THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

Leave a comment

Keep going

A few setbacks on Monday but despite that, I’m picking up where I left off Sunday. In other words, I didn’t put the effort I had hoped for into the day. It’s probably a good thing because my body and mind were sending me urgent rest messages and apparently l wasn’t listening. So just like my cell phone when it runs out of juice, I crashed.

Love one another. Photo by Mike Hartley

So despite the passing on the calendar of Martin Luther King Day, I tried to learn more of the man. So I read a few hundred of his quotes. And I sit here paused because I feel inspired, relaxed, wiser, and comfortable.

One favorite MLK quote I read was “Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”

So I didn’t do my day of service on Monday but that doesn’t mean I’m blowing it off. I’ll find some way to make a positive difference this coming day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m doing good with my goal of spending less and less time on Facebook.
  • I feel the need, the need for pizza.
  • I’ve never joined Twitter. Seems like some people just can’t live without it.
  • Do random thoughts I started yesterday that I didn’t write down right away, count as valid thoughts of the day today?
  • I can’t remember ever looking forward to a shot before now. Not the liquor kind, the medicine kind.

1 Comment

Thinking ahead

Good day, all. A wonderful day and a sad day. A painful day and a healthy day. You can have the best and worst and still come out OK.

Only a few more months. Photo by Mike Hartley

In this postThinking AheadSunday DinnerRandom Thoughts of the Day

I’m thinking ahead to having a few hours off tomorrow. Of course, I have a night of work before that but what the hell, a little daydreaming of what to do with the time. I really need to finish that shell carving after spending a few hours on it earlier and making good progress.

I’ve got to get out with the camera also and being the sun should be out I think that is a good thought to pursue. And I think I’ll take a gift card out and get some carryout for lunch. I should get some exercise and oh yeah, remember to eat right. And I’m going to do some reading also because I’m enjoying a few books. I haven’t read much in my life, but I think I’ll try to make it part of my future. I know each year I blog I read more.

Sunday Dinner – We may not eat every dinner of the week together, we try, but Sunday is always the day where the family will be. It’s down to just the two of us at home now but still both of us every Sunday like clockwork. It’s a special dinner night. My better half usually plans something good. Sometimes I’ll be grilling out in good weather but she really does the special ones and a majority of them.

From the time I get up till I pull up to the table, I anticipate the meal. And most of the time I don’t even know what we are having till midday and sometimes not till I smell it cooking. And oh boy does the home smell good on Sundays. I’ve always looked forward to it.

It’s funny how it’s changed over the years. Newly married and romantic times just looking into the eyes of each other. Then the children’s years where you feel like a goalie catching food thrown between the kids. And then they grow into young adults barely able to sit still. Then there is the appreciation for that home cooking after they go away to college and then return home. All of a sudden they are taking their time and getting their fill again. And as I said earlier now we are just back to the two of us. It’s nice and relaxed, We express thanks for the food. We usually look at each other and smile as we talk and share a laugh or tough issue. It’s not rushed anymore.

Family meals together are important. Real important. It’s that few minutes together, the conversation, the laughs, the question, and answer update when the kids were home. The games they would play. the likes and dislikes for certain foods. The looks at Dad for chewing too loudly. I miss a full table but I still love having a partner to share that special meal with.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hate to see our country looking like an armed camp. How embarrassing, at war with ourselves.
  • Change with a purpose is motivational.
  • When I can’t get to what I want to, it’s time to evaluate what I’m spending my time on again.
  • It takes time to create a good post. Sometimes a little and sometimes a lot.

Leave a comment

Run Down

Good day, all. The weekend is starting and I’m looking forward to a fine one. I just wish I was starting it, feeling a little better. Such is life, lots harder battles being fought by those who are really sick. Let’s keep them in our thoughts and do as much as we can for them.

Photo by Mike Hartley

In this PostRun DownGrievingRandom Thoughts of the Day

Run Down – I don’t think I’m sick. I believe I’ve just gotten run down. Lack of sleep, a body feeling more than its age, a fogged mental sharpness. I just haven’t had the energy I need this month. Which leads to a less than optimal mental approach.

I don’t think it’s trying to do too much. I’m not working a bunch of overtime. I’ve even missed a day or two of blogging to try to refresh the body with rest but this is difficult with the neighbors I have. If it isn’t the roosters or geese waking me up it’s them pounding on something outside or a generator and nail gun firing away.

I’m just in a slight down cycle with my energy. But I think I’ll take some action on some time off, so I’ve scheduled 2 days away from the job that pays the bills over the next two weeks. Hopefully, that will turn the situation for the better.

At least I recognize it earlier now and don’t spiral downward as I used to by never cutting back on anything and thinking it would change. The older I get the more moron solutions I remove from my brain, hence the term live and learn.

Grieving – With the passing over the last half-year of my mother and father-in-law I’ve seen a good bit of grieving. Had a share of it myself because I did love them dearly. But it also reminded me of missing my own parents. Sometimes catching a glance at their photos pauses me. I don’t want to let memories go but as time goes on it gets harder to remember all the specifics. But I will never stop feeling the love.

I was introduced to grieving fairly early with my Dad passing when I was young. I still grieve his loss today and that is a big hole I have in my life because I didn’t get a chance to know my own father. Sometimes I sit wondering what would be different. What could he have given me that I really could use? Maybe a bit of his courage. He was in WW2 and Korea. He traveled as part of the Navy to both Poles after the wars. Maybe he could have given me the confidence to aspire to more than I am now. Not that I’m unhappy with myself, just maybe if I had been more motivated I might have accomplished more.

I don’t spend an unusual amount of time wondering those things but when I pause, I sometimes wonder. I think about how my Mom would be so happy with her great-granddaughter and the love she could have shared with her. I think about her calls on my birthday and that still brings a tear to my eye at times. I could go on and on about the things I miss about them. I remember feeling better when I visited their gravesite at Arlington, but the recent deaths have wiped that away, I just miss them very badly again.

But I remain strong because it’s my better half that needs my support now, and rightfully so. Everything about their passing was made very difficult if not impossible by the current conditions. The closeness also compounded it. So I’ve got to figure out how to make this year a better one for her. One that will buffer the pain with some happy time. My first challenge is this month with her birthday. I have a few good ideas already. So let me write them down to act on before I forget.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A healthy day is much more than a good day.
  • Find things you have in common with people and build from there.
  • I have two horses in the race today. Go Packers and Ravens.
  • I’m working on posture before I can’t. Then again a pretzel has posture.
  • A granddaughter sleeping on her grandmother is a wonderful sight.
  • A positive post is coming soon.

Random Political Thoughts of the Day

  • Our Mom’s taught us if you can’t say something nice about someone then don’t say anything at all. I just wanted to explain that is why you will never hear me utter Andy Harris’s name. But then again some people are good examples of exceptions.
  • So congressmen fear for their lives because of their votes, what have we become?
  • So some members of Congress want to carry a gun to work but not wear a mask.

Leave a comment

Made it

I’m going to move beyond the madness of politics and neighbors today and get back to thinking about my hobbies and enjoying life. But then there is the workday starring me in the face. Such is life, do the best with the time you have.

In this postMade ItFruitRandom Thoughts of the Day

I’m fishing for a peaceful day. Photo by Mike Hartley

Made It – When you reflect on life, it’s fun to look at the stuff you have made in your life. For instance, when I walk out on my deck I always have a great feeling because I made it. Well with the help of a good neighbor friend. It feels as strong as I wanted it. It’s lasted through storms and trees falling on it. Anything I make always feels good. Even when I make something that isn’t, it’s good for a laugh usually.

Pine tree deck party. Photo by Mike Hartley

As I sit here some days going through my parent’s things, I wish I had the chance to know from them what might have been important or special to them. Yes, I know several things but I’m sure there is something I’m missing. A story behind something that might seem insignificant, might have been precious to them. And I will never know. For instance, I’m sorting through old family photos. And there are some people I don’t know or can’t recognize. I’m sure she would know in an instant. And I’m left to wonder did I just throw something valuable to the family away?

I actually have a draft post of material things that have some significance to me and then maybe to my children. And I just thought to myself I also start needing to put a story or meaning behind them so they can decide.

But what have I done? What have I made? Well, I figure I’ve been part of making a few billion newspapers. Which might lead me to the quest of determining the actual number someday. I think I might have been conservative in that number because that doesn’t count the commercial work.

But personal things I’ve made have been limited and I hope to change that. Yes, I’ve made tens of thousands of images. Maybe more. I’ve got about 6 years of blogging and some drawings and etchings. I can’t wait for the days where I can really start knocking out some work. Funny how work gets in the way of work.

Fruit – I didn’t think of it as any resolution but just a thought. I wanted to start eating at least one piece of fruit a day. So I’m off and running. It’s not like I don’t like fruit. I do like many of them. And till today I never knew avocado was a fruit. Yeah I know “Duh” at this age I should have known that. Or better yet, I probably did know it, but forgot. Anyway I know I have to make an effort to change my diet for the better as I age now. I’m evoking the “better late than never policy” so if my kids are reading this and trying to catch their breaths from laughing I’m holding my head up and proceeding.

Fruit celebration. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have added smoothie making materials to the shopping list. Got to make it a little fun. Plus that can increase my intake and keep me away from less healthy drinks at the same time.

Maybe I’ll add some fruit to my cooking more. I’ve always enjoyed pineapple on various items. Like Hawaiian pizza or grilled in kabobs. Maybe mixed in with some sliced red/yellow and green peppers. And then there is pineapple over ham. Ahh.

So if I can make it through these lean fresh fruit months I think I’ll be good the rest of the year. Then we can talk about maybe adding veggies to the diet regularly. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Could you imagine losing your sense of smell and taste forever? Wear a mask, please.
  • I wonder how much time a day I could recoup if I stopped watching weather reports.
  • It’s ironic the day after we are discussing bills we paid by mail last month, some were sometimes taking 30+ days to make it to the business. Of course, that is late and they are threatening service so we have to pay online. So tonight is the story on the local news about others having the same issues. Did you ever think you would be thinking it would be nice to return to the good old days of the Post Office?
  • The Amazon scam calls are starting up again. All scam calls seem to be picking up. Probably never went away. The company that could help us average Joe’s within getting rid of that crap would be worth a fortune.

Leave a comment


Back to back sunny days here in central Maryland on Saturday and Sunday morning had me in a sunny mood. No pressing emergencies and a few free hours to work on my crafts so life is good as my tee-shirt says yesterday morning. Well, that was the situation before my neighbors tried to light the hood on fire with an open burn that got out of control. Thankfully it only burned structures on their property.

In todays postWishingPitifulRandom Thoughts of the Day

Fire out, Its an new week. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wishing – Only a few hours before the workweek starts anew. I remember the days the time before a new week would form a lot of anxiety for me. Almost to the point of panic attacks at times. Sometimes the pressure was of my own making in my own mind. I can be pretty hard on myself. Other times it was external pressures from managers and directors. Today I have none of that.

It’s not like I’m afraid of pressure or doing difficult things or taking responsibility or driving/doing something myself. But I was always afraid of judgments of others be they fair or not so I would always overprepare and overwork it so everything would go right.

Most of it was my own problem. People had much more confidence in me than I did in myself. And yes I worked hard to earn it but never gave myself credit along the way.

And then at some point, all this changed. I don’t worry about the work or what people think or judge my success by the words of others. Frustration with superiors or coworkers has disappeared. I just do my thing and look forward to the weekends. It’s a nice freedom I haven’t had most of my career.

Pitiful – What do sick children and sick animals have in common besides looking pitiful? Neither can communicate what is wrong. That is one of the most frustrating things in life. I’m seeing my granddaughter get sick every so often as every child does and I remembered that fear.

But what is also pitiful are adults without any common sense and complete disregard for the law or others. No, I’m not going to talk politics here I’m going to talk about one of my neighbors. They have had several illegal burns over the last year. They had one so close to their house that the brick is black in sections from the fire. I gave them county regulations on it and that didn’t matter. I threatened to call the fire marshal and that didn’t matter. So yesterday morning they started a huge pile of brush, branches, and logs about 5-6 foot high and lit it. I said as soon as he lit it they were too close to their bird coops. Sure enough one catches fire. And of course, the plastic sheeting covering the metal frame goes up but there are plywood and hay inside so it’s got lots of fuel. Tweddle de and Tweddle dumb were out trying to put it out bucket by bucket and all it was doing is getting worse so I called the fire department.

No, normally I would have suggested to anyone else that it was too close to other structures. I would normally immediately try to help them put it out. But these are not normal neighbors. They have proven over and over they don’t give a rat’s ass about anyone else. So I sent the county the videos of previous burns they did that I videoed and I’m calling the fire department if I see them outside with a match. I’ll also continue to file the zoning complaints because they are now constructing another building too close to the property line and I feel it’s going to be used for the birds again which they were forced by the county to move once already. So it’s just a game to them.

Well obviously they have no idea with they are F’ing with.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if CopperFit makes a full-body sleeve. Because some days everything seems to hurt.
  • Do Sunday mornings seem quieter?
  • It’s depressing taking Christmas lights down.
  • I’m dreaming of summer vacation.
  • How bout Dem TERPS.

Random Political Thoughts of the Day

  • So the new Right-wing chant is Hang Mike Pence. Really nice guys. Summary executions because you don’t like someone doing their job.
  • Let me get this straight. The current president preaches law and order but LOVES the people who killed a Capital Policeman?
  • I’m all for free speech but running into a theater and yelling FIRE or standing up on an airplane and yelling bomb is still a CRIME. Inciting a riot against one of the branches of government that leads to the death of a policeman is a CRIME.
  • Guess what America. Those angry, hateful, threatening people on video all went home someplace. And most of them weren’t from the DMV (DC, MD, VA).

Leave a comment

Plowing Through

Good day, all. Time has escaped me again, typical but not acceptable this year. So we crank up the engine again today and start anew. It’s always a good feeling to get moving and motivated again. Of course, I’m sure we were all hoping for a great start to the new year. And then there was this week.

We are going to be over our heads if we are not careful. Photo by Mike Hartley

In this postPlowing ThroughThe DentistSeafoodRandom Thoughts of the Day

Plowing Through – I’ve gone through so many emotions the last few days at the events I’ve seen. Yesterday I just stepped into my workroom and grabbed the Dremel tool and just started gouging some wood. It felt like a painter just throwing a bucket at a canvas. Rage equaled some sawdust after a while. But my mind is still swirling. Although I did learn that sometimes rage and art do mix.

I’ve tried using humor to lighten up. I’ve tried listening to music, but that seemed to rile me up. Sometimes I wander around the basement mumbling. Occasionally I curse the TV. I’m restraining myself from reacting and trying to keep in mind we all have to work together. I’m waiting for our collective government to come together but the extremes seem to be tearing it apart.

The misinformation and lies need to stop and the need to stop now, but they aren’t. The immediate question is how do we stop the radicals from both sides from starting down a road nobody wins except those that want chaos and death.

