THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley


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It all comes out in the wash

I saw this little gem in a walk behind an appliance store in Berlin Maryland yesterday. That little label at the bottom says Manufatured By Speigel Inc. Chicago Illinois.

Bet it still works. Photo by Mike Hartley

Health always rises to the top of the needs in life. And today I have felt far from my best. But being with the person who cares most about me in the world is very comforting.

I was hoping to edit some shots I took in the town of Berlin but that will have to wait till tomorrow.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Small towns fit me.
  • I like stopping by Wrights Market on the way home from the beach.
  • Pain takes away time you would have spent on other thoughts. To a better day tomorrow.
  • It’s a lot of fun taking trips when my better half is with me.
  • The good feeling of shooting fresh images each day is something I’m going to have to continue.


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Bliss

I’m shooting for Bliss today. And I’ve got a plan to make it happen. So what is bliss? Is it the “perfect happiness” as the definition in Oxford says? Is it at peace with yourself and the world? Maybe being in love? Getting your own home? Going on vacation? Making something special with your hands?

So many descriptions leap to mind. And infant in your arms. A toddler with super powers chasing you. That perfect cherry ice cream soda. Your garden is in bloom. Hitting the winning shot. Being on a cruise. I could go on and on.

Can it be one thing or does it have to be a culmination of things? Of course, bliss is different and somehow the same for everyone. Some may look at an old farmer and the hard work from sunrise to sundown and think of all the energy and time expended and wonder how can someone toil like that. Meanwhile, the farmer is in a state of bliss because he is doing what he loves and maybe his passion in life.

I can feel bliss just looking at nature. Photo by Mike Hartley

There will be a lot of people in life who like to ruin the bliss you may be shooting for or experiencing. Brush it off, regroup and find it despite them. Just keep moving towards that happiness.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s more difficult than you think to overthink things.
  • That shutter button is going to get a workout the rest of the week.
  • It’s better to laugh in disgust than to grit your teeth in disgust.
  • I find the ease with which gambling and sports are intertwined now very disturbing.
  • Photo editing is just like taking a photo. You’re trying to get the best one.


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Tuesday Times

What a wonderful day. Sunny and cool for August but very comfortable. Today was that wonderful ritual of cutting the estate. And I use the term “estate” in humor. I have a little over an acre of property. And yes that is a nice amount but it looks like a postage stamp when I compare it to some of the spreads I saw on the eastern shore this past weekend.

My friend says these ospreys will be leaving the nest in about a month to head to warmer climates. Photo by Mike Hartley

One of my best friends has a home on Kent Island and we decided to explore a bit. We took a spin Saturday morning and he throws me the keys to his Vette. We tooled around the communities and back roads on the island and surrounding small towns, with a stop at the Owl Bar to meet a friend, before heading back to his home.

Yesterday’s shot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was Saturday night. This was Sunday morning. It’s an impressive structure. That is a cruise ship that has passed under it and a freighter about to go under it. Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though I would look at these estates with wonder, I didn’t feel the need or wish for one. They were wonderful homes with great views and sometimes multiple structures on the property. But I would feel guilty not cutting that and contracting it out. So there it is. Rich people will never know the solitude of sitting on a mower for an hour or two being totally consumed by the roar of the motor and blades doing their work and just getting lost in thought.

And it’s GOOD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Oh, by the way, it’s a blast driving a car with a stick and with over 600 horsepower.

Stuck? Looks can be deceiving. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How can you not smile when you see a child?
  • A good evening for a ride with the top down.
  • Enjoy the next month or two, I have a feeling after that it’s going to get a little crazy for a while.
  • I guess I’m at that age where I actually have to start listening to my body.
  • I surprised my daughter with the color of gym shorts I purchased recently. I’m glad this old guy isn’t entirely predictable.


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Recovery

After a great weekend with friends and little sleep, I had to take a day of rest. Well, a good part of the day at least. But I’m back on track now and ready to produce tonight. But there is little time for deep thought on today’s post but I’ll get an early start on tomorrow.

Nature can make anything look small. Even the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tuesday is a day for some local photography. I hope to get out early and then do the day’s chores in the afternoon. A man with a plan can’t be stopped.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m a firm believer that laughter and love extend life.
  • Isn’t it a great day when you no longer care what others think about you?
  • I am my own password manager.
  • I believe there is an artist in every one of us. It’s our choice if we want to use it.
  • I got a reminder I can’t hold the camera as steady on some low-light shots when I failed to use a tripod this weekend. Another sign of age.


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A change of pace

Tonight I’m working for myself. Normally it’s for the job that pays the bills but not this evening. Actually, the job that pays the bills is still at work paying me for a vacation night. And by working I mean just a few hours, not all night.

There were a lot of boats burning up the Bay this weekend. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s a real treasure to eat well.
  • Great friends can make a great time a great thing to remember.
  • Weekends don’t get much more beautiful than this one.
  • But I’m hoping the coming weekdays give this past weekend a run for the money.
  • Rarely am I this tired.


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Let the wind guide you

Well not if you live in tornado alley. Good morning all, may the breeze be at your back. A wonderful weekend ahead with fall weather in mid-August. Looks like we here in the mid-Atlantic can take a week off from the Global Climate crisis.

Today is a day for very old friends. Some celebrated in memory and some in person.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My favorite season is socks optional.
  • The older you get the more you hope to see people again.
  • There are only so many hours this weekend and I intend to use them all.
  • I guess it must be a wonderful year being it’s moving so fast.


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Healthy days, perfect days

My body was feeling better this morning and looking forward to an upbeat and productive day. And then the thought that creeps into my head once in a while where I wonder how many healthy days I have ahead reared its ugly presence. I never thought about that for the first 5 decades of my life.

But from that first cancer diagnosis, that question has been in my mind on and off for the last decade and a half. All of us probably define healthy days differently, because it all depends on your perspective. My personal definition of healthy days is one where I’m not in a hospital and or sick from surgeries or treatments that it wouldn’t make a difference if you were at a hospital or at home.

My neighbor’s sunflowers reached the sky. Photo by Mike Hartley

It makes the days I have bad back issues always less impactful. Yeah sometimes it lands me horizontal or in major discomfort but I know it will pass and even then I can think or attempt to do something creative or even just work like I do many nights.

The discussions with friends and family are unavoidable when friends or coworkers our age or younger pass on. It gives us pause and we reflect together on how lucky we are.

All I know is that I’ve gotten better at using time and I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for life and what is good and special about it.


Perfect days I can best describe as ones with my family in relaxed times together sharing their children with us their grandparents. A whole new generation of children to think about their happiness and health on a daily basis.

Just like my own children were this gift that I had no idea was so precious beforehand, my grandchildren have me born again in ways I didn’t see coming either.

I had one of those perfect days today and now I can have a perfect weekend ahead.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • What was that strange chill in the air outside this morning?
  • Water always has been one of the world’s most important commodities. But in some areas of this country, it’s moving up the charts quickly.
  • It’s nice when you reflect on a decision and ask “what was I thinking” after having come to the right decision but close to making the wrong one.
  • The more thought and organization I have the better my life seems to be. Would have been nice to discover that combo earlier in life besides at the job.


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Lazy or comfortable

I’ve had a beard most of my life. It started to come in early, around 14-15. From the time I graduated on, I’ve pretty much had one except for a few months at the most. I mostly keep it short so I do trim it at least once or twice a week.

I am also more comfortable with a beard than without one. But I’m also a little lazy I guess. I remember shaving irritating my neck something awful. And being of the type that looks like I need a shave again at the end of the work day that it’s easier to just not fight it.

As the grey started to creep in the thought of shaving crossed my mind but I dismissed it. I find it kind of funny that the grey has been very symmetrical in terms of its spread. And I like the grey standing out against my tan in the summer.

Stuck on you. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s too late in life now to think about changing. People might never recognize me, I’ve had one for so long. And don’t worry, I won’t be tempted to color it back to the color it was when I was young because I’m not young in body, just in mind.

I shouldn’t have wasted as much time today but the workweek just finished and those long nights take more out of me now. But tomorrow I create.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you don’t get many good night’s rests and you see an opportunity for one it’s kind of exciting.
  • Only a few more months of flip-flop season.
  • You don’t look forward to getting older as much till you are older.
  • I imagine there are some people who can’t overthink things if they tried.


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On the fence

How much to share? What do I share? How do I avoid oversharing? Why the reflection, well I got to thinking I’ve been doing this for about 8 years now and I would think I would have found my path, lane, passion, direction, and purpose by now.

That really hasn’t happened and I’m still searching but I’m learning along the way.

Photo by Mike Hartley

But in some aspects, I’ve already found my way and a vehicle I like. I’ve gotten enjoyment from doing this and sharing images and thoughts. I use it to challenge myself in things I’d like to do much better when time allows now and into retirement.

I went back to my “About” page and read it over. I noticed I hadn’t updated it in about 5-6 years because the number of years I’ve been married was way off. I also noticed that I’m pretty much on the path I set out on. I haven’t done much video but that can and will change.

Might be time to mix things up. Photo by Mike Hartley

Now it’s time to improve the content and quality of the blog. If for no other reason than to prove to myself that I can do it.


My photo goals of the Day:

  • Go back and watch some tutorials on some features I haven’t taken advantage of on my camera.
  • Work on lighting with textures this evening.
  • Start collage on the office wall.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do you ever feel something just steals hours of the day without you noticing till you say “where did the day go?” I wish I could catch that thief.
  • Thunder and lightning are intoxicating to me.
  • Catching up with an old friend this weekend, life is good.
  • Living as you are pressed for time isn’t a bad way to live. Because we all have limited time.


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Willing it

Today is going to be a good day. I am willing it to be one. Regardless of the oppressive heat or our evening thunderstorms. Progress is being made and initiative is back. And speaking of back, my better half has returned from a short trip.

Steps to Where? Photo by Mike Hartley

So all is right with the world. Well not really, but I’ll live in my own little space today and try not to get involved in the discourse that has arisen. Plus it’s summer and all I can think of is getting back to the beach soon. Either that or playing with my grandchildren.


Do you spend your time looking for a parking space instead of laying on the beach? Go in September or October. The water is still warm in September and the temps both months are great.

Bethany Beach during the summer. Photo by Mike Hartley

And once you find a space there is a line to get to the sand.

Not the express lane to the beach. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel so excited when my creative juices return.
  • When you have friends that you really look forward to spending time with, you have chosen the right friends.
  • Some think the last decade or so has been a real roller coaster. Buckle up the ride has yet to start.
  • I’m much better at sorting out what to keep and what to throw away when I’m in better spirits.


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Summer, I salute you

It’s county fair season and my hometown one is underway. So I think I’ll take advantage of Senior Day and see if I can get some photos of this year’s events.

We volunteered many years staffing The Times information booth and making announcements. It was a blast because I would do it with one of my best friends.

I’m coming up on what I hope to be a productive period with some time off from the job that pays the bills and a short break from helping with child care. I love that later one though.

Pumpkin from previous fairs. Yes that is a full-size skid under it. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today is one of those days where I feel I have nothing left in the tank. No passion to share. No new images or art to display. Nothing, nada, zilch.

Tomorrow I’ll step it up. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Going it alone means you report to yourself, so what type of boss are you?
  • I just thought of another daily goal I can add to the list. At least one new print every day.
  • My attitude sucks when I don’t get enough sleep.
  • I don’t even know all the questions so why would I assume I have all the answers?


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Wonder

If we all really put our minds to something, I wonder how much more we could accomplish. I say this in the context that everyone has interests and beliefs they don’t have the time or resources to always act upon.

It could be a fear issue of being identified with a cause or belief. Or maybe it’s a confidence issue that we can’t change the world. The belief that one person can’t make a difference or create something great. It could be that the opportunity for contribution or greatness is denied because of a brutal environment, lack of education, or economic strife.

Something is growing inside. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s within all of us to do more. If it’s something simple in your life that gives you joy or positivity or maybe helps others. Just participating in important processes like going to a memorial service, or voting in not just the general elections but all elections. Because if you don’t vote in primaries your candidate might not be there for the general election.

Lots of simple but wonderful ideas turn into businesses or passions that in turn help others. Maybe helping a friend through a difficult time or with difficult decisions in life, providing them with important perspectives or options.

I wonder how much life would be better if we just took the time to maybe hold the door for an elderly person or carry their bag. Maybe spend time talking to someone dealing with medical issues to just cheer them up.

Some of it is easy. We were pulling away from visiting my Son and his family yesterday and saw an older woman helping an elderly person to an SUV. I slowed and passed them and stopped about 20 feet passed them and turned to my better half and said I wonder if they need help. She said back up and we will ask. They said no but it would have been fine if they said yes because we had or would have made the time.

I didn’t mean to focus on the elderly, lots of our youth need help and guidance, and mentors. Or maybe some words of encouragement and wisdom. I know I needed them as a youth. Several people along the way have helped me grow and helped me with direction and I shudder to wonder what would have become if they hadn’t.

Veterans and their families need support in a big way. And we have been failing them.

So I sit here wondering what more I can do today and tomorrow that I didn’t do as well or would have like to have done or created. For me, it comes down to time management. What can I let go of and stop repeating the cycle of previous priorities?

There are a few things I need to change that will free up some time even with the full-time job. So I will get to wondering what I can do each day with that right now instead of waiting for retirement time to do more.

I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do but I’m going to try to start doing something. More time helping people directly. Maybe more regular donations. Just being kind and respectful is a good start.

I started with the word Wonder today. Because I looked in the eyes of my Grandson yesterday and the deep look of wonder I saw reflected gave me pause. Also with my Granddaughter, the day before we went to Ace (Clarks) Hardware together and I looked back at her at checkout as the guy asks me if I want to contribute to their Bucket drive for Children’s Miracle Network, so I said yes. How can anyone say no to helping children? I see so much intensity in their wonder of experiencing life that it was inspiring. The world is full of wonder so go out and participate in it, create it, and find the good in it.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Summer and seafood are a pair that is hard to beat.
  • For a long time, I thought I missed the boat by not getting on Instagram as an aspiring photographer but now as I see photographers trashing it’s changing so I’m glad I didn’t waste my time.
  • I love that I get a good tan without even trying. Another joy of being outside.
  • You will be a lot happier if you are not in a hurry if you need service for anything.


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The View

I guess I’m kind of a homebody at heart. I do like to get out but I don’t stray far from home often. Mostly because time is limited and resources for extensive travel haven’t been a priority over family. But the time is becoming available and the resources are there for a few trips in the future so I guess I’m in for some changes.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Plus some travel will make my better half very happy. Travel makes me nervous. As soon as I relinquish control of the mode of transportation I’m nervous. Once I get there I’m cool again but I’m never comfortable completely in a plane, train or boat.

