Category Archives: Weather

Letter to Mom and Dad from Pittsburgh, April 1982

This was written about 8 months after we moved to Pittsburgh. It was our first spring there.



Although last week was break, I have more time this week I worked at the store most mornings (7:00am – 12:00 noon) and slept from 12 to whenever. It wasn’t too warm last week.

I dreamed of Grandma Patrick last night. She decided to come back and join the family for an evening — telling us all how wonderful it was to be back with her husband (although he is much younger now) and Jesus. It was a happy dream. She had a glow about her.

Ah, the sounds of spring! Birds singing — cardinals, robins, and sparrows. Children playing outdoors, friends calling to one another, mini bikes racing with no mufflers below my open window (bleah!)

My flight home was really nice. I sat next to a man who was a lecturer for Westinghouse’s Nuclear Works. He was very friendly and we talked the entire trip.

Easter was pretty good. Dean and I went to a gothic church. WE had crab quiche and onion soup (for Easter??!). It was delicious.

I am thinking of getting Dean a kitten for his birthday. But I think that Cinder might devour it. Or be frightened to death. We have been letting the Siamese cat from downstairs into the apartment. Cinder usually just sits in the corner hissing and growling.

It looks like it’s going to rain. The temperature has been dropping all day. I love the warm weather. Dean and I had a picnic a few days ago. It was great! I talked him into leaving school for the rest of the day.

That night we saw Second City at CMU. It was funny. I think I clapped and yelled the loudest when they asked who was from Chicago. They mentioned some landmarks and I clapped when I recognized them — the MC made a joke about the odd person who claps for inanimate objects.

Dean liked the beer that Daddy sent for him! He drank them all by Wednesday.

Not too much has happened since I got home. I haven’t taught at all. I expect to get called any day now.

I should be doing some work instead of writing this letter, but you know me!

I’m going to make shortcake for some strawberries I bought yesterday. I suppose we will have soup and sandwiches for supper. I’m not sure. Dean will be getting home soon. I never know exactly when He will be here. He’s begun studying for his big exam next month.

So mom — have you thought anymore about my invitation? Every time I see something new I get all excited at showing you.

Dean and I drove through one of the parks the other night. We could see downtown from a hill. It was beautiful!

Well — I’d better to play house person & fix some dinner & goodies for Deano.

Cinder is finally sleeping — she gets excited hearing the birds singing and smelling the outdoor odors.

I love you all and miss you.


P.S. I’m sending back the envelope & unused stamp from your last letter!

Dad’s Winter Gift

One morning, during our annual Christmas visit to Illinois in the late 1980s, we awoke to trees covered in feathery crystals — a true winter wonderland. We exclaimed at the beauty and made plans to take photographs of the frost. We wondered what this was — we’d never seen Jack Frost’s work quite as lovely as this. Then Dad, matter-of-factly said, “Hoar frost.”

We looked at him and shook our heads. We’d never heard of hoar frost and how could he possibly know what this phenomenon was called? At some point we looked it up or talked to other people (no Internet on our phones back then) who confirmed that Dad was correct. If I recall correctly, he seemed rather proud that he knew something we didn’t.

I never forgot how beautiful this was and, while we occasionally see something similar on the grass in the Pacific Northwest, we never saw it as beautiful as it was in 1988. I hoped we would get it in Bethesda, but we never did.

We were recently in Illinois and besides spending time with family, and Dean being recognized by our Community College as the 2019 distinguished Alum, we visited some places that meant something to us. One of those was the cemetery where my father is buried. We almost passed it by, but I figured we were right there, so I asked Dean to stop. I trudged through the snow and placed a coin on three gravestones: my Grandmother and Grandfather Patrick’s joint gravestone, my cousin Jim’s gravestone and Dad’s gravestone. I told them hello and that I loved them.

Going back to the car I felt the only grief/nostalgia that I’d felt during the trip so far. Normally I have a lot of feelings when visiting my hometown, but this trip I’d had none until that cemetery visit.

My path through the snow

The next morning I awoke to hoar frost. The trees and bushes were covered in white feathery crystals. Dean had already been outside taking photographs and I went out in my pajamas and stockinged feet to take a few pictures. Later I took a video as the frost began falling off the trees.

After marveling at the frost I remembered that first time I’d seen it and fancied that Dad did this for me because I visited him the afternoon before. He knew how much I wanted to experience a hoar frost again and he used his weather superpower* to give it to me.

*The day we buried Dad there were tornados in the area that morning — one less than a mile from the cemetery. We joked that Dad wanted us to know he was pissed off.


I bought a book called Springsigns when I was a teacher. I think I still have it — I don’t think it was discarded in the recent purge of books. One year I used it to make a bulletin board outside my classroom. I hated bulletin boards, but I liked that one.

Therefore I use the word Springsigns when I see signs of spring, even though I’m always chastised by my software that it is misspelled.

Here are some recent Springsigns from my yard.