Loot Highlights

Remember in grade school, you come back from Christmas break wearing the new sweater or jeans or sneakers, all full of details for a nice game of ‘Guess what I got?’ 
Most people probably outgrow that. At least they become adult about it and learn how to offhandedly mention the highlights. “Yeah, the wife bought me a power boat. I was completely surprised!”
Sure you were; you recorded a tape of subliminal messages to play her in her sleep, and moved the down payment into your joint checking account in October.
I had a very happy year, present-wise. Beyond undefinable beautiful surprises, my favorite thing to receive is a good book. And I got a bundle. Some books I wanted, and some I’d never heard of but they look good. I also got something unique and awesome from my brother, but I’ll save that for last. Here’s a look at the books I received this Christmas. Feel free to reciprocate and boast about your loot. I’m always curious.
K, a slight explanation here. I was changing my sheet because Shit-breath (the cat) keeps jumping on my bed and I’m a little allergic to dander. So after stripping the covers off, and wandering back in to do the sheets, guess what? I came back to discover Shit-breath (she’s not my favorite) curled up smugly on my sheet. She’s getting older and seems to forget that we don’t talk. I stare her right in the eyes (universal cat sign for deep hostility) and remind her, “We don’t like eachother, remember? We’re not friends.” No dice. Gracie stubbornly appears again and again, right where I threw her off from the last time. I don’t believe in drop-kicking cats, but this attitude may be up for review.
Anyway, you go with the flow. I decide a nice crazy cat’n’book picture would firm up my cosmic destiny as a cat-lady. But as soon as I rearrange the books around the sitting cat all pretty, she lays down on them. Stupid cat. I really don’t know why I felt the need to take a picture, but if you look closely, you’ll notice the center book has the word ‘Dickin’ showing. That was an accident. Serendipity, I guess you could say. It’s a lovely book of poetry by Emily Dickinson, and not a smut advisory catalog- ‘Dick In!’ , but Gracie totally missed the joke and thought poetry would make a nice pillow.
Cats. *shrugs*
I’ll put the titles and stuff at the bottom. You hafta be conscientious with literature, you never know when an author will show up for a little ego-stroke, and end up sending you well-composed hate mail cus you talked about your retarded cat for three paragraphs instead of their mind-bending work of verbal brilliance.
(Actually, I wish that would happen. I rarely receive hate mail, and when I do, it isn’t what you’d call well-composed. )
Here’s what I got from my brother… it’s from Ecuador. He and his girlfriend spent a couple of months down there having adventures and making me jealous.
 What do you mean what is it? It’s obviously half a cuttingboard…duh.
No, it’s a chess-set, you sea monkey. A hand carved, hand-painted portable chess-set with the pieces inside. Better yet, it’s a politcally incorrect chess set. It pits the natives against the Spaniards, brown guys against white. Come on, you know that’s funny.
Why a chess set? Well, I kinda have a collection. Not unlike my father’s carved elephant collection which was everyone’s idea but his, (what do you get for Daddy Warbucks, the only man I know who gets Christmas cards from Ikea? In the absence of a materialistic hobby to feed mindlessly, we created one for him)  my chess set collection happened accidentally.
When I worked for Americorps, we had to have a leadership project. I chose to start the Yaquina Elementary Chess team up again, which had gone defunct 8 years previously. I coached it for two years, and took 15 kids (the maximum) to regionals two years running where they did incredibly well, beating everyone except Garibaldi. Garibaldi has a couple of excellent chess coaches. I should really send them Shit-breath as a mascot.
So the 2nd year I was doing that, everyone got the same idea at Christmas. This is my 4th specialized set, not counting the battered Staunton-in-a-bag set I dragged around to teach the little thugs how the game is played. You gotta have heavy standard size pieces to teach with. When they launch them at their opponents, it’s gotta leave a bruise so their parents cant challenge your authority when their little angel gets thrown in detention for a week.
You learn these things as you go.
Anyway, now I’ve got an African animal set, the Wizard of Oz, an aerie-faerie crystal adventure set and this… my politically incorrect portable Ecuadorian war set.
Geeks, bow before me. You’ve met your match. Hya!
The Book List:
The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore
The Magicians Assistant by Ann Patchett
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman 
Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith  
Wild Mind; Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson
The Anxiety of Everyday Objects by Aurelie Sheehan
High Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver (my old copy had it)
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards 

