Sunday, July 27, 2014


"Mom, did you know I actually caught a ladybug with my BARE hands?" Myra says. She hikes a shoeless foot up on the brick wall and lilts into the raised garden bed.

I pluck basil leaves. Twenty-six, twenty-seven, I stack them in my palm.

"It was a RED one," she says. "The red ones are the HARDEST to find." Eyebrows reeled up earnest, she looks at me out of the top of her eyes. I glance up, mimic the sincerity, a smile snagging free of my lips.

"Oh," I say.

"Oh," she says, "THERE'S one." She points to a cucumber leaf, limp in the midday heat, and sets her hand over it. A moment later, she palms something the size of a bb.

Thirty-one, thirty-two, The perfect salad has forty leaves. I swish my hand through the basil rows, scan for ample leaves.

"Mom," she says, "I love you. But I'm not gonna let this one go."

Thirty-seven, thirty-eight, I feel a dribble of sweat slide down my neck.

"What if I caught TWO at a time?" she says. "EW, it kinda tickles when they walk." Encased in cupped hands, ceiling becomes floor and floor ceiling, as she squirms against the tickling bug.

Forty. I stand straight, press a hand to the small of my back.

"I maybe will call my ladybug DAVID," she says.

I lace a few cucumber vines up the trellis, snap off two baby cucumbers, and slide through the heat back inside. Myra follows like a bell on my ankle.

I chop the cucumbers, mince the basil, try to preserve a small radius of elbow room while children lean up over countertops to watch.

"Jack, you can be the ladybug's grampa 'cause you're a boy," Myra says. "And ALL the girls can be grammas. And I can be the MOMMY." She presses her lips into an elongated mmmm when she says mommy.

"Okay," Lucy says.

The girls nod. I chop. Jack gives his grasshopper cage a rattle to make the critter jump. Between Myra's lilting and my chopping, an undercurrent emerges, a tip-tapping rhythm. Everyone takes a station, plays a part.

Soon a whole symphony lifts out of our very skin. Jack and Jane make pancakes. Myra and Lu help Joe orbit his stool into the perfect position. Joe takes himself potty -- twice -- and shouts his success. Jack washes the fresh eggs. Jane blends the batter. Lucy burps her dolly. And Myra all the while circles and chirps and chimes.

That undercurrent of rhythm, pleasure, we smile into each other's eyes.


5510. A dear college friend calls out of the blue. We visit like old times.

5511. A close friend decides to use the same writing curriculum. We compare notes. Excitement grows.

5512. A quilting magazine.

5513. America by Dinesh D'Souza.

5514. We roll out long hours of reading to line our afternoons.

5515. Friends invite us to a bbq. The sun sets before we finally head home.

5516. My mom throws a birthday party for Dad and Peter. And I feel it again, that same chiming rhythm of everyone doing their part. We crescendo in concentric circle of affirmation for Dad and Peter.

5517. Craig takes me on a date. We start with a squabble and then laugh it off, water off a duck's back. Small stepping stones of agreement, and irritation sheds like old skin.

5518. We eat dinner on the farm. The children pick raspberries and cherries and run with the wind through their hair. We leave after dusk.

5519. Craig works on his day off, but still the day laces up in a bbq out back, affection ever-present.

5520. Joe graduates to big-boy shorts, the kind he can pull up and down himself as nature calls.

5521. An alligator t-shirt.

5522. Almond croissant and coffee.

5523. Cerissa celebrates a birthday. Her friendship, bedrock and perfect, grows every year.

5524. We meet the cousins at Mike's Donuts. Everything converges in sugar bliss.

5525. I visit the doctor. Thirteen weeks pregnant, and we hear that tiny heartbeat. Joy laces through our family.

5526. I fix the memories of this summer in my heart like sapphires and rubies.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


"Him can even still walk," Myra says. She holds a squirmy-legged roly-poly up like a diamond.

"Oh." I nod. She settles him into an old play dough container. She carries him downstairs where the rest of us go to watercolor.

I set up on the old cedar chest. Jane, Jack, and Lu assemble fortresses around the library, cups of water and paint perpendicular to their paper. Myra shores ups on the corner of my trunk.

"Oh, careful," I say. "Don't bump me." The roly-poly lumbers across the trunk. She corals it between her hands. I wet the paper, swirl color across the pallet, test it on the paper towel. She lets the poly crawl up her arm like a parrot.

"Bop-bop-bop," she murmurs.

