"Are you surprised I can do this while talking?" Lu says.
I look up from a slice of plum toast. Across the table, she writes the answers to addition facts. It's like watching my piano teacher carry on a conversation and play Jesus Loves Me at the same time.
"Yeah," I say. "I am." I swallow, pause to lick plum jam off my lips.
"I think I know why I'm better at minus than plus," she says pencil still scrawling.
"Uh-huh?" I say.
"'Cause I was working harder at minus than plus." Eight plus two, she writes ten.
"Huh," I say.
"I'm so delighted when there's minus," she says.
I watch the pencil trace out neat numbers beneath the equal sign of each problem. I shake my head, spoon more jam onto my toast.
All this after I dragged her unwilling self in from the monkey-bars, I think.
But as I watch each answer form itself in her head and then on the paper, I marvel. I'm so delighted when there's minus. She sees the path. Off road, barely visible, but true: hard work leads to delight.
I steel my mind for the work ahead.
5591. "Well, that's the end of that fly's life," Jack says after a tha-whack of the flyswatter.
5592. Amish butter, the kind you can taste on toast, even through plum jam.
5593. Turkey wraps. Sausage wraps. Ham wraps. Craig tells me I have to start actually cooking again. Everyone practically cheers when I make wraps -- all week long.
5594. Coconut sour cream fruit salad, the coconut toasted golden brown.
5595. Asian chop salad, the kind that goes perfect in a wrap.
5596. Chocolate sauce -- homemade.
5597. The kids plop Joe in the backyard swing and push, push, push him up to the sky. Under-dogs they call it, and circle like a carnival pushing him, pushing him up to the sky.
5598. "Joe fell out of the swing," Jane calls. "Oh no, what did he hit," I say. "Just the ground," she pipes back. A kiss and he's all better.
5599. "I'm making some sort of whip," Myra says, "but I'm not gonna whip anyone."
5600. Someone gives us a gift: a bunk bed for the girls. Jane beams. She's a top bunk girl.
5601. Mom and I make our weekly coffee date, frame in the world afresh.
5602. I sew together the first steps of a new quilt. Thirty fabrics, three-hundred-twenty squares, the hum of the sewing machine frames the whole of Friday night.
5603. Fresh popcorn, the basement swept clean, Craig plays poker with his buddies.
5604. We make our annual visit to the fair. We leave just as dehydration and exhaustion take over then nap the afternoon away.
5604. I come across Susanna Wesley's definition of sin: Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things: in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself."
5605. I take note of our pastor's first sermon after his sabbatical. He quotes Dallas Willard: Hurry is the archenemy of the spiritual life.
5606. "Who I am becoming as a person," Pastor Joe says, "in the end, is much more important than what I accomplish."
5607. I let these quotes orbit in my mind and once again set my mind to worship our Lord in all I do.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer. ~Psalm 19:14