Monthly Archives: May 2011

Graduation and Such

Mary has already covered congratulating me on my graduation from high shool, as well as summed up my high scholl experience quite well (see previous post), but I thought that I’d you a bit more detail on the actual ceremony. The night started out with me frantically running out the door….

 in some very high heels, thanks to Mary’s generosity.


But, I made it into the car, cap and gown in hand, and arrived at the gym in good time. Once there, I slipped on said cap and gown, got out my flute for band, warmed up for choir, and snapped a few pictures with my fellow classmates. Then it was suddenly time for the processional. I led the charge!-errr, slow, stately walk up to the front row of seats. (Have I ever mentioned how insanely hard it is for a Slattery to walk slowly?  I was reining myself in majorly.) 

The ceremony was actually pretty long and boring (not unlike my whole high school career), but I did get to give a speech, being the Salutatorian of my class. I love speaking in public and tend to make some odd facial expressions, which Clare lovingly captured on camera.

In the end, I was just happy to be done with it all. No tears were shed, but many smiles and much laughter was to be had during and after the ceremony. I don’t quite know what was wrong with my other classmates; they all looked so serious!

 Thank you class of 2011! Here’s to the future! And of course, thank you to Mom and Dad. Your constant love and support and prayers got me to where I am today. I love you.

Felicitations Colleen Rose


by Mary

A few weeks ago Colleen asked me why I was laughing as she got into my car after track practice. My honest reply was “I am laughing at you Colleen.” Seeing my sister striding towards my car in her preppy clothes toting a purse with the pattern of an Italian map, (Sidenote* every stitch of clothing and purse came from older sisters) amidst a parking lot full of casually dressed Cashton locals who were getting into their cars or driving off on a tractor (see Clare’s post), made me bubble with laughter. Replaying the scene in my mind makes me realize that I was laughing in part because I love my sister and all of who she is so very much. And in part, I was laughing because I am so glad for her that she is leaving Cashton, Wisconsin.

Colleen has been ready to go since she was, oh, about a freshman in highschool. While in high school she was a more than willing participant, and graduated from her class as a salutatorian. Beyond academic excellence, she excelled at cross country, track, drama, music and choir. Somehow through all this success she has remained refreshingly humble.

Colleen is the 7th child in our family line up. By the time she came along, my parents were pretty tired. Her happy sanguine nature was a God send from the time of birth. Initially, her days were spent sleeping or moving about the world in a happy contented state with a fat little thumb in her mouth. After she was born, Dad was in the middle of a major apple cider making session along with one of his good priest friends and a few other of his buddies. Because of the cider making situation, Mom was able to call her friend Barb, who is an amazing holy consecrated lay woman. Barb ended bringing Mom and Colleen home from the hospital to a dirty house full of excited older siblings and lots of fresh cider. To this day, when busy, we still do have the tendency to forget Colleen at times. When we take note of her though, all are excited by her cheerful company.

 When I think of Colleen nowadays, I think of flowy skirts, gladiator sandals, beat up running shoes, music, milk-coffee, running, NPR, English, French, health food, and France. What I don’t think of when I  think of my beautiful little sister is this:

 That is minus a brief stint last year when our neighbors down the road took in a 15 year old French exchange student named Pierre. During this special period of life, Colleen became very interested in harvesting squash with Pierre.

In all seriousness, I am extremely honored to be this young lady’s big sister. Over the past year, I have loved running, baking, and sharing my secrets with Colleen. Her wisdom and delightful optimism has been an enormous gift to both myself and the entire family. Soon enough she will be able to share these gifts while growing more as a person in Dallas. Felicitations, Miss. Colleen Rose Slattery! My laugh goes to Texas with you. Sundays will not be the same. Nor will long runs without you pushing me, and our conversations of course. As for the harvest though- well, that will surely continue on without you!

 All My Love, Your Big Sister,


Lines from the Library

by Kate

It has been a whirlwind of a couple weeks, and a fairly silent one here on the blog.  In my defense, the two computers in our household crashed just before the red dirt wedding. I am generally the moderater and editor of this sister project blog, meaning that I call home, stalk, and harangue my younger sisters into sending me pieces on a regular basis. However, with no home computer I have been reliant on the local Lawrenceville public library for internet access and the entire blogging system has broken down.

