Dave was the one who thought I should get a digital camera. He said it would be really useful for my artwork. I didn’t want it, because I’d have to learn something new, and I hate that. He bought it for me anyway. A week later–I’m sure this has happened to all of us–I wanted to draw a picture of a Tyrannosaurus rex peering through gingko leaves, but I didn’t have any reference material for a gingko tree. (The tyrannosaur was hard to come by too.) So I took my new camera a couple blocks away and fired off some shots of a gingko tree. My computer hoovered them right up and displayed them for me. Damn. That was slick.

The thing took better pictures than my fancy camera and cost nothing to process. Now I can point it outside my window and fire off fifty pictures in a row of my resident alpha hummingbird, whom Dave named Hannibal Nectar, just in case he turns his head just right and I get the bright fuchsia flash. Three or four of them will be terrific, but all fifty of them will be in my computer. I’ve now taken four billion photographs, give or take, and they’re all in there somewhere. If I need to find one, I have to remember about when I took it, and that is not my strong suit.

In fact, if you asked me to name three things that happened to me in the Eighties, I wouldn’t be able to slide a stake into any one thing for certain. One of the things would have really taken place in some other decade, and one of them will have happened to somebody else altogether that I have confused myself with. Remember when I fell off the back of the boat trying to give a toast? and someone will say that was Harold. And you weren’t there. Oh.

Or if I’m trying to find a picture of a particular person, in theory I should be able to use the face-recognition feature on the computer. But I’ve boycotted that little sucker ever since the day I got an odd angle on a 4-H exhibit at the state fair and my computer asked if it was me.

There has to be a way of organizing these things. I hadn’t had the digital camera that long–long enough to have a couple thousand photos though–and Dave said, you know? You should pick out the best ones and print them out and put them in a real album, like the old days. But the sheer volume of photos is overwhelming, and has a way of stripping you of your last round tuit.

There it is!

Somewhere I have a good photo of an automobile that is completely covered in moss. It would be a great illustration for a blog post about our local climate.  I needed it once and by the time I’d flipped through all four billion photos on the machine I realized I could take a new photo of a different mossy car faster than I could find the original, and I was right. I don’t know where anything is. I have no idea what to do about this problem. It’s like riffling through my entire vocabulary in alphabetical order to find the end of my sentence. Sadly, in fact, I happen to know it’s exactly like that, dammit.

Supposedly there’s some kind of cloud out there where I can put all my photos, but that sounds awfully ephemeral for someone already contending with brain fog. Once I sent them up there, how could I rain them back down?

It doesn’t matter what you have a picture of now–if you ask people if they want to see your candid photo of Donald Trump in an updraft, they’ll say sure! and wait for you to finger through everything on your phone, or they’ll slouch behind you at your computer waiting for you to find the shot, but they don’t really want to see it. Everyone is sick to death of looking at a screen. They’re just being polite. People do still like pawing through the old albums. Time passes more reasonably in the albums; flip a couple pages, you gain a few years. They look at pictures of you thirty years younger, and then back at you like you’re a cautionary tale. They’re alarmed, but they love it.

No, I’m not scanning THOSE photos for you.

Some day my computer will blow up and smithereen my photos, and that will be that. It’s just as well. They’d just be a burden for my nieces and nephews some day when I’m dead and gone, and besides the naked pictures they might be interested in are all in the old film-photo albums anyway. I’ve put on a few pixels since then.