THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Mix it up

I’m thinking about mixing my week up a little bit. I’ve been working on a photo project called 15th and L Street. Well, it turned into a project. I didn’t think I had much and was going to do a small combination of shots on the last few days at the building I spent many years in.

Yes, it was an old building but it had character and rats. It also had a bevy of characters inside that made it special. But the last few days were interesting. Because the building was going to be torn down many were inspired to leave a few messages on the walls and everything else, that in a few months would be rubble.

But some of those words were special. I wish I had captured them all but I only got a small spattering. I think my favorite was “How lucky we were to have been here”. And I echo that because I’m still partial to the old building even after 8 years in the new one.

The sky to himself at sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

But tomorrow I transition to shooting images and woodworking. The latter is a project for my granddaughter.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I need more days in my life when I’m in control of the schedule.
  • The only one stopping me is myself.
  • Any day you get a meaningful hug is a good one.
  • It’s easier to be in sync with a proper night’s rest. Guess that is why I’m out of sync on most days.

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Starting Line

I’ve talked a bit this past year or so about retirement wishes. With so many things in flux, I haven’t really picked a date to give up the full-time grind. I have some rough idea of when I want to, sometime next year but I’m starting to feel if I don’t pick a date I might be tempted to just keep pushing it back.

I don’t think the job that pays the bills would mind me sticking around longer. There has to be an extremely small pool of people that would want these hours and have the skill set. I’ve thought about exploring the idea of part-time with them in future years. Could serve us both well.

Picking a time to kick back. Photo by Mike Hartley

Notice I choose the title starting line. I did that because I figure my retirement would be a new start. One to a life of my choosing along with my better half of course but not marching all week to someone else’s priorities. Getting some proper rest, eating better, and having time for proper exercise. I’ve started all those things at various points but find it impossible to keep going with this schedule.

So it’s time to get things in order, look at the future and plans, see how well they are merging at this point, and set that target date with my better half.

But first, another week of work.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m returning to the world of being a student again. It’s never too late to learn.
  • Confidence is gained by doing.
  • Trying the unknown this week. I hope to go to my first meeting with fellow Miata owners this week.
  • I like working with wood. And where I live I got a nice supply to practice on.
  • Nice ESPN 30 for 30 special on the Ravens.

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Day dreaming

I was just thinking about a warm summer day and coming upon a patio where they were serving iced tea and lemonade. Taking a break under an umbrella and sitting half in the sun and half in the shade.

Photo by Mike Hartley

A day where thoughts of contentment and happiness just flow like a stream. Where there is no rush to be anywhere at any time. The cool refreshments add to the relaxed muscles as the tension in the neck dissipates.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Just time to lean back, listen to the birds sing and ponder what might tempt the pallet for dinner.

Do you think I’m dreaming about summer too early in the year?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The less selfish I am, the happier I am.
  • Any morning you start with the live version of Woodstock by CSN while living in the town of Woodstock there is only one way to listen to it. Full VOLUME. The 94-live version is pretty sweet.
  • Don’t look for a pill to fix everything in life.
  • Nothing shaves the years of life off like listening to the music of my youth.

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Almost perfect

Just the type of Friday I needed. One filled with laughter and love from a little one. She was into making me cards today. We made a couple of lincoln log homes and she also did some baking. We did some coloring and she really liked a picture of a turtle I drew with colored markers. I found some sea shells she liked and a few strands of embroidery thread she had to have. Oh, and a picture of her mom when she was a little girl with her first pet in her room. She couldn’t wait to show her when she came to pick her up.

Now there is a creative way to get a child to use a toothbrush. Photo by Mike Hartley

Young ones can really bring you back to what life is about. Just the simple joy of living, learning, and exploring. So truthful and blunt in sharing opinions but without any inference of hurt. So unafraid to ask any question because learning is the most important thing. They are knowledge sponges. They take everything in and then their interpretation of it.

Of course, she was tired of me by mid-afternoon and Gamma was the main person of interest for her today so I’m not as exhausted as I am at the end of most Fridays. I can’t say that about my better half though who will probably be down for the count early this evening.

Today I found a postcard from my father. As a matter of fact, the first line in it is “Mike, this is your first postcard – I love you” It was from early 1958. He was in NY Naval hospital recovering from TB and surgeries. I wasn’t even a year old yet. It’s kind of special because the only other card I had was badly faded. I’ve wondered all my life how things might have been different if he had lived longer. How not knowing him bothers me to this day. Now I have two items that say “I love you” from him.

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

Many things aren’t perfect in life. Many can identify with childhoods cut short. Many are faced with the difficult realities of life at an early age. So each day I can contribute to making my children’s and their children’s lives great day after day, I realize that it’s a wonderful opportunity that they won’t forget if I do it right.

I’m glad it’s a cold evening and Saturday ahead. The temporary hibernation will give me a chance to catch up other’s blogs. I’ve had precious little time to do the normal reading and add new people to follow. So I think I’ll do some digging and reviews and spread some encouragement here and there.

A few quick hours of sleep and then an early morning filled with music and arts. Could be a lot of fun.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A haircut – is one of the simple pleasures of life.
  • I find it very strange what some accept as the truth.
  • In a blink of an eye. 3 days in February have passed. And I feel like I’ve made good use of each one.
  • The more I do the more confidence I have.

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The Real Me

I wonder if those closest to me have any idea of what music meant to me and still does in life. It’s one of my greatest joys. It’s brought me back from the greatest depths. It’s inspired me and sometimes fueled my rage. It’s relaxed and calmed me. It’s generated creativity and deep feelings. Be it at home or in the car or just listening to someone else’s boom box at the beach.

Like right now, sitting here listening to Baba O’Reilly from The Who, live from the 70s. Still with Keith Moon the drummer so it had to be pre 78. I saw them several times throughout the decade of the 70s. One of my many musical influences.

But the title and lyrics always made me feel how few, if any, knows The Real Me. Only we know ourselves and learning about that is a long evolving journey for most. We are all filled with multiple personalities. Well I’ll speak for myself at least.

They change very easily sometimes. A sudden health crisis or loss of a loved one affects personalities deeply. Some lose a job and lose their identity.

The real me, is many different people. That is why I tinker away here, hoping to recognize a few positive ones that pop out from time to time to keep the negative ones at bay.

Musician on Main St in Annapolis. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I used music to get back on track. I was feeling a bit out of the loop but being supportive is a great way to get back into it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more anger I see the less I’m inclined to go out and deal with it.
  • I’m shivering thinking about the coming cold.
  • Taking a break is a wise thing once in a while. Change your perspective.
  • Water, the next major commodity.

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Regroup and blast off

A rough start to the new year but one that is in the rearview now. As I turned the wall calendar to February and took a moment to acknowledge how fast the last month went by. To reflect that some goals went by the wayside but other accomplishments stepped in at times.

Untie me because I’m ready to Rocket into this month. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m already rolling on a new photo project and hope to get a wall covered tonight to sort through the combinations I want to use. Tomorrow I hope to do some woodworking and pick up the cameras again. And I’m thinking about a day or two at the beach before spring actually gets here in full force so it’s time to look at the calendar.

Time moves so fast that it scares me. I saw something that reminded me of a friend who passed almost a year ago and was shocked that time has gone by. I like reading his emails that we traded while he was fighting one of the worst cancers. His bravery and focus on living each day, stick with me today.

We worked together for a little over a decade if I remember correctly. But hadn’t touched base in a few decades. He noted how easy it was to reconnect and that it was just like yesterday when we spoke instead of decades ago. He was one of those people and I hope and try to be someone like that myself. Someone who shared good times and good memories with. Someone you feel that connection to. Someone who is there for you.

So I’m going to think of him watching over me now and saying get up and get busy with your passions. And I’ll smile and appreciate the time I’ve been given.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do the simple things for people, it is appreciated.
  • College basketball is my favorite sport and the tension is building early this year for March Madness.
  • I looked in the mirror and started to see the makings of a hippie, time for a haircut and beard trim.
  • When I make a mistake, I haven’t taken the proper time to learn from it.
  • My next best picture is the next print coming out of the printer. And then again, the one after that could be the best. Funny how that process repeats itself. Isn’t it great?



Today’s Bloganuary prompt asks “Where is the best place to watch a sunset near you?” My favorite place to watch the sunset is from the deck or dock at Fagers Island in Ocean City looking out over the Isle of Wight Bay. They play the 1812 Overture and time it so exactly as the sun sets it comes to the climax of the song. A very close second is my best friend’s porch looking out over the Chesapeake Bay across to Annapolis Maryland.

Sunset on the bay in Ocean City. Photo by Mike Hartley

Usually, I’m doing the first one with my family and the second one with the boys on a long weekend. The sunset from my front porch is also nice but doesn’t have that water that I enjoy so.

But regardless of where I’m at and what day it is I always appreciate a sunset. I really don’t like grey and cloudy days where normal beauty is obscured.

I’m sure I look at sunsets and sunrises a bit differently than some of you. Sometimes the sunset is the beginning of my work day. Actually, most days are like that. I long for the day that I can look at the sunrise as the beginning and the sunset as the end.

Not my cup of tea – that’s right it’s getting cold again. After a cold December, we were treated to a grey but very mild January. It appears we are about to flip back to the cold to begin February.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My problem today is I’m overwhelmed with random thoughts.

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Always one

Before I get to the Bloganuary prompt of the day, there is “Always One” day in January when the sun comes out and the temp hits 60 degrees. And on that day I pull the cover off, put the top down, and go for a ride to remind me there is hope that spring and summer are on their way.

Along Folly Quarter road on a sunny afternoon. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today’s writing prompt is “What would you title the chapters of your autobiography?” My life has pretty neatly fallen into decades for each chapter.

  • Before Dad passed
  • Wonderful and wasted teens
  • Found my love and growing up
  • Another step forward – children and career.
  • The risk and rebound.
  • Cancer, crashes, closeness, closure
  • Return to my youth – Contentment, grandchild, and my crafts

I never thought of doing an autobiography till this exercise. Still probably won’t but it’s interesting the thoughts this exercise brought around and the various stages of my life.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Feeling lucky today.
  • Feeling a little better today.
  • Feeling the wind again.
  • Feeling the shutter button under my finger again.
  • Feeling a bit more creative than yesterday.

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“What is something you learned recently” was the Bloganuary question this morning. I’ve learned it’s extremely difficult to write when physically under the weather and mentally in a bad place. And that sitting and staring at the screen doesn’t help. I also learned the number of drivers that don’t give a damn about your life and will take it in a heartbeat to get a car ahead or get to the next light right in front of you.

Sorry, didn’t mean to start out on a negative note. Just been a difficult weekend. Tonight I’m going to learn how to turn things around again. Never stop learning. Even difficult lessons mean a lot.

Dad showed me the proper grip on a football. A month later he was gone. Photo by Shirley Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thank goodness by the time it’s time for me to hang up the car keys, my last memory of driving won’t be in an EV. Long live the sound and feel of an internal combustion engine and a manual transmission.
  • This a message to all sports leagues. When poor officiating starts determining the outcome of games instead of the players, people stop watching. Right now I believe it’s just poor officiating. But with the huge gambling money in sports and officials paid so little I’m certain we are going to hear about something in the future. Fix sports, get good officials at every level and pay them right.
  • If you would like a good meal I recommend the Corner Stable on York Road.
  • For a while, I had hoped that society wouldn’t collapse. Too late, it’s gone.

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Cake and stuff

Describe your perfect birthday cake as the Bloganuary prompt of the day request. Another softball question. Mine is made by my better half with yellow cake and chocolate icing. And sharing it with family is the way I like to eat it. It’s funny how birthdays change over time. I really don’t care for mine much anymore and I’ll leave it at that.

Sugar Bakers in Catonsville is very good also. My better half got me this one a while back. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not off to the best start this year. Lots happening and lots not happening. Funny, as time goes by I find myself withdrawing more and more. And that process seems to be accelerating quickly. But as long as I have that spark inside that keeps me happy, I’m good.

Going to treat myself to a small rack tomorrow with my son. I’m overdue for those Corner Stable ribs and fries. Maybe a little football and then the work week begins again. Seems impossible but it’s on the doorstep and not to be ignored. It’s getting harder and harder to get up for it mentally as time grows nearer to the day I won’t have to. But it’s hard to focus on that reward for all these decades when the daily grind is still front and center in your face.

In some ways, it’s my own fault for making work such a central focus in my life at times and not prioritizing the other parts of life more than I have. And I’d have to admit I’m bitter about it. Not like I’m trying to get even or back at anything, just disappointed I didn’t know better before so late in life.

I always envisioned my later years on the job much differently. Most of my many good friends either retired or have moved on as our company went through many changes. Many took very lucrative buyouts years ago. Of course, those days are long gone. I’ll share a few hugs and handshakes with some oldtimers and current teammates, but they will be few. Hell, maybe they will be gone before me also.

I’ve already moved on mentally a bit. A few years ago I stopped looking at the job as my challenge and motivator. I have my own now. JB probably wouldn’t like to hear that but so be it. I still give 100% but no more. As some wise old men said many times working there, “make it work for you.”

Time to get busy with that thought tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • You know when your mind is someplace else, it gets hard to refocus.
  • I’m going to try to begin my day with some of my favorite music much more often.
  • I started some woodworking yesterday. A piece for my granddaughter. I’m doing it to build confidence, for that little girl loves anything Papa makes her.
  • We haven’t had a drop of snow here and I’m still tired of winter.



What are the pros and cons of procrastination, today’s Bloganuary ask? Well, one of the pros is there has always been a tomorrow so far. The only other pro I could consider is that maybe the next day you realize that the priority you thought you had yesterday isn’t really one at all and the put-off item can be trashed altogether.

The cons are so many to list because if you keep in mind that there might not be a tomorrow. And once you realize that you will start living each day to the fullest. I try to think about what contribution I might make that could make a difference if never done. Or the creative thought and execution of a piece of art for a family member or friend. Or the words and actions of support for a friend.

Hi. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve been a procrastinator for longer than I’d like to admit. I’m trying a bit now to make up for the lost time. But I’ve also told myself to be happy and just get on with each day now instead of beating myself up for past laziness. I can’t say it doesn’t eat at me because it does but as they say, better late than never so I’m trying to be those things I’ve always wanted now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who do the job right and disdain for those who don’t.
  • One thing I always enjoyed about working nights when I would get off at 3 or 4 am in the morning. Streets were empty and you could see and experience some of the real design and beauty of the roads in this area without a gazillion idiots that want to ruin the experience.
  • We have to remember that just because the world looks littered with very bad people that a vast majority are really good people.
  • I think the cover comes off the car tomorrow and I’ll get out in some of those 50-degree temps before winter returns next week.
  • The older you get the less you take feeling good for granted.

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The question from Bloganuary today was “What Language do you wish you could speak” it made me think more about communication in general because no matter what language you speak it’s important to communicate respectfully. I thought about learning another language in retirement to keep sharp and broaden my knowledge. Only time will tell but I would probably start with Spanish.

Some will probably tell me I should work on perfecting my English first but none of us are perfect so I won’t let that impede me. Like a lot of Americans, I haven’t taken the time nor had the need growing up to learn another language. When I went to school I think it was called an elective. I went more in the art direction instead of language.

If you know how to smile you can cross a lot of language barriers.

Are you talking to ME? Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you do your best while not feeling your best you will be pleasantly satisfied when you do feel better.
  • Today’s cold and wind reminded me of why it’s my least favorite season.
  • I had a great meal today with my better half. Which reminds me to make another donation to the Maryland Food Bank.
  • It seems like a lot of people close to me are hurting badly now. Time to step up support efforts again.
  • Tomorrow a video of inhumanity is scheduled to air here in the states. Just one of many that occur each and every day. If each of us does our part we can change this and make it the exception instead of the rule.

