THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley


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Finding fun in the sun

Well, cabin fever hit today so a quick ride in the convertible with my better half soaking up some rays was a nice treat. I put the old camera in the cab and away we went. We stuck to the back roads and a few neighborhoods we hadn’t traveled through before. And when I say neighborhoods in the west part of the county you are talking about big properties and little human contact chance.

Along Rt 99 in Howard County
Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course, our trip started along Route 99. A good road to lean into a few turns like the one above. By the way, that’s not camera distortion, that’s a curve. This one brought back memories when I had my motorcycle and the enjoyment of the back roads of the county gave me. If it wasn’t the expansive views it’s the sweeping turns that can add to that smile on your face.

It’s been a while since having the top down and I can tell you I thought about what’s going on when I went to pull the handle to retract it. Do I have to be scared of the air I breathe now? Well yes in some situations I guess.

Don’t fence nature in.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Many neighborhoods nestled in between expansive farmland. And by the way, I love the FARMLAND FOREVER Signs I see hanging by their entrances. I hope that never disappears from our county. So much has changed and been lost already I can barely cope with what little we have left.

Not a worry in this pasture today.
Photo by Mike Hartley

That ride changed my mood today for the better and I’m glad we got out of the house. Especially with the rains coming tomorrow. It’s hard to determine when to go out. We have been really good about staying in and having no contact with people and will continue to do so.

Today felt like living.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I also discovered today that given the season it’s impossible not to touch my face. Such is life. I’ll do my best but pollen is pollen and it will do what it does. At least I’ll have a mask to sneeze into. Wait, that’s not a good idea either.

Out here your voice had better carry when you say “hi neighbor”
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m thankful my workweek ended a day early. I had a comp day left so I decided to get that out of the way. Not that I’m in any danger of not working but just needed a mental break. Just trying to get ready for the long haul.

This person had the biggest smile on their face when I blew image up. I’m glad they were enjoying the day also.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And yes I socially distanced in my car as I went by anyone. That is why there are two lanes. That was some ride today. I kind of let the car point itself. When I got people behind me I turned down another road. A slow cruise in the country. A day when driving was a complete and utter joy.

As you can probably tell from these I really never stopped the car to take any of these images. Guess convertibles are good for many things. Well, tomorrow the top stays up and I’m staying indoors to work on my studio setup. Once I get the junk out of the way.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hope our youth is watching who the brave ones are in this crisis. Not the ones wanting credit every day. The heroes are too busy doing the job. And when this is over support your medical professionals.
  • Feelings expressed even though FaceTime is incomplete when it comes to your close friends and family. But that and the video chats are still the best things around today.
  • I see the Governer designated our county (Howard) as a hot spot today. Yeah, we rock. Whoops, not a good thing.
  • Be safe, tell those you love that you love them. And if you feel like it, tell a stranger.


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Each day

Just keep plugging along each day. That’s what we all were doing before this. So that’s what I’m going to do. So I picked up the camera today and snapped a few frames.

I had lost a little motivation there for a bit. You know everyone’s mind is racing, including mine. So many thoughts and concerns. I could see it in my better half today. She said she cried. I had one of best friends share in a note his grave concern if his better half got ill and how it got to him.

You must take a break from it to refresh yourself. Each time you think its tough just think of the families of those in healthcare or working in grocery stores.

Little things for yourself can feel good, so take the time and effort to do a few. Then think about what you can do to help. It’s getting harder to do those things as well over the long term. But we could be faced with a very long term so let’s suck it up for another day and continue on.

Even a brief shower can be beautiful.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I listened to some old music. My favorite kind indeed. And by old I’m just referring to the ’60s and ’70s. It felt great. So find yourself a daily treat and keep your spirits up.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Did you ever think so many people would be glad to take a test?
  • I don’t feel like I’ve laughed enough lately.
  • When a vaccine is developed do you want to be first in line for it?
  • Looking forward to a long walk tomorrow.
  • Even when there is a vaccine, is it, for instance, more effective than a flu vaccine?


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Me 1 – Mother Nature 0

I took no prisoners this weekend in the yard. In the last few years, I’ve been very slack on managing my back yard which is half woods and half lawn. The woods half was winning big time and doing a land grab not seen since WW2.

I have thwarted Mother Nature and her attempts in this with power tools, rakes, pruners and a lot of sweat yesterday. I had enlisted my son for this task but we are keeping apart, I don’t want to chance contact. Plus he is doing something really important now also. His better half and he are fostering a dog. She is so cute. But he did say he is looking for a workout so I might let him hack away at a few things in the near future. We still would stay apart. I could throw him the key to the shed from the deck and pretend I’m General Patton directing the 3rd Army.

I was pleased with the massive progress I’m making. I’ve also discovered some more work to do because of some erosion I hadn’t seen before. It felt good to get out in the yard again and do some very physical work. Think I’ll get out there a few days later this week myself again.

Nice cut. Wished my lawn looked like this.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes plans change. Most everyone is in the midst of changing plans for the future. Some making minor adjustments and some find themselves living day to day. From the next day to the rest of the year to even retirement planning. There is going to be a lot of painful adjustments. But in some ways, it could be a time of great opportunities. I don’t mean right this minute, just do what you need to do to stay healthy and keep others healthy.

But the reality is the other side of this might look different. How we shop and consume is changed. What we shop for and consume will change. The people we get things from might change. I’ve thought for a long time this country needs to get back to making things again. This might be one of those triggers.

One thing that is in our face now and could be for some time to come is the gap between rich and poor will grow. The number of poor will grow. The middle class seems to be losing ground. I wonder how much longer that gap can continue to grow without breaking?

I hope there are numerous opportunities for people to learn new skills and new businesses and flourish again.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • People have too much time as evidenced by the increase in friend requests through Facebook.
  • Caddyshack is a good movie when things are too serious.
  • It is so easy to drink too many Cokes in a day.
  • Tried to keep it light and easy today.


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Down day

Yesterday I just couldn’t get it together. And that it was motivation. It was elusive all day. Yeah, I sorted a few boxes and trashed some things. I did some shredding and fixed a few other things. I mounted the iron eagle that was on my in-laws home on my deck facing. They like when we use things like that in our homes.

Today doesn’t feel much different. I got some things done again like cutting the grass for the first time this year. Sorting through some more family history. Fixing a few odds and ends around the house. And here it is Saturday night already and I’m starting to snap out of the funk.

Teamwork tying the Pride down.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I guess I’m still a little tired from the workweek. A little tired period. But every time I think about being tired I think of the professionals putting in long hours in service of others and I’m fine. The teamwork and sacrifice by others to tend the sick are what should be honored for a long time to come. Lots of medical professionals will also need to support mentally for some time to come for the trama they are witnessing.

Don’t forget the simple folk also doing their jobs with risk because they are essential. So feel fortunate to be able to stay at home. I know I am.

I don’t know about you but I could use a little sunshine tomorrow. These cloudy days are getting old. So how about it Mother Nature.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Top three sports now. Walking, Wondering and Worrying.
  • I can still mow the yard with the push mower. But tomorrow a big effort on getting the rider fixed.
  • I was getting more and more upset at those daily briefings but then I realized that is really showing who he is and what he is concerned about, himself and money.
  • I hope we can have this much hope a few months from now.
  • I didn’t like the idea of cruise ships before this virus because so many people got sick on them anyway.


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Take it as it comes

Relax

Watched a little too much news today. So I’m going to be relaxed. I’m well informed I believe. I’m taking precautions. I’ve got my better half and we are doing great so far. The workweek is done and now I can get back to some of my own interests while this plays out.

I spoke and saw my best friends tonight in a Zoom meeting. What a great time and experience. Won’t replace the firm handshakes and hugs we exchange but it was great to laugh together again after weeks absence.

So this weekend is about relaxing while being smart. It’s about turning off the worry a bit and appreciating the day and company I do have in my better half. It will be the first grass cutting of the year on Saturday. It will be a time to unwind a bit in the midst of uncertainty. I hope everyone can find the time and patience and way to soothe their minds.

Life is short, enjoy the view Photo by Mike Hartley

Moving

It’s moving to go through old family history, pictures and letters. Especially when your family lived through many difficult days. I have to pause and absorb some new information at times. Partly because my father passed when I was at a very young age. And it was such a difficult thing for the family that we didn’t talk about it till late in life so time was short and her memory wasn’t that clear in her final years.

I got to get back to sorting some more things this weekend. I just found one treasure today though. I thought the days when I had my hair long passed without many or any photos being taken. I just found a few that my mom had apparently snapped and the ponytail is down the back. And good lord, look how I was in shape. Well I’m several weeks now overdue for a haircut. Maybe I’ll go for the long hair and in shape body again. So off to the treadmill after this post.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • For those of us who are fortunate, it’s going to be even more incumbent on us to share our ability to assist others in many ways in the coming future. And that future is coming like a freight train out of control.
  • Soup and sandwich tonight reminded me of the old days.
  • I think I’ll take a ride before daybreak when its real quiet out and snap a few frames.
  • I need to get a desktop scanner.
  • I feel the need to print. And I just got a fresh supply of ink and paper so off I go.
  • Safe wishes for all.


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Tomorrow

The last night of work this week is upon me. Always a good feeling and it was a very productive week so a sense of accomplishment is felt. And that is important. Something I haven’t felt as much in recent years of my profession but something I hope to get back to in many ways.

I was also thinking about tomorrow and then kind of had a revelation of sorts. With what is going on now and how much more frightening it could be if some of those numbers of people are throwing out who may parish I’m sure it’s gotten a lot of people thinking about tomorrow in a much different way than they might have at the turn of the year.

I started to think about tomorrow differently when just over a decade ago a doctor called me and told me to get to UMMC that he had made an appointment for me later that day to be seen for cancer. I thought about how many tomorrows I had from that point on. Yes after time I started to focus less on it but another cancer several years later was another wake-up call.

Yes, I live for today but I think about tomorrow. Because I never finish all I would like to each day I think about all the possibilities of tomorrow and I get excited and get moving on it better.

Now everyone (well for the most part) is thinking about tomorrow. Will family stay safe, will they stay safe. You see those stresses in people. But you also see some very strong and positive things happening. People pulling together. People focusing on their families. People learning to make do with less and doing fine. People looking forward to a more pleasant tomorrow in the future.

Saturday morning 7/30/2016. I was just returning from a ride down New Cut Road and had just made the turn next to the Phonenix Restaurant onto Main Street. Had the top down so just held up the old Kodak and snapped this. Later this day the flood-hit and the street looked like this. Tomorrow was never the same for a lot of the people along this street. Photo by Mike Hartley
I hope everyone’s tomorrow is a healthy one.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m tired, really tired.
  • I can’t remember any thoughts because work has been so busy.
  • I do know that I’m going to see tomorrow because I’m always up past midnight.
  • I loved the first family meeting via Zoom this evening.


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A simple but grand day

Was just sitting here looking at some pictures of friend and family on my office walls and thinking that I need to add, update and reorganize them. I really don’t have much room to add. They are at least 60-70% covered now. But it’s my office and I’ll cover it in the things I love.

In some ways, things are fairly normal for me. I normally work from home on Tuesday nights so this is good. And being I was working from home that 90-minute drive on the way in was used to cook some dinner.

Stuffed burgers. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I made a few stuffed burgers. Grilled up some onions and used some Havarti cheese. A few spices on the outside, the hot coals and we were off. They were quite tasty. I hadn’t had a burger off my grill since last year so it was special being the first of the season. By the way, those are half-pounders before the stuffing.

Doing something like that was fun. It seemed normal. And then you walk by the TV and know that we are far from normal. But as I learned a while back, just live each day the best you can and enjoy life.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • One good thing I’m seeing more of on local TV news is the good things people are doing for each other.
  • I would love to take a ride this week on some back roads. That is a social distance thing right? I mean I’m alone in the car.
  • Felt good to catch a major issue and fix it at the job today. This old man hasn’t lost his touch yet.
  • That first week working totally from home proved deadly for my weight. Good thing I got that eating under control and in the second week I’m back down a bit.
  • I was trying to photograph this hawk through the woods today but nothing came out well. I’m reminded of a line from Jaws where Brody says “your going to need a bigger boat.” In my case, I need a bigger lens.

Random Links of the Day

Solomon R Guggenheim Museum. I know I’m going to spend some time on this tour. I’ve been itching to go to a museum this year.

Otter Cam from the Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland.


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Monday madness

What

What to do with ourselves? What do we do to help those in need? What do we cook tonight? What is the day we can hug again? What is the plan? What day of the week is it? What are the essential services again? What sweatsuit or shorts do I wear today?

What do I tell my children when they ask how long this might go on? What do I read or listen to for factual information? What area can I walk in? What day will my wife kill me? What group do we donate to? What will be the day our bills start to get tight? What day is that stimulus check coming?

What is wanting me to take a drink? What will be the state of all our jobs if this goes on? What does this mean for my upcoming retirement plans? What is really a safe distance from someone else? What good is cheap gas if you can’t go anywhere?

What is important is showing through in life now. Love of family and friends and those doing courageous work.


Listen

Listen to music, turn the TV OFF. Step outside, listen to the birds. Listen to your friends and family. Listen to your heart. Listen to the breeze. Listen to the dawn. Listen to the sound of children’s laughter.

