THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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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.

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Rain – Gimme Shelter

Started today strutting like Mick Jagger around my office listening to Gimme Shelter and some other classic tunes. Whatever gets you going in a positive spirit any day is a good way to start. Music does that for me in many ways.

Making the best of a grey damp day. Fired up the Canon printer and filled up the hopper with some 8×10 paper and worked towards completing another project. But another 12 hour day for the job that pays the bills is really cutting into the day so this will be brief again.

At Ease Sailboat. Photo by Mike Hartley

But tomorrow is a special day so I’ll be a production machine.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I had some fun cooking today. Bang Bang Shrimp for lunch and Procuteto and Pasta for dinner.
  • I like when an old friend replies to a note and expresses such warmth and fondness of days gone by together.
  • I like sports a lot but adding another league to watch and a second football season when I can’t keep up with the NFL and all the changes there, I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell I’ll spend a minute watching it.
  • Personal gifts make multiple people happy.

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A long day and night

There is always one day of the week when I flip schedules. In other words up at the break of the day and then working all night long and hitting the sack around dawn. Ironically it feels like one of the most productive days of the week. It’s the end of my weekend and the beginning of the workweek.

So I’m trying to fit the last bit of fun and chores into the day, and being it’s usually on a Sunday I get the usual wonderful Sunday dinner my better half always prepares. A real treat and the energy I need to get through the overnight.

Ellicott City looking over the bridge. Photo by Mike Hartley

As my better half will tell you there are always a few minutes, maybe a half-hour where I dread starting another week and would like nothing more than to curl up with her and then get a normal night’s sleep. But as soon as I sit at the computer the sequence of daily events just kicks in and before I know it the night is over and I’m crawling off to bed. It’s one of the few nights I don’t stay up to see the sunrise when it’s later in the season.

Well, being I was sick Sunday and used a personal day for Monday this is my flip day. And being I only have two nights ahead and that couple of minutes of apprehension wasn’t there.

My nighttime fuel. Photo by Mike Hartley

Or maybe I’m just looking at things differently and it doesn’t matter anymore.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My best friend is my best half, not just my better half.
  • A simple picture of my daughter-in-law expecting a new child brought a smile to my face today.
  • If Russia isn’t a good example of what information control can do in a negative way, then you aren’t paying attention.
  • Seems like it takes a few more minutes longer now to get my coordination of fingers and brain on the same page.
  • It’s a good day when a great friend thanks you.

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Monday Madness

Wow, this is the best I’ve felt in over a week and I can’t tell you how good that improvement feels. I’m not 100% but I’ll get there this week I hope. So onto life again and its wonderful possibilities. My mind has been racing the last couple of days with thoughts of warm weather and the shore.

Choptank Lighthouse and a beautiful blue sky/water. Photo by Mike Hartley

But first, the Madness must be completed and tonight’s game is the final. This year it feels worse than usual because I’m losing touch with the pro game a bit. Not enough passion, not enough defense, and too much money. So not as much to look forward to after the game this evening.

Usually, I’m excited about baseball but they ruined that this year with the lockout so that interest will be limited at best. So I’m going to stop at the sporting goods store this week and pick up a pump and get my hoop ball inflated correctly and regain my form in my own driveway. I always had more fun playing than watching anyway.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I got to spend part of the day writing a few friends but I got to spend the time with the one I love dearly.
  • Spending time in thought is good. Spending time in action is better.
  • Sometimes sharing a simple meal together is the most wonderful part of the day.
  • I just can’t seem to get enough sleep as of late. A task to work on tonight.

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Sunday stuff

A setback day health-wise so no new photos. I’ve got to stop letting that impede progress. I was at least encouraged enough and listened to my better half that I took a sick night. Because like the photo below that was the color I was this afternoon. After working all last week at home with the flu I probably left my body so weak it didn’t have anything left to fight off the next issue.

There are lots of things that can be done indoors photography-wise, I just have to open my eyes to the possibilities tomorrow morning.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Wind – Something is going on in the atmosphere because the winds this year and even late last year have been noticeably stronger. When you are surrounded by trees the wind is something that gets your attention. I’ve never picked up more branches in my life than in the past year. If this type of pattern doesn’t change I may be calling a tree service to scale things back because I don’t feel like cutting one off my home as I have before.

Breeze in the trees Photo by Mike Hartley

Violence – I don’t have the solution. Seems like we are headed for the times of the wild west where everyone carries one. But obviously, that doesn’t cure the problem and may just lead to more bloodshed. But we all have to start to work together because just expecting the police and justice system to take care of it all isn’t going to work. As we don’t have enough evidence of that already not working in front of us.

And it’s not a politician or political party that is going to fix it and I repeat it’s going to take all of us. Families, mental health professionals, communities, businesses, and all of us as well as some new ideas and ways of dealing with those who place no value on life.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • This was a wonderful piece on CBS Sunday Morning about John Batiste and the healing power of music and how he and his wife are handling bright and dark times at the same time.
  • I wonder if it’s the same poor drivers I see on the roads when I go out or different ones?
  • Funny how a scrap of paper like a visitor’s sticker can be important. Looking at one from St Agnes Hospital the day before my Son was born 32 years ago.

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Easy does it

Stress is eating me up at times. And I have to find a better way of dealing with it. First of all, separating the stress items is important. In other words what matters and what doesn’t. And then secondly taking that moment to think about it and does it matter or not. And then question it again, is that something that seems important or is it a result of just a bunch of small stresses building up making this last item seem more important than it is.

I’ve gotten much better at it at the job that pays the bills and now it’s time to sort out the rest of the stuff. What is worth getting the hair raised on my neck for or worth worrying about.

Don’t Stress Over the small stuff. Photo by Mike Hartley

To be honest I’ve sweated a lot of the small stuff for far too long. I’ve probably done some damage by making those poor decisions internally to myself. So here is to thinking better, stressing less, and enjoying life more.

March Madness – What the hell can I say. This needs no hype. To me, this is the best sporting event hands down. One because it’s kids. Small schools can knock off the huge institutions of blue bloods and rock the world and it happens. The drama, win it, or you’re done. Then there are the stories and backgrounds of the players and coaches which in many cases are incredible. The diversity and small schools getting top-flight players are now making even more a parity event where almost every team has a chance.

All I know is I’m going to enjoy the last 3 games of this year greatly. And my hope is for my home team of Maryland to rise back to the ranks of a team that dances this time of year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I haven’t had a chance to tell my children today that I love them. So if you’re reading this. Dad loves you.
  • I told my wife I love her and I see no reason not to tell her again. I love you.
  • One of my best friends is on a family fishing trip today. If any family deserves to have a healing day of joy on the water, this is certainly one of them.
  • I’m making a commitment to getting my office in working shape this week.
  • It’s much more fun doing a daily post earlier in the day instead of stressing to complete one late night.

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Halfway there

I heard Coach K say something in an interview today with Jim Nance that I also believe. You only have so much mind space, and that is why it’s important to not worry about the past or what is in the future but to live in the moment today.

The only trouble with living today is that I’m still recovering from the flu bug. I thought I had escaped things but everyone gets ill once in a while. It’s all how you deal with it. So I’m going to try to stay in positive spirits and overcome.

I can’t believe you’re going to eat that DAD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I dealt with it by finally listing to my better half and resting. The same for tomorrow because I don’t want to start a workweek with an empty tank. It’s getting harder to do the schedule I do and with the age getting up there I don’t see it getting better.

One of my best friends and I talked last night about getting proper rest and concentrating on the best aspects of life which have become our grandchildren in the last few years. There is so much we want to share and do with them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Did you ever think there would be such hostility in the world?
  • Time for another cough drop.
  • I love taking moments in Time.
  • I should have brought a recliner a long time ago.

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Friends are always important. I’ve been blessed with some of the best friends a man could ask for. So much so they are family. And a man can’t ask for more than that.

One of my best friends on the bow. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do you ever wish for a good night’s sleep?
  • Watch less TV, enjoy life and fellowship.
  • I’m not a big fan of being woken up early in the morning. But if it’s my 3-year-old granddaughter I’m happy about it.
  • A first full day of shorts on. Life is improving.

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Oh yeah

Almost time for a great weekend ahead. But I’m living more in the moment as of late. And what better way to live. So the mission is to make the best possible use of today and every day. And to that end, I’m making some changes.

It’s always wise to reevaluate, adapt and make the best possible path forward. So today my behind is up early to get a good mix of fun, music, and time to reflect before a long night’s work. But at the same time, I’m still recovering from being under the weather for a few days.

