THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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I looked out on what appeared to be a full moon and opened the door and was greeted by what felt like the coldest temps to date this season. Good thing I’m working from home today because my instincts were that of a bear. Find a warm cave and stay there till it warms up.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I got a feeling I’ll be starting the space heater for some extra warmth later also. Speaking of warmth I’ve been thinking of going out soon and splitting some of that seasoned wood I have on the old pool deck. And then share it with my son and call to get an insert in the main chimney because some of the tiles are bad I’m told.

Well enough rambling about home repairs. I’ve got Xmas lights to put up.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Helping is more rewarding than hating.
  • There is tired and then sleep-deprived and then there is me.
  • To be successful in not eating too much I have to think about not eating too much. The default mode is to EAT.
  • I wonder if anyone under 50 knows what “getting punchy” means.

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  • That minute before falling asleep.
  • That first day of the weekend when you get up and don’t have to rush out the door.
  • That first hot chocolate of the cold winter season.
  • That shower after working outside on a 100 degree day.
  • That first time your new pet curled up on your lap.
  • That moment your children are born healthy.
  • That first time your hair on your neck stood up on end at a concert.
  • That first step on the beach after a long winter season.
  • That first crabcake or dozen steamed crabs.
  • That piano solo by Billy Powell during Free Bird.
  • That hug after I haven’t seen my better half in a while.
  • That time your children open their gifts and you see a smile you were hoping for.
  • That feeling in looking at a picture of a family/friend who has passed and remembering good times and smiling.
  • That uplift you feel after helping someone.
  • That memory of the favorite meal you mother used to make you.
  • That knowledge that you gave your chosen work the best effort.
  • That assurance from your pets of their unconditional love for you.
  • That incredible high from holding your children’s children and making them laugh.
  • That reward you feel that is invisible to others from following your dreams.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I could never work downtown 5 days a week. Thank goodness for work from home days.
  • OK, I got two weeks to make everything happen.
  • I try to envision myself driving to the ocean on a warm summer day this time of year.
  • I can’t help but blacken asphalt when the song Kickstart my Heart comes on.

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Monday madness

Started with nothing. Trying to make something. Always short on time on Monday’s. So tired ideas are hard to come by and frustration builds after starting 2 posts and not being excited and starting a third. Too much time on the road and it bumper to bumper traffic. And no I didn’t even go shopping.

The Howard County Conservancy Photo by Mike Hartley

Worried about cramming in 4 weeks of chores and must do’s into 2 weeks. But one thing I’ve learned late in life. Just keep taking a step and then take another and another. It might not accomplish everything but it keeps you marching in the right direction.

So it seems like Wednesday morning we might have some white stuff falling from the sky. I do hate cold and cold and wet is just piling on, but the first coating of snow each season is beautiful.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • 4 hours sleep doesn’t cut it.
  • I’m rediscovering soup.
  • I actually get uncomfortable when I’m overdue for a haircut. My how the times change.
  • The best gift ideas are not on the internet. There the ones in your heart because you know someone so well.

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How many more

I was sitting here thinking about how many more office chairs I’ll need in my lifetime. As the two I have are starting to show some age like their owner.

Then I wondered about how many more sunrises. How many more hugs. How many more photos. How many more handholds. How many more racks of ribs. How many more songs. You know whatever stuff you love. When you get older the thought crosses your mind every so often. I don’t get depressed about that stuff but I do remind myself to appreciate each step, each breath, each day, each relationship.

Sanibel Island Fla. Photo by Mike Hartley

Boy these weekends sure do go by quickly but I do have a lot to show for it. I added a thousand images to my photo site. It’s going to take me another week or two but I hope to have that site updated by the end of the year and ready to share with you all.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It felt good to help someone out today. I should do it more often. If it weren’t for the full time job it would be a lot easier.
  • Well I missed getting to Arlington this weekend. Looks like I will see all the wreaths at the headstones next weekend after all.
  • As you get older its harder to remember where every one of the thousands of potholes are in the streets of DC.
  • Sometimes working alone is OK.
  • Before you know it some young children might be waking you up to inform you its Christmas morning. I miss those days.

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Pressures and Pearl

The good ole pressures of the holiday season are creeping in. I started my shopping today. What a zoo out there. No wonder online shopping is becoming more popular. I’m surprised how much we do already and my guess is it’s going to be even more in the future.

This home delivery craze does bring one question. How much cardboard are we going through? A box for every item? It seems like a problem in the making.

I managed to get a few gifts today and maybe I’ll get in the swing and try to finish up this coming week. Which reminds me I should go get a tree tomorrow and then get some lights up outside soon also. Pressure pressure pressure.

Actually it’s a blessing to have those things on the agenda. This season is going to be a special one. As long as you have your health, there isn’t much of a reason to complain.

Picked up some holiday flowers for my batter half today. Something I’m long overdue in doing for her.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m worried as the generation that fought in World War II is quickly lost, that this day is losing its significance. And the worst thing you can do is forget about history because then you are doomed to repeat it. I salute my Uncle Frank who was on the battleship West Virginia at Pearl Harbor this day in 1941. And I salute all Veterans.

That may be one of the curses of this technology boom. We’re more interested in reading about Kardashians instead of Kamakazi’s. Were more interested in Scandals instead of Sacrifice. And who’s getting Botox instead of being Brave. I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get the proper balance between living a good life but not forgetting the sacrifice many gave and continue to give to get it. But it seems like we are losing it. Some older ones might say we lost that balance long ago.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • You can see the best and worst of our world by just going to a parking lot this time of year. You can see people being both very courteous and very selfish within seconds of each other.
  • I’ve got to do some fresh shooting. So when I get my behind from behind this laptop I’m going to do something.
  • It scares me that my close friends might be moving away someday as we get older.
  • At forty I wish I had the energy that I had when I was twenty. At over 60 now I wish I could remember the energy I had when I was 20.
  • This is a tough time of year for those who have experienced significant loss. That is just about all of us so be patient, be respectful, be compassionate and be sympathetic.

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I got back to work on building my long-neglected photo site today. And I hope I can keep going and get a base of work like I did here and just continue to build for years. I just looked and I have about 1200 images in it already but have a lot of other work to add.

Then comes the work of organizing, labels, the order of images and who knows, maybe putting some things up for sale. Of course, I’ll go back and do an edit and pull a few out. I should have finished this up earlier this year but as with all the projects I start, they just take some time.

I’ve fished off the green boat in Florida.
Photo by Mike Hartley.

It will also allow me to look at some items by category and I can start doing prints of my best work again. I got a fairly good printer, I should make use of the tools I have. Which reminds me I’m out to the supply store tomorrow.

Photo Editing – I was looking at a post on Photofocus about some software for sky replacement for Real Estate photographers recently. It raised something I feel I should clarify about my own photography. I don’t own sophisticated software for photo editing and if I did I wouldn’t use it to change an image in a way that changes the original scene. Bright/dark highlight/shadow corrections. Maybe a crop is what I do and you see. I guess that is from working around photojournalist.

If I ever manipulate an image in that way, it won’t say Photo by Mike Hartley it will say Illustration by Mike Hartley.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • No matter how many pictures I take, it’s never enough.
  • I haven’t had so much fun just clapping back and forth with a child in decades like I did today.
  • Sharing is important. Therefore I made a donation.
  • To be wealthy without money is a wonderful thing.

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Some days you just faceplant

It’s not possible to ride every wave perfectly. Some days you can dive under the waves. Some days you catch each one that looks good and you’re in heaven. Other days you get beaten up and thrown under churning waters. Some days you might miss one entirely and get your back adjusted.

Watch for speedbumps of surfers who have been planted.
Photo by Mike Hartley

We all have those days. Thankfully today wasn’t one of them but they do roll around. So whether those storms bravely and pick up and move on as quickly as you can when they do come around.

I can’t wait to see this view and smell the salt air and feel the warm breeze.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The question isn’t why we are so divided and don’t get any governing done. The question is what are we going to do about it?
  • Looking deep into a child’s eyes is a wonderful experience.
  • I’d much rather watch the tachometer than the speedometer.
  • The limit on the number of times you can have soup in a day is waved when its this cold.

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What's important

Many things are important. The last few days of work have been important. With the coming holidays, I’ve got to get thinking and shopping because that is important. I’ve been trying to remember to get proper rest which is important.

