Monthly Archives: September 2011

Medieval Times

by Colleen

This past Saturday night I went out into the town of Dallas with a bunch of fellow UDers to Medieval Times.  The event was advertised as a dinner and a tournament, but I didn’t quite know what to expect.  My older brother Patirck told me, “They give you basically a whole chicken to eat, with your hands, and there is lots of yelling,”.  Ummm, let’s just say that that did not make me more enthused to go, seeing as I don’t eat met and don’t yell much except at Clare and James, but I was quite curious on the bus over to the venue.

When we arrived, we walked over a moat and into a large castle, literally.  The whole place had been made expressly for the business of taking people back into Medieval times. The group was assigned a knight to cheer for (Go Green Knight!!), and sent in to the arena to be seated.  The meal was served, and the entertainment began!

The knight that UD had been assigned to ended up being the villain from the start.  Despite this fact, the crowd for the Green Knight was the most enthusiastic of all, and I cheered until my throat was sore.  The most impressive part of show was the horsemanship.  At one point there was a rider doing dressage as a gift for the king.  And there was real jousting, on horseback!

It was far better than I ever imagined it would be (and I got a vegetarian meal!).  As the Green Knight was slain, all the UD students booed, myself included.  But, we went out the door with smiles on our faces, despite the grease on our hands (apparently silverware was not in fashion in Medieval times-way to be authentic!).

Unfortunately, I do not own a camera, and so you are just going to have to rely on my description of the night.  But, I encourage you to check out this website for pictures of the show in general:

‘Twas a wonderful Saturday, indeed!

Sweet Adeline

By: Mary

I recently made a promise to have my niece and goddaughter, Adeline over for a sleepover. Well, this past weekend I lived up to my word. Adeline is a rather unique four year old. She is extremely tough, stubborn and particular (perhaps, that’s why we get along so well!). Being that she is so particular, she was insistent on bringing along what she packed in small 2 wicker baskets. Her packing included not one, but two sparkly pairs of shoes- one pair pink, one pair gold. She also brought her high boots to match the knee-high boots I had on at the time. A horse pendant necklace and 5 pairs of underwear were the other things she deemed necessary for the evening and morning stint away from home. My recommendation that she bring a coat was met with less enthusiasm.

At 6Am my niece woke up and announced that it was time to go ride Mars. I had to cut a compromise with her that involved waiting til a quarter to 7 to watch The Little Princess and eat a breakfast. This nutritional meal was complete with cookies, and left over chocolate milk and skittles from the previous night.

Later on in the morning after Clare was awake (Adeline really helped play a part in waking both Clare and James up) the trio of us left to ride my horse. Clare was very happy to join us, being that her other option was to help with a squash harvest that my Dad was looking for assistance with.  Below are a few pictures from the ride that the girls took up the lane, and to the Ridge History Park. At the park, I was able to try to get Adeline to become disenchanted with my Mars so I could lope circles in a nearby freshly cut field. This didn’t work so well because she is much more interested in four legged friends than  merry go rounds! What a gift it is to have a horse crazy stubborn goddaughter.


The Private Education

By: Clare

On September 1st as many other children and teens were heading off to start yet another school year, I was moving on to start my high school career, an exciting and daunting event that I had put off thinking about until the last minute. From 1st grade on up I had been going to the very small private Catholic school, Sacred Heart, that had dwindled in number down to about 30 by the time I reached seventh grade. Every year they consider closing it, but the power of Catholic education pulls through for another year every time.

 When I was younger, I got so sick of hearing the eighth graders complain about how Sacred Heart was so boring, and they couldn’t wait to get to high school. I swore I would never be like them, and would savor every moment of that school. Boy, did I not keep that promise. When eighth grade came ’round, I was just like them, whining my head off about how I couldn’t wait to leave. And yet, when the final day at Sacred Heart came, I did feel sad. I had spent all my school days there, experienced so much there, gotten into so much trouble there. But I was so excited for high school. There was going to be new classes, new teachers, a hot lunch program, which had been taken out of Sacred Heart my last year for who knows what reason. And of course, new friends. My best friend  had left Sacred Heart after fifth grade, and many of my friends had graduated before I. By the time I was in eighth grade, I had only one of my friends left with me, who is also my cousin. Of course, she wasn’t  the only person I talked to. I’ve always been one who has no problem talking with boys and messing around with them. This is probably the result of having five brothers and all their friends around the house. And since Sacred Heart is grades Pre-K through 8, and I love little kids, I always made time to play with the younger students. That was one of the great thngs about Sacred Heart, the grade difference. The little kids look up to the older kids like they’re these amazing people. I remember being a first grader and thinking how big and tall and mature the seventh and eighth graders were. But when you get older, you realize they’re really not that mature at all. Not at all. But I loved having all the younger students asking to play games with you, or giving you hugs in the hallway. Especially from this little guy.

Bronson was my little buddy. He made my days with his hugs. And that’s what I loved the most about Sacred Heart. The closeness. There were so few people it was impossible not to know everyone’s name, and ,well, pretty much everything else about them too. That’s what I miss the most. The people.

I was happy to graduate.

 I just didn’t know that the books people write on high schools aren’t completely made up (except for the parts where the dorky girls take off their glasses and turn gorgeous and get the popular guys to fall in love with them, that’s never realistic). It’s quite different out  in the big world…

Fried Green Tomatoes

by Mary

My best friend and sister-in-law, Aurora Slattery and I have quite the habit of trying to figure this universe out. To date, about as far as we have gotten in the realm of figuring out deep universal mysteries and problems is:

Red tomatoes are good.

And fried green tomatoes are better.