Camera Shy. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I will suck it up and go because we will both enjoy it. There is a lot of the United States that I would like to see, but I know one of the priorities of my better half is Ireland. But until that day comes a couple of day trips to some small towns in Maryland might be in order.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • An infant grandson in my arms today is a feeling like I’m getting some days added to my life as he looks into my eyes. Because whatever is ailing me, my grandchildren can cure it.
  • Mistakes happen. Clean up, move on.
  • I’d like to be able to devote more time to my health. I’ll have to remind myself of that tomorrow morning as I’m laying in bed deciding if I should go for a walk or not.
  • I’ve got to charge some batteries so I can do some shooting tomorrow. I hope its a nice morning.


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So quickly

I love waking up before sunrise. Even when I go to bed late, I usually get up early on my days off. Getting up early provides the opportunity to accomplish a lot. And my major accomplishment today was making a little girl happy. Well, that will be the most gratifying one but I do hope to work on my hobbies in the few hours left today.

A flower in front of a cornfield along Rt 99. Photo by Mike Hartley

I blink my eye and another day has passed. I have to stop getting discouraged if I haven’t had any time to spend till the last few hours and make the best of it instead of being frustrated. I have to start looking at progress in increments.

Trying to get on the ground before that storm hit. Photo by Mike Hartley

And today’s incremental success was some photo editing and finding a good family shot for my Son who is doing some things for his home.

They made it but I wouldn’t want to be on anything after them for a few hours this evening. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Car covers save car washes.
  • Oscars Ale House in Eldersburg has some good grub.
  • Make that one-on-one time with your children happen, in addition to that family time.
  • An early morning photo shoot is in order for tomorrow.
  • I wish my local snowball stand was open late, I have a taste for one now.
  • I see Karma paid a visit to Alex Jones. May it continue to visit him in the future.


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Thankful

I’m thankful I didn’t leave a few minutes earlier and get caught in that accident today. I’m thankful to have such thoughtful children. I’m thankful my workweek is over and I can get a night’s rest for a change of pace.

Saw this name on a home at Bethany Beach. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m thankful I got the cover on my car before those storms. With a new grandchild, I’m thankful I have a lot of photo paper on hand. I’m thankful to find an old picture I haven’t used in a post yet because I’m too tired to download and edit what I shot today.

I’m thankful that lightning and thunder didn’t knock out my power for more than a few seconds and break my daily posting string. Kind of ironic I was saving a draft of something for just that occasion. I should finish that one up tonight, looks like a few stormy days ahead.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is only a day or two a year that I feel it’s too hot to put the top down and I use the A/C. Today was one.
  • I thought about what I ate today. On second thought, I think about what I eat every day. Some days I must think a lot more.
  • It’s too early for football. (the American kind)
  • I wonder if some people think I only have 3-5 random thoughts a day because that is how many I post.
  • I see Wendy’s is trying to redo the image of the soggy fries they used to serve.


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Power through

Determination is a fine thing. Driving through standing water isn’t. Anyway, I thought this photo showed someone powering through the storm. I feel like I might be in one myself and want to power through but it’s been getting the best of me the last few days.

And what do they say about driving through standing water? Photo by Mike Hartley

I don’t know why I just don’t take a sick day. It would be well within reason but I’ve powered through. There are some advantages to getting used to powering through. It’s an excellent overall mentality and can steel you towards big challenges.

But everyone needs help and support once in a while. So don’t let pride keep you going when you should be taking a break. I felt like I had slowed down and was resting, even to the point of feeling guilty but my better half reminded me I was still doing too much.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll strike a better balance, I have already taken some action canceling a few things. Like yard work for one.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do things that are special for others.
  • I looked up the definition of “Hot” in Websters and it said “see August 4th, 2022.
  • My life has been ruled for decades by deadlines. I finally get control of the schedule soon.
  • Always spend time with each of your children independently.
  • With all the hurt in the world, how can we not work to make it better tomorrow for someone?


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Flow

My flow has been interrupted by pain. It’s cut into my sleep. It’s cut into my positive energy. It’s cut into my creative time. And it’s one of those days it isn’t going away. I’m sorry to start off complaining. Others deal with worse and more chronic pain than I do now.

So we will power through the rest of the day and hope for a better flow tomorrow.

When you have the fishing hole to yourself. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more commitments I make the more I get done.
  • It’s awful early in the evening to be this tired.
  • Challenges are endless, so don’t get depressed when you meet one and before you know it you’re onto the next.
  • A lot of us have trained ourselves to have a blind eye, but both see really well when checked by the optometrist.


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Purpose

Some days I wonder about my purpose. I don’t look at it as someone or something determining my purpose. I believe we set our own along the way in our life. Most of the time I’m too busy living each day but even then I’m declaring my purpose. What priorities did I have, and what actions did I take?

Many times I feel like I have too many purposes. Many times I feel others trying to prioritize my purpose. But I’m going to try to keep it simple today. My purpose is to keep my sanity today and try to stay positive, not just for myself but for others.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If only the phrase Endless Summer were true.
  • Pain is an interesting alarm clock. It has no snooze button.
  • Sometimes I enjoy walking out and seeing nature and its creatures. It’s when I walk back inside and some of those creatures have entered uninvited that I’m not so thrilled about it.
  • May an extra dose of Karma fall upon that piece of crap that ran over the Amazon Delivery driver.
  • Lack of sleep caught up with me today.


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Tired

Tired is not the way to start a new week. Then again I’m getting a little tired of living by day or week or month definitions. Yes there still be a workweek, yeah there are the monthly bills, the weekly yard work, and those few days that make up a weekend but I’m tired of defining my activities by these events.

I see retired people having trouble knowing what day it is sometimes. I think I’m going to adopt that philosophy early.

All we need here is a ball and we can play a game of HORSE. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Technology grows faster than our ability to keep up with it being used for bad purposes.
  • Wow, the passing of Bill Russell. Nothing but respect for the man. A great in basketball but maybe bigger off the court. A man of principles.
  • I’m going to carve out a little me time in the woodshop.
  • I fell on my butt this weekend. Not the first time and not the last. This one wasn’t figuratively though, it was physically.
  • But what does one do when falling on their butt, get back up and finish mowing!


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Old School

I’m feeling a little like that basketball hoop below that looks like it’s becoming part of the garage. That’s okay, I’m still having a good time each day. It was a beautiful last Saturday of July. One filled with accomplishments and contentment.

For it is good to be at peace with yourself when so many things are out of your control around you.

Every home should have a hoop, just my personal opinion. Photo by Mike Hartley

In less than 24 hours I’ll be back in the seat at work. Seems like I just got off and now it’s time to return. Those are the realities right now but I’m going to make it a good and productive week on my projects also.

People like to advertise that they are going Green as this Tesla above with its license plate “Spinach” says. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It feels good to drive a clean car.
  • I haven’t heard my children’s voices today. I knew something was missing.
  • I think I’ll celebrate the last day in July with an early morning ride.
  • I think I smell a vacation in my future.
  • A nice dinner at Matthews 1600 in Catonsville tonight. Always great food and service.


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Almost

Almost fell under the pressure to imagine. And act on that pressure to go buy a Mega Millions ticket to live a few seconds of the wonder of what it would be like to win that much money. But I have resisted every drawing as it has grown to record levels.

Under the cover of the morning mist. Photo by Mike Hartley

If I had started to play that game last week I would have been a few dollars poorer between now and then. You see I’m trying to break the habit of succumbing to that thought of having no more financial worries. It’s an attractive drug that greed is. It’s not that I played more than $10 a year. Just when a jackpot grew to a big amount and then I’d still pretty much get one ticket at a time.

Hardly a gambling issue. But now I see it as a discipline issue. I don’t want that false hope. How many people (millions) are hanging on that drawing tonight? How many will be depressed when they curse at their tickets? How many will think they could have picked up a flower for their better half or daughter or treated themselves to a snowball?

More than a few of us spend a lot more than a few dollars. That leads to anger and disgust and issues at home.

All I need to feel like a winner is for the Daughter and Son to tell me my grandchildren are healthy and rested well tonight.

I think I’d get more joy if I gave those few dollars to a charity or directly to someone in need. So that is what I will do tomorrow morning. Make a donation.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The good thing about yardwork is you can see accomplishment at the end of the day.
  • I’m kind of a night owl. I wonder if people would think it strange if I was washing my car before sunrise. I’d really like to go cruising for a bit in the morning.
  • Sanding is therapeutic.
  • My infrastructure sure does creak like an old bridge at times.
  • The day was made for me when I heard “I love you, Papa.”


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Calm

I’ve been very tense as of late. But at this time, on this day, I feel calm. Probably because I just finished a visit with one of my best friends. Laughter, remembrances, talk of future dreams and current problems. Experiences with grandchildren, and thoughts of a common friend who passed remind us of other passings.

Making the most of each day. Building more shared memories and experiences. Spreading more happiness and laughter. That was both of our goals tonight and I feel going into tomorrow.

Can you feel the moving air? Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m as relaxed as a gentle breeze sliding between fall leaves. I’m as happy as a new grandfather can be. I’m as hopeful for their future and their parents and want to find ways to facilitate that future. Yeah, reality will probably slap me in the face tomorrow, but it’s nice to have a goal to get back to.

I got a good feeling about tomorrow. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A day without drama is a day that can be enjoyed.
  • I may not have started the dishwasher but I filled it up.
  • I wish I could still imagine like my 3-year-old granddaughter. That freedom of thought without boundaries is priceless.
  • Support your local shops/merchants.
  • Do you think people out west are brushing off their rain dance shoes?


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Which path

We decide our paths each day. Today I took the flat and easy path. One that allowed me to catch my breath. But also chase and be chased by my granddaughter, which made me lose my breath.

Word of an old co-worker passing way too early in life just came across my airwaves. News that makes you pause on the path and think for a while before moving onward.

That hard-working path has been one I’ve been on for far too long now. I’m looking to depart that train after a few more stops. I’ll be just as busy in retirement and maybe more so but what I’m doing won’t be work, more like a labor of love.

Will your path be sunny? Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes silence is nice to walk down your path. But tomorrow I think I’ll add a little music to my path. Partly because I’ve already started that today. And music puts a pep in my step which is good for any stroll.

While you’re on the path make sure to look all around. A path has a trail but also sides and a sky. Don’t forget to focus on what is in front of you but also look around. There is special life and beauty along the way.

Walk that path at a different time of day and see a completely different side and life of it.

Be careful on any path you choose. There are obstacles on all trails.

Be proud of your path, even if it’s a different one each day.

Motor on. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Dance like you’re home alone when you’re home alone.
  • Powering through is an important asset in life.
  • As you age, moments become more important and meaningful along the way.
  • It’s time to make a decision about a fire pit for my patio.


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Crossroads

We are coming to many crossroads in this country and the coming years will shape a future together or at war with each other. Separation of church and state among one of many issues. Many of which will be decided in the next decade. You might as well get involved now because if you don’t decisions will have been made and you will have no say.

Photo by Mike Hartley

What would I do? Would I get my young child vaccinated? That is a tough question. Being the science on this is early in the history of vaccinated children and effects seem mild in the younger ages I would probably do the wait and see a little longer. I fully support adults (especially older ones) getting the vaccine and boosters.


One of my favorite food groups. Pizza, plain or with a dozen toppings. I love it all. No anchovies, please.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • For some of us getting proper rest is an accomplishment.
  • I don’t have a photographic memory therefore I became a photographer.
  • Time to get my mind right again. Just a little more difficult doing it alone.
  • The more smiles you can put on others’ faces, the better the day it is.


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Advertising

I pay for the pleasure of not seeing ads on this site. But advertising is usually the lifeblood of a publication. Of course, that is if you are in business, and I’m not. Maybe later if I develop a talent.

It used to be a nice balance. Good advertising revenue supported more staff and more editorial content.

Photo by Mike Hartley

At least in the newspaper and magazine publishing industries that model existed for many decades. But those days are over. Technology changed the equation. So a new model has been evolving for the last few decades.

And from what I see it’s far from decided how and who will dominate. I’ll keep track of where it’s going but it’s not a concern in my future plans.


I’m exhausted. A fighter who’s been in the ring too many rounds, too many years. A pace I’m growing more uncomfortable with by the month. Well, maybe it will all change. We may be in for a shake-up anyway. I’ve been intrigued by what management might come up with.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It saddens me to see missed opportunities.
  • Slow and low cooking is time-consuming. But that smoked flavor is nice.
  • I’m thinking of the stuff I would be doing if I weren’t working full time and trying to do it anyway.
  • I was listening to Hells Bells by AC/DC and I thought this song is immediately recognizable on the first note.


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Sweet Sunday

No better way to start a Sunday than an early morning ride. And by early morning I headed out at about 6 am to the gas station first because I felt like more than just a short drive. Summer morning 70 degrees and the top down, what is not to like.

Plus the roads are a pleasure to drive on in the early morning even if I do have to share with cyclists. Because like them I like the streets where the guardrails are corn stalks.

Watch out for cyclists. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I also got to be with family and hold my grandson for just the second time and celebrate my Son’s birthday coming up this week. So it was a peach of a day. Looking into a newborn’s eyes, the softness of their skin, and squeeze of those tiny fingers and I’m in love all over again.

Listened to some Allman Brothers today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The world is so interested in instant gratification that the patience to wait for something meaningful to develop is impossible.
  • Some events cause you to prioritize things in life differently.
  • Did you notice how the phrase “Certified pre-owned vehicle” has replaced “Used Car?” And I imagine you get the pleasure of paying more for that change.
  • A great day bookend by disappointments.


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Sweating

Welcome to the furnace. Even in the shade, it’s hot. But I still enjoy being outside in it. As long as I can take some breaks inside the AC occasionally. But either the coverage of people expiring because of the heat is a lot better or more are succumbing to the elements in recent times. I haven’t done the research to see if it’s increasing but my gut says yes.

I know it seems strange but this is great grilling weather. Because when you step away from the grill the temps don’t seem too bad. We got some St Louis-style ribs and I’m going to try to slow smoke them tomorrow.

I think I’m going to get into cooking more being eating out is getting so expensive.

Fire’m up. Photo by Mike Hartley

When I came in to take a break from the heat, I had been using the vibrating hand sander and didn’t realize it was going to take my fingers a few minutes to recover and get on the same page again. I’ve been slacking on a couple of woodworking projects so I thought I’d spend a few hours making some progress.

