THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving to those observing this holiday. Hat’s off to all the working stiffs who keep things going on this and many other holidays. So many take these few for granted. Being one who works a lot of holidays my respect to those who power through and miss events or come to them tired.

Leg, check, wing, check, breast, check. EAT Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, this was a first for my better half and me. Alone without family on a Thanksgiving. Both children are out of town and our parents have passed. So we decided to go out to eat (no option our kitchen is undergoing some work) which lead to something I haven’t had to do in a bit. Find a pair of pants fit to take on a power feed.

I’ve been one of those lucky work-at-home stiffs so the need to put on slacks is few and far between. Well on the 3rd try I found a pair that had some room if I really decided to ignore common sense and go for it. We did have a wonderful meal at Alexandra’s in Turf Valley. And how could I go wrong with the company? And a really nice buffet that allowed for a lot more than turkey. I think I ate more prime rib than turkey. But it was close. Glazed ham and salmon were also very good.

Fog and early morning light. Photo by Mike Hartley

And sitting here thankful for a wonderful meal I’m reminded to share my good fortune and donate to the Maryland Foodbank so others can have that feeling. So I just did that. Remember the best gift is making someone less fortunate know they count.

But back to pants, I have returned to sweat pants and that is what I will remain in till the next occasion rolls around which is mid-December, and then it’s casual time again to finish out the year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Black Friday is one of the best days of the year to stay home. Everyone else is out shopping and I have the house to myself.
  • Home improvements just spur more ideas for more home improvements.
  • Rules of the road, if you want to play chicken wait till I’m in my 13 year old Chevy.
  • Lots of skills aren’t discovered till you start working on them.

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Just dropping by

Everyone is fully settled in, belly’s full, football still on the tube. I give thanks for all I have been blessed with and hope to help those less fortunate this holiday season.

A few more drops of life have recharged me. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Oddly enough I had more prime rib than turkey today. I haven’t had prime rib in ages.
  • I miss the smell of a home that has been cooked in for the last few days.
  • Think of the car you don’t know in front of you or behind you that just did something stupid as being driven by your parents or best friend before reacting.
  • Tomorrow work will be turning some wood into sawdust.

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A sweet reminder

In the carnage of the world on a daily basis sometimes it’s hard to think that things will be OK. And maybe it won’t be but spending a day with my granddaughter yesterday after a few weeks’ absences have renewed my effort yet again to make it better.

Love entered my heart again. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I got a note from one of the sweet administrators I work with who always looks out for us night folks. She keeps us as much as possible in the swag that usually gets decimated by the dayside and today she let us know that the 2022 calendars are on our desk. People who do the little things for you speak volumes of the people they probably are on a larger part.

Sweet Photo by Mike Hartley

Speaking of sweet, my better half is always keeping this sweet tooth satisfied. I think I was born with a couple more than just one.

I woke up this morning and reminded myself how lucky I was to wake up today. You see that is something I don’t take for granted but waking up in pain from the surgery the last few weeks kind of made me put that to the side and that lack of appreciation almost became a habit till I caught myself this morning and paused for a moment of thanks. Ain’t life sweet.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Giving Tuesday should be a weekly thing.
  • Truth is a hard thing for everyone and the easiest thing at the same time.
  • The older I get the more respect for the body I have. I think I should have started earlier.
  • Please be careful on the roads. We all have loved ones.

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Hey, where did my ride go

Could someone call me an Uber or Lyft. My season is over and I need to be stored away properly.

Just an old friend in need of a ride. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sorry about the absence again but made some good progress on a few projects. Especially the one where I finally got my Arlington National Cemetery photos printed, well most of them till I ran out of paper. I have 237 4×6 prints covering one of my office walls now. I should have picked a bigger wall.

Actually, I put them up to really get some friends and family opinions on what were the best ones to fine-tune and make larger prints for framing. I’ve found it really helps to get others’ opinions. But being out of paper and I have more images to print, I guess I’ll clear some space on another wall for the overflow.

At least I covered up all those pushpin holes. Photo by Mike Hartley

As I’ve been working on this the last couple of days I’ve had some different thoughts than when I first started out. First was there is a lot more in this wonderful place to capture. I probably haven’t scratched the surface.

I’d love to shoot more people but I have a great deal of respect for those who have loved ones here. And I believe that would be an invasion of privacy. I’ve seen a lot of those pictures. They are real and moving and I still don’t want to do it. I’ll shoot people from the back from a distance but I know how I feel when I’m at my parent’s grave and those tour buses roll around. I just keep my back to it. This is my private time and I’m guessing a great number of people feel that way.

I’ve discovered I have pretty good seasonal coverage except for the winter snow. So I’m going to have to make a trip this winter when we get a bit and see what snow transforms the place into. There are also some fairly good images with my old digital and I mean OLD so I might go back with the Nikon when I’m able to hold that cinder block again.

I also think that now that I have an abundance of 4×6 prints I’ll start cutting them into a photo collage as a future project. But first I’ve got to order some more paper and maybe ink while I’m at it and finish the last 40-50 images.

But I also have a few personal favorites that I know I want to frame, so I’ll get started on the larger prints today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The treadmill and I are becoming friends.
  • In regard to the weather forecast. I won’t be going outside on Tuesday.
  • There is a booster shot in my near future.
  • I feel like I’m starting to get my priorities right. With a few exceptions.

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This guy at the edge of the shore says sea levels are rising. I’d say he has the right vantage point. Google says 40% of our population in the U.S. lives in coastal areas but it only represents 10% of the land in this country. Look at it this way, at least we have someplace to retreat to. I wonder how we expect the world to work together when we can’t even agree on things at home.

Yep, they have risen. Photo by Mike Hartley

I wouldn’t mind being back at the beach now. The thought of a long winter season away from it is depressing. Only a few weeks ago I had my toes in the sand and the salt breeze blowing in my face. And what do I see as I walk to the sliding door in the basement but the snow shovels lurking in the corner? I hope it waits to snow till my shoulder is fully recovered.

Photo by Mike Hartley

No problem, I’ve made it through past winters and I hope to make it past this one. But as I said to my friends today. I opened the door felt the cold and I shut it and decided to stay in today. This may be repeated many times in the coming months.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can now raise the camera to my eyes and hold it there for more than a few seconds and take pictures. Not too many though.
  • The space heater has been activated. Man cave secure and warm.
  • Pain can take important minutes of the day away.
  • Do you ever wonder how many more calendars you will get in your lifetime.

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100 Yesterday

Arlington National Cemetery held commemorative events marking the 100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier yesterday. And a beautiful day it was for such an event. The Tomb is a spot I visit often. My parents are buried in an adjoining section, which is very near this. I always walk down and watch the changing of the guard after I visit with them.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes I’ll walk through the empty Memorial Ampletheater, sometimes around the outside of it. I try to stand in a different spot each time as I watch the changing of the guard. I marvel at the precision and details of the Old Guard.

Tomb Guard. Photo by Mike Hartley

Most people come as visitors, but those who come for personal connections it’s part of our home. It’s a place of many and all emotions. Some very raw. Some that are just as painful as the day they became reality. Sometimes you see a smile. Sometimes you see people looking skyward. Sometimes just a bowed head. Many take a knee and embrace a headstone.

Looking for family. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes I shed a few tears even before I pull in the main gate. Thankfully I’ve been able to pull it together by the time of the security checks. But then the drive up to their row sometimes triggers emotions. I usually feel good as I exit the car and begin the walk down their row. When I get to their grave sometimes it’s very good. Like this summer visit when I just sat and told them stories about the children and what we were up to. Just like a summer visit sitting outside chatting and I left with a smile and good feeling. Other times I miss them so bad I have trouble standing there and am just silent, wiping tears the whole visit.

Sometimes I think those different feelings are due to the different times of the year. Of course, I miss them more during the holiday times. Especially Xmas and Thanksgiving times. And summers for us were always more upbeat.

So I’ll end here and get back to work on the project of gathering some of the shots I’ve taken there on the wall for my friends and family to sort through for what is the best work. To me, it’s just pointed out a few things I think I need to go back and work on or shoot again, and other things I need to shoot for the first time.

Random Thoughts of the Day this morning

  • I long for the day I don’t wake in pain. But I also will think more about those that are fighting much more difficult battles.
  • Today I have many opportunities to make progress. Will I choose to do so is the question?
  • I forgot to add yesterday my appreciation for all that serve and have served this wonderful country. I hope you know the appreciation is there every day of the year, not just Veterans Day.
  • I’ve got to work on enlarging my palette of color.
  • It feels like reading season. It’s #39 in my book of things to do instead of going outside in the cold.

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Pull it together

Finding myself at the fringes of sanity lately. Lack of sleep, pain when awake, and stress from the job. But I will power on and this is one tool I find helpful in turning it around. Blogging helps me slow and gather my thoughts and sometimes adapt or change directions to cure what is ailing me.

Which Direction to choose today. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I need to look for some positives today. Well, it is beautiful outside in the mid-Atlantic region of the US today. So nice I’m going to fire up the grill again. Being our kitchen is under renovations the grill comes in very handy to cook with. I think even when the kitchen is done I’m going to continue to grill out more.

I’m thankful I have the common sense not to sit down and type after doing my PT exercises or you’d be subjected to a few paragraphs of explicative and other colorful languages I’ve picked up over the decades. And today is another adjustment by the therapist so it will feel good for a bit but once that ice wears off, I think Keith Jackson put it best with his phrase “Whoa Nellie”

At least the workweek is in the rearview mirror and I can concentrate on getting the strength to hold that Nikon up to my eye.

So let me get off the bench and into the game as the sun comes up on this fine morning.

Off those benches and into the day we go. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Working with young people is a good way to stay in touch with different schools of thought and logic.
  • Working with young people is a good way to share your experiences in hopes they don’t repeat mistakes that could be avoided.
  • Working with young people reminds me of the fun and energy I used to have and would like to return to.
  • Working with young people reminds me to think more openly and to live.
  • I guess that is another reason I like seeing my children and grandchildren, they remind me to live in today.

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Getting out

Wow, what a beautiful day outside. A wonderful day to dine outside if you have the chance. Or for that fact do anything outside and soak in these last few days of 60-degree temps and sunshine.

A wonderful day to dine outside. Photo by Mike Hartley

Get out of the office, hit the corner taco stand, or if you are rolling in disposable income sit down at that nice restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, but please make it outside.

Take a seat, any seat. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not at the office or flush in cash, so I’m going to heat up my lunch in the microwave, take it out to the deck, and soak up some rays. So don’t skip your break today and miss a wonderful day outside here in the Northeast.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Physical Therapy is making me think I need to get in touch with my body better.
  • The difference between outside projects and indoor projects, is where the dirt lands. One you don’t mind, the other bothers you.
  • It’s funny when you start working out, people talk about feeling the burn. Somehow my body skips that step and goes right to pain. But I hear rumor that this will pass.
  • All is right with the world, basketball seasons are under way again.

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A State of Mind

Wonderful state (Maryland) to be brought up in and raise a family in and now grow old in. But as with all good things, time can change them. Each one of those phases of my life has had its own challenges but has also made life special and presented many opportunities and joys. The central part of the state used to be very rural when we first moved here in the late ’50s, but that changed very rapidly. Now I hear many say and I agree, it’s gotten too congested.

Thankfully I might not have to fight rush hour traffic much longer to get to work, but getting anywhere is very difficult at times. All the things that people look for in successful communities are here. Good schools, good infrastructure, and services. Good employment opportunities. A place where you can drive west and hit the mountains in 2-3 hours or the bay and Atlantic ocean if going east at the same time or less.

Good day, Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

A state that has beautiful and very separate full seasons. It has wonderful small towns and big cities. Growth has changed a lot of things. I’ve always enjoyed the people very much. I’ve always thought of this as a friendly state and area. And I still do but it’s only in some areas I find now.

Maybe I just need to get out more and establish a new norm more like the old norm. A head nod and smile or hearty good morning/afternoon or just a simple hello or hi. And if it’s someone you know an extended hand and how are you. Well, I’ll extend the left one till the right side is healed.

In a lot of cases, as with a lot of things, it just takes the right effort with the right intentions and hopefully the right time to turn things around. And being the holiday seasons are soon upon us it won’t seem that out of place and I’ll just continue on from there. So off I go embarking on the eye contact and hellos. I will not be deterred by those who choose not to respond but to one day make them the exception instead of the rule.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got to get a firepit soon but I can’t decide on the style I want. I got to get my better half in on this so a choice can be made.
  • I’m wondering how those people in the crowd felt after that concert where those people were crushed to death?
  • This week might be one of the last really nice ones outside for a bit.
  • I find a bag of frozen peas or corn more comfortable than an ice pack.

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Peaceful mornings

It was nice to have a Saturday morning where I didn’t have to jump up and get moving on chores or get ready to go someplace. But I do have one unpleasant mission and that is to work out the surgically repaired shoulder again today. I don’t want to get yelled at when I return to PT this week for not doing my homework.

That peaceful easy feeling. Photo by Mike Hartley

The mornings are the worst after it hasn’t been used all night to start stretching it out again first thing. Such is life though and I’ll continue to do what they ask because I’d like to get full range and use out of it again.

Hoping everyone has a smooth sailing Saturday. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Seeing my best friends recharges me.
  • In a few short days Aaron Rodgers has gone from one of the NFL’s most popular players one of it’s least. More proof that you can really be good at a profession but still and idiot in life. Not only that the team and the NFL also have given preferentional treatment knowing he isn’t vacinated and making up rules as they go along for him and having another set for other players.
  • Seeing my children and grandchildren completes me.
  • An extra hour of sleep tonight. I could do without the time changes we have here.

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Saying more with less is a skill I don’t possess.

Too many words, too much banter, I must sound like a cantor.