You could hear those O’s bats last night. Photo by Mike Hartley

I usually don’t like to knock local businesses but I get an email from a local carpet store with the subject “Covid 19 We’re an Essential Service.” Telling their clients that Construction services are essential services. Well, I guess loosely defined I guess that meets the criteria. I don’t know what emergency constitutes getting carpet/flooring installed in your home.

My friend building out emergency hospital space is essential construction work. Carpet for your home, I think not.

I understand the need for small businesses to survive. And I will support the hell out of the ones that survive. But ones that I’m thinking are doing questionable things during this time, I’m no so sure.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Now those automobile ads with cars going down empty city streets don’t look so odd.
  • I miss hugging my children and grandchildren so much.
  • Mother Nature is going to provide me with 3 hours of work in cutting the yard starting this week. Way to go MN on filling the time each week.
  • Beautiful day outside here in central Maryland.
  • Can you imagine this situation without the internet?


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Sunday Thoughts

It’s the start of the workweek. And yes I’m thankful I have a job where I can work from home. One income out of two is far better than none. Plus mine is the one with the medical insurance. Long term I’m worried about that gap of a few years between now and when we are eligible for Medicare. I hope I can stay employed for that timeframe.

This was my favorite plant to work. The old College Park facility. Photo by Mike Hartley

I might be wrong but I think my company will come out of this fine. I think it’s going to be a tough go for everyone and business will certainly change from this but I’m hoping to stay employed.

I feel for those entering the workforce in the next year or two. But with change comes some new opportunities that we haven’t even stumbled upon so far.


The Handshake/Handsqueeze

What to do. I’m sitting here this morning thinking about one of the favorite things my daughter and I have together. From a young age when we would hold hands, we would give each other gentle squeezes from time to time and look at each other with a smile. It was our secret for a long time. We never said anything about it, for it was just our special thing.

As she grew she would great me or say goodbye and grab my hand and squeeze it once or twice and kiss me goodbye.

Even now that she is married and has a daughter our hand squeezing continued when we see each other. We sometimes sign our notes and messages with “Hand Squeeze” at the end. But here we are in a new day and new rules and new realities.

It would probably be simple if everyone washed their hands frequently. Like after coughing or sneezing or before touching food or after using the bathroom but we all know people that don’t do this. The number of common surfaces we all touch is incredible. Doorknobs, elevator buttons, gas pumps, atm machines and on and on. We should really be washing our hands half the day.

As a society losing a handshake or hand squeeze is a tragic thought. I don’t know about you but I’m a handshake man. It’s an unconscious reaction if I see someone I know and like. It’s the standard when I meet someone new. Its a professional business greeting.

I hope we can return to the day of a handshake. I know I’ll be leading the charge is they say its safe. But rest assured, I’ll be washing my hands a lot more in the future.

No we are not going outside. Just talk to the hand. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My daily appreciation and respect for those medical and front line responders to this crisis. Their bravery and dedication to cause are above and beyond.
  • My wishes for everyone to be healthy.
  • I felt guilty not doing a post yesterday. I fell asleep early.
  • My wishes for peace of mind to those who aren’t able to say goodbye to loved ones.

Random Link of the Day

The “How to Host a Zoom call like a Pro


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Positive day

Jellies – Photo by Mike Hartley

I was reading a post from a blog I follow about “The Positive Side of Recent Weeks” and I thought I’d add my personal observations before reading any comments on that post.

  • I’m very happy that I get to spend more time with my best friend and better half who are one and the same. We have been through a lot in our lives already so if all we have to do is stay at home, we got this.
  • I’m happy and thankful everyone I know is still healthy.
  • I’m sleeping better than I have in years. No commute to work has given me a few extra hours each day to spread to different things including rest.
  • You start to sort out what is really important in life. Family, friends, health and simple pleasures. Oh yeah, a job and health insurance helps.
  • My wife and I have discovered Facetime. The need for it before didn’t exist much because we could see each of our children often. Now its a shot of life into our systems. About to discover Zoom.
  • I find myself reading and writing more which is enjoyable.
  • I’m still looking at each day as something special and something to make the best of.
  • Truthfulness and facts are becoming popular again. Fauci, Fauci, Fauci. And his many professional friends.
  • I’m enjoying driving without bumper to bumper traffic the few times I have been out.
  • My house and yard are going to look damn good if this goes on for some time.
  • Some of the worries I hear in my children’s voices for us is a very wonderful way of them saying how much they love us. We are fine kids.
  • I’m hoping for the return of the drive-in movie theater. It gives you the social distancing thing.
  • I have time to detail my car which never seems to be available.
  • Most people now realize the real heroes in the world are not our sports stars but police fire/EMT and medical professionals.
  • In the absence of sports, I’ve discovered cooking shows. But yes I admit to watching a replay of some games recently because I’m sports starved.
  • I’m saving money on haircuts. Of course, I’m starting to look like one of the Beatles from the ’60s. So I’m either going to look like Ringo or learn to cut my own hair. Right now Ringo is the winner.
  • I’m having time to sort through some of my family’s history.
  • I’ve had time to clean out a few inboxes of email. And they really needed it.
  • I’m still dreaming of having my toes in the sand and the sound of waves sometime in the future.
  • A lot more people are waving and yelling hello than in the past.
  • I have a few more minutes to listen to some music in my home.
  • I have time for a long list like this.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It felt great to detail my car today. My back said it would feel better if someone else did it. Yes, I did the SUV in addition to my little sports car.
  • I like having a few minutes to talk to neighbors. Of course at a good distance.
  • The song “In the air tonight” still makes my hair stand on end.
  • Selflessness – Retired medical professionals returning to work.
  • I find myself moved to tears more lately.
  • The advertising industry really turned on a dime with new commercials on how they are changing things like car buying and many others.
  • Remember when you used to worry about what the weather was going to be like?

Sorry to ramble on so much. I’ll get some fresh images tomorrow.


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Uncertainty and other thoughts

I found a draft I had started in August of 2015 the other day with the title “Uncertainty and other thoughts.” The uncertainty almost 5 years ago was the day or two before my doctor’s appointment to see if the surgery for my second cancer was successful. In the preceding weeks that uncertainty invaded almost every moment of life. Even if I was doing or thinking about something else I noticed my overall mode was reserved because of the uncertainty of the future. Even when I laughed it was shorter because that uncertainty would creep into my thoughts.

I never finished that draft, because the results of that appointment weren’t good. I had to do 3 months of radiation Mon-Fri every morning after working an all-night shift. I would drive from DC where I worked to Baltimore for treatments at 8 am. I was proud I didn’t miss any work over that time.

Those bad results in August followed by another bad set the next month changed my attitude a bit also. I was going into an area of greater uncertainty and if I allowed myself to get ramped up even more than I was after the surgery hoping things were going to be good I would have driven myself nuts.

I just kind of accepted and hoped for the best during that time and after. And that is what I do now. Not to say I’m out of touch with the reality of things but the reality is we have very little control. We have live each day the best. Spend each day expressing love and laughter. Practice compassion. Focus on the things that aren’t measured in monetary wealth.


We took a short ride around the county today. I hadn’t been out in over a week. And that was just to drop off prescription and food at father and mother inlaws. We were looking for someplace to get out and soak up a few minutes of the sun while walking. There were a lot of people out in the various areas we cruised to, so I thought of one that was near where I grew up that was normally quiet. So I drove down to Scotts Cove in Rocky George. I was surprised to see some people out but we managed to keep a great distance from anyone and only stayed out about 30-40 minutes.

Photos by Mike Hartley


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Today would have been Opening Day in Baseball. So I put on my Yankee shirt to mark the day.
  • I miss the Thursday night gathering with friends very much.
  • I love being couped up with someone I love.
  • I can hear the stress in a great number of people’s voices.
  • I’m starting to discover what a good night’s sleep feels like.

Random Links of the Day

Yeah, the Aquarium in Baltimore is closed but you can still catch a few live views online – Reef SharksJelliesCoral reef


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Maryland Day

I heard this morning that it was Maryland Day. And being its the state I love the most I thought I’d sing a few of its praises. I was born here and have lived here my 60+ years. I love it. To me its a little bit of every part of our country.

Ocean City Maryland Beach and Parasail Photo by Mike Hartley

We have the shore and the mountains. We have great bodies of water. We have a history in abundance. There are great cultures and food. Our state flag may be the best of all the states. The people, there are some really great ones here. Many heroes below the radar. And many common people who step up.

On a fall day with a breeze, sun and 68 degrees. Photo by Mike Hartley

It has a lot of the best educators and institutions. It is probably one of the most seasonally balanced places to live where each season is well represented. (Well this past winter was the exception). As far as huge weather events we seem to be in a sweet spot for avoiding the most tragic weather that afflicts so many parts of the country.

Memorial on boardwalk

It’s been a great state to raise a family. Full of resources and good communities. Sports are a big part of life. Some of the best hospitals in the world are here. The roads when not full of traffic are wonderful ribbons of asphalt.

B&O RR Museum Photo by Mike Hartley

You have both big city life and country life available. The Nations Capital is a stones throw away. We have accents. We have Old Bay seasoning and steamed crabs. There is Black Eyed Susan’s and

Black Eyed Susan’s and fountain in Annapolis. Photo by Mike Hartley

We have a wonderful selection of sports teams and great recreational facilities. I could go on and on for weeks on end about towns and people and the natural resources but suffice to say, I love it.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you think TV is tough to watch now. Wait another week or two.
  • It felt good to make a donation today.
  • If we could listen to professionals instead of politicians we would be in better shape.
  • Almost time to store the space heater away in my office.
  • This virus has made me think about retiring sooner than I had planned on. But the reality is I’m probably going to have to work longer. Such is life. As long as I have my health.


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Beatles

I feel like I’m about to look like one of the Beatles pictures from the late 1960s in another few weeks. Been a long time since I let my hair grow. Of course, this isn’t intentional but I believe my barbershop is closed as most everything is and I probably wouldn’t go anyway.

So away the hair will grow. Or maybe I’ll watch a youtube video of how to become my own barber.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I can hardly believe the lack of leadership at many levels. I can hardly believe the lack of common sense in people. But it is what it is as my old Marine boss would say. So we will continue to do our part and stay at home.

I am encouraged about the company that I work for, their communication and leadership and what appears to be good sound judgment so far. And yes I’ll be working from home a while longer.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The sun came out this afternoon and it felt great on the skin.
  • Instead of worrying about if there will be enough ventilators if you get sick, worry about remembering to do the steps to keep from getting sick.
  • If you think I’m taking medical advice from PT your out of your Vulcan Mind.
  • I told myself I wouldn’t do it but I do find watching some replays of old championships cool to watch.

Random Links of the Day

OK, it’s here in a few minutes. American Red Cross Day of Giving. Help out or give blood.


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Cold and wet

Yes, it was that kind of day outside. That is why I didn’t even touch the doorknob to go outside. I didn’t even feel like going outside to do a new rain photo. So I’m using this late summer shot of my neighbors garden in a drenching storm. Those sunflowers are a good 10-15 foot high.

Sunflowers in rain Photo by Mike Hartley

Last week it was panic buying of supplies from grocery stores. This week it’s a run on medicines. I see signs of panic all around. Who knows, maybe they are the insightful ones. I don’t think so but I could be wrong.

I had a lazy day, I earned it. Not really, got sucked into current events and some worry/concern. I also talked to a good friend today. It reminded me there are many normal people still working in industries supporting this emergency that you wouldn’t think of. How about the construction workers who are now coming up with these emergency facilities our doing emergency build-outs of existing ones. It’s happening in big cities and it could be happening around the country. I hope not. I hope we have a handle on it. I look for good news each day. But just realize lots of people are taking risk of helping others in not so recognized ways.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The chance of being a human guinea pig just went way up.
  • A positive of these changes is I’m getting some good rest most days.
  • This is a good reminder that there are all types of people in society with all types of attitudes and beliefs. So getting everyone on the same page, good luck.

Random Link of the Day

Carry out places in Howard County – I believe they are asking for support this Take-Out TUESDAY.


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Sudzy Sunday

Wash the hands. I’m beginning to wonder if that is like the duck under your desk in the ’60s. Yeah, I know, anything to help prevent the spread so wash your hands often. Me, I’m staying home.

So I thought I’d wash my car this morning and kill two birds with one sponge. You know, trying to keep some sense of normalcy. It felt good like it always does. A clean ride always makes me feel good. So it’s all ready for later this week. I believe I saw Thursday is the next nice day outside without rain. I’ll be looking forward to that ride the next few days.

There are some beautiful trees in our neighborhood.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Before I washed the car I saw the first trace of the yellow pollen that turns my red car orange every other day for the next month or two. Which reminds me I should get my tractor running soon. Mulch will be coming and grass will be growing. And there is that large pile of branches that needs to move to the lower backwoods.

Some things seem so normal still. But there is that uncertainty all around us even when you don’t have the news on. It’s great talking to people. Everyone letting each other know were good.

We all should be keeping in mind the people still keeping the country running. Deliveries of essential service. Security of our nation. And many others that still go on each day. That cause those individuals to be out and about in the midst of this doing their jobs. As a matter of fact, I’m going to write one tonight to see if they need me to get anything for them.

Also remember not to overtax the hospitals if you can.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • We are all going to get a good education of what our health care system really looks like now.
  • I’m discovering Facetime and I like it. Nowhere near as good as a hug from your children but really nice considering we aren’t seeing each other.
  • A lot more people appreciate each day now.
  • Today the purge has started. Relax, I’m talking about junk in my basement.