I know what I saw and I know what I heard and the results of that. And that was WRONG. And most are calling it wrong so WTF are we going to do about it. It was a hair-trigger away from being much more deadly, not to minimize the 5 who did pass. Accountability has gone out of the window. I’m sickened by all these flip/flops Republican elected officials who created this monster and the Genie got out of the bottle and now they disown it. And it’s not like the Democrats haven’t flipped on issues either.

So that was the first hour of my day and then my granddaughter came over and all was right with the world for the rest of the day.

The Dentist – It was my 6-month cleaning today. And given I’ve neglected a little care over the last 6 months I was expecting bad news but none came. Just another appointment 6 months from now. I’ve been blessed so far with strong teeth. No, they aren’t the straightest around. No, they aren’t the brightest after smoking for some years as a youth. But fortunately, I’ve only had 4-5 cavities in my life. And that was about it except for having my wisdom teeth extracted in my youth.

I’ve been blessed with one wonderful dental hygienist. Her name is Dawn and she has a wonderful touch. And my dentist is one of my neighbors who I’ve known now for nearly 4 decades and is also great. I can imagine he might be retiring in the coming years and I dread finding another one. I’m sure I’ll try the person who gets his practice with his recommendation of course. But I don’t like to change.

Sorry, I got off the point I was going to make. The dentist used to terrify me. I don’t know why but messing with my teeth or eyes makes me shiver. I’ve gotten used to the dentist over the years but not the eye doctor. I don’t think I could ever sit still for that Lasik surgery even though I could probably use it.

But the dentist appointment was just the trigger to worry about another appointment I have to make for my annual cancer check. That is the one that unnerves me. That is the one that takes processing cycles out of my mind I would have used constructively or had fun. I know I’m not the only one with those feelings, I’ve talked to others. Some are better dealing with it. I’ve been good at times and a basket case of worry at others. Even at the best, there is a base level of concern.

I can remember the times where test every 3 months a couple of times in the past few decades. Then they go to 6 months and then annually. It’s kind of sad but now every person shares that feeling nowadays when they think to themselves, is that sniffle or cough I have the Covid Virus? Just like cancer patients think about internal pains, is that something else growing in me? Or waiting on test results. At least it’s a universal reminder now to everyone that your Health is EVERYTHING.

Seafood – I have a taste for seafood tonight. Not sure where we will go. (only carry out for us) Yeah, it’s not really the season for great seafood here but there is never a bad time to eat it. The trouble is with most carry out is that it’s taken a great deal of enjoyment from the dining out experience. First of all, you don’t want to travel too far because it’s cold when you get home. I may miss that the most. A warm meal coming right out of the kitchen, hearing the sizzle, experiencing the smell, picking up that fork and knife.

I have a taste for seafood today. Phot by Mike Hartley

I’m thinking about a place I haven’t been in a while. The Catonsville Gourmet. We have had some wonderful meals there but it’s been a long time so I think I’ll suggest that to my better half. Maybe I’ll put a candle out on the table and we can pretend to be having a meal out. When this does virus threat does end at some point there are going to be a lot of smiling faces at tables again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It was wonderful to go for a drive yesterday, even though it was to the dentist.
  • If you looking for hope and inspiration. Look at young children. Look at the innocence. Look at the wonderment. Look at the zest and energy for life. It’s our job to give them hope.
  • One week into the new year and I’m already reprioritizing.
  • I have a good feeling about today.
  • Every day you make it through these difficult times is like a double victory.

Random Political Thoughts of the Day

  • Nice move Twitter. Your timing is only off by 4 years.
  • As the Capital was being overrun Ivanka Trump called those people American Patriots. Proof that parents can be toxic.
  • I wonder what 4 years of undying loyalty, playing a fool and tool feels like after being betrayed at the last minute. Isn’t Karma wonderful? Have a royal day Mr. Pence. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. I could have told you 4 years ago that man has no loyalty other than to himself.
  • Oh, and that video of Linsey Graham being chased by Trump supporters yelling “traitor” and one woman saying “this is what it’s going to be like the rest of your life” to him was like music to my ears. Now I need some video of people chasing Ted Cruz in Texas.

Leave a comment


On days like today, news sometimes gets in my way of being able to do a proper blog. Working in the industry, it’s obviously a very busy day especially being at the seat of where it is happening. Today is a good reason to focus on the changes we need to make. We should never allow a small minority to rule this democracy because then it fails to exist.

These are not Patriots. Today was a partial culmination of many lies said over a long period of time and many that continue to be spoken.

OK, I could go on for a while but I’m sure we are all tired of the situation we witnessed. So I’ll leave and get back to work for the job that pays the bills. But mark my words, I’m on a mission to see this never happens again.

Political Lightening. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Hope for the future. Hope for my children and grandchildren. And then things like today that tell me that hope, won’t get the job done.
  • A few bananas have replaced a few stars.
  • I wish I had a vaccine for the people who stormed the Capital today.
  • Can you imagine the number of shots fired if those storming the Capital were black?

Leave a comment

Waiting for my set

Good day, all. A great day to be alive and kicking. Any day you communicate with your grown children on a weekday and get to spend it with your better half is not to be taken for granted.

You know I thought I’d go for a ride today and grab a few photos but not being able to feel my left arm and hand from time to time and in pain when I can feel, made me think twice, but I said the hell with it and came up to get a shower but looked outside and the rain was falling. Well, I can deal with cool temps, but not cool temps and rain. So a shower and then into a fresh pair of PJ’s and tee shirt for the evening’s work.

The week is low key so far. Work is going smoothly. Got a little more woodworking done this afternoon and hope to get one piece completed by Friday. I’m really enjoying some reading also. Nothing like continuing education to keep you inspired, especially when it’s for a craft you love.

Just cruising along. Photo by Mike Hartley

Hopefully, Wednesday can bring some time to my creative endeavor’s and maybe mother nature will provide some gnarly waves for the kid to ride. And if she doesn’t I’ll create my own.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Well we know now it’s not just gun deaths and drug overdose deaths and drunk driving deaths that we can ignore in huge numbers.
  • When you take out sleeping hours, life awake is very short.
  • Set yourself some attainable goals. Like peeling off each day on a daily desk calendar. Come on now, I know you have missed some. I wonder if anyone got through a whole year without missing a day or two. And is that because it doesn’t matter what day it is or maintaining a simple discipline over time is difficult?
  • Save yourself some time. Learning when your young is easier.
  • But that doesn’t mean stop learning as you age because it will keep you younger.
  • I’ve had a productive day but little to show for it here.

Leave a comment

Trial and Failure

In this post below – Trial and Failure – Howard County TodayRandom Thoughts of the Day

Trail and Failure – I’ve been pretty harsh editing the last few days and thrown out a lot of shooting. That used to bother me but I’m trying to challenge myself to better the quality of images. So really I had nothing from last night’s shoot. But this shot reminded me there is a new dawn coming tomorrow and I should keep trying and not let failure stop me or slow me or affect me other than to learn from it.

It’s a hard thing to overcome, a failure that is. I guess we all should be used to it because everyone has some failures in their lives. I’ve failed a great number of times. And I’ll probably fail some more. It doesn’t feel good when it happens. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of. I know at times in my life I’ve been afraid of failure enough to not try. And that is a bigger failure in reflection.

I’ll do better next time. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes it’s all in how you look at it. For instance, I wanted to do some more sanding today and only got to spend a few minutes on that goal. It looks like I’ve got nothing done and failed at this task. I felt successful because I didn’t blow it off entirely because of limited time today.

I remember failure as a young baseball player. I was just more comfortable playing pickup. Put a uniform on me and people on the side and I was a basket case. I wasn’t horrible, I just wasn’t able to do my best because I was too afraid of making a mistake. I got tense and nervous.

It’s easier as you age to separate failure from trying. Professional baseball players strike out, they make errors. That feeling of failure from a single plate appearance is nothing. But losing the ability to come to bat the next time thinking hit and an average of .500 is another.

So like I stated the other day I’m going to be trying things with this blog. I’m sure I’ll have many failures on top of the many examples already.

Howard County Today – I thought I’d start a section about the wonderful county I live in. Growing up we used to refer to it as Hazard County. But really it was a wonderful place to grow up myself and then raise a family. It’s a place I will probably pass one day from this earth. I was 3 years old in late 1960 when we moved to the southern part of the county.

And except for a 4-year stint in Catonsville, I’ve been in this county all my life. Even when I lived in Catonsville I worked in the county. So we were here before Columbia and saw that great change. We have seen multiple floods in the area. We have experienced the continued explosion of the population and land being swallowed up at alarming rates.

Just out of high school I was lucky enough to land a job with the Times Newspapers. This allowed me a wonderful and expanded perspective of the area for a few decades. It was wonderful experiencing the people of the county. Seeing their stories and photos grace the pages of local papers. Meeting them when they would come in to pick up shots of their sons or daughters at this or that game or award. I would meet them at the Times Information booth at the Howard County fairgrounds and other events each year. I could see new places through the lens of our photographers.

But now it’s time for me to start documenting the county and maybe mixing in some older shots along the way where it’s of historical interest.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I like writing in the mornings, but it’s a little tougher after being up all night.
  • Watching basketball makes me want to get outside and shoot. Someone page me when the temps hit 60+ degrees again. Go Terps
  • Learned about anchors today. Not the kind my Dad would think of being he was in the Navy.
  • That was an interesting call between Orange Julius and the Georgia election officials. It reminded me of a few conversations I’ve had in my life. And as I recall one of them, my statement to the VP was “I don’t care what that manager asked me to put in the report, it wasn’t the truth so I didn’t do it.”
  • Tip the people who work in your community. We are getting back in the habit of giving something to our recycle and trash teams. Buy a patrolman a coffee or the guy plowing your neighborhood streets. Maybe a bag of cookies for your mailman. Stop by and say hello and thank you to the guy opening and closing our parks and rec areas each day.
  • If I keep creating sections in this blog to fill with photos, I’ll be a happy camper.

Leave a comment

The 2021 workweeks begin

I was just getting mentally prepared for the workweek to begin this evening when I realized it’s the first one of the new year. In some ways I’m excited, and in some ways, I have fears about the coming year. Our company is doing well and the role our small group fills is still needed. The work I do has more than met their needs and then some so I don’t fear performance issues.

What I do worry about is what happens after June. I’m one of the extremely fortunate people that has been able to work from home. And so far June is the tentative date the office may reopen. And I’m sure that is subject to change as previous dates were. But at some point, if I look at a rosy medical future for all of us the office will reopen.

When will the sunset on my work from home life? I like this sunset from my front door. Photo by Mike Hartley

That is when it gets serious again. Do I want to do that commute to DC again? Well, that is one of the easiest answers in the world. Hell NO. Will I have the ability to convince the company to let me finish my career from home? Will I be able to turn my hate for that commute into background noise and resume that trip if needed? I only have a few more years and I’ll do what’s best for the family but I dread the day I’d have to get in the car on a cold winter day with precipitation falling and do a hundred mile round trip again.

Anyway, that isn’t till at least 6 months out so let’s concentrate on the near future. I have to start working on minimizing the impact of the night hours I work and then flipping back to a daytime schedule on the weekends. Eating better and trying harder to get some proper rest. Which means I’ve got to make an effort to get my body to cooperate. So I think I’ll start with a little treadmill and some exercises I saw that might do this body good.

But really as I’ve been writing this and thinking about the job that pays the bills, I’m also thinking of my own 2021 workweek. The goals and results from this are much more satisfying. And therefore deserve some attention and planning. So my hobbies and health are going to get a lot of attention this year.

One of my goals is to have a fresh image or series for each day’s post. And after a few days in a row of shooting, I’m starting to get up thinking about picking up the cameras and what I might do each day. Getting those creative juices flowing feels good.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I like the Xmas lights in my basement. I don’t think I’ll take them down till next weekend.
  • When you have a moment to nap during the day you can’t. When you don’t have the time you could fall asleep in a second.
  • I love seeing wood take shape. Especially if it turns out better than I saw and thought.
  • I’m staying isolated as much as possible but I love taking a ride in the car.
  • Change is feeling good.

Leave a comment

Quality and Quantity

One of the objectives, when I started, was to use the blog to keep me shooting daily. I’ve fallen off that pace but still post because I have some images from past years I’ve been filling in with. And while I like using my images and they sometimes inspire observations, but I’ve got to get more quality into each post.

It’s sometimes funny how blogging mimics publishing which it really is. Traditional publishing when I started had many pieces involved. Writers, editors, proofreaders for the words. Then there were the photographers, photo editors, cartoonists, illustrators, publication designers, page editors, and so on. Do I have all these skills, not a chance? But as a blogger, I might want to think about acquiring them if I want a quality product.

Wall of front pages on 9/11/2001 Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course, the content of those components leads to the quality also. But there is a lot to be said for all those pieces making it professional. I can have the best photos but if my misspellings in the caption are what is funny and remembered instead of the image, I’ve failed. If the photo is beautiful and the words inspiring and the layout is wrong, it doesn’t get the right impact.

There is so much to keep in mind, so many high standards to shoot for. No wonder why people don’t start or try. Hell, I’m still embarrassed regularly on my work because I have seen and know better but because of lack of time, I do the best I can. But the only way I’m going to get better is if I keep doing and trying.

The organization is certainly one of many things this blog lacks so I think I’ll experiment on how I form a post and maybe put it in sections to start with. Because if I have more content and it’s of good quality it’s no good if people can’t easily go to it. I think I’ll learn some about anchors this month and apply them.

So if I keep putting one foot ahead of the other I should be able to make some progress on quantity and quality this year.

How to make this year special. It’s been on my mind. Yes, I’ve allowed it to go there but also keeping that reality that limited success might be had. Hey, any year you make through alive is special. But how to go about making it special again is what I need to get a grip on.

Making personal gifts for special occasions is my thought. Or gifts just for the hell of it. I’ve had the joy of receiving some personal ones and they are special to me. So I hope I can do that for those important to me. Who knows, maybe I’ll discover some hidden skills. I’ve done some before but I’d really like to do a few special ones. And I know my first few pieces might not be stellar, but practice makes perfect. For instance today I learned to trim a little closer to avoid extra sanding time.

I also hope to use some local merchants and artists for gifts. I’ve seen some wonderful work and it’s worth supporting. If this country wants to make a comeback, it’s going to be through small business again because the big boys can’t care or cover all the small and medium-size towns, cities, and countryside of this country. Plus having something made HERE is something we all should get back to.

Not a many houses lit up this year. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Nothing like being up before sunrise and seeing it.
  • The tour busses on the road, aren’t musicians anymore, they are just politicians.
  • The older you get the less you need resolutions.
  • Major accomplishment today. I can see the top of most of my desk and what I can’t is essential. I also added a bookcase and removed a few pieces from the office.

Leave a comment

Nap Day

The opportunity to take a long mid-afternoon nap presented itself today and I took it. It was easy sleeping with the rain outside. For a while when I woke I felt guilty because I felt I should have been up working on my interest with the little free time I have. Then I thought to myself, what the hell, it’s not like I nap much at all. Sleep is generally 3-6 hours a day at best, so a little extra to the norm can’t hurt.