It’s remarkable how much your health plays in your mental attitude. Well, at least mine. I was starting to get a little down after 4 days of battling flu-like symptoms. But being on the mend finally has inspired me.

Get an early start, get your seat, it’s going to be a great day. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m overjoyed to see two brothers (best friends of mine for many decades) getting their family together again after many many years apart. I’m so happy because both of them hoped for this for some time. And now the weekend is upon them. I can’t wait to hear the stories and see the pictures.

Well here we are at the end of the day and I’ve overdone the feeling better part and now I’m weak again. Such is life, tomorrow will be better if I have to will it so.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Inspiration can come in the most unusual ways sometimes.
  • It’s good to review how you used your day and then reflect on how you could do better.
  • Tomorrow is a return to temps outside I can handle. Of course, those 50-70mph winds might be a little tough to stand up to.
  • Watching a 3-year-old in a Princess dress and shoes today on Facetime was a joy.

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I’m just waiting to feel better and get back to my normal routine and expand on that. I shouldn’t complain, because I’ve been fairly healthy the last 2 years. I think I picked up a flu virus, at least the covid test came back negative. So I’ll wait on my positive waves to return, hopefully, tomorrow and regain my momentum.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m trying to keep up with things, haven’t missed a day of work yet, I’ve been able to post but other things are falling by the wayside and that always bothers me. Thankfully my better half is taking good care of me and helping me recover. Don’t know what I would do without her.

Can’t wait till the real snowballs are dished out. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m also waiting for the new owners of the Snowball stand to open again so I can have my favorite summer treats again. I see they have been working on it and I’ll have to swing by and offer them my best wishes and welcome to the neighborhood.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • For a while, I was wondering if I could stop coughing long enough to type.
  • For a while, I was wondering if I could catch my breath again.
  • For a while, I was hot and cold and hot and cold every minute. So I spent half the day putting on and taking off a jacket.
  • For a while, I was wondering when this bug would pass.
  • But then I said the hell with it and got back up and tried my best. Not the normal productive day but I’ll take any progress after the last few days.

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If you can appreciate what you have been given each day you can have a good life. Today I have a lot more appreciation for things. Call it whatever you want. I’m just glad I feel this way.

So much ground, nothing to graze on. Photo by Mike Hartley

I couldn’t believe I saw snow today in central Maryland. The typical roller coaster of weather in this great state, this time of year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Feeling like crap leads to shorter posts.
  • Some days my mind runs wild and doesn’t allow me to focus.
  • Don’t forget to eat at Jersey Mike’s this Wednesday. All SALES get donated to the 2022 Special Olympics.
  • Breakfast is good any time of day.
  • I think I’m going to have to break down and enlist Grammarly to help me.

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Push or recline?

I feel like I wasted a day and at the same time, it was exactly what I needed to do. I always end up pushing myself when I’m not feeling good and I usually always pay for it by making myself even worse. I should be taking a sick day from work but I’m going to try to power through. And if I can power through that I can make a simple post to keep my daily streak going strong.

More buds. Photo by Mike Hartley

It was chilly out today. No snow here but felt like it was almost cold enough with that strong wind blowing. Not a day for outside activities when not feeling my best anyway. I’d really be bummed if it were one of those 70 degree sunny spring days.

Cherry blossoms and Jefferson Memorial. Photo by Mike Hartley

Just in case you haven’t heard it’s peak bloom time in DC for the Cherry Blossoms. I believe I’m going to make an effort to revisit this beautiful scene next year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Priorities today are not necessarily priorities tomorrow.
  • Days you choose to do nothing go the fastest.
  • Even if you feel poorly if you’re in good mental spirits it makes it a lot more tolerable.
  • There is an answer awaiting me tomorrow. One that will leave me feeling on top of the world or under it. I hope the fact that it’s a Monday doesn’t work against me.
  • I’m not a fan of wind. Unless it comes from a fan I turned on.

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Oh Foo

I follow a lot of classic rock and that is due to the fact that I can’t find the spirit and musicianship in today’s bands that inspired me in my youth. The Foo Fighters were one of the exceptions to that feeling and today the drummer Taylor Hawkins is no longer with us.

I had to listen to an AXS clip of a Sammy Hagar interview with Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins followed by a song by them done in an instrumental version of “The Sky is a Neighborhood” with Taylor and Dave both doing vocals that begins at the 4:37 mark. I will miss his beat with this band.

Here I thought we were done with the cold temp. Someone left the gate open to the Hawk and he has visited us again.

Who left the gate open to Winter? Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s tough to be creative while hacking away with a cough.
  • Sleep disorders are a restless opponent.
  • I’m so confused today I’ve pretty much wasted the day with a conflicted mind.
  • I’m pretty sure I never really fully appreciated how good I felt when I was younger.

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Maryland Day

The promo before the basketball games at the University of Maryland does before each contest where past stars and coaches appear saying “I have Maryland Pride”, is fitting for today. I will also say I have Maryland Pride and I love this state and its beauty and most of its people.

From shore to mountains. The colors fly. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have lived here all my life and I can’t see going anywhere else. Will probably have some of my ashes scattered here when I’m gone. But until then, I’m going to enjoy the beauty and people I love here.

Ocean City Maryland Beach and Maryland flag Parasail Photo by Mike Hartley

And I got to get work on making it even a better place to live.

Flags at attention today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Nothing like being chased by or chasin after a 3 year old all day.
  • There are only so many hours between now and when I wake and I intend to sleep every one of them.
  • Some nights I get a head start on sleep.

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Sitting with old friends remembering times passed. Each provides details of their recollection and view. Laughter begins, more memories are triggered, more details come to light about others who were there. Then a name, one that has passed, changes the tempo of the event being discussed. Sometimes a “boy we miss her” or “she was sweet” and many more.

But then back to the story. Which triggers another story and another time and more laughter. And we repeat and smile and laugh between bites of breakfast. There is comfort with old friends and the joy of shared experiences is always fun. And so is catching up on where we are today and what we are doing or not. And in a blink of an eye 3 hours pass. Hugs filled with love till we meet again.

Rewind Life. Photo by Mike Hartley

I also see father time catching up with all of us and I listened hard to the words of someone who I love and respect and she was encouraging me to hang up the work when I could and get to what I love. Of course, I wish it was that simple and possible at this moment but it’s not in the cards, at least this week to consider.

In some ways, I push thoughts of no more working for someone else way off because the reality of having to continue is still present. But relaxing this morning and someone else raising it caused a few more moments of reflection. In some ways it makes me feel like the most indecisive person in the world and then at the same time I’m sticking to the original plan.

So regardless of the flights of fantasy I might go on this weekend I’ll report and hop in the saddle Sunday night and buckle up for another wild ride.

What is blowing into town today? Photo by Mike Hartley

Wind, a love-hate relationship. I love a warm summer breeze and hate a cold winter wind. A headwind is tough to fight while a tailwind is like a boost in your step. Nothing like the wind through your hair on a bike or convertible but I hear many complain of bad hair days because of wind.

I love to see the leaves blowing in it. I hate to see my trashcan going down the hill in it. I have a low-profile car so crosswinds don’t bother me. But they certainly affect that 18 wheeler trying fruitlessly to stay in his lane next to me.

I see the beauty in smoke blowing from a fireplace chimney and am horrified at raging wildfires swept by massive winds and creating their own wind storms.

Some say I’m long-winded so I’ll stop here before I lose more of you.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes I get embarrassed when I find my own spelling, grammer and many other offenses against lauguage. But then again, this is me, take it or leave it. Because if I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now, this blog comes with many flaws and is a reflection of its creator.
  • I’ve been spending a few more moments out on the road than past weeks averages and I’m surprised we have gotten this bad. All sembalance of order on the road is falling apart. The point where people start taking the law into their own hands is at hand.
  • Its time for some HOOPS again.
  • Sometimes you find yourself in spots you never dreamed of. So appreciate the change in pace and roll with it if you can.

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Yabba dabba doo

I feel like Fred Flinstone when he gets off work. For this is the last work night of the week and spirits are high. Sometimes I take for granted how lucky I am and thankfully I catch myself now and then. Are things perfect, far from it but that is life. As long as I’m here to fight another day, life is good.

And I’m excited about the coming weekend because today has gone so well already after a wonderful dinner with my daughter. And tomorrow I’m spending time with close friends. Then a day with the granddaughter and life couldn’t be better.