Words that ramble on without end, yet I keep posting and do not bend.

For a blog that started out to be about pictures, I stir words around in bad mixtures.

There is no rhyme or reason for the thoughts of the day when I could just say hey.

But that wouldn’t be right, and then how could I learn to write.

So the effort will continue, I’m sorry for the learning curve, but that is life and learning to swerve.

I’m a man of limited time and means. So I’ll leave you with this moment of time in front of Justine’s.

St Michaels Maryland. Look at the little girl gazing inside while holding Mom’s hand walking by. Photo by Mike Hartley


I’ve got to admit I do like milestones. Be it the number of years one is married, the years at a profession, or a single employer. Or maybe something personal like surviving a medical crisis or the loss of a loved one. It could be the number of fishing trips together or vacations with friends together at a spot or a gazillion other fine events.

With family and good friends, these can span decades if you were lucky. And I have been one of the lucky ones. Some of my best friendships span over half a century now. I’ve had 46 years in the same profession with 3 employers, 2 of which are over 20 years.

But today’s milestone is my own. I was looking for my avg words per post, because I’m trying to do more with less, and I happened to glance at all-time numbers for this blog and it was at 1999, this post will be my 2,000th.

Yes, it’s less than I had originally hoped for at this point but I haven’t given up, and I kind of feel like I’m just starting because I’ve gained some confidence and a clearer picture of my goals and interest along the way. Which has reminded me it’s not the number at the end, it’s all the times that lead up to it.

More Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The less I see on TV, the more I see.
  • Some day you just have to turn the volume all the way up.
  • It’s always a good time to spread some love.
  • Listening to so JJ Cale this morning. So “call me the breeze” because I’m out of here.

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Mistakes are cool

Every once in a while, well maybe a lot more than in the past, the old digital is showing its age. I’ll get home and some of the images just look as if they did something other than the settings I might have used. Or the focus isn’t right or my lazy behind didn’t get the tripod out, or a number of other things.

Hay bale in the morning haze along Woodstock Road. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Then again, it may be operator error which is very possible at this age. Regardless I’ll snap away and regal you with my ineptness or luck.

Not sure which mistake I like. Photo by Mike Hartley

And then again, maybe both were intentional? Hopefully I’ll be back later today with some more images.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Philly prezels are good.
  • Philly cheesesteaks are great.
  • Why are people from Philly mad about? Oh that’s right, Eagles, Phillies and Flyers.
  • Progress is an endorphin.
  • A workout is something that should be looked forward to.
  • You can ignore yourself but you can’t fool yourself.

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It’s interesting to learn how much I rely on my dominant arm/hand. And when you don’t have full use of it and have to change it’s quite the challenge. So for a few weeks, I get to practice being a Lefty. It’s made me think I should really do more with my left. So that will be one of my goals for the future. Ambidextrous I believe it’s called.

Trying to calm my mind while chaos swirls all about. Photo by Mike Hartley

I really tried yesterday to pull together a post, but physical therapy and a long workday left me a little behind in the schedule. And with an election night last night in our area, the business I’m in kept me plenty busy all night long. But tonight I’m taking a sick night because I have been hurting and I’ve got PT again this morning. I thought it was a pretty good effort to make it a normal week and not impact the job. Shoulder surgery on Friday, lots of pain on that night and Saturday. Worked Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings for at least 11 hours each.

My main objective was a good night’s rest for a change of pace. I just can’t find that balance. it’s either like the weekend before where I slept very well and for a good number of hours straight through, or very few hours of broken sleep. Maybe retirement will allow me to find that sweet spot. Because while I got 8 hours this evening I was awake every hour it seemed.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you aren’t worrried yet, it might be time to start. But don’t spend all day on it.
  • It’s going to be very important to know who your real friends are in the future.
  • No matter what else is happening in my life the words “I love you Papa” make everything ok for a good while.
  • Each day I get closer to removing myself from Facebook.
  • I stepped outside yesterday early which removed all incentive to go back out during the day.
  • I’m trying to document my better halfs kitchen remodel project.
  • Life is a team game. Most people don’t get that.

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Lights out

Friday it was lights out for a few hours, the body went in for mechanical work on the right shoulder. Feeling poor and way to go for complete recovery. That is OK though because I’m looking forward to one less pain to deal with. It was causing loss of sleep and ability to do things and what I could do would be painful sometime later or immediately if I really screwed up.

I long for the day I can raise my right arm like this again. Photo by Mike Hartley

I wanted to get a fresh start in November and start working hard again here. It’s going to be tough with many PT sessions scheduled over the coming weeks but that will help me get out and about. Maybe it will get me using the tripod because holding that heavy Nikon isn’t in the cards anytime in the next week or two. It’s a slow lens anyway and could use the steady footing instead of this old man’s shakey back.

So here is hoping we are off to a fresh start with fresh images and fresh thoughts.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Pain can reprioritize your day quickly.
  • Last night took the life out of me.
  • I’m going to work on being happy, they always say set a good example for your children and grandchildren.
  • As I look at my arm now I can’t image hoisting a basketball even a few feet and that would be an underhanded shot. But as I start rehab tomorrow I’m going to think about shooting 3 pointers all day long next spring and summer.
  • The first freeze watch is in effect for tomorrow night. I think I’ll bring in that really nice rose I see outside.

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Getting to the point

Interesting concept, getting to the point, one I dance around sometimes. Do I have to have a point? I suspect some days not. Some of the best writing doesn’t lead me to a specific point but makes me think outside a box and look at many points. Looking at other photographs doesn’t make me think I want to duplicate that point, it makes me say wow, I’ve got to try more but in my vision and with my subject matter and with my medium of choice.

Yes, it’s helpful to come to the point when debating maybe. It’s good to get to the point, on the plan of action. It’s certainly good to get to the point of your feelings about another person. You don’t have to share everyone and sometimes you might just keep it to yourself if there is a lack of trust for instance until it could be established. And if it’s someone you love make sure they know that point.

In the Town of St Michaels MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes it’s about finding the right angle to make the point. As is in a lot of cases when I start a post, I see a picture like the one above, and a title or first sentence or paragraph just rolls out. Do they all make sense or hit the point? Probably not but it doesn’t deter me. I enjoy trying to create something that started out with a point but is still on a long journey finding it, or not. Like today’s rant.

I think there is an old adage “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey” that I’ll use as an excuse till I find my path and point. For instance, I just stepped outside the previous evening and I saw lots of points in the sky that took my train of thought in an entirely different direction.

But back to getting to the point. I guess the point today is finding myself. I was reading a post from the Art Of Blogging on using a tool to find my blog’s niche. The reason I do this is mainly selfish. It makes me feel better. I find it helps me think more positively. I know it helps me learn because it spurs me to read more. It helps me create more and hopefully have something in it for others.

If nothing else just my thoughts and pictures for prosperity for my family. I started out thinking this was a way to exhibit some of my photography but it feels like it can be so much more. I’ll leave the determining of the niche of this blog and my other work to others to determine down the road. Now I see it as a very open-ended tool to learn and explore.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The day is young, The sun has barely cleared the horizon. Time for bed. (I wrote this one around 7am.)
  • When you realize you can never do enough for your better half, and they for you, then you have something special.
  • Progress is so much fun you can start to lose sleep over it.
  • It’s interesting when you realize the phrase “time catches up with us all” is real and may apply to you also.

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Something in common

Saw this guy on the beach trying to survive the other day. The seagulls were around and he was trying to make his way back to the water it appeared. And I thought to myself, hey we have a lot in common. We both like the sand, we both like the ocean and we love the sun.

Growing up. Photo by Mike Hartley

And even though he seemed to get defensive on my first shot I think he was glad to have a guard standing by being the seagulls had spotted him.

Can I make it to safety? Photo by Mike Hartley

And being I was enjoying the sound of the waves crashing on the beach and the sun peeking in and out I was in no hurry to leave.

Time to Run. Photo by Mike Hartley

So after adjusting his eyes from sideways to upright, he made a run for the water and we parted ways with his frustrated preditors circling overhead. And we both get to live another day and both of us are grateful.

Random Thoughts of the Early Morning

  • I always seem to bring a little of the beach home with me in the form of sand. Time to get the car vac out tomorrow.
  • Just fired up the furnace for the first time this year.
  • Working nights during winter months is depressing. Then again not having a paycheck is really depressing.
  • I just wondered if I do better work at night than I do during the day?
  • Feeling inspired, I hope it last.

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Isn’t it sweet when life just cruises along? I’ve been able to tune out the nonsense the last few days and it’s a very relaxing feeling not being caught in news cycles or work or chores. Of course today it’s back to the reality of earning a living and preparing for the coming cooler seasons.

But that is OK because I know I still have some time off to use this year in the bank. And I feel like I’m getting a better balance on the things I’d like to accomplish with those that others deem important. Getting back to work blogging and photographing is a good start.

Catching a breeze. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve made the mistake that life is this unending journey with infinite time. It isn’t and now I’m scrambling to do what I should have been working on all along. Not that I would change anything because the most precious things to me came out fine but I know I wasted time that I’ll never get back that could have also been productive.

So I remind myself each day to make the best of it, to be productive, and accomplish all the things I should have.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Mornings come around fast than evenings.
  • Thanks to my better half for putting up with me all these decades.
  • Some mornings moving my neck around sounds like driving down a gravel road.

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Just a short blast this morning before I head out the door before daybreak to work on my craft. It’s so nice to have a few minutes to work on the things I want instead of working for someone else doing the things they want.

Doing what we love, creating. Caught this young lady at St Michael’s on Saturday. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do what you love. But sometime you have to work very hard at what you don’t to make the time for what you do.
  • Do you ever wonder how many sunrises you have left?
  • Some people live by half the adage (Do unto other) and forget the rest. Watch out for these people.
  • I’m really hoping the youth of this country can save us because the rest of us older ones don’t give me much hope.

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Details are important. That is why I try to read more than listen to sound bites or short clips or even news segments. Knowing details on the job has always been a strength of mine. Not that the big picture isn’t important, it’s just I’ve been on the doing things part of the job more than the management of it most of my career. Even when I was in management I liked getting into details of things.

I build my own toolshed of information and tips/tricks to make things happen or work. I’m looking forward to learning again in many ways. With my focus changing to things I’m far from an expert at, is going to take some time.

Loving nature. Photo by Mike Hartley

Details are easy to overlook and often are. From little stuff like getting that oil changed on the mower or adjusting the belt periodically. As I get more time to photograph and hopefully move into that sphere of work, I find myself involved in many details. Am I prepared when I go out? Things like knowing the environment and weather conditions. Are your tools ready to go and do you have all that you need? Do I know how to use my tools to the fullest extent?

When I shoot nature I’m always open to all my surroundings. Lots of time I might start out shooting some birds but end up focusing on the ground when I discover some fresh mushrooms growing from a rotted tree. Or maybe as I leave a wooded area how nature is interacting with man and his development. The examples are endless but it’s the tools/details you develop and thoughts that supply the inspiration for images.

I took a few minutes Thursday to detail and wash the go-cart a bit. That has been long overdue and I didn’t get to the engine compartment but the trunk and door and all the seams are clean. The interior could use some more work and will get it next week. Now that I have a cover for it life is good and that clean appearance can last a while.

Also went for a ride around the Ellicott City area. Probably one of the last, comfortable days (the mid-70s) with the top down and shorts/tee shirt and windows down. There will be many more days with the top down but the seat warmers and or heater might be employed. The windows might be halfway or all the way up. I rarely see people using the convertible option as late into the seasons as I do.

I’m not averse to throwing that top-down in mid-January if the temps go into the 50’s and it’s sunny. I think that wild hair comes from my motorcycle riding days where a mid-winter ride was needed for sanity. I’m so glad I got a convertible. I’ll never own another car without a drop-top.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I don’t mind long drives if its to the right destination.
  • I wonder if there is a day where I will get everything done I hoped to do when the day started?
  • If I had the ability to make time I’d be too busy to get to it.
  • I promise not to curse out loud if the temps stay above freezing. All bets are off below that.

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Blown away

It was one of those weekends where you could step out the door and get blown away. So we went with it. It was downright windy on Sunday and Monday. But beautiful also with that crisp air and huge clouds making shadow patterns on the water from time to time.

Mist from the waves pounding on the shore was the only thing in the air besides huge birds gliding high above us. Time with the best of friends and good food. What is not to love. Oh yeah, had to come back to work and reality for a while, till next time.

Who’s imitating who? Photo by Mike Hartley
Wave crash. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Afternoon

  • It’s a car wash type of day today. Therefore tomorrow is a cruising day.
  • I take a good number of pictures for my friends. But when I hand them prints there is an excitement I get to see that I miss when I send them in email.
  • NBA action has started so all I need now is College basketball to begin.
  • Watching nature is beautiful. It can also be cruel as hell at times though.
  • I almost made the mistake of rolling up my hammock and putting it away for the cooler season. Today and tomorrow are excellent uses for such a device.

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A reckoning

One of the things the pandemic brought out was how many jobs that are so difficult, yet are so poorly paid and or appreciated. It’s also caused a reckoning in the people themselves that work those jobs. And a lot of them have evaluated them and said no more.

Sunset Folly Quarter Road Photo by Mike Hartley

The new entitlement and freedom and just flip attitudes make working in any public-facing job a nightmare. I really feel for those people and try hard to treat everyone with respect. I’m constantly surprised at the strength of some individuals taking the abuse. No job would prevent me from taking action if I was on the receiving end.

And yes I know I don’t have the patience for those situations therefore I work in an environment where there is a code of conduct and you don’t even think of approaching any of the behaviors seen in public. It’s only a matter of time before people start taking action because some individuals can be so disruptive that it puts everyone on the edge of the action.

