THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Thank you to all the families that have given so much.

Flags lined headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

No more holidays. Let me clarify. No more working holidays a year from now for this kid. I’ve made up my mind to either go part-time or just retire from my job that has paid the bills for the past few decades about this time next year.

Because of my chosen profession, I’ve worked a lot of holidays. I would say a majority of them for the last decade at least. For instance, even when I have a rare holiday Monday off like I do today I work Sundays so it’s not like I get a holiday weekend like everyone else.

Again my choice, but now I’m making another choice. If I stay part time it doesn’t include holidays or holiday weekends. So I salute and commend those who have to work holidays, miss family functions, and have to find ways to adjust to make up for it. And for those who work at making holidays enjoyable for others from the lifeguards at the beach and pools to the soldiers and volunteers putting the flags in at military cemeteries, we salute you. I’m looking forward to volunteering more when I’m no longer working.

I saw a headline in the Wall Street Journal that read “DeSantis would benefit from a little humor.” On the contrary, I find him to be an incredible joke.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Seeking the motivational well this week.
  • A new wall project is taking form.
  • A hobby starts off as fun. If you really get into it and it develops into a passion and then sometimes a love.
  • I’m proving to be a real cut-up. Just ask my scissors.

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Oh yeah, it’s the kickoff of the grilling season. Opened a fresh bag of charcoal today and we were off. I wonder what percentage of people grill out this weekend? I’ve been a lifelong user of Weber Grills. They last forever and with a couple of additional tools, you can be very versatile.

Grill’in and chill’in. Photo by Mike Hartley

I would like to get a true smoker someday but maybe when retirement comes because I’ll have the time to do a lot more cooking.

Soon as the family arrived I lit it. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m feeling fortunate to have a nice meal. I think I’ll help someone else have one also.

Today it was some burgers, dogs, chicken, and a couple of small pieces of salmon.

I marinated the salmon for a few hours before grilling. Also grilled up some prosciutto and that is under the cheese on a few of those burgers.

But the topping of the day was my children and grandchildren here for a visit and meal. Such a beautiful day weather wise and being able to eat outside in comfort is a treat.

I spent a lot of time alone reflecting on the loss of my Mom a dozen years ago today. It was also a dozen days from the stroke till she passed. I have many great memories of her. But those last days got ingrained in my thoughts because it was so painful to watch.

But as the children were here with their children I felt at times like her love kind of was there holding its arms around this family.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Seems so long ago and like yesterday at the same time.
  • I love dogs, it’s some of the owners I have issues with.
  • I’m tired of the Celtics whining. It would be Sweet to see the HEAT take it in Beantown.
  • I’m seeing I’m not the only one unhappy with all the gambling references before, during, and after games. And that doesn’t include the barrage of betting commercials in between all the talk about it. Professional sports are doomed.

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Just beautiful

Days like this with ultra blue skies and low to mid-70s for the temps with a mild breeze are just wonderful. We were able to use the deck with the company today and hopefully tomorrow also. We had a great lunch at EC Diner together. A meeting of the family (adults) once every 3 months minimum to catch up and stay on the same page.

Let us remember what the Weekend is About. Just take a few minutes and pause each day to give thanks to so many for our freedom.

Never forget their sacrifice. This gentleman walked by as I was visiting. Photo by Mike Hartley

Military cemeteries might be the one place in this country where everyone shows respect for everyone else.

A place I sometimes cry and smile at the same time. Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though Arlington is difficult for many to visit it is one of the most beautiful places.

I love walking down and watching the changing of the guard. It’s a short walk from my parent’s grave. Photo by Mike Hartley

When visiting Arlington I try not to shoot anyone who is visiting loved ones or friends from the front.

In my personal opinion, the Supreme Court blew it again with its decision with regard to the EPA and Clean Water Act this past Thursday.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I try to remind myself to think like a youngster when trying to create. It should be no problem, my better half says I’m still a teenager.
  • It’s ok to say thank you to your parents even after their passing.
  • It bothers me when my car is dirty.
  • The thought of back to work tomorrow is not an appealing one.

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Great start

We went to the snowball stand yesterday but trying to watch a 4-year-old at the same time didn’t provide the photo opportunities I had hoped for. I’ll return this week and work on that site.

The Snowball Stand is a great place on a sunny afternoon. Families, couples, workmen, bikers, the occasional hotrod. Like the 32 or maybe 34 Coupe in powder blue that unfortunately made a left instead of a right in front of me so I could only catch the tail as it turned the corner below.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I started off the day painting watercolors with my granddaughter. Well, actually I started before she got here making some photo prints from her visit on Wednesday. I was showing her how to use a conventional camera and its workings.

She has already watched the transfer of images from the camera to the computer and editing and printing. But she seemed really excited to push the shutter and see the saved image on the camera.

Kids love to learn. I guess I’m just a big kid because I like it also. One of the things I like about working with her is that she stretches my thinking. For today she got halfway through and said I want to use my hands instead of the brush. I said ok and then she held her hands upside down. Puzzled I asked what she wanted to do and she said paint my hands, Papa. I started to then she said where is the paper.

There was a little extra cleanup today. Photo by Papa

I thought she wanted to finger paint. But she had a plan. I hope her exposure to arts stays with her as she grows. I’m going to show her pastels next week.

This is nice having a holiday off. Well sort of, I do work Sunday night but I’m off on Monday night. Another downside of our schedule. Even if you are lucky enough not to have to work the Monday holiday you still have a broken weekend working on a Sunday night. Such is life.

It’s going to be a good weekend with family and friends and it’s off to a great start. I hope yours is also. But please remember the service and sacrifice of our Military please.

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Just some random thoughts and photos.

Yes, that is a lone tree below in a field that will yield corn this summer.

Can you see the forest for the trees? Along Rt 99. Photo by Mike Hartley

Can you see the hidden entrance below on this freshly cut field of hay?

I knew this wouldn’t stand out in the shot. Photo by Mike Hartley
A cross on a frame overlooking the field. Photo by Mike Hartley

I found a gift card for Ledo Pizza. I think I know where we are going this weekend sometime. For those of you not from the great state of Maryland Ledo makes square pizzas. As they say, they never cut corners.

Pineapple and Onion above. I’m more of a pre-cooked bacon or sausage toppings. Photo by Mike Hartley

Beware of low-flying drives at Nicks.

I can’t wait to play mini-golf with my grandchildren. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I could eat a snowball every day during the warm months.
  • Every once in a while I forget what pain feels like. But it’s never very long till it reminds me.
  • Not everyone is a morning person. Not everyones morning comes at the same time.
  • It really doesn’t matter what the weather is this weekend, does it? I do have to set up the big umbrella over the grilling area though on Sunday.

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Transition day

Like this rose that hasn’t opened I was up too early today. Spent most of the day so far behind the wheel of two motorized vehicles. The first few hours on the tractor and a few this afternoon tooling the back roads of Howard County MD in the go-cart.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Traffic is one of the changes I have the most difficulty with as this county transitioned from very rural to very suburban. It’s hard to go anywhere without it except for precious few hours of the morning on weekends or really late at night.

But this afternoon with my better half as the seat cover next to me, it was just nice taking back roads and talking, pointing out houses we liked, commenting on the humungous mansions that dot our area now like never before.

With the top down it’s like being back on my motorcycle again but even better because no helmet is required in the car. On second thought it’s moving towards wearing one in a car with the way people are driving. But anyway it’s beautiful with an unobstructed view. The breeze and sounds, the warmth of the sun beating down on you, and sometimes the smells of the season.

So far a great transition day from nocturnal being to regular Joe, except for being tired and needing a good night’s sleep for a change of pace. And it better not be a late night with the granddaughter descending on our abode early in the morning and the famous words to start the day “Play with me, Papa.”

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The weekend of THE GRILL returns. Fire them up.
  • I’m sick of pollen covering my clean car.
  • There is a fine line between things. Go ahead, step over it.
  • Instead of thinking about the troubles of the world tonight, I think I’ll immerse myself in a baseball game.
  • Far more photos this weekend than words.

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I try to not spend time grieving the loss of our parents, I know they all would like us to be happy and live life to the fullest. But the reminders this month are too numerous to avoid. Painful ones of their loss. Some long ago, some fairly recent.

Everyone has different relationships with their parents. Some are incredibly strong and some not so much. It doesn’t mean the love is any less even though it is in some cases. I had one parent that I never got to know much. And one that did the job of two and more.

Families are such fragile things. So many factors in its success or not. A death tore mine apart. And in some ways, it came together. So much of it we have no control over. The randomness of life and death, the opportunities one has or hasn’t, and the education and lessons taught to us or not.

The decisions families make as to where to live affect things greatly. Then the greatest challenge of all. People change. Some people can handle change, some can’t. I’ve seen families split over this and many other factors.

We are all one big family but something has changed and we no longer are looking out for each other and if so only in the emergency exceptions in too many cases. I’ll just continue to do my part and try to look out for everyone in my travels and neighborhood.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The day goes better when I see children having fun.
  • Tomorrow is yard battle day.
  • This should be a great weekend with family.
  • The most gratifying day of the workweek. The last one.

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If you think to yourself, I just can’t do this, (as I often have) think again and try again.

If you drive a manual shift car you already have one anti-theft device.

Sometimes I find some hidden gems. Photo by Mike Hartley

If I were a gambling man, I’d be broke sooner than later.

If the sun doesn’t shine, I’ve learned to find the brightness from the inside.

If you ride the wave of energy when it comes, it’s like surfing and you know how happy those people are.

If I could I’d change the world. But I’ll just work on my piece of it for now.

If I hadn’t stopped drinking like a fish when I was young I wouldn’t be typing this now.

If I had only defined success differently when I was younger I would have been much happier.

If they stop making manual transmission cars I’m going to stop driving. I mean what’s the sense?

If I can help one person in addition to myself to have a good day today it will be a good day. And as they say the more the merrier.

If I could hug my parents just one more time.

If there is a chance, take it, if there is hope, be hopeful, if there is a door, open it, just watch your step.

If there weren’t personal restraint, just think of how many people would be getting their asses kicked.

If I can get out shooting today I’ll post some more images and fewer words.

If I go on much longer I’ll probably lose the few followers I have.

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Get your groove on

I’m pretty conservative when it comes to dress. Casual would be a better term one that is basic colors. Gym shorts, (blue, black, grey) but recently I’m stretching out. I got a pair of power blue, a pair of gold, and a pair of coral to add to the collection. Now I know I have a long way to go to match the likes of the gentleman below but I’ll get my groove on from now on.

Now that is a nice set. Shot in OC MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m expanding my footwear also. I recently discovered that tennis shoes come in colors other than white. So I got a pair of black with a little red accent. Now don’t get excited, I’m not going to start eating salads and tofu (not that there is anything wrong with that if it suits you). It kind of started when my better half (always trying to improve me) started getting me some nice colorful summer shirts for nice dinners at the beach. And now she has unleashed my color palette. Thanks, honey, I guess after all these decades I can change.

My summer groove is starting to come alive again. Watch out world. The time of year to let my hair down. The time of year my spirits are highest and I build a reserve of memories to get me through the cold months.