I get a lot of satisfaction out of something taking shape from a chunk of wood. Now I just have to use the tools at my disposal fully and what is in my mind.

A mix of masonry. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another day of warmth ahead. I’m going to be up early to soak some of it up. Hopefully grabbing the camera and venturing out and about.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Going with the flow in your creative endeavors sometimes is the best path.
  • I wish I didn’t feel that such dangerous days were ahead.
  • Could Johnny Depp and Amber Heard just GO AWAY?
  • The best part of when you cook for yourself is you can season for yourself.


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Chill

Just sending out chill thoughts to all of us sweltering in the sunny days of late July. Personally, I love it. As the day soon approaches that I start the engine on the car before sunrise, put the top down, get to the Bay Bridge at sunrise, and then motor to Ocean City for the day and some of the evening.

Patapsco River Photo by Mike Hartley

A far cry from the chill of winter but it’s my own kind of chill. The summer breeze off the ocean. Sounds of waves on the shore. And when that gets a bit warm retire to Dumsers for a cherry ice cream soda to cool the engine. After a sunny day at the beach and watching the sunset at Fagers Island listening to the 1812 Overture, that cool drive home with the top down sucking in the night air.

You don’t have this problem during the summer when you want to walk to your car and go someplace now, do you? Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s all how you manage and look at it. I can’t wrap my mind around winter and therefore I struggle and complain about it endlessly and curse it repeatedly. Much to the delight of my friends who embrace the winter. But I do appreciate its beauty and contrast to the other seasons. I just hate being cold.

Be smart today, don’t overdo it outside. But do enjoy that warm sun on your skin. This post was inspired by having to move the snow shovels to get to another tool in the shed.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The happiest people I know at this point in life have a lot of things to look forward to in retirement.
  • I really miss the joy of a pet. But it is easier when we do have pet visitors.
  • Time spent with a child or grandchild can be the best time of your life. Their outlook on life is contagious. Everything is possible.
  • What is it about a sleeping child that invokes such calm? Oh yeah, avoiding making any sound or movement that might wake them.
  • I’m looking forward to a great evening after a little rest last night.


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A new life, a new joy

Some days are just so unique you file them in the permanent memory banks. I tucked one away today seeing my son hold his new infant son, and greet us at the door. The happiness in his eyes held the results of all his and his wife’s expectations and more. The love in his heart was coming through every pore in his body to that child.

Sometimes things come into clear focus. Photo by Mike Hartley

I let my wife who has been almost ready to explode to see and hold her new grandchild take the lead and I just soaked in a few moments of them having a moment. I watched so intently all afternoon the impact this new bundle of life was having on all there.

Photos and videos were taken. Tears of joy were exchanged. Hugs of congratulations and our pride in seeing our children blessed with a child. All the while knowing their love will be even greater because they come from a foundation of love.

This is such a wonderful day, and I’ve needed it after a week of mourning another family loss.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to the reality of the day-to-day challenge of living and participating in making a better world for them. But it was just nice to have such a relaxed day of love.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My job is to work hard to provide as much love and support for my family as possible. That has always been my passion. But now a different phase of it is taking place. And it places yet another sense of purpose and enjoyment in my life’s work.
  • I’m enjoying the series “The Captain” on ESPN about Derek Jeter. I hope to watch it with my son and grandson someday and tell them the joy of following someone and a team like that as a fan. An experience that few will have in today’s world of sports.
  • I saw 2 cars pulled over by our county police yesterday on Rt 29. Could it be that enforcement of some driving rules is being made again? It’s going to take a hell of a lot of it to even approach where we were before the pandemic on the highways. Because if you have the unfortunate need to drive in the state of Maryland hold onto your ass. It’s a free for all out there.
  • It’s a good thing the day is 24 hours long. Some days I use every minute of it throwing a post together here. But now I have that Cal Ripkin mentality. I’m here every day.


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Somewhere

Somewhere in my future, a day of rest is coming. Not today, not tomorrow, probably not Friday. Saturday is possible but that is about it. I guess it’s good to be busy. Maybe I’ll wander into this field and find a comfortable spot for a nap.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Spent the day at the services for my nephew. This past week and a half have reminded me of some important lessons. Take care of your body, it’s the only one you have and spare parts aren’t readily available.

Appreciate and live each day. Prepare for the day you aren’t here to make it easier on your loved ones after the end of the services and the other part begins. Also that I would like to leave my own message to the group that will gather for my services someday.

And as always, remember you only have one family.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Just like extreme cold, be very careful with extreme heat.
  • Tomorrow looks like a great day for a sunrise cruise.
  • Extreme hot and cold weather affects judgment. So do extreme right and left thoughts.
  • I’m getting more comfortable with the thought of cremation.
  • I don’t know how many smiles it takes to make a good day but even on a bad day, a few smiles can make it better.


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Kick back

It had the potential to be a very busy day. But it was one that had a nice balance to it for a change. It started earlier than I hoped for but I managed to squeeze in a nap. Now before you assume I’m asleep at the switch I got 3 and half hours of sleep this morning so a nap for an hour isn’t really making up for much.

I guess this is what “watching the grass grow” looks like. Photo by Mike Hartley

I took the time to vote today. But more importantly, I took the time to do some research on who I was voting for and why. I’ve always done that part but I’ve left out a very important part also. I haven’t participated in solutions or made my voice heard to those elected. So I’ve got to work on those things in the future also.

I like being outside even in this weather. Photo by Mike Hartley

Felt good to take a short cruise today. Pulled the cover off the convertible and after voting I went to the Duchess sandwich shop. Went down to the lower lot in Ellicott City and watched the water go by on the Patapsco while eating a turkey and cheese and sipping on a Dr Pepper. I loved when I worked in this town.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you say “relatively speaking” are you talking about family?
  • There is only what you do each day. And that is good enough for me.
  • Simple works for me a lot of the time.
  • Thinking is good. Doing is better.


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Anger

Those were some angry skies today. Tis the season though for that type of thing. Probably some more to come with these hot conditions. At least I got the cover on the car before the sky opened up. I had just come back inside when the phone lit up with a tornado warning so I grabbed the camera and went out front.

The rain did cool things off. Photo by Mike Hartley.

It’s time to schedule some more time off. I’ve been a little out of sync the last week or so and I have to regain my mojo. So maybe after voting tomorrow in the great state of Maryland I’ll turn on some music and take a short ride to clear my head.


The more I think about how I’m using my time, the better use of my time I make and the happier I am. The trouble starts when I let go of that control. So here is to maintaining control.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hear the beach calling me but I can’t go this week.
  • I like baseball but I have no interest in the home run derby.
  • My better half is busier now retired, than when she was working.
  • Doing a daily diary for my new grandson is a lot of fun.


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Hang on

Some weeks you got to just hang on for the ride. This past week has been one of those. But I think I have another one on its heels. So I decided to start another tough week with a haircut appointment on Monday. I always feel better with a haircut. I didn’t hold that opinion as a youth but I keep it much shorter now so it’s more noticeable when it grows.

Hanging on. Photo by Mike Hartley

I thought of the title “hang on” because of a conversation I had with my sister. I was trying to comfort her and told her that her son will always be beside her heart. And then I told her about how I talk to Mom and Dad when visiting their grave. But I also talk to them at my desk when I glance up at pictures of them. Or sometimes when I’m happy like this week and when I’m sad, like this week.

Sometimes it’s not a conversation, sometimes just a pause looking at an image of them or something of theirs that I’ve kept. Sometimes it’s seeing them in our children or their children. Or certain songs, or smells at holiday time invoke memories.

And I believe these memories keep me connected in some way. At least it gives me peace.


Like I need more incentive. I see today is National Ice Cream Day.

There goes the diet. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It can’t be the start of another workweek, can it?
  • Learning new skills is a good feeling.
  • I’m ready for the heat. But I’m glad I’m not out west where it’s triple digits.
  • This week might challenge my all-time sleep low.


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2 and 4 wheels

I was reading a thread on the neighborhood site Nextdoor and the topic was bicyclists and cars sharing difficult roads in Howard County. And boy did it seem to start a firestorm. As you can suspect bad drivers were an issue but also bad cyclists also. There might be a few people in this county that have put more miles on a car and bike here but the number is small.

Share the road. Photo by Mike Hartley

As a youth, I put on many miles on the bicycle. We used to live on our bikes as youngsters. A large paper route for a few years as I grew, peddling to jobs anywhere from 5-6 miles from home before I got my license. And yes I’ve been clipped by a car on a bike. I’m so old we used to ride on Rt 29. I’ve ridden motorcycles for 3 decades in this county. I was driving years before I had my license so 50 years in a car now.

These are just my observations. Pretty much no matter where you lived in this county in the 60s you could ride a bike and there wasn’t an issue for motorists or cyclists. In the ’70s with the expansion of Columbia and Rt 29 and other roads became much more active, wider, and faster. This is the decade police stopped me for riding a bike on Rt 29 to my job at the Mall. But it was still pretty safe in a lot of the county.

In the last 4 decades, the volume of both types of traffic continued to increase at staggering rates. And here we are today with beautiful back roads and scenes choked with cars and bikes. On top of that our tolerance for each other went out the window a few years ago and now we have games of chicken repeated in front of us over and over.

Uncaring people trying to pass in blind spots for oncoming traffic instead of having a few seconds of patience to safely pass on a good vision spot. Then there are the ballsy ones that Mr. Karma is about to take issue with who regardless of what oncoming traffic will attempt to run head-on to you because they are going to pass that bicyclist no matter what.

I’ve noticed bad behavior on both sides but far less from cyclists than motorists. But riding a motorcycle is by far the most dangerous around here because you are out on the major roads and people don’t look to see you. I’d say this is the highest incidence per mile ridden of almost being killed and that is saying something because I’ve been hit badly in two car accidents, one where it took them forever to get me out of the car because it was mangled so badly where the roof had to be cut off because they couldn’t get any of the doors open. That is after they took the pickup truck off the front and top of the car. Strange things happen to a car when it’s hit at a standstill by someone doing 60mph from behind.

I found some stats for Howard County from 2016-2020 from the state in a PDF that is all numbers. Numbers of people injured and killed in many situations including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and vehicles. I hate numbers. Because when you are talking people, we are not numbers. I hate what I see us doing to each other on the roadways no matter what your mode of transportation is.

Selfishness is killing and injuring us needlessly. Some of these stats are not accidents.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I got up too early.
  • I’m staying up too late.
  • Good thing I took a nap.


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Thinking

I was thinking about my new grandson with a smile on my face ear to ear. I thought about how I would like to share my experiences with him. So I started to write a daily diary for him for his first year of life. Filled with a piece of daily advice from Papa and other tidbits of his first year and along with the experiences and trials of his brand new parents.

Feel a special brightness in my heart, aren’t grandchildren great. Photo by Mike Hartley

Then I got to thinking about how to leave him and my granddaughter a better world to live in. That is a lot more complicated and difficult. Probably something I should have been working a lot harder on for a long time. The world is a big place so I think I need to break that one down a bit and just do my best in as many areas as I can for as long as I can. And try to think about new ways or solutions to resolve larger issues confronting us all on another day.

If everyone started thinking small and acting daily we could make a difference. How can I reduce my footprint and consumption? I started doing something a few weeks ago where I use about half the water I used to, for a shower.

I’m going to try to start drinking fewer cokes which mean fewer plastic bottles. I’ll get a water jug, or whatever the kids and every other human being but me seem to be carrying around. I’m going to try to figure out how to use plastic bottles in some kind of sculpture. Whatever little I can think of and do each day.

We use the condensation from the AC and water plants with that. I’m mowing the lawn a little less often. I don’t use lighter fluid to start the grill. Little stuff helps. How warm or cool you can tolerate in your home depending on the season is also a great way to conserve. Turn a few lights off and see if you can live with less. But watch your toes.

I made a hard choice a few years ago and didn’t get the gas-guzzling Dodge Challenger with the huge HEMI and instead went with the mild-mannered Miata. Experience taught me in my younger years that gas can go up violently in cost and always has. I’ve never been a man with great amounts of disposable income and took the safe road. More mileage and fewer tickets. So now I can still go for a cruise if I feel the urge. Of course, I can’t say I don’t miss having all that horsepower with a stick shift under me.

I’m tired of being blind to the garbage footprint we put out as a family and not working or trying to reduce it isn’t acceptable any longer. Or my energy consumption and emissions. Hell, I’m even going to think about how I order stuff and see if I can combine it so an individual box for every single item isn’t needed.

Long as I got my mind open to change and consume less I’ll feel I’m doing the least I can do. Plus consuming less is good to ease the pain of whatever you purchase these days.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A day of good hard work and watching the granddaughter for a while was my idea of a fine Friday.
  • I think I’ll take an evening cruise with the top down.
  • I don’t know what he is hunting around my home but a beautiful fox is outside a few times a day and it’s cool to watch the slyness of them. I think there is a groundhog out back he might be interested in but he is a big boy and my guess no easy meal.
  • The older I get the bigger the yard seems to be.
  • I’d be more effective at losing weight if there weren’t so many good things to eat during the summer.


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Enjoying the warmth of the morning

Good Thursday morning to all. I’m not usually up at this hour on a Thursday after working all night but I was off and got a few hours of much-needed rest which has me feeling positive again and I was up at sunrise.

Breakfast anyone? Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m really pumped up this morning and started several important projects for the family. I’ve also returned to some exercise after a few days of absence. Looking forward to having some Facetime with my new grandson sometime today but my real wish is to hold him this weekend.


I’m going to miss early voting today, but I will vote next week. Lifes events prevented proper research and therefore my delay. But I encourage everyone to vote. Read about the people you are giving a lot of control to because power can be used in some ways you may not desire.

Don’t just listen to commercials and soundbites. Look at their history. Look at the people they associated with and the candidate’s beliefs and plans. Try to look at the issues that are important to you. Rarely will you find the candidate that is exactly as you believe in everything but a lot of times you have options that will get you close. And those options are really available in Primary Elections. So take the time and hope for the best. But do be involved.

As Led Zeppelin said it’s time for me to “Ramble On” outside to the mower. Be well.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Be critical of the size of the box you think in, you may be underestimating how much more outside the box there is to know.
  • I can see so much clearer when I clean my glasses.
  • It’s your choice, regular maintenance or surprise problems. Advice for your body, not just your car.
  • I’m sorry, I get more joy and would rather spend my time watching my children and grandchildren and friends than watching TikTok.


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Textures of the day

Not that every day isn’t special or that every day comes with its highs and lows but this one was something. The circle of life was never so front and center today, a funeral home in the morning and a delivery room in the evening.

