THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley


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I’m free

I’m Free again till Sunday night when the workweek resumes but till then this kid is in charge. Well as much as the illusion allows. I don’t know if it’s over 5 decades of full-time work (I started young) or if it’s just the point and place in my career after all those years that has me tired.

Kicking it to sunrise Photo by Mike Hartley

Please don’t get me wrong. I go into work each week trying to improve, be the best in my area and group, support my teammates, and give more than an honest day’s work. In my job even when I’m off I’ve never really been off. Being on-call or just an emergency resource leads to some strange hours.

But this break from the job that pays the bills is nice. Oh, the choices of things to do with those precious hours. Maybe hug my better half, work on my crafts, catch up on some rest, watch a game with the boys, get some exercise, work on the yard and home. So many choices and so little time.

Thinking of some great friends at Bethany Beach Delaware . Photo by Mike Hartley

I was relaxed on the couch and a commercial came on that started me thinking about the holiday season coming up. And it’s funny my first reaction was not one of joy and anticipation. It wasn’t a chill of what special gift ideas I needed to come up with to get those smiles I look for in my loved one’s faces. It wasn’t thinking about who’s home, the rotation is this year for Thanksgiving and Xmas. It wasn’t about the positive energy of anticipation I feel going into a New Year.

It was a sense of sorrow and uncertainty. It was a sense of almost dread of what was on the other side. Just because the calendar changes doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee that 2021 is going to be better than this year. It’s a sense that gatherings will be smaller or not at all. It’s a sense of the chaos of the last 4 years will ratchet up in the coming months. It’s a feeling of medical uncertainty. Its a feeling of financial uncertainty.

I’m sure I’ll push those to the side and behind me as much as possible and put on a positive and fun holiday face. But just below that smile is one of sadness knowing many families will be experiencing holidays with the loss of loved ones, sick family members, facing great financial strain or employment issues. Or just the stress of all that has transpired and will in the coming months.

So let’s help keep the spirits up as best possible. Let’s not forget those in pain and struggling. Let’s try to keep our cool.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Unless you have the patience of Job don’t try to be a caregiver.
  • There are so many people skating on thin ice it’s bound to give way.
  • I’m a firm believer in “Be nice, until its time not to be nice”


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Decked Out

I used to be the only one laying on my deck but looks like I’ll be sharing it with the leaves for a few months now. The time to layout and catch a few rays is dwindling away. Think I’ll take a day or two of vacation and enjoy it before I don’t want to go outside at all.

Photo by Mike Hartley

What a beautiful day outside. Time to head out and put the top down and go for a spin. I was thinking about that the other day. How many people just enjoy cruising anymore. The percentage of time where people are running from spot to spot for appointments, jobs, errands, visits versus just getting in the car on a nice day with no direction/destination known other than what your hands do on the wheel when you come to an intersection.

The feeling of hitting some backcountry roads instead of the congested main arteries. No time constraints or need to rush. Just taking in the twist and turns in the road. Listening to some of your favorite tunes. Going slow enough to glance left or right and see something new that you would never look at any other time you’re going from A to B.

The time to do this seems so few and far between now. I guess that is why I look longingly of the days in my teens and early 20’s when we would spend lots of time in the cars. But maybe someday in the near future that time will be available in large quantities again.

Oh yeah, happy first day of Fall.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Along Sand Hill Road – Howard County MD.

Patterns – Photo by Mike Hartley
Organizing – Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got to work on getting my balance back this weekend.
  • I’d like to know the number of deaths that will shock us into the proper action to at least save some future lives. Right now it appears there isn’t one.
  • My new neighbors have enlightened me to the decades of peaceful living I had before they got here.
  • The tougher things get the pool of people to help gets smaller quickly.


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Keep learning

I enjoy learning. Sometimes the book and technical kind but the learning about life, people, myself, nature, love, raising family, animals, arts are all more my passions. I got too busy at times with the technical learning that I lost my balance and found myself not as happy with the learning process. It was leaving me to saturated and drained to enjoy those other things. Well now I’m turning that balance the other way and I’m enjoying life much more. But the common thread is I’m still learning. And if I ever slow or stop learning I’m hoping the two teachers in our family remind me how much fun it is and get me moving again.

The Baltimore Aquarian is a good place for young and old to learn from. Photo by Mike Hartley

Yesterday I got busy learning about woodworking by doing it. Going to try to do a few pieces a month. Starting off with some items for family members. Either they will be good for a memento from Dad or good for a family laugh or maybe both. We will see, I have some basic tools, drill, jigsaw, sander, Dremel tool. And most importantly a large supply of wood to make mistakes with.

Today looks beautiful outside so out I go to enjoy some SUN. Well at least for a few minutes while grilling up some burgers before sunset.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Don’t wait till you’re older to start appreciating living each day.
  • Seafood dinner for the last 3 weekends. Life is good. Just following the Governer’s suggestion in supporting our local industry in the month of September.
  • The last 4 years have taught me a lot more about people.
  • There are many good points about being anonymous.
  • The last year has been filled with extreme highs and lows. At least I can say it hasn’t been all bad.
  • I’m too busy to bitch about being too busy.


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Direction

I not sure I even know the goal anymore. I thought I knew the goal. Stay healthy, try to keep those you love healthy. You can’t say just stay safe. There as many interpretations of that as there are people. Some can minimize risk, many can’t. The disruption is so great its torn professional, academic, entertainment, travel, restaurants, hotels, air travel apart. Everything is being touched. The best you can hope for is that your companies are making good decisions and can be flexible and that you’re limiting the exposure to yourself and those around you, but maintaining some kind of contact and sanity.

I guess I got riled up today with the changing status of schools in the area. Having family members in the Education field worries me greatly. I can’t imagine what young professionals are feeling now. That uncertainty, if they haven’t been affected already has to weigh on them.

My apples for all the teachers stressing out. Photo by Mike Hartley

Both my better half and I have issues that make getting this virus a deadly threat. We have wavered in our diligence over the first part of this pandemic. Some done due to family emergencies, some not but overall we are more cautious than most from what I see.

