THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

Leave a comment

A morning ride

Felt great to get out this morning and thankfully it was nice enough for the top to come down on the car. With both cameras beside me and in a relaxed frame of mind I was really feeling alive. I’ve noticed a difference when I head out to take some images. First is my interest and senses are raised. I feel like my head is on a swivel that doesn’t want to miss a thing. Like my first shot that was kind of behind me as I came down Woodstock Rd. Being most of it is closed for construction and traffic at the morning hour was none, I turned my head and caught the sun just trying to peak over the morning clouds. So I pulled into the snowball stand parking lot and got out for this.

The first shot of the morning.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I pointed the car west for a bit and the richness of the countryside came out. I used to enjoy cruising this county for miles but now it seems you can’t go any distance without a new development of homes that start in the upper hundreds of thousands of dollars, dotting the landscape.

A pair.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s still a county filled with beauty. I tend to look more at the natural parts of it than our cities. So I’m going to try to balance that a bit better and force myself to shoot some in Columbia as well as the small towns. Which also makes me think I had better get busy doing more photography in DC before they put me out to pasture at the job that pays the bills.

Insert moo here.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s nice to see these (Farmland Forever) signs. Oh, another point I’d like to make signs. Allan K. You have enough signs up.

Speaking of farmland, the Howard County Fair will be coming up soon.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Oh deer, and there are too many of these around this year. Time to thin the heard.

You looking at ME?
Photo by Mike Hartley

These two were playing and horsing around as I came by. I make a u turn, park and they both stop, see the camera and put their heads down. Talk about camera-shy.

Camera shy.
Photo by MIke Hartley

Life is about balance. I guess I had to get my fill of country this morning before returning to the concrete jungles, elevators and parking garages of the city.

How now black cow?
Photo by Mike Hartley

Being that I didn’t get a shot I liked much this morning, I’m going to try to do some more shooting today. Practice makes perfect. Well at least acceptable.

Leave a comment

Another blast out before dawn

No that is not me surfing. My days of surfing ended while body boarding many years ago. As a matter of fact getting head planted in the surf a few times along with those car crashes may be why my back talks to me in tongues. I’m going with the contributing factor at least. Now I take pictures of surfers. But I couldn’t decide which to use here so I burden your senses with both.

Catching the first rays of the day.
Photo by MIke Hartley

I’ll take a picture of anything really. So this morning I’m heading out to a few spots in Howard County to see what I could capture. Actually its a nice excuse to get out and cruise with the top down on a nice summer morning. But I’ve wanted to get busy documenting this county a bit better.

I think I like this shot better than the first one.
Photo by MIke Hartley

And I see the sky preparing for the sunrise so let me grab my few old cameras and hit the road.

Random Thoughts of the Day

You can’t do what you didn’t do in the first place. So do the next best thing and do something.

My sister in-law is the Cat Whisperer. And I love her for it.

Getting new neighbors is always exciting. This neighborhood was getting a bit long in tooth anyway.

Someone please tell me the weekend isn’t about to end.

Leave a comment

Just flip flopping around

My favorite footwear this time of year is flip-flops. Actually flip-flops represent about a 1/3 of my shoe wear. Someone has to balance out the 3 rooms of shoes my better half has. In my first week back to work from the beach, I felt like I was losing the karma of the visit. The sounds of waves were fading. The kids laughter on the beach was becoming faint.

By the 3rd day back, I had to schedule a few more days of vacation so I can make a return to the ocean over the next month and get that sand between my toes again. A cruise (day trip) down to the ocean is one of my favorite things to do. It’s a nice quiet day. It allows me to reflect and recharge.

Flip and Flop
Photo by Mike Hartley

I leave just before sunrise with the top down and music on. I also do this on a weekday so traffic is not an issue. Maybe I’ll stop at the Bay Bridge and do some shots of that amazing structure. Pulling into Ocean City still in the early morning hours allows for some beach time before prime baking (burning hours). A casual lunch, a cruise up coastal highway and then a stop for an ice cream soda to cool things down. A late meal at Fagers Island, watch the sunset over the bay and then the casual drive home.

Of course between those items I try to snap a few photos around town. I was thinking about taking one day and just concentrating on getting a few good images and maybe I’ll do that also.

This morning I went down to pay my respects to my parents at Arlington National Cemetery.  It was a bit different this time, I went there and just visited with them. I usually take a walk after my visit and some photos around the vast grounds. Maybe wander over to the Kennedy gravesite or the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At the minimum a drive around the grounds to see where they are expanding or maybe a spot I haven’t seen before. I had the cameras with me but I didn’t even take them out of the bags. I sat in the shade of a tree for a while and just talked to them.

