Category Archives: Mary

Porch Time

By: Mary

Yesterday morning in the grayness of early autumn morning light I sent my horse back to my oldest brother’s ranch. A friend had lent me some gates, so those also got loaded and returned in the stock trailer that delivered Mars to his band of mares. To top off the process of fall packing, I dug up my dinnerplate dahlias bulbs before actually getting stuff together to come on the train to see Kate.

It’s been 24 hours since I left the comfort of the quiet ridgetop that I call home. As I write I can hear the noises of the busy city that Kate calls home. Life here is so different than the one that I know of. However, one universal thing that Kate and I share in the midst of our polar opposite environments is porch time. The two of us are well known for being able to sit on our porches late into the night.

Kate’s porch is very different than mine.


Usually my porch is littered with siblings. Namely, my one and only redhead sister, Clare.


Bright fire might just be inspired by this bright haired girl, or perhaps this fire started as a result of a failed attempt to roast marshmallows over a blazing fire of old furniture.


Flowers, always flowers can be found in my surroundings.


Kids and flowers seem to go together pretty well on the porch

3 years old!

And in the past days of summer, often a sibling attempting to rid the world of rabbits.


Though Kate and my porches may be different, our roots are very much the same. It’s good to be with my sister in this big city, and I look forward to sitting on her porch talking late into the night.

Mad Mars

By: Mary

Mad Mars has become more or less of a nickname for my horse along with the other reference he goes by which is “the beast”. It’s not exactly that he is an angry sort of creature. However, he is the kind of horse that has a lot of go. This means that he can get extra antsy when he feels like he needs to defend the herd of mares that he runs with or when he is moving cows. His toughness has come in very handy when moving cows on Saturdays at my oldest brother’s ranch. He’s a bogger when chasing cows in  marshy areas, and he can to get places or in front of cows in a flash.

Last Saturday my horse and I were enjoying a crisp fall-like day before things went from bad to worse. First a bull charged us, later I got scraped off my horse when trying to duck under the low bows of an ancient apple tree in need of desperate pruning. This sent me flying into the trunk of a neighboring apple tree. Minus ripping the back of my shirt in two, I was fine. After some slight alterations of tying the straps of my shirt all was well… for at least 30 minutes.


Later we trailed two bulls along the highway, When they  veered off the road and through tall weeds, we did to. After passing through the weeds I felt Mars start to limp. My guess is that he hit a culvert and slashed his leg. After a lot of bleeding and sorrow I decided to bring him back to my parent’s place on the ridge.


Twice a day dressings, shots and hosing him off have become routine. The vet thinks he didn’t severe his tendon which was my worst fear.


He is really a rather fabulous lawn ornament as he recuperates.


Maybe it’s not a noble as being the king of the herd


But the sight of him makes me happy


And someday we will be chasing those stupid bulls again!

Photo credit to Clare Slattery

Seeing Red

By: Mary

This is the time of year in which I see lots or red. Seeing red comes from the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that are wonderful to enjoy in many forms. In the midst of this wave of color, I get creative!

Currents and Raspberries just need a little sugar…


The guidance of a trusty cookbook is also helpful to create one heck of a flavorful crisp!


Raspberries are a favorite fresh fruit.


Thinking ahead for the months of winter, making berries into jam is an important preparation during August and September.


Keeping up with the harvest of tomatoes is always a challenge due in part to such a high cull percentage. As someone who wants to save the world and feels guilty over the crisis of global hunger finding a way to not waste the bounty that each vine produces can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are many fantastic ways tomatoes can be enjoyed and preserved.


Gazpacho is an ideal solution to using large quantities of tomatoes. This cold soup  is bursting with flavor and and is super healthy. One cup of ripe raw tomatoes provides a great source of vitamins A, C, K, folate, and potassium, along with the added benefit of being low in calories. Among other added benefits to eating tomatoes, one cup also keeps your blood sugar in balance. Plus, Tomatoes are packed with beta-carotene. This Spanish soup offers a solution to use more produce than simply tomatoes as it also calls for other tasty in season produce such as cucumbers, peppers, onions, garlic, and herbs. 