Today’s Link I thought might be of Interest

How much Toilet paper supply do you have. This calculator can help.


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Godspeed

I’m fairing pretty well in this stay at home situation. Because of my job and schedule, I’ve been away from society for a bit for a few years anyway. I think I’m doing well because my better half and I have isolated ourselves pretty much.

And I’m prepared mentally for a long period of isolation with my better half. I’m looking forward to it. Not so sure she is but I’ll try not to drive her crazy for the duration.

But the immediate things that seem so far away are the personal contact with loved ones. Seeing my father and mother inlaw through a window. Not being able to see my children or grandchild or granddog/cat. Not giving my best friends hugs. Not being able to shake hands or hug co-workers.

Those things I’m already starting to long for. But I will pause those things so all stay healthy, that is the goal now. And if we do our part we will save those medical professionals trying to save us.

Godspeed to us all.
Photo by Mike Hartley

For some reason, I feel we might look back at these first few weeks as the good old days. I worry that much harder times are coming. Obviously the financial hit will take a good time to come out of even if normal were restored next week. And we all know that isn’t happening.

But the loss of life is the real loss. The mental stress for some might turn them into a loss. The restructuring of the world and interconnection could be lost. How we survive for a year or longer until a vaccine is available and maintain this distance over that time. I don’t even want to think about that possibility yet. One week at a time.

But many things might be gained. Maybe things will be in a better perspective for us. The real heroes aren’t the guys catching the touchdown passes or the game-winning shot or walk-off home run. The real heroes are the medical, police and fire/EMT’s that go out every day and continue to do their job at huge risk to their own lives every day and earn a mere fraction of professional athletes and do it without the fanfare.

Stop and THINK, do you really need to go to the hospital.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And these medical and other public servant professionals do it every day when there isn’t a crisis like this. Lots of them save lives daily. From catching cancers early on to rescuing someone from a fire. And everything else that the public is faced with every day.

Yes, it’s fun and very entertaining to watch athletes. Yes, we should return to the enjoyment of sports and festivals and concerts. But balance that admiration and respect with the nurse or cop or fireman that lives in your own neighborhood.


I’m really enjoying having meals together again. Just my better half and I that is. Our schedules were such that eating together wasn’t the norm. But now it is and it’s wonderful. It reminds me of the old days (when kids were young) when family meals were a priority. Not everyone running out on their own. Especially Sunday night dinners.

We made a good effort of having family meals together when the kids were growing up. Work schedules sometimes interfered, but one of us was always there and we made an effort to do it as a family as often as possible.

While very different people we sure were together on a lot of things in raising our children.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My home is going to look nice this year.
  • I overate for the first week at home.
  • I miss playing with children’s toys with my granddaughter.
  • It should worry us all with the number of people buying guns and overstocking on ammo. This might be the first time I take the trigger lock-off and I’m not going to the range.

Today’s Links I thought might be of Interest

Coming soon (Wednesday, March 25) American Red Cross Giving Day. Give blood or money or both.

I hope none of us get this but it’s better to be prepared. CDC on getting your home ready.

Shelter in place cartoons. Don’t forget to laugh in stressful times.


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Special Friday

Friday was a special birthday. Our first child was born this first day of spring. I was telling her last night that I have the images of my first sight of her in my mind today. Also that I miss her greatly because we have chosen to celebrate at a later date. It breaks my heart to do that but it’s also a wise move. I was reading that story of the family that has lost 4 members within days from a family gathering.

I couldn’t live with myself if I had passed something onto a family member. Nor should they have the guilt if it was passed to us. The trouble is it’s not like it’s going to be a short term delay. I suspect several weeks if we are lucky, to several months if not. And that hurts because that not only means missing birthdays and anniversaries but random dinners, cookouts, and gatherings in between the big events. I’m getting too old to miss anything but I also need to be smart.

My better half and I used Facetime to call her. You could probably count on one hand and maybe have a few fingers left with the number of times I’ve used that. But I can imagine a much greater use will be in order in the coming days. It was a lot of fun and it made missing her a bit easier.

I hope this isn’t something I have to imagine later this year. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you think it’s tough staying home think of how tough it’s going to be on your pets when you return to work.
  • Find the balance between keeping up on very important news and not watching too much and getting stressed.
  • I wonder if driving with the top down increases my risk of catching something? Not like I’m leaving the house much anyway.
  • I wonder if my back will hold up to the work I did on the deck today?

Today’s links I thought might be of interest:

If you thought about what can you do to support the health care works this article from Today has some great steps for each of us.

100 things for kids to do at home during school closures.

Bloom Cam for the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC – better to watch from a distance this year.

Not often you see Bourbon Street on a Friday night at 10pm empty.


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A time to help

Lots of people are stepping up big time. But the need appears to be great. Creative thinking and willing people like distillers creating hand sanitizer now. People calling neighbors or bringing the elderly whatever they need. Children calling parents to make sure they are well and limiting contacts.

One of the guys at Eakles loves military vehicles. Photo by Mike Hartley

But more can be done. It’s an adjustment. I’ve seen people in denial, some frozen in fear. Also anger or depression. Certainly, all of us have confusion over it all because of the rapid change of information. Some of that is normal in these times and some isn’t.

So how can each of us step up to help our fellow man/woman? I see the Gobinator (Governor) of Maryland has a new website called Maryland Unites. This is full of good links to help.

Also, think of your local community. I thought to myself where do I like to eat that doesn’t have a big carry out business. So we went to Shannon’s in Village Green and got a great carry out meal and left them a nice tip. The service segment of the workforce seems to always take the first hit.

I know, spending money on eating out isn’t the smartest move right now. But I’m trying to keep some semblance of normalcy. One thing that will be far from normal though is tomorrow. Well, any day is far from normal now but its the first one to hit my heart.

Tomorrow is a very special day and I can’t do the normal celebration that we do because we are supposed to limit out contact with people. And the last thing I would want to do is get someone close to me that I love and cherish ill. But it rips my heart out not being able to gather as we normally do to celebrate. I think I’ll write a note about how special this coming day is and how special they are to me.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more time you think you have the less you get done.
  • There will be problems if a rooster wakes me up tomorrow.
  • Trying to decide if sleep or desire to create will win out this evening.
  • There is a lot less sweating of the small stuff nowadays.
  • Think I’ll make a donation to the Red Cross when I’ve finished this post.


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Another 24 hours

Only another 24 hours till Spring is upon us. A much different spring than any of us have experienced.

Washington Monument in the background of the blossoms. Photo by Mike Hartley

The beauty of spring will still be with us. But so will be a season of doubt. And that doubt isn’t from the media its from Doctors and Scientist. It’s from people working in those fields that know about things like viruses.

Views like this don’t begin to do it justice. You must attend. Photo by Mike Hartley

Who’s going to remain healthy and who isn’t. That thought will be with most of us for some time. Of course, there are those that believe this is just useless panic and overreaction and they feel the rest of us are just a bunch of dumbasses. I hope they are right. I hope this thing is gone in a week or two and not one more person dies from it. But I doubt their logic and science.

And while I’d love to enjoy the beauty of the Cherry Blossoms in DC this coming week, I think I’ll pass this year and appreciate some local beauty that doesn’t have to be shared with crowds. I’ll get out tomorrow and see what our county has to offer.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Pick a dine-in only restaurant you like and order carryout from them. And then leave a big tip if they will put it towards the wait staff.
  • Call some elderly people in your life and share a laugh.
  • I know its tempting to go back to normal. Don’t do it yet.
  • I’m looking forward to having the time to read a book in the next month. I’m a slow reader.


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Cooking with juice

Well, I wasn’t actually cooking with juice. But I was cooking today. If supplies last I hope to be cooking a lot more. I was eating out too much anyway. Not that enjoying a good restaurant isn’t a wise move, it’s just a little difficult to pull off now.

Photo by Mike Hartley

It felt good getting the grill fired up again. I put some spicy Italian sausages on the grate and slow-cooked them. Brought them back up and put them in with the onions and peppers. What a savory dinner.

Trying to get a balance between keeping up and being prepared for the future and at the same time trying to enjoy each day. I spoke to my best friends today and I think we are going to get together. A group of 3 should be safe and everyone is healthy so far. I’ve been isolated for a week so I’m fairly low risk.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wished I stayed in bed a bit longer today.
  • This changes everything.
  • A toast to everyone’s good health.
  • I can’t wait to feel the temps in the ’80s again on Friday.
  • I love driving but I don’t miss the drive to and from work at all.
  • I don’t feel the need to tell people that I love them more because I already do it really well each day.


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Can you have a good day

Of course, you can have a good day. If you’re lucky, you can still find positive things in a day. For instance, I don’t look at this hibernation as a bad thing now. I’m trying to find things that I haven’t had a chance to get to at home. I hope to read a book. I hope to do some carvings. Maybe work on my studio photography. Take a walk with my better half. Work in the yard and on the home.

But I also understand there are many that like me live paycheck to paycheck. I’m fortunate that I can work from home so far. Who knows what companies and government agencies will be forced to do in the coming weeks and months though. So uncertainty is our new bedfellow. Will the stores continue to have enough food for all of us. Will they even be open. Which one of the people you pass is sick? You can see it in people’s faces now.

Leadership. Photo by Mike Hartley

I already know a few people in huge financial trouble. Many more will be joining them. Hell, I might fall into that someday myself. I just hope we can overcome this new bug and work hard to restore all the wonderful things we were taking for granted. It’s just going to take time and I know we have some impatient people.

But as I’ve learned over the last decade. When each day you have a health issue hanging over your head, just make the best of each day. Find something to enjoy and smile about. Find something to love. Find someone who inspires you. Find many things to laugh about. Find it within yourself to help someone else.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I don’t even want to look at my 401k.
  • The phrase too little too late leaps to mind recently.
  • I made some prints of my granddaughter today to make me feel good and my daughter when I give them to her.
  • Spend as much time as you can to make the elderly feel secure and relaxed.
  • Governor Hogan impresses me more and more each day.


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New normals

I was just thinking about my next visit to my father and mother in law and how that will be done through a window. Arlington National Cemetery is closed so I can’t visit my own parents.

Yeah I’m saving on gas but no social interaction at the job. I love having the extra time with my better half though. She’s my favorite social interaction.

I have an excuse for not going to the mall.

People Tree Photo by Mike Hartley

3 places you will find sports junkies. On the ledge outside the window, cowering in the corner or watching 10 year old replays like they are live.

I have an excuse for not going to church. And at the same time another reason to go.

I wonder what the least crowded time is to go food shopping?

If you have a lot of interest in life, the emotional strain of becoming a homebody is easier.

Oh no, I see that Casinos and racetracks and betting facilities have been closed in the state. We already have the sports junkies in a state of detox and now we are adding gamblers to the mix. If they close the liquor stores, all hell is going to break loose.

Yet life goes on so normally. A coworker passed away from an apparent heart attack. He was only in his mid 40’s. A best friend had his second grandchild. Life and death march on.

Working in the yard still feels the same. My back hurts after raking. And this morning my thighs hurt from bending over picking up the leaves.

Even though I’m working from home this week I’m tempted to go for a drive in the morning to see how much traffic differs from the norm. I will need to get out because I haven’t ventured outside my neighborhood since last Wednesday morning. And yes I’m going to avoid human contact.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Seared scallops are an easy dish.
  • I’m might scratch my cooking itch this week.
  • I found a box of my father’s history. It’s a big box. I think my Mom kept almost every clipping of his service. I also found a few old magazines. An issue of Time from 1944 and Newsweek from 1948.


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Habit

Looks like going forward, changing some of my habits might be a wise move. Like touching my face. This may take me many years to overcome. I’ve always had a beard and mustache and I believe I touch them a fair amount. If nothing less than to pick food from the beard and maybe blue cheese sauce from the wings I’m wolfing down.

Me

My nose itches several thousand times a day and I’m not supposed to touch it. I mean I touch my nose by accident every time I put my arms out. I’ve always had a nervous habit of messing with chapped lips. Another reason I hate winter. Oh and the eyes. Let’s see, I wear glasses and I’m taking those on and off or switching from reading to my normal specs. Not to mention the times I spend rubbing my eyes because of them being ingrained in computer screens for many hours a day.

And not to be ignored are the ears. While not on the hit parade very often they do get a tug or rub once in a while.

So now I have to make a conscious effort to avoid touching my face. That is going to take a lot of conscious thought cycles out of my processing capabilities. Not that the CPU running this is that bold anyway. Well, I might as well get started. Maybe I’ll make a game of it with my better half. And maybe even the kids. Like if they catch me it cost me.

You know, yesterday was the first day I felt very strange. I leaned over to kiss my daughter as she was leaving and as she was closing the door as I backed away and I wondered if it was OK to do that. It was the worst feeling to think that I had to think about giving my family a hug or kiss or hand squeeze. It almost makes me sick to think that I am going to have to change my interactions at all with anyone. It gave me such a pause it’s still with me 18 hours later. But its a new world today and I’m not even sure I can or want to change the unconscious thought I have of hugging my child when I see them because I love them. But because I love them I have to think first.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Practicing common sense is a good thing in normal times and in times of crisis.
  • I wonder if people are drinking more or less now?
  • Remember, it’s love that will get us through many tough times.
  • Call or write someone older to help them take their mind off the news.
  • I’m going to utilize some of my newfound time (hours less a week in a car commuting) to cook a little more. Being there aren’t any sports on the telly, I might find myself watching more food shows.
  • I just thought of a horrible consequence of this virus. Think of how many charity events that will be impacted. Let’s all continue to give as much as we can in the absence of these fundraising events.


