THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Calm before the storm

When I heard 3-6 inches of rain was coming I had to get the cameras out because I love shooting water. Seeing the first few drops on the picnic table and hearing the thunder in the distance has my antenna up. I think I’ll venture out in the morning early for some images in the area. I would go out this evening but work is on the agenda.

The nice scene within walking distance of my front door. HoCo Conservancy. Well, a bit of a walk. Photo by Mike Hartley

Brought the wind chimes in instead of listening to the pound against the house tonight. Also secured a few other things. Just realized its been a while in having to do this. That was a really nice stretch of weather we had.

Trying to look on the bright side as much as possible. And when I can’t find that I try to look for the humor in life. And when I can’t find a laugh I sigh and say I’ve had a lot of good days and I’m thankful.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Life is a trip, but we’re all on a separate tour though.
  • To find the good in some people you just have to scratch the surface most of the time. There are those hard cases though that you better have brought your pick and shovel.
  • Not enough sleep takes a much higher toll now.
  • If you don’t like the opportunities provided, create some of your own.

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Ready Set Rock

Really excited to get off to a good start in August. And I’m feeling like it’s going to be a good month. Yes, it’s the toughest part of the year to spend time inside at the computer. It used to be at the enlarger and trays. I have to admit it was nice learning the old way of developing film and making prints. Watching masters dodge and burn with their hands or other hand made tools.

Photo editing even when you have minimal tools like myself is still part of a good shot. And it can be time-consuming. Be it a simple crop or radical adjustment. I really should learn more about this part and get some better tools in the future. I used to let excuses like that stop me but no longer. I do what I can with what I have and I love it.

Agent 004 – Stealth Skateboarder in OC – Photo by Mike Hartley

When I get nervous about what to create I don’t. When I have my confidence and just roll with the flow I am so much happier. Yeah it isn’t the best and if I took more time and energy it could be better, but that delay might prevent it from ever taking any shape and being shared.

The question is how to best manage me, and the time I have. There are so many wishes I have for the future. I just need to keep working hard at them each day. But I also need to cut some things out now that are time saps. Things like being smart about the TV. Recording stuff and then FF through commercials cutting viewing time. That works really well in sports like baseball.

Grab for that sliver of light each day. Photo by Mike Hartley

I also can reduce my news intake a bit and still be well informed. Just because I work in the industry doesn’t mean I have to OD on it. I’ve got to resume multitasking more. Making use of those few minutes between cooking or just getting moving earlier in the morning.

Regardless I’m getting back to the things I want to do more. I know, less talk, more action. And more pictures.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Started the day in pain, ending the day in pain. But everything in between was fine with me.
  • I’m missing smiles and hugs.
  • Some people never fail to disappoint. At least they are consistent.
  • Seashells give me good feelings.
  • Lots of rain coming they say. That always raises a few eyebrows given our water issues here in the best county in the state of MD.
  • Hey Jared K., you were right, July just ended and we’re really rocking now. And one day when you ask “why me” the answer will be Karma baby.

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Mid Season pause

I define summer as June through September. So being the last day of July I have reached the midpoint of my favorite season. I’ve used a little vacation and I have a little more to use this Aug/Sept. Both excitement and anticipation lie ahead for the remainder of the season. But I seemed to have blinked and the first two months were gone.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Seems to always work that way for summer, while winter will drag out with each week feeling like a month. So I better get busy soaking up the warm rays and tooling around with the top down. Maybe another day trip or two around the state.

It’s kind of a weird year but were all learning to adapt. Spent some time today being tested for the first time for the virus. We want to make sure we haven’t picked up anything before we bring my mother-in-law back for several weeks.

An interesting test, feels like a brain swab. I was encouraged when the guy says you got the look, you got it right. I guess the look is when you blink your eyes rapidly and shake your head a bit after pulling a tree branch with some cotton on the other end out from your cranium. But of all the medical tests I’ve had that is a piece of cake, even though I may have removed a few brain cells by accident.

I’m going to have to do a mindset reset. I’ve gotten a bit lax and I’m out and about too much. It’s time to start hunkering down at home again and when I do go out be smart about when I do.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Tonight I sleep. Well, that is the intention.
  • I like it when the grass is so wet that I’m not even tempted to get the mowers out.
  • Not every day is a day at the beach.
  • Trends create disturbing graphs.
  • I can see by the boardwalk cams that the face-covering requirement is not being taken seriously. I would estimate that the percentage of folks wearing them might have moved to 50%. That is a big jump but not enough folks.

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Can you see the real me

Sometimes combinations in life come along. I turned on the tunes and the first one that came on as I started to select a photo to edit was “The Real Me” by The Who. And the first photo I looked at was this one.

Before Sunrise. Photo by Mike Hartley

And the line in the song “can you see the real me, doctor” is interesting. One of my nicknames is “Doctor”. And I spent some time looking inside me lately. And it’s just as foggy as this picture. Sitting on that chair on the beach waiting for the sun to rise and the morning fog to burn away. I can almost see myself through the camera in that chair on the left side of the photo. I feel like I spent a lot of my youth in this picture.

Some of my days stay dark and cloudy. Far less than before thankfully. And I try to have more control where I determine that it’s going to be a good day. But I still have periods of dark or clouded thought. But as I think more positively the sun seems to burn off some of that darkness more and more each day.

Photo by Mike Hartley

And then I remember that I’m so thankful to be alive and kicking. To have the opportunities that I do. To have the chance to love some more. To laugh and cry and be overwhelmed with joy.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’m going to spread my wings as many times as possible. I’m going to ride the waves. I’m going to go with the flow and buck it at the same time. And maybe see if I can leave this a better place for my children and theirs.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The smile and joy of a toddler are heartwarming.
  • The Yankees beat the O’s again. And all is right with the world for a split second and then I leave fantasyland.
  • I suggest people go out and look at a few bio’s each day of the people, young and old, and in between that died that day of the virus. And continue to do it while people are dying in large numbers to remind yourself of the seriousness of these times. Then be thankful you don’t know any of them and that this hasn’t touched your family that way. Take the time to pause for a minute for those it has touched and be thankful it has stayed away from you. Then do something to make it safer for yourself and someone else.

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Got a couple of important lessons from my kids recently. I’m so glad they are already wiser than me. They taught me both the importance of staying motivated but mixing in some fun.

The other lesson and one really important to me is having a balance on the number of serious things going on all around us but also thinking about what is in our control and not letting those things overwhelm me and deplete my health.

So I thank them both for the helpful reminders on how to enjoy life and live long. They keep showing the benefits of having children.

So tomorrow is National Wing Day. Looks like I’ll have to go out and get some.

Boneless Teriyaki are one of my favorites. Photo by Mike Hartley

I could barely get the viewfinder to my eye because I started to laugh before I even snapped the shot of these two young ladies taking a selfie in front of a dumpster while waiting for their order at Belly Busters in OC.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Some days you spend trying to find yourself. Other days it’s your keys.
  • Work hasn’t ruined my vacation vibe yet. Not that they aren’t trying, I’m just resisting well.
  • When I’m relaxed, life flows better.
  • By the way, its only a matter of time before people are shooting from car to car or just using their car as the weapon. There is some wild stuff going on out on the highways.
  • I didn’t do any new shooting today but I did charge the batteries and made some prints and uploaded some videos. So it wasn’t a total loss. I’ll do better tomorrow.

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I was out this morning early de-beaching my better half’s SUV. I wondered to myself if everyone vacuumed their car when they got back and if we saved all that sand and returned it to the beach if we could widen it more than it is?

I enjoy detailing a car. Getting it to look like new again. Or as close as possible depending on the age. And as I learned this weekend even with a lot of age they can look pretty good. Not by my hand but some collectors, I saw out in front of Wrights Market off Rt 50 outside Salsbury.

Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s so tempting to invest in an old piece of history and tool around in it till I can no longer drive well. Ah if I only have the years to live that dream. What I found interesting in people who own these masterpieces is they don’t drive them much. Yeah, they are nice to look at but you might as well enjoy it and let the wheels turn at the same time.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I’m feeling successful today. Spoke to many close people that I hadn’t talked to in a while. I’m busy at work again professionally and personally. I prioritized well today. And had a little fun. I even exercised a bit. Yeah I know, you don’t believe me.

This family strolled through my back yard this afternoon after feasting. Photo by Mike Hartley

At least I’m back in the habit of picking up the cameras each day again. Now is the challenge to keep it going while working again. The deer shot is from today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • First weekend into the MLB season and teams canceling games because of the virus. Who would have thunk it?
  • And in the continued path of sports, I find it funny and sad to think there will be any football this fall.
  • And colleges opening and closing will be the norm.
  • Oh yeah, the reason for this was in a wonderful quote by a comedian many years back. “You can’t fix stupid,” says Ron White. This might turn out to be one of the most underrated statements of all time.
  • On the good side today, I was able to do a lot of weeding by hand and not have back issues.

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Home again

Sorry about the 2-day hiatus. Was spending quality time with family and driving home from the beach. Getting settled in at the homestead again is nice. And even though I need a new mattress its miles better than the one I was sleeping in the last few days.

As the sun sets on our vacation I’m overwhelmed with great feelings on how special it is to spend time with your children and grandchildren. To have time to talk, enjoy a meal, to say good morning, To just sit and appreciate each other on the balcony or beach. To laugh and remember together.

The coast of Maryland and Delaware draw me like few other things. Photo by Mike Hartley

And while it was a different type of vacation, it was still a wonderful experience that I’ll tuck away in my mind and heart for the rest of my life.

Time to think. Vacation always provides me that ability which is pushed to the side during the normal weeks of the year. Work, chores, caregiving, and other things. But to sit on a balcony enjoying a breeze or with your toes in the sand, hat over face while soaking up some rays and listening to the waves on the beach. That is time for the mind, be it with eyes open or eyes shut. The mind gets computing cycles to sort things out.

Time to focus on what is important. Time to take in the events and how to adapt for the future. Time to think about what is important and prioritize. Time to take a breath and listen to your body. Time to watch an approaching thunderstorm in the distance. Time to appreciate the smells of the beach from food being prepared from restaurants, suntan lotion, or the salt air.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love coming home with a tan and having not burned while at the beach.
  • Maybe instead of waiting for great leadership, maybe we could all step it up a bit ourselves.
  • My birthday isn’t important. Getting to celebrate my children’s birthdays each year is the milestone I look forward to.

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Thankful day again

I’m thankful that both of my daughters who are teachers will be doing it remotely this first semester. They teach in different counties in the great state of Maryland. I was very concerned a few weeks ago when federal pressure was being applied for the return to students in schools again. Just like the economy, schools won’t return to normal until the virus is under control.

Sort of like our future, there is sun behind the storm. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m thankful that a general election is coming up. I hope the events have at least inspired people to vote. Personally I’ve never failed to vote in any election. I think this right is taken for granted by far to many. The more people that vote makes us a stronger nation.

I’m thankful that I have a loving family. I don’t take that for granted because I see so many families not having that luxury. And that is a real shame because if we can’t solve problems and issues within families we will have problems solving other issues as well outside them.

I’m thankful that I feel appreciation for so many things. That means I have a wealth that isn’t measured in money. I’m thankful to have the insight to not worship money, greed and to have a sharing bone in my body for those less fortunate.

I’m thankful for having finally gotten a balance on my work and personal life. Yes, it took me several decades to get there but at least I’m there and happy that I’ve had a few years to appreciate it.

I’m thankful that I can take the time and keep searching for truths and not lazy to just accept one or two opinions or follow people blindly because of their position.

I’m thankful that I’ve been able to develop an appreciation for the environment I live in. I try not to be wasteful. I try to respect the world I live in. I try to conserve resources.

I’m thankful to have a roof over my head and food to eat each day. I’m thankful for my health.

