Summer plans and my sister is getting married

Eye of Kali Hibiscus

Thomas picked up this gorgeous Eye of Kali Hibiscus recently. He got into gardening last summer, which has elevated our yard from worst on the block to not too shabby. Picture by yours truly.

 

I’m about to get on a plane so I’ll keep this brief. A few days ago I revisited my list of goals for 2016 and was pleasantly surprised with how many of them I have either reached or am on the path to. I set 36 goals with the premise that if I accomplish even a third of that I’ll be satisfied.

So this all ties in to my summer plans. Kind of. I’ve got some travel plans coming up and I’m going to try to take the GRE later this summer. I also got accepted to participate in a writer’s retreat next month, so go me. The third Catahoula comes out next month and I’m staying on at my current job for at least another six months. Writing for a living badge? Unlocked.

Things I haven’t been so great at: weekly Spanish lessons haven’t happened, no plans on traveling abroad anytime soon and hitting the gym hasn’t happened in a long time.

Whatever.

In a few hours I’m heading out west to the Grand Canyon for my sister’s wedding. I went to there last summer (to Havasupai) but this trip will be different. Aside from Christin’s nuptials, this will be the first time in five years that I will be there with my brother and sister.  What’s the significance? Here ya go, cut and paste from my Facebook because I’m feeling lazy.

June 7, 2016: Today marks 15 years since my dad died. The last thing my dad wanted to do was hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon before he died. He never got the chance.

So all three of his kids did it for him.
The year after my dad died, Thomas and I hiked to the bottom for the first time. The next year, we spent a summer working on the South Rim, then we got married at Havasupai.
After Katrina, Chris and Ruben moved to the Canyon and eventually both got jobs working at Phantom Ranch (aka the bottom of the Canyon). Thomas and I landed in Scottsdale after the storm, so we went to the Canyon every chance we could get.
Christin graduated high school in 2006 and her graduation present was a trip to Phantom. She had never been hiking before, so we brought her ass down there in the pitch dark. It wasn’t even a full moon; I’m talking total darkness save for a headlamp.
Fast forward to this week; I’ve hiked to the bottom 10 times, Christin has hiked down several times (5 or 6?) and Chris lived down there. And now my sister is getting married on the South Rim at Shoshone Point this Saturday.
I think Dad would be rather proud.

Catahoula: Now accepting summer submissions

Catahoula Zine

 

Oooh yes, it’s that time. I don’t know what in the hell I was thinking starting a quarterly zine. As soon as one issue hits stores it’s time to work on the next one. The truth is that putting together each issue has been great fun; it’s a total labor of love but I really do love it. And I haven’t even talked about the latest issue. The Spring Issue is available at Defend New Orleans and Non-Society Hands, a new store that two dear friends of mine opened up on St. Claude. So go grab a copy and support some local businesses.

The Spring Issue is a loose interpretation of “wander,” which garnered a wide range of work including poems and essays that deal with everything from being homeless, day dreaming and travel writing. I’m also proud to feature artwork from artists as far away as the U.K. to people that live just down the street.

So here’s the deal for the next one, ripped right off my own Craigslist post:

 

Catahoula, a quarterly zine that launched January 2016, highlights the work of local, national and international writers, artists and photographers. Each loosely themed issue features poetry, prose, creative nonfiction, comics, photography, illustrations and more.

The summer issue is our “Female Issue,” which will focus on feminism and women’s issues. From the serious to the silly, we are looking for writers and artists of all genders to explore a wide variety of topics.

Ideas include:
reproductive rights
race and gender issues
fashion, especially as it relates to societal norms and self-esteem
interviews with women community leaders

Deadline for the issue is June 16. Please send submissions to christy{at}slowsouthernstyle{dot}com or respond directly to this post.

All contributors will receive a copy of the issue as payment and promotion on our social media outlets.

Catahoula is currently sold at Defend New Orleans, Non-Society Hands and Crescent City Comics.

Always going back to the swamp: Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve

 

Cajun bridal bouquet Black bayou Small Louisiana alligator Louisiana banded water snake

photo by Ryan Sparks

photo by Ryan Sparks

what does duckweed look like Palmetto

I know, I know. Another damn post about the swamp. Every few months I try to get out to Jean Lafitte to snap some new photos and fantasize about fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a park ranger. I can’t stop taking pictures of where I grew up. I even dedicated an entire zine to it (ahem, click here to buy).

Lately I’ve been working seven days a week between two  jobs, which leaves me with little free time. So when I got an unexpected day off from work recently, I called up my good friend Ryan Sparks and we high-tailed it to the West Bank. Just don’t tell maw maw and paw paw I went on “that side of the river” without visiting them. I kind of feel bad that I didn’t swing by their house. Old Cat’lic guilt dies hard, y’all.

