Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Almost No Mysteries With Author Julia Spencer-Fleming

Julia Spencer-Fleming makes a point during her presentation.

PLATTSBURGH, JUNE 23, 2011 -- Outgoing and open during a recent speaking engagement mystery writer Julia Spencer-Fleming was unmysterious.

She is the author of the Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne novels set in the Adirondack region of New York State. Not a surprising choice for a setting considering her local connection.

During her presentation at the Lake Forest Retirement Community Julia explained how her parents met at a mixer in Plattsburgh, her father a soldier, her mother a college student. Her parents were soon married and her mother returned from the honeymoon "with child" (to use a phrase from those days). Julia said her father had to speak with college officials who wanted her mother to drop out because a pregnant woman, albeit married, might excite the imagination of young students.

Julia shared many personal stories and insights during the luncheon sponsored by the Friends of the Plattsburgh Public Library. When she was growing up the local public library was one of her favorite places to hang out. She praised libraries for introducing young readers to the world of books and also for providing sources of information for research.

Along the way Julia caught the science fiction bug. She tried writing a SF novel but her first effort met with mixed reactions. Her prose was publishable quality but her style of science fiction was cliched, outdated.

So what started out as a murder mystery aboard a space station ended up as story set in the Adirondacks. Julia enjoyed stories about amateur sleuths and so created the character of Reverend Clare Fergusson, an Episcopal priest from the south who finds herself transplanted to the hinterlands of New York State.

During the Q&A someone asked Julia why she made her amateur sleuth a priest. Julia explained that such a character offered a different level of interaction with other characters. A religious person would know some of personal and spiritual problems of the congregation, thus opening up opportunities for plot development.

The first novel, In The Bleak Midwinter, also introduces Russ Van Alstyne, police chief of the fictional town Millers Kill. Throughout the series Clare and Russ have to deal with their attraction to each other, complicated by the fact that the police chief is married. This angle gave a different twist to the each novel in the series. While her SF attempt was considered old hat, readers became fans of her mysteries, responding to her fresh take on a man-woman duo pursuing clues and solving a crime.

Julia revealed that she was one of those aspiring writers who in some ways didn't know what she was doing. She didn't follow the same path to publication that most writers traveled. She entered her first Fergusson/Van Alstyne novel to a contest and won. When asked if she had a second novel, she indicated that she did, resulting in a scramble to create another plotline and full story.

And while Julia was open to answering questions from her fans, one mystery remained. Why was she wearing two eyeglasses, the second pair parked up in her hair? A new take on bifocals?

Writer Julia Spencer-Fleming signing books and chatting with her fans.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Some pane painters spruce up a Sawatdee Restaurant front window on Bridge Street in downtown Plattsburgh with a sailing boat motif. Part of the visual preparation for the Mayor's Cup Regatta & Festival that will run from July 7 - 10. (6/27/11)

Expectant Mother

I was wondering why the Daddy Longlegs was hanging around my bathroom and I found out why after I did some macro shots. Daddy is really an expectant mother carrying around a bunch of eggs.

Daddy Longlegs spiders don't bother me. From what I've read they are poisonous but their mouths are too small to bite a human. Of course, I don't believe everything I read so I do err on the side of caution and use a long lens.

Some people hate all insects and bugs but I don't kill Daddy Longlegs because I prefer them over what they kill and eat. It's natural pest control.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fire In The Night

A dynamic display of fire poi by Sugar Fire and her Fire Arts Troupe wrapped up the Inaugural Summer Shenanigans Block Party in downtown Plattsburgh, NY. Each dancer twirls around a pair of fiery orbs suspended from a chain.

For a larger view of the slide show go to http://www.flickr.com//photos/29349242@N02/sets/72157626878659679/show/.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Vermont Joy Parade Rotates ROTA

On Friday evening, June 17th, the ROTA Gallery at 19 Clinton St., downtown Plattsburgh, NY, was sent spinning by the jumping sounds of the VJP's suspender fusion.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mosaic Wows Packed House At Library

Wednesday evening it was standing room only -- and at the end a standing ovation.

Mosaic, a singing ensemble of eleven women, had its first public performance on June 15th at the Plattsburgh Public Library. The program entitled "One Hundred Years of Broadway" presented a medley of show tunes with some choreography thrown in to a packed audience in the PPL second floor auditorium.

The name Mosaic reflects the diverse backgrounds of its members. As explained in a news release the group was created by Sue Carroll, a former music educator who brought together talented singers from around the area -- students, working women, and retirees -- whose singing and choreography background ranged from fist-timer to seasoned professional.

