BEFORE VIDEO THERE WAS FILM – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Video  and Ragtag Tuesday: Past

Garry should be telling this story because it’s his story, not mine. But since he’s busy elsewhere, I’ll tell the story — as I’ve heard it — and maybe he can write a better version later.

Garry started working in the business — television — before the switch from film to videotape was made — and he left the business just before everything went to DVDs, flash and SD cards, and hard drives. He was working at the end of the movie era through the early years of video when it was the “new kid in town. ”

He remembers the horrors of forgetting to load the camera and shooting only to come back with nothing. Not unlike me forgetting to paste down the full-page color advertisement from Sony that belonged in the middle of the magazine I was editing. Ah, the good old days of being young and stupid.

Or misfeeding the film into the camera and being unable to get it to run. Garry remembers racing back to the office so they could develop the film, edit it, and get it up in time for the news. Ah, more of the good old days!

Movie set

Film was touchier than videotape. If the light was wrong, it ran too hot or green. When it rolled, you wanted to hide under a table somewhere. Even though you didn’t do the shooting, it was still your work and when it was blazing orange or glaringly green, it was painful to see.

On screen, video looks different than film. Sometimes you see shows where parts are filmed and the rest is on video. You can always see the change from one scene to the other.

Film looks different than video. It’s both the texture and luster and crispness.  It’s hard to describe the difference, but you know it when you see it.

Film is also a sturdier product and lasts longer, which is why movies are shot on film, not video. Video tends to self-destruct over time and not a lot of time, either. We didn’t get our wedding video transferred to DVD soon enough. We lost a lot of the graphic portions. We were able to save the soundtrack, but a lot of pictures couldn’t be salvaged.

Thus, here is the message for all of you old enough to have videotaped important past events in your lives: Get the video transferred to DVD or you’ll lose it. If you haven’t already lost it.

WORLD SHARING … IS IT ALMOST THANKSGIVING? – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 11-15-18


What’s the most ironic thing you’ve ever witnessed?

I’m not sure that “ironic” is the right word here. Twice I’ve been in dangerous places and the dangerous people carefully got me to a safe place, but that’s not ironic. Just … surprising.

Let’s talk turkey.  Pro or con?   If pro, which part do you enjoy most?  Is it for Thanksgiving (American Style anyway) only?

I think I’ve had more turkey than I ever wanted. Part of it is that I like dark meat and there’s almost no dark meat on turkeys these days. It’s all white meat. Too dry. I spent a lot of years of eating over-cooked turkey. The bigger the turkey, the dryer it was.

Lots of joints on this former turkey!

Some could have been ground up and used for beach sand. Even fresh, unfrozen turkey became food I was required to eat. I always liked the side dishes better than the turkey, especially cranberry sauce. And the pies! Actually, just give me the cranberry sauce and a side of three or four pieces of pie.

If you’d like, share one thing you wish you’d said to someone else, but now you’ll never have the chance.

Call it failing memory. I don’t remember anything. I don’t have a single thing I wish I’d said because either I don’t remember if I said it — and if I do, I don’t know what would have happened had I said something else. The future is a mystery.

What odd smell do you really enjoy?

I have almost no sense of smell, but if I stick my nose into a rose, that’s nice. I guess that isn’t odd unless you find a bee in there.

Thankful November … share a story or time when someone did something really great for you.  Alternatively,  share your gratitude moments during this past week.

Leaves are everywhere!

My son hired a cleanup crew to get the leaves out of the yard. I feel downright blessed!

WATER LILIES ON RIVERS, PONDS, AND CANALS – Marilyn Armstrong

Water Lilies On the Rivers, Ponds, and Canal


We have water lilies growing on almost every water surface, from the tiniest canals to the widest ponds, and along the edges of all the river. Some summers, they nearly choke the rivers.

The ducks, herons, geese, and swans don’t mind because they eat them, but when water levels are low, the fish and turtles have trouble swimming through the roots.

