Not the typical pet, not the typical vet appointment

What a morning, and I hadn’t even gotten to the vet’s office!

morrisIt was time for Frisky’s first annual physical. That’s not counting the office visit she had a year ago, after I adopted her from Morris Animal Refuge on Clear the Shelters Day.

Frisky has always been a tough one. She was only four months old, which is extremely young to have had “the surgery” and be up for adoption – so I was told.

Her well-written bio read,

“I’m very mature for my age. I’m a Miss Smartypants. I’m going to be your favorite.”

friskys bio
Take out your resumes! How many of you have bios ready to go?
caseys baby pic
Casey’s baby picture, before we met

I didn’t grow up a cat person and had Casey for just about nine years at that point. When I got him at the Humane Society in Miami, I’d been told not to get a kitten but someone older, who knew how to be a cat.

Casey was seven months old. I didn’t even know cats could jump, and his timing with the camera was impeccable! My vocabulary wasn’t, with my then-five-year-old nephew Preston watching.

getting casey

Casey has been wonderful, moving with me from South Beach, to closer to my parents between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, to a Tennessee rental, then a Virginia house, to a Philadelphia rental and now our condo.

Casey’s first birthday and helping me grade papers.

The boy really knows how to take a catnap!

He taught me a lot about cats. I knew he could use company and he had so much to offer!

Casey on South Beach watching KYW’s Carol Erickson do the weather in Philadelphia, and having a good conversation with his grandmother.

So Clear the Shelters Day, 2017, sounded like the perfect (not “purr-fect” – I’m not like that!) opportunity to get him a little brother or sister, but I’d actually been thinking about it for a few years.

I’d asked around about getting a second cat and learned about keeping them in separate rooms until they got used to each other.

2017-08-29 casey frisky
Ten days after meeting

I was familiar with Morris through one of our Fox anchors, Lucy Noland. She hooked me up, and I got a tour and brought them donations. The funny part is, I lived two blocks away for two-and-a-half years (2001-2004) but never went inside!

clear the shelters

Anyway, Clear the Shelters Day is one of the busier days because the animals are free to good, loving homes. Just get to know each other, do some paperwork and bring a carrier if you’re taking a cat!

On Aug. 19, 2017, Pedro and I showed up, and it was like I was a kid in a crowded candy store.2017-08-19 Frisky morris animal 1

I told them what I was interested in, and they showed me where to look. It was a lot more cramped in Center City Philadelphia than a pretty new building in North Miami Beach.2017-08-19 Frisky morris animal 2

Others were looking but Frisky didn’t get much attention. I don’t know why. Maybe it was that others heard what I did, and she was only four months old.2017-08-19 Frisky morris animal 3

Anyway, she wasn’t very friendly. Maybe it was the ruckus going on. I can understand that! It took patience to get her to adjust, and she needed a little work on her eyes. (I don’t know her background.) She only recently started letting me pet her for more than a few seconds!

Last December, my parents visited and not only did Frisky steal food, she hid under the bed, waited for my frail mother to walk by, and then attacked her ankle when she did! She still goes after Pedro’s toes with her teeth. Luckily, I’ve long had a habit of wearing socks.

casey frisky variety

Now, Casey and Frisky are just like any other siblings!

On the other hand, years earlier in Miami, Casey and some other kittens were out on the floor at the Humane Society. The others were playing but Casey only wanted to be with me! That was an easy decision!

2017 casey birthday
One of Casey’s birthday cards, last year

(Truth be told, he started as KC. I changed the spelling. I wouldn’t confuse him with a name change.)

reading

Back to today.

I really had to fight to get Frisky into the carrying case. Fur was flying! She didn’t even care about the treats in the contraption.

I ended up with clothes looking white even though they weren’t, because of her hair, and scratches all over my arms from nails that had never been cut. (Last year, we forgot, and I couldn’t do it myself. Earlier tonight, my friend Ric mentioned I should’ve used a towel to hold her. Duh!)

