Working the night shift…
February 23, 2012

Here we are, making tv widgets.....around the clock...

Most of tend to think of people who work shift work, as perhaps factory jobs, where things roll around the clock…or maybe a 24 hour restaurant. My Dad worked over 40 years at a place that made cast iron pipe in Birmingham, Alabama. He would change shifts every two weeks as I remember. Imagine, for two weeks working 3:30am-noon, then two weeks day shift, and then two weeks 8 pm to 3:30 am….it must have been brutal, a continual sort of jet lag.

AC yes, but we didn't have a clothes dryer for years!

That was why we got air conditioning back in the day…he was trying to sleep during the hot summer months with 3 little girls running around screaming outside the windows. Yeah.

And as I’m sure some of you have noticed, I am now on the night shift. Television is also a business, like hospitals or factories, that operate 24-7. And those shifts have to be covered. So I’m working mid afternoon until after the 11 pm newscast. A man I saw at Whole Foods tonight said, “Wow, I see you on the 11 o’clock newscast. I know that’s tough.”

And while there positives and negatives  about everything…here’s the positive I have found in this move.

I have yet to achieve this look....

-I have time for all kinds of appointments! Hair, doctors, yoga class…running errands…You have good quality daytime hours to do things, and when your off hours are at night, many things aren’t open, or you don’t have the energy after work.

nap like a rock star...

Naps. I try to take a little while before I get ready for work to lie down for a little while, and maybe even take a nap…which I love. The nap is a much underrated pleasure.


-Feeding the cats. OK, that sounds truly weird, but Muffy is a grazer, and weighs almost nothing…that’s because  when I feed the cats in the morning, she nibbles and then wanders away, and Baby Girl gobbles everything she left. So now I feed Muffy several times a day, and she is actually gaining a little weight. Score!

People on the night shift. Rod Daniels(who brings in Big Pup Bandit every now and again), Kai Reed, Gerry Sandusky, Tom Tasselmyer, Jerome Chester , Sheldon Dutes…all great people I enjoy being around very much. And working on a shared project….a terrfic 11 pm newscast…is something we all share and craft together.

So it’s all good…much to my surprise, I’m enjoying being on the night shift…more than I ever thought I would. Now what has taken a beating is this blog, because I haven’t quite found the groove that allows me to do it as often. But I promise to put out a blog at least once a week. And maybe I’ll find the time to do more than that.

Someone asked had I deserted the blog for Facebook….no…but a Facebook post takes a few minutes if that, and a blog takes a block of time. If you aren’t on FB and Twitter, I encourage you to try it…you might find it much more rewarding than you think. On Twitter, I’m @donnahamiltontv, and on Facebook Donna Hamilton WBAL-TV. And it’s easy. Really.

Hurricane Irene Mop-Up….brownies and bandits!
August 29, 2011

OK, this was my favorite moment of our  hours and hours and hours of storm coverage…Rod Daniels had brought his dog to the office as he didn’t want him to be alone in the storm(so sweet)….so I crept downstairs where Bandit was tied up and brought him up to the newsroom set, where we surprised Rod with a sneak Bandit appearance. We had tons of Facebook comments, and I know everyone else enjoyed it as much as we do. But it was an interesting drive home later that night…..

Tree down...luckily I was able to drive around it...

the branch fell from this very tall Tulip Poplar....

Just came crashing down, though not on my head...

At home I did have a big branch come down in my yard…one from which a long rope swing has hung for many years… both my kids enjoyed the heck out of that swing when they were young….I remember when my daughter was only 2 or so…I was sitting on the swing and she was in my lap facing me.  As we took off on the long arc over the ground, she looked down at me and said in the sweetest tone of voice, “Mama“. Such a lovely memory, which I still have….just no swing.

I know it says white chocolate....but I changed it!

I did get some brownies made before I went in to work….there’s something about the threat of losing your power and your ability to cook that just freaks me out. I….HAD….TO …BAKE….BROWNIES.  Used a mix from Fat Witch in NYC. Their brownies are legendary….if you ever get to  Chelsea, go to the Chelsea market in the old Nabisco factory bolg…the Food Channel is also located there. Grab a box of Fat Witch babies before you leave….just amazing…my favorite is the Caramel Witch with a layer of caramel in the middle..yum. I know the box says white chocolate…which it was….so I added some cocoa powder to the mix, and lots of chunks of dark chocolate…to white chocolate just …..isn’t chocolate!

