I was sitting on my roof this morning, enjoying the view and the spiders hanging from the power cables and thinking about a YA book Getting Near to Baby, by Audrey Couloumbis. It’s about a girl whose baby sister has died and whose grieving parents have sent she and her other sister to stay with relatives. She and her sister eventually end up on the roof where they are nearer to their baby sister in heaven. There is something about roof-sitting that makes the world seem less jumbled. Maybe it’s you can see people but they may not necessarily see you. Kind of like a secret treehouse. Anyway, it’s quite a book: serious and hopeful and it makes you appreciate those talented YA writers. I read it years ago and every once in awhile I think about it.
Back to the roof: I was up there cleaning the gutters because the males in the house are: 84 years old, b) suffering from vertigo, and c) acrophobic. Mr. Halfstory is (b). It makes more sense for me to do the gutters because I like the roof. Also, I figure if Halfstory fell off the roof the family would lose: a) the more compassionate, insightful parent; b) the bigger income; and c) the guy who can catch the pitchers. If I fall off the roof they will lose a) the person who cooks dinner nobody eats; b) the person who does the laundry nobody puts away; and c) the old person who will eventually demand the bigger room instead of the garage apartment. Anyway, gutters cleaned, good book reviewed, and now I can cross something off my list.
Lest you think I don’t read anymore, I do, and am currently on The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tolan, which is good, but – wow – my non-fiction brain has been cleaved in half by Sunset and Real Simple. It’s about an unlikely friendship between a Palestinian and an Israeli, both of whom have history in one house with one significant lemon tree. Already I am reflecting on how young our country is, how mind-bending it is to have more than two centuries of culture over which to ruminate and form passions. Again, I bow to the non-fiction writer who can successfully locate the personal thread in the (what seems to me, anyway) immensely complex historical fabric. To balance this I also read, in 30 seconds, and now covet the picture book I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen. Yes, it’s for children, but it’s so sly and funny, adults will enjoy it, too. And let’s face it: kids aren’t fooled by the fake apology that often comes with someone boosting your stuff and getting caught. I think they’ll appreciate the honesty here.
Mr. Halfstory and I went Christmas shopping tonight. He can’t pass a store without buying two or three flashlights. What is it about guys and flashlights? Is it a caveman-fire ancestral memory? Do they think something will get cooked over it? We now have three more flashlights for the kids to leave on under the couch cushions, so when we need them they will be dead. Shopping did bring out the Scrooge in me again, as always. If I could give my kids oranges and homemade maple candy I probably would, and we would all sit and discuss the difference between need and want. And then we would eat our gruel and clean the iron pots. It’s weird because even though I grew up on the poorer side, I was kind of spoiled, so I’m not sure where this comes from. Halfstory grew up with more money but apparently his clothes came from whatever crappy t-shirts his friends left on his bed after their imaginary boxing tournament. He, on the other hand, will buy you a flat screen TV if you look sad. So I guess it works out that I’m doing the gutters.