But the most important thing of all is that I’m going to see my granddaughter for the next two days. Children always have a way of showing you what is the most important thing in life. Giving children a good base of love and support and direction is critical and it takes a family.

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

I wish I had time to brush up on a few more things but midnight approaches and my 10-minute break is over.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Isn’t life grand? Well, most days at least.
  • Time for a change maybe.
  • I’ve got a book I really want to read. I wonder if I lay it open to a different page each night over my head as I sleep if I could absorb it?
  • OK, I didn’t shoot today but I did work on my makeshift studio.
  • I promise a more visual post tomorrow.

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I was just laughing at the way Billy Crystal used to say the word “Marvelous” in his skit imitating Fernando Lamas on SNL. Life is Marvelous and always can be even when it’s not optimal. I’m reminded by this by the inspiration of children who are sick and their belief in each day. The strength to look beyond limitations or illness or even less than rosy outlooks astounds me. It embarrasses me when I think of my small problems. They inspire me to take advantage of every day.

Now there is a formation. Photo by Mike Hartley

Feeling better again – Wow, sometimes a reminder of feeling poorly for a while really makes you appreciate the times you are feeling good, which I hope for all of you is most of the time. Last night I was feeling like I was going to throw up for about 10 hours while sitting at my desk. That is when I wasn’t in the bathroom. I know TMI. I’ll move on to another topic.

Writing a book – For a while I thought about writing a book. I still am and have several ideas. Some like existing in a nocturnal world. Maybe some about my photography. And a half dozen other ideas. But my first one and most important will be to my children and I’ve decided this will be just for them.

Tomorrow I shoot – No not a gun, my cameras. I see there is some sunshine in the forecast so I think I’ll get out and soak up some rays.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s Giving Tuesday. I still have a few minutes to make a few donations which I’m going to do once I finish this.
  • It’s marvelous when you don’t need to touch the pharmacy in the med cabinet for relief for a good period of time.
  • Is it me or are drivers getting worse by the day. Oh yeah, it must be that holiday spirit.
  • I didn’t get out on Small Business Saturday but I will be supporting some small business in the area shortly. Do the same if you can. Not everything of value is found on Amazon.
  • I’m too stressed out. Time to relax a bit.
  • This is the first car I’ve ever owned with a seat warmer. It’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

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Sick Day

I was thinking about not doing a post today because I was under the weather. Let me rephrase that, I was sick last night and this morning and I’m not feeling 100% yet but had a burst of energy and thought I’d attempt something.

Arlington National Cemetery
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I went looking for a photo being I didn’t shoot anything new today and ran across this image which reminded me I haven’t been over to visit my parents in a while. I think I’ll cure that this Sunday. The wreath laying won’t take place till the following week and its really beautiful when they are all out but time gets tighter as the days pass so I’m going to go when I have time.

And the next 3 weeks are packed so the time is now. I’m going to have to get ahead and prepare some posts for the next three weeks because work is really kicking into high gear. And with elections and olympics next year its going to be nuts.

Working in the news business has some interesting years. After 40 plus years I’m looking forward to the day I’m out of the rat race in a few years down the road. I just heard today that a few more old timers have left the company, which reduces my pool of people I even know down even further.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The weight scale is now my friend.
  • I’d like to say that age discrimination isn’t real but once you get older you will find out it is.
  • Working on your skills is a never ending job.
  • I’m sick of working holidays.
  • Stand up for what you know is right. Even if it has a price.

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Thinking ahead

Thinking ahead is something that is good most of the time. It’s good to have goals and plans and dreams and act on them. Sometimes thinking ahead is disconcerting. Anytime I go to the doctors I get nervous the days preceding the appointment. And now they call you a few days in advance to confirm the appointment.

I particularly don’t like followup cancer checkups. So until some of this week passes and those tests are done I’ll be on edge a bit. I’ve gotten much better at these followup appointments in terms of spending less time each time worrying about them. But occasionally it still shakes me.

Wristband I wore during treatments. Photo by Mike Hartley

You know it’s not the surgeries or radiation, it was those meetings with the doctors because they always have the key. The things that come afterwards are the results of an appointment and test and news. Tomorrow I hope for good news again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Welcome to Decembuuuur.
  • I’m starting to see age in our group. But usually I need my glasses to focus on it.
  • Feeling under the weather tonight, but powering through.
  • Already back in some bad sleep habits. Time to change that again.
  • Some of the strongest people I know are some of the sickest.

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Festive Saturday

I had a wonderful treat today at the Festival of Trees at the Maryland State fairgrounds with my family and a relaxed and fun lunch afterward. This has been a weekend to remember. It makes the hard work during the week an afterthought. It makes my blood pressure steady and good. It makes my body relax and the tension to melt away.

Entrance to the 30th annual Festival of Trees.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It was a little frosty outside and inside. But we can’t complain here in the mid-Atlantic area because it seems the rest of the country is struggling with some winter nastiness.

Photo by Mike Hartley

The crowds were something. I hope they raised a boatload of money.

If you don’t have plans for Sunday it might be a nice treat to attend.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I had my first piece of chocolate-covered bacon today. And yes it was good. I can’t believe I liked it but it’s proof that bacon and anything are good together.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though our granddaughter is a bit young still she had a great day. Her eyes sparkled today and I’m excited about the coming Christmas holiday again like that excitement you get as a child. I’m almost giddy with anticipation and joy with the first hand made gift from her in a few years down the road.

Even though we all wish for peace, it’s an elusive goal.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though it’s going to be a bear of a week ahead, I’m ready for it because of the past few days.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m inspired to stay positive and relaxed. And to get in the spirit of giving and sharing. I’ve done that the past few days and hope to keep it going in many ways and deeds.

So December 1st is just a few minutes away, its OK to get the trees out, go cut one or stop at your local school or fire station sale and start decorating.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not usually into crowds but today’s was fine. I guess I’m in the season.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is no such thing as a doctor’s appointment that you don’t fret about.
  • I should get on the treadmill. See, those are the type of thoughts that are brought on by having a small piece of apple pie.
  • Life is a lot easier when you feel loved.
  • I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

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A breeze

Just after midnight Wednesday I was listening to the wind propel things at my house. Well, mostly small branches from the oaks in the front yard and maybe. In the backyard, we lost another tree. Mother Nature decided to do some pruning. I heard it go. Just like I heard the one that took the power lines down on Halloween night during the last big blow.

I’m all for a nice breeze, it feels fresh outside after a good wind. But living next to woods gets a little tricky in the increasingly frequent stronger storms. I’ve seen a few of our neighbors take some pre-emptive actions. I’ve done that also. Had 7 trees out less than two years ago. I can see 3 more this spring on the agenda.

Breeze in the treeze. Photo by Mike Hartley

Most are the ash trees that have been hit by the ash bore. But some pines have been hit hard with something also. And then there are the very healthy oaks I have out front but too close to the house. I keep them trimmed well but they were too close together.

I love the trees. That is one of the reasons I like our area so. Its surrounded by woods and streams and wildlife. I used to be more concerned in the summertime with the severe thunderstorms but these fall storms seem to be just as bad. Or at least in my neck of the woods.

I think I’ll go look at some trees that won’t be affected by Mother Nature at the Festival of Trees this weekend. We haven’t done that as a family in several years so it should be a grand time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I spent some quality time with my Son today and it was a great reminder that there are few things if any, better than being a father.
  • I think I’ll get up early tomorrow just so I can take a late afternoon nap.
  • Once I find out I have very little shopping time left I’ll start to panic, but not until then.
  • You know its scary when you realize you’re not as sharp as you used to be. Either that or my keys now have legs.
  • I thought I wouldn’t have time for this today. I was glad I was wrong.

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Thankful Thursday

I’m really too tired to even be starting this. 3 hours of sleep early this morning isn’t enough to power me through the remaining few hours. But I love this blogging and sharing a few thoughts with my friends and family along with whoever stumbles across these pages.

Because there are many who don’t get to spend holidays like Thanksgiving together be it for their Service for their country, or Service for their communities, we salute your commitment and sacrifice. You know this world is not a simple place. It’s not a 9-5 for everyone. It’s not even a Monday to Friday. It’s not a safe working environment. Its handling situations not of your own making and dealing with life and death situations regularly. I salute and wish for your safety.

And then there are those of us who due to social changes in how holidays are observed are working extra hours, extra days, extra shifts. Just because of the almighty dollar for stockholders.