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March Sadness

One of the premier events canceled. Yep, March Madness is off for 2020. I had my Maryland Basketball shirts all in order, separated by color and long and short sleeve. Some people obsess about suits. I have my Terps gear.

It has completely brought an end to one of the years highlights for my friends and I. You see we have this vigil every year where we watch the Opening Thursday and Friday games from start to finish. Yep, we are in our seats by 11 am and finish up a bit after midnight. Multiple screens and flipping around for the best games on the big screen. And we usually watch every weekend till the finals on Monday night. We take time from our jobs to gather together EVERY YEAR.

Go TERPS Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course, we do it up right. We go to Wegmans the morning before our first day and spend hundreds of dollars on food. We feast, all day and all night for two days. We laugh and chest bump and high five and fist bump and hug and yell and go OOHHHHHHH and lose our minds at the most impressive plays. Some even hit the floor. It’s total madness and fun.

It’s one of the great times of the year for my friends and me. Especially when our home team is doing well and advancing to the next round. And this year we were hoping for a chance at the final weekend of glory. As were the other 60 plus teams.

Think of how boring the rest of the month is going to be. No office pools to watch. I can’t imagine what this does to bookies and Vegas. The betting people must be losing their collective minds with all sports shut down.

I mean what is going to be the purpose of doing a sports report for the next month on the news.

All I know is that this one change in life has significantly taken much enjoyment from the country already for the next 30 days. And its thrown me into March Sadness. Also because I’ll have no excuse to avoid the yardwork the next 3 weekends in a row.

I guess I’ll go move my Lefty tie to the back and store my favorite white Terps hat to a covered position. It’s not going to be the same excitement when I walk out to the driveway with the basketball this spring. It’s not going to be the same without the competition with my Son on who is going to win the bracket pool and discussion of every minute of the Maryland game. And I really enjoy that a lot because we both enjoy college basketball so much.

I guess I’ll have to rely on the few memories of the games we attended this year together. I’ll have to hope that the pro’s come back and finish their season late. But even that will be diminished because the teams won’t be in sync like they were. It’s almost like it’s going to be a different season if they do resume at all.

I’m sure the pick-up games won’t be as well attended and of course, leagues are going to postpone games would be my belief. I just thought about what these little league commissioners much be going through. Do we get kids and parents together for a game?

We are in a new territory but its just another day again. So its time to find the joy of something new to fill the void. Today I’m going to enjoy my grandchild. Maybe go for a walk this afternoon when it clears up. Maybe I’ll talk to both of my children and tell them I love them. Maybe I’ll hold my better half tight and tell her I love her also.

See, there is always enough to do. But at 9 pm tonight when the Terps were scheduled to tip off in the Big 10 Tournament I’ll pause and think of the kids and coaches who worked for a year for this point. I’ll wish them peace of mind and heart. I have a huge hole in my heart for the loss of my favorite sporting event of the year. Till next year NCAA March Madness.


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Nothing & everything changed

The sun was out for a bit. The flowers are starting to bloom. My seasonal cough is back. The church guy called selling annual mulch and I ordered 20 bags. I went out to get the mail and bring in the trash can. I took several deep breaths of the mid-50-degree air and smiled. I waved to a neighbor returning home from where ever.

Front garden. Photo by Mike Hartley

But my first few hours were consumed by the news of the day. Most all sports, concerts and other entertainment have come to a halt. Markets are failing badly. Travel and businesses shutting down. We are entering almost a Full Stop. And now I hear schools in our state are closed for a few weeks.

Then a note from work saying to stay on a remote basis and not come to the office which I appreciate because I keep reading about the high-risk issues and I fall into a few of those. And being my cough started up I might have to cancel my doctor’s appointment on Monday.

It’s going to be interesting to see how long and how severe the changes we are entering into will impact life. I think it’s still important to appreciate the good things each day. Do you have your health? If yes you got about all you need. Do your friends and family have their health? If yes you are 95% complete.

It’s interesting to watch leadership in various parts of life step forward or fail to respond or communicate well. For instance, my job has been extremely proactive and ahead of the curve in communications, responses, and actions. I feel the Governor of the state of Maryland has been an excellent communicator.

There are others I’m very disappointed in but to avoid the inevitable hate if I get into that I’ll just leave it at that.

It’s time to keep calm, but also stay well informed and don’t take the risk. Limit your exposure whenever possible. Be safe, be well.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Funny how some things level the playing field.
  • Yesterday if I said what was an unhealthy restaurant to go to, you would have thought about the food they were serving. If I asked you that question today you might have thought about how clean it is.
  • Tell someone you love everything is going to be ok.
  • I live for March Madness so this has been a tough day. But they made the right call.
  • I’m making like a bear and hibernating.


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Think

Think about what is not only good for you but for the people next to you. That is what we are starting to see happen. And its a good thing but it’s going to be a painful thing for many. I hope I wrong about how selfish people can be. I hope I’m inspired by the ability of us to work together. I hope we can help each other and not revert to hostilities.

Steps to Where? Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m going to get real comfortable at home for a while I believe. See how this plays out. So maybe instead of walking around towns photographing maybe, I’ll head to the woods. Or maybe get the studio set up. Yeah, that’s the ticket.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Times like these make you think about times like these.
  • It’s good for people to think seriously about what they do and where they go each day.
  • I’m going to call my father and mother inlaw instead of visiting.
  • Get familiar with the words “full stop”.
  • When you don’t know, Don’t.
  • Oh yeah, enjoy today and tomorrow.


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Boom

Today was the day I heard the Boom. Yeah, the disruption of normal life is under way in a serious way. Adjustments at the job that pays the bills. My better half’s work in the health industry is in high gear. I picked up a friend today who works overnight at a major food chain and he says the panic buying is under way.

Sailboat Jeopardy Photo by Mike Hartley

Just the people on the road with their minds elsewhere. Schools, festivals, political rallies and other events cancelled or postponed. The simple way we great each other changing by the day. Further changes are coming. Who know what this will do to our economy but that is the least of my worries now.

So what will I be doing. I’m not panicking, but I’m keeping a very watchful eye and will try to do that social distancing to the best of my ability. At least for a short period till this is under wraps. For someone reminded me that I’m old today. Someone my own age. And with some breathing issues due to seasonal changes and having had the big C twice I’m not as strong as my youthful counterparts.

I’m just going to try to live normally but think about what I can do to limit catching it and act on it. The next few weeks will tell how much trouble we are in I believe.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Cheap gas is nice but it you can’t go anywhere whats the point?
  • I worry about my better half working in a health care facility.
  • I bet people have a new appreciation for cleaning crews.
  • I’m excited about hump day.


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Water under the bridge

I had just a few minutes but took advantage of them and went down to Ellicott City and took a 10 minute walk. What a beautiful day outside and it seems everyone was trying to take advantage of it. Rightfully so in my opinion.

I can’t wait till this weather is more commonplace again instead of the exception. Hopefully I won’t need to wait long.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I took the old camera out and grabbed a few frames. But then it was back to the days errands and work. Life is just too short with a full time job.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My workplace is the cleanest its ever been. I believe if I sat still for more than 5 minutes I might be cleaned with a Clorox wipe.
  • Trying to sleep during the day is difficult at best.
  • Strange that we are more concerned with the economy than public health.
  • Rode to work today with the top down for the first time this year.
  • I haven’t been told to wash my hands so much since I was 5 years old.


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A slow start, a slower finish

Just didn’t have the mojo working today. I’ll try to find it this evening so I can get a good start on Monday. Might not be the easiest thing with the work week well under way already but I’ll give it the old college go at it.

Triple the Pleasure

Days like today make me look at life and my energy levels. So just like one might chose their words carefully, I’ve got to start managing my energy a little more carefully. And no better time to start than now.

So my first step is to get better rest. That should increase my energy levels which most of the week are beyond low due to the poor sleep habits I have. So my first order of business is to get more sack time. I hope to do that by reducing my work commute time and spending less time watching TV.

So we start in earnest this week. A new plan, A new effort. Maybe a new result.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Lots of people walking around in gowns and mask cleaning our offices tonight. Kind of makes me wonder.
  • A Monday in the 70’s and sunshine. I may have to reshape my opinion of Mondays.
  • I used to countdown the hours till the workweek is over. Now I just worry about each day instead. Lots more victories than just one a week.


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Super Saturday

There are some family days that really work out nicely. Today was one of those. A celebration and 4 generations of the family represented. So many smiles and laughs shared. Affection and appreciation were given and felt. Pride and love overflowing in me tonight.

I still see some taking it for granted. Not savoring the moment. Not utilizing the time and presence of others. Sometimes it’s difficult in larger gatherings. For instance, I wish I had talked more with several people today, but I was also doing some shooting.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Anyway, I’m spent. Rumor is in a few hours we’re going to lose an hour of sleep. Ain’t that some stuff.


That project I was speaking about the last week or so was a photo album of my granddaughters first year of life. It was fun putting together. It gave me and the printer a workout. Almost 300 images. It was a pure joy doing it though and I hope to help document every year of every grandchild I ever have.

To be close and able to help my children and their children, I’m one lucky man.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m so tired it’s hard to recall some random thoughts I’ve had today.
  • Ah, here is one. Young children get surprisingly fast, surprisingly fast.
  • Down to a few hours before the workweek starts again. It’s getting a bit easier knowing they aren’t unlimited anymore.
  • I’ve gotten away from exercising again. I should go for a long walk tomorrow morning. And take that cinderblock of a camera with me for a workout.


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Too little too late

The season is over, but Mother Nature gave it one last try today. A quick snow squall late this afternoon. And here I put the snow shovels at the back slider door to be put in the shed for the coming spring and summer seasons. One of my best friends was mad that he hadn’t been able to use his snowblower this season and was thinking about running it a few minutes, draining the gas and storing it.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I can’t say I’m sorry about this lack of snow this season. I’m sure Mother Nature will make up for it. She always seeks balance. Sometimes just using extremes though.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ll be honest. I left no time for this blog today and it shows. But I did complete another project on time and it’s looking good. That was the priority in my life today. So you have my apologies for this few minute’s efforts.
  • I wish someone had told me earlier in life not to touch my face much. At this age having to think about that completely disrupts the flow of my day.
  • OK, avoiding people and crowds, hum, that has some positive aspects.
  • Really though, be careful, this virus has the potential to take off it seems.


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Stopped

Sometimes my work takes me into strange hours of the day. On the way home from work this morning the sunrise over the Howard County Conservancy was one I just had to stop and admire for a moment. So I pulled into the Snowball Stand parking lot and even got out of the car and caught this. I had breakfast from DD for my better half and daughter so I only had time to snap 2-3 frames.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I love sunrises no matter where they fall in my day. It always signifies a new start. And being today is the start of my weekend, it was a great way to start the day and hit the sack for a few hours rest with a nice image in my head.


Photo by Mike Hartley

So it’s time to get peddling. There is much to be done. I was wishing it would be a little warmer out but then again I really don’t have time to fire up the yard work this weekend.


You know when your children do special things to help people, animals or our environment, it gives me the most special feeling. It kind of inspires me to do more myself.

It also gives me hope for the future. It means they have their heads on straight. As a father, I couldn’t be prouder for this and the many wonderful things they are.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The day is a victory. I made a child smile and laugh.
  • Have a conversation with a neighbor. Yeah, pretend its the old days.
  • OK, I haven’t broken down and tried Coke Energy but the countdown has begun. I’m afraid I might like it.
  • The scale is my friend again. We were on the outs for a few days there.
  • Tomorrow is Employee appreciation day. It figures I’d be off.


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We are not ready

Lots of things get exposed in emergency situations. A pandemic is something were not prepared for ourselves and the supporting industries for these events aren’t prepared.

First we are a selfish people. We will not do what is needed for the safety of each other. That is proven out every day on our highways. Second our medical profession doesn’t have the number of people or resources to handle large scale events. I seriously hope this isn’t as serious as it appears now but I don’t have that sense right now.


Photo by Mike Hartley

I could go on ringing the panic bell but we will see what the future brings soon enough. So onto enjoying this fine day. The last few minutes is about all the time I’ve had to savor the day. More doctors appointments and work with a few hours sleep squeezed in filled that rest of the hours.

In another 6 hours I’ll be free from the job that pays the bills and into a great weekend. It’s a packed one and filled with great times ahead. I can’t wait to raise my camera to my eyes.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes when you work someplace for a very long time the building becomes a home. I guess that is why it gets emotional when they are torn down.
  • I have not tried the new Coke Energy but I hear it calling my name.
  • I hate seeing nice people taken advantage of. And it hardens me against those who do.
  • I’m getting an early start on taking my filter off even though I’m not an old man yet.


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Yes

What a difference a day makes when you not feeling the best and then back to normal the next day. So despite the rain this evening I’m riding the wave. And it’s going to take me through the weekend. I made some more progress on my most recent project and feeling good about the coming weekend.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Once I’m past a very busy Wednesday this week will be great. I thought next week was going to be a good one but a last minute schedule change from the job that pays the bills has thrown a wrench into that. No problem though, I can be good at last minute schedule changes also.

