The Place Where Dancing in the Street is Mandatory or, As They Say, De Rigueur, Cher.

Can you guess where I went last week?

For the record, this is my favorite outfit of my 62nd year: Michael Kors leggings and tasseled suede loafers, with a shirt from the Boys’ Dept. at Target. I’m also growing my hair out from the short-short cut I had last October, but I haven’t decided how long I want to let it go.

Oh, wait. That’s just me, standing in front of the scenery. Let me get out of the way:

Here are more clues:

That last note was let on the windscreen of Honda that had 2015 Massachusetts plates on it, which resulted in this action on April 9, 2017:

(I loved this guy, watching in the background:)

The lady driving the municipal tow truck had to use a “jimmy” to unlock the car to put it in neutral gear so it could be towed . . .

. . . and as she finagled her slim-jim tool into the driver’s side doorway, a passer-by lent a helping hand by shouting, “Girl, just break the window!”

OK, last week I went to a place that’s neighborly and nosey and known for being fond of a “Go Cup” or two. I think you’ve guessed by now . . .

. . . that Top Cat and I made our annual pilgrimage to New Orleans for the French Quarter Fest, where for four days the party goes on and on and on and on:

For Top Cat and me, the party had to close down each night around 10 o’clock: we can only take so many hours of fun before the over-eating, the over-drinking, and the over-dancing does us in. Top Cat would then take off to play poker at the casino down there at the bottom of Canal Street and I would hobble up to the room and soak in a hot bubble bath to soothe my weary bones for the next day’s shindigs.

In all our visits to NOLA Top Cat and I make it a point to get out of the French Quarter for at least half the day, and we’ve been west, east, north, and south of Bourbon Street (which we actually avoid as much as possible) but our preferred neighborhood in NOLA is the CBD — the Central Business District.

Once a day we walk to the Hilton Hotel in the CBD and settle in at the bar at Drago’s, where they make the best damn char-grilled oysters in the whole damn world. At the bar you can watch the line cooks smother your dinner with Drago’s magic sauce before firing it up at the grill:

Char-grilled oysters, served with plenty of lightly toasted French bread to dab up that delicious sauce. My only complaint about Drago’s is that the menu is all sea food and sausages, which are food categories that I do not eat. My favorite NOLA dish is Red Beans and Rice, which you can order as a side at Drago’s, and pay $7.95 for the smallest damn serving of red beans you’ve ever  seen:

Note that that’s a TEA spoon on the side. And then there’s the red beans at the Commerce (at 300 Camp Street in the CBD):

I used to follow foodie recommendations for the “best” red beans in the city, but once I had the red beans at Commerce my search for the BEST damn red beans was at an end:

This is the $7.00 red bean lunch, which comes with a big side salad and four pieces of buttered-grilled French bread which I didn’t photo because, hungry. I LOVE the Commerce, which only serves breakfast and lunch and closes at 2:30 in the afternoon so time your appetite accordingly.

I call this composition, “Commerce under a Full Moon”.

My fave non-edible items in NOLA are books.

Octavia Books (513 Octavia Street) is the acknowledged center of literary happenings in NOLA — if you’re going to New Orleans, check their web site for the Who’s Who who stop by every week. Octavia Books very kindly hosted an event for me last year when I visited the city to talk about Gardens of Awe and Folly (which you know has a New Orleans chapter featuring Karen Kersting’s wondrous rose garden in the Uptown/Carrollton neighborhood). It was the very best damn book event I’ve ever had:

My 2016 haircut, not the one I’m now growing out. This was the one before that.

Me at Octavia Books in 2016, in my favorite outfit of my 61st year: I bought the Eileen Fisher top and the shoes in New Orleans!

But for second-hand books, I go to Crescent City Books in the CBD, and not just because they have one of the all-time great book store cats on duty:

Meet Isabel,who has her formal shrine in the front of the shop . . .

. . . but who can also be found doing her thing in the stacks towards the back of the store:

It took me about an hour to go through the inventory — so many delish books to choose from — before I found the two books that had to come home with me; but sadly I had to leave behind a book that stands out as possibly the dullest book I’ve ever come across:

This is a surprisingly hefty book, considering the subject matter, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to lug it 1,000 miles home. Plus, it was $25, which is a lot to spend for a joke (no offense to florists). I did a bad job of snapping this pic, tho; I have a thing about seeing people’s thumbs holding stuff. It really gives me the creeps to see people’s thumbs holding stuff because some people have really, really bendy digits and I can’t stand seeing thumbs crooked in this position, even reasonably un-bendy ones like mine. Do you know what I mean? If this pic makes any of you queasy, let me know and I will crop it.