It’s already happened on a number of flights where passengers are either becoming directly responsible for restraining others or part of the team that does. And really we all might be put in this position it seems because the trend is not good and it’s moving fast.

Folly Quarter Road in the fall. Photo by Mike Hartley

And this isn’t going away. Service and the supply chain could get worse. Lots of people are retiring and the recent two years have only accelerated that process for many. Some of those jobs don’t have skilled people waiting. Things like trucking, tradesmen, and other heavy industries. Also healthcare, teaching and Let alone the service industries. Everyone has already noticed it or encounters it daily. Lines are longer if you can get what you need in the first place.

Again it’s another test of how we will respond together. Maybe we can start making some more things here in this country. Maybe we can try to maintain our civility. Maybe we can show our children that we can in difficult times find our way again.

I’ll start by working on my own patience. And to promote calm I’ll add a few images with this rather downer rant.

Looking north on Folly Quarter Road. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Evening

  • Feels good to surpase a goal I set myself earlier today.
  • I love my Son’s dogs dearly. And I enjoyed the hell out of watching them the last few days. But I would need a fenced in yard because I don’t like cold, or wet. Of course the exercise walking them was good for us. And I won’t forget their love.
  • It can’t be another work week looking me in the face.
  • It’s ok to like your own work. Just don’t get too attached to what you have done or you limit what you can do.

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After a day of hard work yesterday, I thought about relaxing a bit. Relaxing is one of many things that I don’t do well. I don’t sit still much unless I’m hurting or spent physically.

I can’t spend a day or even a few hours in my hammock. I love it and it’s comfortable on my back and I love looking at the sky. I just can’t lay motionless without my mind telling me to get up and get my behind in gear.

Life is short, enjoy the view Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe this will change when my time constraints become less restrictive. 45-50 hours a week is a lot of time to get back each week. I hear the hours go quickly when you get to retirement. I’m sure some will be taken up with grandchildren. But that amount of time free seems like a fantasy.

Vacations can sometimes give a short peek into the window, but rarely even then. I think once a decade or two ago I took off 2 weeks in a row and it was the strangest feeling of finally letting my mind unwind. I’ll adapt and hopefully make good use of the time.

Anyway, I hope to incorporate a better mixture of relaxing and tasks today.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • I wish my backyard subscribed to the theroy that if you cut it less the grass will keep the weeds down.
  • Overcast days aren’t all that bad. It could be overcast and wet.
  • Learning to be at peace with oneself is a lifetime job.
  • There are things I should do today and then there are the things I’m going to do.
  • Secret to a long happy life. When you look next to you and see the most beautiful person in the world and they are also your best friend.

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Music powered

I’m going to use the music to provide some extra motivation today. I hope to crank out about 100 prints of a project that is well underway but needs a midway edit and review. Then as the sun rises and the yard dries, I’ll turn into Landscape Man and don my super work shoes (very old sneakers) and work shorts, a hat, and work on my tan while cutting, chopping, raking, shoveling, and sweating.

Start Me Up says the Stones. Photo by Mike Hartley

That is okay though, hard work does a body good. It does a mind good sometimes also. I love the riding mower, too much noise, and dirt to have a phone with me so I’m completely untethered and I’m off the grid. I can let my mind wander, I can lean back and soak up the rays, I can close my eyes and see if I can keep a straight line (difficult with some bumpy spots in my yard), I can watch my granddaughter waving as I complete each lap from her spot on the porch.

I finish that and grab the push mower for another hour of hill climbs in the backyard. That becomes a physical contest. It does keep my calves and thighs in shape. Finally, the string trimmer comes out and aggression is released. Then the relaxing hum of the leaf blower for a while to make things look finished.

That’s the good thing about physical work, you can always see your results. One thing about the professional job I always enjoyed and was a part of for some of my careers was having newspapers come off the press. It was when a lot of hard work came together in a physical product. Those days are numbered and many will never experience the joy of printing and publishing in the old ways.

Someone told me there is such a thing as remote-controlled mowers now. And when I looked it up there have been many over the last 5+ years. Geez, I must be getting old, I’m not keeping up with this stuff. Anyway, it won’t be of use to me. I like the physical part of it now and I hope it and other exercise keeps me young for a while.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Dogs have a ton of love to share, and they need a lot of it in return.
  • It’s not even 9am and I have a craving for pizza.
  • I don’t have a photographic memory – therefore I take pictures.
  • In the world of tractors one is the James Bond of the group. Deere, John Deere.

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Stormy Monday

Listening to Stormy Monday live by the Allman Brothers band on what is a stormy Monday. Well not too bad really but someone around me is getting hammered. Nice start to the day it is. Then again my day has been packed full from the time I got up till now and I still have a night of work ahead. No problem, been knocking it out of the park for years.

Sunflowers in rain Photo by Mike Hartley

So on this stormy Monday, just like the song, my tone and spirits are getting better as the day progresses. I’m not going to let weather dampen my sprits this week.

I saw a friends new office this weekend and commented on how much I like the rising desk he has. He said standing was a better position for him but the desk also allowed him to sit with a switch. I thought about it for a while. And then I got home and sat at my fathers desk, a little small, fixed height, no electronics and I’m comfortable. So I’ll keep this for a while.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My neighbors son just finished his first year in Major League Baseball and he seems as grounded as ever. He was out working on his own car today after the season ended. Nice work parents.
  • Felt like I was doing a better job at finishing last week. And that feels good so I’m trying to keep the roll going. Just like the beat on Hot Lanta by the Allman Brothers.
  • The kids sent me pictures of their weekend. So I made prints. They know how to keep me happy and busy.
  • When you can still say “what a relaxing weekend” after working Monday you know it was a good one.

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Morning morning

Sundays are always unique for me. It’s the transition day from a normal everyday person to a nocturnal beast. Normal Sunday morning starts between 5-7 am. A wonderful day with my better half or family or knocking out chores or all 3. Sometimes some friends and football when it gets much colder.

But after a wonderful Sunday dinner, my workweek begins 7 pm and that ends at 6 am on Monday which is bedtime for me. So that is why I say Morning Morning on Sundays because I just combine the two into one and flip the switch.

Yeah, it’s kind of nuts but the time of that nonsense will soon pass. Lots of people do what they have to and this is a lot simpler than most.

Last night’s Sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

The days of stepping outside in the morning in shorts have come to a close unless you like shivering. We still have some comfortable daytime temps to enjoy but when that sun goes down now the chill is already in the air.

Yesterday we got to enjoy small-town Maryland at Stevensville. Their art/craft festival was in full swing in the afternoon. My best friend made a donation to the local dance team, the food trucks got some of our business but the bakery Peace of Cake hit the home run. I should have hit the ice cream shop because we heard it was good but that leaves me something to try next visit.

That and the company shared the rest of the day made it a great Saturday. I’ll just keep thinking of it while I have that shovel in hand today.

I’ll get busy solving the problems of the world later today between plays in the Ravens game.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • It’s hard to feel good about a week where the weather forecasters have rain symbols for Monday through Friday.
  • We didn’t hit the powerball so everyone back to work tomorrow.
  • Many will work on overcoming pain today.
  • I really like my Cannon printer.
  • Looks like a good week to practice wet weather photography.

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Entertainment Nextdoor

There is a website called Nextdoor. My better half suggested I check it out so I have. It’s not too bad, kind of an online neighborhood for your area, fills a lot of needs, and helps connect people which is always (mostly) a good thing. For the most part, it’s a pretty civil site also but you know it only takes one or two to create a tsunami of conflict.

Actually quite entertaining even though that isn’t its intended purpose, but I do find a ton of humor in it. And below is a sampling of the questions I have found humorous.

You have to join to see all the people participating in your area, but once you’re on it’s good for a chuckle a day. And who knows, you might also find some useful advice and meet some of the people in your neighborhood if you don’t get out much.

Most popular questions:

  • What type of snake is this?
  • Does anyone know who this is knocking at my door video?
  • What type of spider is this?
  • Does anyone know why this road is blocked?
  • What bent my bird feeder?
  • Where should I eat out tonight?
  • Is your power out also?
  • Where can I take these kittens I found in a box?
  • What type of tree is this?
  • Can someone help me find my (keys, wallet, phone, car, wife, groceries)?
  • How loud are the cicadas today? Are the cicadas getting louder?
  • Does anyone want this old furniture?
  • How badly do the cicadas smell? Is the dead and decaying cicadas smell getting worse.
  • What are the noise ordinace hours in our county?
  • Someone’s dog pooped on “my sidewalk, my yard, my neighborhood, my city.”
  • Did someone “hear a loud noise, and explosion or bomb?”
  • Have you seen my cat, dog, cow, zebra, rabbit, bear?
  • Can I shoot a solisiter?
  • Where is this or that food truck going to be today?
  • Can someone recommend a (every type of craftsman known to man)?
  • What type of bug is this?
  • Did we have an earthquake?
  • Can someone go shopping for me?
  • Is there really a bear roaming our area?
  • Can you believe someone parked this way?
  • Is there a girlfriend out there for my husky (dog)?
  • Does anyone have any spare boxes?
  • Who is this walking down the street playing the bagpipes? Yes its true.
  • How do I keep the deer from eating everything in my yard?
  • Did anyone see who (scratched, hit, totaled my car) when it was parked at this store?
  • Have you seen this mailbox? Who destroyed my mailbox? Who parked in front of my mailbox?
  • What happened to this and that business (that has been gone for a year)?
  • Why is that helicopter flying overhead? (Maybe a Goodfellas halucinantion)
  • Does anyone know who this abandoned (boat, RV, jetski) belongs to?
  • Who’s standing on my corner in a hoodie? Someone call the police.
  • Wear bright colors, its deer season soon.

I could go on but that would take out the enjoyment you might find in it. And if you thought the questions people raise are funny spend some time with the answers.

Flags at attention today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • This is the time of the year my brain flips the swithch and says “BEWARE its colder outside than it looks.”
  • There is no day like today.
  • A lucky man sits and reflects what a lucky family he has and how proud he is of them. And then they go about impressing him (me) more every day.
  • I’ve really got to get back to work in the yard. So you all have a good day.

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Starting and finishing

I’ve started way too many posts and not finished them. Well some of them may be better off unfinished but out of the 300-400 drafts I have I should go ahead and finish a few of them. Then again the freshness of a blank page is always a clean start and more attractive. Sort of like the grass is greener on the other side sort of thing.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve got a dozen carvings started and photo projects galore to complete. Life, health, and the job that pays the bills so often interfere with the progress of these efforts. But today is the last night for the main job and I’m already excited. Usually, I start the music going on Thursday morning but I launched a day early. It’s funny how such a simple thing as listening to a few favorite songs while doing a post or email brightens up the day and tone.

I get so busy somedays and so focused that listening to music doesn’t make it to the top 5. And you know what, I regret that. I didn’t realize that by commuting to work, I used to listen to a lot more music. So I’m restoring the balance and sitting here with the shoulders rocking back and forth. I’m a pretty good typist even with motions. Like Billy Powell on the keyboards.

So I’m going to go dance around the house to the beat for a few more minutes before responsibilities take over again.

Rock On. Photo by Mike Hartley

Arlington National Cemetery is a beautiful place filled with wonderous headstones, landscaping, rolling hills, and historic memorials. But none of those things touch the quality of the men and women under it all. This is one of the projects I’m working on now. I’ve been photographing there for years now. Not every time I go to visit but some days. I hope to get some prints made from those shoots to sort through for the best so far by the end of the weekend.

I want my children to get what I get from visiting my parents who are no longer with us when it’s my time. I get a sense of calm after a visit that things are OK. That I’ll try to make them proud as if they were here and stopping boy tomorrow. I get the feeling they are just as happy that I stopped by to talk as they were when they were here. I just don’t get the kiss and hug when I leave.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When I run across and old musical favorite that I haven’t heard in a while it just feels so good to hear it again.
  • Some things just aren’t that important. Sorting them out from the ones that are, is very important.
  • I saw a post by someone I grew up with. He said patriotic Americans watch Fox News. Which kind of implied to me that if I didn’t I wasn’t. Funny the guards at the gate don’t ask if I watch Fox when I enter Arlington National Cemetery
  • I’m feeling better about using each day better.
  • The less people I talk to, the less disagreements I have.

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Missing out

I didn’t spend as much time as I had hoped for at the beach this year. I’ve got one short trip planned, and I still have a few weeks where I can try to add a day or two. So I should start planning something or the schedule will fill up and I’ll be cursing myself for not following through.

I love the beach so much I’ve thought about having my ashes spread there. At least a little of them. I just thought of a goal I need to add to my remaining years. I think I’ll try to spend more days at the beach than the previous year each year.

Flip and Flop Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll get a chance to practice some family photography today when they come over for a cookout. I think I’ll spend the early morning doing some local shooting and if I can get my behind in gear I’d like to try some more night shooting.

But this afternoon when I’m finished grilling and serving and socializing and playing with the kids and dogs. I’ll slide into one of these two chairs with a cold drink, a plate of food, sit back and watch family. But I’ll be wishing that I was still on my feet serving and getting whatever our parents needed. I’ll probably look around where they used to sit. I’ll miss the compliments they threw at the chef. And I’ll miss watching them play and talk to their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I’ll miss my conversations with them and the hello and goodbye hugs.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more people you know that you can trust, the richer you are.
  • All missing people are important. Which begs the question why don’t we spend more time than just the sensational stories on it?
  • Only the best think they could have done better while the also rans think they were the best.
  • A snake in the grass is fine as long as you don’t think it’s a stick.
  • I work at what used to be called an honorable profession.

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Mid-afternoon morning

When you work an overnight shift the morning sometimes falls in the mid-afternoon. Usually, mine is around noon but if I’m getting a good night’s rest it runs into mid-afternoon. And when you have such a drastically different schedule than others meal cycles just merge.

