THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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There is something missing

July 4th just isn’t the same in our family anymore without our parent’s generation present. But we will gather and remember them this weekend. And by we, I mean a few of us. The days of complete family gatherings have come and gone. Some members sadly removed themselves from the whole.

I saw my better half had started to lay a few things out Friday night. Photo by Mike Hartley

I found some special old images that I’ll be giving to one family member of their grandparents. Sometimes it still seems strange I’m at that point (being a grandparent) but it’s one of life’s great experiences in my opinion.

Life is about going through these stages and that is if you are a lucky person just to get the chance to see and appreciate it all.

Creating is fun. What could have been if I started earlier? Don’t worry I’m not spending more than a few seconds a day with the thought of being disgusted by my wasting time. It’s fuel to remind me to make the best of today.

My goal is to finish a new collage by midnight. Maybe spend an hour two woodworking. Pick up the cameras again and also upload some images to Zenfolio.

By the way, I found out where all those people on the road are now.

Bethany Beach is Umbrella to Umbrella. Photo by Mike Hartley

I brought a little of the Eastern Shore of Maryland back with me this week in the fashion of Sweet Corn which I will be putting on the grill tomorrow for lunch. I’ve cooked them naked before but it’s a bit drier than I like when I wrap them in foil and cook them that way. I haven’t tried the direct cooking in the husk in some time but I think I’ll try a few ears that way tomorrow also.

I’ll share a shot of the finished result tomorrow. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Being within a year or two of retirement my mind really starts to wonder when I’m on vacation with the thought of so much time and all the things I can do with that time on a permanent basis.
  • My better half doesn’t know it yet but the basement is becoming an Art Gallery.
  • Tomorrow is weigh-in day. I was doing good mid-week but I’m still learning discipline. I’m only getting on the scale once a week so as to not obsess.
  • Leaf blower or broom? I’m going with the power tool here.
  • The future will redefine the word divided. Unless we all decide to change it.

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Out of the gate

I kind of feel like a jockey whose horse just broke from the gate in the lead or maybe a drag racer with a textbook hole shot, or perhaps just an old guy up early trying to knock out some chores so we can enjoy the weekend.

Get out early today, might not be smooth sailing later today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Regardless it feels good to be active early. It’s so lovely keeping a schedule everyone else is on and not flipping back and forth due to work. I’ve needed this break from the job and that shift change to relax and regain perspective.

Manual power is rewarding. Photo by Mike Hartley

It was nice getting up before dawn today. Because now at 11 am it’s getting pretty warm to be working outside much longer. Yesterday I got a little too much sun time and not enough hydration and felt a little strange. Been pumping fluids today to not start off with a low tank.

I have to do a lot more thinking and planning now that I’m not a teenager in the body any longer. My better half still insists I’m 18 in mind. I don’t agree but others may think she is generous. I recently had a 4-year-old grandchild of one of my best friends tell my better half that she likes me a lot because I’m funny. It’s good to know your audience.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m showing some improvement on not being such a hoarder. Not that I’m bad but I do fall on that side of the scale.
  • You know that when you have friends that are 4-5 decades old and you get together and you make more great times along the way even after all the amazing ones in the past, you’re a lucky person.
  • I’m excited about redesigning my workspaces. Long overdue.
  • Be careful with the heat and on the highways.

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A first

I have spent some time on the beach but I’ve never seen a fox on a beach in Ocean City. Let alone in the middle of town on 56th street. It appeared to have a bit of mange which I believe can be deadly for them.

Not the creature I was expecting at the beach. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Tomorrow is just another day unless you’re not here for it. Be careful out there on the roads.
  • I can see it. Not too far in the distance. There it is on the horizon. The land of permanent vacation or commonly known as retirement.
  • If there were a theme song for this evening it would probably be Hot Summer Nights by VH.
  • A waste = someone who buys a convertible and has the top up when it’s sunny and warmer than 70 degrees.

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Don’t get burned

I was like this seagull below the last few days. I cruised in the heat of the day but didn’t get burned. Sort of like the safe zone he seems to be soaring in. I’m probably not as cautious as I should be about sun exposure. I have very close friends with skin cancer issues so the warning is right in front of me.

Seagull cruising between the fire of the sky last night at sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

Nothing on me got burned and that should be the objective each time. Since I got married many decades ago, she has been good at reminding me to do the sunscreen. I don’t remember using it before I met her. But I do get lazy and have burned in the past, mostly from staying out too long. My children reminded me a few months ago when we were talking about ocean trips of them looking out the balcony of me on the beach still at 5 pm doing my best impression of a cooked lobster on the beach.

When the kids were young I would be out at sunrise trying to make sand animals on the beach. Maybe come in for a coke and sandwich at lunch and back out. If I didn’t just skip lunch altogether. Now at the most is 3-4 hours at the beach. A long break and maybe the pool in the afternoon for another few hours at the most.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Peace of mind is a fleeting thing somedays. But I’m on a roll this week.
  • I really shouldn’t have stopped in Candy Kitchen before leaving the beach.
  • Tomorrow is going to be great. I hope to share some of it with you.
  • I have an electrician coming tomorrow to save me from a shocking experience. Till I get the bill.

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Straight rope, bent shadow

I looked down at my arms today and I noticed wrinkles I hadn’t seen before as I bent my arm. I guess age has started to catch up with me but I’m not feeling it. At least the last few days which is a nice reprieve.

Photo by Mike Hartley

This has been a great week and I hope to keep it going with the holiday weekend approaching with family and friends. For a multitude of reasons, I’m feeling better about life and the future. Maybe it’s the thought of another grandchild on the way very soon.

It could be the closing in on retirement and the thought of getting on with my true interest now. I’ve picked up the camera the last few days and I’ve gotten busy again with a few woodworking projects. Just two of my favorite hobbies to play with.

Maybe it’s walking each day a little more now. A new habit I hope I can maintain.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Eating well is a real perk in life. But it makes me also think of people who can’t get enough to eat and the reminder email that came from the Maryland Food Bank. Their call for some help will be answered tomorrow.
  • I wish I had the time to watch every sunset every day.
  • Never take a warm shower for granted.

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A nice Sunday night for change of pace

This has been a different type and experience on a Sunday. I woke yesterday early (before sunrise) as usual. Kind of a relaxing morning cleaning out more of the workroom, working on a few wood projects and having some scrambled eggs.

As the afternoon came the usual stress of the thought of having to stay up all night and work wasn’t there. A Sunday night off!!!. No rushed Sunday dinner. Not trying to nap in the afternoon unsuccessfully again. Not having to scroll through and delete a few hundred emails from work before I even start the night. No commute from the kitchen to my desk downstairs. Not having to switch the department line to my cell phone. And no worry about what system might decide to take a dive.

The start of the Sunday evening is usually steady, but around 1 am that first day switching back to a night shift my eyes start to get heavy. Once I make it through that tired phase of an hour or two I’m good for the rest of the week but that transition is a bear. And a bear I didn’t have to wrestle with Sunday night.

I got to go to bed when I got tired and curled up with my better half and slept. Life was good yesterday.

Every once in a while I think about shooting black and white. Not today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Usually when I put my mind to something I get it done. I just haven’t gotten serious about my weight control. It’s not out of control but I’m 15-20 lbs. heavier than I should be. And as I’ve aged the weight seems to congregate near my midsection.

Having been active most of my life weight was never an issue. But in the last 15 years, my love of food, ice cream, and cokes combined with a less active lifestyle has become an issue. I know I’m a little overweight but it really didn’t bother me all that much till I saw a picture of myself recently.

All I know this morning is that I need to take some action and either increase my activity significantly again or reduce the intake. Both will take work and discipline which I haven’t had to apply in this area so my experience is limited. And the desire to do both exercise and control food intake hasn’t been on the agenda in a while.

I will probably go get on the scale this morning and figure out where we are starting from and then get busy thinking of ways to cut the calories and incorporate a lot more walking into this week.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I will not let the rain deter my spirits today.
  • I feel I’m slowly becoming a better writer. I know it’s painful to observe, but it’s a goal.
  • The set of Yokohama tires that came on the SUV were dry rotting before 4 years and only 38K. Won’t be purchasing that brand anymore. And if I do get another car in the future I’ll be looking at that feature.
  • Ideas come much easier when I’m relaxed.

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Rewarding afternoon

Some old members of Patuxent Publishing Company/Times Newspapers gathered today at the old Flier build in Columbia for a clandestine meeting/reunion. Seeing many old faces, some of which I didn’t recognize immediately was great. It’s been 2-3 decades and sometimes 4 since some had seen each other. There were a few of us present who started in the 70s.

Home for a few decades. Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course, I see a lot of them still regularly. One of my best friends, in fact, we started working together in 1980 and have become brothers. Another group I meet with for breakfast about every month or two. Covid did impact us for a bit but we still Zoomed.

This day reminded me of good times. Of laughter and fun together in a small community newspaper group that flourished and faded after many decades of success. There is very little community journalism anymore. And at the same time, more of it but weeding it out isn’t a pleasant chore. Plus the fact-checking or second read and confirming facts/statements from people isn’t there.

No single person or small team can give you the breadth of coverage a community newspaper could. Sports, education, local government, crime, features, business, arts, movies, food, and more all in one place. That kind of product no longer exists in many communities. Advertising moved on to other mediums and that life support system that sustains the staff to bring you all the local news is gone from the print media for the most part. And if something does remain, the remnants of the Howard County Times or Columbia Flier or Catonsville/Arbutus papers are a good example of papers that are shells of themselves and eventually too costly to continue.

Each organization has its own website or newsletter or podcast or Instagram. I remember the days when people would walk into the office on Main Street in Ellicott City and request photos of their kid hitting in little league and meeting another neighbor who was getting a few extra copies of the paper because it listed the school’s graduation roster and people used to send papers to relatives with their kid’s names in them.

But back to the people meeting today. If you are ever lucky enough to work in an organization that is blessed with a lot of special people working very hard together who like to have a good time and lots of laughs while doing it. That is a special thing and I heard that from a lot of people who worked there today. And that was my experience and many others. And therefore the bond of that shared experience binds this group of former employees.

Some of it I think is attributed to the length of time a lot of us spent together—decades in a fair amount of cases. And in a medium-sized company, you still get to know a good number of people pretty well. Some very well and some into lifelong relationships that are carried on decades after working together.

After so much time has passed many have relocated and moved but still stay in touch via Facebook and loved seeing pictures. Also as time has passed some well-loved people have passed on. One big one was just this week. And he is the type of man who would have been at this event and loved it.

There were people there I hired decades ago. I’m really proud of how a lot of them carried on their careers. It was great seeing where people had traveled professionally after working together. Some had actually reunited in the same companies many years later.

I also realized a few things today. I let a few relationships lapse that I hope to do a better job at keeping in touch with in the future. I already keep in touch with a number of people who couldn’t make it that day regularly but I also need to do more in making that more frequent.

I doubt this will be the last gathering. I think the group will actually expand in the future. It was a nice flashback to a wonderful period of time and events on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Owning a home is a second full-time job unless you can pay someone else to take care of it.
  • I feel incomplete, I missed seeing my grandchild this week.
  • Ah, the weekly battle with Mother Nature begins again.
  • Today I’m glad I live in the state of Maryland.

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Cold start

A cold start to the morning. Woke to no hot water in the house due to failed circuit breaker. I have replaced hot water heaters but I don’t mess with electrical panels. Now the question is do I live with a cold shower today and tomorrow and pay the non-emergency rate on the weekday or do I spend a few hundred more on service now?

Good morning. Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, I took that first cold shower. Not all that bad but not my preference. Now if my better half can cope without killing me for this decision to delay then we are good. We do have an insta-hot unit in our kitchen so maybe I’ll fill a sprinkling can full of the warm water and at least let her wash her hair with warmth.

Never take a shower for granted, be it cold or warm. I’m guessing there are many that don’t get either.

I guess if I want to get warm I can just step outside today. And that I will be doing with some old friends. Let’s hope the weekend gets back on a good track with that event.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Who the governor of your state is, just became much more important.
  • I’d like to hit triple digits in new images taken today.
  • We became a disposable society when we lost the desire to fix things.
  • I hear some roads calling my name today so almost time to put the top down.

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A window into me

I wonder how much to write here at times. What do I want to share about myself? I know I probably already have passed the line for TMI but in reality, I haven’t even scratched the surface of sharing me. Sharing in this day and age is also dangerous on social issues.

Columbia. Photo by Mike Hartley

For instance, if I comment on today’s Supreme Court ruling I might offend some people with where I fall on the issue. Well, the term “might” isn’t accurate. I’ll piss some people off. I’d fall clearly at odds with the Catholic church I was brought up in and their position. I would fall on the other side of several neighbors whose support for today’s outcome is probably just as joyous as my sadness is deep. I have some Republican and more devout Christian friends on who I would fall on the opposite side of this issue.

And now I’ve shared my opinion on abortion. I think it’s each person’s right to make the decisions regarding their own bodies. And states that don’t make exceptions for rape or incest or the mother’s health, prove to me common sense has left the building with Elvis.

Tomorrow I’ll find another window to open maybe. I’ve been struggling with some thoughts recently that are painful and troubling and I’d rather keep this more upbeat but life isn’t always that way. So let’s hope I find a positive window tomorrow.

Time for a late-night drive. I need to clear my head. Been working all day and the balance of work and fun is out of sync. So what could be better on a fine summer night than to put the top down and a few miles on the odometer with some music to guide my direction.

Maybe I’ll go down here and do some night photos this evening. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Found some of my dad’s old medical gear from the service. It felt good to just hold it.
  • I’ve always said “I love you” to those close to me. But as each day passes and you get reminders of how short life can be. This should lead you to think even more about those important people and relationships and say that “I love you” with even more meaning and frequency.
  • Gov Hogan has the distinction of the last Republican I will ever vote for.
  • I found an old watercolor set and a few pads of paper. Why not, it’s only been about 4 decades.

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Not the start I hoped for

My first day off and rain and cooler temps are served up. Come on now, this is summer and I have a few days off to enjoy so I’m going to expect some cooperation Mother Nature. And your messenger weather man Marty says it is looking up on his noon report so thank you.

Is this what they mean on the weather forecast when they say “Driving Rain”? Photo by Mike Hartley

My family teases me about being slightly obsessed with the weather. It’s always interested me. The day I saw Willard Scott on channel 4 in DC having fun with it and making it a learning experience I was hooked. I do let the bad weather affect my mood too much. Something else to overcome. The list grows again.

So Friday is looking up. If so I’m going to be a busy image-maker.

Frederick Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

I hung a picture that my daughter got me of myself and my granddaughter. It’s in the center of the wall I use to do some sorting/editing and designs. I think I’ll cover it with more great family photos and choose another wall for my editing because there is nothing like being surrounded by family.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder why I get more chores done when my better half is away than when she is at home?
  • Learned of the passing of a long-time editor and co-worker. A name that many in Howard County might recognize from the Flier/Times. Tom Graham. A very nice man.
  • Sometimes I feel like a nut. Then my better half confirms it.
  • Very few people will be as proud of you as they should be.
  • The slower the lens, the more you hope for good natural light.

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Rattling the windows

No, it’s not me with the music rattling the window. That is mother nature outside with the Boom Box in the shape of summer thunderstorms. It comes with the territory. But I was able to take advantage of an hour around noon for a pleasure cruise up and down Frederick and Old Frederick roads before the rains.

I was only 2 minutes from home when the sky opened up and obviously I was a few seconds late getting the top-up. The first time that has happened to me. Guess I was being a bit optimistic that I could make it home.

Wet interior. Photo by Mike Hartley

I hope we don’t return to the days of gas shortages or odd/even days. It already cost an arm and a leg, but at least it’s plentiful. And I can still feel free to take a joy ride and burn a few gallons of gas. Or take a few day trips to the beach, (about $50) round trip at the current cost of gas.

I don’t spend much on myself, so taking some time to enjoy driving my Miata on warm summer days and getting my feet in the sand is something I can live with as a frivolous expense. Yeah, that sounds and probably is selfish. So maybe I should do something for someone less fortunate tomorrow. I’ve been thinking it’s time for a few donations anyway.

None of the old fire department buildings are for the Fire Departments anymore. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m looking forward to seeing some very old friends this weekend.
  • The top of my desk is under there somewhere.
  • I’ve been using a smartphone for a while now. I don’t think it’s working.
  • A sad day for the Ravens organization losing one active player and another former star on the same day.

