Daybook: Peak Summer

Outside my window: we had a weirdly rainy June, and July has been an oven, so everything is very green and extra enormous, even the weeds. Somehow the fruit trees managed a huge bloom between the late spring snowstorms, so the fruit trees are heavy with tiny pears and peaches. The roses finished blooming just as the Japanese beetles were arriving, so the beetles have thus far been thwarted. It’s like everything and everyone spent the entire last year of quarantine planning how to make up for lost time.

In the kitchen: the saga of the Seven (actually we’re down to five) Silly Eaters continues. Do you know that book? It’s my favorite Mary Ann Hoberman book, and Martha Frazee’s illustrations are perfect. One of our therapists recommended eating out more as a form of exposure therapy, and so instead of my cooking weird, crazy meals to meet multiple people’s dietary needs, we spend hours each week arguing over which restaurant to go to. Will it be too crowded? Do they use paper or cloth napkins? Are they paying a living wage to their workers? It’s fun, I tell you.

The Seven Silly Eaters

In the school room: It is summer, so I’m not actually teaching anything formally. However, Moriah is doing the Colorado Governor’s school but over Zoom, just so that every postponed fun thing we were looking forward to would be dead by the time we do it. It’s been full of lessons in “independent time management” with her family peering in the French doors to make sure she’s not playing computer games on the side and wasting this beautiful opportunity.

Somehow Jonah’s postponed summer research program managed to assemble twenty vaccinated college students who are all obsessed with biology, and he has had an amazing summer doing ornithology research, hiking in the Great Smokey Mountains, watching Planet Earth and applying for graduate school.

Owen has been working long hours lifeguarding at a very sunny, very crowded outdoor pool, or as I like to think about it, “reflecting on the benefits of higher education.” It will also make them grateful to go on vacation with us, so there’s that.

Phoebe’s summer has been a hodgepodge of pet sitting, speaking at environmental rallies, volunteering at the botanic gardens, diving, and complaining.  She won her age group’s regional diving meet last week after a very controversial, late protest lodged by the East German judge that will go down in history. Today we’re headed to the country club for the state meet. The riffraff is reminded to bring their own towels and that the use of cell phones and the wearing of denim is not allowed.

On my reading pile: Ostensibly I’m prepping for our fall classes, including Moriah’s senior English literature class and a middle school course on the economics of the Green New Deal. (Teach to their interests, right?) In reality, it means I’ve been rereading all my favorite memoirs (including Tina Fey’s Bossypants on audio) and wondering how the planet is going to survive capitalism.

In my shoes: This has been the Summer of the Hike for me. It’s not the once a week I fantasized about, but it’s certainly more hiking than I’ve done in recent memory.

Grateful: We have continued our dinnertime practice of gratitude, and it works! It works! There is far too much to list here, but I am grateful for the chance to celebrate my dad’s birthday with him, some vacation on the horizon, being back at church in person, Moriah’s dance company’s fantastic production of Giselle, and an army of tiny origami pigs.

Praying: to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

Peace to you today, friends.

Seven Quick Takes: Graduation #2

One: it’s unbelievable to me, but we are graduating child #2. We were able to host a senior recital at a church near us. Both the space and the weather were perfect: open windows let the evening light, fresh air and birdsong in; we had room to sit distanced from one another; and the piano was beautiful. We had an opportunity to thank of three of Owen’s four music teachers. All in all, it felt miraculous on many levels.

My heart is very full. There were many days- months- when I didn’t think we would get here. I am reminded of Owen’s asking us in 7th grade, “What would you think if I went to public high school?” I grieved then, both that my daily time with them would be less than what I expected, but more that Owen’s passion hadn’t revealed itself. Owen couldn’t see the benefit to homeschooling. Six months later, when the time came to choose a school, Owen told us, “I only asked what you would think. I didn’t say I wanted to go.” But the reality was that in the intervening six months, they had discovered music. It was one step on a long, hard road, and music often was not enough- but I am so grateful we are here today.

At this point Owen doesn’t plan to study music in college, but I am so grateful for the last four years and the time they devoted to it. It has more than repaid them.

Two: Jonah was home for a week, and it was lovely. It was also so busy I could barely see straight. He left this weekend for a summer environmental studies research program in Kentucky. Two month ago, Sam and I started piling his summer supplies on his desk and felt ridiculous for doing it so early. However when the tornado of the week began, I was very grateful everything was ready.