Mornings are cool. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have no distinction in eating any food at any time of the day. More than half the week I’m having dinner for breakfast because my better half is having dinner for dinner. And it just gets weirder from there. I can eat anytime day or night and there is no rule on what can be had at any of those hours.

The body’s ability to adapt amazes me. I get together with a few of my best friends each week. We like to grill out. I’ve gotten up, showered, dressed grabbed a Coke and met them on the deck, and grilled some massive steaks. Yeah, steak for breakfast. I might have easily just had a bowl of frosted flakes at that same time if I hadn’t met up with them.

Working odd shifts you will probably find a lot of people who feel this way. I know some people who work nights, stay up till early afternoon, then sleep and get up in the evening. Your internal clock only operates on days. Some days I’ll step out for lunch and it’s sunny. Sometimes I step out for lunch and look at the moon high in the sky at 1 am. All in the same week.

I’ve always been kind of a night owl and worked more than a few night shifts over my career. I love the stillness of night while at the same time if your up you can also see a bustle of activity that goes on every evening under the guise of darkness while most of you sleep. Once I get some time I’ll document this life and activity more.

Sometimes when I’m troubled my thoughts go to a day when I was 9 and troubled. It was winter and very late at night and I just wandered out back in about a foot of snow. I stood for a minute and then just fell back into the snow. I remember the comfort of the landing and just laying still for a moment. My arms were out to my side slightly and my legs apart. I remember smiling and just making a snow angel with them and then just laying still. I laid there looking at the stars and snow on the branches of the trees, the quiet and stillness of everything.

The reason I remember this is because that it was the few minutes in several months after my Dad passed that I felt at peace, that things might be ok, that I could get up and make it. And through my life at various points that memory and calm come back to me at important times.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The air always feels so clean after a hard rain. I love going out after and just breathing deeply.
  • Pain doesn’t fight fair. Its hard to take a clean swing at it.
  • If I ever lived alone the secret to a clean house would be – Have company over often.
  • I’m not sure if social media highlights the low percentage of very disgruntled people or that there really is a much higher percentage of very unhappy people on earth than I thought.
  • I had to smile at the new level of cluelessness that arrose this morning. At least I laugh about it now instead of being frustrated by it.

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A smoking good time

In a few weeks, we will be grilling out some freshly caught rockfish. That’s right, we are dragging the Fishing Team out of retirement. I’m looking forward to a few days of laughter, love, and happiness. We have known each other for 4-5 decades and it should be a great time again.

Photo by Mike Hartley

The last night of the workweek is ahead of me this evening and then a big effort on the homestead for 3 days. Got a family gathering this weekend. The first such one since the passing of my father and mother inlaw. It might trigger some pauses. I’m sure there will be laughter and maybe a few tears. There is another addition to the family to be seen and celebrated. Some long overdue hugs and hopefully a good time to be had by all.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Starting a day off in real pain is a pain.
  • It took us a little while but my better half and I are a pretty good team.
  • Some days you are just more thankful for than others. Yesterday was one of those.

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Nothing else matters

Nothing Else Matters is a tune that came on as I was reading a note from a very sick friend. And I was thinking, to him, nothing else matters but his health and the moments without pain and sickness from both his illness and treatments.

If you don’t have your health, nothing else matters. It’s a real simple fact of life that you won’t find anyone who is sick argues with. Not that many don’t overcome and work tirelessly minimizing the effects of ill health. Actually, most do, but there are days and weeks and months and sometimes years of bad days.

So today I’m appreciating my good health. Well with the exception of the normal daily aches and pain a 6+ decade old body develops which I will brush off as scars of making it this far.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Okay, onto a healthier topic, and that is another change of season is at our doorstep. There are things I love about each season here in the mid-Atlantic. One is that we do have distinctive seasons. Winter is cold and has snow. Not an unreasonable amount but a few significant ones. Fall and Spring are moderate temps with fall being a bit drier and the spring a bit moister. And of course my beloved SUMMER season of warm temps and beaches and great water temps.

The colors of fall are spectacular. That can’t be understated in many areas in this country. And when the leaves have fallen you have this colorful carpet (until I mow and rake) on the ground. And even when the trees are barren again, the new sights and views that open up are always refreshing. Fall was my favorite season to ride my motorcycle. And even now I keep my top down will for a few more months.

Fall in HoCo Photo by Mike Hartley

Fall is the season that leads you into the holidays. I do have a problem with all the pumpkin spiced crap coming out while it’s still summer and yes it’s already invaded my home weeks earlier.

Fall tries each year with great effort to transition me into the Winter season but it doesn’t have a good track record. I can remember a few winters in my youth that I enjoyed. The ones before I was 10 years old and delivering papers year-round. And maybe a few in my high school years. Of course a few with my own children. Then a huge gap till my 50s and the first fall and winter after my first cancer surgery. I was just starting to feel human again and thought I would never take another change of season for granted.

And I haven’t since and never will again. Yes, I still have my favorites and least favorites but I still have a great appreciation for each. I love the excitement in my better half when the temps don’t get out of the high 60s or low 70s and nights in the 40s come along. And her pleasure just increases as the temps drop more into winter, her favorite. Just another thing we are opposites at. But that is OK because we balance each other out.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Too early to think yet.
  • Second try, still too early, I’ll post them later.

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A great night

My Son got us tickets to the ballgame last night in Baltimore for my birthday a while back. There is no better present than your children wanting to spend time with you. We were both noting how slow baseball is and he made a good point of how they need to speed the game up if they want to attract the younger crowd. At that point, the game was almost 4 hours long and it was in the 8th inning. And he is right but I sat there in the back of my mind thinking how great a game it is where we have time to catch up, talk about important stuff, fatherly advice, and back seat driving and he can’t escape.

But I listen more than I talk now and keep up with what is important to him and what changes in life he is dealing with both personally and professionally. And that is more important than sharing all my old advice. So to me, a long ballgame was a blessing and a real treat. Because it was the time together that was important.

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

Well, it’s the last Friday of the summer of 2021. Went by fast this year so I guess I had a good time. And while there are some nice days still ahead, I’m beginning to worry about my least favorite time of year, winter.

I see Gov Hogan is having flags at half-mast today for observation of the 10,000 Marylanders who have died from Covid19. Even though there are some that haven’t died directly of covid but the ramifications from it so I know for a fact that total is higher by at least 2. And I suspect much more experienced hardship that may have lead to their demise. I pause and pray for all those who have departed early.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Every Friday morning I get this recharge of energy when I hear my granddaughters voice coming in the front door. But for some strange reason I’m exshausted at the end of the day when she leaves.
  • My best friends are going to be away next week. I had better warn my better half that I’ll be around more.
  • Music can mend my sole.
  • Preparing for the worst never used to include stocking up on ammo.
  • I pray, but it doesn’t go via the Cathlic church anymore.
  • Nurses and bus drivers are the first of many underpaid professionals that they can’t fill enough positions for and probably won’t for the forseable future.



I’ve got to liven up this blog, I think I may be too bland in my content. I’ve got to work on my diversity, my work here is plain. Not plain in a bad way, I will never stop expressing my love of family and friends. I do though go on too much about what mundane stuff is going on around me. So I’m going to try to spread my wings a bit and attempt a little more color in my posts.

I’m going to try to be a little more colorful like this guy. Photo by Mike Hartley

Speaking of more. I guess all this extra moisture is driving snakes above ground. I haven’t seen one all summer and in the last week, I’ve seen 4 now. Some big, some small, but so far we have gotten along fine. They go their way, I go mine.

Sometimes it’s helpful to look at things from a different angle. I’m trying to do that more now. I read a good piece of advice about how to handle someone being a jerk. It said to just imagine them having a severe illness and your response will be much more tempered.

I like the M shape it makes. I’ll have to work that into a logo. Photo by Mike Hartley

Hopefully, I’ll find my voice and my vision and share them often. In looking back in history some of the greatest work has been produced in some of the most difficult times. And we certainly can look at today as a difficult series of years. But they are really easy as long as you have your health.

Sometimes people use filters that keep them from seeing something right in front of them. Photo by Mike Hartley

I feel like I’ve got a lot of creative juices just dying to be released. I just have to get moving and let things roll. I have the tools, I just need to make better use of them. I need to use them because when I do there is satisfaction when complete. There is the fun of doing it while in progress. And sometimes a smile on someone’s face at the end.

My granddaughter might like this one. Photo by Mike Hartley

So tonight starts a creative stretch of 4 days that I will devote some of my time expanding the playing field. Have a great hump day evening.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I enjoy this hot weather. I’m soaking every bit of it in now while I can.
  • Like the song says “Nobodys fault but mine”
  • Sometimes just general yard work is very satisfying when it doesn’t result in too much pain.
  • There are far too many cars with too much horsepower for too many young drivers without the skill to use it. I suggest giving all those high horsepower machines to us old guys who have the experience.

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Rolling into happiness

There are only so many nice days of summer left this year and today and tomorrow are going to be a few of them. I’m feeling good, despite a schedule without much rest in it. The last quarter of the year is always nuts and packed tight with activities. I wish I could make it to the beach next week with one of my best friends but doctor’s appointments have intervened.

It’s going to be a hot one today. I think a visit to the local snowball stand is in order. I find it relaxing to go to the corner and eat a snowball looking out over the hills below opposite it.

Off Woodstock Road across from the Snowball Stand. Photo by Mike Hartley

Next Monday is a big day for me. It’s funny though because I have no idea which way it will go. Kind of a strange feeling I haven’t had in a few years. Like I hear the athletes say, don’t get too high on the wins and don’t get too dejected on the loses. So I hope to keep that even keel regardless of which way it goes.

We are having a long-overdue family get-together in a few weeks. Going to grill out all the traditional burgers and dogs, there will be loads of salads and desserts. It will be the first such event without my Mother and Father in law and it will be tough on the family members. I’m sure a special prayer or two might be said for them.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I don’t need a gym, I have a big yard.
  • When injuries derail good teams it’s a real shame.
  • There is much to celebrate, if I could only remember what and when.
  • There are two parts of a remodel job that are fun. The first thought of it and when it’s finished and done correctly. Everything in between is a lot of work and a pain in the butt.

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The morning shoot

Took a short walk around the section near my parent’s grave this morning and grabbed a few shots of a beautiful place. I had my normal chat with them updating all the family status and goings-on, as well as my love for them, and hope they keep an eye on the family.

I love September visits. Things are green still but you can feel the change starting. I’m sure on my next visit I won’t have shorts on and a jacket or coat will be required.

One change to the normal visit was that the Memorial Bridge was closed so I had to take a strange route home. And they directed me on 395 which took me past the Pentagon around 10 am. Just thinking back, I also heard something strange for a Sunday. I heard Taps being played. I didn’t think they did interments on Sundays?

Arlington National Cemetery 9/12/21. Photos by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m going to have to make up for this lazy afternoon tomorrow afternoon.
  • Keeping the momentum going, is always the hard part.
  • Learning to keep that positive creative spirit while chaos swirls around you is difficult but not impossible.
  • It can’t be Monday again.

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20 and 10

Dates like yesterday show how fast time moves. September 11th, 20 years ago is the only birthday of my mothers that I missed spending with her because I was working for a news organization and the news doesn’t get much bigger than that day. Before that September 11th, 2001, this day was always very special, but from 2001 on, it has a dual meaning. This also signals her 10th birthday since her passing. I miss her very much as does my family.

I sat here a few minutes before knowing what I wanted to express about that day. So I paused and went to look at today’s weather forecast. It’s supposed to be a beautiful day here today September 11th, 2021, much like it was 20 years ago. Bright blue skies, about 80 degrees, and I’m reminded of that calm feeling I had that morning. I think I drove into D.C. around daybreak. It started like any other day except that I knew it was going to be a short workday because I wanted to take my Mom to a late lunch to celebrate her day.

It started off like normal going over the reported overnight issues with the editorial systems. I had come to the newsroom floor to talk with one of the other support technicians and he told me it looked like a plane had hit one of the towers and pointed to one of the overhead TVs. I remember both commenting how does a plane not see that on such a clear day and what the hell is he doing at that altitude? We half-watched for a few minutes and started to talk about a problem and then the second plane hit.

That is a moment when you know that the first plane was no accident. The day was a blur of massive activity the next several days but this anticipated short day turned into 18 hours if my memory is still intact. Watching people flee town after the plane hit the Pentagon and then seeing the place look like a ghost town when I went out to try to find lunch. Such a strange sight, empty streets in DC at lunchtime., soldiers at intersections, and smoke over the city.

One of the systems under our watch was the incoming wire service photos. I can’t remember how many different images I viewed that day but it was a lot. I found myself when I had a free moment always returning to look for new images. I guess I haven’t changed much in 20 years. This week I’ve been watching as many of the tv specials about it as I can and also seeing those old images come up again in the system as stories are written about the day and time that has now passed.

I’m going to see my parents today and pay my respects. I think while I’m there I’ll wander over to the Pentagon Memorial at Arlington and add a prayer.

Steel from World Trade Center Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The best words about September 11, come from survivors, family members and friends of loved ones lost.
  • It’s so easy to take feeling good for granted. Don’t you do it.
  • Even though I see my grown children often, I still miss them all the time I don’t.
  • I’m looking forward to a beautiful Sunday. I hope you are also.

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For granted

One of my great failings in life is periodically taking my better half for granted. And I realized I’ve been doing that in regard to not taking her many places in a while. Of course, the recent pandemic has also put a damper on that activity but there are a ton of things still available to do and I got to get busy proposing some again.

