Tag Archives: Friendship

My Fresh Farmhand Friend

By: Colleen

There’s a new member of the motley crew that sleeps under the roof of the Slattery homestead in Middle Ridge, Wisconsin.  My good friend and compatriot, Killian Beeler, recently drove up from hot and dusty Texas to dig in the muddy Wisconsin fields (and believe me, with all of the recent rain, mud is all we have!) with me for the month of June.  I sat down with him after day one on the farm to get his initial impressions of life on the farm.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself!

A: Well, I’m a handsome, young…ha, ha, I’m just kidding, just kidding!  I’m a 20 year old, Catholic male, single (playful laugh).  But seriously, I’m from Texas, and I go to the University of Dallas with Colleen.  I like a nice pair of slacks (another laugh).  I enjoy history, politics, music, and playing bass guitar.

Q: Why did you choose to come to work on Sweet Ridge Farm?

A: Well, I really like the area; I think it’s very pretty.  I enjoy the Amish culture that permeates the area.  I am very interested in the idea of a society based on agriculture, so I came here to get a small idea of what it is like.

Q: What has your initial impression been of life on the farm, Slattery style?

A: It’s great!  I have already managed to meet Amish families, trim blackberry bushes, and plant and learn about shallots.  The experience really does go beyond my expectations so far.

Q: Why are you interested in farming?

A: I believe that a healthy, ordered society should make and know, to some degree at least, the food that it consumes.  When it becomes disconnected from the complex process behind the production of what it comes into contact every day, there are real problems.  In other words, Monsanto sucks!

Q: What are your expectations for your stay?

A: To enjoy the summer, work out in the fields, and enjoy evenings spent reading in the company of great people.

Well, Killian, I am quite certain that you will enjoy your stay on Sweet Ridge Farm, if I have anything to say about it.  Welcome to the great State of Wisconsin, my friend!


A Phone Call From Rome

by Colleen


On Monday morning, I was woken from my slumber by a call from Rome.  I confusedly stared at my caller ID while my phone jingled and jangled.  “Rome!”, it said.  As my mind slowly unclouded on the 3rd or 4th ring, I realized that my best friend, Killian, was calling me from Rome, and immediately flipped open my phone, attempting to make my “Hello” sound less than groggy and tired.  Killian and many of my closest friends are studying on the University of Dallas’ Rome campus this semester, and I hastily programmed the campus telephone number into my phone as “Rome!” just last week.

Killian was calling to tell me the latest news, news which is by now old: that Pope Benedict is retiring.  Due to the early hour, I refused to take him seriously the first few times he told me the news.  “Ha ha, very funny, Killian.  You’re not fooling me, even if  I did just wake up,” I replied to his assertions.  Soon, though, I realized that he was not fooling around.  The gravity of the situation hit me, and I sat up in bed.

“It hasn’t been done in 800 or so years!” Killian exclaimed.  It struck me that this truly is a momentous event in church history  and it is amazing that all of us are alive to witness it, especially all of my friends who will  be there to watch and wait in the courtyard outside of the Vatican at the end of this month, searching the sky for traces of white smoke.  The future is uncertain, but the church is not.  It will always be here.  And, from Killian’s phone call, I was reminded of those I miss in Rome, They may not be  physically be near me, but I know they are with me in spirit, and I with them.  Apparently, I can’t get away from them making me miss out on sleep, even a continent away!


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

My Kind of Study Break

I just looked up from a paper I’ve been writing (Chaucer, anyone?) to find on facebook Mary’s latest post.  “Of course!” I thought, “I should do a blog post!”  The moment of inspiration always strikes at the least opportune homework moment for me it seems.  Ah, well, that’s just how it goes.

A few weeks ago, I escaped the UD bubble with my amazing (ly short and awesome) friend, Selena.  A city warrior at heart, she is always looking for opportunities to get off campus, and now that the university has a light rail station right across the road, she can and does.  And sometimes she’s even able to drag my crumudgeony self away with her.  And then I get over being grumpy and being scared of public transportation (because of course the 5’10” girl is more afraid of it than the 4’11” one…) and enjoy myself immensely.  Our destination?  Cafe Brazil in Deep Ellum, Dallas.