Three: Phoebe’s summer plans are coming together. She will continue her environmental justice work and was thrilled to be invited to speak at a recent rally at the Capitol.

She was accepted into the Denver Botanic Garden’s Horticulture volunteer program. She was hoping for 30 hours/wk, but it turns out she will get 2-4 hours/wk. It’s not enough, but it’s something. It will be such a relief for her to leave the house. Also, she got her first vaccine last week, so there’s that. I am so grateful for the vaccine.

Call Lorilynn’s truck for all your ice cream sandwich needs.

Four: My friend Lori is now running a food truck for ice cream sandwiches. Hooray! Not only did we get to go to the soft opening, we got to eat ice cream sandwiches! Hooray! And fate conspired to give us this super fun photo of us in our matching jackets. Hooray!

The matching team jackets once belonged to my father-in-law.

Five: I finally had my first mammogram. And colon cancer screening. And DEXA scan. Turning fifty is no joke, friends.

Six: My neighbor offered his & his son’s services to lay down new mulch and dig the dandelions out of our front yard. (And two days later, another neighbor asked if he could come dig them out for me for free.) So the front yard looks good. However, the back yard is a forest of dandelions.

Not the front yard.

Seven: Now that summer is officially here, I’m hoping to reinstate some routine into my days. Daily prayer, yoga, walking/running, reading, cooking, hiking, gardening, preparing for fall school… and tea on the porch. Want to join me?

Daybook, Easter Week, 2021

Outside my window: the tulips and daffodils are up, but not yet blooming. My neighbors’ (fertilized) grass is dark green. Ours: not so much. The trees are on the brink of brilliance, though the branches I brought inside for our Easter tree are blooming.

In the kitchen: I am unmoored. Some days I make multiple dishes that have nothing to do with each other (Tuesday: roasted feta, kielbasa and halloumi with brussels sprouts and carrots, and green lentil mujadra with a side of farro) and other days I can’t bring myself to make anything at all (tonight: Owen brought us Chipotle.) I feel like I have unpredictable toddlers again, who one day will eat only string cheese and the next, reject string cheese as if it were poison. (Only a hangry teenager is stronger than a hangry toddler.)

In the school room: Phoebe and I are reading Connie Willis’s Crosstalk. Whenever Moriah hears me reading it, she snuggles up with us to listen. Phoebe and I have been building a raised bed for an herb garden. Our eyes were bigger than our yard, however, and we haven’t filled it with soil yet because we can’t figure out where to put it.

Seventh grade this week included both basic stoichiometry and plans for a Rube Goldberg machine. Our junior is super busy with both the SAT and ACT next week, and then has just two weeks until her AP exams, and our senior has only 5 weeks left of high school.

On my reading shelf: I have been plowing through Jenny Colgan’s books– so far I’ve liked all I’ve read. Her characters are just so likeable, even when they’re making stupid mistakes. I am working slowing through The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron and Make Change by Shaun King.

And a dear friend sent this poem by John Updike, Seven Stanzas at Easter. I have been reading it several times a day.

All the other things: I just got a jury summons again. It feels like just last week I was called last–and was the last jurist dismissed for a murder trial– but of course it was before the pandemic started. This time I won’t try to take my knitting in.

And I’ve just renewed my medical license. Colorado is requiring all physicians renewing to do several hours of training on how to combat the opiate crisis. It was very interesting and of course important but on top of everything else, just felt like one more straw…

However, it’s not all straw. One fun moment from the week: instead of hosting an Easter egg roll at the White House this year, the administration chose to honor frontline health care workers by giving them commemorative eggs, and our clinic was chosen to receive them. There was supposed to be a big ceremony at the end of March, but all the flights into Denver were canceled that day. When I got to work this week, my egg was on my desk.

I’m grateful for: Naps. Faithful friends. Spring. Our small group. Our excellent medical team. Vaccines and all the people involved in making/administering them. (Colorado is currently vaccinating anyone over the age of 16. If you want to get on my clinic’s waiting list for a vaccine, you can sign up here.) The healing of Mandy’s elbow.