I did better Thursday morning taking her to the EZ Cafe for breakfast which we hadn’t been to in some time and then did some shopping together at Clarks. Also scheduled some time away before the end of the year at a quiet place we both love. Somewhere we have been meaning to stay for some time now and finally decided to splurge. Well, the splurge might not seem that way to some. For us, it’s a splurge.

So if you have been taking your significant other for granted in any way. Correct course, get busy and do something. It only takes effort. There is a ton of places to visit and have a good time at. And sometimes it’s just a matter of spending more time together doing simple things.

Life is short and I’m living more in the present now. I’m using more time to create each day. What I get done around the house and yard is what I get done when I get it done. I’d rather be playing with my Dremel tool. Or writing or photographing. Maybe playing with my granddaughter or sending my kids something interesting to read.

The other day I had a doctor’s appointment. Instead of hustling home, I went for a cruise. Not a long one but it was a beautiful morning and the top was down and the sun was out so what the hell, I went for it. One of the great pleasures of driving is when you have no place to go in particular and no timeframe to get there.

Cloud imitating building. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I had the thought of letting my hair grow again and went several weeks beyond my normal haircut time but I just don’t like that interm period between short and nice very long. So it’s cut once more.
  • One of my favorite atheletes of all time has been Derek Jeter. He is now in the Hall of Fame and rightfully so.
  • Wow, the kickoff of the NFL season is here. So even though they don’t use it anymore I had to listen to “All my rowdy friends are coming over tonight.” (the old MNF lead in song) I can remember singing that infant daughter at the start of Monday Night Football. She would get so excited. And then fall asleep.

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Grooving and moving

Some music inspired me yesterday, and the body was going to its beat. I couldn’t stop it. The brain assumes auto control and the shoulders and hips start to swing, there goes a slight knee bend, the head is on a swivel now and the arms jut out in different directions. The spine twist and turns, the ankles spring into action and the fingers are plucking the cords.

The voice comes alive, I can’t believe I remember the words. I pump my fist skyward at the crescendo. And then like a major league umpire punching out a batter on the third strike down on one knee and side fist pump with a little head shake for emphasis. What a great feeling to start the day.

Dancing on the dugout. Photo by Mike Hartley

Aggression leaves the body. Feelings of peace and contentment come over me. I feel so in tune with the music at times. As the song says “God gave Rock and Roll to you.” Sorry didn’t mean to get religious, it’s just the song title to an old tune by Argent.

Which spurred the thought, what songs today unite or bring attention to the perils of our existence like when I was growing up. I don’t say that as a criticism, I just don’t know today’s music well and what I do I can’t understand nor like the beat enough to seek out the lyrics. I guess I should be more patient and investigate that instead of making a broad statement about today’s music.

The difference is I didn’t have to hear a song more than once to know something clicked in me to want to hear it again really bad. And when I did I got even more excited and would let my body go because the words and or beat inspired me.

Well enough fun and frivolity. Got a busy day ahead. The sun is about to rise and I must check to see if those torrential rains last night washed anything out. And if I’m lucky today I’ll take my cameras out and collect some new images of a place in time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I like it when I learn, it makes me feel good till I think about my ignorance of that knowledge before then.
  • Photography is the great equalizer. All of us can take a picture. Its how we see and imagine and interpret and then choose what to capture that separates us.
  • Don’t by a hammock and then not put it to use.
  • Richness is measured in the quality of friends.

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As young adults, children, grandchildren, teachers, administrators, and bus drivers all begin anew many are holding their breaths as to what might come of this attempt. I know I am because I have players in the game. Colleges to kindergarten and daycare to night school are all facing a lot of unknowns with different plans and disagreements on paths of action.

Tensions are going to be strained. Parents are already apprehensive on a large scale as to any number of concerns for safety, communications, and really every aspect of their kid’s days now. Funny how a pandemic can bring such sudden interest among parents.

There is only trouble ahead. We are dammed if we do and dammed if we didn’t. Our success is how we respond and move forward in the best interest of everyone in a school. We need to teach our children resilience and staying focused on goals through difficult times and we are having some success but also some failures.

A wave with a smile. Photo by Mike Hartley

I thought about reactions and things asked of previous generations during crises and tough times. I thought about my Mom who was born in 1923 and raised in the depression. In her late teens, this country entered WW2 and she married a Navy man who served in the Pacific and also Korea and on operation Deep Freeze. Think about those few things. There was no Zoom or everyone with a cell phone. Communications were by letter and sometimes depending on where they were long times between while knowing they were in harm’s way every day.

And even though he survived those things he died at a young age due to those wars and she was left to raise a 9 and 7-year-old alone. Despite this, I was raised with a very positive, strong, and forward-looking person who believed in people and doing good. And of course, doing what was needed to overcome.

Yes, I admit this pandemic has caused people living on the edge (and there are lots of them) for this to be equivalent to a Depressions era event as was experienced back in the 1920s. Yes, there has been a tremendous loss of life (I believe about 230 thousand more than was lost in WW2 so yes there has been tremendous suffering by those ravaged by the virus by those who didn’t survive and even some who have, who now have lasting effects.

But I’m talking about a majority of us coming through fairly unscathed. A lot of people well off complaining like a child throwing a tantrum in a store because they can’t have a dinner out or they have to wear a mask someplace or their package is delayed or they can’t get the car they wanted because of a chip shortage.

The only thing that I’ve let get to me has been the decreased face-to-face time with friends and family. But if that means everyone’s safety for a short period of time, come on, that is a very small sacrifice.

The truth is very few if any know exactly what is coming and what duration this is going to take. I’m expecting chaos this year for kids. And that is because my daughter’s daycare has already closed for a period of time due to the virus. We have made adjustments because we can and will do anything for our children and grandchildren.

I recognize not everyone is in a position to do that and that is why we all are needed to help minimize the impact. Be it emotional support, monetary support, or even help in care for family or friends. We all need to pitch in and in many ways, not just for our own families but of those around us and far away.

Maybe neighbors need to be more of an extended family. Maybe the well-to-do can contribute to those less fortunate or hit by natural disasters. Maybe employers can step up their flexibility. Maybe we can all find something to do a bigger part in. Or just simple things like taking the time to be supportive of someone. It would be the best example for our youth.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Use the tools you have often and wisely, and you will succeed.
  • I’m not thrilled with days that include doctors appointments.
  • I work with a lot of young people. They seem to lack more patience than us old farts.

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Tailgate party

One of my best friends and I were sitting around talking about the old days of working together and decided that a meeting of people from the old company was needed. So I think we are pursuing a tailgate party in the parking lot of the old building. This could be just a few people showing up to a lot more. I have no idea how many are still in the area. But over a span of several decades, there are a good number of people who worked there.

Right now it’s an empty parking lot and empty building. Hopefully, the local police won’t call SWAT out on us for this unsanctioned event. And right now the idea is in its infant stage but announced so we will see what comes of it. I’ll write more on it as it develops. It has the potential to be something special.

Now that is a tailgate. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another working holiday weekend is upon me. Some years our team ends up working 6 out of the 8 company holidays. It sucks and I’ll be glad when I can say no mas. Especially days like today where it is so beautiful outside. But that is the deal I agreed to so I’ll just be glad I’m gainfully employed.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Days spent in service of others are rewarding. Be it family, friends, strangers or country.
  • I think I’ll call my sister, been a long time since we talked.
  • As I look at the beautiful green canopy of trees out in my back yard, my mind wanders to a few months from now it will be bare again. Each change of season gets a little more significant as you age.
  • If you can manage to be happier than the day before your on the right track.
  • I always wonder what my kids are up to when I don’t hear from them that day.

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Storm Away

I look at my home and it’s intact. The yard is a little bit of a mess but nothing a day of work won’t resolve. And I shake my head at the luck we had from this storm. Wind and lots of rain but no flooding and no tornados. But as the pictures around the country attest to the extensive damage in many states.

Flooded Main Street Ellicott City from Agnes in 1975. Photo by Mike Hartley

People’s lives changed forever. And at the best some huge disruptions to the whole Gulf to the Northeast. Not to minimize the fires the West is dealing with but the roads, bridges, and rail lines that will need repair are not just going to take days and weeks but months and maybe years closer to where the storm initially hit. The need is so great and the damage so extensive that I wonder if it will change people’s minds on where to live or climate change.

The death toll also keeps rising from this storm and many are missing. It seems like far too many have nobody to look out for them when emergencies arise. Mainly seniors but lots of single-parent families also.

It’s going to have a ripple effect soon. Gas prices will certainly rise. Supply chain disruptions are certainly in order and basics like power and water may be affected for some time for many areas. So being on the lucky side of the storm I think I’ll make a contribution to those who help those in need. May I suggest the same if you have been lucky also?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can’t believe the Columbia Mall is going to be 50 years old Saturday.
  • I never thought much before about states I wouldn’t visit before, but now I certainly do.
  • Sorry I was away for a few days. I was doing prep and recover from the weather. Oh and the job that pays the bills was unusually busy. And that is all the excuses I need. But I’m glad to be back and hope to crank out some posts this weekend.

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Mother Nature Rules

Mother Nature can create such devastation and at the same time, she creates such beauty that all you can do is marvel at both of them. As hurricane Ida hits the south I think of the strongest winds I ever saw in my life and that was just this past summer when a tropical storm passed over Ocean City. And that was nothing compared to what a hurricane can provide.

After that one episode, I have a respect for wind that I didn’t before. Living where we do the chances are fairly remote but if one does head this way, I’ll be getting out of its way.

With rain in the forecast for the next several days, I think I’ll concentrate on some indoor shooting.

Sir, behind you, RUN. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m mesmerized by the storm footage. The power and scope of this storm are impressive. Or maybe they all are and we are just seeing more footage now because everyone has a camera. I try to do my part to capture nature’s beauty. But I’ve also captured its nastiness, with local flood shots.

Lots of people needing lots of help. Think I’ll start with the Red Cross.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wish for the safety of all the personell who stay during the storm to police, attend to the injured and those who open the streets and restore power in the Gulf Coast.
  • The good thing is everyone has an opinion. The bad thing is not everyone deserves one.
  • Wishing my two teachers in the family a good and safe year.
  • I can’t wait to hear those magic words, PaPa.

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A few days of fun

Pterodactyl is a word I taught our 2-year-old granddaughter. She pulled one of my Son’s old Beanie Babies out and that is what it was so I said that. She seemed intregieged. So I practiced it a few times with her and she had it in no time. So when her Mom dropped her off yesterday I went and got it and asked her what it was and she pronounced it perfectly.

I was so proud of her and myself. There are a bazillion things I would like to teach her and share with her. I hope I’m one of those lucky grandparents that lives a long time till grandkids are of the age to have marriages and children themselves. What a wonderful gift that would be.

Nature is the king of color. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have come to the conclusion that we won’t be one country for quite some time now. The divisions are too deep and a lot of them are not rooted in fact or truth. I have friends on both sides of the political fence and I see no middle ground between them. And this is very unhealthy for our country and I’m not even referring to the pandemic and people’s response to it, but just the overall health of a divided country.

Only a few days before kids return to school here so my usual warning to those out driving in the mornings and afternoons. WATCH OUT FOR SCHOOL BUSES and KIDS RUNNING TO THEM. It takes all my strength not to turn around and chase some of the people that ignore a stopped school bus flashing red lights and beat them to a pulp. I mean how F’ing inconsiderate of a human being are you?

And don’t give me the excuse you were tired or didn’t see it or wasn’t paying attention. That’s bullshit and you know it. There are things in the world that make me almost insane and this is one of them.

Caution, school season again. Photo by Mike Hartley

OK, the last of the cars for a bit. I love old classics and this is certainly one of them.

I loved those old BF Goodrich tires. Went through a few sets. Photo by Mike Hartley

I see Mikey and Mel’s are having another event on Oct 2nd. I’ll have to motor down for that also.

The Boss 302. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Only effort, keeps me from being successful at my next career. Trouble is I’m starting that career in retirement.
  • Meeting some old friends this morning. Will be good to see them. Even if it is on the computer.
  • It’s disappointing when you put so much effort and energy into something and get no respect or thanks for it. But such is life at times so I just roll with the punches.
  • I’m glad I looked up the spelling on pterodactyl because I certainly buchered it on my attemp. English isn’t my strong suit if you hadn’t noticed already.

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Back in Black

Not sure where I was going with this title today, but I did like this Vette and the song Back in Black. I haven’t been sure about a lot of things lately so a confused start is fitting. My mind has been wandering into uncomfortable territory and then I recover and move on. So we will repeat this process today and move on again to being as happy and productive as we can.

Mona Lisa. Photo by Mike Hartley

There are only so many free moments in the day and I’ve wasted a few today already so I should get moving. I let the job that pays the bills to frustrate me a little and that is wasted time. I let health concerns worry me and that is a waste of time. And I’ve just been a little lazy.

That will change the next two days when I practice my child care skills with a 2 1/2-year-old. And I think I’m tired now. I imagine by Friday night at this time I’ll be begging for a nap.

Convertible and 4 on the floor. I’m happy. Photo by Mike Hartley

I will do some shooting this weekend. Not sure what or where but the cameras are coming out. I will not let this body stop me.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My thoughts are with the families of those service members who made the ultimate scarifice today.
  • My body never used to scare me.
  • Some fishing is planned for this fall with my best friends. I had better practice smiling all day. Because we laugh so hard and so long my face usually hurts after a weekend together.
  • Car shows are like an art gallery. The parking spaces are the frame. Everyone gets the same lighting. You can tell the popular pieces by the crowd around them.
  • I’m reminding myself now that I didn’t properly appreciate the days I had this year without pain.

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An hour of smiles

Yesterday was the car show at Mikey and Mel’s in Maple Lawn in southern Howard County. A very nice mixture of cars and owners. Given the list of chores back at home I didn’t spend long, about an hour just up and down each aisle and I’m sure more cars came in after I left so this is a small sampling. I really should have shot more. The sun came out more on my ride back home.