I love the library. I love the stacks of books, the antique iron scrollwork on the shelves, the sunny children’s room, the friendly librarians, the access to reams of books and racks of dvds and internet access and shiny magazines. Back in Wisconsin, the Slattery family has always been deeply devoted to libraries across the Coulee Region in Wisconsin. This library hopping was likely connected to our rolling fines, which grew to staggering proportions as we cleared one card at a time and then lined up with stacks of books three feet high and higher. This perhaps explains my surprise that the librarians here are so universally cheerful and friendly. My young childhood memories of librarians are fearful ones of tight lipped and often furious custodians of a quiet space. This may be connected to the fact that we were allowed to run wild and free within that space, sometimes shattering that quiet. In fact I particularly remember about five of us being ordered out of the delightful fountain in the public square outside the library in LaCrosse. I believe my father was calmly settled in the magazine section, with a stack of magazines half a foot high.

The love of libraries has already been firmly established with my 13 month old daughter. Her eyes light up at the prospect of our daily trip up the hill, around the corner, and up the marble steps into our local library. She waves her arms wildly at the librarians and bats her eyelashes, holding out her hand for a tour of the stacks. In fact, she loves the library all too much. She does not love being trapped in a sling while I settle in at a computer and check my email, attempt to keep up with online business. The possibility of settling in to write an entire blog post has never even been a possibility before now. The child kicks, howls, and begs to be let down to run wild and free. As soon as her feet hit the floor she makes a beeline behind the circulation desks to join her favorite librarians. So far, they are still friendly, but the time it takes to write a blog just might be the same amount of time it takes to turn a friendly librarian into a furious frowning one. I don’t want to find out.

Today, the baby is sleeping and I am typing as fast as I can here at the library. And guess what? The computer next to me just went down. With a virus.

I miss the blog, and all of you readers. There are plenty of stories for you from here in the city, and from the farm. Colleen is graduating from high school, and Clare is graduating from 8th grade. My father is harvesting vast swathes of asparagus every morning. Here in the city, we are close to having a working computer again. Keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully we’ll be back to regular postings soon.


Only in Wisconsin

By: Clare

Although I’ve lived in Wisconsin all my life, I, and pretty much all of my family, have somehow remained as anti-Wisconsin as I could. For instance, the younger of the Slattery kids refuse to support Wisconsin’s football team, the Packers, and have instead decided to cheer for the rival team the Minnesota Vikings, for which we’ve suffered large amounts of verbal persecution. I obviously don’t hate the place-there are actually some things I genuinely like about it-but some other things I could definitely do without. Like that horrible Wisconsin accent that’s as thick as any Southerner’s Southern accent-just much less appealing. Thankfully, my family has somehow seemed to almost completely repel this leech-like accent, but I will say I’ve found a few of my words tinted with it now and then, to my absolute horror. And just like any state, we have our own unique qualities here in Wisconsin, some (lots) of which aren’t too grand. There’s no doubt that we’re America’s Dairyland. Out in the country, dairy farms are everywhere, and the smell of manure becomes a common occurence. It seems so normal to me, but when I think about it, it’s probably not everywhere that you see a tractor pulling a load of manure straight through the middle of town. Lately I’ve seen some things that really stuck out to me as only in Wisconsin. A few weeks ago, a classmate’s sister got married. Her wedding actually occurred on the same day as The Red Dirt Royal Wedding. On the Monday after the wedding, my classmate was bubbling over with stories of all the problems that had gone on the weekend of that wedding. He was telling them all to one of my teachers, and one thing that he talked about almost made me burst out laughing. “But the worst problem they had”, he said in a voice that made it sound like it was leading up to something horrible, “they forgot to buy melk for the dress rehearsal!”( To the real country hicks in Wisconsin, milk is pronounced melk, just as manure is pronounced ma-nrrrr.) My teacher was aghast at this statement, and said, “They forgot to buy melk? No way! How could they forget that?!” I was holding in my laughter at this exchange of words. I remembered how in Oklahoma, the only drinks offered were iced tea or lemonade, which I prefer to milk, being I’m actually not a big fan of milk. Now if that was Wisconsin, it would have been a major mistake. Just a couple of days ago, I witnessed another thing all-Wisconsin. It was National Drive Your Tractor to School Day, and so I watched as at least 20 of the dairy farming high school boys walked out of school, straight to the parking lot, and hopped on their big, manure covered tractors. This happens every year, and although I find it really stupid, it is quite amusing. As we drove past I laughed and smirked at the boys pulling out of the school lot with smelly exhaust pouring out behind them, and heard my mom say, “Well that’s something you don’t see everywhere.” What a true statement. Maybe next year James could drive Dad’s tiny blue tractor, Babe, to school?