I dab green in the center of a violet blossom. It purls emerald loops up the edge of a petal. Myra and poly skew the watercolor block as I lift the brush.

"Hey, you're gonna have to go somewhere else," I say. She rocks the poly in her hand.

"This one is the baby," she says. "See?" She scratches another one out of a crevice between watercolor block and the cedar chest. She shows me both, one in each palm, her eyes resplendent blue.

Then it's Saturday, Craig away at camp, the rest of us doling out the soft pace of summer over a Saturday.

"Mommy, I love swatting flies," Jack says. He follows me around with the sing-song gate of an eight-year-old boy. "Mommy, when Daddy gets home, I'm probably gonna be out in the garden catching bugs," he says.

I sock clean dishes in the cupboard, chop grapes and olives for a salad, and there he is at my elbow. "I'm gonna go get the flyswatter when I'm done with the dishes," he says, "and go and swat flies outside 'cause it's really pleasurable 'cause it's like a GAME."

"Yeah, I guess so," I say.

"I like watching spiders and painting and looking at the garden." He trails through frogs and snails and puppy dog tails. We clean up the kitchen. He trip-trops out the back.

"Momma, this isn't luggage," Jane narrates from the living room. She flops a picnic basket open. "It's luggage and three babies," she says. She lifts one out, up to the sky, that same motion of Myra and her poly.

"Oh," I say tracing the arc of her arms.

"And these, are rafts," she says, "that we float on down the current." She sweeps her arm past two patchwork quilts spread across the floor, the room a wide river, the ottoman on one bank.

I nod, scoop the last few bites of salad into my mouth. I chew them to tiny bits, let the moment run long and wide as that river.

"Mom, this is a really fun game," Jane says.

"I used to love playing games like that," I say.

"Can I see the game," Lu hollers from the bathroom.

"We're playing the baby game," Jane says.

The baby game. Summer lingers, the children with it. We let the long strokes of current wash over us.


5499. Ben and Me - A New And Astonishing Life Of Benjamin Franklin, As Written By His Good Mouse AMOS. A new book.

5500. Play All Day With Ladybug Girl, Myra says she's Ladybug Girl.

5501. Vitamin B12.

5502. Craig takes the kids to the YMCA. We come home and roast sweet potato fries and eat brownies.

5503. Jane, Jack, Lu, and I sketch in the morning, watercolor in the afternoon.

5504. "When ever I think about the sweet potato sauce that Dad bought," Lu says, "I just salivate."

5505. Myra tries her hand at watercolor, Jane at her side. "I guess I can see that it's not gonna be any easier with her that it was with mine," Jane says, and dabs an orange puddle.

5506. Jane turns ten. We have a date, pizza on paper plates, a picnic table in the shade. We laugh at the wide world of ten and how everything changes between ten and twenty. All the while, our eyes hold each other, rivulets of affections between us.

5507. Craig's parents stop by with three+ gallons of raspberries. The children eat them by the handfuls. I memorize a recipe for jam. "How long did this take you?" I say. "Oh, I did it this morning," Craig's mom says. I smile into the wide mile of generosity.

5508. Headaches plague me along with the wildfire smoke drifting through town. A.W. Towzer's words ring in my ears: Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting. They harm us only when we resist them or endure them unwillingly.

5509. So it is, endurance wins the day.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


"Can you start getting out whatever you want me to make next?" Jane says. Running shorts and a slick shirt, she teeters her shoulders, anticipation jockeyed between them. I sigh, summer heat draped over me and the whole the living room.

"Uh-huh," I say.

"I'm just in the mood to bake," she says. She never really stops moving. "I don't have any money 'cause I lost my penny," she seesaws her head. "I just have my whistle and my pocket knife." She thrusts a hand in her pocket, then drags it out closed. "See?" she unfurls fingers, a tube-whistle and a black stone, sharp on one edge.

"Huh," I say. I nod in time to the rhythm ping-ponged between her shoulders, something happier than the heat demands.

"If I bake something, then I can give it as gifts, even though I don't have money," she says. She gives a hop as if the rhythm settled to her knees. Her face unflappable, I finally relent.

"Ok," I say. I lean forward into a front somersault of standing in the heat. She grins.

Coconut mocha brownies, brown sugar cookies, fresh bread, the children turn their free time into hobbies.


5482. "Mom, can I have a ziplock baggie?" Lucy holds up a partially constructed quilt top. "Sure, to put your stuff in kind of like Grammie does?" I say. "Yeah," she says, "I actually kinda like being like her."