I’m praying for: those who mourn; truly good use of our new church space; the mental health crisis in America’s teenagers; those who are lonely or frightened; graduating seniors; the grace to operate from a place of abundance and faith, rather than scarcity and fear.

Seven Quick Takes: Are We There Yet?

One: It’s been a year since Jonah came home for spring break with his laptop and backpack of clothes and then found out he wasn’t going back. As we all know, a year is a long time to be doing… whatever this is we’re doing. It’s not quite perpetual quarantine, but I sure hope this isn’t the new normal.


I definitely had more side effects with the second dose of vaccine: go, immune system, go!

Two: There are signs of hope: vaccinations are rolling out, and I’m so encouraged by the research showing their efficacy. I’m not ready to eat at an indoor restaurant yet, but I did hug my fully-vaccinated parents (and was so happy, I forgot to take a photo.) Jonah is back at college- it doesn’t look like it did pre-pandemic, but he’s on campus and is so grateful for that.

Three: Work is… weird. For everyone’s safety, our office has moved most of our visits to telehealth. It’s great for chronic disease management (looking at you, diabetes!) but terrible for well-child care. So much of my diagnosis is really made through history, but there are some things even a good history can’t tell you. Every day, I see four or five people who have survived their own personal COVID-19 infection and at least one who has lost a loved one to it.


My neighbors made care packages for my medical assistants at work.

Four: I have been walking. I developed a bad case of metatarsalgia in September and haven’t run since. Thanks to a used-car’s worth of orthotics, my foot pain is, better, but I’m still not running. Walking instead is different, but good. I can definitely go longer, and it can be more social. I just passed 200km for the year so far.

A cold walk on New Year’s Day with two of my favorite people.

Five: Owen picked a college. Now we just have to get them through the next seven months till it starts. Early action (that’s the one where you apply early, hear early, but aren’t committed to a school you can’t afford before you get the aid package) is really great. I wish more schools offered it as an option.

I realize what a gift this is: that my kids have had choices, and that they received enough financial aid and scholarships to make it possible for them to choose based on preference and not just dollars. But it also feels like major vindication to me, after all those years of wondering if our choice to homeschool would hamstring my kids. It hasn’t, and for that I am enormously grateful.

Six: The girls and I have been watching The Great British Bake-Off. It is the first time I’ve really appreciated “reality TV.” Now we walk around the house saying things like, “Just a few minutes shy of a perfect bake” and “it’s not bad at all” and craving self-saucing pudding.

Seven: So here we are in 2021, which so far looks a lot like 2020.

As much as the pandemic has been difficult on so many levels, it gave us a bonus ten months together as a family. The massive amounts of time at home together showed our fault lines and took away many of the distractions we’d been using to ignore our problems. For months of 2020, it was just the six of us, the cast of Community and a handful of mental health professionals we were lucky enough to find early on.

February flew by in a haze of doctor’s appointments, parental surgeries and hospital visits. Here’s hoping “in like a lion, out like a lamb” applies to more than weather.

Pandemic Games

The longer I go without writing in this space, the more overwhelmed I feel about trying to dive back in. So I’m going to ignore how deep the water looks (and how much life has changed over the past 10 months) and just start writing.

Early on in the pandemic, Sam’s family decided to connect via Zoom, but given the sheer number of us and the age range (ages 1-77) we had to be creative about how to do that. We came up with some great ideas, and I want to share them here in case your family has been struggling to make your group Zoom (or Hangouts) time a success.

The Name Game

This is a game we play often when we get together, and it works online as long as everyone also has a phone (or an adult nearby has a phone.) We choose a theme (eg, Disney characters, or historical characters, or desserts) and designate one person as the Writer. Everyone else chooses a name (eg, Gaston, Rasputin, or Tiramisu) that fits in the category and reports it to the Writer one by one. The Writer records them all (just the names- no need to write down who chose each) and then reads the list twice to the assembled group. No worries if three people chose the same name: there will just be three people named Elsa.

It’s very important there’s no table talk about the names during the reading (i.e., no one asks, “Who’s LaFou?”) because that will cement the name in everyone else’s head, and there’s an advantage to choosing a forgettable name.

Once all the names have been read, the guessing begins. The goal is to be the last person guessed.