Finally, I won.

We drove to the office and I signed her in. She listened to a big loud doggy wearing a satellite dish in the waiting room, who might have put her in her place. By then, after what I’d been through plus all that barking, all I was thinking about was Tylenol.

scale

The good news is Frisky weighs 9.5 lbs., which means she’s a big girl but not fat. (I don’t think she minds you knowing that, or her age for that matter.) Her teeth and everything else looked good, and she got three shots so quickly I didn’t even notice.

Oh, and she got her nails clipped for the first time! That’ll come in very handy when she’s in a mood.

Luckily, she didn’t have fleas. The doctor said he has been seeing them early and often this year, even in indoor cats.

But that wasn’t all.

post office

cleanser

We had to stop at the post office. Frisky came thisclose to getting mailed to her grandparents in Florida. I wonder if my mother would’ve signed for her.

Then, we walked to the Rite Aid across the street for a special cleanser for my arms. The doctor suggested it so I wouldn’t get cat scratch fever. (Frisky may be healthy, and Casey too, but they still have to step in their potty litter box.)

But it was great to overhear the doctor tell the technician all the way from where I was paying, “Awesome! What a healthy cat!”

That’s really what counts. Isn’t it?

blanket

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Getting into the season

It took way too long for Mother Nature, the holiday season and me, but it finally started feeling like winter.

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Monday, Jan. 4, was the first snowfall of the season. It wasn’t much, at least in Bristol. There was one burst for a few minutes. (You see the view from the newsroom. That’s the Bristol train station.) I didn’t run out like I’ve been known to do, but it was exciting. Joe, the assignment editor who sits next to me, actually put on long sleeves and went outside to shoot it. He never wears long sleeves.

Garry said Yeti liked it, too…

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…but many of you probably think Casey had the right idea.

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Since then, there hasn’t been more snow but it’s still cold.

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This was my car window, yesterday morning. Skip unless you live in Florida.

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Saturday night, we went to Speedway in Lights, which is a Bristol Motor Speedway fundraiser for children’s charities. (To be perfectly honest, I got the ticket because the station sponsors it.) It’s a big event around these here parts: lots of lights, most with holiday themes, also an American flag.

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You drive around the speedway and dragway property in your car and can even hear Christmas music on a special radio station. This was the last night. Garry got to drive on the actual track at the Bristol Motor Speedway!

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And I was just happy to see a menorah at the end.

menorah

Contrary to what I’d been told, they called it menorah and not candelabra. There was a separate candelabra earlier.

A great ‘day’ in Lenny’s ‘life’

Lenny and the castWhen you’ve watched a daily TV show on and off for 20 years, even very rarely recently because work gets in the way, it becomes part of your life. There’s no getting around that.

So when I found out several members of the Days of our Lives cast were going to be two hours away, and we were running crawls telling viewers about it, I knew I had to be there. Good thing I work for an NBC station. The other guys weren’t interested, for some reason like competition.

The 50th anniversary of Days of our Lives is coming up, November 8, and cast members were touring the country. For some reason, the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee — not far from Dollywood, where I visited a few years ago — was chosen. That’s why you’ll see ship stuff in the background. See my preview article.

wcyb preview article

garry

Garry and I got press passes to cover the big event for the station, thanks to outgoing boss John. Garry was my crew, and talk about a big event!

We got there early, 9:30am, and my gosh, the crowd! Hundreds and hundreds of people! Too bad for them, they would have to wait awhile.

street sign

crowd2crowd1We got into the Iceburg parking lot. (Gotta love that name at the Titanic Museum!) Bryan Dattilo, who plays Lucas, was in the car in front of us but we didn’t know it at the time. We parked next to him, to the right. Very cool! He had a Cooper Mini, probably rented, with a New Jersey license plate.

