Tag Archives: Spring

Currently … Listening, Attending, Anticipating, Celebrating

Our daffodils bloomed this week. Or maybe it was last Saturday, I’m not sure. And even though they arrive on a different date each year–sometimes varying by several weeks, depending on the vagaries of Pittsburgh’s weather–they always seem calibrated to appear at the exact moment when I need an emotional pick me up.  Despite this particular bloom pictured above from the front yard, they’re looking a little droopier than usual this year. Maybe the late season snow of a few weeks ago is to blame, I don’t know.

Listening….
As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent most of this week being obsessed with S-Town, the new podcast by the team behind Serial and This American Life. It’s only seven episodes of about an hour each, give or take, so you can easily listen to the whole thing during your commute plus some time at your desk or as you work out or however you listen to podcasts. And if you don’t listen to podcasts, this is a great one to start with. I’m so in awe at the reporting and sheer craft of storytelling with this one.  If you’re not listening, you need to start. Now.

Attending … 
You wouldn’t know it from my not-so-great cell phone photo, but I had second row seats on Thursday night as J.D. Vance was in Pittsburgh to give a lecture about his best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy. I’ll have more to say in a separate post but I enjoyed his talk more than the book. I mean, I thought it was fine as a memoir but as the touchstone for the cultural commentary that it has been anointed as … I’m not sure. It’s certainly a book that has struck a nerve, good and bad.

Anticipating … 
After going through a One Direction phase that lasted four long years (and cost a fortune in tickets for three separate concerts and related 1D merchandise), The Girl has seen the light and discovered the music of my youth. We’re talking Michael Jackson, Prince, and Bon Jovi, in particular.

(Let’s pause for a moment while the heavens part and angelic music plays — notably by two of those three, who could be playing a celestial jam.)

I am, obviously, delighted about The Girl’s new appreciation for ’80s tunes –mainly because all said merchandise and music is already available in the basement, free of charge and accessible via convenient mixtapes and CDs. Have at it, kid.

Anyway, many months ago, she heard that Bon Jovi was touring and would be stopping in Pittsburgh. She begged to go and I was unconvinced. I should have known better, given this girl’s history when it comes to music. When she finds someone she likes, she is a fan for life. Finally, I relented over Christmas dinner.  If she worked on improving her algebra and biology grades and went to after-school tutoring if she needed extra help, I would consider getting Bon Jovi tickets.  Soon, I was getting texts from her updating me on every grade.  Like every day. And there was not a day I did not hear about Bon Jovi.

And you know, this girl worked her ass off. These are not her strongest subjects, not by a long shot, but she raised her algebra grade from a 75 to an 80 (the highest ever) and biology from a 77 to an 85. So, we’re going. And she is beside herself and absolutely delirious. She has been talking about nothing but this concert for months.

To tell you the truth, I’m just as excited as she as. I love Bon Jovi and have since the beginning. Saw them in concert when I was The Girl’s age. I think it was back in ’85 or ’86 when they played The Spectrum in Philadelphia, maybe for the Slippery When Wet Tour. It could have also been in ’89, but I seem to think it was earlier. Anyway, The Girl finds this to be the epitome of cool. And since The Girl is 15 and a half and I am still regarded as a cool mom who The Girl enjoys hanging out with,  I’ll take it.

Celebrating …
This is my birthday week and I’m thrilled that Jon and I are both still rockin’ on. Usually I try and take my birthday off from work but because of the Philly trip last month and another somewhat unplanned Philly visit over Easter, I don’t want to burn too many vacation days this early in the year. So, tomorrow will be a typical, normal work day — hopefully without too much stress. Maybe I’ll even take my full lunch hour and leave work on time. I bought myself a flourless chocolate cake from Trader Joe’s. My daughter wants to hang with me at a Bon Jovi concert. There are worse ways to welcome in 48.

“Welcome to wherever you are
This is your life, you made it this far
Welcome, you got to believe
That right here, right now
You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be
Welcome to wherever you are….”
~ Bon Jovi, “Welcome to Wherever You Are”

 

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sunday salon/currently … wishing for spring and channeling my inner leslie knope

Sunday Salon banner

Currently
To borrow my friend Tiffany’s phrase, it’s been full on sloth mode for me this weekend.  I’ll blame it on the weather, which has been decidedly unspringlike. We woke up to snow Friday and Saturday morning, just enough to be a nuisance and to kill my poor daffodils.

Daffodils in snow 4-9-2016 - 2 Daffodils in snow 4-9-2016

Ugh, so depressing.