So what will ring my bell tonight? Photo by Mike Hartley

On the other hand, the back end of the weekend looks very cool. And if you go out at night downright cold. So I think I’ll make good use of that time indoors those days. I have a lot more prints queued up to make larger prints. So let me get to work on that and wish everyone a good night.

A local, brewer, distillery, and winery for every community. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Funny how minds work. They can sometimes drive you crazy.
  • Do you ever feel for someone so much that it hurts?
  • Breakfast, the meal that could be called dinner.
  • I promise to do better here and everywhere tomorrow. Because I’m almost out of time today.

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Street parking

I’ve never been one for street parking. It’s like asking for problems. For instance, I could park right in front of my dentist’s office on Main Street in Ellicott City for appointments, but you won’t catch me doing that even on a rainy day. I’ll use the lot behind the old firehouse.

Because after one walk yesterday I see evidence that this is a wise move. Not that this is any surprise. I see people who can’t control a car or are too busy to feel like paying attention to driving every time I get behind the wheel. Why would I think a narrow city street wouldn’t be an issue.

I have no interest in adding someone else’s paint color to my car. Photo by Mike Hartley

In some ways, it’s good people do choose to park on the street still. It protects us a little bit walking the sidewalks. But then again you should be ready to duck a flying side view mirror which can easily be sent skyward.

I can’t see you anymore. Photo by Mike Hartley

In some ways, it’s surprising to see the remnants of cars on the street, but after hearing tires skid and the familiar sound of metal and glass crunching over the years this mind says to use the parking lots.

The road is no place to be making glass mosaics. Photo by Mike Hartley.

But at the end of my observation of this car carnage, I saw a mother and child walking up the street picking up loose trash from the streets of this beautiful town. So people do care, and I hope there are more of us than those who don’t.

Yes, these are from yesterday’s walk, busy night at work so haven’t been out yet today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Doing good work at the job, bringing in projects, making things as perfect as possilbe just doesn’t seem as important as it once did. Sometimes age is good for perspective.
  • If there is a pill for everything why do people still die from illness?
  • The song “I can see for miles” by The Who is not an appropriate tune for a foggy morning.
  • Food and money have a lot in common. Some people have a lot and some people have none.
  • There is no reason to purchase a stairmaster. Life is a big enough climb on its own.

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Walking OEC

I took a walk this morning in one of my favorite towns. Sort of like a home away from home. Got married in Ellicott City, worked in Ellicott City, started a business in Ellicott City. So I’m familiar with it. From the 60s when we first moved here, till today, I walk those streets a few times a year, or more when it was working there.

I always find something new. When you get to visit a place and experience each season, it reveals a new town quarterly.

Don’t just stay on Main Street. Venture off the beaten path. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another thing is you just have to stop and look around. Front back, side to side, up and down. And low and behold things reveal themselves.

Hey, I’m just trying to have a cigarette here in peace. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes things pop out of areas you wouldn’t think of.

Who. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have a very hard time understanding people who don’t have an appreciation for life. And even less tolerance for them.
  • Some days I feel like I’ve maximized every minute of the day. I either feel great for such and accomplishment or to exshausted to appreciate it.
  • It’s one thing when I cost myself sleep, its an entirely different thing when others interfere.

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I’ve been blessed with two children. My oldest has a birthday today and I was writing her this morning and reflecting in thought on 3+ decades of her life. The memory of her laying on my better half chest after being born and those eyes looking at me is just as clear today as that day.

Holding her in my arms those first few weeks felt so good. Watching her start to move, and then crawl and walk. Which is just the start of a million moments I’ve been lucky enough to witness. Simple things like bouncing a basketball or throwing a softball. Playing on the beach or swimming in a pool. And also the difficult things like working hard through high school and college and getting degrees, becoming a professional teacher.

I smile at the pictures in my head or photo archive I sift through every once in a while of their younger birthdays. The cakes and friends. I think now of the families they have and how much has changed over the decades as they have grown into adults.

Fruit Cake would have been more healthy but we had ice cream cake. Photo by Mike Hartley

I had no idea at the time the impact she and her brother would have on me as a person. I had no idea children would be such an important and joyous thing. But I’ve had my eyes opened wonderfully by 2 gifts that have been bestowed on me.

I was going to say I miss them being young again but my next thought was that every part of their life growing up has been a pleasure to watch and it’s hard to pick a favorite age because I’ve learned they just keep growing and impressing me more along the way.

And our love for each other keeps growing along the way. And that is what I’m most thankful for because having a family is tough. For every success, there are failures and various degrees in between. I’ve seen some families I thought were tight, fall apart over time. And some that have fallen apart early, making a comeback and joining together again.

Love and communication, are important foundations to start with. But learning and adapting to each other are also important. Everyone is their own individual with their own strengths and weaknesses. Even us as parents.

But what I want her to know today is how proud I am of her and how much we love her and our son. Having lost my father when I was young I have lots of questions without answers that I never want my children to not know and the first one is I couldn’t be prouder than I am of both of my children. And that they have made me so happy in life that all other stuff is small stuff. So you have already given your father the most wonderful gift of all.

Happy Birthday to my Daughter.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Nothing worse than picking up the basketball and heading out to shoot for the first time in a great while and the ball needing air. But then you learn there is something worse when you can’t find your pump.
  • Sometimes I wonder what will be my last random thought?
  • Foregiveness is still a skill I’m developing.
  • I’m getting a headache now thinking about being in the dentist chair tomorrow morning.

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I got to thinking about how I’ve changed over time. I used to want to work around people and now I’m very happy working alone. I used to like large parties and events and now I prefer smaller gatherings or just a few people. I used to like large family gatherings, now I shy away from them.

Alone with nature. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was starting to feel this way before the pandemic started but the increased isolation isn’t the tough thing it is for some people. And to be honest I like some aspects of it. Working from home alone keeps me running into thousands of other drivers each morning and evening. And I can’t tell you how much I like that being my commute was 45 miles each way to downtown D.C and back.

Not to mention being late in my career a lot of friends have retired and the number of close friends at the job has dwindled so those relationships are now outside the job. But I also like working alone pretty much self-supervised. I’ve had good bosses and some bad ones. When you are trusted to work independently and still communicate well so everyone is on the same page and happy that is what I want and have at this stage of life. Thank you, boss.

Teams are great. If you have a good group everyone benefits and grows much faster I believe some of the best work I’ve done has been on teams of people or leading teams of people. I also enjoy helping my partner and some other members of engineering and even some in other departments when I can. I’ve always shared any knowledge I have freely. But as you all might have run into there are always people who know everything and those not interested in learning anything and those I quickly disconnect myself from.

I’ve discovered I enjoy listening to music a lot more again and I like doing that alone in my man cave or car. When I’m photographing I’m alone. When I’m writing now I’m alone. And I’m very comfortable in those spaces.

Of course, I don’t want to disconnect. I don’t live vicariously through social media or nor am I a loner. I connect with my friends often and we keep in close touch through a number of tools.

I guess I started separating from the masses though when I started the night shift again about 7-8 years ago. I had to remind myself from previous stints on nights, it disconnects you from a large segment of society. It changes relationships with friends and family, even though I work very strenuously not to let it affect any of those things even if it means my personal sacrifice of sleep.

But working in a building that houses thousands and you work a shift where security and cleaning crews almost outnumber our staff there, its one of the many lifestyle changes that have to be adapted to. So I had a few years of isolation adaption before covid hit and people started to hunker down and experience so much anxiety over it.

Some people are so excited about getting back to the office. That is the furthest thing from my wishes right now I’m sorry to say. Oh, there are a few people that I will make a point to see and keep in touch with but my days of wanting to be in a large office complex are over.

Even when I’m at home and it’s just my better half and I. Many days I wake early, usually some ache or pain and I get up to stretch but I stay up because I can have some alone time. Sometimes there are a lot of voices in this head to listen to without anyone else chiming in.

The danger in liking being alone is that it can go too far and I’m keeping a close eye on it. But I’m also using the time I have in doing a little more of what I want and less of what the group wants. And I don’t mean that to sound selfish, I’ve probably been on the people-pleasing side too long and maybe that is why pulling back feels so good right now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is something that makes me feel good about being up and seeing a sunrise each day.
  • Another beautiful day, well part of it, on tap and I’m going to get outside and enjoy the hell out of it.
  • It’s the time of year where you need multiple wardrobes each day.
  • I think I’ll start to try to post earlier in the day than late in the day and see if that makes any difference in viewship. Maybe doing some better content would help also.
  • Every year I have this battle with myself. Do I put down chemicals in my yard to have it look nicer or do I not and have a healthier earth and less visual pleasure. Most years I actually avoid the chemical dispersion but so many neighbors have these services pull up and put down tanks of chemicals on their lawns it seems like what I don’t do might not ammount to a hill of beans.