All the illustrations in this tome were like this (see below) and I mean almost exactly like this — blue was the only color that the Rittner School of Floristry Art sprang for in the publication budget:

And at the very back of the Crescent City Books I found this:

In case you can’t read it, the little note under the sign says: Please Make Sure This Door Stays Closed.

I thought about taking a peek, and I thought long and hard about this, but in the end I couldn’t spoil the pleasure of imagining what could possibly be lurking down that corridor.

Dear Readers, this is just a tid-bit of our NOLA FQF adventures, which I am sparing you the further details of because Top Cat says my posts tend to run much, much too long. So I can’t tell you about the garden show we went to where I overheard a guy complain, “He says he’s here looking for lawn art…he doesn’t know a thing about lawn art,” or the hairdresser who told me, “I seem to attract a lot of warriors to my chair.”

Nope, I have to cut to Day Five, the day we had to go to the airport to catch a flight back to our regular boring non-New Orleans life, and how after all that fun we’d had in our Favorite American City we were well and truly shattered. . .

It was only 11:00 in the morning and just a 30-minute wait ’til boarding but Top Cat could not resist the urge to catch up on his sleep.

. . . in the well and truest best way.

Good bye, New Orleans. We love you.

Actually, I think part of me is still in the Crescent City because part of me is still drunk.

On the way home neither of us was forcibly ejected from the aircraft at the last minute, so I got Top Cat to watch La La Land with me and to my surprise, Top Cat actually liked the movie very much. So this means that I owe him one, and I now have to read a book that he wants to share with me, A Confederacy of Dunces. I’ll do it, but I’m not looking forward to it. You know how grossed out I am about people’s bendy thumbs? Well, I am just as squeamish about this (and any) 300-pound main character. If there is even ONE description of Ignatius J. Reilly sweating, I am OUT.

By the way, also in the CBD.

So that’s the week that was. Next week, thanks to Dear Reader Jeanie, we’ll be painting her reference photo of Monet’s lily pond together and that will be fun because there’s always a 50-50 chance that I will do something dreadful with it.

Have a great weekend, everyone. See you next Friday!

13 Comments, RSS

  1. Kirra April 14, 2017 @ 1:56 am

    This looks like a fabulous holiday! You also look fabulous Vivian. Thanks for sharing the scenery, best red beans and second hand cat bookshop. That florist book was a bit expensive but also wonderfully funny. Hope you all get to relax this Easter weekend!

  2. Megan April 14, 2017 @ 4:57 am

    Why not leave the car unlocked with the keys in it if it’s free? Bonkers. Looks like a fun trip.

  3. Elizabeth April 14, 2017 @ 7:31 am

    Lucky you going to Noorlins…
    and meeting a nice cat and eating and drinking cool stuff.
    I’m afraid I failed at Confederacy of Dunces – even when it was recommended by someone whose taste I admire.
    I was charmed by LaLA land – maybe because Ryan Gosling seems so very sweet – almost in Justin Trudeau territory.
    I’m writing about my grandmother who grew up in la lunatic asylum.
    So head to the city soon now the weather is tolerable.
    x

  4. Monique April 14, 2017 @ 8:35 am

    Looks like you always have a great time there.I love going back to a familiar well loved place and doing the things we love doing..
    you’re so slim and trim..and I remember that outfit:) And yes it’s a great look ! You wear it perfectly though..it looks perfect.

    Have you seen Jeanie’s post re Giverny?

    I guess you have..she’s good..really good..cats ..etc..and you’re a mentor:) Lovely to read..

    PS Great hair.
    Happy Easter to you and TC.

  5. Carey April 14, 2017 @ 8:36 am

    I can’t figure out how you can be a big fan of red beans and rice and still be a size 2. I think your hair looks great long or short, what does Top Cat think?

    New Orleans is a wonderful city. I’ve been there once but did not get out to the CBD but I’d make an special trip now to try out those oysters. And I’d like to visit with Miss Isabel, maybe find a treasure in those endless book stacks.

    Thank you for this virtual vacation. I didn’t know until I read your blog that I was in a New Orleans mood and now I’ll be dancing (in my mind) all day.