Nature trying to hold the full moon the other night. Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t set out to get more rest today but the longer the day went on the better the idea seemed. I think it’s from my back being tied in knots the last couple of days and today’s relief is going beyond the body but also the mind.

So while not the most productive day I’ll take the rest as a sign to begin the year with a little balance instead of firing out of the shoot. Saturday will be better because I’m going back to the early start. The rains will cease and I’ll get outside with the camera. And if I’m smart I’ll get out early and make a few cuts on some wood to start a few new designs.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • This is the first winter where I have something more to worry about than the cold.
  • My goal of reading more was accomplished today. I’m hoping this rubs off on my writing this year.
  • You think of winter and you think of snow. The snow is white which is the absence of color. That describes winter for me. So maybe a good challenge is to look for color in the middle of winter.
  • Watching the college football playoffs in the middle of the pandemic is strange today.
  • The older you get the more you forget about challenging yourself and where you left your keys.
  • Don’t let your “to-do list” overwhelm your “wish list.”

Leave a comment

Now I’m ready

Feeling good today because the workweek is over and I’m in the mood to create. So a new year at the doorstep. The calendar changes. The ball drops. Some set off fireworks. People kiss and hug. Glasses are raised. Hope permeates the human spirit. Some pause and shed tears for those no longer able to celebrate with us.

Time to ring in a new year. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another few minutes till midnight. It’s going to be strange watching NYC without many people. I wish I had a lot more enthusiasm for the new year and I do in a lot of ways but I also have a lot of worry about it. Our realities have been altered and they changed forever for a lot of us.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have wonderful lives, wonderful times, accomplish wonderful things. It’s within all of us to make this a better place. I’m doing it for my children and grandchildren and because I feel it’s the right thing to do. So I think I’ll be thankful for what I have been given tonight.

Looking for that silver lining in 2020 I looked back and thought of the following.

Ironically at the beginning of the year last January I talked to my boss about working full time from home. It didn’t pan out at the time but low and behold March rolled around and I’ve been WFH since. And that means I’m saving wear and tear on my nice little Sportster who had issues with the roads in DC anyway. Also no parking cost. But the biggest part about that is the time saved on the drive back and forth of 2-3 hours a day in the car.

We had some caregiver tasks to attend to this year and working from home made that much more manageable. If both of us were still working out of the home it would have been impossible. But I’m so glad it was possible for the family and the mother. It made significant time available to share, with what turned out to be a shorter time than expected.

I have a deeper appreciation for life and what is important in it. I have a much-increased level of respect for the people in the medical and service professions. Not that I didn’t before but what they have done over the past year is the definition of heroic and continues to be every day of the week.

I learned a lot more about people in general. Some good and some bad. I got to know my home a lot better and I like it here. I learned the main reason I eat out at restaurants was the food comes hot out of the kitchen. I learned some will disregard their health and those around them because of politics. I learned you just have to keep trying regardless of the circumstances.

I have a lot of love left to share and I hope I have a lot of time to do it in.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Remarkable effort doesn’t always result in remarkable rewards unless you count the journey.
  • Time to laugh, time to cry. Time to reflect and look forward. Time to say thanks for the time given joy for the time ahead.
  • Expanding my mind recently. Don’t worry, there is lots of room up there.
  • Well, I think I’ll do some reading to ring in the new year being I’m the only one awake.

Leave a comment

Paused again

I was watching one of the many “In Memorandum” features on the news of all the notable people who have passed this year. It reminds me of how fast life moves past all of us. Many of the names and faces marked special times in history for me. It reminds me to make the best of each day and appreciate those important to me even more. But it also reminds me to work hard on what is important.

Life and death. Photo by Mike Hartley

Having lost a few close people this year is a more personal reminder. And many more have lost those close to them in unexpected ways and times and they have my sympathies and condolences.

I never did get wrapped up in much of the celebration mode of the New Year. I’ve enjoyed a few blowout parties but not in years, maybe decades. Even though I do understand the marking of time and maybe a renewed start and a reason to let off some steam. And if there were a reason to have a drink, this might be the year. But really we have much work to do in front of us so don’t get too toasted tomorrow night.

Maybe with the parties tapped down this year, fewer people will lose their lives on the road. Maybe you will hug someone a little closer this year. Or maybe postponing a hug. It’s strange times and ones that will change the coming years ahead.

All I know is I’m glad to be alive. I’m glad to have made my way in the world and getting my behind in gear to help others in that regard.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Children have the most innocent laughs. And the most contagious.
  • Some people will continue to take advantage of others, no matter how unethical.
  • You know how I quantify a successful day now. If I make my grandchild laugh.
  • Reading is fun. Learning is really fun.
  • Funny how much acting and posturing is going on over what has been decided.
  • Tomorrow we get back on track because the job that pays the bills will be behind me for a few days.

Leave a comment

Tight Spot

Do you ever find yourself in a tight spot? Well, today is one of them for me. My back is going through some gyrations today that are new to me. Might be time to visit a doctor after all this virus stuff is over. Of course, I dread what is going to be proposed again.

Release my spine now. Photo by Mike Hartley

Such is life, everyone has some issues that take us to the body shop from time to time. It’s interesting how different people handle pain. Hell, there are days I handle differently. Some days I have to willpower to power through with some effort. Some days I don’t even let it in the picture, even though it’s always there. Others, like today its inescapable and front and center. Well actually back and from neck to tailbone.

Those are the days I fight the temptation for meds. Thankfully I don’t have too many of those days but the frequency is increasing with age and activity. I’ve seen problems people have from relying on medication and I’m not going that route. I’m not saying it’s their fault, I’m just saying I’ll seek other alternatives before I’m sucking down painkillers each day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I started another good post earlier but wanted to put some more into it so now I’m left with this pitiful post.
  • New Year’s Eve and Day look to be very wet here. Good sleeping weather in my book.
  • The more I accomplish the more I want to accomplish.
  • I think I’ll go out to lunch tomorrow (carry-out) but leave a nice tip.
  • The election is over, that’s a FACT JACK.
  • My goal tomorrow is to turn a small gift into a big one. I got some new large photo print paper as a gift and now I’m going to make some large prints and hopefully make more gifts.

Leave a comment

Monday musings

Some days start well. Some days don’t and this was one of them. So that calm mood I’ve been in has gone and won’t be back today. Hey, every day can’t be the best. As they say with the good comes the bad and that is true of all of us.

Usually, when I get in a foul mood I have trouble writing about something positive. Hell, I have trouble writing period when things aren’t going well. So is it better to write nothing instead of maybe being negative? I don’t have the answer but felt the need to write and share an image or two so I’m sorry for the lack of proper attitude today.

The technical term is steel cut masonry nails. I just call them hard ass nails. Photo by Mike Hartley

I do know when I get down I withdraw. And I’m comfortable with that in some ways but not here. I don’t like the feeling where I don’t want to write or photograph or create something. So I think I’ll pick up the camera and just start shooting and see if I can turn things around tonight. If nothing else I’ll get some practice.

In a meeting with some coworkers the discussion of giving, came up. And I was glad to hear to a man everyone had increased giving this year. I’m not going to preach what organizations to give to. There are countless good ones. If you have questions about a charity this is a good check for them – Charity Navigator. But I will encourage you to think about those less fortunate and act if it is within your means.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love college basketball. Go Terps
  • Making use of things is important, we have become too disposable and it’s catching up with us.
  • I’m seeing the end of year deluge of request for donations. That is the only bad part about donating. Once you do they hound you relentlessly.
  • I think I’ll withdraw into my own world a little more. I find it more comfortable there.
  • I should have taken a minute to appreciate how nice it was outside today.
  • It wasn’t just another year but it was just another year.
  • Having a full-time job takes a lot of energy and time away from things I love.

Leave a comment

That blank page

Sometimes when I sit down to start a post the blank page in front of me gives me pause. I guess it’s that self-doubt I carry around that intimidates me for a few seconds. Will I come up with something creative or interesting? What images should I use? Do I spend some precious time on design? Do I even know what I’m talking about and will putting words to paper remove all doubt that I don’t.

And then I put my first few words down and I’m off. And that fear and pause I have is dissipated and fades away and I start to smile as the fingers go off on their own. The mind wanders and I try to catch some thoughts and ideas as it races around the track in my head.

At peace with myself. Photo by Mike Hartley

And then at the end, I start to worry again before I hit the publish button. I know my English skills leave a lot to be desired. I know some of the pictures are amateurish. I might not have the interesting idea or take on it that I thought I had when I started the post and I pause again. Sometimes saving it as a draft, sometimes trashing work, sometimes more edits or photo changes.

I think about the posts I’ve read and how well written and talented you all are. I read some and the education and background provide insights and knowledge to me I previously lacked and wondered if I could ever do something like that for someone else?

I’m not a wealthy man in monetary means so I’m not a big traveler. So are people going to want to see images from small towns and the state of Maryland constantly? My career choice is somewhat interesting but I’m not retired yet so talking about it could be risky. I’ve had some medical challenges but so has most of the world. I’m no master at being the head of the family, an illusion my better half pretends to let me have.

I love to joke and laugh and I think I’m good at keeping friends and family entertained at times. But I’m not a comedian. And I’m kind of intimidated to try it here even though I’d love to try to write comedy. I try sneaking something into my posts from time to time.

Regardless of how well my work is received or not, I have found I love doing it. But now I’m going to venture further and really try to make some significant steps. I’m going to try to be more well-read in topics I choose to wade into. I’m going to challenge my photo skills by first utilizing some time with books. I read a post a few weeks ago that suggested instead of more gear, try some books on the profession. So I’m starting with something called “The Photographers Playbook” and I also have gotten out a very old set of Time/Life books on Photography and hope to read every day from now on. Like I’ve said before, I’d like to get a good jump on my retirement career.

The last few days I’m on a roll and shooting more. Not successfully but by mistakes, you learn what not to do at least. I’m trying to get rid of what I call Old Man Finger. Having shot film for many decades, I still have that conservative finger when hitting the shutter button. And no matter how many times I remind myself to just keep shooting (because it’s digital) when I’m trying to photograph my granddaughter who defines the term “constant motion” I still pause and try to catch that exact moment I want and often am too early or two late instead of just shooting a burst.

So this coming year I hope some efforts to better educate myself yields some better quality work here. I did learn a few things in my long career in Newspapers. And one of them is “Content is KING.” In other words, if you’re putting out good work, they will come. So I’m not going to sit here and put out a bunch of goals for the coming year on the number of posts or amount of followers I’d like to add. I just want to improve and time will tell me if it’s working or not.

So good morning all, have a great day. It’s time to have some French Toast this fine Sunday morning.

So I like a little extra powdered sugar. Hey, I went very easy on the syrup. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m thinking more about fostering a cat this coming year.
  • I want each day from now on to count for something special.
  • Coming off a week of vacation to return to work tonight is a rude thought to end the year with. But what the hell, it is one of those years.
  • My sister-in-law returns home today. It was nice having her visit for a few days and it was good for my better half. I do worry we won’t see her as often now though. And that would be a loss because she is a sweet woman.
  • My desk needs cleaning, as it has for a while now. Maybe I can embarrass myself into doing it.

Leave a comment


Maybe just maybe, I’ll be able to accomplish a few more dreams. I’m starting to make some changes to make that possible. For a while, I forgot to dream or imagine what I would want. Or if I did I didn’t allow myself the chance at it again. Now I’m visualizing it more and making small steps in that direction. The time to create, blog, the photographs was increased by cutting out some real time-wasting activities.

Store window in Baltimore. Photo by Mike Hartley

I got off the couch and from that glazed over staring at the big screen. I’m starting to use the technology when I can to reduce the viewing time needed. Recording some and FF through the commercials. I’ve watched a bit less news and that is ok because I still feel informed.

I planned in some spots. When I got the inspiration I went into my workroom and sketched a few patterns out for cutting later. I patiently went through some older photo directories and found a few things I like that I hadn’t used in the blog before.

It’s good to leave each day smelling good. Photo by Mike Hartley

I charged all the batteries in the cameras early yesterday and have a day’s shooting of the family to download this evening. Then I’m going to do some more shooting tonight. Mostly inside because the weather outside is freezing. But I’ll be out mid-week shooting some of the local light displays.

Some things I’ve learned recently – or just had reinforced

  • The grieving process is as diverse as the individuals processing it.
  • If your lucky, there is no end of pride to be given to you, by your children.
  • I like pictures of people without masks instead of with.
  • Even though applications might be set for checking for updates and making them doesn’t mean it’s happening.
  • Intelligence should be shared and not just acquired.
  • It’s good to get learning more actively again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ll celebrate New Years’ when all my family and friends get vaccine shots later next year.
  • I see Orange Julius would rather play golf than help the citizens he was elected to serve.
  • I think I’ll try to work on my memorization but trying to remember song lyrics so I can sing along better to tunes I like. Today I tried to memorize Brothers in Arms.
  • A well operating heat source is not to be underappreciated today.

Leave a comment

I remember when

Well, we made it to Christmas morning. It’s nice not to be working for a change. Some holidays I don’t mind having to work but Christmas isn’t one of them. I’m so glad that this isn’t a year that falls on my work nights. I’m emotionally drained and I’m even dreading returning Sunday night.

Wrapping helper? Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s early morning now and I remember when I’d still be wrapping the last few gifts for my better half. Oh yeah, that is what I’m doing up now. And yes she does all the wrapping for the kids. But the real memory was the excitement of the children when they were young. Those early years will always be special. They would wake early, some years testing if we were awake or not and just talking outside our door about whether to come in or not. Some years edging down the hallway and peeking into the family room. Then there were a few that just found them in the room and on the bed and declaring it was time and they couldn’t wait any longer.

Beaverbrook Photo by Mike Hartley

I remember when we used to take the kids to Rainforest Cafe Xmas week and then we would drive around Howard County and look at the Christmas lights after the meal. My better half loved that. There are lots of special memories each family shares. Sometimes a special dish for the meal. Some give unique gifts. There is always one with the ugly sweater who is the life of the party.

And I could go on with examples galore, but this years holiday to many is different or missing many of the usual trappings and more importantly the people. And on the surface, it doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone from trying to celebrate the best possible way but you know it’s affecting many.

So as they say, keep putting one foot ahead of the other and repeat.

Random Thoughts on Christmas Morning

  • You miss some people more on Christmas than most other days of the year.
  • I got all the gifts I need before I even unwrap any today.
  • If you don’t know giving is the real meaning of Christmas you missed the point. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have that giving and compassionate spirit all the days of the year?
  • Christmas’s meaning has changed a lot over the years for me. Some years the spiritual aspects have been prominent. Other years the focus on our young children’s joy. One year my better half accepted my proposal. One year when I was young the 3 of us just sat at the tree and cried for a very long time before even opening a gift. Some years I’d be driving home on Christmas morning at 5 or 6 am from working all night and have to be bright and chipper in a few hours. This year is very different also with the loss of my mother and father-in-law. So memories of them will dominate parts of the day. Some will remain unspoken and private and special. Some memories might be shared out loud. I’m sure more tears will flow.
  • May everyone have a very special day and make the best of a tough situation this year.

