BIRDS IN THE BUSH

Sunday morning, I woke to a blanket of snow across the landscape. Maybe 5 inches. Not a mega storm, but enough to cover the branches of the trees, the lawn, and the forest floor.

TimeToRise-Poem-72-0125_13

I went out to take some pictures. Maybe it was the time of day … it was just a little past eight in the morning. There were dozens of little birds heading for the big forsythia bush. The birds love that bush. The love it in summer and spring and fall as well as in the winter. I don’t know if there is something there which they eat, or they just feel safe in its twisted branches.

We used to try to control it, but in recent years, it has quite gotten away from us, completely hiding the chain link fence that is the demarcation between our yard and the woods.

I was able to get some pictures of the little birds, something that usually eludes me. I don’t know what they are. Some kind of wren or finch. There are so many and they look very much alike. Our garden birds, sharing our world.

BLIZZARD!!

Living in New England, in the heart of winter, there’s nothing unusual about a storm on the way. Apparently what’s unusual about this one is its magnitude. It’s supposed to be really big. How big?

blizzard 2015 map

Huge. Stretching up and down the entire coast and way out to sea. That is, until it comes ashore, something it is in the process of doing right now. They have cancelled school throughout New England for the next three days. Children are rejoicing throughout the region, but their parents are not quite as thrilled.

Blizzard-Warning-graphic

The threat of hurricane force winds combined with massive snow accumulations makes most adults anxious. Or worse. It doesn’t matter how well prepared you are. Past a certain point, it’s not up to you. What will be, will be and you’ll just have to ride it out.

power outage warnings

I don’t remember so many super storms in the past. They happened, it’s true, but not storms the size of a continent. Not storm that affected most of the country at the same time. You can be as deep in denial as you like, but our weather has gotten weird, wild, and a bit frightening. We can argue as much as we like about whose fault it is, but it’s hard to ignore the evidence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is snowing as I write this. Not as hard as it probably will later in the evening, but the roads are already slippery. It’s the layer on top of the layer that was left from a few days ago. That’s the way it goes here. Each snow becomes the ice layer under the next until eventually, the pavement is a distant memory.

Assuming I can get one of the doors open tomorrow, I’ll take some pictures. Very white pictures. I’m sure they will be beautiful.

BLIZZARD OF 1978 – GARRY ARMSTRONG

There’s a big storm coming. How big? Hard to tell, but definitely a very substantial snow event. This seems to be the time of year when the biggest storms hit this region. About 37 years ago, when a storm began moving into eastern Massachusetts on the afternoon of Feb. 6, 1978, thousands of people were let out of work early to get home before the storm. But traffic was, as usual, heavy and the snow began falling at over an inch per hour. Soon more than 3,000 automobiles and 500 trucks were stranded in rapidly building snowdrifts along Rt. 128 (same as Route 95). Fourteen people died from carbon monoxide poisoning as they huddled in trapped cars.


GARRY ARMSTRONG: 

There are so many incredible scenes that remain clear in my memory from the Blizzard of ’78.

I was smack dab in the middle of it from the beginning as one of the few reporters who could get to the station without a car. I lived just down the street and was able to slog through the snow to the newsroom. I found myself doing myriad live shots across Massachusetts and other parts of New England. I would like to give a special shout out to my colleagues who ran the cameras, the trucks, set our cable and mike lines, kept getting signals when it seemed impossible and worked nonstop under the most dire and difficult conditions. All I had to do was stand in front of the camera or interview people. I recall standing in the middle of the Mass Turnpike, the Southeast Expressway, Rt. 495 and other major arteries doing live shots.

There was no traffic. There were no people. Abandoned vehicles littered the landscape. It was surreal. Sometimes it felt like Rod Serling was calling the shots. The snow accumulation was beyond impressive. I am or was 5 foot 6 inches. I often had to stand on snow “mountains” to be seen. My creative camera crews used the reverse image to dwarf me (no snickering, please) to show the impressive snow piles. No trickery was needed. Mother Nature did it all.

Downtown Boston looked like something out of the cult movie “The World, The Flesh And The Devil”. The end of the world at hand. No motor traffic, very few people: just snow as high and as far as the eye could see.

Ironically, people who were usually indifferent to each other became friendly and caring. Acts of kindness and compassion were commonplace, at least for a few days. Those of us working in front or back of the camera logged long hours, minimal sleep, lots of coffee, lots of pizza and intermittently laughed and grumbled. There are some behind the scenes stories that will stay there for discretion’s sake.

The Blizzard of ’78 will always be among the top stories in my news biz career. It needs no embellishment. The facts and the pictures tell it all.

One more thing. It needs no hype or hysteria.

LIFE HAPPENS

I have a project which is going to suck up a lot of my life for the next 5 or 6 weeks. It’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a cool thing, but if I tell you what it is, I will have to kill you. Or me.

So, there’s a strong probability I won’t be able to post as often as I have been. I’ll try to continue to post something every day — even if it is short . I’ll grab whatever time I can.

top secret

I am bowing to reality. Conceding I can’t do everything. Some things can’t be hurried and this is one of those things. Since something’s gotta give, I’d rather it not be me. I have a project with a deadline. A lot to do and it will chew up my days.