20 thoughts on “Loot Highlights

  1. I know what you mean about hating a cat and they don’t get it. That’s how it is with my daughter’s cat and me. He thinks I like him. I don’t. I keep throwing him off of my bed and he keeps jumping back on. Not only does he sleep on my bed, by the time I wake up, he is sleeping on my face. No wonder I wake up. I know he’s really trying to kill me. He knows he can smother me in my deep sleep if he’s on my face. He’s a monster. Did I tell you I don’t like him?

    You got some neat books there! Throw them this way when you’re done. Nah, you’re probably the type that keeps them all forever. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to go out and buy my own. Darn!

  2. HaHa! I almost laughed out loud while reading the part where you stared the cat in the eyes. I, unfortunately, have never had any pets. So I can’t say I empathize with you on that one! ;)

    But really, the chess set looks utterly gorgeous!

  3. Ya know, it’s perfectly acceptable to be politically incorrect, but to insinuate that sea monkeys are less than “smart”, that’s very fucked up…


  4. Awesome loot! You must have been a really good girl this year. I see the Christopher Moore book that you mentioned. Yesterday at the bookstore I fondled his book “Lamb” which is on my TBR list.

    Re: Chess. I’ve always wanted to learn. I love the look of Chess sets but sadly I can’t play.

  5. Corina- I keep most, but give Barbara Kingsolver to women I think would like her. Do you have a copy of High Tide in Tucson?

    jo- I can’t wait to read magician’s assistant. Bel Canto was amazing, but I’ve heard all her books are very different from each other. Which poets? Who are your favorite poets? Is that nosy?


    Sumedh- Not even a goldfish? Aw, I should send you shi… er, Gracie then. Some cats I like, some cats I don’t. I never tested this hypothesis, but I tend to gravitate toward boy cats and the men in my family seem to gravitate toward girl cats. They’re almost like the daemon’s in the Golden Compass.

    gingatao! :)

    rtd- I think that was an unfortunate choice of words. Next to my politically incorrect amusement, ‘sea-monkey’ probably sounded like a racial epithet. We probably *are* sea-monkeys though. Everyone. In an anthropology class I took awhile back, one of the theories growing in popularity was that human beings evolved from a primate that spent much of it’s ground time on water logged, wet, swampy ground. Therefore both helping us to evolve walking feet (cus savannah would have been hell to walk on with monkey feet. Plus the big cats would have et us) and also explaining why we’re overwhelmingly hairless. So we’re not sea-monkeys so much as puddle monkeys.

    Which sounds worse.

    An aside- primates must find us kind of embarrassing, you know? “My god, look at those things, they’re like… naked.” It’s gotta be the same sort of horror I feel when I look at one of those poor, hairless dogs that breeders have developed for reasons that remain a mystery, but ugliness seems to be a driving factor.

    bibliomom- aw, thanks. He’s some funny stuff, Moore. The fantastical and the obscene seem to find a gentle resting place in his volumes.

    & chess, I’ll teach you anytime, just holler.

  6. My husband John loooooves Chrisopher Moore. If you enjoy “Lust Lizard”, he’s written about 10 more. His favorites are “Bloodsucking Fiends” and “You Suck”, “Lamb”, and “Fluke”. Enjoy!

  7. Nice! Books always make good gifts! I got the otter “Shortcomings” by Adrian Tomine because she has a Tomine picture from The New Yorker on her wall in her room.

    As far as my haul, I got a laptop! More writing for me, hopefully!

  8. I have book envy. I’d trade the itchy scalp shampoo and conditioner that someone left in my stocking for one of your books. Ya game?