Anyway, I just have a great deal of trepidation about these coming seasons. Fall and winter aren’t my best regardless of the year but this year might be really different and difficult. Going to do my best to keep in good spirits, try to stay positive, keep physically fit, and support family and friends. Oh yeah, I’ll start that stuff as soon as I get over this bronchitis.


OK, I’m going to get off my behind and get the cameras charged and get out the door tomorrow. Even if its cold in the morning I’m going out.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Reading Facebook’s terms of service really makes me wonder about using that system.
  • I look at the beauty and grace of falling leaves and I spend a few minutes smiling watching them fall to earth. Then I think AHHHH Winters coming!
  • It’s too late in life for me to be redefining tired.
  • One of my neighbors is having trouble with boundaries. Even though I’m not a certified teacher I’m good at delivering messages.
  • Much respect to RBG.


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Detailing

I have a project in a 2008 Chevy that I’m trying to bring back to life and make her look good again. And boy is this baby in need of some TLC. Mechanically she is back on the road and tagged. Yes legally. And if my test ride today was an indication I might have these wheels for a few years.

I kind of enjoy bringing things back to life. If you take care of it the resale value is the best. But I enjoy a clean and good looking ride. So I hope to take good care of this for a good while before its time to part ways to its next owner.


Another thing I’m detailing is homestead. Trying to get some wear and tear on the siding, brick and concrete cleaned and repaired. So tomorrow is a caulking and gap-filling day and if it’s dry enough I might pull that old John Deere out of the shed and take care of the yard so the weekend is free.

A lot of people look at these types of activities as work. I look at it like this. I enjoy every minute of it because one day I might not be able to do these things. So every lap of the mower or power washing something or digging a fence post, I’m thankful that I’m still upright and healthy enough to do them. I still remember the days inside recovering from surgeries dying to get outside and do yardwork.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The two things wrong with people who think they know everything is that they think they know everything and despite facts, they don’t know everything they will continue to believe they know everything.
  • My neighbor’s son is making his first start for the Baltimore Orioles tonight. Good luck Bruce.
  • I never thought I’d say this but there are too many sports on at the same time.
  • My annual cough is back.
  • Let’s all have a good weekend. I would hope that would be one thing we could agree on.


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Sometimes

Sometimes you just have to step outside and look and wonderment will be provided. I didn’t sleep all that well today. We were watching our granddaughter and had to go pick up a repaired car which was a steep bill. So I was feeling a little stressed with a full night of work ahead of me. I stepped out back like I do most nights before sunset. Some birds were flying around but then I noticed a Red-Headed Woodpecker hammering away on a dying tree out back. I got the camera and tried to grab a few frames and I couldn’t figure out why the bird kept moving around so much. I had it on max telephoto and kept having to refocus and move around the tree.

Photo by Mike Hartley

That is when I noticed it was a pair of them and they were playing. I watched them fly in circles around my and a neighbor’s yards. Darting in and out of the woods and then to clearings where they would really move and dive. Then a quick stop on a branch and in a blink of an eye they were off again but they were playing in radius centered in my back yard. They reminded me of two WW2 pilots zigging and zagging, with rapid ascents and dives.

Just the two of us. Photo by Mike Hartley.

It gave me joy and peace just to enjoy a few minutes of nature having fun and reminded me how simple life is at times. Like making my granddaughter laugh today. I feel like I have the world in my hand.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Smiles cure a lot of ills.
  • Grandchildren. A seniors workout system.
  • Last night of the workweek. HELL YEAH.
  • OK, enough of the cold nights. I want summer back.


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Memories

Pets are a wonderful blessing. They become family and very important to people at various stages of their lives. And this one was family and important in the first seconds she came to us. I’ve had the blessing many times over of the love and attachment of pets for our family.

Today’s anniversary marks the passing of one of those loved ones. A very special one who we thought might not make it at a young age. Siblings had feline leukemia and passed. After we survived that scare she landed in the vet hospital for many days with feline pancreatitis and almost died. That was the first time I ever had to make a financial decision about pet care because it was very expensive. Well, it really didn’t need a discussion. It just paused me because I knew it would set our family back and we had young children at the time and weren’t rich. Even if we spent a ton of money it wasn’t even clear she would survive. But those are the commitments you take on when you get pets. You are responsible for their wellbeing.

But she survived and lived and loved for well over a decade more. She loved and took care of us as we did for her. But for one family member, she was more than a pet. The closeness between them was wonderful to watch. The support they gave each other. The loving sounds and play. The tears when and longing looks when they were apart. The excitement when reunited be it each day after grade school and waiting for them by the door to get off the bus. Or when she left for college and would return for visits.

Animals can teach us a lot about life. Loyalty, Love, Fun, and Rest. I’m a firm believer that pets are able to communicate with us and us with them. I’m so glad that my children have the love and respect for our 4 legged friends. I think that compassion for animals is essential in life.

I wish I had the words to say how special the relationship with your first pet is. It stays with you a lifetime. It provides both smiles and tears. It’s tough to do as you get older because the loss is harder to deal with. But I will always have the place for a pet in my home and heart. And I’ll support those who don’t have homes.

I know this is a difficult day for my daughter. I want to give her a hug but jobs and life are keeping us apart today.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I worked hard all my life to become smarter. Now I’m finally there and I’m having trouble remembering it.
  • If your happy with what you have done in life. Good for you. I’m beginning to think that this is a limited club.
  • Some people can be very comfortable in very uncomfortable surroundings.
  • Some people underestimate the intelligence of people to their own peril.


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Cinnamon Buns

Any day that starts with a warm cinnamon bun being brought to you on the couch on a Sunday morning is a good day. Then again here I am on Sunday night and realizing another weekend has slipped away into the memory banks while another workweek starts. And I’m pulling a solo effort tonight which isn’t the way I hoped to start the week.

Another shot fishing at Danials Dam Photo by Mike Hartley

So time to pull the fishing pole from the water and return to the job. Hopefully, it will be a smooth one. I’ve had more than enough excitement for a career.


