I didn’t expect the level of wit and intelligent competence that they possess. In my mind they are all 4 years younger than in reality, and the youngest still unborn. Her cherubic existence feels of a miraculous quality.
Sis and I drove from Pa to Ohio this morning and picked them up from the neighbors, all 5 of them, along with their individual suitcases and blankets. I love it that Wanda is the sort of Mom who can appreciate the wonder of an overnight sleep away from home WITH a suitcase and does not balk at the small absurdity.
I made lasagna for dinner, and they ate disproportionately to their size, with compliments. Kellis supposes that if we had a King, and if I cooked for him, that he might not fire me. (He quickly picked up that fire is my word, my go to lame humor).Although Kellis did point out that Mom does not usually put peppers in the sauce, but it’s not a problem. And it really did not seem to be a problem, I repeatedly scooped out more helpings . Except to Nelly, who they report as never eating enough to keep even half of a bird alive.
They kept up a string of Knock knock jokes between mouthfuls. Knock knock. Whose there? Yea. Yea who? You sound like a cowboy! And the smallest one said, knock knock. So I said who’s there? Pineapple. Pineapple who? The answer- nothing. This most amused me. They all considered it a legitimate joke but had no explanation, it was just funny.
A toothpick and marshmallow construction sat on the table and I told them a story, how once I was in a competition to create the highest structure using spaghetti, marshmallows, tape, and string. I had lost the game, and I earnestly explained to them the contrasts between my efforts and the winning structure. Someone chuckled and when I looked up Kellis said, kindly but condescendingly, ‘you are really not good at describing construction’
I laughed a lot at that because it is a dominant failure of mine. But I said, protestingly, ‘did you know, I’m building a cabin?’ He said, ‘yea, but you probably have 15 grown men helping you. Me and Patrick could do it all by ourselves and we’re just kids!’ Though I did not pause to count the number of grown men helping me, 15 is a close enough number to hold me silent in the face of that remark.
Later in the evening we commenced the ceremony of Bed Time Snacks. Cold cereal or yogurt with honey. They ate with the same vigour as before. Afterwards as I was urging them up the stairs towards sleep Kellis called from the table, ‘just wait! Nelly had 3 and I only had 2!’ ‘2 what?’ ‘Helpings of cereal’ he said.
After much shifting of sleeping arrangements, we left them with one girl in top bunk, two boys in bottom bunk, and two girls on the floor in their Mom and Dad’s room. Some of the beds didn’t have sheets on and they swore that sheets, like pillows,are unnecessary and seldom used. Their sleeping habits are admittedly peculiar, but I wasn’t convinced here so I spread sheets. Later I ran a mandatory checkup. They had decided that all 3 kids were going to sleep on the bottom bunk because it made more sense. They were peacefully sprawled, toes by ears, prepared for sleep. And who was I to disturb a child prepared for sleep? Patrick had even given up his life as a sloth hanging from the bed for the sake of lying on it as a human ready to sleep.
The next evening I supervised a fire lighting out by their teepee because I sympathize with people who desire fire and have long been denied it. I was feeling that way myself after a shortage of lounging by fires while in Greece. Occasionally my shift in camp would extend longer than normal and dusk would fall and I would see small olive wood fires along the hillside. But if I was still there that late it meant I was busy and there was no time to gaze into flames, talking and drinking chia. I had one lovely fire evening down by the sea with friends but that was one in three months. It was time again. So we lit one, and reveled in it.
Kellis was cuddling a large cat by the fire. I was told that its name is Sweetheart. I asked why. (She bites me. Doesn’t seem too sweet) He said, ‘well, I couldn’t name her Whitey because that’s what Savannah named her grey cat!’ This struck me as a ridiculous situation. ‘Why on earth did you name the cat that isn’t white, Whitey?!’ With dignity they informed me that the name just fit that cat. I objected. So Savannah said, ‘look, your name is Lily, but you dont look like a lily. At all. You actually look like an elephant. But your still named Lily!’ At that point I left the matter drop. Don’t question the names of children’s cats.
Parents have reentered the scene and Sis has departed. I remained here, with thoughts of being useful for the week. I bought the kids a handsaw when I was sent to the hardware store for paint. Because I also sympathize with children who long for saws. Essential to my childhood, we wouldn’t have succeeded in building a small village without one.
One night I helped Kellis fork silage from the silo. We climbed the ladder and worked by the light of a flashlight in a tall concrete sphere. This was a holy experience for me, this concrete is a steeple and God is there. Dont ask questions. How should I answer why God chose that place?
To celebrate Roger’s birthday we went to Das Dutch Kitchen. My mum worked here before she married my philosopher of a father and became what she’d never imagined.