Monthly Archives: December 2012

Winter’s Mantle

by Kate

In the city, snow subsumes stone. Winter has stolen softly and shifted the surfaces of the world.
winterwonderland12 126

Yesterday I wrapped my baby in warm wool and wandered through the snowscape to the nearby Allegheny Cemetery, which is part castle…

part postcard…
winterwonderland12 027
and part Narnia.
winterwonderland12 033
The statues of the cemetery are stark and stone, blackened by the ages and bespeaking grief…
winter's mantle
But winter had wrapped her icy mantle around them, quite literally in this case, imparting a strange sense of warmth and a definite flair for couture.
winter's mantle cemetery statues

There is a softness and an elegance and flair about these wintry stoles that I imagine makes it much more comfortable for this young woman eternally reading high in the sky.

reading statue

And an amusing jauntiness about Justice’s new hat.
justice with a hat
All in all, I wouldn’t mind possessing a few items designed by the icy hand of winter…
winter couture
but for all their soft elegance they may be a bit chilly… so I’ll stick to my warm woolens and downy furs.

Pretty and Poised

By: Mary

Another family wedding is springing upon us and you all can bet that the celebration will be getting blog coverage from us Slattery girls. Family weddings are a pinnacle time of celebration, and is something of which the entire family looks forward to months in advance. Looking into the archive of this blog I realized that there has been a whole lot of sweet wedding posts hosting pictures of our enormous family in rapt happiness.

Well… it has been said many times by my father that we need to give an accurate projection of our lives, so perhaps I should confess that many pictures and sentences get culled. Do you have any clue how hard it for us to get a family photo that makes us all look semi functional? More difficult than even that is getting us all together in the same place at the same time. Typically there is always someone hissing for us to gather as they hunt the entire mass of us down while a crowd of us gather and complain while the missing persons are rounded up and herded in for a family photo. When Gabe and Aurora got married Patrick couldn’t be rounded up for a family picture because he was studying abroad in Rome. However, Kate just so happened to find a plywood reproduction of Michelangelo’s David that was used to represent Patrick in the pictures. Afterwards,  David ,also known as Patrick, was propped in a corner to view the reception festivities after duct taping a maple leaf to it for the sake of modesty in lieu of a fig leaf. We all thought it was a perfect representation of him – just without the sarcasm. But hey, the skin tone was the same shade as was the commanding presence in a mute lofty way, even if it was a few inches too tall.

gabe's wedding fam pic

Robert and Nicole’s wedding family photo goes straight to my heart. Claire was pretty exhausted after her duties of being a flower girl. BOOM! Too bad there were no more flowers to strew.

claire in the air

While Kate may be the dancer in the family, it’s Colleen who always gets down on the dance floor. The other night Colleen and I were laughing until we nearly cried at disastrous wedding photos and these two made us gasp from hysterical hollows.

colleen getting down

Colleen At Weddings

Clare is soon to be getting her driver’s license so it seems like  forever ago that she was the flower girl for Aurora’s wedding. She hates this awkward phase that she was going through.  I, as a big sister find it adorable. But she seems to like her new grownup, beautiful, red-headed look much better.

Clare, Gabe

While Clare was a flower girl for the first wedding of the family, I was the Maid of Honor. As you can see, my poise was… well, a bit off. Mom and Kate might just be submerged in a tense conversation on modesty while I am beaming and perhaps laughing over something of which most likely involved a horse story. Since I am the publisher of this post, and filled with pride, I will refrain from uploading a picture of me making a toast with my skirt covered in a large pattern of a beer stain. Yeah, I know. Smooth. Real smooth, and fortunately for me it’s documented rather vividly.

happy barmaid bridesmaid

Being  single can be rough….and Kate was feeling it at this wedding, when exhaustion and frustration hit her like a tornado at about 3 o’clock in the morning.

However, she was not aware of the tall, handsome Scottish- Mexican man with an outrageously hilarious sense of humor and a gentle nature in her near future.

beer is my life

But Lienkugels was there for the moment. Lot’s and lots of it as a matter of fact.

happy kate

And when the time did come for Kate to get hitched, our family photo turned out surprisingly well…


Perhaps it is because in all truth, Kate does happen to be the most willing to stand in front of the camera out of all of us.

It is a sure thing that this upcoming family wedding will be full of joy and excitement. Perhaps, I will be the one to take on the tradition Kate has set as a jovial mess. Undoubtably, there will be an outpouring of love, laughter and craziness, because this is a celebration that involves a lot of Slattery’s and Cummings. It will be a delight to gather and celebrate Cale and Katelyn’s union with my poised and pretty sisters!


