A THIRD ORCHID AND STILL EXCITED ABOUT FLOWERS – Marilyn Armstrong

ORCHIDS – PLANT OF THE DAY

I’ve been watching for a new orchid. Every day I check. Did another bud open yet? Today, there it was. The third flower is in bloom.

I got all excited. I was going to go take pictures, but it turned out to be four o’clock which is the dog’s dinner time, so I had to stop and feed them. As soon as they finished choking down the food — they really eat as if no one ever feeds them — I grabbed two cameras. First, the OMD with the macro lens and the tiny Pentax Q with its fast “normal lens.

It was a bright day and I hoped I’d have enough light to get clean shots with the macro. The Pentax Q was my fallback position.

“I’m so excited,” I told Garry. “I didn’t use to get excited about plants.”I stopped when I said that because I realized I was lying. When I lived in New York, my whole first floor looked like a greenhouse. I had hundreds of plants. Hanging and standing. Tall and flat. And they were literally everywhere you looked.

I had special stands made on which to put the plants in which I could put water so the heat from the radiators would turn to mist and keep them from drying out. People I didn’t know would leave me cuttings on my porch. I was, in fact, know as “The Plant Lady” unless it was someone to whom I had given a cat or dog, in which case I was the cat or dog lady.

To say I didn’t get excited about plants was an out-and-out lie. No one who doesn’t get excited about plants grows a few hundred of them indoors.

“Okay,” I said, having rethought my original statement. “I guess I do get excited about plants.”

Garry remembers the house on Dikeman Street. I didn’t have curtains. The plants covered the windows in every room on the ground floor. I had a miniature hose which attached to my kitchen faucet so I could water them in a couple of hours.

I had started out with maybe three plants, but there were clippings and the arboretum had a sale. And people gave me plants. Cuttings. Ferns.

And all I did was water them when they got dry and make sure they got a reasonable amount of light. When I left for Israel, I had to give away my plants. I had one hanging fern that was about five feet around. I gave to friends as a wedding present. They looked puzzled. A fern? A gigantic fern?

“Water it when it gets dry and be sure it gets light. It doesn’t need full sun, just light.” I have no idea what happened to it because the next day, I was on a plane to Israel where I had to rethink my plant choices. The balcony on which I grew my plants, was on the south side of the house. It got hot, semi-tropical sun from mid-morning until dark. Most plants fried in that kind of sunshine.

It turned out the only plants that could cope with it were petunias, hanging geraniums — which have simply got to be the most versatile plants available — and cactus. Everything else burned to a crisp.

So here I am, 41 years later. I still get excited about plants. I don’t have as many of them — indoors, just a half-dozen. I don’t have the energy to maintain a huge indoor greenhouse. Moreover, we don’t have enough light to grow most of the plants I grew in those less golden olden days.

If Renoir lived here …

I did get a third blossom on the orchids, though. That makes up for a lot, even if my outdoor garden is a terrible mess.

I am expecting one more flower in about a week.

REAL REPORTERS: BEHIND THE CAMERA JOURNALISTS – Garry Armstrong

It’s never been a one-man show.

I’ve logged over 40-years in TV and radio news,  including 31 years at one Boston TV Station.  I’m always flattered when people say they remember me and my work. The body of work is considerable. Usually 3 or 4 daily newscasts, 5 to 6 days a week,  48 or so weeks a year times 40.  That’s a lot of news, good, bad and ugly.

A reporter,  the face in front of the camera,  gets the credit for everything. The images of life, death and the furies of Mother Nature.  Wars and Peace. Happiness and sorrow. You see the reporter, center screen with a name graphic, proof that he or she saw everything in the visuals that tell the story.

It’s a false premise.  It’s impractical. The reporter couldn’t possibly be in all the places seen in the story that has you riveted to the screen.

We’re called “talent” in business lexicon.  That should be a dead giveaway. We’re the human, face connection, to all those images on your screen.

The real reporters are the people behind the cameras.  The men and women who frequently put their lives on the line to bring you the pictures, the video seared into your sense memory.

I’m proud of all the awards I’ve received over the years. I’d be a liar if I said the hardware didn’t mean anything to me. They are reminders of the stories covered across four decades – on the local, state, national and international stages.  The awards have my name clearly etched, front and center. But I can see all the faces of those responsible for bringing the stories to life.