And this and more has made me think today about how I deal with some people. Basically as I’ve grown older I’ve been more selective about my time and the people I spend it with. And this means for some I will no longer have time for them. Especially those who don’t value it and really just waste it.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s always Super Tuesday or Fat Tuesday. Then again at the end of the day Tuesdays Gone as Lynyrd Skynyrd says.
  • I’m losing confidence in society.
  • What some can get away with always amazes me.
  • Elitist can kiss my behind.
  • I’m less worried about the politics of health than the actual health information.


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Nothing

I have nothing left. Between a full day plus of work and medical test I’m spent. The tank is dry. Mentally I’d like to do something but after medical stuff I’m a shell of myself.

I was starting to feel guilty about doing nothing and remembered not to do that to myself. I’ve accomplished a lot today. Tomorrow will be another opportunity to do better. Although its Super Tuesday and working in the news business that means a busy day.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So Tuesday I’ll try to get baking again. Never let a day go by without learning something.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m no fan of barium sulfate.
  • I am a Terps fan and I hope they regain their winning ways tomorrow.
  • The priorities of the rich don’t really apply to me. In other words, I’m through working hard making others wealthy.
  • Tuesday is a rest, catch up day.


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Blank canvas

Each day we start with a blank canvas that is ready to be filled. Each day of life can create wonderful works of art if your up to it. Yes it is very easy to grab a can of black paint and just fill the frame with it. That negative mindset is a one trick pony. Maybe easy to ride and tough to get off of for some but you can make a day of it I guess.

I like to experience a range of emotions. Because no matter how positive and upbeat about my outlook, I know life has some dark colors that you can’t ignore. So I’m prepared with a full palette to work with.

Ocean City Maryland Beach and Parasail Photo by Mike Hartley

This weekend I’ve been very productive painting what I hope is a great picture. It’s a great feeling to be in a creative mode and have some time to invest in it.

I’m really excited about March for a few reasons. Obviously its March Madness which fills my nights with basketball. It’s the month the weather starts to turn to my liking so I can come out of hibernation.

I’m excited because there are a couple of very important birthdays to celebrate. I’m excited because it might be warm enough to put the top down on the car. I’m excited because the work schedule won’t be as demanding as this past month.

I’m excited because I hope to catch up with some old friends I haven’t seen in a while. I’m excited to take some new images. I’m excited because the grill will be fired up this month.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Once I’m past Monday, the rest of the week is cake.
  • Daily walks start today.
  • The more I do the better I feel.
  • I wonder if the mower battery will take another charge this year. Usually I pull it, store it inside and trickle charge it. I was lazy so its still in the mower this spring.


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A bright chill

Sorry, this shot was taken last fall but it reminded me of today with the clouds and bright blue sky. But what has stuck with me today is that chill. I can’t get warm enough for some reason. Maybe an extra blanket on the bed this evening.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Less than 24 hours before this week kicks into high gear. Got a good number of things scheduled, not all of which are looked forward to. But a few are so I’ll make the best of it.

I’m starting to get in a better flow of work in the last few days. Accomplishing something each day and feeling inspired to do more. And today was very successful. Well with the exception of the Terps loss this evening.

The best thing about the past week is that I’m using the inspiration of others to do things less than my own inner desires. And that is nice because that fuel is within.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Despite my age, hugs are still very important to me.
  • Almost time to pull out the grill master hat. I hear the hint of warmer weather on the horizon.
  • Ah, March Madness is only a few minutes away. LIFE IS GOOD.
  • I just decided to make some fried eggs tomorrow morning. I haven’t had any in a while.
  • Your weight set has a mind of its own. For instance, if you don’t use them and leave them lying around you will trip over them and hurt yourself.


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Nothing else matters

I was going through my drafts again and found a post entitled “Nothing else matters”. It was about something else but it made me think of some news I heard recently about an old coworker. Apparently his health has taken a very bad turn. It both reminded me that I’m not that many years behind him in age and that we both had the same cancer.

Surfer weather. Photo by Mike Hartley

It reminded me to use every day and every minute with what I hold dear. I spent a good amount of time with my granddaughter today for instance. The rest of the weekend will be with my better half. Thursday night was with my best friends. I’ll get by and see the parents soon. I’ll talk to or see my children.

Those are the things that matter. Do we have our health and can we see each other and share good times. It’s pretty simple.

It reminded me that life is so short and that I should keep making some positive body and mind changes to extend it as best I can.

It reminded me to pull out the camera every day. And today I did with a nice series of my granddaughter and my daughter. And now I’m busy editing and printing. I’m also getting back to my photo site which I really need to finish populating and organizing.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Friday night and Saturday morning are peak calmness of spirit time for me.
  • I’ve learned a lot about myself since I started blogging.
  • I wonder which people are panicking more about. Their losses in the market or fear of getting sick?
  • These times we are learning how fragile our society is and how the medical profession while advanced in many things, doesn’t know everything about everything.


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Utilize it

The IT being Time. My mindset is in adjustment about this. Relax time is getting less important and seeing progress more so. I feel the sudden urge to utilize all my time well.

Utilize IT in terms of the gifts you have been given. If you have more than others, share IT. If you have knowledge share it. If you have strength share it.

Utilize IT in terms of Love. Try having infinite compassion to share. Some have great faith to share. Be willing to share a passion to inspire others to great things.

So let me get to work on something special.

Pickets in the sky.
Photo by Mike Hartley

A tree fell in the forest today and I heard it. Because it was in the woods behind my house. I’m glad the winds have subsided.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Laughter between friends is special.
  • A special day is upon me. Of course which one isn’t special.
  • It’s been a good learning week. That always get the juices going.
  • Time is the only healer.
  • Some days I so look forward to what the future holds. And other days I look forward and it scares the hell out of me.


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Juices

No not the fruit juice kind. I’m talking creative juices. For some reason, they ebb and flow from time to time. There are times when it just feels right in some of the creative endeavors I tinker in. I’m hoping to rediscover this because I’ve been a little stagnant lately. So time to look within and revive myself.

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

I have to stop waiting for opportunities and make my own. I just have to make the effort. I have to work within what I’m given when I’m given the time.

I’m going to set my priorities and get to work. I’m excited just thinking about it now and feel committed to accomplishments this weekend. I’ll report back my success or failure Sunday.

Tonight is the last evening of work for the job that pays the bills and my job as husband, grandpa and hobby master will resume. Isn’t life grand.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The Miracle in Minnesota. Go Terps.
  • When you do something for someone and appreciation is expressed, joy is felt.
  • I was thinking about washing my car tomorrow. I see mother nature is prepared to give it a blow-dry without starting it up.
  • I feel as a father that YouTube takes away a lot of the fun of showing something to your children because they know how to do it better than you by watching videos.


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Fumes

Feeling like I’m running on fumes but I’m running so off we go. One of my best friends brought back some nice memories from our youth which really started my day off well. Yeah I know living in the past isn’t a good thing but in our case its impossible to ignore. It was such a good ride that we can’t help but reminisce from time to time.

Ellicott City looking over bridge. Photo by Mike Hartley

The fumes I’m running on are 8 hours sleep in the last two nights combined. I’ve got one more short night and then I can get back to some normal rest I hope.

Maybe I’ll try to get down to Ellicott City tomorrow and see what all the commotion is about. I hear it has to do with the EC Brewing company and Phoenix also. I think the owner brought the Brewing company and I believe they are doing some kind of makeover.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Some people who have disappointed me in the past are trying to up their game. Not in a good way either. That’s OK, karma is a bitch.
  • I’m finding those few minutes of life that keep me going each day even on the most difficult days.
  • It scares me when people I know who have the cancers I’ve had succumb to them.
  • If I could make one wish before I leave this earth its that some of the health issues I faced are not passed along to my children.


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Why

I don’t know why this bothers me. Maybe its the contrast of a comfortable pillow in a wire basket. But it’s one of the many touches my better half does with our home. I like most all of them because they are well thought out and stylish. Plus she keeps it fresh by changing things up once in a while and always adds seasonal touches thoughout the year.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course I take a lot of this for granted. I’m not a big change or decorating person. But she is constantly improving this home of ours and I’m appreciative because it always looks so nice and professional.


That was a very moving memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter today and one that had many important thoughts and goals. Live in each moment with family and friends.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It feels good to get more done than you think you could in a day.
  • Life has a lot of lessons. But you got to go to school of life first to learn.
  • Squeeze some life into the drudgery of the mundane parts of the week.
  • I’m developing an appreciation for my 60’s.
  • I think I’ll do a little shooting today.
  • Its easy to take your health for granted till you realize you have. So appreciate any good day you have.


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Back to back

No, I didn’t go out and raise hell. Quite the opposite, I slept. Yeah slept for about 10 hours Friday night and again on Saturday night. The rarity of such an event for me does not go unstated. I’m not saying it makes up for what little sleep I got the rest of the week. I’m just saying it was a great few days of rest and something that doesn’t happen that often.

Believe me, I’m well aware of the importance of rest. And when I get some time I’m going to make sure I get some sleep each day in quantities that suit my body and mind. I’m actually trying to do better at it now even while still very busy working hard.

I guess I’ll have to start looking at it like eating. Never too late in life to start healthy habits. Well, I hope so at least. Not that I need 10 hours but the 3-5 that I average is too little.


Another back to back was family luncheons on Saturday and Sunday. A really nice treat. Yesterday was celebrate a brother inlaws 60th birthday and today was just a lunch with our son and daughter-in-law at the Sunshine Grille in Fork Maryland. I really liked this place. Very good food and service. Plus sitting outside was something I had never seen before. A Morgan 3 wheeler.

Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley

Yet another back to back coming is a tough few weeks ahead. Once I clear these next two weeks I’m going to spend some me-time. And of course some we time with my better half. But first we have to clear this hurdle. And it begins tonight.

At least I’m going into it feeling good and hoping for the best. And when things aren’t in your control all you can do is hope for the best.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The fun in the day is finding the minutes you can savor and enjoy.
  • I’m working by my mind is with two people with heavy hearts.
  • It’s good to evaluate your priorities often. For me its easy for them to get out of sync.
  • I have a number of desk, most of them aren’t clean. But I’m working on it.


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Challenges

New neighbors new challenges. A while back the neighbor behind us builds a chicken coup. Then they populated it beyond what is allowed in the county. The new neighbors next door just created this metal frame structure, threw what appears to be a tarp over part of it. Given the sounds, I believe that one is populated now.

So far the one behind us which is in a court and we have a little woods between us, hasn’t been an issue. They maintain it well. the rooster doesn’t wake me often and there has been no smell. So all was well. But this large pen, on our property line and maybe too close to my home given the laws on the books. I have no idea how many they think they are going to put in there but its a very large pen. Twice the size of the one behind us that has 15-20 already.

Photo by Mike Hartley

To add to the complications the neighbors that have constructed their new pen don’t speak English. So I can’t familiarize them with the local laws on the books. I wish there weren’t language barriers. So right now I’m going to just see how this plays out. If it becomes an issue I might just call the county and let them deal with it.

So get ready for the poultry update from time to time. I’m not against poultry or people raising it. But a residential area and a farm are two different things.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I had a really nice luncheon with in-laws today.
  • I know when I get a good night’s sleep because its a real special event being they come around so infrequently.
  • I can’t wait till I go to D.C. for a reason other than work.
  • Each time I get a week or two overdue on a haircut I think about letting it grow again.
  • The older you get, the less performance reviews matter.


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Life decisions

I was thankful my son called me about a life decision yesterday. Everyone needs people they can trust with the really difficult calls in life. Not that he needs me for many because both my children are very capable and have made many successful calls in their young adult lives and I believe will continue to do so.

Some calls are tough. I always have a number of people that I can get very honest and frank opinions from who I respect. Sometimes I even ask someone I know who might give me the opposite of what I’m hoping for just to have a different perspective.

Photo by Mike Hartley.

Some days your toughest decision is where to eat. The next day you may be faced with a life and death decision. You don’t know what decisions you will have to make each day till that day comes. Life is a constant decision.

For instance, for the first time in my life, I realized I had to make a decision each day of what and how much to eat. For the first 50 years of my life, I could eat what I wanted and how much I wanted and I stayed at a healthy weight. Those days are gone and until I realized recently that I have to make a decision each day now about eating did I get control back. Because no decision is usually the wrong decision.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I got to thinking about the end of life decisions today. Not because I’m faced with it but I know this needs communication in the future. For instance, I think some of the simplest things don’t get communicated. Take driving for example. We have a huge population heading into the senior years. We are living longer. But our driving skills deteriorate. What is the right time to give up the keys? Typically the seniors in my realm of experience have paid dearly for not giving them up early enough.

I lost a Grandmother when my Grandfather pulled out in front of a dump-truck. And he was also injured badly and never really recovered from it. The year before when we saw them on a summer visit I remembered going to get chicken with my Grandfather and I remembered being uncomfortable with his driving. I think I was 9 or 10 but it stuck with me because its the first thing I remembered when I heard of the accident.

My own Mom was injured badly in an accident. She recovered but we agreed that she never drive again. And I should have stopped her before that accident. But being she had been a single Mom for decades the car was her independence.