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Tuesday tales

An interesting start to the day as I stepped outside my basement door at 6:10 am and I looked to the right where I had left the gate open into the fenced pool area (the pool is gone) and a beautiful fox is in there. He froze but then started to look as if he was going to attempt to jump over it which would be a feat because it’s a 7-foot leap and surrounded by a hill of rocks on the outside of it. So I quickly backed off and went back in the door leaving it open a crack so I could watch him run out and back to the woods behind our house.

I was a beautiful animal and looked very healthy. I’ve seen him cruising this area the last month or two and can tell because his coat is much brighter than others and he is bigger than most of the foxes I’ve seen around. So I go back out about 30 minutes later to check the weather and there is a small herd of deer passing through and grazing along the tree line. Seeing this prompted me to pick up the camera because I was already pissed about not having it for the fox.

Are you looking at ME? Photo by Mike Hartley

Another day slips by. Yes, it was a productive one, but I’m sure I let a few opportunities pass me by so I’ll try harder tomorrow. A good day ahead for some indoor chores, I hope to surprise my better half with the progress.

My kind of High Capacity Clips. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m all set up to turn some wood into sawdust tomorrow. A couple of freehand attempts and hopefully finish up a carving for my Son. I’m going to be more into personal gifts in the future.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m feeling more hope today. Which inspires me to get busier.
  • Tonight I had leftover leftovers. And I’m grateful to have had a meal.
  • Any day you can end with a smile is a good day.
  • I hope there is something and or someone who has the magical ability to get this country working together again and less at each other’s throats.
  • I swear the DEA needs to test ice cream for addictive substances. I wonder if there is a 12 step group for this?

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Sun and Volume

What a stretch of good weather. Felt good being outside today working and trying to relax a little before an important call later today. I’m actually feeling good about the accomplishments today and the week ahead. But I hope to make a lot of progress tonight being I took a night of vacation.

Cambridge Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, that call came, a bit late but it was worth the wait. A temporary reprieve from worry for a change of pace, I’m going to really enjoy this summer. It’s going to be special in so many ways.

I bet my neighbors are glad I’m not single. Because when I am (very rarely) the volume in the house and car go way up. Must be the inner teenager in me with the volume control because I’m usually searching for volume 11 on a scale of 1-10 when really inspired.

Wait till they discover my better half is gone for 4 days and I’ve turned Woodstock Maryland into Woodstock again. I hope they are down with the decibels for a few days. Don’t worry I’ll have the house shut so it will only feel like a minor earthquake at times depending on the artist.

Just kidding, I haven’t hooked up the big speakers, yet. But I have enjoyed a day filled with music. I hadn’t gone through the old Beatles collection in a long time.

For those about to rock, we salute you. Photo by Mike Hartley

The last day of spring said someone on the idiot box this morning. Ah, my favorite season is here. Time to shake and bake, twist and tan, boogie and beach. I’m going to celebrate tonight with a late-night cruise.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m blessed with the most beautiful birds around our home.
  • I was going to say “you won’t catch me flying anywhere soon.” But then I thought that is true for a lot of people now. They are just sleeping in airports though.
  • The less TV I watch the more enlightened I feel.
  • Fixed my downstairs phone finally. I know you’re asking yourself what is he talking about with this downstairs phone thing. Good thing I didn’t mention rotary phones.

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Happy Fathers Day and other stuff

Things I think about on Father’s Day are all over the place. I remember the pain of losing mine at a very young age and being very uncomfortable for a few decades. It wasn’t till I became a father myself that I started to enjoy it again but it still pains me to this day to think about all we missed together.

I sit here looking at his pictures today asking many questions that won’t be answered. It reminds me to talk to my own children more so they don’t have questions one day. It helps provide a context for life. Not knowing the experiences of someone who gave you life and the benefit of their knowledge adds to the challenge of growing up.


Resentment built over time that he wasn’t there for my ballgames and other events. That as I grew into a young man with no advice on being a young man. He didn’t get to see me married and finally happy. I pictured him when my children were born holding them with my mom. Thankfully resentment faded because my mom told me how much he loved us and gave me a few things from him.

Proud of my Father-in-law. Photo by Mike Hartley

I read some comments by shipmates and officers he was a very gregarious and funny man, which may be why I love laughter and comedy. He may have hardened my thoughts against wars even more because he fought in WW2 and Korea. He probably would have taught me how to hit a curveball and be stronger to the hoop with my left hand.

I know you can’t change what happened but you can certainly wonder how things would have been different, and I do that from time to time thinking about the impact my father might have had on me. I hope I have done a good job at being a father myself. It’s every father’s role to improve on what they were taught and given and do even better with their children.

Luckily I had a very good father-in-law and a mom who double-timed parenthood and taught me enough to hopefully be a good dad.

Time is not a given. Make the best use of it while you have the opportunity. That opportunity could be a phone call, letter (email) or visit. Make each one special. Appreciate your family and close friends because each event, gathering, party, and meal may not have everyone in attendance next time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Even the scammers have been hit by inflation. They used to call me and say someone has fraudulently charged $799 to my Amazon account. Now they say it’s over $999.
  • I wonder if NASCAR will have to shorten the races due to fuel prices?
  • It may sound strange but I enjoy hand washing my car.
  • Time to have a talk with my body about its lack of cooperation after hard work. Maybe it’s trying to send me a message and I’m just stubborn.
  • There is magic in capturing moments in time.



In some ways, I wish I hadn’t made the observation I did this morning. In looking for photos of a friend who we are celebrating a significant birthday for, I discovered I have a lot of photos I haven’t used in the blog yet. I don’t want this to deter me from going out and taking current things though so maybe I’ll sprinkle in a little of both in the coming weeks.

Someone better grab my leash before I do something wrong. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m going to blaze a trail the last two weeks of this month. I might need to charge the camera batteries every day. Why do you say? Because I’ll have a little more time than usual and I hope to put it to good use.

I’ve been thinking of doing a morning post and an evening one for a while now. Didn’t want to commit to it right away so how do they say, a soft launch might be in progress in the next few weeks.

So off for some Saturday night fun. It’s been a beautiful day here in the mid-Atlantic. I hope it was good where you are.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wish I had more memories of someone dear to me.
  • Not everything is reciprocated.
  • Being able to take care of my own property leaves me with a feeling of pride.
  • I got to admit, I like fathers day. But what I like more is my Son becoming a father very soon.


Flow control engineer

I spent a good portion of my day adjusting water pressure for a 3-year-old granddaughter. There isn’t a much better use of time than I could think of. Well, I did knock out a few other chores and some in the heat of the day. My shoulders are feeling a little warm as I sit here.

Sometimes I like letting my mind wander like a child where just running through water can make my day. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was able to get more shots of joy on her face and will be busy editing those into the night. I’ve also got a deadline of tomorrow morning for another project so it could be a busy evening. And I like it that way. The busier I am sometimes the more I feel I’m challenging myself and the more progress I see.

It might just be one of those summer nights where when I’m thinking about going to bed that I might step outside just before I do and feel that warm summer air and go back in grab my keys and shoes, throw the top down, start the tunes and take a late-night cruise.

Having worked various night shifts over the years I’ve had my share of the roads between midnight and sunrise. The highways in this area are amazing without the normal traffic that makes them parking lots and or death races.

There are maybe 1-2 magic hours. That 2:30 am to 4:30 am is kind of special. Sometimes going many miles before seeing another car. Wide-open highways, all the lanes yours. Well, it used to be that way, I know there is a fair amount of volume 24/7 on some of our major roads. I love the ride up Route 29 in MD at night.

Of course, you do get the occasional guy who passed out in his car for an hour after bar closing time and is now just making his/her way home. I’ve seen more people going the wrong way on a highway at night than any other time. Talk about an unsettling event. I’m very sad to say I’ve seen this more than a few times at night. Sometimes the wrong way on a one-way street in the city is a fairly easy thing to do in some towns. But the ones on the 3-4 lane highways coming at you in the opposite direction at high speed. That you won’t forget.

My night eyes. Photo by Mike Hartley

I never was in a hurry late at night. Mainly because there is a lot of wildlife out during those hours. And nights are too dangerous for any high-speed runs. Not that I have a vehicle that does that sort of thing anymore. I’m just the old guy in the floppy hat with the top-down cruising in his Sportster.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • People make the company.
  • I’m sorry, I’m older and I just can’t imagine owning an electric car. I have nothing against them except they aren’t for me. I bet they don’t even make them with manual transmissions.
  • I wonder if every generation thinks their songs stand the test of time.
  • Sometimes the simplest sentiment has the deepest meaning.
  • I wonder how many people would know what a tire gauge is let alone how to use it.
  • Yep, I’m going for that late-night ride, I didn’t even have to step outside to decide. Maybe a little ZZ Top “Gimme All Your Lovin”. that’s a good cruising tune to start with.

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Thinking Thursday

I was thinking about the coming changes at the job that pays the bills. I used to enjoy trying to predict what changes were on the horizon but a while back I realized that was time poorly spent. Plus all my sources of information retired. So I will just wait and see what comes about. Who knows, maybe they will surprise me with a buyout but they haven’t done those in recent years, like in the past.

I was thinking about my coming grandchild. The joy my son and daughter-in-law have now and will experience in the coming years. The smile on my wife’s face when she holds him for the first time will be something to capture. One of the best things that ever happened to me is that I’m close enough to both of my children to be part of their children’s lives also.

I tawt I taw a Puddy tat. I did I did. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was thinking about how much I miss basketball during the next few months. I’ll have to soak in every minute of the game tonight because it might be the last one for a while. Maybe I should get outside and see if my ball still fits through the hoop.

I was thinking about the role of a father. Being mine left my life very early one of the things that did for me is ingrain how important it is to always be there for my children. Not that my Mom wasn’t Superwoman for raising my sister and me alone, it’s just that children need a parental partnership to have the best chance in life. This all got me thinking about what advice I should share that I haven’t by example already with my Son. I’ll get to work on that later tonight because Father’s day is coming up and it might be good timing to pass on a few tips for him to read at his pleasure.

I was thinking that I should shoot more each day. I’ve gotten better this week picking up the cameras but I need a sustained effort like I’m doing with the blog. The effort I’ve put in keeping this daily posting going is tough some days. But it feels really rewarding and when I pass that year mark, it will finally accomplish the commitment I made when I started blogging.

I’m thinking I need to take a mental health day soon. And that thought leads to what do I think I want to do with that time. Ah, what a great thing to spend time thinking about.

I think I’m out of time for this and have to run.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Another school year is just about in the books. That pun was not intended. I was going to say much respect to the two teachers in the family who go to great lengths with the children they teach to make them successful.
  • I’m so tired all the time now.
  • I think BG&E was sending shots across my bow when the power went out last night and again today for short stretches. And neither time had storms going through?
  • I’m not sure which is taken more for granted, having fresh water or electrical power.
  • Does anyone else but me have the feeling we are living in the good old days?

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To my liking

The longest day (sunlight-wise) of the year will be upon us in a few days. For someone who works nights, this is great. Sunlight is like this recharge we get. I’m going to spend the next couple of months doing some sun/daylight worshiping because I’ve saved up a lot of vacation time.

Take me home. Photo by Mike Hartley

That hammock and lounge chair on the deck is going to get some action. But so will my feet by being out and about. And despite the rain tomorrow I’m going to head out and grab a few frames between dentist appointments and other errands.

I have one month to get well-read on who I’m voting for in the primaries. I think this is something all of us should aspire to do. Learn about who we are casting a vote for. Not just from commercials or stump speeches but from records, experience, accomplishments, and ability to work with others. Maybe some leadership background and some intelligence. Find out where they stand on the issues that are important to you. Maybe if we all do our due diligence then we might have a chance.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • As I sat today a little winded from chasing my granddaughter I thought about the joy I have in being able to see her grow up. It can make my day and it did today.
  • I’ve never seen or heard my son so happy as he has been awaiting the birth of his first child.
  • I always thought the toughest tests were in school or on the job. Far from it in real life.
  • The energy levels I have now versus before Covid is definitely different. That is OK, I’ve always been good at overcoming those problems.

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Flag Day, Luck, Stretched Thin

Flag Day, I had to go look it up. Yep, I’m one of those ignorant Americans who sometimes needs to do better on his history. So this day marks when the US approved the first design for its First Flag in 1777. I’m now one fact smarter today.

Beautiful headstone at Arlington. Photo by Mike Hartley

Lucky again.

The stillness this morning was both peaceful and unsettling. A lone deer grazing in my backyard around 3 am. So humid and warm, but totally still. A perfect brew to help the coming storms today. But as I went outside around 6 am and watched the lightning, felt the wind, and listened to the thunder, everything that looked dangerous went around us again. We are on a roll here as far as dodging the nasty weather bullets.

My timing was horrible this morning for lightning. Photo by Mike Hartley

Stretched Thin – One common thread we have going in this country is that it seems every industry and service is stretched way too thin. From lack of summer, staff to take care of our vacations and pools to enough police or doctors to keep us alive and safe along with everything in between.

Store window in Baltimore. Photo by Mike Hartley

From manufacturing in a limited number of plants to not having the staff to keep production needs met. And the sad fact is that we are learning a painful lesson of letting other countries make our needs and then when they have issues we are left short.

Recent years showed us that if there were a major disaster we might not have enough medical people and facilities to meet the need of certain natural disasters or pandemics. We rely on technology so much but our power grid is far from a secure or solid infrastructure.

We didn’t like the price of things made in this country, so we had them made overseas and now we don’t make our essential items. We wanted cheap gas and electronics so we got in bed with shady characters.

One thing is consistent, we blame everyone but ourselves.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Part of what is wrong with today’s economy is GREED. People taking advantage of people.
  • I repeat gambling will kill sports.
  • I’m glad to see the launch of the Baltimore Banner.
  • Looks like Bitcoin is dropping bit by bit just like everything else. Well, maybe a BIT faster.
  • With storms getting worse I’m thinking about doing away with a few trees before Mother Nature does.

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Feeling challenged

I awoke this morning feeling challenged. In a good way that is. I’m going to squeeze as much productivity and fun in between these hours as I can. Even though “these hours” are limited to a very few, maybe just one.

It’s an interesting feeling when you have so much energy and ideas flowing. And then taking action on that feeling. I see a great summer ahead despite the chaos that surrounds us. At least I hope to make my own island a little better place to live.

Staircase of life. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have to keep stringing lots of little successes together. That gives a good feeling along the way and when you see the culmination of those things added together resulting in a finished product. That is why I got back to making some more prints today in those few precious minutes. I’m close to finishing a project that I’ve been on for a while.

But that is OK, every endeavor is like a set of stairs. They come in all sizes and lengths and shapes. They are all worth ascending because the reward is an accomplishment.

And being I charged the batteries up today I should do some shooting tomorrow. Then again running up those stairs and sliding down that banister looks like a good way to burn some time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I never imagined picking up Legos in my mid-60s would be fun.
  • I never imagined Legos would come in so many shapes and sizes.
  • I never imagined finding Legos in my sneakers.
  • I never imagined the child’s joy at playing Godzilla while walking through my freshly constructed Lego town.
  • Legos can be hidden everywhere.
  • Legos – proof a child’s mind needs to use their hands for something other than a screen or keypad or controller.

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Some days don’t go the way you hope. Today was one of them. So I’m searching for what to say or do. When things go the wrong way, it’s hard for me to bounce back quickly, but I try to keep that in the front of my thoughts—turning things around.

The trouble is it’s going to be some time till I get a chance to correct a few things. And that will bother me. But such is life. Lots of things are out of my control.

Simple wheel for a simple time. No cruise control here because that isn’t driving. Photo by Mike Hartley

But I’ll get a handle on things sometime tonight and make the coming week a good one. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to bounce back faster mentally, despite setbacks.

So a plan of action is ready for a new day, even though it’s going to be a Monday, I will prevail.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Exercise breeds good feelings. And then some discomfort.
  • Had a nice breakfast at Fox and Barrel Farm Cafe this morning.
  • I’m having more success at grilling lately. Practice makes perfect.
  • I think a late-night joy ride is in order this week. Especially with the warm weather returning.
  • Father is the best title I ever had.

