Though I don’t regret for one second any moment of the trip, I wouldn’t recommend repeating my last 36 hours. I got up at 2:30 am on Sunday (PST) to catch a 6:10 flight to the Big Easy. Arrived at 5; quick dinner with partner in crime, Mary Nethery, and our illustrator for the Two Bobbies, Jean Cassels. This was the first time EVER that the three of us had met! We enjoyed a lovely meal at Cannons, on St. Charles (with Jean’s husband, Craig, the ever-smiling chauffeur) and went over the presentation we were giving at the IRA banquet the very next day. Nervous? You bet.
A few hours sleep later, and up and at’em. All too soon, we were eating banquet salads and skipping the main dish to enjoy the Red Velvet Cake. The table decorations had been lovingly made by elementary students from a nearby school — how can you resist toilet paper Bobbie dogs and Bob cats? Mary and I drooled over the student-created fleur-d’lys plaques, little knowing that three had been reserved for the presenters.
Before we knew it, we were introduced in the most lovely manner (Marie — thank you!) and it was show time. Now, remember — not only had the three of us had never presented together before, we had only meet a few hours earlier! The inner critiquer in me found many flaws but the gracious audience forgave them all and gave us a standing ovation after we told the story of how we all came to create this book we are so proud of. We apologize to everyone who was not able to get a book signed at the conference — next time!
After the presentation, we squeezed in a quick trip to Cafe du Monde,
a tradition for Mary and I in New Orleans, and then our ever-smiling chauffeur was back to pick us up and take us to the warm and inviting Octavia Books,
down the road a bit. We were greeted by the irrepressible Pippin, true owner of the bookstore. He lets Judith and Tom think they’re running things. We gave an impromptu talk there and signed all the books in the store. Lisa Conescu, the adorable mother of our editor for Nubs, came to the signing and we had a fabulous time talking pets, pens and things New Orleans.
On your next trip to New Orleans, you MUST include a visit to Octavia Books. Yes, Pippin is adorable and quite helpful when it comes to selecting the perfect title to read, but Judith and Tom are awfully good souls. Judith had me in tears telling me their Hurricane Katrina story — they lost their house, she lost a beloved relative, but after six weeks, they were determined to re-open the store. The day Tom went to open it, there was a woman waiting for them. She had lost everything and needed books to begin healing.
Jean, Mary, Craig and I had a lovely dinner at Delmonico’s (oh, to-die-for rabbit crepes!) and then back to the hotel to try to sleep through the Saints’ fans’ celebrations, to arise at 4 for the flight home.
Yes, it’s 2009, 4 years after the hurricane. But there is still much to be recovered on the Gulf Coast. As our new best friend, Jean, put so aptly: “I kept my house, but lost my city.”
Please keep this wonderful, irrepressible city in your thoughts and prayers.