Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Knitting Olympics Triathlon:

Synchronized Birthing,
Stormtracking Marathon and
Gumbo Relay Events

I have about eleven acres of knitting to finish in the next few days, and I'm blaming it on Bobby.

I don't know what my brother-in-law put in the Thanksgiving sangria, but three of our younger relatives gave birth in a ten-day period last month, which gives me a good excuse to be the Official Stormwatcher in our household this hurricane season.

Somebody has to watch the Weather Channel, and somebody has to knit all these baby blankets, so it might as well be me.

Here's one good reason to be motivated for the Olympic knitting marathon -- my niece Laura, showing off her brand-new firstborn, Logan, who brought in the bronze medal for Team Synchronized Birthing, being the last of the trio to arrive at the finish line:

My husband and I acquired three new grand-nieces and nephews during the last ten days of July. Unavailable for pictures in time for this particular blog post are Coerte, firstborn son of Laura's brother (it's pronounced "Curt" and it is a family name from Cajun country). Of the bunch, Coerte arrived first, seizing the gold medal, closely followed for the silver medal by little Joey, second son of my niece, Brandi.

More photos are coming, just as soon as we get all these tropical storms and hurricanes out of the way.

You know you're a Southerner if:

1. You actually know someone named, "Cooter..."

2. You put a spoonful of rice in each of your salt shakers to keep the salt from clumping up ...

3. Not only do you know the full names of every reporter and meteorologist on the Weather Channel, but you also notice when they buy a new suit.

Once again, we are at the peak of hurricane season, which means that if anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line is awake and at home, the TV is locked on the Weather Channel, where the earnest hurricane crew is dutifully employed either standing on beaches and pointing out toward the horizon, or standing in front of a weather map and pointing at a giant red blob which may or may not be huffing and puffing steadily toward your very own personal residence.

While New Orleans residents earnestly and optimistically continue to rebuild their homes, the entire levee system they depend on is still only held together with string and duct tape, so even the wimpiest hurricane is fraught with potential for disaster, especially if you live in St. Bernard Parish (just east of the city) or in low-lying areas like New Orleans East, the Ninth Ward, Lakeview and Gentilly.

Hurricane season always offers a devil's trade-off: while a tropical storm doesn't have the strength to cause much wind or storm-surge damage, it can carry staggering amounts of water and leave a wake of severe flooding wherever it goes. And a real hurricane packs a wallop with high winds and the staggering force of water rolling in from the sea. Not much of a choice.

Either way, you have to plan and worry. Whether you are near the coast or further inland, you must either prepare to evacuate your family and pets, or prepare to welcome your evacuating friends and relatives into your home.

We are inland in Baton Rouge, and a whole forty-seven feet above sea level, so our job is to host friends and relatives fleeing from storms.

Here's our hurricane preparation checklist:

1. Clean house

2. Have extra towels, sheets and blankets ready for guests

3. Buy lots of toilet paper, bottled water, non-perishable groceries, diet root beer, popcorn, bleach, propane, pet food and batteries

4. Move the spinning wheel to its late-summer migratory home in front of the couch

5. Move knitting bags containing UFOs to the living room

6. Put on comfy weather-watching clothes

7. Make an enormous pot of gumbo. If we are beseiged by evacuating relatives, we'll need it; if not, it can go into quart-sized containers in the freezer. I do wish I had something in the picture to give a sense of scale, besides the large spoon down there in the corner -- this is a five-gallon pot:

I am strange. I sometimes take pictures of things I cook....but if I didn't, y'all wouldn't know what you are missing, would you?

Diligently watching the storm actually makes you feel like you have some degree of control over it, and, while we all know this is completely delusional -- sort of like placing a Neighborhood Watch sign in front of your house -- it does make you feel as though you are being a self-directed adult instead of a small and helpless creature in the path of an uncontrollable force of Nature.

Storm-watching also provides a large amount of uninterrupted knitting time. Someone must unblinkingly monitor the storm's exact strength and location, and that might as well be the knitter in the household, especially if there are baby blankets to be finished. Like this one in good old Lily Sugar-n-Creme:

For the Knitting Olympics this year, I signed myself up to cast on and finish a tank top during the alloted time, but I also committed to focusing on a few UFOs, especially in the blanket division. Also on Team Synchronized Birthing is this scalloped-edged blanket done in vintage Unger Cotton Plantation:

I'll let you guess which blanket Logan is getting so it's a surprise for her mother.

So my official score for the 2008 Knitting Olympics is two finished UFOs, and a portion of the tank top I cast on. I had to admit to myself that the blankets needed to be finished first, seeing that the babies are already here (all a bit early, by the way), and the tank top will be useful knitting while I fret over storms.

First, Tropical storm Fay, which staggered all over Florida like a drunk frat boy on Spring Break, and now, before we can even catch our breath, we are keeping a close eye on Gustav, a system with the potential to develop into a seriously dangerous storm if it enters the Gulf of Mexico -- it could easily become a Category Three or even a Category Four storm, which is frightening indeed.

At this writing, all trajectories have Gustav making a beeline for South Louisiana, and I can tell you for a fact that New Orleans needs a major storm right now about as much as a sunburned kid needs a slap on the back.

I'll keep you posted.

And? If anybody out there knows who's in charge of naming these storms, please let them know that I have a bone to pick with them. Who in their right mind gives a storm a name with "gust" in it?

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At 6:25 AM, Blogger ashpags said...

"Tropical storm Fay, which staggered all over Florida like a drunk frat boy on Spring Break" -- Dez, you crack me up. Fay made me want to jump off the belltower, I thought the rain would never end. And it was really only two days. But for some reason it felt like weeks, because I think the dumb storm was moving at about 8 centimeters per day. Ugh.

I hope Gustav skips us. But if not, I have an evacuation kit ready to go (my apartment is close to the river, surrounded by swamps, in a low spot, and on the first floor...) and you can bet it includes yarn and needles. I hope it doesn't interrupt your spinning and dyeing...I can't wait until the September Arts Market!!!

Take care! =)

At 9:58 AM, Anonymous MicheleLB said...

Mmmmm, gumbo. Good call to have it ready, and freezable. I had never thought about the other end of storm preparedness (the house cleaning! the hosting!), so that was an eye-opener.

I had a special place in my heart for TS Fay, which started as a rain system that passed over us while we were on vacation in the BVI. That's *my* tropical storm.

Keep knitting! And watching...


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