Monthly Archives: October 2012

My Kind of Study Break

I just looked up from a paper I’ve been writing (Chaucer, anyone?) to find on facebook Mary’s latest post.  “Of course!” I thought, “I should do a blog post!”  The moment of inspiration always strikes at the least opportune homework moment for me it seems.  Ah, well, that’s just how it goes.

A few weeks ago, I escaped the UD bubble with my amazing (ly short and awesome) friend, Selena.  A city warrior at heart, she is always looking for opportunities to get off campus, and now that the university has a light rail station right across the road, she can and does.  And sometimes she’s even able to drag my crumudgeony self away with her.  And then I get over being grumpy and being scared of public transportation (because of course the 5’10” girl is more afraid of it than the 4’11” one…) and enjoy myself immensely.  Our destination?  Cafe Brazil in Deep Ellum, Dallas.

I was first attracted to Cafe Brazil for the Bottomless Coffee Bar.

You pay somewhere around $3 for all the coffee you can drink, and as a barista at the cappuccino bar on campus, I never pass up a good (and cheap) cup of coffee.  I also happen to be impervious to caffeine, so I can down 3 or 4 cups in an hour and not feel a thing but warm satisfactions and enjoyment of the lovely liquid.  And, as a Slattery, I never pause to take advantage of a good deal.  I was out to get my money’s worth!

Selena was not quite so cavalier in her coffee drinking.work done.

Although our reasoning for going to Cafe Brazil was studying, we decided to eat first (thus happily postponing getting anything done).  I ordered the Amazon salad and was quite impressed.

The food was hearty, the coffee was hot, and the conversation was lovely.  After awhile, Selena and I actually broke out the books and laptops and got down to business.

 

Luckily, this lasted all of two minutes.

 

Selena always knows how to make me laugh.  To coffee, friendship, and liberation from homework!  Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone   Happy Halloween!

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On The Road Again

By: Mary

It’s a strange coincidence, but every three years or so at this time of year, I’ve made completely unconnected trips to Kansas City.

The first time was to ride in a horse show, and the last time was for the wedding of my friend, Sarah. The trip to KC is to spend a few days with Erica before she exchanges vows with her fiancee, Ryan, on Saturday.

I’m thrilled to be able to spend most of the week with Erica and Ryan, and I wouldn’t miss the wedding for the world. Okay, for the world is  a slightly ginormous, astronomical exaggeration, but my point is, this trip is something that I’ve been looking forward to for months. But I’ve also been dreading it. I know that makes no sense, but just check out this post and you’ll know why.

I pretty much can get lost driving along a familiar rural, straight highway. So the eight hour drive in KC is a lot for directionally-challenged Me to digest. Last time I went to Kansas City I actually drove with Mom and Clare. My mom and my sister were going to visit relatives and swap out a car with Patrick, who was driving from Dallas to meet us. Somehow, while trying to locate my uncle’s house in the suburbs, we ended up getting lost…as in really lost. As in going under a tunnel and entering a train depot area instead of the exit I had thought it was. Trust me, there was a lot of screaming that went on while I shifted my car up into reverse and gunned it away from the threat of getting flattened by a  speeding train.

To my relief, just last week I came up with the perfect solution to get to KC without getting miserably lost. Nope, its not a GPS, its having Jacob come with me! Jacob is interning for our farm. When he came here from Iowa last month, my dad jokingly suggested an arranged marriage between him and one of the many daughters of a family friend. This family used to be “normal”, then went Amish, and now I think they’re kind of a mix of both (sorry, its  a long story!).

Anyhow, now Jacob, our root crop intern, can become GPS Jacob, because he’s going to drive with yours truly to KC and then drive an hour out of the city to spend the rest of the week with the maybe-wife-potential family.

Needless to say, I think it’s a beneficial arrangement for both of us. I get to hang out with my friends, and he gets to look for a wife. Perfecto!

