If you’re Rhinebeck-bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night–details here.

Spring Break, Mayan Style

Dear Kay. Kay, Kay, Kay, Kaaaaaaaaaaaaay,
It’s funny. Before I met you in actual real person, back in the olden days when we were writing each other like a couple of dotty Victorians, I imagined you sitting in some vague New York apartment. You had a vague, undiagnosable accent; your features were vague–you were this puffy cloud of a person. It was only when you told me some detail of your life that the fog lifted. Carrie has big eyes. Hubby is really tall. Your parents live in Omaha. You don’t knit with wool.
I mention this because this morning I just had that vague sensation about you, for the first time in ages. I mean, today is the first time a yarn shop owner has got some people together to see our book, and it’s just making me nuts not to be there. I can’t envision it. All I can figure is that you’re over there in London somewhere (a city I’ve never visited), surely drinking tea or something vaguely British, chatting it up with some London knitters, all of whom have lovely, vague accents. I know two things: at some point today you’ll be eating a cupcake, because the yarn shop owner at Loop is providing them. And you are likely to be wearing your favorite knitted denim jacket. I can’t wait to hear how your trip has gone, who you’ve met, what you did, all of it.
As for meeee . . .
Mexico was great. Just great. Ohhhhh, what a trip! What a wander-around/layabout, do-stuff/do-nothing trip. I’ve already written my hate mail to a hotel about the prepaid reservation that resulted in a profound lack of a room. It’s not a trip without one totally pfaffed-up logistical moment.
But I digress!
I just want you to know: I did it. I went COLD. TURKEY. A whole week without a peek at email, the Internet, the beloved bloggy world of bloggy knitting. No TV, no phone, no radio–I decided to get in touch with my inner Mayan and go native.
You would think, in a place like Mexico, that it would be easy to pull the plug. Day 1: We arrive at our hotel before our room is ready. The FIRST thing the guy at the front desk says is, “Well, you can use the Internet over there if you like.” I’m all Hola Señor I am trying a very tricky experiment this week, and you are NOT helping. We divert to the bar, where David the 10-year-old discovers ping pong. In a world with no electronic media, there is room for a lot of ping pong.
The week went like this: Beach. Ruins. Ruins. Beach.
When I was little, the preferred family torture was to drag all four of us to Civil War battlefields. For the fellas, Mayan ruins seem to work just the same. Actually, they really hung in there. The ancient Mayan lifestyle was full enough of human sacrifice and gore that there’s plenty to think about.
At Chichen Itza (the Washington, DC of its day), we spent a while at the well where they dumped their sacrifice victims. We had a nice long discussion about how many times a person could survive before giving up. Eighteen is the number. After hauling yourself out of the 60-foot-deep cenote eighteen times, you’d give up.
We happened to be at Chichen Itza on March 21, the day that the giant pyramid does its coolest thing.
9 am: Peaceful, haunted place.
4 pm: By magic, the pyramid attracts 40,000 people from all over the world, covered in every imaginable brand of sunscreen, to sit in the blazing sun. For this one day–the spring equinox–the shadows of the pyramid appear to be a serpent god slowly slithering its way down the side of the pyramid. I was not smoking enough weed to get a full hallucination going, but in the moment I could see, in a world without electronic devices, how this would be cool enough to blow the minds of those Mayan people.
I thought about imperfection, and the way the top of this pyramid is not symmetrical even though it first appears to be. It’s out of whack so that it aligns with celestial calculations. The Mayans didn’t have metal tools, but they loved a calendar. They loved keeping track so much that they built pyramid-sized calendars.
What I Made
Remarkably little! I’m feeling sort of twixt and tween right now. I decided to cook up a blanket along the lines of the Keepsake Blanket that’s in the book. Instead of denim, I’m using up some Tahki Cotton Classic, and I’m making up rules as I go along–you know, squarey pattern follows wavy pattern. Juicy color then blah color. I’ve already forgotten some of the rules. This project was great for Mexican back roads when you’ve tired of yelling POTHOLE every ten seconds. And it was great for hanging with my peeps at the Cancun airport.
By the end of the week, the noise inside my brain was like an empty gymnasium, with one lonesome basketball bonking around. I didn’t write, I knitted in only the most desultory way, and I have to say, it was quite a change. I’m still digesting this electronics-free week. I felt so . . . vague.
And no, that’s not me dangling from that rope. But if you go a week without email, the idea does occur to you.