Not a problem this year. We’ve had so much rain that there’s plenty for room for anything that loves the water!

To see the pictures individually, just click on the gallery and use to arrows to go from picture to picture.

LET THERE BE LIGHT – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Lights


Light. Sunlight shining through the leaves on the tree. The shafts of sunlight late in the day. Lights on trees for the holiday. The glow of lights in houses and candles glowing in a darkened room. Candles on the cake, lanterns in the dark. The glow of the moon.

We are drawn to light and how it changes the shape and tone of everything.

Lighted path at night
A lit tree near Christmas
Candles
Sunset in the woods
Light on snow
Lighted tree at a winter light festival
First light of day in Rockport
Woods and river in the late afternoon
Desert sunset
Supermoon through trees

WHAT MAKES A GOOD POST? HOW ABOUT A HAPPY POSTER? – Marilyn Armstrong

I break my own rules all the time. So the most important rule — the ring to rule them all, so to speak — is to do your own “thing,” whatever it may be.

I have to put this note in here. Not everyone who likes writing is a good writer. Sad, but true. If you have a gift, you will get better. The more you write, the better you will get — IF you are tough enough as an editor to recognize when your writing isn’t up to par and willing to rewrite what needs rewriting.

I’ve become a much better writer — at least for the purposes of blogging — than I was at the beginning. My writing is more crisp, sharper, leaner. The good news is the better you get, the less editing you need. But if you aren’t talented, you may not be able to get the response you hope for.

Some people are totally into pictures and writing is mainly captioning — a different story. But at some point, if writing is what you want to do, you need to assess if you have “it” or not.

Our polling area

Here are a few things that work for me and pretty much work for most people. These aren’t rules, merely tips. You are more than welcome to ignore me. I often ignore myself. For me, the point of blogging is getting to do what I enjoy and “views” be damned.

– Keep posts short

–  Make it funny when you can

–  If we can’t make them laugh, make them cry

–  Good (or interesting) pictures get more hits than mediocre writing

–   Post often. Let me clarify: Not everyone reads all your posts. In fact, I’m betting that most people read one or two. Some only come for photography, others for writing. I try to present a variety. Also, some periods are inherently busier than others. When there’s more news, there is more to talk about.

I do not mean every time you have a thought run through your head, it’s time to write another post. For that, we have Facebook and Twitter.

 –  If someone else has written it better than you, reblog theirs and ALWAYS give credit to the original source and writer. Never ever take credit for someone else’s writing.

One crumpled maple leaf

It’s often said that “Less is more.” In a post, fewer words are good — or more to the point, keep the writing lean — but not fewer ideas. And sometimes, the subject requires you have to write longer. If you need the words, use them.

A pretty picture is always worth a few looks.

Fewer posts are not so good. If you give people more to look at and read, they’ll visit more often. On the other hand, beware of posting so much you become a spammer. I have a “number of fingers on one hand” for the maximum number of posts I’ll put up in a day (sometimes something comes up I didn’t expect, but I don’t want to fill up everyone’s inbox).

There are a couple of other things worth mentioning. Please don’t put a lot of white text on a black background. White on dark is hard to read for everyone but particularly difficult for older people.

Dark backgrounds are beautiful for photography, but not for text. Depending on whether you will be using mostly photographs as opposed to words, you are better off going with white or nearly white.

Please, nothing vivid. No hot pink or lime green. No orange, turquoise, or royal blue. It’s blinding. People will avoid your blog just because it exceeds their “ugliness” quotient for that day — no matter how well you write. Not to mention how non-neutral color will clash with photographs.

Template Issues

If you are posting mostly photographs, you need a format wide enough to see the pictures. If you need a magnifying glass, rethink your layout. A good photograph needs room to breathe. Moreover, your lovely work won’t look lovely if you cramp in into a tiny space.

Early autumn at Manchaug

Also, know that all WordPress templates will fit in any format: phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.

