Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A White Christmas

Yes, last week we finally got real snow! As I write, it is snowing lightly. The temperatures haven't gotten very far above freezing, if at all, in the last week, so this snow is going to stay around. The transplanted New Orleanians are going to have their first white Christmas as newlyweds. Is that romantic or what?

Like Santa Claus, I'm making a list and checking it twice, but my list is a little different from Santa's. Bulletin for Christmas Eve children's service -- check. Bulletin for candelight service -- check. Bulletin for next Sunday -- check. Bulletin for the week after that, so I can take a week's vacation -- check. Pastor's report to session -- check. Pastor's letter for January newsletter -- check. Speech to local Rotary club -- check. Sermon for Christmas Eve -- hmmmm...and here I am writing an entry in my blog...

Back in New Orleans, the locals are remembering Nash Roberts, who died on Sunday at the age of 92. Nash was a television weatherman who first went on the air in New Orleans the year I was born, 1951, and is perhaps best known for predicting accurately where several major hurricanes would make landfall, including Betsy in 1965 and Georges in 1998. I remember Nash on the air about ten o'clock the night Betsy came ashore, standing in a pile of broken glass that was the remains of the front window of his office on Royal Street, telling viewers, "We're going to stay on the air as long as we can" -- and then the power went out.

In recent years Nash stayed home to care for his wife, who I believe had dementia. As Katrina approached, he made the decision to evacuate (for the first and only time) to get her to safety. I wish with all my heart he had called his old colleagues at WWL-TV and told them of his plans. If only they had announced on the air that Saturday in August 2005, "Nash Roberts is evacuating the city for this one," many of the old-timers who had decided to stay because they had ridden out Betsy in their homes and they believed they would be safe in this one, would have changed their minds and gotten out. Immediately! "Nash is leaving? We're outa here!" So many older people drowned in their homes or died from the heat and the stress. Of all the people in the city, Nash was the one they would have listened to. Not the mayor. Not the current crop of weather forecasters. They trusted Nash.

Nash, thanks for all that you did. Be at peace in a place where the weather is always perfect.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snow at last

OK, it wasn't much, even by the standards of a transplanted Deep Southerner, but some of it is still around at the end of the day (which doesn't happen in the Deep South). But it was neat to see a few flakes turn into serious snow, even if only for a few minutes. There is still snow on the deck, and for a time, the green pool cover turned white. (BP the alligator has gone for his winter hibernation indoors...deflated.)

In the middle of it, a phone call from the tire dealer asking us how we like our new tires (mine, all weather; his, snow tires). I said, "Well, it's finally snowing. Call us again after we've had time to try them out."

The next opportunity for snow, according to The Weather Channel, is late next week. We'll see!

Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent, the first Sunday in the official liturgical year, but with it falling on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I'm not sure how many people will be back from their travels and in church. I have spent the holiday at home, doing battle with a respiratory illness and mostly losing. At least the fever has abated. All I want is to have enough energy and voice to make it through two services tomorrow. One day at a time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Waiting for snow

Okay, it's mid-November. Most of the trees are now bare, and since we went back to standard time, the sun is setting in the North Country around 4:30 in the afternoon (soon to be even earlier).

I am now the proud owner of $800 worth of "all-weather tires" on the Evacumobile, as well as a new battery (the four-year-old one was pronounced not fit to survive the winter), and the biggest windshield wipers I have ever seen (to stand up against snow and ice).

So where's the snow? I remember from my college days at Syracuse that it usually shows up by now. And the Midwest has had a couple of big ole nasty storms already.

Mind you, I'm not complaining that it's still 50 degrees and the sun is shining the past few days. I'm just, well, dying of suspense. Let it snow, and let's get that first one over with!

Yesterday I saw a photo in an online article of a snow-covered New England country house. Soft, beautiful snow on the roof, snow in the yard, snow in the trees, soft golden light coming from the windows at dusk. The article was about romantic weekend getaways in New England bed-and-breakfasts during the Thanksgiving to Christmas season.

Hey, we're ready for our own weekend getaway-at-home, just a ferry ride away from New England! The front porch is stacked with firewood! How about a lovely snow-covered roof and yard at OUR house, not to mention smoke coming up from the chimney, so we can take pictures to send with the Christmas letter?

Oh, right. I work weekends, and especially between now and Christmas. Scrap the weekend getaway. I'll settle for my day off. Or any snow days that may come along.

When February rolls around, I am going to go back to this entry and groan. I just know it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

So it wasn't a hurricane...

Okay, maybe I was a little too flip, or blase', or whatever, in my last post when I wrote off the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole as just a little rain. There was significant flooding all up the East Coast, and some people died as a result. Flooding is flooding. Never a good thing.

Here in the North Country we got a steady rain all day Friday (my day off), and the rivers and streams turned into torrents as they carried the runoff away into Lake Champlain. The lake level was noticeably higher when we took the ferry over to Vermont on Saturday, but the lake is big enough to handle all the extra water.