Of course, distances separate families and weather also complicates arrangements so things don’t always go as planned plus travel is stressful and everyone is traveling it seems. Sometimes it’s not even possible because of the cost. And then there is just the shared time with multiple families that sometimes means important people aren’t there.

Holidays also give me pause. It’s a reminder of those who have passed who aren’t there. The dishes they would make or the laughter they would provide and of course the love they shared. Sometimes those feelings are overwhelming because of the special sense of loss that each of us feels.

But as I sit here and reflect on the day, I’ll say what I was thinking earlier. It was one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve had. I’m not totally sure why I feel that way. It was special because we had 4 generations together for the first time at Thanksgiving. It was special because all the food was made with love. It was comfortable because it was in my own home. It was easy going because everyone seemed so relaxed. It was a nice amount of time together instead of those short visits. It was started and ended with hugs and I love you’s. It was smooth because everyone helped and brought lots of containers for the take-home feast from leftovers. I was able to get a family photo for one of my best friends who lives a long way away as requested. I don’t feel overstuffed and actually have started to pick on leftovers. I’m so proud of my other half for making such a great feast, having the children that love to come home and be with us and express their love and thanks to us. It was just a warm feeling all over from the combinations of things. I hope everyone had a good or great day.

Wonder if there are a few left?
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I found something that really aggravated my back pain, standing there carving the 18 lb turkey. I’m going to pass that on to my Son in future years.
  • I yearn to live to be a happy old man. But I’m in absolutely in no hurry to accomplish that goal.
  • It was nice to see the Terps get a victory in round one of their Tournament.
  • Don’t forget to support Small Business Saturday this weekend.

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Wandering Wednesday

No, I didn’t go for a walk except for some time on the treadmill. It’s so difficult to squeeze anything in while working full-time plus, but I give it a shot each day. I’m a little short on sleep so I may be a bit punchy today. Yeah, I can hear you saying how can it get more scatterbrained than it has been in the past?

The sliced nuts that will be added to the green beans.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The house is going to smell good tomorrow. I’m hoping everyone gets to their destinations safely. I remember getting a flat one Thanksgiving about 3 miles short of my Mom’s home. Back then there wasn’t much of anything open. And back then spares were real tires but of course, I didn’t have one because I just put my snow tires on and took off the L60 Crager Mach 8 mags for the winter. I can’t remember exactly but I think I had to go home and get those monsters and change them in some very cold weather on the side of the road. Of course, the air shocks didn’t have enough pressure so I had to take it easy till the next morning to avoid scraping the sidewalls. I have no idea what took me down that tangent other than it popped in my memory as I saw one of the few old pictures I had of that car on my wall.

I wish I had some shots with the chrome traction bars and the flat black Hooker headers and side pipes. That thing sounded great. And you haven’t lived if you haven’t had a Hurst shifter with the nice handle grip.

My Camaro from back in the old days.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So anyway back to the Holiday feast. I’m going to feast on the family visiting and soak up every minute of each of them. I’m going to try to take it easy and not overeat too much. I’m going to watch some football and pick some Maryland basketball games to go with my Son. I’m going to make strange faces and noises for my granddaughter. I’ll let her pull the glasses off my face because she loves to do that. I’ll help clean up and maybe even take my Mother and Father inlaw home.

And then I’ll try to throw together another post for another new day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Have you seen these commercials for something called Calm? Usually, a shot of some tree leaves in a steady rain. And it says to do nothing for 15 seconds and that is all you see except a timed circle. When I’m sitting in front of the TV I already thought I was doing nothing? Now I’m doing nothing on top of nothing. Now if I was sleeping on the couch with the TV watching me and that commercial comes on is that the trifecta of doing nothing which equals calm?
  • That was a long random thought.
  • The hardest decision tomorrow will be which slice of pie to have, Pecan, Pumpkin or Apple? Well, maybe 2 out of 3. Well maybe if I didn’t stuff myself at dinner all 3. Oh crap, there is vanilla ice cream so I guess I should cut back to just 2 pieces.


Chose Wisely

You can see, sometimes very clearly afterward how the decisions you make affect your life and others. Having that clarity when making them is far less clear. Simple decisions like should I go out and put the top down on the car and go for a joy ride or should I take care of the task at home and prep for the coming company? Which direction to take?

Ships Wheel Photo by Mike Hartley

And to hear I thought I had time to go out and do some shooting on the joy ride. Well, I covered the outdoor A/C unit for the winter, stored the patio furniture, vacuumed the upstairs, made some dinner and a few other chores instead.

Life is filled with choices. I’ve made many a bad one, so I’m far from perfect. But most days now I have a bag of choices that really don’t have many bad apples in it so whatever way I go, its productive most of the time.

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

There is one friend I really wish I could get to about making better choices. I’m going to keep trying, but my batting average isn’t good so far. But being he is a friend there is no stopping.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Only a full bottle of dressing can overcome a salad.
  • I feel like a cow when I eat salad.
  • Salads are just an excuse to get rid of square bread cubes and call them a fancy name like croutons.
  • Did you get the impression I got the salad instead of the large order of chicken wings? It was the smart move but not the fun one.
  • Ok, next train of thought that isn’t Salad related. I see far too many sports shows related to or entirely about betting. Even the normal pregame shows have too much emphasis on the players to sit and start in fantasy leagues which I’m assuming are betting related in some way. Or the lines on the game and who is giving points and how many. I’m beginning to detect a problem here society.
  • At one time I gambled on sports. I quickly found out I enjoy sports much more when no money involved.
  • Funny how I lost interest in NASCAR when all my favorites weren’t driving anymore. And now with Kyle Bush winning the cup, it gives me less of a reason to get back to it.
  • I love college basketball.

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Monday minute

A minute is about what I have in time to work on this today. And for a change of pace it wasn’t poor time management on my part, just no time available. But maybe that means I didn’t have my priorities straight.

Mill at EC. Photo by Mike Hartley

I think tomorrow will be better and I hope to put together a meaningful post. The temp outside might touch 60 which means I can go outside again. And while I won’t be shooting any snow pictures the season does offer new views of things with the trees bare again.

Also tomorrow is the last day I can go near the kitchen. My better half will be taking over and has a dim view of anybody taking up space or time in that area as she prepares the feast for Thursday.

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

So my apologies for this lackluster post. I felt the need to check in though and get back to my daily routine of working on this blog.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Getting proper rest is really cutting into the rest of the day.
  • If you can avoid moving yesterdays to do list to today, your making good progress.
  • I think I’ll fast a little bit the next two days so I can really pack it away on Thursday.
  • Why would I pay through the nose for an NBA ticket when you can’t predict who will show up for the other team.

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Most of my life I’ve worked in rural places where parking wasn’t an issue. But the last 21+ years I’ve been parking in downtown D.C. My current monthly cost is $150.00 which is after-tax dollars. If that seems like a lot the day rate is close to double that.

How are you feeling about parking costs?
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve paid that day rate also for a number of years and it really affects the bottom line on the paycheck. And yes it pays more when you work in D.C. but there are a lot of expenses associated with it.

For instance not parking in a garage at night. During my tenures working a night shift most if not all of the people that I’ve known to park on the street have had their cars broken into. One just took place recently for a friend with a nice car.

And we work right downtown near the White House on K street. For those of you not familiar with D.C. that is a good area. I know that my car could be vandalized at my home. I know crime doesn’t have any boundaries but I would never park on the street in D.C. be it day or night.

For even if your car isn’t broken into the likelihood of damage just by people parking is enough for people to buy rubber pads to put over their bumpers when they park. You can clearly see the action on the cars that are a few years old with scratches on the bumpers. Not just a few either. I’ve seen some where it looks like it must be almost a daily occurance. Another reason I’ll never live in a city.

All I know is I’ll be very glad when I don’t have to pay for parking and not worry about door dings in the small spaced garages by inconsiderate people.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It was a nice weekend and the dinner with my better half on Saturday was so good in both company and food. Stella Notcha has some fine calamari.
  • Its only Sunday night and I’m already excited about having the family later this week.
  • Sometimes I think I hear my car say thank you after an oil change.
  • I look forward greatly to the day I have a few minutes to write.
  • I’ve got to force myself to get out in this cold and do some outdoor photography Monday.


