Category Archives: First Presbyterian Church

A few days in the life

Apparently, there are actually blogs that do nothing but note all the things that happen in people’s lives. I’ve been resistant to that, but I’m inclined to note the last few days in some detail. I suppose I could have made these many Twitter posts – and be mocked – but frankly have been too busy.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4
After racquetball, go to the dentist. He’d put a crown in last fall, but he was dissatisfied with the spacing between my teeth, where food would get caught, so he’s doing a redo gratis. It may be free, but it’s not free of discomfort. Also takes longer than planned and I miss my bus – another one doesn’t come for 2.5 hours, but my colleague picks me up.
End of the day, wife drops off daughter at my work to take home, so wife can go to meetings, one work-related, the other at church. Unfortunately, she can’t find the first meeting and the second one is canceled.

THURSDAY, MARCH 5
Father-Child Pancake Breakfast at daughter’s daycare. That was nice, but I had to break up a couple boys who were literally about to come to blows over toy dinosaurs. A friend of mine that I’ve only known since 1958, whose birthday is today, BTW, suggested over four years ago that it’s probably a good thing I had a daughter rather than a son. I didn’t understand at the time, but I think I do now.

FINALLY take items to the post office. This was something I was going to do on December 20, along with finishing the Christmas letter; the wife had edited what I had wrote. But I NEEDED just that one day, and when I ended up taking care of my sick child instead – and into the evening, because the wife had a meeting – not only did the window of opportunity go away, but so did a whole bunch of my holiday mojo. I was actually quite melancholy over it for weeks. I never did complete the letter – that weekend was impossibly full, and the presents, bought weeks before, never got sent. So, on this day, packages to my mother and sisters, plus some other items to Eddie, Tom the Mayor, Scott and a woman in Canada finally went out the door. (I STILL haven’t sent to Lefty Brown’s friend Anthony, because I don’t have his address.)

Take bus downtown. At my stop, Washington and Lark, is a fire truck, with an EMT truck pulling up. There’s a guy they need to defibrillate sitting outside the kiosk; it’s cold – could they not have done this in a vehicle? While this was going on, an ambulance and another fire truck stop a block away at Dove and Washington. What’s going on there?

My bus shows up, but not a half block on my journey, a car pulls out of its parking space and hits the bus I’m on. No one was hurt; in fact, I barely noticed. But the bus driver had to wait for the police and the CDTA supervisor. Fortunately,the bus company sent another vehicle less than 25 minutes later to finish the trek.

That evening, a first rehearsal with our new church choir director, Janet Davis, followed by a gathering at the home of the interim director, Chris, who lives in this quite historic house (once the home of the Albany Conservatory, and before that, a Presbyterian manse).

FRIDAY, MARCH 6

I heard that on the news that Albany High School will be delayed two hours because of the presence of Fred Phelps, who I mentioned here. This is actually something I’ve known for over a week ago but was told not to report, lest Freddy and the schemers be tipped off. So after I dropped off Lydia, I did what I suggested others not do – go to the high school. Across the street from the school there were the Westboro people well outnumbered by he counterdemonstrators. Most of the good guys were well behaved and spoke on their megaphones about Christian love.

Then people went in two different directions. Some, including me, went downtown to SUNY Central to rally where Phelps said he’d be on his website; evidently, he finally figured out that this WASN’T the campus and didn’t show. Still about 150 people (way more than the 50 the Times Union reported) made some noise and got lots of support from the passersby.

Meanwhile, the others went uptown at the not optimal (read: busily dangerous) Fuller Road and Washington Avenue, where the Phelps people ended up. That also went well, according to reports. Incidentally, there was ALSO a fairly large rally Thursday night in front of City Hall, where the mayor – who’s running for ere-election this year, unsurprisingly – showed up.

[We interrupt this blog to note End the Lies, a a new website showing some of the worst perpetrators of lies about GLBT people. Now back to the narrative.]

I had received a $50 gift certificate from the Downtown Business Improvement District in a drawing I barely remember entering for a place called Salon 109 at 109 State Street in Albany, so I opted to get a massage there. It was…WONDERFUL. Later, had lunch with my wife – this almost never happens – as we partook of an especially very good buffet of Indian food.

SATURDAY, MARCH 7 (yes, it was my birthday)

Very busy time in my house, with one person, John, fixing our oven that’s been out six days and our hall lights that had been out for over six months, someone else, Bonnie, cleaning the house, and lengthy conversations with both of my sisters and aforementioned old friend – HB, Sara Lee).

Played backgammon for an hour with the Hoffinator and a couple games of hearts with her and friend Orchid; I shot on the last hand to win the second game. Game playing – just what I wanted as a present. The Obama speeches book, the racquetball equipment and the Clapton 2004 DVD were just bonuses.

SUNDAY, MARCH 8

Church youth did Godspell Jr. It was excellent; surprisingly moving.
The weather is warming and I took Lydia to the playground for the first time this year. The ground is muddy, but the wood chip base around the slides is absorbent and not too bad.

That’s enough.