Classics to contemporary were found here. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was glad I took the time to go see some of these works. I love the arts and I see design and art in every car creation. And just like all art, some is better than others but even the attempts are good works because you don’t get great on your first attempt.

A trio of Speedsters. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes it’s maintaining a classic car and body style. Others are massive modifications to classic or current platforms. Both can be stunning to me. I guess that is a bit of the old youthful enthusiasm I had for cars. Big American muscle cars.

The old Chevy phrase on the front panel there says “The Heartbeat of America.” Well, I bet his neighbors at least know when he starts that Heartbeat up. Photo by Mike Hartley

The reinterpretation of original design. The use of color and textures. The brilliance of chrome or width of a tire, the smell of leather or high octane fuel, the sound of a wonderfully tuned exhaust or open headers, it’s all here.

This might have been my favorite of the show. Nice Foose rim choice. Photo by Mike Hartley

The hidden arts of engine building and tuning. The underside of frame suspension and brakes. Yes being able to stop is nice. The vehicle can be a masterpiece on so many levels.

The chrome is even more impressive if it has some get up and go underneath it. Photo by Mike Hartley

This was a nice break and I’ll look for future events like this in our area because this kid needs to get out and about more. Plus the next one I’ll haul one of my best friends there with his Vette. I know I’m going to go check the calendar because I’ve always wanted to attend that Cruising Ocean City event in the fall. Oct 7-10 this year I believe.

The car’s front tires were wider than most rear tires.

I think I’ll post the rest another day, for there are many chores still on the list today. But some of them are fun like grilling out so I won’t complain.

Nice American Grafitti replica. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Why does my mind draw a blank with the statement from my better half “do you need anything at the store” and then remember when I’m unloading the groceries from the car?
  • Another workweek begins. I think I’ll resume my countdown. That is one thing when I moved from the office to the home office that I didn’t continue. I had a few post it notes on my monitor that had a countdown of weeks to work left. Maybe because I didn’t have to make that drive and was reminded how much I hated it when I finally sat down at my station. Now the commute is much better.
  • My thoughts today have been filed with teachers returning to school. Because I’m a parent of teachers after I was a parent myself. I’m going to say a few extra prayers in hopes of a better year for them.


Lunch and rest, nice combo

A beautiful Friday when the rains cleared, a wonderful lunch in New Market Maryland at a spot called The Derby. What a little gem in a little town. We will be returning for more good food and good service. My better half made this suggestion so I owe her one. First I like small towns. Next, I like somewhat casual places. If I get a great meal and service I’m all in and will sing its praises. So if you are out that way stop in and try their treats.

We got home and I got far too relaxed for a change of pace and my better half convinced me to just chill to enjoy the day without chores. And so I did. Not often do I do that and it felt great and well-timed. It also reminded me I need to do more with my better half. She deserves a lot better effort and I need to step up. I guess I got a bit lazy and paranoid during the last year and more.

I had better get busy with the planning and execution for the rest of this year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got 3 days in a row shooting new content. Feels good.
  • Your rich when people care about you.
  • Got some car photos from this mornings shoot at Mikey and Mels 3rd Cruise In at Maple Lawn.
  • Days I can just sit back and smile at points due to my children is a really nice benefit.
  • Feeling artistic this evening. I should do something.

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A wonderful evening with friends out on the water. A good dinner a Nicks and an evening ride back to the docks. While we were just sitting there a blue heron landed on the dock near us and didn’t leave till we were about 45 minutes later.

I’m sorry, I just can’t contain myself. Photo by Mike Hartley

A father of one of my best friends’ childhood friends took us out from Canton to Nick’s. We ate outside and there was a breeze coming off the water. We were on the edge, so even though there were many people, the air was moving the other way. Funny how I think about those things now.

A good meal and lots of laughs. We ate well and treated our Captain. Events like this bring balance to what seemed to be getting out of control again. It helped put things in perspective.

Getting ready to tie us off and tie one on. Photo by Mike Hartley

Anyway, back to reality today. Rainy morning with a flash flood watch for this Friday in central Maryland. I guess that is the balance that comes after a beautiful evening. Today is going to be spent with my better half and continuing to set balance to my mind and body. And while hours of hard work await this weekend my mindset today is to have a great time.

I hadn’t been to this dock since one of our friends passed. If you had anything to do with the beautiful day Dan, thank you. Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe a little exercise for the mind and soul. I think I’ll try to whip together a few posts and of course capture some new images to go along with the aimless wanderings of my mind. And with the job that pays the bills in the rearview mirror for the week, I’m looking forward to a great day despite the raindrops.

A shadowy figure. He’s about 4′ tall like that. I bet he is 5′ when he stretches that neck. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is no bad day to photograph.
  • I have a music deficiency and I must remedy that today.
  • As summer draws to an end my mind thinks about my daughter and daughter inlaw returning to the classroom. It is with an unusual unease this year. Normally would be thoughts of, I hope they get a good group of kids. Now my thought are more worry about them staying healthy and the kids parents.
  • Water brings calm into my life. It also brings work, had an area with some washout with that monsoon this past week. So between the raindrops this weekend I will be working on that mess.
  • It’s funny how the pandemic has changed my desire for getting a haircut as often. And everytime it starts to get a little long I think about letting it grow real long again. And then another week or two go by and I say holy crap.

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Get going

I’m going to try to focus on being more active each day. I was getting a little lazy and relaxed recently. I was reminded about how much fun being inactive is the last few days. And that is NO FUN at all. After a wonderful start to the weekend packed full of activities I was stopped in my tracks halfway through. That was the worst I felt in some time and I let it get the best of me mentally. I wasted time, but at least I’m in the right frame of mind again.

There can be infinite things to do if you get past that sign. Photo by Mike Hartley

It was an excellent reminder to do as much as I can while I’m a fairly healthy individual. Because as we all eventually learn, time is a gift not to be wasted. And while I’m not 100% today I’ve got the right motivation so like any other day, I should make the best of it. So here we go.

Today I see opportunities. I’m close to finishing one of my 4 wall exhibits in my office. And I’m going to work on that and clean up another one to get started on it tonight.

Keep your head up, there are a lot of nuts out there. Photo by Mike Hartley

There is a new museum in DC called Planet Word. It looks very cool and I can’t wait to pay it a visit and then go again someday when my granddaughter starts forming a few more words.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel for our Veterans and want to express my appreciation and support.
  • You try working a night shift for a decade or more.
  • Whomever is doing the rain dance, you can stop now.
  • Worry is something I wish I could spend less time on.
  • Life has a way of piling on at times.
  • Will we learn important lessons from our last 20 years in Afganistan?

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Just in time – Ice Cream

As we were walking the streets of Annapolis Thursday I noticed an ice cream delivery being made to the Red Bean Ice Cream and Coffee shop. There is no better week to have some ice cream than this one. I even mixed some ice cream into my cherry snowball on the way home.

Get inside quick, melt time 30 seconds. Photo by Mike Hartley

I got to spend a wonderful day with my daughter this week. Walking, talking, eating, and just going over all the things that get lost or don’t have a chance to discuss with a short visit and others around. That one on one time with your children is important. No matter what age they are, they and you can always benefit from that experience.

I’m amazed at the speed my children are learning important life lessons much faster than I ever did. For instance their work and life balance. I never got that right for many decades into my adult years. But the words I heard yesterday and actions I’ve seen have set my heart at ease. So much maturity at such early ages will benefit them for many decades to come.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love watching approaching thunderstorms. I hate picking up the damage after they pass.
  • So many options in life. Well that is if you are lucky, so if you have a choice appreciate it.
  • It’s interesting how still it can get after a severe storm.
  • No this isn’t the start of the football season. I think Alan Iverson said it best. “We talk’en about Practice.”
  • This wasn’t the best of days. But I’ve made it through it.

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You talking to me?

Don’t know why I thought of that (“You talking to me” quote from Taxi Driver) while taking this shot but that is what sick thought popped in this head. His look just had that attitude to it. I watched him for a while and he seemed to be having problems finding the spot he entered my old pool fence at. And I couldn’t find a low spot either where he was going to fit that shell through but obviously, he had. Anyway instead of watching him struggle I put him outside the fence. I went back out 3 minutes later to check on him and he was gone into the tall grass.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m always on the lookout for him when cutting grass because I know he frequents my yard and the neighbors a good bit. And now that they have one of those services that come in with those huge mowers that roll around a yard at warp speed he won’t have a chance if he is out in the open over there.

I guess I’m a sucker for wildlife. I’ll stop to move a praying mantis or frog instead of mowing them over. I know I can’t save everything. I’ve probably killed too many bee’s and I certainly put a dent in the Cicada population earlier this year with the tractor. Now snakes, I know they are good. I don’t have a problem with the small or medium ones at all, we go our own way. The larger ones or poisonous I don’t mess around. Only once in a property dispute with a very large one who made it clear on a few occasions he didn’t like me on my property, did I have to take action.

I love the wildlife around here, reminds me of my youth and that is strange in a county that has changed so much with development everywhere. Families of deer, yes they are a pain, they eat my better half’s flowers and crap in the yard and maybe spread deer ticks. They are still beautiful and watching the young ones run and jump and turn with abandon is like watching a comedic ballet. I love the birds despite them decorating my freshly washed cars once in a while. I love watching that fox stalk and hunt. I love seeing that big groundhog and it’s young every so often.

I’ve even tolerated the mole who has been working on the border of my property but has been sampling more and more of my soil underground. My patience is wearing thin with him though. I was hoping the hawks that frequent the airspace in my yard would have nailed him but I guess I’ll have to put a little effort into it myself.

A southern turtle would say “Yall take car now”. Photo by Mike Hartley

The rabbits and squirrels entertain the young ones and keep the dog’s attention when we watch my son’s 4 legged babies. The occasional raccoon passing through or possum. I have yet to see the black bear roaming this area but I’m sure he has been through the woods behind us.

It reminds me of my youth when we used to see wildlife fairly frequently. Too bad even less of the counties next generation will have that experience as development continues.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A difficult day depends on perspective. I know someone who would love to have a difficult day at the job if they were healthy enough.
  • Democracy only is as good as our response to crisis situtuation together.
  • If they stop making cars with manual transmissions I’ll buy an older car.
  • I’m falling behind on my daily desk calendar again. I think I do it intentionally but time keeps moving on.

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Hoofing it alone

This past week was one of doing my shift alone. Usually, there are two of us but vacations come around. It’s interesting working independently. The boss was out also so I really had to keep the eagle eye out. I’ve actually learned to like this more as I’ve gotten later in my career. I’ve worked in all-size groups and teams and there is a lot of enjoyment in that also. But also some headaches. And managing groups and teams is another set of rewards and trials.

Working alone or independently takes some discipline and focus. I’ve seen some become lazy and let the opportunity pass them by. The roles I’ve had throughout my career have led to smaller and smaller teams, not something I was consciously thinking about or looking for, kind of just evolved that way.

In a few years when I retire, I’ll be totally alone working on my own crafts and no excuse of a full-time job in the way progress so I had better be ready to step up.

Alone with nature. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes I feel very alone. Well, make that a good number of times. Out of the loop on communications. I try to be a good listener but feel I’m excluded from time to time. I don’t feel comfortable sharing opinions now as I once did. I know I’m a bit more on the passionate side when it comes to the presentation but I’m not inflexible.

Anyway, it gets disappointing sometimes but I’ll adjust. And in a positive way instead of a negative one. But I do find myself getting into a bit of a shell. One I’d rather not wear but comes with the territory. And as with all things in life, it comes in ebbs and flows.

I think I’ll go work on some wood this week. I got a few new bits for the Dremel tool and one of these days I’ll learn what I’m doing by doing it or I’ll have to revert to watching some YouTube videos on it to learn. I’m kind of stubborn still. I didn’t grow up having Google or YouTube to learn stuff. We did it by trying to do it. Hopefully, you knew someone with tips and tricks or experience to mentor.

If the push mower stopped you got down and learned where the air filter was, how to check the oil, maybe look at and adjust a carb or replace a fuel filter. Or get dirty cleaning the underside of the mowing deck. Not taking it to the dealer or having someone pull up and pick up your rider. You fixed it.

I remember it seemed that if our cars weren’t moving, the hoods were up with us tinkering with them or admiring the latest new headers or carb or inside testing out the new stereo system with power boosters. Now I know where my hearing went. Open headers and loud stereo systems. Well, maybe a few rock concerts contributed also.

Well, I had better get busy, I want to make good use of this week. Maybe get out to the county fair and do some photography. I think I’m shooting Annapolis one day also. And some friends this weekend. Guess I better charge the batteries.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Green Onions – A song too cool for lyrics.
  • Any day I get to grill out is a good one.
  • The more I go about setting a better example the better person I am for it.
  • Even when I take a day to relax I feel guilty.
  • Whomever is making the meal deserves the praise and thanks of those consuming it.

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I need some crabs

I might have to go get a few Maryland Blue crabs this coming week. Maybe some melted butter for dipping. Hey, it’s summer in this state and that is what we do.

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

Crabs are finger food. Maybe a mallet for the claws but nothing else is needed. Just some room. And yes with those sharp edges come some finger nicks from time to time and when that Old Bay seasoning hits it the reminder to grab the cold tall glass of beer in front of you kicks in.

Thankfully I was taught at a young age how it works. How to make short work of the de-shelling part. I’ve seen some good pickers but the wife of one of my best friends still stands out in my mind almost 5 decades later. He would be eating along at a good pace but all of a sudden you started to notice this mound of picked crabmeat beside him. You glance away for a minute and the mound became a pile. You take a sip of beer, the pile is now a small hill and then a mountain. She was fast.