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Speaks to me

What is a song or poem that speaks to you and why? This is today’s Bloganuary thought to ponder. I’m going with songs because music has spoken to me all my life. It’s one of the few things that gave me confidence as a youth. And one of the bands I’ve loved all my life has been The Who.

Their music spoke to the energy of my youth and discontentment. The power of the group’s instruments and Daltrey’s voice and what has been described as the best scream ever in R&R history on the song “Won’t get fooled again filled me with confidence to face the next day.

The music produced by this early team inspires me to this day. And the last line of the song “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” is an adage that has been true all my life. And it supported my belief that power corrupts.

I read where Pete Townsend goes on to explain that the song was simply “meant to let politicians and revolutionaries alike know that what lay in the center of my life was not for sale, and could not be co-opted into any obvious cause.” 

And I feel the same way. So many attempt to take control of our lives, every day of them, in many different ways. From our governments to our jobs and those who control the financial purse strings. And here are both of my middle fingers to all of that.

This reminds me, my message to the youth of today is to get your damn faces out of that small screen and look up. Life is right in front of you, not in that little box on social media. Live and experience life, it’s a gazillion times better than any app.

And also a tip when you’re at a concert. PUT THE F’ing PHONE AWAY and clap your hands, pump your arms in the air, sing along, do your windmill guitar impression or play along with the drummer. Whatever is it don’t worry about filming the band, live in the moment!

I’m having trouble stringing my guitar. Photo by Mike Hartley

There is one song that touches my heart deeply. It’s by Lynyrd Skynyrd and called “Simple Man.” They are some really good words to live by.

Mama told me when I was young
“Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this it’ll help you
Some sunny day”
Oh, yeah

Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
You’ll find a woman, yeah, and you’ll find love
And don’t forget son there is someone up above

And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby, be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son, if you can?

Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this, oh, baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby, be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son, if you can?
Oh, yes, I will

Boy, don’t you worry, you’ll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh, baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied

And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby, be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son, if you can?

Baby, be a simple, be a simple man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby, be a simple kind of man

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Taking time is the only way he knows.
  • The first day I’ve felt half-human in the last week. The operative word being HALF. So I’ll look at the glass as half full.
  • Summer seems so long away. I’m jonesing for some warm weather and bright SUN. But instead, we get cold and very windy tomorrow.
  • My battery life is about 2%. I don’t have a recharger for it besides sleep so that is what I’m going for.

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Show it

How do you show love was the question of the day for Bloganuary. Love is often best shown in actions. Love is shown through patience, trust, and appreciation. Love is shown threw the eyes. It is heard through the ears and felt through the touch. All those things and more make the words “I love you” mean something. And I try to say those words every day.

Love can be watching a sunrise together in silence. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if I should search my home for classified documents. I used to work in DC
  • It’s different when you hear the news about more layoffs and you know someone who has been affected by them.
  • Instead of Congress worrying about who or who can’t get Taylor Swift tickets from Ticketmaster maybe they could see if they could maybe work on preventing the coming hundreds of mass shooting events this year. I think one is a bit more of a priority than the other.
  • Tomorrow is always another day till it isn’t. And given the doomsday clock is moving in the direction where there might just not be another one, I’ll really appreciate tomorrow.

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Being truthful with yourself

Today’s Bloganuary question was “What’s a lie you tell yourself?” That is an easy one today. I’ve told myself I’m fine to work the last few days when I’m sick as a dog. I’ve told myself that lie for years and sometimes I pay a higher price. I often just power through it and come out fine on the other end. But I’m in my mid-60s now and this isn’t intelligent any longer.

So I’m thinking of putting myself on the bench for the next couple of days and see if I can get rid of this nasty cough and the elephant sitting on my chest.

Take a seat till summer returns. Photo by Mike Hartley

My apologies for such a short answer. I probably tell myself a few more lies than that one but time is short and I wanted to finish a post today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • We are a short distance away from turning this whole country back into the days of the Wild Wild West.
  • Seeing my grandchildren should restore the smile to my face.
  • Unless you’re working for yourself you’re working to make someone or many others rich besides yourself.
  • And there are very few of those people who give a rats behind about you.
  • There are a few exceptions to the previous two statements before this one but they are very few and far between.
  • Sorry, I get a bit negative when not feeling my best.

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Dream job

What was your dream job as a child? This is an interesting question that makes me reflect on long ago. Early on I really loved the arts. Around 12, I got my first camera and fell in love. Being a photographer is what I thought my dream job would be. But as was typical in my youth I didn’t have that much follow-through. Lots of bad habits and poor drive in the right direction pretty much took that away.

Luckily I got a job out of high school in Photo Reproduction for printing. But eventually, my career turned more to IT after several years, and while I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures I never pursued my dream job.

But now I’m pursuing my dream as a photographer, not my dream job but my dream passion. And really you should be passionate about the job you do.

Another photog at work with family shots. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My random thoughts are being blocked by a constant cough.
  • You will never find anything written by AI on this site.
  • Starting the day out beat, before you even get vertical isn’t a good start.
  • Where did my weekend go?

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Who is your favorite author and why? The question posed by Bloganuary today is a tough one. It’s tough because I’m not much of a pleasure reader. I read a lot of stuff but I’m not what you would consider well-read as far as literature. So I won’t pretend to pick someone and explain why when there isn’t a good reason behind it.

So I’ll take the chance to say that I’m aspiring to be an author someday in the future. I’ve been trying to use this blog to help me get in the habit of writing daily and develop some basic skills in the area. I just added up the several years I’ve been blogging and it says 831,000 words over the years. I know, you might say I haven’t picked up much in all that time. But if I’ve got nothing else from it than the confidence to try to write a boot it’s been worth every minute.

I’ve got several ideas for books and upon retirement, I’ll get busy with that aspect of my hobbies.

I hope to write a few books before the sun sets on me. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’d like to write a book about those of us who live nocturnal lives. The first one though will be for my children and grandchildren about life. After those, I was thinking about my life in the newspaper industry for almost 5 decades and the many wonderful people, characters, and huge changes the industry has gone through. And maybe one about the place I’ve lived most of my life.

I just hope I get the chance to exercise those desires and aspirations. And why wait, I need to get back to those ideas and rough drafts I started a while back.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I read that creativity goes down with age according to lots of experts. I hope to make them evaluate that again.
  • Health is everything. Something that isn’t remembered till yours wanes.
  • I don’t like hearing gunshots late at night. If I hear one more I’m loading myself. No need to call the police, we got one up the street and I’m sure he heard it also.
  • Concentration is hard when not feeling the best.



Today Bloganuary topic is “what irritates you about the home you live in?” Well, that is pretty easy, absolutely nothing. Yeah, it’s an older home that needs regular maintenance. Yes, it’s not a big home and sometimes felt crowded with 4 people. Does the hardwood floor creak a bit, yes? Do I need some more attic insulation, yep?

And I could go on if I looked at my list but I won’t because I love my home. From the first time, I laid eyes on it. And now after almost 4 decades it’s filled with so many wonderful memories, nothing irritates me about it. When stuff comes up it’s all small stuff given the rewards it’s hosted.

The front porch. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love that family and friends feel so comfortable here. With Covid the past few years the home has grown on me even more. I’m very happy at home.

Home sweet home. Photo by Mike Hartley

Now there are some neighbor’s homes that irritate me like the ones who purchased a huge home next to me and turned it into an S hole. Or the one at the end of the street that some home flippers purchased and then tore half of it down and then left for a few years. Good thing the woods hide it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My typing speed and accuracy are out the window when I’m under the weather.
  • I wish I had my priorities in better order earlier in life.
  • Today is a day I really appreciate my favorite pillow.
  • A smile of a 3-year-old is good medicine when ill.
  • When you get to feeling bad it really makes you appreciate when you’re feeling good.

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Color and me

What color describes your personality and why, is today’s Bloganuary topic to ponder upon? So when I get something I’m not that familiar with like today’s topic I Google and see that one of the many rocks I’ve been living under has left me void of all the work that people seem to have done in this area with colors and personality.

The more charts and different colors I looked at just got me confused. Partially because I saw personality traits I believe I have under almost every color.

Color. Photo by Mike Hartley

First off I didn’t see my favorite color (maroon) in a lot of those charts. So I went and looked up Maroon and what personality traits are associated with that. Google said – The maroon color is often used to represent intense and passionate things like; confidence, creative thoughts, excitement, power, risk, passion, love, ambition, courage, strength, warmth, and beauty.

Well, that works for me. Maybe add compassion into the mix and that works.

Then again, I’m a bit under the weather and feeling the need to go be horizontal again and so this could be interpreted as a cop-out but it’s the best I got for today.

I do know I enjoy color tremendously. But there is a day I’d like to see color not so important. And I was thinking about that after all the news about Maryland having its first black governor. I see a man, not black or white, but one who has carried himself well through life, that served his country, that is smart and well-spoken and a family man. One that has goals for everyone in the state.

But unfortunately color is an issue in a negative way. I’m sure there are some Marylanders who are pissed we have a black governor. Ones where white might be the only color they want or can see. So I hope for the day that all colors can be appreciated equally and that color is looked at and described in beauty and nothing else.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The list of people who know what’s best for you is endless.
  • Been a long time since I’ve had a runny nose. I guess it decided to make up for the lost time. Buy Kleenex stock.
  • Way to go Maryland Basketball. Nice way to show that blowout in Michigan was a fluke.
  • If you want to see the strength in people you don’t go to the gym. Go to a hospital and see real strength.
  • If you want to see courage, treat those that need it the most, service members, fire and rescue, and police with kindness because they already see enough ugliness and don’t get paid crap to deal with it.


Favorite meal

The Bloganuary prompt today is “What is your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?” There is only one correct answer if you’re from the state of Maryland. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs is a Maryland food group. Be it freshly steamed or a crabcake sandwich. I love fresh shrimp or flounder stuffed with crabmeat. And dozens of other combinations But crab is the ingredient.

Photos by Mike Hartley

My favorite meal to cook is anything on the grill.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think one day I’ll just make the entire post a bunch of random thoughts. Oh, that’s probably what you thought I was doing anyway.
  • I would like to thank the outgoing Governor of the State of Maryland for a good job over the past 8 years and welcome the new Governor and hope he can keep the progress moving and even make us even better.
  • I regret being so tense and on edge when my kids were young.
  • Speaking without thinking is much easier to spot when someone else is doing it.

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The writing prompt for Bloganuary today is “Describe the happiest day of your life”, thankfully there is an excellent selection to choose from. I never try to place one above the other regarding my children. So the day they each were born was the happiest day in my life.

My daughter was born 1st and that experience changed my life. And also the shape of my body as my better half would grab various parts of it for her extended period of labor. But the feeling of being truly happy was seeing her laying on my wife’s chest with her eyes open shortly after her delivery, and every moment since. We didn’t know the sex of either child before birth. So our second, our son was a great surprise and a repeat of that wonderful day my daughter was born.

That day you want to jump out of your skin with excitement and joy but there is such calmness and contentment at the same time you just can’t stop smiling. You will never look deeper into your spouse’s eyes with appreciation. And that new set of eyes looking back at you goes directly to your heart on a path you didn’t know was there.

Life is a roller coaster. Enjoy it. Photo by Mike Hartley

This is such a different happiness than others it’s hard to put into words or find a comparison. Probably because there isn’t one. Nothing else in my life touches the two days my children came into the world. I guess my grandchildren would be a close second but again that is happiness again for both of them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I marvel at the strength and consistency people display, in the face of great odds.
  • Life is good when you don’t have to remind yourself to laugh a lot each day and it just comes naturally.
  • Technology is quickly escaping our grasp.
  • Just when you think you have life by the tail, you realize it’s a tiger.

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“Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell” is the Bloganuary topic of the day? Of course, I do and the first that popped into my head was the smell of a newspaper (Newsprint and Ink). It’s been a large portion of my life. It’s a smell my children and their children will be lost in their generations.

From the first day almost 5 decades ago, I walked into the building it was present and enveloped me. It permeates plants with presses. I don’t know what it is, but the printing of a newspaper is something I’m going to miss someday. In my younger days, we were recruited out of the engraving area to help unload trucks of newsprint, the main ingredient in this process.

A bumper sticker I can Support. Photo by Mike Hartley

But running it through that press, adding ink, and cutting the paper as it comes through the folder. There, is the smell I’m talking about. It’s carried to doorsteps around the world each day. It’s what you hold in your hands with your arms outstretched. The smell is there as you read. It’s there when you crumple a few pieces up to get a fire started, or put them in the recycle bin. Or if you’re from Maryland, to put it in the trash can after you have feasted on a few dozen crabs on top of them.

Another smell that triggers a memory is Thrasher’s French Fries on the boardwalk in Ocean City Maryland. On my first visit to OC, I remember hitting the inlet parking lot and the smell of those fries and vinegar and salt floated on the breeze from the waves to my nose. And anything that had a constant line of 10-100 people at a time must be good. So it’s become a tradition each year, I don’t get the big bucket anymore but I still have to satisfy that urge the smell triggers.

Thrashers, I took this shot because it’s the first time I saw a line shorter than 10 people. Photo by Mike Hartley

There is one more smell that triggered a memory this past year again. The smell of my son’s newborn son. It took me back to when he and his sister were born.

I saw a story on CBS Sunday morning on AI (artificial intelligence) to create art. It will never be as original as the human mind. Nor will the person who typed words to let the computer make something know the enjoyment of creating something themselves as an artist. That isn’t being arrogant, it’s just a fact. The imperfections in each of us make each piece unique.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m looking forward to the day when I get up and question what day it is like people who are no longer working do.
  • Football is winding down. No teams left to support. Bring on March Madness.
  • I wish I had more energy. Night shifts seem to exact a higher toll on the mind and body.
  • I haven’t shot a frame yet today but there is still time to trip that shutter.

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Fear overcome

“What fear have you conquered?” is the writing prompt of Bloganuary today. Well, I’ll go with my latest fear here that I conquered and that is the fear of being without a job. Never happened to me before and the threat of coming layoffs sent me spinning for a few days. I got upset being kind of close to when I wanted to retire and I didn’t want anything disrupting that plan for another 12-18 months.

The thought of having to interview for another job at this point being in my mid-60s wasn’t something I was looking forward to.

I not so quickly realized I have no control over the selection process other than my work so I’ll continue to plug away till I hear otherwise. And being I’m kind of reactionary by nature I didn’t think of my other options and some aren’t too bad. So even if the worst does happen which I’m thinking now isn’t in their plans for me, I’m not going to fall to pieces.

Now some of you might be saying what’s the big deal, people change jobs all the time. Well, not this kid. I’m less than a handful of months away from 25 years there. There was another job before that for 21 years. So you see I kind of found a couple of places to hang my shingle that I was comfortable in.

I’m not so sure I could have overcome news like that a decade ago. I had just finished dealing with my first cancer a few years before and was about to have a second one discovered.

The debate then was about how long did I have. Another fear I conquered a while back. Not that it didn’t take some years. Anyway, the fear of being unemployed is again the fear of the unknown. But I looked over that edge and it’s not as threatening as it once was.

Soaring above the fray. Mike Hartley

I am turning back to my nocturnal self this evening as the workweek begins again. But unlike last week I plan to get out each day and do some fresh shooting.

Random Thoughts of the Day (again)

  • There is a limited set of options. So said someone else.
  • It must be January, I’m fantasizing about the beach.
  • When you get older you don’t want to tempt fate by bragging about feeling good.
  • I’m glad I don’t have any Top Secret docs.
  • Tomorrow I feel like I’m going to be smarter than today.