Photo by Mike Hartley

A huge piece of me will die when I have to give up the keys. Driving for me is one go the great enjoyments of life. But I certainly want my children to speak up and tell me before I injure someone else our us. And I’ll have to respect that day. It will be a tough decision for them and me.

The more decisions you make the better you should get. If you learn from the ones that both work and don’t work out too well. All of them have lessons. Also, know that some decisions are different for you than anyone else. Right decisions are made in your heart and mind.

Most decisions should be made for yourself. But there are some where you might make a different decision based on others needs. At times in my life I’ve thought about job changes because situations had become less than optimal lets say, and I’ve stayed with it because it was the secure thing financially and benefit wise. Which is fine because that is a family decision at the time. So I sucked it up and lived with it. Which is fine and I’m happy with that.

People fret about what car to buy. Or where to live or go on a vacation. People are interesting in even the timing and approach to making decisions. One of my best friends might make any of those decisions in a day or two. I’d be a few weeks on the car. A few months or more on a home. Vacations are sometimes years. And you know what, my friend who makes quick decisions is one of the best decision makers I know. Sometimes I wish I’d listened to him more. But that won’t change how I make decisions because each person has their own way that is right for them.

I wish I had some wise advice that would be a breakthrough for the decision making process. Especially to pass on to my own children and grandchildren. I guess I have in some ways, because my children aren’t afraid of making decisions. They have made a lot of great ones. They seem to be well thought out. Of course I’ll defer to my better half on always being the best example in our family but I’m going to take some partial credit also.

Do what’s right. Do it with thoughtfulness. Do it with love (and this one hurts sometimes). Do it with hope. Do it with the big picture. Do it with responsibility and commitment. Do it with conviction. And then be happy with it and learn from it.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Any day you can see your parents, your children, and your grandchildren is a win. And today was a WIN.
  • I used to wonder when Newspapers might no longer be printed. No I wonder when the word Newspaper will become obsolete, and it may well be within my lifetime.
  • Sometimes when I try to write something insightful I wonder if I show how little I know and how poorly I write.
  • It’s a good thing both my better half and I snore. I think we cancel each other out.
  • Drive a car that makes you feel good in some way. Well at least before you have children or after they are grown.


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Thursday Thirst

I had a thirst for music today. Well, it started on Wednesday when I realized I was having precious few moments to enjoy in the past few weeks. I also saw a few videos last night of an old band I liked who’s drummer just passed recently. In addition to being one of the best drummers of all time, he wrote very well.

I ran across this tribute to him and one of his songs performed by the US Army band. The song was called Time Stand Still. I love the lyrics to it. The focus on capturing moments alluded to in the song is why I enjoy taking pictures I believe. I look back and relive moments of my life in each one. And that moment stands still for me and allows me to soak up the feelings of it again.

But life is about real-life moments and the ability to appreciate the gift each one provides. So appreciate the small gifts throughout the day. Never discount a hug or hand squeeze or fist bump. Never forget the laughter or sincerity you feel in your heart for another person.


Car window photography. I was too tired and too cold to get out and grab a shot on the way home yesterday, so I did the next best thing, I turned the heat up, rolled down the window and took a shot or two.

Downtown Silver Spring
Photo by Mike Hartley
District of Columbia Scottish Rite, AASR, SJ on 16th street.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Glad this wasn’t the year I purchased a snowblower. I’d feel pretty foolish about now.
  • My wife is more of a hardwood floor person. I’m more of a carpet person. I’m losing territory.
  • It’s time to make another run at sorting some of my parent’s possessions out.
  • If your the one making the extra effort to make things work better for friends and family, don’t look at it as a burden, look at it for the success and happiness it gives everyone.


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Grey or Gray

Yesterday in the very bright light of the company bathroom I looked in the mirror and low and behold the grey or gray that has been edging into my beard for the last few years is now making its way upward. Before I go on more about it, the fact that the hair on my head is changing doesn’t bother me. I’m not going to color it. I’m not going to worry about it if it starts to get thin and recede.

It’s not going to trigger some mid-life crisis because I’m past mid-life. I’m not going to start wearing hats. I’m not going to become a hermit. I’m not going to shave my head.

I am what I am. And at this stage of my life, I’m comfortable with myself. Well for the most part. I’m still trying to get to a healthy weight but I’m only about 10-12 lbs from that. This means 2/3 of that battle has been fought and won.

The world is so image-conscious. I can’t help but think of the damage that does to so many people mentally. I know it twisted me at times in my youth. I know it hurt my family. But today that is the last thing I’m going to stress about. Actually I hope I live a very long time to see it all go grey/gray someday.

Please excuse the scruffy look. I was trimming it short for a while and thought about going Grizzly Adams but summer is on its way and short is more comfortable. Plus I enjoy eating sloppy food so that is also a determinant. So tomorrow the beard gets a trim and the hair gets cut.

Oh, as I was looking in the mirror I thought about the word grey/gray. And I’ve spelled it both ways for many years I believe without looking up which was proper till today. So I learn its a proper to use both depending on where you live in the world. I was hoping the American version was grey but its not, its gray. To me grey looks more like the color.

Sorry about the grayness of this post. I’m going to do some shooting tomorrow and see if we can bring some light to it.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Feels good to get to the last day of the job that pays the bills this week. Now life can begin again.
  • It’s funny how most peoples definition of being “good” varies.
  • I bet pot holes would get a lot more attention if they were on politicians way to work.
  • It’s good to have friends and family that inspire you. Especially when its in the right direction.
  • I’ve stopped wondering how life gets busier as time goes on. It just does. Which shattered one of my dreams as a youth.


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Passion vs time

I could spend all day taking pictures or writing or carving. The reality of having a full time + job, being a father, grandfather, husband and trying to be a good friend to many just leaves precious few minutes in each day.

I’m thankful for those minutes though and the relaxation to take a breath and try to come up with something. I look forward to it each day and it helps take away the stress of the other parts of life. It helps me refocus and relax. It helps me think through problems and issues. It helps motivate me.

I find it’s got me so looking forward to many years of productivity into my senior years and retirement someday. It slows down to take the time to appreciate the relationships I have and how fortunate I am in some cases. It helps me scratch that creative itch I have.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I ate chicken noodle soup. Does that tell you how I feel?
  • Learning to interact with people is a never-ending lesson.
  • Its time to think about backup equipment.
  • Another great Maryland win tonight.


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Another holiday worked

I know one thing I’m going to enjoy when I retire and that is being off for holidays. I’ve missed time with family and friends too long. And today is another one of those days. Well, I’ll make the best of it. At least I’ll be off for the Memorial Day one.

Burial detail at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

I guess I shouldn’t complain at all. It’s good to be gainfully employed at my age and still in my field. Something not everyone is as fortunate with.

Enough of that serious stuff. Once I make it through today, the week looks up if my body will cooperate. Tomorrow I have to return to a project that is due early next month. I’d also like to go get some fresh images around the county.

I ran across this past image and my mind has been focused on grilling out since seeing it. I haven’t fired up the grill in a few months now. But I did spy some sausages in the fridge that I think I’ll fire up tomorrow. I’ve really enjoyed cooking and would like to do more of it.

Lets fire this thing up. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Keep good journalism alive. Support your local papers.
  • Starting my book reading initiative.
  • People who like playing games with me usually lose.
  • My dislike for Mondays just keeps increasing. Another thing I hope to turn around in retirement.


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are we losing sight

I almost trashed this shot because it didn’t turn out like I had hoped. It reminded me of the phrase “couldn’t see the forest for the trees”. And it made me think can we see our country through the trees. I’m tired of seeing and hearing the extremes on both sides. The middle is where things get done. I believe it’s where a majority of this country resides. And I’m hoping the middle takes control later this year.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Never take for granted those moments with those you love.
  • I have very few moments free to photograph tomorrow but I will.
  • Had one of those days that I just didn’t feel right all day. But I still got a smile on my face.
  • I’m wondering where the weekend went.


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Sykesville visit

I had a few minutes to grab a few shots as my better half went to one of her favorite stores in town (A La Mode Boutique) that is closing after several years there. I like that town. Has a bit of Ellicott City feel. The trains run through both of them. Lots of small merchants. Nice people.

Photos by Mike Hartley

Had a good snack at Becks together and walked a little of the town. A chilly day for that and when you got out of the sun it seemed to cool 10 degrees instantly. And with that breeze it was a short visit.

Photos by Mike Hartley

A great time today actually. Dinner with some great friends and saw a great Maryland basketball victory. Now I’m back editing some photos and about to make some prints for some people.

It felt good to grab a few frames and maybe that will get me back to working on my craft more. I hope so because there is no time like today to do it. So off I go like this train into the evening.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The best time to drive is when you’re not in a hurry.
  • I just realized its a leap year.
  • Somehow putting in a vacation request sets a good tone for the day.
  • I’m going to try to become more well-read this year. I’m going to try to read some each day outside my normal interest.


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Grateful

I was grateful I opened my eyes this morning. I was grateful to hold my granddaughter today. I was grateful to see my mother and father inlaw. I was grateful to squeeze my daughter’s hand.

I was grateful to eat at The Canopy again because they are back in terms of quality. I was grateful for my health today. I was grateful to my friends for such a good time last night.

I’m grateful for the garage I’ve used for decades is honest. I’m grateful the other baseball teams are showing their disgust of the Astros cheating. I’m grateful that my better half is still my valentine. I’m grateful for Klondike mini’s because I’m sure I lose weight walking back up the stairs to get a second one.

I’m grateful to have grown up in some wonderful decades and I’m grateful to have survived them. I’m grateful for the wonderful music I grew up with and still enjoy today. I’m grateful for having had the pleasure of working in newspapers for some glorious times and some difficult ones.

I’m grateful to have had reminders throughout my life on how precious life is and how each day should be respected. I’m grateful for the excitement I feel about approaching retirement age. I’ve learned that being grateful in tough times eases those tough times.

I’m grateful that the heat is working this evening because it’s very cold outside. I’m grateful for the years I’ve been given and those I hope to have. I’m grateful for less pain in recent weeks and a brighter outlook on life.

I’m grateful for people who restore and maintain small towns.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m grateful I had a few minutes to tinker with this blog and now have a few minutes to take some new studio images. I’m grateful to know I shouldn’t use up all my grateful’s in one day and leave some for tomorrow to feel good about.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder how many misspellings one would have to put in a post before someone called them on it?
  • The weekend is already getting away from me.
  • There are only haves. From the Have’s perspective.
  • I have reached the point of discomfort with the number of people in this area. I keep hoping it will level off. And those hopes keep getting dashed.
  • Some of the most well-read people are some of the quietest also. They know learning also comes from listening.


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It’s OK

I was thinking about how I’ve tried to look at things in a more positive light in this last decade or so. I’ve found life to be much better with this approach. Oh, I’m far from perfect at it and I started to get upset with myself sometimes when I slipped back into old habits.

Getting sucked into time wasters and in useless worry. Maybe some envy of things that catch your eye or ear. Add a little worry or extra time at the job for nothing. Maybe grit your teeth a bit in traffic. Yeah, that small stuff that seems to just rise to the top of concerns when it shouldn’t even make the top 20.

So here is to a weekend that just leaves me smiling because of the people I’m around, the times we share and the few minutes of creative time I’ll try to squeeze in.


Get ready for a chill. The air tonight has that crisp feel to it. With the mild temps the last few months we haven’t had to worry about ice or snow. And I kind of like it.

Don’t let winter freeze your activities.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe tomorrow would be good practice trying to illustrate cold without any ice or snow to play off of. Always good to challenge oneself. I’ll have to see what I can come up with.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A toast to a good friend no longer with us this evening. A huddle of friends with some words of respect, but lots of smiles and laughs as we remember.
  • There is a baby sleeping in this house for the first time in a long time. So excuse me, I have to type softly.
  • Only 127 days till Summer.


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Yeah it’s hump day

Things are looking up. I’m knocking out some substantial items off the to-do list and it feels good. I let myself get disabled by it for a few days because of the size of it and a few items I didn’t feel like dealing with but now that they are in progress it doesn’t feel insurmountable anymore.

You to can be lunch.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m finding myself more motivated lately. I wish I could transfer some of that time to this effort but life is busy filling each day. And that is OK also because that means I’m living.

It’s going to be a love-filled weekend. Yep, some family/friend time. I also hope to go express some love to a few that have passed. And tomorrow is the start of that with a remembrance of a good friend who left us 6 years ago. In between that and Sunday when I pay my respect to my parents will be celebrations with family and friends.

So let’s get this party started and fill it with accomplishments, laughter, and remembrances.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I do most of my learning when I’m executing something.
  • Joy is like peanut butter. It’s best if its spread around.
  • Looks like old man winter is going to pay us a visit.
  • Pursuing your interest is the fruit of life.


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watch your step out back

Its good to watch where you are going. I see so many with their faces in the smartphone screens. Yeah, there is beauty and interest in those little boxes. But lots of times there is more right in front of you. Like the person walking in the opposite direction. Maybe that first step after you open the door and forget you don’t have a deck or porch. Maybe its nature in the form of a rare bird or beautiful sunset.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I read something the other day about time-wasters. And that phone of mine has become one of them. And I’m miles away from what I see becoming the norm for most. Yet when I think about it that thing is in my hand too much of the time. And why to keep up with work email when I’m off? I’m a news addict so that is another vice I got to work on reducing. So a conscious effort will be made to get those minutes of the day back and use them more constructively.

