Thursday, August 8, 2019

Be warned...Bugs!

I've always loved taking close up pictures of flowers, so I thought it would be fun to try a macro lens. It's a little tricky to get focused, but boy! is it worth the effort! Take a look at the beauty and the beasties in my garden~

Monday, August 5, 2019

A different creative pursuit~

Seems a little silly to write a blog to say I'm still not writing fiction. I wish that I could, but I'll have to be patient a bit longer. I've had dry spells longer than this one and I'm sure it will pass. Certain life changes have made writing seem less important than it was, like an innocence I once had that has been lost. My garden, flush with flowers early in the summer, has dried and been overtaken by weeds. There will be no tomatoes this year.

I have taken up a new creative hobby though- photography. It gets me out of the house and thinking creatively. I should probably post more photos here instead of Facebook, where folks are probably getting tired of seeing them all. I'm just teaching myself via Google and making things up as I go that look good to me. I'm looking for challenges. So far, I've done portraits, landscapes, birds, night sky, and waterfalls, with varying levels of success. I'd really like to try capturing lightning, but we just haven't had that much around here this summer. My camera isn't capable of the super long exposure times (25-30 seconds) for night sky stars, so I guess that will have to wait for a more expensive camera. It does great sunrises, sunsets, and full moons, but that's because it likes the light.
My favorite subject at the moment is birds. The fact that it's summer makes them relatively easy to find.

I've seen more birds than I've been able to catch, but it sure is fun trying. The ones that got away - a Belted kingfisher and a Great Blue Heron. Snapping a picture sure makes it easy to look up the bird later in the ID book.

The challenge giving me fits right now is waterfalls. I'm trying to learn the technique for making that soft, flowy looking water. I've only managed it once and it was kind of an accident.

The trick is you need low light and a long shutter speed. The long shutter speed lets in too much light if it's a sunny day and washes the whole thing out. I'm going to try a polarizing lens and see if that helps me get more consistent results. Luckily, there's lots of waterfalls around here to practice on. Peace~

Friday, January 18, 2019

With the Bitter comes the Sweet~

It's been awhile since I've written anything. 2018 wasn't kind to any of us. My writing hiatus that started in 2016 just kept going and going. And now, finally having made it to 2019, I'm a furloughed government employee. Nothing I do for my day job is life altering, so I'm considered non-essential, sitting at home. It hasn't been too bad for me. I have savings and I'll get by, but I do worry about the new employees that just barely started their careers. I worry about the contract janitor, who's probably had to get a new job by now. I worry about my friends who were set to retire on Dec. 30. Their retirement is not getting processed. And I worry about insurance coverage continuing. I suppose we'll all muddle through somehow.

I had a slightly ominous feeling all through the holidays that things in my personal life were changing and would not be the same for much longer. Now I feel the same way about my professional life. This shutdown, the longest in history, changes things. If there's one thing I've learned in 25 years of federal service, you never know what's just around the corner.

One bright spot has been a private Facebook group set up by federal employees to share how they spent the furlough. I couldn't tell you how many agencies are represented, but I think it's a lot of the land management types, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management. I've often said our agency is like a family: you don't get to pick who you spend your career life with and you have to figure out how to get along with them all. At the end of the day, we support each other. The Federal employees I know are some of the most amazing people you'll ever meet. 

The Facebook group is strangely like a family too. Many of us are spending our days cleaning out the dark recesses of our closets or completing those long overdue household tasks, like painting the doors or the bathroom. Others are taking on bigger projects like landscaping or home renovation. Some are working on their art, painting, stained glass, baking. We've experienced births and deaths over this furlough and had oh so valuable time to spend with loved ones. That's one unexpected blessing to come out of this: time. With the bitter always comes the sweet.

No one becomes a federal employee just for the money. The jobs can pay well, but there are thousands of entry-level support positions that don't pay that great. I think people stay in federal employment because they feel valued, like what they do matters. They provide a service to the American people, even when those people speak ill of them. It's called civil service for a reason. When an employee doesn't feel that calling, they usually don't stay. Most of the federal employees I know are loyal public servants and they love what they do. Peace~