A Beacon of Light

New Orleans can be a real bummer these days. As you all know my girlfriend’s mother recently moved back to New Orleans and I’ve been trying to help her get her house back to a livable condition. We’re slowly getting there, but everything is a fight. This city is a constant reminder of loss and sadly it seems that nothing is easily done…everywhere you turn there are miles and miles of paperwork with a big “no” waiting at the end. Megan’s mom is struggling to make it and I know she constantly asks herself why she came back here. This is such a wonderful city and all of us who are born and raised here know and love this city for what it is…and that’s why we stay for so little.

We’re one of the lucky ones. While we still haven’t touched our house after 2 years because of FEMA’s incompetence and constant fights with them, we were able to find affordable rental property. So we are at least comfortable. There are a couple of things that still sadden me though about our situation. Of course, I feel for my mom. Our house was everything she had and we’ve been through this 4 times before. Now our house is just sitting there, empty and gutted and there is nothing we can do. The other thing that saddened me was the loss of a few things that I didn’t think I could replace.

I wrote a post a while back on some new bookshelves that we bought for this house we’re renting. I was very excited to finally take my books out of the boxes that they’ve been in since Katrina and put them back on the shelves. However, I was saddened when I saw how few books I had left after Katrina had claimed many and among them were some of my absolute favorites – Chiefly, my set of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Well today a package arrives at my doorstep and I can’t begin to explain the outpouring of emotion I felt when there was a brand new boxset of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings along with my prize from Carl’s Once Upon a Time Challenge. Carl, I honestly can’t find the right words to express my gratitude and heartfelt appreciation for this. I thought that I had lost something that was irreplaceable, but they have been replaced by something that will always mean so much more. These books not only represent some of the finest pieces of literature ever written, but they truly come at a time when I needed a beacon of light when things were looking pretty damn dark down here. Carl had told me about these before, but they were just so much more than I was expecting and I felt bad accepting anything at all in the first place! But I will truly cherish these and I’m so glad to have them back on my shelf. They look just right.

For that matter, all of you bloggers have been so wonderful since I’ve met you and have gotten me through some pretty rough times whether you knew it or not šŸ™‚

Oh yeah, the rest of the prize package was pretty cool too! I got my Terri Windling print which I love and will get framed as soon as some money comes my way. I’m sure I’ll wear the shirt out in no time at all, and the Stainless Steel Envelope O’ Goodies is so cool!!! I love things like that. It’s a grab bag of comic samplers, post cards, bookmarks, cards, and my very own copy of The Stainless Steel Rat!!! I’ll be reading that one right after Love in the Time of Cholera which is up next.


21 Responses

  1. Wow, that got there quick! I love the way you took the picture of the books with the Poppets on the end!

    I want to make sure and public absolve you from the sin of not liking Stainless Steel Rat if it turns out to not be your kind of thing. I really recommend reading it in the trilogy version that I first read it in as the second story follows right in line with the first and they make a nice pair (The Stainless Steel Rat’s Revenge). But if it isn’t your type of thing that is perfectly okay. It will always remain a favorite.

    Glad everything (appears) arrived safely. As for the LOTR books, you know that it is my pleasure!

  2. oh wow how great chris!!! I’m glad your package arrived without damage!! that would have been a heartbreaker to get the books damaged by the mail!!

    The Hobbit was the book that got me so hooked on Fantasy! You would have had a good laugh at me when I read it.. I couldn’t put it down! My X walked in and caught me stiring spagetti sauce with my face in the book! heh.. that’s one book that will always be special to me!

    So cool! I’m happy for you!

    I hope you’ve been clicking the links of others that entered my contest! Some really good feelings about special characters.. it’s made me feel vindicated!

  3. Way to go, Carl.

    And how great for you, Chris. I can’t even imagine losing my books. I’m glad you’re rebuilding in more ways than one.

    I was in New Orleans back in 1984 and absolutely fell in love with the city. Katrina broke my heart. I wish all of you better days ahead.


  4. What a great package. I’m so glad you get to surround yourself by books again. The bulk of mine have been in storage for almost 2 years now. When I moved in with a scarce dozen, I felt bereft and had to start accumulating replacements immediately.

  5. I thought the same thing Carl…hats off to the postal service! The poppets were very happy to see this purchase and clung to the books šŸ˜‰

    I think I’ll love the Stainless Steel Rat based on the cover…that cover rocks! It reminds me of those great old pulp sci-fi books.

    It all arrived in perfect condition. Thanks again Carl!

    Deslily, LOL, that would’ve been pretty bad if they would’ve been ruined by the mail!

    Same goes with me for The Hobbit. I fell in love with that book and couldn’t put it down either and I’ve gone back to it many times. It was the first Tolkien book I read and on a certain level, will always remain my favorite. HA!!! Stirring spaghetti sauce while reading The Hobbit…I can see it perfectly!

    I have been clicking the links and they’ve all been great. I saw that Becky’s favorite character was Ender! That made me so happy as Orson Scott Card is of course my fav author. We both enjoyed discovering a new Card fan šŸ™‚

    CJ, Carl’s an amazing guy, huh? There’s all kinds of rebuilding going on here. Very, very slowly…but it is happening.