Font size is an issue. If it’s smaller than 10 points, I can’t read it. If it’s smaller than 8 points no one can read it. Generally, sans-serif typefaces (like Arial or Helvetica) appear bigger than serif types (Times Roman et al). If you don’t know the difference between typefaces, use Google and look them up. This is important to readers.

Don’t overload your page with gimmicks and gadgets and badges. Two columns are plenty. Three is merely distracting. If it gets busy enough, your traffic will diminish and I will be one of those who will vanish.

White space is very important online. You need spaces between paragraphs, indents on either side. Do not clump everything together. It’s unattractive and sometimes, dizzying. When you are into page design, less IS more. Your page should be no more than 60% text and graphics and the rest should be white space. Again, less is more, so if you don’t understand formatting issues, do some reading. And look at other people’s blogs. This is one of the times when imitation is a fine kind of flattery!

Presentation matters more online than in a book.

Do the best you can, but don’t kill yourself. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth the effort. We aren’t making a pile of money doing this, so if you aren’t enjoying the process, figure out a way to make it more fun … or consider other options.

Use photographs. Write stuff to which people can relate. If people identify with you, they become friends and supporters. Be entertaining, even when your material is serious.

You can make a difference sometimes. When it happens, it is deeply satisfying.

It helps to have a bit of luck!


NOTE: These pictures are here because they are pretty. They have nothing to do with the post. They are included to keep your eyes from getting bored with just text. I’m actually phobic about all text all the time.

WHICH WAY – SO MANY ROADS, SO LITTLE TIME – Marilyn Armstrong

Which Way Challenge: November 8, 2018


A day in the yellow woods in Mendon. A place I always want to get pictures, but rarely find a place to safely put the car. The road is so twisty, and there is swamp on both sides of the road … and it is hard to see where the swamp begins and the earth ends.

But this time, we got lucky.

And got some pictures. Mostly mine because Garry kept not bringing a camera. I have since given him a pocket camera which hopefully will convince him to take some. He winds up borrowing mine, but two people on one camera don’t work well.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
The Providence-Worcester line through Mendon
The leafy driveway
Railroad crossing, Chestnut Street

ROSES AND OAK LEAVES – Marilyn Armstrong

Roses & Oak Leaves 


A few days ago, our entire property was completely covered by a full carpet of oak leaves. You couldn’t see anything but leaves and broken branches from the trees. The rain and wind have never quit for more than a day or two at a time.

The leaf vacuum crew came and cleaned us up yesterday and while we aren’t completely free of leaves … there are always more up there in the trees … we can see the deck and the driveway … and even the front lawn.

Late roses and oak leaves
Oak leaves in the ground cover

Of course, the rain and the wind are coming back. It’s going to be a bad week. Regardless, we’re going to be away in Connecticut for a few days, so the dogs and the weather are going to have to try and get along without us for a few days.

Leaves and the dog’s rope toy still wet from rain

The weather has gotten pretty weird. It’s hard to explain, but it doesn’t “feel” normal. The weather has always followed a pattern. Not the exact same pattern every year, but typically in late August, you’d see the first yellow leaves. Night time temperatures would begin to drop which triggered the leaf change.

Oak leaves

By mid-September, nights were chilly, even though the days were usually quite warm. By the end of September, at least half the trees had changed color and two or three weeks later, by mid-October, Autumn peaked. When we got lucky, it would linger a couple of extra weeks. If the winds didn’t rise and we didn’t get a lot of rain, you might still see quite a lot of fall right through November.

The last of the woods. Bare now

This year, spring never came. Summer started more than a month late and the flowers that bloom in May didn’t bloom until July. Some never bloomed at all. The dry days of summer never happened and the wind and the rain have continued undaunted and as far as I can tell, are not going to stop. Eventually, it will be cold enough that the wind and rain will become snow and rain.

We didn’t really have Autumn or spring. We’ve had a few days here and there, but mostly, it’s not the seasons. It’s just weather.