Then, we checked in. No problem. Showed my card and license, and they had my name. Waited with other media people for a little while. Finally, we went into a room with some contest winners. I think the NBC station in Knoxville held some sort of contest. They’re bigger than us and closer to Pigeon Forge. Anyway, there were three cast members there. They were all guys. I guess the women needed a little more time to prepare!

The contest winners did their thing — took pictures and got autographs in the new 50th anniversary book — while the media waited around. Garry shot everything with his cell phone. I had mine for backup. Amazing things you can do these days! (But still, I would’ve preferred something a little bigger, and a microphone with a mic flag to look more professional and get a better guarantee of good sound. The interview videos are on my Facebook page. Some are better than others.

Deirdre hall dressed for Halloweenyes were on tv lenny deirdreThe first person I really got to talk to was Deidre Hall, who, of course, plays Dr. Marlena Evans Brady. Maybe Black, if she married John. (I told you I haven’t watched in a while, but I still know the characters. That never goes away.) She had a little mask on because it’s Halloween.

 lenny made a funny w deirdre  2000 lenny marlene

I was most excited to see her because I just happened to have a picture of the two of us from 15 years ago when she visited one of the stations I worked at in Philadelphia. She had a little trouble seeing without her glasses. Luckily, we both look exactly the same! She was probably my most serious interview. I asked her why Days is still on the air after so many other soaps were canceled. (There are only four left.) And she’s just happy to be a part of the show after almost 40 years, even though she plays a great-grandmother.

bryan laugh after 1st question

bryan 2nd laughMy most personal talk was with Bryan Dattilo, who plays Lucas Roberts (now Horton). We’re just a few weeks apart, so I’ve always related to him. I started by telling him the room we were in, which looked like a hotel meeting room, reminded me of the room where he and Sami first hooked up (and their son Will was conceived)! Not surprising to those of you who really know me. Lots and lots of fun! We talked about him being a grandfather on the show, and he immediately brought up real life: his 15-year-old son and the ladies! Also, we talked about his character’s old drinking habit (he liked Kamikazes) and relationship with Alison Sweeney, who played Sami. He actually took her to her prom when he was 21 and she was 16, and questioned whether that’s legal in California. He also said he liked proving he can act seriously (he’s an actor and can do anything). He just hadn’t done it because the writers waited years before giving him the material.

showing theresa old brady family historytheresa signing sorry about the fireplace poker

My biggest surprise was Jen Lilley because she’s relatively new and I didn’t know her. Luckily, she came up to me and started talking!

john coma autographShe plays Theresa, who is one of those (misunderstood) characters you love to hate. She’s a Brady and also a Donovan, so there are lots of family relationships. She told me she gets her scripts about a week before shooting, but usually memorizes them the night before, kind of like cramming for a test. Whatever works! I can’t imagine how they memorize lines. Anyway, she signed my book with apologies to the character John, who she hit over the head with a fireplace poker, putting him in a coma. Somehow, I did watch that on TV when it aired (and I’m not a fan of the John character).

Then, there were Thaao Penghlis (Tony) and Lauren Koslow (Kate). Realize they’ve been through so many storylines and my head was way in the past, when I watched more religiously. She plays Lucas’ mother and I think she had a relationship with Tony’s father, Stefano.

starting tony & kate         kate describing chopping fish

Anyway, I brought up her first scene on the show (she replaced Deborah Adair, who had left about a year before), when she’d been held prisoner on a fishing boat. She demonstrated how they had her chopping fish with a real knife. As for him, he was a bad guy in the past, like his father, and was killed off. Now, I think he’s back as his cousin Andre and (in real life) said some wonderful things about what to expect on the show this month, including seeing something the show hadn’t done before.crowd3

By now, time was running out. The cast had to take pictures, and remember there were hundreds of people waiting outside in the cold, the whole time! See WBIR-Knoxville’s story.

lenny with the 3 guys

Peter Reckell (Bo), Stephen Nichols (Patch, and he only put it on before meeting the fans) and Andrew Masset (Larry Welch before my time, the bad guy who tried to marry Hope) who were talking amongst themselves.

lenny patch bo

Garry interrupted, like he did other times, and introduced me as if I was somebody they should know. We chatted briefly.

lenny & hopeKristian and Lenny

After that, Kristian Alfonso (Hope) signed my book while walking.