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Mode of Travel

Today’s writing prompt for Bloganuary is “What is your preferred mode of Travel?” Sometimes questions like this leave you between 2 or 3 choices. Not me, there is only one way I prefer to travel now and that is driving in my convertible Miata. Be it longer trips or A to B. That is my love now. 30-40 years ago the answer would have been by motorcycle but the comfort of a car and a convertible and a sporty feel makes it a clear favorite.

Driving puts you in control of the schedule and route to get to your destination. If you don’t want to go at peak travel times you don’t have to. Stops along the way are your choice and you get to meet people from different areas. Driving allows you to see the land. Take in the smells of different regions, and feel the different temperatures as you change elevations. It’s hard to make out what is what at 30,000 feet.

When it’s clean. Photo by Mike Hartley

When I’m traveling I’m most comfortable when I’m in control of the vehicle. Anytime I relinquish that it’s a level of discomfort.

I didn’t like riding a bus when I went to school and that dislike continues to this day. Oh, I can ride a bus from a hotel to a church or reception but not travel travel.

It’s not that I don’t fly we do. It does get you there very fast (well at least my personal interaction with airlines) and it’s safer, but when you factor in parking, travel to the terminal, lines for baggage, and security and boarding. Oh and deplaning and baggage pickup and rent a car and off again. And then there is the part I’m not thrilled with like leaving the ground and returning to the ground and that time in between.

I’ll never be the cruise ship type. Even before the pandemic, I shuttered at the thought of being on one of those many cruises where tons of people are locked away in closet-sized cabins having severe stomach distress for days and paying thousands of $$ for the pleasure. And even if that doesn’t transpire you have mother nature. Repeat after me, hurricanes, rogue waves, your in a boat in the middle of nowhere.

There is one mode of travel that I thought about expanding upon in the future though and that is train travel. We took a train to Philly for a wedding last year and that went great. I’m looking forward to riding the Scenic Railway out in Western Maryland this year. I’m also thinking of taking the train (because the thought of driving in NYC doesn’t appeal to me) to New York City to see the 9/11 memorial and some other sights. I also see there are some wonderful scenic trains out west.

So there it is my fears and phobias about modes of travel and my preferred mode of travel that really gets me excited. And this thought about travel has got me more excited about the coming year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A better mental start to the day was made, which is always a big difference. A good night’s rest for a change was probably the catalyst.
  • It’s a bacon morning.
  • That cold wind this morning didn’t have that usual crisp and clean feel to it, almost like an angry feeling.
  • You know it’s going to be a good day when you get a picture of your son asleep and his dog asleep by his head and sitting a foot is his infant son who is sitting up wide awake and happy smiling at mom while she’s snapping the picture.

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The Bloganuary prompt today is “If you had a billion US dollars how would you spend it?” No idea, never had much to spend nor the time to do it. In some ways, I don’t even want to start down this path. First I’d buy an extra large bottle of Tylenol because having a billion dollars to spend could be a real headache.

The more money you are spending and have to spend, the more people will be after you. And with that sum, it would be a very long line. Plus money does very strange things to people. I’m afraid my priorities would get out of line. I would make sure family and friends would be set of course.

Photos by Mike Hartley

An idea just hit me. I would certainly want to donate a substantial part of it. And I would probably donate some the traditional way through established organizations. But my idea is to do some at a personal level but in an anonymous way. The mystery donor. In honor of the rich businessman who plays Secret Santa giving away cash during the holidays to those in need through other intermediaries but also staying hidden.

Spending my days just hitting up places in need in disguise and making as many people’s lives better as I could. Sounds like fun to me. They say money can’t buy time or happiness. But if you spend your money changing other’s lives for the better I guess that is a pretty good use of time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do you ever wonder how some days are filled with such joy and such disappointment on the same day?
  • I’m tired, but not in the way you would first think.
  • Sports is now a business about making money and sometimes greed. But it’s just a game.
  • Do you ever feel like you don’t count? And better yet did you ever know you don’t?

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Challenging Chores

Today’s Bloganurary topic of the day is “What Chore do you find the most challenging to do?” Well, a topic right up my alley. I’m used to chores from a young age. Given this body has some miles on it some chores are far more challenging than they used to be.

I’m going to say the most challenging chore I have is doing battle with Mother Nature. Taking care of the yard and home is something that is finally getting beyond me in some ways. That 28-foot ladder, that barely reaches the gutters in the back of the house. That push mower for the lower hill (mountain), swinging an axe, or shoveling snow to name a few.

My yard could use some support if you guys aren’t busy. Photo by Mike Hartley

Mother Nature is a very formidable opponent and I used to be able to battle to a draw most years. No more, I submitted long ago to her superiority. I got an 80-foot tree down in my backyard from a storm that is going to need chainsaw work and moving. I might try it, I might even make it through it. Or the back could seize up halfway through.

Last year my better half hired someone to cut the back hill because I had fallen a few times cutting it with the push mower. It’s a steep hill and lots of people would fall. It was a wise move but I don’t like admitting that age is changing my physical abilities. I can still climb that big ladder but do I feel comfortable or stable as I used to? Nope.

I shovel snow like a plow now. If we are expecting a deep one I go out and do it periodically instead of all that heavy lifting after its finished. And one year I’m going to find a local youngin to do it. I enjoy some of the physical work and I always like being outside so in some ways it’s not a chore. But it is the most challenging by far.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A day and night filled with friends. That is a good day.
  • The chance for real sleep is ahead. Will I be able to?
  • They say opportunities don’t come around every day. I have to find their schedule.
  • Everyone has a limit. And it seems there is a large group dedicated to finding out everyones.
  • It’s a good feeling to be able to do a favor for a friend.

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Today’s Bloganuary question was “How do you define success?” My first thought was being happy for the right reasons. And by this, I mean happy in relationships with family and friends. Happy in your profession/work and not just in money but in satisfaction and accomplishment. And happy with how my time is spent in the pursuits and experiences I aspire to.

I mean what is success without happiness?

This is where I’m happiest during the summer. And when I’m happy the day is a success. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s funny how your definition of success changes over time. Success at one time was getting the first car, fixing up the first car, getting that date, and graduating HS. Then you move on to successes like not forgetting the ring at your wedding or not passing out at the birth of your children.

And of course professional successes. Some judge by titles or money or offices and suits. Maybe a parking space or special perk or bonus. Maybe a trip or stay at the company vacation home. The successes I think of are the relationships I’ve made and that many continue today and are decades long. I think about technical or production accomplishments with teammates shoulder to shoulder and the feeling of shared success and experience. I think about the gift of the knowledge shared and built upon.

Success sometimes is overcoming adversity. I’ve been lucky enough to survive 2 cancers and major auto accidents and multiple concussions. Well, some opinions might vary on that last one.

Success could be making someone else’s day. That perfect trip, that special gift. Or maybe something simple as giving a hungry person a meal.

Success will vary day by day. Like today, success was watching a 3-year-old successfully and making it through an 11-hour work night this evening. Success could be squeezing in a half-hour joy ride between errands some days.

Find something each day that is a success for yourself, even if it’s little. You will be much happier even if the rest of the day is for crap.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love when my granddaughter goes to the games cabinet. There is always a game or two more within the game I thought we were playing.
  • Roger Daltrey could really belt out a scream on “Won’t get fooled again.”
  • Do you think about not waking up tomorrow? Probably why I don’t like going to sleep.
  • I always keep a picture of the messiest office I’ve ever seen. When I can’t tell the difference between the picture and my office I start cleaning.
  • It’s the last day of the workweek and I’m feeling like a teenager about to be cut loose.

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A book

The Bloganuary writing prompt of the day is “Has a book changed your life?” I would say no, but one did have an influence on me and my view of work and retirement and it was called “The Joy of Not Working” by Ernie J Zelinski. It was a good reminder about looking for joy in many stages of life.

I gave this book to a friend who I was worried would never retire or didn’t exactly have a plan for retirement. I don’t get the impression he ever read it. If so it didn’t trigger any conversations about that part of life.

But what it did for me was made me look at retirement differently and with much more desire and interest. It helped change and form a new perspective.

Just read. Sort of like the Nike Just Do It, but with books. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve gotten a few books in the last year and I’m still making my way through them. Again time for reading for pleasure at this stage of life isn’t that available. But I have enjoyed a few books on photography that my children got me and they have inspired some good ideas and challenges.

I always liked bookstores. My better half is a very avid reader of books. So that is a gift that is always appreciated by her. I’m an avid reader, just not many books for pleasure. Used to read a ton of technical manuals but those days are behind me now so I probably will be reading a lot into my retirement.

So I guess a more simple answer would have been a short “no” but that would be wrong because I know there is one out there and I will find it. Or maybe I did find it in that one and haven’t fully explored its potential yet. Time will tell.

Now my Daily Dilbert or FarSide Desk Calendar has changed my life because it starts the day with laughter.

One more thought. A book that would change my life is the one I hope to write someday.

You know that load of bricks we all carry around? I felt my load getting a bit heavy today so time to shed a few. I might just sit the sack down and rest like I did earlier today. And before I get back up I’m going to assess that sack again and pull a few out. I could use some bricks anyway because my chimney needs work.

But that emotional baggage we carry around isn’t good. So I’m trying to drop that also and it feels great. But some are hard to shed and take time. Sometimes it feels like you’re hauling a building of bricks all day.

I just love old brick buildings. Photo by Mike Hartley

When I was young and dumber, I didn’t even question the number of bricks. If they belonged or not. If they were someone else’s. But with age sometimes wisdom comes along.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Try not sleeping well for a long period of time to really appreciate what a good night’s sleep feels like. Or just take my word for it.
  • I’m beginning to understand why my parents had magnifying glasses around the house.
  • Funny how people make some really brutal threats totally not knowing who they are threatening. And then it really gets funny.
  • Reading is fun, writing is better, and taking a photo that inspires my words and others to read it is what I hope I can make others can find fun in reading.

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Memorable gift

The Bloganuary writing prompt of the day is “What is the most memorable gift you have received?”

My children have been the most memorable gift I’ve received in my life. And it’s a gift that keeps on giving on making memories. I had no idea of the value of this gift beforehand. It felt unusually special from the time it was delivered. It’s given me happiness, pride, laughter, contentment, focus, warmth, love, and purpose from the day they were received.

And now that those gifts are older they are creating new gifts for me again in the form of grandchildren. And those are giving me many wonderful things all over again.

Even the most memorable physical gifts have come from my children. But of course, none of them would have been possible without the first gift of my better half.

The less life becomes about material gifts, the happier you will find yourself.

As I was searching through some old memorabilia of my early days in newspapers I found these tucked in with some other older photos. This top shot is probably 20 years old and it was probably 30 years before that, I first stepped foot in Mr. Yates’s store.

Nickle popsicles, 10-cent ice cream sandwiches. Photo by Mike Hartley

That first job was with the Times Newspapers just a hundred feet up the street for his store. No A/C during the summer drove me to his business repeatedly for ice cream when we would get a break. There was no need for a gym back in those days. Work was a workout in itself.

Mr. Yates behind his counter. Photo by Mike Hartley

Working late nights we would go over and stock up on snacks and dinner items before he would close.

Flowers in front of old Yates Market Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s been gone from our history for about 10 years now but I’ll always remember how good it felt to come back to the plant with a fist full of popsicles from his freezer on a baking summer night.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s good to think ahead if you have the right thoughts.
  • If you help someone and it doesn’t go well, write it off and look for the next person to help that will benefit from it and appreciate it.
  • Pets can’t talk but say thank you many more times than humans.
  • There were leftovers so it was also Taco Monday following a Taco Sunday. I wonder if I’ll be taco’d out by the time Tuesday rolls around?
  • Deja Vu in South America.

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Sequestered Sunday

Back to our normal programming of observations and takes on life. Spending the day at home and filling it with chores and creative endeavors till it’s time to start at the job that pays the bills. The weekend was a success with laughter, love, and accomplishments. And a bonus today with a Maryland men’s basketball victory over #24 Ohio State.

Yes, some things could have been better but I’ll take what good came my way and be thankful. And I’ve found I’ve been happier with that outlook. Even with uncertainty at the job, I’m relaxed and positive.

I don’t think I can make it all the way to summer without a walk on the beach before then. Photo by Mike Hartley

We were reminded what a brutal sports football can be this week. Everyone, me included was so happy to see a positive recovery so far. But what if the next individual isn’t as lucky I pray it never happens but what kind of impact will that have on a national TV audience? We like our violence though and football is too much of an industry to even think about slowing down.

A 6-year-old shoots an elementary school teacher in Virginia. I guess the only amazing thing about this anymore is the age component. I can’t wait to hear some numb nuts say let’s give teachers guns again so they can shoot 6 year olds.

We have a problem with violence in this country, we glorify it. We might not be able to stop the football juggernaut but we really should make a much better effort with guns and children. And the solution isn’t metal detectors at every entrance and armed guards because we don’t have enough of either.

Food – We had a really nice meal at The White Oak Tavern last night. Great food and service, a little loud but it is a tavern and to be expected. We sat at the high-seat tables around the bar.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My favorite speakers are in the corners of my room. No gavel included.
  • All is never lost till it is.
  • Boy, that live Christmas tree still smelled great as I was taking it out of the house today.
  • Life is too short for drama and bulls**t. And I’m finding it healthy to shed that stuff.
  • Of course, I love Taco Tuesday but I’m trying it on other nights. This was a good Taco Sunday.

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Not far

The writing prompt for today for Bloganuary was “How far back in your family tree can you go”. Well not really far I guess in comparison with some friends I’ve shared with before.

Reflection of tree in a pond along Triadelphia Mill Road. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wow, ok going backward there is Mom and Dad obviously. Most of what is beyond that is very fuzzy and still being discovered. Mom lived into her 80s but Dad died in his early 40s when I was very young. My father’s dad also died in his early 40s. He was a WW1 Veteran. I found a Purple Heart in his box of medals. I met his mother 2x when I was very young before she was killed in a car accident. He was an only child so that side ends there.

My mom had 2 sisters, one married late in life and never had children. The other had 3 children that I lost touch with long ago. My mom’s mother died shortly after her birth. Her father also passed early.

What I am doing is trying to piece together a family history from what I’ve been left, especially about my Mom and Dad. In the short life of my father, he served in WW2, Korea, went on expeditions to both poles, and was part of Operation Deep Freeze as a Navy HMC. I’m trying to start transferring all the images he shot over time to a catalog for my children. Mom raised two children alone and did many wonderful things in her life also and made an effort to document what history we had which I’ll build upon.

I want something for my kids and their kids to have because I know I’d like to have more from my past. But it was difficult in those days if you didn’t have a lot of resources. Pictures beyond my parents are slim.

My parents are under the shade trees at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Well, there is my tree, I guess it’s a lot more than some people have, but at the same time, I wish I knew more. So I’m onward to learn more.

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Last year I participated in Bloganuary but I got so busy at the start of the year that it slipped my mind. So in an effort to catch up with the last few days and get on the daily prompt again. I’ll try to keep the reply to the first week’s questions brief.

Another fitting vanity plate. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll start with today and work my way back.

Today’s 1/7 writing prompt – Write a short story or poem about rain.

A great storm came through 
Rain thunder and wind blew
She passed that rainy night
Goodbye Mom you were my light 

Jan 6th writing prompt – Why do I write?

I started what I thought was going to be just a photography blog and discovered the joy of writing about a decade ago. I write for my sanity. I write to share my thoughts and feelings. I write to find some humor. I write to maybe make a difference. I write to cope. I write to feel better. I write to challenge myself. I write to prove I can improve. I write to learn how to write a book.