Player 1 guesses by asking another player if they are one of the names that were read. For example, “Phoebe, are you The Beast?” If she is, she joins Player 1’s team, Player 1 whispers their name to her, and they address another player to see if they can guess their identity and gather that player to their team. If she is not, then it is her turn to guess someone else, and so on. Each time an identity is successfully guessed, the players join together, creating larger and larger teams, until there are only two teams left trying to guess the still-unknown player’s names.

In person, we move around the room and reassort based on who the teams are. On Zoom, that couldn’t happen, but it still worked. This is a good game with lots of kids and adults of different ages. Only one person has to be able to read, and the slight timing disconnect online didn’t matter.

The Great Family Bake-Off

Five groups took part in this, and each one was tasked with making a dessert within a time limit using only the ingredients they had on hand. One household was designated as the judges. (They judged mostly on presentation, since we had people participating from multiple states.)

Movie Trailer

One challenge was for each household to make a trailer for a summer blockbuster movie. (We used an app, but several other groups made theirs simply by cutting a pasting video footage.)

Scavenger Hunt

I made a scavenger hunt, in which each household had fifteen minutes to find/make as many items on the following list as they could. (I recommend assigning assigning points generously.)

  • greatest number of mismatched spoons (1 pt each)
  • dirtiest stove
  • funniest t-shirt
  • smallest Christmas tree
  • best pet costume
  • moldiest food
  • most inspiring fridge magnet
  • weirdest keychain
  • Easter candy
  • keys (1 point each)
  • condiments from take-out restaurants (1 pt each)
  • creature from outer space
  • most complete puzzle
  • most expired food
  • beach sandals
  • a snowball
  • the most Draw 4 cards from Uno
  • a rainbow of somethings (crayons, t-shirts, etc.)
  • the most annoying toy sound

The best part of this challenge was enjoying each other’s offerings for each category.

Board Games

We’ve played a variety of games over Zoom: Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary being the most successful.

After schools restarted in the fall, many of them virtually, more serious Zoom fatigue has slowed down our online adventures, but we’re game for some more, if you have some to recommend. How has your family used technology to connect while far apart?

New Year’s Thoughts, 2021

Normally at the close of a year, I spend a little time looking back at what worked and what did not. I like to examine the year’s goals (which recently have been hopes for tweaks in my routine more than resolutions, per se) to see what was “successful.”

But 2020 isn’t a year I can evaluate that way. I haven’t even looked back at last year’s “goals.”  Any metric I would normally apply to 2020 feels pointless. Did Sam and I increase our giving to causes that are important to us?  If we did, I’m sure it wasn’t enough. Did we move the needle toward a more sustainable life at home? Did I write as much as I’d hoped, or meet my exercise goals? No, I didn’t: there was an f-ing pandemic. I didn’t exercise, or write, or spend quality time with my people in any of the ways I had hoped in 2020.

But 2020 was still a success, and I know this because I wrote it down in real time. Day by day, I recorded in a 10-cent spiral notebook (3 of them, actually) exactly what happened last year. In excruciating detail. I can look back and tell you the day that school was canceled. The day that one of my long-time patients died. The day my daughter and I were supposed to leave for Spain (and instead stayed—you guessed it—at home.) The day my friend entered isolation for COVID-19, and the day she emerged. The day I ran/walked a 10K by myself instead of in solidarity with my BRF and 998 strangers.

I can tell you that one of my kids became an activist and somehow used the pandemic as a vehicle to fuel her work. One of my kids had the courage to start working through years of hurt I’d caused him and honored me by letting me do that with him. One of my kids wrote some fantastic college entrance essays and is seeing it pay off.  One of my kids asked for help, and we listened.

Whether you are a Big-Picture Goals person, a Small Habits Reap Big Rewards person, or a person who thinks New Year’s is a crock, I’d encourage you to write it down.  Instead of (or in addition to) looking forward at goals we may or may not accomplish this month or year, take a few minutes each day and record what did happen.  It might be a list, or a doodle, or some stream of consciousness notes. You don’t have to start it January 1, or even the first of any month.  Start today, whenever that is.  Write down three things you’re grateful for, even if those are as mundane as indoor plumbing, a really good apple and the morning quiet before everyone else wakes up. At the end of the week, or the month, or the year, you might discover amid the chaos there was more to celebrate than you thought.

