The opposite of the whole silver lining thing must be what’s happening right now, which is returning from the tropics to get slammed with nasty colds. But, as the positive types of the household keep saying, “It’s a good thing we weren’t sick in Kauai.”
On other positive fronts, a new “One Stop Cough Drop Shop” has opened in our living room, complete with cough drop menu. (But don’t assume that being family gets you any free perks).
Also, when we’re all well enough to be upright and verbal at the same time, it’s a little like college dorm life, people dragging their blankets into the common space to chat and be together. And as Rose badgers us to buy cough drops, and Col recounts his dreams in long, hard-to-follow monologues, interrupting himself to add more confusing details, I find myself thinking, I really like these people.
Dan got a “Cat’s Cradle and other String Games” book from the library (inspired by Riley Kenrick in New Jersey, age 7) and has been engaging in loud self-congratulatory competitions with himself. “Didn’t think he could do it, but look…it’s…wait…it’s…THE CATERPILLAR!”
Between periodically inspecting my tonsils with a flashlight (which have taken on an eerie geologic-ness), I’ve been reading. The kind of reading you can get away with when you’re sick and your kids are over 5 and fevers keep you up half the night. So there’s that. And I wanted to recommend some books to you all before I go back to bed.
Maybe I’m the last person to hear of the novelist Elizabeth Strout, and you’re all completely in love with her already, as you should be. I’ve read The Burgess Boys and Olive Kitteridge, both which take place in Maine (and some NYC), both of which are so well written, family sagas, real and raw with just enough slivers of light to not ever be depressing. I would start with whichever your library has first.
Also, Norman Ollestad’s harrowing-amazing memoir, Crazy for the Storm, which I’m mostly recommending for the guys who read this blog. Not to be sexist, but even all the reviewers say it’s a must read for all fathers and sons. In 1979, a private plane carrying Ollestad and his father to a ski championship award ceremony crashes in the San Bernadino Mountains in winter. The crash kills his dad and the pilot, and Norman, at 11 years old, is faced with making his way down from the crash site to safety. The book is also about Ollestad’s relationship with his father, who was unendingly charismatic, offering his son adventure not available to most kids, but also continually pushing his son beyond his comfort levels.
And Fayegail Mandell Bisaccia’s memoir Dancing in My Mother’s Slippers, a journal-style book about her parents aging and dying, in which she did a beautiful job recounting the way grief is not linear, nor time-sensitive, it changes and stretches and flows and still stings many years later. (My parents keep requesting an End-Of-Life discussion with Dan and me, which is funny since they’re going to live forever).
Also, I read The Orchardist, which started out lovely and interesting, and just got more depressing and upsetting, which would have been okay if the characters weren’t so flat as to be hard to care about. And I’m aware that I may be the only person alive who didn’t love this book, so feel free to disagree.
Now I need a new book. What books have you guys been enjoying? (Also, I’ve been so out of the internet loop, what else have you been enjoying: blogs, recipes, magazines, music, videos gone viral featuring chickens in sweaters?)
ps: thanks for all your island good wishes and encouragement.
pps: Hawaiian coconut smuggled home no problem, despite Rose at the agriculture check in station, shouting, after we denied having any fruit, “BUT WHAT ABOUT ALL THE COCONUT?!!!?”