Flip and Flop on the morning sands in OC. Photo by Mike Hartley

Stepping outside and listening and watching nature. Taking some time away from the job and getting a balance in life. Rediscovering the important aspects of life. Watching my grandchildren play in the water. Putting my feet in the sand. Many things like that.

I am getting ready for a series of day trips in the next month. Can’t wait to feel that excitement. And with the weight I’ve dropped the likelihood of people trying to roll me back into the water while I’m trying to catch some rays is unlikely.

I missed a shot that I had taken and I think I like it better than the one I used yesterday. I didn’t crop either of them, One I just got closer and zoomed in with the conventional camera while this one I shot on the phone. Sorry, for the semi-repeat. That happens when I don’t take my time editing.

Old Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve watched and read enough recently to convince me post-processing of images is a very important part of the quality. Step one, I guess I’ll start with some basic tools like Lightroom because I can use that for the phone images also easily. I knew I would probably get into it when I retired because of the time involved but why not start now?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I find myself drawing inspiration from more and more things lately.
  • I got a power washer. If it doesn’t move it gets cleaned.
  • I’m discovering the earlier I mix music into my week the better it goes.
  • Work is so intense sometimes that I forget to do a lot of things that could balance it out.
  • The Strong may not always survive, but they stand a better-than-average chance of it.

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Living here in Howard County has been a satisfying experience. But if you have been here for the last 6 decades you had better be able to adapt to constant change or you wouldn’t be happy.

Half the time I don’t know which way is up either. Photo by Mike Hartley

I tell you what is going to be satisfying. Hopping in that little Miata and putting a few miles on it with the top down and tunes on all the time thinking about the day soon that I point that puppy EAST and drive till I see the Atlantic Ocean. But the back roads of Rt 99 an Rt 144 will do fine today.

Everyone enjoying today’s weather along Rt. 99. Photo by Mike Hartley

Satisfying is looking back at a body of work in your life and being very proud. Satisfying is knowing your kids had the sense not to repeat my flaws and took whatever was the best of me and then improved on it.

Satisfying is being in love for a very long time. Satisfying is remembering your past but not living in it. Satisfying is surviving 2 different cancers. Satisfying is having lifelong friends.

Along Rt 144, I like it out here, sometimes more animals than people. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sunscreen Use – I’ve abused my skin and have only paid for it with maybe some premature wrinkling but even that is minimal for my age. I’ve never been a big user of sunscreen and might apply it once if I’m at the beach and my better half reminds me before we all head out despite the smell of that lotion everywhere.

I can’t remember ever using it just working outside and I do that very often. But after watching some friends go through some skin cancer issues. I’m now going to start protecting myself against any further damage.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have an old stamp collection. I wonder if it’s worth anything.
  • Photographing each day is fulfilling.
  • Getting close to finishing a horse carving for my granddaughter.
  • When you can take a drive and not have anyone try to crash into you it’s a good day.

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Spending time

How you spend time is far more important than how you spend anything else. This week I’ve decided to spend some time having a bit more fun. I got out of balance this last week and I’m feeling the need to correct that mistake. The forecast is good for several days and it’s my season of sunshine.

I think I’ll focus more on my health this week also. Some exercise should help with taking a few pounds off. Plus it will get me out walking and photographing.

The bumble bees love this plant. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sorry, not much new to offer photographically. Just time to snap a quick shot of one of the treasures in my better half’s garden and a bug. I was busy working on the estate today. Too busy the body is telling me now.

My better half spotted this unique creature on our back deck railing. I’d never seen one before, which isn’t unusual because every so often living next to the woods you see something new. It turns out to be an Eastern Eyed Click Beetle. Not that uncommon when reading about them.

Photos by Mike Hartley


The Trolley Stop – We used to have an office right across the bridge from it in the late 90s. So what better place to meet old friends for breakfast yesterday than here? I had a great bacon egg and cheese sandwich. I’ve never been anything less than happy with the food and I like the casual environment.

I think I’ll work my way up the hill in EC and do some more reviews. Been a while in visiting some of the establishments.

There is more parking around the side. Photo by Mike Hartley

(more) Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is a goal this week and it conflicts with a lot of things.
  • The workweek is off to a bad start. My partner is out sick tonight.
  • So far so good, I haven’t felt my age yet. Close some days but not yet.
  • I like taking a few minutes a day and just watching the birds play in my backyard.

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That I am.

Along the Patapsco yesterday. Photo by Mike Hartley

Alone with my thoughts. Alone with my music. Alone with my images. Alone with my books. Alone with my printer. Time to learn and create.

Watching the Lakers game alone was very unusual.

Yesterday I walked alone. Today I will walk alone.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m guessing work is going to want me to work this week. Houston, we have a problem.
  • It’s going to be a top-down type of day here in the Mid-Atlantic.
  • Do you ever go into a workweek thinking you’d rather be doing something else?
  • Watching 5 deer graze and play in my backyard this morning just before sunrise was fun.
  • So much to do today, so few hours before work starts.


Good Day

I’m always less than enthused when the sun isn’t going to be out. I love natural light. And that was the case this morning, So I went to see what I could capture with the iPhone camera. And yes I took a conventional camera with me also.

Shot with iPhone 13 along Trolly Line #9 Trail. Photo by Mike Hartley

I just read a stat the other day that showed how late to the game I am. The statistic said that over 90% of all photos taken are done with smartphones. To this day 99.9 % of the pictures I’ve taken are with conventional cameras. Well better late than never. I’ll see if I can get used to it. This really isn’t a fair comparison with the old Kodak and the relatively new iPhone. But this has shown me that shooting with the phone will be just fine in a lot of cases.

Shot with Kodak z812 along Trolly line #9 Trail. Yes, that old thing is still in use. Photo by Mike Hartley

One thing is for certain. That 6 oz iPhone 13 is easier to carry than that 3.3 pound Nikon body and lens. I was looking at a couple of grips for the phone so I can hold this right. That is one reason I never took pictures with it before, holding onto the edges of a phone was never comfortable for me. I need a grip, a safety cord, something that can mount to a tripod and has a shutter.

No, I’m not giving up on conventional photography tools. I’m just expanding my options and maybe lightening my load from time to time. Plus it’s another tool I can put to use and it’s a lot less auspicious than that big camera.

And what do you know, it cleared a little this afternoon with some sun. Had to take advantage of it and wash the car. But with that humidity, I can’t see it not raining tonight.

It won’t be long till the sand and surf start calling me. I haven’t stayed in the downtown area of Ocean City in a good while. Not that it hasn’t calmed down since my youthful years, it has but it’s still too congested for me. It is nice to visit though with the boardwalk entertainment and shops and food. If you like people-watching this is the place.

Soon there will be far more than 1 individual on the beach as there is in this shot. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love shooting in the town of Ocean City. Bethany Beach Deleware is a very close second. And as MacArthur said, “I will return.”

When man makes structures like this, Mother Nature just licks her chops. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can’t remember what age it was when we started to say to each other how good the other looked. But it seems to be part of a standard greeting now that we’re all over 60.
  • It’s always a good morning after the Celtics lose.
  • The day is young, I’m not.
  • The mind says it’s a great day for a workout. The body is saying Whoa Nellie, I can bring some pain to that gain.

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Tomorrow I have a few windows of time to do some shooting. I guess like surfers have windows into sets of waves. Todays windows were pretty much shut. Just too many obligations. I’m trying to decide if I want to take advantage of a few hours this evening producing something or catch up on some much needed rest.

Done surfing for the day. Sheding wetsuits returning from the escape from reality. Photo by Mike Hartley

The desire to go out and get horizontal is almost overwhelming. But so is the desire to try to create and maybe clean up this office or make some prints or test out that new iPhone camera.

Many windows of opportunity still exist if I keep my eyes and ears open as well as maintaining that positive vibe so the mind is also in gear.

I downloaded WordPress for my iPhone. One of these days I’ll do a post though that device. So when I need to do it in an emergency I’ll have the ability. Good backup plan for when the power goes out.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is what you have done which is nice but usually far less important than what you can do yet.
  • My body is telling me I worked too hard today.
  • For personal use, I’ve purchased Dell computers for many years. I think I’m switching to HP.
  • I use too many words and not enough images in this blog so I will stop now.

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Oh yeah,

It’s time to shift out of the work mindset, the workweek is in the rearview. In front of me are chores and then some fun times. And as my habit, I start my Thurday morning with some music to set the tone for the weekend. And to be specific my Thursday morning is about 1pm. This kid caught up on some sleep after getting to bed at 6:30 am.

I’m a happy camper so far as one of the chores on my list was to get a new phone. Mission accomplished and a good experience at AT&T on Rt 40 in Ellicott City. I’ve upgraded from a iPhone 6 to a iPhone 13. My first step in a few areas. I hope to make use of the photo and video capabilities. So below is the last shot the iPhone 6 will take and its of the replacement.

It also marks the start of the transition from the work phone to my personal one. A lot of numbers will need changing and I wanted to get that out of the way. I didn’t want to keep my work number because after 25 years with it the calls could keep coming after my keyboard is hung up.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Hearing some songs on some days still makes the hair on my head tingle.
  • It’s never too late to find new talents.
  • Lifelong friends are one of life’s great blessings.
  • I think I’ll spend the rest of the evening catching up on some blogs I like.
  • For some reason, I’m really excited about this weekend. Let’s see if that holds true on Sunday night.
  • When the NBA plays both ends of the floor it’s very entertaining.


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Just playing

Remember being young and having time to play? My generation grew up outside pretty much. Because that is where your friends are. Not on a computer screen, not on a smartphone screen, they were right in front of you. You could hear the inflection in their voices, see stress or happiness on their faces, laughter from their bellies. Looks from their eyes that gave approval or disapproval.

It’s funny, even when I see groups of friends together now half or all of them have their faces in their phones or video game controllers in their hands.

I wish I had continued to incorporate play in my schedule as I got older. As they say though its never too late to change. And now that I’m getting into the senior years I can become a big kid again.

This is a weekend I just feel like playing. Playing with my crafts, maybe moving the cars and shooting some hoops which I haven’t done in a few years in my own driveway. Seeing some friends (Face to Face) not on Facetime or Zoom but in real life. And if I’m lucky seeing some family and the little ones that make me smile so. Maybe that is why I’m so excited when I get to spend time with grandchildren. They love to play. It’s probably them that reminded me that this has been a missing element in my life.

Just playing. Photo by Mike Hartley

Playing with guys I grew up with is few and far between. We used to play ball together for decades. There are a precious few days we get together for a day and play. Usually at one of my best friends home on the shore. A day of being young at heart again. A day when 5-6 of us might gather, ride bikes, kayaks, hit the beach, swim and cook and then eat like kings and sit around a fire pit till people start falling out of chairs or are unable to move from a chair.

Usually its hard for even my two best friends and I to get together for a few hours a week to unwind. We are all busy with professional lives, have children and grandchildren and of course better halves to take care of. But we do a damn good job of making it a priority each week, to the benefit of all of us.

So here is to adding more play to my agenda in the future. I’m quickly filling up my schedule so when work stops I won’t be bored.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is a lot of pollen still falling. Which means I need to wash my car tomorrow.
  • This home and property is really getting some needed attention and I really like how it’s coming together.
  • There are a lot of assumptions out there. The less I hear of them the happier I am.
  • I could do without that chill in the air tonight.

