May 29, 2010
May 30, 2010
May 31, 2010
June 1, 2010
May 29, 2010
May 30, 2010
May 31, 2010
June 1, 2010
May 27, 2010
May 28, 2010
May 24, 2010
May 25, 2010
May 26, 2010
May 23, 2010
I often walk this hill.
I imagine when my great grandparents and my grandmother and her siblings finally settled at the foot of this immense mound, they had already looked up at its greatness for several years.
I imagine them, maybe, walking about the hill, maybe, taking a break from farming the land. And, really, I can only imagine them looking over the valley and seeing woods covering Sunderland, Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, Easthampton, and beyond, that little more exist.
I imagine my mom riding her horse around this hill, young like me. That’s what I imagine her doing here.
When I look from the top of this hill, I see the farm, still in the family; my parents’ work hard for a life I’m not sure I will take on.
I see the University of Massachusetts, treetops, crevasses where there are major roads, and mountains I believe exist in the works of Erastis sailsburyfield.
So many times I have walked up this hill – with neighbors, family, friends, horses, dogs, boyfriends, Sean.
Mostly, I feel, it’s the one thing here that isn’t stale.
When I was young, a real child, and the hill was covered in snow, just so the grass couldn’t poke through, I would walk alone making footprints with intensions, walking backwards.
If the snow melted in the sun and hardened into a half inch of crust at night, we would all scurry our way up the hill, and slide down, and dive off whatever our vehicle was before hitting pickers at the bottom.
When the snow was light, we would hitch up the horse to the sleigh and ride up and around on sunny days.
When there was no snow, no mud from the spring thaw, and the grass was short, we’d ride the horses around there too. I think my earliest memories of being on the hill is of my parents shifting me on and off the front of the saddle; one of them always holding me around my tummy.
That might have been before they rented the field out, but I don’t really know.
One renter planted cow corn. The neighbors and I would run through the isles of tall stalks, getting whipped by long fuzzed leaves.
Later on, we got a new renter, who does hay. It was always fun to climb the gold bails, to try and push them around. We were all too weak and young. I’m pretty sure we all loved the smell, of the dried grass warming in the sun. The dust would tickle our noses.
Before we were of age, we learned how to drive out there. Before grandma died, when I was practicing how to drive, we put her in the car too. She liked going for rides. She told me to put the pedal to the metal, of course I didn’t. I always think about that when I’m driving and I think of grandma.
I was real sad then, when I was in high school. I did a lot of imagining. I would always imagine romantic affairs up there. Who wouldn’t want to be up the hill, seeing everywhere, so far, with someone you love who loves you back? But I was mostly alone then.
So, sometimes I would take the dog up there – just the two of us. She was really my mom’s dog, and I could never have loved her as much, but it made me happy to see the dog prancing through grass three feet high or snow three feet deep. Then we’d have to pick the tics off her, or melt away the beads of snow caught in her paws. Once she bit a porcupine up there and it took days to get the quills out. That was a long night.
Mostly we go up there at night anyways, I mean, when the sun is setting, at the end of the day. Sometimes, we all would walk up there and see UMass lit up at night. It was even easier to see the stars, the Milky Way, the moon.
Today, I walked up there with my camera. It’s a good camera. I can take some pretty good photos. The grass was mixed in with clover. The hill is passed spring, so there is no mud and the anthills are underway. It’s not ready for hay, hasn’t even been planted. Actually, I don’t know if it will. But I have to walk carefully, like my parents would always tell me, not to tramp all over the clover and grass. So, I walked carefully, trying not to trample all over the hill. I took some pictures. And, really, what I thought this time is, man, it’s going to be hard to leave this, one day.
I was walking around Amherst today and decided to stroll through the Amherst farmer’s market.
I, unexpectedly, saw this folk-countra trio playing some good traditional style string music.
They are called Shingle the Roof.
New England based, Shingle the Roof has a whole list of shows to come, according to their MySpace page, and consists of Kate Spencer, Tim Woodbridge, and Jerry Devonkaitis.
