The heat persists, and it has not been kind to the annuals in my garden. The flowers in the containers and hanging baskets have suffered the most. They’re either withering by evening or growing so large that they are becoming rootbound in their pots. The survivors are blooming so quickly that it’s just not realistic to pluck all the spent flowers, so today’s photos have a quality that reminds me of something my mother said a few times when we’d watch reruns of The Donna Reed Show: “Notice how the focus turns soft when the camera turns to Donna.”
Now I’m thinking of something my sister said during our teen years that stands in infamy among our family memories. Once my mom tried being sweet and reasonable when she lectured my sister, and my sister told her, “Give it up, Mom. I’m not Mary, and you sure as hell aren’t Donna.”
I suppose every blogger must decide what to conceal and what to reveal about work. Even if you’re self-employed, there is still a curtain drawn to obscure some of the nuts and bolts of one’s work.
With that aside, I will tell you that today marks the tenth anniversary of my current job. I work as an inventory control clerk for a major Midwestern grocery distributor. I am counting my year and a fortnight as a temp in the 10-year figure. Jobs were already scarce in those months leading to the Great Recession, and I also had a long gap in employment because I’d been home raising my daughter. In the summer of 2008, there were few listings in the local newspaper want ads, and almost all of them were for truck drivers or registered nurses.
Having neither an R.N. license nor a CDL, I turned to a temp agency for work. I scored well in the agency’s office skills test, but I still had to wait several months for my first work assignment. I remember getting that call when the agency asked me if I could start some data entry work at a particular location on the following Sunday at noon. The agency just told me that I’d need to wear sturdy shoes with non-slip soles because I’d be walking through a warehouse to get to my office. They did not let me know that I’d be entering data that I would be collecting myself or that said data collection would require walking through a half-million square foot facility, a minor part of which was an ice cream freezer kept at minus twenty degrees Fahrenheit (cold weather gear provided, thank goodness).
The term “data entry” really does not do justice to the work of inventory control. That’s like suggesting that solving an equation is nothing more than the writing of numbers, letters, and symbols. Inventory variances need to be explained. Cases don’t just sprout legs and walk away. They don’t clone themselves, either. Time and time again, I have seen the following principle played out in ways I could not have imagined if I didn’t do the work I do: outside of divine intervention, matter is neither created nor destroyed. The sum of inventory variances will approach zero with enough time and research.
Ten years later, I no longer spend part of my shift in the freezer, but I’m still sustained by the daily mystery of the missing and the found. I’m grateful that the temp agency didn’t tell me I’d be walking for miles. I wouldn’t have thought I’d be equal to the tasks that awaited me.
I tell my daughter that it’s almost never impossible that the best part of your life is still ahead of you. When I got that phone call to start a data entry job in a grocery warehouse, I had yet to own my own car. I hadn’t bought my first cell phone. Here we are 10 years later, living a life paid for with numbers, and I’m so grateful that I said yes to that call and even more grateful that the company took a chance on letting me work for them.
I haven’t dipped into black and white photography in many years. In a technical sense, the images in this post are monochrome rather than B&W. There aren’t many pixels in these images that are truly black or white. With that aside, I should mention that I don’t tend toward precision. I’m the kind of person who thinks napkins are redundant if paper towels are on hand. When I write B&W, I really mean monochrome.
I used to do photo walks with my camera set to B&W, but then I read a digital photography tip that eroded my interest in it. It’s a tip that is so widespread that it meets the criteria of common knowledge I suppose: shoot in color and change to monochrome during post-processing. It’s simple to take color away but almost impossible to add it (with fidelity) to a monochrome image. I can see the wisdom of this practice. There’s the serendipity of colliding with the unusual. I wouldn’t want to miss a color picture of clowns training falcons in the wild, for instance.
The problem with this approach is that, for me at least, shooting in color tunes into a different way of seeing. I love highly saturated colors enriched further with morning or evening light. I just don’t have it in me to adopt a high-key, muted color style that is widespread on social media. When I take color photos, color is my highest priority. I don’t value light unless it deepens the color. I’ve tried flipping those images to monochrome while editing, but there’s not enough contrast left once the color is stripped away.
I’ve learned that I need to dial into a monochrome mode while I’m shooting if I want decent B&W images. Then my priority is light. A humble tree grabs my attention because it is lit in glory. I suppose B&W photography sharpens the fundamentals of the form: light and composition.
Shadows are deepest at the height of summer. It’s like the sun spills an inkwell in the shade.
I just discovered that you can create WordPress.com posts within Google Docs.