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Reflect and change

Nothing stays the same forever. Communities change, jobs change, people change. And you either change with it and them or move on. But it’s the things closest to you that change that affects you a little more. But the choice is the same, accept or move on.

Some of those changes are becoming more pronounced and decisions on those seem to be coming to a head. Difficult decisions indeed.

But enough of that serious crap. It’s a Friday and time for a lot to cut loose or catch up on some rest. I think I’m going to be in that last category today and tomorrow.

I can’t wait to see the shadow of leaves on the wall. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Is it better to have slept or never slept at all?
  • An early start to a Saturday is in my near future. Could be this week, could be next.
  • It’s fun when you can go to bed and remember a little one saying “love you Papa.”
  • Any week that starts off with a dental appointment is either a scheduling mistake or poor planning and yet I’m guilt of the latter.

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Adrenalin pumping, the ball is thrown straight up in the air, two men/women leap and tip to a teammate. And were off.

Go TERPS Women. Photo by Mike Hartley

Jump, tip, pass, pass, pass, dribble, shoot.

Retreat, lock eyes to your competitor’s torso.

Deny, prevent, deflect, remove them from paint.

Back and forth, score, turnover, rebound, assist.

You’re tired, someone fouls, substitutes.

Coaches yelling, whistles blowing, timeout, pep band plays.

The ball deflected out of bounds, the call is made, people go insane

Back and forth, fresh bodies come in and out.

Cut to a TV timeout, Dicky V is cancer-free video (you know its coming)

Action quickens, decisions rushed, tensions build, stamina tested.

Game clock ticks, shot clock ticks, cheerleaders, and fan’s emotions peak.

The crowd counts down, everyone is standing, the shot, the net flinches.

Players jump and pump fists in the air, at the same time men on all fours, head in hands.

Parents cry in joy and in sadness at the same time.

Alumni going nuts, coaches shaking hands, cheerleaders crying.

Players embrace each other in glorious victory.

Other players hugged in support of giving their all and coming up short together.

Some with long looks in their eyes knowing their college days have come to an end

Freshmen think the Dance/Madness will be every year before they know the difficulty of repeating.

Post-game interviews, highlights, and commentary by your play-by-play team.

Coaches in closed locker rooms both telling their guys how proud they are regardless of winning and losing.

Friends and family leave the stands, the next team’s supporters enter.

And it begins again. One by one they go down. Each game, every game, Till ONE.


Yes, I know it pales in comparison to the real-life and death taking place in the world. But when things were normal, you can’t get more drama than March Madness.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A feast at a friends is a menu that mends.
  • If your relationship with your children is good then every minute with them is one that is cherrished.
  • Instead of regret, use it to motivate.
  • I’m trying to think positive, I want to think positive. Why won’t my mind cooperate?

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I wasn’t always good at attendance. I cut a lot of classes as a youth in high school. Actually got suspended for a few days because I cut so many days of typing class in one semester. Kind of ironic now that typing is something I spend my day doing professionally and personally. Thank you, Miss Boone.

Attendance after the school years is something I excelled at. I’ve never been one to use much or any sick time. I’m usually in early and stay late. I’ve always been very flexible and that has served me well. Commitment isn’t everyone’s strong suit and it usually shows in attendance. Not always, I know some very dedicated people who fight illness and still power through workdays or certainly make up for it.

Back to the Office. Photo by Mike Hartley

But we have learned attendance can look different now. I’ve been attending work more hours over the last few years than before. But I haven’t stepped foot in the office in 2 years now. Actually, this week is that anniversary I believe.

Working from home has allowed my attendance to be even stronger. Working a night shift it was getting increasingly hard to do medical appointments during the day and then still work all night. Hours I used to spend traveling I now start early and stay on a little later. Benefits the job as well as me.

But the day draws short again and I’m managed to maintain my attendance in the blogging world today so that feels good also. Almost as good as that warm weather today that allowed me to put the top down on the car and soak up some rays while running errands.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • About to get my fix of basketball tomorrow. And the next day and the next day and the next day. And then the next weekend and then the following weekend. After that I’ll step outside with my ball and try not to injure myself.
  • Some days you just feel a lot of appreciation. Nope, today wasn’t one either.
  • It’s easier to delete a finished item from my to do list than to move it to the next day.
  • I love my work from home dress code.

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One of those

I’ve been so indecisive today. The mind is racing about how to spend the free minutes of the day. When not feeling 100% that also makes me on the fence about starting some things or going some places. I’ve started 4 different posts today and am not sure about using any of them.

These 2 celebrated the last snow of this past weekend. Photo by Mike Hartley

But that clock that counts down each day is getting into the home stretch. Another dilemma, do I make a mediocre post just to keep my daily streak alive? Or maybe I’ll pull a miracle out of my backside? Or just maybe a simple hello, a new shot from this past weekend, and the mindset that I’ll do better tomorrow.

There is only one reality tv show I’m watching now. My first one because I’m not really a fan of all the previous reality TV. I guess this show has a little of that bachelor, bachelorette in it because I saw two Ukrainian soldiers get married. It does look like something called Survivor though I’ve never seen explosions on that show. In some ways, the title of Hell’s Kitchen does it justice. And Naked and Afraid is at least half right in its description. Then again the 90 Day Single life describes what many husbands and wives were forced to do with the women fleeing with children and husbands staying to fight. This show gives an entirely new meaning to Amazing Race, for life and death. At times it does resemble that show called Life Below Zero with the snow falling over bomb craters. And if you’re looking at it from the Russian perspective you might name the series Botched. All it needs is someone to step in for an Intervention.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have a piece of email I’m afraid to open.
  • I’m getting better sleep, why don’t I feel better?
  • Time to detail the car.
  • The time to end this post and begin the next days has come again. Ain’t life great.

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My own world

That is where I’m living now, in my own little world. Always have been but ventured out of it too far now and then but I’m back. And I kind of like it here. Less turmoil and conflict. Lonely certainly, but peaceful. And I’m learning to be happy in it. Inside my world, I’m the judge of myself. And that leaves me feeling better about myself than leaving it to others.

For the next few weeks, I’ll escape to the world of college basketball and some family celebrations and increased work at the job that pays the bills. The home chores will multiply quickly with the outdoor work being added. Pressures will continue to increase. All the normal life stuff.

So I’m regaining control of what I can and finding happiness inside before I venture out again.

Stopped by Danial’s area of Howard County on the way home after some bloodwork. Just to listen to the water and sounds of the woods starting to emerge. Saw a young couple who seemed in a hurry to get into the woods which gave me a good chuckle. People riding bikes and ducks bathing themselves.

Danial’s trailhead area of the Patapsco. Photo by Mike Hartley.
Living on the Edge. Photo by Mike Hartley

6 years ago I had to make a decision. Do I buy a Dodge Challenger or a Mazda Miata? It was either horsepower or convertible sportster. I went with the Miata. And I have loved it every day. But there have been times when I’ve rolled up next to a Challenger and loved the sound, styling, colors, and HORSEPOWER they have.

And one rolled up on me last week and it was nice. But I had the top down and heard him take it very easy off the line and thinking I’d be keeping my foot out of it also. And with gas prices that 37 mpg I get is pretty nice that it doesn’t break the bank to take a cruise. And cruise I will in the near future with the warm weather on the way.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The mind and body are out of sync today. When one feels good the other isn’t cooperating.
  • It’s jelly bean season. I have to moderate though, I have a dentist appointment next week.
  • Also the antisipation of GREEN. The days ahead where everything goes green. No I’m not talking St Patricks day. I’m talking Mother Natures return.
  • These experts and prognosticators with the bracket picks seem so confident. I wish they would photograph these guys after their brackets get busted. Maybe a little humble pie on the air?
  • Photos and videos provide a lot of truth to reality. But then you have Comrade Carlson with his reality. And just like in Russia, people will discount the first one.

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Sunday Shades

The sun was bright this morning and with that snowy white base on the ground, it’s a day for shades here in Woodstock Maryland. It’s also a time to make good use of opportunities the day presents. So I’ll get back to work on that to-do list of mine. And at the top of that list is a quote I picked up somewhere and thought it was a good daily reminder as I looked at that daunting document some morning. It goes: “Make the rest of your life the best of your life” so I try to remember that and act accordingly.