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More and less

I’ve been doing more physical work than usual lately but with less pain. That is the opposite of what usually transpires. Now I could start to make wild assumptions that the loss of some weight is making it more manageable. That cutting out sodas and eating a bit healthier is giving me more strength but I’m not going there. Not yet at least because I really don’t feel that different. Except that, a lot of my old wardrobe fits nicely again.

Just some color from inside and outside the house. Photos by Mike Hartley

Unfortunately, that physical work has precluded more work on my crafts but hoping to start a better balance tomorrow with less time on chores. This year I’ve gotten more sun earlier than in past seasons and I’m in the mid-June tan stage already. I do need to spend a little less time in the direct sun for the next few days. Don’t overdo a good thing.

I really need to reach out more to some friends who I’ve had less and less time to interact with. I don’t know how I will make it happen other than trying harder and talking about it less.

I feel as bright as those flowers above. Not bright in a sense of smart but in spirit.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you feel you have fully utilized the day, that is living.
  • I see an opportunity. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
  • Anytime I start to think I know a lot about something I look harder and realize I don’t know as much as I thought.
  • If I can just make it through tonight.

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Sun, breeze, kite

Just a few more shots from our short visit to OC a few weeks ago. I wish my attitude was as sunny as the skies but work infringed on my sleep so it hasn’t been the best start to the week.

Outside the Kite Loft in OC. Photos by Mike Hartley

That morning interruption of a few hours cost me time today and I didn’t finish the mowing so I’m behind as the week gets rolling. It’s okay though, many days to regain form and I’m taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I should have a new phone by Thursday.

Boundaries are important. I’ve failed to set some needed ones during phases of my life. But with age comes wisdom.


Had a great meal at Cafe EZ in Ellicott City Sunday afternoon. I hesitate to sing this place’s praises because it’s already getting popular enough. The service and food are great each time we have been there. It’s only open 8-3 each day but it’s great for breakfast or lunch or a mid-day dessert if you feel so inclined.

I also had one of my favorite pizzas this past weekend from Ledo in Normandy. The Hawian is becoming my every other pizza from there because I usually get the pre-cooked bacon on that which is great but I’m trying to live into my grandkid’s lives so I’m making that more of a treat.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Be happy with yourself. That way if nobody else is, that no longer matters.
  • I’m going to have to start using some sunscreen if I’m going to be outside this much.
  • Interesting what you can do when you set your mind to it. A new low on the scale today.
  • The barking dogs late into the night next door isn’t going to last much longer.

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Thank you, Mom

Happy Mother’s Day. I was lucky to be the child of a wonderful mother. One who had to take on a dual role as a parent. One that had to work her butt off to keep the family going. One that was compassionate and taught me good values and manners. One that was loving and supportive. One who taught me to respect everyone and share.

I miss her very much. I miss my mother-in-law very much. Once that mother’s love is gone life is different. That sense of history and those stories, those hugs and kisses, those smiles, those acknowledgments, those meals, and those “I love you” are no more. They are memories we draw from.

To me respecting Mom is keeping her love, compassion, hard work, respecting all, and helping those less fortunate going. And as good fortune would have it I got to marry a wonderful girl who became another wonderful Mother in her own right.

No wonder I miss this hug. I’m guessing my Dad took this shot.


I’m only going to get better with practice. And practicing I am. Each day I’m pushing myself harder in my hobbies. Not the stressful kind of pushing but just trying to spend more time each day on my crafts. Trying some new things this week. I’m going to get the paints out and see what I can create.

He caught one person’s eye. Shot this artist on the boardwalk in Ocean City MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s going to be a hard 24 hours of work, so I should rest well when my head hits the pillow tomorrow morning at this hour.
  • After that gloomy rainy Saturday, it’s nice to see the sun again this morning.
  • They say don’t give up hope. Way too many lives have to put that to the test.
  • Life is filled with disappointments. Living is moving beyond them.

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A rocky start

I haven’t been able to get moving like I had hoped for this morning. I rose early but squandered the time. I let discomfort get the best of me for an hour or two. That’s okay though, I have 4 hours left in the morning to make good use of. So I took a quick shot of the rocks my granddaughter loves to play with and started this post. Then I fired up the printer to finish some family pictures I wanted to give them this weekend.

No filters or special effects were used. Photo by Mike Hartley

With rain expected most all day the grilling out option is less than attractive. So maybe we will try some local fare for lunch or dinner. And as far as photography opportunities I believe I’ll concentrate on some indoor shooting and seeing what I can make the most of inside. Maybe some portrait work with different use of lighting.

If time allows maybe a trip out to get a new phone which means another camera to play with. But it’s not the toys. It’s what is in your mind and how you share it. I have yet to really challenge myself in the art of photography. I’ve read a few things that have me stretching out my thinking of photography. Maybe some of it will be reflected here.

Well, let me play a little Rock and Roll before company comes and see if I can really get inspired today.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • A nice big greasy breakfast would have been nice but that nut bar and water will have to do.
  • With the work I’ve done so far with the powerwasher I’ve paid for it already. The rest is gravy.
  • I’m stuck in a creative rut with one of my projects. I must get another opinion on it.
  • I love the sounds of birds singing in the morning.
  • Did you ever smell what your neighbors were cooking for breakfast and get immediately hungry?
  • Way to go Lakers.

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Just the Friday I needed

What a day. Just all smiles from my granddaughter and hugs and kisses when she said goodbye, made my day. Just the “thank you Papa” and “wow” when she discovers something. Or just climbs in the chair and out on my knees and goes “Bounce me, Papa.” And of course the “help me Papa” like when the yogurt top won’t twist off for her. Boy was she into exploring the garden today. And learning the difference between a worm and a grub.

She likes reorganizing our interior, I’m wondering when she is going to start moving plants. Photo by Mike Hartley

Eating well involves eating smart around it. This was last night. Today I ate very lightly. And no I didn’t eat all that. Just one burger and one half-smoke. And boy were they tasty. I think he said he got the meats from Boarmans in Highland MD.

I’m not bad around a grill but both of my best friends are masters with them. Photo by Mike Hartley

I know I have a lot to work on in terms of my diet. And I’m slowly improving it as I go. This is a week I start to add more fruit each day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A night with great friends is a perfect way to recharge the batteries.
  • I love the smell of bacon on Friday mornings.
  • Spent a few more hours with the power washer today. Nice tool that I should have added long ago.
  • I enjoy Facebook less and less, so much so that I check it less and less often.
  • Even what you think is really smart organizations or companies will occasionally put their hand on the gun while it’s in the holster and pull the trigger and shoot themselves in the foot.

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The wash

Fired up the new powerwasher today. Hell yeah, that little toy will bring a sparkle back to the old estate. First time using one so learning the techniques. Did the front sidewalk and that is looking better than the day we moved in. Of course, it wasn’t new then either.

This is not a power washer despite the cord. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow I’ll attack the upper deck. I won’t go on with the rest of the list but it’s long and going to be a little time-consuming but a hell of a lot easier than alternative methods.

Now this pet used to be a power washer. Photo by Mike Hartley


Bring on the heat. I’m more than ready for it. And it’s my turn in this household to celebrate the joy of my season and for my better half to grumble through the next 5 months about it being too hot. That confidence you hear in my voice is bolstered by the seasonal maintenance we had on our A/C unit today and the tech said all is good again. As I said, bring on the heat.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If nobody told you there is actually a limited number of Happy Hours. So don’t miss attending them.
  • With age comes lotion.
  • Keeping commitments you make to yourself feels pretty good.
  • Keeping commitments you make to others is exhausting.
  • Cooking is a lot of fun. Eating is a lot more fun.

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Why not

I thought to myself if there is so much noise I can’t sleep then why not get up? So I did. A mistake I make far too often.

I thought to myself, my better half is out with our granddaughter and the house is mine. Why not, Turn Up The Radio? Well, that was the saying in my era. It was also a song in the 80s by a group called Autograph. So I turned up the tunes a day earlier than normal.

My wheels are turning today. Tomorrow morning I might have to turn the wheels on the Go-Cart. Photo by Mike Hartley

Thought I’d sing along to Hey Jude by Sir Paul from 2010 and found myself kind of inspired. Feel-good music, the kind we need more of. Time for inspiration and not hate. Why not, what do we have to lose?

I’d like to start the weekend early so I’m pretending Hump Day is the beginning of my free time. Why not is what I asked myself and I couldn’t come up with a valid reason not to begin the weekend early.

Illustration by Mike Hartley

I always feel better when I make a donation so I thought to myself, why not and dialed up one of my mother’s favorites in her honor.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Solutions – mental nuggets you have to dig for.
  • The Lakers/Warriors series is like the NBA Finals.
  • It’s only Rock and Roll but I like it. And I’m not alone.
  • I’m finding out what is beyond tired.

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Keep it turning

I love the sound of my printer. It’s a clunky-sounding thing but it does some nice home prints. It’s a Canon Pro100 and I’ve been very pleased with it. I starting to get a steady use of it again. Had a lull this winter but we have been knocking some out regularly the last few weeks.

It’s another tool I need to take better advantage of. So let me get busy going through that 50-sheet pack I just opened today.

So many lines. Photo by Mike Hartley


Ah yes, the Cream of Crab soup. I’ve always preferred it this way instead of the traditional Maryland Crab soup. I haven’t had any in a while and am building an appetite for it.

My favorite was at Reflections restaurant in Ocean City which is no longer there. A nice wide bowl, with just lump crabmeat, was sat in front of you. Then the waiter would add the cream, sherry, and a light dusting of Old Bay seasoning, and wow.

But I digress, I’m here to share a few local ones I’ve had. The best recently has been Shannons in Ellicott City. Bare Bones has been good but it’s just a little thick for my taste. LeeLynns was also very good. Oh, I almost forgot about Oscars Ale House in Eldersburg which was excellent.

I’m sure I’ll think of a few more of my favorites just after I post this but those are a few I would suggest.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love taco Tuesdays.
  • The season of fun is soon approaching.
  • Try not to lose your confidence. Life is harder without it.
  • I like working at my father’s desk.
  • Happy Birthday to my Mother in-law. You always made me feel so welcome.


Monday movements

The wheels of progress turn slowly but they are turning. Just making the best of an opportunity feels great. I learned long ago that it’s not necessarily the tools/equipment or title on a business card that make your work. It’s what you do each day at the job, in your relationships, and what you do for your family and fellow man. Not taking things for granted or seeing what you have as a limitation, but an opportunity.

For instance, I’ve never embraced using the smartphone as a camera. An old-school attitude that it isn’t a camera stopped me most times. I’ve decided to remove that obstacle in my thinking when I get my new phone this week I’ll begin that journey. It’s not like I don’t carry my camera bag everywhere I go. I do and it’s getting heavier the older I get. No, I’m not giving up on that Nikon glass that weighs a ton but I just need to make the best of all my tools.