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Today was a day of few accomplishments but the few I did get done felt good. I also have a sense of wasted opportunity, but at the same time, it was a conscious choice. One for sanity, one for physical recovery, one to enjoy the comfort of home, one to enjoy not going from one chore to the next.

Is the strength of our flag fading? Are we a shadow of what we once were? Only we will tell the future together or apart. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow’s goal is to make the most of the opportunities at hand. And I hope to get a very early start at it and maybe enough for 2 posts tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The phone calls from the political candidates and posters have started again. Another reason to not answer the phone is added. That doesn’t mean I won’t be studying the candidates closely.
  • We may have a lot more technology at our disposal but were still shooting each other down in the streets just like in the 1800s.
  • I discovered this 65-year-old man has the agility to crawl through a second-story window off a ladder.
  • I went for a drive the other day. I thought I heard someone yell “This is Sparta” on the road.

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Rewarding day

Sometimes simple things are the most rewarding. Like watching a grandchild. Listening to innocent laughter and lengthy descriptions of the logic behind any of her actions. Which are beautifully entertaining themselves. The smile when a happy meal is delivered. The claiming of various chairs, couches, and beds as hers is cute. She talks about the various color of flowers and touching the blooms. Her excitement about finding some coins I hid outside in the garden. Then resting on the couch about to fall asleep for her afternoon nap which she seems intent on fighting and if I don’t say successfully.

The words and sentences she is learning seem to multiply quickly. Sometimes I think to myself did a 3-year-old just say that to me? The kindness and fantasy world that dot the day. The “come chase me” run and quick turn of her head to make sure I’m right behind her which brings a scream between the laughter.

The satisfaction when you have all the things she likes to eat, mostly healthy. Watching her hoard things to take back to her house. The opening of the fridge to see what is on the bottom (hers) shelf and the thoughtful stare deciding what first. She also told me to get rid of one of my old tee shirts because it had holes in it. Just what I need, more fashion advice.

So many easy things to appreciate. She can be happy with anything which is a good lesson for all of us to find joy in whatever we have or do.

Don’t worry beach, I’m coming. Photo by Mike Hartley

And I hope to have some more joy tonight watching the finals game and enjoying the company of one of my best friends.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I tell you the ladies at Quest Labs in Ellicott City are experts at blood draws. I go to my doctor’s and I get stabbed 2-3x. First time every time at Quest.
  • A beautiful day to have the top down.
  • The more I keep my mouth shut the less correction I need.
  • Did you ever notice that smaller vehicles on the road get the least respect?

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I had nothing left today. I had been fooling myself that energy reserves existed that didn’t. So, like a jellyfish, I felt suspended in water.

Effortless Photo by Mike Hartley

And here I am throwing a few thoughts out just to keep the daily streak going. Well, I made a commitment and I hope to follow through. So call this a Mulligan. I’ve taken very few in my life.

Profiling. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow I will regain my form, whatever that free-floating thought pattern may be. And hopefully with a more interesting thought or photo.

So here is to a sunny Friday morning ahead. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the last few minutes of the Day

  • Ah, working under pressure. Isn’t it great?
  • Some look at what they don’t have and are always wanting whereas some look at almost nothing and see a wealth of tools. I’m much happier when I’m feeling the latter.
  • I’m sleeping more, why don’t I feel better? Then again over the decades, I’ve pilled up quite a deficient.
  • I’m trying to watch the number of Cokes I drink a day. So I stare at the bottle more intensely.

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Bloom and Gloom

Nothing like kicking off a weekend on a Wednesday. Yeah, I work tonight but the heavy lifting is done. Plus my better half left me unsupervised today and well I turned on the music and I’ve been doing a little dancing about while doing a few chores.

There was some sun today that continues to bring natural beauty out. Photo by Mike Hartley

But then the reality of another full shift kind of brought me down along with the weather. So inspiration will have to wait till sunrise when I get off from the job that pays the bills.

Just like our country. Storms on the horizon. Photo by Mike Hartley

But I do have big plans for the next few days. And I’m not letting anything put a damper on them. Not even a downpour.

Well if it’s going to rain it might as well be sunny. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Being both a pessimist and an optimist allows me to have some good debates with myself.
  • Doing things daily is a discipline.
  • Pain can be an eye-opener.
  • They certainly aren’t the best but I did get some fresh images today. But now I can go out tomorrow and try to improve on that.
  • Does it feel like the day before the Watergate hearings started again?
  • Tomorrow a lot of people that need to be listening won’t be. But maybe just enough.

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Putting yourself in other shoes

The last couple of days has been a reminder of a difficult time in my life. An old neighbor/schoolmate is facing the passing of her Mother. Just like ours, a stroke and seizure, a couple of days in the same hospital where they say nothing more can be done. A transfer to the same hospice care, where you say your final words and thoughts, holding their hand endlessly alternating between crying and laughing at some memories.

I think about this and so many other conditions that everyone is facing every day and I wonder where the compassion is. We are so rude and uncaring out in public now. There are so many people walking around who are very sick. Or may have a sick family member or child. So many suffer from a recent loss or being a caregiver.

Some wonder where their next meal is coming from or can they make the next rent payment. Many work multiple jobs or just a lot of overtime at one. And every time you think you have a difficult job think about a fireman walking in the house door not knowing what burning building they will be running into and if he or his partner will survive. Or an officer walking up on a traffic stop not knowing if he has a librarian or a convict with a gun. Or someone defending our country around the world or at home.

And do we give each other a break? No, not most of the time. We just assume everything is good with everyone. That is unless you’re walking through a hospital or hospice corridor or funeral home. But pull out of one of those parking lots too slowly and that horn behind you will remind you it’s a no forgiveness zone/world out there.

Where did the daily common courtesy go? Where did the first reaction to someone who looked like they were struggling change from instantly checking on them to diverting your eyes and walking quickly past? When did we stop talking with and knowing all our neighbors? Why did we allow ourselves to get so busy that time with family and friends is compromised?

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this other than I feel really bad for an old friend and her family. I know that when she passes that she will walk out of the hospice center hours later. She will see others going to and coming from work. Maybe on the way to school or the store. But everything looks slowed down and none of it matters. You’re in this tunnel of sorrow and all aspects of life seem to fade away except for memories, arrangements, and responding to people.

I guess I’m asking that we just be a little more patient with people and realize everyone has problems and issues they are going through. And if we all could be a little more supportive along the way I think the world would be a better place. And I’ll try to start with myself by being more helpful and patient.

Climbing off my soapbox now.

Give me the RAYS. Photo by Mike Hartley

I really wanted to make it to the beach this week but the weather on Wednesday and Thursday isn’t worth the trip. I’m busy Friday so while the weather improves my time isn’t there. Maybe next week. I promised myself I wasn’t going to miss another year doing a trip to the beach myself. If all works out well I’ll be taking a couple.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if I should rename these random thoughts of the moment? I used to collect some during the day but as of late I just pull some from some thoughts over a 10-20 minute period.
  • I don’t believe Matthew McConaughey was acting in that speech today on gun violence at the White House.
  • Every day I get a good night’s rest I feel like I’ve wasted part of the day.
  • I wonder if I can sneak in some grilling between the rain tomorrow?

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I also remember

Today in 1944 D-Day many young men gave everything and this is something that we should honor today and for all years to come. The shots below are from the WW2 Memorial in Washington D.C. Hats off to the greatest generation.

Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley

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I remember

Below is just some music I like that inspired some thoughts about my life and the madness that is between my ears.

I remember the first time I heard “Wish You Were Here” from Pink Floyd in 75, the first thought was that I missed my father and I wished he was here. And I’ve thought that every time I’ve heard the song since.

Sometimes in the old days when I used to commute to and from the job I used to play “Coming Home” on the way home. But sometimes, I’d stop on the way to visit my Motley Crue.

I like the song by CSNY “Almost Cut My Hair” because it reminded me not to cut my hair at one time in life. Now I remember to play it on the way to the barber every month.

When the song “Turn up the Radio” comes on, I remember to do just that. And I’ll stop for an Autograph if anyone wants one.

I love life when I’m laughing and remembering “With a Little Help from My Friends”.

I remember saying to myself over and over “I Won’t Get Fooled Again” but then I said to myself Who am I kidding.

Each day I wake up a little “Dazed and Confused” but then I roll over and see my better half and think “Since I’ve Been Loving You” which reminds me to be thankful. Thanks, LZ.

The song “Land on Confusion” should be the U.S. theme song. It was mine for a few decades but I think the country needs it more than I do now. I’m pretty clear on things finally.

I sometimes walk about and people look at me strangely because “I’m Wondering Aloud” as Jethro Tull once wrote.

I remember we were something in our youth. We were all the “Midnight Cruiser”, especially a guy with a Steely gaze, named Dan. (may you rip Dan B)

I remember “Living on the Edge” for far too long in my life and Steven Tyler belting that line out in concert.

I was remembering how much I like the name of the town “Woodstock” that I live in. I really like the song also by CSNY.

I remember listening to Phil Collins “I Don’t Care Anymore” and thought I didn’t care anymore till I searched deep and discovered I did care.

I remember my wife’s reaction when I told her “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over TONIGHT” and I’m sure that Monday Night Football theme played in her head. Thank you HW Jr.

Some think that chasing “The Big Money” is what life is about. But it’s a RUSH to remember it’s much more than that.

When I remember some of the chances I took as a youth, I was really “Flirting with Disaster” as Molly Hatchet would say.

And now after 40+ years with my better half and remembering so many good times “You Really Got a Hold On Me” says I and Smokey Robenson and the Miracles.

I remember back when I was young telling my better half “What I LIKE About YOU” which made me a Romantic of sorts.

I remember encountering “Smoke on the Water” before the water got Deep Purple.

I remember the day when I thought about a “Second Home By the Sea” but the Genesis of that idea lessoned with sea-level rise.

I remember the days of raising children with my better half. They are the “Pride and Joy” of my life so thanks Patti and SRV.

I’ve worked the third shift a few times in my career and I remember “Screaming In the Night” as the Krokus would bloom.

I bet sometimes when my 3-year-old granddaughter goes home after a day with me saying who is that “Monkey Man”. But I send her home happy with shiny Stones.

I remember when “A Day in A Life” didn’t include a mass shooting. Maybe if we had more Beatles the world would be a better place.

Remember when you were young and your life was still mostly “Empty Pages” and then one day late in life while you were sitting in Traffic you realized the book is almost complete.

Getting old is tough, sometimes when you pass people you say to yourself “I Remember You” but then you catch yourself and don’t say a word because you’re dressed as if you live on Skid Row.

I remember putting my pants on used to be such an easy thing. Now I need “The Jean Genie” and a Bowie knife to succeed.

It seems like when you solve one thing and then remember, “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and then I’m heard to utter Judas Priest.

I’ve worked in IT for a while and some consider what I do “Hocus Pocus” but I say it’s easy if you just Focus.

I remember when I was young thinking “I Can’t Dance” and I was probably right. But now that I’m older the Genesis of that fear is gone.

I remember the days I could mow my yard and later on I didn’t have “Drop Dead Legs.”

I just wish to be a Simple Man and a bit of a Free Bird at the same time while remembering to be a good father and grandfather and husband and friend. Love the original Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I could go on forever here because “I Don’t Wana Stop” but then I remembered that even Ozzy slowed down.

Sorry about the length of the rant above, I’ll stop rambling now. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I had plans, I changed them. I’m either incredibly adaptive or lazy.
  • You know when I heard of big changes at the job in the past, I would worry a lot if I could adapt and enjoy a new role. But the big changes coming this year don’t even phase me now.
  • There are few things in life I like more than a good set of speakers and power cords and the desire to dance and sing.
  • When you reach the time in life where when you get in your car and the majority of the time you’re NOT going to or from work or running errands but just pleasure cruises, you will know Life is Good. And driving to your children’s homes to see, watch or pick up your grandchildren is not an errand it’s a labor of LOVE.

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I’m more the hoarder type. Not the kind you see on TV with the floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall issues but I do keep a number of things I need to weed out. My better half is good at periodically nudging me to get rid of some older things.

So today my better half inspired me to do a little purging. So let’s see what we can accomplish this week in that regard. I believe I’ll start with my workroom and create some more space for creating. Sometimes purging some past is a good start to making a new future.

I don’t see any power steering here. Photo by Mike Hartley

So where should we navigate this week? I’m definitely picking up the camera and venturing out this Monday. I think I’ll keep it local and see what I can shoot. I need to rise early and get a few errands run and hopefully have an hour or two to walk and photograph.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I got some dumbells as a gift. Now we’re a matching set.
  • I managed to quit smoking cigarettes decades ago. I should be able to stop drinking Cokes says I with hesitation in my voice.
  • School is in its last days. Please remember to thank your teachers and staff.
  • After last week this should be diet week.
  • If I don’t smell some salt air in the next two weeks I may implode.

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Waiting for the grass to dry

I would have got mowing but the morning dew had yet to release from the grass this day. I was going to wait till the sun got a little higher to burn it off. But, I said the hell with mowing and washed and detailed 2 cars before my family came for the day. Cutting grass is a chore I rarely regret pushing off to the next day.

Morning dew. Photo by Mike Hartley

That morning wetness didn’t deter the commercial service guys who have fired up their big mowers this morning at 8 am at a neighbor’s home across the street. I’d estimate more people have a yard service than don’t. So I’m in the minority.

I thought cutting the grass when it was wet was a bad thing. If nothing else it gums up your mower deck. While I appreciate the business these guys have to run, 8 am on a Saturday morning is a tough time for it. But it’s the law so we deal with it.

Most of the guys with those big mowers won’t touch my place because of the hill in the back. I’ll find someone because while it’s fairly easy in these nice 70 and 80-degree temps those 90s and 100s won’t be welcome at all. No problem sitting on a rider in that heat but a push mower on a steep hill is another matter. No problem, I can’t afford the prices these guys charge.

There is no better way to spend time than with people you love deeply and I was blessed to spend it with my family. We went down the street to Facci in Turf Valley and had a wonderful meal. The full-length windows were open and it was a beautiful day with a slight breeze that would sometimes move the flavors of people’s meals and the kitchen around.

Then back home to play with the 3-year-old granddaughter and the 2 -4 legged babies. Before I knew it desert was finished and people were hugging me goodbye and the day has turned to night. And here I sit writing out the few day’s events because I’m trying to think about what else to write about. But the day is about over so that thought will wait for tomorrow.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more you take pride in whatever you do the better it will be and the better you will be.
  • Thank goodness for cough drops.
  • I was unaware that yesterday was Gun Violence Awareness Day. Not that I was unaware of gun violence. Kind of hard not to be aware daily, unless you LIVE UNDER A ROCK.
  • It’s tough to have a bad start to the day if you see the sunrise.
  • I always have a good feeling after I finish washing our cars.

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Caught my eye

I went to trim my beard and I paused for a second. I noticed a bit more grey taking over some uncharted territory. And I asked myself an uncomfortable question. How many more years might I see? And you know what, I’ve decided I’ll never ask myself that question again and that if that thought enters the space between my ears that I would let it go in a second or two and move on with living.

My better half caught my eye this evening. She has caught my eye for decades and I’m blessed with someone who gets more beautiful every day.

There is a big gift in the living room with a blanket over it that has caught my eye. It’s been there for a few days now and I have been told not to peek. Well, I’ve been good and tomorrow I get to see it.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I entered one of my friend’s homes yesterday and he caught my eye with 3 huge steaks on the grill for the three of us who gather every week of the year (just about) and solve the problems of the world. Last night we did it on a very full stomach.

I was mowing today when a fairly good size branch caught my eye and started to move on its own. Usually, I pick branches up instead of dulling my mower blades but this one slithered off before I had the chance to.

I hope tomorrow’s sunrise catches my eye.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • On the Border makes some good brisket tacos.
  • I can work in my yard all day with ease. It’s the hours afterward that aren’t.
  • Getting old doesn’t always mean wisdom comes with it. In some cases, it’s the opposite.
  • For anyone who wondered how a brother could go to war with another brother in the Civil War, I think today’s climate answers that question.

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Ducking drops

Storms to the north, storms to the south, a drizzle of rain here. Lots of thunder and storms around us but we seem to have dodged another one. Only a matter of time till things even out but I’m enjoying our luck so far.

Nothing to duck the next few days other than getting too much sun. And that is a nice problem to have. The hammock is going up outside first thing Friday morning. And I promise you will be able to find me in it for a few hours this weekend.