Just chilling in Woodstock this fine Sunday. Photo by Mike Hartley

But the first order of the day was to go clean the snow and ice off the vehicles. A brisk 22 degrees and some mild exercise. I always believe in cleaning a car off well before driving. Could be an interesting day in the state with ice sheets blowing off cars and trucks.

Next on the hit list is the office. I have 200+ pictures to take off the wall so I can start to put up my next project. Which group of prints to edit out is yet to be decided on. I believe that one will be the family wall I’ve wanted to do a refresh of. The other will be my Eastern Shore shots.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to put in some time and effort into things I like to do. But I also like that paycheck so let me get to the job that pays the bills.

Disciplined is something I’m becoming more accustomed to because I’ve finally realized I can solve a few issues by using discipline. From simple things like taking my meds at the start of each day. (not an easy thing when your schedule changes like mine) All the way to a daily workout and doing the daily blog. I’m adding to my photo portfolio every day again.

I plan on adding many things. Which means I’ve got to think about giving up some things. And I think that might be a good change so here’s to a fresh start this spring.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • No matter your age or your position in life there is always a chance to do something great.
  • You know if what is going on in Russia with the propaganda and lies doesn’t teach Americans how important the truth is, nothing will.
  • My thoughts of fighting inflation. Travel less, eat less, cut down on entertainment and get outside. Turn the heat down or not use the A/C. But I’m in a position to do most of that where some aren’t so I do sympatize.
  • There were a lot of jobs that were a lot more respected before we all started getting nasty with each other. Teachers, doctors, nurses, police, elected local officials or public servants of all types. Maybe we should start to work together instead of threatening each other.
  • Well we know what to expect if we ever go to war with Russia. And that is what war really is, a fight to the death.

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It was a strong start to the day and hope to keep it going. Unfortunately, we had to postpone a day of celebration till another, but better safe than sorry with the snow coming down as it did earlier and the plummeting temps.

Even when it stopped snowing it was blowing so hard it made homes disappear. That is not a window in a tree. Photo by Mike Hartley

It feels good to be back in a great frame of mind. I’m so much more productive and creative when the positive juices are flowing. That small shit crept back into my life and was getting to me.

But also I’m recognizing I need to strengthen my body as well as the mind. I have been partially successful in some ways but far from the perfection one of my best friends achieves. He amazes me. I’ve never known someone so fit and consistent through his entire life. He will be turning 60 in short order and can easily pass for someone 20+ years younger.

But I like what he has done in regards to balance. In my mind, it appears he has achieved the maximum strength but also maintained flexibility and athletic quickness ability, and muscle reaction at the same time.

I’m sure he could explain it much better but I admire him for his endurance and persistence in building and keeping his body very fit. So some say it’s never too late to start so why not.

Tonight I reclaim productive space from my office that is just full of various half-finished projects. Time to sort, organize, maybe even box a few things up. I have one decent size table in here and my desk and I don’t need to eat up limited floor space with more tables.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Today I watched dripping iceciles stop dripping and freeze and I didn’t feel like I wasted time.
  • When you include comedy in your day it can sometimes bring an unexpected chuckle later in the day.
  • The chance of a lifetime is here for all of us. Time to pick that perfect bracket. I make one entry and I’m always looking for that magic one that rings the bell. I’m not one to create dozens of entries trying to cover all the best angles and percentages. I’m doing it because I think my first pick is best. I’m trying to prove the addige “Go with your GUT” to prove a point.
  • I witnessed the fastest trip ever by our mailman today. Of course I don’t blame him with the temp at 30 and the wind blowing snow at 30mph and more at times. Myself, I opened the door for 30 seconds and said that’s my outdoor exposure today. I can still do it, working in difficult conditions but I don’t have to anymore and I’m thankful for that. But as they say “never say never.”

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At a loss

I looked through about 30 or so items in my drafts and didn’t see anything I wanted to finish up writing. Mainly because my mind is elsewhere. And at the same time, I’m at a loss for fresh ideas. I’ve had a great day and a bummer of one. I feel weird watching basketball while a significant war is taking place and could enlarge.

I feel both inspired to work on a project I have for the job that pays the bills and at the same time have put in my hours and don’t feel the need to concentrate on that and pass up other things.

Normally I’d try to be more positive, but it’s just not in me today. The look above sums up my feelings. Photo by Mike Hartley

Each spring and fall I question the logic of this daylight saving time change. I have yet to meet someone who likes it. Seems like something pretty simple to get changed? Then again, obviously not. And I have a poor attitude about missing an hour of sleep tomorrow night.

I feel like working on some woodworking projects but I’m so tired I’m wondering if I’ll finish this post. A lot of days I do this I’m pretty beat. Today that thin veneer of positiveness has fallen away. Sorry I’ll get that mojo back tomorrow.

I’m so disappointed about all the sports betting that has taken over the lives of people. Even if you can do it responsibly it takes your focus from enjoying the game to thinking about your bet and how that plays out. And of course, all the people that can’t handle it and get in trouble. Then there is the absurdity of some betting. I’m guessing there will be a line soon on how many times a pitcher touches his groin during the game. Some pro athletes can bet on sports other than theirs and other leagues prevent any betting. But it’s not like pro athletes don’t know other pro athletes in other sports. Which begs the question will they have insider info?

A lot of days I miss having a pet. And the logistics of ever having one again are slim. So I live vicariously through my friend’s and family’s pets. And that is ok, I treat them as they were my own when we see them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’d say the odds of finding someone who can’t drive if your on the road for more than 15 minutes are pretty much 100%.
  • The snow shovels have been put back in the shed, weeks ago. Looks like its going to have to melt before I shovel.
  • Entitled people beware, your act is wearing thin.
  • Not driving as much helps me not worry about the price of gas.
  • If you ever feel alone, you’re right.

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March Madness

March Madness – It used to be about College Basketball. I guess it could be easily applied to Major Leagues Baseball this year also. So the lockout is over, I guess a lot of people care and I’m glad the people that work at the stadiums and surrounding communities thrive from it again. But I’ve lost a lot of interest personally.

I don’t even care who’s at fault. All I know is that by not caring the next time they do this I won’t be surprised or affected. So good luck MLB, this fan is on hiatus.

Their back. Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe the players and owners should swap positions for a season with the common man who earns next to nothing working the same place they do. Let them work concessions and seating and janitorial for next to nothing and see what hard work is about. Maybe waitress at one of the local bars and see how it feels to be stiffed on tips. Oh yeah, park a few miles from the stadium and still pay an arm and leg and hoof it to the stadium like the rest of us. Or maybe better yet stand out in the cold and rain some evening directing people where to park for several hours in the stadium lots.

They say perspective does a person well. And I believe many parties in this sport have lost perspective.

Setback – I’ve had just about every vaccine possible over my lifetime. Never questioned them before Covid so don’t mistrust them now. But I did have my first negative reaction to one. My first shingles vaccine had me down a bit for 24 hours. Fever, body aches, and headaches. But they have passed and if that is the worst reaction I ever have then we are good. Still have a second shot to go I’m told. I won’t schedule that on a worknight next time.

Utilizing those moments. My better half was telling me the activities she had planned with our granddaughter tomorrow. I find myself thinking ahead also. How can I teach her important things in life? So many opportunities to do that every time we are together. I love it, but the window to do those things is tight before she is off to school. The first 3 years of her life have already gone by so quickly.

Before you know it those opportunities have passed. They need a lot of coaching before other influences get involved in their little lives. They need confidence in themselves. They need to know right from wrong. They need to know kindness to others. They need to know honesty and many more important lessons.

It takes a whole family and more to pass on good values, respect and confidence. Of course, love is one of the most important ingredients.

So let me get some rest so I’m all smiles for her in the morning.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you want to learn how to start a day watch a 3 year old wake up and start their adventure.
  • I don’t think I would ever say this but I found a place where snowfall isn’t pretty. Ukraine. Snow falling on bombed out landscapes is UGLY.
  • With gas prices increasing the Work From Home jobs just got even more attractive.
  • March without Terps mens basketball playing is very strange.

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The good old annual physical is complete again. Thankful that I get one, took it for granted when I was younger and would skip them. Yeah I know, young and invincible was the thought when I was half this age. Luckily I’ve grown out of “stupid” in some areas of life.