The sight of amusement rides always makes me feel young again. Photo by Mike Hartley

The next thing I’ve taken for granted is the gift of time. Now that might seem contrary to what I write about being so busy every minute of the day. And I am but that doesn’t mean you can’t multitask. Hell, I’ve been doing it at the job for decades, I might as well incorporate it more into my daily routines. So instead of watching the TV during treadmill time, I’ll think about what I can photograph or write about or create.

I’ve been utilizing my break time at work to usually edit or upload a few images while woofing down some late-night dinner. I know I have to do better in the mornings of workdays. I’m usually so exhausted in the mornings from a lack of rest that I’m slow to get started. So I’m starting work on my blog earlier in the day and hopefully posting earlier or maybe multiple posts in a day.

I’m starting to feel like the time is getting close to scaling back on the job that pays the bills. It’s odd that part of the impetus now wasn’t even part of the equation leading up to this point. And that is I just don’t feel as sharp as I used to. And that is quite troubling being I hold myself to standards I’ve worked under for decades.

I’ve always worked in pressure-filled areas with many daily deadlines and if something goes boom we are the first to hear and have to act. None of that has ever phased me. I explain it as a bit of a combination of emergency room nurse, doctor, and surgeon but in the area of IT. For the first time since I was a rookie doing some things, nerves have come into the picture. The confidence that was never in question is shaken. Not sure what triggered it, maybe just a bad day.

Anyway, I’m probably going to try to overcompensate now so we will see if it was a fluke or something to worry about.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Unsweetened Iced Tea – my new beverage, not by choice but by compromise.
  • I don’t know how some are oblivious to the pain many are suffering from gun violence. It makes me nauseous every time I hear of one of these daily tragedies.
  • I hope to live on with my family and friends through my photos and writings long after I’m gone.
  • Success always has lots of people behind it, even if you think you did it yourself.
  • Happy Birthday, Dad. I was showing my son the picture of you holding me when I was the age of his son now and how much we resembled each other.

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Good Waves

I’m feeling positive about this coming week. Well, at least that is the mindset I hope to go through it with. A plan to eat better again and continue some exercise. Eating better before now was just eating more. Exercise while a staple of my first 40 years of life became few and far between the last few decades.

So it’s been a change of mind for the most part. And some simple things like dropping my soda and snack intakes. Nice steps but I need to do more to get to a weight and more healthy eating style. So the treadmill and I are becoming a daily companions.

Mother Nature likes to stir things up. Photo by Mike Hartley

No time to waste though and finishing up this week strong is a priority. Only a few hours till a full night of work slaps me in the face but no problem. Production will continue. I believe I’ll work on my photo site this evening and upload some more images to it and do some sorting and labeling.

I wonder at what point mass shootings become as commonplace a news item as the weather.

I wonder if I’ll have a few minutes this week to get my camera to the repair shop.

I wonder if I can do something amazing this week.

I wonder if I’m making the right decisions about working.

I wonder how good that Reuben is going to taste tomorrow.


I had 3 things at the beach OCMD, Fenwick Island, and Bethany Beach that I have to rave about. The Crab Imperial at Harpoon Hanna’s was great. The breakfast western crepe at Sunshine Crepe in Bethany Beach was great. The Dumsers Cherry Ice Cream Soda at 123th Street in OC was great again.

It’s a good thing these aren’t local. Photo by my better half.

Sorry, I gobbled up the Crab Imperial before I could take a picture. Even though I’m eating better I’ll continue to sample some tasty and maybe fattening dishes but I’ll just balance it out. Portions here are so large that I’ve been stretching out meals into 2-3 a lot of times in recent years.

I think it’s time for some local food reviews also. So that means I’ll be taking my better half out for a bite this week, between the packed schedule.

But also think of your fellow man who might be hungry. I support the Maryland Food Bank and sometimes World Central Kitchen.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Hard work isn’t a bad thing at all. Some of us make a career out of it.
  • There is a little-known trick for success. It comes in little bits and pieces so slowly that sometimes you might not recognize it.
  • I think Monday is a day for a snowball. Cherry, I believe.
  • I really need to step up my game here.
  • I hope to get a new phone this week.

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Doesn’t the sun feel good

I love sunny mornings. I’ve had it with cloudy days recently. I know with the good comes the bad but today I appreciate the good we have in the mid-Atlantic now. The first real good night of sleep I’ve had in over a week was last night. One more chance tonight before I flip into Nocturnal Man again. Ops, that night of sleep looks in real jeopardy with the Lakers/Warriors on late this evening. Maybe a pre-game nap.

We look good in the sun. Photos by Mike Hartley

What is it? What is going to shock you or me into action? Maybe gun violence, or abortion rights. How about Social Security and Medicare cuts? How about no police or nurses, because we as a society have made those professions intolerable. Maybe your home is burglarized, your car stolen, or a family member assaulted and you will change our criminal justice system?

Maybe how we are killing the planet but at the same time trying to solve that problem by killing each other first by knocking on the wrong door or pulling in the wrong driveway or going into the wrong neighborhood or just running into the wrong person at the wrong time at the wrong place.

Maybe a homeless family with children who are starving. Whatever shocks you, get involved in the solutions. It’s going to give me another thing to expand upon in retirement.

We’re back and construction begins. Photo by Mike Hartley

I found another friend who agrees that gambling is the death of sports as we know it today. It’s only a matter of time before some major scandal in one or multiple leagues will bring it all down. Well, greed wins again till it all collapses.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Lunch break, I only take one when I’m working for myself.
  • Supreme Court – Supreme Con
  • For some reason, people feel very comfortable giving me deadlines. I think I’ve lived long enough under others’ ideas.
  • Leaving the TV off is becoming a habit.
  • This week is more time on the treadmill. If some was good, more must be better.

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The Sound Part 2

Well, part 1 was the pleasant sounds. Yesterday and today was the sound of chainsaws and lawnmowers and string trimmers and leaf blowers. The sound of work. The sound of power tools. The sound of wood falling and the thud when it hits the ground. The sound of me moaning as I bend over to pick up what I just raked up.

Still sounds like that, I can live with. I’m so glad we got this tree down despite it looking very alive it was getting hollow in the middle and it was leaning towards the house a bit. And given its height, it had a good chance of reaching it. I would have never known but one day I was watching two squirrels running around that tree and then one disappeared. And then the second. As I got a better angle, I could see they were in the tree.

Not a stable base. Photo by Mike Hartley

We are really making some good progress and the home is coming alive again. Still, a ways to go with some masonry work on the chimney needed and more landscaping and runoff fixes. But as far as keeping mother nature at bay, we have success.

And keeping mother nature at bay isn’t the right way to put it. Keeping in balance. I believe I’ll plant another tree being this one above had seen its day.

An overcast day but these guys don’t matter. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Youngsters will never know the joy of your favorite song coming on in the car on the radio at the perfect time. Now they can play it anywhere and anytime they want so the magical part is gone. Yes, there were days when a car just came with a radio. And my parents would probably tell me “Well we didn’t have a radio and just had to sing ourselves.”
  • Sometimes things just start as a job. Sometimes they become a career.
  • My transporter consists of headphones, a comfortable chair, my favorite music, and shutting my eyes.
  • My hope is the weather might be warm enough from now on to consider driving with the top down each day.
  • Sometimes when I’m typing and I get on a roll speed wise I wonder if I could play piano well.

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The sound

The sound of waves hitting the shore. Purely intoxicating to me.

The sound of children laughing and digging in the sand. Purely intoxicating to me.

The volleyball game behind us with sounds of loud cheers for the spikes. Purely intoxicating to me.

The sound of a whistle from the lifeguard at the teens throwing the football or just being wild. Purely intoxicating to me.

The occasional sound of open headers or a pack of Harleys rolling down Coastal Highway. Purely intoxicating to me.

The bite of Old Bay on the crabs and the sweetness of that Cherry Ice Cream soda from Dumsers. Purely intoxicating to me.

Those moments when the family comes in from the beach, grandchildren on our laps or tucked in beside us with eyes closing quickly and our children trying to catch their breath, while my better half and I wink at each other. Heaven.

Illustration by Mike Hartley

A new frontier is about to be crossed. I’m going to update my phone after 9 years on an iPhone 6. And the new frontier is that I’m going to try to use whatever new model, as a camera in addition to my personal communication device. I’m going to have to turn that company phone over some time and I’d like to start separating my life from their phone. Plus I hear the cameras in these devices are good. We will see.

I think I’ll start to signify what images are taken with what device. Then again, who cares. Well, I kind of do because of some changes in society. Let me explain. Just this weekend I was using my Nikon 7100 with the 18-300 lens. So it’s an imposing brick to carry around and put up in front of my face. It’s obvious your taking pictures. I love animals and I like taking unique pictures of them. So I saw this dog leaning out of the driver’s side car window as they were exiting the inlet lot.

The first shot I liked best because it looks like the dog could be driving but in the shadow of the driver’s face is a look that wants to kill. So I took another shot as they passed because it was a beautiful dog. If I had shot that with a cell phone, the guy would have probably never noticed. Then again I’m really going to have to learn how to operate that phone as quickly as I do a camera. But anyway I think cell phones might be a good way to avoid confrontation and issues if I’m doing things with people.

It’s not like I’m trying to catch people in bad situations. The opposite as a matter of fact. But we all know how touchy people have become.

Look Mom, no hands. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Is it right to have a ton of random thoughts when the day is only minutes old?
  • So I waited till later in the day to have some random thoughts but they all left me.
  • I wonder if doing a few posts a day is too much.

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When at the beach, surf

I saw a few more of these one-wheel devices at the shore this past weekend. I got kind of interested and went to look them up and wow do they come at a price! Yes I know, what doesn’t nowadays besides my free rambling on. To each their own on choosing your transportation method. I’m too old to be falling off one of those so you won’t see me on one.

What I want to know is “Who-ya gonna you call” when you get a flat? Maybe we can mount a spare on the helmet?

Ride On, but be careful on that sandy concrete. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was reminded this morning it was the season for the lawn service crews to descend upon our neighborhood. And boy do they like to start early. Trouble is that is when I’m trying to sleep so we again begin the battle. Even with the house closed up completely the big multiple mowers, string trimmers, and gas-powered blowers always is more than enough to wake me and keep me up for as long as they are working hard. Just another penalty for working a night shift.

A little rain brings everything to life. Photo by Mike Hartley

So far the workweek hasn’t ruined my extended weekend bliss. Only one more night to go so I’m trying to keep it together and coast into a nice but busy weekend. My better half has done her part and the gardens are looking good but now I must part. Arborists are coming Thursday to take 2 trees down and cut up one that fell a few months back. I’ve got a ton of work on the yard to do so it’s going to be a physical weekend. I’m looking forward to the battle.

Ah, the sunset on another day. Be well and safe.

Till tomorrow sunshine. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day (second helping)

  • My Nikon needs to go to the shop. Let’s see what kind of work I can do with that 15-year-old digital. I hope it’s no more than a week or two but who knows? I never had a high-end camera before.
  • I can still be the horseee in my mid-60s. I don’t ask my granddaughter if she wants to play that but somehow she always remembers and asks to ride. I’m not sure which hurts more, the hardwood floors on my knees or my spine later that day. But you won’t ever catch me saying no.
  • Feeling fitter each day. I’m hoping that eventually, that turns into feeling less pain.
  • If you want to give a child something to remember put a mark on the doorframe measuring their growth over time. They will look at that and smile and ask every time they get measured if they have grown. Sometimes you just catch them stopped and staring at it.