I love this place. The locals decided that if Scotland's Loch Ness could have a sea monster named Nessie, then Lake Champlain could have a sea monster named Champy. I have even seen a cartoon of Champy making an afternoon snack out of the ferry, cars and all. We didn't see Champy on our run Saturday, however. But the trees are turning, both in the Adirondacks of New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the views are just grand. By next week they should go from grand to spectacular.

Here's a little peek of one of the local rain-swollen rivers, normally so shallow and clear that you can see the rocks on the bottom. I wish I had been taking a video instead of a still photograph. The photo doesn't capture the swift movement of the water as it hurtled toward the lake, or the way it dashed around rocks and made eddies and backwaters of splashing whitecaps (whitecaps in a river? Is there another name for them?). Next time, I'll dig out the video camera.

What a neat place to live.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is it me?

When I saw that there was a tropical storm named Nicole in the Florida Straits, I said, "Uh-oh." Too many of them sail through Key West and head into the Gulf of Mexico and end up who knows where, terrorizing every coastal community from Tampa to Brownsville until it decides where it wants to go. But this time, when I looked at the projected path, I said, "Huh?" Because this one was moving backwards. Instead of going west through the Gulf, it was heading east and then north, up the Atlantic coast. Most of the storms this season have headed up the Atlantic, in fact. Blessedly, some of the nastiest ones have turned north right up the middle of the ocean and never threatened land, although one gave Bermuda and Nova Scotia quite a hit. And the Northeast got a brushing from one over Labor Day weekend.

And as I write, Nicole is drenching the entire East Coast, and all of New York State is covered in green on the Weather Channel radar. Outside my window, the rain varies from moderate to heavy.

So I have to ask: is it me? Did this year's storms bypass the Gulf Coast landfalls and head up the East Coast because they knew I had moved? Believe it or not, a couple of people in my new home have suggested just that!

Well, ya know what? If they're after me, that's just fine. If my moving to the North Country spares the Gulf Coast, which has had way too many things go wrong lately, it's a good deal, as far as I'm concerned.

The water temperature in the Gulf is still around 84 degrees, which is warm enough to fuel a pretty powerful hurricane. Up Nawth where I now live, it's full-fledged autumn, and the leaves are brilliant golds and eye-popping reds -- and the temperatures have dropped enough to take the wind out of the sails of a tropical system. So we are getting rain right now. A lot of rain. I can deal with that.

I know the meterorologists will probably explain that the storms are going up the Atlantic this year because of El Nino or La Nina conditions, or wind shear is tearing storms apart before they can get really powerful, or something. I am just glad that the people I love in New Orleans haven't had to evacuate this year. Right now I'm wondering how to get my Evacumobile (a supersize SUV) into the garage of our new home for the winter. And what it's going to be like to drive it in the snow.

The Evacumobile had to do its thing just once, when we evacuated from New Orleans to Atlanta for Hurricane Gustav two years ago. As far as I'm concerned, one evacuation justified its purchase. When I saw people on the interstate evacuating in RVs, I stopped feeling guilty about owning a gas guzzler. This spring, when we moved to the North Country, I was glad to have it to transport three cats, the essentials I didn't want to put on the moving van, and me. How it will handle a real winter is yet to be seen.

Even in the dreariness of a rainy day, the colors of autumn are awesome. This weather may bring down a lot of leaves, but for now, I'm as captivated by the colors as a little child. Wow.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New life, new blog

Once there was an eight-year-old girl who started a newspaper at her grandmother's kitchen table and called it The Daily Cattown News. She grew up, life changed, and in the bizarre world of post-Katrina New Orleans, she found herself living in her grandmother's house and writing once again at that kitchen table.  She created a blog and called it The Daily Cattown News.

And one Saturday in the late winter of 2010, on the day before THE SAINTS WON THE SUPER BOWL, she spent the day at that table writing out wedding invitations. Once again, her life was about to change dramatically.

Newly married, she and her husband set out in the spring to start a new life in a new place, far distant from New Orleans. With her three cats and his dog, they set out on a great adventure involving two vehicles, four days and three nights on the road, separate rooms for cats and dog in "pet friendly motels," tornado activity across the Deep South, a late-spring snowstorm in the North, and, in the end, no real mishaps along the way, which was a blessing.

And they came to their new home in the North Country and settled in. The new home has a swimming pool. While on their honeymoon in Pensacola Beach, Florida, they acquired a five-foot alligator (not a real one but a blow-up toy!) for their new swimming pool. They believe they are the only family in their community with a geniune plastic Florida alligator in their swimming pool. In light of the oil spill, just weeks after their honeymoon, that has devastated the Gulf of Mexico as far east as Pensacola, they decided to name the alligator BP. (Well, it IS the right shade of green.) In the mornings they sit at that kitchen table that came with them from her grandmother's house in New Orleans, and watch BP sail across the pool, buffeted by currents coming from the filter as well as the prevailing winds.

It's a new life and a new blog. Come, sail along!