It's Christmas time in Iowa City, and sweaters wear trees. I'm super glad about this--a reason to giggle when I walk downtown through wintertime slush. You should see all the sweaters on all the trees, each with their own 70s-inspired pattern. Some hippies were very industrious. This Christmas I'm trying to be less industrious than them. I'm thinking about rest in the face of sacred cows such as The Holiday Photo Card, featuring all Webers, clean, smiling and otherwise in tact. And it's hard enough to let my left hand know that my right hand is not addressing all those envelopes this year, harder to articulate it in writing here. And that there are people who mean the world to me that I am just not. buying. gifts. for. Because it's just so much frenzy, too much all at once. I'm trying, instead to sit still sometimes, in scenes like this one:
Yes, that's a pile of laundry you see behind Tiny, and a bag of groceries that is yet unpacked. Tiny is delighted by all the chaos left haphazardly around the kitchen. And her delight is a gift, it really is because it encourages me to pause and appreciate small and unexpected things, like joy over dirty laundry and empty baskets. And--how's this for a segue?--this guy is a gift, too. That's John, my friend and graphic designer for my
book. He's pretty talented, and spent hours and hours and hours fine tuning my cover while I spazzed about details of alignment and shadows and brightness. Yeah, he should win an award. And he's also a great photographer too, and has taken most of the good pics you'll see of me and the fam on the FB and the blog. If you're in the area, you should look 'im up.
Now, this here is a family tree. Not mine, but the one belonging to my half-brother, Henry, about whom said book was actually written. When he died five years ago, I knew, in theory that there were multitudes of relatives on his father's side (other than his own half siblings and dad), but I never thought about them as real people with names and memories and sorrows like my own over losing the Boy. This month's most surprising gift was the flurry of Bertka relatives who began buzzing on FB about the book, contacting me to introduce themselves, and to claim me as one of their own. It's been bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter, to hear their memories, to see their faces and family resemblances, and to know their stories with flesh now on skeletal plotlines. So, Rita, Mike, Mary--and of course, Naomi--I thank you. (And as I write this quickly, I know I must be leaving out others--it's a big family, as you can see!)
But here's the sorrow this month. My book, my beloved darling, has been literally misaligned by the printer. Many of the copies are produced with lines all aslant (see the bottom line of text--it's much more noticeable in person). It's depressing and left me a bit numb after unpacking sixty copies at my home yesterday. The printer will replace/refund any defective copies purchased by any individual or vendor, but it's still a sadness to know that some are going out into the world all askew. The manufacturer is investigating the problem at their production sites, but these things take time, as you know. If you buy a copy and it comes to you like this, it probably will do me and the book some ultimate good if you ask for a replacement. In the meantime, you could read the free kindle version that comes with purchasing the paperback book on Amazon.
And there it is. And now I must go to preschool to pick up Tiny, and then it's off to dance class--hers, not mine.