I’m glad I continue to think of things I’m thankful for as I go through each day in life. It’s a lot better than worrying about things I don’t have or desiring things I don’t even need. It’s good to just stop and be satisfied with all I do have.

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Time is sweet

Watching a young child grow is one of the special things in life. To see them discover and develop each day is a joy. Their innocence is delightful. Their wonder and discovery of things is a marvel to watch.

To see them figuring things out on there own is inspiring. That investigative look in their eyes. Or watching actions of those around them and quickly adapting them.

There outstretched arms towards you wanting to be lifted to the heights they can’t get to yet. The emotions of happiness and sadness that are so sudden and genuine.

The love of their hugs is so warming. The insistence of their pointing to what they want. The excitement and speed of their gate when they have first learned to walk and on a mission to get to the next destination. The surprise and shock when they fall.

My own children gave me these gifts and now my granddaughter is giving me them again. I’m one happy grandfather and father.

Those were some storms that rolled through today. I haven’t seen clouds move like that in some time.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m very glad I never spent time joining or reading anything on Twitter.
  • Few elected leaders are really leading. I think we need to remove them from their safety bubble so they can learn what the rest of us are feeling.
  • Missions become more important when time is limited.

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Terrific Tuesday

I can’t believe all those storms went around us today. We saw some nice lightening shows in the distance. Thankfully it was a few degrees cooler than yesterday.

You can’t beat the time with your family. Well, my immediate family. We had a great day together. I really appreciate their love of my better half and myself and the love for each other they have. And of course, we love them more than anything.

I hope we are not regressing to the point where it’s going to be difficult to see each other again for any period of time because of the recent spikes in the virus world. But my gut tells me that may be on the horizon again.

So get ready to take a seat and get comfortable, it could be another long and difficult ride.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve been in the water for the last few days and I love it. I’m more of a pool person but the ocean is so warm its really inviting this year. And the water is nice and clear so it has been a real treat.

It makes me kind of miss the pool I used to have at home. Now its a hole in the ground waiting to be filled in. It was good for family times. But boy are they a lot of work. I think I spent more time cleaning and maintaining it than in it for some years.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I also had a revelation today. They say a photo doesn’t lie. Well, I think they are right. I happened to be in a photo today and I was disappointed to see that I had put on the weight I had lost a few months ago. So out the door, I go tomorrow for some exercise.

We had an incident today that was kind of strange. We went to a walk-up ATM. There were two machines side by side. A young black lady was already at one of them. She seemed to be having some problems because she was turning to some friends standing about 30 feet away saying it kept canceling her transaction. We were standing about 10 feet behind her waiting patiently and she turned and said there was another machine right next to her. I said we would wait. She then said something that I believe indicated she thought it was a racial thing. It wasn’t, I don’t walk up to any stranger nowadays and stand right bedside them because of the virus. There are signs everywhere about keeping 6 feet apart and that is what we were doing. We weren’t saying a thing or doing anything that indicated we were being impatient. After her failed attempts at the first machine, she moved to the other one and tried that, also without any luck. I saw her walk back to her friends and I believe they were talking about us because they looked back several times.

It’s no big thing, but just because I’m white it doesn’t mean I didn’t want to stand next to her because she was black. But I believe that is the way she was taking it. Unfortunate that people jump to those conclusions so quickly. I happen to support the issues of the day that people of color and different nationalities have been discriminated against for many decades and change is needed. I judge people by their content and character, not by their race or ethnic persuasion. Too bad for her, she saw things like that.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think it’s cool that Anthony Fauci is throwing out the first pitch on Thursday at the Nationals game.
  • Snapping turtles are cool creatures at a distance.
  • No wearing a mask is selfish behavior.
  • Working on a new career is exciting.

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Are you sure its Monday?

It can’t be Monday already. That’s ok, I’m starting to dread it less than I used to. Probably because I just don’t look at the work week as I used to. When you are closing in on the last few years of work before retirement of some sort, Monday seems more acceptable or at least tolerable.

And being I’m on vacation this week, this Monday is a great one. Because every day of vacation is great. Especially in the state of Maryland.

Get ready for the home stretch of sun, beach and crabs. Photo by Mike Hartley

Had a great time in the pool today. On a day like today, if the water isn’t involved, you are out of luck unless you like staying in the A/C.

I’m going to talk about sports for a minute. I love sports, both playing and watching. Given my age, I do more watching than playing. What I find disturbing about sports now is how selfish they are. And by they I mean both the players and owners. Not that this is anything new. Playing for the love of the game might exist in most players but playing for big money is what is driving this, not players or all those that support the presentation of sports staying healthy. Getting them started again is all about cash. The money for networks, the money for owners, the money for players.

No cheering from me about sports starting up again. Photo by Mike Hartley

I wonder how one of the players who brings the virus home to one of their families will feel when someone gets seriously ill or dies? I wonder how they will feel if a player get sick and dies? I wonder how they feel about taking testing away from people who need it who either can’t get a test or have their results take weeks instead of the 24 hours players get their results daily. All this to play a F’ing game. It’s selfish. It’s stupid in some cases.

Yes there are sports that can come back. Things like golf and tennis. Fishing and surfing. And maybe even some big sports like basketball which seem to be taking a smart approach. But football seems like a reach at best.

I can’t see college sports coming back this year at all but I’m sure they will try. And again it will be money that is the driving force. And if they do it on large scale players or coaches or officials will get sick and some may pass.

All of us want to return to some kind of normal. But what price is the price of life?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got to do more video work.
  • I thought I had the baby shark song out of my head but I heard it again by accident.
  • There is no such thing as too hot. Well at least in my lifetime. My kids, I’m not so sure that will be the case.
  • Picking crabs is fun. Eating them is great.
  • I can resist no longer. The current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is the lowest piece of life I have ever witnessed on this planet. This really isn’t a random thought but one that usually crosses my mind several times a day for the last few years. But I try not to dwell on it. Hopefully only a few more months of this nonsense.

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Sun and heat

Boy was it a warm morning. Sticky would describe it better. But once the morning fog burned off it was a pretty nice sunrise. I’m starting to get up early again and watching the morning dawn. Mornings are so peaceful and quiet. I hope you also were out and about and able to enjoy it. For those sleeping in, you missed it.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I wasn’t the only one up crowing early today. There were a few others out and about including the guy below who was very vocal.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I hope to spend the rest of the day relaxing and photographing. Each time I get a chance to do some photography I’m filled with a desire to do more. So I’ll see what I can do with that lust for the rest of this week. You all stay cool if possible.

The definition of a stand alone picture. Photo by Mike Hartley

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Today was the first time I’ve driven in real traffic in quiet some time. It wasn’t an issue. I’ve been driving in some of the worst traffic in the country for several decades. But working from home the last few months has been a really nice break from it and I expect that to continue for several more months.

Route 50 traffic. Photo by Mike Hartley

Who knows, it may be my permanent normal in the distant future. I would love for nothing more than not have to commute to downtown DC on a daily basis. I know my car appreciates not having that daily beating.

And I also know my stress level is down from what it used to be for that task. I really do love to drive. But that trip was getting old after a few decades and it was starting to wear on me.

Well, the sun is setting on another day. This was a special one. Just as they all should be. It’s my mission going forward to make them all special.

Sunset tonight. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I ate fast food today. And I remembered why I don’t eat fast food often.
  • I bet the same people that have trouble keeping 6′ space between your car and theirs are the same people that walk right up behind you these days.
  • At first, I was really missing sports. And then I saw the greed and arrogance of some of the owners and players and it turned me off. Not for good but it certainly makes me feel like less of a sports fan. Maybe you guys should realize how lucky you are and get off your high horse. It’s just a damn game you know. And the fact your taking test away from people who need them because you get tested daily to play a game is really starting to bother me.

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Tempted again

I’m so out of form. The last few months have been hectic and my daily posting is out of sync. Not only that the thing I enjoy just as much is keeping up with other blogs I follow and I’m woefully behind on that practice.

So I’ve fallen into that temptation of life. Listening and reading too much news. Busy with home changes inside and the yard. Oh, and the job that pays the bills is luring me back into extra hours.

Sunflowers shine through even in the rain. Photo by Mike Hartley

At least I recognized I was out of sync before it went on too long. So starting today I’m finding the tracks and seeing if we can crank up the production engine and crank out some fun.

Howard County Maryland

I don’t know why I waited so late in life to eat fried pickles. These are from Glory Days.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The nice thing about spraying weed killer in my yard is that it’s hard to miss.
  • Every day I think it’s too hot, I just think of winter and I smile because I’d much rather be too warm than too cold.
  • My neighbors have green thumbs. Yeah, those are their sunflowers in the shot above.
  • I’m glad the Governor of Georgia isn’t my Governor. Oh yeah, Florida also. And I have a Republican Governor.
  • The goal for the coming week is laughter and smiles.
  • Only a matter of time till we shut things down again. Might as well all get on the same page and do it together. Get our testing and tracing in place and beat this thing. Sorry, I forgot where I lived there for a moment. Never mind.
  • I’ve decided to get back on a project that I started a while back for my children. Given the times we live in I better get to it soon just in case. It’s far too important to share.

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Sunday Funday

I’m liking this Sunday. We got an early start and did some long overdue shopping. And being we went early, crowds were light. Always trying to limit exposure during these times.

We also started a project my better half has been wanting to do for some time now. Taking up the old carpet in our living room and hallway. The hallway is complete and we will probably knock out the living room this week. I’ll move some furniture later tonight.

Nice cut

My front yard is looking good but I do need to get out and cut the rest. Guess I’ll do it Monday. Today got away from me.

I was just daydreaming about baseball today. I saw my old glove in a box.

Feeling good and productive is nice. Kind of an endorphin. And I’m so behind on task I’ll be all summer catching up so I should stay motivated. Staying motivated seems like its getting a little harder to do. Everyone is facing a lot of challenges. One of which is time and I’m out of it so I’ll ramble on tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I see I’m not the first person to Google if dry ice melts.
  • Mother Nature, I’ve got a new weed sprayer. I’m coming for you.
  • Why are we going to experiment with children and teachers? And if the only answer is the economy then it’s wrong.
  • If people are waiting for days and weeks for test results for something urgent, we must not have enough lab capacity.



You can always do something. Sometimes when you feel you have nothing left just that last effort will yield something.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hate when it looks like rain and I leave the top up on the car but it doesn’t rain.
  • I guess his version of drain the swamp means letting them out of jail.
  • This summer is getting better. Well only if you don’t think about it all too much.
  • Think I’ll get out before daybreak tomorrow.

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Wheels on the bus go?

Wheels on the bus go round and round. That is my granddaughter’s favorite song right now I believe. It’s the first thing I thought of when I heard all the Education talk going on today. I’m learning it so I can sing to her. It’s the age of innocence. But some very critical decisions about education in the midst of a pandemic are being made now and there isn’t a good agreement on any of it.

Caution, school season again, or not. Photo by Mike Hartley

If we had this virus under some control, like most places in the world, returning to school is a no brainer. But it’s not under control here so that makes it a no-win situation. Yes, I agree keeping kids out of school is bad. But how many children’s deaths are acceptable if we don’t keep them home?

Is spreading the pandemic through children to teachers and bus drivers and custodians and then to parents and grandparents worth the experiment? That is the part I have a big problem with. And doing it or not doing it for some political end is disgusting. We should focus on everyone’s safety. It’s our own fault we didn’t stop it in the first months. Are we going to repeat the mistakes of the last few months?

Again it’s being left to states and then smaller local municipalities or counties. Some of them follow the political party line regardless and some might come up with their own options. The variations will be endless. Who will pay for it all? And when it starts to go bad who is responsible for pulling the plug and starting up an alternative and what is that plan.

Bus drivers I see look like most recently retired or nearing retirement age people. So I went to Google and asked the average age of school bus drivers and that answer was 52.3 years old. My guess is they don’t earn a lot of money. And what is the reason they want to risk their lives? And how many more busses are you going to need to keep kids spaced apart? And what do you do when they get sick. Not like we got a lot of standby bus drivers or teachers.