Aside from taking The Boy to an appointment, grocery shopping, and cooking dinner, I didn’t do much of anything yesterday. I’d planned to clean the house but only managed to wipe down the kitchen counter and table. Today’s adventure was a trip to Target, as The Girl needed some things for school. It snowed on the 10 minutes it took us to get there.  Of course it did.

Watching
At long last, I’ve finally started watching Parks and Recreation.  A lot of people have been telling me that I would like this show and they were right. The tipping point was this clip, which a coworker shared with me after I unknowingly was all Leslie Knope-fangirling about Joe Biden, who not only was visiting Pittsburgh this week, but who was speaking mere blocks from our office.

I’ve successfully gotten The Husband and The Girl into Parks and Rec, too (probably because they were annoyed at me laughing nonstop with my headphones on).  This was much-needed humor relief for all of us after yet another stressful week on the home front.

Reading
Hoping to finish Scorpion Tongues today.  I think I’ve gotten my reading mojo back.  Jane Mendelsohn has a new book out called Burning Down the House which I snagged a copy of from the library and I’m looking forward to starting this one.  I loved her debut novel I Was Amelia Earhart  and American Music (see my reviews here and here).

More Things I Loved Reading This Week …
Elizabeth Mosier announces and reflects on a new anthology, Fifty Women Over 50.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the music of John Prine. This piece in the New York Times (John Prine Endures, With a Half-Smile and a Song) explains why.

Listening
Still listening to a lot of Spotify, especially in the car. I’m a big fan of their Discover Weekly selections. Their algorithms are clearly under the impression that, musically, I’m back in 1977.  I’m loving Spotify because I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of artists who most people have been listening to for years.

I seem to have a bit of a consumption problem, though: when I discover someone I like, I need to download every note they’ve ever performed. Like, I need to have their entire oeuvre at my fingertips. Eventually some songs may be weeded out from my collection (I’ve deleted two in the course of writing this post) but only after I listen to them first. Similarly, I need to tell myself that just because I love a band or a particular artist, it’s really okay if I don’t like every single one of their songs. I mean, it’s not like their feelings will be hurt if I ax something from the rotation.

Anticipating
Next weekend is our second rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother.  (You’ve gotten your tickets, right? From what I understand, they’re going fast.)  I can’t wait to see these ladies again.  This is such a fantastic group. Our producers have been featuring profiles of the 2016 cast on the LTYM Pittsburgh website, which you can check out here.

Oh, and we got our official headshots back.  Here I am:

LTYM2016Headshots-63b8x12

I usually hate most pictures of me, but I love this.  Photo was done by the lovely Ashley of Ashley Mikula Photography. She was great to work with for this.

Cooking
Inspired by fellow Pittsburgh Blogger Alex’s #PghGBE post on Eat with Emily, I’m trying a new approach to meal planning. I’m creating a spreadsheet of dinners that meet with everyone’s approval in this house. As one might imagine, it’s a very short list. I’m also adding meals that I think might work for our family — things I’d like to try. The idea is that when I’m at a loss for dinner ideas, I can consult the list and add it to the menu lineup for that week. We’ll see how this goes.

That all being said, I should probably end this post and figure out what we’re having for dinner tonight ….

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sunday salon: ides of march edition

The Sunday Salon

Time and Place:
Sunday evening / the couch in the living room. As per usual.

Weekend Happenings?
Not much. The Girl went to a SibShop yesterday. It’s a support group for kids who have a sibling with special needs. It took me awhile to find such a group and they’ve increased the number of sessions to three weekends per month. A bit of driving around on the weekends, but as much as I might complain about trekking around Pittsburgh, it’s worth it because The Girl loves going and the facilitators are wonderful with her. Afterwards we enjoyed lunch at Panera and I came home and took a long nap.

Today’s been a lazy day. Grocery shopping was the extent of my activity. I should have done more, but I’ve had a bad headache all weekend and wasn’t up to it.

Reading:
The last week or so has been a mixed bag on the bookish front, with everything from a book that will likely be on my Best Books I’ve Read in 2015 list to two DNFs.

The Paying GuestsLet’s start with what I loved. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters is …well, I was unable to put this down. Set in 1922, Frances Wray and her mother live together in their large South London mansion following the deaths of Frances’ brothers in the War and then her father’s illness. Her father’s mismanagement of the family’s finances makes it necessary for Frances and her mother to rent out some of their rooms. Newlyweds Lilian and Leonard Barber join the household as “paying guests” and change the dynamic of the Wray house – not to mention each one of their lives.