Bub the Biter

by Mary

A month or two ago, Colleen wrote a blog about one of the dogs here that she calls Bub. Her description of my lovable australian shepherd is way off as is the name that she calls him. Being that the name of the dog is still a issue of contention and a long story, I’ll gloss over it, and cover a different matter of subject on this sweet dog that I covet
Unfortunately, there is a negative verdict around Sweet Ridge Farm about this particular dog of whom I shall address as B in this post.
B is still going through the puppy phase. So he has certain tendencies such as compulsive barking and growling at strangers (and pretty much anyone he sees), chewing up shoes, chewing at Robert’s wedding gifts that arrived by UPS while we were away, and um, nipping at people. These actions have not resonated well with my family, neighbors and the general public.
Over the last 10 months that we have had B, I must say that I have not had a single problem with him, with the exception that he dislikes riding around with me in my car. Over the winter I would put on carharts and go outside to sit on the step with him at night. I would feed him dog biscuits slathered in butter and tell him about how much I hate the cold weather and how happy I am that he’s such a tough dog and can hack it. Now that the sun is out B is always at my heels. He helps me in my flower garden, is out their in Dad’s fields with me, follows me to the clothes line, chases after my kite when I fly it, and loves to sit on the porch with me. Just like a perfect gentleman, he also always walks me to my car.
Now that I have finished gushing over B, I will confess that though he is the perfect dog for me, he did make me righteously uncomfortable the other day after the epiphany hit that he does have some very rude behaviors.
Pulling into the driveway with a trunkload full of flower transplants, I was met by the sweet grandmotherly neighbor 2 miles down from my parents place. She greeted me with the explanation that she was so glad to see me pulling in because she wanted to come snoop on us about our well ( which by the way, is in need of 100 ft of digging TLC), but didn’t want to walk up to the house because of “that biting dog”.
Hearing a woman in her 70’s expressing discomfort over “that biting dog”, made me in turn uncomfortable. Up til then, the only critters here that I take issue with are the chickens. They scratch and peck at new flower transplants and seeds, which in turn makes me loose my mild nature as I throw clods of dirt at them and squawk like I am one of their own very upset species.
The merit of the neighbor lady’s visit is that it made me conscience of the tendencies that B has that need to be rectified. Blessedly our well snooping neighbor told me that she once had an australian shepherd too, but had to give it away due to biting issues. Before she did this though, she bought a shock color in an attempt to curb the biting. This color has been offered to me. Yay! Though I can start a horse to saddle, I am not sure how the heck to train a dog that has my heart but nobody else’s.
Hopefully, with the service of a few helpful sessions of electrocution, B will shape up, stop barking and biting, and prove to all that he really is a sensitive gentle dog. I think that the job of dog whisperer/shocker will go to James. Applying shock therapy to B seems like the perfect summer job for him. It’s much more productive than playing computer games and crashing cars.
Readers, please mark my words that if any of you ever do stop on by in the future, you’ll be greeted by a fine freshly reformed gentleman of a dog. Just don’t call him Bub or Bob or anything else that my family calls him, and if you think of it, bring along a dog biscuit covered in Wisco butter.

Sweet Ridge Spring

by Clare

Spring is finally here!

Or at least it was until it dipped by to the lower 50s. But before that could happen, our garden burst into bloom, and is now full of plum blossoms and tulips.

Photography being one of the pastimes that I enjoy, I brought out the camera and tried to convey the beauty that has thankfully come, through the lens of a camera.

I went a little off track on some of these photos and took pictures of whatever I thought was interesting, and since I thought those were pretty good too, I decided to include them.

More pictures of Wisconsin spring are still to come! Enjoy!

A Spring List

It has been hot these past couple of days in Western Wisconsin.  After an exceptionally long Winter, Spring has finally arrived!  But, because there was snow last week and now it is 80 plus degrees outside with crazy high humidity, it doesn’t feel as great as we all thought it would.  *Cut to me during track practice, panting, melting into a pool of sticky sweat*

Even as I complain about the heat, I realize how stupid it is to be whining at all.  But, oh do I have a low tolerance for heat!  Dallas this Fall is going to be quite the challenge…..