And as with everything, communication is the key. I have a good doctor. He not only listens he ask questions. A good number of them. He can ask me questions all day if he wants. The man has saved my life 2x now by early detection of cancers, so I’m in debt to him.

What I would like to add though is if something persists and it’s small but is still around the following year don’t hesitate to bring it up again. The more your doctors know from you the better chance they have of making a good diagnosis.

Hospitals are a nice place to visit, but I don’t care to stay. I did spend some time at this one a few times and it’s got great care. Photo by Mike Hartley

I learned that important lesson from my first cancer. Never, not say something if it’s still bothering you. And while you are at the doctor the next time, put in a good word for them and thank them for the continued care during some very trying times.

One of the nurses I saw today had just come back to work after 2 years. There are certainly a ton of them that worked through the last few years that deserve a lot of thanks.

Anyway, I guess I went the long-winded way of saying it’s a good feeling to walk out of a doctor’s office and not have more tests scheduled as a result of the visit.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m enjoying doing some technical writing at work.
  • Being a good friend means taking the initiative in communication a lot of times.
  • I’d use a bar of soap till its such a thin sliver it disppears. But my better half always replaces it before it reaches that now.
  • I went down Rt 29 this morning. 3 and 4 lanes of bumper to bumper moving at 10-30 mph in the rain. Thank goodness I don’t have to do that commute to D.C. anymore.
  • Adapting is something that gets harder as you age.

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Which one? Which thought or thoughts crossing this confused mind will crash onshore today. Never really thought about it much before. The line between TMI with real thoughts and feelings or just surface crap that means nothing. Where is that sweet spot?

You can wait for those waves of thought to crash onshore but don’t fear going a little deeper into that ocean. Photo by Mike Hartley

Usually, I’m so limited on time I’m just glad to get words on a post. Even the writing list of ideas I started a few months ago doesn’t get reflected on often. It could just be me being lazy, but more often than not I just have a few minutes to start and just roll instead of having a preconceived notion of what I want to address today and then struggling and winding up out of time.

Who knows, maybe writing in limited time is an advantage. My random thoughts at the end are always thrown together in the last few minutes. And I do get some positive comments on them. I guess it just comes down to each day and doing the best with the time you are given.

I read where it’s Woman’s History Month. I would like to thank the women that I know through my personal history. Thanks, Mom for always being there and so much love and devotion. Thanks to my Best half who with lots of love and patience has helped me become the best I can be despite the many flaws she started to work with. And also made a family so wonderful that it brings a smile to my face every day. Thanks to my Mother In-law for such love and kindness and stepping in after my own Mom passed. To my Daughter who amazes me in so many special ways all the time. From her being a wonderful teacher to a loving Mom herself and the best daughter any father could hope for. To my Daughter In-law who has helped my Son be so happy and a wonderful loving man and now a father to be. To my Granddaughter who reminded me how precious, fun, and innocent life is. At the same time bringing the child back out again in her grandfather. All the while generating new levels of love in my own heart I didn’t know I had.

Thank you to the professional women in my life that have taught me so much and been so inspirational. Colette, Esen, Phyllis, Alice, Linda, Jean, Danielle, Ada, Shirley, Liz.

I’m kind of excited about this new Baltimore Banner product starting up. This town needs help and community journalism is one way a community rebuilds. Help people connect. Help them organize and win back their streets. Every little bit helps. And if we work on solving the problems the differences between us fade away. There is less to argue about.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Started to support World Central Kitchen today. But I also feel the need to help the local community and the Maryland Food Bank is a fine one to contribute to.
  • I’m very bothered by the very low percentage of plastics getting recycled. So much so that I’m even starting to question if I could do better doing it myself. Better yet could I use it in my artwork. Free material, an artist best friend.
  • The composure of the Ukraine people fleeing the country who have lost everything and know not what the future brings, having landed in a forigen land is remarkable. With all the whineing going on here you would think we were the ones under attack.
  • It’s Taco Tuesday at this HOME. Love me some tacos. And the ranking goes, Meat, Shrimp, Fish, Chicken in terms of favorites. Tonight its MEAT. Ah the simple pleasures of life.

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Dentist Day

Usually, my dental trips are short. A cleaning every 6 months and life is good. I think I’ve had 3 cavities in my life if my memory serves me correctly. Apparently, my luck has run out because I’ve got 2 chipped teeth and 2 others that need attention. He asked if I had developed a serious sugar habit during the last year. Well now that I think about it yes. He asked if I was still drinking a lot of Cokes (he knows me, he lives down the street) and I said yes.

Then he gave me the best information on what the Cokes are doing to my teeth. This leads to a serious dilemma. You see I like my choppers. I don’t like having any issues with my choppers. I like Cokes, lots of them over a full lifetime. I would have been smart to take stock in Coke as a young man.

Which raises the question, how can these two coexist? I’m not the best with lifestyle adjustments. I like what I like. But I like life and health so I’ll probably make some changes. So bear with me as I attempt to adjust.

sha Sha SHa SHA SHARK!!! Photo by Mike Hartley

It was great putting shorts on again the last two days. The kind of weather I love but short-lived and the sweats will have to come back out. But hope has been restored that the seasons of joy are at the doorstep.

Time to emerge from my long winter hibernation. And this season I’m feeling extra thankful. Watching the news of millions suffering in the world gives me pause. When I think about complaining about anything I get quiet. We are so spoiled as Americans. Yeah, high gas prices hurt. But we kind of brought this on ourselves. We all became part of the world system and relied on other parts of the world to supply certain needs because it was CHEAPER. And now the world is out of the balance it relies on for certain items.

It’s time to adjust again and it won’t be a fast process for some things. I guess it’s time to tighten the belt a little, suck it up, adjust and be happy with some new realities for a while.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s seeming like it’s harder to find a silver lining in things.
  • Don’t you just love it when you have been in a little funk to start to snap out of it.
  • Heres a good way to look at things. If you weren’t hungry, had a roof over your head and weren’t under fire, you had a good day.
  • I found something worse about having to go to the dentist. Having to schedule a followup appointment for more work shortly after.

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Sunday Morning Trumpet

I like the musical lead intro to the CBS Sunday Morning show called Abblasen. Just makes me feel good about the day. I have a love-hate relationship with Sundays. From the time I wake to just after I finish one of my better half’s wonderful Sunday dinners, it’s great. Then the job that pays the bills begins.

A musician in Baltimore that can play that horn. Photo by Mike Hartley

And while this isn’t the worst thing it begins the difficult transition back to nights. So while the trumpet sounds the start of the race the finish line on Monday morning is always tough to cross.

For the first time in 2 years, my Son and I resumed target practice at a range in Cockeysville. Followed by a nice lunch together at our favorite spot. I didn’t realize how much I missed doing that just him and me.

Pretty soon he will be pretty busy with a Son on the way himself. I know he will still make time for us but we will just have to be flexible. The important thing is to keep some one-on-one activity together going. From a game of pickup basketball to attending a game. Maybe some tennis this summer. Been a long time for the shoulder to swing a racket.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Lets see, Pandemic or World War? Both are painful. I guess someone thought the loss of life wasn’t great enough with the first one.
  • I can, well at least I think I can, maybe I can, sure I can, kick that can.
  • Good old Maryland. Temps in the upper 70s for two days. Walk outside Tuesday morning and it will be freezing again. If that is the extent of our crazy weather I’ll take it.
  • I look at a picture of my wife sitting on a fence on one of our first vacations. Seems like yesterday.
  • Mom and Dad are always Mom and Dad even if you can’t call them anymore.

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Persistence pays dividends. In some things, I excel at being persistent. There are others I’m piss poor at being a finisher in. Shifting priorities, shifting interest, mindset ebbs and flows, aches, and pains affecting abilities, the balance of proper rest and activity along with exercise.

No wonder persistence is needed. And today we persist in our pursuit to blog another day. Even though I’m blogging I feel I just can’t pull it together these last few days. I’m out of sync. Energy levels are low. Creative juices just aren’t mixing properly.

Even if you’re between a rock and hard place, persistence can rescue you. Photo by Mike Hartley

Kind of a hazy start to the day but then the bright sunshine broke out in my neighborhood. On the heels of a night I had hoped to go out and do some shooting but while the tank on the car was full, mine was empty. I don’t have many low-energy days like yesterday but it happens to all of us I suspect.

Okay, what is right with this world this day. I had a warm cinnamon bun brought to me this morning while I was pounding away at the keyboard. Yup, that will cause a break time. Because you can’t type with sticky fingers. I’ve never been a fork and cinnamon bun eater. Always hands.