An emotional rollercoaster of sorts. The loss of a nephew and the birth of a grandson. Tears of sadness and joy. I’ll be riding this for a few more days at least till services are over. I’m so thankful that I have something to right the ship in the newest edition to the family. I would never infer that one replaces the other, the timing is just ironic from my perspective.

Textures. Photo by Mike Hartley

Thankfully I have an understanding boss and lots of sick time so I’ve taken a night off. I can feel my body on overload. The mind is also in runaway mode, but it’s a remarkable thing and can bounce back and exceed expectations the next day with a little rest. And that is what I intend to give both of them after this post.

But after that rest tonight, I’m reminded with a greater urgency of the importance of making the best use of tomorrow. So I will start early. We will probably get to see our new grandson for the first time on Facetime. More work on arrangements and communications. But I’m also going to put the top down, and take the cameras out for some fresh images, even if it’s just for an hour. And oh yeah, a few hours cutting grass. That is always a good reminder, of life going on. That grass grows regardless of whether us being here or not.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve been spending more time on the roads lately. If driver courtesy and etiquette continue to deteriorate as fast as it is, then don’t be surprised to see the roads with more of a Deathrace theme. Because it’s tempting now to mount a 50 cal to the hood.
  • I had a pit beef and onion rings from The Canopy the other day. I have an urge to return for the same thing again tomorrow. Yeah, I know, easy on the red meat.
  • I haven’t fallen asleep at my computer in a good while. But I just caught myself so I guess it’s time to go.


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Tuesday turnaround

Sometimes improvements come in small increments but you should still take time to appreciate those as well as the large ones. Sometimes small gains are what are needed if you are starting from scratch.

One of the few safe spots in the city. On the water. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s good to help people with tough decisions.
  • Life makes sense when you connect the dots.
  • Sometimes you do things out of respect for those who are no longer here.
  • Some weeks you just give a little more.


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Pain

I thought I knew what pain was till I saw my sister grieving the loss of her son this morning. Losing a child as a parent unexpectedly looks like the most emotionally painful experience I’ve ever seen someone go through. Trying to describe it is useless. I can’t get my head around the loss trying to understand it.

I’m emotionally drained from just trying to support my sister. She just went to bed but I doubt she sleeps much unless her body shuts down from exhaustion. It’s almost like the body can’t release enough pain to get through it.

I saw and heard some things today that take me back to difficult times of loss. My sister and I lost our father at 9 and 7. That was an especially hard time for her and I saw that pain return today but even more profound. When she was in the hospital bed I saw some of my Mom’s pain on her face.

I had to call the funeral home that I was last at for my mother’s arrangements and that will be a difficult process to repeat. But one I will gladly take care of for her as much as possible. But it won’t be easy. I guess neither of us deals well with death.

I met one of his best friends who had selected Michael as godfather to his new child. I met many other of his Fire/EMT friends today. I’m glad he had such a good number of friends and ones that seemed touched by his loss.

Life throws so many curves. This past weekend I have been so excited that my own son is expecting his first child any day now. Then the frantic call from my sister this morning of her son dying.

I don’t know what to feel sitting here the few minutes she has fallen asleep. I probably won’t sleep much because I’m pretty sure she will be up grieving again.

Life was so unfair to Michael. Leukemia when he was in his teens and now passing in his mid-30s. I don’t know what to think about after people pass but I always like to believe they are now in the arms of loved ones who have gone before. So I’m going to imagine him running into his father’s arms (another one that died too young) and then being embraced by his grandparents.

I can remember the call the day he was born, I was out of town but so happy that my Mom had a grandchild and my sister had her first. I never imagined this day.

Rest in peace Michael. Photo for you my Nephew.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m thinking it’s wise advice to live as much as possible each day.
  • I’m thinking that we might not have enough kleenex in the house.
  • I’m thinking I had better eat something today.
  • 95% of the time the two tags and categories I select are photography and life. Today I felt wrong about selecting Life as one of them.


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Slow roll Sunday

I was thinking 4 am is an early start for a Sunday morning but what the hell, that is when I woke. I bypassed the TV which I’m really trying to limit and did some reading and a few emails while listening on the headphones. I think I’m going to start my day with more music in the future. I like the smile it gives me and motivation or peace of mind. Usually, whichever is needed actually. In some mornings both.

Run spot run. Photo by Mike Hartley

So here we are beginning another week and looking at the calendar the Summer is reaching the halfway point for a lot of people. This means I have to schedule some time off. I screwed up last year and ended up taking days in November and December besides the holiday weeks. I’d much rather take off when it’s warm and enjoy the sun and fun.

Speaking of which I’m going to work on the tan tomorrow. I know, doesn’t sound much like a goal but I feel so much better with some color.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Time to search for and a young man to cut my back yard till I can walk right again.
  • Time for that booster shot.
  • Time for a ride at sunrise.
  • Any month that doesn’t include medical tests or doctor visits is a good month.
  • I read where the Lakers are considering trading for Kyrie Irving. They must like guys who can’t play a whole season. Might be a contest between him and Davis as to who can play the least.


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A rainy day is a good day to rest

And today was that rainy day. A day of rest and recuperation. One of relaxation and calmness. Yes, I wasted a rainy day. I could have been more productive but dealing with some pain today that kind of demotivates me. Tomorrow I will just power through it because it is supposed to be beautiful out.

I will be up before sunrise and out the door to do some photography and cruise in the go-cart. Not sure how much walking I can do but I will give it the old college try.

Wishing sunrise was like this today instead of the clouds and rain this day. Photo by Mike Hartley

There are only so many beautiful Sunday mornings to celebrate during the summer. The kind you can walk out in a pair of gym shorts and teeshirt and flip flops, throw the top down on the car and appreciate a few hours of peace before the crowds get outside.

The roads aren’t jammed. Nature is out and anyone you do pass is so friendly because they are also glad to be alive and out early. So the smiles and acknowledgments are much greater than later in the day.

I’m not sure what direction I will head tomorrow. I’ve been thinking about doing a series on the most relaxing places I know in Howard County so I might begin that. And given the weather ahead looks so good maybe I can keep it going throughout the week.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Working towards something is the real fun.
  • Don’t put off doing simple things for people. It sometimes means more than you know.
  • It’s voting week for this guy, was going to do early voting Monday but I see there is a Governer debate on that evening so I think I’ll watch and make sure I don’t need to make a change and vote Tuesday. I’ve got to admit I haven’t voted every primary but I would say close to 80% and I never miss general elections.
  • You know it’s never really said but as time goes by the appreciation my close friends have for each other keeps growing sharply now because of a few things. One, we realize how lucky we have been for so long to be blessed with so many good times. And two we also realize time is now shorter for all of us and that each gathering seems more and more special. It’s shown in much stronger hugs and handshakes, in the messages we send each other after events about how good a time it was and in the laughter shared.


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A Friday Funday

It was Friday Funday. We got to spend it with our granddaughter playing the many games she likes and teaching her new ones, like the other day, I was teaching her to somersault. She hadn’t seen one yet so I just got on the floor and realized I hadn’t done one in a few decades.

I made sure to clear the landing area and gave it a try. Her face lit up and she immediately started to tuck her head. Of course, I was recovering from the dizziness of the spin this body just went through. That cleared after a second and she did a few and loved them.

Today we worked on the balance beam. A 2×4 on the floor. Everything was going well till my knee twisted but I powered through and I think she had a wonderful day.

Bay Bridge center span at sunrise. Photo by MIke Hartley

No more Baltimore City for this kid. I didn’t care for people touching my car ages ago and I don’t want people touching it now. Unfortunately, some people aren’t familiar with “No Thank You” and will still go for your windows and expect a tip.

So you get what you got yesterday, someone gets out of the car with a bat and gets shot. I’m not comfortable with strangers walking up on me anyway, let alone touching my property. If they don’t stop it something like this is going to happen again and again.

The violence before this had turned me off from even thinking about heading downtown. It’s a real shame because we used to enjoy the city a lot.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Summer is my kind of season. I think I’ll schedule another week of vacation very soon.
  • I’m already burnt out on the political commercials already.
  • I think it’s a shrimp and grits type of evening.
  • I was listening to some Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers early this morning and realized I never saw them live. Thus providing me another reason to kick myself in the ass today in addition to that fall.


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Keeping up

In recent years I realized I haven’t kept up with many things that I used to. Or at least to the levels, I did only a decade ago. I love sports and still follow it quite a bit but nothing like in the past. Technology is a field I work in and play in but the same is true here, I just don’t keep up with all the changes and directions like I used to.

Tracks of a large Blue Heron this weekend. Photo by Mike Hartley

I used to be up on photography equipment, now I just worry about having time to take and share new images. At one time many years ago I was a Photoshop expert, but I haven’t used a good photo editing program in decades. Yeah, I know, it shows.

Keeping up with the changes and power shifts at the job used to be part of my interest, now I couldn’t care less. Having input and influence in direction, technology and structure is something I avoid instead of diving into as in the past.

I used to be able to tell you the name of every player on the Maryland basketball team every year before the season, now the revolving doors of college basketball make that impossible for me. I used to keep up more with what was going on in the neighborhood, but not so much anymore.

For a long time, I kept up with popular culture, music, arts, movies, tv-series. I get lost in some conversations at gatherings now with things I have NO knowledge of.

And I’m sitting here wondering why I’m not bothered by any of this. I guess because I replaced it with other things that I find more important and maybe I have slowed down a bit. I know I’ve been putting in much more family, friends, and grandchild time. I know I’ve increased my time on my hobbies. And I’m happier for all of that.

I believe staying active and challenged is the best way to grow old. I also have had the realization I’m not the kid I used to be and the importance of rest and relaxation of this mind which has been on overdrive for too many years already needs. That balanced with a lot of fun and laughter to replace the stress of tech manuals and commutes.

Just being off for a short period of time has taught me the strain I put on my body and mind by flipping shifts. The realization that I would rather be working on a piece of wood or have a camera in my hands than responding to system alerts.

It’s that unknown of time and how much we have to accomplish what I want to but balance that with working for long-term security for the family. And it’s just such an unknown that making the call anytime will always leave me second-guessing did I go too early or worked too long.

And that is the crux of the issue. It’s not that I can’t or don’t give my job 110% or that I don’t want to do it, I just question when is the right time to make the transition. One of my best friend’s wives is retiring this month. I think it has added to the continued change in his perspective. And each time I hear about someone else going out, especially younger people I think even harder on the subject. Which reminds me we are having dinner with another couple this weekend who just retired.

I guess what I’m thinking in a long-winded way is that the time to make that choice is approaching fast. And yes that decision might just be to work longer and it also could be to work shorter than I thought a year ago and retire. But many factors go into that which I’ll get into another day.

But rest assured you will be Kept Up with that day when it happens. That will be the first and last dance video by me on this site.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I worked really hard for a few days in a row, morning, noon, and night. Today wasn’t one of those days.
  • Cults are dangerous, and not all of them are religious.
  • I hope the area is excited to see the Baltimore Orioles doing better with a very young team. I wish it was showing in fan support in the stands.
  • I think I’ll do my early voting this coming Monday. This means I have some reading to do this weekend.
  • Each time the phone rings now my excitement level rises dramatically. That is what happens when you are going to have a grandson soon.


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Hump day

Leave me alone, can’t you see I just ate!

Just a small critter, resting after a meal. Photo by MIke Hartley

I also had to get over the hump this morning when I returned to the nocturnal world of the night shift. It’s getting a little harder to flip that switch back and forth and stay up all night after getting back into the routine of being a day dweller during my vacation. Thankfully just one more night shift ahead and then another break.

It must be snake week. I went to go outside yesterday and a 6-foot black snake was trying to climb up my back slider door. Took the rake and got him away from the house only for him to beat me over to the shed and crawl in there. Advantage snake, but I did manage to extricate him, yes alive and into the land again. The second one in a while must be good eating outside.


Lazy is too broad a term for what I was thinking but it is the right one. I just didn’t want to give the overall impression that is me because I feel I’m anything but lazy. Truthfully though I’ve gotten lazy with my own interest and hobbies and let work and other things overwhelm my creative and productive time here and in other areas.

Sun, feet up, great view. Photo by Mike Hartley

Now one might say that for the first year since I started, I’ve been posting every day, besting the previous 7 years. But the content is lacking. I know because I can feel I can do so much better. Yes I get lucky from time to time and a photo or topic or thought of the day catches on but I’m far from satisfied with what I hope to accomplish.

I know because this last week I’m starting to get back on track. And despite limited time, I’m being very productive. And I see progress and change. That excites me and moves me to do more. Sometimes I feel like I have ADD because I’m going from the computer to mower to camera to shovel to Dremel tool to a leaf blower. But I’m trying to make the best use of time energy and ideas.

And tomorrow I have a few that might start to take shape.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m overdue for a snowball. That will be corrected tomorrow.
  • When you get older and you spend the day working outside and in the evening you feel better physically from doing it, you have had a lucky day.
  • Yeah, mental health is an issue. But a guy with mental health issues is a lot less dangerous without an assault rifle.
  • The sound of rain is nice but the sound of waves on a shore is better.


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Reward

I woke with the feeling of being rewarded for the first half of the year of hard work and stress. I was off on a week and a half of vacation and the place I’m in now as I return to work today is just fine. Spending time with family and friends and of course, my better half is the most rewarding thing for all that hard work.

Things are looking UP. Photo by Mike Hartley

If anything this past week or so has reminded me to be more optimistic and look for more fun along the way with the people I love. This means making more plans and minimizing chores and work. Hell yeah, such a simple solution to life.

Nothing like a piece of driftwood to catch my eye. Photo by Mike Hartley

It also reminded me to appreciate the simple things in life. A view, a walk on a beach, sitting around a fire, watching birds fly, listening to waves hit the shore, or on a porch watching a sunset. We took two short trips of 50 miles and 150 miles each way and we were in heaven. No traffic jams, no canceled flights, or TSA lines, not a fortune spent. Nothing but a good time all the time.

Let your fun take flight. Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t finish that collage I had started so that will be on today’s agenda. And if it stays dry some more sanding outside on a few carving pieces. But first to bring me solidly back to reality, the push mower and the backyard hill.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Exercise I’m told feels better over time. I guess I’ll have to test that adage.
  • There is a very persistent black snake that was trying to get into my house. So I get the rake and put him back in the yard and what does he do, go into my shed. Well, thank you Mr. Snake for giving me the incentive to clean my shed out.
  • It gets disappointing if you are operating on everyone else’s schedule too often.
  • Sometimes the less said the better.


