Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

Doing Better

John slept from 8:30 to 8:30 and got up and wandered down the freshly slick, hosed down sidewalks of the French Quarter with me this morning; and then took a four hour nap from which he's awakened far more refreshed. He's doing pretty well. I'm feeling fine, especially after my breakfast of two beignet, one of the thing rolled-up scrambled eggs, three thin, crisp slices of bacon, a small cup of grits, and feeding my dry French bread to the pigeons and the last of the bacon to a cat that wandered through. The cat purred and purred and then eyed the sparrows who landed for the crumbs.

I learned that sparrows like powdered sugar, too.

The best thing was that the Beignet Cafe on Royal didn't have much of a line at all. My cafe au latte was perfect, and I found out that they do use an yeast, raised mix rather than the purely baking powder ones that Cafe du Monde does, which is probably why I like them better.

John really loves wandering, and when he's not feeling 100%, I have a remote chance of keeping up with him as well. We probably covered a good two miles this morning, if not more, going all the way out to the New Orleans flea market and finding me a t-shirt that I really liked. I got called Sir three times and on one of the times, the guy was so embarrassed, that he gave me a double serving of ice cream, so I can't complain too much.

Besides, I was wearing a Jazz festival men's button down shirt with khaki cargo shorts and white socks in black chef's Crocs (yes, a fashion faux pas I can't live down).

One thing I forgot to mention, yesterday, was that while we were in the midst of the work at C Ave. the family of four who owned the house came in. The house had been flooded, a few feet up the walls, and had hurricane damage, so they'd tried for a really long time to just make do after cleaning it up as best they were able. But the doors had been all odd sizes, badly done, and uneven to boot. Jeff had spent a lot of time just making both sides of the doors the same height, much less standard height. The kitchen had old cabinets and really needed to be replaced, so all of them were brand new in, and Clay worked on getting a brand new, HUGE microwave mounted on one of the walls. The light fixture had been changed to a florescent tube fixture.

When the family walked in, they consisted of the mom, the dad, a boy and a girl and the girl squealed and said, "Look how HUGE the microwave is!" And they were all astonished at how clean and new and white the place looked. All the doors and trim were done in white, and we were doing the second coat on some things just to make sure it really looked white. And I have to say that six-paneled doors are a real pain to paint by hand with a brush, probably a lot easier with a paint sprayer, but all we had were brushes. So I was extra careful to clean up drips down the corners and along the top edges of the panes.

The kids were very pleased with their new house, all in all, and the parents were too. The mom went around and personally thanked everyone that was working and, afterward, John P. mused that it must be something to have to thank all the dozens and dozens of people you never knew that just came to work on your house. That must be hard for some.

And I could see that.

Our wanderings around town took us all the way down Royal Street, as that's my favorite street in the French Quarter. I don't know why, exactly, but Bourbon is... well... Bourbon, but Royal and Chartres are pretty fun. Decatur is where all the tourists go with Jackson Square, the River, and all the other shops right there. We wandered through there as well, as we wanted to do some touristy things, including hitting the flea market at the far end of it to get less expensive t-shirts. They had bundles of beads for a dollar, and all kinds of tourist-style masks, as well as the other little craft things that flea markets have like soaps, candles, perfumes, wooden croaking frogs, and dresses and things. So that was very fun. I got a t-shirt that I really, really liked, as my old New Orleans t-shirt was finally wearing out completely.

While I was paying for the t-shirt, the guy there asked, "Are you here to paint for us?"

He pointed at the bottoms of John's forearms, which still had streaks of paint or caulk on them from the day before.

We both nodded. "Yes," said John.

"Thank you," the guy said as naturally as could be. And then said that while he hadn't needed any work, there were lots of relations and friends he knew that had and he appreciated what we were doing. That was really nice.

Then John had a bit of an appetite, so we actually went to the Central Grocery Co LLC and got one of their Muffaletta sandwiches, just half a one and we both got drinks and went to sit down on a bench by the river and eat them. The Mississippi is HUGE right before it feeds the sea, and it was fun to watch the tug boats going by in formation, pushing around barges, and getting stuff done. There was a huge tanker parked there, and one of the cruise ships had come in for the weekend. Sitting in the sun we finished off our sandwich and it was good, rich with olives and two kinds of meat and provalone,

Wind Breaks
Originally uploaded by Liralen Li.
There were little bunkers built alongside the river, and with the wind coming down the river the way it was, we were glad of the little partitions and sat out of the wind in the sunshine and it felt wonderful. As we sat, two black men came by and one of them grinned at us and asked, "Hey, your name Lucky?"

John shook his head and said, "No."

And the guy cracked a huge grin at me and said, "Hey, don' you say you's not LUCKY... not with her there by your side..."