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I believe a gentleman named Randy Hofman does biblical sand sculptures at Ocean City. There was a pretty strong storm on the beach last Friday and about the only thing that lasted was this part of the sculpture which I shot Saturday afternoon when the sun was trying to return.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m ready to return to the beach and I’ve only been home 2 days. The draw of Ocean City, Bethany Beach, and Fenwick all call me daily. I love the warmth of summer but the offseason months of April and May along with September and October and becoming more special and a lot of fun. The huge crowds aren’t there to compete with. It’s more affordable and you can get places faster in your car than on foot which is the opposite in the summer.

Unless they get some beach replenishment going tents like this might not be welcome. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m hoping for a record number of days at the beach this year. No, I don’t have a place there so most will be back and forth day trips. No problem driving distances for me. 6 hours in the bucket seat of the Miata is no problem. Here’s to good health and sunny skies for the coming months.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Another project started. Isn’t it great?
  • I love it when my grandchildren visit. It’s a day I don’t get condemned for acting like a child.
  • Indifference is not a way to live. It’s good to move on.
  • Picture this. Wait till the 80s hair band generation reaches their destinations at the old age facilities. I can see the Congo line of them dancing down the hall with their walkers singing – Pour some Sugar On Me, Oh In the Name of Love, Pour some Sugar on Me, Come on fire me UP.

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Feeling reflective

Caught a few reflections in the water while at the beach. Which caused me to reflect on a few other things.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I was reflecting on the coming Mother’s Day this month. I miss mine and think of her often. After a dozen years, it has transitioned to having more smiles at her pictures and memories of her than tears. But those still come at times. I’m overdue to pay my respects and I think I’ll remedy that this coming weekend.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Also missing my mother-in-law who only passed a few years ago. She was always so sweet to me and made time after my mother passed so much easier with her kind words and thoughts about our family. This is all part of life. I’m so glad our parents got to see our children for a few decades and be big parts of their lives.

I hope we are lucky enough to be given the same time or more with our grandchildren. That would be a wonderful gift.

While away, I reflected on why I enjoy my hobbies like photography, blogging, drawing, and painting along with some woodworking. Also why some of it was becoming a strain? And it was all about the pressure I was putting on myself to do more and be better. And while those are nice and I’ll always try to incorporate those, I’m going to let what comes naturally make due and not worry about quantity or quality. In other words, just be happy with whatever I get done. I believe the happier I am the more I’ll get done anyway.

I’m still working full time plus, doing a fair amount of chores, and trying to be a big part of my family and friends’ lives. Sometimes that leaves precious few moments to enjoy things and I feel rushed and start to feel the pressure of some of my goals like posting daily or shooting daily and throwing in some writing or once or twice a week picking up the Dremel tool or a pad and the pastels. Taking some time showed me to just relax and let the day come to me.

Well, it’s time to run already. Got to get a few hours sleep. Been up for 24 hours now and doing an early morning post is a nice change of pace and leaving me relaxed after a long night’s work. Have a good morning or whatever part of the day it is in your part of the great planet.

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Back home

It always feels good to be back home after a few days away. Then again it feels good to be away. Especially when it’s at the beach and you’re having a great time and some much-needed rest. Some stormy weather in Ocean City MD this weekend with really high winds, rain, and minor flooding. Oh, and the beach got blown on the boardwalk.

Where there is sand there are children. Photo by Mike Hartley

And each year when I think I’ve seen everything on the boardwalk, low and behold there is another surprise. And the sign on the back of his cart says “Believe” so I guess I will.

Either very early or very late. Photo by Mike Hartley

What it really made me think of when I got home though is how sweet it will be when I return from the beach in the future and I won’t immediately have to go back to work.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Something you can have often is no longer a treat.
  • I see Aerosmith is doing a farewell tour. I’m like them and their 1987 album called Permanent Vacation. We both are about to take one.
  • The Bay Bridge is not a place to be in foul weather.
  • There is an answer, it just illudes me.

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Tasty Sunday

I like the dawn. That first light. The contrast it creates. Unfortunately this morning we had cloud cover so no morning light at dawn. It’s going to be a fine Sunday though. One filled with time with my better half, some errands, and some fun.

Fenwick Lighthouse. Photo by Mike Hartley

There is no bad day even if it rains which made me smile. Ironically a few minutes later I was reading a post about smiling from Pen of Hearts on the topic of smiles and reading some quotes about it.

So here are a few of my quotes/thoughts on SMILES.

When you smile life is much easier even when it’s really tough.

A smile is the least you can do.

A child smiles a lot when they are young. When your children are grown adults and they are still smiling you did your part.

Sometimes those with the least to smile about smile more than those who are far more fortunate.

Smiles can be wraying.

A genuine smile can be the most heartwarming gift of all.

Smiling after winning a gambling wager is really just stress relief.

Smile when you’re behind the wheel, it makes a contrast with all the other drivers.

Smile when you finish a meal. Lots of people don’t have that pleasure.

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Saturday salutations

Rockin Down the Highway is a great song by the Doobie Brothers. It’s something I love to do in both 2 and 4 wheels. Of course, I hung up the helmet for the 2 wheels a while back, but it was still a lot of fun. And who knows, I’m still legal to drive one. I can’t wait till those few days this summer I’ll just hope in the 2 seat Sportster, put the top down, point the beast east towards the ocean, put Green Onions by Booker T and MG’s on the stereo, and go through the gears, cruise to a boatload of my favorite music and smile and sway my head to the tunes till I smell that salt air.

They say IF there is a good weather day this weekend it will be today, but don’t let that stop you from getting out and enjoying yourself if you’re in the mid-Atlantic this weekend.

I never get tired of the beginning or end of each day. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Good moods overcome dreary mornings.
  • I feel young this morning.
  • I’ve got to schedule myself some vacation soon.
  • While being happy is usually a choice there are some events in life that eliminate that choice.
  • Sometimes when it rains a smile still crosses my face. Mainly because it’s too wet to cut the grass.

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Have a seat

A soggy Friday ahead.

Having a bad hair day in that weather. Photo by Mike Hartley

No problem I have that ray of sunshine of a grandchild here today to brighten even the darkest of skies. I’m not sure what is on the agenda, it’s always fluid with her. And that is the way it should be with young ones. Let them live a little before the pressures of the world get in the way of enjoying life. Let them discover skills and likes and friends. Let them make choices before rules take over and fold us into nice packages.

Take a load off and sit your butt down. Photo by Mike Hartley

Encouraging different activities. We were painting the other day. Of course, I was overtraining but that is just me. Holding the brush, not mashing the bristles, mixing colors. But she still had fun despite me. And so did I because I paint also. And I felt honored she wanted to take mine home as well.

It’s funny that when we go to a playground and I’m watching her like a hawk but encouraging her to try things I worry about injuries. And then I think back to us swinging on these structures of scaffolding piping like monkeys. Swinging on the tri-level bars from one to another usually falling. Unwittingly sending someone into the air or crashing to the ground on the see-saw. Oh, how bout that merry-go-round disk with the metal bars you would hold onto till it got going so fast it would fling you off?

Those metal slides about 20 feet high got boiling hot during the summer months. Going down one in shorts required keeping your legs in the air. And the swing sets, BIG swing sets that must have been anchored 10 feet into the ground and the top bar is at least 12-15 feet high. This means you can swing 14-17 feet high and launch yourself into the air. Made for some interesting landings. Actually, now that I think back, that was probably the beginning of my concussions throughout life.

And then I look at the equipment my granddaughter is on and I relax a lot.

I might have to revive something I used to do for my kids when we went to the beach. I’d go out at sunrise and make something for them in the sand. I wish I had taken some pictures of others. But now my grandchildren are getting to the age where they might enjoy it also. I know the little destructor of a granddaughter will enjoy knocking it apart.

An early attempt at a sea turtle.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A honkey tonk morning. Was listening to T for Texas by Lynyrd Skynyrd this morning at 4 am.
  • Each time I pass a skatepark I kind of chuckle and remember those thin boards with the thin wheels we would ride on huge hills. Back then the trick was staying on it and not killing yourself. Helmets and pads were decades away.
  • I believe someone who likes to create doesn’t think of it as work. At least I don’t. Yes, some things require a ton of effort but it’s a labor of love or fun or both.

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Natural light

I love the bay window in our kitchen. A great view of the woods behind us and nature on display. I look out there every day for a while watching deer, hawks and other creatures stop and graze or hunt or pass by. I love watching the sunrise out of it and even the moonlight lighting the treeline in the woods at night.

Kitchen light bulb. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tonight I might play with artificial light unless there is a moon out but my guess is the clouds will obscure it anyway. So I’ll load the tripod in the car and see what we can capture this evening.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When people make the effort to stay in touch, those are friends.
  • I’ve spent most of the day trying to think positively for someone going through a difficult time.
  • This is the weekend I begin to exercise more to help with the fitness program. I’m hoping for no pain and all gain.
  • My old Chevy must have done something in its lifetime to birds because they are unrelenting in craping on it.

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Wednesday Wishes

Will it be a good day? Not something I wake up often thinking about but for some reason that thought stuck with me a bit this morning. What makes a good day for me depends greatly on what happens to the people I love. My thoughts are always with them first. My day is predicated on what I can do for them even if it’s just going to work each and every day to provide for them.

If they are happy my life is pretty great. If they are suffering my life isn’t firing on all cylinders. Today it seems to be a mixture of both.

So my thoughts turned to how I can make it better so I got to work on a horse carving for my granddaughter that she has been wanting and if that makes her happy then that will in turn make her mom happy. So let there be sawdust.

I should wait till the dust settles before snapping. Photo by Mike Hartley

Other things are starting to come into focus a bit. I’m at peace with the changes happening at the job. I’m feeling more confident each day that I have found things that make me happy to carry me well into my senior years. I’m doing some things that are healthy for me that I didn’t know were possible. I’m seeing people more clearly than ever. The more relaxed I am the more creative I get.

I love mistakes. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m more at peace with myself than I have been in a long time. I’m touched by people doing great things and hope I can contribute in a positive way. I’m less nervous about my health, at least for the next few months. I don’t let days of pain ruin my day. They might pause it, but not ruin it.

I’m trying to choose to be happy instead of sad. Well, at least the rest of the weekend.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone were happy all day all together one day? That would be a nice wish.

Now is now and life is great –

Pete Townshend

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m always excited on the last day of the workweek.
  • Looks like I can pull the car cover off tomorrow and take a ride.
  • Trying to expand my music horizons.
  • I’m trying to be good but I keep seeing this cheesesteak sub in my dreams.
  • A day to create ahead. Life is good.

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Getting a grip

Do you have a handle on life? I know mine feels precarious quite often. I guess that is normal for all of us at times in our lives. Times of trouble or loss are encountered throughout our histories. I keep thinking there will be a period of calm or normalcy. Well, life and its unpredictable twist and turns is the normalcy. Not the best arrangement for us type-A personalities.