  6. jeanie April 14, 2017 @ 8:50 am

    Oh Vivian, what a great time! Can’t imagine all that fun and food and then La La Land for the return. And what a fabulous book store. Sweet cat. A store with a cat almost always gets at least one little purchase from me, just to support the cat if nothing else!

    Love the last year’s hair a lot in that picture. And the new grow-out — looking good! I hate the grow-out period and usually flunk along the way!

    I’m excited to see what you can do with the image. I’m working on Round Two, which got put back a bit over the past week. Still messing up those willows, so you know I’ll be waiting with baited breath. Meanwhile, have a great week. I don’t know about the Isle of Long but the sun is coming out here for a change and warming up. It might threaten to actually be nice!

  7. Anonymous April 14, 2017 @ 4:52 pm

    Our community last weekend held its big blowout Library Book Sale (and Flower Show), and my coup was rescuing ($3) a copy of Lee Bailey’s New Orleans (1996) which I spent the rest of the weekend reading. Recipes (“Glorious”) are attached to houses (“Great”), and it awakened in me a desire to be in Crescent City once more. Sadly, not a trip for my near future, but you have offered the lagniappe of *your* trip, and I am grateful.
    Personally, I’d get Top Cat to name another book.
    Target Boys’ Section, I am so there.

  8. Becky April 14, 2017 @ 5:02 pm

    I loved this entry on New Orleans. Made me want to pack my bag and head there. Thank you for sharing

  9. deb mattin April 14, 2017 @ 5:20 pm

    Love the Garden District and all that wrought iron, but Bourbon Street – OY !, not so much. I was amazed at the full-on fire hoses used to clean the streets . None of those wimpy street sweepers; it’s job for the big’uns!

    My daughter and I listened to Confederacy of Dunces on a cross-county trip – not a book I would have ever selected, but some funny parts. I still use this quote, “O, Fortuna, you desperate wanton.” Imagine LaLa Land was much better, but now you have to pay.

  10. Bunny April 14, 2017 @ 7:43 pm

    One of your best posts, ever. Love how you take us with you on vacation, looks like so much fun . Love your haircut and outfit, and tc sleeping made me chuckle. I cried a lot watching la la land, Ryan is a guy that’s so easy to like. Thanks for sharing something happy!!!

  11. Deborah Hatt April 15, 2017 @ 10:04 pm

    So glad you and Top Cat were able to get away for a bit. It looks like, when I wished you “Happy Trails” last week, that happy trails were exactly what you experienced! Hooray!

    Your hair is nice nice and thick, with lots of volume. Not a bad thing for your 62nd year, my dear!

    I know what you mean about bendy thumbs. My dad had really bendy thumbs … they almost bent backwards enough to make a “C”-shape, which always made my stomach tighten-up. I always thought it HAD to hurt to have your joints bend so far backward, but he said his thumbs never hurt and were just fine, thank you. But I could hardly stand to look at his hands while they held on to something. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who cringes just a bit at bendy thumbs. I loved my daddy dearly, and I was not so much grossed-out by his thumbs … no, they simply looked like they just HAD to hurt is all. It made me cringe … the same way as when someone pinches their finger in a door, or stubs their toe. OUCH!

    I loved how the bookstore owner placed all the Isabelle-titled books around her bed. Every cat needs reading material, right? She is certainly a lovely kitty, too. Much loved, I’m sure.

    Well, I’m glad you’re back to Home Sweet Home and rearing to go on your garden painting. We all eagerly await your adventures in watercolor.

    Happy Trails, dear Vivian.

  12. Judy Jennings April 16, 2017 @ 10:43 pm

    Vivian,
    I miss your art, but I loved this week’s blog. Top Cat is sooooo wrong about your posts being too long. They are NOT. We want more. You are a very interesting person in the way you describe your life and journeys to those of us who don’t “get out” much. Or maybe I’m just a peeping Tom wanting to see into your life.
    I love your new longer hair, but then saw the older picture of you in the bookshop with the short hair. I love that style, too. Decisions! Now that mine has grown back in after chemo, I’m afraid to get it cut after having always worn it short, but this long stuff hanging on my neck is driving me crazy. As well as summer’s coming and it’s going to be hot.
    I’d love to know what books you DID buy on your trip (nosey). And I hate when ANYONE (except Beth) tells me I have to read such and such a book. AAARG. No.

  13. janet April 26, 2017 @ 9:34 am

    LOVED the Confederacy of Dunces…but what do I or the Pulitzer Prize award folks know???

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