In the 60’s,  I was a green rookie, assigned to the national and international news,  landscapes that ranged from Vietnam, civilian dissent against the war, Civil Rights marches and violent opposition,  assassinations of national leaders,  a historic walk on the moon and a music-culture changer called Woodstock. I was a 20-something, agape at all these events I was covering for Network News.  It truly was baptism under fire.  I survived because of veterans whose careers began with the birth of radio and television news,  The great depression and World War Two.

The 20 something was handed the keys to the news kingdom.  Right place, right time. I may have often been driving the big car but those veterans always rode shotgun,  guiding me through some very difficult mazes of network news closed-door battles with the Pentagon,  the DOD and the White House.  I had a grizzled news manager who always counseled me, “Just tell the truth…make sure you’ve corroborated 2 or 3 times at least.

Don’t let the Pols or Generals faze you…make sure the stories are short, punchy…dump the adjectives”.

All that was behind me when I landed in Boston in 1970. If I thought I knew it all, I was dead wrong.  Boston was just edging its way into a golden era of TV Journalism.  The technology was rapidly changing and changing the way things were done.  TV news was still viewed with skepticism and contempt by many old-school journalists who believed the word was stronger than the picture.

Boston is a highly regarded news market. It can be tricky for a newcomer not versed in the proper pronunciation of towns and cities or the political landmines in seemingly benevolent Norman Rockwell like settings.

I was thrust into local celebrity by being a general assignment reporter covering blue-plate special stories of murders, fires, prison riots,  sexual predators, bad weather, and quirky politics.

I quickly learned to lean on the experience of the people shooting the stories.  They knew the players, the back stories,  the dos and the don’ts.

A news director (one of nearly 3 dozen I survived) told me to keep the camera crews under my thumb.  He said they were just ‘picture takers’, ‘lumpers’ and ‘complainers’.  That news director was history before I figured out how wrong he was.

Those picture takers really were reporters who saw everything around them. They knew when someone was just using his “face time” to dance around the truth and delay legal consequences. They warned me about the “frauds” and “fakers,” political and community leaders who could clean your pockets while shaking your hand.

I am especially thankful for the photojournalists who covered “the mean streets.”   They’re the ones I always saw at 3 o’clock in the morning at a devastating fire,  a triple homicide or drive-by shooting.  They always knew more than the eye-witnesses or law enforcement people just catching the case. I apologize to those whose names are omitted.  It’s impossible to do justice to all of you who were there for me and other reporters over all those years.

Boston is a unique TV news market because the competition is benevolent.  Everyone wants to be FIRST with the story, especially with the advent of electronic newsgathering.  Everything is “Now”.  It happens and,  in a few minutes,  you’re expected to be “live with breaking news”.  Truth and facts often become victims in the quest to be fast and first.

Reporters feel the pressure.  They often feel their jobs are on the line if they are not first.  The folks behind the cameras become a calming force.  They’ve observed the scene, the people, possible evidence.  Often, cameramen and women can figure out the story while fielding frantic and demanding calls from newsrooms.  Over the years,  I’ve leaned on camera and tech crews, not only from my station but also competitors.

I’ve been slipped pieces of paper with key information during live shots and looked like the best damn reporter in town.  In truth,  I was saved by a competing cameraman who saw me struggling and threw the lifeline.

I’ve been praised for memorable “standups” — those on-camera appearances where we look you in the eye and deliver riveting reports. The truth is those words often came from the people behind the camera.  Their words, repeated with sincere conviction by me.

The camera folks also correct information that we, seasoned reporters,  are sure is true.  I was often interrupted with,  “Garry, I don’t want to tell you what to say.  You always know what you’re doing…”   The bulb in my brain flashes — “Listen, know-it-all breath”.

So,  this is a thank you to Richie, Andy, Nat, Jack, Premack, Warren, Eddie,  Susan, Leslie, Noot,  Messrs. Richard Chase, “Fast Al”,  Stan The Man and all the other REAL — behind the camera reporters.

These were the journalists who enabled me to have such a long and satisfying career. Thank you!

PUPPY LOVE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I had forgotten how cute puppies are. Or how much work they are. Then my brother-in-law came to visit with his 12-week old Catahoula Leopard Dog, named Houla. She is one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen!

Houla

Before she came, Tom and I worried about how our two dogs, ages two and eight, would get along with the puppy. At first, our guys didn’t know how to react to this 17-pound ball of energy. Lexi, the eight-year-old, is usually overly aggressive with other dogs. But she played nicely and gently with Houla. Remy, the two-year-old, is usually great with other dogs. But she just barked in the puppy’s face non-stop. Total role reversal.