By the bushel, and BUY the Bushel. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s easy to recall a lot of good experiences both crabbing in our youth to eating them this summer. I guess a common theme also is that they are enjoyed with family and friends always. Rarely have I eaten crabs alone. Could probably count it on one hand and have a few fingers left over. No, I’m not including polishing off the last few crabs the next morning after the feast. That is part of the feast.

You can get just about anything as examples below with crab in Maryland. I believe the Baltimore National Pike Crabhouse on Rt 40 served a heaping crab pizza many decades ago. One of our good friends could grill up a mean rockfish covered with crabmeat from a crabcake mixture. May he rest in peace, I can still picture him weaving in front of the grill after a day of fishing together. Of course, we were all weaving that day if I recollect correctly.

Bloody Mary from the Crabcake Factory. Photo by MIke Hartley

I like my homemade crabcakes but picking fresh ones is right there at the top of the ways to have them. We are constantly in search of the best cream of crab soup. Crabs are a blessing to this area. Many always thought lobster was at the top of the seafood chain but Blue Crabs from Maryland prepared fresh are a treat that I think tops the larger crustacean.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • This past year or so has shown me in a new way that the adage “Ignorance is bliss” is really true.
  • I still get excited when I clean my glasses and put them back on and can see again.
  • I have no problem with people using mowing services. I have a problem with the services showing up at 7:15am.
  • Looking forward to learning is the way to live.
  • I had a south of the border start yesterday, taco’s for breakfast.

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Choosing words

Writing is still very new to me and starting each day playing around, crafting a post is still a unique experience. Sometimes an intimidating one being I read quite a few very talented blogs and know I’m nowhere close to the skill in crafting a story, poem, observation, or topic that is really good yet.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Choosing a photo is much easier and helps me sometimes ease into a train of thought or observation or feeling that day.

Sort of like this image toasting a sunset last month. Kind of brings calm to my less-than-perfect day and leaves me to hope that tomorrow is better.

So a toast to today and looking forward to the warmth of another summer day ahead.

We are soon to run out of summer days so I had better get busy and get my behind to the ocean in the next few weeks or I’m going to beat myself up all winter long, wishing I had hopped in the car and just headed east till I hit the water and couldn’t go any further.

So I had better change the oil and check the fluids and pressure on the tires so we are good to go on a trip. Some say I’m nuts for just taking a day trip and doing that much driving in one day. It’s only about 6 hours even if I hit some traffic but that isn’t likely during the week. And I might even do an hour or two of cruising while there between some beach time and meals.

I have pretty clear recollections of past day trips to the ocean. There is something to be said for a little solitude time. Just the music or wind, sand, and water. The miles melt away on the trip down and back. The smile as I enter the town limits. The smells of all the local food establishments calling me and trying to decide all the places I want to stop at. The sounds of the waves as I approach the dunes crossing. The sun baking me till I have to hit the water.

But the alone time in the middle of a crowd is interesting. I might chat with the waitress or a passing hello to people coming and exiting the beach. I used to enjoy saying hello to some of the old locals who manned the parking pay booths but they took that out years ago. Sometimes meeting fellow bikers in town and short rides together.

A stop at Fagers Island to watch the sunset and listen to the 1812 Overture as the sun slips below the horizon before heading out of town.

The time for thought and reflection is there to make your way through and adjust the attitude and priorities. To know and refocus on what is important. To have an appreciation for much that has been given. And to pass along and help those less fortunate. I notice the fewer days like this I take the more out of sorts I am. There have been some years where I haven’t taken a day for myself and that isn’t smart. It’s not like a need a ton of them to right the ship but one or two a year really helps both my outlook and probably health physically and mentally.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My instincts are still working. I was up working last night when that earthquake rumbled for a few seconds. And after a minute I figured out that was the only thing that could have produced that noise at that time.
  • So many serious problems facing the world. So few willing to do the hard work to turn things around.
  • This decade will define how this country moves forward together or backwards apart.
  • Does ice cream taste better during the summer?
  • Looks like we pushed mass homelessness 60 days down the road.

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Some days

Some days you roll with the punches and some days you don’t. The more you can handle or slip the blows, the better life is, but I forget that from time to time, and just like a fight, some punches are harder than others. But I’m up and dancing in the ring again so as they say I’ve lived to fight another day.

Today is a planning day. Some very important negotiations are coming up and the better-prepared one is the better the results usually. It’s going to affect things fairly significantly going forward in my professional career and therefore affect my personal life and time.

I need to get a flagpole for the yard. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was out and about the last few days a bit and saw that masks are making a comeback. Maybe rightly so, I see the positivity rate climbing again and maybe soon into areas where it would be smart to mask up again. And when I say out and about I not talking about attending a concert or going to the most crowded restaurant or a packed shopping mall or ballpark.

My breathing isn’t the best when I’m feeling great. For instance that smoke from the fires out west and working outside those few days that it was heavy, put a hurting on me. So I’m really on guard against this virus. I got vaccinated as soon as it was available to me. I’m interested in getting a booster because I believe I read that the J&J vaccine was good for at least 8 months, probably more. Well, I’m not a probably guy. So that means I’m protected (as far as anyone knows) till November.

Even though our state (Maryland) has been above average on getting the vaccine and the number of cases is still low Maryland ranked 9th this past week in the percentage change in daily cases in the last 7 days at 80%. While our cases are still in the hundreds per day instead of the tens of thousands in some other states, it’s obviously present in our area and spreading. And I’ve got to think that has a lot of people stressing out at the thought of more changes and restrictions again.

Nothing really has changed much since the beginning. Look at the Olympics taking place now. Do you see throngs of fans that normally attend the games? No, it’s like some of the previous sports seasons here in the US if they played at all. And all this makes me take a long-term view of it again as I did when the pandemic started. Some of my friends were stunned when I said a year at least, probably more back in March of 2020. Well after about 16 months we are still in it because we are selfish.

Science told the longer it went on the more it would mutate. Science told us that it would probably be like the flu and need annual vaccinations. Science told us early on it was more deadly and contagious than the normal flu and many brushed it off and died as a result.

That’s not to say I wasn’t in fear of the vaccine. We all saw how fast they were all developed. Some off different concepts. Multiple companies producing them. Availability short in the beginning so you took what was offered. You looked skyward and hoped for the best. My concern for my children and wife was off the charts hoping a bad reaction wasn’t in their future. All the time we are getting new updates on how effective they are against the various strains coming out.

I’ll have the same fear in getting a booster shot but I’ll get it when it’s available and recommended. Because that is the best we can do now. We have always had faith in modern medicine. The trouble is some expect perfection and that just isn’t possible because medicine is not an exact science.

We trust our doctors as they prescribe us medicines throughout our life. We trust them to operate on us. We trust them with flu and measles and other vaccines. What all changed so much? I guess politics had some impact, misinformation or just contradictory information sowed confusion and still does.

Is the summer surge that has started going to continue to grow or just drop off? I’m not taking a chance, my mask will be reappearing and my activities and contacts will be limited. This is about adapting quickly and being patient. Think about the likelihood of success of telling everyone they have to were a mask again and that they can’t attend their favorite sporting event or eat inside again. There is going to be a mass revolt among many and it will continue on and on.

But my main concern is for the children under 12. The unvaccinated who can’t be at this time. And were going to put them in school again soon in large numbers and this could be a disaster. I don’t know why we can’t see this coming. I know the alternative is hell, but at least some won’t parish.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m much happier when I get in the car and start it and have no destination to reach.
  • I wonder if the selfishness in a few is increasing the selfishness in others?
  • I’m getting better at getting answers to questions without even asking them.
  • I look forward to the joy that I will have on Sunday nights the first weeks when I’m retired and not having to work them.

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When I wasn’t looking

The joy of riding a motorcycle was mine for about 3 decades, but I have taken to 4 wheels in my 50’s and 60’s. I was tooling down the local Rt 40 corridor this Sunday morning and I was passed by two bikes. I thought my eyes were having an issue because the front of one looked like I was seeing double. Interestingly they took a right at Bethany Lane and I followed them into Ellicott City Motorsports where they were gathering for a ride.

It’s called a Yamaha Niken GT. Photo by Mike Hartley

I used to look at all the bikes every year from every manufacturer. Well, obviously I’ve fallen short the last couple of years and have not kept up with changes. I wouldn’t buy this bike but I am intrigued by it. High tech engineering hit this industry long ago and power and handling have skyrocketed. The auto industry has caught up in recent years.

So good Friday morning to all. A wonderful day to be alive so far. Oh to be out on the water on a clear morning like the one below. I guess I stopped when I saw this shot because the boys are planning a trip out on the bay this fall for some rockfish. And that might just trigger that instinct that we need to get back out for some tuna or sailfish in the waters off Florida’s east coast. Then again we should really try right off Ocean City.

Deep Blue. Photo by Mike Hartley

But today I’ll stay landlocked trying to get the yard work out of the way so I can enjoy the next two days. Looks to be a beautiful evening so I have the thought of getting out and trying some night shots around the county. I feel a wave of inspiration hit me and I must address it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Someone forgot to tell me that when you retire from your full time job that pays the bills you are transferred into a full time job for the medical system and they send you bills. I think I just discovered I’m in the transition cycle.
  • Eating right is eating what makes me happy.
  • You don’t have a dish of ice cream you have a BOWL of ice cream.
  • Some people are rude and just can’t help themselves from being A-holes all the time. Some of us just have a button that can be pushed. And then there are the few saints walking the earth.

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A still morning

I like stepping outside just before sunrise. This morning was especially quiet with no breeze. The stillness of the trees and woods were peaceful and unsettling at the same time while just one bird was signaling the start of a new day. I’m trying to savor each morning and make up for those I missed as a youth recovering from the night’s festivities.

I love the summer mornings where I can step out in a pair of gym shorts and be totally comfortable in the 75-85 degree temps. To stand still and just take in nature in my back or front yard. Maybe a hawk sitting on my old pool fence. One of my favorite friends. I support his efforts fully at keeping the varment population in check.

A true hunter. Photo by Mike Hartley

There is also a great chance of seeing deer in the early mornings. To me, it seems the population is pretty high. But that is just my corner of the world. Maybe they just like my neighborhood, or should I say our neighborhood. By the way, that eyesore in the background is not mine.

Don’t just stand there junior, follow your mom. Photo by Mike Hartley

Okay, the reality is setting in, I must move from the computer to the yard. Much is to be done in the landscaping process. I’m starting to feel inspiration returning and hope to share more regularly here also. Looks like it could be a good week for some photography work.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • An anniversary date of past loved ones is still worth remembering.
  • If we can build a quiet dishwasher why can’t we make quiet trash trucks?
  • It’s fun living in a spot where you can hear a train whistle in the distance.
  • I know I’m out of sorts when I’m not peeling the daily calendar regularly. Because all of them are funny and I love laughter so life is therefore out of balance.

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Mindless yard work as therapy

The mowing of grass, picking up sticks and branches, pulling weeds, putting fertilizer down, raking and filling in low spots. All chores most hate but I take some solace in. One it feels good to do some physical work. And when it’s summer I love it even more.

Yes, it would be easier to work on my tan in the hammock or lounge chair. But then I’d be missing out on the feeling of accomplishment. And sometimes when things are bothering me it’s good mental therapy. It can allow time for planning or reflection. I can revert to my youth as I drive the tractor, I can work out some physical aggression with a shovel or collect my thoughts with a rake. And even jump into the future with my star wars weed-killing spray canister.

It’s a multifaceted escape from phones, computers, and people. Nothing but you and earth. And that is kind of relaxing. And here we are at the brink of another day. The yard is almost pristine, just a little more trimming. Then the pool project will continue as today is dirt removal and cutting 6×6’s to shape for the retaining wall.

Well with the boys out of town I guess I’m going cruising sometime between now and sunset. It will be a comfortable ride and I just washed the go-cart so out we go for a spin.

Shooting Beauty? Photo by Mike Hartley

I did something unusual, I took a day off in the middle of the workweek. I got to see the NBA finals with best friends and catch my breath on a Tuesday night. Sometimes I don’t realize how tired I am unless I don’t have to stay up. I’ve discovered a day off is good anytime. I made it worthwhile in both chores accomplished and some fun mixed in. The balance is good.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The world may seem infinite in its size wonderment and beauty but we will soon realize its not.
  • A great time is when I can make a friend laugh so hard that when they catch their breath they say to me “you just aren’t right.”
  • We used to have such trust in each other. People that at one time would charge up a hill together in a blaze of fire, now they are more likely to fire on each other arguing who’s decision it was to charge the hill.
  • Music is the time machine.
  • Momements for oneself are sometimes very enlightening.

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Slipping through a Sunday

An early start on a Sunday morning always feels good, to begin with. But when I slipped on a muddy spot and thought I was going to do a butt plant, I wondered briefly. Thankfully I did hold enough balance to remain upright after what would have been a YouTube moment. A much better result than finding my backside in the mud.

I guess I got all the accidental spills out of the way yesterday. At least I hope so. It’s nice to see I was able to preserve a lot of that fresh topsoil and seed despite those heavy rains yesterday.

Sunday’s also remind me of Sundays in the Park at Northside in Ocean City. It’s a beautiful spot that is very well kept and highly used from sunup to sundown. I wish we could keep the rest of our communities as clean as we do the parks.

Northside Park Ocean City MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

While mowing the backyard today I thought about the weekend spent working. I’m not complaining about it and feel good about the accomplishments. But I do need to unwind and starting off the workweek tonight isn’t going to allow for that. So I guess I’ll have to mix in some fun during the week.