The performance provided an insight into how musical styles have changed over the years through such songs as "Jesus Christ, Superstar" and "There's No Business Like Show Business." When united in voice the Mosaic women projected a room-filling sound without the help of sophisticated speakers, amplifiers, and microphones. What one heard was real talent.

To show their appreciation the members of Mosaic presented director Sue Carroll with a bouquet of roses at the conclusion of the successful show.

Sue hopes that Mosaic will incorporate other musical genres with future appearances.

For those who need more information: telephone - 518-561-5933; email - peacelily44@charter.net .

(Want a larger view of the slide show? Go here.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Man And His Wild Van

I'm sitting downtown at the Koffee Kat yesterday evening when some wild wheels parked across the street. I checked with the owner if I could take some photos; it was OK but he didn't want to be identified. When I asked him if he would pose next to his vehicle, the nameless man said it would be all right only if I took the shot with his hat brim down low to obscure his face. Ergo the unusual pose in the last shot.

Whoever he was I appreciate his allowing me to share his creation with others. Apparently his work is inspired by another vibrant vehicle, the school bus owned by the local band Lucid.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Local DA Receives Complaint Regarding Investigation Of Brutal Beating

The official complaint that Professor David Keys filed in regards to the savage beating of Chris Rigsbee and his girlfriend last November in Plattsburgh City has been referred to Andrew Wylie, Clinton County DA.

Keys, formerly of PSUC, now teaches criminology at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. Disturbed by what he had heard about the apparent lack of action in the Rigsbee case, he submitted an official complaint form via the web to the New York State Attorney General's Office, the Criminal Investigation Division. That complaint was passed along to the Public Integrity Bureau, an unit in the AG's department that investigates allegations of government fraud, corruption, and abuse of authority on both state and local levels.

Early in the morning on November 19th, 2010 Christopher Rigsbee and his girlfriend were walking along on a sidewalk on Broad Street when some men on a front porch started to verbally harass the couple. Christopher didn't ignore the insults, he responded verbally, and the situation quickly escalated into violence on the part of the harassers. Christopher was suddenly attacked, kicked in the head, three teeth knocked out. The assault was so brutal that gravel had to be removed from his gums by a dentist. His girlfriend was also punched.

The couple went to a nearby friend's house and the police were called. There was no long period between the attack and the report. Christopher and his mother, Samantha Rigsbee, were hoping for a resolution to the case. After he recovered enough from the assault, Christopher held a public rally to make the community aware that such violence does occur in Plattsburgh.

After his rally drew media attention, Christopher was asked by the Plattsburgh Police Department not to hold a second one. The detectives, said Christopher, told him that such a public demonstration might affect their investigation.

Time passed and nothing was heard from the Plattsburgh PD. Christopher and his mother had to keep contacting the PPD to see if the case was progressing. So far no updates have been given by the PPD; no arrests have been announced. Christopher and Samantha Rigsbee are upset by the apparent lack of action almost seven months later.

David Keys recently received a copy of the letter from the PIB informing DA Wylie that the matter was being referred to his office. Oddly, the writer of the letter is only identified as Public Integrity Bureau, the signature just the initials P.I.B. The letter, dated June 1, 2011, reads:

* * *

Dear District Attorney Wylie,

The attached correspondence was received by the Attorney General's Office. After an initial review of the documents, we have determined that the issues mentioned pertain to your office. Accordingly, we are referring this material to you for whatever action you deem appropriate.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this matter.

Very Truly Yours,


Public Integrity Bureau

* * *

More details will follow as this story progresses.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Batman Unmasked!

Hey, Ronnie, cover up! We know your memory is a bit dodgy but c'mon -- you gotta maintain that secret identity!

Sure, That'll Work

I hope that Plattsburgh City doesn't think its latest patchjob to the crumbling front stairway of the public library is a permanent solution. As you can see in the second photo, the patches are already cracking even though they're less than three days old.

Watch your step.

Putting All Your Ducklings In A Row

If the slideshow link below doesn't work or you want a larger view, go here: http://bit.ly/lwWXJz

To view individual images, go here: http://bit.ly/jnfI6p

Scratchin' & Stretchin'

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Beach Bum Bugs

It's interesting what you can find crawling around on a wet log by the lake. Tiny but not small enough to escape the eyes of a photographer.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New Swimming Hole

This aquatically inclined duo took advantage of the warm evening to go for a dip in what used to be the Lions Club bandshell area in Macdonough Monument park. Of course Plattsburgh City officials urge caution with flooded areas especially along the Saranac River.