THE AMAZING CHANGING SEASONS: APRIL 2018 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons: April 2018

Speaking of changing, what a month! For that matter, what a couple of months this has been. Crazy weather.

The Nice Weather Gallery

Not that crazy isn’t an inherent part of our New England weather. The northeastern piece of this continent has weather that is utterly unpredictable, especially as winter tries to turn into spring and generally fails.

Good morning little red finch!

Typically, we get winter. Then we get the end of winter which is like winter with occasional warmer days sandwiched between cold ones.

The Not Nice Weather Gallery

I suppose what has made this “spring” particularly difficult has been the cold. By this time of year, I’m usually turning down the heat, opening the windows. Cleaning out the garden. Getting excited about daffodils and glorying in the yellowness of forsythia.

As of right now, we have no flowers. We have had crocuses and they were lovely and we have a lot of growth — the beginning of what I fondly believe will be flowers in a couple of weeks. Maybe even less. But as of right now? It’s the end of the winter. Freezing temperatures at night, warming into the high forties or low fifties in the middle of the day.

Snow along the road

And then there were the super storms. We are not on the seashore, so we didn’t get the kind of battering people living closer to the ocean have gotten. During the past ten years, we’ve gotten giant storms, often stretching from coast-to-coast or taking up most of the Atlantic Ocean.

The scientists dealing with climate change believe these super storms are prime indicators of climate change.  It’s not that we don’t get strange weather in New England, but rarely do we get three super storms with hurricane-level winds in less than two weeks. With snow and rain and sleet and flooding.

Almost daffodils

It’s sort of like the weather we have always gotten multiplied by a factor of five. Very intense weather packed tightly together.

We will have spring and in many places, today was the day it seemed to show up. It was love here today. Blue skies, moderate weather and the song of the Carolina wren can be heard all around the property.

Christmas cactus ready to bloom again

Tomorrow, there will be rain and wind — but after that, I think we will have a few days of spring and then it will be summer. I’m hoping I can get down to clean up the garden before the flowers open. It’s really hard to rake when the day lilies are blooming and the roses are rampant in the garden.

ODD BALLS FROM THE MOB – CEE’S ODDBALL PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: April 22, 2018


A little light on the party

We went to a party. They aren’t my best pictures, but they were more fun than most.

A word about processing people pictures from parties. I use a lot of creative effects on people pictures because what I want to show is their faces, their laughter, the fun without making every look like they have the neck of a chicken or, as Garry puts it “the chrome dome.”

Everyone wants to look good. Most people our age don’t expect to look young and they don’t mind seeing character in their faces, but they also don’t want to look like they were just unearthed from a grave. Finding a balance is a bit of a trick. I put more time and energy into processing people — especially people in my age group — than I do for anything else.

Trees don’t care if the bark looks grungy, but people care a lot when their skin looks like tree bark.

MEETING THE MOB: A PARTY FOR THE GANGSTERS OF MEDIA – Garry Armstrong

MEETING THE MOB AT FLORIAN HALL

Once a year, we gather to catch up.  It’s time for the getting together and annual partaking of the M.O.B. party. It’s the Media Of Boston where everyone who used to be someone and more than a few people who still are someone, get together and remember news — the funny, the weird, the crazy, and the scary stuff they covered during Boston’s news history.

Garry and Harvey Leonard, famed meteorologist sharing old Dodger baseball memories

I usually don’t go to these things. Part of it is that we are out in the boonies and all these events are in Boston or Dorchester. It’s a long drive through heavy traffic. As a general rule, I can’t find my way anywhere anymore. I never really could, but now that we don’t live in or near the city, it’s worse.

Lots of pictures of “the old days”

Marilyn promised to come with me this year, acting as my ears (she just went around telling everyone to yell in my left ear and oddly, that worked), and as my navigator which mostly meant yelling out the directions from the GPS. It’s not loud enough. Almost nothing is loud enough.

Andy announced dinner about to be served!