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Timing

Last week I said to myself I’ve got to get my weight down. The timing of saying this goal and getting off to a good start were ill-fated. You see I was on vacation last week. And I usually try to do my favorite things while on vacation and one of them is eating out a little more than usual. Well, a lot more than usual.

Notice the sly smile by waitresses when they ask if anyone would be interested in dessert after dinner? Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course, I had some false hope when I got on the scale that by some miracle I was unaware of some pounds magically faded away. While the actual number increased by 1 pound from last week, I feel a sense of victory after a second of reflection. If I can suck down several very rich meals, pizza, ice cream, burgers, bags of snacks, candy, and sodas, all I have to do is get back to some moderation and I can probably lose a few pounds a week.

Happy 4th Photo by Mike Hartley

So last week was a false start. A mulligan, an ill-fated poorly thought-out start date. So let’s see what we can do with this coming week.


Please have a safe day and evening. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Bang Bang Boom Boom Back to work.
  • Older homes have a lot working for them. Usually, the guys rehabbing them.
  • BBBBBB BBBBBB QQQQQQ
  • I made a hell of a lot of progress this past week and it feels good.


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Family, friends, the weekend of the 4th

The real kickoff to summer is the 4th. Memorial Day while the unofficial date people usually associate with the beginning of summer here in the states is just a touch early. Sort of like spring training for baseball before the regular season. Plus Memorial Day has an entirely different meaning to me than the 4th.

Families at Northside Park in OC. Photo by Mike Hartley

For a change of pace, I have this holiday off. What a different feeling than my normal depression on Sundays for Monday holiday weekends. Time to love and laugh. Not having to fire up the BBQ early and rush dinner because I’ll have to start work. In a couple of years, I’ll reclaim all my holidays and weekends.

I’m sitting here at 5:30 am looking up at angry skies above and feeling so warm at heart. I’m just getting more filled with excitement at the coming birth of my son and his wife’s first child. Each time I think of something difficult ahead (pending missionary repair to the chimney) I flash to the coming months of handling an infant grandson and I’m GOOD.

Families are such fragile things. Many start to develop cracks and some break altogether. Some are reunited like a shattered plate being put back together. Events shape families. Maybe a death of a family member. People handle those things in many different ways. Many of us have experienced that early on in life and it can deeply affect families and relationships. Even the loss of loved ones late in life can change long-standing relationships.

Each day my family loves each other deeply is a day my heart is at peace. It’s something many take for granted but there are many more families who know differently. Many probably have seen parents pass with siblings at odds with each other or broken entirely. That is a pain a parent shouldn’t have to endure.

Children grow and get married adding to the dynamics. People sometimes move and distances create more challenges. Some people are just good at staying in touch regardless and others you have to use a crowbar to get a peep from.

It’s got to be that love, acceptance, support, and being there for each other that carries relationships through. But the challenges some families face may seem and sometimes are insurmountable. And sometimes that is nobody’s fault.

So I’m counting my many blessings of having everyone love each other so strongly it carries them through a lifetime and into their children.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cookies. Need I say more?
  • I’m on my way to making it back into my clothes again without stretching them out of shape any longer.
  • I hope that people take the time to research and learn about the people they are voting for. All the way down to the local levels. Hey, I can wish, can’t I?
  • Way to go WEATHER. Sunshine and warm after an ugly start.


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There is something missing

July 4th just isn’t the same in our family anymore without our parent’s generation present. But we will gather and remember them this weekend. And by we, I mean a few of us. The days of complete family gatherings have come and gone. Some members sadly removed themselves from the whole.

I saw my better half had started to lay a few things out Friday night. Photo by Mike Hartley

I found some special old images that I’ll be giving to one family member of their grandparents. Sometimes it still seems strange I’m at that point (being a grandparent) but it’s one of life’s great experiences in my opinion.

Life is about going through these stages and that is if you are a lucky person just to get the chance to see and appreciate it all.


Creating is fun. What could have been if I started earlier? Don’t worry I’m not spending more than a few seconds a day with the thought of being disgusted by my wasting time. It’s fuel to remind me to make the best of today.

My goal is to finish a new collage by midnight. Maybe spend an hour two woodworking. Pick up the cameras again and also upload some images to Zenfolio.


By the way, I found out where all those people on the road are now.

Bethany Beach is Umbrella to Umbrella. Photo by Mike Hartley

I brought a little of the Eastern Shore of Maryland back with me this week in the fashion of Sweet Corn which I will be putting on the grill tomorrow for lunch. I’ve cooked them naked before but it’s a bit drier than I like when I wrap them in foil and cook them that way. I haven’t tried the direct cooking in the husk in some time but I think I’ll try a few ears that way tomorrow also.

I’ll share a shot of the finished result tomorrow. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Being within a year or two of retirement my mind really starts to wonder when I’m on vacation with the thought of so much time and all the things I can do with that time on a permanent basis.
  • My better half doesn’t know it yet but the basement is becoming an Art Gallery.
  • Tomorrow is weigh-in day. I was doing good mid-week but I’m still learning discipline. I’m only getting on the scale once a week so as to not obsess.
  • Leaf blower or broom? I’m going with the power tool here.
  • The future will redefine the word divided. Unless we all decide to change it.


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Out of the gate

I kind of feel like a jockey whose horse just broke from the gate in the lead or maybe a drag racer with a textbook hole shot, or perhaps just an old guy up early trying to knock out some chores so we can enjoy the weekend.

Get out early today, might not be smooth sailing later today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Regardless it feels good to be active early. It’s so lovely keeping a schedule everyone else is on and not flipping back and forth due to work. I’ve needed this break from the job and that shift change to relax and regain perspective.

Manual power is rewarding. Photo by Mike Hartley

It was nice getting up before dawn today. Because now at 11 am it’s getting pretty warm to be working outside much longer. Yesterday I got a little too much sun time and not enough hydration and felt a little strange. Been pumping fluids today to not start off with a low tank.

I have to do a lot more thinking and planning now that I’m not a teenager in the body any longer. My better half still insists I’m 18 in mind. I don’t agree but others may think she is generous. I recently had a 4-year-old grandchild of one of my best friends tell my better half that she likes me a lot because I’m funny. It’s good to know your audience.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m showing some improvement on not being such a hoarder. Not that I’m bad but I do fall on that side of the scale.
  • You know that when you have friends that are 4-5 decades old and you get together and you make more great times along the way even after all the amazing ones in the past, you’re a lucky person.
  • I’m excited about redesigning my workspaces. Long overdue.
  • Be careful with the heat and on the highways.


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A first

I have spent some time on the beach but I’ve never seen a fox on a beach in Ocean City. Let alone in the middle of town on 56th street. It appeared to have a bit of mange which I believe can be deadly for them.

Not the creature I was expecting at the beach. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Tomorrow is just another day unless you’re not here for it. Be careful out there on the roads.
  • I can see it. Not too far in the distance. There it is on the horizon. The land of permanent vacation or commonly known as retirement.
  • If there were a theme song for this evening it would probably be Hot Summer Nights by VH.
  • A waste = someone who buys a convertible and has the top up when it’s sunny and warmer than 70 degrees.


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Don’t get burned

I was like this seagull below the last few days. I cruised in the heat of the day but didn’t get burned. Sort of like the safe zone he seems to be soaring in. I’m probably not as cautious as I should be about sun exposure. I have very close friends with skin cancer issues so the warning is right in front of me.

Seagull cruising between the fire of the sky last night at sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

Nothing on me got burned and that should be the objective each time. Since I got married many decades ago, she has been good at reminding me to do the sunscreen. I don’t remember using it before I met her. But I do get lazy and have burned in the past, mostly from staying out too long. My children reminded me a few months ago when we were talking about ocean trips of them looking out the balcony of me on the beach still at 5 pm doing my best impression of a cooked lobster on the beach.

When the kids were young I would be out at sunrise trying to make sand animals on the beach. Maybe come in for a coke and sandwich at lunch and back out. If I didn’t just skip lunch altogether. Now at the most is 3-4 hours at the beach. A long break and maybe the pool in the afternoon for another few hours at the most.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Peace of mind is a fleeting thing somedays. But I’m on a roll this week.
  • I really shouldn’t have stopped in Candy Kitchen before leaving the beach.
  • Tomorrow is going to be great. I hope to share some of it with you.
  • I have an electrician coming tomorrow to save me from a shocking experience. Till I get the bill.


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Straight rope, bent shadow

I looked down at my arms today and I noticed wrinkles I hadn’t seen before as I bent my arm. I guess age has started to catch up with me but I’m not feeling it. At least the last few days which is a nice reprieve.

Photo by Mike Hartley

This has been a great week and I hope to keep it going with the holiday weekend approaching with family and friends. For a multitude of reasons, I’m feeling better about life and the future. Maybe it’s the thought of another grandchild on the way very soon.

It could be the closing in on retirement and the thought of getting on with my true interest now. I’ve picked up the camera the last few days and I’ve gotten busy again with a few woodworking projects. Just two of my favorite hobbies to play with.

Maybe it’s walking each day a little more now. A new habit I hope I can maintain.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Eating well is a real perk in life. But it makes me also think of people who can’t get enough to eat and the reminder email that came from the Maryland Food Bank. Their call for some help will be answered tomorrow.
  • I wish I had the time to watch every sunset every day.
  • Never take a warm shower for granted.


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A nice Sunday night for change of pace

This has been a different type and experience on a Sunday. I woke yesterday early (before sunrise) as usual. Kind of a relaxing morning cleaning out more of the workroom, working on a few wood projects and having some scrambled eggs.

As the afternoon came the usual stress of the thought of having to stay up all night and work wasn’t there. A Sunday night off!!!. No rushed Sunday dinner. Not trying to nap in the afternoon unsuccessfully again. Not having to scroll through and delete a few hundred emails from work before I even start the night. No commute from the kitchen to my desk downstairs. Not having to switch the department line to my cell phone. And no worry about what system might decide to take a dive.

The start of the Sunday evening is usually steady, but around 1 am that first day switching back to a night shift my eyes start to get heavy. Once I make it through that tired phase of an hour or two I’m good for the rest of the week but that transition is a bear. And a bear I didn’t have to wrestle with Sunday night.

I got to go to bed when I got tired and curled up with my better half and slept. Life was good yesterday.


Every once in a while I think about shooting black and white. Not today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Usually when I put my mind to something I get it done. I just haven’t gotten serious about my weight control. It’s not out of control but I’m 15-20 lbs. heavier than I should be. And as I’ve aged the weight seems to congregate near my midsection.

Having been active most of my life weight was never an issue. But in the last 15 years, my love of food, ice cream, and cokes combined with a less active lifestyle has become an issue. I know I’m a little overweight but it really didn’t bother me all that much till I saw a picture of myself recently.

All I know this morning is that I need to take some action and either increase my activity significantly again or reduce the intake. Both will take work and discipline which I haven’t had to apply in this area so my experience is limited. And the desire to do both exercise and control food intake hasn’t been on the agenda in a while.

I will probably go get on the scale this morning and figure out where we are starting from and then get busy thinking of ways to cut the calories and incorporate a lot more walking into this week.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I will not let the rain deter my spirits today.
  • I feel I’m slowly becoming a better writer. I know it’s painful to observe, but it’s a goal.
  • The set of Yokohama tires that came on the SUV were dry rotting before 4 years and only 38K. Won’t be purchasing that brand anymore. And if I do get another car in the future I’ll be looking at that feature.
  • Ideas come much easier when I’m relaxed.


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Rewarding afternoon

Some old members of Patuxent Publishing Company/Times Newspapers gathered today at the old Flier build in Columbia for a clandestine meeting/reunion. Seeing many old faces, some of which I didn’t recognize immediately was great. It’s been 2-3 decades and sometimes 4 since some had seen each other. There were a few of us present who started in the 70s.

Home for a few decades. Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course, I see a lot of them still regularly. One of my best friends, in fact, we started working together in 1980 and have become brothers. Another group I meet with for breakfast about every month or two. Covid did impact us for a bit but we still Zoomed.

This day reminded me of good times. Of laughter and fun together in a small community newspaper group that flourished and faded after many decades of success. There is very little community journalism anymore. And at the same time, more of it but weeding it out isn’t a pleasant chore. Plus the fact-checking or second read and confirming facts/statements from people isn’t there.

No single person or small team can give you the breadth of coverage a community newspaper could. Sports, education, local government, crime, features, business, arts, movies, food, and more all in one place. That kind of product no longer exists in many communities. Advertising moved on to other mediums and that life support system that sustains the staff to bring you all the local news is gone from the print media for the most part. And if something does remain, the remnants of the Howard County Times or Columbia Flier or Catonsville/Arbutus papers are a good example of papers that are shells of themselves and eventually too costly to continue.

Each organization has its own website or newsletter or podcast or Instagram. I remember the days when people would walk into the office on Main Street in Ellicott City and request photos of their kid hitting in little league and meeting another neighbor who was getting a few extra copies of the paper because it listed the school’s graduation roster and people used to send papers to relatives with their kid’s names in them.

But back to the people meeting today. If you are ever lucky enough to work in an organization that is blessed with a lot of special people working very hard together who like to have a good time and lots of laughs while doing it. That is a special thing and I heard that from a lot of people who worked there today. And that was my experience and many others. And therefore the bond of that shared experience binds this group of former employees.

Some of it I think is attributed to the length of time a lot of us spent together—decades in a fair amount of cases. And in a medium-sized company, you still get to know a good number of people pretty well. Some very well and some into lifelong relationships that are carried on decades after working together.

After so much time has passed many have relocated and moved but still stay in touch via Facebook and loved seeing pictures. Also as time has passed some well-loved people have passed on. One big one was just this week. And he is the type of man who would have been at this event and loved it.

There were people there I hired decades ago. I’m really proud of how a lot of them carried on their careers. It was great seeing where people had traveled professionally after working together. Some had actually reunited in the same companies many years later.

I also realized a few things today. I let a few relationships lapse that I hope to do a better job at keeping in touch with in the future. I already keep in touch with a number of people who couldn’t make it that day regularly but I also need to do more in making that more frequent.

I doubt this will be the last gathering. I think the group will actually expand in the future. It was a nice flashback to a wonderful period of time and events on a sunny Saturday afternoon.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Owning a home is a second full-time job unless you can pay someone else to take care of it.
  • I feel incomplete, I missed seeing my grandchild this week.
  • Ah, the weekly battle with Mother Nature begins again.
  • Today I’m glad I live in the state of Maryland.


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Cold start

A cold start to the morning. Woke to no hot water in the house due to failed circuit breaker. I have replaced hot water heaters but I don’t mess with electrical panels. Now the question is do I live with a cold shower today and tomorrow and pay the non-emergency rate on the weekday or do I spend a few hundred more on service now?