I believe you should stop and pause at least once a week to think about your accomplishments. It would probably be a good thing to do daily but those tasks are always put off to another day. But a week is about as far as it should go. I did it today and it felt great. I worked hard in the yard this weekend. I got an old car fixed and now I have a winter vehicle. The caregiver and childcare roles were done with joy and satisfaction. Another successful workweek with a complement from the bosses.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes I forget my age. But usually, at the end of the day, my body reminds me.
  • For the first time in a very long time, I feel my hair moving in the wind.
  • Are you ready for some football? Interesting how all sports are being played at the same time now.


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Missing you

Yesterday was my Mothers birthday. She passed several years ago and I still miss her so much. I always will. But over time the missing them changes. At least it has for me. The pain changes. The memories that come back in reminders of them from time to time bring more smiles than tears as time goes by. The pain never goes away but the pain is mostly limited to those few days (her birthday, Christmas and Thanksgiving, my birthday, graveside visits). The many other days of the year where I catch a glance of a photo of her or see something that reminds me of her I smile.

Eyes that could look into your heart. Photo by Mike Hartley

Even the smells of Thanksgiving dinner that used to be painful are now cause for a smile again. I remember how she loved to cook that day and see the smile on her face when she got everything on the table and was able to take a breath and sit down.

I try to imagine the smile on her face if she were able to see her great-grandchildren and hold them. I know how much she enjoyed and loved her own grandchildren.

It takes a while to get to this point. And I’m sure it’s different for everyone. Plus the times of death of a parent can have a dramatically different reaction. I can attest to that also with my father passing at a young age. I had a host of emotions from anger to rejection and abandonment. I lacked the age and wisdom to understand at 9. As I grew I didn’t deal with it. I ignored it and then I used it as an excuse to live hard. I had to come to peace with a number of things over the decades.

Anyway, there are a lot of people in a lot of pain on September 11th. But as time has passed for me and the memories of loved ones passed for many others, I hope that the smile that my parents now supply me in times of difficulty and missing them is extended to those who’s families were so tragically touched on September 11th.


So today begins anew. I wrote most of this post yesterday but the lack of rest caught up with me and I crashed. I’ve moved the tractor is out front waiting for the grass to dry. The push mower and string trimmer are at the ready out back. Now, normally I’d just put my head down and get to it with the thought I might at best get a draw with mother nature today. But I have an extra set of hands today with my son coming for a visit and offer of assistance. Maybe victory is at hand.

I’ll be glad not to ache at the end of the day and call that a victory.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Please always take a moment on September 11th each year for a few moments of silence. 8:46am – 9:03am – 9:37am – 9:59am – 10:03am – 10:28am. Thank you.
  • My body and mind sent me a shutdown command last night, very early.
  • The one consistent thing about a lying piece of SH*T is that they will never admit to being a lying piece of SH*T because that is what they do.
  • I wonder how the players and coaches felt when being booed at the NFL game Thursday night. Some fans might want to think that this might affect how future players (both black and white) consider playing or not for your organization.


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Well, isn’t that special

Don’t know why that phrase from the Church Lady skit on the old Saturday Night Live popped in my head. And because it did I had to go watch an old clip. Good for a laugh to start the day. Humor can cure a lot of ills. That is one of the things I do with my friends. We laugh and laugh and laugh. And we laugh some more. Sometimes we cry from laughing. Laughter has made people fall flat on the table or off their chairs. I’m looking forward to some laughter after the workweek is done tomorrow.

It was a foggy morning, but it turned into a nice day to get outside.

Fog over Lake Habeeb Photo by Mike Hartley

So Monday was Labor Day. I believe it says that this is a day to honor and recognize the American Labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the developments and achievements of the United States. I had to sit here and let that sink in for a minute.

I believe the August unemployment rate was about 8 and a half percent. So that is a lot of labor that is hurting. Seems like the bottom half is getting hit hard. Let me see, has that happened before?

Some ironic things also to be hit in the near future are state county and city budgets, that employee those EMT, Fire, and Police we need. They have gone through an incredible period of stress and now they face cut ranks.

I guess cutbacks could hit all aspects of the budget. Teachers, infrastructure, and more. They are coming, its just a matter of when and how much. Will we butcher it so it doesn’t even resemble a tree of services and resources?

What kind of haircut is this. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sleeping on a nice afternoon feels like a waste, till you have to stay up all night.
  • The good thing about letting your hair grow out is you can play with different styles as you shorten it instead of having it short and trying something and having to wait for it to grow back.
  • Way to go Lakers.
  • Despite my lack of work on the blog, its been a very productive last week.


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Choices

Decisions decisions, I wonder what the fall will bring. Will I have to return to the office next year? When will I feel comfortable eating inside again with many people? Will the country break out in civil war after November 3rd? What will the Christmas season look like this year? Will the flu shot be effective? Hitting the PAUSE button. Reset mind. Think of the sun setting on Summer and enjoying the last few warm days of the year.

Seasons changing soon. Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, the choices I make today are enjoying the beautiful weather. Love those around me. Maybe take a few photos. Make a charitable contribution. Take a ride with the top down. Knock out a few chores and maybe a nap before my work week starts this evening.

As I was telling a friend the other day one of the things I’ll really enjoy about retirement is being able to have a holiday weekend. I’ve missed many over the years because of work. Such is life though. You would be surprised at how many people work on holidays and weekends. Think about the services you need 24/7/365. There are lots of them, aren’t there. A tip of the hat to all those working with me this holiday weekend. And to the day we can celebrate with the rest of society at the same time.


I’ve dried the morning dew from my ride and headed out and grabbed a few frames in one of my standby places. Old Ellicott City. They are having a sidewalk sale this weekend so it’s a good spot to go out, enjoy the weather, and support local merchants. Of course, I was there too early for them to be out so just a few joggers, cyclists, and couples out for a morning bite to eat and coffee.

The last Times Newspapers building when I left it in 1979. Photo by Mike Hartley

What a beautiful morning. A sweatshirt was needed with the top down because the temp on the car dash said 59 degrees as I cruised from my home to EC.

This used the be the loading dock entrance to the Times Papers. I unloaded many a truckload of newsprint there. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s a special town in many ways for me. It was my first job in my lifelong chosen profession. My wife is from this town. I started my own business in this town. I got married in this town.