Leave a comment

Never ahead, never behind

Blogging so far is something I’ve never been ahead of in terms of having posts ready to go in advance. I’ve had trouble keeping a daily routine I had hoped for let alone have one or more ready to rock and roll ahead of time. And today for the first time that I can remember, I have a post ready for tomorrow. And you know what, it felt good. So I started another one, this one.

And I thought to myself this was a good transition to make. I was never ahead for the first 6 years and now I think I’ll shoot for never behind. So that might require a different mindset given that I’ve always written pretty much in the present. Maybe I’ll try my hand at some poetry. I know a few friends who just read that cringed and said out loud “DON’T DO IT MIKE” because in my past I used to tinker with it but it was some fairly crude stuff, but in my defense, everyone seemed to laugh a lot. What can I say, I was young and dumb once also. So I guess I’ll work on some other ideas later tonight.

No tall spotlights needed. Nature provides the best light. Photo by Mike Hartley

So no more sitting on the sidelines. My mojo is somewhere around here. And once I track that sucker down 2021 doesn’t stand a chance. I’m enjoying finding a few old images and am excited about going out for new ones. I don’t know what has happened but I’m feeling like my creativity made a comeback.

I was watching an interview with Sir Paul McCartney recently and he was asked if when a Beatles tune came over the radio if he turned it down, turned it up, or turned it off. He answered that it took him back to the time when it was being made. Where bandmates were in the studio or a feeling. He was smiling about the good memories that it brought back. And this is what my photography does for me. It takes me back to those moments, and thankfully they are wonderful moments for the most part. Shared times with family, friends, nature, moments in time. I don’t think anyone gets more enjoyment out of my photos than I do.

I’m pretty sure by now my better half is tired of me being home all the time. You see lots of families struggling in confined spaces and with the winter season, it’s a test we haven’t yet faced during the pandemic. I was actually talking to one of my best friends about meeting outside this winter around a fire pit. Now if you know me at all you know I HATE being COLD. And no matter how nice a firepit roaring outside might feel and sound, the only time I’d be comfortable would be the second or two before I would be catching fire from being so close to the pit.

And you thought you were cramped at home. Photo by Mike Hartley

I will power through it because I’d much rather see my friends and laugh together than over a Zoom call, but I do have my limits with cold and precipitation. So the day after Xmas I’ll be ordering a fire pit. That will give us two meeting spots. Oh crap, that means I’m going to have to split that cord of logs I have sitting on the side of the house.

More Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Some people have an amazing power to do just as much or more even when they aren’t feeling good.
  • I took my car out for a quick spin yesterday. There is nothing like driving a stick shift because driving a manual is driving. Plus I told the kids when Dad starts missing gears take his keys away.
  • Can you imagine how crowded the first live concerts are going to be once things start returning to normal?
  • Is it wrong to bring your favorite outdoor lounge chair inside and use it during the winter?

Leave a comment

The calm

I’m going to hunker down and hopefully ride out that storm that is coming through. Not really what we need on Xmas eve. I have to get my behind outside and secure the lights better and bring things inside. Might just leave them unplugged with gusts of 50mph expected. That flood watch is a nice treat also. I guess we have to take a little bad with all the good we have in the “Land of Pleasent Living” aka Maryland.

I’m just hoping the power stays on with the temps taking a massive drop on Friday. I may have jinxed us though. I was chatting with a neighbor as we cleared our driveways of snow last week and commented that it’s been a good year in keeping the power on.

I love being at the beach when storms roll in. The view and distances and far greater than I have at home with all the tall trees.

Bethany Beach. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wrapping a few gifts will feel good. Picking up a cherry candy cane feels good. Seeing the kids smile will feel great. But the loss of loved ones might be an equalizer to what should be a joyous time. The chance to process loss is stunted by the busyness of the holiday. The holiday brings thoughts of people walking through the door that won’t be. A favorite dish that will be missing. An encompassing embrace, kiss, and smile that went right to your heart lost. The tight grip on your hand in a certain way for a longer than normal time and warmth it translated isn’t there this year.

Our ranks are diminished. All 2021 will be is a series of birthdays and holidays and anniversaries that are changed. Having lost my parents before my in-laws, more time has passed and allowed me a different perspective. The loss hurts and it always will, it just hurts differently now. I do have more smiles now than I did in the past when I look at their pictures. Christmas, their birthdays, and mine and dates they passed are the most difficult times, but also times I feel happy thinking about them again instead of just the hurt of missing them.

Then your own children step up and their children start to help take the place of the missing pieces and allow you to enjoy life and events again. And now when those waves of emotions hit they sometimes have a chuckle and smile at the end of it instead of a feeling of depression. But this year, we take a few steps back. We learn to miss what was never missing. We learn how to support each other in new ways. We are strong for our children who are also missing grandparents.

We will think, we will love, we will cry, and maybe we will laugh. I think I heard Jim Valvano say that if you think, are brought to tears, and laugh that you have had a full and wonderful day.

Losing sight. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have one wish for today and tomorrow. That my power stays on.
  • The more I get up and move the better I feel at that moment. It’s later I worry about.
  • So much to be thankful for, I just have to smile.
  • I’m almost at the point where I’m keeping up with my followed posts daily again. Noticed I said almost.
  • I’m starting to make a dent in the things I would hate to leave undone or unsaid.

Leave a comment

Marvelous, simply marvelous

Top of the day to everyone. I’ve blinked my eyes and the year has vanished except for a few straggling days. But I hope to make the best use of them and close 2020 strong. In some ways, this isolation is helping me learn a little more about myself. Hey, if nobody else is around I can’t blame anyone for not getting my lazy behind in gear.

Instead of taking the waves standing up, I need to start diving into them. Some years I’ve attacked them but this past year I didn’t utilize my abilities as best I could. So I’m utilizing these last few days of 2020 to build some momentum into the new year. Trying to work smarter and harder, more focused on constant practice and finishing projects and ideas.

About to be overwhelmed or NOT. Photo by Mike Hartley

There was a couple of life-changing events this year and it will be different going forward. I’m afraid people aren’t getting the message despite all the suffering about how precious life is. If you want to see how little it matters to some, just take a ride in the car.

I think I’ll try to make 2021 count for something more. It’s time I got to thinking more about the environment and helping it instead of hurting it. I’m going to try to increase my donations and if this virus stuff clears I’m going to start volunteering some time. I want to not just be a good father and grandfather I want to be a great one.

I’d like to take a giant step towards becoming a better photographer. There are some big projects around the house to complete this coming year. I’d like to work from home for the remainder of my current career. (that will be a nice one if I can make it happen)

As the sun almost sets on another year. Photo by Mike Hartley.

But hell, I’ll be happy just to survive another year, drive to the ocean with the top down and witness some more sunsets on the bay in OC like this or sunrises on the ocean Atlantic ocean in the morning.

I’m going to try to reach out to my last remaining immediate family member again. I hope to get a reply. I worry I won’t. I worry about her. Some people’s lives are far more difficult than others. I’m going to keep trying each day. I just want to know she is safe.

I’ve seen other families struggle with the same issue. Family members separated in many ways. I wonder if people think about when it might have been a different and good time around the holiday season? I know I’ve always missed my parents during the holiday seasons after their passing. But having living family members who aren’t in touch is a different kind of missing.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is something enjoyable about going to bed just before or after sunrise, even when your old.
  • Listen to the music, and then listen to some more. If you aren’t dancing listen to some more. There you go, move those hips like Jagger.
  • For parents watching children and thinking it’s getting overwhelming at times due to the pandemic, stop and think about the time when things are getting back to normal and you wish you had more time with your children.
  • Time to get the cameras cranked up again.
  • Remember to start easing your pets into a new routine before you have to return to the job full time if you are one of the ones lucky enough to be working from home now.
  • Shine on you crazy diamonds.

Leave a comment

Warm thoughts

Even though it is the second day of winter my mind is in a warm spot. Mainly because I was going through some old photos of friends and a fishing trip we took to Florida a long while back. I’m in the process of finding some of my best friend’s images and events and covering an office wall with them. Can’t wait for them to be able to come over again in the future where they can look and laugh. If they find something they like that I haven’t given them already, I’ll just give them a bigger print.

Just after sunset with a few street lights on early. Photo by Mike Hartley

I really hope to start getting the use out of this Canon printer. It’s a nice one and I love having that ability at the tip of my fingers. Yeah, it’s not professional quality printing but it’s fine by me and most people seem to love them. It feels good to really get moving again. I guess having a few relaxed minutes to devote to the task is a lot more satisfying than doing it in seconds or minute intervals at times.

So back to those warm thoughts. My mind wandered to the day that it might be possible to return to the beach safely again. Yes I know I can still go to the beach anytime I want, but to stay and relax and interact with people is what I’m thinking. I’ve always liked the look of this B&B called the Abby Sea in Bethany Beach and I’m going to add it to our list of places to try in the future.

All you can do now somedays is hope for the opportunity to do something on your list at some point in the future. And that moving target is getting depressing to many. I think it’s ok to drift into some fantasy thoughts of something that might be totally out of grasp now or even in the next year. But having hope for it will make it that much sweeter one day when it’s possible again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The shopping is finished today.
  • Many days I miss having a motorcycle. But cold winter days aren’t one of them.
  • There are only so many opportunities that come by in a lifetime. They are measures by the days on the calendar you can cross off.
  • I think we had better get better at adapting to change because it’s coming fast and furious again.
  • I wonder how many Xmas wishes came in for “just let the family be safe.”
  • I’ve gotten the stay inside part of hibernating down, now if I could do better at the sleeping all winter part I’ll be in business.

Leave a comment

Late again

I haven’t had a chance to get the battery out of the rider yet and obviously by this picture below I’m late again in my efforts. Now at least I have an excuse not to do it till this stuff melts which I hope is soon. It’s just been one of those years. Well, maybe I should have said one of those kinds of years. Or maybe better yet one of those years of a lifetime.

My Snowy Shed. Photo by Mike Hartley

Unfortunately, its been and continues to be a devastating year for so many. I’ve been trying to work with family and friends to maintain some sense of normalcy but at the same time have people be safe. And I struggle with this greatly because I’m probably much more cautious than others. So I’m in situations that I find uncomfortable from time to time.

I can’t wait for the day I can relax again. But until then I’ll just make the best of the situation possible. And hopefully, that will be this week when I have a few days off. I got a great start on a few projects and I’m going to keep it going.

I find myself apologizing for the absence of posts the last month or two. I’m going to try to get back on that daily train and keep my ridership up to par. It’s a far more difficult task than I imagined. Not because I find it difficult to do when I start it’s finding those few minutes to get cranked up and crank out a useless gem.

Cumberland Station Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s not because I’m a slow typist. I’m fairly fast. It’s not for a lack of images or thoughts rambling around in this mixed up head. I used to think it was about making it the highest priority but we all know that is a false goal because there are far more important things in life.

And that is the key, finding the way to do all those critical things (family, friends, and work) and still find a few minutes for your own priorities and interest. I’m going to try a few changes and see if this makes it easier for me to accomplish my goal. Instead of posting late, usually, just before midnight I think I’m going to do a morning post. I’m trying to set up a little studio space in the basement when I don’t feel good enough to get out and shoot or when it’s just too inclement.

I hope to be entering a period when I can be under a little less stress which also makes the ideas and thoughts flow much better. Hopefully, it will inspire a more positive tone also. And then there is the big step of learning all the tools available to make this an easier and more entertaining visit.

But in the meantime, I send my thoughts out to the many struggling through a somber holiday season and my wishes that future ones be bright again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The effort really shows no matter where you choose to make it.
  • Wearing headphones to start the day’s music off is so limiting. I can’t get up and play air guitar freely. But others need their beauty sleep. I don’t know why though, she is the prettiest thing on earth.
  • I cherish some of the notes I kept from my children when they were young.
  • After a short time, I’ve got to find a way to get the family to celebrate life again.
  • Do you ever have the random thought “I need bacon” just pop in your head? Please tell me I’m not alone.
  • I think I went too long without change because some of it as of late feels very good.



So many thoughts in the last 36 hours. So many plans changed. So much pain inflicted because these are far from normal times and normal activities aren’t permitted. Not being able to be with a loved one in their last weeks and moments might be one of the more difficult ones. And the thought of them alone without family is unbearable. But they are not alone. There is usually a team of medical people around them. No not their family but people with feelings and compassion and an amazing ability to be there for those in need in a hospital.

Just like when the medical training they received kicks in during emergency situations I believe their human abilities are also called into action and this is the special blessing all these nurses and doctors and staff and administration have. A strong level of compassion that makes a person passing at ease. We met a few of these nurses Thursday night. We had never met before but they were very comforting to us and by their account, they were comforting to her. And I looked into their eyes and I believe that in my heart that was true and was thankful for them.

This scene is being thrust upon these medical people and it’s not like their job wasn’t difficult before this. So thank you to the staff at St Agnes Hospital last evening.

RIP Mom and Dad, say hello to my parents please. Photo by Mike Hartley

But back to the process of grieving. There is no process. Those normal support systems and rituals are changed. And there isn’t much that can be done in certain situations. And it has to be accepted as hard as it is for families. I don’t know what would be equal to this kind of thing.

I’ve done a little reading about this because it’s impossible to avoid the hundreds of thousands of people dying without being able to be with family. You see news stories on it and a lot of people are experiencing it. Even the people without the virus who are sick and passing are affected as it was for us.

Early on in the pandemic with a lot of older people passing I was intrigued by how close long-term couples would pass so close together. Even before the virus, this seemed to occasionally hit the news. I saw the terms like the widowhood effect or broken heart syndrome used. I believe I witnessed this in the last few months. Despite a valiant effort by the family, I think her heart just wanted to be with her husband who preceded her. And after a few months, I guess they couldn’t stand to be apart any longer after over 6 decades together.

It’s going to be a very different holiday season this year. Every family experiences loss and all are faced with these tough times. This year they have been very different and added a level of stress and pain that was avoided in previous years. And again people are going to face it more alone and isolated time from each other when the opposite is the norm for this coming holiday.

So keep holding on, support each other any way possible, find the pictures with their smiles and put them in your heart.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Letting my fingers do my talking makes more time for listening. But I do enjoy talking also as my friends and family can attest to.
  • I could get a lot more done if my back would cooperate.
  • Good art is good art no matter what medium. And good art comes from the pleasure of the eye of the creator and beholder.
  • I should get my behind outside and take some fog pictures this morning because we are socked in.
  • If I don’t start working on proper posture, I won’t have any left to mold.
  • I’m blessed with some really good friends.

Leave a comment

So fast

You start the week thinking will the weekend ever get here. Everyone is working for the weekend in some fashion. Weekends to recoup and regroup. And then you blink your eyes and suddenly those weekends are numbered before retirement when every day becomes a weekend. A number that doesn’t seem that great.

I’ve always loved weekends, be they short or long, be they wet or dry, warm or cold. Time to lay in bed with your better half. Time to do some chores about the home and relax afterward instead of getting up and going to work or cutting sleep short.