You can see colleges struggling with this decision. And they have it easier than K-12. This needs a lot more discussion than just “we are going to do this.” As a friend of mine always says, “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can smell the weekend.
  • Sleep is good in a short burst. So says my back.
  • Think about recent decisions politicians have made. Now keep that success/failure in mind when you follow their next one or not.

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I’m learning to listen to my children. Not that I haven’t before. But as they have grown into adults their insight is valuable in a different way then when they were children. Not that I didn’t learn a lot then from them and about myself.

Listen to music. Listen to nature. Listen to a train going by. Listen to the waves hitting the shore. Listen to a V8 roar to life.

Listen to the lessons life has taught you and others. Listen to history because if you don’t your doomed to repeat it. Listen to your elders, well some of them.

Listen carefully. Listen to your heart. Listen to people you respect. Listen to people who are experts. Listen to those not guided by money. And don’t listen to the man behind the curtain.

Photo by Mike Hartley

The pictures that I share are courtesy of my better half and her hard work in the garden. Me, I just step outside on a sunny day and press the shutter button.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s always deadline time.
  • I went to the dentist today for my normal cleaning. I was nervous before I went. I’m nervous after the appointment. But my teeth feel good and I got out with no drilling. And they say its good for your overall health not to neglect your dental care.
  • So who are the brave parents that are going to sacrifice their children so schools can open? And does the principal pick the teachers and bus drivers won’t be around the next school year?

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Hot Monday

I’m making some progress and not

I get started and then realize it’s hot

I power through and ignore the sweat

I wish I was fishing for tuna yelling get the net

It’s cooking and so am I. Some burgers this evening. Photo by Mike Hartley

Schools and Sports are not going to happen. It’s admirable that we are going to try both but I don’t think that will get far.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The premature ad campaign of the year goes to Applebee’s “Welcome Back” theme.
  • RIP Charlie Danials
  • I think the more you miss someone the more you realize their meaning and importance.
  • I thought I had more time today. I was wrong again.

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It’s getting kind of long

I haven’t had a haircut in over 4 months now. I know my better half really doesn’t want to hear this but I’m kind of liking it longer again and might just let it go a few more months and see what develops. I think I cut my ponytail off about 2 decades ago. Not sure about getting that length again but this is good for now.

Photo by Mike Hartley

It was a rather musical weekend. The first song was an old classic from CSNY from 1974 live performance Almost Cut my Hair. Jeez, I wish I had seen all 4 together. I’ve seen Crosby Stills and Nash but Neil Young ads another layer that makes it special. Sometimes I forget how much I really liked their music. I listened to many other songs and it gave me an idea of a new chapter in a book I’m working on.

Almost cut my hair
Happened just the other day
It’s gettin’ kind of long
I could’ve said it was in my way

But I didn’t and I wonder why
I feel like letting my freak flag fly
And I feel like I owe it, to someone, yeah

Again I let a few days slip away from me. I really have to make better use of my time. It’s not like I’ve been lazy, busy as hell with the job that pays the bills, yard, and home chores. A little family and friend time and I’m peeling another month off the calendar like I did today. Yeah I know I’m late. I’m always a few days after the 1st before changing them.

All I can do it to try to do better tomorrow. Maybe I’ll try some morning shooting again after work tonight. I so look forward to the day I can shoot for a few hours each day. And then carve some, and then write some and then draw some. And still, have time for all the chores and errands and family and friends. So yes I’ll replace the job that pays the bills with my hobbies. One can dream can’t one?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I need to think about solutions to problems. Because there is certainly no shortage of them.
  • There is little sense in gathering more tools when you don’t take advantage of all the ones you have.
  • I feel guilty that I’m not keeping up with all the blogs I love.
  • Every time I feel a bit warm inside I just step outside and that cures that thought.
  • Feeling motivated again.

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BBQ Weekend

An intimate gathering today for the 4th of July at my Daughter and Son inlaws home. He got a new grill but the skills he brought to it were honed well before this feast he prepared.

Photo by Mike Hartley

He had some baby back ribs that were spot on. I really enjoyed the taste of them and by far and I can’t wait to sample some of his cooking again. Of course, I also downed a burger and a couple of ears of corn which was also done on the grill. I think there were some salads I also partook in. Oh yeah, a big helping of baked beans and baked potato. Woops, almost forgot that popcorn shrimp we had as an appetizer. Oh yeah, just to make sure I ate healthily, I had a few veggies and dip before that meal.

But I plan on blowing the calorie count but having a slice of the above cake in a short bit.

My Son inlaw is the Pit Boss. Photo by Mike Hartley

I realized how lucky I am being able to see my children and all of us being safe so far. All of us are pretty cautious with this virus stuff. I feel for those alone or away from family. These health care workers have to separate from their families to keep them safe as they treat the sickest of us at risk to their own peril. That is sacrifice and dedication to cause.

We continue to be so selfish though and not all do what is best. I guess we all have been spoiled too long. It’s going to get tougher long before it starts getting better. So buckle up for the ride.

Had a good meal from The Canopy on Rt 40 last night. The quality and service are outstanding. I’ve been going there for decades but I forget how many years back I had a run of bad luck and I started to visit Mission BBQ. But the past few years its been top-notch and I’m going to start going there more than Mission BBQ.

The Canopy Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Fireworks are over. Everyone count their fingers and toes.
  • Nice full moon. 5 decades ago that would have meant something different.
  • The more images I take, the happier I am. And if I have some time to listen to some tunes it’s a good day.
  • I feel the need, the need for speed. Well, not real speed just some tooling around. If I wanted real speed I’ll have to borrow my friend’s Vette. But then I’ll have to spring 1K for a new set of rear tires.

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Morning drive

Got moving before daybreak which is always nice. Especially when it does not include pain waking me up. And being it’s my favorite season its a pleasure to head out early and put the top down. Had to dry it off first because of the dew early today.

Sunrise in Woodstock. Photo by Mike Hartley

Being a holiday morning few were out and about which was also nice. I love the quiet of mornings except for a little nature here and there.

Over the hills at the Howard County Conservancy. Photo by Mike Hartley

This area is still as beautiful as it once was. It’s just so busy you can’t stop to enjoy much of it except for at odd times. Daybreak and before are really it. How many times can you just stop your car in the street and grab a frame or two? NEVER. Unless you’re nocturnal like me.

Sometimes I have to check which way is up. Photo by Mike Hartley

This virus continues to turn our world upside down. As I saw the sun coming up over Mt Hebron HS I thought would this empty parking lot still be the same in September? This really is a no-win situation. If I were a parent of a young child I’d be very hesitant to send them off to school. On the other hand, if they are not in school how can we go to work? And maybe the worst part is we are still going to be determining these things on the fly and differently in different areas.

Sunrise over Mt Hebron HS this morning. Photo by Mike Hartley

Actually I’m the parent of two teachers which has led to having to worry about the situation like I had my own children still of school age because they are with those kids of school age all day long. It’s of course about the safety of children. But we also have to think about the teachers just as much. Not all of them are young. I have no idea how this is going to happen. But instead of discussing if bars, nightclubs or beaches are going to be open, we should be coming up with some possible solutions to kid’s education because if they aren’t in school two bad things happen. Parents might lose jobs. Kids might be left alone. The economy will suffer.

Everyone enjoys the 4th. Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, the dog days of summer are upon us. Isn’t life grand? I’m going to have to schedule some more long weekends this summer. I love being off during the summer months. I can hear that day trip to some Maryland destination calling me.

EC was pretty quiet this morning. A few bike riders and some walkers. Must have been shift change at the police station because 3 of them followed me to the office complex at the top of the hill.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So I hope everyone enjoys their 4th of July and stays safe.

At the corner of Rt 144 and Toll House. Photo by Mike Hartley

Enjoy a beverage but do it in moderation.

I think they missed a spot or two where another sale poster can be added. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Hell, I just looked at the to do list and I’m going to be busy as a bee today so let me get my behind out of this chair.

Photo by Mike Hartley

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Holiday weekend

We are underway and it seems everyone is out and about. I was going to hit the hardware store but the crowd there was too much and I circled right back out of the parking lot. At the grocery store, everyone looked like they were stocking up for a party. I hope all the guests will be safe and careful as possible.

Our flag. Photo by Mike Hartley

I don’t think the country has yet come to the realization that we can’t work against the virus in a piecemeal manner. I’m not perfect in my ways but I feel I’m on the more cautious side than most.

For instance, everyone wearing a mask is a great thing. I now have a built-in excuse for not recognizing someone because of the mask, when the real reason is my memory not being as good anymore.

6 foot distancing enforcement. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have no problem staying in. I love my home and with my better half. A pet would be a nice addition but I have some convincing to do in that area. I got together with my best friends last night for the first time in many months. It was great. We stayed outside and well separated. All of us pretty much have been taking precautions since the beginning. It would be too many words to describe the importance of those guys in my life.

I feel for the areas that treat it as a political thing endangering the people they were elected and entrusted to look out for them. Such is life these days. Even though we have a Republican Governor in the great state of Maryland he has used science and common sense and stats to drive his decision making for the most part. And while we aren’t out of the woods, we are in much better shape than a lot of people now. At least he is living in the reality of a changing situation and not trying to please an audience of one.

Entrance Flags to WWII Memorial Photo by Mike Hartley

He leads by example. He pulls people together for a common cause. He is trying to perform a balancing act and so far has pulled it off. You know he’s working for the majority because he seems to piss off people at both ends of the extremes. But he really does rely on all of us in this area to stay smart and stay apart as much as possible. So it’s in our hands as much as his.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have only one thing to say to people who like winter. Ha Ha. It’s a pleasant 92 degrees now. Of course, that feels like temp is 97. May I repeat Ha Ha like that character in the Simpsons does.
  • The batteries are charged. Some night photo works this evening.
  • RIP Hugh Downs. Always liked him.
  • I hear the airlines are trying to fill every seat again. Another reason I won’t be flying anywhere anytime soon.

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Early and late

I got an early start on some personal work by staying up late after I got off from the job that pays the bills. Which means I’ll be running on fumes sometime this week again. A repetitive cycle it seems. I need to schedule some time off. That’s the ticket, take control of life.

Work finished just before 6 am so I headed out and pulled into one of my favorite spots just down the road from my home. I got disgusted with not taking the time to shoot fresh material that I’m going to try to do some shooting early in the day and see how that challenge works out.

Good morning Woodstock. Photo by Mike Hartley

Think I’ll try to capture the start of the day in different spots in the county. And being I was a few minutes late for the actual sunrise I just stopped at the first good vantage point from my home.

From the corner of Woodstock Rd. and Old Frederick Rd. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love warm summer mornings. Flip flops and I’m out the door. I really should wear shoes being I’m standing in a field of tall grass and weeds and I’m sure there are some smooth boys lurking.

I’m sorry, I like clouds and light. Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’ll stop at this location when I go out later. I haven’t had a snowball yet this season and weekday afternoons aren’t as crowded. And it will be the day you need help cooling off from what the morning weather reports say.

There are few bad mornings. Photo by Mike Hartley

It feels good getting some practice in already today. They say the more you do the more you like it. Well, some say that. I know it seems to hold true for me.

Top of the morning to you Nature. Photo by Mike Hartley

And even though I’m charged up now. I’m also in need of some ZZZ’s. So till later today, every one be well, be safe, and be cool.

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WFH won’t get old for me

I read a few stories on people getting tired or stressed out working from home. The lack of boundaries in hours for the job to trying to work in a home environment with family around. Not this kid. If I never have to go to the office again but to sign retirement papers, that is just fine with me.

Of course, I’m in a far different place than most of the working world. I’m hoping to be within 5 years of retirement. It was 3 before this virus hit but this is going to push it back I believe.