And more importantly than that, it will be a delight to gain Katelyn as a family member.

Bring on the festivities. The only thing I can think of missing is the fig leafed image of Patrick. Being that he is here to represent in person, it will make for a less eccentric family photo. I can’t say that’s a bad thing!

On The Night Before Christmas

By: Clare

Yeah, I know, more Christmas posts. But this one’s just informative. Okay, so I won’t  be giving you any vital information that could be used to launch a rocket, or telling you the secret to preventing old age (although my Dad probably could, and it would inevitably involve fermented beets and pounds and pounds of garlic). You might find it semi-entertaining, though, if you’re into drama.

Take a look at this picture.


You may have thought, “Wow, that’s a big Christmas tree”, or “Wow, it looks like Colleen has no arms”, but really I’d say when I look at this picture I see three very tall girls, with very long hair, who look pretty put-together and happy.

Put-together? Maybe.

Happy? Now.

But this is the after shot.You see, for the Slattery girls, Christmas Eve Mass is a yearly tradition that we look forward to because it means dressing up and posing for pictures. This is more Kate’s forte than anyone else’s but we try to follow in the footsteps of our oldest sister. But no matter what, whether all four of us are together on Christmas Eve or not, we can never, ever get through the preparation for Mass without some minor (sometimes…often…major) drama moments. There have been a multitude of them throughout the years, and there are always tears. At this point I would like to take a moment to clarify which one of us is usually crying. That answer would not include me. It’s split pretty evenly, really. Mary and I just yell. Kate and Colleen are really good at bringing the tears. And I mean really good.

So, if you’re wondering what a before-Christmas-Mass picture looks like, here’s about how each of us would look…







And me..


And this is about how we look all together, just add in a dress or two, one mirror, and five makeup cases..


But, Christmas is a beautiful time of the year, and I’m actually pretty endeared to the whole process of Christmas Eve Mass preparation, because you get some quality entertainment, and some great memories.

Despite sisters attempting to strangle each other..


It all turns out beautifully…


I hope you and yours had a very blessed, and beautiful Christmas yourselves!


Christmas, Children, and Snow: Who could ask for more?

Christmas has come and gone now.  The snow lingers on and so do I.  Whether I am running out in the cold air or curled up on my bed reading, I’m enjoying every moment at home.   One of the greatest gifts of being at home this winter has been getting to know my nieces and nephews better.


I’m known as “the baby-hater” (thanks for the nickname, Raph) in our family.  It’s not that I dislike children, really.  It’s that I think they tend to dislike me.  Besides, when it comes to being an aunt, I feel a bit inadequate in comparison.  Auntie Mary and Auntie Clare not only sounds better than Auntie Colleen, but those two really have a passion for children.  Clare and Mary can and do spend entire days with our nieces and nephews and come out beaming, with children clinging to them, laughing and begging for more time spent with them.  I’m the aunt who comes and visits and plays…for about 10 minutes,   I can run 10 miles and be chipper by the end, but playing tag with a group of small children makes me want to take a nap.


I really do love my nieces and nephews, even though I don’t have the endurance to keep up with them for long.  Yesterday, Gabriel and Aurora and company visited for Christmas Day.  It was so easy for me to run up to my darling god-daughter, Antonia.  With her huge smile and indiscriminate love, she is so easy to love.  I sometimes struggle with the older ones, Claire, Adeline, and Thaddeus, who aren’t content to just sit in my lap and smile and laugh as I bump them up and down.  But yesterday, I found myself snuggled up on my bed with Claire and Thaddeus watching Downton Abbey.  The afternoon sunlight glinted off of Thaddeus’ eyelashes as hes lowly started to drift off into sleep and Claire was warm and solid next to me.  And I realized that I love these kids so very much.  I may not be the best aunt in the world, but I’m trying.


That was one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received, just spending time with the little ones.  I’ll do my best to be there for you, little nieces and nephews, but please excuse me if I sneak off for a break every now and then.



By Mary

As a result of working with young children I find myself redundantly repeating “use your words” as a way to encourage kids to stop fighting and/or sobbing. It’s funny how that phrase applies to my own life. The other night I mused over the power of words while Colleen read her newest culmination of poetry to me. The words she strings together are richly beautiful. They mirror who she is  and how she sees life.