Life is about handling the difficult times and enjoying the good times. Photo by Mike Hartley

I guess that could be one reason we compartmentalize our lives. Tucking those issues away from the general view. Wearing a smile when turmoil rolls inside you. Even if you have best friends to talk to, there are a number of things people never share or can’t. So we are left to handle those. To wrestle internally, to come to peace with it, or live in torment.

It’s like climbing that never-ending rope. Sometimes you hit slick spots and the effort to maintain momentum upward is tough. But we continue to climb.

I’m starting to not fight it or get disappointed when new struggles come my way. Just another thing to overcome.

Bacon – is one of my unhealthy vices. Sorry but it won’t stop, I’ve moderated the volume but stopping is out of the question. Slow-cooked pan-fried bacon. I sometimes write between cooking a few strips at a time. I’m very good at cooking it just right for each person’s taste.

Oh yeah. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s like that tagline for Frank’s Hot Sauce where they say “I put that $#!t on everything.” That is what I think about bacon, it’s good with everything. There I go, I’m hungry again and I have a few pieces left so I think a grilled cheese and bacon is in order on this chilly night in the northeast.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m enjoying the NBA playoffs this year. It’s really entertaining when they play defense, unlike the regular season.
  • If you think you are fooling people, you’re only fooling yourself.
  • The more time behind the viewfinder, the happier I am.
  • Looks like the chances for inclement weather pictures are high for the next several days.
  • It’s very possible to hurt for other people.
  • Somehow when I grab a piece of wood there is a dust problem shortly thereafter.

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Learned a few things today. First is that 6 hours of sleep does not cure the fog of being up for 24 hours. Second is that work takes more energy than I would like to acknowledge. My Monday plans are always more ambitious and grandiose than my powers can meet.

I also learned that while many aspects of life can be disappointing, many others can give you joy and make life good. So look for things that keep you healthy. For instance, today I thought about what carvings I can do for my grandchildren and started to sketch some things out.

I learned that I’m better at overcoming physical pain than mental pain.

I told myself there isn’t an excuse any longer for not taking new images every day. And I’m going to stick to it even if I’m not feeling well or unhappy with the results, I’ll use something new every day. And below is that image for today outside my front door.

Go Lakers. Yeah, those are their colors. Photo by Mike Hartley

Media Thoughts – It’s not what happened to Carlson and Lemon today. It’s where they go or fade into that is the matter. Will they go quietly as a footmark in media history or will they reappear and create even more of whatever you call that type of media? I personally don’t have a clue how it will play out. Carlson is so popular that NewsMax might go for him or maybe he has his own political aspirations. I have a feeling that Don will have a harder time catching on again.

I liked Don at one time years ago but he seemed to become too full of himself in recent years. Carlson, I loathe. He has done great damage and I hope karma catches up with him beyond just losing his job at Fox.

I can’t wait to live in a time where Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun don’t matter anymore and all that matters is the day. And then the next day and the day after that. Where time is measured with visits with my family and time with friends. And what arts I choose to work with that day. Where weeks and months lose significance and time becomes seasons. Where holidays blend into any other day. Where the day to cut the grass is the day convenient for me. Where I don’t have to check the schedule and can jump into the car put the top down and not have to return at a specific time. One can dream, can’t I?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes I don’t have anyone to talk to so I talk to myself.
  • I love the times of year I can step on my front porch when I wake and feel the sun hitting me.
  • There are some things you learn through time that are painful.
  • It’s okay to realize you might not have made the most of today as long as you don’t repeat it tomorrow.

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The weekend has flown by once again. And the job that pays the bills is at the door waiting to consume my night. But tomorrow I see many possibilities. I see a cool morning for sleeping in. I see my workroom is free to be a workroom again and some new tools to test out.

I see my camera batteries are fully charged and maybe that will in turn charge my batteries.

Old home on Main Street in Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

Milestones – Hit 25 years at the current publishing job last week. I didn’t plan on working 50 years in this business but it is within reach if my health holds out. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to retire before that but life has its own plans sometimes. I must say some of my most enjoyable years were with the local papers in this county from 76 to 98

I might be off but I believe this might be the 25th season for my John Deere also.

Not all gutters are ugly. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There are a lot more people in LonelyTown than you think.
  • When you can look back and feel like you had a good weekend, it’s sometimes enough to make it to the next one.
  • The best time to be out and about is when nobody is out and about.
  • I see some football players have suspensions for gambling issues. The first of many to come in sports, unfortunately. And some may not be caught. I can’t believe how every league crawled into bed with one or the other sports bet operation. I’m also wondering when the number of sports shows on gambling about sports eclipses the number of shows talking about the games themselves.
  • I don’t think I’ll ever get used to drinking water instead of Coke.

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Pain and Gain

Waking in pain is not the way I intended to start the day. A few hours of sleep while struggling to find a comfortable position. The recliner seemed to work best with the heat on. Unfortunately, when I did get up it was still with me so I turned to modern medicine for help this morning. Not something I often do at all.

Pain is an interesting advisory. It can be overcome in a lot of instances. Exercise and stretching go a long way in avoiding it in the first place. But it’s unavoidable, especially in your senior years. A wrong step, sleeping in the wrong position, doing stressful physical work, and many others can lead to discomfort that over-the-counter doesn’t touch.

The corner of Frederick Road and St Johns Lane. Photo by Mike Hartley

One of the common threads my closest friends have is our ability to power through the pain. The downside is that our bodies have paid a high price with a number of surgical scares and replacement parts installed. But we always move forward. Sometimes it takes us a while to act and get things fixed but we eventually do.

I believe being active will take us all well into our senior years and keep us healthy.

Gaining momentum and confidence lately. I guess focusing more and executing better helps. I’ve got to start to challenge myself more. It’s easy to go into my favorite town of Ellicott City and grab a few shots. But this county holds a lot of beauty in many spots and I hope to share that this year and beyond.

A cloudy morning yesterday in Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

I almost stopped at Wallas Park to catch some of the area youth at the national pastime of baseball but it must have been opening day or something yesterday. The lines to even get into the park at both entrances and I’m guessing nary a parking space to be had so I passed. I’ll hit it up on a weekday when it’s not so crowded. I need to practice my sports photography so when my grandchildren are of age soon, I’m ready again.

I spent more time coaching or helping out when my own children were playing there than I did taking pictures. But I did catch my daughter stepping into one below. She was a pretty good softball player. I’ll have to see if this old guy is slow on the shutter or not. Sports photography is a lot of timing shots. Back then I was shooting with film and no motor drive so it was hit-and-miss (no pun intended). Now I can fire away, I think the D7100 I use is 6 fps.

This has always been a very active sports county. Fields and facilities have always been at a premium. It’s amazing they have kept up with the growth of the county.

Well, I’m not going to get any chores or crafts done sitting here too long so I’ll see you all later today. Enjoy the sun.

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Open Door policy

My door is always open to friends and family. But I grew up in an era where we talked about blowing each other’s doors off. See the photo below for an example.

Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s time to open a few doors of opportunity. So many wonders are provided to us each day. All we have to do is apply ourselves. I got a bit of a start today with some shooting this morning and time this evening doing some woodworking and photo editing.

I hope to spend several hours on Sunday with a mixture of arts. The body is pretty beaten up from the chores in the yard so I’m going to give it a reprieve. A day of rest but also one of some exercise. I need to get out and walk a good bit this week and see if I can keep the weight loss moving in the right direction.

Remember when you were young 
You shone like the sun
Shine on you crazy diamond

Thank you Pink Floyd
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if concrete were that color? Ellicott Mills Drive just before Main St. Photo by Mike Hartley

Only a few precious days of April left to embrace. I have a lot of important things to do yet in the next week before we roll into May. I think I scheduled a day off before the end of the month. I’ll have to go look and see which one so I don’t miss it.

Along Hamilton St. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes the right time never rolls around.
  • When they said a cold front was rolling through they weren’t kidding.
  • You know it’s really easy to smile. Doesn’t always mean I’m happy though.
  • I wonder if it’s good to leave more spaces between words like musicians leave emptiness between notes?
  • Now that the outside of the car is sparkling it’s time to detail the inside.

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There it is. That inspiration to get up and move. Trouble is that it hit me at 3:15 am, but I rose anyway and got to work. Completing prints from a shoot I did on Wednesday was the first order of business. The client was pleased. And now that the daily chores are complete, it’s time to work on my hobbies again. Even though there are only 6 hours left in this day.

I think this evening is warm enough out to go do some night shooting. I certainly need some fresh images here.

Photos by Mike Hartley

And being it’s a warm night why not put the top down and go through a few gears to the destination? This week I heard way too much talk about electric cars and how many by a certain year. That coupled with the big guys stopping production of conventional muscle cars has me in a state of rebellion.

I will never own a car without a stick shift and combustion engine in it again. To me that is DRIVING. That and a good-handling car. So don’t plan on seeing this old man driving anything that hums.

Earth Day – Tomorrow April 22. – Take care of OUR HOUSE please, not just today but every day.

One of natures Greens Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • No artificial intelligence is in use here. Just real genuine stupidity on display.
  • If you look in the dictionary for the definition of cranky you will see a picture of a tired 4-year-old.
  • If someone had left well enough alone he might not have the adversary he has coming. But no, greed got in the way again.
  • Top-down, frown gone.
  • For some strange reason, I thought washing the cars might be a good idea. Well, they were clean for an hour or two before being covered with pollen again. Such is life.
  • When you can smile no matter what, it’s a good day.

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Each spring one of my favorite trees in the neighborhood is one across the street and down a little from my home. I get to admire its change throughout the seasons and it is beautiful. Sometimes I get off track when I’m mowing my front in the spring and fall looking at it.

I just couldn’t live in a city, of course, this county is starting to feel like one. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes you do your best and move on. Sometimes your flight is delayed and you don’t move on.

Sometimes it’s rewarding to do a full day of physical work. Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night and say I shouldn’t have done that.

Sometimes your perception of love is far different from someone else’s. Sometimes you’re lucky and find something to fill that void.

Sometimes you learn things about the past that you didn’t know before. Sometimes those things are better left in the past because it is the past. (Except for the lessons)

Sometimes you run into a lot of crazy people while out and about. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to make it home again.

Sometimes you get inspired. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to have time to act on that inspiration.

Sometimes I wonder how I’m going to get it all done each day. Sometimes at the end of the day, I ask myself what was I thinking trying to cram all that in one day.

Sometimes looking at another way of thinking can be beneficial. Sometimes thinking is a waste of time.

Sometimes sleeping wrong can ruin a whole day. So sometimes missing a night’s sleep isn’t all that bad.

It’s felt good to lose some weight recently. I’m also allowing myself to eat some really good food still. But just cutting out the sodas and most of the snacks has done wonders. Now the hard part is another 10 lbs.

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Ain’t life a peach? – Feeling content this day. The more things I work out in my mind the more content I am. And by working things out I mean moving them along. Sometimes decisions and new directions. Sometimes the same tried path is chosen. Others awaiting more information or advice.

Adjusting to the changes in people and how you interpret, adjust and respond is constant. And if you don’t do it contentment is hard to find. We all change with time. I change.

All I know is I’m trying to enjoy the ride of life. As the woman who was taking my blood pressure yesterday said as she put the cuff on “go to your happy place.” So I did and I rang one of my lower readings in ages.

