"Can I do a knock-knock joke on you?" Myra says. "It'll be really quick."
There in fleece jammie shirt and pink running shorts, the only jammie shirt/short combination she could find, Myra laces her fingers together and turns her hands inside out. Knock-kneed, she does a half-squat.
"Okay," I say. There at the table, I lean on my elbows, a book sprawled open and half finished between them.
"It's one that Jane always does on me," she says. She rolls her eyes up and to the left as if tossing a pinball over her shoulder.
"Okay," I smile.
"Knock-knock," she says.
"Abraham Lincoln, who?" I say.
"You don't know who Abraham Lincoln is?" she says a grin unspooling. I giggle, Abraham Lincoln, but that grin, wide like a tomato split from ripeness, it lingers past the punchline.
"That's a pretty good one," I say.
"Yeah," she says. I stare, there leaned on an elbow. She blooms and retracts like a geyser, a fountain. She blinks, something slow and quiet. And if simple attention could give nourishment, there it is. In a moment, we've consumed something intimate as breath and formless as water. Manna.
"Okay, go get in bed," I say. And she does.
6018. Lucy slices a pile of apples from the neighbor's tree. She hums as she fills her bike helmet with the slices to share with cousins out front.
6019. "Jesus," Lucy prays, "I pray you make our country strong and healthy and whole, but not the kind of strong where everyone is cruel."
6020. The kids clean out Craig's shop.
6021. Then, they help him move all the things in his classroom to the middle of the room so the walls can be painted.
6022. Jane tries to "help" one of the other kids more than they want. "Just wait for him to ask for help," I say. "But he has a little problem with pride," she says, "he will never ask for help." We still grant him the dignity or at least the adult correction.
6023. "Thanks for birthing so many hard workers," Craig says to me. Bliss.
6024. We attend a leadership seminar with all of our kids.
6025. We finally FINISH the library, studio, and all the school supplies for starting school tomorrow. Everyone is so excited.
6026. I get a couple of new shirts that stretch all the way around by growing belly.
6027. Chocolate. The simple note of love that a chocolate bar sends.
6028. We make sleep the priority it should be and schedule it into our days as a strict discipline.
6029. I continue to recover from heat exhaustion. Each day I gain a little strength.
6030. We have a special dinner to celebrate the end of summer break and beginning of school. It even includes mac-n-cheese cheetos.
6031. Another year, another season, I note the gradual turning of the days. It's almost as if I could see the ripening of each child.