on birth, sorrow, and the promise of spring

Phipps - Spring Flower Show 2015; photo credit, Melissa Firman

This photo practically screams “Easter,” doesn’t it? Taken 4/4/2015 by me at the Phipps Conservatory, Spring Flower Show 2015, Pittsburgh, PA photo credit: Melissa Firman


On Easter … 
As disloyal as it feels to all my years of Sunday School and church attendance, the youth group activities that shaped me, the formal religious upbringing I’ve had, Easter has in recent years become less of a religious holiday for me and more of a celebration of spring, a renewal of the spirit. I say I’m Unitarian Universalist, which is what I identify with most, but the truth of the matter is that I’m somewhat lapsed in my UU church attendance/involvement.

This tends to happen fairly regularly; I’m the only one in the family with any interest in attending church these days, so while the notion is still ingrained in me from years gone by that this should be/needs to be a family affair, it’s not our reality and making it be a solo effort is more difficult than I imagined.

On Birthdays… 
Perhaps I’m a bit more reflective than usual this Easter morn, given that I’ve just marked another trip around the sun in terms of a birthday.  It has been a low-key birthday weekend. We went out to eat on Friday to The Oven Pizza Company in Wexford – I had been wanting to try it for awhile because I’d heard great things about their gluten-free pizza, which I really liked. The kids liked the wings, too. (Longer review soon but the bottom line is that we’ll be back.)

Phipps - Viola Hip Hop Cranbunny

“Viola Hip Hop Cranbunny” ~ as seen at the Phipps Spring Flower Show 2015, Pittsburgh, PA ~ April 4, 2015 ~ Photo Credit: Melissa Firman

Yesterday, The Girl and I went to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to take in the Spring Flower Show. I always enjoy the Phipps (these photos are all from our visit yesterday) and this year’s Flower Show was most welcome, given the ridiculous winter Pittsburgh was dealt. We also enjoyed a nice brunch at The Porch at Schenley, and some time at the Library. I read and browsed while The Girl participated in a teen anime program.

On Reading …

West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan piqued my interest in reading more about Zelda and Scott, which is what intrigued me about Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.  I’ve been listening to this in the car for the last two weeks or so. Really liked this one (Jenna Lamia’s narration is, as always, top notch) as it gave me a much more different perspective of Zelda than I’d had with West of Sunset. It’s also quite sad, as clearly Zelda was a woman born before her time. I’d like to think with better pharmacology and more modern psychological supports she would have been known more for more than being F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife and gotten the recognition she deserved.

I’ve abandoned a few novels and an audiobook this week. Doesn’t matter which ones. They’re probably fine, but they just weren’t for me.

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs TonightNext week, Alexandra Fuller comes to Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures, so I’m trying to read some of her work before attending that event.  I just started Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, her debut memoir.

This is how it begins:

Mom says, “Don’t come creeping into our room at night.”
They sleep with loaded guns beside them on the bedside rugs.
She says, “Don’t startle us when we’re sleeping.”
“Why not?”
“We might shoot you.”
“By mistake.” 

On Writing … 
My friend Sarah and her husband Jeff have launched Flashbang! Writing Studio, which offers creative writing workshops for high school and middle school students. As Sarah and Jeff put it, they “help our students write stories with wings and teeth, generate poems based on reality TV and their Twitter feeds, and master that delicate alchemy of turning words into worlds—all while engaging them in deep readings of complex texts and refining their mastery of grammar and mechanics.” For National Poetry Month, I’m participating in Flashbang! Writing Studio’s First Annual Poem-A-Thon. I wanted to do some poetry writing this month and NaPoWriMo felt too overwhelming. This is perfect. Poem #1 is … in the works.

I had the chance to hear novelist Steve Berry give a talk on Thursday evening and say a few words to him. His talk emphasized how much research he does for his novels (which, admittedly, I haven’t read) along with the fictional aspects, and it made me more inspired to get back into the research aspect of my own novel in progress.

On Sorrow …
Finally, my heart goes out this Easter to one of the blogging community’s best-known voices. As many know from following her on Facebook, Sheila from Book Journey lost her 24-year-old son Justin in a car accident very early yesterday morning. The love that Sheila has for her sons is evident in her posts about them and religious or not, it is impossible to overlook the symbolism of this tragedy at Easter and springtime.

Sheila, your family is in our thoughts and prayers during these difficult days. I know I echo the sentiments of many in the blogging community in offering our hope that the wonderful memories of Justin brings you and your family comfort, strength, peace and love.

Phipps - Spring Flower Show 2015 - 2

Thanks for sharing this post!

6 thoughts on “on birth, sorrow, and the promise of spring

  1. susan

    Nice note for Sheila. It’s devastating news and I feel for her and her family.
    I’ll be curious to hear what you thought of the Alexandra Fuller memoir. Thanks

  2. Laurie C

    I was so saddened by the news of Sheila’s son yesterday. I know she will have a lot of support from family and friends, but I’m very glad that you voiced the feelings of the book blogging community here!
    I went to church with my husband yesterday morning, but I’ve been a non-believer since I was a teenager so I’m used to going and either enjoying the music and letting the rest wash over me, or just sitting quietly and thinking about other things. But I don’t have to go very often these days, either, now that we don’t go as a family.

  3. Anne

    I am so, so sad about Sheila and the death of her dear, dear son. How tragic.

    Thank you for the lovely photos. I want some of those viola hip-hop flowers. I love them.

    My Sunday Salon

  4. Barbara

    The exact same thing happened to me with church when my family was younger. First we embraced Unitarian Universalism. Then I found I was the only one interested in going. Soon I just gave up — and started going on long Sunday walks, then yoga classes on Sundays.
    I will go to church with others if they want to — any church i don’t care. But only as a guest. Not a regular churchgoer anymore — but quite spiritual.
    So sad to hear news.

  5. Bryan G. Robinson

    Sadly, I saw the news about Sheila’s son elsewhere online. While I am only acquainted with her through seeing her various memes online, I still was saddened to see the news and will be keeping her in my prayers and thoughts. In more happy news, I did enjoy the photos from the Phipps that you shared yesterday. It was nice to see photos without snow. 🙂

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