Category Archives: summer

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.

Growing up With Hurricanes

Barataria Preserve

 

“Are you planning on writing anything about Katrina?” My friend Missy posed the question to me during one of our quasi-regular coffee dates two weeks ago. The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is coming up on August 29, and my social media timelines are saturated with links to articles from both local and national news outlets.

I have mixed emotions about “K10”. I acknowledge the importance of commemorating the struggle, the lives lost, the frustrations felt (no matter if you stayed in town or high tailed it out of here), but I find rehashing the experience on a yearly basis exhausting.

I’ve shared snippets of my Katrina story with everyone from friends to total strangers, but I’m not ready to write my entire experience down yet. Instead, I’ll share an excerpt from Allons, a longer essay I wrote this summer. The piece is about growing up in a house that was situated on the cusp of the swamp in an otherwise nondescript WestBank subdivision. This particular part of the essay explores what it was like going through adolescence with the constant threat of hurricanes. If you enjoy it, or even if you hate it, please leave your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.

 

 

I was eight weeks old when I took my first pirogue ride. The levee was just a glorified dirt mound then, and a storm brought enough rain to flood our house, requiring my parents to bundle me up and float us out. The levee was still inadequate when my brother was born two years later. Whenever Nash Roberts would announce a hurricane was coming, neighbors would join together to fortify the levee with hundreds of sandbags, most likely purchased with their own money. The Army Corps of Engineers finally built the levee up and installed a pumping station that would suck the water out of the streets. However, the levees could only do so much. Whenever Nash predicted a really big hurricane was projected to make landfall, we got the hell out of town. If Nash said it was bad, then it must be bad. Everyone trusted Nash.

My sister was born seven years after my inaugural boat ride and by then me and my brother were evacuation pros. We could each take three toys with us, but no more. Mom would bring photo albums and important documents, such as our birth certificates, to my maternal grandparent’s house, since their house never flooded. Dad would board up the windows with sheets of plywood, which protected the glass panes and blocked light from coming in. We put all of our furniture up on wooden blocks, as if those extra two inches would make a big difference if significant flooding occurred. Anything that could get ruined would go on top of beds, dressers, and closet shelves. I would put my most prized possessions at the highest points, which forced me to assign value to everything I owned. Sometimes I thought about the worst case scenario, imagining our house filled to the roof like an aquarium. I imagined Sac-au-Lait and Redfish doing circles around the wooden dollhouse my paternal paw paw built me. I never worried about my own well being, but worried about my precious belongings, like what would happen to my microscope or my roller skates. Mom and Dad took care of the bigger things that my adolescent mind couldn’t quite comprehend, such as personal safety in the midst of a natural disaster. We also stocked up on canned goods and filled the bathtubs with water just in case water sources became contaminated after the storm. We never needed the water, but once every few years we would have to live without power for a few days and subsist on canned beans and PB&J sandwiches.

A kiddie pool for adults? Yes, please!

kiddie pool set up

A kiddie pool for adults? Yes, you need one in the worst way possible.

The summer months are downright miserable in New Orleans. The only way to remain comfortable is to stay indoors and blast the air conditioner until late October, or get proactive about cooling off and get creative with staving off the heat.

Last summer I made the best decision of my life (only a slight exaggeration) and invested in a kiddie pool. They’re relatively inexpensive, a good excuse to have friends over, and if you’re in need of some solitude all you need is a good book, an ice cold Le Croix, and you’ve got yourself a backyard oasis on a budget. I’m not talking about those glorified puddles of water in the shape of a turtle; you need something that your grown ass self can sit down in, chest deep, or fit a pool float in.

Interested in setting up your own? Since I did my homework last summer you don’t have to. Here’s everything you need for your own adult kiddie pool, ice chest full of beer not included.

 

Not too big, not too small

Buy the largest pool you can. I wanted mine to fit on my covered back patio, so a five feet wide by three feet deep framed pool was the best option for me. I purchased it for $60 from Big Lots, but there are plenty of options out there online as well as in stores.

 

The setup 

You need a flat surface – such as an even patch of grass or a level spot on the patio – otherwise you’ll risk puncturing the bottom. I also recommend purchasing two tarps, one to go underneath the pool (for added protection) and one to cover it. If you can buy a pool cover designed for your model get that instead. Even with a cover bugs and debris will sneak in. A leaf rake or net is a must for keeping your pool clean.

I definitely recommend buying a kiddie pool with a built in filter. You want to keep that water moving, unless your goal is to start a mosquito breeding facility. In that case, keep that water nice and stagnant. My pool didn’t come with a filter, so I purchased a pond aerator via Amazon in lieu of hiring neighborhood kids to blow bubbles via silly straws 12 hours a day.