Last visit

Today was the last visit I believe in my wife’s family home. They have moved and we were picking up the last thing at their place. It’s a bench seat that says welcome on the back of it that they had on their front porch. We got this for them a number of years ago.

Photo by Mike Hartley

We are going to keep this in the family and pass it down. There were many things that were distributed to family members. From mementos to yard tools. I saw that my father in law and I shared the same thing in one way. We would both bring back seashells from the shore as one of his sons held them up and said Dad do you want these. I have small groups of shells that I’ve gathered that represent each of my family members. It takes me back to those vacations when the kids were young.

As I stepped to the road to take a picture of the house I reflected on how I always felt welcome here. Well, a lot more than welcome in fact. Very welcome and loved. I remember my first visit to pick up Patti for a date and a house full of people that I thought I’d never remember all the names of.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I remember the first dinner my better half made me in her home. The holiday celebrations and birthdays gathered around the dining room table singing Happy Birthday. The soccer and baseball games in the side yard. The cookouts and lunches around the large kitchen table. The visits with relatives down from Philly.

Lots of very warm memories. I thank them all for letting me be part of their family. I especially thank her parents for while they have always been very special to me they have become even more so since my Mother passed.

What was once the family gathering spot will become a new home for a new family. I hope all the love that was shared in this home helps the new owners in their lives. For if a house could speak, it would say thank you for the memories.

Homes of many decades become something more than a home. One of my best friends lives in my old neighborhood and I still ride by my old home and circle the streets I used to peddle on my bike with friends or delivering newspapers.

Each time this comes to pass I wonder if it will be my day someday. Where taking care of a home and yard will become too much and or too expensive to outsource all the time. Or that our health will no longer allow us to be here.

This is always one of the toughest things to do in a lifetime and this is my second personal experience with it. Moving parents into more suitable living for their senior needs but leaving the family home of 4-5 decades.

I can see the trama and emotions in this transition. I see the children questioning themselves if this is the right thing. We all know it is but it doesn’t make it any easier. I can see the parents asking themselves the same thing. I’m sure the answer is much harder for them as I could see it was in my Mom.

Now things are memories. But memories do live on in families. Ones where you flashback to Christmas mornings or graduations and all the events of life and raising children in a home. They live on in both our minds and in our hearts. Sometimes in photos of these events. And sometimes in those rides past your home. But the most important thing is we still get to celebrate together but just at a different location.

This morning I had no idea what I was going to write about. I didn’t even think of it on the way over after we went to the dump. But once I got there I had to pull out my camera to get a few last shots inside and out. As I took a shot of the dining room I remember how cramped it was to get everyone in there. Especially as we got older and a little heavier. Well some of us did. But we would all cram in there and blow out the candles on cakes or share an after Thanksgiving dinner table full of deserts and retreat to the couch in the living room for more football.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for all the wonderful times there. And thank you again for my better half.

And while a home is a special place, the people inside are what makes it special.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s getting colder out and I’m really going to start complaining soon.
  • For a lot of people, there is no such thing as a holiday weekend.
  • I’ve got to do some good deeds this week.

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Everybody, Needs Somebody to Love.

There I go listening to upbeat music again. What am I thinking? I’ve always liked the Blues Brothers version of this classic. Gets me in a good spirit for the holiday season.

And today I’m in very good spirits. Because I got somebody to love. Actually I got a lot of people to love. And if I was more open-minded and forgiving I’d have even more. But I’ll go with the list I have because its nice and big and I have trouble sometimes letting everyone know I do love them in both actions and words.

Tomorrow is catch up day. Got to get the home ready for company next week. Also some time with some friends should keep my spirits high.

Lets give it a shot. Photo by Mike Hartley

Emotions – I was doing something I meant to do last week. I still made it before the deadline. For some years now I’ve been making a donation to Wreaths Across America. To have one put on my parents grave at Arlington. I always feel good when I pay my respects on visits. But its always tough around the holidays because I miss them so. I thought about getting a second one but I thought I’d do something for living veterans also. So off I go to look into that.

Another beautiful time of year at Arlington.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I made the best garlic parmesan flounder tonight. I’m getting into cooking again.
  • What happened to the sun today? Pretty much a no show.
  • I’m feeling guilty about not looking at my followed blogs much this past week or two. So let me get reading.


Home by the Sea

I kind of got inspired by listening to some music again. And Home by the Sea and Second Home by the Sea from Genisis got me in a good mood again. I’ve always thought about a home by the water. We usually stay on the water on vacation and it does my spirit wonders.

Some colorful waterfront property in Florida.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But given the unpredictability from Mother Nature, I’m not sure I’d like to own waterfront property. I don’t know what it is about water but it’s such a calming influence on me. I even watching the storms roll in almost as I like a bright sunny day or an afternoon filled with puffy clouds floating by. I guess the big factor is just the time to be outside and enjoying Mother Nature. The smell of the salty air. The sounds of waves. The warmness of the sand. The cool feel of the breeze on a hot day.

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

It’s kind of hard to appreciate those things sitting in a cube farm with lots of glass windows like a goldfish bowl. But I’ll let my mind float to the shore this winter many times. Its what gets me through the cold months. And then in March and April, I start getting excited at the return of temps more to my liking. I can hardly contain myself in May in anticipation of the sand between the toes.

Too bad we can’t sit and have civil conversations anymore.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s about time I got out and got some new images. And this week with temps in the 50’s for a few days I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity. Let’s hope for some sun tomorrow. And the motivation to get my behind outside.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The longer you live the more answers there are to why things happened in history. Because humans aren’t good at remembering it and keep repeating it.
  • I’ve got to keep from getting so tired that I can pass out in a few seconds.
  • Do you remember the days where you could eat ice cream each day and not pick up a pound?
  • I was getting worn down with the work week but I think I’m finding my second wind.

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In the air tonight

I wonder what will be in the air tonight. I was hoping for some good news on Sunday evening but it didn’t come. So my radar will really be up for it on Monday. And low and behold that good news came through.

Time is a gift.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Life is about accepting and responding to changes. I’m learning how to make those changes work for me. For I just improved my quality of life with one request that was granted. I just got back 130 hours per year of my time that I don’t have to spend sitting in traffic. It might not sound a like a lot to you but that is just a change of 1 day per week that I recoup all that time.

That is over 3 weeks of full time production that I can devote to my crafts and interest. Now the trick is to not waste that time. I didn’t do too well today but I did help someone out for a bit which always makes me feel good.

Looking forward to getting out on the water again this spring.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Wall calendars will never get old for me. The only objection I have is they go by so fast.
  • I’m so proud I’ve been able to keep some weight off its given me incentive to loss a few more pounds.
  • One thing I’m always late with. My Xmas list.
  • I’m going to make a long overdue visit this coming weekend.

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I’m free and not

I started this post on Thursday intending that it would be that day’s post. Well, that and the next two were missed. The combination of some fun things and being in a little bit of a funk. I’m not going to say I’ve been too lazy to get to it. Actually I did work on it day by day till this morning when none of it made sense because it was time-based. I was so excited that my weekend was starting on Thursday evening and looking forward to watching our grandchild on Friday and the Terps basketball game on Saturday and kind of an open Sunday for a change of pace had me giddy.

I did a bit of walking myself.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I was so glad the workweek was in the rearview mirror. It’s always such a stress relief. The jobs I’ve had have always been stressful. And I put more stress on myself to be the best I can. So when I’m signing off on Thursday this past week it was especially relaxing.

Thursday night I spent with my best friends. I think it had been at least a month since our last get together which is a long time for us. Usually, we meet each week. We had a great time and shared some laughs as I had thought we would.

Friday we had our beautiful granddaughter. And what a pleasure that is. And my better half and I went out to dinner for a change of pace and had a very good meal at Shannon’s in Ellicott City.

Saturday I was off to see my favorite team’s basketball. This sure beats the last few weekends where I’ve been under the weather. I got some good rest this weekend and it reminded me what not getting that rest was doing to me.

Can you swing it? Photo by Mike Hartley

Some busy times ahead with the holidays upon us very shortly but instead of getting all stressed out I’m just going to try to enjoy each day. We will have 4 generations together which is a first this year and to be celebrated.

I’m going to celebrate many things this year. Because I’m getting in the proper frame of mind and the mindset is to do, experience and accomplish many things.