It’s almost that magical day. One that tests our will and stamina. One of concentration on every move and listening so intently to what is trying to be said is a mental exercise of skill and endurance. A day where quick thinking and alternatives need to be planned in advance. One where a day’s work building a beautiful structure can be wiped out in a second by a 3-year-old playing Godzilla to your Lincoln logs structure.

Yep, it’s watching the grandchild’s day, and it’s something we love and look forward to so much. A smile or thank you from her melts your heart. To answer her questions to her satisfaction or an interesting huh which means she’s still sorting it out. To see the excitement when we have the right things for lunch and snacks. The moment her eyes start to blink in the afternoon, she snuggles tighter into her grandmother’s arms and just dozes off for a few hours.

And then wakes as happy as someone who has been listening to a good comedy routine while resting those few hours. Ah to be 3. Then before we blink and the whole day has gone by and her mother is at the door and we no longer matter because MOMMY is HOME. And it’s the beginning of the weekend and they are off.

My better half makes each day paradise. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m getting torn. Luckily we have what I think are two of the best Chinese places in the county with China Taste in Enchanted Forest and Paper Lantern in Marriotsville. Guess I’ll just have to eat more.
  • Pulling for Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals. I love the style of team basketball they play.
  • This was a relaxed day. I guess we should turn up the evening to balance it out.
  • I’m getting better at following through with my thoughts. Still lots of room for improvement but the chart says good work this year.
  • I find myself stopping at least once a day to think of the needless slaughter taking place outside our front doors. At the same time amazed we are paralyzed by it.

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Figures my first day off is going to be a stormy and rainy one. This is not the way I wanted to kick off my June. Thankfully the weekend is looking up so therefore I’ll overlook the gloom on Thursday. I guess I should be thankful for rain given what some of the western states in the US are going through.

I haven’t gone out and stood in the rain in a while. Not that it is something I aspire to do but once in a while it’s good to just look up, close your eyes and let the drops hit you in the face.

Has it really been 2 years since my father-in-law passed? He really loved my son and daughter. He was really touched when he got to hold his first great-grandchild. He was a really good man. He really made me feel part of the family. He really loved his daughter. He was married to one woman only for a really long time. He really was something special and we really really miss him.

Photography is easy when someone else sets up the still life for you. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s going to be a really nice day, regardless of what the news might say or predict. And I hope everyone has a really good time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • We have a very small group of people controlling the majority when it comes to getting something done about all the gun deaths in this country. It’s time for that to change.
  • Life is a trip, might as well get on board with it and go for a cruise.
  • I bet some politicians might have changed their tune about the NRA and their votes if their children had been in those schools.
  • Time to go ring up a big bill at the hardware store tomorrow.

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Feeling my age and NOT

Feeling my age – I was telling my much younger counterpart at the job that pays the bills about the change I was starting to feel. Not being able to keep a bazillion solutions in my head at my immediate disposal or having the confidence I can put my fingers right on my own documentation. Working in a troubleshooting area of IT for decades there was always a no-fear attitude I was blessed with. Calm in emergency situations, able to focus on the many details, sequence of events, diagnostic analysis, and remediation. Working through issues with outdated or poor documentation before the internet was around. There was underlying confidence that we could work through any issue effectively and that mindset served me well over decades. I guess it kept something that is coming out now under wraps for a long time. Sometimes now there is that panic feeling. It doesn’t last but a short time and I snap back and work on issues like I did in my youth, but that momentary pause is frightening and I’m now able to relate to much older people when I see their confidence shaken substantially and often.

Running better than most humans this age. Photo by Mike Hartley

I guess it must feel a lot like a ballplayer when all of a sudden he realizes he just missed that fastball he hit over the fence on so many occasions before. And then he misses another one and another one. And even though he has missed many in his career he knows which ones he used to pound and now can only squeeze out a single or double. And even though he still looks good and still hits and still fields like a star, he knows something is wrong. He knows father time is making his presence known. And that fear your going to stop doing something you spent your life doing and probably loved, has an endpoint.

Just that thought for some people keeps them working because they don’t know what they will do if they retire. I’ve spoken to several recently with that fear or apprehension. Well, fear is the wrong word, let’s say poor outlook or lack of possibilities seen. And I find that sad. I’m so excited about the next phase of life that I’m giddy. And maybe it’s because I feel like I’m living from one cancer test to the next but my beliefs are that I’m going to get a lot done after the job that pays the bills is in the rearview.

So I got to get to work against this mind-aging erosion that normally happens with the advanced years. I want to stay sharp and enjoy life as long as possible and show my grandchildren how to age gracefully. And that is going to take more motivation.

And Not Feeling my Age – I’m still glad I can feel like a kid again from time to time. If it’s picking up a basketball, getting in my manual transmission car, or laying in a hammock. Sometimes it’s a song that comes on and that youthful energy is there like it was 40-50 years ago. I think that is why I love children so much because I really am one and never got to experience it for myself without a lot of turmoil and growing up way too early and at the same time never growing up.

The day I can’t drive this any longer, just shoot me. Photo by Mike Hartley

Photo vs Photo illustration – I marvel at the tools of today exhibited and advertised in the photo market. From apps on phones to editing software. I also think while it serves to make some beautiful photos they are illustrations as far as I’m concerned. I’m not talking about some minor cropping or tonal adjustments I’m talking about physically altering the subject matter and making another reality. It’s an illustration, something that is created, not the original. Adding and subtracting elements of images is not a photo. Anyway, why does everyone want to remove the people swimming around them? Do you like to be so self-centered that it’s just you and the ocean? That there aren’t throngs of people there enjoying it a few feet from you? Hell, I’m glad to have friends, family, and even strangers for the most part on the beach with me.

I’m not going on some kind of crusade but there were standards at one time in publishing that has been totally blurred with technology. I don’t have the interest in altering the reality I saw when I took the shot. And if I do I will mark it as a photo illustration.

Maybe that is a good name if I start my own photography company. Imperfections R us.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Paranoia will destroy ya. – once said in a song by the Kinks. I agree with them.
  • Hard work keeps a lot of people young. It also makes a lot of old people older before their time. No wonder why the goal is to retire young.
  • I’d love to make words sing here, like a well-composed song.
  • “Wondering aloud will the years treat us well,” says the group Jethro Tull. And I say so far so good.

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I started to write a post and got a good way through it about having to work holidays before I stopped myself and said today is not a day to complain. Maybe tomorrow but not today. There is a roof over my head, my stomach is full, and we have our health. It’s a day to honor people who sacrificed everything.

Flag at Arlington. Photo by Mike Hartley

Indications are I’m overdue for some vacation time so I think that is an excellent way to balance out working a holiday weekend, so the request goes in tonight for a week in June. I’m going to do my best with a very busy summer ahead as the family expands.

So till tomorrow, be well and safe.

Random Thoughts for the Day

  • The burgers today tasted special.
  • I’m ready for the heat tomorrow. I have a convertible and I’m not afraid to use it.
  • One of the toughest decisions of the week is where do we want to eat out at.
  • If you make it to your senior years going to the doctor’s for tests feels like playing Russian Roulette.
  • Tomorrow isn’t a holiday so I’ll get to work on a real blog post.

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Good visit

Arlington National Cemetery is a beautiful place but this weekend when they do the “Flags In” it’s something special. I was feeling rather guilty being it had been a bit since I had visited my parents. I think about 10 months but it could be a year, usually, I do 2-3 trips a year.

I like walking around a little each trip and meeting their neighbors. I like looking at freshly laid flowers. Finding a grave with personal items left is not real common in the older sections but occasionally you stumble on something special.

A beautiful morning. A good visit. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes visits are very difficult. Sometimes kind of uplifting. Today was a bit of both. I’m still asking favors of them. Like to look out for their grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. And of course, advice which I always need from them. But I also was very proud to tell them that their grandchildren remember them on their anniversaries and milestones. Always, every year without fail.

Wreath laying at Tomb of the Unknown. Photo by Mike Hartley

It was such a beautiful day and even though I got there a few minutes after opening the crowds were building quickly. I imagine beating the heat because that is a big place to walk or even using the tram.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I usually always go on Sunday mornings. There are no burials on Sundays so I don’t have the occasion to hear TAPS. Well, they did it during a wreath-laying this morning and it felt like I was hearing it again for the first time when I was 9. I can’t hear those notes and not cry. Wish I could be stronger but that is something that was very painful a long time ago and is still to this day.

Photo by Mike Hartley.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel like eating well this week.
  • Almost time to turn the calendar again. The older you get the scarier it gets.
  • I will repeat, working holiday weekends sucks.
  • Some drivers are out of control. Then again I guess they are out of control when they aren’t behind the wheel also.
  • The chance of running into a lot more good people than bad is very high. It’s just that the bad ones really stick out and make it seem there may be more bad than good.

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I keep finding new secrets in life. Sometimes adversity brings knowledge. Sometimes an appreciation for life that those who don’t experience adversity will never know. Today I feel both sad and lucky.

One of the many important things my mother taught me was there was always someone worse off and to appreciate all we have at all times. I remember her saying that to me, the first time I saw a soldier who had an arm amputation. I was only about 6 or 7 years old at Bethesda Naval Hospital. First, she said it’s not polite to stare at Michael as we walked toward him. She slowed and asked if he needed help because he was using a cane with his one full arm. He said he was good but thanked her for checking. As we walked away I remember her saying those are the people your daddy helped years before. Later when we were sitting in the cafeteria at the hospital she says remember how lucky you are to have both hands holding that sandwich.

Just short of 65 years ago in my Moms arms.

With the anniversary of her passing, I’ve remembered a few things about our time together at that hospital. For a short time, my father was stationed there, and seeing him in uniform. The time in my youth when I was treated there for a few things. And later took my mom there for her tests, operations, and treatments. Sometimes I felt that was our second home.

She worked over there for years helping the Red Cross. Many mornings helping load her car with crafts for patients.

Dad is in uniform downtown. Photo by Shirley Hartley

She would remind me to be thankful from time to time as difficulties would come our way. Even well into adulthood. I saw incredible courage as she faced many health challenges in her senior years, always telling me about someone else who was struggling or suffering greater. I will never be as selfless as she was, but I will try to do my best and find ways to emulate her compassion in my own ways.

It’s interesting the change when your parents have passed. I lost my dad very early and my Mom lived to a pretty old age. So I got a mixture. My better half had parents that lived into their 90s but both were gone in the same year which I saw caused much pain also. There is no good time to lose your parents.

Those embraces were filled with love. The unyielding support and optimism. Those special gifts or special meals. The advice and guidance. That morale-building call or note in the lunch or candy bar she would give me for running an errand as an adult. I still feel those things. I can still remember the smell of her fixing one of my favorite meals. When I look at their picture I feel a warmth like a hug. I feel satisfaction after visiting their gravesite as I would after paying her a visit and spending some time talking or helping her move stuff in her gardens. I miss them greatly and at the same time feel their support now.

Remember when you were young
You shone like the sun –

From Shine on you crazy diamond by Pink Floyd

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The secret of the musical group The Who is that they all play lead at all times. It gives them an energy few other groups have. Well, had.
  • Went to a family christening today. A wonderful time and saw my own children for the first time in a while. So despite feeling sore from about 3 hours of mowing it was a great day.
  • I might have to try this thing about going to bed before midnight a try.
  • Even though work is on the agenda the next few days I’m still going to grill out.

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Wonderful day

Yeah there was a tornado watch (not that common for this part of the country) and yes it rained which kept me from cutting grass (what a shame) and the news weathermen had a glorious day with radar pictures for a few hours as it moved across the area.

It got a little loud out this afternoon. Photo by Mike Hartley

I went outside and did a little video but I’ve seen much stronger storms so, in other words, we dodged the bullet again and I got nothing but some cloudy skies and rain. I need to get out and capture some good weather shots again. Or for the first time.

Rain is racing through this red maple. Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t accomplish all I had hoped for today, but a few things were crossed off the list. And that is what counts. The effort was made, but were the results all they could have been? Maybe on a perfect day, one where I felt better or wasn’t drained from the workweek. I’ll try to push a little harder tomorrow and see what progress can be made.

I forgot to add enough music today to inspire myself. Won’t make that mistake tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Would have, should have, could have doesn’t change the fact that 21 are dead.
  • Since the Blue Angels couldn’t do the flyover at the Naval Academy graduation today Tom Cruise should rent a few theaters and send them all to the Top Gun movie.
  • I’m beginning to think that NRA stands for Not Really Americans. They are all about the $$$ and promoting the sale of more guns only with no restrictions.
  • I screwed up again. I had a burger tonight not realizing tomorrow is National Burger Day.
  • I’m going to do a lot of reading on people I vote for before it’s time to vote.

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Kind of a loner Friday ahead. Nasty weather on tap and no company. Might have to see if I can change that outlook. Then again some alone time isn’t that bad and can be quite productive. Whatever it is it will be more productive than I’ve been today. I’ve started 4 different posts and finished none till now.

I didn’t get proper rest. I had to postpone a dentist appointment because I still have a cough and our Thursday night vigil was a short one because we were all beat from work and lack of sleep.

Lone bird. Photo by Mike Hartley

The more I think about it the more I’m going to embrace being alone tomorrow. I am kind of excited with some ideas flowing already. Who knows, maybe I’ll stay up late and get a real jump on the day. I need to get a dry area under my deck where I can do some woodwork even if the weather turns wet.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Why does it seem like a long time to recover from the virus?
  • It was a grey day but the top still came down for a while. I love convertibles.
  • I’m old enough to know now when someone says this isn’t any fun anymore about a job it’s either time to rediscover what was fun or try something different.
  • Teams might try to copy the GSW formula. It sure looks like a consistent winner.

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Looking for good

I was looking for good today. I see good in the picture my better half sent me of my granddaughter on a slide at Clarks Farm. I saw good in her smile when they came home. I saw curiosity, wonder, excitement, and laughter. And then I thought she is going to be going off to school and being taught how to shelter in place and other things kids shouldn’t have to be taught in school.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Troubled people with access to terrible weapons of war. And that is where we are. And not just a few, lots of them. From the cities over money and territory to the country towns schools, theaters, stores, and churches, too many bullets and deaths. Each of us becoming more numb to it except those that have suffered the loss. Then I imagine each one is a dagger reminder of their day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If there is one consistency in life is that the last workday of the week always feels better than the first.
  • Then again, some have no beginning and end to the workweek. And that is troubling.
  • Took me far too long to realize there is a lot more to life than work.
  • Anniversary of a difficult time in my life. So I’m spending more time on thoughts and memories than usual.
  • Wish I could shake the body aches. More stretching tomorrow is the plan now.
  • Is it ironic and sad that gun and ammo manufacturers’ profits rise after almost all mass shootings?



Mass casualty incident. What a horrible term that doesn’t come close to the pain and suffering actually caused. Another elementary school. Both my daughter and daughter-in-law teach elementary school. This gives me great pause as I watch these news reports.

But what amazes me is that the only common threads are unimaginable grief and then “thoughts and prayers and then inaction.” Of course, before most of these tragedies are missed warming signs and signals. Even manifestos and plans before they act sometimes.

I can’t believe a majority of our society wants this to continue. I know we don’t agree on the path to reverse the trend but inaction certainly isn’t working, so let’s try something. And that means all of us.

Normally I would have bypassed this image I took yesterday and most likely deleted it. Today it reminded me of all the children which will never get a chance to fully bloom. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve got to find a way to make a difference. If it’s helping one troubled person if it’s voting for people with good plans on how to reverse this violence if it’s coming up with ideas for change. If everyone thought they could make a difference and acted on it, we surely could.

The most troubling thought to all of us should be this could be our town, our church, our store, our school, our children, mothers, fathers, and grandparents.

I love to target shoot, but I abhor the day I feel I need to be strapped to leave my house.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more time passes the more the top of my dresser looks like the CVS pharmacy.
  • Klondike mini ice creams are great. I don’t feel the heavy guilt when I have the second one.
  • When you work hard outside all day and are young you know when you are sore the next day that it’s from working hard outside. When you are old and worked outside all day you think you’re sore from the hard work but not entirely sure it isn’t something else.

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Commitment to rest was my goal today and I’ll give myself a grade of B. I finally admitted to myself that I needed a better commitment to proper rest for both the body and mind. I work hard physically and mentally for a mid-60s individual.