The band’s story is feature on their MySpace page, but what is the most ironic thing for me, is that the stringed instruments store, Maple Leaf Music, that Spencer opened in 1979 was the shop my first real guitar came from.
I went to the shop with my mom when I was 13, picked out a guitar I hardly new how to play, and from the moment on, the next five years of my life were set. I wrote music, took lessons, formed a band, played in a duo, and played shows at every chance I got.
While my music career dwindled when I took on my degree in journalism and this career in film, my playing turned into a source for music soundtracks for my videos and documentaries.
I don’t talk about playing music or anything much these days, but it’s something that definitely changed my life, and learning about Shingle the Roof was quite the surprise today.
May 18, 2010
May 19, 2010
May 20, 2010
May 21, 2010
May 22, 2010
Tis the graduation season, and about 4,200 University of Massachusetts undergraduates recieved their diplomas Saturday.
This entry was originally supposed to be about what happens behind the scenes and leading up to commencement day.
But, now, it’s about being prepared for the worst.
UVC-TV 19, UMass’ student-run TV station spends months preparing for the taping of the university’s undergraduate commencement.
The real meat of the operation begins a month or so before commencement when crew is finalized and the equipment is piled together and checked out for what is probably our most important shoot all year.
Preparation of the crew begins around two weeks before the ceremony when there are one or two meetings on what everyone should do. Someone has to remember the cash box for DVD sales. Someone has to set up equipment. Someone has to operate a camera. The list is never ending.
The commencement shoot begins the day before commencement when a small portion of the video crew goes to set up and spool out hundreds of feet of video cable.
We spool out cables, tape them down, stand around and wait for an audio test, set up and wire a portable monitor and editing-on-the-fly system, turn cameras on and off, talk with special headsets, sweat in the sun, and go to bed early.
The only technical difference about this year’s commencement compared to the last two years of commencement was that the university chose not to have a jumbotron and rather asked UVC-TV 19 to hook up a feed to the football stadium scoreboard. So we did. And it looked awesome.
The day of commencement began at 5 a.m. when all crew members telephoned each other a wake up call. We later met at the station at 6 a.m. By 6:10 a.m. we were at the stadium ready to go.
Everything was looking good. Everything was going smoothly. Everyone was happy. It was sunny. The sky was blue.
At 10 a.m. the graduating class and their professors and teachers were marching their way in. We hit record. The footage was up on the scoreboard.
Then the power went out.
Everyone in the press tent suddenly panicked and scurried to find a new source of power or back up or something while the band still played and the happy graduates marched in.
The power-outage killed the portable monitor in which I, as the director, could see our three camera operator’s footage.
What was also killed was power for our recording unit. The digital file recording unit was powerless. The SVHS tape backup unit was powerless.
But what still had power was our field cameras.
I told my guys on camera to keep rolling. I couldn’t see any of the shots they were getting but having worked commencement two previous years, I knew exactly what to expect and what shots were important.
Soon, audio power was restored from some sort of alternative source. Audio had another source set up and ready to go. Let me put it this way – they have enough money to afford to have a back up. UVC – well, we are always looking for donations, but that’s another story. Anyways, commencement wasn’t ruined.
A power source wasn’t restored for UVC.
But it’s a good thing for camera batteries!
And it was even better that our camera operators were recording on a third backup with tape. And a fourth backup on compact flash cards.
Our recording was saved.
My assistant director got me a chair so I would stop pacing like a mad woman outside the press tent.
I sat in the chair, watched commencement for the third year in row and directed my camera operators blindly.
I spoke into my headset, ‘Camera 1, slow zoom into the chancellor for a close-up. Camera 3 I need a wide shot of the stage, slow zoom out. Camera 2 we’re going to need some graduate reactions, they’re going to be clapping soon.’
We did this for an hour and a half, at times arguing over who had the best shot of the chancellor, even though no one could see what anyone had. But the beauty of having three cameras, is the alternative angles and shots, and the ability to change tapes and recording units at different times so not a moment of action was lost.
When the ceremony ended, it was a success. Everyone was thrilled we pulled it together despite losing power.
Our success was truly about having a backup – and several of those backups having backups because you never really know when the power will go out.