Anyway back to the OFFICE. If I were 20-40 years younger I can understand that draw, that need, that desire, that longing to return to friends and teams of people. To connect and laugh TOGETHER. To feel accomplishment TOGETHER. To morn and commiserate TOGETHER. To form a plan, get buy-in, motivate, and launch it TOGETHER. To see first-hand everyone’s hard work and contributions TOGETHER. To celebrate TOGETHER.

Pit crew – surgery in progress. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s not that I don’t like my job or don’t miss those together things but my job has changed a lot over the last 5-6 years, I work more independently and fairly isolated. And in the last 10-15 years, most all with the exception of a few long term work relationships ended due to retirements, buyouts, or positions eliminated. So those real tight relationships aren’t there as they once were.

I do miss my bigger monitors. Photo by Mike Hartley

That doesn’t mean there aren’t people there I care about. Or that I don’t miss them and some personal interaction. I’m just at a point of my life where that long commute and parking cost and microwaving meals and high rise office life has lost its appeal.

So back to my home office work with a smile on my face.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • That John Deere tractor just keeps knocking down the years.
  • I’m wondering if I can get in better shape than I was decades ago?
  • I laughed with a best friend today.
  • I can’t get over the beauty of summertime.

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In the air tonight

Started off with that little ditty this morning. An old classic from Phil Collins. I don’t know what’s in the air tonight, but today I did a little blowing the dust off the speakers and put the top down for a ride. Those speakers probably have some dust on them also. I had the garage rotate the tires. I made sure they are turning correctly. As my horsepower friends would say “can I get a Hell Yeah.”

When its clean. Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t go with the horsepower. I almost did. The Dodge Challenger has always appealed to me and those beast look like a lot of straight-line fun. Maybe someday, but I have no regrets really. I’d just get in trouble with my twitchy right foot. And this little go-cart is a lot of fun. So much fun I might buy another one after I’ve driven the wheels off this one.

It’s also the season I’ve been known to point this convertible to the beach for a day trip.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I spent more time in the mower seat and behind the push one than in the car this weekend. But that ride this morning brought a smile to my face. Just like listening to a little music did this morning.

So maybe this week I’ll have time to do some shooting. I really have to make that a priority. This weekends priority was loving and caring for my son’s dog in between chores. She is a beautiful and loving family member.

I miss having a pet but the freedom is also nice. I know pets have been a popular addition to lots of families in the last few months. I hope that love never wears off and that this is a start to a trend of having fewer shelters and even fewer animals put down.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can see the light of retirement. Well it is a little way off but I know its there.
  • Did I ever say, I LOVE SUMMER? If not, I LOVE SUMMER.
  • Sometimes I think about the words I type and other times I just let the fingers wander.
  • A mask is now as important as car keys. And I have trouble finding both sometimes. So now I keep extra mask in the car.

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For the last 5 weeks, we have had my mother-in-law living with us during a painful time with the hospitalization and passing of her husband and my wife’s father. I’m so encouraged about her progress and where she is now vs when she came to us.

I see the spark in her eye again. I hear motivation in her voice. I see her body improving and growing stronger. I see her mind clicking along at a greater rate. I see her humor returning. And now she is moving on to the next family member for a little while. I was thinking about how lucky she is to have a large caring family. And I do mean caring.

No matter your speed. Get them wheels turning. Photo by Mike Hartley

This was my second experience in care-giving. My first one lasted over 5 years with my own Mom. I guess that is why this came naturally to me. She is such a kind soul it was so easy to try to meet her needs and engage her and help her heal from the loss she experienced. Now I can move the focus back to my better half for a short period.

We are going to hit our 40th anniversary this year. They were in the mid-’60s for a total. The good part is that you get to share that many years with a good person. The tough part is losing that person.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Time is the most precious stone.
  • Doing the right thing can really get in the way of a lot of fun.
  • Take a break, you earned it says my brain.
  • I’m almost giddy about having a few minutes to do some photography this weekend.
  • If you have ever worked over 20 years someplace, leaving it can be traumatic.

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Life is cool

There is always life around this house. I found some new life ticking out back this afternoon. New life gives me inspiration. A niece of mine just announced she is expecting the other day which made me very happy for them.

Photo by Mike Hartley

My granddaughter is coming to visit this coming morning. And she is very full of life. I think its the fact it makes me smile. Be it looking at an egg or one in the oven or a small baby and toddler. Actually its more than a smile. It’s a full-blown laugh at times, a chuckle at others. Sometimes it’s that “awe” that defines something precious.

Life is inspiring when it works for all of us and all things.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Taking a ride to clear your head is still an effective treatment for me. (see above)
  • There is always that time when your outside and you see the flash of light and hear the crack of thunder at the same time. That is when you know you’re far to close to danger and you should get your behind inside.
  • I wonder if Vegas has a line if sports like MLB NBA and NFL, will even play a game?
  • Yep, it’s a good time to reflect. Now I just need to remember that each day.



Hey, its Fathers Day weekend. I’m a proud father. My gift is my children, the best any father could hope for. Not just on fathers day but every day of the year. Not just some years but every year. The relationships get stronger and the love grows deeper. I thank them for their love and patience with me.

I miss my own father (above left). I always have but in very different ways over the years. I was crushed by his passing before I hit double-digit age. I didn’t understand death and to lose the male leader of the family left me rudderless. I had no confidence as a youth. I made a lot of poor decisions. I took way too many risks and was lucky to have survived.

I was mad at him for leaving for a number of years. I got beyond mad and was disappointed because I saw how alone my mom was. Then I got to the point where I wanted to visit but couldn’t. I tried driving to the cemetery a number of times but just couldn’t make it through the entrance. It brought back that horrifying memory of his military funeral. Few images of my youth can even get close to that. But in the last decade, I’ve grown at peace with his passing when my mom passed.

This is also the first time in 4 decades that I haven’t had a father-in-law. His passing a few weeks ago made it a somber weekend. I hope he and my father are trading stories. We miss you both. We will keep your memories alive and well in our hearts and through shared stories.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Summer is here. Now the daily decision, flip flops, or barefoot?
  • Sometimes you just run out of energy. Well, I do.
  • Till a rooster moved in behind us I never knew they could be so annoying.
  • I think I just heard a gasket blow in DC today.
  • I see NASCAR fans are having trouble accepting the ban on the confederate flag. And to show you how far this country has to go someone put a noose in Bubba Wallace garage at this weekend’s race. Bubba I believe is the only black driver on the pro circuit. Massive progress can still be made but some people will never change.

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Message received

I forgot how painful a bee sting can be. Here I was looking up to the sky to check the clouds on my way to the shed trying to decide if I had time to cut half the yard and not watching where I was walking. Into an area of clover, I strolled and one of those buggers got between my flip flop and the bottom of my foot in the arch.

I used to be very allergic to bee stings as a youth. I got allergy shots and carried an emergency kit for them for a number of years. Well, I guess those shots as a youth helped because the older I get the less it affects me. But every step I take the rest of the day is that reminder, don’t ignore mother nature by admiring mother nature.

Fly watching Cicada wasp. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m sitting here listening to the rumble of thunder. Some strong storms rolling through. Maybe I’ll venture out in a while and see if I can find something to charge me up.

Almost like the sky opened up for that stroke. Photo by Mike Hartley

If not an early ride will be in order to start my Saturday. I was slack on new images today so I’ll have to double up tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Older people might look confused but they know what is going on.
  • I got to see one of my best friends for the first time in a long time in person.
  • It’s about 7 hours before I start cooking some bacon but I can already smell it.
  • Watching comedy is a great use of time.

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It was a long night of work. I saw the clouds had moved in and I contemplated just hitting the sack for some zzz’s. I almost said the hell with it. But then I thought, I’ll take a short drive even if there isn’t a good sunrise.

I take a few steps out of my door and wham. A beautiful rainbow. And for a few seconds a double. What a way to start the day. It only lasted a few minutes and I was lucky to grab these before a neighbor saw me and I didn’t want to be rude so I chatted for a bit. But only after a few minutes it was gone.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I did take that ride and it was fun. It’s nice when you can go down the country roads early in the mornings instead of the major highways in and out of the city.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Time to call an old friend today.
  • Today was a good reminder to get that camera in my hands.
  • If it’s raining when I open my eyes in a few hours I’m going back to sleep. Unless I smell bacon cooking.


An early start on learning

I should have gotten out earlier but work went late this morning. But at least I got my behind outside for a few minutes to watch the sky be painted with the morning light.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Think I’ll try some weather-related photography with the coming days of rain and thunderstorms. I love warm summer mornings and nights.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m working on shifting my schedule slightly to take advantage of some shooting time. Hopefully, I can sustain the effort.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m usually so pressed for time that I barely have time to write and find/take a photograph let alone come up with some insightful thoughts or observations. But part of that is not applying the best of myself each day and choosing something else to do. Maybe some laziness, or stressed out from a number of things, or too tired from working the job that pays the bills and the support of the home and yard. We have added caregiver to the mix recently also.

It’s time I started to bloom and by that I mean using the tools available to me.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So here is to a new day and a new effort in each one that somehow enhances my knowledge sharing some fun or an image that could be enjoyed.

Time to adapt to change and set my sights higher.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve got another wake-up call and I’m motivated again but for some reason, it feels stronger. I feel like I’m thinking again. Planning and creating. Excited about learning and trying some new things.

So I’m going to get busy reading some help files on the tools available here. So be prepared for a few mistakes along the way. I can already see if I incorporate more design I’m going to need more images.

Photo by Mike Hartley
  • Don’t forget to have fun.
  • Pay little attention to crickets or critics.
  • One of these days the continued doing will result in success.

I’m already seeing the issues of using some of these tools when viewed in different end devices. I sit here on a computer and create and view this and other sites through them. While I realize a lot, yes probably a majority might be viewing it on a mobile device or tablet. That sucks in some ways but I’m not going to let it deter me.

I’ll work on my design and content until I get something to be proud of. But please bear with me while I get there.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m excited about photography even when its a rainy day.
  • For some reason, I can’t get the thought of crabcakes out of my head.
  • I’m really glad I like my home.
  • I’m not worried about having a beach body this year. I’m worried that just going to the beach might be deadly.

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Looking for it again

It seems like forever that I’ve seen this view. I can’t wait to see it again. A lot of people don’t like driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It is rather long and tall. I guess practice makes perfect. I remember riding my motorcycle over it and that open mesh part at the highest point where you could look straight down 186 feet through the metal grate and see the water. Of course, I would try to stay off that because it gave a wobble to the bike.

Video by Mike Hartley

I can sense the morning coming up that I see a nice weather report and I just say screw it all and throw a beach towel and sunglasses in the car and head east. Just doing that reminds me of my youth. I hope I never lose that desire.

Instead of some shooting today I worked on getting a small studio set up in my basement. But I did run across an image from last week that I liked.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There are few things as encouraging as seeing someone close to you getting better physically and mentally day by day.
  • With Arlington National Cemetery closed it feels significantly different than when I’ve visited in the past. And I kind of like it that way but wouldn’t deny the country the opportunity to visit when this is over.
  • This virus illustrates how lazy, selfish, and stupid this country can be.

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Soon things will be better. I can at least hope. Yeah, it flies in the face of reality as my gut tells me, but I’ll keep a more optimistic view. Or at least try.

Not all flights are grounded. Photo by Mike Hartley

Let’s see if I can keep the shooting streak alive. I haven’t done much but grabbing the camera every day is a start. The more I relax and open my eyes and mind the more natural it becomes. I’ve been overthinking things lately.