I was first attracted to Cafe Brazil for the Bottomless Coffee Bar.

You pay somewhere around $3 for all the coffee you can drink, and as a barista at the cappuccino bar on campus, I never pass up a good (and cheap) cup of coffee.  I also happen to be impervious to caffeine, so I can down 3 or 4 cups in an hour and not feel a thing but warm satisfactions and enjoyment of the lovely liquid.  And, as a Slattery, I never pause to take advantage of a good deal.  I was out to get my money’s worth!

Selena was not quite so cavalier in her coffee drinking.work done.

Although our reasoning for going to Cafe Brazil was studying, we decided to eat first (thus happily postponing getting anything done).  I ordered the Amazon salad and was quite impressed.

The food was hearty, the coffee was hot, and the conversation was lovely.  After awhile, Selena and I actually broke out the books and laptops and got down to business.


Luckily, this lasted all of two minutes.


Selena always knows how to make me laugh.  To coffee, friendship, and liberation from homework!  Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone   Happy Halloween!

Letters To Thailand

By Mary

11 years ago my friendship with Ericka began in a most fitting manor for both of us fun loving, free spirited girls. Ericka then 14, and myself one year older, met at the fair and proceeded  to seek out the most adventurous rides that could procure shrieking screams, sick stomachs, and the melody of teenage laughter.

Since becoming friends with Ericka, years have passed by, but a stable friendship has remained. Both of us live by the flow of a low maintenance friendship. Like me, Ericka can be pretty hard to track down at times. However when visits do happen, adventure does too. The two of us friends are usually up for anything which has led to trips to Canada and DC, crashing weddings, rock climbing, hysterical square dances, and a memorable Thanksgiving trip up north which did involve a hot tub, Wisconsin weather (snow) and stocking caps with frozen hair underneath as we sat both freezing and boiling to death with the same youthful attitude that we possessed so many years ago at the fair.

Though Ericka has traveled extensively, and did spend a summer volunteering at an orphanage in Peru, her longstanding dreams of dedicating herself as a Catholic missionary took some time to get to.  However, last March, after much planning and preparation the time had come for Ericka to live out her dream. While searching for the right organization, Ericka discovered her the ideal fit: Heart’s Home.  Hearts Home is an international Catholic non-profit organization that has a global network of volunteers who assist and form deep per­sonal bonds with troubled, dis­ad­van­taged and socially iso­lated indi­vid­uals in some of the world’s most desperate areas. Heart’s Home is active on five con­ti­nents, with 41 centers in 21 countries.

Before making the final commitment with this organization, Ericka traveled to Heart’s Home retreat center and headquarters which is located near the Bronx, in New York. After her time with active members of the community and daily interactions with those in the Bronx, Ericka felt confident the she was with the right nonprofit.  Because Ericka is skilled at learning languages, she was asked to go to Thailand. In Bangkok, Ericka has worked towards learning to speak Thai.  Her living conditions are difficult as she lives in a slum, but she has found great joy in meeting and caring for the local woman and children that she encounters on a daily basis.

Before Erika left for her 15 month stint, I promised I would write her, not email, but authentic snail mail that takes a long time to receive and is filled with the ups and downs of life, misspelled words and blotted out lines. Sarcasm, melodramatic narratives, embarrassment, and humor jotted on a most random assortment of paper have migrated to Bangkok via airmail.

The monthly exchange of my letters will soon be over, as Ericka will be back in June. Though June is a few months away, I already am looking forward to a non- paper communicated visit with my friend followed by a weekend trip with her and her boyfriend, Ryan to Devil’s Lake for a day or two of rock climbing. Devil’s Lake may lack the foreign wonder that surrounds Ericka right now.

I know that when my friend went on the climb pictured below, she was able to see monkeys and had all sorts of unusual encounters. However, the wonder of traveling cannot beat how wonderful it is to have friendship on nearby terrain. Hoorah for for June, and the melody of laughter.