Good morning. Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, I took that first cold shower. Not all that bad but not my preference. Now if my better half can cope without killing me for this decision to delay then we are good. We do have an insta-hot unit in our kitchen so maybe I’ll fill a sprinkling can full of the warm water and at least let her wash her hair with warmth.

Never take a shower for granted, be it cold or warm. I’m guessing there are many that don’t get either.

I guess if I want to get warm I can just step outside today. And that I will be doing with some old friends. Let’s hope the weekend gets back on a good track with that event.


Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Who the governor of your state is, just became much more important.
  • I’d like to hit triple digits in new images taken today.
  • We became a disposable society when we lost the desire to fix things.
  • I hear some roads calling my name today so almost time to put the top down.


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A window into me

I wonder how much to write here at times. What do I want to share about myself? I know I probably already have passed the line for TMI but in reality, I haven’t even scratched the surface of sharing me. Sharing in this day and age is also dangerous on social issues.

Columbia. Photo by Mike Hartley

For instance, if I comment on today’s Supreme Court ruling I might offend some people with where I fall on the issue. Well, the term “might” isn’t accurate. I’ll piss some people off. I’d fall clearly at odds with the Catholic church I was brought up in and their position. I would fall on the other side of several neighbors whose support for today’s outcome is probably just as joyous as my sadness is deep. I have some Republican and more devout Christian friends on who I would fall on the opposite side of this issue.

And now I’ve shared my opinion on abortion. I think it’s each person’s right to make the decisions regarding their own bodies. And states that don’t make exceptions for rape or incest or the mother’s health, prove to me common sense has left the building with Elvis.

Tomorrow I’ll find another window to open maybe. I’ve been struggling with some thoughts recently that are painful and troubling and I’d rather keep this more upbeat but life isn’t always that way. So let’s hope I find a positive window tomorrow.

Time for a late-night drive. I need to clear my head. Been working all day and the balance of work and fun is out of sync. So what could be better on a fine summer night than to put the top down and a few miles on the odometer with some music to guide my direction.

Maybe I’ll go down here and do some night photos this evening. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Found some of my dad’s old medical gear from the service. It felt good to just hold it.
  • I’ve always said “I love you” to those close to me. But as each day passes and you get reminders of how short life can be. This should lead you to think even more about those important people and relationships and say that “I love you” with even more meaning and frequency.
  • Gov Hogan has the distinction of the last Republican I will ever vote for.
  • I found an old watercolor set and a few pads of paper. Why not, it’s only been about 4 decades.


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Not the start I hoped for

My first day off and rain and cooler temps are served up. Come on now, this is summer and I have a few days off to enjoy so I’m going to expect some cooperation Mother Nature. And your messenger weather man Marty says it is looking up on his noon report so thank you.

Is this what they mean on the weather forecast when they say “Driving Rain”? Photo by Mike Hartley

My family teases me about being slightly obsessed with the weather. It’s always interested me. The day I saw Willard Scott on channel 4 in DC having fun with it and making it a learning experience I was hooked. I do let the bad weather affect my mood too much. Something else to overcome. The list grows again.

So Friday is looking up. If so I’m going to be a busy image-maker.

Frederick Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

I hung a picture that my daughter got me of myself and my granddaughter. It’s in the center of the wall I use to do some sorting/editing and designs. I think I’ll cover it with more great family photos and choose another wall for my editing because there is nothing like being surrounded by family.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder why I get more chores done when my better half is away than when she is at home?
  • Learned of the passing of a long-time editor and co-worker. A name that many in Howard County might recognize from the Flier/Times. Tom Graham. A very nice man.
  • Sometimes I feel like a nut. Then my better half confirms it.
  • Very few people will be as proud of you as they should be.
  • The slower the lens, the more you hope for good natural light.


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Rattling the windows

No, it’s not me with the music rattling the window. That is mother nature outside with the Boom Box in the shape of summer thunderstorms. It comes with the territory. But I was able to take advantage of an hour around noon for a pleasure cruise up and down Frederick and Old Frederick roads before the rains.

I was only 2 minutes from home when the sky opened up and obviously I was a few seconds late getting the top-up. The first time that has happened to me. Guess I was being a bit optimistic that I could make it home.

Wet interior. Photo by Mike Hartley

I hope we don’t return to the days of gas shortages or odd/even days. It already cost an arm and a leg, but at least it’s plentiful. And I can still feel free to take a joy ride and burn a few gallons of gas. Or take a few day trips to the beach, (about $50) round trip at the current cost of gas.

I don’t spend much on myself, so taking some time to enjoy driving my Miata on warm summer days and getting my feet in the sand is something I can live with as a frivolous expense. Yeah, that sounds and probably is selfish. So maybe I should do something for someone less fortunate tomorrow. I’ve been thinking it’s time for a few donations anyway.

None of the old fire department buildings are for the Fire Departments anymore. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m looking forward to seeing some very old friends this weekend.
  • The top of my desk is under there somewhere.
  • I’ve been using a smartphone for a while now. I don’t think it’s working.
  • A sad day for the Ravens organization losing one active player and another former star on the same day.


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Tuesday tales

An interesting start to the day as I stepped outside my basement door at 6:10 am and I looked to the right where I had left the gate open into the fenced pool area (the pool is gone) and a beautiful fox is in there. He froze but then started to look as if he was going to attempt to jump over it which would be a feat because it’s a 7-foot leap and surrounded by a hill of rocks on the outside of it. So I quickly backed off and went back in the door leaving it open a crack so I could watch him run out and back to the woods behind our house.

I was a beautiful animal and looked very healthy. I’ve seen him cruising this area the last month or two and can tell because his coat is much brighter than others and he is bigger than most of the foxes I’ve seen around. So I go back out about 30 minutes later to check the weather and there is a small herd of deer passing through and grazing along the tree line. Seeing this prompted me to pick up the camera because I was already pissed about not having it for the fox.

Are you looking at ME? Photo by Mike Hartley

Another day slips by. Yes, it was a productive one, but I’m sure I let a few opportunities pass me by so I’ll try harder tomorrow. A good day ahead for some indoor chores, I hope to surprise my better half with the progress.

My kind of High Capacity Clips. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m all set up to turn some wood into sawdust tomorrow. A couple of freehand attempts and hopefully finish up a carving for my Son. I’m going to be more into personal gifts in the future.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m feeling more hope today. Which inspires me to get busier.
  • Tonight I had leftover leftovers. And I’m grateful to have had a meal.
  • Any day you can end with a smile is a good day.
  • I hope there is something and or someone who has the magical ability to get this country working together again and less at each other’s throats.
  • I swear the DEA needs to test ice cream for addictive substances. I wonder if there is a 12 step group for this?


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Sun and Volume

What a stretch of good weather. Felt good being outside today working and trying to relax a little before an important call later today. I’m actually feeling good about the accomplishments today and the week ahead. But I hope to make a lot of progress tonight being I took a night of vacation.

Cambridge Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, that call came, a bit late but it was worth the wait. A temporary reprieve from worry for a change of pace, I’m going to really enjoy this summer. It’s going to be special in so many ways.


I bet my neighbors are glad I’m not single. Because when I am (very rarely) the volume in the house and car go way up. Must be the inner teenager in me with the volume control because I’m usually searching for volume 11 on a scale of 1-10 when really inspired.

Wait till they discover my better half is gone for 4 days and I’ve turned Woodstock Maryland into Woodstock again. I hope they are down with the decibels for a few days. Don’t worry I’ll have the house shut so it will only feel like a minor earthquake at times depending on the artist.

Just kidding, I haven’t hooked up the big speakers, yet. But I have enjoyed a day filled with music. I hadn’t gone through the old Beatles collection in a long time.

For those about to rock, we salute you. Photo by Mike Hartley

The last day of spring said someone on the idiot box this morning. Ah, my favorite season is here. Time to shake and bake, twist and tan, boogie and beach. I’m going to celebrate tonight with a late-night cruise.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m blessed with the most beautiful birds around our home.
  • I was going to say “you won’t catch me flying anywhere soon.” But then I thought that is true for a lot of people now. They are just sleeping in airports though.
  • The less TV I watch the more enlightened I feel.
  • Fixed my downstairs phone finally. I know you’re asking yourself what is he talking about with this downstairs phone thing. Good thing I didn’t mention rotary phones.


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Happy Fathers Day and other stuff

Things I think about on Father’s Day are all over the place. I remember the pain of losing mine at a very young age and being very uncomfortable for a few decades. It wasn’t till I became a father myself that I started to enjoy it again but it still pains me to this day to think about all we missed together.

I sit here looking at his pictures today asking many questions that won’t be answered. It reminds me to talk to my own children more so they don’t have questions one day. It helps provide a context for life. Not knowing the experiences of someone who gave you life and the benefit of their knowledge adds to the challenge of growing up.

Dad

Resentment built over time that he wasn’t there for my ballgames and other events. That as I grew into a young man with no advice on being a young man. He didn’t get to see me married and finally happy. I pictured him when my children were born holding them with my mom. Thankfully resentment faded because my mom told me how much he loved us and gave me a few things from him.

Proud of my Father-in-law. Photo by Mike Hartley

I read some comments by shipmates and officers he was a very gregarious and funny man, which may be why I love laughter and comedy. He may have hardened my thoughts against wars even more because he fought in WW2 and Korea. He probably would have taught me how to hit a curveball and be stronger to the hoop with my left hand.

I know you can’t change what happened but you can certainly wonder how things would have been different, and I do that from time to time thinking about the impact my father might have had on me. I hope I have done a good job at being a father myself. It’s every father’s role to improve on what they were taught and given and do even better with their children.

Luckily I had a very good father-in-law and a mom who double-timed parenthood and taught me enough to hopefully be a good dad.

Time is not a given. Make the best use of it while you have the opportunity. That opportunity could be a phone call, letter (email) or visit. Make each one special. Appreciate your family and close friends because each event, gathering, party, and meal may not have everyone in attendance next time.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Even the scammers have been hit by inflation. They used to call me and say someone has fraudulently charged $799 to my Amazon account. Now they say it’s over $999.
  • I wonder if NASCAR will have to shorten the races due to fuel prices?
  • It may sound strange but I enjoy hand washing my car.
  • Time to have a talk with my body about its lack of cooperation after hard work. Maybe it’s trying to send me a message and I’m just stubborn.
  • There is magic in capturing moments in time.


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Enlightenment

In some ways, I wish I hadn’t made the observation I did this morning. In looking for photos of a friend who we are celebrating a significant birthday for, I discovered I have a lot of photos I haven’t used in the blog yet. I don’t want this to deter me from going out and taking current things though so maybe I’ll sprinkle in a little of both in the coming weeks.

Someone better grab my leash before I do something wrong. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m going to blaze a trail the last two weeks of this month. I might need to charge the camera batteries every day. Why do you say? Because I’ll have a little more time than usual and I hope to put it to good use.

I’ve been thinking of doing a morning post and an evening one for a while now. Didn’t want to commit to it right away so how do they say, a soft launch might be in progress in the next few weeks.

So off for some Saturday night fun. It’s been a beautiful day here in the mid-Atlantic. I hope it was good where you are.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wish I had more memories of someone dear to me.
  • Not everything is reciprocated.
  • Being able to take care of my own property leaves me with a feeling of pride.
  • I got to admit, I like fathers day. But what I like more is my Son becoming a father very soon.


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Flow control engineer

I spent a good portion of my day adjusting water pressure for a 3-year-old granddaughter. There isn’t a much better use of time than I could think of. Well, I did knock out a few other chores and some in the heat of the day. My shoulders are feeling a little warm as I sit here.

Sometimes I like letting my mind wander like a child where just running through water can make my day. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was able to get more shots of joy on her face and will be busy editing those into the night. I’ve also got a deadline of tomorrow morning for another project so it could be a busy evening. And I like it that way. The busier I am sometimes the more I feel I’m challenging myself and the more progress I see.


It might just be one of those summer nights where when I’m thinking about going to bed that I might step outside just before I do and feel that warm summer air and go back in grab my keys and shoes, throw the top down, start the tunes and take a late-night cruise.

Having worked various night shifts over the years I’ve had my share of the roads between midnight and sunrise. The highways in this area are amazing without the normal traffic that makes them parking lots and or death races.

There are maybe 1-2 magic hours. That 2:30 am to 4:30 am is kind of special. Sometimes going many miles before seeing another car. Wide-open highways, all the lanes yours. Well, it used to be that way, I know there is a fair amount of volume 24/7 on some of our major roads. I love the ride up Route 29 in MD at night.

Of course, you do get the occasional guy who passed out in his car for an hour after bar closing time and is now just making his/her way home. I’ve seen more people going the wrong way on a highway at night than any other time. Talk about an unsettling event. I’m very sad to say I’ve seen this more than a few times at night. Sometimes the wrong way on a one-way street in the city is a fairly easy thing to do in some towns. But the ones on the 3-4 lane highways coming at you in the opposite direction at high speed. That you won’t forget.

My night eyes. Photo by Mike Hartley

I never was in a hurry late at night. Mainly because there is a lot of wildlife out during those hours. And nights are too dangerous for any high-speed runs. Not that I have a vehicle that does that sort of thing anymore. I’m just the old guy in the floppy hat with the top-down cruising in his Sportster.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • People make the company.
  • I’m sorry, I’m older and I just can’t imagine owning an electric car. I have nothing against them except they aren’t for me. I bet they don’t even make them with manual transmissions.
  • I wonder if every generation thinks their songs stand the test of time.
  • Sometimes the simplest sentiment has the deepest meaning.
  • I wonder how many people would know what a tire gauge is let alone how to use it.
  • Yep, I’m going for that late-night ride, I didn’t even have to step outside to decide. Maybe a little ZZ Top “Gimme All Your Lovin”. that’s a good cruising tune to start with.


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Thinking Thursday

I was thinking about the coming changes at the job that pays the bills. I used to enjoy trying to predict what changes were on the horizon but a while back I realized that was time poorly spent. Plus all my sources of information retired. So I will just wait and see what comes about. Who knows, maybe they will surprise me with a buyout but they haven’t done those in recent years, like in the past.

I was thinking about my coming grandchild. The joy my son and daughter-in-law have now and will experience in the coming years. The smile on my wife’s face when she holds him for the first time will be something to capture. One of the best things that ever happened to me is that I’m close enough to both of my children to be part of their children’s lives also.

