Tag Archives: texas

Greetings From Texas

by Kate

Greetings from Texas, where the skies are so blue.

texas blue sky

Where the breeze is warm…

wpid-20130217_130301.jpg

Where the sugar is sweet….

naegelins bakery new braunfels texas

And the meat plentiful.

texas sausage

Where the hands of a 92 year old great grandmother are soft and strong.

abuelita's hands

Greetings from Texas, where there are snakes, and snake farms too.

texas snake farm zoo

In Pittsburgh the snow is falling but on this last day, greetings from Texas! From me….

mural mother child

To you.

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Italian Dreams and Dallas Streets

by Colleen

On Saturday, I called home for an update.  I miss the goings-on of our big family in our big, rambling farmhouse while down here in Dallas, and calling and skyping home is one of my favorite things to do on a lazy Saturday morning.  To my surprise, I found out that it is still winter back home, complete with 16 degree high temperatures and a foot of snow.  The sunny, 65 degree weather outside my window had fooled me into thinking it was March or even April, and classes already seem to be interminable.

Despite the glorious weather, this semester has been off to an uncharacteristic start.  Many of my closest friends are away across the ocean this semester, studying on the University of Dallas’ Rome campus, and while seeing gorgeous pictures of them traipsing across Italy on Facebook is fun, I’d much rather they were still living down the hall from me.  In an attempt to become more cultured and not just sit in front of our computer screens, scrolling through pictures, a few of my friends from here (who are also never going to Rome) and I decided to get out into Dallas and attend a concert last Sunday night.

After a frantic day of studying, my friends Joe, Monica, and I headed out to the light rail station in the Dallas dusk, ready for some music and time away from campus.  We alighted at Mockingbird station, and wandered around looking for a place to eat that was nowhere even close to cafeteria food.  We found what we were looking for at Izmir’s Market and Deli.  The Iranian man behind the counter was charming  the falafal was fresh and flavorful, and for just a moment, we could pretend we weren’t in Dallas, TX.  Satisfied, we headed to the concert, and spent the night enveloped in the music of the Punch Brothers, a folksy, Mumford and Sons-esque band that filled the Granada Theater with glorious sound.

We headed back to campus that night content and tired, our minds, not lost in contemplation of the streets of Rome, but centered on the present here and now, which suddenly seemed a lot less lonely.

Punch Brothers

Back in the Saddle

by Colleen

Howdy, “y’all”!  Okay it still feels too wrong to use that phrase, despite the fact this will be my second year at the University of Dallas in good ole Texas.  Yes, I’m back in the land of heat, papers, books, and college.  Despite the difference in climate and surroundings, I find that I’m up to the same things.

Before leaving home, Mary took me on a trail ride at Gabriel and Aurora’s place out in the middle of nowhere.  Turns out that the middle of nowhere is the best place for wandering about on horses for hours on end.  It’d been a few years since I’d been in the saddle, and I was so happy to be back at it, even if just for an afternoon.

I missed riding, so on a late night adventure out in Dallas with my friends, I found a good enough alternative:

This little guy just one of the mustangs of Las Colinas.  These sculptures had many signs surrounding them thanking passers-by for not climbing on the statures.  I wasn’t climbing- I was riding. 

Dear Dad

by Colleen

I “got my run in” today,

And I happened to pass by on the way

A plaque underneath a tree

Proclaiming to all, “This is a Hackberry”.

(Oh, silly Texans, “y’all”,

You do not know your trees or even the fall).

I laughed in my head.

Hackberrys, you’ve taught to me,

Are meant to be hacked, a useless tree,

But down here, they know not

And cherish the ugly thing, giving it it’s own plot.

The trees down here, the weather’s ruined ’em.

They all look like you’ve come and pruned ’em.

All twisted and crumbly and dead.

They don’t know how to grow

Squash or turnips or radicchio.

Fluorescent fruits  fill the stalls

In the farmer’s market, foreign Spanish words call.

Cactus fruit, perish the thought!

What is this seedy thing I just bought?

I am so confused.

The cafeteria’s brussels sprouts, yuck!

Their asparagus, out of season, is muck.

Limply, it dangles, dingy and green,

I turn up my nose at the “green” beans.

It’s crazy down here, Dad, so odd.

The trees are all wrong, the food tastes like sod.

Texas, you have me all bemused.

Texas Dance Hall

by Kate

 

In the town of Gruene, Texas, there is an old dance hall.

At this point, I’d like all of you who have been to the tiny establishment of Leo and Leona’s in Newberg’s Corners, WI, to take a closer look. See anything familiar?