You all know how fast weekends go by. And now I know how fast careers go by. Yes, I have a retirement career planned out but it’s much different than the standard work life I’ve had for over half a century. I have a few years left but it feels like a few short weekends, to be honest. Workweeks fly by now almost like they have been accelerated. Weekends feel more satisfying because there is a really big weekend on the horizon.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I can’t believe life has moved along so fast. I want to go back and do it all over again. Sort of like feeling the best amusement ride and wanting to get right back on as a kid. I have so much to be thankful for, and at the same time, some pain went along for the ride. But that is just life.

So what to do today to get busy with life? It’s cold out so that ruled out opening the front door. Seems like I just get up and the sun starts to set and the full night of work will be on the horizon. So there are still precious minutes to be used.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • As Ron White said, “You can’t fix stupid.” But it is a lot easier to spot it nowadays.
  • I find myself stopping to say a prayer for someone who has said many for me. Even if I made it a daily habit I’d never catch up to her.
  • It’s good to reprioritize through life. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Pick someone and try to ease their worry. They aren’t hard to find.

Leave a comment


Today I’m taking a pause. One might ask from what? I’m not sure of the answer, all I know is I need to let my mind rest a bit. Yeah, I have to work a full night. Yeah, I’ve got some bills to review. I’ve got dinner to fix and I probably will be disturbed by the news. But I’ll be in a different mental state. I’ve had several emails and chat’s today but the only thing that matters was hearing my daughter’s voice and my better half’s voice and eyes. And if my son calls I’ll have drawn a royal flush. Sometimes it’s good just to break down a day into small victories and not let them pass insignificantly along with the thousands of interactions of the day.

Hold on. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s hard to jump off that moving train but that is what is needed more now than ever. Think of how stress filled the holidays usually are. Now add the madness of what we are in the middle of. I can’t imagine what the next month will be like. So I’m just going to pause a few times a day and regroup. Think smart, make due, and not get pulled by the seat of my pants into despair.

So many things give me pause that just come out of nowhere. Children, sunrises and sunsets, horses running in a field, a beautiful Harley, or classic hot rod. The sounds of waves hitting the beach, listening to the quiet when it snowed.

Lately, a few people I know have passed and that has given me pause. I also worry about a few living people and that has given me pause. And I’ve taken the time to reach out to a few and have a few more to touch base with soon.

So take the pauses you need to stay fresh, help yourself and then help others. I think I’ll take a pause and go kiss my better half good night.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Tonight I thought about how many more times I might be lucky enough to be putting lights on the tree.
  • It will be nice to get back to some REAL Facetime with people again.
  • Smile and laugh if you can. And if you can’t, fake it.
  • Success can be just as easy as letting yourself find it.
  • Pain takes away valuable time in life.

1 Comment

Drumming to my own tune

Loved watching good drummers in my youth and to this day. The backbone of good bands. And just like a keyboard or bass or guitar or voice, it’s made unique by those who sit behind the set. Some small, some monstrous sets. Some large and some small individuals. I remember my Mom talking about Gene Krupa and I remember seeing Buddy Rich on Carson. And of course, I’ve followed the history of the biggest and smallest bands drummers. A wonderful list too long to go through but a blessing to listen to and see sometimes live. I started down this train of thought only because I saw that Neil Peart’s 2112 drum set is up for sale. But what the hell, go with it as they say.

Drum set in window of Bill’s Music in Catonsville. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m using music to keep my spirits up. Even though I’m not a big holiday music fan I might even indulge in that this year. I’m also trying to change the beat in my home by mixing up my living space a bit. Nothing drastic yet, just some small changes.

And why not change up my focus a bit. It’s always wise to work on what can be done instead of worrying about what is wrong. I’ve been trying to help my in-laws through some difficult times. I’m trying to be there for friends and I always try with my own family but I can always do better.

Good progress was made this weekend but a price physically is being paid. That’s ok, powered through things before and this will be one of them. Back to work tonight and I think a change of workspace is needed. I wonder if they make good posture chairs with built-in heating pads?

I decided to make an egg for myself and this image presented itself in the pan. It sort of reminds me of the guy who is redefining the term bad loser. I bet his eyes were that big on election night. And yes that was my second double yoke egg out of that dozen.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • 2,403 US personnel died on December 7th, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. Yesterday December 6th, 2020 the running 7-day average daily death toll from the virus was 2,169 in the U.S. We came together as a nation then, why can’t we now?
  • I was saddened by the passing of a former CIO who was both a smart and charming person and a battler against many medical challenges. May you RIP Bobbi Lucas.
  • I’ve gotten my printer cranked up this weekend and that is great for redecorating the walls of my office.
  • Did anyone else notice the tougher things get, the more religious people tend to become?
  • I’m tempted to get another camera but won’t until I learn to use the ones I have better.

Leave a comment

We got this

Good rainy morning to all. I was teaching my granddaughter about raindrops that were falling on the patio table glass outside and making many waves against each other yesterday. I started singing raindrops keep falling on my head and maybe got a verse out before I ran out of words but I kept humming and she was bouncing up in my arms and smiling. I kept humming it till she wanted to move onto the next thing. I kind of wish I could have remembered the words because I think she likes it when I sing. Maybe the only person. Maybe next visit when it rains I’ll get the words.

It was a dreary Friday and very wet Saturday morning before sunrise but I’m starting to see light. Photo by Mike Hartley

Yesterday was very productive. I was proud I was able to still crawl in and out of a children’s tent without hurting myself or destroying the tent. I’ve got several weeks of images moved to the portfolio and I hope to get several more completed. And the house smelled of bacon which I love.

I was able to start a few concepts for woodworking projects and today I’m going to go outside once daylight hits and make some initial cuts with the saw to work on inside later. I feel the creative juices working. Let’s see how the execution plays out. Everyone has to start somewhere. And it’s been a very long time so that bike ride might be an interesting one to start. I’ll consider it a success if I come out with all my fingers attached.

Exercise bands are beautiful if you don’t stress them out. Just like people in a lot of cases. While I’m feeling creative I’m also feeling stressed. I’m trying to remember what is the small stuff and keep putting as much as I can in that bin. But then I turn around and see a pile. I guess I should keep shoveling. I’m thankful that so far to have stresses that we can handle and get through, even though they have been very challenging. I worry though about our children and their children. And therefore every child of someone.

Having age and wisdom gives us calm and knowledge we will get through this if we are smart and thoughtful. We were steeled by the experiences of our own parents who lived through the great depression and multiple wars. There are a lot of families that need help this season though. Let’s help them. Pick one, let your church pick one, donate to an organization that can feed one. And if you’re fortunate pick more than one. And be there for our younger generations, help them be safe and focus on what we have instead of what we might be denied temporarily.

I wonder if we can all band together? Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • I labeled this section Random Thoughts of the Morning instead of my normal Random Thoughts of the Day because one of my thoughts was to try to make 2 posts today.
  • I think, if we thought of every Tuesday as “Giving Tuesday” we might be better for it.
  • The only thing better than the first Coke of the morning is the second one.
  • It also might build a better community if every Saturday were Small Business Saturday.
  • I could use a better quality slide scanner. I might have to send a few of the good ones out for professional service. My father snapped some great images when he visited both poles.
  • I have so much history to dig through at the same time wanting to create something new myself. Ah, the tug and pull of things to do. Isn’t it great?

Leave a comment


I’m watching, excuse me, thinking about someone isolated from us medically who is dear. This is the second time this year and it is devastating to watch and be part of. The toll that takes on the person alone in care is one of the silent tragedies of this pandemic. The pain I see in families and friends can’t be measured.

All the normal routines are not possible at hospitals and care facilities. Rotating visits so they aren’t alone. Holding a hand. Being able to make eye contact. Hearing their voice or just them breathing. Sharing a laugh or bad hospital food. Looking at pictures and cards or the beauty of flowers sent by loved ones and friends together or remembering past experiences.

Or in the worst case, not being there as a calming presence for them to leave in peace.

Looking for another sole. Photo by MIke Hartley

Being able to thank the health care team face to face can’t be done except over a phone by most except maybe the one person allowed in. I’m sure the medical people miss the personal thank you’s and hugs from families. Hearing the news talk about medical staffing shortages due to infections/exposures or just the numbers of patients overwhelming the area hospitals and care facilities is so distressing when you have someone in their care. People should not be alone at critical points in life and death.

Rules on visitations change in levels of restrictions or just aren’t allowed. And I understand and accept them. What is better for the whole outweighs the needs of the one. I’ve always believed and lived by that as my parents taught me. But there is a real and painful flip side of that coin.

Alone with one’s thoughts. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m dismayed thought by the indifference towards all this suffering. No, not being able to eat out at a restaurant or attend a concert or a big party or football game. I’m talking about medical life and death kind of suffering. I can’t believe simple steps can’t be taken to benefit the whole. I can’t believe we can be so selfish. We have been faced with a great test and we have failed. And we are about to fail another exam in keeping the basics for large groups of people. Food and a roof over their heads to name the most important.

Children going to school is the least of our worries. How many aren’t getting a meal? How many are being abused or maybe just left alone because someone has to work two jobs to stay above water?

The emotional and physical problems brought on by stress over losing a job, maybe a loved one, and being ALONE. Help fight people’s feeling of Isolation.

Adrift. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m trying to reach out to people. More calls, more writing, more text. Just trying my part to keep my wide circle of people intact and healthy. And especially to the ones alone.

I was at my first Zoom memorial service this week. It was a wonderful event because it was a wonderful person being honored. But it was great to see so many people’s faces at the same event. Many smiling at parts and many crying at other times. And while I couldn’t reach over and grab a hand to comfort someone or put my arm around them, it was good to join together.

So do what you can not only to keep your loved ones safe but also think of the safety of those who are doing the important care of others. Communicate the best possible and with a positive thought about now and think about how much more special it will be when we don’t have to isolate ourselves from each other.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel guilty for not keeping up with many blogs I follow. Time to change that feeling.
  • I also feel guilty about not keeping my posting rhythm up to speed. I had better get to work.
  • You know what’s cool. Having a friend post a photo on Facebook you’ve taken of them and see a good number of people comment on what a good shot it is. And remaining silent about it because you took it in hopes of making that person happy and the comments add to their joy.
  • Finding old family images is like finding a diamond in a mine.


A different Thanksgiving

Good day, all. Let’s be thankful we are still here. And if you were fortunate enough to have food on the table be very thankful. I’m sure this is such a different year for many people around the world and certainly in the states. A lot of which might be home alone or just with the family living in the same home.

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

It might be a really good year to spend some time talking to family. Maybe the separation will make you appreciate the ability to get together and share as a family. Maybe it will translate to far fewer arguments and fights in the future. And then again, maybe not.

Long ago my Mom taught me an important lesson without saying a word. And that was to reach out to people and communicate through the written word. My Mom used letters and cards, and lots of them, I use email when I can’t have those direct communications, but the thing is we take the time to write. We share more than just surface thoughts. We share our hearts. What made her notes great was the positive focus. I’ve got to do that more.

I’m not a great writer or any master phycologist who can help every person with their problems. I just hope I’m there for them to try and to offer support if I’m not successful. It’s nice when you can help. Someone just was nice enough to say thank you for your thoughts and note just yesterday.

I’m just of the mindset more than I’ve ever been on trying to help in a variety of ways where I can.

I hope everyone had the best possible Thanksgiving Day and a healthy Friday ahead.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • I bet turkey bacon isn’t on many breakfast plates this morning.
  • Older people are a great source of knowledge. You just have to make the effort to unlock it because it goes into storage earlier than one might think.
  • My body has been hiding a secret. It decided in the last month to try out for the role of Santa this year.
  • I tend to get behind on peeling off every day on my daily calendars. But then there are the times I just sit back and laugh at peeling off several days in a row because I like funny calendars.
  • Things are better when you focus on all the gifts you have instead of the ones you don’t. It gals me that those who have been given so much seem to complain the most.
  • I’m glad my children are patient with me. It helps and reminds me to have patience with others.

Leave a comment

Making someone smile

Life is good. You may ask how can I say that in these dire times. Well, I can’t argue they are dire. But thankfully some people are on a constant mission to make someone smile even in the darkest of times. I’m far from perfect in this mission but I do my best. I love to laugh, I love to make others laugh and I try to find humor in every day. I’m also trying to find more ways to help.

This is going to bring some smiles to some young person. Photo by Mike Hartley

All of us can see and feel the stress each day. The periodic runs on food and staples. The lines for virus tests or food lines going on for miles in areas of the country. The loss of income to millions is a crushing event making even shelter and food in jeopardy. Maybe a parent having to stop work for their children. Single parents without support systems are thrown into impossible choices.

Think of the doctors and nurses who hide their horror from each day’s sickness and death to smile at a patient through a mask or put a smile on their smock. They know if a patient keeps a good fighting spirit their chances could be better. And I imagine there are times when they know the patient isn’t going to get better and their families can’t be there with them and they give them a compassionate smile to help them feel at ease. Think of the strength that takes. Think of how much these medical people need to smile but can’t because of all the pain and suffering they experience each day.

Nurses Memorial in DC. Photo by Mike Hartley

I think of all the smiles we don’t see now because our faces are covered in masks. And I don’t say that negatively because they should be in masks. I’m still smiling under my mask as I pass people. But I’ve incorporated a head nod more now to acknowledge my fellow man. Because I remember nodding to people in adjacent cars stuck in traffic or maybe co-workers several cubes away too far to communicate with verbally without disturbing others. Maybe share a head nod with the cashier as you check out just in case she can’t hear through the mask and plexiglass.

I look at the many pictures on my walls of friends arm in arm smiling that I would like to be with and see the smile for real. I would like to see their smile instead of just the laughter through their mask or over the phone. I want to see my children smile after I hug them. But we must become patient and smart again.

I want to see the smile on my mother-in-law again instead of the confusion she now has because of the pandemic. I have so much sympathy for our elder generation. I’m in my 60’s and this is difficult for me some days just worrying about loved ones. I saw first hand early on what mental stress and toll it took on a senior family member. And it’s playing out millions of times over to deadly results.

It’s also affecting our entire service industry. Why would someone want to assume the maximum risk for minimum pay? Well right now they might be forced to but I’m sure more made or will make career exits to something else.

It’s changed mentoring and learning in professional environments. Communications have had to adapt.

How many empty chairs will their be. Photo by Mike Hartley

I would love to see both students and teachers smile again. I know both and it’s not a situation either want to be in. If it was just the teachers and students they might be able to work this out together. This thing is exploding in an adversarial way when all parties need to be working together.

There are only less than adequate and difficult options available to all except the elite/rich schools and even for them, it’s less than optimal. It flat-out sucks and it’s getting worse because expectations and needs aren’t what reality can meet. How do we make children and their teachers who are so dedicated to helping them learn and grow in ways that parents can’t happy for what can be done, and accept without hostility on what can’t be done, for a short period of time?

I watch the news now and I wait for that last 5-minute feelgood segment of some wonderful people making some wonderful contribution in many ways to keep society from falling apart to get the smile I need from watching the previous 25 minutes of news. There are so many making these types of contributions that I know we will get through it. But the selfishness, elitist individualism, and greed of some will make it difficult for those trying so hard.