Jan 5th writing prompt – What brings you joy in life?

My wife, my children, my grandchildren, and my friends. My hobbies and crafts have moved ahead of the joy of the job that pays the bills. My 6-speed Miata with the top down headed to the ocean on a warm summer morning. The list goes on and on but I promised to keep these short.

Jan 4th writing prompt – What is a treasure that has been lost?

A longtime friendship that is gone.

Jan 3rd writing prompt – What is the earliest memory you’ve had?

Being this old you lose a lot of the earliest memories. And those early years were quite difficult so I’m guessing I’ve suppressed a lot. I remember a very early Christmas and marveling at the tree and decorations at maybe 3 or 4 years old.

Jan 2nd writing prompt – How are you brave?

Wow, this is a good one. I don’t think anything I’ve done in life is really brave. Fought off a few cancers and some nasty auto accidents but that is self-preservation. I guess starting a business might be on the fringe. I chased off a guy threatening a woman in a parking lot long ago. I speak up a lot at the job where others won’t.

I’ll go with this one but I didn’t think it was brave when I did it. I worked the night shift for many years and about 20-some years ago I was on my way home one night. I turned the corner to the street that was about a mile from my home and I saw a very big biker kneeling by a bike a bit after 3 am. I only caught a glimpse but being a rider myself, I pulled the car over. As I walked across the road I said you need some help?

As I passed the center line on the road and saw another guy and the reflections of the other bike on the other side of the bike that had been worked on. As they stood up I think the smallest one was about 6′ 3″ and about 280. I’m a spindly 5’10” and maybe 180 at the time. then I see the patches on the jackets laying over their seats. I just quickly said I can put my car lights on or I live down the street and can get some more tools if needed and extended my hand. They just looked at each other and started to laugh and said can you believe this guy stopped to help the likes of us in the middle of the night. They thought it was special because everyone that had passed them the last hour or so had sped past even faster. I said I was a rider for a long time and that is what we do.

This wasn’t brave but I’d like to think I’d act in the right way when I see someone in need if faced with any situation.

Jan 1st writing prompt – What is something you want to achieve this year?

I’d like to become a much better photographer and artist. And even a better father and grandfather.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you haven’t found a song that would inspire you to do great things, find one.
  • There is a very simple adage in life that a friend reminded me about. Make it work for you.
  • Operating in obscurity is fun. It’s a lot less criticism.
  • Someone should start a pool on how long McCarthy last as speaker of the house.

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It’s OK

Moving beyond the chaos of life is difficult sometimes. At times it seems downright impossible. The stress that I see in others concerns me greatly. From strains in relationships, jobs, and friendships, people experiencing loss or health crises its there on the faces of many.

Sometimes that stress has been on my face. I’m finally getting better at dealing with it. There are still times it feels overwhelming. It seems to come around just as often but I don’t allow it to take root most of the time.

Still, no word on whether the job will be continuing or not. Going on the assumption all is well and if not then deal with it when the time comes. It’s the weekend and I’m trying to separate the two better so off to more wonderous adventures. So pour some sugar on me.

A silver pitcher. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today was a special day. Had one grandchild at the home all day and the other one on Facetime for a bit. The love of a young child is something that I wish could touch everyone’s heart. There would be a lot less hate in the world. I’m still replaying in my mind tonight her running to me without any prompting and hugging me so strongly and giving a quick kiss followed by “I love you, Papa.” She did that a few times today and was a joy to be with.

I took some pictures of her and showed her how I get them to the computer and then made some prints for her. She loved that the printer shook a bit on each print. And then when they came out I showed her how to pick them up by the edges and she would look at each one intently. She took a small pile of prints home to show Mommy. Along with a seashell and some decorative stones I had.

Next week I’ll do a video or two with her. That’s if we can fit it in between all the games and coloring and chasing and scaring each other. Oh yeah, we each have to open the fridge several times a day to see what Gamma has got us. And we can’t forget the dancing with her standing on my feet.

Seeing the wonder in their eyes is priceless. Now it’s time for me to practice and see if I can capture some of that youthful wonder in my own eyes. May you all have a priceless day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think it’s time for an early morning shoot tomorrow.
  • Pizza is its own food group.
  • Appreciate the small things. Holding someone’s hand. A laugh with a friend. Your car starting without issues.
  • One of our neighbors has turned the only road in and out of the neighborhood into a mud pit. Thank you very little.
  • Taking down Xmas lights is depressing. Not the work doing it, just missing the joy they provided for a few weeks.
  • Every once in a while an old song will bring a tear to my eye. “Wish you were here” is one of those songs.

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Knot today

Knot today, no lazy approach to the time available. It’s going to be a wonderful day. And already off to a good start. The rains have moved on. Going out and wiping down my go-cart so it will be ready to roll when I feel like going for a ride. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that nonsense anymore. Traffic at peak times that is.

Nope, Knot going to do that rush-hour ride. I no longer commute to work. I’m one of those full-time remote people. I know the company is going through some changes and we haven’t heard who’s staying and who’s going but I have hope for continued employment. And if Knot I’ll just roll with the grain and transition into the next mill.

Knot on your life. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’d rather Knot spend time taking Xmas decorations down but it has to be done. Lights, trees, and outside are my end. The better half does the majority of it because she does wonders with the interior and porch.

The Maryland Terps resume their schedule tonight and they better KNOT lay an egg like their last game. You know fans in this area are knot capable of patience.

Well, it’s too nice outside knot to get out and enjoy it a bit. Have a great day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you don’t know when the start or the end of the day is, you are officially a night shift worker with a family.
  • Some people still can’t get off square ONE with the most basic of tasks. I can’t imagine them agreeing on anything beyond this.
  • “In and around the lake” Yes
  • It’s hard to sleep with heavy equipment operating next door.
  • For those about to rock, we salute you. And you know who you are.

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It feels deceivingly warm enough to see leaves like below, but I don’t. So I guess we have some time to go before bloom season. Oh, the desire to see and feel that warm spring sunshine has been tempting the last few days. But old man winter is far from finished with us so I’ll hunker down till things turn green and the pollen turns my red car orange.

I think I may have been deceiving myself thinking I could fit a lot more activities in a day that I work 10-12 hours for someone else. But I’ll continue with that goal and see how much I can move the bar. Today wasn’t one of those days though.

I’m green with envy that it isn’t spring. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If there ever was a day that I was too tired for random thoughts, that is today. But we will march onward.
  • I wish I charged as easily as my phone.
  • I don’t just hit the wall, I bounce off of them for a while before coming to a rest.
  • Yesterday in Congress it was both funny for Democrats and sad for the GOP. Today it was just sad for the rest of us because it’s probably a sign of things to come.

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Came and went

Wow, the holidays really flew by this year. It’s already time to start putting the decorations away this coming weekend. Everything looks so baron in January after New Year passes. Trees have shed, lights, and displays stored away. The grass is dormant, and the dog days of winter descend upon us.

And while there are a few special days to celebrate, I just find it difficult to wrap my arms around the 31 days.

As the bottle below says “Warmest Wishes” for your January.

The bottle was a gift from my brother-in-law and his wife. Photo by Mike Hartley

In some ways, I’m very glad about the start I’ve gotten in 2023. I’ve incorporated better personal care, I’m spending more time learning my crafts. I’m being more productive. But today I’m slowed. 2 long nights of work, little sleep, and some pain creeping back into the picture. In the scheme of things, minor obstacles are to be overcome.

So let’s get to it.

Sometimes a lot of hard work and preparation that goes on behind the scenes shows in the final result. Right now it feels like I’m in that behind-the-scenes part of the operation. A lot of the time that is where a lot of the enjoyment comes from. Discovering how to use a new tool. Getting lighting just right. Being in the right spot at the right time.

So this is going to be a major learning and practice year. And it feels good already. It seems to trigger even more creative ideas as I go. I’ve started to discover how to work more effectively also. When I hit a stopping point on something I just move on to another project or task instead of getting worn down or frustrated. By stepping away I’ve learned that the issue I had when I stopped now has a solution or wasn’t the real problem I perceived.

Time to get back to setting up a few product shots.

Just playing with some effects. Illustration by M.H.

Being engaged in your passions is a good recipe for happiness.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • We learned an important lesson today. Don’t send gift cards through the US Mail.
  • Life is a bicycle, you got to keep peddling.
  • House dysfunction from Day 1. Could this be Karma visiting Kevin? Is there a 3 strike rule for failing to get the votes?
  • Another example of the tail wagging the dog on display.
  • Do you ever feel like you can’t catch your breath?
  • If you work, Dilbert cartoons make a lot of sense.

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I can hear the call

The first call I heard was the work whistle sounding on that first day of the year. That’s ok, the first night is down and done with so it’s onto the next call before the second work whistle sounds later today. I was hoping to get out and enjoy a little sun and great temperatures but looks like I missed the sun this afternoon. So I’ll provide myself one below.

I hope there has been some sun on each of your days.

A Springtime Sunset over the Potomac. Photo by Mike Hartley

The next call was the one coming from my car saying take me out please, it’s such a lovely day in the middle of winter. So I went out and started it and looked at the yard while it was warming up and saw the field of downed limbs and sticks and decided to do a little yard work instead.

Maybe a quick ride tomorrow before the rains.

I’m trying to decide what to take a shot at today in learning and creating. I think I’ll play around with some lighting for working on portraits. Also going to watch some videos on using the tools on that D7100 fully. I’ve also got plans to read a chapter or two from a few books on photography I got for the holidays.

Photo by Mike Hartley

And maybe I’ll finish by making some prints and uploading some images to my portfolio to close out the day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • You don’t need a schedule if you’re going to exercise daily.
  • There is something addictive about chocolate. Or maybe I have an addictive personality. Or maybe chocolate is just plain GOOD.
  • Day 2 of exercise, I haven’t hurt myself yet, life is good.
  • I think I found something more overwhelming than all the talk about politics. All the talk about football. College, pros, fantasy, gambling, injury reports, who’s hot and who’s not. It takes away from the game itself. What happened to just enjoying the game?
  • Actions have consequences that sometimes people are totally unaware of.


An inviting start

The inviting start of this new morning and the new year has me smiling and thinking of the possibilities. And that is the way I’d like to wake up each day. It was easy today after being off for a few days and seeing my family and friends. I’m hoping it kind of sets the table for the year ahead.

I’m going to try to drink more water this year and ease back on the Cokes. Photo by Mike Hartley

Let’s see if I can maintain that motivation and produce some meaningful work. And that means I need to stop doing the same thing I was and expect different results. I just haven’t put my heart into it and now is the time to begin the effort in earnest.

The trick will be keeping all the other balls in life from hitting the ground.

Nikon Photo Contest – Just got the email invite to enter and the thought “why not” hit me. And then I started to go through this year’s work and boy was I disappointed. One is how little use I made of my best tool, my Nikon. Next was how little I shot throughout the year with all 3 cameras and the video camera. But I won’t let that deter me but inspire me to make a drastic change this year. If I can blog every day I can shoot every day.

I also have to clean out some of that crap and also make some prints for the family that I didn’t throughout the year at some events. And lo and behold I hopefully learn from those weak images and failed attempts to improve this year’s offerings.

Perspective and Control – I’m no longer dreading Sunday nights which is the start of my workweek. I’m looking forward to it and being extremely productive regardless of the hours the job takes away from those first 4 days of the week. It’s all how I look and approach it.

I’m no longer dreading winter. It’s just another thing to skip past till I’m in Ocean City or Bethany Beach this summer eating a cherry ice cream soda from Dumsers and catching some rays on the sand.

Don’t worry, this will be the last shot of me this year.

Meds – They say timing is everything. I’m going to try that for one facet of my life starting today. With my screwed-up schedule, I end up taking my meds at all different times of the day during the week. I’m setting a time for that each day from now on and seeing if that helps the body.

Exercise – I hope to slowly build into a fit human being this year. Shouldn’t take a tremendous effort but as my best friend says it’s incorporating it into your daily routine. I’ve got a set of dumbells and a treadmill so that is where I’ll be starting. I haven’t had a daily exercise routine in decades.

Once I got the daily thing down for a few months and the temps start to warm I’ll get outside more and move that walk to a jog. And I’ll have a foot up on my summertime body. Maybe this year people won’t keep rolling me back into the water.

Getting a foot up on the world. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The Sunday afternoon nap should be written into law.
  • I think it would be fair to say the Big 10 didn’t have a good day at football yesterday.
  • Despite the good cheer and feeling of the holiday season, the world remains a very dangerous place.
  • Live your own dream regardless of all the obstacles.
  • I’m saddened to see the obvious huge sums of money that gambling is exacting from people that can’t afford to lose.

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Small town ball drop

I decided to start the last day of the year with a lot of music. And when I said to start the day that means I came into the office just after midnight and put the headphones on and removed the damage controls. Some inspirational R&R to ride out the old year. And why the hell not? Music at this stage of my life always seems to set my attitude straight again. So I was up till almost 4 am enjoying the start to the day and doing some photo editing.

This is what this photo reminded me of when I wrote the title of this post “Small town ball drop.” Photo by Mike Hartley

A few hours of sleep and a shower to revive me and then we were off to a wonderful lunch at Bluestone with my children and their children. My first time there and it was very good in all areas. The staff was especially strong and anytime you can say that in these times they got something going. And you could see it was more than our table that was getting great service. Foot and atmosphere were perfect. And we had a great time.

Here we are at the end of another calendar year. Many will celebrate. Some will mourn. Some will be asleep. It’s going to be a calm evening in this castle. I’ll be contemplating the start of the workweek later in the day. But first, just before midnight, I’ll celebrate the coming month of January with some more music to start the year off right.

So on my last day off of this holiday season, I look forward to the coming year with some trepidation. At the same time, I’m quite excited about many things. But it’s not often you start a year looking at layoffs at work. Hopefully, I’ll be able to survive and move on with the rest of the year professionally as planned. That would put things more on a positive note and enable many other goals.

I hope everyone has a great night, a safe night, and a wonderful year ahead.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hope that the happiness we show each other on this day continues throughout the year.
  • Here is to more appreciation for the simple things.
  • I was watching a video of Neil Peart playing drums. Can’t believe I’ll never see that again.
  • What better way to end a year than closing it out with loved ones? A question that answers itself, there isn’t.

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Busy OG (old guy)

The normal things you hear about retirement are stuff like “winding down” “kicking back” or “travel and leisure”. Sometimes you get “I’ll be tinkering with this and that but nothing serious” or “I’m going to do a lot more reading or take up gardening or gone fishing”. The strange thing is as each day passes now I feel the opposite.

I’ve looked at the limited time that life will provide me and the good health I’m blessed with now will fade and my abilities weaken. My mind won’t be as sharp, my body will be slowed. And I have so much to do and accomplish and share before those things limit me so that it’s too difficult to continue.

It was a great day to sit in front of Firehouse Creamery and have a scoop of chocolate ice cream. So I did. Photo by Mike Hartley

Oh yes, I might spend a few minutes in the hammock during the summer that I would have been at the job working but they will be minimal. I’d really like to learn my new crafts and hobbies and create something for family, friends, and strangers that might be enjoyed. And if nobody does I’ll just enjoy the journey.

I want to spend time talking to my children and grandchildren and share feelings and history. And of course, just laughing and having fun. I want to be sitting and looking out over a body of water, talking to my two best friends about planning our next get-together, and laughing at past hysterics.

I want to get out and shoot while I can still hold that heavy Nikon without tremendous back pain where I’ll have to switch to using a tripod much more.

I want to hold that Dremel tool while these fingers still have dexterity and are minimally painful a lot more. I want to be able to climb a ladder to hang a new favorite print.