Words have always been an important thing to the Slattery family. Having a father who worked as a journalist for about 30 years, and a mother who majored in english really gave my siblings and myself a strong appreciation for reading and writing.


As an introvert I find that writing takes on a fluidity that cannot often times be expressed through language. This blog project has been a good way to use words. From Texas to Pittsburgh to Wisconsin, we sisters have considered it a privilege to share our words with you readers.



Our words to you are synonymous: Have a blessed and Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year to come.

Thanks for reading our words,


The Slattery Sisters


Blizzards and Beef-I’m Back Home!

I’m back home!  Can you tell?


And now when I wake up, the world is snowy and calm from my window.


There is snow and wind and family and babies.


And beef. Lots of beef.  Dad went over to my uncle’s to kill a cow, and as I returned from a run the other day with Mary, I met Dad in the driveway, bringing home the beef. Literally.


And if any of you are squeamish, I’d advise you to not visit our house.  That bucket behind Dad in the van was very full of…


Cow’s feet, of course!  Nothing says “Welcome home! It’s Christmas time!” like 3 cow feet.  I just wonder where the 4th one is…In any case, it’s wonderful to be back.  We’re currently all at home, due to a blizzard warning sweeping through the area.  That won’t stop me from going out for my run later, though.  The snow covered hills and trees are a stunning backdrop that I will be sure to enjoy.  Don’t let the gore fool you; it’s beautiful here in Western Wisconsin.


Defining Style

by Kate

Oh, the rocky road to personal style. These days, I live in a real live city.

pittsburgh portrait style

Pittsburgh may not be quite like Paris (though it does look like it sometimes!) but it does boast a real fashion scene full of very sophisticated and stylish people. I am not one of them, but I do appreciate the fact that I can walk down the street in bright mustard yellow or pleather leggings and a sweeping cape and (sort of) generally blend into traffic. I am pretty sure this would not be the case in the streets of the small towns near the dairy country from whence I came, although it IS possible to drive a tractor to the grocery store, or tie an Amish buggy up at the hitching post without drawing a second glance.

Granted, even in Pittsburgh the hat I wore to the recent baptism of my son may have gotten a second glance or two.

baptism hat

Still, there is a part of me that measures the success or failure of my personal style not by the outfits I wear in the city. Somehow a part of me will always believe the essence of my personal style is measured by what I wear on Christmas Eve in the choir loft of the old German Catholic parish church across the country road from my parent’s farmhouse. The theoretical opinion of that congregation of familiar farm families kneeling in the candlelit stillness means more to me than any urban fashionista ever could.

This year I won’t be there.

In Wisconsin, my family is beginning to gather, with the college kids returning and the wood stove burning. I’ll see them soon, at a big wedding coming up after the holidays, but I’ll miss them on Christmas Eve, and I’ll miss my own great fashion moment of the year. I’ll be waiting for pictures of my sisters, arriving at church in style.

You can find our Christmas stories here:

Christmas in the Clamor and the Chaos

We’ll All be Home for Christmas

Christmas and Coming Home

The Spirit of Christmas

and more urban style adventures here:

Frumpiness and Pleather

Pittsburgh is my Paris (A Bibliophile’s Dream)

First Time Driver

By: Clare

Learning to drive is a real milestone in a teenagers life, and is greeted with an incredible amount of excitement and joy when the time finally comes for you to hop behind the wheel for the first time. Although, when you live in the farming community of Cashton, chances are most every kid has already been driving the tractor, the four-wheeler, the snowmobile, or the big, rumbling Ford F150 for quite some time already. I, on the other hand, had experienced neither the joy of learning to drive (legally), or the exhilaration of driving at a young age (illegally). I was just fine with being driven around by my parents or eight other siblings at any point in time. Riding in a moving vehicle gives me time to listen to music, to think, and to quietly read in the passenger’s seat. Although, yes, I did have to admit it would be nice to have the ability to get out of the house a little more often, where the average age of residents’ is around 683 years of age.

And, so, I found myself sitting in a windowless room for the first few weeks of winter, listening to my driving instructor go on, and on, and on, and on about “the good old days”. Wahhhoo. I would say the two weeks of driving instruction passed by about as fast as a sloth runs a marathon. Or as fast as I could run a marathon.

