"Jaaaane, Jane come here," I call. The ironing board sprawled open in the sunroom, I press the iron down. It steams.
"Yeah?" Jane says. She leans around the kitchen counter. Poked out like an island, it marks the end of the kitchen, beginning of office and sunroom.
"Hey," I say, "you had such a nice attitude cleaning that up," I nod to the kitchen, the blast of dinner shrapnel cleaned and wiped away. "I just turned around, and you were gone, and it was done."
She smiles, her cheeks round out in apples.
"You did a good job when you realized you had to change your attitude." Had to, I wasn't exactly vague on that point. She skips over the lip of the sunroom down to the ironing board. I pull her close, kiss the top of her head.
"I was trying to figure out what changes attitudes," she says.
I pause, pull the iron upright. It hisses. "What does change an attitude?" I say.
"Oh," she shrugs, tilts her head, "you just tell yourself: I'm happy. I'm happy. I'm happy. And then you are happy." That effortless grin, felicity, soft and supple, I take it in.
"Yep," I finally say. "You're right. I guess that is how." I wonder how little effort I actually put into that kind of happiness. I press the iron over another seam. And then you are happy. The sinews of a new muscle begin to flex.
"Well, you're six," I say to Lucy. "Do you feel bigger?"
"Yeah," she says. We trip-trop over a curb, down onto a cobbly path. "I'm not really feeling bigger in my body, but," she trails off.
"Here wanna hold hands?" She slides her hand in mind. We pass under the cool of an enormous tree just leafing out what will soon be leaves the size of a man's hand. "Where are you bigger?" I say.
"Well," she trails off again as if the approximation of words were jagged and trapezoidal. "Like, I'm doing more grown-up things," she says. We tromp up a hill, cross a sweltery black road, and lip over the edge of the curb. Soft grass peeks past the edges of our sandals.
"Yeah?" I say. "Like what?" Grass tickles our ankles. Humidity encircles us.
"Mmmm. It's probably not stuff that you would really see," she says.
"Yeah?" A few more steps and we're almost to a bush of flowering onions.
"Like in Daddy's class," she says, "there are some kids that don't follow the rules. And when I was five and a half, I would just let them be. But now," she nods, her hands drawn in as props, "now, I go and tell them: STOP. You HAVE to follow the rules."
Something immovable flashes across her face then melts into smile lines at the corners of her eyes.
"Huh," I say. "Yeah, that is very grown-up."
We trolley hand in hand, snap pictures of tulips and daffodils, let the soft green face of lawn hold us.
I trace again that immovable arc, defiance rightly placed. Honor. Something like honor reverberates through all that humidity and warm brown dirt, tiny nuclear vibrations, electrons in perfect time.
STOP. You HAVE to follow the rules. Follow the rules. It's the staff on which all the music is built.
5365. "Well, it's a new year, Lu. How can I pray for you?" I say. "That I would become better at singing," she says.
5366. A big pot of stew, the vegetables finely chopped, the Tuesday girls meet around a big pot of stew.
5367. A whole bouquet of new colored pencils, Lucy beams, spreads streamers of color.
5368. Cerissa brings me a bowl of minestrone.
5369. Soup, salad, and ice cream, it feels like summer around the big black table.
5370. Kale salad with cherries and pecans.
5371. Sewing machine oil.
5372. I service my sewing machine. It purrs.
5373. A summer dress all in stripes.
5374. Jane adds two fat quarters to her fabric stash. She strokes them like children.
5375. I finish a quilt top all in scraps.
5376. Craig takes the family on a frozen yogurt date. Joe finishes his first.
5377. Craig and I have our yearly conference to plan our garden. It envelopes a whole afternoon.
5378. Friends invite us to dinner. The kids disperse in the bliss of tag and picnic games. Adults weave food and flatware into full plates and wide smiles. Our many years of friendship bloom again. Once again invisible riches sustain us.
5379. Our pastor speaks on testing. Anything of value is tested. A statement of value. Even a $50 bill will be tested by the cashier if you try to spend it. How much more is my value than that?
5380. Past faithfulness gives us courage in current trials. Faithfulness. Faithfulness gives us courage. This makes me want to read my Bible more, to know the full account of God's faithfulness. Faithfulness is under appreciated.
5381. Lucy turned six this week. It's as if we've reached a tipping point. We all felt a little older but better and wiser too.