"I like the name Jumpsen Kapsey," Myra says. She hops off the black couch. A tear in the leather yawns close next to a shiny slick where I tried to glue it.
"Oh," I say. "Is that your chicken's name?" Oatmeal in one hand, coffee in the other, I beeline for the table.
"No," she says, "it's Jumpy."
"Oh," I slide onto the table bench, find a crumb-free radius and set up camp.
"Wanna know his middle name?" she says. I smoosh a mountain of cinnamon like a sinkhole in the middle of the oats.
"Yeah," I say.
"Jumpy," she says again, "no, Rosie, JUMPY ROSIE." She nods, her paisley dress all exclamations.
"Oh," I contribute a listening sound, bump my spoon past a strata of pecans and yogurt.
"The black chicken's mine," she chimes, "the one without the scraped off neck." She approximates a ghastly bald spot on the chicken's neck. It got henpecked. "Lucy has the scraped-off-neck one."
"Um hmm," I hum mid bite.
"The brown chickens are piggies," she says. "They just eat up all the food we give them."
"Mom," Jack calls at the window. A flap of torn screen, Joe had his whole head through that screen half hour a go. "Mom," Jack says, "can I weed the garden?"
"Mom," Myra gushes, "if there is a huge, huge weed on the end of the garden, can I PULL it?"
"I guess so."
She trollops out, her bare feet in three/four time over the hardwood.
The garden, our summer destination. Some people have a pool; we have a garden. They lean crook-necked over those smudges of sprouts and will them to live and swell and stretch up big. Then we water and harvest and harvest and water. We eat every drop that flows from those strong green limbs.
And they weed, of course. A hundred a day. Each. The work makes us strong.
"Do you need any help?" Myra calls through the ripped screen.
"No, I'm ok," I say.
"Call me if you need any help, ok?"
Work. Something like work laces through all the good moments.
5406. Mom serves fruit salad gourmet with raspberries and coconut on Tuesday.
5407. Lucy gets a stack of scraps for a dolly quilt. She plans it out and starts chain sewing.
5408. The owner of a local bookshop gives me a set of old shade maps that attach to our old chalk board.
5409. Mom loans me a vintage classic: Worth While Stories For Every Day by Lawton B. Evans, circa 1917.
5410. Jack gets a book of stories on dog heroes.
5411. Jane takes her annual testing and flies through it.
5412. My newest nephew joins us: Calvin Joseph. Perfect.
5413. We visit the hospital. Jane and Lu hold the newborn. Timeless bundle, we stare and stare.
5414. I remember my love of sketching and sketch with the kids all week.
5415. Lucy and I take a date at a local garden and sketch iris together.
5416. We finish parts I and II of Gulliver's Travels. Parts III, and IV, here we come.
5417. I begin Dicken's Our Mutual Friend.
5418. Jack and I plant tomatoes and watermelon in the kids' garden. He checks them everyday, gets a sunburn weeding with his shirt off.
5419. We pick up and head to the farm on a moment's notice. The car piled with children and food, we eat supper with the people who made Craig who he is. The pleasure continues.
5420. His mom passes on an electronic copy of the Bible and a magazine from Ravi Zacharias.
5421. Rose throws a 30th surprise birthday party for Pete. And Pete surprises us. He comes in the wrong gate trying to sneak up on his bride.
5422. On the way to the party, Jane spots a panhandler. "There's a guy with a sign that says: ANYTHING HELPS," she says. "But punching him in the face wouldn't help."
5423. We make another trip to the local used bookstore and reel in more classics. Our library swells.
5424. I visit with the shop owner, renew our friendship.
5425. Craig and I find ourselves moving more in harmony, as if running a household were as simple as playing both hands on the piano.