As an additional note, I know this picture I’m posting isn’t exactly relevant, but Kate encourages posting pictures and this is the closest one I have to the topic of this post. It was actually taken in the middle of the night, in the middle of a Pittsburgh to Chicago trip that Kate, Robert, and I made. As you can see, we Slatterys really know how to be ridiculous and have fun while on the road. I’ll have to teach GPS Jacob the art, because its time to follow the “yellow brick road” all the way to Kansas!

More later…

Mare

To Grandmother’s House We Go

By: Clare

I distinctly remember squeezing into the very back of a suburban along with my brother Raphael, wearing my puffy maroon winter coat and itchy, white hat whizzing down the interstate on Christmas day. By “very back of a suburban” I do not mean the last seat of a suburban, I mean the small space behind the last seat, right in between the seat and the back door. Suburbans can hold a lot of people, but they can’t quite fit all nine of the Slattery kids, plus a mother and father. I spent four hours lying on the cold floor of the that rusty car with my mopey older brother. Even though I was cold and totally uncomfortable, I was lovin’ life. I was on my way to Grandma Slattery’s, a land of clean carpeted floors, endless candy and cookies, brats & burgers, and cable TV. It was my haven, where I could eat junk food and watch Disney channel all day long without a care in the world. As the years rolled along, annual trips to Grandma’s house were a little less crowded, but just as enjoyable. It didn’t matter if it was the middle of summer, or the middle of winter, Grandma Slattery was always ready to welcome us. A lover of road trips and extreme laziness (this being my only job at Grandma’s house) I jumped at the chance to visit Grandma anytime there was an opportunity. I’m so glad I was able to spend the time with her that I did, as our grandmother passed away last week.

The trip we made exactly one week ago for the funeral to stay at her house one last time was extremely bittersweet for me. This time, several vehicles were taken, and I (being the sweet, sweet, youngest child that I am) chose to go with my parents. With Dad charging down the interstate at a  good 50 mph , I had plenty of time to contemplate. I realized that the trip alone to Grandma’s house was something I had cherished about her. So, I’d like to take you along. Virtually, of course. I’m not going to kidnap you and drag you there. As a matter of fact, I don’t even have my permit yet, thanks to my mother conveniently losing my birth certificate. But that’s another story.

Well…ONWARD HO!

We are here:

We need to travel across the land of milk and cheese to Sheboygan. This is a good four hour trip, so I would stock up on the Corn Nuts and bring along some good books. Be sure to have a small fleece blanket and a pillow. I like to stretch out in the back seat and get really paranoid and imagine the cops pulling us over and fining me for not wearing a seat belt and/or us getting into a serious accident and me dying tragically because I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. But that’s just me. You can take off your seat belt and think like a sane person if you would like.

Traveling with the Slattery  parents means if you want the radio turned on, it will be on one station and one station only- NPR, where they speak of intelligent things in very whimsical, intelligent voices. BUT, if you’re lucky and you’re traveling on the right day, you may just catch a Garrison Kiellor show! This I can enjoy. BUT, if you’re traveling on a Sunday in the fall, and you’re in Wisconsin, you’ll be stuck listening to the Packers game. At this point, I think I would have preferred actually getting into a car accident/being pulled over to having to listen to the game. I am seriously anti-football, anti-Packers, and in most cases, just plain anti-Wisconsin.

Eventually, you’ll make it out of the winding back roads and onto the Interstate. On the interstate, you’ll enjoy watching every single car behind you pass you, as Patrick Slattery obliviously drives on. Don’t look at the speedometer, whatever you do. It’s really frustrating watching someone drive a car as if it is a tractor. Sometimes I have to roll the window down and stick my face outside for a good minute or two to calm myself down.

The small town of Montello marks the halfway point.

Congratulations, you’re halfway there!

I have always loved Montello. Every single time I’ve gone to Sheboygan, we’ve never failed to stop and take a quick break at the local Kwik Trip. Kwik Trip is nothing special. Its just a gas stop- there are plenty of them scattered all over the state. Its what’s outside that certain Kwik Trip.