I can’t tell you what it is. I apologize for being mysterious, but I’m not allowed. You are free to use your imagination in trying to figure out what I’m doing. Whatever you think, the reality is mundane, unromantic, not at all bizarre. But fun.

Hint: It does not involve the government, espionage,  or extraterrestrials.

Hint 2: I am not writing a book.

Hint 3: There’s (almost) no writing involved. No photography at all.

Hint 4: I’m not getting paid for it.

If by some remote chance, you actually figure out what I’m doing, I’ll email you directly to congratulate you. But you won’t guess.

Even after I’m done, I won’t be able to tell you more than I’m finished with the project. Until next year.

CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER: CEE’S ODDBALL PHOTO CHALLENGE

Challenge: 2015 Week #4

“Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, 
that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”
― Lewis Carroll, 
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Oddball:  noun   a person or thing that is atypical, bizarre, eccentric, or nonconforming
                 adjective  whimsically free-spirited; eccentric; atypical

strange artistic woods

strange artistic woods

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE

A few days ago, I took some selfies to illustrate how to make an older person look good in a portrait. I’m not sure if the pictures qualify as real selfies since I didn’t hold the camera backwards and shoot towards myself. Instead, I used a mirror. Then I processed the hell out of the photos. Everyone says I look beautiful.

What does it mean? My pictures look lots better than I do. I’m afraid to meet anyone because they will be terribly disappointed when they see me in person. Wherein lie the perils of post processing.

72-Inside Snowy Day_05

It’s closing on the end of January. Usually, by this point in the winter, we’re buried. In ice and snow. Someone has pneumonia. Or is scheduled for major surgery. Spring seems a million years in the future. Looking out on the Siberian landscape in front of our house, we wonder if the snow will melt or will turn glacial and start to move until it consumes the house and everything in its path.

This year is different. We aren’t buried. The snow which started falling last night is the first significant snow of the season. Everyone is suffering from “the thing-that’s-going-around” which means Garry isn’t the only member of the family who can’t hear. But no one has pneumonia (at least I don’t think so). No one is scheduled for surgery.

72-Snow-Sunday0125_02

It was warm until yesterday. Above freezing. The falling snow changed to light rain before it changed to snow again late at night. It was magical first thing in the morning. About five inches, the perfect amount to look beautiful without being a serious inconvenience.

The cortisone shots I got in my hips are working. I can go up and down the stairs almost like a normal person. It’s a temporary fix, but it’s a welcome relief. If only it would stay this way. So, aside from The Cold From Hell which has my ears clogged and my bronchial tubes begging for mercy, so far so good. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than last year.

We need something to look forward to. Garry and I have birthdays in March and April, so I booked us a few days in April at a nice motel in Cooperstown. The last time we were there, we were celebrating Garry’s 50th birthday. This time, we are celebrating his 73rd. Time flew.

deck and snowy woods

You know you’re getting old when don’t stay at the historic inn (it looks like Hill House from The Haunting) in favor of Comfort Inn. Comfort Inn has elevators and we don’t want to haul our tired old bodies and our stuff up the stairs, even though it looks like a classic haunted house.

So, as we round the corner towards February (go Pats!), we are doing reasonably well. Who’d have thunk it?

SNOW, WIND, AND THE END OF LIFE AS WE KNOW IT?

If forecasts are correct, we are about to get hit by a blizzard. Depending on who you believe, it could rival the blizzard of 1978, which was a doozy. Here in south central Massachusetts, we have an odd weather pattern. For example, we didn’t get hit by Hurricane Sandy, yet we often get buried when everyone else merely gets flurries. It’s a bit of a crap shoot and I can hope we will be spared the worst of the weather.

Wishful thinking aside, it’s a very large storm. We will get snow. At least a foot, hopefully not more than two. It won’t be the end of the world, but it is going to be difficult for a while. I’m more worried about wind, than snow. As usual, I’m worried about losing power. If the power goes out, we don’t have water (no pump) or heat. In a nutshell, without power, we ain’t got nothin’ much.

National Grid is run by a bunch of morons who believe we can report outages on their website. What is it about “power outage” that eludes their understanding?

If you don’t hear from me … well … we’ve been weathered.

COURSE CORRECTION

Enough Is Enough – When was the last time you were ready to throw in the proverbial towel? Did you end up letting go, or decided to fight on anyway?


I had a job in Connecticut. My daily commute was 140 miles — each way. After a few months, I was exhausted. I could not go on. I quit and found another job that didn’t require so much commuting. It didn’t pay as well, but it was a saner choice. Because 280 miles of driving a day was crazy. Not only did it wear me down, it wore out my car, too.

I never thought of it as “throwing in the towel.” It was not giving up. More like acknowledging I shouldn’t have taken the job in the first place. What in the world made me believe I could spend five or six hours a day in the car and spend 8 to 10 hours at work?

Whenever I’ve given up on a project, job, relationship, recipe, or whatever? The problem was never being defeated by a foe. The foe was me. I made a bad choice. I should never have started whatever it was in the first place.

I knew I’d screwed up and corrected it. If you look at this kind of thing as a defeat, you will have a lot of trouble surviving. Know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.

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