"I'm thinking of getting a sword," Myra chimes as I fold laundry at the old black couch.
Jack waves a giant turkey feather plucked from the blackberry patch. He orates on how to tie a rope around a feather and then tie it around your forehead - like an Indian. I stack towels, fold summer pjs.
"I'm making a sword with wood and putting a feather on top," Myra adds.
Joe screams from somewhere in the sun room.
"Stop trying to micromanage Joe," Jane hollers from the basement.
It's the first week of school. They begged for a month, and now it's finally here. School. I pass out new freedoms and greater burdens of responsibility.
They nod, and next I know, there is Jane sprawled on the floor mapping a week of literature all in sticky notes. Jack and Lu join forces to map colonial America. Myra and Joe try their best to mimic reading and end in a game of tag out back.
School. My favorite.
Then, end of week, the kids assemble a castle all in pillows and footstools, quilts and a blanket. They share a box of Nerds and listen to Narnia. They make rules and an economy. For all the pillowed mess, they speak affection to each other.
"Don't chew the Nerds," Jane says, "suck on them. They last longer." Myra crunches through hers. Jack saves his.
"Yeah," Lucy says, "if you chew up the Nerds, you are being a glutton." Everyone nods some assent, but Myra still crunches hers. Jack saves his.
Craig and I let the mess orbit around us, a castle. Soon, the tiny box of Nerds is gone, we set the ten minute timer, clean up. Another scene begins.
We get the good news this week that we're having a baby girl. A girl. We can picture her there with us, another nucleus of complexity. Each brings out a different side of us and each other. Another dimension. Irreplaceable.
5562. Joey wails his complaint 5am Monday morning when Jane confiscates my birthday chocolate from his smudgy hands.
5563. We have an old-fashioned chat on the patio with Kyle and Carolyn. Their garden surrounds us with beauty.
5564. The seven of us gather around my doctor's ultrasound monitor. He announces the jubilant news: it's a GIRL. Craig was the only one of us to guess right.
5565. Egg salad with pecans and bacon, Mom makes us a labor of love.
5566. A palette of nail color, the girls and I pour over pretty fall colors.
5567. I start planning fall outfits, skirts and long leggings, boots to the knees. Leggings. Leggings are just the best.
5568. We head to the farm for a blackberry blitz and a birthday party. Craig's dad turns 77.
5569. His mom sends us home with garden produce and the most fragrant rose.
5570. Craig starts renovation on the basement bathroom, the school bathroom. His brother and sis-in-law pour forth help and advice.
5571. A bag of groceries from Trader Joe's.
5571. Hand-me-downs. Bags of them. And a dolly.
5572. I eat a cupcake, thick with almond frosting. Joe, leans belly-up on the counter, nose to nose with my fork. "Share, Momma, share," he cheers.
5573. Mozzarella, parmesan, feta, the cheeses of summer.
5574. The garden begins to pour forth tomatoes and cucumbers.
5575. I read again CS Lewis' essay, Membership.
How true membership in a body differs from inclusion in a collective may be seen in the structure of a family.
If you subtract any one member, you have not simply reduced the family in number; you have inflicted an injury on its structure. Its unity is a unity of unlikes, almost incommensurables.
5576. Incommensurables. Nucleuses of complexity. Our family grows by another dimension.