Butterflies out front and birds nesting out back. Photo by Mike Hartley

So it’s time to get at peace with myself. So I can do my best and create something special. And even though it’s a busy week ahead, if I use time wisely, I might accomplish something.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Why I hold onto some things is beyond me.
  • The car is going to the shop for service. I feel like I need a visit to the shop.
  • Some days I get up and I feel everything has changed. But by the end of the day, nothing has changed.
  • I really enjoyed the segment on 60 minutes for the Photo Ark Project.
  • If you’re wise, you go through life and you learn who you can trust and who you can’t.

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One of those days

Sometimes you just make the best of what comes your way. Today was one of those. So I’ll withdraw into my own world for a while. I’m happy there. I don’t argue with myself. I’m a lot happier with myself than I used to be. And I know the way to get there if I don’t start that way. Learned that lesson long ago. So back on a positive track, I go.

I started off with some physical work which feels good when I can look around after finishing and see accomplishment. Today it was the yard that saw progress. And if I keep working hard the body will show results. So it’s off to some walking/jogging time on Sunday morning.

I see the pollen meter was only at medium today but I think I sneezed more than I have all year. I guess lots of things were sprouting up all over. Then again it was probably that dry dead grass I was clearing out. Who knows, I’m just glad allergies aren’t as bad as they used to be as a youth.

Pollen storm. Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A manual transmission rear-wheel drive and some tunes can turn a day around.
  • The secrets of life take a long time to find.
  • I want to be happy at the end of the day that I have utilized time well.

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Accountable, I like that word. I try to fulfill the meaning of the word. I’m not always successful so I need to work harder at it in some aspects of my life. This blog is one glaring example of where I haven’t held myself fully accountable. I really wanted to make this a daily photoblog when I started. I’ve not been true to that effort.

Morning Dew. Photo by Mike Hartley

I started to enjoy the writing part of it and I got lazy in shooting something new each day. So sorry about this, I guess I got enamored in hearing myself talk. I should spend more time listening and soaking up other’s work.

Afternoon sunning. Photo by Mike Hartley

So instead of wasting time talking about it, I’m going to get my behind out the door this Saturday morning and find something wonderful to photograph in this county I grew up in, went to school in, got married in, raised children in, owned a home in, worked in, owned a business in and I’m contemplating retiring in.

I like those who are accountable in their lives.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, this puppy is beat and calling it a night early so I can be up and out early tomorrow.

I have about as much energy left as this guy. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you show your children you’re not afraid of hard work, they won’t be.
  • I see people are getting excited about the professional sports leagues playing again. College football powerhouses saying they will be playing. NFL plans on having fans in the seats. I think I can actually hear the Virus laughing at us and saying it might have a new plan.
  • I’m almost giddy with the thought of a good night’s sleep. Of course, I had that same intention last night.
  • I wonder if sports leagues will have fans signing a disclaimer not to sue as the president does for his rallies?

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My time

I think I figured out why I can’t sleep. I can’t wait till I get to wake up each day. Early mornings and late nights are mostly my time. I never thought about that before but it’s nice to start and end a day that way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a loaner. I have a great number of people in between those times.

Give me sunrise, give me sunset. And another day to enjoy them again. Photo by Mike Hartley

And I enjoy people greatly but I also like my time. Having a few minutes to create or just veg on the couch. Maybe a quick read or jot down a few ideas. Maybe clean the workroom or office a bit. Maybe make another print after changing inks again. Or pick up the camera for a few frames.

When I don’t get my time, I get out of sorts. Yes, usually I make the decision to sacrifice it for one reason or another, some good and some poor. But I’m finding those few minutes or an hour or two can make a huge difference. I’m thinking of slowing down and not sacrificing them as much in the coming days.

The mental health benefits are too great to ignore. Just like I’ve come to realize a good night’s sleep is worth its weight in gold. Another reason I’m so poor. But I’m working on these things.

Grief – I’m watching people go through it, and experienced some myself. I’m amazed at the strength of my mother-in-law. I’m also touched by the depth of her hurt. They say losing a child is the most painful event, but losing your lifelong partner/husband of almost 7 decades has to be a close second. I’m amazed at the strength and resiliency of my better half in dealing with both the loss and becoming a caregiver. I was impressed by how well most of the family pulled together.

The hurt sometimes lasts forever for some. Yes, you can also move on but there is a missing part of you. Those shared memories that only you have now. That special person missing to sometimes recall them and smile or laugh or cry upon hearing again.

As I get older myself, sometimes I sit back now and just listen intently to a best friend tell one of the many stories of our past. One we have probably shared many times before. And now I take it in, put it in a memory bank so if one day I’m recalling that story and nobody else is around that remembers it, I’ll replay the glory and zest my best friends tell it with now. But I’ll have to imagine the wink or laugh or shot to the gut or back of the head if I tell it right or mess any part of it up.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have so many lists I need a directory for them.
  • We can change, we prove it to ourselves all the time. It’s just taking those final steps after that long walk.
  • One day I will prove time moves faster on days off.
  • United we stand said no one at the bar.
  • You can love as much as your heart can give. Just try it, you will be surprised how deep that well is.

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What is behind door number 2? I don’t know and either does any of us. I hope this grand reopening experiment works. I hope we don’t get too complacent and careless. I wish we had better testing and tracing just to limit future spread that could be prevented.

What’s behind the door.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’m going to try to do my best to be safe and reintegrate a bit. But not really much at all. For there is an advanced senior here and two new members to the group. So no movies at the theater, no sporting events, no marching even though they have my full support. No casino’s and probably no concerts.

Probably no dine in for a while longer. Still no desire to get a haircut, I’m starting to like the length. I might not see an airport for another year or more. And I won’t be substituting amusement rides in place of the plane rides.

I’ll hit the beach so early in the morning it won’t be crowded. And then again late in the day. I’ll probably avoid the pool and spend a lot of time on the deck. I’ll take the outdoor stairs instead of elevators. And we will probably cook some of our own meals instead of going out so much.

I’ll continue to work from home. I’ll go to the store in off-hours. I’ll wear my mask, but I have trouble remembering not to touch my face.

I’ll cut down my contacts to minimal again for a while to see what is behind that door.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m trying to turn over a positive leaf. Trouble is they are all still in the trees.
  • I had a beach body but I lost it during this virus lockdown. I just happened to be near the fridge when they said, shelter in place.
  • I have a friend who loves summer because his tires hook up so much better when it’s warm out.
  • I use electronic calendars, but I have ones hanging on my wall that I have to turn each month. That is a far better reminder of how fast time passes.


loss and gain

Sorry about the absence, been dealing with a loss in the family. Still very busy but had to get a few thoughts out. One thing I thought was interesting is what this person meant to each individual and how different it was for each in some special way. For some, it’s an interest in their hobbies, for others’ interest in their work/profession. Some were interested in books and their meanings or some enjoyed the debating be it political or philosophical. Or your favorite sports team and how they were doing or where you had a good meal. He always seemed that he followed your interest in some way when he spoke to you because he always invested some time learning about it.

Dad loved the beach. Photo by Mike Hartley

But to all, he was many things at the same time. Someone who put family first. A person who knows that involves a lot of self-sacrifices and did it happily. He made each individual feel loved and appreciated. He would always be there for you.

He was a positive force because he was an optimist. It seems there was a bright light somewhere for him to see and grasp, that others couldn’t at times. And he’d share it. And that would result in courage being developed in others.

He was there for others who were on the receiving end of the charity work he did. There are those who acted on advice and insights he might have offered on anything from investing to body surfing.

When he chooses to do something he was complete. I remember him running and training for distance at an age where most of the guys have hung up the cleats long ago. He would look so focused when he ran but I can also see his mind working about a hundred things at the same time.

He could communicate without saying a word. The expression and feeling and tear he might have holding a grandchild for the first time. The smile and hug at any graduation. And you know the discussion of your future professional life was soon to follow. The warm words he would bring to an anniversary, wedding, birthday, or holiday.

Someone setting an example of respecting all people. Be they the garbage men or public servants or the waitress who’s had a tough day. I think he also had the ability to hon in on who might be troubled and try to get to them.

He set the bar very high in the number of years married. To One Woman. I would love to watch them at weddings. Boy, would they be in their glory! For one it gave him an opportunity at doing a speech. And it would usually showcase another talent of writing. A speech is only as good as the words used in it. You can have a great presentation but if you don’t have the substance then most won’t be impacted. And you could tell that people were listening to his words.

Speaking of listening he was pretty good at that. It’s kind of a lost art in some cases. He believed it a strength. On top of that, he would listen carefully trying to get your real meaning. Because believe it or not some people struggle trying to communicate what they really mean. For instance myself.

I’ll remember the smile. He always seemed so glad to meet everyone at the door or coming into someone else’s home. Always a hand out first and firm shake. And then, how are you or so good to see you. He was also a master at making the rounds and touching base with everyone in the room no matter what size.

I knew my own dad for less than a decade. But I knew this dad for over 4 decades. It was an honor, it was a joy, it was a privilege, it was fun, it was rewarding, it was a learning experience, it was a warm time, it was a wonderful gift you gave me at the alter with your daughter’s hand, it was a long time ago but it seems so short.

I’ll try to be a better person because of him. Because I’ll be shooting to emulate a number of his positive qualities. So while his passing is a great loss, his life has been a good example for me and many others.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Feeling some writing inspiration from above.
  • When someone with an optimistic attitude passes, it’s up to all of us to make up for it.
  • I don’t deal well with loss.


In need

Doing our best but in need of a break in the future as my better half reminded me tonight. Time away from home when it’s safe to travel and be out and about. Not that I don’t love my home. I certainly do and I’m very comfortable here.

But a nice king size bed and maybe room service and leaving the cell phone in the car and kicking back. Maybe sitting on a rocking chair overlooking a lake contemplating what someone else is going to fix us for dinner.

But all that is on a long hold I’m thinking. There is much to do in the next few months and it doesn’t include much of a break. In addition to adjustments that will continue to have to be made in our social interactions in stores, restaurants, sporting events, hospital visits and most things in life till a vaccine is available.

Will the jobs come back? Will the ones we have be there next year at this time? What new skills do I need?

And of course our most pressing issue and one that could take an incredible amount of energy is fixing a divided country. That one will certainly take time. But the motivation I see in a great many people is exciting and I’ll have to see what I can do to help make change happen. Besides voting of course. That’s a given for me.

Super Slash. Photo by Mike Hartley

Also, the role of the caregiver is back in play. Something I have no problem doing because it’s for people I love. But I do add that to the time of the day. I could do a whole post about it. But to sum it up for me. Yes, the term caregiver is accurate for the most part but there are vastly different ways of doing it. I don’t know how people do it as a job. One it’s pretty intense work. It’s emotionally and physically draining and that is why love and a personal connection are needed to sustain it and treat it with the love and devotion you went into it with the first day. It’s a hard thing to do. Sometimes experience helps, but it can also bring back some of the stresses you were so glad that were lifted after the first time. So get the help you need to pull it off both safely and with love.

Up and away into a Friday. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think falling hurts more the older you get.
  • Think I’ll head out Friday or Saturday evening for some alone time. Practice some night photography.
  • Been down the last few days with the passing of my father inlaw, sorry for the absence.
  • These storms are rocking tonight.

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I’ll bee

I bee busy. I’ll bee back tomorrow. Or at least I hope I will. Sometimes you put your life on hold to complete others.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Some events provide life-changing motivation and change. This might finally be one of them. I hope to be an implement in change.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes when I think I have the most to say, I get so busy that it prevents me. Maybe someone is trying to save both of us.
  • I saw something beautiful today. A young child reached out to her great grandfather in an important time and warmed all the hearts in the room and I believe him also.
  • The kindest actions don’t look for acknowledgment.



I’m from Maryland and we say wader. Nothing like a day on the wader. Watch for those rip currents in the wader at the ocean. Look how clear the wader in the bay is this year. Do you believe those people who do the polar bear plunge in that cold wader in January?

Sun on the water along River Road.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I bet the wader is cool in Ocean City still. Do you believe how deep that wader was rushing down Main Street. I should drink more wader.

