, the special treat.
Then it's Sunday. We gather up a new week and prepare it for spending. The kids make themselves oatmeal, baptize it in brown sugar. I brew coffee. Joe manhandles the sugar, blazons a skiff across the floor. I corral spare utensils into the sink, suck up the brown sugar. Everyone congregates at the table.
"Lucy," Myra says, "Mom told me spiders like brown sugar. Mom actually told me." We all wait for this to be meaningful. "Right?" Myra turns to me.
"Ah. ANTS," I say.
"ANTS like brown sugar," Myra says, her eyebrows perfect parenthesis over each eye.
"I already KNEW that," Lu says. She stirs an arc in her oatmeal, her face serene.
"Spiders eat bugs; ants eat sugar," I say.
"What do ants eat?" Myra says, her face devoted to mine.
"Sugar," I say.
"What do ANTS eat?" she says.
"What do SPIDERS eat?" she says, chin dipped, forehead furrowed.
I blink. She blinks.
"Oh," she says. "That's EWIE."
With a pluck of staccato, she yanks Joey's hands, claps them together. "Come on, Joe-Joe," she says. And she's off, already half through the next measure, Joe a clatter behind her.
I lean on an elbow, let them go. Something expectant lilts behind, snags the slack end of my smile. Expectant. Dauntless. The week presents it's ingredients. I take them in.
5256. My dad turns 60. Dad, my first measurement of courage and strength, wise, righteous, and humble. Sixty, a great beginning.
5257. I bluster over a mess in the kitchen, spill myself out into the sunroom. "Mom, I have a really nice paragraph," Jack responds. Holed up for silent reading, he points at Revelation 4:8. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty," he says, "who was, and is, and is to come." I immediately become sane.
5258. "Jesus, help me to get good at writing notes to Mom," Lucy prays. "Amen."
5259. "Joe-Joe, I love you," I whisper in his ear. "Yeah," he says. "You're a good boy," I whisper. "Yeahhhh," he says.
5260. "I have an egg from my chickie," Myra says, waves a nut brown egg in the air. "Here," she says to Joe, "I'm gonna rub it on your cheek. DON'T eat it. Feel, it's WARM."
5261. My brother and his family come to dinner -- soup, salad, bread, IRISH DAIRY CAKE, perfection.
5262. We visit and laugh, the children eating olives, buttering bread at our elbows. I marvel again at that solid rock of heritage, that cornerstone of every conversation, that plumb-bob of loyalty hanging there in the middle of us all. Conversation comes easy.
5263. We replace our bread maker.
5264. Mom and I map out the rhetoric of Ravi Zacharias, trace Truth's silhouette.
5265. Jack wrestles tournament #2. He finds himself the recipient of a very good compliment. "You're the hardest guy I've ever wrestled," says the wrestler who beat him.
5266. We spend the morning in the bleachers surrounded by family.
5267. My nephew turns eleven. At his party his face flashes glimpses of the man he will be -- gracious and strong, funny and kind. Good.
5268. "Joe-Joe, what are you eating? Don't eat that," I say. "Don't worry," Myra chirps. "It's just boogers, Mom."
5269. "Guys," Lucy says as we make lunch, "I saw twenty-eight fire hydrants on the way home from church. Twenty. Eight."
5270. Expectant. I don the clothes of expectancy and prepare for the week.