Trying to improve on nature is a fruitless task. Photo by Mike Hartley

Todays contentment is mainly due to seeing my granddaughter. Her love is genuine. She reminds me love is the most important thing in life. And that life is all about love. She allows me to tolerate the rest of lifes difficulties and make them seem less part of my day. The thought of her or my grandson takes me to a different place.

She also is in love with the camera and prints of her doing different things. She’s a tough client. She knows what she wants. She wants it fast and to be the editor.

Anyway it got me to pick up the camera and click away with her. I think I’ll get out tomorrow and capture a little be of the county and its people.

Neighbors tree. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Good experience with Advanced Auto Parts today in Ellicott City.
  • Laughing my ass off at FOX. They knew they were going to get buried in court and chickened out. There is a quote on the wall of my job from Ben Bradlee. “The truth is never as dangerous as a lie in the long run.” Or in this case as costly. They have been yelling fake news for years. Well, they got it right. They just had the wrong targets.
  • I got a chance to do something special for a very important person in my life. I hope it helps.
  • Felt good to take a short ride with the top down for the first time in a few weeks. Even if it was running errands.

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Awesome April

The fall colors are certainly beautiful. But spring is something else. Like it’s trying to make up for those grey days of winter. With that breeze, these dogwoods wouldn’t stay still much, but that little blur seemed to create a soft texture.

I like Dogwood Trees like the one in my front yard. Photo by Mike Hartley

May your afternoon be bright and clear. I hope to come back later today inspired.

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Monday Missed

The workweek is off to a fast start. Hope I can keep the good pace of progress I set this weekend going also. My first thought this day turns to our brisk morning and strong breezes. An interesting change of pace from the early summer we were having that last stretch. It feels fresh outside after that light rain in the dark of night.

So I blink my eyes and the day has passed and the seat at work is warm.

It didn’t turn into the day I expected but that is the way things go sometimes. I had to think on my feet a bit and help a family member and an old friend with some wisdom, experience and advice. I’m glad to do it and I hope it helps in both of their situations.

Only time will tell if that can happen. I hope it does and in some ways it would be a great relief to many.

You don’t want to shred through all your money before your time is up.

Photos by Mike Hartley

Give it to me straight doc

That time of year again. The semi annual meeting with the cancer doc is this week. I guess its sort of like going to court and waiting to hear your sentence from the judge. But when you get your sentence the perspective from a criminal is reversed. You want LIFE. To only get a few years is bad news.

The times in between our cancer we are on parole. We have to report and be tested. Interesting how there are parrelles there also. What have you been doing since the last visit? Who have you seen? How are you feeling? Have you traveled? Are you working? What drugs are you taking?

I guess another example would be like a miracle drug cure comes along at the last minute to save your life. Sort of like getting a stay of execution by Presidetial Pardon.

It would be nice to have my previous two offences expunged and be given a clean bill of health one day. But I don’t think that day is this week. But I can hope.

And I remember each day that I’m a lucky one. I’m still here kicking after a few challenges. I’m feeling good while many aren’t and are suffering. I count my blessings each morning.

I think I’ll hit my lucky greasy spoon before going into the ward.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The shorter my hair is the more I can feel the breeze through it.
  • There is a logical explanation for almost everything. The issue is, a lot of us aren’t logical.
  • I wish I got outside more today.
  • I’m worried about one of my best friends who is sick.
  • If they could make water taste like Coke, I’d be much happier.

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Isn’t it beautiful!

I wrote that title without defining or even thinking about what “it” was before starting this post titled “Isn’t it beautiful.” Looking for beauty makes me look in a positive direction. Plus I like finding many “its” throughout the day. For instance, it was a beautiful morning. After an hour or two of trimming and weed-whacking the yard is beautiful again.

My better half was beautiful this day. The sky was beautiful before the clouds came. The lone dandelion weed in my front yard was beautiful, mainly for the reason there weren’t hundreds of them like next door.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I might look at a car and see beauty. My better half sees a car. Some may consider the rolling sand hills in a desert beautiful and others see desolation. Some may look at a stone and just see a big rock. Others see beauty.

Beautiful headstone at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The sound of the workweek starting up again is not beautiful.
  • The dead battery in my locked car is not beautiful.
  • The mess surrounding me in my office is not beautiful.
  • Having my health today though was beautiful.
  • Having family and friends this weekend was beautiful.
  • Having some good cancer test results this week would be beautiful.

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Rain Rain go away

Boy, we had a nice stretch of weather. But that thunder last night while struggling to sleep was an indication it was changing today and boy did it. A nice soaking rain early and another round this afternoon I believe. That is ok, I needed some time to assemble my new power washer and do a few indoor things. And here is that opportunity.

Sunflowers in rain Photo by Mike Hartley

Sorry about using the above rain photo again. I do like it because I can still remember that day. I was looking out the front door about to leave and this downpour started. But the sun was out and I glanced over at my neighbor’s garden out front from my porch and saw this so I grabbed the camera just a second or two before the clouds covered the sun. Timing can be everything.

Time to Change

As they say, the only constant in life is change. So why fight it, I think I’ll get on board and make some changes myself. Who knows, maybe I’m behind the times and haven’t kept up with change.

A week or two ago I mentioned a change in trying to reduce my soda intake. I also started watching meals and how much I was snacking. I got on a scale this morning and low and behold it has numbers under 200 on it. Checked in at 198 lbs and was SHOCKED. That was about 12 lbs in 2 weeks. As Robin once said to Batman “Holy guacamole”

I’m sure that pace will slow because my optimal weight I believe is around 185-190 lbs. And they say those last few are the hardest but only time will tell. I’m looking forward to getting into some nice shorts I had that weren’t fitting the last few years. So there is another plus side. I expanded my wardrobe without going shopping. Hell yeah. And my better half thought I should get rid of them.

Blowing the DUST OFF

I’m sure my neighbors might not be happy but my better half and her sister left this morning for a day trip and I’m blowing the dust off the speakers this morning. The house is closed up so I’m sure it’s not too loud but I will take a step outside to make sure in a minute or two. Not like I’m doing this often at all and I put up with far more than I dish out.

NFL Draft coming end of the month. Hey, what’s that Lacrosse goal doing on the football field? Oh, you forgot you were in the GREAT STATE of Maryland, did you? Well here is your daily reminder.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Well surprise surprise, I assembled the new power washer purchased from Home Depot. Well as much as I could because we have parts missing which is the first thing I thought of when I saw the tape job on the bottom looked a little unusual as I was going through all the cardboard packing. Like it had been opened already. Lo and behold all the nozzles are missing.

I was pretty good about not going there because I’ve had problems with ordering things online for delivery here before. And that hassle that put me through was painful. Now this bull. So another trip back with the receipts and dealing with this problem will hopefully teach me a lesson NEVER TO WALK IN HOME DEPOT AGAIN. If I have to I’ll wait to have it ordered from Clarks Ace Hardware instead of going someplace else in the future. Lesson learnt as they would say down south.

Here I was in a good mood this morning and they had to go and F it up. Now I got to turn that around again. Don’t worry I bounce back quicker than I used to. When you have to recover from adversity from many experiences over and over you get good at either turning it around or just becoming a very unhappy person. I choose the former.

As the Foo Fighters say

It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Had a nice family day yesterday. Got some exercise and had a wonderful dinner together. My grandson has an obsession with my glasses.
  • Not everyone who goes into the Big Belly Deli in Sykesville has a big belly. But the establishment is working on it.
  • The local gas station in Waverly Woods has stopped raping people on gas prices. Yeah, they are 5-10 cents higher still than everyone else but that 25-30 cent a gallon difference has gone. I still won’t go there except to fill up the mower gas cans.
  • I was glad to see that mother of the 6-year-old who shot their teacher was charged. Don’t understand why the father wasn’t unless there isn’t one there.

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There is a time

There is a time, and that time is MORNINGS. I love mornings. And the shift I work now only allows me to really enjoy 3 of them because most of the time I’m going to bed just before sunrise or minutes after. So I’m really looking forward to the first week where I can get out of bed after a good nights rest and watch the sun come up for a week straight and then get on with the day with the right attitude.

And have that from that point forward.

I think I’m happiest first thing in the mornings. Photo by Mike Hartley

OK, rant about Artificle Intelegence. first off its not artificial, its based of REAL human expressions of words, arts, photos, videos. Its just reasbled/rehashed into some supposedly new form. To me its just a giant form of plagurism. It’s also going to be dangerous and if you not keeping up with those possibilities you might be fooled by one before you even know it.

I don’t like it and its just a continuation of eroded ethics that started long ago in this electronic age. If I were a really good photographer I’d be certain there are people taking my images. Who knows, some may have taken some of my mediocre ones already.

All I know is I have more trepidation about AI than I do hope.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The ratio of people willing to do something about it versus those who just want to bitch about everything is getting worse.
  • Arming teachers is not the solution, nor is armed police at every school or building or church, or where ever.
  • Sometimes you think you know someone and then you learn something and realize you really don’t know them.
  • The day is before us, what will we make of it?


Almost here

Hold on tight. The weekend is almost here. I worked very hard today and for the first half of tomorrow I’ll do the same but after that, it may be time to cut loose a bit. So grab your paddle, fly your flag, call your family and friends, and get down to having a good time.

A good way to avoid the crowds on the road in OC, especially at sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

The family plans are already set but I still have to set some friends’ plans for Saturday. So it’s going to be a great weekend. Or at least that is the hope.

Well, we are still flying this in our 60s. I wonder if it will make it into our 70s and 80s? Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes you get some really unexpected surprises.
  • Some hard physical work today felt good in a few ways.
  • I’m actually getting used to drinking more water. Who knew I could pull that one off?
  • Here I was ready to watch my Yankees tonight and they get blown out early.
  • Felt good to soak up some sun today. I got a bit of color again on my skin.

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Endings and beginnings

Feeling like I had a productive day yesterday given I wasn’t feeling 100%. I would like to have gotten more yard work completed but that wasn’t in the energy reserves. I’m just glad to have made it to the end of one day and the beginning of another. Despite other things going poorly, I’m really enjoying life.

I missed last night’s sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

I ramble on about retirement here and there. And I see that as an ending and a beginning. Stepping out of one career into a few others. My chance to become the artist I thought I would be as a youth.

A chance to end some poor health ways and correct my rest and eating issues. I’m not heavy, I just eat the wrong things.

It will also be the beginning of some travels. We haven’t had a ton of disposable funds in the past and now we will have the time and hopefully the money.

It will end the drama of the job and take away those pressures to respond and of course free up about 50 hours a week. Yeah, I cut back from the 60-70 hour weeks I used to put in.

I’m wondering if I retire before my best friends if that will influence them on when to hang up the title.

We are looking at my kind of weather today, the mid-80s and sunny. I just love getting outside and start working on the summer tan while getting some outdoor time. We have company coming so I might have to be social for a bit but I hope to wash the vehicles and work on cleaning the deck as well as continue the tree trimming in the next few days.

A toast to a great today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you watch the body cam footage of these active shooter situations you realize police are vastly underpaid and underappreciated.
  • I guess Subway Sub Shop is going all in with the amount of advertising they are doing this year. My bet is it won’t work.
  • Feeling very alone in the world.
  • What a day.