Then they switched back and started acting true to character. That first day involved snarling and growling and lots of human intervention to avoid a trip to the vet. But there was no bloodshed and the drama was relatively low-keyed.

Then something wonderful happened The three dogs negotiated a working agreement. Or rather, a play agreement. Suddenly the dogs were all playing together 24/7. Happy as clams. They chased each other and rolled around on the floor together. They climbed all over each other. All the time barking, yipping, and yelping with doggie glee.

Of course, the puppy still managed to find time to get into our stuff. There she goes running down the hall with a Time Magazine in her mouth! There goes one of Tom’s shoes! A wine cork is a fun chew toy to throw in the air and catch!

By evening everyone was exhausted, especially the humans. Thank God the dogs were too. After a good post-dinner romp, all three dogs found a comfy place to crash and they all passed out!

One night, Tom and his brother slept on the boat so I was home alone with the dogs. Houla slept on the bed with me and my dogs. Peace reigned until I got up to feed them at 6 AM. After eating, Houla was wired and kept running around the bed. This drove Lexi crazy and she wouldn’t stop barking at Houla. So I was up off and on for hours until Houla finally went back to sleep.

The next night, Houla slept with us till the 6 AM feeding and then I took her back to my brother-in-law’s room. She cuddled with him and slept till it was time to get up.

It’s been funny to see how three adults can barely hold their own in the face of an energetic, happy puppy. Every conversation attempt was punctuated with “Houla NO! NO!” We kept hearing suspicious sounds that had to be investigated. There goes an empty plastic bottle or a plastic bag. (Why do dogs love plastic bags? They can’t taste good). There goes a CD case whizzing by!

These few days have been SO much fun! We have all been smiling and laughing so much our faces hurt! I am SOOO sad to see this puppy depart! The house will be quiet and boring. But I think the puppy is wonderful for my brother-in-law, who lives alone in the middle of nowhere. She gives him companionship and something to do with his days as a retiree.

This visit has confirmed for me my love of all dogs. And my great appreciation for having two in my life who enrich my days and warm my heart.

BOSTON HARBOR FROM FAR ABOVE THE ROOFLINE – SQUARE ROOFS #18 – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s that time of year again and squares are back! 

It’s dusk. From the 33rd floor of the State Street skyscraper overlooking Boston Harbor. Not an easy shot as I’m dressed for a wedding and the only camera I have is a rather pathetic one in my not-so-new mobile phone.

Yet it’s a magnificent sight. I’m glad I’m able to get any pictures at all.

You can see many rooves along the harbor, from 250-year-old warehouses to other tall building. But this building was the tallest of all!


Well, the theme is ROOFS (or rooves if you prefer). Your roof can be;

A – Any type, any condition, any size, and in any location.
B – It could be a shot across rooftops, of one roof like today or even a macro
C – You might prefer to spend some time under the eaves and in the attic, or enjoy the view from above as Brian has already done today.


See you tomorrow!

JUNE IS SQUARE – ROOF 17 – Marilyn Armstrong

It’s that time of year again and squares are back! 

Roofs along the trolley tracks in Brookline

 


Well, the theme is ROOFS (or rooves if you prefer). Your roof can be;

A – any type, any condition, any size, and in any location.
B – it could be a shot across rooftops, of one roof like today or even a macro
C – you might prefer to spend some time under the eaves and in the attic, or enjoy the view from above as Brian has already done today.


See you tomorrow!

TRAIN TRACKS IN BLACK & WHITE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Trains and Tracks

Boston has many trains. Commuter trains as well as trains to DC. Florida, and other places. More interestingly, it has trolleys: small trains that run through several towns used by local commuters.

Everyone loves them because unless the standard commuter trains, the trolleys run on time. It’s your job as a car driver to get out of the way when they come!

Trolley tracks in Boston streets
X – Crossing the tracks
Grafton train tracks

WHICH WAY – THE ETERNAL UNANSWERABLE QUESTION – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge

Aldrich Street in June

I am permanently lost, so every time this challenge comes up, I take it personally.

Trolley station in Brookline

I’m good with maps, back when they published local maps that showed the actual streets in town.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Early in June

Mostly you can buy atlases, all of which show the main roads, but not the ones we are traveling.

Home again