I never get bored shooting this town. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve enjoyed shooting this town in good times. I’ve had to photograph it after floods and fires and it broke my heart. Sort of like life. Good times and difficult times.

I wouldn’t mind cycling into town. It’s the hills getting out of it I’d have an issue with. Photo by Mike Hartley

Everyone who moves from this area says how they miss this town. I can see why. There are a lot of friendly people here. Especially the locals and merchants.

Back in the 60s and 70s this was the firehouse. I believe they are still putting out fires, just with a different liquid. Photo by Mike Hartley.

It’s funny that the attachment still feels so strong. There has been so much changing there. Businesses I’ve loved gone. Important people passed or moved on. And now with the flood mitigation, the look of the town will change yet again when some buildings come down.

You can find it all here. Photo by Mike Hartley

It can be a challenging town to walk. Sidewalks aren’t that wide at points. But do venture up and down the side streets also and up to the courthouse area. Hell explore the whole town.

Might have to go visit this store, we will be looking for area rugs soon. Photo by Mike Hartley

I guess I’ve shot enough of this city for a while. I think I’ll venture to a new town in Howard County tomorrow.

Welcome center and mural. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wishing everyone a great Labor Day Monday. Be safe.

Get up and GO. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is no such thing as a bad nap.
  • Nothing like good weather to lift the spirits.
  • Having come from a military family I find comments of Losers and Suckers so disturbing and offensive that he should be barred from any military installation and cemetery. If he goes to Arlington I’ll be meeting him to tell him he is the only Loser and Sucker on these grounds.
  • I’m recharged, I saw my children this weekend.
  • To all the teachers. If Tuesday is your first day back I urge you to treat yourself to a relaxing and enjoyable day on Monday.


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A special day

I got up yesterday thinking it was special. I think I’ll try to look at each day like that. Helps start off in a more positive light. I really should have an attitude that morning. Work woke me in the middle of the night on my day off. I didn’t sleep worth crap with back pain which seems like I was up every 30 minutes.

Soar above the chaos. Photo by Mike Hartley

But for some strange reason, I woke with optimism and spirit of getting some things done and enjoying the day a little bit. So I opened the shed early and pulled out the tools and tractor and spent the day in the yard.

So today a little fun and relaxing before heading back to work tomorrow. I see a beautiful day ahead today. I think I might even go for a ride and find and feel the breeze in my hair. I always wore a helmet during the decades I rode a bike even before it was mandatory. That is one thing I like with the convertible, no helmet needed.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I don’t need a gym. I have a house and a big yard. And if I feel like that workout isn’t enough I see if a friend needs help.
  • The President chastising someone for wearing a mask is setting a new standard for the word Dumbass. Then again that seems to be his mission each day.
  • When in doubt ask yourself what your parents would want you to do? Even if they aren’t here to answer they will get a message to you.
  • I don’t care if it’s not cool as an older man to wear my baseball cap backward. It saves sunburn on my neck.
  • Today is Derby Day. Get your mint julip on at home this year.
  • Tough times give you perspective so you can appreciate the good days correctly.


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Fresh start

Feeling out of sorts still. Shift work is getting to this old man but its the weekend so I’m looking for a fresh start. And the unusual thing is I actually have some time tonight to create but I’m exhausted. And being the evening looks like this to start we are holding down the fort this evening at home.

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

A good night’s sleep is also tempting being the eyelids are feeling a bit heavy. I got up way too early this morning and I’m feeling it now. I could easily stay up and work for several more hours. But maybe a good night’s rest and then an early start on Friday. That sounds like the plan.


I had a few minutes earlier and worked with some videos I had taken. It’s kind of inspired me to tinker around with that medium a bit more in the future. I also hope to do some woodwork this weekend. So many hopes and dreams. I’ve got to work harder to make them happen. I just have to devote the time.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do you ever notice how the battery in your smoke detector only goes bad at night and you have to get up and unplug it in your sleep to keep it from beeping?
  • The day’s success all depends on who you run into.
  • What a buffoon.
  • If I can waste time how come I can’t save time?
  • The last few months shows me how many different opinions there are on earth.


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Busting loose

I want to feel that energy, the kind that I used to feel seeing a favorite band in my youth with thousands of others just busting loose with all kinds of dance and imitations of musical instruments being played at a volume that reverberates through your entire body. People singing at the top of their lungs, grabbing my better half and giving her a passionate kiss.

I want that optimism like starting the first day of vacation. That excitement of loading up the car to go someplace, anyplace. The exhilaration of arriving at the destination. Maybe putting a long fishing pole in my hands and reeling in a sailfish.

I want a sailfish on the line. Photo by Mike Hartley

I want that feeling of stepping in a car with way too much horsepower and busting lose the rear tires to warm them up and then line up across from a friend with a hot car and head down Rt 29 in the middle of the night together. I’d love to have a Hurst shifter with the T handle grip in my right hand again.

Cruising. Photo by Mike Hartley

I want that feeling that a person has on the day they retire. To have that excitement of driving a new car off the lot. To have the happiness of holding your children for the first time. To jumping for joy that you landed the job you wanted.

Well, that was the way I was feeling on Monday. It’s Wednesday evening now and I think I’ll settle with laying in my hammock at bit on Thursday because I’m beat from the workweek. Maybe I’ll think about busting loose again on Friday when I catch my second wind.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Dancing with my granddaughter in my arms while the live version of Hotel California was on the TV, singing to her, and watching her smile as I twirled with her around my basement, told me she liked it almost as much as I did.
  • I’m always glad and sad to welcome a new month.
  • I’m not sure which is more difficult, taking care of older people or younger ones.
  • Just because people in power say its OK, doesn’t always mean its OK.


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Catch up

Nothing like rain yesterday to put the mind at rest and catch up on some sleep. Friday night was the first good night I had in several days. I was hoping to spend part of Saturday catching up more on some rest. That didn’t happen so we will shoot for today. I was getting very little sleep this week due to a number of things and it was catching up with me in many ways.