I woke in a normal manner after 4-5 hours of sleep and instead of getting up like normal I went back to sleep for a few more hours. I got 7 which is at least 2 over normal. I feel sharper and my body had some chance of recovering also from a weekend outside.

Rest. Photo by Mike Hartley

I know proper rest is going to be a lot easier when I retire from the job that pays the bills, but until then I got to make a better effort and stop building up those sleep deficits, which affect my health negatively.

Commitment to winning is what I see from top to bottom when I look at the Golden State Warriors basketball team. Not only winning but how they win. Together and selfless. Everyone is the star and no one is the star. It’s the collective that makes them elite. They are fun to watch because they are having fun playing. Their front office seems to put all the right puzzle pieces together year after year.

The coach is smart, a communicator, a steadying and unifying force with a plan. The players are smart and extend that coaching mindset to the floor and make in-game adjustments to win. Be it on defense or offense ends of the floor and commonly both at the same time. Their fan base looks nuts over them and it’s easy to see why.

Yes the conference finals are still underway and the finals are yet to be determined and played but I don’t see a better TEAM in it than them.

I’m finally keeping my commitment to daily blogging but I do have to follow through on fresh photography each day. And I’ve graded poorly in that department this year but admitting failure is the first step to turning it around.

And tomorrow is a new day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if having it all is really having it all.
  • Despite those heavy rains last night they did a poor job of washing the pollen off my car.
  • Another working holiday weekend ahead. When I retire holidays will have a special meaning to me while those who have them off all the time will take them for granted.
  • Pets do live a lifetime, that is why they are so filled with love.

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Missed it

Do you ever work hard but feel like the accomplishment isn’t there. That was my weekend. That’s ok because another week is starting any minute so the chance to find that accomplishment is lurking around the corner.

I feel like May has slid by and I missed it. Between being sick, events, chores, and work, it’s been a blur. Good thing there are another 8 days of it. Maybe I can interject a little of my life back into it.

World War II Memorial with Washington Monument in the background. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was just thinking that having spent all that time in DC working, I never made the time to see more of the sights there. Well, an opportunity missed. It’s still right down the road (about 50 miles) so it’s not like I can’t make a point of it in the future. It’s a wonderful town to photograph in.

But it makes me reflect on wasted opportunities and that I need to focus on not doing that in the future.

Today I did something for my better half. It wasn’t much of anything but it meant something to her and that is what is important. Because she is important. And it felt great to make her feel good.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can’t say working in the heat of the day is no sweat.
  • If you surprise yourself once in a while, you’re living.
  • Sometimes owners can make companies great. But usually, it’s the people that work for them that do.
  • I swear they sneak in a few extra Mondays per year. I have yet to catch them but I know it’s going on.

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Hot Air

A big day in the state of Maryland and horse racing with the Preakness taking place. Also, a very warm one but that is May in Maryland.

OK, I’m up. Let’s fly. Photo by Mike Hartley

I got so busy today and then relaxed this evening I almost forgot to do a post today. So I’m sneaking something totally off the cuff at the last minutes of the day. That’s ok because I’ve utilized the day very well getting some overdue yard work out of the way. And this evening spending some time with my better half so what better way to close out a weekend.

There are a few hours before the workweek starts but not many. So to mentally prepare me for another full week, I’ve decided the first action of the week is to schedule some vacation time in June and July.

I was thinking this last year or two on the job that the weeks would kind of just roll by. And some do but there are a number of them that feel like they did decades ago. I’ve got to get my “short-timer” mojo back so I have the right attitude.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Challenge yourself physically. But be smart about it.
  • Nature keeps trying to turn my red car orange.
  • Don’t take your senses for granted. They can go away.
  • I’m afraid that when I do get my sense of taste back that I might go on an eating binge.
  • Time to get shooting again. Think I’ll head out before sunrise. Sleep well all.

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What I like about you

Was listening to some old tunes and the Romantics’ “What I like about YOU” came on. A very upbeat tune that might have been a little loud for the neighbors at 6:35 am but my better half left of the day and as the shirt, she brought me says. “It’s not my fault, I was left unsupervised.”

Jukebox Photo by Mike Hartley

A Friday with many choices ahead. Should I blow caution to the wind and just enjoy the day, go burn some fossil fuels in the go-cart (it is very clean), catch lunch out, take some pictures and continue to listen to music. So much for caution to the wind.

I ended up working in the yard most of the morning and into the afternoon. Before I knew it I had overdone it so I came in showered and a quick nap. I turned on some music and now it’s time to go burn those fuels because it’s one of those warm summer nights in the 70s and the top can be down in comfort. And while I missed the lunch out I think I’ll take some night shots and just enjoy the drive like I intended to earlier.

I hope I don’t get arrested for disturbing the peace. I do like my music with volume. I’ll stick to the highways instead of the back roads.

Student Loans and forgiveness. My politics lean towards the liberal side of the fence but this is an issue I think they get entirely WRONG. This family, kids included was responsible for every PENNY of their college education. All loans were paid off on time or ahead of schedule. And no, I’m no well-off middle-class family. Many sacrifices went into paying for those years and now you’re going to give everyone else a free ride. Well, you should have told me before this you A-holes. Damn straight I’m pissed off and I think I’m going to voice my opinion on it more than here. Hell, with all that money I might be retired now, but NOOOO, you’re going to give others a free ride and raise my taxes to pay for it.

There is some argument that 40% with loans didn’t even complete the 4 years. Again, so what? They had one example of a woman who had a 20K loan for the 4-year part and then went and got another 20K to get her masters and didn’t pay either off and now has interest on top of that. Well DUHH, you shouldn’t have taken the second one because you couldn’t afford to pay off the first one. And the dumb-ass lenders should be stuck with that debt for handing it out like candy.

I mean when are people going to learn about financial responsibility. Are we going to support them all the way to retirement? I’m not saying don’t look at people’s cases. Some might have real ligament cases for having interest wiped out or entire loans reduced significantly. Family crisis, personal accidents, or medical changes. But just to clear everyone’s debt is WRONG and poses my next question. Is the government going to give me a 6 Digit tax deduction for the education we paid for? Well, ARE YOU?

I got a few better uses of those BILLIONS of $ you’re going to forgive. Maybe you can start to pay for the funerals of those killed in senseless violence being you can’t stop it. Maybe give hard-working people a break on their taxes because of medical costs? Maybe give they more substantial deductions for the charitable work and donations the common working man gives and plug the loopholes for those really rich A-holes who can afford to donate much more than they do and don’t need more tax breaks for it.

I’m sure I’m ignorant on several aspects of this, but on the surface, it rubs me the wrong way on so many levels. Personally, I’ve seen others abuse it and I’m sure they aren’t the lone exceptions. So I guess I better get busy notifying my party that I’m against this.

All I know is when I ran out of money for me I stopped going to college. Maybe not the best choice I ever made but it was the financially responsible move to make at the time and that has led to more responsible decisions down the line also.

The treasure of a life
Is a measure of love and respect
The way you live, the gifts that you give

From the song “The Garden” by Rush

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Old habits are hard to break. Thank goodness, I’d have no fun if they were.
  • Imagine being born now and only knowing electric transportation in your future. Never the smell of gas or oil on your hands. The sound of an internal combustion engine. The smell of burning rubber and smoke show. The exhilaration of shifting a manual transmission and popping the clutch from a standstill and feeling the front end try to point skyward. The future generation has my sympathy.
  • I love to smile. Because when I do I usually can make others smile also.
  • I was raised in the generation of POWER CORDS. Yes, I’ve been listening to some Who tunes.

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Something to wish for

I started fishing at a fairly young age. I think it was around 6-7 years old at Sandy Pond in Sandy Creek NY at my aunt and uncle’s camp. A good size area in front of Lake Ontario. I never got a chance to fish with my father. My uncle taught me how to fish in freshwater. We would visit and I’d spend from sunrise to sunset fishing.

First from shore. Learning how to bait and cast. I remember one time I was just casting with no bait on, just a hook and sinker, reeling it back in quickly after each cast. Probably was about an hour into practice and it was starting to get dark and I heard the door shut on the camp so I knew I was going to be called in so I threw it out again and this largemouth bass hit it and I reeled him in. My uncle comes down after seeing me fight something and asked what I caught him with. I said a hook and he looked like I was being smart with him and being he was a longtime Navy man like my father I quickly said I was just practicing casting and didn’t have bait on. He smiled and said you’re going to be fine when you do start using bait then.

I wish I had the chance to fish with my dad. Photo by Mike Hartley

My Uncle Frank was blown off the deck of the West Virginia at Pearl Harbor. A tough nut who was his own man. Married my Aunt June late in life. But I degrees. Uncle Frank would then let me take the rowboat out to the pond and the time alone was helpful in many ways because at that age my father had passed and I was struggling as a 9-year-old who liked alone time to think. I remember being on the water and either fishing or boating was very good therapy at the time.

We didn’t share a lot as a family when we had that loss. I could see the pain for years it caused my mon to lose her spouse in her early 40s. My sister withdrew quite a bit and I had people telling me I was the man of the family. Yeah right, the smart thing to say to a 9-year-old.

My Aunt and Uncle’s rowboat in 1969 with me at the helm. Photo by Shirley Hartley

I remembered a lot of the above because I shared a very difficult event with one of my best friends the other day. I thought I had shared it before but apparently, I hadn’t because he was pretty shocked and said you never shared that before which for us (friends for 5+ decades) is pretty rare.

The title I used today is something to wish for. It doesn’t have to be fishing but each father needs to have that special time with their sons. I’ve been blessed with a long life so far and had time with my son. And now my son is getting ready to have his own son.

Being I was winging most of my fatherly skills as I helped raise him and his sister (my better half is responsible for their good traits) he at least knows what worked well and what he would like to improve on.

That is one of the few things I wish for in life, that my children have a better life, opportunities, and happiness than we did and that their children are even more fortunate.

Random Thoughts of the Day.

  • Don’t you just hate erroring on the side of caution?
  • I’m going to break down and get a prescription pair of sunglasses.
  • It’s a TOP-DOWN weekend. On the convertible that is.
  • I don’t ever recall, not looking forward to a Friday.

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It comes back

I was reading a post from GS – Be Inspired called Innocense and it triggered a few thoughts. In reading the first paragraph below

I love how that when you were a kid you used to believe in the most silliest of things such as Santa and birthday wishes. These were like our rays of hope. I still make birthday wishes to this day. I wish someone told that when I was going to grow up, my happiness would fade away into darkness until I would become a shell of what I once was. Now all my fun is replaced with stress, anxiety and responsibilities.

I related to that at first remembering the tough times from my teens to my early 30s. But then the miracle of my own children made those early beliefs come back to life. And then they began to fade again, but then the blessing of grandchildren came about and Santa and Birthday wishes are alive again in the minds of children which always inspires me to try to capture that innocence/happiness again myself. So I wish that someday you and everyone can recapture those wonderful feelings and spirits.

At the beginning of the week when I was feeling very weak I thought I would cancel going to Ocean City this week for the Cruising OC Weekend of classic muscle cars.

Manual transmissions, you got to love them. Photo by Mike Hartley

Who knows, maybe I’ll throw the towel and travel bag along with the cameras in the car in the next day or two or three, and put the top down and point the Miata east till I run into a very large body of water called the Atlantic Ocean.

I’ve always wanted to attend that weekend and see everyone’s rides. I dream about having my own muscle car there but those days are fading quickly. Plus I’m very happy with my little Sportster. I wonder if the price of gas will deter the attendance? Only one way to find out.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The easiest things rarely bring the most enjoyment or fun.
  • I think I’ll start off tomorrow with a little marching music. Maybe “Join Together” from The Who.
  • I saw a post from a sister of an old friend who passed 7 years ago. Doesn’t seem that long. So I reached out to a mutual friend that I have fallen a bit out of contact with to hook up again and maybe sing a few Who tunes together. One of the pictures she used was the 4 of us at the Who concert in Hershey PA many Moons ago.
  • Ah, the days of mooning. What madness. Like I’ve said before, I’m glad there weren’t many recording devices back then.

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Having been inside the past several days, I really enjoyed being outside for a bit today. Soaking up a few rays on the deck and a few small chores. Still getting my sea legs under me from being under the weather for a few days.

I wish I was at the beach like the gentleman below but it will be soon. I’m making myself a promise to hit the beach several times this year. I was looking forward to going to the car show in Ocean City this weekend but we will have to see if the body is strong enough.

I’ll be outside tomorrow again because the yard needs attention—so another chance to soak up some warm pre-summer rays and work on the tan while mowing. And maybe a ride with the top down if time permits.

And I promise new photos all weekend to get my mojo back in sync.

Sunrise front row seat. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My experience is that companies think they take good care of you. The operative word is “think.”
  • I’m frustrated we live in such a divided country.
  • I didn’t hear from my children so I wrote them today. I’ve got to get back to doing that often. Sometimes I can’t remember everything when they call.
  • I’ve got a lot of people urging me to retire. Of course, they are retired. Maybe they are lonely.

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Misc Monday

Good day, all. Feeling a little better as the calendar clicks off days and boy does that make the day much better. What’s the old adage, if you ain’t got you’re health, you ain’t got nothing.

Nice to see those strong storms go north and south of us today here in the land of the spoiled living. Sometimes I feel like we are in a nice sweet spot in this country. No wildfires, tornados, and hurricanes are rare, earthquakes are mild and few and far between. Parts of the state do get some flooding and with the sea level rising it probably will be more but not in most of the state.

Hillside, Headstones, Wreaths, and a lone mourner in the upper right corner.

I usually work on my personal “To-Do List” every day. Last week I realized I hadn’t touched it and when I looked at it I saw I missed my visit to my parent’s resting place this past Sunday. As I was flipping the channel on a break last night I saw a documentary pop on about Arlington National Cemetery where they are buried. I watched for a bit, seeing places I sometimes walk after talking with my parents. It became very emotional to see these spots that are part of a very special place.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The less I leave home the fewer crazy people I run into.
  • I guess if you like watching train wrecks the Johhny Depp and Amber Heard trial is your bag but it holds absolutely no interest to me.
  • I had dinner with my better half for the first time in a few days. I wish I could have tasted it. Maybe tomorrow.
  • I got to hear both my children’s voices today. Life is great.

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My head still feels like it’s in a fog. Which certainly is impacting my creative thoughts and ideas. At least my body is just starting to recover from the virus. But it’s also returning to work night so I had better suck it up and pull it together.

Looking forward to seeing clearly again. Photo by Mike Hartley

I did step outside for the first time today since Tuesday and it felt good. I took a quick shot of my old Chevy which looked like it was covered in snow from the dogwood blooms that had fallen off the night before.

Maybe tomorrow’s storms will clean this up. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • You might want to sell your stock in Coca-Cola (Coke) because I’m thinking I’m going to cut back the huge volume of that fine product I consume.
  • Early May to early June is a tough month for me. Lots of reminders of people I miss very badly.
  • Life is grand when your children make you feel very loved.
  • There are a lot of people who need help. Take the time to help someone turn around.
  • Look for things that give you that smile beyond that instant gratification.

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So much hate and hostility

I turn on the news to another mass shooting, excuse me, mass shootings. I go online to see an announcement from the Howard County health department about the increase in Covid cases on the Nextdoor site and I see people getting nasty about people who chose to wear a mask or not wear a mask or condemning someone for their belief in this or that. It’s endless. It’s hard to avoid.

I wonder if I’m safe here? Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to walk outside my door without my loaded shotgun in hand when I see and feel such hate growing each day. I’ve run into it in my neighborhood, I run into it when I get in the car and drive someplace, you see it in the stores with people yelling at each other or being disrespectful to people in the service business.

I used to think the dangerous people were the ones who didn’t respect the life of another person and while that is true, there are others who are dangerous also. Because everyone seems to be so rooted in their personal beliefs that we don’t respect or listen to each other. I think I’ll refer to this era as the dismissive decade. We have dismissed each other and once we find we differ in opinion the word enemy is assigned.

You can’t even go to a ballgame without a fight breaking out. And with all these bad lessons in front of our children, I worry about what the next generation of hate will bring.

It’s not the size of the fan its the size of the spirit in the fan. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes it doesn’t even take an encounter or opinion being shared. Just because a person is slightly different in skin pigmentation or maybe a different ethnic group is all that is needed to be classified as the enemy.