I thought to myself who can I make smile. And I thought of my granddaughter who I was missing that day, a day we usually spend together. So I pulled out my old video camera and I got about 15 hats out because her new thing is hats. And I showed her my hat collection and asked her if we could try them on together when we see each other again. I heard she loved it and smiled. Mission accomplished.

Today onto more smiles being created for some adults. It won’t balance out all the pain but I hope it puts a dent in it. As my Mom would always remind me, “there are a lot more people worse off than you so feel good and help out.”

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can’t help but laugh at Rudy G.
  • I listened to the Terps basketball game on the radio today. It kind of reminded me of when I was a young kid.
  • How do you know when a contractor is lying. When he starts to tell you what time he is going to be here.
  • The house is starting to smell good.


See and act

Saw a touching story on the hunger in this country yesterday. So it made me think I haven’t made a donation to the Maryland Food Bank in a bit so I did. I didn’t even ponder it. It’s nothing special. Millions are stepping up to help feed those less fortunate but I don’t feel the leadership of the country is even recognizing this at a Federal level.

Steak and Cake Photo by Mike Hartley

Anyone who can afford a meal like above even just a few times a year should also share the rewards they have been given with those less fortunate. And if you eat like that each day you can certainly think about those that are hungry and act. Once this pandemic is over I’ve been thinking of picking up where my father-in-law did. He used to volunteer for Meals on Wheels. That is a must-do when I retire from the main job in a few years. I like to drive anyway.

Usually, your first instinct is correct when it comes to seeing and acting. Sometimes it’s just hearing and acting. A yell of a child, or howl of an animal. The sound of a car crash. The scream for help.

And then there is that honker in front of your face leading the way. If you smell smoke you react instinctively. You can smell chemicals that are dangerous.

Your first instinct when seeing someone break down on the side of the road is to assist. But just about everyone drives by blindly. I try to do my share when I can.

Sometimes your instinct is just a glance. A homeless Veteran on the street looking as hard as the concrete he is sleeping on. You know that is WRONG.

Sometimes I’m disgusted with myself that I don’t help more. Don’t get me wrong, I stop and help a good bit, I donate money, my friends and family will always say I’m there for them in many ways. But could I do more, hell yeah? And more for strangers.

So I think I’ll stop worrying about the troubles of the day and see what I can do to help more.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Maybe if the treadmill were called “refrigerator”, I might be more inclined to use it.
  • Never wait to say those words from your heart to others. You never know when the opportunity will come around again if ever.
  • I can’t believe Taco Tuesday is over already.
  • Yeah, this is the weekend I need to pay some respects.
  • If pizza can be for breakfast, why can’t breakfast be for dinner?
  • There is a lot of wisdom in focusing life on the present.

Leave a comment

Sun and fun

I really like the warmth of that sun shining through my office window this morning. After that cloudy weekend, it’s nice to see the brightness again. What I won’t be seeing except on the TV this year are the Maryland Basketball teams. College basketball is my favorite spectator sport. And this is going to be really strange not attending a single game. I just wish them luck on getting the season going this Wednesday for the men and making it through the year.

Go TERPS Photo by Mike Hartley

College football looks like it is going to struggle to finish. and there are still a few more months of pro football to see if that can survive. I do give them an A for effort and I understand the economics involved. But if things continue to go south what is the tipping point?

Anyway, good luck to the Maryland Men’s and Women’s teams this year. Maybe it’s a good analogy for the future. Each year I get so excited about the prospect of the returning players mixed in with the new talent. Each year it’s a new mixture to assemble into a success. Each year fan’s expectations go sky-high. You walk into the stadium feeling you can win every game. But that isn’t realistic. You can’t win every game. Just like we have to be realistic now and adjust our expectations, needs, wishes, and hopes. We can still be happy. We can still try. But we have to be smart.

OK, a fresh start to the week. I’m trying hard to get reinspired. But in mud, I feel mired. The cold air is setting in and I feel the need to hibernate. But that would delay my goals and make me late. I need that lift to get me off the ground. I’m looking for that trigger to make it happen all around. So till then, I’ll do my best to try to press on. And at the end of the day, I’ll smile and hopefully say Ya Mon.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The sound of rain overnight is like a sleeping pill.
  • Thinking of someone very special who’s in the hospital now.
  • I’ve got to make some decisions on some old things I’ve had around the home for a long time. No, not the better half, I’m keeping her.
  • I’m starting to appreciate this time at home from the job.
  • Sometimes my back tells me that doing something, is wrong right away and I’m thankful for those times. It’s when he plays the practical joke of letting me overdue it that an ugly price is paid.


Thank you and Condolences

I learned of the passing of a member of my newspaper family yesterday. Bob Moon was the husband of Jean Moon, the General Manager of the Patuxent Publishing Newspaper chain located in Columbia Maryland. An Architect, Bob designed the Flier Building in Columbia where I worked for 17 years. His death has triggered a lot of memories for me and I’m sure many others.

Patrick’s Entrance for us old timers. Photo by MIke Hartley

I had started with the Times Newspapers when they were in Ellicott City on Main Street in an old run-down building that now houses LaPalapa, SuCasa Furniture, and Main Street ballroom. Yes, this was back in the ’70s. The age and character of the building matched the wild personalities on the inside. The place was blue-collar, rough, and tumble old school. Some might even say a bit of old country Howard County.

This was a full production facility. Pressroom, Mailroom, Engraving, Typesetting workers in production and with Editors, Writers, Designers, Salespeople, Truck drivers out front. The place was loud and dirty and it constant chaos. But I did love it also.

The Flier building view from Little Patuxent Parkway. Photo by Mike Hartley

In 1979 Patuxent Publishing purchased several of the Times papers, others closed or were sold to other buyers. The Times building was sold along with most of the equipment and like the Clampets we packed up our bags and headed to Columbia.

The Flier Building. I was beautiful with a flag on that pole and that tree in front blooming pink blossoms. Photo by Mike Hartley

There were many difficult days when this transition took place. First, we lost a lot of old friends. If memory serves me right before I look at the newspaper clipping I have on the wall of the sale we had a few hundred employees in EC. I think only about 60 of us were hired by Patuxent.

We had our tail between our legs because the competition had won and bought us out. Soon to be gone was the place where I learned my trade and a lot of people I loved working with. This transition was rough on both sides and took a lot of adapting by all involved. But two very different cultures and backgrounds soon developed into a new community of people working together. It was a wonderful transition to something that we all cherish dearly to this day even though decades have passed. Sometimes when your being handed a pass to Camalot you don’t really know it at the time.

Home for a few decades. Photo by Mike Hartley

The two buildings couldn’t have been any more different. Main Street was old and falling apart. The Flier building was brand new constructed in 1978 I believe. Main Street was dark and dirty. It was a brick building covered in many years of ink and newsprint dust. The Flier building was WHITE, clean, and pristine and didn’t smell bad. It has so many windows, some floor to roof, and skylights letting the days light and added a beautiful feel to the space inside. It had angles on top of angles, big staircases, and tall open ceilings in much of the upstairs.

Photo by Mike Hartley

There were planters filled with trees and flowers in a vast open lobby in Columbia. Kind of ironic if you think about it. The only trees that came into Main street were in the form of Newsprint rolls that weighed around 2 tons each. If you brought a plant into the Main Street office it would have been dead in 24 hours due to the chemical and ink smell, lack of light, and covered with the newsprint lint. The bathrooms were clean in this new office. You didn’t worry about ruining clothes by accidentally brushing a wall or door as you did on Main Street. It had air conditioning which that old drafty and dirty location in EC only had in the front offices. In the summer we would sweat like pigs and in the winter we would freeze our behinds off.

The new building was one of the first things I warmed up to. Maybe because it actually did have heat and A/C. But in meeting Bob I could see where his inspiration for the remarkable design of the Flier came from. He would always give me a warm smile just like the skylights scattered throughout the building did. He would stop and talk or invite me to his office which was next door to our photography/reproduction area to look at new architectural drawings. Bob was a talker. I know because they say it takes one to know one, and I am one. I think one of my first visits to the building for my interview for a job, Bob was out in the lobby and introduced himself with a welcoming smile. He wasn’t part of PPC but he was in a special way.

Photo by Mike Hartley

The longer I was there the more it felt like home. New friendships were made and many have lasted to this current day. It was a special place to work. With Bob’s design and Jean’s spirit that place was as alive as anything, I’ve experienced. Jean was a driving force for that organization. And their spirit was infectious to many who worked there for many years.

Thankfully many people above me allowed me opportunities that allowed my career to flourish. And in that, I got to work and touch many areas. There might be only a small handful of people who know that building better than I do. I think I crawled and worked in every inch of it several times over. I was there day and night so I got a great view from it. You always knew what the weather was because there was a window or skylight everywhere. Well, not the restrooms but everywhere else.

You could see your friends coming in from a good distance so you could prepare pranks on them. You could see who was having a rough day and was out walking or sitting in the parking lot or deck behind the building. You could look out the back windows at the huge daycare facility and watch the hundreds of little tykes in their Halloween costumes doing their annual parade around the parking lot. You could go up the ladder in the loading dock to the roof with a folding chair and look out over Columbia. Oops, that part wasn’t well known.

The old Editorial area. Photo by Mike Hartley

The place had a grand lobby. It was where we would gather for our company photos. It was where half my crew would be caught trying to chat up the receptionist of the day after dropping off reproductions to the design departments.

I lost count of the times the interior space was redesigned for our constant expansion. And Bob seemed to be part of that process often. The whole building felt like my home. It was small enough where you knew all the inhabitants but large enough to not be a mom and pop shop. We were the second-largest publisher in the state of Maryland behind the Baltimore Sun which eventually purchased the company shortly after I left.

Light from above. Photo by Mike Hartley

They say the tone of a company comes from the top. Well, Bob and Jean created a beautiful place, filled with a beautiful spirit, a ton of ambition and dedication. And that feeling seemed to trickle down to everyone who walked through those doors to work there. And when I left there I had some tears in my eyes because I knew something special was passing.

Bob faced some daunting and huge medical challenges in his life but that smile remained.

So thank you Bob for designing a wonderful home and to you both for making it feel like a real family lived there. RIP Bob.

PS: Please forgive the quality of these pictures. I had the opportunity to visit the building after it closed and the staff had moved downtown Baltimore. So it’s far from its pristine and beautiful days. Especially when it was filled with a lot of great people doing wonderful work and having fun together.

Leave a comment

Its time

I guess with a high temp of 50 degrees and the low dipping into the ’20s the next few days, it’s time to put the shorts and flip flops away. Always a depressing thought and action for me.

Goodbye till spring. Photo by Mike Hartley

So onto a winter season, we go. I know, we are a month away officially but once the temps get below 60 it’s winter to me. Despite this prospect, I’m in fairly good spirits. For the long term, forecasters say it will be a mild one here in the mid-Atlantic.

Those worn hardwood floors under my feet in the photo have all been sanded down today and it looks wonderful. Once the stain and sealer are on it will look great. Then the molding and the job will be complete. I’m more of a carpet man myself but I’m willing to go with this change because it makes my better half so happy.

She really does have a very good decorating sense and concepts and it always looks much better when she makes changes. She talked me out of doing the refinishing job myself. It would have taken me too long to do all those floors and moldings. I would have had to rent or buy a good size sander. Having it completed in a few days is the way to go for a job like this. We will be a day moving everything back in and hanging everything up again once we get the all-clear on the clear being dry.

Maybe I’ll try that move Tom Cruise did in that movie Risky Business with the socks sliding across the floor.

I was able to spend a few hours with my Son on Sunday and it was great. I’m so afraid things are going to get to the point where we won’t see each other for a while again. I hate the thought of that. It broke my heart the first time and I’m sure it will again when I can’t see my children and grandchildren.

For the first time this football season, I came out on top of my son’s and I head to head contest. I will probably return to the pasting I’ve been receiving all year next week. Sports have always been a good connection for us. For a few minutes, each week where we trade emails of our picks, text a few times on who’s ahead, and then someone gloats at the end of the day. We talk about our favorite teams and players. We hit a few games here and there.

Football season leads us into our favorite, College BasketBall Season. It would be nice to see that but it appears football will even have a tough time finishing so my optimism is guarded about basketball. This may be the first time I don’t see a Maryland game in person in decades. Maybe I should pull the ball out of the closet and shoot a few hoops myself, I know I could use the exercise. I thought I heard the treadmill laugh at me when I passed it the other day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The definition of a poor loser is being redefined daily.
  • You know what I like. When I hand someone a photographic print and then look intently at it for a while and without a spoken word I can feel their happiness. I think I’ll get busy making more prints for people.
  • What if the scales you weigh yourself with came with sound effects?
  • Work through it or nap through it. Whatever works for you.
  • Uh Oh, I need to order more ink.

Leave a comment

So many ways

There are so many ways to be successful. I never knew this for a long time. One of the things that enlightened me to this was to stop using other people’s measures. And that success comes in small pieces. Mainly along the way before others see success.

Take the Climb Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t give myself much credit for success till late in life. I should have but my own measure was way too high and sometimes unrealistic during lots of my early years. I should have been a lot more sure of myself and not full of doubts. I worked hard and made good decisions.

I didn’t appreciate the responsibilities when getting married, getting a home, starting a family, and raising children and would panic throughout those days. I didn’t see the change from myself as a kid in school who didn’t apply himself to a working professional who did. And when I started to climb the ladder I didn’t see myself as an equal, when many times I was probably more experienced and or knowledgeable. I didn’t know how much energy both physically and mentally playing a caregiver role could be and I always questioned myself every step of the way. Only well after her passing did I realize effort.

Success is not always the top management position or lead engineer. Success in your professional career shouldn’t negatively impact your personal life. A lot of top jobs do and it’s hard to keep that balance and perspective.

I struggle with keeping that balance even late in my career at times. I put in extra hours for nothing but far less than I’ve done for most of my life. I love what I do and work hard to be very good at it, but the job is now a means to an end instead of one of the primary forces in my life.

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

Performance reviews are far from what they were, earlier in life. Yes, I still listen because there is always someone smarter and I hope to pick up some view or knowledge I didn’t have before. Maybe a direction change or role shift. But in regards to how I feel about how other grades of me, they aren’t threatening anymore in the least. I know how I do. Salary reviews don’t hold the weight they used to. No more feeling resentful for too little or overjoyed at a nice one or bonus.

So I’m closer to being at peace with myself than at any point in my life and that is kind of nice. And though I regret the decades without the knowledge and feeling I have now I’m not going to spend time regretting anything from the past but be proud of it because my measures of success now allow me to look back and smile.

I’m also excited to get a jump on retirement, not for the relaxation or the travel or the resting on past laurels or reminiscing about the old days. I look forward to creating much through the arts of images, words, carvings, and whatever else strikes my fancy. Also on my making my better half happy and laughing. And most of all seeing my children and grandchildren grow up and inspire them. And I won’t be offended by being known as the old guy who likes classic rock music loud once in a while.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If I were smart I’d give up drinking so many Cokes. But my taste buds apparently have veto power over the brain.
  • My son has been kicking my behind in football picks this year. Which is a good reminder of why I gave up gambling many decades ago.
  • The home office remake begins today. Well, at least I’ll begin picking it up a bit.
  • I get to see my son’s new foster dog today. I had better get the cameras out.