Afternoon showers bring light to some looking for it. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not of the age I can continue to do this. I was making some improvements but this past week I slid back to the old days where a few hours or missing a night’s sleep was the norm. So time to reset and start taking care of myself a bit more. Too many conflicting needs going on in life right now.

I blink my eyes and a new workweek is starting. I’ve got to get back to health and what works for me first. And that is my immediate family, friends and my work. When I retire hopefully I’ll have time for the rest of it.


I’d like to blog more this coming week. And that means I need to get shooting again. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day today. Maybe I’ll prioritize correctly and be able to grab a few shots around the county. So let me get moving. It’s a good thing I didn’t know it was National Beach Day till I got up this morning or I might have planned and taken off for it in the middle of the night. Nothing like a sunrise on the beach.

First toes in the sand and board in the water wins. Photo by MIke Hartley

Seems like everything has its own day now. But I kind of like National Beach Day because the beach is one of my favorite places. Maybe I’ll take a day trip down in late September. The water is still warm, the sun is still fairly high in the sky and the sand is still hot. Plus no crowds.

Lets all pitch together and keep the Beaches clean. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • I wish I knew the switch to turn off my internal alarm clock.
  • Anyone who laments there isn’t anything to do in life isn’t living.
  • Some days I can just see more clearly. Those are usually the days I clean my glasses.
  • I feel a sense of urgency to make today a good day.


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Live and learn

I’m full of progress lately. It feels good and rewarding in itself. Taking joy from simple tasks and big ones alike. I’ve discovered late in life it’s about how you go at and interpret life. That can really change many things about the joy experienced and outlook forward. It also can help you deal with past and present issues more effectively.

Sailboat Jeopardy Photo by Mike Hartley

I should have taken some clues earlier in life from both personal and professional friends. But I have it now and I’m developing that more positive attitude and life is good.

Better late than never. No that isn’t my boat or chairs.


One of my best friends purchased a new home on the water. I couldn’t be happier for him and his better half. It looks like a beautiful place and I’m excited as hell about spending some time with him there. But my thoughts are consumed with the coming distance between us. It will be a big change, being we have always lived about 15-20 minutes away from each other. There was even a time when we lived together at my Mom’s house. Plus he lived in a home in the neighborhood I grew up in for the last 3-4 decades and it’s like going home when I see him. I sometimes take a cruise around the old hood before or after a visit. It’s going to be a change for me but I’ll adapt. One of my favorite phrases from one of my favorite movies Animal House is “Road Trip”. And I love to drive so there are no excuses.

Who knows, he might find me living in his garage.


I’m not sure if I want to go to the lakefront if I can’t go to Clydes.

Columbia lakefront. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I made good choices today so far so I’m going to go with the flow.
  • Some nights the mute button comes in real handy.
  • Each day now it seems like I see a story of a restaurant or small business I know going out of business for good. It breaks my heart because of the people. Both the owners, employees but also the community. There is too much of this already and it’s getting worse. Please think about supporting your local businesses. Amazon, Walmarts, and fast food places already have enough money.
  • Music link of the day – CSN Wasted on the Way


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Care

Caring takes energy. It takes patience. It takes listening. It takes intuition. It takes drive and endurance. It takes dedication and answering a call.

Lots of people are called upon to care. Medical professionals are drawn to the care of others. Some parents are thrust into horrible situations with their children and rise to incredible levels of care and compassion. People care for animals by supporting rescues or doing them.

Photo by Mike Hartley

There is care for our older family members where the term caregiver comes up. There are simple cares like for the respect for the place you live in by not littering or someone caring to walk the local roads and pick up other’s trash.

There is care when fires and hurricanes devastate our states. There is care when blood supplies get low. There is care when you see someone stumble and fall. Many people care and come to the aid in auto accidents.

There are many brave people that step in at personal risk to protect those being abused. Many steps forward each day to work in the feeding of those who don’t have enough to eat.

Burial detail at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

There are people cutting older Veterans yards. Many charitable organizations care. Many religious groups care. Well, at least the people working and contributing to them do. Many young people who care deeply and show it by defending the country.

There are so many acts of caring for each and every day that it gives the world hope. These are the acts that children should admire. These are acts that should inspire more acts.

Now there is a formation. Photo by Mike Hartley

I say this because even though I think and try hard to care about a number of people, issues and causes I know I can do better. The need is getting larger and will need all our help. So self-examination time to see what I can do better.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I see KFC has dropped its “Finger Licking Good” slogan in the age of COVID. What, don’t people wash their hands before they eat? Well if its no longer Finger Licking Good I’m not interested.
  • I could look at clouds all day. Well maybe with some music.
  • There seems to be no shortage of people that will leave you shaking your head.
  • If someone has an idea of how to steer those hurricanes towards those fires speak up now?


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Sun, steak an salmon

The tan got a boost from the outdoor work Sunday. Feels good to get that exercise. Grilled up a steak and a nice piece of salmon for dinner. My mother-in-law liked it so victory was had. And the sun lasted till I had finished grilling which was great because that was a nice thunderstorm that rolled through afterward.

Off the bench. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another end to the weekend. What a bummer. And almost the end of a strange summer. That is somewhat depressing, but there is still a lot of nice weather to enjoy.

I’m going to have to work on some planning for the winter season. My better half and I talked yesterday about getting the upstairs fireplace fixed so we can use that this year. That will keep me busy chopping some wood. It’s not like I’m going to run it to heat the house even though it does have a wood-burning insert with it that will run you out of the room and heat the upstairs fairly well.

But I also need a plan to stay mentally fresh during what always is a stressful and somewhat depressing time of year for me. On the good side, I won’t have to worry about commuting in bad weather so that takes a lot off the plate. But that also depends on being extended to work from home after the new year.

Whatever the case, I’ll make the best of it.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If I were to pick a week without TV this would be it.
  • But then again, I’m really enjoying the NBA playoffs. I’ve got to get my hoop fix now because the fall is looking suspect for colleges.
  • I’m working on my photo site again and that feels great.
  • Pick projects to work on that make you smile.