It can be people running businesses gouging on prices or unsafe business practices or abusing their workers. Which is another type of hate for your fellow man.

I’m sick of it. I try to make things better but it keeps going the wrong way. And as more big decisions about this country’s direction confront us, and more people in the streets it’s only a matter of time it seems till there are some really massive conflicts.

Now ladies, no more wheelies on the boardwalk, do you understand me? Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m going to do my best to be kind, to listen to opinions without condemning people for having a different one than mine. I’m going to try to help people in need. I’m going to support the people in our military, police, and fire services. I’m not going to assail the medical profession because it’s not an exact science and most do the best they can.

For we face much tougher times ahead and if we are falling apart now, our future is somewhat bleak unless we can pull and work together on making things better together and exercising some give and not all take.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Being sick over a weekend is not going to leave me refreshed to start a new work week.
  • I take lots of pictures so I can have a photographic memory.
  • Food is far less satisfying when you can’t taste it.
  • I’m hoping for a good night’s sleep for a change of pace.
  • I hope my daughter-in-law had the most wonderful day today.


Spiraling down, looking to rebound

It’s funny how irrelevant time becomes when you are under the weather. Oh I know, time is never irrelevant but when you are in the middle of feeling poorly it just doesn’t matter much to me. Then later in the day, I remembered my obligation to myself to create something each day.

So I moved from the couch with the idiot box watching me nap, cough, moan and shiver all day, to the office. I’ve always thought part of getting better was the mental approach. The other part is listening to my better half tell me what I should and shouldn’t do. I’m rather pig-headed and without her advice, I’d probably be gone a long time ago.

So I’m trying to stay positive and keep hoping that the next hour or two or day will be better. For I know it will be and I’m looking forward to being on the other side of this.

You can spiral up or down. A lot of times it’s our own choice. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day.

  • Losing my sense of taste and smell is a troubling development. I hope they return. Then I thought to myself that would be the ultimate weight loss technique.
  • May 11th to 17 is National Peace Officer Week. Some of which make the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe and that should always be respected. I believe that the memorial service is on Sunday the 15th.
  • My better half made a very difficult decision and gave up something very important to her and I’m proud of her for the decision she made. She always is the adult in the room.
  • No matter how I feel tomorrow I’m going to take some pictures. Even if it’s holding the camera out to take a shot of my red nose. Then again my coordination is so off I might get a shot of the top of my head.


I guess the odds caught up

Just last week I was trying to figure out why we were still in the small percentage of people not getting covid. I managed to avoid a Covid infection for over 2 years but the luck ran out this week. I don’t feel like sitting here but I kind of made myself a promise this year to do the best I could to post here every day. You know, like the line I heard 4+ decades ago getting married, “in sickness and in health.”

This does make me wonder what kind of shape I would be in if I didn’t have a vaccine and booster because this is one tough virus. But then again, men always complain more than most women.

And what a week to get Covid when the US passed the millionth fatality. There was a very good piece on the CBS Morning show by David Begnaud about the losses.

Feeling like a shadow of myself tonight. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The number of things that hurt far exceeds those that don’t.
  • I hate when I get sick on nice days outside.
  • I’m looking forward to tomorrow a little more than usual.
  • Well enough complaining. I’m at home and not in the hospital so life is GOOD.
  • I will try to regain some semblance of mind tomorrow. Stay healthy all.

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The illusion of happiness

There are a couple of things I’ve been contemplating lately. A few months ago I got a screen time message on my smartphone from time spent with my face on that and it made me sick. So each of the last 8-9 weeks I’ve been reducing that number pretty well each week.

It was easy in some respects. First off the list was reading work email when not working. No, I’m not being lazy, I just said I’d instead be spending time they aren’t paying me for doing something else. The second was to not read the news a few times a day and cut down on the volume I was reading on that device. This is also a benefit health-wise because the eyesight that you will discover isn’t as good as when you were much younger when you get this old. And trying to read on that small screen can’t help. Then again I’m no optometrist but common sense tells me if you make it more difficult and have to strain then change devices.

Look away from the phone and love your pet. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve never been a game player so there was nothing to cut out on that end. I like the weather but there is no need for that on a smartphone. All I need to do is determine if it’s a day the top can be put down on the Miata for a ride or not.

Texting is a hard one to cut back on but I have set some limits. If a conversation is going on for several minutes I suggest a phone call. I don’t feel the need to respond to all the memes people send. I don’t read every message CVS sends me. I don’t go back and reread things unless I’m looking for something specific.

I used to look at stocks once or twice a day to see what the market was doing. That’s gone because if I’m going to a market I’m getting something to eat. I’m not spending time on work chat through Slack and I’m not reviewing the online product when I’m not working.

I’m not browsing on the smartphone unless it’s a specific need, electronic receipts or address, phone number, or other things I might need to look up when mobile.

And each week I feel a little better when the time appears and it goes down again. I even left the house the other day and when I got to the car I realized it was charging and I said the hell with it, I’m going solo.

Then I had a flashback to our youth where we would cruise looking for each other meeting up and one spot, going to see if people were home, and then returning to the dead-end street or parking lot at the Church or one of the local watering holes. There were no cell phones or text devices or anything except conversations. Bits of information passed to each other like a puzzle. And then by some miracle, a group of 20-30 of you are all at the same spot having the best time partly because everyone was so lucky to hit the right spot at the right time.

Yes, I have shifted some activities to the computer but I’m so much more efficient at that device because I can see and type on it. But more have been just time reclaimed for other things. I thought these smartphones were wonderful but now I’m sure I’m happier the less that little box has control over my life.

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Tinkering Tuesday

I’m starting to feel like a coke or meth addict without the meth or coke. The lack of sleep is pretty interesting when you string days and weeks together. So why not use it to get some of the things I’d like to accomplish. That was my thought earlier this afternoon.

Well, that was a short-lived idea. A shingles vaccine and possible Covid infection have me feeling far less than human. Guess I’ll test myself tomorrow if I’m not feeling better and figure out how many days I need to stay away from people if positive.

This could be who I will be sitting with for a few days. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you feel bad you realize the recliner doesn’t reach a comfortable position. And neither does that couch that can easily be a napping station when healthy.
  • Saying a prayer for sick 4 legged friends is also time well spent.
  • How nice a day it is matters a lot less if you can’t enjoy it.
  • Will NASCAR and other racing survive when we are all driving electric vehicles?


Don’t give up on it

I almost succumbed to the ideas of some friends that It might be time for a new rider mower. But instead, I spent a few hundred repairing the old one. And after push cutting the yard last week, it was certainly nice to be riding again.

I find I’m like that with a lot of things. I get cars and make them last double-digit years and substantial milage. I have a few old cameras and many older tools. But they still work so I make use of them. Yeah, the latest and greatest is nice, but I’m happy with my lot in life.

Some people with the nicest things never get around to using them. And some with the least make the best use of theirs. I probably fall somewhere in between. Because most young people didn’t have the pleasure of knowing our parents and their parents and how everything they had was decades old.

Waiting its turn. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Time to make some more prints for the walls and desk and dressers for people.
  • I’m really getting excited for our second grandchild coming this year. The first has been such a life-changing thing for me, I’m guessing this will just double it.
  • There are only so many sunny days. I make the best of most of them.
  • It starts to scare me each time my better half is under the weather now.
  • The cover is coming off the go-cart tomorrow. Warm enough for top-down – tan on.

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Home Sweet Home

The first time my better half and I were away for a few days in a good while. It’s always nice when you get to your home and are in that comfortable mode again. Not that the trip wasn’t a lot of fun. It was and staying in a nice hotel and having food fixed for you and partying with friends for a wedding was a lot of fun but the reality in the tune of WORK returns tonight and a packed schedule for the week ahead but we will persevere.

For the short trip, we decided to travel a new way. So we took the Amtrak train to Philly. Hadn’t been on the train in many decades. And given the weather this past weekend in the Northeast it was the best call. Plus I don’t like driving in unfamiliar large cities anymore.

William Gray Terminal in Philly, you know, train station. Photo by Mike Hartley

Oh before I forget a Happy Mothers Day to all. Especially my better half, my daughter, and soon-to-be Mother daughter-in-law. I miss my own Mom and Mother-in-law very badly. Also the birthday of someone special who has departed also.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Did you ever notice how some joyous days become more difficult emotionally the older you get?
  • A train view of 10 feet vs a plane at 30,000 feet suits me just fine.
  • It’s hard to ignore the realities of some lives as you travel through cities like Baltimore by train.
  • I think by choosing to ignore a good segment of society, (poor) they will eventually announce themselves.
  • The list this week is overwhelming and somewhat depressing to look at. You know, just like any other week.
  • I’m wondering if Amtrak has a lot of people riding free? Nobody checked our tickets on the way home.

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Uncomfortable, cool wet rain. And I’m realizing as I take a few foul weather shots that I don’t push myself to be uncomfortable anymore. I like nice days so I wait and I lose opportunities. Ones to learn and adapt and record others doing the same.

I realized this when I was sorting through a few hundred shots at Arlington National Cemetery. I’ve been there in every kind of weather. Many rainy mornings. And I don’t have one shot in the rain there. Yes, there are days I leave the camera in the car when visiting on sunny days but to miss an opportunity to have another perspective on the place and its environment is stupid.

So despite feeling like I’d like to stay dry I’m heading out to get a few foul weather shots.

Sunflowers in rain Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Maybe summer will start this coming week. This past one has fizzled out.
  • I look forward to weekends filled with nothing. This isn’t one of them.
  • I always liked the sports ticker that the Fox and ESPN networks used to run. Now I see what appears to be betting info like o/u which I guess is the over-under and these + and – numbers next to each team. I liked it better when they gave me just the game time and records maybe.
  • And then again I shouldn’t be wasting time in front of the idiot box to make the above observation irrelevant.

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Thinking again this Friday

I think life is about doing the best you can with the time you have. Even on dark and dreary mornings.

Sometimes my thinking gets a little fuzzy. I’m convinced stairs have something to do with it. Every time I go up or downstairs in my house I forgot what I was going there for. Maybe there is a big pile of lost thoughts under the stairs?

Sometimes my focus isn’t that good either as the image below shows.

Annapolis MD Photo by Mike Hartley

My riding mower returns Monday. Might be doing my happy dance outside for a change.

I’ve been able to reduce my Facebook time to once every 2 to 3 days now. I think I’ll try it maybe once a week soon.

On one of our older cars, I think I just made the last major repair on it.

I’ve cut my screen time on the smartphone for 6 consecutive weeks now. I don’t like trying to read that small surface anyway. It’s a phone anyway, isn’t it? I just question how smart it is to have your face buried in it for long periods of time or taking endless pictures of yourself.

I think I’ll make good use of this day by spending it by my better half’s side.

Fight inflation, by eating less. We all complained about all that weight we put on during Covid.

Like I said the other day. The good old days are ticking away, one by one. Seems like they go two by two on Saturday and Sunday though.

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Thinking inside the box

I do a lot of thinking in my home office. It kind of resembles a box. 4 walls, a ceiling, a floor, and luckily a window and door. Doing a blog helps get me thinking. The world is your oyster of topics and choices of ways to express them.

Maybe I should concentrate on one good quote a day, and skip the chatter. Or maybe a poem or video. I have lots of opinions maybe I should express those more? Maybe just a photoblog as I once thought. Maybe I should take the laptop outside to the deck or learn how to do a post on the smartphone.

Doing some more reading instead of writing. Doing more carving instead of communicating. Maybe trying nothing other than taking photos I wouldn’t normally take for a few days. Maybe get out of the woods and into a city?

A change of pace is good. So I’ll go with the flow this weekend and see what I can come up with. Maybe some outside-the-box ideas.

7 years ago, not as much grey. Photo by Patti Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s funny how much of George Carlin’s humor is still relevant today that he wrote 3-4-5 decades ago.
  • It’s sad when you think it’s a workday for a moment when it’s not.
  • It’s even worse, not be a workday and end up working.
  • It’s a rainy forecast for the next few days. Warning of possible dreary attitude ahead.

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I was thinking about the enjoyment I used to get when I would take my Mom fresh flowers. I can still see her smelling them and the smile she would get on her face when she saw them was a gift to my heart from her. Then she would proceed to tell me what each one was. And where some of them were in her gardens.

I used to enjoy picking out something different for her or seasonal or holiday themes. In her later years, I tried to keep fresh ones there often because it was one of the few things she could remember me doing and would look forward to.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Flowers brighten up people’s day. I should get some for my better half soon. And maybe send some to a friend who’s struggling with family care. Think about who you could help with a flower.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When did being a comedian become a dangerous profession? Oh yeah, when people stopped being able to take a joke.
  • Most days when I gain knowledge it’s a fun day. But there are those days where some knowledge isn’t the knowledge I’d prefer to be seeking and is far less gratifying.
  • I wish I was feeling a little more energy, but those 11-12 hour workdays make it tough early in the week.
  • Sometimes simple is best. I’m a lot happier when I keep things simple.
  • Being a grandparent is a reminder of a lot of important lessons you learned a long time ago and learning to keep quiet and let the parent be the parent. I’m working on being better on the second one.
  • I think I’m on a mission to redefine tired.

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The good old days

Nope, not talking about yesterday or the day before that, or the years before that. I’m talking right now, being the good old days. We still have everything we need here in our spoiled USA. Energy, food, shelter, a semi-functioning government, schools, jobs, opportunities.

Running better than most humans this age. Photo by Mike Hartley

Yeah, it cost more recently for some of these things. Just look at what this one action between Russia and Ukraine has changed in short order all around the world. Think about a few more dominos falling at the same time. I’m not saying turn into a Prepper overnight, just think about your situation. If you take nothing else into account besides the weather which seems to be getting wilder, you should have supplies and things needed to sustain your household for at least a few days if not a week or more.

We have lost power for multiple days many times here in the remote area of Woodstock. Lots of woods and above-ground power lines make for poor bedfellows in storms. But so many other simple things affect other critical services. Like our food supply, like we haven’t seen runs on stores in recent years.

I’m not going to go all doomsday but we really have been fortunate for many years and have become spoiled and complacent. So let’s not forget, that things can be a lot worse.

Let’s not forget to show some appreciation this week for the teachers of the world. Without them, the world would be filled with a lot of tackling dummies. Personally, I’m especially proud and will brag all day that we have two teachers in the family. My daughter and daughter-in-law both teach and do it very well. When I listen to them talking shop back and forth I’m amazed at what they encounter and have to deal with. And at the same time amazed at the love and dedication they bring to each of their students.

Tackling Tuesdays. Remember its Teacher Appreciation day. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Stopped by an old favorite today. Bare Bones in St Johns Plaza.
  • Today was a good day, not for the amount of rest I got, but for the rest of it.
  • I know there are some pets I’ve loved a lot more than a lot of people.
  • The Supreme Court is about to make a decision that I hope will galvanize people away from the even more controlling ideas of the GOP. This will be a drop in the bucket compared to the changes they won’t even talk about.

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Another brick in the wall

I was thinking about doing things over long periods of time. Sticking with it, day by day, week by week, year by year, decade by decade, brick by brick. My personal observation is the younger generation doesn’t stay within the same industry let alone the same company for any period of time.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I should know, I believe our generation kind of broke the mold in a few ways in the 60s and 70s. We didn’t follow in our parent’s path or plans. We wanted to discover and do different things in different places.

I guess I didn’t get the memo though because I’ve stayed in the same industry for over 4 decades. And pretty much at 2 companies. Oh yeah, in the same general area also. I guess I’m not one for much change. Then again all my industry did over my tenure has been changing. So even though the address stayed the same everything inside and out changed.

Such is the upheaval of the newspaper industry from the mid-70s to today. But the old adage is true, the more it changes, the more it stays the same. Good content will still draw an audience.

And now that I helped build some nice buildings brick by brick for others it’s time I build my own home.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’d like to see a better level of officiating in the NBA playoffs. But on the other side of that coin, I take my hat off to anyone who officiates at any level in any sport now. You have my respect and admiration for trying in trying times.
  • I find myself chasing time instead of running comfortably ahead of it.
  • Worth everyone’s attention, Melanoma Monday awareness day. Gives a new meaning to Check Yourself, doesn’t it? It’s more fun with a friend though. Of course, the doctor is best. But there are enough pictures online to show you what to look for.
  • Another long-time friend retiring, I’m pretty sure I’ll be right that just about all my close long-term relationships on the job will be gone before I send my last note. But on the good side, I got to work with them their entire careers. It’s just a little more lonely when they do go.