So my freedom this weekend is done. I’m back to work and my spirits have changed. Sunday is always the toughest day of the week. And I’m doing a solo so that isn’t much fun either. So I find myself looking forward. And I hope to be back to my daily schedule. My apologies for the absence.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The scale in my bedroom is now my friend. It used to make me feel guilty all the time and now it’s giving me the good news I’ve been hoping for so long.
  • Evaluations of everything should be an ongoing way of living. Constantly taking on new information. Reevaluating and forming new paths.
  • The more I take charge of myself, the happier I am.
  • I’m learning not to get upset at the politics going on. All I need to do is VOTE. I will have my say there.



I write a good bit but don’t consider myself a writer. So what am I doing? Obviously, it would be good to know what direction I was going. At first, I started this blog to exhibit my photography. Words hadn’t been given much thought of at the start. But after 5+ years of rambling on, I’ve found it very fun and rewarding to put my thoughts down.

I started to think about my writing more when my father in law talked to me about his writings and wanted to share them with me for some inspiration. Then I thought about the type of writing I’m doing. Because the writing he has done is more short story related. I’ve never thought about writing fiction. I find it hard to even start down that road because I don’t think my mind likes working in that mode. It just doesn’t seem comfortable.

I can’t remember who gave me this.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I don’t consider myself a storyteller. I’m just someone with a pile of disorganized thoughts and experiences relating some of them and the feelings and emotions they invoke or inspire or haunt me. And most of the time being inspired by a random thought or photo I’ve snapped.

I see other bloggers weaving these nice stories or poems or insights on life and I marvel and enjoy them greatly. And I’m learning (painfully slowly for you) how to not only write but create something with worthwhile content and style.

Days when the really wrote a story.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve always marveled at writers that I’ve met and worked with over the decades. People writing on deadlines. Now that is pressure. Again, I’m not a writer in the publishing jobs I’ve had. I should have taken advantage of all that talent around me over the years. I certainly did a lot of reading through. One would think that it might help but I guess I’m a slow learner.

Each day I feel lucky to be able to share life in words and photos.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’d still like to write a book for my children. I’d like to write about some of my professional experiences. I’d like to write about the special friendships I’ve shared. I could write forever about my better half. I thought about writing about my observations on politics but I’m not into the ramifications of sharing those opinions.

Each day I wake, there is no preconceived notion of what the fingers will put together on the keyboard. I take writing like life, a day at a time. I find it makes me think. It helps me stay on the positive side because despite how pissed off I might seem in real life I want to let everyone know life is a wonderful blessing and experience if you use it the right way.

Writing shouldn’t weigh you down. It should lighten the load.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Each day I hope to find or share an inspiration, maybe a thought that lights a fire for someone. Maybe something to make you chuckle or pause in retrospect about a similar experience. Maybe to just make someone think they can write also. I’d like to see my kids write. One because they are much sharper than their old man and as I listen to them they make a lot of sense and have some great observations of life themselves.

Well, its time to write me off for the day. Tomorrow I’ll work on some better writing. And maybe have a discussion with my Father in law about writing. I bet he would enjoy doing something new.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder what writing would be called if we started with the computer instead of the pen?
  • I’m so glad my children take their health seriously.
  • The things we accept as normal shows how little we care about life.
  • It’s a good thing the keyboard makes my writing legible.

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Got some sleep, not enough, the rest of the day will be tough.

The mind is better today. No battles to do on the highway. Just sitting in my home and enjoying life my way.

I spoke my piece on a few professional issues on the job today. And no it wasn’t about extra pay.

I communicated with family and friends. That is an enjoyment that never ends.

Select your direction wisely.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I looked in the mirror and saw a little more grey on the hair. No problem at least it’s still there.

The pursuit of one’s goals is a fine thing. For happiness, it gives has a nice ring.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A full moon and cold temps produce some clear conditions.
  • I’m looking forward to not stepping outside in the next 36 hours.
  • Two small things that make me feel much better. Getting a haircut and a fresh pack of photo paper and some ink for the printer.
  • I’m glad I’ve been given another day to make up for some of the days I’ve wasted.

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No Time

I tried to make some time today but the guys cutting down trees and mulching them up early today really cut into my sleep. I then got up early for an afternoon meeting and the crap software that is used to log in remotely and catch the meeting wasn’t working today. I came in early to work to get updated on some things that should have been communicated and done weeks ago.

So its not the best of Mondays which area already tight on time. But my attitude remains upbeat.

Strapped for Time Photo by Mike Hartley

But I decided to take a few seconds to try to get back to one of my passions. And this is one of them. The rest of the week looks much better and I hope to do some shooting for new images.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Trying to sleep during the day is a lost cause.
  • Life is a negotiation.
  • Medical insurance confuses the hell out of me.
  • I thought the decisions would get easier later in life. Seems the opposite is true at times.
  • It’s too early in the season for the coming temperatures.

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Veterans Salute

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. I’ve spent some time thinking about that. I was watching some history channel and there is a lot of WWII segments. My father and two uncles fought in that war. One flew in B-17’s over Europe. One uncle was on the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor. And my father served on a Destroyer (USS Converse) in the Pacific.

I try to imagine what that must have been like for men so young. Just as I wonder about what we put our youngest through with repeated tours as has been the case over the last two decades.

I’m moved by the sacrifice so many have made. Even if you come out without physical injuries the mental part may be just as bad or worse. I have great respect for all who serve in whatever capacity for our defence and safety.

My Dad died about a month after this photo. Photo by Shirley Hartley

I also thank my Son in law and my cousin and nephew for their service. I thank my coworkers who have served. I salute all the families that have sacrificed much to provide that security our armed services provide.

Dad in uniform downtown. Photo by Shirley Hartley

Which reminds me I think I’ll make my annual donation to Wreaths Across America again this Monday. I love the look of Arlington when all those wreaths lay up against the headstones.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Cleaning out a house you have known for decades for sale is an interesting emotional experience.
  • Spending time with my children is the most rewarding experience.
  • I’m having snowball withdraw being the Snowball Stand in Woodstock is closed.
  • I can’t believe another work week is underway again.

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On track

This is my new friend. Yep, a treadmill and resistance bands. Maybe some weights once in a while but mainly putting on miles inside this winter will be my goal. And I mean many miles. I’m on a mission to keep this weight down and lower it a bit more.

Photo by Mike Hartley

My initial goal is to do at least an hour every day. When I’m off of work I’d like to put in 2-3 hours. Let’s see how it goes. I’m actually looking forward to working out again. Been many years since I’ve had any physical routine.

Also going to try to get in the daily routine of shooting again. I’m tired of letting opportunities pass me by. It’s the only way I’m going to improve. I practiced with some lighting and angles last night with a bottle of Crown Royal and a crystal glass. I also did some reading on still life photography.

Of course, I could go outside this weekend and do some still life photography when the temps drop into the 20’s. Frozen people exhibit is what I need to do. I hate winter and I can illustrate it in pictures.

But tonight’s goal is to form a more complete still life setup. Use the Nikon this time and try some different directions with the flash. Last night I was using the light I provided.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Tomorrow my attention will be to the very young and very old. Watching my granddaughter and visiting my wife’s parents. What more could you ask for?
  • Today was a day without proper rest.
  • It’s not just how you measure up, its what you measure against.
  • I was pleased with my first attempt at some product photography last night. I tried some different lighting and angles and have a few more things in the arsenal now.
  • It’s always good to be excited about learning.

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The studio is now open

Well truth be told, I don’t have a studio other than a makeshift one I set up from time to time in my basement till my better half reminds me that I’m taking up too much space and the place looks a mess.

When I started looking at the 10-day forecast I thought to myself if I’m going to be shooting it’s going to be indoors. So I got the tripods out along with a folding table and I’m trying to find some lighting so I can get started later today.

I have no idea what I’m going to do. I’ll root around for some subject matter and get started. It should be a good learning experience.

It looks like an awkward place to lay my head on a pillow. But my better half is the decorator.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I feel like I grew up in the age of beautiful music.
  • If love is your feeling when you wake and when you rest your head for the evening then the day has been a success.
  • Its college basketball season. All is right with the world again.
  • Won’t get fooled again is a great tune. And truer words have never been spoken. “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”


Simple does it

I was just sitting here thinking about expectations of myself that started to gear up as I’ve been feeling a little better again the last day or two. It seems the more I think about expectations for myself the less I get done. The more I think and then act the more I get done. Just repeating that simple approach, to keep moving forward, the more I’m accomplishing and the less I have time to think about expectations.