This Texas dance hall was built for the local cotton farmers  in 1878. It says so right here.

Now, those were German cotton farmers, and Mr. Gruene was certainly a German. So were the dairy farmers working the land around Newberg Corner’s, Wisconsin, where I grew up- which explains the strong similarity of the world famous Gruene Hall to the ramshackle beat up one I drove past almost every day growing up. Of course, there were no cactus plants outside the Wisconsin Dance Hall. No country music stars either, and the Gruene Hall has been full of those for almost a hundred years. Let’s step inside and take a look.

Lots of windows and a church bench or two let in the early evening light.

In the winter, there is a wood stove. Right now though, it’s a hundred and five in the shade, and the ceiling fans are moving lazily but steadily.

Those pictures on the walls are almost all of famous people who have played here over the years.

Well, country music stars and of course the Texas flag.

There is a working cigarette machine in the corner. I have to admit that every time I see one of these in operating order I feel a sense of delight. This is a piece of history, right here.

 Let’s step on up to the bar now, shall we?

I wonder now and then was ordered at this bar when my brother Robert stopped here on his weeklong Texas bachelor party.

Now that you’ve gotten a chance to grab a cold beer, lets head back into the dance hall.

It is the long hour of light before dusk, and shafts of light fall across the long plank tables.

These tables would fit right in at anthropologie.

So would the warped and well worn dance floor.

They might even like this old faded sign, which is interesting to ponder in the context of farming history and in light of current interest rates.

These scars tell a hundred stories on each table.

There have been a whole lot of dates here in the past 130 years or so.

A lot of music played here, too.

The big stage was still empty at dusk.

The speakers were there though, ready for a big show.

Off to the side of the stage were the dressing rooms.

Let’s head out past the pool tables towards the courtyard.

There is a basketball hoop out there in the dust, and a horseshoe pit as well. It’s like it was made for my siblings. Maybe we should have ended up in Texas, instead of the green driftless ridges of Western Wisconsin?

Well, half of the family is being educated in Texas at the University of Dallas, and of course my in-laws are there. That may be enough of a connection to impart some much needed Southern grace and gentility into the Slattery Clan. As for me. I guess my nine years in North Carolina at least taught me how to wear a pair of cowboy boots.

The sun set while I was out there in that courtyard, with the baby playing in the dust.

I’m grateful to have had such a beautiful time in Texas. Now I just need one of my sisters to do a pictoral essay on Newberg’s Corners, so you can see Wisconsin’s answer to Gruene. I’ve got a few more Texas pictures and stories for you, so make sure you stop back soon.

Texas Style

by Kate

This week, I am sleeping under a sleek curved set of Texas longhorns mounted high on the wall above our bed. The deep green duvet echoes the longhorn theme with an elegant cream colored design. 

Paintings of bluebonnets, cattle, and ranchers adorn the walls above sturdy oak furniture.

A spare cowboy hat is waiting in case we need it.

There is a saddle complete with lariat in the corner, just in case we manage to find and rope a wild mustang on the hot dusty streets of this lovely little subdivision.

And of course there is a tanned hide covering the wide wooden plank floor…

We are living in luxury in the gracious Texas Suite- the beautifully designed guest room at my in-laws residence in New Braunfels, Texas.

Casey’s parent’s fled California a couple years back. In California, they lived in a gorgeous home with a wall of glass overlooking the deep blue Pacific arching out to the horizon. When Casey’s father set off on one of his long voyages as the Captain of huge container ships headed all over the world, they could look to sea and watch other ships coming and going and wait for his ship to come in again. When he retired and his ship came in for good, they headed for the hill country of Texas. Casey’s father is six foot five, sandy haired, blue eyed, and a fervent red blooded republican. The rampant liberalism of California was causing his blood to boil, and Texas suits him perfectly. He bought a ten gallon hat, a pair of Wranglers, and a good pair of cowboy boots and is a model citizen in his new, adopted, passionately conservative, Texan hometown.

New Braunfels is a beautiful town, and although the temperature has soared above a hundred every day, we’ve had an amazing trip. I look forward to sharing my pictures of cool green rivers, small town main streets, and a bona fide Texas Dance hall with you over the next few days. At the moment though, I’ve got a date with a deep pool of water, and I’m about to jump in.

Tell me- did you go on vacation this summer? Are you planning to? I’d love to hear about it. And Mary Brigid, my sister, you had BETTER still be coming to Pittsburgh next week. I don’t want to hear any more nonsense about some trip to Kansas!

Love, Kate