Light and movement.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s all wader under the bridge. I hate it when a pipe burst and there is wader all over the place.

A stream sounds nice washing over the rocks. But I live the surf pounding on the sandy shores of the Atlantic.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So it was a nice short ride along the South Branch of the Patapsco River on River road along da Wader. One I’ll take again on a warm summer morning.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thinking of my Father in law this evening.
  • It’s hard to think of much else.
  • A man I’ve been blessed to know.
  • A man I respect.
  • A man who is loved.

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Which way

Is the sun coming up on main street businesses or are they standing on the railroad tracks waiting to be plowed through by a train? Only time will tell and from what I’m seeing it doesn’t look good. But small businesses are run by some of the toughest people around. They adapt and overcome like Marines. They are resourceful and the people that work for them are more of a tight-knit team more often than large companies. But even they can only withstand so much pain.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m trying hard to support my small local businesses. And I will continue to try hard because they make a community stronger and more resilient. They support your local little league teams or do those special things for people in need. They are the guy/gal on the store floor, even though they are the owner and not in some corporate high rise out of state who doesn’t know the name of his VP’s let alone the employee at the register.

I don’t shop at Walmart. As a matter of fact I refuse to even go in them. I have only once in my life because it was cold outside and my wife needed something she hadn’t been able to find elsewhere. I really don’t care for the big box stores.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I wish I had the energy to solve the worlds problems but I can barely make it through my own this evening so I’m going to bail and hope I can bring a positive change to tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • As you get older you realize there are levels of Tired.
  • Mask or no mask replaced by flashbang or tear gas canisters.
  • I wasn’t able to catch it live but I did watch the replay of the sunset from Fager’s Island tonight. Brings some beauty to a world country in trouble.

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The full-time job is completed. Some work, some play ahead. The fun jobs are beginning and I’ll have a few minutes to say hello to family and friends. I was beginning to wonder if the weekend was going to come. It was a busy work week and it did take a lot out of me.

Thursday mornings are special because it always signaled the busiest days are behind me. The time where I might be able to dictate a few minutes along the way. And that is a wonderful thing to have in your pocket.

Fishing in the fog.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Some recent experiences are teaching me to enjoy the ride of each day more. Being appreciative of all you have. Knowing there is always someone much worse off than yourself. And that each interaction can be cherished.

I’m not even discouraged it could rain the next 2-3 days. Just having some time is a real treat. I need to keep creating images and sharing my lack of wisdom. Mostly for my own sanity and for anyone who might enjoy it.

Motoring along.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Given the soggy start, I thought I’d lead with a couple of soggy images from Centennial Lake. Actually a rainy and cloudy morning is just what I need now to grab a few hour’s sleep. I just wanted to say good morning and the best of luck to whatever challenges you face today.

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Change comes with time. All kinds of change. It’s interesting how life goes on in the midst of each individual’s lives while life-changing events are happening. For instance, my work goes on as it does every week, I cut the grass as I do every week, I talk with friends and try to laugh, but my mind is elsewhere because of changes with my father in law who is ill. Days take on different meanings as life throws changes at you.

Reflection 2 Photo by Mike Hartley

Simple things like chores or deadlines or even having some fun or relaxing seem to lose their importance. What becomes important is the support of people. Time is never lost or gained. It’s just what you do with it each moment. And at difficult times you surrender your time to those who need it.

Time in this next month will seem like a blur. I will wonder where it’s gone. It will not be a normal summer. It will be stressful and busy and emotional. It will be difficult to keep a balance and enjoy simple things.

And as my Mom’s passing anniversary date comes up this week for me time has changed that. It’s easier for me now to remember other events besides her last few difficult years of life and recall events that made her so special. As I watched all the graduation ceremonies being celebrated in family situations it made me think back about how proud she was of me.

I wasn’t really the best student and I was fairly wild as a youth, but that day she made special and it gave me confidence. I can still remember the cake and sitting with her at the dining room table talking about how fast the years passed. She made me think about what was ahead and what was important in life. Things like respect for others and myself.

Of course I was still in stupid mode and it took several more years to get my act together but I did (well by my standards) and found that what she said was really important. For those of us with loving and caring parents we are so lucky and if we are smart we pass that to our own children.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Catching the sunrise and sunset of each day is wonderful if you can take the time to pause and enjoy it.
  • It’s going to take some time to get things right in the world again.
  • A reminder of how fast time passes is good for your personal inspiration to do more with the time you have each day.
  • It’s hard to have any respect for a president who bashes a Marine Corps Veteran on Memorial day. Not that I had any for him before this. Way to go president bone spur.

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Do my Earrings match? I call them Cowvid 19. Sorry, I’m just very tired and I get a bit silly in my old age. I’ve heard my children’s voices the last few days and I’m a pretty happy camper. Simple things cheer me up so, and their voices are at the top of my list.

Photo by Mike Hartley

What hasn’t made me happy is my chronic back pain has returned recently. But time to look past that and get back to work. I finished a photo project for a neighbor today and they liked it which made me happy also.

I’m going to watch the sunset party for Fager’s Island tonight and enjoy the sunset in Ocean City from afar in Woodstock. This place was built in 1975 the year I graduated high school. I’ve enjoyed it every year since. Nice deck, great fine dining, and good bands. Looks like sunset is off to a cloudy start though.

I should have taken advantage of today and the bright sunshine and gone out and taken some images. Who knows, if my better half crashes early I might head out for some night shots.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • People are behaving more badly than in the past which is even more troublesome.
  • To those who did the blood drive with the Baltimore Orioles today, big cheers for you. I’ll have to make a donation to the Red Cross because I’m still a bit nervous giving blood with my health issues.
  • I’ve got to remember to do something positive each day for someone else. I’ve been getting slack lately.

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Holiday weekend

Beautiful headstone at Arlington National Cemetery.
Photo by Mike Hartley

A start to the Memorial Day weekend is upon us. Mine has started already but it’s still just like any other weekend in some regards. I’ll have to work part of it (Sunday) but I do have the holiday Monday off for a change of pace so it’s not a total washout.

Tomb Guard
Photo by Mike Hartley

Speaking of washouts today is WET. And forecast for continued WET. That is OK though, I’m happy inside today after working out in the yard yesterday. I’m finishing up a small project for my neighbor who has a nice garden out front that attracts a ton of butterflies on the flowers and bees for the sunflowers. So I’m making them some nice prints of images I’ve taken over some years.

Seemed like a fitting shot for today’s events. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m using some photos here today to honor Memorial Day for those who died in the active military service of their country. So remember to pause for a minute on Monday at 3 pm to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedom we live under. Maybe add a prayer for their families.

Young and old are touched by this.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So this weekend is also the unofficial start of the summer. My favorite season is on the cusp of beginning. It’s certainly going to be a different summer and I’m going to have to learn to adapt to appreciate it fully.

First I’m going to make music a big part of it. Every opportunity I get I’m going to have some tunes going. Working outside, cruising, working at the computer. Music keeps my spirits positive.

I’ve got the summer wardrobe today already. Flip flops and shorts. Its a bit chilly though so I put on a tee-shirt.

Flip and Flop Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’ll practice my hippie throwback look and just let the hair continue to grow. I’m in no rush to hit the barber.

Next is the commitment to get my behind back outside and take some new photographs.

So here’s to a great summer ahead.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The best time of day is each minute you are enjoying it.
  • Time to purge a few things in this office.
  • I saw an article with the headline “How Covid-19 could change the way we fly.” Well I don’t even have to read the article because I won’t be flying for a few years at least.
  • How do you know bad advice, consider the source carefully?
  • I’m fine without a haircut and I don’t need to go to church to pray.

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My mind a swirl of thoughts. So many, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at times. Concern for loved ones. Thoughts about my job and future. Trepidation about things opening up again. Worry about the future of our country.

Sometimes I find the video meetings make me miss my friends even more. My mind keeps wandering to what we could do to safely meet, but that would be painful also because everything that is important to us like that firm handshake and hugs and high five or wrestling around would be lost.

I worry about having to make a decision on vacation this year. But then I think about being thankful that I might be able to take and afford a few days.

Which lead me to my next thought. What if I don’t have a job that will last me till I’m ready to retire. So I’m thinking about what I might be able to do if that were to happen. In some ways its very exciting and other ways very terrifying. One because of my age, mid-’60s will certainly hold me back. And of course, with so many others losing their jobs it’s going to be a crowded field of competition.

I’m not afraid of competition, but the realities of it at this stage lead me to think I might be at a disadvantage. So I’ve been thinking for myself on what opportunities I could begin on. With the world changing so fast now, there are certainly a ton of people thinking about the next big thing or the next big needs and how to fill them.

One thing that energized me was watching some of the spirits of the 2020 grads. It also got me thinking about offering some mentoring but then I started to doubt my worth in doing something like that. Then I thought, well I’ve never been unemployed so I must have some skills. I’ve worked for a very small, medium-sized, and large company. I’ve worked in production, technical, sales, management, and even an owner in companies. I’ve learned a lot along the way also.

I’ve learned a lot about people and management styles. Working as teams and individuals, drawing people’s skills and ideas out. I’ve learned financial responsibility. I’ve learned a ton about communications which is one of the most important things to a company in so many different ways.

I’ve started to rethink a lot of things. In some ways, I don’t want to fully return to what was normal before. I’m not saying I like or would welcome the death, illness, or trouble that it has caused for so many by this virus. I’m saying I’ve got my priories in better order now. Making life and death decisions will do that for you even if it’s as simple as staying at home. Cancer did that for me a few times over the last decade also.

So I’m thinking and thinking about how to bloom like these flowers in the sun.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s going to be strange when I start going out again to have someone point a “name your price tool at my forehead for a temp check.”
  • I feel guilty when I don’t post every day. Sort of like I’ve wasted an opportunity.
  • I was thinking how the education system has changed so drastically in such a short time but the real changes are yet to come I believe. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all could share in the teaching?
  • I’m tired of people who use knowledge for power instead of sharing it.
  • It might be good for children and adults to know that to gain the knowledge you desire, you have to get busy doing something.

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What a beautiful Friday and Saturday. Actually got a little more sun than I intended. I should have just used some sunscreen but it was so pleasant I didn’t feel the burn till today. Luckily its nothing serious. But that sun those two days did revive me a bit. A ride in the car with my better half for a few hours did us both good.

We toured the rural part of the county out by Clarksville and Brighton Dam and then drove through Rocky George, Fulton, Ellicott City, and Catonsville. A short window visit with my father and mother inlaw also felt good to do. I’ve always been fairly good at appreciating the small things in life. I think that makes getting through these times easier.

It was good to see everyone keeping a distance and masked up in EC. The only thing that was bunched up was the traffic through town.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I really enjoyed that series on Jordan and the Bulls.
  • I scheduled a few days off in the coming weeks and I’m really looking forward to it.
  • I’ll be glad if the weather forecast is off for the next 6 days because all I see is clouds and rain.
  • A few burgers from the grill today have me grinning.



Each of us has experienced days in our lives that will be ingrained in our memories forever. Sometimes they are good events and sometimes bad ones. This day is one of the bad ones for me.

I was so excited this day 9 years ago that I had gotten off of work early and I was beating the afternoon rush hour home. I was cruising along slower than normal because I had time to get home and do a few chores before going back out to visit my Mom. It was almost an identical weather day to today. Bright, sunny, warm, and a nice breeze.

I was coming up Rt 29 in front of Columbia and I glanced over at Lake Kittamaqundi when my cell phone rang. It was my mother’s nursing home and they said she wasn’t responsive and on her way to the hospital. That moment and the few days that followed was the beginning of the end of her life.

Everyone’s Mom is special. But my Mom had taken on a duel role in my life because my Father passed so early. So this day and the 12 that followed were some of the toughest in my life.