In past years,  most of us were competitors at Boston’s major TV News Departments, radio stations, and newspapers. Unlike media elsewhere, we always had a sense of respect, camaraderie between us — even though we all chased the scoops in one of the most  competitive major news markets in the country.

Three guys hanging out!

Careers overlap the end of radio news dominance, the transition from film to electronic news gathering. Some of us began working with elders from the Murrow Boys’ days. Our careers included covering the assassinations of political and social legends,  the Vietnam War, volatile court ordered school busing and integration,  Anti-Nuclear Power demonstrations, Watergate, Three Mile Island and the AIDS epidemic. The end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st saw an explosion of news coverage to match events like 9/11 and beyond.

Birth twins! Garry with Delores Handy (Brown) – both born April 7th!

Many of those at our newsies gathering have put their lives on the line —  multiple times — in pursuit of the truth which is often ridiculed by some public officials.

Charlie and Irene Ballantine – caught off-guard at the table!

The faces are probably familiar to those who have turned to the Boston media for news coverage for the past half a century.  Critics who have questioned their ethics have faded from public view as new crises demand instant and intensive coverage 24/7.

Something to drink?

Some of these careers began with Dwight Eisenhower in the Oval House,  John F.Kennedy as the Junior Massachusetts Senator and Mayor Kevin Hagen White overseeing the transformation of Boston into a world-class city that would host celebrated Tall Ships festivals,  court ordered school integration and a mega-expensive architectural “do” known as “The Big Dig”.

Garry, Lester, and Harvey. Someone is really tall!

Those of a certain age will remember some of these faces as young reporters and photographers who spent the best years of their lives covering stories that are now archive material.

You may not know some of the faces.  Many are behind the cameras that bring you haunting images of the news that never stops. They are reporters who never get their due respect. They’re part of the reason that Boston News coverage is highly respected around the world.

Many of us were bright-eyed idealists when we began our Boston careers. The city and New England region are journalistic gold mines and have been well paved over the years by those seeking journalistic treasure.

You’re looking at many ink-stained wretches who’ve been recognized for their diligent work.  Pulitzer, Emmy and other prestigious awards dot the homes of many of these folks who have devoted their lives to finding the truth, a job that is harder than ever in today’s political climate.

Our stories get bigger with each passing year.  We remember the facts but, in many cases,  prefer to “print the legend”.  We tend to remember our gaffes, the “egg in our faces” stories that go with any lengthy career. We smile at the recollection of our youthful energy and pursuit of stories that would top the likes of Watergate.

Garry and Fred Ward sharing stories

Amid the laughter of shared adventures, we remember those colleagues we’ve lost in the past year. Their images linger in our collective and personal sense memories.

Most of all, we agree, bad times aside,  we’ve been lucky to have spent years pursuing one of the best jobs on the face of the earth.


NOTE: Marilyn took pictures. Not enough and not as good as they should be — but she says she had the wrong camera. And it was hard to get people to stay put long enough to get a good shot. Also, there were so many cameras everywhere (what a surprise! with all those camera people and there were a lot of cameras!), she figured there would plenty of pictures getting taken, even if she personally didn’t take them.

A STATE OF CHAOS AND CONFUSION – Marilyn Armstrong

This morning, I took the camera and went out to see what I could see. It isn’t nearly as cold today as yesterday, but warm? Not really. Still, I could be outside in just a sweater for the fifteen minutes it took to take a few shots of our so-called garden.

Garry took the fallen Fred Flamingo and stood him upright. He now welcomes all comers to the garden mess!

I have done no gardening at all this year. By now, I usually have it cleaned out, clipped down and about as organized as it ever gets — which isn’t very organized. It has been too cold, snowy, rainy, and windy for any kind of gardening. It has been bad enough to make me want to completely avoid going outside. At all.