Technology has brought about an interesting dilemma. People interacting with people but at the same time not interacting physically with people. We better watch what that does to the quality of life. I’m not so sure it’s going to fall on the positive side.


Because it rained just about all day I thought I’d try to brighten the few minutes remaining in it.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Listen and learn – such an easy equation.
  • Work hard, if for nothing else but self-respect.
  • Think often, it saves on aggravating times.
  • The Terps basketball team is testing the strength of my heart.


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idea factory

The light bulb went off this evening that I need to get some fresh ideas and act on them. Plodding along a few minutes a day is fun but I really don’t feel like I’m making a good effort. To do that I need to plan and research and take the time to write, illustrate and photograph more.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’m going to get organized and try to devote a little more time to this effort. I still want the freedom to do things on my own schedule and not have specific days for special topics. But I do want to develop more of a well thought out post more often. Hopefully, a more interesting and colorful site will emerge.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s OK to be late. If you’re on your own schedule.
  • The more I challenge myself the happier I am till I overdue it.
  • A sad anniversary is upon our group of friends this week.
  • The more I let humor in my life the better I feel.


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What do I want to be

Well in my early 60’s it might be a little late to say to myself “what do I want to be” but really its kind of a good question for myself at this stage of life. Actually, it’s a good question to ask yourself throughout life because life and times change drastically.

I’m probably in the last 5-10 years of my newspaper career if I’m lucky. And by that I mean I hope that my job is still there as things change and that I’m healthy enough. Both of which at this point seem in good shape. But life changes fast so its always good to be nimble.

I’m impatiently waiting for spring.
Photo by Mike Hartley

A while back I was thinking I wanted to be in business again for myself. That seems less important now and far less attractive. I want to do those same things I thought I might be able to parlay into a little cash in the future but nope. I want to do those things to make people and myself happy.

I’d like to spend more of my time doing for my family and friends and also in the service of others. Yes money is important and needed to live on. But if I need money I’ll do something else for work. I want my writing, arts and photography to be what I want to do and how I want to do it and when I want to do it. Once its for someone else I lose that control.

And at this stage of my life I like being more in control than others, especially in the things I really enjoy. And to do those professionally I would have to sacrifice control.

What I want is to enjoy time with my better half. I want to be a great grandfather and help my children out. I want to spend more time doing some fun things with my friends. I want to get into good shape again. I want to relax. I want to pursue my arts. And none of these things are really compatible with running a business.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I once worked in an ice cream factory. Very cool job.
  • Turning around a bad attitude is fun. Even better when it’s my own.
  • I love the smell of Sunday dinner.
  • Things are what you make of them.
  • I just realized it’s National Pizza Day. I’ll make up for it and get one for lunch tomorrow.
  • I spoke to both my children this weekend. Feeling recharged.


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Saturday salutations

I accomplished a few things today so I’m feeling pleased sitting here at the end of the day. I know I made a few people happy and what more can you ask of a day. Although I wish I was more productive this weekend. It’s been a good one and I don’t take those for granted but I do regret missing opportunities. Maybe I can make up for it a bit this evening.

Pitchers and catchers reporting this Wednesday.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I can’t believe its almost baseball time again. I hope this off-season doesn’t taint the game too much. One because I still enjoy the game and have a team that is going to contend to cheer for.

I’d like to report a STOLEN BASE.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Cheating doesn’t seem to be taken with the same contempt as it once was. Not sure where it was exchanged for the integrity of the game but it seems to just keep repeating itself through history. It’s very sad. For what is left that we can believe in? Only time and integrity of those who play it and own the teams can restore it.

Base hit time.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’m going to make more of an effort to get to the park and catch a few games this year. Maybe a family outing or a few trips with the boys. I mean I’m right between the Nationals and Orioles parks so I can see the National and American league teams. Why not take advantage of a warm afternoon and play hooky one day.

Just one more hot dog Dad.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Action is better than inaction when it comes to most things.
  • I think I’ll take the action of hitting the sack before midnight this evening.


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Up and down again

There is excitement in the air. Life has been pretty good. The Terps are winning, I’m still employed. Those important to me are healthy. I’m hard at work on my crafts. I’m remembering my love of children again via my granddaughter. I’m almost through my least favorite season of weather.

Putting the bite on the Big10 –
Photo by Mike Hartley

But the call I made yesterday to schedule my checkup for cancer has done its usual magic and unnerved me. You would think after almost a decade of test that I’d get used to it. And in some ways you do. Those first tests after surgery, you really can’t relax till the results are known. And having gotten good and bad news, the process of relaxing about it never really happens.

It’s funny the different reactions I have at times to these. Just talking to the office and finding out what test they want starts the apprehension. I remember after the first cancer surgery that started the stopwatch effect. The finish line was the doctor’s office and the results which were sometimes a 4-6 week gap. I don’t go through that race anymore but I did the first few years.

I make the appointments because I have to and my wife won’t let them slip. She’s really good about that. Given my own devices, I might let them go because they scare me at times.

After a few years of cancer-free, you get confidence. Well, you get the feeling that maybe life is once again a long term proposition. And if your lucky you just build on that confidence but I’m thinking, you never lose that doubt. For some though it’s not over. Some cancers come back. I got a totally new one for my second go-round about 5-6 years after my first.

That, I think will always stick with me and sets another level of doubt that time probably won’t remove. The medical test are interesting. You have no control over them. Not like you can pull an all-nighter and study harder. A salad before the test isn’t going to make a difference.

I don’t mind blood test, piece of cake. I’m not a fan of the CT scans with the contrast. The blood test I can get results on fairly soon. Scan results wait till the appointment. So it looks like I’ll have to suck it up and get both of these and then go downtown Baltimore for my appointment sometime in March or April. But first I’ll eat at my lucky place, Kirbies on Redwood Street before that final meeting with oncologist/surgeon.

Now that I’m a veteran I’ll calm down and wait for the referrals for the test to come. I’ll schedule those tests and only fret about it the day they are done. Then I’ll relax again but usually about a week before my appointment my mind starts to wander, apprehension grows, concentration and focus are blurred. But on the day of the appointment, a calm usually enters me. One that inside says just go in with the hope for the best on your shoulder and heart. I’ve learned through thinking any other way that too many negative and horrible thoughts can enter into that world of bad news.

I think of the burden doctors carry in having to go to work each day and give out sometimes life-threatening news. Over and over. I’m guessing that is one task that never gets easy for them or their staff.

As usual, I should have started a post like this way in advance instead of throwing it together. There are so many emotions, thoughts and unknowns to deal with that it can be overwhelming. And I’m sure the experiences and the way they are dealt with are as numerous as the number of people that have to deal with these and other serious issues.

I know it might be hard to tell but forgive me if one or two of my post in the next month or two seemed more scatterbrained than usual.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got to stop this work so I can get to work to prepare for more work.
  • When I have a late-night it usually involves seeing the sunrise.
  • The longer your in love the better it gets.
  • I hear the ice cream calling me but I must resist.
  • Please ask the ice cream to be quiet. I can’t hold out much longer.


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Sunny days will return

But first its time for some rain. Well, that seems to be what is the rage from the forecasters. I got a lot to do and will probably get a few drops on my head in the next few days. At least it’s not a foot or two of snow.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Feeling a bit more upbeat today. Probably because I’m going to be working on some fun things this weekend. I’m off to a good start and not letting anything stand in my way. Inspired thought for someone with a packed schedule of friend and family get-togethers.

So I better make use of every free moment I can and produce. I wish I could keep that mindset all the time but I do get lazy from time to time.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have 666 unread emails in my inbox. The devil is in the details.
  • Any day you can finish with a good thought instead of stress is a winner.
  • I’m already tired of tax season commercials.


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Passing

One of my fond memories from the Baltimore Aquarium trip with the family is this sea turtle. I learned the name today was Calypso because I saw a few news clips that she has passed away. These two shots were taken a decade ago on a visit there.

Now there is a lift.
Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley

While some might consider these underwater zoo’s, I think they do more to inspire wonder and respect for the wildlife that lives in the sea. I encourage anyone who visits Baltimore to see this site. I think its time for another family visit soon. Now that there are young ones again in the family it will be lots of fun.


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Unsettled

I haven’t been feeling all that well both physically and mentally lately. I’m not sick that I know of, but the body just aches. I guess I was getting used to those series of good days and weeks of just mild back pain. Mentally I got a lot of stuff going on in both my personal and professional lives.

Professionally I’m very unsettled. And that just seems to be growing. But that discussion is for another day. I’ve got to get back on track with things that make me happy. And blogging is one of them. Reading blogs I enjoy, finding things to help me feel better and provide perspective. Taking photographs, writing and creating some carvings. Yep, it’s a good plan for the week ahead.

New perspective in EC
Photo by Mike Hartley

This blog is always a good daily reminder for me to do something for myself and someone else also.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • You ever misplace something and can’t remember where it is? If I can do this less than once a day I feel lucky.
  • I think I’m getting signals to take a break of some kind, soon.
  • Another Maryland victory, another smile on my face.
  • Free car washes the next few days. Just leave it outside.


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Sharing a second

Some days you just can’t pull together a minute or two for a post and today is one of them. Any election event makes my life nuts. Well any news event turns up the volume of work several fold.

Nobody can tell me this young lady doesn’t know where to be at Sunset Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’m going to have to get ahead with material for this month. Well maybe a few months ahead because its just going to get busier. We have the Olympics coming this summer and then the big dance in November.

But in short order we have a ton of primary’s to make our way through and then other add ons like baseball starting up again and being this is the home of the Nationals its going to come with fanfare.

But what really gets my juices going is that its the best two months of basketball ahead that I can think of. Yep the NCAA basketball championships after the conference championships after some nail biting games to get to the right ranking/position for the tournaments.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think with the wet weather coming the treadmill will be seeing some action.
  • There are just some really tough decisions in life. Like most all of them.
  • I used to think there was catch up days for lost sleep. I know now there isn’t such a thing.
  • A wise man said make it work for you. A wiser man said make it work for all of us.


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Launch day

Welcome to another week. You Super Bowl partakers are going to need to wake in a few hours and get on that road to the job. I wish I was able to watch the game with friends or family but work sometimes takes priority. Well, the bills take priority and that entails work.

The building I started my newspaper career in. The Times Newspapers/Stromberg Publishing
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think things will start to settle down a bit this week. At least that is my hope. One family member out of the hospital. Another one who’s been visiting returning to the West Coast. That doesn’t mean just about every free moment isn’t scheduled already. Well, just about everyone. That doesn’t get me down though. It’s nice to be busy and involved and trying to do more where you choose.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m starting off my Monday by doing a favor for a friend.
  • I can only improve by doing more.
  • I have no interest in watching XFL football.
  • That was a very good Super Bowl tonight. Wish I had time to watch it. Good thing for tape delay.
  • Get outside this Monday. It’s supposed to be a fine day.


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Yep, I reckon so

A great line from an old western film. “Yep, I reckon so”, I like the calmness it’s delivered with. I like the matter of fact nature of it. But it’s not definitive. So what made me think of it was yet another work week is almost in my face again. I don’t get upset about it or dread it. Sort of like here it is.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Sorry about the lack of enthusiasm for work. I’m just tired. I’ll get the fire going once I get started. The same holds true for my crafts. And no better time than now to get started. I’ve got a large project started and I have a deadline for a change so time to get ahead of the clock.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Change is good if it’s not for the sake of it.
  • My dilemma – take, edit, upload or print pictures.
  • I wish I could help a few people I know to relax.
  • There are only so many resources. And yes you can apply that to everything.
  • Halfway through winter, all is good so far.
  • Every time the weatherman says something about 60 degrees outside I can hear the top of my car yelling “put me down.”


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Thoughts

First of all, sorry about the absence yesterday. I really needed to catch up on some rest. The body and mind were running on empty. Today we had an unusual thing for a Friday. A wedding at 5 pm in D.C. It was a wonderful event and the last daughter of our close friends has tied the knot. No this is a shot from another wedding. I just don’t have the energy left to download and edit the shots yet.

Wedding photography. Photo by Mike Hartley

I always enjoy watching the paid photographers and the different angles and shots they try to create. I didn’t shoot a lot tonight. I just enjoyed the event really.

It’s nice and comfortable going to friends’ weddings where you have watch their children be born and raised to become adults and then start families of their own. Speaking of which I wondered if I was going to escape tonight because my better half got a newborn from the brides older sister in her arms tonight and I thought they weren’t going to be separated.

Well, here it is just before midnight again. I think I might try to do more of my post earlier in the day instead of these last-minute rush jobs. But I do want to add one more point. It was kind of a flashback to one of the happiest moments in my life. I was watching the father-daughter dance and the song was somewhat similar to the one my daughter and I danced to or at least the spirit of the song and the intense looks of the father and daughter tonight made my mind wander back to that day I danced with my daughter. And the feeling was wonderful and has warmed my heart for hours and still does sitting here at home hours after I witnessed it.

So here’s to all the happiness children can bring you.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is nothing like putting on a sweatsuit after wearing a regular suit.
  • It’s interesting to see how many common experiences there are between strangers.
  • Going to spend the day doing as much as I can tomorrow because there is no sense wasting a weekend.


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Balancing act

With so many things going wrong this week I’m glad I have some good thoughts holding on. Always remember you are in control of your own thoughts. So today I’m going to imagine I’m this guy on the beach walking his dog. That I’m away from the chaos and interactions with people that do me no good.