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Times

I’m trying to find a balance between living and blogging. I really like blogging, I try each day and I try hard to keep to that schedule but life intercedes at times. Lots of times actually. I’m used to having only a few minutes to pull a post together and maybe edit a recent photo or find an old one that matches my thought train that day.

Cumberland Station Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s not like the days I don’t post something that I don’t sit down to write or take photos or work on something. Some of those are saved as drafts because it may be an idea that isn’t developed and I hope to return to it. Or like many, a quick start and then an interruption. And I’m sure more than a few that suck and I need to trash.

More often than not my post isn’t well thought out or planned. Rarely do I get any dedicated time for this. I either get up early or more often stay up late tinkering away. I have no list of topics or people to collaborate with. I sit down often with no conceived/idea plan and just start writing or editing photos I’ve taken. A lot of days a photo will spur a thought. Sometimes it’s an article or news segment I’ve seen earlier in the day. Sometimes it’s an experience I’ve had that day.

One of the nice views going to Western Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though I only take a short amount of time each day for this I feel at times I’m being selfish and should be doing something for my family, friends, or someone in need. Maybe fixing something on the house or cars or just resting which I don’t get enough of.

The nice thing is that even though this might add to the lack of sleep, it does seem to reduce my stress level because its something I enjoy. Maybe because I’m challenging myself a little again.

Blogging has turned into a bit of a passion. I’m trying to get a good start on a base to build on when I retire from the job that pays the bills. It’s a passion that keeps me inspired to work on my arts. And who knows, with a little more time I’ll knock out something a little more worthwhile.


In yesterday’s random thoughts I put down that I miss seeing school busses on the road. That was in no means an endorsement that I think kids need to be in school now, at least in this area. I was just lamenting the beauty of kids getting on and off busses each day. Of course, it does save me the blinding RAGE I feel when I see someone blowing by a bus with its red flashing lights and stop signs extended.


I saw some very old friends yesterday at a zoom meeting. It was great and I can’t wait to see them again. A few were absent but it was still uplifting. And I also gathered with my two best friends Thursday night. Having these and strong family ties and communication has gotten me through these recent months. I think I’ll reach out to a few people who I know live alone and don’t get out and communicate that much.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s a top-down kind of day. Till the thunderstorms roll through.
  • Wooden Ships by CSN is a great song. Here’s a live clip from 1977
  • Having a long “to-do list” is not a bad thing.
  • I try to make a habit of listening to “Tuesdays Gone” just before midnight on Tuesday nights.
  • It’s all over but the voting.
  • I’m nervous about visiting the doctors again but for a completely different reason than in the past.


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Crabs and crabgrass

Today was crabgrass killer day. Again a bumper crop in my yard that has to be put to rest. A good day to be outside this afternoon. Pleasant temps for a mid-August day. So I worked on my tan while spraying weeds. One of several chores on the agenda today. But to hell with chores. My mind is wandering to food.

Crabs everywhere. Photo by Mike Hartley

Onto one of my favorite crustacean, the Maryland Blue Crab. I see the Governor has proclaimed Saturdays in September as Buy Maryland Seafood days. And they had a link to all the places you can get these and other seafood delights of the state called Maryland Crab and Oyster Trail.

Can’t wait to get some fresh fish on the grill. Photo by Mike Hartley

There are few things as good as a fresh catch. Some rockfish, maybe smothered in crabmeat. Maybe some oysters Rockefeller. I’m not much of a raw oyster guy but fry or steam or broil those suckers and I’m in.

Right time, right place. Bethany Oyster House. Photo by Mike Hartley

So this coming month on Saturday’s I think I’ll try to uphold the Governor’s wishes and support our local seafood industry.

Oh yeah, love them Rocks. Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course, complimenting our local favorites is always a good idea so why not throw the kitchen sink at it.

Nothing like a little seasoned shrimp, lobster with some drawn butter and scallops. Of course, those are well wrapped in bacon. So grab yourself a dozen steamed crabs before the season comes to an end and keep the Gov happy.

I could claw my way through a few of these. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • For the first time in quite a while, there is a chill in the air tonight outside.
  • I miss seeing the school busses on the road.
  • Some leadership might be a nice change of pace.
  • I miss getting on my motorcycle. It would always make me feel 10 years younger.


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In the flow

I feel like I’m in a good flow of both mental and physical health right now. Oh, there is a ton of things I can improve on. My diet and exercise to name a few. Yeah, I got aches and pains, that’s what older people get. I’m cancer-free and no other major issues to my knowledge. So I’m appreciating and loving each day I’m up and about.

A wave with a smile. Photo by Mike Hartley

That love and appreciation for each day seem like a simple thing but it’s hard to pull off from my life experience. I had to learn to be happy with myself and its taken a lifetime. I’ve had to learn to not let others control my emotions. I’ve had to learn to balance the various facets of professional, personal, and social life. I’ve had to learn how to prioritize and do the best I can and be happy with that effort. I’ve been my own worst enemy at times. I’ve been afraid of failure and I let that rule out opportunities. I let my mistakes stop me when I was taking chances and learning.

Steps to Where? Photo by Mike Hartley

Life is learning and adapting. Life is about appreciation and laughter. Each day is a blank slate to do as you will. Yes, things will affect that path but you also have control of directions, time, and being able to enjoy the journey.

So today my flow took me to the lawnmower. I know you didn’t see that coming. The mower is a wonderful place to think. I’m not sure if it’s the endorphins from the exercise or just the drone of the motor and letting my mind wander. I guess that is one benefit of having a good-sized yard. You get a couple of hours of uninterrupted thought.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hope my kids know I think about them every day. Lots of times per day.
  • Don’t you hate it when it rains all weekend and the reward for that is having to cut the yard during the workweek?
  • In normal times living near a college must be cool.
  • You don’t need a metal detector to find treasure.


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Sunny disposition

I’m trying to think more positively and share a better attitude. Hard thing to accomplish as a realist at times but I’m improving. I’m giving it the old college try. So I changed up my Monday a bit. I didn’t get proper rest to start off with so I’m conscious of being touchy so I’m not stressing and trying to do too much.

