OBJECTS IN SUNSHINE

OBJECTS IN SUNSHINE

Object lesson of the day: I picked up my camera. Removed the lens cap. Pressed the ‘on’ button. Nothing happened.

I panicked.

Then I changed the battery.

Lesson: Before you panic, check the battery. You’d think after 40 years, I’d have figured it out by now, wouldn’t you?


It is not spring. That’s two weeks in the future, but the weather hasn’t looked at the calendar. It thinks it’s spring. I’m not about to argue the point.

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It’s lovely. Warm. Gentle breeze. Bright blue sky. Too early for leaves, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the forsythia bloomed early. After three years of brutal winters when snow lingered late, what a treat this warm, friendly weather is.

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The open dutch door lets in the fresh air — a luxury after a winter with everything closed up tight.

Sunshine is streaming through the aloe by the sink. The light glows in a little bottle on the window sill.

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It’s almost my birthday … just two more days. The gypsy fortune-teller was wrong. I did not die in my 68th year (so there, gypsy lady). I might make it to the big 70!

Today, it’s too warm for my “between season” jacket! Too warm for a sweatshirt. Perfection will be more rain until our rivers are full again.

SWANS AGAIN

Garry and I aren’t at our best. I’m coughing. He’s all stuffy. Neither of us can hear. The problem is worse for him since he has hearing problems anyway. A cold makes everything much worse.

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Even so, there didn’t seem any reason why we couldn’t take advantage of the lovely spring weather and take a few pictures. We had to stop at the grocery store anyhow …

Garry’s Gallery

The original destination was Manchaug. To check out the falls. As we were passing the river and Whitins Pond, I saw the flash of white and I knew the swans were back. I have not seen a single swan since 2014. I don’t know which hit them harder — the brutal winter or the drought which reduced the rivers and ponds to mud flats.

Marilyn’s Gallery

There’s water now. Not as much as there ought to be, but the waterways don’t recover from five years of drought in a season. There was also a lot of trash in the river.

People! Stop throwing garbage in your water supply. Are you stupid? If you pollute your water, you will have nothing to drink. This is a water shed.

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Garry took a few pictures. I took some more. The swans were not only obliging, they obviously expected a payoff for posing. Sadly, we were unprepared.

I must remember to bring a few treats for the birds. They expect them.

PROFESSIONAL RETIREMENT

I am professionally retired, which means whatever I do — like write or take pictures — is (by definition) a hobby.

“Professional” has a specific meaning. To be a professional anything, you have to earn money at it. The only thing I get paid for these days is not working, which means my profession is retirement.

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Professional equals paycheck. This isn’t a judgment on the quality of anyone’s work, talent, or dedication. No matter how hard or well you labor, if you don’t get paid, you are not a professional.  I’ve had people argue with me about this, but I don’t care. There is a definition for professional. It isn’t a matter of opinion.

A professional is someone who gets paid to do that thing. Even if it’s only a little bit of money, if you never get paid anything, you can’t claim “professional” as your title. Mind you, there’s nothing demeaning about not being a professional. Especially in the arts, the finest creative work is often done by people who can’t earn a living at it. I’m pretty sure Van Gogh never sold a painting.

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Creativity and professionalism are often at odds. I worked my whole life as a professional (commercial) writer. If I had not worked my whole life as a technical writer, I might have written something else. Like a novel or two. Would it have been great art?

Maybe. Maybe not. How would I know? It never happened.

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You can’t write for a living and have anything left at the end of the day to create great works of fiction. You have to choose what you want to be … and be prepared to sacrifice to achieve your goal. I have a passion for writing, but I have a greater passion for a roof over my head and food on the table.

In the past, I got paid to be a writer. Now, writing is a favorite pastime or activity. A hobby. My standards are no less professional than ever. Just — no one pays me for my efforts. Pity. I could use the money.

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Photography is and always has been, a hobby. I’ve been taking pictures nearly as long as I’ve been writing. Except for a very brief stab at wedding photography, it’s been a labor of love. Which translates to “unpaid.”

My foray into professional photography lasted exactly long enough to reinforce my belief that baby pictures and weddings were not my career path. But photography has proven to be the perfect hobby.

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You never outgrow it. You are never too to take pictures. It’s never boring. You can spend a lot of money … or a little bit.

Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, the best equipment in the world will not guarantee excellent pictures, but a good eye will yield great photographs using minimal equipment.

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Meanwhile, used and refurbished equipment offers a viable route to owning quality cameras and lenses on a tight budget.

So in retirement, my previous professional occupation — writing — has become a fun hobby. And my previous fun hobby — photography — is still a fun hobby.

I merely wish professional retirement paid better.