Then, Melissa Reeves appeared an hour late. She’d driven in from Nashville, which is in the Central Time Zone. (Maybe that’s the reason?) There wasn’t enough time and the picture didn’t look good, but I can prove she took the time to sign. I also mentioned her character’s name is Jennifer Rose Deveraux Horton and my sister-in-law is Jennifer Rose Walk Cohen.

reeves lenny       reeves autograph

While all this was going on, people were taking lots and lots of pictures, many of me interviewing the stars. I didn’t know anyone other than Garry, the cast, and the few women I talked to earlier wearing WBIR clothes. I wonder where those pics will turn up! (Please let me know if you see any.)autographs

So we left with a bunch of autographs that mostly look scribbled but I have memories, and pictures and videos too.

Thank you to John, who’s also a fan, for making the day happen for me. Also Garry my crew. Plus, Ed in Philadelphia who didn’t know about Days and didn’t care and let me meet Deidre Hall the first time around, in June 2000. And Jamie, who’s actually a news director in Knoxville but was morning executive producer at WSVN in Miami 20 years ago and let me mention Days‘ 30th anniversary in my newscast on November 8, 1995.

jen lenny 50 more yearsI appreciate longevity and 50 years is a heck of a long time to be on TV daily. Of course, not every storyline has been stellar. Things haven’t always worked out. But that’s life, we’re all human, and the show has a pretty good track record. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that, and make a living at it, too?

As Jen Lilley and I ended our conservation, here’s to 50 more years!

Lots of updates in a few short months

Getting settled in Bristol

I’ve been in Bristol for about ten days and work for a week, so it’s time for an update. This blog wasn’t intended to be an update on my life. It was supposed to be my thoughts on the world, but the change is okay considering the circumstances. Yesterday, you read about work, and before that, moving. It’ll go back to being what it was supposed to be very soon.

Don’t worry. This one will have lots of pictures.

Perhaps the neatest thing about the area is that you’re always traveling between two states, Tennessee and Virginia. I live in Tennessee but work in Virginia. There are no big bridges like over the Hudson or Delaware. There’s just a little, two-lane road, called State Street. Part of it separates the states.

State Street facing east,  towards downtown, with the famous sign in the background. Virginia on left, Tennessee on right.
State Street facing east, towards downtown, with the famous sign in the background. Virginia is on the left, and Tennessee on the right.
This is one of the fine establishments on the Virginia side, but probably just as popular among Tennesseans.
This is one of the fine establishments on the Virginia side, but probably just as popular among Tennesseans.
The famous guitar and countdown to the Virginia Tech-Tennessee football game on September 10, 2016. They're outside the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, which serves both sides.
The famous guitar and countdown to the Virginia TechTennessee football game on September 10, 2016. They’re outside the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, on State Street, which serves both sides from Tennessee.
This is what you see when you cross it.
This is what you see when you cross State Street.
You can tell which state is on which side by the white abbreviations on street signs, or by which state's lottery tickets are for sale.
You can tell which state is on which side by the white abbreviations on the street signs, or by which state’s lottery tickets are for sale.
Cross-streets have different names.
Cross-streets have different names in the different states (click the picture to see better)…
.. except for Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., which is the same in both states.
.. except for Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., which is the same in both states.
I work off MLK Blvd., a half-block onto the Virginia side.
I work off MLK Blvd., a half-block onto the Virginia side.
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This is me, just inside from the lobby.
Across MLK Blvd. is the Bristol Train Station. It's not for passengers anymore, just conferences and banquets.
Across MLK Blvd. is the Bristol Train Station. It’s not for passengers anymore — just conferences and banquets.
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Across the street to the north is the Bristol, Virginia, Courthouse. Click on it and you’ll notice the city seal also mentions Tennessee.
Bristol, Virginia, is proud of several things, including its intelligent people. (Again, click it to read.)
Bristol, Virginia, is proud of several things, including its intelligent people. (Again, click it to read.)
Both sides ask us to Keep Bristol Beautiful. Notice the Welcome to Tennessee sign on the left.
Both sides ask us to Keep Bristol Beautiful. Notice the Welcome to Tennessee sign sticking out on the lower left.