Sunset on the bay behind Ocean City Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m also limiting the news input today and I’m going to enjoy watching some NBA action. My guess is this might be one of the few leagues to finish a season and playoffs so I’m not going to miss this. Sorry, that was my pragmatic side seeping out.

I’m saddened to see schools at the K-12 and some colleges already struggling with the virus. That doesn’t bode well for the fall sports seasons that haven’t been canceled already. I would have hoped our communication and planning would have been better in the few re-openings that have happened.

It’s going to be an interesting fall season. I hope that we all can have the patience and civility needed to get through the rest of this year. Somehow I don’t think watching the leaves turn is going to be an adequate substitute for football for some people.

Route 40 looking west in the fall. Nothing better than the next 40 miles of asphalt. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When I give someone a photo I’ve taken I give them something to remember me by even though its not of me.
  • It’s funny watching baseball games without fans. But then I think of a couple of fellow Yankee fans and I can still see us all reacting to each highlight with the same joy and fervor as we always had. Maybe if we are lucky we can get back to the real joy of the game at the stadiums next year.
  • Each day it gets easier to tell who the selfish people are.
  • Taking time to do something well is worth its weight in gold.


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Room and Board

Saw this picture of what looked like paddleboard school standing in front of a string of condos in the background inspired today’s title. But also the thought of many people being evicted in the coming days and months is also strongly on my mind.

Room and board. Paddleboard meeting on the water. Photo by Mike Hartley

Kind of ironic that the next song I heard was Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones. I’m afraid I might have a friend soon without a home. That is a long and twisted tale but homeless is homeless. It might not be long until we all know someone.


Ah, what to do about that and many other ills of the world. Those storms that rolled through Iowa and flattened everything in sight. Many days later still tens of thousands without power. I’ve been through that a few times and it’s not pretty.

So I think I’ll make a donation to the Red Cross towards that tomorrow morning. In addition this week I also have to do something to help someone personally. Be it a stranger or a friend. Being separated sometimes takes those opportunities away and hide them from you. But they are out there.

Stillness. Photo by Mike Hartley
Motion. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How many older musicians might we never see live again because of the virus closing things down?
  • Seeing my children can sometimes balance out all the other stresses in life because it is so calming and inspiring for me.
  • Coming back to work after vacation is a tough task.


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Saturday salutations

Even a rainy Saturday morning is nice. Any morning I wake up is nice. It was an early and painful morning but I’m alive and kicking and not sick. The body is just showing some age.

Even though the weekend looks like the sun could be MIA we can supply our own with pictures and a sunny attitude.

Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s been a good while since really changing up my office and workroom but I think its time. And I’ve enlisted the ruthless help of my better half. An expert at purging. I’m an expert in hoarding. Well not as bad as most but still on that side of the fence.

No this isn’t my office. But it does have some resemblance in spots. Actually this office was someones who was very smart and proficient in his work to almost a brilliant status. So a sloppy office doesn’t always equate to a sloppy mind.

Actually my cleaning is part wall makeover and opening it up by removing a desk. I’m going to take down a least one wall of photos I just have tacked up and put some good ones in frames for a nicer look.

Feels good taking care of things under my control. We really made some progress around the house during my week off from the job that pays the bills.


Caregiver mode engaged. My Mother-in-law returned to stay with us for a bit again and I’m glad to have her. Luckily she has enough family to keep her while this virus passes before she returns to assisted living. I can’t imagine the pain that is causing families not being able to see, hug, and kiss loved ones. Not to mention the worry about them at senior facilities.

The routine becomes a bit different and I have to put on a shirt again but I can cope. Plus its convention weeks ahead so I’ll be real busy at work for a good bit.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you can’t deliver the mail, you can’t be president.
  • Though we have had a few month’s practices, it’s going to be a strange fall and winter.
  • Remember when feeling your age used to be a good thing?
  • Now I know why my Mom had so many magnifying glasses around the house.
  • My posting average this week sucked. I vow to do better this coming week
  • In some ways, it feels like a normal year. Wildfire and hurricane seasons are in full swing.
  • Are you an email packrat?
  • I think the greatest shock in the last 6 months to most people is how fragile everything is. From healthcare and childcare to food to income.


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Hump day observations

Don’t you miss being part of a huge crowd at a concert with everyone moving in rhythm to the music and singing in unison together?

I miss seeing people smile. But then again I don’t miss all the people with snarls on their faces.

Boardwalk expressions. Photo by Mike Hartley

I miss feeling comfortable around people.

Does music seem more important now?

Memories keep drawing us back to dangerous behavior.

I suggest taking all the empty shopping malls and turn them into schools.

I saw some leaves falling today. I almost screamed NOOOOO. It’s far too early for fall.


Duchess Sandwich Shop

Sweet simple and satisfying. We went to this EC mainstay for a quick snack today being we put off our day trip to the Antinum battlefield. We got two sandwiches, a birch beer, and a chocolate shake. Oh yeah, a bag of chips all for under $15. Took it down to the parking lot B behind the building we started a business many years ago and looked over the river and had lunch with the top down. I sucked down the shake before I had a chance to take a picture of it.

Photos by Mike Hartley


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I read from WJZ that the Annapolis Capital Gazette is closing its offices. They will continue to publish it says. I wonder what fate awaits me, back to the office, or work from home next year.
  • I’m very sorry to see the Maryland fall sports postponed/canceled this year but I believe it was the right decision for the safety of the kids and community.
  • I’m so tired today.


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Nice start to the week

Vacations don’t have to be exotic locals to be great. Not that we don’t have a lot of exotic locals here in the great state of Maryland, we do and the Eastern shore is one of them.

And when in Rome, eat like the Romans. So I had a crabcake sandwich for lunch in the middle of our walk around the town in St Michaels yesterday.

Crabcake from Foxy’s Harbor Grille in St Michaels MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

The whole town was hoping for a Monday. And with the weather in the mid-’90s and humid, it was a day I thought might be quiet. And it was probably quiet compared to a weekend.

Was a little crowded at the Crab Claw. Photo by Mike Hartley

This is one of the things I like about small towns. You can ride bikes around and really see the place and not get run over. That is what I love about Bethany Beach in September and October.