I tawt I taw a Puddy tat. I did I did. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was thinking about how much I miss basketball during the next few months. I’ll have to soak in every minute of the game tonight because it might be the last one for a while. Maybe I should get outside and see if my ball still fits through the hoop.

I was thinking about the role of a father. Being mine left my life very early one of the things that did for me is ingrain how important it is to always be there for my children. Not that my Mom wasn’t Superwoman for raising my sister and me alone, it’s just that children need a parental partnership to have the best chance in life. This all got me thinking about what advice I should share that I haven’t by example already with my Son. I’ll get to work on that later tonight because Father’s day is coming up and it might be good timing to pass on a few tips for him to read at his pleasure.

I was thinking that I should shoot more each day. I’ve gotten better this week picking up the cameras but I need a sustained effort like I’m doing with the blog. The effort I’ve put in keeping this daily posting going is tough some days. But it feels really rewarding and when I pass that year mark, it will finally accomplish the commitment I made when I started blogging.

I’m thinking I need to take a mental health day soon. And that thought leads to what do I think I want to do with that time. Ah, what a great thing to spend time thinking about.

I think I’m out of time for this and have to run.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Another school year is just about in the books. That pun was not intended. I was going to say much respect to the two teachers in the family who go to great lengths with the children they teach to make them successful.
  • I’m so tired all the time now.
  • I think BG&E was sending shots across my bow when the power went out last night and again today for short stretches. And neither time had storms going through?
  • I’m not sure which is taken more for granted, having fresh water or electrical power.
  • Does anyone else but me have the feeling we are living in the good old days?


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To my liking

The longest day (sunlight-wise) of the year will be upon us in a few days. For someone who works nights, this is great. Sunlight is like this recharge we get. I’m going to spend the next couple of months doing some sun/daylight worshiping because I’ve saved up a lot of vacation time.

Take me home. Photo by Mike Hartley

That hammock and lounge chair on the deck is going to get some action. But so will my feet by being out and about. And despite the rain tomorrow I’m going to head out and grab a few frames between dentist appointments and other errands.

I have one month to get well-read on who I’m voting for in the primaries. I think this is something all of us should aspire to do. Learn about who we are casting a vote for. Not just from commercials or stump speeches but from records, experience, accomplishments, and ability to work with others. Maybe some leadership background and some intelligence. Find out where they stand on the issues that are important to you. Maybe if we all do our due diligence then we might have a chance.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • As I sat today a little winded from chasing my granddaughter I thought about the joy I have in being able to see her grow up. It can make my day and it did today.
  • I’ve never seen or heard my son so happy as he has been awaiting the birth of his first child.
  • I always thought the toughest tests were in school or on the job. Far from it in real life.
  • The energy levels I have now versus before Covid is definitely different. That is OK, I’ve always been good at overcoming those problems.


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Flag Day, Luck, Stretched Thin

Flag Day, I had to go look it up. Yep, I’m one of those ignorant Americans who sometimes needs to do better on his history. So this day marks when the US approved the first design for its First Flag in 1777. I’m now one fact smarter today.

Beautiful headstone at Arlington. Photo by Mike Hartley

Lucky again.

The stillness this morning was both peaceful and unsettling. A lone deer grazing in my backyard around 3 am. So humid and warm, but totally still. A perfect brew to help the coming storms today. But as I went outside around 6 am and watched the lightning, felt the wind, and listened to the thunder, everything that looked dangerous went around us again. We are on a roll here as far as dodging the nasty weather bullets.

My timing was horrible this morning for lightning. Photo by Mike Hartley

Stretched Thin – One common thread we have going in this country is that it seems every industry and service is stretched way too thin. From lack of summer, staff to take care of our vacations and pools to enough police or doctors to keep us alive and safe along with everything in between.

Store window in Baltimore. Photo by Mike Hartley

From manufacturing in a limited number of plants to not having the staff to keep production needs met. And the sad fact is that we are learning a painful lesson of letting other countries make our needs and then when they have issues we are left short.

Recent years showed us that if there were a major disaster we might not have enough medical people and facilities to meet the need of certain natural disasters or pandemics. We rely on technology so much but our power grid is far from a secure or solid infrastructure.

We didn’t like the price of things made in this country, so we had them made overseas and now we don’t make our essential items. We wanted cheap gas and electronics so we got in bed with shady characters.

One thing is consistent, we blame everyone but ourselves.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Part of what is wrong with today’s economy is GREED. People taking advantage of people.
  • I repeat gambling will kill sports.
  • I’m glad to see the launch of the Baltimore Banner.
  • Looks like Bitcoin is dropping bit by bit just like everything else. Well, maybe a BIT faster.
  • With storms getting worse I’m thinking about doing away with a few trees before Mother Nature does.


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Feeling challenged

I awoke this morning feeling challenged. In a good way that is. I’m going to squeeze as much productivity and fun in between these hours as I can. Even though “these hours” are limited to a very few, maybe just one.

It’s an interesting feeling when you have so much energy and ideas flowing. And then taking action on that feeling. I see a great summer ahead despite the chaos that surrounds us. At least I hope to make my own island a little better place to live.

Staircase of life. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have to keep stringing lots of little successes together. That gives a good feeling along the way and when you see the culmination of those things added together resulting in a finished product. That is why I got back to making some more prints today in those few precious minutes. I’m close to finishing a project that I’ve been on for a while.

But that is OK, every endeavor is like a set of stairs. They come in all sizes and lengths and shapes. They are all worth ascending because the reward is an accomplishment.

And being I charged the batteries up today I should do some shooting tomorrow. Then again running up those stairs and sliding down that banister looks like a good way to burn some time.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I never imagined picking up Legos in my mid-60s would be fun.
  • I never imagined Legos would come in so many shapes and sizes.
  • I never imagined finding Legos in my sneakers.
  • I never imagined the child’s joy at playing Godzilla while walking through my freshly constructed Lego town.
  • Legos can be hidden everywhere.
  • Legos – proof a child’s mind needs to use their hands for something other than a screen or keypad or controller.


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Sometimes

Some days don’t go the way you hope. Today was one of them. So I’m searching for what to say or do. When things go the wrong way, it’s hard for me to bounce back quickly, but I try to keep that in the front of my thoughts—turning things around.

The trouble is it’s going to be some time till I get a chance to correct a few things. And that will bother me. But such is life. Lots of things are out of my control.

Simple wheel for a simple time. No cruise control here because that isn’t driving. Photo by Mike Hartley

But I’ll get a handle on things sometime tonight and make the coming week a good one. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to bounce back faster mentally, despite setbacks.

So a plan of action is ready for a new day, even though it’s going to be a Monday, I will prevail.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Exercise breeds good feelings. And then some discomfort.
  • Had a nice breakfast at Fox and Barrel Farm Cafe this morning.
  • I’m having more success at grilling lately. Practice makes perfect.
  • I think a late-night joy ride is in order this week. Especially with the warm weather returning.
  • Father is the best title I ever had.


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Shadow

Today was a day of few accomplishments but the few I did get done felt good. I also have a sense of wasted opportunity, but at the same time, it was a conscious choice. One for sanity, one for physical recovery, one to enjoy the comfort of home, one to enjoy not going from one chore to the next.

Is the strength of our flag fading? Are we a shadow of what we once were? Only we will tell the future together or apart. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow’s goal is to make the most of the opportunities at hand. And I hope to get a very early start at it and maybe enough for 2 posts tomorrow.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The phone calls from the political candidates and posters have started again. Another reason to not answer the phone is added. That doesn’t mean I won’t be studying the candidates closely.
  • We may have a lot more technology at our disposal but were still shooting each other down in the streets just like in the 1800s.
  • I discovered this 65-year-old man has the agility to crawl through a second-story window off a ladder.
  • I went for a drive the other day. I thought I heard someone yell “This is Sparta” on the road.


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Rewarding day

Sometimes simple things are the most rewarding. Like watching a grandchild. Listening to innocent laughter and lengthy descriptions of the logic behind any of her actions. Which are beautifully entertaining themselves. The smile when a happy meal is delivered. The claiming of various chairs, couches, and beds as hers is cute. She talks about the various color of flowers and touching the blooms. Her excitement about finding some coins I hid outside in the garden. Then resting on the couch about to fall asleep for her afternoon nap which she seems intent on fighting and if I don’t say successfully.

The words and sentences she is learning seem to multiply quickly. Sometimes I think to myself did a 3-year-old just say that to me? The kindness and fantasy world that dot the day. The “come chase me” run and quick turn of her head to make sure I’m right behind her which brings a scream between the laughter.

The satisfaction when you have all the things she likes to eat, mostly healthy. Watching her hoard things to take back to her house. The opening of the fridge to see what is on the bottom (hers) shelf and the thoughtful stare deciding what first. She also told me to get rid of one of my old tee shirts because it had holes in it. Just what I need, more fashion advice.

So many easy things to appreciate. She can be happy with anything which is a good lesson for all of us to find joy in whatever we have or do.

Don’t worry beach, I’m coming. Photo by Mike Hartley

And I hope to have some more joy tonight watching the finals game and enjoying the company of one of my best friends.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I tell you the ladies at Quest Labs in Ellicott City are experts at blood draws. I go to my doctor’s and I get stabbed 2-3x. First time every time at Quest.
  • A beautiful day to have the top down.
  • The more I keep my mouth shut the less correction I need.
  • Did you ever notice that smaller vehicles on the road get the least respect?


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Floating

I had nothing left today. I had been fooling myself that energy reserves existed that didn’t. So, like a jellyfish, I felt suspended in water.

Effortless Photo by Mike Hartley

And here I am throwing a few thoughts out just to keep the daily streak going. Well, I made a commitment and I hope to follow through. So call this a Mulligan. I’ve taken very few in my life.

Profiling. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow I will regain my form, whatever that free-floating thought pattern may be. And hopefully with a more interesting thought or photo.

So here is to a sunny Friday morning ahead. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the last few minutes of the Day

  • Ah, working under pressure. Isn’t it great?
  • Some look at what they don’t have and are always wanting whereas some look at almost nothing and see a wealth of tools. I’m much happier when I’m feeling the latter.
  • I’m sleeping more, why don’t I feel better? Then again over the decades, I’ve pilled up quite a deficient.
  • I’m trying to watch the number of Cokes I drink a day. So I stare at the bottle more intensely.


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Bloom and Gloom

Nothing like kicking off a weekend on a Wednesday. Yeah, I work tonight but the heavy lifting is done. Plus my better half left me unsupervised today and well I turned on the music and I’ve been doing a little dancing about while doing a few chores.

There was some sun today that continues to bring natural beauty out. Photo by Mike Hartley

But then the reality of another full shift kind of brought me down along with the weather. So inspiration will have to wait till sunrise when I get off from the job that pays the bills.

Just like our country. Storms on the horizon. Photo by Mike Hartley

But I do have big plans for the next few days. And I’m not letting anything put a damper on them. Not even a downpour.

Well if it’s going to rain it might as well be sunny. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Being both a pessimist and an optimist allows me to have some good debates with myself.
  • Doing things daily is a discipline.
  • Pain can be an eye-opener.
  • They certainly aren’t the best but I did get some fresh images today. But now I can go out tomorrow and try to improve on that.
  • Does it feel like the day before the Watergate hearings started again?
  • Tomorrow a lot of people that need to be listening won’t be. But maybe just enough.


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Putting yourself in other shoes

The last couple of days has been a reminder of a difficult time in my life. An old neighbor/schoolmate is facing the passing of her Mother. Just like ours, a stroke and seizure, a couple of days in the same hospital where they say nothing more can be done. A transfer to the same hospice care, where you say your final words and thoughts, holding their hand endlessly alternating between crying and laughing at some memories.

I think about this and so many other conditions that everyone is facing every day and I wonder where the compassion is. We are so rude and uncaring out in public now. There are so many people walking around who are very sick. Or may have a sick family member or child. So many suffer from a recent loss or being a caregiver.

Some wonder where their next meal is coming from or can they make the next rent payment. Many work multiple jobs or just a lot of overtime at one. And every time you think you have a difficult job think about a fireman walking in the house door not knowing what burning building they will be running into and if he or his partner will survive. Or an officer walking up on a traffic stop not knowing if he has a librarian or a convict with a gun. Or someone defending our country around the world or at home.

And do we give each other a break? No, not most of the time. We just assume everything is good with everyone. That is unless you’re walking through a hospital or hospice corridor or funeral home. But pull out of one of those parking lots too slowly and that horn behind you will remind you it’s a no forgiveness zone/world out there.

Where did the daily common courtesy go? Where did the first reaction to someone who looked like they were struggling change from instantly checking on them to diverting your eyes and walking quickly past? When did we stop talking with and knowing all our neighbors? Why did we allow ourselves to get so busy that time with family and friends is compromised?

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this other than I feel really bad for an old friend and her family. I know that when she passes that she will walk out of the hospice center hours later. She will see others going to and coming from work. Maybe on the way to school or the store. But everything looks slowed down and none of it matters. You’re in this tunnel of sorrow and all aspects of life seem to fade away except for memories, arrangements, and responding to people.

I guess I’m asking that we just be a little more patient with people and realize everyone has problems and issues they are going through. And if we all could be a little more supportive along the way I think the world would be a better place. And I’ll try to start with myself by being more helpful and patient.

Climbing off my soapbox now.


Give me the RAYS. Photo by Mike Hartley

I really wanted to make it to the beach this week but the weather on Wednesday and Thursday isn’t worth the trip. I’m busy Friday so while the weather improves my time isn’t there. Maybe next week. I promised myself I wasn’t going to miss another year doing a trip to the beach myself. If all works out well I’ll be taking a couple.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if I should rename these random thoughts of the moment? I used to collect some during the day but as of late I just pull some from some thoughts over a 10-20 minute period.
  • I don’t believe Matthew McConaughey was acting in that speech today on gun violence at the White House.
  • Every day I get a good night’s rest I feel like I’ve wasted part of the day.
  • I wonder if I can sneak in some grilling between the rain tomorrow?


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I also remember

Today in 1944 D-Day many young men gave everything and this is something that we should honor today and for all years to come. The shots below are from the WW2 Memorial in Washington D.C. Hats off to the greatest generation.

Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley


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I remember

Below is just some music I like that inspired some thoughts about my life and the madness that is between my ears.

I remember the first time I heard “Wish You Were Here” from Pink Floyd in 75, the first thought was that I missed my father and I wished he was here. And I’ve thought that every time I’ve heard the song since.

Sometimes in the old days when I used to commute to and from the job I used to play “Coming Home” on the way home. But sometimes, I’d stop on the way to visit my Motley Crue.