Because I love this soup, and because I worry about starving people, and wasting rotting tomatoes, I am more than happy to share my recipe for gazpacho. Give it a try, you might just love it, and remember that sometimes seeing red is a good thing!

Gazpacho (also known as sooo much better than V8)

4 cups tomato juice, fresh
4 or 5 large tomatoes, grilled, seeded and chopped (preferably heirloom)
2/3 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder, toasted
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
2/3 cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons lime juice, fresh squeezed
3 tablespoons cilantro, fresh, chopped
2 tablespoons basil, fresh, chopped
salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Place the tomato juice and diced tomatoes in a blender and blend until smooth.

2. Combine all of the vegetables and spices in a large bowl and mix to thoroughly incorporate.

3. Stir in the vegetable stock and lime juice. Add in the fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add the tomato mixture to the bowl and mix to combine.

5. Refrigerate the gazpacho for 1 hour and be sure to give it a stir before serving.

Leinies, Leanie, and Me

By: Mary

This Saturday I got a 4am call from Colleen inquiring if I was up and ready. As a precursor to this call, Colleen had sent me a link to a half marathon way back in April. In April the idea to run the race with her was perfect. It was so perfect in fact, that I was enthused enough to envision myself going on long practice runs, and getting in ideal shape. The training didn’t happen because in reality, I love the idea of running better than actually doing so on a consistent basis, and I like working in the fields better than actually working out.

There is no flaking on Miss Colleen Rose Slattery, though, so the two of us set off in the dark for the two hour trip to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, for our half marathon. The trip did extend over the estimated time that mapquest gave us because we got lost (of course!). In an attempt to “pump” Colleen up for the race I put on great music. Who doesn’t like Johnny Cash at 4:30 in the morning?

Apparently, Colleen. Since she was not a fan of my music selection, I moved on to narrating an Amish romance novel that I was slipping through the other day. Nah, that didn’t amuse her either, even with great narration of steamy Amish courting drama.

My turn to get prickly was when we pulled into the parking lot of our destination and were surrounded by a mob of energetic runners who all seemed to be pumped (even without the help of Johnny Cash). The concept of running 13.1 miles was less than thrilling to me so I muttered, “Runners are such idiots”.  Colleen responded with, “No, they are positive people, Mary. And you ARE NOT a runner.”

With her positive peep she laced up her shoes


and put some positive thought into beasting her way through the race with the hope of achieving a PR.


Colleen did just that. She ran her best ever time of 1:42:16 and received 6th place overall. I made it to the finish line, too with a time of 1:53.


Because the race was sponsored by Leinenkugel’s which is some pretty fantastic Wisconsin beer, we took the time to stop by a Lienenkugel’s mural on the way out of town while still high on race endorphins.

This one is obviously in honor of Kate, our mural posing queen!


Here is documentation of me reloading on race carbs. Hooray for Leinies at 10 in the morning!


What is this picture documenting?

I would have to say, a beautiful RUNNER sister who is one heck of a runner and person.


Closest Friends

By: Mary

A recent radio program on Public Radio discussed the benefits to raising 1 child families. Many callers phoned in to agree with the shows guest, and would articulate their personal beliefs on minimizing the family unit size to maximize the positive development for a child.

In contrast to the shows opinion, and as one of 9 siblings, plus a cousin thrown into the mix, I don’t believe that the development of my person-hood was compromised as a result of growing up with siblings.


As a middle child in a large family, I have become a better listener, a harder worker, and a more generous person.

Growing up, I loved tagging along with the ‘big’ kids as their nuisance little kid sister.


older kids

As I got older I fell in love with my role as an older sibling to the ‘little’ kids. It has been a wonderful experience to watch them grow.


Spanning 20 years, I have been able to watch Colleen take her first steps. Now I run half-marathons with her.


A few people that phoned in discussed the resentment they harbor to this day as a result of growing up with siblings. For me, growing up with siblings has not been perfect, but it has been a joy to share life with such a bonded and varied group of brothers and sisters.


My laughter, and at times, even rage or sorrow, is always most authentic when in their company. I count Kate, Gabe, Rob, Cale, Patrick, Raph, Colleen, James and Clare as some of my closest friends, They have not decreased the richness of my development. What they have done is helped maximize the potential of my personal formation.