5483. Barley feta salad, Tuesday girls, and Olivia comes.

5484. I reconnect with a local business owner closing up shop.

5485. Bookshelves!! Craig buys me a new bookshelf.

5486. Dad, Dan, and Craig mastermind the whole house around the new shelf. Then they muscle everything into place. Two engineers and a farm boy, they make it fit perfectly.

5487. We edit the game closet, pare it down to our favorites.

5488. Lucy goes on a date with her grammie and then her gramma.

5489. Barley salad with black beans, we have a picnic out back. Jack and Lu make cookies for dessert.

5490. I finally settle on the perfect summer uniform: striped sundresses. Each one feels perfect.

5491. Mom helps me pick out the perfect raspberry fabric to make armrests for the red plaid couch.

5492. Myra finds me before bed. Bad dreams. "Jesus," she prays, "can you just save me, and I'll call on your name? Amen."

5493. Our ASL teacher stops by bearing gifts.

5494. We visit the farm, share a meal. "Go, I'll bbq burgers," Craig's dad says. We take the four-wheeler around the back fields, miles of land a cloak around us.

5495. Craig finds Jack fully dressed and sleeping on the edge of Jane's bed when he goes to wake her for early morning volunteering. He relents, takes Jack too.

5496. Toothbrush and orange colored pencil, Joe sidles up to brush my hair.

5497. I organize the schoolroom for a new year. "I just can't wait for school to start," Jane says. "It's like we're done with our work by breakfast right now. I just want some good work to do."

5498. And so it is, we continue to learn to love work.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


"How did you know that time when Kody broke the egg? What was it? What did it look like?" Jane asks. I smile at her there in over-sized t-shirt and pj shorts parked at the end of my bed.

"I don't know," I say. "It's not really something I can describe." I stare out the doorway, a laundry basket in my peripheral, Kody's face fixed in mind's eye. "I just look at them," I say "and listen to the Holy Spirit." She furrows her brow.

"I wish I knew what it was," she says, "so I could just change that and then that would change my attitude." She wrinkles her forehead. Her current miff at Myra pendulums in the air between us.

"No," I say, "you have to change your attitude, and that changes everything else. Otherwise you're just faking," I tilt my head, squint, "and the minute you quit thinking about it, you'll just do the same bad attitude again because actually, deep down, you think you have a right to be mad at Myra."

"Oh." She sighs. "How is it that you can read my mind like that?"

"Well,"  I grin, "I was a kid once too." I tilt my head the other way like a rocking horse of affection.

"Huh," she nods.

"I used think my mom could read my mind too," I say. "And ya know what she'd say when I asked her?"


"Bethany, I was a kid once too," I say.


I pat her shoulder. "Ya just know," I say. "Go finish up."

She trundles off, shakes an invisible coat down her silhouette. Taller, happier, she steps into the circle of Myra. A silent blink, and she pivots a new horizon around them. Clear sky. Blue meets blue.


5469. Myra has a bad dream, inconsolable. "Honey, you can sleep with Lucy if you want," I say. "Here Myra," Lu croons, "you can sleep here where there is more light." She pats the bed next to her.

5470. Lucy carries a red Bible around with her. "When I grow up," she says, "I want to be in a Bible study like you."

5471. "I think this is a kid Bible," she tells me. "It sort of sounds like it when it talks about in here like God loves us and you don't have to be afraid."

5472. The neighborhood coalesces into bike rides and fort building. Picnic blankets and afternoon coffee, sprightly chitchat, the adults recline on Cerissa's front lawn.

5473. We get a set of Britannica's Great Works of the Western World.

5474. Independence Day. We once again pause to remember the blood and sacrifice made on our behalf.

5475. Donuts and World Cup, the day begins perfectly.

5476. Craig's side of the family throws an old fashioned pig roast. The children gallop in picnic games, orange soda.

5477. Our Bible Study meets for a night of fireworks and backyard carnival treats, friendship sprawled across picnic blankets. Joey cheers, exuberance embodied, then falls asleep in my lap.

5478. Dan and Cerissa join us for a post holiday BBQ. We linger, visit through theology, sports, literature, and antics. We eat watermelon and brownies, burgers flame-broiled to perfection, salad and chips. Our families bloom hand in hand.

5479. My blood clot shrinks, a little.

5480. Joe continues to mostly poop and pee in the toilet.

5481. July rolls in, a thick blanket of peace. We slave through morning chores, make long hours of afternoon reading, and fly in for dinner fresh from the sprinkler. Rest ensues.