 

Crystal clear 

It takes a lot of water to fill up a pool. Mine holds about 350 gallons, so instead of putting more money into New Orleans Sewage and Water Board’s pockets, I fill up my pool once and maintain the water quality on a weekly basis. Pool supply manufacturers don’t make products for kiddie pools (if you find some let me know) so I wing it with spa products. I like Fresh n’ Clear from Leslie’s Pool Supplies.

You’ll need to figure out how many gallons of water your pool holds to make sure you are using the proper amount of product. Search for online swimming pool calculators that will figure out your pool’s volume based on the height, width, and depth.

I don’t bother with chlorine tablets but I do put two or three capfuls of bleach in the pool and let it sit for a day or two before my next late night dip. Every other week I scrub down the sides and bottom with a sponge to prevent slime buildup.

Packing it up

Unless you want to maintain that puppy during the winter I’d suggest packing it up and storing it away. I give my pool a good scrubbing with soapy water before I store it or after I unpack it from the previous year. You’ll also want to let it dry completely before stashing it away, unless acrid mildew is your thing.

 

Worth the Drive: Mississippi’s Forest Retreat

forest retreatIMG_6631

forest retreat Mississippi

homochitto national forest

 

I haven’t been to Forest Retreat, a secluded trio of cabins in Mississippi’s Homochitto National Forest, since 2013. Forest Retreat was me and Thomas’ secret spot when the urge get out of the city for a few days would arise. There is no cell phone reception, no internet (the cabins do have wifi now), and the only noise that cuts through the silence is the rustling of leaves and an occasional dog howling in the distance. We used to make the three hour drive at least twice a year with Nadia, our retired racing Greyhound, in tow. The reason I discovered Forest Retreat in the first place was an ad in Urban Dog Magazine that touted dog friendly cabins. We weren’t sure our timid city pooch would take to being out in the country, but I’m pretty sure Nadia had more fun playing in the creek and going on hikes than we did.

Sadly, Nadia passed away two summers ago due to an inoperable tumor on her spinal cord. Her ashes are sealed in a large plastic bag, tucked away in a wooden box on a bookshelf in our living room. I’ve never been able to bring myself to look at her remains, and I didn’t want to go back to Forest Retreat for the same reason that box sits unopened two years later. We only had Nadia for three years, but she was the love of my life, the first dog we owned as a couple, and just like many rescued animals, we had to earn her affection. Most retired racing greyhounds aren’t accustomed to what we think of as a “normal home life” since they grow up around the race track. The dogs can be slightly skittish at best and scared of their own shadow at worst. I worked with Nadia to overcome her fear of the dishwasher, taught her how to climb up and down stairs, and eventually she stopped being petrified of the wind. Skateboards, on the other hand, were the devil incarnate. She would hyperventilate at the slightest hint of a thunderstorm, but fireworks were inexplicably okay.

After Nadia passed we waited a few months before getting another dog. So when we got two – Izzy, another Greyhound, and Beignet, a terrier/Catahoula mix – it just didn’t feel right to rush back to our old vacation spot with our new crew. I equated it with the awkwardness of bringing a new beau to the restaurant you dined at all the time with your ex. How do you explain to your new fling why you know so much about the menu?

So when Thomas recently suggested we plan a weekend getaway to Forest Retreat, I surprised myself and said yes. We ended up going this past weekend and my only regret is that we waited so long to go. The dogs loved it, we enjoyed the break from our day to day lives, and we both had to ask ourselves “What took us so damn long to get back here?” I’d like to think that Nadia is somewhere in that big dog park in the sky, running her skinny little butt off and being as stubborn as ever. I think she would agree that it’s finally time to move on and give some other pooches their turn to run through the forest.

For more pictures from Forest Retreat check out my Tumblr: christylorio.tumblr.com

If you decide to go on your own Forest Retreat weekend, here are a few things to consider:

  • GPS will only get you so far, so make sure you print out the direction given to you upon your reservation. That said, the directions aren’t the clearest (we get turned around every time) and cell phone reception is spotty on country roads. Give yourself ample time to backtrack. Trust me, you don’t want to traverse forest service roads at night.
  • The owner recently added wifi in the cabins but there’s  no cell phone reception, unless you stand on the parking hill, cross your fingers and make a wish. You’ll want to unplug but do keep this in mind in case of an emergency.
  • You’ll need to bring all of your food with you. The nearest store is several miles away and once you start to unwind you won’t want to see an ignition switch until vacation is over. The two cabins are furnished with essentials such as bed linens, towels and kitchen gadgets. You’ll need to bring your own toiletries and if you’re going in the summer bug spray is a godsend. I like to bring a good book, a board game or two, a flashlight, appropriate shoes for wading in the creek, my camera, and my laptop for playing music and watching movies at night.
  • Bring your dog’s bed and a blanket for the sofa if you have a four legged couch potato.