You saw the reference to football, but the people of Bristol are really NASCAR fans. On Wednesday, we learned driver Kurt Busch‘s suspension was lifted, but a co-worker noticed something else. Unfortunately, Internet Broadcasting posted a story from CNN that showed a picture of Kurt’s brother, Kyle, on our page!

2015-03-11 kyle busch

We quickly removed the story and the picture was replaced, shortly after. I have a lot to learn about NASCAR!

People in Bristol are also very religious. There are many, many churches in the area. They’re more saturated than 10th Avenue in North Miami Beach with Orthodox synagogues.

One of my favorite signs.  There was a nice wintry mix when we got to town.
One of my favorite signs. There was a nice wintry mix when we got to town.
Can you find what's wrong on this sign? (It's on the Tennessee side of State Street, with Virginia in the background.)
Can you find what’s wrong on this sign? (It’s on the Tennessee side of State Street, with Virginia in the background.)
Jesus is praying for us, and hopefully also protecting us. This is a few doors from the outside of our complex. You can't get here without seeing it.
Jesus is praying for us, and hopefully also protecting us. This is a few doors from the outside of our complex. You can’t get here without seeing it.

The nearest Dunkin Donuts is in Johnson City. That’s why it was so hard to bring a box of coffee on my first day at work. I went to Manna on State Street (Tennessee side), took a carafe, and they trusted me to return it a few hours later. I did. (Little did I know, there is plenty of coffee in the break room at work.) Turns out, Manna is affiliated with a messianic organization. I found out while waiting for the coffee.

Unfortunately, recycling is not a priority around here. It’s not picked up. There are only a few bins around town.

I have to get used to the grocery stores. I’ve been to Food City more than Kroger. I’d never seen it before but at Food City, you slip your cart behind so the cashier takes your stuff out, rather than you putting it on the conveyor belt.

Dollar stores are very popular. Unfortunately, it seems the economy isn’t too good around here. The Bristol Mall (Virginia side) is pretty much dead. There’s a Sears, but a lot of vacant space.

This store looks like it's going out of business in eight days.
This store looks like it’s going out of business in eight days.

Despite any problems, most people are very friendly. I’m learning how to be nice on the road, even though it can be hard to know where I’m going sometimes.

Try figuring this out!
Try figuring this out!

So that’s Bristol. Coming up at some point, visits to the other Tri-Cities of Johnson City and Kingsport, but now, back to work for my second week.

Getting settled at work

Following up on yesterday’s post, my computer is not hooked up. I thought it would be, but the movers kept bringing in more and more boxes, so it may be a little while. No big deal. It’s good to be using the laptop on a desk, rather than the floor or a box. The movers are done, and it’s up to Garry and me to unpack.WCYB & wcyb.com logos

Work has been incredible! It feels so good to be sitting down, looking at rundowns, scripts, and wire copy. Eight years away was too long. Some of you have compared going back to news like riding a bike, or a fish going back to water. Those are good analogies.

My first few days were not very productive. I had to start gathering usernames and passwords (or my predecessor’s) for more than a dozen programming websites. That took a lot of time and is still not complete. I’m going to spend awhile learning how to use them and it’ll be a long time before I can use them without looking at notes. Working without them was like working with my hands tied behind my back. I couldn’t do much. So I spent a lot of time with a checklist, trying to sign on. My only noticeable work, at least as far as the public was concerned, was posting a few things on Facebook to get people to look at the real news page on wcyb.com.