I like the song by CSNY “Almost Cut My Hair” because it reminded me not to cut my hair at one time in life. Now I remember to play it on the way to the barber every month.

When the song “Turn up the Radio” comes on, I remember to do just that. And I’ll stop for an Autograph if anyone wants one.

I love life when I’m laughing and remembering “With a Little Help from My Friends”.

I remember saying to myself over and over “I Won’t Get Fooled Again” but then I said to myself Who am I kidding.

Each day I wake up a little “Dazed and Confused” but then I roll over and see my better half and think “Since I’ve Been Loving You” which reminds me to be thankful. Thanks, LZ.

The song “Land on Confusion” should be the U.S. theme song. It was mine for a few decades but I think the country needs it more than I do now. I’m pretty clear on things finally.

I sometimes walk about and people look at me strangely because “I’m Wondering Aloud” as Jethro Tull once wrote.

I remember we were something in our youth. We were all the “Midnight Cruiser”, especially a guy with a Steely gaze, named Dan. (may you rip Dan B)

I remember “Living on the Edge” for far too long in my life and Steven Tyler belting that line out in concert.

I was remembering how much I like the name of the town “Woodstock” that I live in. I really like the song also by CSNY.

I remember listening to Phil Collins “I Don’t Care Anymore” and thought I didn’t care anymore till I searched deep and discovered I did care.

I remember my wife’s reaction when I told her “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over TONIGHT” and I’m sure that Monday Night Football theme played in her head. Thank you HW Jr.

Some think that chasing “The Big Money” is what life is about. But it’s a RUSH to remember it’s much more than that.

When I remember some of the chances I took as a youth, I was really “Flirting with Disaster” as Molly Hatchet would say.

And now after 40+ years with my better half and remembering so many good times “You Really Got a Hold On Me” says I and Smokey Robenson and the Miracles.

I remember back when I was young telling my better half “What I LIKE About YOU” which made me a Romantic of sorts.

I remember encountering “Smoke on the Water” before the water got Deep Purple.

I remember the day when I thought about a “Second Home By the Sea” but the Genesis of that idea lessoned with sea-level rise.

I remember the days of raising children with my better half. They are the “Pride and Joy” of my life so thanks Patti and SRV.

I’ve worked the third shift a few times in my career and I remember “Screaming In the Night” as the Krokus would bloom.

I bet sometimes when my 3-year-old granddaughter goes home after a day with me saying who is that “Monkey Man”. But I send her home happy with shiny Stones.

I remember when “A Day in A Life” didn’t include a mass shooting. Maybe if we had more Beatles the world would be a better place.

Remember when you were young and your life was still mostly “Empty Pages” and then one day late in life while you were sitting in Traffic you realized the book is almost complete.

Getting old is tough, sometimes when you pass people you say to yourself “I Remember You” but then you catch yourself and don’t say a word because you’re dressed as if you live on Skid Row.

I remember putting my pants on used to be such an easy thing. Now I need “The Jean Genie” and a Bowie knife to succeed.

It seems like when you solve one thing and then remember, “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” and then I’m heard to utter Judas Priest.

I’ve worked in IT for a while and some consider what I do “Hocus Pocus” but I say it’s easy if you just Focus.

I remember when I was young thinking “I Can’t Dance” and I was probably right. But now that I’m older the Genesis of that fear is gone.

I remember the days I could mow my yard and later on I didn’t have “Drop Dead Legs.”

I just wish to be a Simple Man and a bit of a Free Bird at the same time while remembering to be a good father and grandfather and husband and friend. Love the original Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I could go on forever here because “I Don’t Wana Stop” but then I remembered that even Ozzy slowed down.

Sorry about the length of the rant above, I’ll stop rambling now. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I had plans, I changed them. I’m either incredibly adaptive or lazy.
  • You know when I heard of big changes at the job in the past, I would worry a lot if I could adapt and enjoy a new role. But the big changes coming this year don’t even phase me now.
  • There are few things in life I like more than a good set of speakers and power cords and the desire to dance and sing.
  • When you reach the time in life where when you get in your car and the majority of the time you’re NOT going to or from work or running errands but just pleasure cruises, you will know Life is Good. And driving to your children’s homes to see, watch or pick up your grandchildren is not an errand it’s a labor of LOVE.


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Purge

I’m more the hoarder type. Not the kind you see on TV with the floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall issues but I do keep a number of things I need to weed out. My better half is good at periodically nudging me to get rid of some older things.

So today my better half inspired me to do a little purging. So let’s see what we can accomplish this week in that regard. I believe I’ll start with my workroom and create some more space for creating. Sometimes purging some past is a good start to making a new future.


I don’t see any power steering here. Photo by Mike Hartley

So where should we navigate this week? I’m definitely picking up the camera and venturing out this Monday. I think I’ll keep it local and see what I can shoot. I need to rise early and get a few errands run and hopefully have an hour or two to walk and photograph.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I got some dumbells as a gift. Now we’re a matching set.
  • I managed to quit smoking cigarettes decades ago. I should be able to stop drinking Cokes says I with hesitation in my voice.
  • School is in its last days. Please remember to thank your teachers and staff.
  • After last week this should be diet week.
  • If I don’t smell some salt air in the next two weeks I may implode.


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Waiting for the grass to dry

I would have got mowing but the morning dew had yet to release from the grass this day. I was going to wait till the sun got a little higher to burn it off. But, I said the hell with mowing and washed and detailed 2 cars before my family came for the day. Cutting grass is a chore I rarely regret pushing off to the next day.

Morning dew. Photo by Mike Hartley

That morning wetness didn’t deter the commercial service guys who have fired up their big mowers this morning at 8 am at a neighbor’s home across the street. I’d estimate more people have a yard service than don’t. So I’m in the minority.

I thought cutting the grass when it was wet was a bad thing. If nothing else it gums up your mower deck. While I appreciate the business these guys have to run, 8 am on a Saturday morning is a tough time for it. But it’s the law so we deal with it.

Most of the guys with those big mowers won’t touch my place because of the hill in the back. I’ll find someone because while it’s fairly easy in these nice 70 and 80-degree temps those 90s and 100s won’t be welcome at all. No problem sitting on a rider in that heat but a push mower on a steep hill is another matter. No problem, I can’t afford the prices these guys charge.

There is no better way to spend time than with people you love deeply and I was blessed to spend it with my family. We went down the street to Facci in Turf Valley and had a wonderful meal. The full-length windows were open and it was a beautiful day with a slight breeze that would sometimes move the flavors of people’s meals and the kitchen around.

Then back home to play with the 3-year-old granddaughter and the 2 -4 legged babies. Before I knew it desert was finished and people were hugging me goodbye and the day has turned to night. And here I sit writing out the few day’s events because I’m trying to think about what else to write about. But the day is about over so that thought will wait for tomorrow.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The more you take pride in whatever you do the better it will be and the better you will be.
  • Thank goodness for cough drops.
  • I was unaware that yesterday was Gun Violence Awareness Day. Not that I was unaware of gun violence. Kind of hard not to be aware daily, unless you LIVE UNDER A ROCK.
  • It’s tough to have a bad start to the day if you see the sunrise.
  • I always have a good feeling after I finish washing our cars.


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Caught my eye

I went to trim my beard and I paused for a second. I noticed a bit more grey taking over some uncharted territory. And I asked myself an uncomfortable question. How many more years might I see? And you know what, I’ve decided I’ll never ask myself that question again and that if that thought enters the space between my ears that I would let it go in a second or two and move on with living.

My better half caught my eye this evening. She has caught my eye for decades and I’m blessed with someone who gets more beautiful every day.

There is a big gift in the living room with a blanket over it that has caught my eye. It’s been there for a few days now and I have been told not to peek. Well, I’ve been good and tomorrow I get to see it.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I entered one of my friend’s homes yesterday and he caught my eye with 3 huge steaks on the grill for the three of us who gather every week of the year (just about) and solve the problems of the world. Last night we did it on a very full stomach.

I was mowing today when a fairly good size branch caught my eye and started to move on its own. Usually, I pick branches up instead of dulling my mower blades but this one slithered off before I had the chance to.

I hope tomorrow’s sunrise catches my eye.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • On the Border makes some good brisket tacos.
  • I can work in my yard all day with ease. It’s the hours afterward that aren’t.
  • Getting old doesn’t always mean wisdom comes with it. In some cases, it’s the opposite.
  • For anyone who wondered how a brother could go to war with another brother in the Civil War, I think today’s climate answers that question.


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Ducking drops

Storms to the north, storms to the south, a drizzle of rain here. Lots of thunder and storms around us but we seem to have dodged another one. Only a matter of time till things even out but I’m enjoying our luck so far.

Nothing to duck the next few days other than getting too much sun. And that is a nice problem to have. The hammock is going up outside first thing Friday morning. And I promise you will be able to find me in it for a few hours this weekend.

It’s almost that magical day. One that tests our will and stamina. One of concentration on every move and listening so intently to what is trying to be said is a mental exercise of skill and endurance. A day where quick thinking and alternatives need to be planned in advance. One where a day’s work building a beautiful structure can be wiped out in a second by a 3-year-old playing Godzilla to your Lincoln logs structure.

Yep, it’s watching the grandchild’s day, and it’s something we love and look forward to so much. A smile or thank you from her melts your heart. To answer her questions to her satisfaction or an interesting huh which means she’s still sorting it out. To see the excitement when we have the right things for lunch and snacks. The moment her eyes start to blink in the afternoon, she snuggles tighter into her grandmother’s arms and just dozes off for a few hours.

And then wakes as happy as someone who has been listening to a good comedy routine while resting those few hours. Ah to be 3. Then before we blink and the whole day has gone by and her mother is at the door and we no longer matter because MOMMY is HOME. And it’s the beginning of the weekend and they are off.

My better half makes each day paradise. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m getting torn. Luckily we have what I think are two of the best Chinese places in the county with China Taste in Enchanted Forest and Paper Lantern in Marriotsville. Guess I’ll just have to eat more.
  • Pulling for Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals. I love the style of team basketball they play.
  • This was a relaxed day. I guess we should turn up the evening to balance it out.
  • I’m getting better at following through with my thoughts. Still lots of room for improvement but the chart says good work this year.
  • I find myself stopping at least once a day to think of the needless slaughter taking place outside our front doors. At the same time amazed we are paralyzed by it.


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Really

Figures my first day off is going to be a stormy and rainy one. This is not the way I wanted to kick off my June. Thankfully the weekend is looking up so therefore I’ll overlook the gloom on Thursday. I guess I should be thankful for rain given what some of the western states in the US are going through.

I haven’t gone out and stood in the rain in a while. Not that it is something I aspire to do but once in a while it’s good to just look up, close your eyes and let the drops hit you in the face.

Has it really been 2 years since my father-in-law passed? He really loved my son and daughter. He was really touched when he got to hold his first great-grandchild. He was a really good man. He really made me feel part of the family. He really loved his daughter. He was married to one woman only for a really long time. He really was something special and we really really miss him.

Photography is easy when someone else sets up the still life for you. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s going to be a really nice day, regardless of what the news might say or predict. And I hope everyone has a really good time.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • We have a very small group of people controlling the majority when it comes to getting something done about all the gun deaths in this country. It’s time for that to change.
  • Life is a trip, might as well get on board with it and go for a cruise.
  • I bet some politicians might have changed their tune about the NRA and their votes if their children had been in those schools.
  • Time to go ring up a big bill at the hardware store tomorrow.


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Feeling my age and NOT

Feeling my age – I was telling my much younger counterpart at the job that pays the bills about the change I was starting to feel. Not being able to keep a bazillion solutions in my head at my immediate disposal or having the confidence I can put my fingers right on my own documentation. Working in a troubleshooting area of IT for decades there was always a no-fear attitude I was blessed with. Calm in emergency situations, able to focus on the many details, sequence of events, diagnostic analysis, and remediation. Working through issues with outdated or poor documentation before the internet was around. There was underlying confidence that we could work through any issue effectively and that mindset served me well over decades. I guess it kept something that is coming out now under wraps for a long time. Sometimes now there is that panic feeling. It doesn’t last but a short time and I snap back and work on issues like I did in my youth, but that momentary pause is frightening and I’m now able to relate to much older people when I see their confidence shaken substantially and often.

Running better than most humans this age. Photo by Mike Hartley

I guess it must feel a lot like a ballplayer when all of a sudden he realizes he just missed that fastball he hit over the fence on so many occasions before. And then he misses another one and another one. And even though he has missed many in his career he knows which ones he used to pound and now can only squeeze out a single or double. And even though he still looks good and still hits and still fields like a star, he knows something is wrong. He knows father time is making his presence known. And that fear your going to stop doing something you spent your life doing and probably loved, has an endpoint.

Just that thought for some people keeps them working because they don’t know what they will do if they retire. I’ve spoken to several recently with that fear or apprehension. Well, fear is the wrong word, let’s say poor outlook or lack of possibilities seen. And I find that sad. I’m so excited about the next phase of life that I’m giddy. And maybe it’s because I feel like I’m living from one cancer test to the next but my beliefs are that I’m going to get a lot done after the job that pays the bills is in the rearview.

So I got to get to work against this mind-aging erosion that normally happens with the advanced years. I want to stay sharp and enjoy life as long as possible and show my grandchildren how to age gracefully. And that is going to take more motivation.

And Not Feeling my Age – I’m still glad I can feel like a kid again from time to time. If it’s picking up a basketball, getting in my manual transmission car, or laying in a hammock. Sometimes it’s a song that comes on and that youthful energy is there like it was 40-50 years ago. I think that is why I love children so much because I really am one and never got to experience it for myself without a lot of turmoil and growing up way too early and at the same time never growing up.

The day I can’t drive this any longer, just shoot me. Photo by Mike Hartley

Photo vs Photo illustration – I marvel at the tools of today exhibited and advertised in the photo market. From apps on phones to editing software. I also think while it serves to make some beautiful photos they are illustrations as far as I’m concerned. I’m not talking about some minor cropping or tonal adjustments I’m talking about physically altering the subject matter and making another reality. It’s an illustration, something that is created, not the original. Adding and subtracting elements of images is not a photo. Anyway, why does everyone want to remove the people swimming around them? Do you like to be so self-centered that it’s just you and the ocean? That there aren’t throngs of people there enjoying it a few feet from you? Hell, I’m glad to have friends, family, and even strangers for the most part on the beach with me.

I’m not going on some kind of crusade but there were standards at one time in publishing that has been totally blurred with technology. I don’t have the interest in altering the reality I saw when I took the shot. And if I do I will mark it as a photo illustration.

Maybe that is a good name if I start my own photography company. Imperfections R us.


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