I gave them updates on just about everything. I apologized for missing my spring visit. I watched the robins land on headstones beside them. I always say hello to their neighbors, (there is a Medal of Honor) gentleman buried right beside them. It was stressful coming into the cemetery and leaving as usual, but it was contentment while visiting. Its funny, some people I’m sure never go to a cemetery besides when a person is laid to rest. Others go dutifully. I don’t look at it as a duty at all. For some strange reason it feels like the right thing to do. Yes I occasionally look at their pictures on my walls and tell them about how proud I am of my children. Or that my better half is so special or just a thanks for the opportunities they gave me.

But my real talks with them are at graveside. That is why I like to go alone most of the time. For those of you who choose not to go. Please don’t think I’m passing any judgement. Sometimes I even have the thought that they are saying to me, don’t spend too much time here, concentrate on living life each moment. But for me spending a few moments a year together is living to me. It reminds me of the right path sometimes when I’m getting lost.

Random Thoughts of the Day

It feels good to be actively blogging again.

I have found a new favorite bread. Garlic Cheese bread.

Almost time to fire up the grill, going to do some Chicken today.

It was one of my best friends birthdays this week. When we were young we used to tease each other about being “Old as Dirt”. Its reminded me to make good use of the years we have left because that phrase is becoming more accurate.

Leave a comment

Early risers

Yes I’m up most days before the break of dawn. One of the better parts of the day I must add. Things smell fresh. A sunrise fills your heart with positive energy. The sounds of birds coming to life and other than those its a peaceful quiet. No power tools running, no cars starting or driving by. No people yelling.

Nice start to the day.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I hope everyone had a good morning and a good start to a wonderful Friday. At least that is my hope for the day. My goal is to be as relaxed as this guy by the end of the day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

People are incredibly awe-inspiring and at the same time hugely disappointing. All you have to do is open your eyes to see both.

I’ve been trying to help myself more the last two weeks. I think it helps me help others more if I’m healthy.

My daughter pointed out a nasty flaw of mine recently and I’m trying very hard to change it. Thank you honey.

Truth matters.

I’m surprised I have so many random thoughts before noon.

I’ve got to have a snowball today. Cherry of course.

It’s a good thing there are more people with integrity than those without.


A weekend and a lifetime in Maryland

Hey its mid summer, what do we do in Maryland? We eat crabs and lots of them. One of my favorites meals prepared many ways, all of which are satisfying. From sitting at a picnic table with newspapers as the tablecloth and a pile of fresh crustaceans in front of you to maybe a crab imperial or crabcake or stuffed shrimp or maybe a crab scampi. Of course don’t forget the soft shell options.


Crabs everywhere, even 8 foot ones on walls.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Well of course that cost money, and that is why we work. But my work week is done and I’m feeling better after getting dehydrated in the sun this afternoon. I think a late night drive might be in order. Maybe some attempts at night shots. I did take the tripod upstairs earlier.

I read today where Maryland is ranked the 48 worst state to retire in by this site. Well here are my short feelings about that. Yeah cost of living is through the roof. Yeah its on the wrong side of crime on average. The highest ranking we got in any category was in weather and that was ranked 20th.

I almost painted a 4 on one butt cheek and a 8 on the other to take a picture and send to them, but then paused and calmed down. Lived here all my life and I love it. I will most likely pass here if my children and friends are still here. And those two look like pretty strong bets. You get all 4 seasons here but not usually extremes at any. If you live mid state (and its a small one if you haven’t looked at a map) you can be at the ocean or mountains in less than 3 hours. You have the Chesapeake Bay (one of the most beautiful waterways in the world). You have cities and rural areas.

You have one of the best Atlantic beaches. Lakes and waterways. Hunting and fishing in any direction. You’re a stones throw from the Nations Capital and all the wonderful sights there. Or maybe the Civil war battlefields at Antietam or just across the state line in Gettysburg.

You have some of the best schools in the country along with some of the worst ones. Work is plentiful if you want it. Or if you don’t you can snow ski or water ski in the same state. Lets see you pull that off Florida.

Yes it has changed. It used to be a much more friendly state. It used to be more of a blue-collar state but government and tech have boomed here so it’s a lot more white-collar now. It’s also far more diverse than it used to be and you see people struggle with it.

The worst plague on it seems to be the explosion of people and endless development. Infrastructure isn’t keeping pace and never really did in the last 5 decades I’ve been observing it. The endless traffic causes a lot of hostility. But then on the flip side if you’re not opposed to some late night rides you have some of the best roads around.