This little beaut’s the only waterfall I’ve seen in my life. The big hole that the gushing water’s filling up used to be a granite quarry, I believe. They made the best granite around. It was so good in fact, that granite was taken from this quarry to be made into the tomb for Ulysses S. Grant. I think I got those facts right…I haven’t ever really read the tourist sign very closely. In the summer, a few swans are released into the enclosed area, and make that their home. I used to love to throw chips at the big hissing birds, and watch their ugly black feet paddle beneath the glassy surface. I’ll miss those swans.

Continue on to Ripon-birthplace of the Republican party.

My father lived in Ripon for several years working as editor of the local newspaper as a young twenty-something. He was even voted “most eligible bachelor” of the small town.

Now on to Fond du Lac. As an easily embarrassed pre-teen, I used to dread this town. Every time we passed through, we had to stop, find a place right by the road where my dad would cajole us all into doing jumping jacks while shouting “BEAT FONDI BEAT FONDI!” This was an old tradition from his high school days, when Fond du Lac and his South Sheboygan High School had some kind of rivalry. Over the years, somehow this tradition had died down, and I, in the midst of a melancholic state, had decided we needed to bring it back one last time. So, we found a little field with a small set of bleachers, conveniently set back from the main road…

Ready?

“BEAT FONDI! BEAT FONDI!”

Hey, guess what? Fondi was our last stop! You’ve made it across the state!

I doubt any of you will be making this trip in reality any time soon, if ever, but I hope you enjoyed coming along for ours.

Sheboygan really is a neat place, and if you’re ever near it, be sure to take a look around. If there’s one thing you want to do, check out the magnificent Lake Michigan, a Slattery tourist spot favorite.

Whether summer..

..or winter..

We always take the time to stop and stare out across the big blue expanse.

Ah, Sheboygan travels, how I will miss thee..

Belated Birthday of a Beauty

by Kate

I can’t remember birthdays, but I do remember a vast collection of verses and  fragments of lullabies. These have been defining characteristics of my role as eldest of nine children. I have managed to consistently remember the birthday of one brother, closest in age to myself, and after that I lost track entirely of the dates, months, and even seasons that marked the entrance of my younger siblings into our family. However, I sang most of the younger ones to sleep on a regular basis, and read all of  The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings out loud on long Wisconsin winter nights and languid summer ones, too.

That is why I am writing this birthday post about my beautiful little sister Colleen today….

instead of yesterday, which was her birthday. I know it was her birthday, because I saw it on facebook today. There is no use pretending anything else, as Colleen knows me too well.

I am thinking about Colleen today, and that although I did not remember her birthday yesterday, I do vividly remember the perfection of her tiny hands and fingernails hours after she was born. I remember the delight in her eyes as a toddler, her thumb in her mouth and her other arm outstretched to greet the world. Colleen never crawled. As the seventh child, she didn’t need to. She scooted about a bit and the rest of the time she was carried on someone’s hip, stretching her arm out imperiously to indicate the direction she wished to go.

Colleen still greets the world with delight, and after she started walking, she never stopped running.

She is exuberant, elegant, and extraordinary, this little sister of mine.

On this day after Colleen’s birthday, I am grateful for the many gifts that she has given me. Thank you, little sister, for teaching me to sing soft lullabies to tired toddlers curled in a pile of blankets. Thank you for teaching me to take long walks with little children, taking time to really see the huge silvery moon hanging over the woods on a snowy evening and the way the clouds roll in slowly over the ridge.

Thank you for playing dress up as a small child, and as a beautiful girl, and for running through the garden in silken rags at any age.

Thank you for the poem you wrote and gave to me at my wedding, when you were a bridesmaid in a vintage ballgown…

The poem that made me cry for an hour, until my new husband said “Kate! It’s your wedding! You are supposed to be happy!” and I tried to explain through my tears that I was.

Thank you for being so happy, and for bringing so much joy and music and laughter into our family.

Thank you for being my little sister, and for teaching me so much.