My limited toolbox of skills is just starting to be filled with items I have yet to ever use. My mindset feels more like what can I shoot today instead of wanting to edit more of what I did yesterday.

When I wake I feel that immediate excitement of another day at hand. And once I get past the mainspring problem and I’m vertical I’m off. I started to write when I get up. Even if it’s just for a few minutes and something that doesn’t go anywhere or get used.

I’ve been looking at various charity/volunteer opportunities and I hope to contribute more to those in need in the future. Life is going to be very busy. While there is no concrete plan, my direction and interest might slightly alter but the drive and energy will be there.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • New Year – New Rules
  • A rainy New Years eve is ahead. Hope that isn’t a sign about 2023
  • I feel invisible. And you get used to it. And it has its advantages.
  • A 60-degree day at the end of December is equal to a 90-degree day in July and therefore Ice Cream is the solution.
  • Happy outward doesn’t always mean happy inward.

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A Bonus Life

Feeling lucky today for some unknown reason. Maybe it’s just being relaxed or comfortable on this day with not much planned. Perhaps it was the laughter with best friends last night. Or a half-decent night’s sleep.

I felt like I was losing my grip and control of some things. I was stressed out for a few weeks, but at least I feel that I’ve got the reins again. Or at least in control of the things within my reach.

Life goes in such wild cycles. Sometimes it just feels like you’re peddling uphill for endless miles. This makes me think of a close friend who has months of rehab ahead of him till we can think about walking the streets of Ellicott City again. But I will get him up and down Main Street again, his hometown.

If you have your health be glad you can still peddle uphill, but always keep your eyes open for what is around the corner. Photo by Mike Hartley

Life and its priorities and effects take twists and turn none of us see coming. An illness/surgery or maybe the passing of someone unexpectedly. A car accident. A job loss, a tragedy at home like a fire or flood. For many, these things sometimes become life-altering and life-changing. People with limited resources might not be able to recover from a flood if they didn’t have insurance. Surgeries can alter people’s abilities in life.

We take so much for granted and get so used to the status quo of life proceeding effortlessly. Then bang, then another bang. But you have to bounce back each and every time. Because each setback teaches you special things you didn’t look at before. Gives you new apprecations, and can make life and certain people even more important.

You learn a lot about yourself and about others when facing challenges.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I find it ironic that some of the possessions that are extremely important to me, some might look at as junk.
  • Did you ever get so tired that you fell asleep in the middle of a sentence?
  • Don’t wait too late in life to start checking if you have your priorities in the proper order.
  • I miss the smell of salt air and Thrashers fries or Fisher’s caramel aroma as you walk by on the boardwalk.
  • If you do things the way you think your parents would even when they are no longer around you are probably making the right decisions.
  • A lot of people will be counting down this weekend. My countdown begins just after midnight on Saturday and the ball drops and it’s warm enough to put the top down, point the car east, and ride to the ocean.

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Wordy Wednesday

I’ve noticed this series called Wordless Wednesdays, but you know me, can’t keep my mouth shut or my fingers quiet. So it’s Wordy Wednesday to me. And I’m thinking more about how I can improve my writing in the coming year. First I know a few people who have written for a living. Others are involved in literary organizations. I will seek guidance from others.

Keyboard at the ready Captain. Photo by Mike Hartley

I can probably find endless tips and resources on Google and if I hit the library the books on it that fill many shelves. One thing I have been blessed with is that I really like to write. This past year I committed to writing every day and I look forward to it. One tip I read recently is to try to write earlier in the day. I have to admit it seems to flow better than late in the day.

Even though it might not seem like it I try to edit as best possible. I’ve even taken up the habit of reading it out loud most days. I do a pretty bad job at it. Another tip I saw was to come back to it at a later point instead of trying to edit just after writing. I’ve noticed I’ve caught and changed some things when I’ve done that.

Just writing is intimidating as hell when I think about the talent I see and enjoy. Gives me something to aspire to at the same time.

I’ve remembered though the more I shoot the easier the words seem to flow. So tomorrow I’ll be out and about trying to get moving on a few projects.

I also discovered backtracking on a few posts that writing when really tired usually results in some weak content so I’m going to stop now before I embarrass myself further because I feel like I could fall asleep in my chair here.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There seems to be an ever-growing percentage of people who are willing to kill on the highways. The response seems to be we will clean up the mess but can’t stop it.
  • Haircuts are good confidence boosters. And relaxing.
  • Do you ever feel like you could sleep for a week?
  • I’ve discovered what it is about a heated reclining chair that I like. It’s a heated reclining chair.

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Winding down

I have worked the last calendar day of this year at the job that pays the bills. I won’t return till 1/1 and I’m loving the thought of that. Well not altogether, working New Year’s day and the following 3 nights isn’t the best way to start a new year but that is the way the ball bounces sometimes. I have to store up the positive vibes for the next 4-5 days and have them carry me through the cold month of January.

Goodbye 2022, It’s time to Shove Off. Photo by Mike Hartley

But let’s talk about the few last days of 2022. I didn’t feel like doing year-end reviews of my posts. I don’t do my favorite picture. I don’t do my favorite random thought. I don’t do best and worst or funny or sad.

What I’m thinking is:

  • A year of health concerns that are mostly ending on an upbeat note. And I’m not talking about myself, but I did have some good luck also.
  • Professionally another challenging year. Interpret that as you will. Probably a little of both.
  • I’m sorry one long-term relationship is ending. I’m happy two other long-term relationships have been restored.
  • I don’t need news or statistics to tell me the weather is getting more extreme. I can feel it.
  • I’m troubled by how troubled some that are close to me are. But I will be there for them.
  • I saw another year of great loss. The pain of the loss of a child. The pain of the loss of a lifelong partner. The loss of old work friends.
  • But a year of a special birth. A second one that will call me Papa someday. One that I can also make smile and laugh which is the magic that keeps me young at heart.
  • The calendar says another year older, good for all of us.
  • I’m glad I’m finally starting to apply myself to some of my hobbies, this included. I always wanted to post daily and I’ve pretty much pulled that off. I was a few minutes after midnight, I think 3 days but exhaustion does set in a few times during the year. If you’ve never fallen asleep sitting up then you got work to do.

Tuesdays Gone – Another one of my favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. And from one of my favorite all-time albums “One More From the Road” And yes Tuesday is about gone but it’s been a great day. I’ve had a partial mental and physical refresh. Listening to this song makes me feel like going and grabbing my better half and just slowly dancing in the basement together.

I’m sorry the video link I gave is from that album in 1976. Before the crash. And if given the choice I will always choose to listen to the band before that tragic day. No disrespect to those who “carried on” as a line in this song goes, but those that were lost can’t be replaced IMHO.

Shooting frenzy

Feeling ready to wear a couple of camera batteries down to nothing in the next two days. I also hope to have that printer smoking by the end of Saturday night.

I just happened to be looking at Google Maps looking at bodies of water in the county and I ran across this unique one. It’s near my home and I saw this on the map and it made me think of that very old joke. What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I guess the washing machine blowing up on Xmas night was the home’s way of saying we forgot to get it a present.
  • I’m fortunate to have my health today so I’m going to make the best of it.
  • The weather is not the airline’s fault. But some other things are. I’m just glad I wasn’t traveling this holiday season.
  • Can a writer write themselves off?

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Bucking the trend

My better half spotted about 7 female deer in our backyard this afternoon. They seemed to like the recently downed tree from this past weekend. I looked out shortly after and here came two fairly big males. Well, this tree was also a favorite with them as they nibbled at it and rubbed their antlers on some bigger branches. I love the wildlife that strolls into my yard. Then again I might hold a different opinion if it was a bear and I was outside.

Peek-a-boo. Photo by Mike Hartley

While the title was spurred by these neighbors in my yard, “bucking the trend” has been something I’ve done for a while but it’s worn me out and left a few scars along the way. So I’m trying to get a little smarter about it without the nicks and scars. And you know what, I think I’m on to something. I’ll let you know how it works out in the long run.

Looking for warmth like the rest of us. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • An interesting day. One filled with a few surprises and some expected results.
  • I hope to go on a shooting streak for the end of the year being I’ll have some free time. – With a camera that is.
  • Some people learn to be happier as life goes by. Some get mired in anger and hate.
  • I thought of my first goals for next year. I want to peel off each day on the daily calendar my better half got me. I love reading the jokes on them but I don’t know why I miss some days here and there.

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Anticipation of Ho Ho Ho

Do you remember what it was like on Christmas morning as a child? I’m kind of giddy with anticipation about the family coming over today. Of course, I’m doing last-minute wrapping in the wee early hours of the morning. Yes, I’m rearranging the decorations on the tree so they are just perfect. Oh and I do have to step outside to reattach 2 red bows to the house. But other than that I’m just looking forward to their visit.

The families have returned to their homes. The food is put away. May everyone rest easy tonight. Photo by Mike Hartley

But then I got up after a few more hours of sleep and I realized I’m working tonight. And I’m working for straight pay, nothing extra for working Christmas day. A “thank you” would have made it a lot easier to stomach. That kind of thing sticks in your gut and isn’t easy to digest. But it’s the last Christmas I’ll be working for anyone unless they want to pay a substantial rate, so that is my consolation prize.

So I’ll just enjoy the company of family, laughter, and great food till that time. Oh, that time is now. Crap. The last thing I want to do is stay up all night and work. Followed by another day that everyone is off and I have to work. Well, those are the breaks this year. But the future is brighter.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It always feels good to do the right thing. Unless you’re a whistle-blower.
  • Do something that makes you feel whole or complete.
  • Some people you can reach. Others not so much. Don’t worry about the latter.
  • I wish I could smile but I’m very troubled tonight.

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It’s Time

Wishing all a Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas on this Xmas eve. It’s time to stop thinking of presents and feast and family and friends for just a few minutes today. There will be time for that tomorrow. If nothing else, pause and thank your lucky stars that you are not in Ukraine or any other country in conflict. Be thankful for that wonderful meal when so many will be hungry. Look at that roof over your head and be thankful it’s not a tent in these cold temps. Look around while you’re standing and be thankful you’re not in the hospital or rehab or flat in your own bed sick.

Look at the happiness of people who have so little but still appreciate every little thing in such a special way. So if you have the resources I hope you have it within you to share a little or even share again because I know a lot of you already have. If you’re new to it and want to make sure it’s going to a good organization the Charity Navigator site is a good place to start.

I love the lights of the season. Photo by Mike Hartley

I noticed that the Red Cross was having its usual winter issues with blood shortages because of the weather and everyone being so busy. One of my best friends is a donor. A secret he kept from us for many years. He is also very generous and supports many good organizations. I can’t give blood to them but I did make a donation yesterday.

What I get done today is what I get done. Long gone are the days I used to beat myself up endlessly about getting the right gifts, having the right decorations, the right tree, the right clothes on, and the right plans. It doesn’t mean I still don’t try hard, it’s just that I’m satisfied with whatever effort I’ve made and I relax and enjoy the holiday.

I guess that being finally able to relax is one of the benefits of wisdom. Having the right gift for your girlfriend and future wife and then the right gifts for her all those years. And yes I’ve missed the mark on a few but I’ve got a pretty good batting average. Then the right gifts for the children. Truth be told my better half does most of that but I get involved also. The right gifts for family and friends. It was pressure instead of the fun it always was meant to be. And that pressure was self-imposed but also somewhat external also.

You always want to do special things for those you love the most. And when you see those with more means I used to think it would be nice to do so much more. But when you’re with the right people, any gift you give is a special gift. Because it’s you they appreciate.

Gone are the days of making our parents smile with nice gifts. They have been replaced by making our grandchildren smile. So much has changed with the holidays within the last decade for our family. Time rolls on so quickly. And replaced was a bad term because nobody replaces your parents.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • No matter how old you are it’s OK to feel the excitement you used to as a child today. Though if you are older you may have that feeling more for the young ones you will see opening your gifts tomorrow.
  • At least I’ll have no shortage of snacks from home to select from as I work Christmas night.
  • I look back fondly on the days when the company would prepare us Turkey dinners with fixings on Thanksgiving and Xmas for those of us who worked. Lots have changed since then.
  • I know exactly the reasons people want to be police officers. At that same time, I understand why each one of them probably questions themselves about that decision often. To the ones that continue to make a great impact on people’s lives and protect us from those who don’t value life, I say thanks and Merry Christmas.
  • This coming year is when I start making more personal gifts for those close to me.

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Just chill

If there ever was a weekend to try to get some cold weather shots this is the time. Though stepping outside a few hours ago was enough to deter that idea knowing it was only getting colder yet. I wonder if all those inflatable Xmas decorations are still anchored down?

The calm this morning contrasted with the train of winds coming through the rest of the day. I hope we can keep our power on and the trees in our yard stay vertical. In some ways, we are prepared for bad weather, and in other ways, I’m not. And it’s time to correct that with an alternate power supply.

I spoke too soon. Just lost the first tree of the storm in the afternoon. One I was planning on taking out next year because he had some dead in it. Guess it was a little further along. Just glad it didn’t fall toward the house or power lines. Something to take care of when it warms up next weekend.

Chop Chop time. Photo by Mike Hartley

And if a downed tree is the most of my troubles from this storm, I’m okay with that. Others are dealing with far worse. I’m going to try to ignore that howling wind outside, finish decorating the basement tree and clean up the basement because we have company coming.

I was young and kind of poor and had a car where the heater failed. I knew I was getting rid of the car in early summer so I made due. Seeing a frozen windshield always makes me think of those few months. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • And here I thought I knew what cold was.
  • I figure it will take me all night to work up the courage to go outside tomorrow.
  • I wanted to make myself feel better so I looked at the Power Outage map for BG&E and I see many around me without power. So I’m feeling fortunate right now. Let’s hope I can keep that feeling going.
  • I’m guessing this cold is going to test how strong our car batteries are.

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Excited about the day and not

I spent some of the day, decorating the trees. I love seeing the ornaments that we kept that used to be on our parent’s trees. Old ornaments bring a degree of comfort and memories rushing back. Most good, some difficult but don’t we all have that? But hanging ornaments is always a joy and a job I love.

Securing decorations in preparation for 40 mph winds wasn’t on the agenda but had to be added to the day’s list.

Lately, my days seem so filled with the contrast of good and bad recently. And usually on the same day which is kind of strange but it does give me some balance at least. I just wish the swings weren’t that drastic. I have some work ahead to do on minimizing the bad parts which have taken a sudden increase of late.

I guess I should finish my shopping. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m excited to spend some time with friends today and I’m so looking forward to family time on Sunday. And while Sunday night will start the work week I’ll try to blunt the impact of that thought till the time rolls around.

My early warning detection system is firing off. Wanting to sleep when not tired is a true indication of trouble. I got to fix a few things because that signals depression.

I’ll be missing watching out granddaughter tomorrow. But that does leave a free day to accomplish a multitude of things. Maybe that temp drop will create some interesting opportunities for images.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It would be nice if evil people would take a day off.
  • As my mom always reminded me there are a LOT of people far worse off than you so don’t complain. And regardless of any situation I’ve faced in my increasing number of decades, that has always been true. Didn’t feel like it sometimes after surgeries but it was still very true.
  • Put things in their right place. Spend time with those that value you and do the things you love to do.
  • Make the best of tough situations that are beyond your control. I’m learning it’s fun to make a game of it and that way you get to play along also even though the deck may seem stacked against you. And beating that house when the deck is stacked is even more fun.
  • I believe it was Albert Einstein who said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I just never thought that I’d see that employed as a management style.
  • Watch out for those in power, it’s most likely gone to their heads.
  • Safe travels to all this weekend.

