Monthly Archives: January 2013

A New Summit

By Mary

Snow. Some might say it looks pastoral. Others might describe it as beautiful as it falls heavily down in thick flakes upon the still and sterile earth.

My description of it’s arrival would be honored with one word: BLAH. I said it the day this picture was taken in Russia, and I will say it again, and again.

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Today is yet another snow-day  It is the third day in a row school has been delayed or canceled. The Wednesday night Kickboxing class I participate in and the confirmation class that I teach at our Catholic church on the ridge have also been canceled today.

It’s hard to slow myself down and live in the present in the midst of this slow snowy week while I counter an impatient attitude and a restless heart. Today the mud of March seems rather sublime as the snow billows in light sifting clouds. It is at times such as this that I need to remember there is goodness in everyday.

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Each season offers its own novelty.

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And each day provides a new beginning to hack away the ice and reach a new summit.

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Dressing Up

by Kate

Once upon a time I had a billowing red ball gown.

sophisticated city couch woman ballgown

And as I am a harpist, and Valentine’s Day is drawing near, just the other day I began to wonder where that billowing gown had gone.

The mystery was solved this morning, when my sister Mary sent me an email containing pictures from my niece Claire’s visit to the farm last weekend. Due to heavy snow, a planned ice skating outing turned into an afternoon of dress up with the everpresent collection of assorted evening gowns and bedraggled finery.

dress up farmhouse

Nature, or nurture? I’m not sure. I certainly wasn’t that poised when I was in second grade. In fact, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t that poised till I was about 27.

socialite sophisticate dress up

On that note, I have to wonder if Claire is actually studying my photos for tips…. or if I should start to study hers.

dress up

In any case, I’m clearly not going to get that gown back for Valentine’s Day.

In the Rain

By Kate

It’s a grey day, a warm day, with rivulets of snowmelt running down alleys of rugged cobblestone.

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The warmth and a striped pair of rain boots make for a perfect walk.

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There is a great wet world to discover, and in the light of low looming clouds every door leads to wonder.

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Walking slowly hand in hand we seek beauty in stone and branch and shingle and sky.

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I am grateful for my new galoshes…

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For this warm wet winter walk, and for our destination. Of course we are at our local Carnegie Library branch, and I’m heading home with a copy of Singing In The Rain.

Irene Gabrielle Slattery

By: Mary

An interview with my 4 year old nephew Thaddeus would go as such:

She’s cute.

I like her.

It’s okay, next time I can have a brother…!

The “She” Thaddeus is referring to is Irene Gabrielle Slattery who is the newest addition to Gabe and Aurora’s family as their 5th child, and fourth daughter. Yup, Thaddeus is pretty much stranded on one estrogen filled island, or ranch that is, in the midst of a family filled with sisters.

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After the 2am-ish arrival of Irene Mom, Clare, and I took Claire and Adeline to meet their newest baby sister when school let out.

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Oh my, is she ever one precious baby. But than again, aren’t they all?

Mom and baby were doing just fine.

Aurora enjoyed reading cards sent from Claire’s classmates that were mostly themed get well soon!

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Of course Mom and I had a box to bring for Aurora and Irene.

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Back in August I found a Beatrix Potter panel and the rest is history.

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Ironically, the polka dote material came from Aurora who is always swapping stuff with me. Little did she know that paired with a pink scallop backing and panel, it created the perfect baby gift.

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As always it’s special to welcome a new family member into the world. Congratulations Gabe and Aurora! May your daughter grow into a spirited and beautiful woman just like her mama, and may she have a character of strength and clarity like her father.

Welcome to the world newest niece, Irene Gabrielle:)

Leaving the Little Ones

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by Colleen

Every time I leave home, there are two things that I know I will miss: my family and the land.  Missing my family is the obvious one.  I especially miss my little siblings, Clare and James.  Growing up, we were “the little kids”, a trio of troublemakers, covered in mud and smiles most of the time (when we weren’t fighting over what show to watch on PBS or who got the front seat).  Raphael was the big brother who was fun, deigning to play with monopoly with us for hours or tag, but when he decided that he was too grown up for all that, we were left to our little group of three.  (Note: Raph really isn’t very grown up still, but he refuses to play Monopoly.)

Little Raphie

As I leave home, one of the worst things is to say good-bye to Clare and James.  I attempted to hug James before heading out the door, and he shouted. “No me tocas!”  And wriggled and elbowed his way out of my arms.  Typical.   Clare on the other hand, the professed hug hater, gave me a long and hard hug.  I hate the fact that they are left at home, growing up and doing all the things I used to do with them, without me.  One of my greatest joys over break was going to James’ basketball games. The ride to and from the game with Clare in our musty, rattling van is something I’ve always loved.  And watching my little brother charge up the court really makes me the proudest I’ve ever been.  James happened to get injured in one of the games I went to this break, and I was so mad.  I was just so angry that some bug loaf hurt him.  I was ready to charge out and kick him in the shins til he cried-and that is not a normal Colleen emotion.  James and I are tight, alright?

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Everything changes.  My little siblings are growing up, my older siblings’ families are expanding, and me?  Well, the love for my family is growing, even as the distance between us does, too.

Little Sister

Tale of the Magical Blue Cardigan

By: The Evil Sister’s Kind And Benevolent Sister…

Once upon a time there lived a girl named Mary Brigid. She had a deep desire to be an instrument of peace in the world, so after many years of desiring to do foreign mission work, she set out to Russia.

mary in vladivostok

Upon leaving for a land far away, Mary took with her some useful possessions. Mary knew that in order to stay happy and warm in Russia she would have to have magical clothing. Mary’s evil full-blooded stepsister, Kate had left Mary a wonderful blue cardigan. Perhaps the selfish and evil Kate had not exactly left the cardigan behind on purpose…

But a known fact of this tale is that the sweater made Mary happy. Very, very happy.

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Not only did the sweater make her happy it even made her feel less tragic when she had to wear a certain apron of which she greatly despised when working with the aged at a slum hospice.

volunteer nurse apron russian vladivostock volunteer

The sweater was so magical that whenever she wore it, she felt more generous. Perhaps the said magical cardigan did not knit these pictured mittens (a kind Wisconsin resident did), but Mary was very happy to wear it the day she gave donated items to an orphanage that took in deaf and ill children.

volunteer vladivostock

After a long winter in Russia, it was time for Mary to leave. When packing Mary took careful inventory of all that she had brought with her to the cold kingdom of Vladivostok. While there, Mary had accumulated many icons. She also was gifted with beautiful jewelry from a Priest friend who hailed from Bombay.

Mary realized that she didn’t need most of her clothes anymore. She wanted to leave them behind with her friends at the hospice. When folding the magical blue cardigan Mary sighed and placed it in a pile of clothes to be donated to the hospice. She shuddered when doing so. Mary was well aware that going to Russia was a dangerous decision that she had made. However, picturing the wrath of her evil sister, Kate when she discovered that her sweater was left behind as a gift for dying at the hospice was a much more ghastly thought to consider. Laying all caution aside, Mary choose to donate it to her friends at the hospice.

Sadly not every story has a happy ending. Though Mary did return safely from her travels, she is still held accountable for that cardigan ALL the time by her big evil step/real sister, Kate the Mighty, queen of Drama.

Alas… its’s such a shame when people have such cold hearts that they don’t want dying people to stay warm.

 

(But if you must read Kate’s account of the magical cardigan, see here: The Perfect Cardigan)

The Perfect Cardigan

By Kate

Once, briefly, I possessed the perfect cardigan. Two deep pockets, soft thin fabric perfect for layering, in a deep and soothing blue. The cardigan fell perfectly about the body and made every outfit I had work. The cardigan cost $7.99 at Forever 21, but was definitely the most valuable part of my wardrobe. I was engaged to be married, it was spring, the world was new, and my cardigan was perfect. The world was beautiful.

Kate Casey Engagement Hat

Sadly, my time with the perfect cardigan was brief.

I don’t know if you have sisters, or if any of them steal your clothes, but I doubt that any sisters out there hold a candle to my sister Mary when it comes to blatant sartorial thievery.

sisters spring

Oh, Mary. She looks sweet and speaks softly. She wears flowers in her hair and cares for small children and bakes pies and cookies for the whole world- but when it comes to her sister’s clothing, that girl is entirely cold blooded. When I am visiting, Mary will upend and sort through all my clothing, deriding and ridiculing the pieces she does not approve of, and making mental notes on the ones she is interested in. Shortly before I leave she will creep in and liberate those pieces, stealing them so smoothly that I am 500 miles away before I notice. She has no shame, and a total belief that any item of clothing that belongs to her sisters should belong to her if she wants it, AND she is infuriated if you borrow any of her clothing without telling her. But the perfect cardigan brought Mary’s unfortunate clothing habits to a new level.

First, she stole it. Then she took it with her on a missionary trip to Vladivostok, Russia. THEN SHE DONATED IT TO ORPHANS. Might I add at this point that though the cardigan was perfect for me (and apparently for Mary as well) it was cheap and thin and not warm at all. NOT the perfect item of clothing for a Russian orphan in the winter, at ALL. The final touch, adding insult to injury, is that every time this topic comes up Mary sniffs and says sweetly that she can’t imagine why I am SO selfish and materialistic and unwilling to help the poor.

I have been searching for a new perfect cardigan ever since. It has been a long, futile hunt and I now possess a ripped blue cardigan sweater, a short sleeved long green cardigan, a fuzzy black hideous but extremely useful cardigan, and a red australian wool cardigan that I meant to take home to Wisconsin this winter so Mary could steal it because it is pretty and well made but has no pockets. However, all my searching has been in vain. Nothing could replace that blue cardigan.

Until, last weekend, I went looking for an air mattress at Target and took a slight detour to the clothing section of the store.

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It turns out my new perfect cardigan isn’t blue after all. It’s somewhere between citrine and chartreuse.
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And since I’m not planning to see Mary for several months, maybe I can keep it for awhile.