What worked for me in 2019

What didn’t work for me in 2019

What worked (or not) for me in 2018

What worked in 2017

What worked for me in 2016

What worked (or not) in 2015?

What worked (or not) in 2014

Do you keep a journal? What is your favorite part of it?

Daybook: mid-October

Outside my window: our maple tree is gorgeous. The crabapple already turned crimson and shed its leaves, and the maple is molting. But its color is still fantastic. Unfortunately, the warm, dry weather has been working on the side of the wildfires. I’ll trade my fall color for wet cold if it will put out the fires.

In the kitchen: this is birthday week, so the kitchen is full of treats. I’m trying to decide if cake with Spring Fling cake counts only as dessert or also as breakfast since it has zucchini and strawberries.


Yep, that’s a lot of candles.

After traveling, my body is protesting a lack of fiber. Today I made oatmeal bread and Greek Lentil and Spinach Soup with Lemon. Even if the kids don’t like it, it will be just what my body needs.

In the garden: the roses have revived now that the heat has passed. Also, the Japanese beetles seem to have died in that shockingly early snow/light freeze, so nothing is currently eating the roses. They’re gorgeous. I still have green tomatoes and butternut squash I’ll have to bring in before the temperature drops to the 20’s this weekend. Also, my spinach isn’t going to plant itself.

In the school room: Next week we start The Merchant of Venice. (And yes, Moriah, they do stand around in the street and argue a lot.) There was confusion over some concepts in AP Calc, so I hired a tutor. How lucky I am to have a college student/math tutor living in our basement!


Art from Zoom school.

In my shoes: I’m dealing with some foot pain that I think is going to need an X-ray and some extended rest, so the running miles are paused. I am walking, though, including a beautiful walk this weekend at the Lincoln Marsh outside Chicago. It was breathtakingly gorgeous.

Grateful: for a masked, socially distant birthday gathering with Sam’s family this weekend.


Only two of us in this photo are 50.

I had the opportunity to join a book club this week as they discussed one of my books, Lost Things. It is such a joy to connect with readers.

Colorado has universal vote-by-mail, for which I am so grateful. We have an enormous ballot that encompasses everything from President to local initiatives (should we reintroduce gray wolves? anyone?) and I can’t imagine trying to manage all of the issues and people in a ballot box with a line of people waiting behind me.

On my mind: Our Bible study just finished discussing Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist. I highly recommend this book for a group discussion. He presents the concepts of racism in its many, varied forms and triangulates them with academic vocabulary, historical context and Kendi’s own personal journey. It’s not an easy book by any means, but easy books on systemic racism aren’t going to get us where we need to go as a nation.

Praying for: Mandy. Judy. Heidi. Justine & Aaron. Lori. Families. People who are lonely. The sick and those in quarantine, waiting to know if they will get sick. Teachers and parents who don’t want to be teachers. Students. Firefighters and those whose homes have been lost or threatened. Essential workers. People without work. Health care providers and public health officials. Justice. The end of systemic racism. The election.

7QT: early October

Items 1-4: School continues.

Economics: we just unpacked the 2008 financial crisis and the TARP. One of my daughters is ruthless in Monopoly, and every time I remind everyone, “it’s only a game,” my budding economist reminds me the real world is more and more like a brutal game of Monopoly.

Botany: our fall seeds have arrived, and we will be planting soon. I’m saving my butternut squash and Roma tomatoes, but Phoebe pulled everything out of hers in anticipation of using her (newly repaired- thanks, Heidi!) cold frame. Thus: fried green tomatoes. The worms are still wriggling around out in their bin. I’m not sure how much they like the swing from 48 degrees in the morning and 84 degrees in the afternoon. We also did a unit on tulips.

AP Literature & Composition: We’ve decided that literary annotation is like showing your work in math: no one likes it, but it’s necessary. Yesterday I was accused of running a sexist literature class because with the exception of some of our poetry, we’re reading only female authors. Whatever. She’s got her whole life to read Hemingway.

7th grade: the mishmash that is the rest of 7th grade continues. Some serious math discouragement has given way to a new confidence. She took her first “real” exam (and then had her first experience with grading on a curve.) On Sept 25, the Global Day of Climate Action we joined a youth rally run by the Colorado Climate Strike, Indigenous Youth Council and 350 Colorado. It was so good. She continues to cook through an enormous vegetarian cookbook, and my friend Danielle gave her a sourdough tutorial. If you need her, she’ll be feeding her starter. Or making sourdough bread. Or sourdough pancakes. Or sourdough crackers. Sourdough, anyone?