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A new day

I thought I’d try something that I was going to do when retirement rolled around but why wait? And that something is to try to document the beauty and people in the county I’ve lived in for going on 6 decades. The area certainly has changed dramatically over that time. Some of its beauty is under developments or office buildings. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t beautiful architecture here. And there still is a lot of natural beauty to be seen. And of course many beautiful people I know and have yet to encounter.

Progress has been swift and difficult. Just like the country, it became a bit divided over the last several years but hopefully, we can move beyond that and continue to make it a better place to live. But even the definition of better will be debated. And that is good if it’s done respectfully.

I wanted to incorporate getting a shot in the county into my daily routine, but that means I’m going to have to get my behind out of my house every day. That could also result in some substantial mileage so I’ll have to keep an eye on that cost but I’ll also get out and walk in an effort to get the body working well again.

Woodstock Maryland The Snowball Stand. Photos by Mike Hartley

Today’s shots come from the Woodstock Snowball Stand. The last day for snowballs. I got a few for the kids and put them in the freezer for this weekend when they come. We also got our Xmas tree from them last weekend. I’m very impressed with the new owners and how they have made it even more special by staying open later, incorporating wintertime drinks, and of course the trees and wreaths. Very nice people and I plan on supporting them for years to come. Full disclosure (I have a snowball addiction).

So day one of shooting is done. It’s supposed to be pretty wet out tomorrow so I guess I’ll get some practice at some rain shooting. At least it’s not the blizzard some are facing. And when it does get down to that 0-degree wind chill this weekend I’ll be shooting from the car window.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Maybe if those fine lines weren’t so thin I wouldn’t step over so many of them.
  • At what point do we stop calling them weather extremes when they are more the norm?
  • Do you ever wonder how many more times you will be able to decorate your Xmas tree?
  • Given the greying of my beard, I wonder how long it would take to grow the Santa look.
  • I got my gift this year in July with the birth of my grandson.
  • Oh yeah, it’s the day Old Man Winter comes out. Well, meet your opposite number.

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Tumbling Tuesday

I am feeling like I’m tumbling through the day so far with no clear direction. I guess I better find one because the list of things to accomplish is long and time pending. OK, I got my head together. A plan of action is ready and all I have to do is execute it tomorrow.

But first another night at the job. Another all-nighter. Another week of screwed-up sleep.

My better half does wonderfully at decorating the home. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow night though, I head to the frozen tundra and try my hand at shooting some holiday decorations in the county. I can’t wait to get out several evenings and try to learn some tricks for future series. I hope to make it to Arlington and see all the wreaths on the graves next week.

This week is a turning point for me. I’ve been lazy and posting some old work and I want this to be fresh each day. So my goal is to only share older work if I have something new also.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Wrapping gifts is not a chore, it’s a blessing to have the ability to buy a gift that will bring joy. Wrapping it is your joy.
  • Feeling both very happy and very low. Tis the season.
  • Don’t waste time on people who don’t deserve it.
  • Well in less than 24 hours I’ll know a lot more about the future.
  • Working holidays would be fine if it were appreciated.
  • Step outside late tonight, even though it’s only 28 degrees, which will be balmy compared to this weekend.
  • And here is a wish to all those feeling under the weather for whatever the cause. May your recovery be quick and complete.

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Freeze Frame

As was to be expected the cold has gotten my attention. And this coming weekend’s forecast of teens and low 20s will be a wake-up call for all of us. But like I said I want to get out and experience the season and find its charms. Obviously, the weather provides many opportunities to get people and places in very different appearances than any other time of the year.

The holidays get the winter season off to a roaring start. The warmth of family and friends cuts through the season and provides a base for survival. Contact and spirit.

This is why I hibernate. Photo by Mike Hartley

Then the transition from tolerable to intolerable begins in earnest in January. I can hear my friends laughing now at that statement. My desire to venture out into the elements is diminished. My body becomes tense with the chill of getting out of bed in the mornings. Comfort is out of the question with boots, hats, coats, and long pants.

Horsepower can usually fix what manpower can’t. Photo by Mike Hartley

But again, I’m a changed person this year. I started the last week by stepping outside for my break at night. I do that all the time in the other seasons. The still of the night is entertaining and calming at the same time. The quiet compared to the other seasons is quite remarkable.

It’s also amazing what continues to go on regardless of the weather extremes. Deliveries of critical supplies keep coming to stock the shelves at the stores. The garbage continues to be picked up. Power line repairs and other infrastructure work going on. Mail comes, and there is gas at the pumps.

This is a very tough season for those who have to be in the elements. My hat is off to you all. I guess I’ll be joining you for short periods as I try to explore outside in the cold this year. And tomorrow I’ll get a jump on it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s only fitting that I write a post today about the cold when the Green Bay Packers are playing a Monday night game on the Frozen Tundra.
  • There is only what you are willing to do each day.
  • When I move my neck some days it sounds like a truck going down a gravel road.
  • On the good side, I’m loving both of my surgically repaired shoulders. They haven’t felt this good in decades.
  • I picked up the camera today. Life is good again.

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Starting to feel

Starting to feel I’ve been stuck in a rut as of late

I haven’t been picking up the cameras much, I haven’t been in my workshop except to organize or fix something, and I don’t feel like I’m laughing as much. My writing isn’t coming easy. And the focus of it some days is frustration. Not good.

I know I have to snap out of it, but I’m not feeling that path yet. I’ve been so scatterbrained and doing too many piddly things and accomplishing nothing. So I’ll take one step at a time today. Maybe a photo project to get me started on that Sandy Walk again.

A Sandy Walk. Photo by Mike Hartley

Starting to feel the change of seasons more significantly

I don’t know if it’s an age thing where you sometimes wonder how many more season changes will you get to behold. Or the recognition of how fast each season comes around. But each time I blink it seems we are going into a new season. I want each one to be special. Yeah, even winter which is my least favorite.

I need to find a way to make each one more significant. To accomplish something significant. To experience something significant particular to that season.

Starting to feel the cold

I don’t know what it is but my body is not into the cold. So I’m taking to heart my friend’s advice which is “just dress for it” and of course he is right. So I have to start getting comfortable with putting on layers. I’ve developed a liking for scarves. My neck and shoulders always are the first to get tight and ache with the cold.

I’m going to try to adapt, spend some more time outside, and find something about the season to cherish. Today standing outside it’s the crispness in the air that feels special.

Starting to feel expendable

At various times in my career, I’ve experienced layoffs, buyouts, RIFs, company being sold in pieces. And each time I’ve avoided a layoff, buyout, or RIF (reduction in force). At the time the company I was working at was divided up and sold I was one of I think 70 of 400 lucky enough to get hired by the new company. So I’ve really never had any true lapse in employment in my life.

I’ve never felt expendable before. But now I’m starting to feel expendable. This might be the week I find out. Even though I’m still the top dog in the group, I’m also the old dog.

Starting to feel like the holidays

It’s finally starting to feel like the holidays to me. I started a few weeks ago decorating and putting the artificial tree up but till yesterday we didn’t have the live tree in the family room. Later in the day after letting it fall out a bit the smell was wonderful. And that little sense made it feel like the Christmas season was here for me.

And now today the lights are on and the box of ornaments is sitting beside it waiting to be hung. Yep, it’s that time again.

We donated another artificial tree earlier this month. We always have two trees and I put to use my Mom’s old artificial tree I had in the attic. It’s a nice tree but with no smell. And artificial trees are always perfect whereas the flaws in a real one give it character along with the smell and needles you have to vacuum up.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I noticed I missed sharing random thoughts yesterday so I feel inclined to double up today.
  • If I glue the broken wing back on an angle that hovers over the manger scene is that my good deed for the day?
  • The wind is nature’s weed wacker. And it’s whacking away today. The trouble is they don’t clean the branches from my roof.
  • I really hope people get into the true spirit of the holidays. But if the roads are any indication I’d say we have a way to go.
  • There are few greater joys than watching children unwrap a gift and their reactions to them.
  • I have enough nerve pain internally, I don’t need people to add to them externally.
  • The first sip of a freshly opened Coke is something that always puts a smile on my face. But I do realize I have to back off on how many I drink a day.
  • Too bad we can’t put up different light displays throughout the year. They certainly cheer me up at the end of it.
  • I know one person who really isn’t looking forward to this Monday. Actually, Tuesday could be another bad day for him also. I love Karma.

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Wondering aloud

I have found myself “wondering aloud” a lot more often in the past few years. I’m discovering this because my better half is asking me more and more if I’m talking to someone or her. I’m usually always just wondering aloud to myself. We have great conversations.

Lots of times I’m just wondering what I’m going to do that day and giving myself mental reminders or thinking I have to go write something down before I forget it. Or I’ll just speak out loud about something I heard or read or saw on the idiot box and or just wonder out loud where I left my keys last. In the last few years, I wonder aloud about what I did for my body to turn on me some days.

I guess the comfort of working from home has been liberating in that sense. Not that I didn’t do it before. Working nights can be lonely and lots of times there were many hours when I wouldn’t see anyone and I’d be having a conversation with myself walking down a hall to the snack machine and then a janitor or security guy would turn the corner and just smile. Some would say we do the same thing.

And I wonder aloud what people are thinking at times. Yeah, that’s a dangerous habit and it earned me an outspoken moniker in some of my professional career.

I’m sure a great number of people are wondering aloud like the two below

The whole time I was giving that van a parking ticket it felt like someone was watching me.

Photo by Mike Hartley

One of the many favorite Jethro Tull songs is “Wondering aloud” and the lyrics are below. It’s the kind of calming song I needed today.

Wond'ring aloud
How we feel today
Last night sipped the sunset
My hand in her hair
We are our own saviours
As we start
Both our hearts
Beating life
Into each other
Wond'ring aloud
Will the years treat us well?
As she floats in the kitchen
I'm tasting the smell
Of toast as the butter runs
Then she comes
Spilling crumbs
On the bed
And I shake my head
And it's only the giving
That makes you
What you are

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It may seem like I wish a lot in my writing here, but I really do less wishing and more work. When I’m busy working on interests or loving family and friends or earning a living I’m trying to be active making some wishes come true. And most all my wishes are for others.

Yes, when relaxed in a hammock on a hot summer day I might wish someone would bring me a pina colada. Yes, I might wish traffic could be better when waiting in miles-long backups. But other than those little things I’ve found it to be healthier to be busy working on life. Because the harder I work at making things better, the more wishes seem to appear that I didn’t even know I had.

Capturing wishes in smiles. Photo by Mike Hartley

There is a wish though that I do keep in the forefront of my mind. And that is the wish that those who are struggling with relationships, loss of family or close friends, those who are sick or in accidents that I know find comfort somehow. But again I turn that into action by trying to always be there for those in need. Be it a phone call, visit, email, or giving that listening ear people need. Or maybe just provide them with something to laugh about in the face of physical or mental challenges. Maybe helping in emotional support for their family.

This reminds me I have a few friends I need to touch base with today who are hurting. One physically and the other mentally. Both are the type of friends who are always there for everyone. Sometimes it’s difficult sustaining the balance between all the needs of friends and family and keeping your own life in order and staying sane at the same time. But going that extra mile for people. Being there for them long after a loved one passed to ease the transition to a new phase in life. Or being there for a friend who is going to need a long physical recovery period. Taking walks with them. Encouraging their strength. Whatever you can do for them along the way.

Those are the important things in life. Gifts that are far more special than flowers or sympathy cards. The gift of your TIME. It’s impossible to be perfect in every situation. Life’s demands dictate you can’t be there for everyone at the drop of a hat every time. But if you’re doing the best you can in that regard and it’s always your first thought before your own needs that is a good way to approach it. Keep that balance going because if you drain yourself you can’t help others.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Life is always better when your thoughts are of others first.
  • Funny, I didn’t feel this old when I woke up today. But by the end of the day, the way I felt confirmed it.
  • I never played dollhouse when I was young being a guy, I know I played with my daughter when she was growing up, but playing with my granddaughter and watching her invent lives has reminded me of that joy all over. I mean there isn’t a cell inside me that could ever say no to a daughter or granddaughter saying play dollhouse with me.
  • The sun this morning has brightened my spirits.
  • I loved Trump’s big announcement. He continues to raise the bar of narcissism and grift to new levels all the time. Almost a parody of himself.

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I feel mentally paralyzed and at the same time, my mind is racing at full speed. The trouble is I’m going nowhere because I don’t have the information to plan what I need to do. Should I worry or be concerned? Should I go on like nothing is changing at the job?

Lots of companies are going through layoffs so I’m not the only one with concerns this holiday season. In some ways, I’m very relaxed. I got skills that are in demand. But at the same time, I’m in my mid-60s and that isn’t an attractive age for a lot of potential employers.

Wondering if your going to be part of the team or not. Photo by Mike Hartley

And to be honest at this age I’m not sure I want to start new at another company after being anchored at this job for the last 25 years. I hope I don’t have to but it’s just a numbers game now and a good number of people are up.

Right now I’m just pissed off that they ruined my weekend and potentially my holidays. I guess saying this while still employed is dangerous but people have feelings and dropping a bomb like that on us 11 days before Xmas with no details except for the fact that it could be up to a few hundred people to me is highly inconsiderate. And if the excuse is we wanted you to have the info asap well then tell me who hires between 12/20 and 1/1, please.

Kind of ironic I was reading an article in my own publication on layoffs and what to do, just over a week ago. Well, whatever will be will be. But I’ll be obsessing about this till I have details about my future regardless of how much my better half wants me to ignore it. It’s real life and it’s my life and career and I’ll deal with it the way I like when it’s threatened.

All I know is that I have to prepare for a range of emotions. At the best, I might have to be saying goodbye to some other coworkers who landed on the wrong side of the axe. At worst I’ll have a lot of unplanned work searching and challenges to meet forcing me to do a lot of things I hoped to avoid if I fall on that side.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Can’t wait for my 3-year-old granddaughter to run through my front door tomorrow morning. She always relaxes my mind.
  • I think I’ll pick up the camera and tripod tomorrow night and grab some shots of holiday decorations.
  • My friends will cheer me up tonight.
  • My apologies for ranting about the same thing for 2 days in a row.
  • Music is saving me again, a smile is back on my face. The old classics always do it for me.

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It’s coming

It’s coming. I can sense it. These fall temps aren’t fooling me. The Hawk=winter is on his way. Well, that is what the TV is blaring at us—something about sleet, ice, and maybe some flakes. Thankfully I have no place to go Thursday when they say that nonsense is headed to this area. I’ve seen enough poor driving on dry roads. Adding frozen and another wet precipitation is a disaster waiting to happen.

There are a few things that can dampen my spirit today. My workweek is over (had some vacation to burn) and my mind is starting to relax. The tension between the shoulders is dissipating and I hope to catch up on some much-needed rest.

Another winter with no commute to D.C. – Life is good. Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, that great feeling was short-lived when the announcement of coming layoffs was made today at the job that pays the bills. Thanks for the relaxing thoughts I’ll be having over the holidays. Well, as they say, roll with the punches and hope for the best.

I wish we were back in the day when they did buyouts. But I doubt that is our current owner’s mindset. Days when they gave a year or two of pay, a couple of weeks for every year of service on top of that, and extended medical benefits and resources for training and help with looking for new work.

Hopefully, I won’t be part of this. I’ve survived many years through hard times in this industry and this is far from my first round of layoffs at my place of employment. I do feel for anyone who has experienced it. I’ve seen it cause great difficulties and hardships in people’s lives.

