Friday, October 26, 2007

New Orleans Diary: Day 2

In response to Vicki's comment/question from yesterday's post about breathing in a corset: Actually the corsets were very comfortable. I wouldn't plan on running or doing anything in it that would normally make you winded, but regular breathing was, well, just regular, except the breast seemed to rise and fall a bit more with each breath.
I didn't try sitting in one. Since I tend to slouch when I sit, I imagine it would improve my posture, but I'm not sure how the steel boning would feel if one had to sit for too long while wearing one.

By the by...when you see dresses in movies where the bodice and waist of a dress on an actress is fitted to a "T", generally speaking the actress is in a corset. Once you become corset aware, you can tell when an actress is in a corset by how the upper body moves as the actress moves.

Back to New 2.

Breakfast while wearing in my first Fleur de Paris hat. Love, love, love that hat....
The first order of business after breakfast was to head to Saks Fifth Ave. to see if they had the backless strapless bra tape.
They didn't.
They had racks and racks of strapless gowns, and bras to buy, but no additional tape. The tape that holds the bra in place can only be used once. The bra and all the skin on the side of your chest is removed after each bra wearing.
The ripped off skin area heals in three to six days.
That pain does help distract from the pain in the feet gotten while wearing high heels and the blisters gotten while wearing strappy shoes while dancing the night away at a gala event.

The picture above had nothing to do with any of that.
It is a close up picture of oak leaf spores. This is the time of year when the oaks of New Orleans develop spores, and the air is filled with tiny bits of fluff. I learned this during the two hour walking tour that I took after going to SFA.

Each of the five trips that I have taken to New Orleans have been too short. Each trip I try to knock off another item off my "thing I want to do in New Orleans" list. A walking tour of the Garden District was going to be accomplished today.

The Garden District, (originally called Lafayette) was an area developed after America acquired New Orleans. The French Quarters had been developed starting in the 1700's; the British heritage Americans wanted nothing to do with the French, (French Catholic/Anglo Protestants...) and so they developed a 7 blocks by 17 block for themselves after the Louisiana purchase in 1803 and after the War of 1812.

It is the area where the New Orleans rich folks have always lived.
This is one example of a house in the Garden District. It used to be owned by the author Anne Rice; now it is owned by the actor Nicholas Cage.
(Had to show at least one flower picture...a camellia in bloom against a wrought iron fence.)
All of New Orleans is known for wrought iron and cast iron fences and trim. This fence was shaped like corn stalks; it was not a custom design but rather was purchased through a catalog back in the 1800's.
Most of the Garden District's houses were built in the Greek revival style. This house was designed by a man in the 1800's , and he designed other houses as well. His "signature" was always a rounded area, where the glass in the windows were curved as well.
Part of the tour included a visit to the Garden District's Lafayette Cemetery. (Pictured above: The tour guide, a Creole/Cajun local gal with a degree in art history. She was fantastic.)
I learned SO much on this two hour walking tour! I had always been told that the cemeteries of New Orleans were above ground because of the water table being so high. Wrong: Instead, the style is common to all Mediterranean cultures, including Spain. Spain owned Louisiana, then France did for awhile, then USA, but the Spanish custom held, as it did in many parts of America. Actually, the above ground crypts function as "oven", sealed bodies in the structures get heated naturally up to 300 degrees or more, causing a natural form of cremation.
The law was that the crypts had to remain closed for one year and one day between each body, in order for the heat to turn the corpse into ash and bone. The bones were then crushed, and sweep into a lower chamber of the crypt, and then a new body could be place and sealed in. Of course all of that is done out of view of the family.