ROG

A gay pride march

Back on March 9 of this year, there was this story in the Times Union by Jennifer Gish titled “Humanity in ‘Laramie’: High school actors project offers lesson on more than gay tolerance”. It was about Bill Ziskin, a teacher at Schenectady High, directing his young actors in Moises Kaufman’s “The Laramie Project.” Gish writes: The play is based on interviews conducted by New York theater students with the townspeople of Laramie, Wyo., after the 1998 ultimately fatal beating of gay college student Matthew Shepard. Because of its mature nature and strong language, Ziskin did
run the idea by school administrators before going ahead with it… Today, it’s hard for some of the kids to imagine that kind of brutality.
One of the actors was quoted as saying, “When they told us about it I thought it was something that happened a while ago, like the ’70s or the ’80s.”

Ah, the optimism of youth. Earlier this year, though the stories I read were about a month after the fact, a Gay California student’s slaying sparks outcry, and “Activists demand that middle schools do more to teach tolerance.” Lawrence King — Student Who Was Murdered For Being Gay — To Be Honored With National Day Of Silence. I heard there was a similar case in Florida recently like the California case cited.

As for that day of silence, in some places such Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, WA, it was anything but, as I read this Seattle Times account Lynn Thompson. Unfortunately, I actually sort of know one of the people protesting against gay acceptance.

As New Yorkers almost surely know, the governor of the state has ordered government agencies to recognize gay marriages that were performed in states and countries where they are legal. While, for at least one of my gay blogging colleagues, marriage is not such an overriding issue, for others ,it is of paramount importance.

I note all of this as my church plans once again to participate in the gay pride parade next Sunday. that same gay blogger I know opined that the idea of a march might have been diluted by corporate interests. I think we agreed that MAYBE in locations with a large gay population, such as New York City and San Francisco, it has lost its urgency. I’m convinced, however, that it still has meaning and efficacy in places like Albany, NY.

ROG

Oh, boy! Christmas!

I’m working on this theory. It’s not completely worked out yet, but it’s based on something my wife said the other day. She was indicating that her five- and six-year-old students were really looking forward to Christmas. No big surprise, you say? She’s a teacher of English as a Second Language, and most of her students are Muslims.

My point is that I’m wondering if Christmas, even in its secular form of snowflakes and Santa, is becoming an interfaith holiday. Perhaps both sides in the so-called “War on Christmas” should call a truce. That some people experience Christmas without it being Christ Mass is OK. That to say Merry Christmas to one of indeterminate faith is OK.

I was reading something called ADVENT-ure, and it suggested that the evergreen tree is a sign of the eternal life of Jesus. I want to say “well, whatever”. I’m just hoping that people can find peace on earth, whatever their faith. And if people of different faiths, or no faith, can find joy in the Christian season of Advent, what’s wrong with that?
***
We went by this store last weekend with a sign that read “Place your Christmas order NOW!” For whatever reason, I imagine a drill sergeant bellowing, “ORDER THAT GIFT CARD!” “WRAP THOSE PRESENTS!” “SEND THOSE CARDS! NOW!”
***
I think I’d be drummed out of my choir if I didn’t mention this: First Presbyterian Church Albany presents its annual Advent Vespers Sunday, December 9 at 7:30 pm.

FPC’s Chancel Choir and Orchestra present Francesco Durante’s Magnificat, as well as two orchestral offerings – Christmas Concerto Grosso by Francesco Manfredini, and Weinachten by Max Reger.
ROG

Autumnal

There are people who really love the fall; I’m not one of them. I did notice, however, that when the family went pumpkin picking in Feura Bush, only abut 10 minutes from the Albany city line but most definitely rural, the colors were astonishingly more vibrant than any of the pale palate I’ve experienced in the city.

But the past week also had its own specific issues. Elizabeth Naismith, a member until the last couple years of the First Presbyterian choir died a couple weeks back, but her funeral wasn’t until yesterday. Her mother and she had their own cheese shop in Edinburgh Scotland, until her mother died, then she came to the United States to take care of an ailing uncle in Vermont. She finally made her way to Albany, where at age 70, she joined a church, my church, for the first time. She was a lovely, caring woman with a slight brogue. We left an empty chair with a robe draped on it when we sang for her service yesterday. Her obit is here.

Two other First Pres choir members were in the hospital this week, and those two I knew from my previous church, Trinity, as well. After singing all weekend with a shortness of breath, he went into the hospital Monday with pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) of the lung; she had a less serious medical procedure on Friday.

I worried about my sister and niece in the California fires, though that ended up with a good outcome.

Finally, there were a bunch of kids at Binghamton Central High School in the late 1960s who were the anti-war, left of center crowd. But we were all friends as well, partying together, sometimes romancing each other. We dubbed ourselves “Holiday Unlimited”, and our theme was “A splendid time is guaranteed for all”, which we copped from some pop song.

George Hasbrouck was one those folks. He died Sunday, October 7 at his home in Morristown NJ. He was 55. No cause of death was given in the obit in The Binghamton Press a couple weeks ago. We had all lost touch with George, though many had tried; as one friend put it, “he eschewed contact.” His obit is here.

The last time I saw him was probably 17 years ago at the BCHS Class of ’70’s 20th reunion. Yet I still feel quite sad about it.

So, it was a bit of a downer of a week. Sorry.
ROG