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I’m feeling it

Usually, a date on a calendar marking seasonal changes doesn’t mean much. For instance, the first day of winter here is usually behind. It’s plenty cold and sometimes snows well before that. And the opposite is also true with the first day of summer being mid-June To me, the beginning of May marks the start of my summer. And being today is May 1st why not kick off the celebration.

Frisbee, I love it. Photo by Mike Hartley

Where shorts and swimsuits again become the daily mode of dress. Well, maybe fewer swim trunks because the pool is gone. My summer attitude is probably the best of the year. Being outside is a pleasure and amazing. Take some vacation and toes in the sand, or just lay out on the deck watching nature pass by and enjoy another day after work.

All I know is there is enough other stuff going on that I’m just highly thankful my favorite season is upon us to balance things out. I certainly need to get some more positive vibes going again for some inspiration.

Our dog-sitting duties have ended and the house is quiet again. No, they don’t bark much at all. Just their presence and love are missed.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hope what we are seeing in Ukraine is not a preview for the rest of the world.
  • Sometimes saying it was a nice sunrise this morning needs to be said again.
  • I heard on the news today that it’s the start of Rockfish season on the Chesapeake Bay. Looks like I’m hooked again.
  • There are a couple of pictures of my better half on the wall that make me feel so lucky and young and alive.
  • I’m looking forward to my next weekend. I think it’s the last one of the month.

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Leisure is important. It comes right after work. Lots of hard work in most cases. And then again it doesn’t come around for all which is a rather sad thing. I’ve seen some at leisure activities, too stressed to enjoy them. Others don’t know how to relax because they have been working so long that is all they know and would feel naked without it.

I worried for a while in my career that it defined me so much that I wasn’t that confident thinking about being without it. Those days passed thankfully. I look forward to a whole new set of activities and deadlines that I set. And being I’m going to be boss someday, I’ll determine the leisure time much more than in the past. Because now I’m in charge of just about none of it.

Early morning shower. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today was not a day of leisure. Hopefully tomorrow we will get another swing at it. A leisurely day can be active, like walking an old mill town, and at the same time very satisfying. And it can be totally inactive and also satisfying, like an afternoon in the hammock with the only movement being the sun poking through the leaves at another angle.

Tomorrow I’ll find the balance between the two. After I mow the lower 40.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Being alone isn’t always what it seems. It’s easy to be alone even with people.
  • I find myself alone with my thoughts. And that is probably where they are best kept.
  • It’s tough keeping perspective alone. But it does save debate time.
  • I wonder if people collaborate in writing because they tire of doing it alone?
  • When you mow, you walk alone. I would like to ride alone but my tractor isn’t back from the shop.

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I’m sure I am oblivious about things also, nobody is perfect but some things just amaze me about people. Maybe I’m just a little more perceptive now or older and seeing things for what they really are but damn. Maybe I’ve been painting a better picture than reality. I guess it’s possible, many people picture a difference for survival’s sake. Maybe a lot of us do it fairly regularly also.

Such is life, and on with this part of it. I bonded with my 4 legged buddies and had a healthy day. They get me outside and into the fresh air. A good thing indeed, especially on a nice day like today. A bit cool but I loved that sunshine. So does my yard apparently so some more exercise is in order for tomorrow.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m going with the above photo today with the following thought. Look for that window of opportunity and don’t worry about what the rest of the situation looks like.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Older dogs and older men make good partners.
  • Sometimes someone squeezing your hand is the best part of the day.
  • Evaluate actions, not words.
  • If you are into early warning systems, may I suggest a young dog?

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It’s a dog day and night

We are watching some 4 legged friends this fine Thursday. They are a blast and I can read them very well. Either that or they figured out I’m the easiest one to manipulate and are playing me like a fiddle. I don’t care, I love animals.

Like children they simplify life. Are we cared for, (shelter and food) are we happy (play and love) are we safe (help us learn who is bad and who is good). Their unconditional love and devotion are so reassuring in a world of little trust.

Contentment Photo by Mike Hartley

The trials of the day seem to fade away as you rub your hands through their coats. As they move to lick your face at the excitement of seeing you after you left to take something to the car. And then when they snuggle up next to you or lay on you, all is right with the world.

Pets take time, but they are worth every minute. I know when I get up that I’ll have two happy tails wagging and the excitement of the new day will be infectious.

My granddog Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love days when I have more than one good idea.
  • If you’re going to have a cold Coke from a nice glass bottle, clear your schedule for 15-20 minutes to enjoy it properly.
  • Yankees sweep the O’s. Balance to the universe has been restored.
  • Orange creamsicles must have some kind of addictive chemical in them.
  • Sticking with a food theme have you noticed in addition to the increase in price they have cut back on the quantity of food you get. It’s actually affected where I will eat now. I don’t mind paying more but if you’re going to charge me more and give me half of what you gave me before, keep it.

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Blustery is a good term for today and tonight. I had planned on getting out earlier but lost interest being tomorrow is going to be a very long day. And it starts with a dentist appointment, oh joy.

Gambling might not be the death of sports as we know it but it might be the death of enjoying sports for the games they are.

I ate one buttercream egg my wife made for Easter today. I feel like I just ate this wall of candy.
Photo by Mike Hartley

My attitude is good, I’ve had some good ideas and put in some work editing and making prints and even mounting some, I’ve done some writing and ran some errands, so why don’t I feel like I’ve been productive? Oh and I’ve worked 36 hours in 3 days and I’ve just started the 4th day.

Have the best time of your life, no matter where you are.

Is it best to worry about what others say about you while you are still here or what they say about you after you have passed or just not give a S**T what anyone says about you ever?

I believe Twitter will do one of two things. It’s going to get more popular or crash big time. My bet is against the status quo of its comfort zone of today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Like the above wasn’t enough.
  • It’s almost car wash season. For those of us who do it ourselves.
  • Life is learning to adapt to things and people you miss badly.
  • When you look out for yourself, remember that doesn’t sit well with some selfish people.



I read an article on the Photofocus blog just photographing one subject and doing it in many different ways. Different times of day/night, different angles or focus points, various camera settings/effects, reduced area or wide area shots. All kinds of suggestions.

Of course, they chose a beautiful item in a huge city, “the Bean” in Chicago. Well, I don’t live near a city with all its beautiful objects so I started to think about what is around me? My lazy mind immediately thought of something easy, Tongue Row in Ellicott City but I immediately dismissed that as too overdone already. My next idea was the Howard County Conservancy, but that is a broad property and not narrow enough in focus.

So I focused a little harder and came up with the thoughts below which I think I’ll try to execute over the coming days, depending on time available and creative ideas for each.

Railroad crossing where Woodstock Rd turns into Old Court at the county line.

Tracks by the Woodstock Inn. Photo by Mike Hartley

The Miata sitting in the driveway.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Whatever gets me thinking and shooting regularly again. Anything to sharpen my skills, limited they are. I’m working on some portraiture today and tomorrow I’ll venture outside. Life is sweet. Just getting a chance to create and produce is a blessing I overlooked for a long time.

Go ahead, take a bite of the Apple. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got to find a way to stop letting people who tailgate get to me.
  • Orioles and Yankees always get my attention.
  • I’ve always held Donald Trump in contempt, but if a judge wants to get in on the action, I can share.
  • I love watching reaction videos of young people listening to some classic rock groups of the 60s and 70s. I love seeing the emotion, surprise, and wonder.

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I’m into casual. And that is what I thought of when I was editing this photo of the guy in a pair of jeans surrounded by a formal event. There were some people really styling away at the National Harbor this past weekend. Saw several events I guess at the Gaylord hotel that looked like a real gala.

Gives new meaning to the girl in the red dress. Photo by Mike Hartley

National Harbor is an interesting place. High-end luxury and sports cars and motorcycles, people dressed to the 10s and bling. At the same time, some people are just down for the day to catch a snack or take a break from the Casino. People attending conventions/seminars being held at the wonderful hotels in town.

Not my favorite body of water but all are pretty beautiful. Photo by Mike Hartley

I like it because it’s an easy place to walk around, grab a snack, ice cream, or a fine meal. There really isn’t a lot that warrants a long visit.

There was a rather large dog outside and these young ladies were in no hurry to share their ice cream with him. Photo by Mike Hartley.

The real appreciation for feeling good comes from having felt bad. I thought I used to have an appreciation for waking each day and being capable of doing whatever I choose. I was wrong. Till you experience some setbacks be they temporary, intermittent, or permanent, your mind will be changed about appreciation.

It’s a nice combination, feeling good physically and mentally. I haven’t been able to sync the two on a daily basis for a while. So maybe this is the start of a good streak. And really having the proper perspective helps also. For instance, my foot hurts but it doesn’t keep me from getting around. So life is good. Now if I wanted to go out and play competitive basketball it wouldn’t be good enough and that would frustrate me.

But hell, I’m in my mid-60s and what do I need with competitive hoops at this age. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to get out and practice a bit which I hope to pull off this week.

Today I read a note from a friend fighting cancer. And I mean fighting but it’s a heavyweight bout. And my appreciation grows exponentially again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • NBA lesson of the season. It isn’t the best decision to hitch your wagon to a few superstars instead of having a full team of talent. Goodbye Nets. And the Lakers didn’t even make the dance.
  • Someone said something about rain and cooler temps tomorrow. Sounds like good sleeping weather to me.
  • If you’re at peace with yourself, I find that to be a major accomplishment.
  • I heard a story about a lot of people not taking vacations because of money being tight the last few years. Another thing I didn’t have to adjust to not having many resources for vacations most of my life.

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We got to spend some family time this weekend and there is nothing more rewarding to me than that time together, enjoying each other’s company. The sun is setting quickly on the day and our return to the workweek and responsibilities are upon us again. But I have some nice things to smile about and reflect on and hope for because of it. I guess that is why I’m so happy and relaxed right now.

Sunset over the Potomac yesterday. Photo by Mike Hartley.

I feel for families that don’t get a chance to spend extended time together. Ours is limited also with everyone actively earning a living and raising children. Our summer vacation together is on hiatus this year and we will instead spend lots of time ogling our coming grandson. So this weekend was a chance to have a few days together. A short trip from home but far enough that it felt like a getaway.

I guess having the time to maximize every opportunity to do something with family is what I look forward to most in retirement. The days with no schedule conflicts on my end to navigate, just a “sure, we can do that” or “we’d be glad to babysit” or “you got time for a spur of the moment dinner together, sure we do.”

But I haven’t retired and work starts shortly. So let me make myself a print of that group shot of all 8 of us to look at throughout the evening.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Don’t spend your time on the things that go wrong in life. Use that energy to create things that go right.
  • I missed tonight’s sunset. That bothers me.
  • This is going to be a busy week. Sometimes you can just tell in advance without even looking at a schedule.
  • I need to start looking for a new computer.

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Thought ping pong

Figured I’d change things up today and post early in the morning instead of late at night. I really should get more consistent and earlier in the day publishing this. I guess it matters less in this information age. Used to be people who got a morning or evening paper and watched the dinnertime or 11 pm news. Now those things are available 24/7. I still remember waking up to a test pattern on the B&W TV.

There are a lot of people who want things but are unwilling to put in the work to get them. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help those making an effort along the way though.

Winds and Sand. Photo by Mike Hartley

In 2014, I started out with the intention of doing a daily blog. The most in any year has been 339 posts. Most years I average about 260. So I’ve been unsuccessful so far in that goal. This year I have a chance again. I’m on a 115-day streak. And the weird thought I just had (still not having completed a full year) is why didn’t I set the goal this year of twice a day and really challenge myself?

Writing shouldn’t be a struggle. It should flow like waves against the shore. Trouble is your mind doesn’t let you spend many days at the shore.

I thought of my Mom and Dad when I was editing the other day. Photo by Mike Hartley

Make a charitable donation this weekend and help give someone hope.

When I see a weather report and the temps in the 80-degree range and sunny, it’s like heroin to a junkie.

I find it interesting what officials say after they catch one of these mass shooters that the community is safe again because he has been captured/killed. Of course, that should come with the subtitle “till the next one.”

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • See above.
  • To yard work, or not to yard work, that is the question.
  • I’ve taught my granddaughter a few things so far. But I can see one that I have neglected. It’s in my face when she leaves to return home. We didn’t pick up. I guess the kid in me got too busy playing also.
  • Ops, one more – The more photographic prints I make the more I want to make. Guess I’m old school.
  • Have a good day.

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Simple is best

I went into the day with the only expectation being that I would like to make my granddaughter happy for as long as I can. I think she had a great day. I like that I can make her laugh and that I can understand her pretty well. You really have to listen closely to a young child who is still learning to form words. Sometimes I do a bit of interpretation and it helps get it right. I seem to have patience with her which I lack in other areas of my life.

Bayside OC sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

I think keeping it simple throughout the weekend is a good idea. I feel relaxed for the first time in a few days. Maybe it was that good happy hour with the boys yesterday and the little one today. Maybe it’s remembering just to enjoy the minutes in front of you.

And even though there are only a few minutes left on this day I’m going to enjoy each of them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • More kids at the local bus stop than I’ve seen in many years. The neighborhood is transitioning again. My granddaughter loves watching school buses.
  • The first few weeks of yard work have pointed out I could use some more exercise.
  • Sunshine is my personal energy source.
  • I have a suggestion for Florida, skip the debate on each one and just remove all the books.
  • I didn’t think it was possible to oversaturate sports in the world but it’s been done.
  • I know the NFL likes gambling but with their own future on the line, that seems like a risky bet.

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Bang Bang

Nope, not an article about guns or violence or mass shootings. You know the Doors song Roadhouse and the popular line “Well I woke up this morning and got myself a beer”, well I woke up this morning/afternoon and got myself Bang Bang Shrimp. The breakfast of champions.

Don’t know why just seemed like the thing to start the day off and begin the weekend with. Looked in the mirror and saw Grizzly Adams looking back at me so it was time to reshape the beard and trim the mustache which is probably capable of doing one of those handlebar impressions if I combed it to each side and applied a little wax they use. But no, I’m tired of it covering my upper lip so chop-chop.

And every Thursday, I start the day with music. An old soft favorite started the day off from the group War and the song All Day Music. Listening to some of your favorite music or exploring new tunes is a wonderful way to get your attitude going in the right direction. If you need calming it’s there, if you need inspiration it’s there. If you need something to get out of the chair it’s there. Just listen and let your body go.

Light and leaves. Photo by Mike Hartley

Almost overnight we have leaves on trees and that feels GREAT. One it gives me back a level of privacy I like on my property. I like the shade it provides on those really hot summer days when I’m working outside. I like the noise-damping effects they have. Still doesn’t drown out the bikers visiting the Woodstock Inn but I love the sound of Harley’s so that never bothered me.

Which got me thinking about this summer. I haven’t been more pumped for a summer in years. Our family expands this summer and the family name will be carried to another generation. I hope to take more trips to the shore than ever before in one year. I want to shoot hoops again in my driveway. I want to drive the wheels off the Miata with the top down. I want to soak up the beauty of nature and smell the fresh air.

Of course providing, nukes don’t start raining down in the coming months it is going to be a special one.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you think you don’t have the time you really do. It’s that next minute. Go ahead and use it and enjoy it. Then start stacking one on top of another.
  • I just had some of the best greens in my life prepared by one of my best friends. When he told me how he prepared them I was more impressed.
  • Sometimes it’s good to step away for a bit.
  • I have about three days of work to cram into one this weekend so I should get some rest now.
  • I’m trying to resist a big slice of apple pie I was sent home with. But the ice cream heard it was in the house and now is providing a chorus of chants enticing me to the kitchen.

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They took it away

The first time my mower has left the property in 23 years. Needs a part for the transmission. Given the low cost of maintenance and the longevity of years and difficult terrain, it might be one of the better purchases I’ve made. It was the lowest cost John Deere tractor they made that year.

The same year my neighbor purchased a big Sears Craftsman tractor. Lots more horsepower, lots more cutting width. I believe he is on his 4th or 5th mower since my original purchase. All I can say is I have an appreciation for well-built things and am glad I spent a little extra upfront to get that quality because it lasted.