Five: Quote of the week:

Papa and Grandma don’t overspoil us. They spoil us the perfect amount.

Moriah, 16

Six: After an early storm that brought snow but didn’t manage to kill anything in my yard, we are having a beautiful fall. (Yes, I probably just jinxed us.) We replaced the redbud tree that died in a brutal spring cold snap with… (drum roll please) another redbud. This one already looks better than the first one, though- somehow it never overcame its identity as Charlie Brown’s redbud tree.

Seven: We went up to the mountains for an afternoon to watch elk. Why is this always such a highly satisfying activity? We also found an open bookstore, which we greatly enjoyed. There were, however, lots of tourists wearing Nebraska and Iowa t-shirts and no masks. (That part we did not enjoy.)

7QT: Beginning of School Edition

One: We’ve had two weeks of school so far. Week one, grades 7 and 12 started. (So far, 12th grade has consisted of my asking, “You good, bro?” several times a day in the 12th grader’s general direction.)

Two: This week, 11th grade began. I needed that extra week to pull together the final details of her AP Lit and (non-AP) economics classes. In order to prepare for Lit, I had about 834 hundred books spread out on the kitchen table. 11th grader came, picked up The Merchant of Venice, and announced, “I think I’ve read this one. Don’t they stand in the street and yell at each other?”

The next day, she said, “This can’t be the one I’m thinking of.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Duh, Mom,” she said, “it’s Venice. They don’t have streets.”

Three: Today’s economics discussion was on Specialization and Trade. We played Settlers of Catan as our class activity. Also: anyone who says economics is purely a descriptive science and is inherently amoral is full of it. I’ll go the mat on this one.

Four: Yesterday’s AP Literature discussion was on my all-time favorite essay, Expedition to the Pole by Annie Dillard. (Seriously. If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s in The Annie Dillard Reader and in Teaching a Stone to Talk. Go ahead. I’ll wait…)

Oh, you’re back. Did you love it? My 11th grader did, and we spent an hour talking about the extended metaphors and how the structure of the essay led to the meaning. I think this is going to be my favorite class.

Five: 7th grade is doing “advanced botany” this year, which includes vermiculture (a.k.a, composting with worms.) I have been waking up in the wee hours of the morning imagining red wigglers taking over the house, which seems a little premature since the worms are still in a FedEx truck somewhere between here and Pennsylvania.

One of our dearest, earliest homeschool mentors told us a story eighteen years ago about a homeschooling talk they’d heard at a convention. The details have become somewhat apocryphal, but the gist was that one strategy for learning is to say, “Why not?” every time your kid wants to explore something new. We started with gardening, then added a cold frame, and now worms. I’ll keep you posted on where it lands us next.


preparing the worm bin

Six: The Denver Art Museum continues to be one of my favorite places. Their exhibits are so thoughtful, so thought provoking. The latest is Norman Rockwell: Imagining Freedom, and the curation of the exhibit taught me so much I didn’t know about WW2 and Rockwell as an artist. If there’s any way you can make it there (they’re doing timed entries and requiring masks), do.

Seven: Earlier this month, we visited one of our favorite local bookstores that had just reconfigured and reopened to make more distance in the store. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to browse bookshelves. We spent more than an hour seeing old [printed] friends and discovering future reads. All of us were so deeply happy to be there.

My job was to help them find the sections where books they’d been wanting were located. After I done that twice for my own kids, another random customer came over to me to ask if I could help her find a book, and I had to admit that I didn’t work there, I was just a mom.

Thanks for reading! I hope your adventures- be they homeschooling or with extreme botany or Adam Smith (that jerk)- are wonderful. Check out This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes.

Provision

Photo credit: Lourene Roode

Anyone tired of the pandemic yet? Yeah, me too. It feels like a repeating cycle of the same mistakes: denial, blame, and no one wanting to do what it takes to get it under control. Everything seems so big, it’s hard to pray. As the numbers of cases and deaths climb, my prayers get smaller and smaller. It reminds me of my experience during the cholera epidemic in Haiti. You can read more in The Well.