Anyway, the time has finally come for me to begin the actual driving stage. I reluctantly went to the DMV and retrieved my permit. At least I think its mine. I mean, the name on it is right and everything, but the girl in the picture looks it little more like a brainwashed cow or something…

My very first time driving was on a road I had traveled countless times before, with who but my mother in the passenger seat beside me. My mother makes first-time driving quite interesting. I’ve watched my Mom coach five siblings through first time driving, starting with Mary. And Mary was the worst of them, which as a five-year-old in the back seat was quite entertaining. So I know by now how my Mom will react when, say, I get too close to the yellow lines, or, say, I get too close to the white lines. Most of the time I don’t purposely drive badly when I’m around her, but sometimes it can’t be helped. Mind you, I don’t do anything extremely dangerous on the road. I’m not that stupid, but when I’m the road I do tend to get a little ADD.

Of course, as a beginner driver you have to practice your driving basics with the driving instructor. I must note that our driving instructor is a very talkative person, and I also happen to be a very talkative person. Also, when I get behind the wheel I suddenly become an incompetent fool who finds it necessary to note every single thing you pass. When driving through a  town I hadn’t been in before, I began to rate each large house we passed in my head, and decide whether or not I would want to live there. My driving instructor also found this a fun thing to do, so for a while our conversation was something like this.

Me: “OH! I really like that house! Its so pretty and big!

Driving Instructor: “Ohhh, that is a nice one.”

Me: “OH! That house would be nice, but I don’t really like the color scheme. Its just too much.”

Driving Instructor: “Yeah..oh! There’s a stop sign there. There’s a stop sign there! What do you do at a stop sign, Clare?

Me: “You stop. I just forgot to, but you have a brake over on your side of the car, so I figured you could do it.”


This might not go over well in the real world, but you know, right now I’m all “c’est la vie” when it comes to driving. At this point, I’m waaay more into thinking about Christmas than driving our old minivan. And who wants to drive around in the snow? Oh wait, there isn’t any snow around here! Ahhhh, Wisconsin, you’re failing me!

When You Take Away a Girl’s Piano…


by Colleen

Once again, ’tis the season!  No, not THAT season-Finals Season!  And oh how festive and joyful the University of Dallas campus is.  I see people out at all hours, cavorting on the mall, and laughing in the library.  Oh wait, make that crying from lack of sleep.

Luckily, I have a fairly easy finals schedule this semester, and so I’m not going to be complaining about school.  Nope, I’m complaining about something else.

I moseyed on down the lounge in my dorm last week for a spot of piano playing only to find this:


What? What?!  I was incensed.  I was enraged.  I was very, VERY annoyed.  C’mon, people.  Throughout the two weeks I have now been suffering from piano withdrawals.  I’ll look up from studying French and think, “Hey, PIANO! Yeah, I’m gonna go play!” only to suffer the extreme disappointment of not being able to.  I feel like I’m missing a limb.

My thought and feeling progression goes a little  something like this:






FINE THEN.  I’ll just go watch youtube videos and melt my brain into mush.

Finals, I can handle.  This indignity-no.

Winter Harpist

by Kate

I play the harp.

harpist fantastic hat

My harp is a Troubadour. It’s a lever harp about five feet tall. Tall enough to make a dramatic statement- but small enough for a six foot tall farm girl harpist to heft and carry hither and yon.

troubadour harp red barn asparagus

After the golden fronds of asparagus have bowed beneath the frost and autumn turns to early winter is my favorite time to play the harp. Advent, Hanukkah, and Christmas music is made for the harp. This is quite literally true, as much of the music I am playing was written with harps or similar instruments in mind. The pieces I am playing are haunting and holy and lovely.

christmas harpist pittsburgh kate stapleton

Of course I rarely (er, never) really play my harp in a frosty field or forest full of holly berries. This year, with a three month old and two year old and demanding schedule of dancing and caring for elderly people and maaaybe doing my laundry someday, I purposely avoided taking any additional Christmas gigs beyond my regular bimonthly visit to the Alzheimers and Dementia unit up the hill. However, a couple grocery store gigs fell into my lap, and I took them. I’m glad I did.

I love grocery store harp gigs. After spending a good ten years of my life in or directly around the grocery business, the aisles of a grocery store feel like home, but to be honest I prefer to descend upon those aisles in a sweeping ballgown with a harp. My favorite thing about grocery store harp gigs, though, is the reaction of the customers. No one expects to see a harpist when they trudge into a grocery store, so there is often a magical sense of wonder when they come around a corner and find one.

Giant Eagle harpist Pittsburgh, PA

And so in this early winter season I was to be found with my Troubadour harp playing haunting, regal, holy harp music… right next to a huge display of Steelers Merchandise near a pharmacy at a local Giant Eagle Grocery store. And it was lovely.