    I also have chess envy. I’m a dork who wishes she was a geek.

  9. What a great collection of books. Wild Mind is the one I often give away. I’m still reading the Magician’s Assistant. I love the book but haven’t made time to read over the Holidays. I’ve been doing more reflecting and writing. Kingsolver – I just love her. But haven’t read her new one yet. You’ve inspired me. Interesting about the chess sets. Forgive me if it’s been up a while, but I love your masthead. I’ve been behind in reading. Taking some time to catch up today. Happy Holidays. I’m so grateful to have you in my writing community. 8)

  10. Hi, back again, no not nosy LOL. I’m a huge Ann Patchett fan, I’ve read them all and I couldn’t pick a fave, well maybe The Patron Saint of Liars, I really didn’t want it to end. Contemporary poets I’m into are Annie Freud, Don Paterson, John Burnside to name a few, and all the amazing ones writing on the net, but of the old guys I love Yeats, Whitman, TS Eliot, Hopkins, Plath, Hughes, Heaney, ya da ya da…..what about you?

  11. Nice booty!… I mean, you know, bootie… what pirates call the stuff their looking for.
    I didn’t mean to insinuate you have a nice bootie. No wait, I’m sure you DO have a nice bootie, butt… i mean but… but..

    ok, next!

    i’m so diggin your chess set. It’s awesome! i’m a bit of chess geek, too.
    That’s CHESSSS set. Not chest set. Although I’m sure you have a nice chest set, too. Not that i’ve been looking. No what I mean is… well, i WOULD look. No! I mean… wait!

    what i mean is [ugh… i did it again] nice prezzies you got for Christmas Amuirin.

  12. Sarah- Thanks for dropping in. I’m looking forward to exploring many more Moores. :) You might point your husband in the direction of Tim Sandlin, if he likes Moore. Another clever, crazy author who amuses me greatly.

    jaynova- hey! ltns. books… books make the world go round. Not the earth, but the other worlds. the inside ones.

    yb- hm. you know, it’s pretty easy to learn the fundamentals of chess, enough to at least practice in life/online. Maybe I’ll have a mini-course on the blog since a few people seem to wanna learn.

    itchy shampoo? santa has quite the sense of humor, don’t he? :)

    Hi QM, oh no, that banner’s only been up about a week. I’m happy to be a part of your writing community, too. It’s a pretty awesome experience.

    jo- Ah, that one’s on my list, the patron saint. I’ll hafta check out Annie Freud, what a great name. Whitman, yes. Eliot- i love his play with words.

    I don’t really have a favorite poet so much as favorite poems, though I went through a Robert Hass phase. Enduring favorites are ‘When Day is Done’ by Longfellow, the poem that starts ‘There’s a certain slant of light’ by Emily Dickinson and Richard Wilbur’s ‘The things of this world’.

    Also some of the poets on the blogroll, and one who is on the blogroll but not his poems.

    There’s some awesome writers on here

    jules- lol, why ty. I mean… ty. You could maybe go down to ‘My Zinn and answer aos’ question there. I’m at a loss.

  13. organicseye- forgive me taking so long to respond, I get all up in my head sometimes and forget to respond to comments.

    I have read only two of these so far, the Lust Lizard and The Anxiety of Everyday Objects. They were both very enjoyable. Christopher Moore is definitely more a humor read, he edges toward wacky, and Aurelie Sheehan is a fabulous writer who, I thought… it was intriguing how her writing was very good and yet she keeps a rather interesting emotional distance between the characters and the reader. It worked for this book as the central character experiences that curious distance in most all her dealings. Very different from Kingsolver who pulls you in so deep, emotionally, even when the writing is raw.

    david- I’ve been there, I know. Is that the one with the reproduction of Stonehenge outside?

    I may have, but I don’t remember. I wonder if there’s pictures of it on the web.

  14. I loved showing off my Christmas stuff off back in grade school! Good memories. Wild Mind is a wonderful wonderful book by the way. And i love your writing

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