Ok, I know that is not so deep, but oh, is it ever delicious! A few years ago I came across the recipe that I am about to share with you, and got Aurora hooked on this late summer to early fall global solution. My bossy eldest sister Kate has been wanting to incorporate more recipes into this blog, so I hope some of you may find this particular one to be of interest.

For this recipe you will need: 3 medium green tomatoes, 1/2 Cup of Flour, 1/4 Cup of Milk, 2 Beaten Eggs, 2/3 a Cup of Cornmeal, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon Pepper. An ample amount of oil, grease or butter to fry tomatoes in.

Cut tomatoes in thin rounds.

Mix tomatoes in a bowl with salt and pepper. Let sit for 15 minutes or so.

Put way too much awful/wonderful butter, bacon grease or oil into a skillet. Set heat to medium.

Eat, forget about solving the worlds problems, and enjoy!

After Atlas Shrugged

by Kate

Sometimes a long low haze descends upon Pittsburgh and it seems as if I could almost slip into an alley and into the past.

I can vividly imagine the great grey city, twice as populous as it is now, in its filthy and glorious industrial prime.

There is an evocative beauty in these post industrial remnants of the past, and in the symmetry of red brick, wires, soot, and glass.

I suspect that some of my fascination with Pittsburgh’s past stems from an ill advised early infatuation with the works on Ayn Rand, particularly Atlas Shrugged. Her characters may be cartoons and caricatures, but her scenes of American Industry are sweeping and powerful and romantic. Ayn Rand is definitely the reason I climbed upon a steep embankment yesterday while waiting for the bus. I’m glad I did.

I was surveying the grey rugged skyline with chin held high and the wind in my hair, feeling fiercely individualistic and Dagny Taggert like (albeit Dagny with a baby in a sling, clearly so unlikely as to be impossible) when to my great delight a railroad engine appeared.

If you have not read Atlas Shrugged, suffice it to say that nothing could have transported me into the realm of that novel than a railroad. Never has so much lavish prose been expended upon the engines of industry or the engines and tracks and fate of the railroads. The train rattled and rushed into the city skyline, and I reveled in the fleeting vision of a novel come to life.

I am glad that literature impels me to embark upon adventures, and slip into the past. Living in a dream world of books and of the past often makes me climb embankments of every sort and realize the beauty of the present.

Musical Nights

by Colleen

While all my other sisters are soaking up the glories of fall (which happens to be my favorite season), I am still stuck in never ending summer.  Nothing changes except the grass, which gets browner.  Despite the bleak landscape here, I have found places of beauty, most unexpectedly.

A few nights ago while out looking for my friend, Emma, I wandered down to the music department of UD.  The music department is the smallest department in UD, consisting of a few practice rooms, and two offices.  And although I am taking piano lessons there as of last week, I really haven’t had occasion to go there much.  Emma plays classical piano amazingly well, though, so I thought a logical place to find her would be in one of the practice rooms.

And I did.  But it wasn’t just her, and she wasn’t even playing the piano.  To my amazement, I opened the door to that tiny, dingy white room on an unknown student, to me, playing some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard in my life.  He was playing his own original compositions, all from memory, never written down. The first song I heard completely blew me away.

Now, despite the fact that I play flute and piano, have participated in many musicals, and sang in choir all throughout high school, I have never had a strong devotion to music.  I prefer words-words on the page of a book and words strung together by me even.  But that night, that music told me all I ever could want to know.  It brought tears to my eyes; I felt like I was seeing my whole life, personified in the music before me, music that someone had created himself.  The room was filled to bursting with the melody.

I walked out of the room dazed by the gorgeousness of sound.

Just typical college life, right?

Through The Seasons

By: Mary

Today I mulled over the changing seasons while clearing a garden bed that I had used to do a test variety plot for the University of Madison. This is the second year in which I have worked with UWM testing plant breeds and collecting data. They are collaborating with the USDA on this project which is being conducted in four growing regions of the US. With that aside, the clearing of vegetation made me think of how rapidly the seasons have switched from spring to summer, and now into autumn. I am lucky that my dell is loaded with many pictures of beautiful evidence of the growing season. Let’s start with early spring….

Isn’t the world so wonderful in spring? This picture was taken in the month of May as my Dad heads out to harvest asparagus. Asparagus is the first and one of the most appreciated crops that we grow. It is the icing on the cake to the brand new season. Or at least a delicacy in a skillet fried with bacon grease.

Here are a few of us siblings in June. When this picture was taken, we were challenging each other to a race before going to the cilantro crop for a pre-harvest thinning. It looks lovely doesn’t it? What you don’t see is that  dirt clods were thrown, arguments broke out about 8 times, and it is probable that bickering came up about who could drive the tractor, who was the most lazy worker, and who got the great privilege of lying prostrate on the hood of the van as it swerved over bumpy clay field roads.

Here are Raph, Colleen, and I. Please note that Clare and James are not in this photo. Sometimes they have a tendency to just vanish from a project. They have taught me that some people need water breaks that last 25 minutes. Clare has also taught me that she associates harvesting Swiss Chard with hell because she hates it so much, and because chard is the color red. Gosh, the agricultural things one learns from a 14 years old!

Just because the summer has passed, doesn’t mean it’s time to put our boots up. September and October and the most busy months around here.

Early in the morning while the dew is still wet on the leaves and weeds, there is work to be done. These photos were taken this very morning while harvesting kale.

I hope you readers all enjoyed this photo essay of the changing of the seasons. If you have any questions or comments about agriculture or agricultural procedures, please direct them to Clare Slattery. I am sure she would be more than happy to answer them, or even help you out in your garden if you are in close local proximity to Sweet Ridge Farm.

Sincerely, mary