Tomorrow I hope to get out and about a little bit and get back to what I find beautiful about this area I live and grew up in. Maybe a morning ride if the sunrise looks good.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • July, a good month for a comeback effort.
  • I think I’ll try to grill out at least 2-3 times a week till it gets cooler.
  • I thought the deck we put up a long while ago would last forever, I was wrong. But that allows for a new design someday in the future.
  • When a company calls you to schedule an install and you say that day isn’t good and they reply are you going to be away on vacation? It sends up real caution flags. When that same company calls the day they are supposed to come and can’t make it more caution flags appear. When said company does come and does a sloppy job you throw in the towel. Well Lowes, you have now joined Home Depot and Walmart as big box stores I won’t shop at again. And for the record I never brought a thing from Walmart.

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A Shadow of myself

Some days I wake feeling like a shadow of myself. Even though age is just a number, it’s one that eventually turns where things change. But like the bike below I still I’m still proud of what cast that shadow. I’m not in optimum shape but with some work, I can be a classic like below. Just a little thinning of the midsection. Broaden the shoulders with those ape hangers. And it looks like this bike is prepared for my eyesight with extra lights because I don’t have the cat-like eyes I did as a youdth. (A little Pesci)

Ride tall, cast a big shadow. Photo by Mike Hartley

Back when I brought my first cruiser it was a Shadow 1100. And it was a ton of fun to ride anywhere. I could spend 8-10 hours in that saddle over a day and hop off with a spring in my step. As I sit here and wonder if I could do a couple of hours with my back now and if I did if I could lean forward enough to swing the leg over the saddle. Nah, I’m not that bad but closer to that than the long day trips of old.

How the memories take me back, if I did ride again it would probably be on a big cruiser like this one, but I feel I don’t have the reaction and durability it would take to ride and enjoy it safely. There are a few other things that better days are long past. Some sports, some dance moves, maybe a few of the yells our group did in the days of cruising and wearing a path in the local roadways.

I feel my memory is not as sharp as it used to be. I still have a lot of stuff in there, but my search tool malfunctions from time to time. And it leads to waking up in the middle of the night going “Connie Hawkins” as the answer you were trying to come up with for your friends 6 hours earlier in the evening.

My strength is a fraction of what it once was. And probably not a fraction I would like to see, but probably a good one for my age still. I look down at my tanned arms and chest but some of those hairs that would lighten up in the summer are now grey and that way year-round.

When I was stretching my hands from some cramps I noticed my skin isn’t as taught as it once was. But thankfully my better half still says I have soft hands.

Don’t worry, I’m not having a panic attack or concerned about the signs of aging, I’m fine with the changes and I hope to experience many more over a long time. I can find ways and work harder on staying mentally sharp. I’ve never been one to consider coloring my hair or cosmetic surgery. I do my best to stay away from doctors with knives, I’ve seen enough of them. I’m not taking up any fad diet or iron man workouts but will make an effort to be more healthy and respectful of the body.

I’m sometimes puzzled at the effort people put into looking so much younger than they are. I’d be uncomfortable with the thought that I would be uncomfortable in my own skin.

But I can honestly say the ’60s are when I’m starting to feel a bit older than the 40 I was pretending to be and thought I was. I guess I’m giving myself a little too much credit there. My better half says I’m a perpetual 18 year old.

So it’s time to accept a few changes of the mental and physical kind. Instead of pushing through to finish every chore on the list, I’ll listen to the body and do what is smart. I won’t beat myself up anymore if I can’t remember at that moment in time. And as always I’ll have an appreciation for every morning I wake and I’m granted another day.

But the thing that concerns me and that I thought of ahead of all the above crap, was that my better half and friends are all getting a little older also. And that scares me to death. It makes me want to walk upstairs and hug her very close and say for the umpteenth time today that “I love you” and then call my friends and see what they are doing and when we are gathering next.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Most days I’m flooded with random thoughts but remember very few to add when the time comes, so I wing it.
  • Cloud to ground lightning strikes can get your attention. Like the ones you see and hear at the same time.
  • We had our inground pool filled in. We kept the patio around it. But it very spooky to walk on it after all those decades of water.
  • Things are going to get interesting professionally soon.
  • I got a few new bits for the Dremel tool so I’ll be diddling around later. Watch out wood.

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Time & Lucky Man

Time – A great Pink Floyd song. But that isn’t what we are going to discuss today. My ever-increasing attention to utilizing time to its fullest because there is no time like the present. And time this week has been one wild ride. I think one of my best friends said something about me being a glutton for punishment. There is some truth in that statement but I can say I utilized the week well.

Time is the most precious gift you can receive. Well for anyone who enjoys living. Unfortunately, I know some are alive and don’t enjoy it, and I feel for them.

Photo by Mike Hartley

But I do and I’m trying to love every minute of it. My sense of appreciation and respect for time has been suspect in the past but I learned from it and won’t repeat that mistake. I’m waking with a more intense focus. Awareness that mixing pleasure with all the chores is a good thing. Taking a minute or two for the hammock or a day trip to the beach should feel great. That hard work the rest of the week enables a level of appreciation those who have this 24/7 can’t feel.

OC Sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

Putting down and turning off those things that are big drains on time with little return when evaluated. Mixing things in that improve my day. Something as simple as putting some music on while working on the blog or editing photos.

Trying to work on the important things and put the minor stuff on the sidelines. Trying to be a better finisher. (stop laughing) It’s fun trying to top what I’ve done the previous day. I find myself even doing more on the job that pays the bills.

Speaking of that major time drain (WORK) I’ve got some vacation to schedule to build that momentum on my personal interest and crafts.

This weekend is a fine time to get going on those again being it’s the first one in a while that isn’t stuffed full of existing plans and commitments.

And the song I end this post listening to is contained in this lyric “Oh what a Lucky Man he was.” And if I’m given tomorrow I’ll be a Lucky Man.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Water the grass and it will grow. So says the guy at the hardware store. I think all my weeds are getting to the water first.
  • Favorite dress code standard = Retired. Wear whatever comes to mind that day and is comfortable and you don’t give a F what anyone else thinks.
  • Seeing best friends even for a short time is special.
  • I’m going to have a really cool patio area soon.

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Monday observations

After spending almost a week with my children and grandchildren I’m having withdraw, now that everyone has returned home. I miss that morning smile and wonderment of what the day brings from that 2 year old. I miss seeing my children relaxed and happy. The chance to have relaxed family meals together. Time for a walk on the beach to discuss life and many other treasures. I wish I had brought home some more candy.

I have not started the week out well with sleep. I’m getting a no soliciting sign and posting it because some people have the balls to pound on my door in the morning to wake me for a sales pitch. I wonder if that sign comes with permission to pound them?

And of course dealing with vendors this week has not started off well. A dishwasher was purchased from (a company to remain nameless for now) and they have 2 strikes against them already and if they don’t come Thursday for the install like they now say, that will be strike 3. Hey, it’s a big company, they probably won’t even feel that dishwasher being inserted in their backside.

And then there was work. The good old job that pays the bills. It’s not that I didn’t make it through the first night fine working alone, I’m fine doing that if needed. It’s just that strain of being up all night again and getting in that semi routine, 4 night and 3 day. I guess I’m like Blade. I do my work at night but I can also be a daywalker.

But hey, that is all small stuff. The kind of stuff that takes focus away from more important things. For instance I have to write a sick friend. One that reminds me how lucky I am to have my health which should never be taken for granted and is just about every day till we are sick.

Taking action to help others would be a better way to spend time today also. I’m going to try to help by starting at home and preparing dinner. Nothing to complex, going to try some new Caribbean spice on some shrimp with pasta. I need to cook more and I’m trying to get my time management under control better.

There has been a lot of success in reducing smartphone and tv time. I just need to keep that up.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Life is short, get to doing what you want to do, now.
  • The Eastern Shore of Maryland has the sweetest white corn in the land.
  • The fun part of editing is when the photo is coming out of the printer.
  • I’m going to try to take a few classes this week

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Surfs up again

By the time I finished editing, I had 89 photos so instead of piling them on here, I put a gallery up on my Zenfolio site, link below. The first 15 were posted yesterday. The first 2/3 of the shoot it was pretty dark out. Got some better shots as time went on. 6:45 am to 9 am between 33rd and 45th streets.

I didn’t know you could pull waves along. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wishing I was smelling that salt air but nope, back to reality and the thought of work tonight. Sort of like doing a face plant.

But not all is lost. A refreshed spirit. A renewed sense of hope and inspiration. Time is taken to reflect and plan. A relaxed mind and attention to the body. Learning to let things run off my back. Seeing things closing in and putting some distance between them and me. Learning to turn on a dime when called for instead of a straight path. Being mentally strong, taking a shot, and still coming out upright. Not letting highs and lows affect the focus.

Surfing has a lot in common with life. Maybe I should try it when this shoulder heals or is fixed.

Actually, I shot these on the morning of July 9th. I got up early to do 2 things. I wanted to see what damage that tropical storm had done overnight and I wanted a couple of minutes of solitude on the beach. I was thinking about my Dad who passed 55 years ago this day. I told my daughter I would be back in 30 minutes when I left. The sun had risen but you couldn’t tell with the heavy cloud cover.

I like the water and I believe my Dad loved it. He was a career Navy man till his medical discharge. A veteran of WWII in the Pacific on a Destroyer. Also a Korean vet and Operation Deep Freeze Task Force 43. I wish I had a chance to know the man much better and get his experience and wisdom, I hope he is proud of me.

I also know my father-in-law loved the beach. Also former military.

I was stunned by the crowd on the beach so I hung back in the sand for a few moments because I was having trouble with my composure thinking of my father and my recently passed in-laws. But as a few guys with boards passed by I heard their excitement and chuckled to myself. So I wiped a tear from my eye and proceeded down to the water where it was thriving with people much earlier than normal.

I’ve been getting in the habit of carrying my camera with me all the time now and using it more. I had thrown it over my neck when I went out just in case of dramatic damage from the winds. But I soon discovered a unique day. The winds were blowing offshore for a change of pace. The water was alive with hundreds of surfers. A very friendly group of people. Several came up and asked if I would be posting pictures. I told them my blog name and they also suggested a Facebook group called Ocean City Maryland Surfing so added them there also.

I completely lost track of time and 2 hours later I had a ton of images. I had felt as gloomy as the skies that morning when I touched the sand. As I walked off it the sun was shining through and my spirits were positive. Just one of the many times in life I feel like someone who’s passed is looking out for me. I could have easily gone back to bed in sadness, or just sat on the balcony and missed some great action in the water and interactions with friendly surfers. Maybe someone got my backside out there for a purpose.

Have a great day all.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A cold Coke in a glass bottle always taste much better.
  • Only a few more years tilll every day is a vacation day.
  • Time to remove the beach unintentionally bright back from the shore from the SUV.
  • I think I’ll schedule a day off for a day trip to the beach soon in the convertible.

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Surfing OC

Went out this morning and caught a few waves. Well more accurately I caught some people on waves, I was onshore with the camera. It was so overcast early when the waves were good I didn’t get the sharpness I had hoped for. That and my slow lens and lack of skills kept things less than optimal. I’ll add more excuses later with the next batch.

I’ve got dozens more to edit and will post some of the better ones later today. I asked to join the OC Facebook site today so I’ll post some there if they accept my membership.

I learned surfers are a friendly bunch of people. I learned both old and young can surf. I learned there is some good from strong storms. But I also know that with a torn shoulder muscle I’m not strong enough to swing in that mess.

Have a good afternoon all.

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No Sun this afternoon

Tropical storm Elsa is on our doorstep this evening. I see we are under a tornado watch. The heavy rains are just beginning but the winds are still moderate. People have been bringing outdoor furniture in and I see some businesses closing up early.

A good night to stay in, watch the NBA Finals game 2, and see the storm go by. I love watching weather events, but I’m more partial to the good days. So here is to a quick recovery from the storm and a good weekend ahead. I’m going to be out early and I hope there is a good sunrise.

I have a few other thoughts, but I’ll check in tomorrow morning with them because the winds are starting to pick up and power might be an issue in the next few hours as the storm center passes over us. Good luck to those north of us and a peaceful evening to all.

Hoping for a beautiful sunrise tomorrow. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If I achive nothing else in my senior years I’ll be a happy man if my children and grandchildren have good memories with me.
  • Watching a childs first ammusement ride is a memory I won’t forget.
  • I hope CP3 gets his championship.
  • A best friend went under the knife today. I wish him a speedy and complete recovery.
  • Time to warm up some leftover pizza.

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It’s going to be HOT

Here in the northeast, it’s HOT. My favorite season and I can take it. But I’m smart enough (finally) to be careful with the heat. I just read this morning that it was the hottest June on record in North America. To my liking but disconcerting still at the same time.

Water is needed on a day like today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Speaking of hot, it’s so nice to go out to eat and get a hot meal from the kitchen on plates instead of carry-out plastic. To have someone wait on you and take the order and bring you a drink. All the things we took for granted for so long no longer are. But for how long before we start to think we did before the pandemic.

I for one won’t forget that and hopefully, we won’t have to experience that again. Actually, I’m thankful for every meal I have be it being served to me, or carry-out or fixing it ourselves. So many people without the ability to eat well or regularly. This reminds me it’s time for a donation to the Maryland food bank.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Children are like learning sponges.
  • Weather comes and comes, whether you like it or not.
  • Ah the first tropical storm of the season, Free car wash.
  • I haven’t met a nap I haven’t liked.

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Working at resting

Soaking up some rays today and the tan is coming along nicely without any sunburn so far this year. A wise move I’m told and with some friends having personal experience with the ramifications of that I’m a bit more aware of the serious problems that can occur from it. Use SunScreen.

I’ve concluded I can’t keep skipping sleep. Hope it’s not too late in life for that revelation and that too much damage hasn’t been done. It also reinforces some decisions I’m making about my professional life. Like many people have been doing with all the events of the last few years.