Things are looking up.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Because then I can look back at each day and feel good about what I’ve got done instead of looking at a long list that I always make impossible for myself to meet.

From Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal.
Photo by Mike Hartley

If I can get some new images posted, along with a few thoughts then I’m moving forward.

From Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Hopefully, I’ve cut the yard for the last time this year.
  • I wish I could talk without coughing.
  • I have a taste for pizza, is midnight too late to cook one?
  • I’m proud to have a mower that is at least 21 years old. Yeah, it’s going to need a little work this winter but it still runs like a champ. And yes it has some duct tape on it.
  • Make life work for you.

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Wow, it was chilly this morning when I stepped outside. The first time a complete body shiver was experienced in some time. Some feel refreshed and invigorated by this feeling. That is not my reaction at all. And it’s just the beginning of the season of dread for me.

I’m ready for it. I think.
Photo by Mike Hartley

One thing I dread about winter is the driving. People in the DMV (District, Maryland, Virginia) area have enough issues when its a dry track. Throw in some wetness that freezes and its nuts. My record long commute on the way home once was 6 and half hours. I’ve had dozens of rides of multiple hours each way. Of course now my desire to risk my car and my own health isn’t what it used to be. Not that my employer would endorse that attitude, they don’t own my body or pay for the repairs on the car so I make my own rules now instead of the blind devotion I once had. Plus I have more of a work from home option now than I used to which is a real perk.

Winter season is also harder for me to stay in shape other than round but this year is going to be different. It seems all my close friends are also watching their weight so I’m on that bandwagon and plan on eating smart and putting that treadmill in my basement to very good use.

Last weekend I saw my better half taking my summer shorts to the basement for the coming season. I can’t wait till they are back in my drawers and temps are once again on the way up instead of down.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Reading is good. Listening is better. Understanding is tops.
  • The thing I see in most businesses now is the lack of closeness between people who work there which can’t be good for teamwork.
  • The older you get the less you enjoy driving at night.
  • Pride in one’s children is a wonderful experience.
  • After not having been on the road for almost 2 weeks I was rudely reminded yesterday as to how many idiots we have amongst us.

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Starting again

So glad to have my power on again after a 34-hour outage from Thursday evening to Saturday morning. Also just starting to feel human again after this illness set me back for the last 11 days. I’m still not near 100% but going in the right direction. Now I have to watch myself and not push it and end up on my back again. A common mistake I’ve made a few times in my life.

Fire from down power lines behind my home.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, I blinked and woke up in November. My how fast life passes along. This reminds me to get on my horse and accomplish as much as possible each day.

Opportunities are there for us each day to take advantage of or let pass by. Today’s opportunities are creating space to create new work. I’m a bit of a packrat and I’m purging. And by clearing space I don’t just mean physical space. I mean clearing time also. Time spent on useless activities, time spent worrying, time spent choosing the wrong activity or interest, time spent helping the wrong things or the wrong people. Today I begin moving on.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Perspective change is always something to pay attention to after you have been under the weather for a while.
  • I missed seeing the fall season this year. Bummer.
  • I miss seeing my granddaughter so much.
  • I’ve got to give someone some tough news tomorrow. It’s no longer healthy for me to continue to support someone who won’t make an effort to support themselves.

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I have to do better

There are lots of things we all can improve on in life. Personally I have to do better at utilizing each day. I have to be a better listener. I have to love more and learn more patience.

I have to practice forgiveness and kindness more often. I have to tell people I love them more. I have to take care of myself so I have the best opportunity to see my children and grandchildren grow even more.

I have to learn to eat right most of the time instead of sometimes. I have to stop drinking so many sodas. I have to start exercising again on a regular basis.

I have to spend more time helping my elderly inlaws enjoy life. I have to buy my better half flowers more often. I have to be a good example for my grandchildren.

Cast a nice shadow in life.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I have to learn to be more charitable. I have to go fishing with my friends again. I have to learn what to say to a friend who has a hard time listening to any good advice.

I have to apply myself more to the things I love doing in life and less with those that I don’t. I have to drive my friends Corvette with the new supercharger before I get too old and scared to handle that much power.

I have to get another pet. I have to get some snowballs before the stand closes soon. I have to get a snowblower if I’m going to live in this home a few more decades because I’m getting too old to shovel.

I have to do a lot of things and that is a good thing because it means I’m looking forward to life each day. Because when I don’t have things to do I don’t do the right thing.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It would be nice to retire early. Well earlier than I was hoping for at least.
  • Exciting baseball game tonight. I’m going to have to write about the underdog tomorrow morning.
  • Sometimes I don’t understand the changes people go through. But being they are close to me I try very hard to accept them.
  • Don’t you just love the ability to have some long term relationships that you can seem to just pick up like it was yesterday even though you may have not seen each other for a good period of time?
  • I wonder if anything I write tonight makes sense? Sometimes codeine can cause me to ramble on foolishly.

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Good to be vertical

Today is the first day I’ve been on my feet for more than a few minutes at a time to hit the bathroom. I caught some nasty bug which feels a lot like the flu and it kicked my behind. Well, that isn’t correct, it still has a good grip on me but I finally am on the mend, I hope.

It reminded me of a few important things. On the way to the doctors yesterday my wife drove which allowed me to appreciate the simple things in life. Like for instance going outside. I hadn’t had that feeling since my cancer surgeries where it felt so good to just breath some fresh air, look at the sky and be thankful that I can again be out and about.

Floating Fall
Photo by Mike Hartley

It also reminded me of how important my better half has been in taking such good care of me and the appreciation I feel in my heart for her yet again. You see I kind of ruined our anniversary weekend with this illness. We were scheduled to hit the eastern shore and a nice dinner and overnight stay. I’ve got a lot of making up to do for that. Not because she demands anything like that. Its because she is worth here weight in gold.

I could go on forever about how much she has done for me over the decades but that codeine cough syrup they gave me is starting to kick in and I’m having a little trouble staying awake. And that is my next point. I haven’t had much sleep in the last 5 days and I’m hoping for a few consecutive hours for the first time. I usually don’t get that much rest but an hour or two at the most for those past days has been brutal and not something I’d ever aspire to.

Just like losing 9 lbs in the last 5 days which really is the only good part of this whole thing. It wasn’t the way I planned on meeting my goal of seeing a number other than 200+ on the scale but I blew past that and I’m the thinnest I’ve been in 10+ years. Now if I can just be smart about getting back on being able to eat again because my throat closed up badly from that cough and all that crap going down from the sinuses.

I’m glad I can be thankful for many things but I hope everyone who deals with some medical issues comes out with a greater appreciation of all the wonderful things in life. There are many more than I’ve alluded to here that I could add but just wanted to say sometimes the best part of the body getting physically healthy again is that your mind can also give you many gifts from the same experience if you’re open to them. And it should give you a reset that will make it much more enjoyable at the end of an illness if you’re able to see it and not just worry about all the chores you got to do and upset at the things you missed and the needless worry about returning to a job or traffic or any of those other small things.

Tonight I was excited to be able to sit at the computer again for a few minutes. Tomorrow I might put a camera on the tripod at the house and maybe try a few frames to see how good that can feel again for just a few minutes. Yes I’m far from 100% but I know I’m going to get there again in a few more days and I’m coming out of it better than when I went in.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When your really under the weather what day it is becomes really unimportant. Just like if the weather is good or bad, it has no importance if you can’t appreciate it.
  • Bet its a long time before you can hear the president sing “take me out to the ballgame”.
  • Usually, I can sleep anywhere. I tried every position in this house an all of them stopped working.
  • Ah, the task of picking medical insurance is upon us again for the coming year. Nice timing. This is the first time in a few decades where I can’t just say let it ride because my job has discontinued the old plan. But one thing remains consistent. Either the cost goes up or the coverage goes down.

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Stairway to someplace

I was listening to an old classic that I hadn’t heard in a good while (Stairway to heaven). I’m feeling like I’ve been doing a lot of stairs recently. Both up and down. That does two things. It shows me both the highs and lows so I have an appreciation of both. It also keeps me helps me physically fit as I do stairs and contemplate life.

Look at that, coordinated nature and infrastructure.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s funny as you get older how stairs become an obstacle themselves. That is why I like taking them when I can. To show that I will not yield till much later in life. It doesn’t seem that long ago that a stairlift was added to our inlaws home. Now they are on one level and don’t need it anymore. Which is much better for safety.

