Saturday, May 27, 2006

Mambocat's Midlife Mojo Mission

Bonjour, mon chers. I have been run hard and put up wet for waaaay to long and I am starting a much-deserved vacation.

No photos today. I have a few announcements to make.

I am having a midlife crisis of sorts.

This does not mean that I am going to get a tattoo, buy a red convertible, start wearing black lipstick and hang around with cute boys who aren't quite old enough to buy beer. But it does mean that I am experiencing a powerful, screaming urge for creative outlet in the forms of writing and visual art.

It also means that post-Katrina circumstances have brought uncertainty into my career, and I need a break so bad that I am either about to explode, fall flat on my face or go check myself in at the Ha-Ha Hilton.

This is how a friend of mine pointed it out to me: "Let's see, Dez. What happened in the past nine months for you? Major crises and minor crises. As I recall, you hadn't had a real vacation in over 5 years to begin with, and you were just thinking about taking one when Katrina hit. So. Hmmm...your Dad died, you had surgery for a major staph infection, Hurricane Katrina hit, you worked at least 80 hours a week during the animal rescues and in the emergency shelters through the end of the year, you had your Mom living with you since Katrina, you had other people living with you till they could go back home, you sprained your good knee in the middle of all of this, you changed jobs, you have been commuting to New Orleans, repairing your Mom's house, fostering cats, dealing with all the hassle of all your Dad's vital records and death certificates being lost in Katrina, and what else? Fighting with insurance companies, utility companies over your Mom's house, and your husband having surgery again, and hassles with his health insurance ... and what? ... you got maybe 17 hours of sleep, total, since Katrina hit? Honey, you need a break."

She, being an old soul, a wise human, a rescuer of dogs, and a good friend, is, of course, absolutely right. She also left out a lot of lesser bad things which have happened, but I didn't tell her that.

Has anyone seen my mojo? She is about five-foot-seven, has long black hair, and is usually seen wearing a batik skirt and cowgirl boots, and a sweater or shawl, depending on the weather. She has a bottleof wine in her backpack and the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan and Mississippi John Hurt in her tape player. There's always some knitting in her bag, and a couple of dogs and cats following her around everywhere she goes. She laughs too loud, wears turquoise Indian jewelry, and dances to zydeco music. I used to see her all the time, but in recent years I have seen her much less often. The last time I saw her was sometime a few Octobers ago, I think. She slipped around a corner in New Orleans on her way to Tipitina's and I haven't seen her since.

I need to get my mojo back. I miss her.

So, I am going to take a vacation for awhile. Taking a vacation is not easy for me. Not easy at all. Taking a vacation, for me, is about as unnatural an act as putting on clothes is for Britney Spears.

I am going to blog more often. I really am. Please bear with me for a few days while I get this sorry old computer in shape.

I am also starting a book. It is a book about individual New Orleanians climbing out of the ruins. It is about knitting to keep sane during the Katrina recovery efforts. It has knitting patterns. It has stories about wonderful neighborhood places and people in New Orleans which are now gone forever. It has pictures if I can find a publisher who will print them. It is hurts to write about this stuff -- it hurts a lot -- but it must be written.

I have never written a whole entire book before. I have written patterns, I have written things that have appeared in books, I am a technical writer as part of my real job, I write educational materials and I have sold some magazine articles and self published a pattern booklet. But I have never written a whole entire book from scratch before with no idea whether anyone might want to publish it.

And I am also working on a fiber sculpture for an art show. It is made of rags and string and wind-shredded flags and other knittable Katrina debris. You will get progress reports on this project. It is called, "the Remains of the Day." My eternal thanks to KnitBud Lisa Louie of Maui for the name.

So that is what I am doing for my vacation -- and beyond.

Pictures soon.

Best regards. Gotta go to bed now. I have a cat in my lap. Her name is Jigsaw. She is snoring. It is one of the sweetest sounds in the world.

--Mambocat

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mambocat is swamped today. Her dear friend Lisa Louie is guest blogging.


Let There Be Light

Aloha!

My name is Lisa Louie, and this installment of Dez's blog is being brought to you from beautiful downtown Kahului, Maui, Hawaii. I am guest blogging, as Dez is currently being driven and inspired by a force to create a knitted work of art from the remains of Hurricane Katrina. More on that later, as I'll leave that for Dez to discuss as it is both her blog and her creation.

Dez called me the other day with awesome news: she had in her hand the permit which would allow the power at her mother's house to be restored. While the house still needs repairs (the kitchen sustained damage from a tree that fell on the house during the storm) the roof and electrical system have been fixed to allow the power company to restore her service.

Woo Hoo!!

Now, fortunately Dez's mom has been safe and secure with family, but her house has been sitting, sans electricity, for eight months. Obviously, the first problem after a house loses power is the food starts to spoil. You may have already read Dez's descriptions of what happens to food and refrigerators after such a major storm: they get hauled out the house, duct taped shut, and hopefully picked up by a sanitation crew in less than an eon.

At this point, eight months and counting, the immediate issue of the fridge has been dealt with, but there are other considerations. Like: did you ever try and clean up a house without electricity? Aside from the no vacuum, no washing machine, no dishwasher, no appliance requiring electricity issue, there is another substantial problem: no hot water. Trying to clean up mold and mildew and do dishes and deal with any kind of mess without hot water is virtually impossible. Even cleaning a bathroom without hot water is challenging. So: here comes the power, and with a little sweat and love, out goes the dust, the dirt, the mildew, the crud.

While I wasn't directly involved in this hurricane, I was directly involved in another, which was almost as powerful and devastating, but over a much smaller area. On September 11, (yup, that date is right) 1992, a massive storm named Hurricane Iniki struck the island of Kauai, where I then lived. The island was severely, severely, severely affected. While our own house was relatively unscathed, we had no power for 15 days. It probably took me 14 before I quit walking into a room and reflexively reaching for the light switch, which, of course, didn't work. I still remember the screams of joy of the women next door as the Kauai Electric Company employee flipped the master electrical switch on and their power came back. I remember my own wonder and joy, when finally, I could walk into a room and reach for the light switch and not be disappointed, because the light actually came on. Hot water, the vacuum cleaner, electric can opener, stove, all worked again. The minor, yet really major, miracles of modern life.

I am thrilled for Dez and her mom, and hope they experience the same joy and awe of the simple thrill of electricity at their house.

As for knitting, I'll cover that later if possible. Yup, I do that too. A lot of that. And knitting is what I'm going to go do next. Once I take a moment to marvel at the fact that the dishwasher and the washing machine are running, and my water is hot.

A hui ho, (til we meet again)

--Lisa

Inmates in the Asylum since July 27, 2006: