Tag Archives: Easter

Hope Springs

 

By Mary

Spring is here after a long and very cold winter. When I first felt that balmy spring winds stir up and circle around me, I let them blow through my hair. It was freeing to feel the gusts of wind as they blew over the brown landscape and danced with me near brush and upturned soil on a warm March afternoon.

spring wind

Ever since the first spring winds came upon me many more have come. Spring brings such a wonderful feeling of new life along with colors and noise that have been absent for so long. There is a certain harvest that comes with spring, and it’s much different than a summer or fall harvest. Spring’s bountiful harvest is one of hope.

Hope springs from beauty and spring is full of beauty. Getting outside and into the spring sunshine is an amazing gift full of welcome sights and tasks. Below are some of my favorite things to do and see in the spring.

Who doesn’t love daffodils in the spring? There is nothing quite like the first blooms of the season.

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Before most blossoms come though, there is much work to be done. Unbeknownst to me, Clare took this picture while I was working on getting a bed ready for snapdragons and statice. I encouraged her to come help me…but her interest in digging up mounds of dirt seemed to be surprisingly lacking.

GARDENING

Spring coincides with lambing. I love lambs and am known for my habit of collecting orphan ones. This little guy is named Paschal. That seemed like the right name for the ram lamb that I picked up on Holy Saturday.

paschal and rosie

Easter is a glorious time of year. Here is Paschal on Easter Sunday with a cousin and my nephew and niece. I swear to God he isn’t dead in my nephews exuberant arms. The level of commotion may not have thrilled him though. Doesn’t Thaddeus look like a perfect shepherd boy?

spring lamb

The cows at the ranch have started calving this spring. My brothers and I were out moving them with the horses the other week. It’s amazing to be out riding my horse again. He’s on the comeback from a major injury that he suffered last August. But he seems to be as able and athletic as ever. Patrick enjoyed his morning coffee before cows got checked for pregnancy. I bet he felt very office-like and corporate during this coffee break.

working cows

I could make mention of so many other things that I Iove about spring. But really, why do so when I can go outside and let the balmy winds of springs toss my hair into the air? Happy Spring to all of you reader. Enjoy it to the fullest!

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The Great Cake Flop

by Colleen

I wrote this post last Wednesday, during the start of the Long Journey to Oklahoma. I am now on my way back in THE VAN. Things are rough…..more on the ride back to come.

I’m on the plane on my way to the warm and sunny state of Texas as I write. Hopefully, my Wisconsin winter trained system won’t go into shock when I step out into the Dallas air. Saying that it is Spring doesn’t really mean much when in reality, it snowed almost seven inches in one day just last week, “springing” me out from school a couple of hours early with its severity.

Anyway, seeing as I don’t have much to do, I thought that I would report on this past Sunday’s great baking contest.

Mary and I are the bakers in the family and wanted a challenge this Easter. We decided on cakes, layer cakes to be exact. It is a sad but true fact that Slattery women can’t seem to make pretty looking cakes to save our lives, but Mary and I set out to shatter this barrier to our baking genius. All week we pored over recipes, each trying to find the perfect cake to make and consequently out-do each other.

Eventually, Mary decided on a marble layer cake with chocolate frosting, and then on a whim made a lemon layer cake with white chocolate frosting as well. I was packing some heat with the dynamic combination of chocolate and peanut butter, planning on a chocolate layer cake with peanut butter frosting and chocolate ganache.

Saturday came, and Mary and I got to work. A day that began with enthusiasm ended with disappointment, at least on my part. Mary churned out her cakes, but the prettiness factor we were so hoping for wasn’t there. I fared much worse, my cake falling into delicious pieces even as I rushed to set it in the freezer and away from hungry siblings. I came up from the basement freezer with chunks of chocolate cake in my hands, oozing dark chocolate ganache, and hoping that somehow, somehow the cake might freeze into a less hideous shape for the next day?

Sunday, Easter, Mary and I brought out our cakes, all thoughts of competition for the best cake pretty much destroyed. My cake looked as if it had been through the Japanese earthquake, and Mary was asked by our niece, Claire, if her lemon cake was made out of mashed potatoes. It did bear a certain resemblance to the aforementioned vegetable, but I was in no condition to judge at that point.

Simply put, the whole thing was a flop. And, although the cakes tasted fine (better than that according to the family), Mary and I didn’t even care. We’d been defeated by the layer cake. The saddest fact is, we don’t even like cake.

(Side note: luckily there was no available camera to document the truly appalling disaster area that I call my cake. Otherwise, there is no way I would have written a word of this post. My shame would have simply been too great.)

Fumes Have Risen!

by Mary

Though I am known to have a fearless attitude in many circumstances, I have taken on a new phobia: Candles at the Easter Vigil. In the days of old, they have amused me with their drippy wax that is such fun to mold while the church is a glow from soft joyful lighting of the little white sticks.
 
When Colleen was a young girl, her hair caught on fire from the candle of Clare, who was at the time just a four year old baby of the family. I can’t remember the incident too clearly, but the accident has remained a family joke of sorts every Easter.
 
Before going to the vigil the other night, I took a curling iron to my long hair and manipulated it into a mass of spiraled subservience with the help of an old can of hairspray left over from Kate’s wedding that was nearly two years ago.
 
At church I slid into the back pew next to my little brother James, and started preparing for the special mass. Somewhere along the line, I whispered to James “just don’t light my hair on fire”, and drifted into thoughts that had nothing to do with sarcastic joking.
 
Did I ever come out of this time of personal reflection, when my hair had an inch long orange blaze leaping to life compliments of James! With my hand I batted at it in terror. Thankfully, I managed to smolder the ignited section, but unfortunately, the smell of burnt hair permeated the air. Unsure of what to do next, I started finger raking charred hair out of my curls that were saturated in alcohol due to the spray. My first reaction was to cry, but I hate crying in front of people, so hysterical laughter started bubbling out of me into the silence of the congregation.
 
I ended up pushing my way out of the pew, past my brother Robert and our family friend Ben. My exit plan was to get to the bathroom. The four inch designer stilettos that I picked up at a thrift store the other month when on a shopping spree for an African Orphanage Shoe Drive, made a noisy calamity on the tiled floor as I bolted.
 
In the basement of the church I washed  the black soot from my hands and contemplated going to the choir to hide next to my mother upwind from the smell of the fried hair. Later I was informed by Colleen that plan wouldn’t be of merit, for the smoke made it’s way there too.
 
After some internal debating, I decided to take my old seat, because, after all, everybody already knew that it was my dead hair fuming up the church. The rest of mass was thankfully uneventful, save James loudly bursting out “I am an idiot”, and the dramatized coughing of a man one pew up.
 
This particular parishioner is known to rarely frequent mass. His wife and kids come without him, and his loyalty seems to be more extended to attending parish softball games.
 
My guilty conscience imagined him making future excuses to not come to church by saying ” Can’t do it honey, it’s an awful nauseating environment, my lungs just can’t hack it, the headache that I got last time round from that Slattery girl was the heap of burning hair was somethin bad…”
 
My mortification made me want to apologize to the entire group of people gathered at the Jewel On The Ridge Parish. Save James of course. I guess I will just have to rise above the occasion. Next Easter Vigil I am sure to shy away from
(a) Candles
(b) Using a crazy amount of hairspray on my hair
(c) LITTLE BROTHERS WITH CANDLES
I will make a point to take in the sweet aroma of easter lilies, incense and oils.
 
Alleluia! He has risen!
 
Until next time,
mary

German Churches, Bicycles, and an Easter Baby

by Kate

I have always loved Holy Week. The drama, the pageantry, the depth and richness, the sheer endurance needed to make it through the services which have in my experience ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Growing up and attending the beautiful red brick German St. Peter’s parish across the road from our ridgetop farm, I loved the fact that the appropriateness of the thin, reedy, dirge-like and dragging rendition of “Were You There.” In my 20’s I moved to far flung places and joined church choirs that burst forth in polyphonic brilliance with the Hallelujah chorus at the end of the Vigil service, but there is a special place in my heart for the brave, tiny rural choirs directed by women like my mother and my grandmother, fiercely determined to create passion and drama and beauty and bring to life the rich musical tradition of the church with a rag tag band of eye rolling teens, a couple gruff farmers, quavery sopranos, and a startlingly robust alto or two.

Last year though I wasn’t anywhere near a country choir, but here in the city attending services at our local neighborhood church. Like the church of my childhood, St. Augustine’s is a German built parish, red brick and soaring towards the heavens but on a much grander city sized scale. Here is St. Augustine himself.

St. Augustine’s is a very handsome church, with light streaming through  beautiful stained glass windows.

My favorite, the one which most often captures my gaze and imagination, is St. George with his white steed, glowing with light and color.

During Holy Week last year though, my imagination was not so much captured by St. George as by the fact that I was due to have a baby at any moment. I thought perhaps I would be exempted from my Holy Week duties, but it was not to be. That baby was completely content to stay curled up right where she was. She was determined to experience the whole of Holy Week and the Easter celebration from her warm quiet and cocooned interior cushioned position.

Good Friday last year was warm and sunny, and after I walked home from church with Casey we pulled out the vintage bicycles inherited from my grandparents and older than either of us. Somehow we had never managed to use them until this day, but the sun was shining and it was one of our last days sans infant, so we thought we would set off to explore. Sadly there is no photographic documentation of this event. You will simply have to use your imagination to picture a six foot tall full term pregnant woman with a sun hat on and a long lanky six five husband weaving through the city on vintage early 70’s bicycles. It was a glorious adventure that led through back alleys barely covering hundred year old cobblestones, along the river, through the downtown, out to Point State Park, and back to Lawrenceville. The rugged terrain didn’t faze the happy baby however. She waited till after we had attended Easter morning mass to arrive.

Now I have an Easter baby, which adds another level of joy to Holy Week. This year though she is an Easter toddler, which means that soon I will corral her and cart her off to Good Friday services. I am fairly certain that joy will not be the only emotion I experience. Wish me luck.