I’m told my baby will be back in about a week if no shipping delays. No problem, I have no intention of cutting the grass this weekend anyway. I plan on soaking up some rays like this guy, just not at the beach.

Silhouette against the sun. Photo by Mike Hartley

This is the best spirit I’ve been in for a few days. Feels good to be thinking positively again. That is why I choose this photo today. Sometimes it’s looking at things from the right angle or perspective or time of day or night. And then things seem right with the world.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It takes a lot of work to be a good friend. But it doesn’t seem like work.
  • Sometimes the best part about an NBA game is the pregame and postgame shows. And occasionally the game.
  • The NBA has its 24-second clock. Life has its 24-hour clock.
  • I gave myself permission to be less than totally productive today.
  • I love when Shaq says “Can you dig it.”
  • The more time you’ve been given the more you recognize time.

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I apologize

I used to be a much more active reader of the WP blogs but I have fallen off due to time constraints. I don’t like doing that because I know I’m missing posts I would be enjoying. So last night I did something about it and hope to be a much more active reader myself and acknowledge people’s good work with likes and comments.

Reading and learning bring me enjoyment. But so working and creating. So getting the balance on those is a goal.

The moon getting ready to rest for the morning. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m going to throw the camera bag in the car and venture out before having to work the last night shift of the week. I hope it warms up a bit because that wind today was biting. I’ve got to stop the weather from limiting my activities.

Today I’m just thankful for another healthy day. Except for that slight headache, it was a good day. A very good friend’s husband just took a bad fall landing himself in the hospital. I get more and more appreciative of each day I can be on my feet and not at the doctor or hospital. Taking health for granted leaves you worrying about the small stuff. If you have your health, you have almost everything. You have the opportunity for tomorrow. And what better gift is that.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Getting into my senior years I’ve found a magnifying glass is useful for other things than burning ants in the summer sun.
  • The song “Changes” from Black Sabbath is one that makes me reflect back on my life and future.
  • There are moments when I’m overcome with sadness. They have seemed to increase with age.
  • I hate trying on real suits. It reminds me of periods of time when I could fit into a few of them. And yes I’m keeping them in hopes of one day using them again. For what I don’t know but I’d like to fit into that nice double-breasted pinstripe again.

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As every day, I had a choice to make today when I woke. Do I get up or stay in bed. Most all the time it’s get up. Even when it’s stay in bed, it’s only for a few minutes, maybe a half-hour. That might not seem like a problem, but the most I sleep at any one time is about 3-5 hours. So most of the time I’m up with about 5 hours of sleep, sometimes less.

Thank goodness there are exceptions to the rule. Today was one of them. I woke a few times but I was so exhausted I would go back to sleep for a few more hours. I think this is the longest I’ve slept in years. Then again my memory is getting shorter so maybe just the last year. I was out for a good 10 hours, maybe 11.

Good resting spot. Photo by Mike Hartley

I feel a little guilty sleeping that long but I can say both my mind and body are thankful for that rest and a good signal I should be getting better rest. Of course, this creates problems. Either I cut back on other activities or accomplishments. So today I cut out a lot of things, TV, chores, snacking, and bullshitting. All easy sacrifices but it also impacted my shooting time and blogging time. And those last two I don’t want to cut back on at all.

So finding that balance and sweet spots and picking out some things I just need to throw by the wayside. And that is a good thing to do throughout life. Because if you’re lucky enough to age, you’re going to have to learn about adjustments.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • So what is the total number of shooting deaths we need to have before we can think of the many solutions needed to address the problem?
  • Rain is the only sleeping pill I need.
  • After spending time with the family on Easter I find myself missing them today as everyone returns to work.
  • Once you walk through the doors of a cancer center there is an invisible brick you carry out that is inscribed with the word Fear.



I’ve got writer’s block today. I’m just hoping I can shake it off tomorrow but I don’t see that being an easy task. So I’ll just post a photo for a change of pace.

My Easter Egg hunter at work. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It was wonderful having family over today.
  • Everything is small stuff except the big stuff. Tough to figure out which is which sometimes.
  • When I watch the innocence of a child, it makes me wonder at what point did I lose mine.
  • There are times in life you realize how alone you are.

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Egging someone on

I had a day where I felt like I worked hard and did, but don’t feel I accomplished a lot. At least I have the evening to change that perception. And nobody else will know if I busted my ass or not, besides me. Good old self-accountability.

My better half said it best earlier today. Sometimes the list seems so daunting that no matter how much you get done, it’s not enough.

Buttercream Eggs from my better half. Photo by Mike Hartley

It doesn’t feel like an Easter weekend. My mind is preoccupied elsewhere. I’ve got to snap out of this funk and get back on track. I just can’t focus on topics I’d like to right now. I feel like retreating into my own shell. I guess there are few laying around tomorrow if I can’t find my own.

A Note to the NBA – Tell the players to stop complaining after every shot made or missed about being fouled. Tell the officials they can call traveling and palming the ball. Those still are against the rules RIGHT?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Just keep plugging away and you will see progress. Maybe not all the time but at least some of it.
  • I wonder how many wheelbarrows I’ve been through in my lifetime?
  • People have their own priorities. Always remember that.
  • I guess I should prepare myself for sticker shock the next time I get gas in Maryland.
  • I might not have the machines or teams of people but my yard looks just as good as any of the services that do my neighbors.

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Cutting theme day

I didn’t plan it this way but there seems to be a cutting theme going on today. I started the day with a haircut at 10 am. Took a short ride after that. Lots of people out today. The activity at Ellicott City Motorsports was like a beehive that had been stirred up.

You can take this to the bank. Photo by Mike Hartley

I got home and I didn’t plan on it but decided to cut the yard. First cutting of the season and just 7 months to go till the last. I like cutting my own yard. Probably saw 4-5 neighbors today. One entertaining his young baby watching me go round and waving excitedly. Stopped and talked to another one and it just felt good being outside again. In the upper 60-degree range, a slight breeze but beautiful sunny skies.

Another wonderful day for a ride we got in the car and went with no destination in mind. Stopped at Anthony’s in Clarksville and had a good meal before heading home.

I believe this area is called Walnut grove. Photo by Mike Hartley

We get home from dinner and I see a fox run through the side of our yard with his dinner hanging from his mouth. A trot in his step like he had just gotten carryout. When you live next to the woods wildlife is there and sometimes in front of you.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you open the fridge door and see a tray of fresh homemade chocolate buttercream eggs you just know it’s going to be a good weekend.
  • As you get older you realize that a special dinner is not one you have to get dressed up for or the most recommended or talked about place, but one where the company is perfect no matter what is on the plate in front of you.
  • We usually have our granddaughter on Fridays. It’s spring break for my daughter the teacher so there is a void in our day that doesn’t feel right being they are together.

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When you know where you are going, you know which way to turn. When you have no destination intersections are decision times. And one intersection I like is Route 99. There is no wrong way to turn on this road.

Even if you choose left, you choose right. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s ok not to have a route planned out all the time. How else would you discover hidden wonders? And even if you do have a planned route it’s always good to have alternatives. But having no route is a special ride. Going with a feeling of left or right. Not engaging the Navigation system. Another quick decision, north or south and then a traffic circle and you just take a couple of laps around the center because nobody is around.

Tomorrow all my routes appear to be planned out for me. But I hope to add a few surprises to the mix. Either for myself or my better half.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It rained long enough to change the tree pollen into different patterns on my car.
  • Today was filled with small victories. I know because I’m smiling.
  • It’s not my fault it’s going to get cold enough again soon where I will want nothing to do with going outside.
  • I think I’ll start a paper on the art of the nap, after a quick nap.

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Had a checkup with my orthopedic doctors today. They said the shoulder was good again. I put it to the test on the way there and when I got there. I used to be able to put my top down and up with my right arm only and that was accomplished without any pain.

Guns a the ready Capt. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I guess you could say I’m Armed and Ready. It’s been a long time since having two working shoulders. I believe I’m going to get out to the driveway hoop tomorrow and see how the form on the jumper is. I can’t wait to get lost in thought with a basketball and hoop. To just go through a few drills, slowly working around the court, extending the range shot by shot. Been a long time since being able to lift my arms above the shoulders but my full range of motion has returned. So this will be a special treat.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s not a prerequisite to have a big belly to eat at Big Belly Deli but it doesn’t appear too many big bellies pass it by.
  • It’s nice to have hair to have the wind blow through. But when I got home it reminded me a few of them need trimming.
  • Some appointments are fun, others not so much.
  • I almost washed my car today till I heard mother nature is going to do it for me tomorrow.
  • I’m blessed with a very supportive family. If I’m successful at anything it’s with their belief.

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I got sidetracked for a little bit but I’m adjusted and back focused on the right priorities again. And that starts with the proper mindset. It’s so important no matter what is going on. If the mindset isn’t right, those wonderful goals and ideas never get acted on or only a partial effort is made. Things left half done and never realized.

So how to make the best use of a wonderful Wednesday ahead? Getting the cameras out of the bag and viewfinder to my eye would be a good start. Another layer of sanding on that shell piece might bring a smile to my face.

Concentration Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’ll mix in some music and take the cover off the go-cart and use it to motor to my orthopedic appointment. And hopefully warm enough and dry enough to put the top down. But reflecting on those few things I feel selfish. So I’m going to have to see what I can do for someone else. I have a few good thoughts on that so follow-through is the mindset.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Keeping in touch with some family members can be a chore that is unfairly divided.
  • And some days you just nod your head at the end of it and say, that was good.
  • It’s quickly becoming the time of year when the sunsets are nice from my front porch.
  • Why is it that every time I have an idea, another voice in my head says “well that was stupid.”
  • I’m anticipating a good night’s sleep, first thing tomorrow morning.

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Opening Monday

The local team kicks off their home season today. A big day for fans and players. A big day for my neighbor’s family whose son is the starting pitcher today. I wish them the best of luck on this 30th Anniversary of one of the most beautiful stadiums in this country.

And of course like every Monday it kicks off a new week for us all. If you measure them from Monday-Sunday of course.

Congrats Bruce Zimmerman. Photo by Mike Hartley

This makes me think about increments of time and what they mean at various stages of life. For instance the week. Mostly defined by work for decades to me. If I just make it through the workweek and then the reward of the weekend. Balance of dedication and then reward of fun. Just kept knocking them out and stacking them up and before you knew it a year flew by.

Now that I’m closer to retirement the workweek does not define the week and nor does the weekend really. I find myself more in the day-to-day mindset. Did I take my meds, did I post to the blog, did I eat a meal I really enjoyed, did I talk to or write my children, have I talked to my friends, and the most important thing of all, did I tell my wife I love her.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Clarity can be fleeting.
  • Sometimes I wish for a bag of just red jellybeans. But then I wouldn’t appreciate how special they are without the green, yellow, pink, orange, purple and black ones.
  • Never take for granted the great feeling a nice shower gives.
  • Go someplace else in the world, then come back to the U.S. – It’s a good way to learn to stop wasting time complaining about how bad we have it or all the things wrong.
  • Oh, and my neighbor the pitcher – he had a great game – 4 scoreless innings, the team won. He should be on cloud 9.

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I have nothing to start with. I have no thoughts to finish with. But that is true for every day I sit at the station to knock something out. Something out of nothing. Some people look at a beach and see sand. Others see a substance for sculpture.

Sand artist. Photo by Mike Hartley

I look at a blank page and let my fingers do the walking and images trigger my imagination. It’s so much fun each day to imagine creating something from nothing. A block of wood, an image, a series of words that mean something to someone.

I took this gift for granted for decades. I didn’t see the possibilities or was scared of making a fool of myself. Not that I haven’t had a lot of practice at it in other areas of my life from time to time. But I let the fear of being inferior keep me from sharing.

But no more, no wasted days without a post or creating something.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Love can be so many things.
  • I’m looking forward to changing into a pair of shorts this week. Don’t let me down Mr/Mrs. Weather forecasters.
  • If little things can make you smile then you have the right outlook going.
  • It was damn good taco night at this homestead.
  • I’m reaching the point of exhaustion so I will probably sleep well tomorrow morning.

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Can’t believe it

My lawn mower battery must be 10 years old at least. Each year I take it dutifully out of the mower, bring it in and charge it over the winter months. Well, truth be told my lazy behind didn’t do it this past year. I was wondering if my old John Deere was nearing the end of his life. The plastic pieces have snapped and cracked over the years outside in the shed in extreme temps. But that is why duct tape was invented. I must admit the seat is in great shape.

My yard could use some support if you’re not busy. Photo by Mike Hartley

But back to the battery, I went to the shed and pulled the engine cover off and had the wrenches with me but as I grabbed the shed key, I also grabbed the mower key. All the way down the stairs and out the basement slider I’m thinking I’m not even to waste time cranking it and when I changed my mind I thought I’m not going to get a click out of that thing. So imagine my surprise when the engine started to turn over and fired up for about 30 seconds. I backed off the choke too soon. I tried again and bingo, it’s a fire breathing machine without pulling and charging the battery.

Small victories are nice once in a while because it seems we all get our fair share of setbacks trying to get things done. I’ll take the small victories every day of the week. Sometimes you got to dig deep for them. Some days no matter how many things go wrong you have to look at yourself as very fortunate. A simple thing like a dead battery shouldn’t be a setback.

But it was ALIVE, so life is good for an afternoon knowing that in a couple of days, I won’t have to do the first cut of the year with the push mower. Life is good.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I still don’t understand the selfie. If I want to see myself, I remember a mirror being a useful device.
  • I’ve never seen a bundle of cash so the concept of wishing for one never came up. And what do kids wish for now? More credit cards, bitcoins?
  • Ah, the first day where a multiple sneeze attack hits, signaling allergy season is here. Luckily it’s much easier than it used to be and I can deal with some itchy eyes and a few sneezes.
  • I think I’ll get up early and go for a walk in the morning around sunrise.
  • It’s time to get snapping again.

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Usually, the sunrise is a visual thing. I stepped outside a bit earlier than that and listened to the birds come alive this morning and that was equally inspiring. A cheery chorus of chirping that just grows and grows.

Their BACK. Yep Wildlife seems to be reappearing as the ground returns. Photo by Mike Hartley

Listening to my three-year-old granddaughter. That really takes skills as she gets excited when she talks at times so if you’re not listening with complete attention you may miss a gem of a statement or observation. Makes me wonder if we all listened intently and with the understanding that we have for a child if we all could do better talking to each other as adults?

Contentment. Photo by Mike Hartley

An unexpected bonus today was when my son and his puppies came by to visit. And if you listen closely animals can communicate with us. I listened to my son talk about the joy of expecting their first child.

I listened to some comedy tonight and had some great laughs. My better half listened to me. Thanks.

I listened to myself think till I tired of that. Now I’m thinking of listening to the sound of myself snoring myself to sleep.

Then again, I could stay up a bit later and listen to some Doobie Brothers and the song “Listen to the Music”.

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Together we made it

Together we made a family. We (my better half and I) got some great support along the way but also dealt with difficulties that are part of life. But the family is my crowning achievement in life. I had no idea I set out for that goal but it kind of overtakes you when those eyes enter the world. Life is about someone other than you from that moment on. But at the same time, it’s the thing that completes you and your team.

Yesterday I heard the sportscaster in the background saying that the Oriole Park at Camden Yards is 30 years old which reminded me of my kids being very young at the time. I remember I got to go to the last preseason game the day before it opened for the regular season. I said to myself that the place still looks new and seems like it was just yesterday it opened. Just a little younger than both my children and yes that seems like yesterday.

Da Bird. Photo by Mike Hartley

What a journey having a family is. So many examples I’ve seen of success and failure, triumph and tragedy. And what starts as success always doesn’t end that way. Just as the inverse is true, some families that seem divided and have no chance of renewing come back together.

I’m just thankful thinking of mine today and how lucky I am.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • For some reason, I have the desire to stand in the warm rain of a summer day. But a shower will do till then.
  • The people just trying to get over on others usually are easy to spot and easier to just discard.
  • It’s good to make the big print before worrying about what type of frame.
  • Given the beard is getting mostly white/grey, I’ve decided to let it get a little longer so it looks like it’s still there. But then again it’s summer and I’m getting a massive tan this year so that white might look good against the tanned face?
  • It looks like my yard got a wake-up call. I wish it had a snooze button.