The way to get around town. Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course if you can be pushed around there is nothing wrong with that mode of transport also.

A town for both young and old. I’ll have to stop at the brewery and winery they have there next time. Photo by Mike Hartley

I look at the shot above and remember the day we would push our own children around. Time has passed so fast. Now we push grandchildren.

We were looking for benches in the shade. Photo by Mike Hartley

Looking out over the water while having a nice lunch with the love of your life can make any day.

I never get tired of water. I do get tired in water though. Photo by Mike Hartley

On the way to St Michael’s on Rt 33, we saw this cast of characters below saying Thanks for the Memories and Farewell. Of course, I had to come home and look up what it was related to and found this Nugget about it.

Roadside Theater. Photo by Mike Hartley

So after the fun of yesterday today it was back to the home projects on Tuesday. Much was accomplished. I hope to get out early Wednesday morning before daylight and grab some night photography and some early morning shots.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is a big difference in a push and riding mower on a hot day.
  • Comedians are funny but they don’t replace laughs with friends.
  • Time for a ride at night with the top down.


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Recharge

And here I thought I was going to have some time to play with my hobbies. I was just kidding myself with the projects we have going and just the overdue maintenance needed on the homestead. I’m finally getting the siding cleaned. I haven’t had the big ladder out in a while. So long that a bird had a chance to build a nest on it.

I still had time to grab a shot or two of visitors to my back yard. It was my favorite family again. Mom, Dad and young-in. Photo by Mike Hartley

But the result yesterday is that I feel good about the work accomplished because it shows some tangible results. For instance, we decided to take up some carpet we have had down forever in the living room and hall. Not that it was bad, my better half just wanted to go back to the hardwood floors underneath the carpet.

Even a simple task like that is a lot of work but the floors below do change the look of the house. They will really look nice when sanded and sealed again. But as I told her I really don’t like it because I can’t sneak up on her anymore with the quietness of the carpet gone. It’s like taking the high grass away from a hunting cheetah.

Dad is always aware of me first. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today was more chores like grass cutting and some more work on the recently exposed floors. I tried my hand at cooking some stuffed pork chops with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and mozzarella cheese. They were good.

Like yesterday I’ll pick up the camera and try to capture something to use here. Like this crew below, totally devoid of social distancing and no mask in view except for that white mask in the middle.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Doing battle with Mother Nature. She is a formidable foe. But I have a full 5-gallon tank of gas for the mower and another gallon for the string trimmer. I ran out last week and she laughed at me. I had to retreat unfinished in defeat.

I know my family doesn’t like it but I like doing some physical work outside during the summer. I take more breaks to appease them but I’ve discovered I also need them especially on hot days. So I’ll try to be smart with their assistance and guidance but still get the exercise. Because these tasks are also rewarding when things look good after the effort.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s shark week.
  • The wasp thought they were slick with their latest nest. Now they are slick with Raid.
  • Think about how special friendships will feel when you can hug that person again and get together and totally relax. You know, what we once used to do on a regular basis.


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Doing OK Today

Never wait to say what is in your heart.

I may be the luckiest man on earth for the wonders I’ve been given.

Get it together, help others get it together, help them help others get it together.

To my better half. I’m sorry I haven’t provided all the joys of life you so richly deserve.

I’m sorry if anyone feels I haven’t been there for them.

Time to relieve the pain.


I was catching up on some reading of events while I was on vacation a few weeks ago and read that Fernand G.M. Tersiguel passed. I can’t say I was a frequent diner but when I did it was a great meal and his smile and staff made it a great evening. Ellicott City will miss him.

Fernand Tersiguel standing outside his establishment. Photo by Mike Hartley

Good thing you guys don’t rely on me for breaking news.


There are few things as satisfying as a cold Coke in a Bottle. Especially after working outside in the 90-degree heat. I don’t know what it is about a bottled Coke but it is different. Maybe just colder, I don’t know but its better. I’ll go to Google it later. I’m sure there is an opinion or an actual reason.

So why don’t I buy it in bottles? I have no answer. I got a bottled 4 pack from my Son as a gift recently and I save them like a vintage wine. It’s almost ceremonial. When I have one, that is what I do for the next 10 minutes. I don’t open it and walk away, I don’t get up and go to my desk with it and sit it next to the warm computer. I kick back on the couch and sit it on the glass table in front of me. I lean forward and take a sip. Of course, that is followed by a belch and I lean back. This act is repeated like that plastic bird that would bend over and dip its beak in water and then bounce back to an upright position. Life’s simple pleasures. Well, back outside to work.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I believe basic practical skills will once again be in great demand.
  • Time for a random donation today.
  • I’m conflicted. I’m beginning to like my hair long again but it’s not too popular with my better half.
  • If at any point in your life you discover how blessed you are no matter your circumstances, and you are able to just feel thankfulness, is the day you are alive and at peace. I don’t mean this in the religious or spiritual sense but just in life.


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Pizza Speed

Looks like Domino’s has a variety of delivery modes. I just happened to see these two on the same day on the same street in Ocean City. To each their own.

Fast – Photo by Mike Hartley
Slow but steady – Photo by Mike Hartley

Sort of like life yesterday. I wanted to get a strong start but slow and steady was the call of the day. You have to adjust and go with the flow at times. Work is taking a toll on me this week for some reason. I seem to have nothing left in the tank after 10+ hours.

I was saddened to hear of an old friend from my youth passing. A more common occurrence as we progress in years. A good reminder to appreciate today and take advantage of any and all opportunities.

I seem to be getting a lot of reminders like that. So I guess I better get busy and make something worthwhile for my family and friends.

This is going to be a different type of weekend. I have some great ideas to work on.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m surprised and not that the Sturgis rally is going on this year.
  • Loving hugs are in short supply. It’s like they all have been put in storage. I can’t wait for the day they unlock them.
  • It seems like a lot of people go missing.
  • No county fair. No state fair. No fair.


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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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Balance

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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Details

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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Traffic

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.


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Something

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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Listen

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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Transition

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.


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Celebrate

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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Almost

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.