I took this shot of my work computer in her room the night she passed. The warning boxes on the weather map of the storm that came when she passed.
Photo by Mike Hartley

After a few days in the hospital, the doctors told me she had maybe a day or two because of the massive stroke she suffered. So we began hospice care and to my shock, she lasted 9 days. I was thankful that I had the chance to say a lot of things while staying with her. I was thankful that I was there with her at the end. I was thankful that she wasn’t suffering any longer because I know she didn’t want to exist like that.

The night she passed there was a severe line of thunderstorms going over. It finished and then she was gone. Almost like it came to sweep her up with them. After a few hours with hospice people and a phone call to my sister, I headed out at daybreak. It was still damp but the morning sun was trying to come out from the remaining clouds. I remember carrying the flowers out that I had gotten for her.

Each year this series of days are kind of tough to remember but I do because sometimes the tough memories are hard to forget. But I also remember the many marvelous days, weeks, months, and years she gave me. I find the pictures of her smiling and I look at those when it gets tough to remind me of the person I cherished and not the ones of her in her final days. I went to visit her on Mother’s Day last weekend and I’ll be back over in several days to pay my respects again on the day of her passing.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My better half and I took a ride with the top down today and it was beautiful. There were a lot of people out and about and I was glad to see just about everyone wearing a mask.
  • I feel much better now after scheduling a few days of vacation from work. Yes, you need vacation if you work from home also.
  • What a weekend weather-wise.
  • Time still goes by quickly in the stay at home era.
  • Images of the beach have me both excited and scared. At least I have some more time to make up my mind if we are going this year.

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Good morning HC

I finally got my behind in gear and got out early today. I should have been out yesterday for the nice sunrise because clouds were the scene this morning. That was OK though, it felt great to be out and warm enough for shorts and not having to put on sweats to start a day.

Morning in Woodstock. Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course, I wasn’t just out and about snapping a few images. I had to get some gas for the mower which is being fired up today. And that leads me to my next comment. I almost never go to the Waverly Shell because they RAPE you on price but I will fill the gas can there because it’s the closest. Well, they weren’t open shortly after 6 am so I had to go to Rt 40 and St Johns Lane where the price per gallon is 30 cents cheaper than Waverly. And that the St Johns station isn’t the cheapest around either. It did cement one thing in the future for me. I’ll never even fill the can there again just out of principal.

The early bird catches the fish. I guess he didn’t like his picture being taken because he had quite a snarl on his face this morning. The pond at the entrance to Waverly off Rt 99.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It used to be you could tell the day of the week by the traffic. Now every morning seems like Sunday morning.

The morning dew having trouble burning off without the sun.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though I have over an acre of land, I feel like I need more space between my new neighbors and myself. For the peace and quiet, we once had is shattered by roosters and geese. That’s ok though, I got some rock and roll for them today.

Nothing jumping here. Except for that snake, I saw slither away as I approached the water.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So my mission this summer is this. I’m going to try to get out and shoot a spot in this county every day. I think this will be possible because I just got the news from my employer that I’ll be working from home all summer.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Smile at someone you don’t know. Wave to someone you don’t know. Tell someone to have a nice day that you don’t know.
  • Figures when I get home the sun would finally emerge from the clouds.
  • Like someone recently said – VOTE.
  • It would be good to stop thinking a day ahead and more like months or years. There is more hope that way.


Buddies and Brothers

I had a nice talk on a Zoom meeting with my best friends this evening. It seems like an eternity since we had our normal Thursday night happy hour. And it’s showing a bit. Yes, we laughed and talked. Caught up with all the family, friend, and work updates. But the stress is clear in all of us for a number of reasons.

FISH ON Photo by Mike Hartley

But its a strange time. It’s impossible to cut loose like we do when together. The hugs and high fives are missing. Clicking a few shot glasses, laughter that takes you to the floor as you roll off your chair. Playing with the dogs, going out for food, and having a meal together.

I look at the pictures of people going to bars standing elbow to elbow that opened in Wisconsin and even though I don’t understand their desire to do that now, I do understand the desire. I miss my friends greatly. They are part of me as close as brothers.

That is one reason I worry about the near future. So many are ready to bust loose and resume normal activities. But we can’t be careless, We can’t take the senseless risk. We have to be smart about how we do this. To go from 0 to 100 in seconds seems irrational unless we all gave up and said let’s all get this and then the survivors move on.

All of us are older, have had some health issues, and in high-risk groups. Yeah all of us seem strong now. And in a second could be a dangerous team but this fight isn’t with something we’ve encountered before. Science is still trying to figure it out on the fly.

We have to find a way to exist with this now because the hardships will just continue to increase as time passes. I don’t have the answers but I’m going to try to come up with suggestions.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think I’ll make a donation to the MD food bank again to try to feel better.
  • Tomorrow is the first day of the year it’s going to be in the ’80s. Now, where did I leave my flip flops?
  • I’m noticing the telemarketers are back to work.
  • I think I’ll get out early and do some sunrise shots.

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Time to get back to really living again. No, I don’t mean I’m in a rush to open everything up or lay blanket to blanket on a beach with hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t want to go to a packed stadium for a game. But there is a ton of life out there to enjoy even without those popular things.

Always action to cheer.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I guess I got pumped up listening to some music. That and its the last workday of the week for the kid. So I got inspired and finished a few things I was working on earlier this week. Next thing I know the afternoon is gone and its time to get to work again.

Which kind of dampened spirits but then I thought of the opportunities that Thursday will provide. I think I’ll get in the car and go for a quick ride, shift some gears, maybe turn the tires a little and crank up the stereo. You know, finding something that puts a smile from ear to ear.

My kind of ride, 2 seats no roof. I might have to throw a V8 in mine someday soon.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When governments fail to lead, people take the law into their own hands and we are beginning to see that now.
  • I forgot how curly my hair was being I kept it short for so long.
  • The Foo Fighters remind me of the early 70’s Lynyrd Skynyrd Band. The energy, the multiple guitars, female background vocals, a frontman with a great voice and energy, original music, and great lyrics. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to see them live when the virus passes and before the next one.
  • Sammy Hagar and the Circle did another lockdown video of the tune “What it’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield which was cool.

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The warmth is coming

Like most people, I’m also looking forward to getting back outside. The trick will be avoiding the crowds. After a very cool April and so far May, the temps will be rising here in the Mid Atlantic states. And that means everyone is going to want to get out. After I finish chores like cutting grass and trimming some trees I think I’ll head to the woods for a walk/hike.

Coming soon. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m trying not to think too far out but can’t help but wonder how this is going to change all the small towns around me. The number of small businesses that won’t survive is going to change the feel of the area.

It pains me to think of the loss that individuals who have worked so hard to build with their sweat over the years are disappearing in a blink of an eye.

Try as we might to support our restaurants and shops, I can’t see much hope for most. We are not in control of our own futures. I hope this doesn’t discourage a generation from starting out on their own. But the scares they see inflicted now might prevent that next group of small business people from even attempting it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • For some reason, I have a hard time thinking I’m going to like commuting a hundred miles a day again for work.
  • If sports come back but take virus tests away from people who need them on the front lines I’m going to have a real issue with that.
  • I have to get out tomorrow and do some photography. The batteries are charged, and getting out will recharge mine.

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Taking a breath

It’s funny that I think about breathing when passing people in a store now. It’s funny that I wonder if it’s safer to ride with the top down on the car or sealed up. It’s funny that I wonder if it’s safe to pass someone else on a walk or jog.

Sunday jog. Photo by Mike Hartley

If I see someone else out working in the yard do I have to go put on a mask while cutting grass? A gazillion questions and lots of them with changing answers as time passes.

Then there is the need to take a breath when encountering the rage and hostility that is building in this country. And that scares me the most because I see cracks in society.

I’m finding it more comfortable and enjoyable to just stay in my home and yard.

I’m working on a very special letter for a very special person. Someone we are separated from. Someone who really needs us at this time. Take the time if you are separated from someone very important to you to write them. Pour your heart out. Let them know that the bond is still strong and there.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The incline up button on my treadmill is evil.
  • I used to think I spent a lot of time worrying about the people I love, before the pandemic. Boy was I wrong again.
  • I’m not sure we want to think about returning to the wild west days, our weapons are much more advanced now.

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I’m blessed to be in a shelter in place mode with my better half. But we have a life of contrast now. Before this, we were both working. Now we are down to just me working (from home thankfully). While she loses track of what day it is I know exactly what day it is. Sometimes I pretend not to but I do.

I envy that because when on vacation I experience that loss of what time of day it is. And it’s great. I think that is why I look forward to retirement so much. Getting lost in time can be a wonderful thing. It reminds me of my youth.

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

In some ways, I’m very thankful for the schedule. The routine, the discipline, and goals. But I’m thinking I need to do a better job and be more prepared for when the day retirement comes because I want to stay busy. I want to accomplish things. I want to be motivated and challenged. Yes, I want to do that and also relax but I believe I can accomplish both those goals.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Grilling out makes me feel good. Bring on summer.
  • Aches and pains mean I need to get into better shape. So off we go.
  • Arlington National Cemetery was a very quiet and beautiful place this morning.
  • I’m so thankful for my children.
  • I can’t understand why more people aren’t up in arms about the number of people dying and doing something about it instead of just blaming China. There will be enough time for that after but I think there is a more pressing problem going on.

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I saw my family today. We went to visit my mother and father-in-law. It was her birthday today so we held a big Happy Birthday sign and brought my son’s dog and my daughter’s baby to also raise her spirits. It was tough for everyone as it has been just visiting them through a closed window at their senior center for months now.

Family at JFK grave site with the eternal flame. Photo by Mike Hartley

The sadness of my better half not being able to hold them is heartbreaking to watch. My parents have been gone for a while now and I tried to put myself in her place and it is even hard to imagine. Not that my love for them isn’t there but the bond between a child and their parents is indescribable in most cases.

Tomorrow I will visit my parents in Arlington. My Dad’s birthday was yesterday and it’s Mothers Day so its a good time to pay my respects again. It will be a hard visit. I’m overdue and that always makes it difficult. At least I’ll have a lot to catch them up with. And being the cemetery is closed to the public it will be a nice private time.

I think that is why I love the picture I used today. A family at a cemetery. Both life and death. A bond that is alive but never broken in death. A bond of memories and love.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thank you Fager’s Island for the live stream Sunset again. It keeps me believing I might see it again someday in person in the future.
  • The best day of my life is always the last day we are together as a family. And that is every day, be they near or far.
  • To all those including my best friends, I mourn the absence of all our Moms but I remember each fondly.

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Turn it UP

I started this post yesterday but life got in the way of finishing it so I’ll post this and another one later if I get some fresh images to share. One of my best friends sometimes sends a lyric of a song by text, sometimes a very short segment. Sometimes I go “what” but then I relax and think, I remember the next line and I’ll text it back to him.

It reminded me yesterday afternoon to turn up some tunes here at the homestead in Woodstock Maryland. Kind of fitting I moved here many decades ago.

Smiling in Woodstock MD today. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was looking at song titles in some of the online lists I have and saw the title “Almost Cut My Hair” by CSNY and I thanked them for reminding me not to cut my hair today. I figure it looks a little bad now. But it could be worse so I’ll stick to just trimming the beard, mustache, and eyebrows. Right now I’m working on the 1960’s Beatles look. I figure by this winter I’ll have the 1970’s Let it Be look.

Then it was off to “Times Like These” by that mix of people and done by the BBC. It might be my favorite rendition of that Foo Fighters song. Now I got to find out who these artists are because they all had wonderful voices.

In the Air Tonight was the next tune on the hit parade. Sort of like a modern-day Stairway to Heaven in its slow start and then powerful ending. Even the drums remind me of Bonzo Bonham’s drum sound. And thinking of those two songs I just had to go pull out the 1977 live version of Free Bird.