Last night, my daughter came over for dinner…we made fish tacos…from a recipe I found on Gwyneth Paltrows GOOP website….the sauce is  a bunch of cilantro, onion, garlic, olive oil, cumin and paprika, all pureed together. It’s a wonderful recipe.

And I went to bed early….tired from a very busy week….and happy that I still had power(unlike many of you) and that my basement was dry. And that Irene has come and gone….good riddance. And that the sun is out today!! Still have a lot of raking to do….but that’s ok. Hope all of you fared as well…..

Low Country Sweets Time!
June 4, 2010

You know what this means....weekend dirt digging...

Photographer Chuck Cochran and I were shooting a story at the new Giant in Timonium, across the street from the Maryland State Fairgrounds….let me say I am obsessed with that store. It is new and gorgeous, with the most amazing array of foods and produce. But as we were leaving the parking lot…across the street in at the fairgrounds was a plant stand with a flower sale….hello, lover. I persuaded Chuck to do what is called in our biz a “swing-by”. Reporters and photogs are often called out in the field by the assignment desk(their thankless job is to get everything for everybody with a finite supply of people to get it with), and told, “Hey, swing by Dundalk and get some pictures of the corner of blabity blah“, or “Hey, can you swing by city hall and get some sound from Councilman Marmaduke?”  No matter that you are no where near where that is….that’s a swing-by.  So Chuck and I did an actually convenient swingby at the plant stand where I nabbed a flat of one the happiest flowers on earth….pink zinnias. And yes, that means planting this weekend, in a bed that’s been staring at me forlornly for a few weeks….”When do we get our flowers?” Soon come, man… soon come.

Best onions ever....

Oh, I got an email today from Richard Kline in South Carolina, saying “Yep….the colossal sweet onions have been harvested and they are ready to ship….do you want any?” Please… of course I want some.  These were truly the biggest, sweetest onions I’d ever had, and that 20 pound box lasted me for a couple of months in the frig. Grill them, cook with them, put them in salads, or make huge fried onion rings….yummy.

That's a whole lot of onions behind him....

Low Country Sweet Onion Company says don’t be fooled by other places that claim to be selling them…that the only way you can buy them is at their website(here’s a link). Here’s what they say about their onions…”Our Yellow Sweet onion is a privately owned brand that is grown in specific soil by one farmer on a very small plot and in a particular weather region an hour out of Charleston.”  So there you have it.  What’s a typical time shipment frame?  Picking Wednesday am, cleaned and boxed, UPS arrives at 3 PM..the onions arrive at their destination Friday by 2 PM. So I’ve placed my order and can’t wait to try some great new onion recipes…like an onion tart. I’ll blog the results, ok? In the meantime, it’s Friday people….so don’t throw rocks, do something unexpectedly nice for someone, and take some time to relax…I am…right after I plant those smiling zinnias.

What snow viewers are saying and what they’re cooking!!
February 10, 2010

view from my hotel room early am...Williams Sonoma store on right.

Thought I’d post a little addendum to snow camp post while I have a little “down” time…this from Trish…” As much as I love a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, it sounds like the tv snow camp at the station is much more fun! Thanks to the WBAL staff for being on the air and keeping us updated. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is the last big one for this winter!” (I’m with you Trish.)

And I’m not the only serious snow foodie out there…this from Amy…”I’m cooking: Breakfast: Potato O’Brien, egg and sausage casserole, fruit and juice….Lunch: Hoisin Shrimp, Seasme Tahini battered Chicken, Tabbouleh, salad…..Dinner: Just for Rob Roblin: Sausage Jambablaya with saffron rice, cornbread and don’t forget the hot sauce!!  Oh, and we’re baking cupcakes! Let the cooking games begin!!! I win!!! ”  (Holy hot skillet batman, I’m coming to your house, girl!)

From Thomas T…..” Donna,  We’re making the best out of the storm. we’ve made love a dozen times and now we’re cooking up some pot brownies. It’s tough times out there.. But here in Dundalk we know how to make the best out of the worst situations.. I mean, Christ.. We live in Dundalk. Life sucks when it’s 80 and sunny. Love your coverage.” (Hey I don’t make this stuff up….)

Assistant News Director's "kiddie" kamp-out kompound

This from ……Kathy C… “very cool I’m on my computer watching you all broadcast on TV. I had to check out the snow camp.”