Maybe next year, I’ll even remember your birthday… ON your birthday. (But probably not.)

A Kaleidoscope Of Reflections

By Mary

Upcoming summer thoughts were dancing in my head on Memorial Day weekend. I was busy entertaining musings of summer plans, and enjoying the anticipation of the return to wearing shorts and tank tops while running around in sun soaked elements.

Thoughts quickly turned to absorb the news that was discussed at the Memorial Day grill out I was attending. The big news was that a girl I know whose adoptive parents work for my brother had been in a very serous accident. After being ejected from the windshield and rolled over by the car she was driving, the girl was being stabilized, but was paralyzed.

Merely 2 weeks or so after her accident, I took a fall from my horse. At a high-speed, I flew over his head and faceplanted. At the time I was about 2 miles from any human, and had no phone on me. All the pressure from the fall went directly to that of my face and neck. For a minute I simply lay on the side of a shallow winding crick, wondering if I ever would be able to move again.

Though it’s been months since the fall, I am still filled with a sense of gratitude and awe that I was able to stumble up and collect Mars’ reins in my shaking hands.

Today I had the choice of using my strong legs to either run a 10K trail race, or to go to a trail ride benefit for the beautiful young lady who was injured in May and can no longer move her neck nor feel her legs.

I chose to go to the benefit and spent the gorgeous September afternoon on horseback with the company of my best friend and sister-in-law, Aurora.

The leaves couldn’t have looked more splendid.

There colors reflected upon the still hills like a kaleidoscope of autumnal radiance.

Today I paid special attention to living in the moment. Nothing is a given.

I am extremely blessed that I was able to get up after that late afternoon fall that resulted in a neck pressured faceplant. It is luminating to marvel at how beautiful and fragile life is. I hope to always remember this, and fall in love with the moment. The Chile Peppers can’t be more right with their lyrics ” Life is too short, so love the one you got”. Thank goodness for the goodness of the blessings we all take for granted.

Adventures in Pittsburgh

By: Clare

Its been two weeks, and I can’t procrastinate any longer.

Two weeks since my trip to Pittsburgh to see my biggest, baddest sister have the biggest, fattest baby ever. But I didn’t really watch her have the baby. Yuck. Aaand I’m pretty sure half of the words I used to describe Kate and the baby aren’t really legit words.

Two days after I started a new school year as a sophmore, I was already plain tuckered out and sick of high school, so it was real relief to be able to hop on a plane (for my very first time!) and head out to Pittsburgh to wait for the baby boy to arrive.

But first was the bus…

Which meant..waiting..for the bus. And arriving..at the wrong bus stop.

And waiting at the airport…

and walking. I.hate.walking.

Pittsburgh is a beautiful city, and there was so much to see and do. Due to the fact I kept forgetting to bring along my camera, I was able to really sightsee and enjoy everything.

Like getting a birds-eye view of the expansive, intricate city.

And getting the view through  a child’s eye.

Dear little Princess Olympia is like no other.

She’s makes for some great photo ops.

Yes, we went up, down, and all around Pittsburgh. Everything was an adventure.

Like the park-where you can ride ducks like they’re bucking broncos.

and fly through the air like you’re Superman!

Speaking of flying through the air, Kate got me involved her awesome dance studio’s newest class-aerial silks.

As a farm kid who grew up climbing trees, ropes, and anything else that I could fall from and break bones/scratch me up and leave scars, aerial silks was almost second nature.

Almost.

Until I woke up the following morning, and was seriously soar. Which would have been okay, had my older sister decided to lend a helping hand, literally, and give a back massage. But being two weeks overdue at the time, she wasn’t feeling too hospitable.

Yes, that baby just didn’t want to be born. Which meant my mother and I elongated our trip, and I got to miss another week of school. Which was fine by me. Until I came back and collected all my homework.

But the baby was born! Late, very late. And not on his own time. Because his own time, probably would have involved him being born walking.

Welcome, Francisco!