And now at the end of the day, I’m just happy we all made it through it, healthy, happy, and in a helpful spirit.

My granddaughter’s 3rd birthday is coming up. Now she is at the age where birthdays really start to mean something to them. And it brought back a sudden rush of feelings I used to have about my own children’s birthdays. Especially the younger years when you want them to be joyous events for their memories.

It’s pressure but it’s easy if you have a team to make it happen. And then I watch the news and I see children in mother’s arms who haven’t eaten, have been out in the cold, don’t know where or when they will sleep, and the fate of the men they left behind.

I think I’ll go look up where a donation or two would be of good use.

Man’s humanity to man is only exceeded by man’s inhumanity to man. But we should never stop trying to make it the other way around.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Tomorrow I start worrying about the dentist appointment the next morning. Then again why waste time, I’ll start fretting now.
  • I think I figured it out. I was thinking about becoming a Senior Citizen Comedian. And I got to thinking why don’t I see any older comics. And then the lightbulb went off. We can’t remember the joke we wrote five minutes ago let alone remember enough material to fill 15-20 minutes. But hell, I might give it a shot someday anyway.
  • This might be a first. All the tires on the mower held air pressure in the shed this year. I hope I didn’t just jinx myself and wondering now if it will start.
  • It bothers me how fast this past week flew by.


Good or Bad

I’ve watched with interest how photography has and continues to change. I love to see people taking pictures. It’s a lot more fun and easier than it used to be. Professional equipment was expensive and not intuitive to use. Low end and midrange were either poor quality overall or didn’t work well in low light.

Hold on, where is the shutter again? Photo by Mike Hartley

All those barriers and so many more have been removed. Simple phone cameras are really sharp. Even the low-end cameras now are capable of good quality images. This brings me to a point. Who uses a camera anymore? Smartphones, tablets seem to outnumber conventional cameras. Sometimes I feel odd pulling out the big Nikon now.

Old Polaroid Land Camera model 80 Photo by Mike Hartley

I like the idea that everyone is a photographer because I know the joy it brings me to create my own and look at others’ images. I like those memories being made. But I worry about these electronic memories. Do people make the proper backups? Do they just sit on their phones? Or are they shared all over social media but still nowhere physical. I’m older so I still love physical prints. So much so I purchased a fairly good Canon Pro 100 printer a few years back.

And when I decide on my best work I’ll get professional print services. There is something about a print that makes it feel special. When I see a photo I’ve taken that a friend shares online, I’m flattered. But when I see a friend has a photo displayed in their home I’ve taken in a print or asks me for a print, then I feel like I’ve done something special.

One of my first 35mm cameras, passed down from my parents. Photo by Mike Hartley

Yes, all this technology has changed professional photography. I imagine it was getting harder to make a living in any way, but the challenges today are unique. But then again it is spurring new businesses and directions at the same time. But the same old ones exist also. What is the value of your art and skill? Great work usually comes with great rewards but not always.

Me taking a picture of someone taking a picture of someone taking a picture of someone. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Fortunately, I don’t have to look at it as a business, at least right now. Mainly because I’m still an amateur but even if I wasn’t or I’m making it to the middle ground, I going to always shoot what I want, when I want and how I want.

And even if my work starts to make it to the point where someone sees some work they like and approaches me, I might ask them why they like it? Or maybe what it means to them? For instance, if anyone wanted a print from Arlington National Cemetery and had a loved one there the price is 0.

I can think of a lot of things that might just make me share a print. Because they really belong to all of us. Photography is where we live and where we go. It’s our perspective, angle, lighting, and what we focus on. And those things are unique to everyone at that point in time. That is another reason I take a lot of images. For my family, it’s kind of a record of threw my eyes at various points of time in my life.

And I guess sometimes, that point in time is what is important. I have photos of the days both floods in Ellicott City happened early in the morning before they happened. One was from a family walk that morning from my wife’s parent’s home in ChapelView. The other one was as I returned from a ride down New Cut Rd. As I turned to go up Main Street I took a shot and most of what I saw was no longer later that day.

Saturday morning 7/30/2016. I was just returning from a ride down New Cut Road and had just made the turn next to the Phonenix Restaurant onto Main Street. The top was down so just held up the old Kodak and snapped this. Photo by Mike Hartley

And while it’s dark and out of focus. It’s a point in time that is special to me. Yes, I took many shots after the floods. But I’d like to think of this town as complete all the time. Including Agnes, I’ve seen this town almost destroyed 3x and it pains me greatly because it’s the hometown of my better half, a town I started my newspaper career in, a town we started a newspaper from scratch in, and a town that I’ve enjoyed many good times in.

So to me, photography and where it is headed is good and that is the same as it’s always been, it’s very personal which makes it very special regardless of the tool or person, or ability. It’s all in the image or not.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Why does it feel inevitible that two big boys are going to box. I hope I’m very wrong about that feeling.
  • There was enough pain and suffering in the world without war. When there is war and it takes it to another level I hope its impossible to ignore. But then again mankind has surprised us before.
  • You know I’ve been thinking about the size of American portions at resturants. Don’t get me wrong, I love a big meal but more often than not I can easily get two meals out of a single serving now. So why not share things and make eating out a continued joy and compensate for increases in prices that we are seeing and more to come. Get an app and main course and share. Think of it this way, you won’t each need a plastic container to take home and throw away later. Your doing the enviroment a favor also.
  • Boy am I thankful its Friday night. I’m also very thankful for Thursday and Saturday nights. The rest of them not so much because I’m working.
  • I’m inspired to get up early and make some progress. Right now the body and mind are on the same page. But you know the body, that first ache or cramp and its becomes a game the body plays of “oh you think that is something, watch him react to this.”
  • Sometimes working hard on something else make what is bothering you a bit easier to deal with.
  • Todays post was just sitting down with nothing and starting to ramble on. Probably comes across like that also. My apologies. I’ve got to think about content more and allow some more time for writing.

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Recoup and regroup

What a week. Life in overdrive. Happens to everyone but I guess I’m having trouble keeping up or I’m just tired and have nothing left in the tank. Then again a few things have been bothering me and that always takes energy and brain cycles away from the productive and fun times.

Resupply and head out to sea. Photo by Mike Hartley

It doesn’t hurt to re-evaluate and rethink things at times. People change, times change. Some grow closer together, some further apart. Sometimes things don’t seem as they are or as you thought they were. What once looked like a wise choice may have been a mistake. Time and consistency are a measure but even that can’t be a hard and fast rule because the only constant changes.

Sometimes things can change in disappointing ways. Have had it happen before and anything is possible in the future. Doesn’t feel good. Can be disappointing. But also enlightening.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Regularly scheduled cancer test by your doctors can give you a good perspective on what is important in life and what is the small stuff.
  • I like caribian jerk seasoning much better on chicken than shrimp.
  • I just noticed on the bag of animal crackers that the animals are no longer in their cages. Lions and tigers, oh my.
  • Come on DeSantis, grow a pair, try telling a grown man to take off his mask. And when he tells you go ahead and try to take it, what are you going to do then? I have a suggestion for his mask, A jock strap. I hate bullies.

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Howdy sports fans

A wonderful day to get outside. I apologize in advance for today’s rant. See what happens when I don’t get enough sleep. Anyway, the first thing I see today is the news about MLB canceling what looks to be the first week of the regular season and I guess that means all of the spring training.

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

Support your little leagues

Instead of going to Major League Baseball games (oh you can’t anyway) why not check out your local ballfields. I bet you will find the concession stands a lot more reasonable. You will see people enjoying the game and cheering for their team much harder than at The Yard. You will see the players enjoying a GAME and respecting the GAME and playing by the RULES of the GAME. You won’t have owners treating their employees like crap and disrespecting them in order to get richer yet. You will have the best seat you ever had for a ballgame. The seat won’t be cramped (bring your own chair or blanket, we do not cover grass stains). You can easily catch a foul ball or chase one through the parking lot. Yeah, you might lose a windshield once in a lifetime at these events but you will have the souvenir of the baseball still in it as opposed to your car stolen or vandalized downtown. Plus next week you can walk up and have the kid sign the ball.

The level of play might not be the best but you will see the same effort. The same joy of victory and agony of defeat and maybe even more pronounced than you have ever seen at the major leagues. As Its players learn about life and the ups and downs for the first time.