It’s a great sports state. Tons of very good college and pro teams within a short drive to support. Culture galore (obviously I haven’t explored that too well). I do know there is a fairly high degree of intelligent people here. There are also no shortage of selfish self focused folk also. But I meet far better than worse.

I love the Maryland flag. But all that stuff, except for the part about family and friends being here is the only one that matters. Yeah I could sell my home for a nice profit, I can take my very small pension and miniscule savings and social security to another state when its time to retire and make things stretch further. But then I would be dead from sadness in short order.

I know nothing in my own family and friends will ever stay exactly the same. But I kind of hope it does in terms of our locations. And that is here in Maryland and I’ll be glad to retire here. I mean once I don’t have to drive in and out of DC each day life will be a piece of cake. As in crabcakes with OLD BAY. To everyone else. I’m sorry, we would be #1 if we were including seafood in the rankings. But its always #1 in this household.

Leave a comment

Don’t you want one each time you see one?

Boats, I love being on them even though I don’t get that treat very often. I’ve never owned one. My best friend did and I see it’s a lot more work than you think. But done right seem to provide a lot of enjoyment. All I know is when I found this shot from last week my mind transported me to the shore for a few moments.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Unfortunately the events of the last few days have put a damper on my spirits but I’m just about done with the work week at the job that pays the bills. And that means more time to try a few more quality post. I think I started at least 5 new ones today but had to break away for chores like taking pictures of my shattered patio slider door for the landscaping companies insurance.

But I did do something useful. I was able to make dinner so my better half could just come in and eat for a change of pace.

Random Thoughts of the Day

Work isn’t so bad. It just took my 5 decades to get used to it.

Quality time with family and friends is not a phone call or a single drink together.

Most people don’t know what being alone is like. And we should be thankful for that.

At no time in my life did I ever think education would be over. But I’m approaching old age and there is that phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

Its going to be a grand weekend.

Leave a comment

Observing life

One of the things I didn’t take time to do this year on vacation, was to sit on a bench on the boardwalk in OC and take in various slices of life. It’s always entertaining and fun. We did walk the boards one night and stopped for Tony’s pizza and some shrimp jammers. But only when sitting do you have time to appreciate the diversity of people. Vacation spots bring everyone together. But I did manage to make a few observations without that sit down on the boards.

From the Mennonites eating at Happy Jacks to the multi colored multi pierced walking pieces of artwork on the boardwalk. The family with a father and mother holding the hand of each young child to the wild bachelorette party with the same tee shirts clad young ladies ready to party. The foreign workers speaking with many accents here for the summer to the waitresses and waiters that have worked in the town for decades and live local and who sometime recognize you from past visits.

Families from long distances and town that are rivals during the winter season (Pittsburg) staying next door to a family (us) from Baltimore. Security and police at many spots, all uniforms filled by what appears to be the last high school graduation class with a few exceptions. Licence plates from many states. Sitting at a restaurant having a great meal and seeing old friends seeing each other for the first time in a while.

Wall to wall people at the beach if you pick the wrong street to set up on. The wildest assortment of swim attire on the planet. The sun bouncing off so many-colored beach umbrellas that it must look like a rainbow on the ground from space. The water, oh the water. The sound, the smell of the salt air, the COOLING effect is has when the sun has baked you.

From my daughter and son laughing like they did when they were young providing my better half and I great joy, to an annoying little girl screaming at the top of her lungs for minutes till her mom finally stepped in at a nice restaurant. To the endless decisions on what flavor and method of ice cream to get at Dumser’s that everyone faces at the counter to the immediate food buy at Belly Busters because you haven’t eaten in a good while. (that was a damn good cheese steak).

To the workers flying or boating the billboards to the guys up all night cleaning the beaches. To the guys driving huge trucks making many deliveries is places you couldn’t fit a Volkswagen bug into. There is a hive of work and activity while most sleep or rest on the beach.

Then there is the morning crew. People up early despite being on vacation out for the morning walk of the dogs. Or maybe a run with the headphones. Or just a drive up and down coastal highway when there is no traffic except for the jobbers heading to the latest construction projects. Or maybe like us on the way to rent bikes on the boardwalk at 7am before the heat of the morning makes that an unpleasant experience.

I saw a lot more and most of it made me smile. Some of it though was still sad. Some homeless, some old who might be seeing it for the last time. Some still bitter, unable to relax and enjoy and unwind. Some thoughtless and rude. But there is far more positive there than bad so I know I was encouraged by the life I observed. And my family says they had a good time so this was a GREAT vacation for me then.

If you’re going to look this bad, you should be standing next to a Harley, not a bicycle.

The Look
Photo by Mike Hartley