While this weather does make me want the cooler temperatures which I was just curing out last week back, here are some more positive things that this weather makes me want to do:

  • Drink gallons of the awful fruit punch in our fridge (which I would never stoop to in typical circumstances, being strictly a coffee girl).
  • Sit out under a Maple tree and smell the grass and plum blossoms for hours until I absorb the green that is now coming to life everywhere and not think about school ever, ever, ever.
  • Drag my piano out onto our wraparound deck and play Bach with the breeze to cool my flying fingers.
  • Never wear jeans again! (I hate the pesky things-shorts and skirts I can handle)
  • Go for long walks in the woods.
  • Stick my bare toes into cool creek water until they go pleasantly numb.


As for now, I won’t do any of those things.  I think I shall simply sit by and enjoy our late, late Spring.  Stay tuned for pictures of the Wisconsin Spring and happenings on the farm soon to come.  Clare has been out and about in the fields and has a slew of pictures for you all.

Post Wedding Revelry

by Colleen

There is so much more I should be doing in my study hall right now other than a blog post.  But, I haven’t written in a while and couldn’t resist sharing this.  This is my bit of wedding nostalgia:

I loved the wedding, every minute of it.  From the rehearsal dinner to the end of the reception, it was beautiful and perfect.  But, my most favorite part of the whole Oklahoma trip was not the wedding ceremony or even the reception following (although I did end up catching the bouquet!).  My most favorite part was spending time with my older brothers and sisters after the reception, just talking and laughing out in the night air in a gazebo behind our hotel.

Being the seventh of nine children, I have always been considered one of the “little kids”, and that night was the first time that I did not feel “too little”.  I got to spend time with my older brothers and sisters and be considered, at least for that one night, part of the “older kids”.  This was an amazing experience for me, and like the dork I am, I loved it.  I went to bed that night feeling so very loved by all my family and loving them with a ferocity that surprised myself.  The poet in me knew that this was perfect fodder for a poem and so the following was created.    

Laughter in their eyes, green, brown, and hazel, all around me

It sparks against the soft, warm-taffy night air from mouths wide in smiles,

More precious to me than any of the brilliant stars that dot the skies.

The long, festive day is done, but the happiness, joy, excitement, lingers on,

Sweeter than the chocolate wedding cake that still lingers on my tongue.

The wedding finery has been laid to rest in heaps and piles on hotel room floors,

And white cotton shirts and jeans now relax upon relaxed figures.

As the night deepens, tongues loosen, and stories come pouring out,

faster than the amber liquid sliding lazily from glass bottles into mouths.

Words clamber happily over each other and fill the night with sound,

The best and brightest of all these sounds is the laughter,

Which spreads out from my brothers and sisters in pools of happiness,

In their eyes, green, brown, and hazel, there is laughter

And timidly, I join in, my own eyes alight and glowing in the knowledge of their love.

Red Dirt Wedding, Part Four

by Kate

At last we come to the finale of the exciting Red Dirt Wedding Series with the gorgeous reception. The dinner and dance portion of the evening were held at the historic turn of the century Harn Homestead.

This little farmstead was as close as you can get to Wisconsin in the heart of Oklahoma City within sight of the capital building.

Rob and Nicole appeared at the barn door balcony looking like the red dirt royalty they are.

Speaking of dirt, the little ringbearer who didn’t bear the rings had gotten plenty of sleep by this point, and led the other kids in aclassic farm wedding game consisting of digging, tossing, and pouring dirt upon themselves.

Olympia, his first cousin, thought this game was fantastic.

There was wine, there was sunlight.

There was whiskey, there was beer.

Heading inside the barn…

There was a red velvet stagecoach.

And a pretty darn impressive cake.

Let’s take one more look at that cake and the stagecoach. I do believe that is a surrey with the fringe on top.

Of course the rugged wooden beams were hung with tulle and strung with lights.

There were also mason jars of lemon drops on every table. Altogether lovely. Of course the loveliness of the bride outshone all else. Here is the fantastic back of her dress.

Outside the sun kept shining and kids were clambering up on an old wagon wheel.

Girls had flowers in their hair.

And a good game of horseshoes was going on.

A fine time was had by all.

Slowly the sun set.

The two stepping wound down, and then it was time for the happy couple to be on their way.

I didn’t photograph the end of the night, but it was beautiful. All the yellow rose petals had been gathered and were handed out to the guests, who made two lines at the door of the barn. Rob and Nicole headed into the farmhouse to change, and camerunning out into the deep dusk hand in hand. Rob was wearing a flannel shirt and Wranglers, and Nicole  had on the perfect honeymoon sundress and cowboy boots. They passed through the lines of cheering, laughing, crying friends and family in a whirl of yellow rose petals, and then they were through the barn and off in the big white truck to take on the world together.