Sweating Season

Front Yard Foliage

     Let’s face it, New Orleans can be downright miserable in the summer. The humidity slaps you in the face like a steaming wool blanket the second you walk out the door. It’s all bad hair days and sweaty clothes from now until October. The city goes into a reverse hibernation, with many people taking the opportunity to travel. For whatever reason, I’m usually the dummy that doesn’t get out of town during the hottest part of the year. This year, that’s got to change.

     August marks our ten year wedding anniversary (when in the hell did that happen?!)  and while we were planning on renewing our vows where we got married, the timing was off (thanks, fall school schedule) so we opted not to say “I Do” again, at least not this year.  Instead, we’re packing up the car for a week long road trip: NOLA>Atlanta>Asheville>Louisville>Pigeon Forge. I’m looking forward to making road trip playlists, visits with friends and family along the way, truck stop dinners and dusting off our trusty two man tent. Goodbye humidity, hello clean mountain air. 

So, what’s your summer travel itinerary looking like?

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What I Wore: Fourth of July

Poplin Sleeveless Band Blouse: Everlane
Plaid preppy shorts: Banana Republic via my sister (thanks sis!)
Sandals with stud detailing on heel: J. Crew via Buffalo Exchange
Assorted sterling silver bracelets & Celine sunnies: Buffalo Exchange

I haven’t posted my mug here since April. As I’ve scaled back the amount of posts I do, I also wanted to get back to the roots of Slow Southern Style, which is showcasing Southern based designers, or things I give a damn about. So expect less vanity, more features on quality goods worth purchasing.

 For the Fourth of July we rode our bikes to the French Quarter, and basically ate and drank our way through the streets. I highly recommend the Pimm’s Cup daiquiri at St. Lawrence and the cool party vibe at Tiki Tolteca, located upstairs inside Felipe’s. Excuse the jacked up bangs that resemble a toupee; we got caught in the rain earlier.  

What did y’all do for the Fourth of July?

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damn hurricanes always ruining everything

How to read with the lights out: red wine, Oxford American, and a trusty camping lantern. Done.

Last week was quite the adventure, to put it lightly. Hurricane Isaac rolled into town, disrupting everyday routines, causing massive destruction and flooding in lower lying parishes.* When mom has to take a boat to get to her house, you know that’s a serious storm.

 We jokingly call the time off work hurrications, a misnomer for days spent sweating without air conditioning and modern luxuries like a working fridge, normal cell phone reception, and lights. It’s funny how the conveniences that we take for granted become precious commodities when you ain’t got it. Still, I can’t complain too much considering I lucked out with only a wee bit of damage compared to what other people endured. I’ll be writing more about the storm on Uptown Messenger later this week, so tune in for that. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. 
*Parishes are Louisiana’s version of a county.
Storm essentials
Tea lights on the mantle
Sneaking an icy drink 
Heaven on a plate- shrimp platter from Johnny’s Seafood in Marrero. Thank God for generators.
Wearing real clothes after 5 days spent in a t-shirt & shorts is downright delightful.

Iced coffee-quite the luxury after being without power for 3.5 days
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Lazy Days of Summer

monogram necklace from Abeille NOLA p.s. Xty- short for Christy since my initials CLL are redundant

This it it y’all. September is nearly upon us and the lazy days of summer have been hitting me hard. Maybe it’s the biblical amount of rain we’ve had, coupled with intense heat and humidity but I’ve been savoring my downtime. Weekends have been spent watching documentaries, hanging out with friends, and catching up on forgotten issues of National Geographic. September brings a road trip, a wedding, and preliminary plans for Halloween costumes. Yea, that’ll be here before you know it.

riding the midi skirt trend from last year
my retired athlete- here’s an article i wrote about retired greyhounds on Uptown Messenger
last days of summer- chambray and silk
Winged rabbit cutouts from the Frenchman Art Market

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What I Wore: Black And Tan

While summer is supposedly winding down and the school year is upon us, we’ve still got two or three months of nasty hot weather ahead. I’ve been wearing a lot of neutrals these past weeks, perhaps in a subconscious effort to kick start fall. This is the time of year I start to loathe everything I own. Is it just me, or do you feel like you’ve been wearing the same warm weather staples since….scratch that, we didn’t get a winter this year.

This khaki skirt has seen me through the entire summer, and I’m sure I’ll continue to wear it  with a sweater and tights when the temperature hopefully drops. It also makes an appearance on the Oxford American website via Parish Chic.

tee- three dots via Swap Boutique
belt- Target
skirt- Zara via Buffalo Exchange
gold cap toe flats- Melissa via UAL
leopard print bow- c/o Sproos Shop
black and gold bracelet- c/o Abeille

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