Springtime is the perfect time of year to make the trek to Lafitte. March through May hits that sweet spot; the temperature is delightful, plus you can spot gators sprawled out on the banks without getting eaten alive by mosquitos. I’m also that weirdo that gets really, really excited to see snakes. Copperheads are my favorite, but as a former card carrying member of the Gulf Coast Herpetological Society, I appreciate all things scaly. Insects are another story. I want nothing to do with anything that has more than four legs. Banana Spiders, however, do not phase me. Go figure. If you want a reptile free experience, go in the cooler fall and winter months.

A torrential downpour let up right as we ponied up to the Bayou Coquille trailhead, which allowed us to play around with our cameras without worrying about getting our gear soaked. Be warned: I wore my shit kickers and I still almost ate it on the slippery board walk, so make sure to wear sturdy shoes. I do love the swamp after a good rain though. The duckweed turns the color of pea soup and the air shrugs off the tension of humidity. The canals were especially chocked full of vegetation on this trip, which created an illusion of carpeted clearings throughout the swamp. I wonder how many tourists try to step out and land knee deep in mud. I wonder how many of them know better.

You’re invited: Catahoula issue two launch party

William Seward Bonnie

art by William Seward Bonnie

 

Come for the zines, stay for the pretzel plate. The second issue of Catahoula is here! The Spring Issue features over 40 pages of art, photography, poetry and prose by artists and writers from New Orleans and beyond. The theme, “wander,” stretches the meaning of the word.  Poems and essays cover everything from daydreaming, being homeless, the exploration of one’s self, travel writing to seeing one’s hometown with a fresh set of eyes.

I decided to throw a launch party as an excuse to get together over cocktails. It gets lonely sitting at home editing copy with just a laptop and a few cats.  My friends at Sarsaparilla were gracious enough to invite us into their space. In case you’ve never been, Sarsaparilla is a weekly pop-up bar serving affordable craft cocktails and small plates every Tuesday inside Dante’s Kitchen. The mood is come-as-you-are; enjoy live music and board games while you stuff your face. Oh yeah, I’ll also have zines available for sale.

 

Catahoula Issue Two Launch Party

Sarsaparilla (inside Dante’s Kitchen)

736 Dante St.

Tuesday April 19 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.

RSVP here on Facebook

Catahoula: Winter issue in stores now, accepting spring submissions

Defend New OrleansA little zine news for ya: Catahoula is now in stores! That’s right, you can pick up the winter issue at Defend New Orleans on Magazine St. in the Garden District or at Crescent City Comics on Freret St. The current issue features “Allons,” a story (written by yours truly) about what it was like growing up with a swamp for a backyard. Print copies are $8 (plus tax), but you can also pick up a digital copy for a measly $2 by clicking here.

What is Catahoula? A labor of love, mostly. I’ve been wanting to make a print zine for about three years, and after graduation I felt the need to tackle a new creative project.

Since the first zine only featured my words and art, I want to open the spring issue to writers and artists eager to share their own work. Interested in submitting your work? I’m looking for short stories, personal essays and poems (2,000 word max), photography and original artwork.

The theme is “wander.” From travel to day dreams, I’m leaving this wide open to interpretation. Anyone can submit; you don’t have to live in Louisiana.

Send me your best work to christy@slowsouthernstyle.com with the words “Catahoula Spring Issue” in the subject line.  Please send artwork as a JPEG or TIFF file and everything else as a Word document. Deadline is March 20.

 

Mardi Gras 2016

spray painted shoesThomas FewerChristy LorioMardi Gras 2016Mardi Gras costumesWell that was fun.

Mardi Gras 2016 came and went. If you follow me on Instagram then you know I’m a very busy lady during carnival season. I marched with the Gris Gris Strut Marching Band again this year.  My friend Missy (flag corps) said it best: “This is like having a part-time job.” The band started practicing before Christmas, with the bulk of rehearsals in the weeks leading up to carnival. Then there are the parades. I marched in five of them this year, which was great fun but also physically and mentally draining. Walking at a snail’s pace across half the city while playing an instrument, coupled with the intense stimulus of thousands of eyeballs on you, takes its toll. Needless to say, it’s bittersweet that marching season has come to an end.

Oh yea, so y’all wanna talk about these costumes? This was the first time in three years that I didn’t have to balance Mardi Gras with school, which meant I had more time to get busy with the details. I think the official appliqué count was 28– all hand stitched by yours truly. And that’s not counting all of the sequin and feather trim work.  I started on our costumes a month ago, but as usual Lundi Gras night was spent at home with a needle and thread. Thomas was on shoe duty this year, and he did a great job dazzling up his pair of thrift store penny loafers.

After sifting through multiple costume boxes (we have enough to practically open our own costume store) to pull out my trust metallic gold body suit, I’m going to sit down after Ash Wednesday and put my old retail management skills to use. Each box is getting an inventory sheet, sorted by themes and color schemes. Our wigs (I lost count years ago) will get stored in their own separate box. A true #MardiGrasProblems situation.

The People I Know: Alfred Banks

Alfred BanksFreret Street Underdog Central

Whenever I go out for a jog I frequently have this local rapper’s music bumping in my ear buds. It’s time for me to introduce y’all to Alfred Banks.

