The April Fools’ Day Spring Flower Show in Parnassus, Pennsylvania

Impromptu Spring Flower Show. Parnassus, New Kensington, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. April 1, 2021. April Fools’ Day. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Happy April Fools’ Day in Parnassus, Pennsylvania.

My husband, Jonathan, and I usually visit Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh a few days prior to Easter (so, during Holy Week). We visit – and photograph – the annual Spring Flower Show.

We didn’t do this during Spring 2020 because Phipps held no Spring Flower Show that year.

As of today – April 1, 2021 – I haven’t yet received a Covid-19 vaccine in the lovely Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, due to circumstances beyond my control.

For this reason and others surrounding this Global Pandemic, my husband and I decided to skip the 2021 Spring Flower Show at Phipps.

Today, on April 1 – April Fools’ Day – snow fell on my neighborhood of Parnassus. Snow accumulated on the ground – and also on the spring flowers.

So, I photographed the snow-covered Spring Flower Show in my own neighborhood.

Happy April Fools’ Day!

Did Pittsburgh Kill My Mother?

View from my desk at work in downtown Pittsburgh, PA, pre-Covid.

I intended for this blog to be mainly about life in Pennsylvania. My mother was born, lived, and died in Pennsylvania. She died of lung cancer. So, today’s post fits with my blog’s theme.

Also, November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Mom was born in Pittsburgh in 1954, and she lived in Pittsburgh until 1974. Then, she moved to rural Pennsylvania. She lived in rural Central and Western Pennsylvania for the rest of her life. She turned 64 years old on October 23, 2018. She passed away very early in the morning on October 25, 2018.

Mom never smoked. She never lived with a smoker. (I smoked a few cigarettes in college when I was trying to look like a badass, but I never did this around Mom.) By no means do I mean to imply that my mom “deserved to get cancer less” than do smokers. I bring this up because the first time that I visited a new physician after my mom died, I gave him my medical history. I told him that my mom had recently died of lung cancer. The very first two things that he asked me were: 1.) Did your mom smoke? 2.) Did your dad smoke? I bring this up because I am concerned that lung cancer has a stigma. I want to point out that ANYBODY can get lung cancer.

So, did living in Pittsburgh for twenty years kill my mom?

I’ve heard a lot of stories about Pittsburgh’s dirty air.

My own husband’s late Babcia (the Polish word for grandma) worked in downtown Pittsburgh in the late 1940’s / early 1950’s. In that time, the women wore white gloves as they travelled and worked. Babcia brought TWO pairs of gloves with her each day. She had to change her gloves partway through each day because the original pair became dark with soot. She did this every work day. And she worked in an OFFICE.

I was born shortly before Pittsburgh’s steel industry imploded and took a lot of American dreams with it. I visited my grandparents in Pittsburgh (Carrick) during my early years. I remember how the city smelled of sulfur from the mills on a late December night.

Earlier this year, a Google engineer published a controversial essay claiming that Pittsburgh’s alleged poor air quality drove him to transfer from Pittsburgh to a different part of the country.

We all hear every single day about Covid-19. (Another respiratory illness!) So this will be my last lung cancer rant until next fall. But my mom drove me all over Somerset County and over the mountains into Greensburg and over the OTHER mountains into Johnstown and THEN over the OTHER-OTHER mountains into Maryland so that I could read all of the books that I ever wanted to read. So, at the very least, I can blog once a year about my family’s personal experiences with Pittsburgh air.

Severe Weather Photos

New Kensington, Pennsylvania. April 8, 2020. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Here are some photos that I took of the damage from the severe storm that hit New Kensington early this morning.

New Kensington, Pennsylvania. April 8, 2020. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)
New Kensington, Pennsylvania. April 8, 2020. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)
New Kensington, Pennsylvania. April 8, 2020. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)
New Kensington, Pennsylvania. April 8, 2020. (Photo: Jenny Gaffron Woytek)

Rachel Carson Graduated Here From Parnassus High School

I spent a day on Chatham University’s main campus in Oakland (Pittsburgh) for an event last fall. I grabbed lunch at Cafe Rachel, Chatham’s coffee shop.

Chatham named the shop after environmentalist Rachel Carson. Carson graduated from Chatham in 1929 when the school was called Pennsylvania College for Women. She wrote Silent Spring in 1962.

One wall of Cafe Rachel detailed Carson’s life. This wall noted that Carson was born and raised in Springdale. (Springdale is across the Allegheny River from New Kensington.) The wall told me that Carson graduated from Parnassus High School in Parnassus, Pennsylvania.

(I already knew this. Wikipedia already knows this. However, I was psyched to see the Parnassus reference on a wall at Chatham University.)

Do you have any fun facts to share? Post them here.