Some of these structures hold the bones of 20 or more family members.
Interesting how ecologically sound the practice is, and how it is quite unifying of families: each family members statistics are engraved, so some of the crypts start with a name of someone born in the 1700's and end with names of people born just a few decades ago.
In the picture above, the structure behind the guide had recently had a body placed inside. The cemetery workers remove the family marker, knock out the bricks, "tidy up" the bones, (crush and sweep to lower chamber) and then they place the body inside,
re-brick, and then screw the marker back on after updating the marker.
A grave in the ground: proof that they didn't have to bury above ground for water table levels issues. There were multiple in ground graves in the old cemetery.
I was stuck by the fern growing beside all the names of the people in this crypt. Look at those dates....
People could also be buried in "society" vaults, with their organizations or clubs or professional affliations.
Lovely sculpture of a weeping woman holding a urn.
The Flower family vault. When the list of names fills up a plaque in front, it gets moved and attached to the side, and a new plaque is begun. Some of the crypts had many plaques on the side.
I know this may seem a little morbid, but it really made me think about how ecologically sound, family friendly and biblical practiced this burial style is.
I'll leave it at that for now....
As our tour continued we went by one of the most famous restaurants in New Orleans, and the shrimp delivery guy was selling fresh shrimp right there on the street.
I am touching the shrimp. That is some BIG shrimp. Definitely not shrimpy sized shrimp!
Back to the houses.
I am absolutely enhanced with the black "lace" that is used to trim New Orleans houses.
I also love how they paint the underside of their porch overhangs sky blue, even when there was no other sky blue paint elsewhere on the house.
The guide said it is to inspire people to look up and think of heaven as per Greek tradition.
There was a lot to learn about architectural design to address the hot climate. Two people on the tour commented that it was SO expensive to heat their Pennsylvanian house in the winter.
Us hot weather residents pointed out that air conditioning bills of $400 per month (or more..) in the summer was not unusual, and the plus side of cold climate is that at least you can always put on another layer of clothes.
Hot weather?
Once you have stripped down to your skivvies to beat the really just can't remove another layer and still function socially, if you get my drift.
Pennsylvania said no, cold is worse.
I'm still wrapping my brain around that one.
You can see all the pictures of the Garden District tour in a slide show by clicking here. It is an easier way to see all the lacy iron work on the houses; I wish someone would photography each style of iron work and publish a catalog.
The steep pitch of this Queen Anne style house really doesn't work in New Orleans. The hot air gets trapped in the high rafters, and the steep pitch is designed to shed snow. New Orleans gets about an inch of snow every fifteen years or so. is a pretty house.
The barrel like structure behind this house is actually left over from a movie set. The movie has just finished being filmed, it is based on a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald and stars Brad Pitt. I'll be watching for this structure, you bet I will.
Lots of movies are being filmed in New Orleans, and the arts are very much alive and growing there.
Another blue porch roof.

A house that sold for 2 million, and authentic restoration cost 7 million. It is a privately owned home.
The iron looks grey here, actually it is black and reflecting the bright sunlight. Lacy loveliness!
I liked how the iron work was used to create little rooms outside the house where you could sit in the shade and the breezes could still get through.
Six and Nine windows. The windows are double hung, so they could be opened wide at the top to let out hot air, and a bit open at the bottom to let in cooler air. The tall windows would have six panes on the top, and nine on the bottom.
Fleur de Lis symbols were everywhere.
Such a Mediterranean look.
Another pink and black house, with shutters that could be closed against hurricanes, or closed with the slats tilted just so, so the people inside could see out, but the people outside could not see in, but the breeze could still get through.
The tour was worth every penny of the $20. I always try to take walking tours or horse or mule drawn carriage tours when I visit places. I always learn so much!
Back to hotel to rest up for the evening events. Bernie finished his time at the convention, and was napping when I got back. I feel so for men and women who have to man conventions. Late night meetings with your own company, then on your feet meeting and greeting people for hours at a time.
So here I am, ready to go, with my backless strapless bra held on by the biggest cloth bandage I could find at Wal-greens.
It worked!
The back of the dress is the sheer fabric like the sleeves, going down to just above the waist.
Add a sparkly jacket...vintage earrings, and I am ready to roll.
(I don't sweat this stuff much anymore. I used to spend hours getting my hair and make up just so, only to arrive in a basically dark ball room where it is difficult to see what you are eating by flickering candle light.)
The other two women (20 something co-workers) gripped when they noticed that all the men showed up in the same suits they had worked in, while they had rushed back to the hotel and spent a couple hours primping.
Live and learn girls, live and learn.
An added bonus feature in the crowd.
Isn't it amazing that men don't realize how much we women adore seeing men in kilts?
The table was elegant...
An illusionist/magician/who knows what to call him performed between honors ceremonies. We are still trying to figure out how Craig does what he does.
Back to the food...more Fleur de Lis. Nice touch!
Yes, we were a little blurry eyed at that point.

And dancing.
We left, planning to take a cab back to Cafe du Monde, and to enjoy a beignet and coffee as we watched the moonlight on the Mississippi River.
I would have blown powdered sugar on Bernie, and we would have walked hand in hand through the French Quarter, mingling with the parties in the street.
Except we couldn't get a cab.
So we didn't.
But someday soon, we will.
We surely will.
And there you have it.
My whirlwind New Orleans diary.
Thanks for coming along with me!


Vicki said...

Wow! The cemetery info is fascinating! Doc doesn't share my attraction to old cemeteries - they are so interesting, and the artwork and statuary can be incredible!

I've heard a couple of different explanations for painting porch ceilings blue. One is that the sky blue color keeps wasps from building nests on what they perceive to be the sky. The other explanation is that porch ceilings (or shutters, door trim, or whatever) are painted a particular shade of blue called "haint blue," which is intended to keep the "haints" or ghosts away.

I love the architecture of NOLA - it's so beautiful. I'm glad to see that the entire city wasn't decimated by Katrina.

Lovella said...

It's hard to believe that Katrina visited that city such a short time ago. The houses were just beautiful. The architecture is all amazing.

You and Bernie make such a wonderful couple. Even though you didn't get to blow the icing sugar on your date, I imagined it just the same. Thanks for taking us along.

Lovella said...

Oh and I forgot to say how beautiful you look in that hat!!!!!