    Thank you for the well wishes CJ. I’ve always been in love with this city for as long as my earliest memories. That’s the hardest part of all of this is seeing memories (or the places where memories were built) literally washed away. But we’re all moving on!

    Kim, It was the greatest feeling in the world when I started unpacking my books! It was like having a big reunion with all of my old friends…that’s pretty sad, huh? lol. I did my fare share of accumulating new books and I’m ashamed to say how many new books I’ve bought since Katrina, but it’s definitely over a hundred….I’m sure that you’re looking forward to the day when you can unpack your books šŸ™‚ The best thing that I found about doing that was that I had forgotten about half of the books that I had and it was like acquiring new books! Great fun šŸ™‚

  6. Lovely package of goodies, Chris.

    Also – big virtual hug from me to you.

  7. wow!!! that is very cool!

    no, cool isn’t the word for it. its more than that. it is extremely special.

    isn’t it amazing how things have transformed – how you lost something special, only to get something even more special in return. that is a real beacon of light.

  8. wow, this is beyond great. How generous of Carl, and how nice that it reached out at a time when you needed a beacon of light.

    What happened to New Orleans is so sad šŸ˜¦ And it’s even sadder that not much seems to be done about it by the proper authorities.

    And I can’t imagine how it must have felt to lose your books. But now at least this set was replaced by something more special, a symbol of your friendship with Carl šŸ™‚

    I just LOVE the picture with the Poppets!

  9. Thanks Quix šŸ™‚

    JP, It is really special! I would’ve never seen something something like that coming…it’s one of life’s little surprises that puts a smile on my face šŸ™‚

    Nymeth, It’s uncanny that it came at the time that it did! Carl never ceases to amaze me with his generosity. One hell of a guy! (meant in a good way of course!) My bookshelf does indeed feel a little more complete with those on the shelf again šŸ˜€

  10. Your poppets look like they’re singing an aria of joy and welcome to your new additions (nice picture!)

  11. Marina, They were indeed singing an aria of joy…how’d you guess šŸ˜‰ lol!

  12. Reading your post makes me realise how lucky I am, and how I often take things for granted. I’m looking at my own bookstores, and trying to imagine losing my beloved books. Not a good thought.

    I wish you luck on slowly rebuilding your library. Nice of Carl to send over the LoTR. Cute poppets.

    Over in Southeast Asia, we had something similar to Katrina when the tsunami hit in 2004. Many lives and homes were lost around the region. Thankfully, we were untouched. Even now, the people affected are still trying to rebuild their lives.

    Something can be lost in an instance, but they take a lot longer to rebuild.

    I’m a little outraged that the Powers That Be had not got around to helping you guys rebuild your home. I don’t understand it.

  13. Dark Orpheus, I’m slowly but surely recovering my books…I try not to complain too much because others in New Orleans were MUCH worse off than I was and I did manage to salvage some of my books. Only the lower few shelves of my books were lost and I arrange my books in alphabetical order…hence the Tolkien books. Extremely nice of Carl šŸ˜€

    The tsunami was so sad. I remember being glued to the tv and shocked when that happened and I felt so much empathy for everyone whose lives were touched and damaged by the tsunami in the days after Katrina. These natural disasters are so devastating.

    The powers that be are god awful! You learn not to rely too much on them down here, though at the same time nothing can be done without them. All of our money is being held by them until they decide to tell us what we can do with it….who knows when that will happen…

  14. ..as for books being lost being a small thing..
    when you think of others loosing their life, of course books are a small thing. But as you rebuild yourself, mostly it is the “little things” that make up the whole of you. Now, I don’t know what the “rich folk do”.. I’ve never been one of them, but the “so called” middle and lower class folks (us) make as much happiness as they can in “small stuff”..a book here a movie there, is our “night out”, our escape from pressures. So they are important to our wellbeing.
    I just can’t imagine someone who can afford to walk in a bookstore and replace 100 books all at once being as happy as you are to get those 4 books… can you? I don’t think so. There’s just something about looking at a book (or something else) that stirs a memory that brings a smile to our faces..that means ..alot.
    I’m glad Carl put that smile on your face!

  15. Well put Deslily…I couldn’t agree more. It’s amazing how much books come to mean to us, isn’t it?

  16. Aww, that’s so sweet of Carl! I’m glad you were able to replace your cherished books with the help of a great blog friend.

  17. Same here Bookfool…all you blog people are amazing!

  18. That Carl is one good egg!

    I’m sorry to hear about The Powers that Be and there snails pace at recovery. It seems like our nation is really good at reaching out to help right after a disater but all to soon we move on to something else without returning later to help out again if needed. With Katrina though I think both political parties haven’t done even close to enough. It’s shameful and your city deserves better. Please let us all know if there is anything we all can do online to help your mother. We all need to help each other more because it’s clear we can’t count on our government to do the job right.

  19. Jeff, He sure is šŸ˜‰ Glad to see that karma treated him to an Anansi Boys audio book from you!

    Thanks for the support Jeff. It’s really just a waiting game right now. We’re sitting comfortable for now, which is good. I just wish that I could help everyone else who isn’t as fortunate as we have been.

  20. I may be a scrambled egg…

  21. I’m feeling like a fried egg after doing yard work today :/

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