I think I’ll get out tomorrow and do some stairs around Ellicott City.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Anytime you spend your time helping someone else, it’s usually time well spent.
  • I went to Staples – didn’t have ink or paper I needed.
  • Why can’t Hillary just fade into the woods?
  • The more some people talk, the worse it gets for them.

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How is it Monday again?

I’m at a loss for words. Well, maybe not entirely. Mondays sure do roll around more frequently than other days. So instead of focusing on the negatives, which I could think of many, I’m going to pretend its the first day of a vacation even though it isn’t. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to live a little bit of fantasy.

Photo by Mike Hartley

For instance, I didn’t think I had a minute free to do a post today. But I remembered I was on vacation and I sat down and found an image that I shot on vacation a year or two ago that I never used and I’m intent on pulling something off.

It actually calmed me down for the tough workday ahead. Helped put it in the proper perspective and therefore eliciting the proper response and attention but not even close to the entire meaning of the day.

Putting things in the proper perspective always helps. Looking at things realistically also is good. I’ve always had issues keeping perspective on the jobs I’ve had. I wish I had discovered a better balance over the years. I’m finally on the right track now.

And being on the right track is now focusing more on my own crafts, my own family, my own well being and health. Not this blind work ethic I had most of my life. I give an very honest days work and effort. I try to improve myself and my group. But its not even close to everything it used to be.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There will be relaxation this weekend.
  • I’m going with the Nationals. I know it doesn’t make much sense but I like the idea of them winning it all.
  • Concern took on a whole new meaning when my granddaughter got sick for the first time.
  • If you don’t respect someone it really doesn’t matter what they think.
  • I’m discovering a new approach to driving. Stay away from as many people as possible.

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I was watching my granddaughter and thinking about the peace that overcomes a child’s face as they feed. The concentration they have on a mother or that bottle is something else. And then when they really start with food it’s looking at that spoonful of bananas or another type of mush that they become fixated on.

I like the smile that comes to their faces after each bite when they first start to eat food as I saw her do for the first time. You can see the mind just exploding with different sensations from the taste buds. And in watching some of my friends eat after the steaks come off the grill I can see we never lose that enthusiasm for eating.

Watching a child learn to eat new things will never get old for me. It reminded me of my own children when I was watching my granddaughter eat spoonfuls of mush the other day. I see and intensity and focus. I see the enjoyment and as the third spoonful misses its mark a bit because of her excitement I see her discovering my favorite phrase “food fight”.

Steak and Cake
Photo by Mike Hartley

Speaking of feeding, twice this week I have gotten food to go and both times it’s been incomplete. I think I’ll eat at home for the rest of the week. As Joe Pesci said in one of the Lethal Weapon movies “you always get F’ed going through the drive-thru.”

Anyway, back to eating in an enjoyable sense. We all enjoy a meal. Some more than others. Some foods, more than others. Sometimes its the timing of meals. Other times its who you have shared a special meal with at a special time in life. 

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

For instance the first steamed Chesapeake Bay crabs of the season. Or the first harvest of that Maryland sweet corn. The last snowball on the last warm day of the year before the snowball stand closes for the season.

Maybe that steak off the grill while it’s snowing outside. And yes we do that because we like grilled steaks. Whatever it is and where ever you are I’m sure there are seasons of food and specialties.

There are times when its the company or topic of conversation or special feelings. The meal with friends that descends on unending laughter so hard that you hurt when you go home and the next day you talk and say that was a great meal together.

Or maybe that 1st or whatever number meal together with your better half, that you both realized you were in love. Or the time you felt so comfortable to eat ribs or corn or crabs in front of them.

There’s the meal that you just feel so relaxed afterward from a conversation with a half a century old friend about life, where we are now and where we would like to go.

And how can I leave out the importance of a meal with a child after they have grown into adults and have started their own families and have their busy professional and social lives? That one on one time over a meal and place you enjoy meeting and talking in. Wow, those are great.

And tonight is Sunday. And my better half has always made the best feast. Well, its almost dinner (feeding) time so off I go.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if “get over it” will replace “forget about it” in the mob dictionary.
  • Brought a smile to a brother-in-law today with a framed photo.
  • Sorry about the 2-day break from posting. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to or didn’t start a few posts, just didn’t finish any ideas. Then again when does my rambling complete an idea?
  • I’m also feeling that I haven’t been interacting as much as I should with the blogs I follow and have yet to discover. My reading time has been cut in half recently. Time to correct.

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A little bit of rain

This was the best sleeping morning I’ve had in ages. I think I woke once but the beat of raindrops on the house had me back to sleep in seconds. And that was really needed because, like many others, I suffer from a severe lack of proper rest. One of these days I’m going to have to try another approach.

Gone fishing.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s the end of one workweek and the beginning of another. But I will squeeze in some shooting and writing during the few free minutes and some late-night production.

Some days I sit here when I’m editing some pictures and kind of dream about having some real photo editing tools. Something like Photoshop or Lightroom or others. And my next thought is where am I going to get the time to do that work also. Maybe when I retire I’ll pursue that option. Till then you’ll have to forgive my highly simplistic photography.

No wake zone. I’m more of a powerboating man myself but I do appreciate the peacefulness of this activity also.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. Things got a little tense this week and I’m looking to relax and clear the mind again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I was thinking of going outside today but it was wet.
  • Take the time to help elderly people. It might be difficult but it is rewarding because it’s the right thing to do. It will also make you feel younger.
  • When did phones become a love-hate relationship?
  • Looks like I’m going to have to plan a weekend to do my best imitation of a vegetable. And if I don’t do it soon, the holidays will be upon us.

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Top Down

Sometimes all I have to do is look up, point the camera and click. I love having a convertible on a day like today. It was also nice to have a few minutes to take a few back roads and snap.

Some are already peak. Off Freetown road.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Each one of these 70-75 degree days is like a gift. And there are very few remaining.

High and Dry. Scott’s cove.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Another brutal and long day. And I’m feeling like this old barn.

A political barn. It’s leaning to the left. Off John Hopkins Road
Photo by Mike Hartley

I find myself actually looking forward to the rain tomorrow. Always good to sleep in and my neighbor won’t be out with his chainsaw interrupting my ZZZ’s.

Peaceful moments contrasted with the rest of my day. Off of old Rt 32.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Hopefully, I’ll pick up the camera for a few minutes tomorrow and grab a few frames. It’s one of the more rewarding things I do for myself.

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Minute-less Mondays

By far the tightest day schedule-wise for me. Such is life, I’ll still squeeze every minute. Days like this push you to think smart. Yeah I know that is a stretch for me but bare with me.

Look for the light.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Did I accomplish all I had on my to do list. Not even close. Did I prioritize right? Probably not, but I did get some critical things done, yep.


I’m blessed with people that are close to me who run the gamete of the success spectrum. And I’m judging success in many different ways. From those who are very smart and have applied themselves at the highest levels matched with a great work ethic. All the way to those have gone through life on cruise control, do the least possible and even managed to coast through most of life unscathed because they have some smarts.

I’ve seen people overcome strong additions and face substantial medical challenges. I’ve seen people strike out on their own in the business world and be successful. I’ve watched people find faith and belief they never had know for decades before.

I’ve observed people struggle through relationships and end up very happy in the long run. I’ve also seen some end badly but people be the better for it.

I’ve watched families I thought would never have an issue fraction apart and some I thought might never be a family unit pull together. Watching people stick together and pull together and overcome together is a wonderful thing.

I’ve learned and used their strength to inspire some of my own trials. I’ve learned from their mistakes and tried not to repeat them, not successfully all the time. They have taught me to not give up. They have taught me forgiveness. They have taught me to think.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Its a long ride to work each day. The ride home seems much shorter for some reason.
  • Gas stations will show you where it is expensive to live.
  • Sometimes the moon is almost as brilliant as the sun.

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Which way did they go

Which way did the fish go? That is what they may be asking themselves. Personally I”m wondering where the weekend went again. And to think of it where did my summer go? Before I go and get depressed already with the thought of cooler temps, I’ll look forward to the things of fall and the holiday season.

Which way did the fish go?
Photo by Mike Hartley

I mean it could be a great fall. The boys of summer are still playing ball and my favorite sport, basketball is about to crank up. Also the next 3 weeks will be full of color outside as the transition here in the northeast cranks up.