We both laughed and I leaned in on John, and both the black guys cracked up and went on with a jaunty step. I wish I could thank them for making my day brighter.

We went back to the room after that and both took a nap. I slept for about an hour and then got on all my stuff, including the pedometer I'd forgotten for the morning walk, and went out for another lap around the French Quarter. There was just a lot to see, and it got hot with all the sunshine, and I found a little gelato place. I went in and the guy behind the counter called me "Sir." He was so embarrassed by his mistake that he pretty much gave me a double portion of my cappuchino gelato. That was nice.

On the way back to the room I realized that they'd barricaded off Royal Street to allow street performers to do their thing while in the street. Lots of rhythm and blues, jazz horns, a kid with a battered trumpet blowing his heart out on the corner, and old trombone player letting a tourist kid work the slide and he improvised around whatever note the kid hit. That last was really impressive. I went back to the room and tried to get some of this down, but not all of it, obviously, before we left for dinner.

Mulate's Interior
Originally uploaded by Liralen Li.
We went back to Mulate's. John and I had told everyone about Mother's Restaurant, just a few blocks away from our hotel; and everyone else had already been there. *laughs* So they wanted to uphold the tradition from last year and go back to Mulate's. Since last year it was during the Jazz Festival, it had just been completely insane. Luckily, this year, it was just Spring break for the local Universities, like LSU, and the kids involved had no truck with something as common as Mulate's... so it wasn't nearly as insane, though, as any waiter will tell you, any party of 15 or so is still a little insane.

The zydeco band was a good one. The Zydeco bread (cheese and cream cheese mixed and melted with andouille and the local Trinity and a little spice for good measure all melted and served on baguette rounds) was fantastic, and this time I actually got my crawfish au gratin with a stuffed twice-baked potato and vegetables. Last year, they somehow ended up giving me a crawfish pasta dish instead that was so spicy-hot I couldn't eat it. This time it was delicious and wonderful and I had absolutely no room for any dessert whatsoever. Which was probably a good thing.

There was another rebuilding crew there from the big city of New York, and they were all Jewish ladies that had gotten connected through their synagogue and were there to do what they could for the week and had only taken today off. They were working tomorrow, too. Wow. They were having fun during their dinner as well.

One interesting thing we realized at dinner was that everyone that got really, really badly bitten by the midges hadn't gotten the stomach flu thing very badly. Everyone that was itching like mad hadn't thrown up at all. When Clay mentioned that, John said, "Yeah, well, at least the flu was over in a day." This while Clay, Russ, and I were itching and trying to put on more anti-itch cream. *laughs* I guess there might be justice in the universe if all those that suffered really badly from the bug bites didn't suffer from the stomach bug, but that all those that had the stomach bug didn't get bothered by the bugs. Or else it's just total coincidence.

From there, we wandered back to the hotel, and then off to Royal, and stopped at a few of the tourist shops so that I could find Jet something small and fun, he said. And I think I did with a little rubber crawfish pencil end with a New Orleans Pencil. *laughs* He'll like it and it was small and inexpensive and fun.

We went on to the church with the shadow of Jesus that looked like an angel to me, and having seen a picture by an artist in one of the countless art galleries, I decided to try and take one with my camera resting right on the wrought iron gate. I really like how they turned out. Not quite as good as the professional photographs, but good enough for me... We dropped by the Voodoo shop at the quiet end of Bourbon and then wandered all the way up it to remember what it's like. Ha. Like one ever really forgets. Though with Spring Break out it was even more mobbed than last year, and there were more flashing girls, boys on the balconies doing lewd things, naked, and beads in all directions.

Burning Absinthe
Originally uploaded by Liralen Li.
We ended up at Jean Lafitte's Old Absinthe House, and I got my Absinthe. I even got a picture of it getting flamed. *laughs* The way they serve it, which is pretty quick, is that they put a sugar cube on the flat spoon over the glass. They pour the shot of absinthe over the cube, and light it. When it's done flaming, they pour water over the cube to a certain level in the glass. That was pretty fun watch.

Then the guy next to me asks if it's good and I go, "Yes."

Then he asks, "Is it $17 worth of good?"

And I answered, "Well, once a year, yes."

He got one to share with his date, too. That made me giggle.

It was very good, herbal, licorice, and with just the right amount of bitterness at the back to counter the sweetness of the sugar. And I love that misty green color once the water has been added. I enjoyed it a lot. It's my one huge indulgence for the week, and it's always more worth it after the week of work.

I was willing to walk back to the hotel with Don and John at that point. The other "younger folks" decided to stay out and keep going. I decided not to finish this while I was drunk enough to be somewhat less than coherent. *laughs* The best thing, though, was that I went to sleep like a light being put out. That was very sweet indeed.
Tags: katrina, travel

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