HOW WE MET

I met Alfred Banks when I worked at Buffalo Exchange. I was a manager and he was a regular customer. Alfred is a sneaker head, so he always scoped out the shoe section first thing when he walked in the store, then would politely ask if we had any new shoes in his size (I remember it too!) that weren’t on the sales floor yet. Normally that drove me nuts (customers can be so pushy sometimes), but Alfred was so damn nice about it I gladly obliged. I haven’t worked for the company for three years, but we’ve kept in touch ever since.

WHAT HE DOES

Alfred is a rapper, and he hustles his ass off trying to make it as an artist. He’s determined to make a living with his music and has already racked up an impressive list of accolades. He was named one of the top 10 rappers in New Orleans by Complex Magazine, his video was featured on Mtv, he was Revolt TV’s 2015 “Local Love Tour” winner and he made DJ Booth’s “Top 5 Rappers in Louisiana” list. His next album is being released in the next few months, so be on the look out for that.

WHO HE IS TO ME

At only 24 years old, Alfred inspires me to keep working towards my goals. He’s had more success than most, yet he remains refreshingly grateful for any support he receives. Plus, he’s just a cool guy, no pretenses and despite what these photos may suggest, he’s usually all smiles. Any time I run into him he’s always bubbling with excitement from his own success. And hell, if we can’t get excited about our own achievements, who else will?

 

 

The People I Know: Christopher and Ruben

Christopher Lorio

 

I’m kicking off the first “People I Know” post of 2016 with the fam. Thomas and I started a new tradition of visiting my brother and his partner in Louisville for Thanksgiving every year. My brother is a professional cook, so this is one tradition we are highly motivated to keep alive. This year we brought the dogs with us to met their cousins for the first time. Four dogs and four humans in a two bedroom apartment could have been a disaster, but the long weekend was fun and everyone — humans and dogs alike– got along. We feasted on a six course T-Day meal, drank entirely too much wine, caught Ben De la Creme perform at Play the following night, and ate at some of the best restaurants and bars in town.

 

HOW WE MET:

Well, Chris is my brother. He’s two years younger than me. Ruben is Chris’s partner. He’s originally from Texas. We all met when we worked as waiters at a fine dining restaurant in the French Quarter circa 2000-2003. I got the job first, then Chris got hired shortly after I did. Thomas came next, then Ruben. Everyone hated working in that restaurant, yet any time we get together we can’t help but reminisce about how much fun we had.

 

WHAT THEY DO:

Chris and Ruben hold the positions of kitchen manager and dining room manager, respectively, at Decca, arguably the best restaurant in Louisville. Chris has wanted to cook professionally for years, so I’m really that he went after his dream. Prior to Decca he worked at an organic bakery in Louisville and prepared steak and stew dinners for weary hikers at Phantom Ranch. Ruben is the consummate industry professional; he’s worked as a manager at some of the best restaurants in New Orleans, the Grand Canyon, and now Louisville.

 

WHO THEY ARE TO ME:

I never fully understood the concept of “family is everything” until after Hurricane Katrina. Up until August 2005 my entire family lived in New Orleans, so I saw everyone on a fairly regular basis. After the storm Chris and Ruben moved to the Grand Canyon (Ruben worked for years at the Grand Canyon prior to moving to New Orleans) and Thomas and I decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona, a relatively short four hour drive away. The rest of my family stayed in New Orleans, so I only saw my “mom ‘n dem” once a year at the most. Currently my sister lives in Texas, so we don’t get a chance to be in the same room together more than once every two years or so. It wasn’t until we were scattered across the country that I realized how precious family time truly is.

 

 

Photo: That’s Chris on the left and Ruben on the right with Hambone and Spartacus, their beagles.

Catahoula Zine

 

Catahoula Zine

Catahoula Zine

I’m excited to announce a project I’ve been working on called Catahoula; the first issue of this quarterly zine features words and photography by yours truly. I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a zine for several years, so I am ecstatic this project has finally come to fruition.

The first issue features “Allons,” a story I wrote this past summer about what it was like to grow up with a swamp for a backyard. I grew up in a typical Westbank subdivision, but my experience was slightly different than my neighbor’s thanks to the proximity of my parent’s house to the levee. Living next to the swamp was fun, but it wasn’t easy. Snakes, armadillos, wasps, and a slew of other animals constantly invaded our home and yard, and the threat of hurricanes was ever present. Growing up in this environment really shaped the person that I am today: someone who yearns for the outdoors and tries not to place too much value on material things since you never know when a storm might take them away. I haven’t lived on “the other side of the river” for 15 years, but I try to make it to Barataria Preserve, the location the essay centers around, at least twice a year. All but one of the photographs (the squirrel photo was shot at Audubon Park) were taken there.

Order a print or digital copy of Catahoula through MagCloud by clicking here. Print copies are $8.00 and digital is $2.00. I’m also giving away two digital copies of Catahoula to two lucky readers. Leave your email in the comments section for a chance to enter. I will pick two winners at random. Winners will be contacted early next week.

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