Now in Wisconsin, this would have been when the real party kicked into high gear and raged on into the night. In fact, one of the most vivid stories at the reception was that of a Wisconsin couple from our ridgetop parish of St. Peter’s who have been married 50 years or so. They were able to attend the wedding in Oklahoma since they have a daughter in Dallas, and they told us that when they were married in Middle Ridge, they had 21 kegs of beer. 21! Every drop was gone by the end of the night, which I imagine was also the beginning of the morning. That is how we do it on the ridge. The reception is only partially about the glowing new couple and also very much about the rest of the community, from babies to couples married 50 years, who are ready to dance and drink the night away. In Oklahoma, when the bride and groom head off into the sunset all the guests do too. As soon as Rob carried Nicole off in that huge white pickup truck the music went off, the lights went down, the lemon drops got loaded up, and the kegs were wheeled away- to the slight consternation of the young Wisconsinites.

All is not lost, however, and kegs of beer beckon on the horizon. If you’ll recall, when Rob asked Nicole to marry him he was building a barn. Well, that barn is done now.

On June 25th my parents will be hosting a Barn Dance and Wisconsin reception for Rob and Nicole and all the folks who couldn’t make it to the Oklahoma shindig. There will be lots of music and cheese and my Mom’s fresh bread. The Slattery girls are baking and there will be babies and farmers and city folk and wine and beer, and a bonfire. You’re invited, of course- if you can’t make it to Wisconsin we promise we’ll keep you posted right here.

Love, Kate

In case you missed the rest of the series:

Our Red Dirt Royal Wedding

Red Dirt Wedding Part One

Red Dirt Wedding Part Two

Red Dirt Wedding Part Three

Red Dirt Wedding, Part Three

by Kate

The day of the wedding dawned bright and clear, and the cast of characters began to assemble in the back of the church.

Rob was smiling so hard I thought his face might split open, and actually physically radiating happiness. It was tangible.

His groomsmen looked pretty joyful as well.

Handsome group of men, right? They all wore yellow roses in their buttonholes. Yellow roses are Nicole’s favorite- if you’ll recall, Rob gave her a bouquet of them when he proposed.

There was a slight problem with the ring bearer. After an epic journey and a long rehearsal the day before, he was exhausted by the time the actual wedding rolled along.

He didn’t wake up till long after his duties had been performed by someone else. I’m actually not exactly sure how the rings got up there, but they did. Meanwhile the lovely Aurora, the first Slattery sister in law and mother of said ring bearer, showed up in a gorgeous blue outfit. I covet her scarf.

Let us take a closer look at the lovely baby Antonia Rose sleeping in her arms.

Please note Aurora’s spectacular shoes.

For the record, my shoes were pretty amazing as well- brown velvet with gold embroidery and amber inlaid- but there was no-one to take a close up. Casey’s mohawk was in fine form.

James was a server, meaning he was bearing a very large candle. I am not sure that he should be allowed to carry candles after his recent experience setting Mary’s hair on fire, but he looked like he was being extra responsible.

Colleen Rose was ready to play Pachellbel’s Canon in D on the piano and make everyone cry for the grand for the entrance.

And with that, let us move into the church where the bridegroom awaits…

At this point, let me ask you to forgive my firm decision not to muck around with photoshop and also the fact that, due to a squirming 13 month old, I did not by any means capture every moment of the beauty. The bridesmaids wore pink cocktail dresses and carried yellow roses.

They all looked gorgeous, of course.

Mary and our brother Gabe were both glowing with happiness.

My brother Patrick asked me to note that he looked particularly dashing and debonair.

Finally we had the Best Man and Maid of Honor

Followed by little Clare Slattey, niece and flower girl extraordinaire.

She did a lovely job laying yellow rose petals.

All was ready.

And in came the bride! Nicole was luminous in a tall column of fitted lace with an white flower in her hair and ethereal veil floating behind her in a long train. She carried a bouquet of blush roses.

Rob beamed and her sister cried (and I did not correct the red eye, sorry).

Nicole and her father did a lovely little do-si-do at the altar.

And the wedding began.

Shortly thereafter, I retreated to the airy foyer to wrangle my 13 month old Olympia, and we spent much of the rest of the ceremony on the outside looking in.

Luckily, we had lots of well dressed company including a pair of dashing young twins Olympia’s age.

And this little blossom of a baby.

And with that, I leave you breathlessly awaiting the fourth and final part of this series, coming soon- the Reception and the Dance! Till then, and thanks for coming along on the adventure,