Celebration and Book List

Last time I wrote I was basking in the wake of a wonderful Valentine's Day Extravaganza with my wife, a queen among women if I may make so bold. Today I bask as well, this time in the grace shown to me by family and friends for my twenty-fifth birthday celebration.

PictureBasking and wrestling actually, because I am surely unused to the sort of excesses displayed yesterday in my honor. Jessica and I started the day off right with a trip to Courthouse Coffee in Auburn and then picked up Katers McKaters from Pville. Chipotle and then an hour of bliss in The Almost Perfect Bookstore on Douglas while Jess and Kate did secret errands. If you've never been to this store you simply must check it out: Labyrinthine bookshelves snake through a massive, muted nerdscape, books of every size and condition literally and literarily gather in piles on the floor, oozing out of volcanic mounds of book mountains. You stagger, but just for a moment, and then, rolling up your sleeves and wiping the glistening droplet of lustful glee from your lip, you dig in, not knowing what treasures you'll come across this time. This time I came away with an egregious count of four books at a whopping $18. Big spender.

The first one is called "Mortal Beauty, God's Grace: Major Poems and Spiritual Writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins". We'd read a smattering of him in Brit. Lit. II and it's so wonderful to remember and explore him. I love the obscurity and clarity he creates: words piles upon each other to such an extent that meaning comes through a glass dimly with rhymes that hop out at you from the darnest of places;

"Selves - goes its self; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came."
Next is "Flatland" by Edwin A. Abbott. I'd seen this funny little book at the beginning of the Fantasy section at Borders and I caught my attention. It's a little bit of Victorian England commentary (a hobby that delights me in George MacDonald) and Gulliver's Travels sci-fi.

"Everyman" is a Medieval Miracle Play we read an excerpt of in Brit. Lit. I. Like most things in that class (such as "Paradise Lost" and "The Faerie Queen") it was just enough to peak my interest before we were off to the next thing and it's such a joy to have these things pop into my head while exploring the landslides of The Almost Perfect Bookstore. I also like finding good and obscure religious poetry that could conceivably be composed into an oratorio of sorts.

The last one from this stop is "Flannery O'Connor; The Complete Stories". I heard of her from Christian Doctrine and am so happy to have found a 550 page, $7 compilation of this wild lady's acerbic writings.

My birthday was also a rest day, as I had just gotten back from a trip with the jazz choir from Bear River to Sonora. However, rather than sleep I took a middle road and lay on my bed, reading Hopkins, while Jess and Kate turned our dining room into a magical, balloon-strewn restaurant, and our kitchen into a French gastronomic art studio! Oh the smells! Oh the class! Top it off with Kathy coming over with wine and we were set for a wonderful, wonderful celebration. Meat! Jess even braved the frightful art of cooking meat for her husbie.

My family knows me. They really do. Kate got me a "Culinaria: Germany", wonderful cookbook that takes you on a region by region tour of Germany, from marzipan and bloodsausage to beers and duck. So fun.
Jess almost completed my George MacDonald collection with "Phantastes: A Faerie Romance" AND "Lilith", wonderful, novel-sized MacDonald-fests! I've got to finish this post quick and get to reading! Lastly, Kathy got me, wouldn't you know it, a $25 gift card to The Almost Perfect Bookstore. I need to build more bookshelves...

Alissa, my good friend and boss from Bear River, made 150 cupcakes for my Birthday celebration today. Sometimes it can be hard to accept good things from people, it's overwhelming and excessive and fragile. But I find this year that it cuts to the core of me and I gush out with such thanks, head-shaking, goofy-smiling, tear-streaked thanks.

To all my dear friends and family, thank you for these years and this day.

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