Leave a comment

Adapt and enjoy

We all are adapting. Do we like it? No is the easy answer. The trouble is we’re not on the same page so this isn’t getting better. This morning I was discussing with a few co-workers the stress and anxiety you can see in everyone.

After that conversation was over my mind wandered to the day ahead and watching my granddaughter. And then it hit me. My survival guide for the next few months is going to be. I’m going to look at each day like a young child would, full of opportunities and possibilities, new experiences, and wonderful things to discover. But I’m going to act like an adult and exercise caution, take steps to be as safe as possible, listen to those with greater knowledge and act on those recommendations.

The first (thinking like a child) should improve and carry my outlook and attitude forward each day. The second (acting like an adult) will carry me to many more days beyond this crisis.

Some days are cereal days. Some are just a fruit and nut bar on the run. And then there are those days where you have some leftover steak from the night before and you decide to cook an egg with it and you get a double yoke. That is the sign of a good morning.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes I wonder where I’m going when walking on the treadmill.
  • I don’t know who came up with shrimp tacos but hats off to you.
  • My song for the day “Ain’t Wasting Time No More” by the Allman Brothers.
  • Time to step up again and support your local restaurants and small businesses.

Leave a comment

Remember and appreciate

Thinking of my father and other family members who have served in our military on this Veterans Day 2020. And thank you to all the families that have served or supported those members who have.

Beautiful headstone from Arlington Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe we can take some clues from these individuals. They had it hard. All we have to do is keep our heads above water till a vaccine can restore some order. Let’s try to be brave from their examples, and support each other, as the troops did for each other.

Previously we have been able to pull together to accomplish great things and have great freedoms and prosperity. That is what sets this country apart. What do you think our allies and enemies are thinking now. We used to have this illusion that this was one nation. And we proved it actually at various points in our history. Will we be able to return to those days?

Looking for my edge again. For some reason, I’ve lost that relaxed feeling in my mind that allows the unfocused, random, and trivial thoughts to emanate from this clouded and cluttered mind with frequency. Actually, now that I think about it and I know the reasons. But I must overcome them and utilize my days wisely.

Like today. I got to hug my daughter. It made my day. I worry that I might have to go without hugging my children again for a while. I didn’t think about when I was hugging her but something felt intense about the hug today. Kind of shared but unspoken knowledge of facing tough times now and ahead.

I saw this in Ellicott City the other day. I believe there was a sidewalk sale going on. Looks like someone was selling a set of clubs and offering their tools to level out your game.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Feels good to put hands to keys. I think the saying used to be “putting pen to paper.”
  • It’s not only important to listen but to choose wisely in whom to listen to.
  • Last night of the workweek. I’ll feel a lot better in about 12 hours.
  • Incorporating music again today. And it feels good.
  • It’s a good soup day.

Leave a comment

But for how long

I was down in Ellicott City taking a few shots and I saw the Bar Open sign on the Manor Hill establishment and I thought for a second for how much longer. I see our Governor did an update the other day because like most states our numbers are climbing again. I like his frankness when he said “Just wear a damn mask.”

Bar Open for how long? Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m guessing it won’t be long till we are reverting back to some rules we had earlier this year if things don’t improve. I know I’m going to start scaling back again. But at the same time, I hope to get out more for a little exercise. This holiday season is a good time for me to work on the beach body. Not that this has been a successful effort the last few years but I’ll always keep trying. At this age, I’ll settle for a 4 pack.

I really don’t like the sun going down so early. Photo by Mike Hartley

Yesterday’s walk was nice because I was able to wear shorts and a tee-shirt and that weather will make it a nice few days ahead also. And this Friday didn’t disappoint at all.

No twisted traffic today in town. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Today I put on my yard maintenance hat again and see if the body holds up to the day’s activities. Got the front half done yesterday. And if I’m fast about it I might take a walk with the camera later today. I also have to spend some time carving this evening.

Do you go to Happy Feet before or after the Distillery? Photo by Mike Hartley

One of my best friends just gave me some great news. I’m so happy for him and his wife. During these times it’s good to appreciate the good news of any type. Because life is about focusing on good moments.

Trees aren’t the only colorful thing in town. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I hope everyone is having both a healthy and good weather day to enjoy this wonderful Saturday.

I should blow up the part of the woman inside peering back at them. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Felt good feeling that sun on my skin yesterday. Would have felt better on the beach but I’ll take it while sitting on the tractor.
  • More sun and fun today. The top is coming down. High test in the tank. Traction control OFF.
  • I’m on a mission again. Feeling positive and challenged.
  • You know what is really funny. I see Trump’s family is asking the GOP to have some backbone. Don’t they know their father removed their spines long ago?

Leave a comment

All clear

With those winds changing the look of the trees by stripping them of leaves we have entered the least favorite time of year weather-wise for this guy. But at the same time, I’m glad I live in a spot that has a distinct change of seasons each year. The season change is also a good marker of time.

Fog behind tree Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes my mind wanders to the thought of how many seasons are their left to enjoy and watch pass. So I’ll try to go with the flow better in the next 5 months. Why not make the best of it. I hope I don’t repeat what I’ve seen some older people get into. Wasting what precious little time we all have in less than positive thinking or appreciation.

Speaking of time. This will be the 12th Presidential Election that I’ve had the pleasure of working at a newspaper. Election time is exciting. The whole operation is abuzz with activity. And by abuzz, I mean controlled and uncontrolled chaos. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same. I’m encouraged by what looks to be an increase in participation in the voting process. This is when it works for all of us.

Flying straight the last few days. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m hoping for a peaceful day, followed by another one and one after that. I can hope, can’t I? Well, I’ll try to maintain calm. That should be a pretty easy task being I intend on staying in. I voted early so no need to stand in any line today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The day is young, I’m not.
  • Math is important on a day like today.
  • I don’t know if I’ve been lucky or if the hard work paid off.
  • I think I’ll saute some mushrooms in butter.

Leave a comment

Go big or go home

I love some of the pumpkin art I’ve seen this year. It gives me hope that the human spirit is alive and well. At least the liquor stores are still open for those in need of inspiration. My favorites were the detailed carvings that looked like a zoom meeting.

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

I’m not a big pumpkin pie fan but it’s OK. I don’t do pumpkin-spiced anything. I haven’t dressed up in decades. We do decorate and hope for the kids at the door which didn’t materialize. The spirit for this year’s spirits seems to be muted just like many other parts of life.

In my neighbors garden. Photo by Mike Hartley

No big parties to show off costumes and revel with friends. No contact trick or treating if there was any. Let’s hope by this time next year it’s a different story.

Will we take the right path and direction into the holiday season? It’s difficult to even think about retreating where we were in March, April, May, and June, but it seems like it’s a possibility and approaching reality.

Lets get on the path to health again. Photo by Mike Hartley

I keep thinking back to what my parents and grandparents would be thinking now. They went through wars where they were continents away from families fighting for their lives each day. Limited to no communications for long periods. It’s no wonder those embraces at the end of wars look so intense.

And here we are complaining that we can’t have an indoor dinner or need to wear a mask. I’m going to try to appreciate each day and make the best out of it which is really easy if we think about it. Pretend you’re a Marine and Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. And one more thing, try to help those that can’t.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • A little voice inside me said, “get your ass in gear.”
  • I don’t believe I’ve ever seen businesses boarding up their stores before for an election. Well, times change I guess. Let’s hope we don’t have to repeat this 4 years from now.
  • These cold mornings remind me that hibernation is near.
  • We have lost our trust in many things. Very sad.
  • Feeling so loved by my children.

Leave a comment

A few minutes

Went out to drop my ballot off this morning and was lucky to catch the sunrise at a corner near my home. I’ve got to make a practice of getting out around sunrise because it just starts your day right.

Photos by Mike Hartley – from corner of Woodstock and Rt 99.

It gets me in a productive state of mind. Let’s see if I can keep the momentum going this fine Halloween Day.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • I have discovered I need much less shampoo than when my hair was longer.
  • As the leaves fall this time of year, it reminds me I have neighbors through the woods behind us.
  • Working through difficult times makes you stronger. It does come with scars though.
  • I feel bad for the kids this year in regards to Trick or Treating. On the other hand, there may be more candy in the house.

Leave a comment

Speed and replenishment

The rapid pace of events has conspired again to overwhelm the resources of my time and energy. But it’s time to hop back on the fun train and regain my footing.

I read something recently about being over the hill and the pace picking up because you are now on the downhill slope. Sometimes it sure feels that way. I just hope I don’t do an imitation of a guy running down a sand dune so fast that they just start to tumble and crash.

My better half and I took a short break from the rat race this past weekend. And instead of being pulled apart by many waves of pressures and responsibilities, we took a few minutes together to replenish ourselves. Which was my thought while standing close to the closed beach at Bethany Delaware watching them do a sand replenishment to the shoreline.

Got to work together. Photo by Mike Hartley

I had just a few minutes to wander the boardwalk there before heading back home Tuesday. There were about 7 boats (tugs, barges, boats) executing the beach building.

Tug Sea Wolf pushing barge into place. Photo by Mike Hartley

Getting to the ocean for me is like this beach rebuilding operation. I rebuild my internal beach. I fortify it against the relentless pounding waves.

A whole fleet working on the project. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love Maryland and Delaware beaches. Why you may ask. They aren’t the whitest sands, they don’t have the best waves, they don’t have crystal blue waters. To start, I don’t have to get on a plane, in a few hour’s drive, I can be there. The sand is still really nice, fine, and clean. The surf is mild which is great for swimming unless there are storms offshore. The water seems to get clearer and cleaner each year. The temps are nice and the place is a ton of fun.

Tugging away. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s important to take those breaks. Sometimes just to be with that someone special even though you’re with them at home more now than ever. Getting away puts things in a different light.

So now that I have sand back in my step, bring on winter. Photo by Mike Hartley

And celebrating 40 years together was very nice. Oh, we stayed in Ocean City where the beach was still open.

Fishing is a splash. Photo by Mike Hartley

So get to your shore and refresh your batteries.

Catch the wave. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have a strange sense this is the calm before the storm. Hopefully, it’s just a storm of good sentiment.
  • If there is one thing that cemented a choice I made long ago before the 2016 election was that I didn’t need Twitter in my life. Soon I won’t have to hear about tweets each day.
  • It’s funny and sad how others seem to think they know everything about you even though they have never met you based on political affiliation.
  • Time to start renewing and practicing being careful again.


Back in stride

I’m starting to feel productive in my personal hobbies and endeavors again. Just making some more time for it and enjoying it as much as I can. At the same time, the same old and new stresses continue. I’m getting used to it as the new abnormal.

It’s interesting how change and stress evolve over time. Some are able to turn it around, adapt, and get even more creative and motivated in support of life and others. The opposite also holds true though and many get more stressed and depressed. And probably the largest group in the middle as always trying their best to just tread water and stay positive despite being beaten down daily.

Having a bad hair day in that weather. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today doesn’t look like the best weather here in the state of Maryland to be out and about but I’m still going to grab the cameras and head out in it. I’m kind of excited just to have some time and be with my better half.

Last night was a special evening. A memorial mass and dinner for my father in law who passed earlier this year. I hadn’t been to church in a bit and it just happened to be in the church I got married 40 years ago almost to the day. So it was interesting the feelings that came up. I still remember him walking my better half up the aisle and giving her hand to mine.

As the whole family gathered in his honor I could almost feel him watching so intently. Soaking each one of the families loves up to him. As I scanned the church upper balconies for some reason I was looking for a face. I didn’t find a familiar one.

As I gazed forward my mother in law was directly in front of me but separated by an empty pew. If there was a spot where his presence would be it was right there. Right behind his wife who was flanked by his oldest son and daughter. I could imagine him leaning forward and wrapping his arms around mom and then all three of them.

I thought about the thousands of times my mother and father in law sat in that church together, hand in hand for weekly services. They also worked hard for that church in both time and resources. I believe it was appreciated but that isn’t why they did it. They were just two of many good people in this world who do things for others without recognition or gain in mind.

I worry about the toll the loss takes on Mom’s heart though. After all those many decades together, how does one get through the day? We all try to do our best to keep her spirits up and celebrate the things we can in small ways but these times create a lot of difficulties. The physical support of a hug or a kiss or whisper in the ear is changed. And that is such an important part of emotional support. Doing that elbow touch instead of that firm handshake and one arm hug just doesn’t cut it for me with the men in the family and I also miss the embraces of the backbone of the families (the ladies).

I’m not the most religious individual on the planet but you see people come together with that giving and loving spirit within them does make you think about a greater good.

My observation and I think my feeling about the way I’ve lived and seen others live that I respect, is that if you have done it right, your memory, spirit, inspiration, love, and quirks will live on far after you can no longer share them day by day. RIP Dad and let my parents know I made it to church without getting hit by lightning.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Mistakes. Last night I went to bed in the bottom of the 9th inning with the Dodgers up 7-6. I wake this morning and find Tampa Bay wins 8-7. This isn’t going to help me go to bed in the future.
  • The first day of the season where temps probably won’t get out of the 40 degrees range along with showers and drizzle. Normally this would trigger a hostile attitude but I’m going to go with the flow and dress for it.
  • Well, the sun isn’t up yet but I have a lot to accomplish this fine day so I’ll be leaving you till later. May everyone have a great Sunday.

Leave a comment

Stop, hey what’s that sound

The rhythm of the song was guiding me yesterday. Well, not all day, a lot of it was the hum of the mower engine and cutting deck for a few hours but I did tap my feet to some music I listened to before the cut.

Thanks Mother Nature. Photo by Mike Hartley

Don’t you worry, about a thing, those gutters will be cleaned before night. Says the song Three Little Birds. Don’t you worry about a thing, because every little thing will be alright.

I sure hope everything will be alright. Living in times of uncertainty. Maybe we will pull it together for the holidays and the soon approaching new year. I’ve been thinking this is a year that is for giving a bit more.

Well, I went and did it. I was going to let my hair grow for at least a year. I made it 8 1/2 months. My better half reminded me it didn’t look good and I agree, it just needed another year or two. Maybe I’ll give it another shot when I get older. It had reached Jerry Garcia’s length and the curl had returned. And I also have the grey beard, just a little shorter.

There are a couple of things I’m sure of. I try to tell people I love, that I love them, as often as I can. And when I’m gone they will always remember that even though I can no longer say it, they are loved endlessly.

Today was a good example of life. It was so foggy this morning nothing was clear. It was damp and wet which seemed to travel throughout my bones. Then the warmth started and the sun burned through the haze. The rest of the day was beautiful, satisfying, and relaxing. I felt like a fully charging solar panel. And as the song goes, “I can see clearly now the rain is gone.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes it takes a lifetime to learn some important lessons.
  • I think I’ll hit Ocean City next year when they have that cruising weekend. I love looking at classic and custom cars.
  • Hey Cheeto, Does “rounding the turn” include driving through the guardrail to our deaths?
  • Charging all the batteries today for a weekend full of shooting.