And from Marge…”you go girl …I am so proud of your girl power, you and the rest of staff deserve special thanks …” Thanks from all of us Marge)

And from Brenda(who feels a little differently than some of you)..and I can dig your point of view Brenda…” Enough of the blah!blah! blah…. Having lived in Vermont for over twenty years, this is just the way it is. I understand your need to broadcast emergency information, but the 24-7 reporting is a little much. You tell people to “stay in” and then continue to interview/show people who have gone out, sending a mixed message. Report the NEWS – including the world news. There is more to life than Baltimore!” (Brenda, as H.L. Mencken  used to reply to his critics, of which there were plenty….You may be right…)

Note the camping shorts...he's ready for anything..

And last but not least….for those of you who didn’t believe me about the guy who wears shorts to work every day, no matter what …here’s what our monster truck caveman(and I say that with all fondness), wore today in a blizzard…told ‘ya.

A Pork Loin Friday night dinner….
May 1, 2009

This is my ready for Friday look....

This is my ready for Friday look....

You have probably heard from me, that 11 News reporter Jennifer Franciotti or as I  call her, J-Fran, sits right across from me in the newsroom. Every Friday morning when we see each other, one of us will say…”It’s Friday“….and the other replies, “And you know what that means.” And we nod knowingly. What it means, is that the workweek is over (usually), and Friday night and a nice bottle wine beckons. And this week has been particularly intense…with water main breaks, and swine flu outbreaks…there’s a whole lot of breaking going on, and we’ve been doing our best to cover it all….and all the other stuff in the news too. So, whew….it’s Friday!

Bring on the pork roast....

Bring on the pork roast....

And since I am from Alabama, where we never get too far from the pig, and in honor of pigs who are getting an undeserved bad rap over the swine flu(now H1N1) thing….I am cooking a Friday night pork roast. It’s one of my favorite dinners really, and so easy. I’ve even found an easy recipe for pork loin…which shows you how to do it step by step. Sometimes I will use the little tenderloins if I’m in a hurry, ’cause they cook so quick. But the regular loin is just as good…maybe better…and lots cheaper, just takes a little longer as it is larger.

My fav prep is to rub it with crushed garlic, and rosemary, kosher salt and pepper, and plop it in the oven(yes, in a pan-that’s for my daughter)…and about an hour or so later, you’re done. Some sweet tater fries would be fabulous with it, and a salad, …open a nice bottle of red wine(my current fav-2007 Chateau Monte Oton from Spain….get this….$5 a bottle and so good), and you have a world class Friday night

Oh, and I have the movie Milk starring Sean Penn on dvd from Netflix….it’s supposed to be excellent. See you there!

Deadlines and procrastination….
April 28, 2007

Here’s why my job is perfect for me…..perfect…It’s because I have a deadline every day at five o’clock….actually several deadlines throughout the day. If I have a story that has to be written today, so it can be edited…it will be. If I have a shoot at 11 AM, I’ll be there. I start afternoon live promo shoots at 3:30….so I know I have to be in makeup at 3:00, and hit live at 3:30, 3:55, and 4:10, and as was said about another program, it’s also true for us. We don’t go on at five because we’re ready, we go on because it’s 5:00!!
But if you were to ask our special projects producer Augusta Brennan(who certainly deserves a special place in heaven because of her continual patience and prodding with me and others), and if she were to be honest, she’d say getting people to finish projects that are airing in a week or two, is like pullng teeth from a snake. It’s very hard, OK?
I’m not sure why this is true….Maybe television attracts a certain type of person who is deadline driven. Oh, they’ll get it done ok, just not very soon. And I do have the best intentions to finish logging tapes that day(and logging tapes is something you must do yourself if you’re writing a story….getting an intern to do it isn’t even close too the same), but it’s a kind of slogging torture.
Start the tape, write some words, the time code, stop the tape. Get the end time code….blah, blah, blah. I think I can safely say, everyone hates logging tapes.
But today my procrastinating has put me in a familiar yet dicey predicament.
I don’t think I have anything to wear to a black tie event tonight,( at least nothing everyone hasn’t seen, twice,) and all week, I’ve put off having a mani and a pedi…both of which I desperately need.
SO, there I was schlogging around Towsontown Centre, looking for a pedicure, a dress, or a new top to wear wth a black evening skirt I already own, makeup I needed two weeks ago at MAC, new shoes(where are you)…oh, and my daughter seems to have absconded to college with all my evening bags, so I need to yell at her, and buy a new one …Then, on to Usha Gupta for brow maintenance, and THEN on to the Shock Trauma Gala at the Baltimore Convention Center….Phew!!
If only I planned ahead, all that last minute panic buying could be avoided, but then, I wouldn’t be me, would I?