If you're not knitting, the terrorists win

(My mostly on-topic ramblings about knitting. And life in general. My life in specific.)

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Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a middle aged mother of 2 grown children and wife to a man who doesn't seem to mind my almost heroin-like yarn addiction. I spend my time writing, knitting, and generally stressing out.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The One Where Patwoman Goes On Vacation: Chapter Five: The Shops Are Full Of The Coolest Things

So, of course, we had to do some shopping. M's plan was to buy every purse in the city, I think. I told them to stay clear of Bourbon Street. Ha!

There were so many little shops, just tucked away in alleys, courtyards, etc.
Jewelry, t-shirts, art. And sometimes some stuff that you just don't expect to see. Can you really just buy stuff like this?

We spent some time at the French Market. That's a cool place. There was a lady there, selling photos of graveyards. T and I talked to her for quite a while, and the three of us shared stories of graveyards. (She is planning a trip north and will be coming through Indianapolis, so we had to tell her about Crown Hill Cemetery, where presidents, celebrities, authors, musicians, artists, and war heroes are buried.)

And then we found a yarn shop, which made Patwoman go:

The Quarterstitch. And, wouldn't you know, damn it, that I didn't have my camera with me that day. But let me tell you that these ladies were awesome. I had the best time in this store.

I had taken some cotton with me on vacation, with the idea of knitting a tank top in the car. But then the damn pattern foiled me. I'm pretty sure there was a typo and if I had just done a little math, I could have figured it out. But I don't do math on vacation. So I just bought some more yarn.

I got a very soft, very pretty burgundy merino that spoke to me as I fondled the skeins. And I knitted a drop stitch shrug while watching Survivorman in the hotel room.

True to form, I let it sit in the UFO pile for a couple of weeks before seaming it.

The One Where Patwoman Goes On Vacation: Chapter Four: The Swamp Is Full Of Wonder

I was pretty keen to go to the swamp. I wanted to see the moss hanging from the trees, the big, leafy flowers floating on the water, the trees growing right out of the river.

R & M wanted to see gators.

Here are some things that surprised me about the swamp:

1) Not a lot of bugs. I expected to be eaten alive by mosquitos, but no. I'm guessing it's because the water is moving, so the mosquitos don't nest there.

2) Didn't stink. Don't you think of the swamp as stinky? It's not. Again, moving water. It actually smelled worlds better than Bourbon Street. We were on one of those boats that take you right into the swamp, right through the plants, right up into the tree roots. And the air was clean. The water was clean. It was cooler and less humid than the city. And my allergies didn't bother me.

3) Alligators love marshmallows. Now, that was really surprising. I guess you don't think of carnivores as having much of a sweet tooth. (Except Gabby, who loves anything I'm eating.) Maybe that's because there's not much opportunity for dessert in the wild. Maybe gators and bobcats and bears and sharks would all eat marshmallows, given the chance.

But these gators went nuts for marshmallows. Our captain would call to them ("Come heeyah!") and throw a marshmallow over the side of the boat and they would swim like crazy for it. Apparently, they had experimented at one time with tossing the gators chicken meat, but it made them too aggressive. Like jump in the boat to get more chicken aggressive. Needless to say, they don't do that any more.

Of course, the swamp is a vital entity, so in the time since Katrina plants have grown, animals have reproduced, etc. Still, the evidence of the storm is there.

We shot some footage on the video camera too. It was just too visually stimulating to pass up. Here are some random shots, for your enjoyment.

The One Where Patwoman Goes On Vacation: Chapter Three: New Orleans Is Full Of Ghosts

Well, I don't have a picture of this, but I wish you could see it. Right on the Mississippi border, there is a vast city of FEMA trailers. Empty FEMA trailers. Thousands of them.

Do people know that these trailers didn't make it to the people who needed them? I swear, it made me ill.

And then we reached New Orleans. It's been what? Almost 2 years since Katrina? You wouldn't know it. So many buildings are still damaged. So many of them are empty. The Xs that they spray paint onto the side of the houses after they search them are still there, along with the numbers--how many alive, how many dead.

That's not to say the whole city is like that, though.

We stayed in the French Quarter, at the Hotel Dauphine Orleans. And, for the most part, the French Quarter is back. Businesses are open--and busy. Artists and musicians are out on the plaza. Lots of tourists there, having a great time.

I had a great time.

Still, all the folks I talked to spoke in terms of before and after the storm. Like, "My daughter was born about 2 months before the storm" or "He moved down here about a year after the storm."

I thought that was interesting. It's a signal moment in this city's history.

But we're talking about ghosts, right? And there are ghost stories in New Orleans.

We took the Ghost Tour with Haunted History. That's fun. You know I love ghost stories. So I was pretty excited about it.

Haunted hotel. Little kid ghosts who like to run up and down the halls and pull off your blankets, and stuff like that.

Our hotel (this is the front entrance, under all the flags) was said to be haunted by the ghost of a confederate soldier. It was apparently a brothel and the soldier was in love with one of the girls. You know it never ends well when you fall in love with a prostitute.

I saw this place, too. But, you know I was too big of a chicken to go into it. There were several "voodoo tours" advertised, too. Some of them claimed to let you observe and/or participate in an authentic voodoo ritual. I dunno. Let BillyBob Tourist participate in a voodoo ritual? I think that may fall into the "Don't Give Guns To Monkeys" category.

The One Where Patwoman Goes On Vacation: Chapter Two: The Road Is Full Of Comedy

Nevertheless, I did eventually find a way to relax. Relaxation is the key to a great vacation, right? (Don't worry, T was driving.)

And I love road trips. Maybe some of you don't. I suspect that's because you think they're dull, or that there's nothing to do.

Au contraire.

You all know I can talk the ears off a dead man. So it's not like the car is quiet or anything. I am waxing poetic about 1)movies (I love a new spin on an old theme) 2)an old Dean Koontz novel I am reading at the time (and the evolution of his protagonists) 3)politics and 4)the influence of The Police on bands like Green Day. (Don't even get me started.)

But, you may not know, the road is ripe with comedy. Like the sign advertising "Used Cow For Sale."

Used for what? I don't think I like the sound of that.

And, of course, all the porn signs through the south. (And isn't that supposed to be the Bible Belt?) You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a billboard advertising "Big Jim's Boobie Bungalow" or "Adult Superstore" or even the unimaginatively named "XXX."

But my favorite sign--oh, how I wish I'd gotten the camera out quickly enough to take a picture--was for a sausage factory.

Called Cox Smokers.

It still makes me laugh. I'm so immature.

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