Well, I could go on all night about the rest of the songs I’ve listened to and will listen to this evening because it’s getting my spirits back up and I’ll get the nice photo printer fired up and finish a few projects while I’m rocking out.

What I’m going to miss.

  • I’m going to miss the people in the videos of airline and airport meltdowns and freakouts.
  • I’m going to miss waiting in line for a good seat at a good restaurant.
  • I’m going to miss going to the doctor and teasing the nurses.
  • I’m going to miss getting a haircut.
  • I’m going to miss a certain amount of privacy I used to have but I’m willing to sacrifice it for the greater good.
  • I’m going to miss waiting in a TSA line to go somewhere on a plane.
  • I’m going to miss rude people in movie theaters.
  • I’m going to miss lots of traffic that makes highways slow-moving parking lots. For it saves us from the truly really crazy assholes who can’t drive at high speeds.
  • I’m going to miss attending live sporting events.
  • I’m going to miss shaking hands.
  • I’m going to miss lots of things the past normal/pre virus life.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Someone named Barr is trying to lower it.
  • It’s strange that I look forward to cutting the yard each week now.
  • I hope I can see that flyover today by the National Guard.
  • I feel inspired to accomplish a lot today.

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Permanent Vacation

To borrow the title of an old Aerosmith album “Permanent Vacation” that is what I feel like some of this country may be on. Only this one wasn’t chosen by the vacationers. And nor will it be a paid vacation.

I’m sure a small business I started back in the ’90s would have been wiped out with this event. And looking back now, getting under a much larger company umbrella will take me to the end of my career in newspapers. But that end date is no longer any certainty because even big businesses will be affected.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’ve started to take my finances a little more seriously and doing another evaluation of what changes and what we should do to react to it. So I’m spending time getting financial information and I’m going to meet with someone soon again. I don’t mean to give the impression I’ve been careless or haven’t spent enough time planning but things had been going fairly smoothly and being I’m near retirement age my investments were very conservative because I never felt like it was safe with this administration.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So here’s to some planning and preparation. I believe there is a saying that goes, “if you don’t pay attention to your money it will soon go away.”

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s National Nurses Day. What a better year to celebrate and honor those wonderful people. Saw an organization called Frontline Feast that I’m going to donate to show my appreciation that gives meals to those on the front lines at some local hospitals that have helped me.



Decided to try to get back to reading more blogs again. I greatly enjoyed that and I get more positive energy from it but I’ve gotten consumed with the news. Don’t get me wrong, I love news also and always have read and watched it each day with great interest. I still enjoy it because it gives me information on making my own decisions. But balance must be maintained as to not overstress about the changes here and to come.

My friend is back.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Teachers Appreciation Week 5/4 – 5/8

Both my daughter and daughter-in-law are teachers. I’ve always been so very proud of that fact and the effort and dedication they bring to their jobs. Given the current state of affairs, their jobs have increased in complexity and stress I’m sure. Not to mention doing their own childcare at the same time as many are doing while working from home.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hear Wendy’s is not serving burgers at some of its locations because of the meat shortage. Some of you younger people might not remember a popular Wendy’s commercial back in the ’80s. Where’s the Beef
  • I see the state of Maryland is going cashless at the Bay Bridge toll plaza this year. And if I don’t get an ez-pass I’m going to get charged more because of it. Just what I need, another device in my car.
  • Pay no attention to the man behind the red tie.

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Monday minutes

The most stressful day of the week for me is Monday. I’m usually operating on minimal sleep and energy. And this week is no different. I started a few other posts this evening and those drafts are saved for work that I just didn’t have time to complete for today.

Can you tell I long for the beach?
Photo by Mike Hartley

Being I didn’t take advantage of the few minutes I had today I had to go look for another relaxing shot from the past that I hadn’t posted. I hope I can find a scene like this again this summer but I’m not sure. In watching the news you can see the pent up demand to get back outside. Trouble is if we all do it at once or like we normally do I’m worried that it may cause issues.

So tomorrow I get to work again with the cameras. Well, make that about a half-hour from now. Life is good if you make the best of it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I forgot the last few days to thank those doing so much for so many in need. Much respect and thanks to you all.
  • I long to laugh with friends in person.
  • It’s disturbing. Just pick something.
  • I don’t know if all the good people and all the good they do can overcome all the evil that is rising to the surface.

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Music saves me again

I was listening to some classic rock this early Saturday morning. And by early I mean right after midnight. And when I say some I mean a good 2 hours worth. So I had to put the headphones on because the volume was needed. It has raised my spirits so much listening and watching some old favorites on YouTube. I stumbled across a few concerts I actually attended back in the ’70s and 80s. Made the hair on my neck stand up remembering sleeping out overnight for tickets to some popular shows.

Drum set in window of Bill’s Music in Catonsville. Photo by Mike Hartley

Music is something that I would enjoy commuting back and forth to work. Being I haven’t been doing that for a number of weeks I’ve gotten away from something that used to pick up my spirits greatly. But no more. Going to make it a part of every day to counter the realities of current life. Balance out the heartache with a few smiles, some vocals, and air drums and guitar. I hope I never feel too old to enjoy music and dance a bit.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Strange listening to thunder for the first time in a while.
  • A stressful weekend for a number of reasons. Hopefully, the coming week will be better.
  • I’ve managed to lose those few pounds I put on at the beginning of this quarantine.
  • The more I see the stress of current events building in people, the less I’m encouraged about our future.


The sea reclaims

Mother nature always wins. I love the eastern shore of Maryland and Delaware. Its a beauty with sights, sounds, and smells that give me life. I used to think that the worst thing that could happen was a storm that would cause property and beach damage. Boy was I wrong.

I can’t stop thinking about summer coming and the possibility that the vacation might be cut short or canceled altogether. I’m trying to stay positive but each day keeps going by and thousands continue to die each day in this country. And anyone who thinks we are past this or that it’s going to disappear in a few weeks has their head up their backside. But for some reason, all they seem to be concerned about is China and the FBI or maybe supporting the protesters who want to go back to work.

Everyone wants to go back to work. Everyone wants to see their parents in nursing homes. Everyone wants to see their children and grandchildren and friends again and be able to hug and kiss them. Everyone wants to return to normal. But open your eyes to what is going on around you and demand a different course of action from our leadership. I don’t give a rats ass about where it started right now. I do care that it is killing thousands and gutting this country.

I guess the sea didn’t like the steps on its porch. Photo by Mike Hartley

I look at the nurses and doctors fighting to keep people alive and I’m ashamed about even thinking about a vacation but I just can’t help it. A beach vacation is an annual mental recharge. And boy could I use one after the last few months but I have to stop thinking selfishly and just make a good call with the time comes that puts nobody at risk.

I guess I could do a day trip or two if it does open and maybe hit the beach at daybreak for a few minutes to avoid the crowds. Because I know regardless of circumstances there will be crowds. Florida, California, and Georgia aren’t the only ones with people putting fun ahead of safety.

Even if the shores do open it won’t be anything like it was. No big family dinners at our favorite restaurants. No more watching the crowds on the boardwalks. No more sitting on picnic tables with dozens of people around eating crabs. No more wandering into crowded little stores or sitting at the park watching the fireworks. No more sitting outside Dumsers eating ice cream with hundreds of other people.

So I’m going to steel myself that this might not transpire at all this year. I’m going to take it in stride and fill in that mental recharge with something else to keep me going if need be. And if it does come down to not doing it at all I’ll accept that, I’ll smile, I’ll dream of the following year and pray/hope everyone I know makes it to the next time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Maybe some sunshine and warmer weather tomorrow will bring an upswing in my mood.
  • Ron White was right. You can’t fix STUPID.
  • We are destroying what was once a great country in record time. And we are doing it from within which is the saddest thing.
  • We are forcing the poor and public servants into life and death situations each day and it’s being done for the wrong reasons. We have the money to support them but we give it to big businesses and the rich get richer even in times of a national crisis.

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Motivation is back

I’m starting to get my motivation back and it feels good. My spirits are more positive and I’m thinking about doing what feels good and right again. Of course, I feel this way, its the start of the weekend and I’m loving it. I’ll take any small victory any day of the week. But I have to get back in the practice of finding those victories each day.

Social distancing. before it was in vogue. Photo by Mike Hartley

I find my mind wandering to the shore. I guess its a combination of the warm weather about to knock on my door and the hope/dream of a family vacation at the beach. I can’t predict what that time will bring and the decision to made because everything is day to day right now. And I’m guessing it’s going to be the same way when the time comes to go or not.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Some people spend their lives moving the goalposts.
  • Somehow I don’t envision going to see fireworks with a large crowd this summer.
  • The longer my hair gets, the more I notice the grey strands. I’m glad it doesn’t bother me. I actually giggle a bit about it.
  • VP Pence was wearing a mask. It was just over his backside which he speaks out of.
  • And now VP Pence’s wife says he wasn’t aware of it till after his visit. That makes sense because the few brain cells he does possess are also below his belt because anyone with an ounce of them knows not to walk into a hospital without a mask.

Random Links of the Day

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Hump day

I’m going suspend Hump day because the week has no definition anymore. Tuesday is more my hump day than Wednesday anyway. I’m trying each day to improve my semblance of order and structure. I’m not waiting to take a shower, I get up and get clean. I take my meds after I get dressed instead of waiting and sometimes forgetting them.

I’m going to celebrate weekends though, because I’m one of the fortunate ones still working. I’m going to get back to writing my children a few times a week. Sometimes I’m able to say things in the written word that I struggle with verbally. I have a number of other things to get me back in a more positive and regular routine.

A season lost. Photo by Mike Hartley
They might want to turn the sign off and save the power. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I got in the car and put the top down. So instead of violating the stay at home order, I took some food to the Ho Co animal shelter. But I took a long way home. I felt compelled to pull into Wallas Park. I should be watching kids play little league ball. But I’m very glad they are home and safe instead. As for all the adults who I saw in Centennial Park even though that is closed, I wonder what message they are sending.

Can’t walk past a flower with my camera without snapping an image. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Be strong for the children. Be strong for health care workers.
  • It’s not the fake news its the FAKE Leadership.
  • I haven’t felt the need for decades that I really need a good drink but it’s sitting on my shoulder talking to me.
  • I’m guessing the movie Twister isn’t real popular in the midsection of this country.

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Terrific Tuesday

Well, terrific is relative. We are all here to enjoy another day of life and share our spirits with each other. And my spirits are higher today because half the workweek is behind me and there is a fresh supply of food here. And as always each day I acknowledge the fact that those I know are healthy. As I’ve said to friends and family. We might be looking back at March and April as the good old days, so be thankful now because Lord Doom thinks things could get worse.

There is one less person here on this Tuesday though who I think might symbolize a coming plague on us all. An ER Doctor committed suicide probably at least partially due to her work in an NYC hospital. I pause again to salute and thank all these people dealing with the incredible stresses of dealing with so much suffering and death on a daily basis. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

The other day I had a fortune cookie that said: “Good Health will be yours for a long time.” This reminds me of a line in Caddyshack by Bill Murray: “And I say, “Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.” And he says, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

I society can clean up their act we might be able to see this again. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love sports and I would love to see them again this year. But not at the risk of even one life or taking away a needed test for someone on the front lines of the fight to save or protect others. I have no problem with sports leagues making plans if things get better, but they also need to be realistic when the time comes if it’s not right and cancel the season. Don’t let money guide your life.

Our nation’s rich need a wake-up call. Their reality is so far removed from the average person that they perpetuate a growing problem of greed and the have nots are just about at the limit. Just continue on the road we are on now for another 6-12 months and you will see the results.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How can the Mayo Clinic be grateful to the VP when he can’t follow their own rules. Kind of sends a mixed message doesn’t it? Personally, I would have said wear the mask or stay the F out.
  • I won’t have to worry about getting a sunburn on my nose this summer.