The way to have morning coffee. Photo by Mike Hartley

And tomorrow I’m going to begin anew again because my work week from the job that pays the bills will be behind me and I can get into my crafts again. The growing gap between enjoying one more and the other less is growing by the week. I still enjoy the type of work I do professionally. I still give it a very good effort. But I live for the time to do crafts and spend with family and friends.

I live for my dreams now and not someone else’s who already accumulated more wealth than they need. Another lesson I should have learned earlier in life. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against them being wealthy. I have nothing against working for wise businessman. I just would rather work for myself again one day.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Ah, the weekend, just in time.
  • In 12 hours I’ll be hugging my granddaughter and all will be right with the world.
  • Tomorrow is picture day. Taking, editing, posting, sharing and enjoying.
  • If I concentrate on what I’m able to accomplish and not what I can’t I enjoy life a lot more.


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Back again

I’m kind of proud of myself. I wish I had learned some important lessons at a younger age but better late than never. A day like yesterday might have stuck with me for weeks or months. But I’ve let it go today because there are many more positive things in life to focus on and as I’ve learned there probably are many more negative things coming to deal with.

Don’t knot yourself up. Photo by Mike Hartley

So instead of getting myself in a knot, I’ve turned a corner and I’m back on track within 24 hours. A bit less actually. I regret the time I’ve wasted in the past in anger or worrying about what people who I don’t respect say or do.

So today I’m minimizing the unpleasant parts of the day and maximizing those that I enjoy. Not always an easy task but if that is the focus its something to keep coming back to when it gets out of balance.


The amount of people pausing over the death of Kobe Bryant is impressive. What is more impressive is the conversations about family and friendships and people helping each other strive to become more and better.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Hi, I’m Mike – I’m a packrat. Not a hoarder, just half that.
  • Time to heal, time to feel, time to kneel, time to reel. Yep, the fishing bug is biting again.
  • The favorite part of my car during the summer is the convertible top. In the winter it’s the seat warmers. A heating pad on wheels.
  • Two nights in a row of 6 hours of sleep each. I know my body likes it and my mind is saying yeah, give me a few more.


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Disappointment

I haven’t had disappointment stop me in a while now. But today it’s getting a win over me. I’ll get over it in a little while. I lose my confidence and respect for people when I feel honesty is thrown out the window. It affects me to the core when it impacts me.

Mast
Photo by Mike Hartley

It makes me mad. It makes me lose perspective. But I’m getting better in dealing with it probably because I getting more practice at it than I would like. I guess that comes from being a trustful person by nature.

It’s so hard not to slip back into a cynical outlook and turn into a hard-ass in dealing with everyone but I know that isn’t right. But boy is it tempting after days like today.

Looks like I’m going to have to rely on good old Karma again. So tomorrow we raise the mast again and head out to sea. I say that because there is a lot of water on land these days and lots of pirates to deal with.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m a lucky man to have such a supportive better half.
  • Impacts of people aren’t totally apparent all the time.
  • I have to think about eating smart each day to accomplish it. Maybe one day it will be different.


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Highs and lows

I was so happy about the Maryland men’s basketball game and win today, then the news of Kobe Bryant passing along with his daughter stunned me seconds after the game ended. I was with my best friends and it touched all of us deeply. Especially one of my best friends. We have been longtime Laker fans for decades.

I also quickly thought of my Son who has also followed the Lakers for many years. I remembered the day we saw the Lakers and Wizards play together. I remember the huge Kobe poster he had on his closet door and bobble-heads and other Kobe pictures. So I touched base with him to make sure we were good.

RIP Kobe and Gianna
Photo by Mike Hartley

The thought of the pain that family and the other victims is now enduring is not a pleasant one. But as I said to my Son, it reminds me to live each day to the fullest. But Kobe not only lived each day he showed how much hard work can pay off each day. He was a lot of things to a lot of people.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Days like today make you think about hugging and telling loved ones you love them.
  • Taking 8 second and 24 second violations to start NBA games was a classy move.
  • Watching the tributes to Kobe, his daughter and 7 others brought many a tear to my eyes.
  • One good measure of a man is the tributes by his friends, family and those he worked with.
  • Watching great and strong men struggle with words is tough.


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Blissful Saturday

Wow, what a fine day. A relaxing one with loved ones is a great way to utilize the time. And now some work on my crafts, maybe a few hours uploading some photos and then a good night’s rest.

Photo by Mike Hartley

But as it edges closer to midnight that chill goes up my spine about another work week starting tomorrow. But I’ll worry about that when I actually start. Till then a good time is going to be had.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Is it wrong to tape Saturday Night Live?
  • Worry isn’t a waste of time when it’s on the right things.
  • If I don’t get to work in my workroom I’ll have to rename the room.
  • There is no such thing as too many blankets this time of year.
  • I received a stack of photos today that had to be 30-40 years old. Talk about facing the reality of my age now.


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Crawl this way

Watching a young child learn to crawl is so exciting. You can see the mind clicking once they finally get over that leg and end up on their hands and knees. That sudden confidence. The rocking back and forth on the hands and knees like they are getting the band together for a march onto the football field. A few misfires forward that lead to a few faceplants, but then success. Several strides forward and a stop to survey the new landscape we just traveled to. That first look back to you with a mix of joy and accomplishment and then worry about the further distance from you.

Photo by Mike Hartley

That is what I remember from my daughter’s first movement on her own. And I remember that look of success and also the uncertainty of moving further away. But as all babies do they continue on to explore which is the beginning of a long process to their own independent life.

I’m a lucky father because now I got to experience it a second time now when I saw my granddaughter crawl the other day. I’m glad I view those things with such joy still.


At times in my life, I’ve been depressed and stressed and in a general state of unrest. Some days I wonder how I made it to this point with the thoughts and actions in life I’ve had. Now I look at those times and think how nieve and how small my world was. And the things that I considered big stuff was really small stuff. But without the wisdom of time and perspective, you don’t know those things. The knowledge that the world is so full of joy and wonderment and satisfaction that those things seem invisible.

That is why its all our jobs to help each other out during the different stages of life. If you see someone in need and think you can help, do it. For instance, I’m going to reach out to someone young who I’ve known for a while and see if I can help with their career.

But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes a well-timed and placed smile or compliment. Maybe a “how are you doing” and taking time to listen. Being there for a friend or family member. Being honest with people who need some honesty. Being compassionate when everyone is just making the best of a bad situation.

There are so many of us in need of help. We all see it every day in our lives. From someone dealing with a tough job. Maybe someone who lost a loved one. Those struggling socially. You know it. Its a list, several hundred miles long. If we do our part we can help shorten that list at least.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When your family and friends are inspired life is enjoyable. It’s like your a predator of fun and laughter.
  • I would love to get on a motorcycle again.
  • Wishing a speedy recovery to a special person.
  • Its good to be one top of both the old and young.
  • Tomorrow is a special day for someone I love and therefore its a special day for me.


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Lurking

Lurking in each day is an opportunity. How to spend a few minutes here and there that can really turn into something special. I’m learning how to take advantage of those and build on them. Like tonight. I could have come home and hit the rack for some much needed ZZZ’s. But NOOOO, I’m going to stay up and work on the photo site. Maybe one day behind that work another opportunity will be lurking.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow lurks a special opportunity. A chance to practice some people photography. Yep from young to old and everything in between. I think I’ll get some video also. And right now I’m going to try a few product shots just to take a break once in a while from editing.

I didn’t feel that spark for a few days there. 10-12 hours work a day can take make that spark difficult to find. I keep searching each week for that energy I remember having. I know its hiding someplace and I will find it.

But its the weekend now and I have some time to shoot and tinker with the crafts. So Life is Very Good for me right now. I hope it is for all of you also.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Wishing someone very close a speedy recovery.
  • We toasted my best friends Lab tonight. He was a special dog.
  • I fixed a few things today. That’s a good feeling.
  • I used to let the fact that I may not be cut out to do some things stop me. Wisdom has tough me not to care about that anymore and to keep trying.
  • I’m worried about the lack of things that tie a community together. Things like a community paper.


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Peaceful

Feeling rather laid back today and peaceful. Maybe that is why I selected the photos below from Arlington National Cemetery. I love visiting in the summer. But its time to make my winter visit. So I guess I’ll bundle up this Sunday and head over.

Arlington National Cemetery
Photo by Mike Hartley

If it’s a nice morning I think I’ll take a long way out and see a few sights and snap a few new images. I think I’ll try to snap a few images every morning this weekend. I’ve got to get moving on some photographic projects around the county I live in.

Air Force Memorial in the background.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Welcome to town Sister In-law. Enjoy the visit.
  • I wonder if the internet ever goes down for any length of time if anyone is going to be capable of doing anything?
  • I’m making a lot of progress but its certainly not as fast as I would like.
  • I know I need to watch less TV. But its a constant battle. Sort of like food. They keep putting stuff in front of me that looks good and I fight to stay away from it.


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What I hope they feel

Now that we have our first grandchild, I want to make their visits to our house, like a visit to the Magic Kingdom. I want them to have such fond memories of it as they grow into adults.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I thought about this as I saw the importance of my own children seeing their grandparents home for the last time. Talking about the rooms or parts of the yard they liked the best. You can see the memories in them.

I can envision one memory there so clearly. It is one that I will always have and take with me. When the children were very young we took them to their grandparents and my better half and I went to look at a kitten that was rescued. We ended up getting it and bringing it back to their home and the look and tears of joy on my daughters face can still bring a tear to my eye today.

I hope to make many happy occasions for many years to come for them. I want to watch them run from the car to the front door someday. I want them to walk in the kitchen and just start looking around like my children do.

As usual my better half is way ahead of me. The toy collection has begun and a toy box was needed already, and she isn’t a year old. And some recent larger toys and a stroller have invaded. I love it. I see something new and I can’t help but smile.

Maybe one day some of these will be part of their collection that they pass down to their kids. Time moves so fast. Seems like just yesterday we brought our own children back from the hospital after being born.


The outdoors were not fit for man or beast today so these artificial ones will have to do. That was some bright sun today. It was quite deceiving. Because that cold was as cutting as that beak.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If only they knew.
  • If only I knew.
  • Does anyone know?
  • Oh no, everyone might know.
  • I do know that time got the best of me again today.
  • I do know my heart is a bit heavy for an important friend tonight.


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Monday liftoff

This is going to be a great week. I’m trying to start thinking more positively and going into a new week with a good attitude is key. Initially, it’s easy to look at this week in a positive light. Birthdays coming up with those close to me. A close relative who lives on the other side of the country coming to visit. The short work week and family plans for the weekend. What is not to like.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Why not think of the great times and work ahead to be done. Why not look at the possibilities. Why not act and do something positive. The negative and tough times will come on their own. Let’s make good use of every good moment we can draw from every week.

So find yourself something good to hang your hat on this week.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Take a moment to send some love or kind words or a phone call to someone who’s under the weather or has a child or pet who’s ill.
  • Wow, I got a note from WordPress that its been 6 years now. Well, at least I’ve used it to get more motivated, more confident, more creative, more inspired, more positive and filled with thoughts about what I can do in the future.
  • I’ve got to get busy saying all the things I’d like to say before I don’t have the time left to say them anymore. And yes kids, that is why I say I love you so often.
  • Remember to learn from history before your doomed to repeat it said a wise man I believe.


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Let it pass

Had a few things start off the year in a less than optimal fashion but I’m learning to let them pass and move on to better and brighter things. Some things and some people aren’t going to change. And that is fine, I just accept it and move on.

Photo by Mike Hartley

By a stroke of luck I have off on a holiday Monday. I hope to make good use of it and capture some new images. I’m doing a favor for a friend in the morning and then some quick rest and a productive rest of the day. The only thing that beats a short holiday workweek is a week of vacation.

And the only thing that I hear beats a week of vacation is retirement. Each day I start a new week I cross off a number on my desk that looks forward to that day of retirement.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Well the team I had a rooting interest in lost this evening so that ends this years football season for me.
  • I’m beginning to think that Snickers commercial is real. I feel much more like myself after eating one.
  • I’m glad I don’t wager anymore. I bet with my heart instead of my head.
  • I’ve got to accomplish more each day.
  • I was almost in too much of a hurry today.


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Saturday with my Son

I had the pleasure today of attending the Maryland basketball game with my Son, a wonderful Xmas gift from him. Nothing beats spending time with my kids. Well, spending time with their children and pets also comes in a close second. Family time is so important to me.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Really everything I do now besides work is more important. It didn’t use to be that way but its the reality now. What used to seem so important is now down the scale. Work is what I used to measure my worth by at one time in my life, counts for a much lower percentage than in its heyday. At times in my life, my reality was out of whack in regards to my balance in life and my work. Well, more accurately my work was my life. That is very wrong when it hurts other important things.

Please don’t get me wrong. I work hard and take it very seriously. I’m a lead in my group and constantly strive to improve. I believe I’m a good team member and the only thing that ever puts me in danger of losing a job is my outspoken mouth.

But the passion in my life is back in the right places. Family, friends, helping, hobbies and crafts along with taking the time to appreciate living.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Picking this year’s NCAA basketball tournament is going to be a crapshoot this year.
  • I like it when people are honest with me.
  • I believe a good night’s rest is in order.
  • I have something deep in my heart that I hope works out.