Monday, September 30, 2013

Back to Cattown

Our new life in the North Country has come to a close. We are headed back to New Orleans, to po' boys and Saints games and "Dey putting up da Chrismas star/An' viewin' stands for Mardi Gras."

The adventure continues. Follow my blog, The Daily Cattown News, at:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gone but not forgotten

Family Promise of Clinton County closed its doors nearly a year ago after losing its grant funding. For ten years a group of local churches worked together to provide temporary housing in their facilities for families who were seeking permanent housing. Church members would provide meals and fellowship while the families stayed in their church building for a week at a time. Maureen Bradish, the director of Family Promise, worked tirelessly to help these families find permanent housing and assisted them in so many ways.

First Presbyterian Church of Plattsburgh was happy to provide space for the offices of Family Promise for ten years, and many members volunteered their time to be with the families during their weeks to stay at the church.

We all were sad when the board of Family Promise announced last October that they would have to cease operations. The families in need of assistance were referred to Social Services and many of them were placed temporarily in local motels while they waited for permanent housing.

This morning, Frank Baehre, an elder in our church, took down the two Family Promise signs outside the building that had been their office. One sign will go to Maureen Bradish in thanks for all that she did for the families. The other will go to the church's history vault as a treasured reminder of a ministry of this church that will not be forgotten. Thank you to all who helped with Family Promise through the years.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Thanks, guys!

Scott Lupini's crew is finished for the season. With the advent of cooler weather, the work on repointing the stonework on the clock tower of the church has ended for the year. The work went much faster than originally anticipated, which is a good thing. A big part of the cost is the daily rental of the lifts -- so the more that gets done in the time allotted, the less the overall cost will be.

Herb Cottrell gave a big thank-you to the guys by presenting them with Presbyterian mugs before they left. He told them he wasn't trying to convert them or anything, but...

Here he is in the center with two of the crew.

And a big thanks to Herb, Bob Davis, and Jim Fox (with a little help from Ace Electric and Bob Mitchell of Manion Motors): they got the clock working again!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Look Ma, new hands!

Thanks to a church member who knows his way around a band saw, the church clock now has new hands! (The new ones are on the left.)

This morning, our contractor put the new hands on the front face of the clock tower -- a little lagniappe, as we would say in New Orleans, a little something extra thrown in at no additional cost on the mortar repointing job.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Easter in July!

In the North Country, Easter lilies bloom in July. In south Louisiana, they seldom bloom in time for Easter, but they're usually in bloom during the fifty days of the Easter season. Not here!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Off to Triennium!

Eight youth from our church, accompanied by Youth and Family Ministries Director Marianne Wilson, headed out bright and early this morning for the Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue University. They were joining up with other youth and adult leaders from neighboring presbyteries in Albany and heading out on a bus for Indiana. Our prayers go with you all, and may you have a wonderful, life-changing week at Triennium!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Speaking of eternal things...

Like a clock face with no hands...

How appropriate for a church, where we speak of eternity, of a God whose understanding of time is not like ours..."For a thousand ages in thy sight are like yesterday when it is past..." Christian hope involves looking forward to a time when there is no longer any time. A time of God's reign, and the eschatological banquet, God's big dinner party (I preached a sermon on that once)...and kairos time...I preached a sermon on that one too, during Advent...

So yes...a clock face without hands on the church tower makes a significant theological statement to the community. As our website says, we really ARE committed to living differently from the secular world. Our clock face says it all. Look ma, no hands.

Or, to tumble from the metaphorical to the downright literal about it, the Lupini Construction guys have been working on the clock tower this summer, up on the lift, drilling out the old mortar around the stonework, and they noticed the wooden hands on the clock had dry rot. So they took them off (before they fell off and landed on somebody's head), and they are going to make new ones. But there's another problem. The clock stopped working a few months ago (after running backward for a while after lightning struck the steeple three summers ago, which REALLY makes for some interesting theological/metaphorical conversation). So, if we could just find someone who fixes 140-year-old clocks in towers...