Formal in the Field

By: Mary

This is the story of an arsenal of a closet stocked with a vast array of bridesmaids dresses that was made into a useful costume collection to bring forth a highly impractical (but may I add hilarious) photo shoot.

This collection of dresses started about 30 years ago when my mother wore the blue silk number Kate sported as a maid-of-honor in her sister’s wedding. The pink dress came from our sister-in-law, Nicole during a phase in which she was a consultant at a bridal store and was able to bring many a bridesmaid dress home for free with price tags that were still in tact. She also donated the aqua dress that Colleen wore after it sat in storage for many years following a high school prom. Colleen begrudged Clare the high honor of wearing a dress that she pulled out of the play clothes last summer and has since intended to wear next month during her first stint as a bridesmaid.

It just so happened that the talented Tara Schwab was visiting and graciously agreed to document us with her camera. Tara is a former roommate of Kate’s and has moved to Wisconsin for a flute professor position at a university in the northern part of the state.

Free spirited and happy in the cool evening light, we took to the field by foot.

running sisters

The asparagus field seemed an ideal place to stop from striding for a moment.

happy sisters

And then… an apple tree seemed to be beckoning. So just like that, I scrambled up. This turned out to be a problematic decision. I know, I know- it does seem like such a sweetly quaint scene. However, nobody else wanted to climb up and none of the sisters realized why I was laughing. This was because the pungent smell that was drifting up was coming from the composting hide of Silly Spots (remember Blizzards and Beef?).  At this very moment in time, Silly Spots’ hide from lasts winter’s butchering is resting, or I could say, composting in a less than aromatic way under one of our many apple trees. 

After choosing a new tree without the remains of a cow underneath, Clare was game to scurry its low branches. All was well until the jump down.

in the tree

And then all was really not well…this was the point in time in which a literal falling out took place.




Lesson to be learned: no apple tree climbing in bridesmaids-to-be dresses.

Colleen is typically pretty sweet, BUT when she’s not she’s not, and the girl really can get into a catfight. Her reaction to this tear was a quick yank on Clare’s red tresses. While Clare stood her 16 year ground, during this sister spat, she watched with pleasure as Colleen then clumsily tripped on her flowing aqua train and tumbled down to meet her end with the emerald grass of the field.

At this point my reaction was to suggest we link arms as then I could take custody of each of their arms to separate them from throwing fists at each other.


Aren’t we happy?

*Please do not look too closely at Colleen’s unhappy face*


By this time, Colleen and I were totally over being stalked by the paparazzi…okay, that might be a slightly embellished truth. Colleen needed some condolence from our mom, and I needed to get ready for an old church lady meeting at St. Peter’s Church (more about that later). Anyhow, our last photo turned out to be a pretty special one, because it includes our mother who was at a corner of her garden babysitting Kate’s youngest.

all of us

I’m glad the dresses got some extra use, and I hope you enjoyed the folly of our dramatic dress up segment. I’d advise that if you are going to do one yourself steer clear of composting dead calves, bridalwear, and fist fights.

Sunday Sisters

By: Mary

There is no time of the week as pleasant to bake during then Sunday morning, and there is no day of the week better to eat doughnuts, then on a Sunday morning as well.

Wait, that’s a false statement.  Any given day is a great day to eat doughnuts!

Colleen and I have experienced many a Sunday morning baking session together as you may remember from the post Sunday Sugar Doughnuts. Today I brought a substitute baker into the kitchen to help mix the dough and fry the batter in oil.


My eight-year-old niece may just end up being quite the baker.


She’s a precious gift in my life and I’m glad to have spent this spring morning in her company.


In just once week, though, my ” Sunday sister ” (Coleen) will be traveling back home from college in Dallas. I can hardly wait to spend early mornings baking with her and be forced to go on excruciating runs which I protest half-heartedly. Her trademark ugly apron is ready and waiting for her in an old farm house kitchen far away from the the biggest and proudest state in the union. Welcome back Colleen and best of luck to you as you cram for finals. Ace them before coming back home to your sophisticated ridge roots!

dorky colleenA