It’s that thing you have no control over regardless of how hard and effective you are at the job. And that is a disarming thought.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My hardest decision today. What to have for dinner.
  • I’m masking up again in big crowds.
  • I haven’t thought about being retired at 65. I guess it’s a thought I’ll have to entertain if I’m on a certain list at work.
  • I was hoping to make it to 25 years at The Post. Only 4 months to go.
  • No sense in wasting time on what was or what could have been. Just what is in front of us now.
  • I wish I hit publish before I left for the Maryland game tonight.

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Ink and paper

Ink – No not the tattoo kind. The kind a printer would tell you he bleeds when cut. When I first started in the newspaper industry I had the opportunity to work in the pressroom for a while. My main department was engraving but the press crew was either short or behind most of the time so it looked like an interesting toy to learn. And what a toy it was. An old 9-unit Goss Suburban web offset press. 4 units on one end and 5 on the other, folder in the middle.

Presses back in the 60s and 70s were machines that you crawled up on and in between most of the time. Not like the modern console controls of current technology. Days when the press was stopped to change rolls of paper. Days when you had plate changes. When manual ink adjustments were made while it was running and you were kneeling or hanging on a side rail and step making adjustments. Brake controls were by hand. Roll changes were by brute force.

Roll (butt) ends from the press. Also doubles as a crab placemat. Photo by Mike Hartley

But before you got to any of the fun stuff you had to “fly papers.” In addition to the dirty work, cleanup, and washdown, you had to learn to fly papers and be good at it. This involved two people, one standing on each side of the conveyor leaning over and scooping up papers as they came off the press in increments of 25 or 50 depending on the size of the paper. You would then turn quickly to a small table behind you to “jog” papers. Getting them perfectly aligned, turn pick up the next batch, jog and then stack on top of the previous stack and put that on a skid before you have to grab the next batch.

If I remember correctly when they were in a hurry which seemed to be all the time the press top speed was around 18,000 copies per hour. That’s about 300 a minute. So between 2 people you were picking up 6 bundles a minute, jogging and stacking. Sometimes you just had one person on the conveyor. And when I say conveyer it was about knee high and only about 8 feet long so it was constantly bending over to pick up papers and presses didn’t stop because you had a kink in your back or any other reason than a web break, roll change or end of the run.

Those were some fun days. That plant in Ellicott City on Main Street is where offices of the Times papers and presses were. They ended a long time ago and now I’m wondering which year I’ll see most newspaper printing cease completely.

A bumper sticker I can Support. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thinking about priorities a few times a day helps the day along in a better way.
  • How well do we really even know those closest to us?
  • Isn’t it ironic that medical bills will kill you?
  • If you’re always working harder to know those closest to you, that is a special thing because we all change over time.
  • I hate acknowledging that there are just a lot more bad people in the world than I thought.


Last or next to last

It’s performance review and goal-setting season at the job that pays the bills. This could be my last or next to the last one. Only time will tell. To be honest, it’s something I used to fret over but don’t worry about now. After 46 years in the business, I know how I’m doing and they know.

Not many people are really good about reviews and I’m speaking about both employees and managers. It’s a very hard thing to do. I’ve been on both sides of the table. The scary ones from an employee side are when you don’t get any feedback throughout the year. The scary ones for managers are when you give the feedback all along and it just hasn’t worked out and either managing them out or a bad review is in order.

Street performers. Photo by Mike Hartley

I get good reviews, and my manager and I see each other a few times a year. And that works well for an old guy who has been at the job for a while, knows it well, and performs. But for most people that isn’t healthy. I’ve also gotten good reviews from managers who I’ve worked with very closely every day and those are a piece of cake.

Honesty is always the best policy in a review even when it’s tough. You do people a disservice if you aren’t honest about what they need to do to improve, challenge themselves, or learn and then execute. If it’s left in generalities or not covered it isn’t going to improve magically.

I’ve had great managers help me grow from reviews and some good managers give me nothing to grow from except my own initiative. I’ve had bad managers that did nothing for me because they didn’t know what I did and never took the time to talk about it and the review was meaningless. The best reviews I’ve gotten have been a good mix of both personal directions, technical growth, and honing this outspoken voice into a coherent non-threatening one. And I’ve been lucky enough to have a few great ones along the way.

Blending perspectives is also important. If you don’t keep your manager up to speed don’t think he/she is clairvoyant because they aren’t. Well, I’ve met one or two maybe but most aren’t. You have to communicate your achievements. You have to communicate regularly. Even if it means a regular status update/report. And you have the right to question their perspective on how they came to certain judgments/assessments. Especially if it doesn’t sound fair.

I don’t know how I got on this tangent today. This will certainly be the last review with my current manager because we get a new one soon. And my guess is that got me thinking about the future and even if I want to do these anymore. I’ll resist being a smart ass on my goals for next year and putting down, survive the year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Just because a person might not attend church it doesn’t mean they don’t have faith.
  • Those snows in the Sierras are nice to look at on TV. My guess is not so nice to be standing in multiple feet of it.
  • To the person in Clarksville who made a right turn from the left lane through a moving funeral procession almost causing an accident today. May your holiday be full of coal. Think about how lucky you are that you cut the car behind me off and not me. For I would have assumed you wanted to become part of the burial.
  • Pain makes it difficult to think about other things than pain.

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How to feel ok when not all is ok. It’s a good trick to develop even at a young age but especially important as you age. Because if you feel ok when there are serious parts of life that aren’t you can go on and make better decisions on how to correct course on what isn’t working.

I discovered late in life that I’m mainly responsible for my own happiness. And once I started taking responsibility for it I became a lot happier. Oh, I still fall in ruts from time to time. Caring too much about the job that pays the bills or all the discourse among people. Or if things at home could be better or worrying about the idiots who can’t drive or don’t give a penny for endangering others’ lives.

I’ve learned how to put some things aside and how to compartmentalize others. I don’t obsess about the job anymore or put in ungodly overtime as I did in the past. When I’m feeling poorly physically I pack that away and keep proceeding as much as possible and find things to keep my mind off it. When I’m down mentally I have tools to get back on track like music or talking to my children or grandchildren to again remind me how lucky I am.

A happy trio. Photo by Mike Hartley

I try to do better with my relationship with my better half. I have an extensive network of friends all of who I cherish and use to help me stay positive. And they are good in that way and I try to be there for them in that way also.

Being sad, angry, or depressed is unavoidable in life. But the choice of staying in those areas is yours.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Politicians more concerned with self-preservation in position than doing the right thing are susceptible to bad decisions along the way.
  • Why can’t people just let people be the way they want to be if they aren’t hurting anyone?
  • I’m sorry, I’m just not wrapped up in this Megan and Harry thing at all.
  • Thinking of two close friends who are hurting today and tomorrow.

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I was reading a text this week about a friend and how the family was together when their loved one passed. It got me thinking this morning about saying final goodbyes to loved ones and friends because it is so different every time. Covid brought on some circumstances that were impossible for families. Loved ones dying alone. Both of my better half’s parents passed during this time, not from covid but certainly affected greatly by it.

In one case the father was failing and couldn’t be seen for weeks at the hospital and for the life of him couldn’t understand why we weren’t coming to see him, because of covid restrictions. When he got to the hospice stage the choice was a facility where he still couldn’t be seen. The family brought him to one of the son’s homes and for almost 2 days the family got to say goodbye. But by that stage, it was limited because at that point he couldn’t respond to much at all. That time in the hospital when so much could have been shared had passed.

As bad as that was not seeing him for weeks before he passed and only through a window for months before because of covid lockdowns there was worse to come. We took the mother out of the assisted living so she wouldn’t be all alone with only window visitors and moved her in with family. That went well but after a few months, she started to fade. Despite her getting healthier after his death and getting back to her more normal self over the following months she took a turn for the worse and had to go to the hospital also.

Again nobody could see her. Pure torture for families. But those were the times. But she started to bounce back again after a few weeks and went to rehab. And the day she was going from rehab back to her nursing facility, she took a bad turn for the worse and was back in the hospital where we were waiting on a call to see her because they allow family in if it’s terminal. They didn’t think it was but a few hours later she passed alone. That was 2 years ago today.

After experiencing people passing in several ways with family and friends I had the following thoughts.

  • If you loved a person deeply they knew you loved them. Being if you’re there with them at the end or not.
  • I believe it’s what you do along in life that is with the person at the end, not if they squeeze your hand tightly or not.
  • I have been with loved ones in their final moments and I’ve missed being with loved ones in their final moments. Again it doesn’t matter if you are there or not at the end. It’s all those times before.
  • In some cases, you might think it’s better to be with them as they pass but that hasn’t been my personal experience. I found my dad dying at 9 in the basement and after dementia and a stroke ate my mother I had to watch her in hospice for 12 days before she passed. Both were sheer torture.
  • In some cases, it is great to be with them. The few moments we had with my father-in-law at the end were punctuated by my very young granddaughter reaching out to his arm and just holding it and looking at him. Many of his children were extremely happy they had a few moments with him at the end.
  • Some people beat themselves up over not being there and they really shouldn’t if they made their best effort or circumstances dictated it impossible.
  • There are some passing that people will never be able to recover from. A loss of a child. A LONG term lifelong partner. There are some who can’t move on from the normal losses in life. These people shouldn’t be looked down upon because they can’t move past it or take longer than others. Each person’s grief is their own and nobody else’s. And how they deal with it in their timeframe is how they deal with it.
  • Some like to remember the day and honor it and some don’t like to be reminded of it. Some honor in very public ways and other very privately.
  • Some feel relief when a person’s long-term suffering ends. But then that relief turns to guilt for feeling that way. It shouldn’t.
  • All can acknowledge it is part of the life process. But there is nothing normal about it and it is one of the hardest things to endure for many.
  • Don’t feel anger towards people who are good at maybe moving on or compartmentalizing their grief or pain. Never assume they aren’t hurting just as badly but doesn’t show or share it.

Hello and Goodbye, Mom,

I found this draft below about my mother-in-law that I never posted, today is the anniversary of her passing and I figured I better share it now than never. I wrote it almost 2 years ago.

My Mother-in-law was laid to rest less than a week ago. A very tough time for her family and those she touched. I had the thought the day after she passed that this was the first time in my lifetime I had nobody to call Mom anymore. My own Mom passed almost a decade ago but I was blessed with a Mother-in-law that treated me like her own son. It was very comforting having a mother figure in the family to carry on.

Having someone to call you the best son or the best son-in-law was music to my ears. Of course, I was the only son and son-in-law so that made it kind of easy for them. But I tried like I wanted to be the best. I will miss many things about losing my father and mother-in-law this year. First just the simple truth, that generation is gone from our immediate family. We had 4 generations going for a while there, now we are back to 3 and that is where it will stay for a while. And the next great-grandmother and great-grandfather could be us.

I will miss her warm embrace. I will miss her question “how are you Mike” because it was asked with such conviction. And of course, the follow-up question of “how are the children” and in the last few years “how is that grandchild doing” and nothing less than a full dissertation of what had transpired between the last time we saw each other was required. How wonderful those simple questions are when the person asking hangs on the reply.

I will miss her during the holidays when the family would gather. I will miss stopping by their home for no other reason than to say hello. I will miss the stories of siblings and their children. I will miss her sitting in her favorite wing chair. And I will always see her in the favorite chair she had at our home for the last several months. I will miss seeing her and dad sitting on the front porch on the bench we got them. I still see the worry if she had enough food even though there were always leftovers. I guess when you’ve been feeding a small army all your life you might worry about those things.

I think about how touched she was by personal gifts. But it was seeing her family and friends that made her light up. She and Dad were both the driving force in the family’s faith. She was so humble and aware of those in need of help. For a very petite frame, she was full of love. Her many grandchildren have a void that only memories can fill now.

I can never thank her and dad enough for the gift of my better half. She completed me in this lifetime.

I remember holidays being forever changed when my parents passed and this is certainly no exception this year. We have been so busy till this morning that I realized I hadn’t gotten a live tree for the upstairs. That is a first in itself.

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Fried Friday

The day started by sharing news of a very good friend who lost her husband, with my better half. We just stood and hugged each other very strongly for a long while in silence. It brought home the reality of losing a spouse. Also, another very close friend is still hospitalized from an accident and in tough shape awaiting the first surgery. Between this news, my job, not feeling good, and not sleeping I’m FRIED.

Thank goodness my granddaughter was here today to put a little cheer in my life and remind me to enjoy the moment. I also allowed myself 30 minutes of fun when I took the Miata out for a spin. Trouble is that it’s Howard County, it’s the holiday season and people have lost their Vulcan minds behind the wheel.

The day ends with posting the services information for the friend who suffered the loss to our Facebook group from our old company. I hope the outpouring of support there and all around her envelops her and her family tonight.

Washington Monument and Capital. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Even though I might not be good at the words I use, I’m rarely at a loss for them, like I was today.
  • Rain coming again later this weekend, better put the cover back on my favorite go-cart.
  • If you feel the need to put up more Xmas lights go ahead. But if you’re doing it after looking at neighbors, just hold off.
  • Rewarding – when a 3-year-old runs at you full speed after getting out of her car seat and jumps in your arms and says let’s play Papa.

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All aboard

Time to load up the weekend bus to catch your breath land, and put a smile on some faces. I started today by making my grandson laugh his head off. I was dancing so much that I had to take a break and catch my breath. And tomorrow is my granddaughter’s day. Saturday and Sunday we will be honoring our parents. So kind of a family weekend.

Is anyone up for a ride? Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s hard to really be up and leading the band when you have friends who can’t march along because the really tough things in life have touched them. My mind is preoccupied with two close friends in the hospital and their families. I used to think being young was tough, it ain’t got nothing on the senior years.

So I put on some Doobie Brothers and that got me feeling positive again. You can’t help people if you feel bad.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A good week is when you see and hug your entire family.
  • Forgot to turn my Xmas lights on tonight. I wonder if just before midnight is too late?
  • There are some bands you see live that leave such a lasting impression on you that when you hear a song of theirs you pause and remember a show.
  • Felt good sponsoring a wreath for my parents again. Wreaths Across America.

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Pause – restart

I was going to say I wasn’t feeling it the last few days. Upon reflection, I was feeling it. And it was pain and that put me on pause. I started 4-5 posts the last few days but would get stopped cold. At least I have a few more things in my drafts folder to maybe finish out. Sorry about the lacking content this week.

So it’s time to make my way out of the woods and look for that light again. I am searching for that inspiration that keeps me positive today. And then I remembered watching ESPN last night and the speeches by those being honored by the V Foundation and thought about the words those inspirational people used.

Green with envy it’s not the summer season. Photo by Mike Hartley

And now we are on our way with some great inspiration for tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My thoughts are with two friends. One with a spouse in the hospital and another one who was in a car accident. I remember days when you could visit people in the ICU. No more.
  • The wave of grandchildren starts tomorrow so I will look a little more intently at them and how precious life is.
  • It’s almost time to turn OFF the job.

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We’re on a timer

I try to ask myself as often as I can, what are my priorities right now? What can I do to make the best use of my time? What are the really important things to me? Questions I didn’t ask myself till I got sick over a decade ago and introduced me to mortality. It changed my perspective and I’m glad it did.

Where to be at Sunset Photo by Mike Hartley

Do I fall back into complacency from time to time, yeah but I snap out of it pretty quickly. Because there is so much to do, so much love to share with my family, and so many good times to be had with friends, and creations in my mind waiting to be created.

So I better get to it this fine day. Opportunities shouldn’t be wasted.

And one of those is to make reservations at the Lighthouse in Ocean City a block or two south of the view of the photo above. A place we fell in love with this past year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Days I’m in pain remind me that I don’t appreciate the ones I’m not in, enough.
  • I think I have more random thoughts at the beginning of the day than at the end.
  • It’s good for your mental health to strut around like Angus Young once in a while.
  • A lot of people will give you 100%. Though a lot of them are at only 50%.
  • It’s V week. I support the V Foundation

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Not enough

Today is a prime example of why this season is so difficult for me. I slept till about 2:15 pm which was about 7 hours total. Still not a lot after being up for 28 hours straight. But those hours of sleep aren’t the issue. The limited exposure to sunlight is what is at issue.