Bonten's Tri-Cities stations, from the signature below my work email
Bonten’s Tri-Cities stations, from the signature below my work email

Finally, on Wednesday, I got lessons on how to post stories on the website, and also to the station’s Facebook and Twitter pages (and the Fox station‘s) at the same time. (I hope you “like” and “follow” them all! The boss and I want to see results: more page hits, likes, shares, etc.) I still have to get into Google+ and CW on Facebook.2015-03-14 lt gov

I also had to start up a new Facebook page to administer the station’s. I’m shocked at how many people, especially locals I don’t know, have found it. And somehow, in the midst of all this, Tennessee‘s lieutenant governor Ron Ramsey found me on Twitter and is now a follower! (Thank you, Your Honor.)

I’m also getting used to spending time at work. I don’t like getting up in the morning, especially when it’s cold (for me, still adjusting). I didn’t have an alarm waking me up for so long. Also, no more watching Days of our Lives or General Hospital, but I’m over them. Really. When I’m at work, I work.

at my desk on my 1st day
at my desk on my 1st day

And an interesting thing about the newsroom: there are no TV sets at our desks! Just a few silent ones around the assignment desk, which is in back of me. They don’t even show the ABC affiliate because they just started news back up a few years ago and their ratings must be so lousy. They do provide everyone two large monitors for the computers. I listen to the live streaming during newscasts.

This station is smaller than what I’ve been used to, and that’s a good thing. Not as many people to meet and have trouble remembering. I’m not good at that. In the beginning of the school year, it took more than a week to learn my students. Then, they changed clothes or the weekend came, and I forgot.

bonten station group
the Bonten station group

As digital manager, I have to be on weekly conference calls with my four Bonten Media counterparts. Turns out, I’m supposed to “host” this Tuesday’s by writing up the agenda. Teaching folks know I was an expert on that but in that field, I already knew what I was doing! Anyway, turns out, the corporate senior VP of digital media was laid off on Friday. That’s a shame. I interviewed with her on the phone from New York. She seemed nice, the others liked her, and I think she was supposed to be in town next month to meet in person. Instead, we’ll have the corporate news person doing Tuesday’s call and news directors will also take part, so I’m off the hook as host, at least for five weeks. (Take that, Willy in Montana!)

The program that puts stories on the website, Internet Broadcasting, keeps logging me off. Posting video is much, much worse. Seems everyone at the station has trouble. I actually succeeded in posting my first video clip before leaving on Friday. The boss likes WordPress better. He used it at his old station. Maybe we can switch. I learned WordPress for this blog and talks with four other stations that use it, mostly Tribune and Media General.

I know a lot of the basics, but getting video will be tough. First, there are no tapes. That was starting to change when I left the business. Now, it’s a matter of going to any edit bay and finding it on a computer system I know nothing about. It seems everybody knows how to edit and use those special computers in the edit bays. I guess the older folks learned on the job, and I will have to also. I can’t imagine the younger people learning to use the equipment in college. Back when I was in school, we used equipment that was obsolete by the time we graduated. At least my friendly colleagues help. They can instantly put still pics and video clips in a file which I can get on my desk computer. Doing that on my own is going to take some time but apparently, video (and the ads that go before) is where it’s at.
2015-03-10 lenny ann curry dateline
selfies with two personalities…
2015-03-10 lenny brian williams nightly news
…no longer on our air (for the moment)

I got a company email address and a cell phone for work calls and texts, but am still waiting for a desk phone. I’ll also be able to work at home (with emailed pictures and video clips) once my real computer is hooked up.

And soon, a little more excitement would help. I don’t remember a breaking story or even one that has been developing locally all week. But I have to get my act together first. Then kick butt.

Starting to write about the local market is bringing today’s post to a close. More on my early experiences in Bristol and the Tri-Cities tomorrow.