Okay, there's a sermon illustration here somewhere. Maybe not this week's sermon. But a clock face with no hands...that's gotta preach, one of these days.

But for now, it'll blog.

P.S. Look what I found! The clock hands! Two sets, actually -- there are clock faces on the four sides of the tower. Now, that'll blog, too!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Midsummer in the North Country, 2013

Wow...we are now midway through our fourth summer in the North Country! I am sure this is a big surprise to a lot of people who thought we would run screaming out of here after the first winter (and that first winter was a booger even by local standards). But here we are.

This summer, though, is different from the ones in years past. It has been raining, and raining, and raining. I'm not sure the temperatures have gotten out of the low 80s yet this summer. Lake Champlain is now, I think, at flood stage (100 feet). It was quite a shock to go down to the local McDonald's along the lake and discover the little beach was gone and the waves were splashing up on the rocks at the edge of the parking lot.

I started my (in)famous cherry tomatoes in the church office window in late March. Brought them home to harden off on the front porch around Memorial Day. We had a cold snap that weekend with temperatures in the low 40s or lower, and rain, rain, maybe even sleet. (Memorial Day is the weekend the master gardeners around here tell you to put in your vegetable garden. Not this year.) I almost lost the little tomatoes. They didn't look good for quite awhile. Some recovered, some are still pretty small. I ended up planting them in big pots and setting them out in full sun (when there is sun!) out in the back yard. They're just starting to bloom. Seems to me that in years past they were bearing by the beginning of August. This is not looking good. By the end of August around here, it's getting chilly again. Grow, guys, grow!

And yesterday I heard on the Weather Channel that New Jersey is having a problem with late blight attacking the tomatoes and potatoes due to all the rain. We had late blight our first year here when there was a lot of rain in late summer -- but by that time, most of the harvest was done. I hope the prevailing winds don't bring the blight spores up here. In that last bout, the blight even got the tomato I raised from seed in the window of my office, that I had in a pot on the deck, far from the rest of the garden, planted in sterilized potting soil, so it was definitely a wind-borne disease.

And to get away from my tomato obsession for the moment, this is the summer of the lifts at church. We are having the mortar repointed on our 1873 stone church building, in particular the area around the clock tower. The workmen are out there every day, going up and down on a big orange lift that goes beeep! beeeep! like a backup warning device all day long. They're even out there in the rain, but when it starts to thunder, they're outa there. I wouldn't be up there on a metal lift when it's thundering, no way. One July afternoon during my first summer here, as I was watching a pretty enteraining thunderstorm from the safety of my office, lightning struck the steeple. Ka-boom! And the fire alarm went off. Now that was an adventure...

I bought a quality pair of noise cancelling headphones a few weeks ago to use on the plane for my trip to California in June. I discovered that they work very well in my office, too. I can still hear some sounds from the construction, but the beep-beep isn't so annoying. And if I plug the headphones into my iPod, so much the better.

So when people around here complain about all the rain and the humidity, I smile sweetly and say, "This is what New Orleans is like in the summer. Only it's hotter. Now you know why we like it here."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Punxutawny Phil exonerated!

Yes, the Ohio prosecutor who filed charges against Punxatawny Phil for an erroneous prediction that spring would arrive six weeks after February 2 has withdrawn the charges after Phil's handler took the fall for the famous groundhog. Meanwhile, we in the North Country are seeing the sun today, but there are predictions of rain mixed with snow in the next few days. Spring is still ANOTHER six weeks away around here...but we can always hope!

When I was growing up in New Orleans, I thought six more weeks of winter after February 2 was a bad thing. I have known winters there that were clearly over by the end of February. This winter is not one of them. Even way down south they are having a cold snap.

Onward to Easter!

Monday, March 11, 2013

What I Gave up for Lent


Oh, wait, you're supposed to give up something you really like for Lent...

Does it count as giving it up if my husband reads to me the posts he gets on Facebook?