Leave a comment


I was helping watch my granddaughter yesterday and I love how it reminds me to look at life in a different light. When I’m with her I see that wonderment and discovery with that inquiring mind trying to figure things out. And that unbridled smile and laughter when things are going well.

Life can be a ball. Photo by Mike Hartley

Life between 1 and 2 years old is filled with discovery. Senses are being discovered. It’s almost like you can watch the gears turning inside their heads as they go through the day.

Then there is something we could all use a reminder of. Love begets Love. Their simple hug or raising their hand toward yours to help them with a big step. Or that full out run and leap towards you on the last step when playing peek a boo. Maybe just her falling asleep on your side or the enjoyment of a new food or combination of something together and her signing MORE to me.

You know it also reminds me that a nap in the middle of the day isn’t such a bad thing. Wish I had time to take one. Maybe today. Anyway, it was a great day with the exception that I didn’t get to shoot much of anything. Let’s hope I can get my behind outside today.

And yes I’m aware my hardwood floors above need help. They are being refinished next month.

Thought I’d continue the round theme in the first image. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random of Thoughts of the Day

  • There are a lot of people now who need help. Soon there will be even more that need help. So let’s get to the business of helping them. Isn’t that the right thing to do?
  • Been a long time since the troops (my best friends) and I were on maneuvers.
  • It’s going to be a strange holiday season ahead.
  • Funny how hypocrites don’t know who they are. Or maybe they do and don’t care?

1 Comment

that Spark

I was wondering where that personal and professional spark I used to see in some people went to? Hell, I used to wonder what I did to my creative spark for decades after I buried it. But I found it again and I feel lucky as hell.

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

You need a spark in life in some fashion. Some people carry around a box of sparklers they have so much energy in so many areas. But a few will pull you through. I hope to tickle a few of my sparks today to put me in a better place.

I’m going to try a new spark this week by trying my hand in the kitchen. Making something really good to eat is almost as good as a good picture. I guess that is why I rarely take food pictures. As soon as my visual or smell senses are triggered the time between that and eating is too short to grab the camera.

But I’ll take a break from food to try to get a few new images this week.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The final series coming up for the boys of summer.
  • Know yourself well. The more you like what you see, the better you’re doing day by day.
  • I think I have a new goal in life. I’m well underway in redefining Tired.
  • I see Coke the makers of the diet drink Tab are discontinuing the drink. I wonder if someone will make a New Tab?
  • I always keep a few of the first photos that I was proud of around to see how far I’ve come.

Leave a comment

Around Town

A nice ride around town Thursday. Well not town, more like country. The warm breeze and sun hitting my arms and legs getting the last few minutes of strong sunshine to maintain my fading tan. But as my tan fades the colors in nature are starting to explode.

Fall in HoCo Photo by Mike Hartley

The sunlight also did what I was hoping and that was to improve my mood. It seemed like a long work week. I wasn’t getting enough rest and could feel the stress building up. And having the top down with no destination other than enjoying a ride and finding a spot for lunch was the best.

And that spot was Anthony’s NY Pizza and Pasta House in Clarksville. Each time I go there I’m more impressed. It’s a ways from home but quality Italian food is worth a drive. We will be returning.

Finished the day with my two best friends, filled with laughter and fun. I had intended to post when I got home but promptly fell asleep. Thursday is my transition day from a night existence to a normal daytime life. This switching back and forth seems to be taking a much higher tool on life than it used to when I was younger.

I’m trying to hold on for another few years but it’s not going to be easy. Sometimes it’s physically tough, sometimes mentally. But now it seems to be both each week. Such is life. This is an easier cross to bear than many others in these times.

Today music is saving and inspiring me at the same time after that dreary Friday. Sort of like waves hitting the beach. So much so, I want to get up and kick myself in the behind for not incorporating it more in my professional part of the week.

As I was blowing leaves off my deck today I decided to leave this one on the screen alone.

Hang on till spring returns. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The cold this morning royally pissed me off.
  • Does anyone get the feeling everyone is about to explode?
  • Wasted time and wasted opportunities are difficult to overcome but if you don’t you won’t enjoy life. So just move onto something that is worth the time and makes you happy. I think I’ll work on a carving I started for my son.
  • Picking up the camera again the last couple of days feels good.

Leave a comment

Look for the right things

Today I looked in the mirror after washing my hands and saw this oval shape on my shoulder of my black tee shirt. I looked a little closer and it was the shape of a mouth. And then a smile crossed my face as I remembered picking up my granddaughter after lunch and she put her face into my shoulder after she had taken a big sip of milk. I’ve never been so proud to be a napkin in my life.

Come back soon. Well when it gets warmer. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • After the nice day ahead tomorrow, I think I’ll settle in for my winter hibernation.
  • I have a taste for ribs brewing.
  • In some ways, we have the opportunity to make some really good changes for the world and the people in it ahead.
  • Pain has re-entered my life as a frequent visitor. I’ve got to remember how to deal with it and move on also till it goes away again.

Leave a comment

Breaks and beginnings

Sorry about the break from posting the last week. That apology is to both you and myself. Life intervened again, some good some not. I really miss reading other blogs and doing my own to the point that returning to it today seems so sweet. Hopefully, this will mark a new beginning and I can get back to some of my own hobbies again.

Only some of my life is in focus. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m going along more with the swings of life than I used to I guess partly because I just know that is the way life goes. Experience is a wonderful teacher. Control sometimes isn’t within your grasp and for us control freaks that’s troubling. So you have to adapt and modify actions and expectations. Let’s see how this kid can do it again.

In the spring its the pollen. In the fall its the leaf prints covering my car.

Each leaf leaves its fingerprint. And there are a lot of fingerprints on my car today. Photo by Mike Hartley
And the deck and gutters will soon have their fill. Photo by Mike Hartley

The next few days promise some warmth so outside I will be.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Feeling like my creative mojo is on vacation.
  • Time to remake the gallery in my office.
  • Pain relief = having the help you need with the stuff that hurts you if you do it alone.
  • Not driving as much as I used to for years now, the crazy stuff I see now surprises me more than it used to. Which means I was getting immune to some really bad stuff.
  • Happy B-Day to the US Navy and RIP Berta.

Leave a comment

Busy is good

I’m finally getting a handle on busy. I just needed to prioritize and act. The more I prioritize that I really don’t need to do the more time I have. And if I spend that and the other time acting more gets done. It’s an interesting balance to maintain. Doing it often and correctly is entirely another matter.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes its very simple. Do I cut the lower back yard every week? Hell no, because it isn’t used and isn’t seen for the most part. I used to at one time cut it every week because I was concerned about the look of my yard. Yeah, I cut it every other week and nobody is the worse for wear.

Other times it’s very complicated decisions. Cancer woke me up a few times this last decade and changed my thinking. Family and friends are kings of my life and time now. Expressing myself in different ways is important to me. Be they just sharing time and love to taking a picture or writing or making something for them.

For years I prioritized some of the wrong things. Too much emphasis on career/work. Not enough on my children and wife. Sometimes for selfish fun. Not sorry I took some time for that but at times it was out of place.

At different times in your life, you might be asked to step up and put your life on hold. Caregivers know what this means. Grandparents raising children know of this. Caring for extended family or friends. These things can take busy to new levels. Just be careful.

But my busy lately has been balanced and good. Glad I have my health to stay busy.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve been listening to a lot of old Crosby Stills and Nash and CSNY lately. I wonder if its the influence of the long hair I have again.
  • I guess the people who don’t believe the virus is real or much to worry about don’t spend much time praying for the families affected by it.
  • World Teachers Day – Much love to the two wonderful teachers in our family and all those that do so much for our children.
  • The lack of common sense and ignorance among people is very disturbing.

Leave a comment


Feeling good this weekend. Had my granddaughter a few days this week and they were wonderful. The innocence of a child’s laughter and smiles. There wonderment when you play games and tricks with them. The enjoyment of watching them eat new foods. And just in case my daughter is reading this one I didn’t give her anything bad. By the way, she likes bacon.

Thankfully my better half reminded me there was more to Saturday than chores. And I was feeling better after a rude Friday evening. We took a 2-hour ride around the county and enjoyed the sights. Seemed like everyone had the same idea because traffic was intense for that afternoon. Even on the back roads.

Old EC was hoping. Photo by Mike Hartley

So a beautiful Saturday was had. Could be a little warmer but I’ll cope. What I’m having trouble coping with is the neighbor’s roosters each day. Getting miffed every morning when they wake me before dawn. And forget taking a nap during the day because they go off several times during the daylight also. And when I’m working a night shift its just brutal to try to get some sleep. But I’ll get into that another day. Maybe I need a visit to this establishment on Main Street that I haven’t been in. I think its the building where the Horse Spirits Gallary was.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though its only in the ’60s for a high temp today that means its still a top-down day on the car because the warmth of the sun will be there. That drive yesterday was nice. I just have to remember a day like that in January or February would revive my soul so I won’t complain about it being a little chilly.

I wonder if the population of this country (U.S.) will get its act together enough to overcome this virus? I have my doubts. So many needless deaths and people sick for short and long periods. It makes me wonder about people’s lack of compassion for each other.

I saw a blogger ask what’s in your drafts folder. At this moment I have 270 draft posts in there. Some of which will never see the light of day, some may be a germ of an idea that gets developed or one that should be trashed. I’ve had drafts come back years later and seem more relevant or have a photo or two that I need for another post.

Some are photo ideas I’d like to work on more because I’m not satisfied with the images. Some are images I’m very pleased with and I don’t have the right words to go with them.

I guess I should really clean it out and finish some of those.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Too bad everyone can’t get half the care the President gets.
  • I found out where the time goes, to the past.
  • Holly crap, I forgot to flip my wall calendars again.
  • I have no idea how people go through life without a significant partner.
  • Could you imagine what we could accomplish if we were on the same page?

Leave a comment

Change it

I observed someone change the conversation yesterday back to some positivity. It was a nice thing to watch. It took him some time but he persisted and redirected it. Everyone benefited from this one act. Which got me to thinking how do I get a balance in my conversation.

Going to water some positive thoughts in my own way. Photo by Mike Hartley

Lots of issues, serious ones need discussion. But they also are very difficult at times and not likely to leave anyone laughing. But there is a time a place for them. Some much of that is mixed into our normal course of getting together that it’s easy to let that become too much a part of important things like love and encouragement and laughter and joy.

Well, I’m going to try to be much more conscious of interjecting observations or my beliefs. In other words, know your audience. Then again there are times to be serious and let at least family members you hold dear your thoughts on safety, preparation, and emergencies. Remember, you just don’t flip a set of car keys to a 15-year-old and say have at it. So why would the rest of life be different?

Timing is another thing to pick carefully. Sometimes communication on difficult issues isn’t in our control and must be made even in awkward times.

But overall I’m going to try to keep more to myself. I’ve always tried to be a better listener than a talker anyway but I fear as I’ve aged my balance is out of whack. So in my effort to make what might be a stressful winter and holiday season, I’ll try to be a sign of optimism. That is till I have a bad caregiver or childcare day, Then all bets are off. Just kidding. Maybe

As I cut the yard yesterday I noticed we already have a pretty good supply of leaves on the ground. Enough where even though I have a mulching mower and cut into a circle center, there is enough that needed raking

Colors soon to appear. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Good start for the Lakers the other night. Let’s keep it going this evening.
  • Karma can be a bitch.
  • Do you ever feel not like yourself?
  • Got to get out and do some shooting today. The camera kind.
  • It’s that in-between season again where a pair of gym shorts and flip flops ain’t cutting it.

Leave a comment

It’s on

My friends are well aware of my dislike for cold temps, cold winds, cold precipitation. So my best friend sends me a picture of his pool closing with the cover on and says he has extended the invitation for The Hawk (our term for cold). So it’s on, the battle for the season of dread is on.

I need the Bubble. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I go to the Farmers Almanac and check their prediction and what do I see? BAD NEWS. The headline Extra Cold and Snow this winter for the state of Maryland. All right, at least I know what I’m dealing with. A little extra fuel for the generator if an emergency strikes. Chop some firewood. Stock up on food. Hibernate.

Keep that flame going. Photo by Mike Hartley

But on the very good side, I don’t have to worry about making that long commute into the bowels of D.C. And that is a very good thing. So that will make this fall season a little better without that hanging over my head for the months after that.

The start of the workweek has been brutal. And yet I’m in very good spirits. I guess it all depends on the perspective. With the debate tonight I figure it’s going to be an extra busy night for news. Which means volume, late deadlines, and lots of eyes on everyone. So let me get back to the madness.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Is it ironic the show “The Weakest Link” is on right before the Presidential Debate?
  • Today I’m reminded of a quote from the movie Trading Places. “You know it occurs to me, the best way to hurt rich people is turning them into poor people.” Ain’t karma wonderful.
  • Life is short, eat well.


Soggy, sad, but looking up

This wet damp weather must not be good for my body or mind. Feeling like crap this weekend. But what I’m really bothered with this morning is the fact that I missed National Daughters day. My children are the most important thing in the world to me and the last thing I want them to feel is that they are anything less than the most important thing in the world to me.

Time to find the light. Photo by Mike Hartley

Yes, I try to let both of them know each day of the year how special they are to us. Yes, I try to keep up with these new observances but the more I try to get away from Facebook the less I’m aware of these events. I guess I should go out and look at a yearly calendar and put them in my events to make note of.

Today I’m trying to turn this less than 100% physical hulk and dampened attitude around. I read something from an old coworker about how they just tuned out all the political stuff for the last 3 weeks. and we’re getting there sanity and cheerfulness back. That sounds like a good idea. I know who I’m voting for. Nothing is going to change that. So why spend time listening to this. Well, I do have to pay attention to it on my job but when I’m off I think I’ll just ditch the news except for sports and the weather.

I feel like I’m in a fog. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Being comfortable in your own home is very important.
  • I’m concerned that things are going to get far more complicated quickly and soon.
  • My better half made my day by fixing me some eggs and biscuits the other morning. Little things count for a LOT.
  • Sometimes you think you know someone.

Leave a comment

I’m free

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

Kicking it to sunrise Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

Leave a comment

Decked Out

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

Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

Oh yeah, happy first day of Fall.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Along Sand Hill Road – Howard County MD.

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

Leave a comment

Keep learning

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

Leave a comment


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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

Leave a comment


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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

Leave a comment


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

Photo by Mike Hartley

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

Just the two of us. Photo by Mike Hartley.

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

Leave a comment


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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

Leave a comment

Cinnamon Buns

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

Another shot fishing at Danials Dam Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

Leave a comment

Missing you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

1 Comment

Well, isn’t that special

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

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

Fog over Lake Habeeb Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

What kind of haircut is this. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

Leave a comment


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

Seasons changing soon. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find it all here. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

Welcome center and mural. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wishing everyone a great Labor Day Monday. Be safe.

Get up and GO. Photo by Mike Hartley