The Paying Guests also is on the just-announced longlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize for Fiction) along with 19 other contenders. I’ve read only one other nominee (Station Eleven) and if I had to choose between the two, I would definitely choose The Paying Guests.  Anyway, I’m hoping to have a full review up soon.

My DNFs were Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan – about a group of restaurant workers during their last night at a Red Lobster which is slated for closing – and Inside Madeleine, by Paula Bomer. The latter, a collection of stories, has been hyped for being evocative and daring; however, I read the first two (“Eye Socket Girls” and “Breasts”) and found both to be eh rather than edgy. It didn’t do much for me, so back to the library it goes.

Watching:

House_of_Cards_title_card
Still completely addicted to and immersed in House of Cards. I’ve just started Season 2 and will hopefully have a chance to watch episode 2 and maybe 3 tonight.

Listening:
ZZ: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald was on my TBR Goodreads list, but reading West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan made me more interested in picking this up.  Z is my audiobook this week.

Blogging:
Remember the #1000Speak post I did as part of 1000 Voices for Compassion? (Listening to Our Better Angels) Well, now this project has become a monthly thing and on Friday March 20 we’ll be writing on the theme of “Building from Bullying.”  Join us on the 1000 Voices for Compassion group on Facebook. 

Promoting:

 

Bloggiesta - Spring 2015Bloggiesta comes back this spring and it is better than ever! You guys, it is a week this time. A week! I have a to-do list a mile long for this blog, so I definitely could use that amount of time. Not sure what Bloggiesta is or what it involves? Click on the button to be taken to the Bloggiesta page or go here.

Loving:

Daffodils - 3-8-2014

Look closely … my daffodils are coming up after a very long winter! You see them? Full disclosure: this is a photo from last March, taken on 3/8/2014, but they look the same right now.

Hating:
This headache that I’ve had most of the weekend. I think it’s weather-related (yesterday was rainy and miserable) and I’m being very cautious about not taking much of anything like Advil or my Maxalt because I’m scheduled for a root canal tomorrow.

I actually hate the headache more than the root canal. This is long overdue – my dentist wanted to do this back in 2012, according to my chart (I conveniently forgot about that) and now this tooth is starting to bother me. So, as much as one can look forward to a root canal, I am.

Wanting:
Don’t laugh, but I really want to do some spring cleaning around the house. (I know … those of you who know me are probably thinking my blog’s been hacked.)  Every room in this house is a disaster and could use some freshening up. Nothing major – we don’t have the budget for anything crazy. I’m talking about some significant decluttering and deep cleaning (I might hire someone for that), framing some photos for the walls … simple things.

Hope your weekend has been a good one!

 

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for the fair daffodils, and for those who have hastened away so soon

Daffodils - 4-14-2014

It’s hard to get the full effect from such a small picture, but trust me … my daffodils were absolutely stunning on Monday after a glorious weekend of 70 and near 80 degree temperatures.

And this morning, not even 48 hours later?

Daffodils in snow 3

Daffodils in snow 2 Daffodils in snow 4 Daffodils in snow 5

 TO DAFFADILS

Fair Daffadils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain’d his noon.
Stay, stay,
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the even-song;
And, having pray’d together, we
Will go with you along.

We have short time to stay, as you;
We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you, or any thing.
We die
As your hours do, and dry
Away,
Like to the summer’s rain;
Or as the pearls of morning’s dew,
Ne’er to be found again.

Robert Herrick (1591-1674) 

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Daffodil in rainAfter the longest winter ever, our daffodils bloomed Thursday afternoon.

Finally.

These were taken this morning and something about the rain on the newly emerging daffodils somehow seemed fitting in the aftermath of the stabbings at Franklin Regional High School here in the Pittsburgh area. We don’t know anyone at Franklin Regional, but given its proximity to us (it’s about 40 minutes, give or take), seeing that bright splash of yellow during the last two days was definitely needed.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” ~ Albert Camus, “The Stranger”

Daffodils emerging

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seems like years

Daffodils - 3-8-2014

“Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear…” 

“Here Comes the Sun” ~ The Beatles, written by George Harrison

Indeed, it has been a long, cold lonely winter and it does seem like years since it’s been clear enough to get up the driveway, much less spot these daffodil tips in the front yard this afternoon.

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today in daffodils

Daffodils in our front yard, as seen today at 8:15 a.m.

…and then at 3:30 p.m. 

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