Spring Break- a Tale of Snow

by Colleen

My Spring Break was pretty much the most fun one can have while in Wisconsin in early March (meaning, while in cold mud).  I brought back four of my friends, Southerners one and all, and introduced them to a little of la vie campagne.  We arrived latish on a Sunday night, to a Momless house (isn’t it odd, the disarray that seems to be in even the most orderly house when the mother isn’t at home?).  She and Dad were across the road at St. Peter’s Church, and I waited impatiently for them to come home.  Mom arrived first in order to supply the troops with food; we’d been promised homemade pizza, but as usual, it was all gone before we arrived.  Thanks, everyone.

The next day, I woke up early, excited to show off my life back home to all my friends.  I was fairly confident that they would enjoy it, but still that nagging fear of boring my friends to death lingered about.  So, as soon as the boys were up and revived with a few homemade pancakes, I took them out to the pasture to sled.  I had a one up one most of my friends, some of whom had never sledded before, so I took great glee in whizzing past them, whipping up snow clouds as I passed.

Later that night, just the boys, Hermes and Killian, and I went out to sled under the silver sky.  Ice had formed a slick and shining layer over the snow, and we rushed down the hill faster than ever before.  It was not enough, though; I insisted that we all needed to pile into one sled and go down the hill, convinced that we’d get even more speed.  Regrettably, what worked in my childhood did not here.  Our combined weight pressed the sled into the snow, and we couldn’t budge.  But I was not to be stopped!

Using the brilliant logic of a Slattery, I searched around the barn and found to my delight a large piece of sheet metal siding for the barn, unused.  “Perfect!” I exclaimed.  The boys were not so sure.  “Come on, come on, don’t be babies,” the age old insult.  And so, I dragged the metal to the crest of the hill and sat down.  I’d go with or without them.  They hopped on behind me.  With a devilish grin, I pushed off and we went screaming down the hill.  Literally.  The boys bailed, but I stayed on until the very end and sat there glowing and gloating in the cold night air as they came down to see if I was still alive.  I was very much so.

Thus began my week at home.  More tales to follow!

Dressing Up and Running Wild

by Kate

Yesterday we left the city sparkling in the bright December sun and traveled to a tiny country church with the steepest set of steps I have ever seen.

We were there for the baptism of our godson, Gideon Josef.

Gideon is a remarkably peaceful, contented, and quiet child. This makes him distinctly different from his two year old sister Avila and my daughter Olympia. Actually Avila wasn’t so bad, but as for my child… Well. Any of you who have stood in front of a silent congregation holding a very vocal and squirming toddler can probably understand why I have claw marks on my face and neck this morning. I was fiercely engaged in a silent and public wrestling match with Olympia while standing in the front of the church before the baptismal font, until finally recognizing that she fervently wanted to be reunited with Avila, and gratefully surrendering her to the grandparents in the front pew. Meanwhile, the priest dropped his cane, and Gideon threw out his arm to ward off the holy water and knocked the vials of chrism oil onto the floor. In the end the cane and chrism were retrieved, the toddler was pacified with a camera, and the baby was duly baptized. Then there was cake, and time for the little girls to run wild. Note Avila’s truly fantastic fur coat.

The friendship between these two little girls has been a delight to watch. They have always had a special connection. It was interesting to watch an affinity so clearly pronounced between tiny babies. They are just getting old enough to do more than stare delightedly into each others eyes. I suspect this means they are on the verge of getting into a great deal of trouble.

They come by the friendship, fur coats, and propensity for trouble making honestly enough, as their mothers have spent many years dressing up, dreaming, and getting in and out of trouble together.

Granted we weren’t usually that dressed up. That picture was taken at the in the midst of the time we spent living in a blue cabin and running a theatre company together. Rebecca made all the costumes, so the cabin was full of them, and moments like these flowed out of our daily life. Of course, our daily lives tend to lead to dress up on a regular basis.

I am delighted to see the friendship (and the dressing up) continuing in the next generation.


You can read more about Rebecca (and her farm!) here:

Sunday at Sparta Farm