Today, the sun is shining. It isn’t raining. Although we don’t have snow on the shoots (no flowers yet, just shoots), it’s a complete chaotic mess of a garden. I’m hoping by next week, not only will I have finally stopped coughing, but the weather will coöperate so I can go and do the few little things I can to make the place “almost” respectable.

In the meantime, everything is growing! Give those shoots a few days of warmer temperatures and sunshine, and we might just have a springtime miracle.


From Nancy Merrill:

Spring in Utah is like living in a state of confusion. Each year, the fruit farmers live in constant dread of late spring snowstorms and hard freezes that could wipe out their entire crop. The day after my tulips opened, we had a crazy snowstorm that blanketed our garden with about an inch of snow. Fortunately, the next day the temperature was in the 50s and the snow melted. At least we don’t have to water the gardens yet.


You can see the daffodil greenery and the many lilies. It’s going to be a bonanza year for day lilies.
This green and yellow climbing plant is not a wildflower and I don’t know its name. Probably put here by a former owner, but has in the past two years, really taken over the picket fence.
A big year for day lilies. I can see it!
More of the green and yellow climbers!

WHICH WAY? CEE’S PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge – April 20, 2018

I went down to the “garden” today to see what things look like.

It was a bit dispiriting. Having done nothing to clean up the mess — this being the first day when it wasn’t wickedly cold and raining in at least two weeks — it’s pretty mess.

So, let’s look at other pictures. Without snow or rain!

Across from the Baptist Church …
CVS
Along the pond …

ODDBALLS – OR AT LEAST DIFFERENT – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Oddball Photo Challenge: April 15, 2018

Photo: Garry Armstrong

When you take a lot of pictures of anything, after a while, you are finished using them for their originally intended purpose and you get playful.

Graphic black & white LJ Ganser and Robin Miles
What light through yonder window breaks?

I took more than 600 pictures of the Tom and Ellin Curley VoiceScapes Audio Theater last weekend. I have diligently processed as many photographs as I felt made sense and weren’t simply duplicates of each other. I dare say there are more, but I’ve gotten through the main, first batch.

LJ Ganser, setting up the microphone
More setup – Sande Sherr, LJ Ganser, Robin Miles

Now, I’m into the “playful period” of trying to see what clever and unique ways I can process the same or similar shots. I think of it as “fun with filters.”

THE BEST WAY TO CATCH SOMETHING – Marilyn Armstrong

In my many long years of getting sick, sicker, even sicker, and under the wings of hovering Death, I have concluded there are four ways uniquely suited to get you sick, sicker, then sickest.

I do not count sitting in a doctor’s office full of people NOT wearing masks who claim their cough is “just an allergy.”

No, I mean “out in the real world” where shit happens.

These are the four best ways to catch whatever is going around.

1 – Be an elementary school teacher. You will be sick ALL the time. Just keep the Tamaflu handy and the tissues and throat lozenges nearby.

2 – Work in a mall. You will earn very little money and you are doomed to endless disease. A single sneeze can infect everyone in half the mall. Two sneezes? Total collapse of all immune systems.

3 – Be a working reporter. You will meet everyone everywhere and at least 75% of them will have something lurking, just waiting for you and your cameraman to show up. When Garry was working, he had a cold, the flu, bronchitis, sore throats, ear infections. You name it, he had it. Four days later? I had it too. We believe in sharing.

This probably applies to politicians on the stump and performers on tour. Which is probably why they won’t shake hands. All they see are germs.

4 – Take an airplane anywhere. The recycled air is putrid. I swear this is true — takes whatever diseases every passenger has on the plane and pumps it up. I have never taken a flight anywhere and not gotten sick within 10 days.

Except Arizona. Maybe it’s that lovely, hot, dry air or something. We survived both trips to Arizona and we felt actually better after a week in the warm, dry air.

I should add one more: life in the cold north of America where it’s always damp and the air is full of allergens. And never, ever go to see the doctor if you aren’t already diseased unless you know for sure nobody sick will be there. Those allergic coughs  are not allergies.