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The early bird gets the worm and then fishes with it.

Fishing the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Mike Hartley

The sun it out, temps are nice and shorts are the order of the day for clothing. Feels good to get outside and get some chores done. Feels good to be healthy enough to be out. I think that is what I hated most after surgeries, being inside on nice days. Drove me nuts thinking back.

It still sticks with me today not to take simple things like being up and around for granted. I get joy from walking to the mailbox and back. I look at the shade of blue sky, I smell the air and feel the warmth or chill of the temps. I hear a neighbor yell hello and return a friendly greeting. Usually I don’t even look at what we got till I get back inside because I don’t want to miss something. Like the local Hawk flying by to its favorite tree in my back yard. Or the box turtle slowly crawling under my shed or my neighbors garden.

So I have a smile on my face also knowing half the workweek is behind me and lots of family time on the horizon.

I’m missing my sons dog. We have been watching her the last few days and she is a loving one and so easy to have. We had pets all our lives with the exception of the last several years. The loss and hurt when they pass has been too much for my better half. I’ve thought about doing some volunteer work at the local adoption place near my home when I retire just for the contact with animals. The love they share makes me feel good and I’d like that feeling more often.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Farside cartoons first make you think and then laugh.
  • Step away from electronic devices and get a balance in your life.
  • There is a fine line between you and the fish on the other end.
  • The better I get at scheduling the more I’m getting done. I’m just limited on the resources. I booked me, myself, and I each an 8-hour shift. Apparently, someone is slacking off.

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What I do with my time is the most precious commodity I have. Sometimes I wonder if I’m wasting some rambling on here each day right or should I just concentrate on the photo part? Or should I abandon that and focus on other arts? I don’t feel I waste a lot of time. I might check FB every 2-3 days for a few minutes. I don’t belong to Twitter, Instagram or TikTok, or whatever flavor of the day social media is. I don’t spend my day immersed in email or the smartphone.

I have a photo site with about 7500 images and growing that I’m going to make into something someday. And I have this mishmash of a blog. I guess I continue because it makes me happy. It doesn’t feel like work. Well, most of the time. Sometimes when my head isn’t on straight or depressed, it becomes difficult to write.

But I got to admit that I like it and find blogging somewhat therapeutic.

Don’t you dare roll through that STOP SIGN! Photo by Mike Hartley

“No Excuses” is a good motto to live by. I was thinking about this on the job the other day. I forgot to send something at the end of the shift because another coworker forgot to do something they promised to do earlier in the evening and I had to do that after my shift ended and forgot to get back to that last task of the shift because I was miffed. I thought about talking to my boss to explain myself and I said “No excuses.” Despite having to do something else unplanned I should have still done my role. So I didn’t make an excuse or talk to the boss.

I think I’ll try to go forward and not make any excuses. (let’s see how long that last)

Now, which boat do you want to be in the storm? Photo by Mike Hartley

Family is like the tide. Sometimes in and sometimes out. Being older and seeing my own family go through huge changes through decades and seeing other close families it’s an amazing thing. And sometimes surprises happen that are least expected. And sometimes things that seemed destined sadly become that way.

I’ve had some recent family successes and it feels good. Even for something I thought was over at one time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Everything changes, but I thought the hope was for the better. Now I’m not so sure.
  • Raising children is difficult enough with both parents’ and grandparents’ involvement and support. Anything less is a miracle.
  • The reason we can’t get past important issues is that we are of two different minds.
  • It’s ok to admit you’re tired. You might find yourself in the majority.

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Miscellaneous Sunday

This is the first real weekend I’ve had in a while. Most are fairly short or packed with activities. Yes, I was busy with a few errands but overall it was a relaxing and fulfilling time. I do miss seeing my children on a holiday weekend but we have to share and do so willingly. We get a majority of the holidays being most inlaws are out of town.

And while it’s a holiday season for many we work every Easter Sunday every year. And no it’s not a company-observed holiday. So we deal with it. Hopefully, it will be a quiet shift.

Seafood and Summer go together. Fresh crabs and oysters. Many types of fish. The fresh tuna from offshore and rockfish from the bay. The mention of shrimp, scallops, and lobster all set the tastebuds yelling YES and to bring the butter.

Sing it LOUD. Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’m going to try to get to Pappas Restaurant this month. I have a taste for one of their crabcakes.

Walmarts –

I was reading a long thread on area Walmart stores on NextDoor (a source of great entertainment). The original complaint was long lines at checkout and limited cashiers. And of course, it dissolved quickly into complaints about customer service. About young people not wanting to work. about illegal immigrants taking the jobs and then quitting to get unemployment (yeah I loved this one). About poor store management or that it was some political official’s fault and on and on and on.

Well to all that noise I answer all of you with this. I think there is an old adage about the rule of 3 (good cheap and fast) and you can only have 2. At Walmart, you apparently only get one. The big box places have reduced or killed some old locally owned businesses. It happened long ago.

I didn’t like it when the first Walmart went into Ellicott City. I refuse to shop at any Walmart. I only go to Home Depot or Lowes if I can’t get it a Clarks Hardware. The oldest hardware in the state they say. Even if they have to order it or I pay a few more dollars than the other place. Customer service is always there and has been from the start and that is why they are still here today and why I patronize them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • To all celebrating Easter, Passover, and Ramadan a good day.
  • I missed posting yesterday by 10 minutes. Broke over a hundred-day streak. That will teach me to take a nap late at night.
  • Last week was nice. Hoping to improve on it again this week.
  • I’m always sad when our pet-sitting time is over not having a pet of our own anymore.

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I didn’t realize how much of the population lives along the water in this country. Almost 40% from a stat by NOAA from January of this year. I guess a lot of people followed their dreams. I can certainly see the draw. I sat here this morning remembering several times in my life I thought about it.

Like every time I go to the beach. But I always come back to the point where it’s a great place to visit I don’t want to live there. Unless my family and all my friends pick up and go with me, I can’t leave home. And while it’s a hell of a close race some days of the year a vast majority I say no go.

Even a cloudy misty day at the beach is a winner. Photo by Mike Hartley

The selfish me. There are few things I like more than having my feet in the sand and listening to the waves hit the shore in between some of my favorite music while soaking up rays of sunshine. Where my formal attire is a pair of swim shorts, a towel, sunglasses, flip flops, and my floppy hat. Where I can cruise with the top down and smell the salt air and my music inspires people to dance at the crosswalks. Where I can eat crabs each day in many different ways and always fresh. The land of ice cream and many other frozen concoctions. Morning doughnuts from the Fractured Prune and watching the sun come up on the Atlantic. Listening to the 1812 Overture from the deck at Fagers Island watching the sunset on the bay. Walking, riding bikes, and photographing in between.

The real me. While those few moments at the beach take away months of stress each day, nothing comes near the time with my children and grandchildren. Those moments of hugs or clasped hands surpass anything. Sometimes just eye contact or a shared laugh. Sometimes a shared tear. It’s not like we are constantly together. We all have our own lives but any opportunity that we can share life, be of help or assistance, facilitate a vacation together, or just grab a meal or activity together or visit at each other’s home is what I live for.

As the sub captain would say, Dive Dive. Illustration by Mike Hartley

While some friends have moved away or passed my two best friends remain here and that bond is a very strong one. I can’t say nobody will move but it will be a ways away and I don’t think it will happen. I mean we have been together since our early teens, so we will always be together no matter where we are.

So while the waves draw me to the ocean. Just like the surfer they always return us inland.

Lyrics I liked today.

“Wondering aloud, will the years treat us well?” from the song Wondering Aloud by Jethro Tull

“When I’m sad, she comes to me. With a thousand smiles, she gives to me free.” from the song Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix

“And maybe it’s the time of year
Yes, and maybe it’s the time of man
And I don’t know who I am
But life is for learning” from the song Woodstock by CSN.

Random Thoughts of the Young Day

  • I hope this is the last of the cold snaps.
  • It’s funny that sometimes when I’m alone I’m very happy. And sometimes very sad. But rarely in between
  • If you aren’t hit with waves of emotion fairly often you’re not living.

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Friday follies

I had a great night with my best friends Thursday evening. What a crew we are. I owe a lot of my happiness in life to those guys. And again as has been a tradition for decades being today was opening day, they wore their Orioles tee shirts and I had on my Yankee jacket.

The Old Captain above. Aaron Judge was a fine choice to replace him. Photo by Mike Hartley

Opening day in Baltimore. A day for the city to be seen in a positive light. There is a lot of work to be done in this state and this city is going to be a fair indication of success or failure.

But this team may have the horses and along with a fine coach might take them far this season. Optimism is in the air. And with the home opening day victory, they are off to a good start.

Don’t worry, the grass is starting to green up fella. Photo by Mike Hartley

Change of schedule

Wow, a free Friday. Well somewhat free. The downside, I miss my granddaughter greatly, who we usually watch today. On the upside, I got some time to work on my hobbies. So in essence I’ll still be doing something for her because she has wanted me to make her a horse. So I’m busy figuring out one that will keep her happy while I begin work on a nice one. Her idea of how long it takes to make something hasn’t fully formed yet. But she is a smart one for 4 years old.

She does appreciate it. I love giving things to kids, you get a very honest opinion and they won’t hesitate to tell you about flaws in it. So they help you improve without you taking offense. Because it’s impossible to be upset with a child telling the truth. I usually go the other way and thank them for being so observant. And the best gift is a hug when you give it to them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ll be loving life more when it’s one long unending weekend.
  • Life is short, make it sweet.
  • There is a time for everything said no one.
  • The less drama, the better the life.

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Here’s looking at you kid

Another beautiful day so far. Each day is its own wonder. The more I accomplish the better the day. I’m breaking things down into smaller tasks to keep feeling good and make it a habit.

What starts well sometimes doesn’t continue that way. I guess the good vibes died like my car battery this afternoon. Click Click Click.

Sometimes the goal is to accomplish some rest and relaxation. And I think that might be on the agenda later tonight and tomorrow morning. Then again I need to do that night shooting.

History always looks a little strange unless you were there. Photo by Mike Hartley

The Red Cross has reminded me that it’s National Volunteer Month. Being my volunteer time is limited to NONE, I guess I’ll make a donation. They have had a busy spring so far.

Favorite lines in songs I listened to today.

“The do-er and the thinker, no allowance for each other.” – From the song Thick as a Brick by the group Jethro Tull

“Let’s get together before we get much older.” – From Baba O’riley by The WHO

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel rushed today.
  • And when I feel rushed I have trouble thinking of thoughts of the day.
  • I don’t like it when I can’t remember all the interesting thoughts I had before I sat down
  • I know they came and now they are gone.
  • I went out to put the cover on the car before the rain and thought, why am I covering a polled-covered car? It could use the bath from Mother Nature and I’ll do the rest tomorrow.

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It’s OK to go back

Sometimes I’ll go through some old folders of images and I’ll run across one that I didn’t choose the first go-round but grew on me the second time around.

I really hoped to take advantage of the last few days but work and chores have again made that window close. No problem, tomorrow is another day and I sense some open minutes to photograph.