I’m sitting here starting this post and it’s starting to get dark outside because sunset is in about 15 minutes 4:44 pm. Working nights in the summertime is good because you still have what seems like a normal day where the sun isn’t setting till between 8-9 pm. Not in the late fall, winter, and early spring. Darkness is my world and I’m reminded I’m kind of a nocturnal animal.

Summer night walks. Photo by Mike Hartley

I don’t have an issue with darkness, and I can enjoy it. But again, in the summer stepping outside and enjoying the night sky or the sounds of the woods behind my house is a piece of cake. Not in the winter where you are frozen in a few seconds and unless you spend some time dressing for it, the experience isn’t comfortable.

So I guess I’m just a little depressed that these are the few tough months that I have to get through to make it to my favorite times of the year and more SUNLIGHT.

On the optimistic side, it’s 1 day closer to the weekend. Also, our home is just about in tip-top shape for the holidays. Both my better half and I got an early start on the decorating and it feels good to have it pretty much complete except for the upstairs tree which I hope to pick up this week.

I love putting up things that were in our parent’s homes for years.

Staying optimistic when not feeling 100% is sometimes a tough battle but we are winning today.

One thing I’m so glad about is that the long commute to work is done with. Looking back at the last 25 years of working in DC when I spent more than a year and a half in the car just getting back and forth to work is kind of depressing. The positive thing is I’m DONE making that ride. I’m working from home. If I ever have another job, it won’t involve more than a few minutes’ commute. Those long rides each way are history. It’s time to walk to my desk.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Chili is a good choice this time of year for a meal.
  • The ability to forgive is an incredible strength. One that I don’t always possess.
  • I just looked at the weather forecast and it says rain for the next 5 days. Good thing weather forecasters are so wrong a lot of the time.
  • Finding contentment with yourself makes the rest of the day a lot easier to endure.
  • I can’t believe they haven’t said that act of shooting up those power stations in N.C. isn’t an act of domestic terrorism yet.
  • If you can’t do what you love for a living, do something else that you can earn a lot from, retire early, and then do what you want.
  • Remembering some special people this weekend.
  • Getting a video of your son blowing bubbles on his infant son’s chest as you used to for him is a heartwarming feeling. They have the same laugh.

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Power through

A trait of my best friends. They power through regardless of obstacles. I do my best to emulate that trait myself. My better half is very strong at it. There are so many trials in life that basically you meet and power through or get stalled by or never make it past. And that is just the way it is.

Sometimes we are powering through our own self-inflicted trials. Many suffer through significant personal loss or massive health challenges. Powering through comes in many different ways. An addict says one day is enough and stopping a substance problem and never going back to it. Or someone coping with the loss of a child day by day for the rest of their lives. People power through chemo and surgeries every day.

I thought of powering through this morning when I woke in some serious discomfort. I get this mentality that I can overcome it and need to find the right stretching exercise or combination that works.

Open headers always will signify some power. Photo by Mike Hartley

I cruise through summer but I have to power through winter in both the elements and phycology. It’s the dark season so the lack of sunlight ruins some of my spirits. Going outside is a chore instead of a joy.

A lot of us have to power through holidays which can be very difficult times. May I repeat, very difficult times for a lot of people! So many including myself will have a moment or two or three or more, where you are brought to tears. Maybe happy ones, maybe sad ones, maybe both. May those times be balanced with love and companionship.

And now it’s time to power through the work week ahead.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thinking of a good friend whose spouse is ill.
  • Really had a nice weekend. Love the way it ended.
  • Can’t wait till tomorrow and get a chance to go shooting for a bit.
  • I wish money wasn’t the factor it is in retirement.
  • Starting the week off with a sleep deficiency isn’t the way I intended.

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Worked hard

I worked hard on everything else but this today. I’m out of oil and about to go dark for the day.

My Uncle Frank worked for Dietz Lantern. In addition to being at Pearl Harbor on December 7th on the USS West Virginia. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • No feeling or just tingling in my left arm and hand makes typing a challenge.
  • I can’t believe the great start the Maryland Men’s basketball team is off to this year. Keep it going. Fear the Turtle.
  • It always feels much better putting up Xmas lights instead of taking them down.
  • I’m on a mission to make everything else longer than the workweek.

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Better days

I used to look back at days and think about better ones when I was having a bad one. Now I just look forward. What each day brings is wonderful even if it’s not the best of days.

Fishing on the bay. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A lot of pain is dealt with in silence.
  • Learning some things about people can be disappointing.
  • A hug from a 3-year-old can make a grandpa feel young again.
  • Karma is really overdue in some people’s cases. Maybe they will get an extra dose when it’s time.
  • It’s time for some music to raise my spirits before I get depressed and listen in the wrong way.
  • I have a tremendous amount of hope for society. I just don’t have much faith in some of it.

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That sinking feeling

That is an interesting title for the problem I have. That lift cylinder on my office chair is becoming shot. So every once in a while I’m sitting here and “that sinking feeling” starts and before I know it I’m much lower in the seat. So we quickly get it back to the top with the lever and spin the base because it seems to go down quicker in two or three spots.

I just got rid of another old office chair. I believe this one is a hand-me-down from my father inlaws old office. Regardless it’s seen better days. So someday in early 2023, a new office chair will be purchased. And here you thought with that title of today’s post it might be something of substance.

Going down? Photo by Mike Hartley

A fellow blogger Sheree of View from the Back asked if I was looking forward to retirement yesterday and I responded rather affirmatively. In some ways, I’ve planned for it all my life and in others, I haven’t given it a thought. I’ve never had a firm date or goal year. I’ve always taken that as it comes. Far too many factors along the way influence those decisions.

I know when I did start thinking of it about 2-3 years ago, it became harder to give all the extra hours I used to. It’s not like I don’t give them more than a full day’s effort every day but due to a number of circumstances, it is far from the joy it used to be. As a matter of fact, what we used to do (make Newspapers) is a dying thing. Not the information and entertainment, just the way in that you consume it. And that is part of it. We now work for a media company that is mainly online. Oh yeah, we print some papers, and still have a plant with huge buildings and equipment floor to ceiling in them. But the days are numbered.

Also, my career changed about 8 years ago. A senior UNIX admin in a company that was restructuring and I had a choice to change employers or change roles and duties. It’s not like I hadn’t done this before but it was always a step up and this was a step down. I could look at this two ways. That was high pressure and high stress and a lot of on-call. And I had done years of it. Or maybe lower level stress and challenge. In most ways, I’ve been happy with the latter decision.

But, it’s become a job instead of a passion. And that is OK because it’s always been a job. But sometimes along the way we made it much more. But back to retirement.

It’s so interesting to see the different takes on retirement that my friends, family, and acquaintances have. I spoke to one friend this weekend and we never speak about retirement because I know he probably never will because he hasn’t prepared for it in any way and will be working till he can’t. I have some others that don’t seem to want to retire for fear of not having anything to do. And of course, others who just enjoy their jobs so much that it’s become their lives.

But I have seen some lately who I thought might work longer think about retiring because the people around them retiring have made them take another measure of life.

Personally, I’m looking forward to more family and friend time. Time to develop and work on interests I had as a youth that I didn’t follow up on. I have new interests that I’d love to explore and create. I’d like to relax and get a good night’s sleep each day. When I get in the car I’d like it to be with no direction or destination in mind. I’d like to cook more. And I’d love to see more of this beautiful country.

So I’ll have no problem filling my remaining years. The only question is when do I transition from working stiff, to that crazy grandpa who’s always making things?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if I have a magic number?
  • Being a good business owner doesn’t mean one has to be greedy. And may karma visit the ones that are.
  • Does anyone know where the last 11 months went to? Oh yeah, history.
  • To all those stressing out. Be happy with yourself, be happy with your effort. Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is your time, interest, and love.


Which one

Either I’m slightly younger than most of my contemporaries at work or they planned better than I have. Probably a little of both but an awful number of people I’m close with have or are retiring now. Which makes the job seem very different and not as much fun as it once was.

I noticed this trend about a decade ago when a number of people began retiring. Either people at my current job or longtime friends I’ve worked with. And yes a lot of them are slightly older. But today I was talking to someone my own age, another multi-decade newspaperman, and he is retiring. I was congratulating him on a significant company award and he shared the news.

Well, all I can say is it gets more and more lonely each year. Not that I don’t like the youngsters, it’s just we don’t have a history as I did with so many oldtimers.

I was looking through old photos and I was looking at this one when I heard Christine McVie passed today. I really liked her song “You make loving fun.” I always thought of my better half when I heard it. Photo by Mike Hartley

You make loving fun video from 1977.

Felt like I needed a little color today. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Music again reminds me of the importance of living in the moment. And the ability to let myself go with the flow.
  • The wind is nature’s way of sweeping.
  • That will be me you hear cursing the cold at 5 am when I’m taking the trash out.
  • Time to go Christmas tree shopping. I hope I don’t forget the smelling salts when I pass out from the price of trees this year.

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Did you get the shot

Talk about limited time today. Played car mechanic for a bit and then had a craftsman in for a warranty repair that wasn’t as easy as they thought. And of course, that needs parts that might be months out. That is ok, I can go with the flow.

Just playing. Photo by Mike Hartley

If tired was an Olympic event, I’d be on the podium. If complaining about it was an event I would probably finish in the money there also. So I’m headed towards some good rest tomorrow, at least that is the hope. Rainy days are good for that. They are also good for sorting out which Xmas lights work and which don’t. That is always the way you start, so you can add that to the hardware list early before your selection is limited.

I don’t know of any electrical device that dies a more premature death than Xmas lights. And yes I have even gotten some dead out of the box. At least I save receipts. I used to keep many old sets just for the spare bulbs but I’ve cleaned a bit.

I’ll wait till those 40 mph wind gusts tomorrow pass by before trying to hang any lights.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I believe donating to charity is a good thing. And on this giving Tuesday I’ll probably make a donation or two but I hate to be hounded to death by some of them.
  • Hawaii is beautiful I hear. Till you’re covered in lava.
  • Putting decorations up is starting to get me in the holiday spirit.
  • I don’t know why I’m thinking about changes for next year when there is so much more of this year to be lived.
  • Sometimes you find out a person’s importance to you in unexpected ways.

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I like “When”. It’s the kind of word that inspires motivation. I ask myself when a lot more now because I’m trying to do more. So I’m saying to myself when can I fit that in? When can I get off my ass and start more woodworking? When is the best time of day today to head out and take a few shots? When is the best time to do my blog post? When is it time for a design change?

Sometimes “When” can be fun. When will the first snow be? When will I pick a date to retire? When did they have the baby? When is our happy hour this week? When is our next vacation?

Right time, right angle, right day. It’s easy when someone else sets up the still life for you. Photo by Mike Hartley

I imagine “When” can also be sad. When did he pass? When is the next train, I just missed this one? When will gas prices go down? When is he going to jail?

When is a versatile word and can be used in many ways. So before I go too far and you ask when will this mindless stream of thought stop. Well, when I’m ready.

Onto the next topic on this fine Monday, which is the day’s challenge. I am setting up a new iPad with my better half. I used to love Apple products. Probably was my primary OS for a few decades but Windows and UNIX have been in the last few decades. I’ll get her moving this afternoon and RTFM tonight myself so I can try to answer questions when they come up.

What a surprise, just like everything there is no manual, it’s all online help. I’ll still read up tonight and offer some suggestions throughout the week. I’m just so glad she has a larger screen to work with.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I watched the sun come up in Ocean City this morning. I just wish it wasn’t online. It was still a good feeling.
  • I’m sorry, I’m already tired of turkey. When my better half said she was thinking about a spiral ham for Christmas a wave of relief hit me.
  • It feels good when a day has been productive, decisions made, and actions taken.
  • Feeling inspired to decorate a bit more this holiday.

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Doing something daily can be a challenge. Some are easy some are more difficult. For some having a cup of coffee or tea is a daily ritual. Some used to follow that with reading a daily paper or news. There are lots of things we do daily but I’m thinking of something that takes some effort and time out of your normal daily processes.

Something like working out every day. Or cooking a new dish each day. Or create a blog post each day. Or work on some craft or tangible creation each day. I don’t think everyone appreciates the effort and focus to do it every day long term. I never fully appreciated it till I started at a daily newspaper almost 25 years ago. I’d worked in weekly chains before that which was pretty intense but something that is done daily is a different animal.

How much longer will the sight of a Newspaper on the sidewalk be visible? Photo by Mike Hartley

When I started the blog I thought daily was a piece of cake. 8 years later I’m finally doing it. So many factors come into play when trying to do something of substance daily. Your own health is a good start. If you’re going to do something on both good and bad days it better be something you love and have a passion for.

There are so many pitfalls when attempting to do something daily. If you rely on equipment do you have backups? Do you depend on materials, do you have the proper inventory to sustain supply disruptions? Are there ways to prepare in advance if unexpected difficulties arise?

There is the true will you have behind the commitment. I would also like to practice photography every day, but I don’t. I hope to change that but that is the will I have at the moment. Working out each day would be healthy, I just can’t seem to keep it going in any substantial way.

But thankfully change is possible. And I think the key is not to be discouraged and pick it up the next day and start a new streak. So that is what I’m going to do with some important things, I’m going to try each day to keep the ball moving forward.

Here’s to a bright start tomorrow after a day of rain. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love rainy days. Especially when I don’t have to go out in them.
  • I feel a sense of urgency but am not comfortable with why I feel that way.
  • I have an ill feeling about this winter.
  • I’m going to be much more productive this week. Now if I can convince the body to play nice we might have a chance.

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Back in service

I went with the title “Back in service” because my back released me from that vice grip of serious pain I was in for most of Friday afternoon and into the wee hours of Saturday morning. Therefore this body is in motion and ready to get production underway again. The sunshine outside this wonderful morning had me doubly inspired.

Saturday morning on the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Mike Hartley

On the other hand, I feel totally unfocused because I’m so tired. Just starting this I find myself making a lot of typing mistakes which aren’t usual. Grammer yes but not spelling for the most part. So the synapses between the brain and fingers need some work this morning to get back in sync.

And that is why I take some notes when I can to reflect on when I’m so unfocused. So when I’m so tired I’ve given areas I might be going to some forethought. Or remember a theme I started and wanted to flush out more. Or to focus on some street shots and not so much nature. So each time out I can fill some voids in my shooting experience.

And I think it’s time to get out tomorrow and see what gaps I can fill.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder how the police are making up for all the lost revenue from issuing tickets.
  • Family in a lot of cases is a fractured term.
  • I have such a love of food and indulge myself from time to time. I also believe in supporting the Maryland Food Bank and World Central Kitchen.
  • Grandchildren aren’t just another phase of life. They are your second wind in life.
  • Just saw a commercial for Coors Light. I haven’t drunk a Coors in decades but from what I remember it was light before they made a Coors Light.

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I call this one below my girlfriend. She loves me so when I come calling on her at one of my best friends’ homes. I love pets and we no longer have one, so I live vicariously through my friend’s and family’s pets. We even watch some from time to time. I’m thinking about spending some time at the shelter walking or playing with some animals. That is assuming they allow that. I don’t think they would turn down free help but there may be rules I’m not aware of.

I’ll stop by and see, this coming month. At a minimum make a donation while there. Animals have so much love to give in such a short period of time. Pets have been so special in our lives and the pain of losing them is unbearable at times in life. But you can’t get much better friends in life.