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  1. Ann, how very luck you were to be at Chichen Itza to see that event. I spent 14 wonderful days in the Yucatan in 1989 for the honeymoon of my first marriage. While that marriage ended miserably, I remember fondly the trip and the magical sites I was able to see. Tulum is truly beautiful. I can still see the red imprint of the ancient person who worked on a part of one of the buildings.
    It makes me want to go back right now!! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Awesome. It’s been years since I was in Cancun, but I went to Tulum as well.
    I would have loved to witness the conversation about being thrown in a well eighteen times. That kind of thinking is right up my alley!
    Thanks for the memories!!

  3. I love the hats on the boys. An BOY OH BOY do the boys looked bleached or what? How much sunscreen did you slather on them? It’s been lovely and quiet here in Nashvegas and am still whiter than your offspring. Looking forward to seeing you–and than desultory blanket.

  4. Your trip sounds fantastic! Everything is about to get rolling with a new academic quarter for me, so a week away from computers sounds very appealing right now.
    And P.S. I think the blanket looks cool.

  5. Great travelogue. Snake shadows on the ancient temple, no computers,desultory knitting and a beach. Throw in a margarita – I hope you did- and it sounds just right.

  6. Oh my gosh! To be at Chichen Itza to see the snake body. How incredibly cool! But, I’m not sure I would have wanted to fight those crowds – it was very peaceful when I was there.

  7. five pound lizards???? no thanx. here, near the canyon in sunny CA., we have the skinny variety, which climb up the side of the house (outdoors!) to sunbathe…. “creep factor” weighs heavily.

  8. Oh blanket is so interesting. I’ll bet you enjoyed the weather. A week sans email? It would be SOOOOOOO hard.

  9. While you were basking in the snake-shadow sunshine, I was having tea with Kay! And a cupcake! It was really fun, and the book is great, and ya shoulda been there! Although ping pong and sunscreen sound marvellous, too…

  10. Sounds like a fab getaway, Ann. Are you feeling less vague now? Have the electronic vibes re-invigorated you? And Mary de B is quite right, Loop was great fun (I do love that shop), Kay did really well (and mentioned you a lot) but as of yesterday afternoon she was not quite halfway on her wager knitting, so you never know, I still might win! (I had been trying to keep her busy with Other Things, you see)

  11. I’m so glad you went to Tulum; that was one of my favorite things in our whole visit to Mexico – I loved the spinning guys, whatevertheirnameswere. And if I had been a knitter back then, I would have known that I could keep myself from overheating in the hot, hot Mexican sun by sitting and knitting in the shade. Welcome back.

  12. You DID knit a ziggurat! I’m hearing the music from Close Encounters.

  13. Hi Ann,
    Thanks for your kind comment on my blog.
    I’m enjoying looking at your Mayan adventure too.
    K x

  14. Ahh! Ann, we missed you. So glad you made it home safely. Your trip sounds incredible! How was the food?
    I lived in Mexico for a year and just love the country.

  15. Sounds like a lot of fun was had by all. Is “pothole” the Mexican form of the “deer sign” game? Our spring break started with a ski day with Aunt Jen from Hawaii (Afghanistan Aunt Jen) and the ceremonial dumping of Mom’s knitting bag out of the back of the truck into the muddy parking lot along with the accompanying commentary that did not contribute to Mom’s sunny mood (“whew, at least nothing important fell in the mud”- um, hello, I think my knitting and Wild Fibers magazine were important; “why did Mom bring knitting anyway, we’re skiing”- um, hello, who is going to sit with the 5yo in the lodge when she gets cranky and tired in the middle of the day?, oh right, Mom is). Luckily the knitting was in ziplock bags, not so luckily the WF mag and the digi-cam were not. Hopefully the camera shop can get the grit out of the lens and I can get a new copy of WF since we have another ski day planned for tomorrow. The knitting will be in the front seat with me!

  16. Book! (sorry, hijacked the comments)
    Its lovely!

  17. Just wanted to congratulate you on your published work. My local (and only) bookstore doesn’t carry much on knitting but they usually order 1 or 2 in of major new books. I am preparing to lie in wait with sock yarn and a net. Wish me luck.
    Congrats again!

  18. Melissa hijacked, so the rest of us have an excuse to go offtopic (tho’ the trip looked fabulous!) for congratulations! I can’t wait to get home to thank Brown for delivering your book!

  19. My husband, Oliver, and I were lucky enough to be at Chichen Itza to see the serpent 5 years ago (Oliver the photographer took some tremendous photos, one of which is framed and hanging on our wall). Lucky for us, we got to go the day before the actual spring equinox, when the serpent still does its thing but there are about 30,000 fewer people. It still was painful to stand in line for 40 minutes for the bathroom, though…

  20. i just got back from the riveria maya yesterday! it was such a blast…the beaches, the culture, the ruins, the wildlife. loved it, loved it, loved it. we saw those spinning guys at tulum too. i wasn’t sure what the whole ceremony was about but it was fun to watch nonetheless.


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