You are less likely to get in a fight or be trampled over by others fighting. The chances of having a beer spilled on you are pretty nill. The walk to the parking lot to your seat is easy even if you are an old man. It’s likely you might see someone from your neighborhood or community or maybe better yet someone you knew when you were younger and their kids are on the field.

Angles player signing balls and flipping back to a fan. Photo by Mike Hartley

MLB is proof in life that a few can F it up for everyone. I’m pissed, yeah that is right because I like the game. I liked playing it. I liked coaching it. I like watching it. I like going to it. I like my team and follow it. And now I can’t, AGAIN.

And people wonder why there are unions around. It’s because greedy people do exist. Greedy people do get in power. Greedy people know no bounds. Greedy people don’t care if it collapses.

What bothers me also is how unfair this is to someone who lived and grew up next door to me. His father and he were out at a very early age with a baseball and uniform and practicing all the time. He played little league, he played high school, he played college and got drafted, he played in the minors for a few seasons and last year he caught on and played for the Baltimore Orioles his home team. He is being robbed of his lifelong passion and dream. He is missing opportunities on the field in his prime. He is missing out on the earnings he has worked hard for. He is being shown the sometimes ugly realities of how people run businesses.

Well, the only way I’m going back to a stadium is if the owners are willing to meet me at the gate and allow me to bitch slap then each without pressing charges and then be verbally abused for about an hour or so like they have never been before and not like this easy stuff above. And while I’m doing that arrange to have their spouses donate 95% of their wealth to charities because the only thing they have pain from is losing money.

So many innocent people was what I was going to say next. But maybe we all are at fault. The money we spend to allow them to get so arrogant. The false worship of humans who make the same mistakes many of us in society make. Showing our children unbalanced importance on a GAME. I remember coaching and teaching players how to deal with disappointment was always made harder by parents. Not all of them but a lot of them. Winning isn’t everything and some people believe it is. Yes, it’s the object of the game. But if you did your best, left it all on the field, your teammates did the same. Your coaches encouraged and improve your game. You experienced the excitement of playing the game. I’ve had that, I’ve felt great about it. And I’ve lost and still maintained a love and passion for the GAME. And I learned lessons from losing, that winning doesn’t teach you. And you don’t win at everything in life.

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The gift of time

Time is a gift I smile about each day. I’ve always appreciated being given another day, more so each day now the older I get. It’s a gift that also comes in many ways. Time to accomplish a goal at the job, time to share a meal with a loved one. Time to play with a grandchild.

Wandered up this street many times. Photo by Mike Hartley

I think a lot about time now because I’m so torn on how much longer to work. It would be an easy call if we were well prepared but like many, we are a little short of what I had hoped for. And the longer I work the more comfortable we will be if we live a long life.

I’ve seen my best friends change and start to do more activities, trips, cultural and fun things. And on all fronts. Wives, friends, children all are getting more time. Not one to be the last out of the pits I’m getting organized and moving.

You know, sometimes it doesn’t have to be that killer trip that makes a year. This will be the first year our family doesn’t take a trip together to Ocean City. So the planning begins with that. Where and when can everyone make it to for some short visits?

There are so many options my head is spinning about it so I’m going to let the others think and talk about it and see where the wind is blowing. I’ll throw suggestions out and I’m very flexible.

But I also hope to really get back to exploring Maryland and the surrounding states. I already have several days and weekend trips to be thrown out for consideration. I want to roam the Chestertown area. I’ve been to Ocean City for at least 40-50 years but I’ve never been down to Assateague Island. That is a must-do. It has been 3+ decades since I’ve been out to Deep Creek MD.

I’ve never been to Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg Maryland. Yep add that to the list of places west of home.

I’d like to visit the 3 art museums in Baltimore. Of course, I have to try out the new Horseshoe casino while we are down there getting cultured. It’s been decades since I’ve been to Sandy Point state park. I made my first trip to Gibson Island last summer and I must go back there.

Maybe a weekend bed and breakfast in St Michael’s and a visit to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. I know we have never been to Smith Island and if we go for no other reason than to get a cake, that alone is good enough.

Also, I’ve heard The National Cryptologic Museum is a good visit. Not the photographic places I normally like but would be interesting to know more about that art. And if I’m in that educational vain I might take in NASA The Goddard Space Flight Center. And while I’m there I might as well continue down the road to the new National Harbor and see how that is developing.

Another neglected site is St Mary’s Maryland. I know that area is beautiful. Also Chesapeake beach for a stay on the water at one of the fine hotels.  As well as the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and National Historical Park in Williamsport Maryland.

The Air and Space Museum in Dulles VA would also be good to spend a day at. Then take a real ride back in time on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

So it looks like I have a start to a good list of things to do this year. Let me see what interests my better half and what others I can add to it. I just hope we can get a couple in because it’s a very busy year with work and family expanding.

I saw a flurry of activity on a post on the NextDoor site about the amount of trash on Rt 70 and 29. They should add Rt 40 and 99 and 144. All the major arteries that lead to the dump. I’ve lived up in this part of the county now for 36 years and the problem isn’t getting someone out there to clean it up, the problem is how is it getting there in the first place.

And from what I’ve observed it’s a lot of people taking stuff to the dump and not having the load covered or secured. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen stuff dropped or blowing out of a truck bed. Maybe if each of us tries better we can have a bit less trash to pick up.

I think I’ll do my part while wandering the county for photos and pick up stuff as I see it. Every little bit helps.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The free time of the day was short, the list of chores for the day was long. I’m not satisified with either.
  • Some days I don’t start with the confidence that I’ll create a new post here. But I’m glad I overcome that. Helps give me confidence in other things.
  • A piece of advice for young people. If you got questions for older people, don’t wait to ask them.
  • Baseball doesn’t have Cal Ripkin to save it again after another lockout.

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Made it

As I put the last day of February in the rearview mirror I feel like I made it. The 3 months of the coldest temps are now behind me and I can just look forward to a comfortable 9 months ahead. Yes, there are a few cool days in March, April, and maybe November, but even those days I can cope with because it’s not FREEZING.

Now it’s time to de-hibernate and stretch my legs outdoors again. And that will lead to accomplishing another idea I had of exercise and daily photography. I love the area and state I live in. Some things have changed about it that I’m not crazy about but there have been a lot of good things also. And some of the natural beauty still remains along with some new manmade beauty.

Time to explore again. Photo by Mike Hartley

I want to get out and see it all, record it and share it. I need to get more active and If I get out and shoot each day that can’t hurt. So tomorrow I head out and catch some local activity and get more than the one shot below, that I had time for between errands today.

The hills weren’t the only thing rolling, Shot this out the window. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel we are repeating history because so few are aware of it, we may be destined for the same mistakes that cost many lives many decades ago.
  • I have so many faults I make California look like an earthquake free zone.
  • The harder you work to get to know someone the better the relationship will be or you know not meant to be. But don’t think that hard work is done if you do find a good person because people change and develop over time, so you have to keep up.
  • I used to think Chemistry was a hard subject and I avoided it in high school. In some ways though I feel like I got real good at it as I grew up in terms of working with people. I know its two different things but it makes me wonder if I would have been good at the other one also.
  • It’s disturbing to read of all the breakins and car thefts and distruction of property. It’s got to feel like such a violation. I have a State Policeman living 3 doors up the street and I don’t feel any safer than if he wasn’t there. People an brazen and nuts. It’s hard as a person to worry or even think of threats like that. Having grown up in an era where people rarely locked homes and cars. But I’m adjusting.
  • I’m excited about resuming an old routine with my Son this weekend. Covid kind of paused it but time to get back to one of the few things I can best him at and then Corner Stable for lunch on me.

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I’m finding the more I think about immediate choices the more productive I feel. For example, I know my choice overall is to get proper rest. But the choice to get out of the recliner and to the keyboard was a good productive one this morning.

I’ll choose to report back to the job tonight despite the day off last week and the long weekend which make me long for more days off. I choose to work harder than I have to because I live to my personal standards, not someone else’s.

I’ll choose to do the upcoming doctor’s appointments even though I would like to skip each one of them. I choose to try a new crabcake recipe. It was good. I choose to worry about my grandchild.

Out with the old. Photo by Mike Hartley

But most importantly I’ll choose to be very thankful that were not under bombardment or fleeing my country or dying in the battle for it today as some in the world are.

But the choice I wondered about when I started this was the one I’m having to make now. Throughout my career, we have had to be up on the technology changes happening now and in the future. So I was always keeping up with changes and adapting and learning.

These last few years my job became more focused and less cutting edge and maintaining the older systems before they are rep