I also love the holidays and this will be a special one. I’ve got a week of vacation left so I have a lifeline when I need it. Maybe the holidays will bring us all together more and remind us we’re all on the same boat and we should get along.

Of course there is the possibility of foul weather. And I’m not dreading that because I’m not going to deal with it. In other words I’ll be working from home if it does come our way. I’m too old and tired for heroic trips to and from the office. Plus no one would even say thanks if I did make the effort so what would be the reason to do it?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can see my workbench again. Been a while.
  • I have boxed up my hammock. The last signs of summer disappear.
  • I hope to get a big smile out of two people on Tuesday.
  • Crossing my fingers this years flu shot works.

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Seeing my children leaves me feeling blessed. Each visit is like this wealth of joy I store up. When you don’t take things for granted, you can appreciate the importance of them easier.

I had no idea what type of parent I would be. I knew I was nervous and unprepared. Being a parent is a world of unknowns. It’s the most stressful and rewarding thing at the same time.

And now my grown children make me feel so wonderful as a father that all other accomplishments pale in comparison. And now the bonus reward of watching them pass on the love to their children.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got nothing left today because I have everything.
  • A wonderful day of baseball.
  • When you always look forward to the next day, your alive.
  • Finished a project to make someone else feel good.

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Let’s get rolling

A bright and early start this morning. Well, it’s not too bright, the sun hasn’t risen yet. But getting ready for a jam-packed day. It’s funny how the term jam-packed changes as one age. I hear my father and mother in law saying they have a packed schedule when there is one appointment on their plate that day.

Rolling along. Overlooking Howard County Conservancy.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Even now in my early 60’s, I find a day with 5-10 things to do a full day. And I think back when I was in my 30’s and 40’s raising a family and working like a dog and active social life and I wonder how I crammed that all in?

And then there were the teens and 20’s where life was like a pinball machine where we just went from one thing to the next effortlessly. Well, I’m trying to regain that energy and enjoyment again.

When your enjoying life it’s fun cramming more stuff into the day. But it’s important to pick the right things and keep a balance. I do a lot of time-sharing. For instance, I rarely am able to just go out and spend time taking pictures. A majority is just out and about each day running errands or back and forth from work. Sometimes its events I attend. But rarely do I just get out to shoot.

So life is about utilizing opportunities. I feel like I have hundreds before me. At times in my life when I have been depressed, it seemed like there was none. Only chores and tasks to existing another day. I’m glad I was able to snap out of that. See cancer was good for something at least.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • First good night’s sleep I’ve gotten this week and it was great. I must have been a bit deprived because I spent 10 hours on the rack this morning. Missed all the games last night.
  • I’m not a fan of these 40-degree mornings.
  • A day with the granddaughter ahead has a smile on my face.
  • When financial interest takes over for basic rights of free speech we are in trouble.
  • I feel inclined to do two posts today being I was neglect yesterday.

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I like telling people I love them. I say it to my family all the time, especially the ones that can still hear me but I also say it to the ones I can’t get a response from anymore.

I’ve always been good at telling people my opinion. Not always with the best delivery but I do share my thoughts.

I have so much more to tell my children.

I’ve been neglect in telling some of my followers thank you. For you have given me confidence and a smile.

I’d like to tell some people where to get off but I’m getting too old to waste time doing that.

I keep telling myself to use more tags on my post other than photography and life. But sometimes I’m not too good at listening.

I’ve thought about telling some people what I think might help make them better but they are the, talk to the hand type, so again I’ll pass.

The color starting on the trees is telling me I will soon be freezing my behind off.

I saw someone telling someone where to go on the road the other day but they weren’t giving him directions.

I keep telling myself that one day I’ll be retired. Yeah, I tell myself a lot of stuff that hasn’t come true.

How we live our lives is always telling in the long run.

I hope I get the chance of telling my employer that I’m retiring someday instead of them telling me they no longer need my services.

Older people like telling stories. Some of these are very valuable lessons. It’s too bad you don’t see younger people hanging out in senior centers.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this?

Actions can be more telling than words.

It’s hard to accept people telling you things that hurt.

When it all breaks down, we can’t say the signals telling us weren’t a clear sign of problems.

Telling the truth is important.

Bring it in.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Something is telling me it’s time to wrap this up. Just like the leaves covering the outdoor furniture is telling me to get it in the shed soon.

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Caught me

The last few days I’ve caught myself getting out of sorts and letting some unhealthy ways creep back into daily life. Things like not sleeping enough, pushing the body and mind too hard and allowing the small stuff to really affect my attitude negatively.

Things like poor drivers really pissing me off. Or letting the job that pays the bills to get to me. Or just being physically sore from not resting properly or pushing a body that doesn’t like to be pushed as hard as it did at 40 years old. Letting unimportant small things build up to pressure that really isn’t there. And of course, the drive to constantly do more just from within.

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

Today I’m remembering to slow down before I put myself in an early grave or jump in a pond. Thinking about what is important and thinking about a response before that hair-trigger mind of mine goes off half-cocked.

So I’m trying to regroup. I’m trying to relax and trying to get some rest. Because if I don’t it’s not good for me or those around me.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Despite the clouds, it was a top-down day in the car.
  • I’m within a half-pound of 200. The anticipation of seeing a number under that when I step on a scale is off the chart.
  • Why am I hearing about snow in the weather forecast for parts of the country?
  • I’m trying to do something significate for someone else each day.

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Our bridges are under stress. The bridges that built this country. People and organizations and political parties working together. Each piece of steel and bolt recognized as important.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I don’t see that strength anymore. I see forces pulling the bridge apart. Pretty soon we will all be on separate land masses and more vulnerable than ever.

The sad thing is I see nothing to reverse this trend and that trend is on the fast path. Our leaders are propelling us even faster. Also inspiring the population to become more divided.

Sorry about the doom and gloom outlook. I’m probably just overly tired and also not feeling that well.

Of course politics aren’t the only thing splitting us further. Greed has a pretty big role. And then our racial issues continue to be used to further separate us.

So much of this has turned off a great deal of the population. While it looks like a lot are motivated and inspired I’m guessing its worse than it ever was. In past elections just over half of the voting age population even voted. And as evenly split as we are that means 25% of the country controls the direction. We all should be controlling the direction. We should all be involved and working together on very hard issues and problems.

But we are wasting precious time. Well enough with the downer attitude. Lets see if a few other thoughts can turn it around.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • To bad managers can’t fire owners. Beware Redskins owner.
  • Felt good to make a charitable donation today.
  • Help an older person. You will be there someday yourself.
  • The only positive I can see in the day I have to give up driving is not having to deal with the Maryland MVA offices again.
  • It’s good to recognize when you’re working too hard. But it’s better to take action to correct it.

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Stiff day

This 60+-year-old body doesn’t recover from moving days like it used to. But it still felt good to know this body still works well and can stand up to a long day’s physical activities. The job that pays the bills is a nice contrast to the work I did this weekend so sitting in a chair doesn’t look all that unattractive to start the week off.

I love some rocking chairs.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’d like to be kicking back in a rocking chair in the sunshine but it looks like it’s going to be Thursday or Friday before we see that again. It’s going to be a busy early part of the week anyway so I won’t have time to be sitting in the sun anyway.

I was sitting next to my best friends last night, really picking up on how extremely driven he is. He has an incredible attitude to overcome just about anything. I’ve always known that about him and respect him greatly for that and a number of other tremendous qualities.

He really has an incredible mindset which really is a nice power. It has changed the way I approach some things. Its always great to have friends that better you along the way. Good thing I got a lot of friends because I need a lot of help.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Usually, I’m tense to start the workweek. But I’m just too tired to be worried about it.
  • I heard it said this morning by a famous writer that you have to be a good reader to be a good writer or something to that effect. In most cases that is probably true but I was always one to break the mold.
  • Only good people will get us out of problems bad people have created.
  • I’m getting tired of working when I don’t feel well.
  • Email is both a blessing and a curse.
  • I’ve been neglect on keeping up with my favorite blogs, time to remedy that.

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Fix a flat

Its only fitting for a young man to stop and help a lady fix a flat.

Good life lessons start early.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Good day all, I was up late again and I was feeling good about finishing up a print project for some good friends. All three of their children are getting married within a 13 month period. Just attended the second one and it was beautiful.

Making some progress on a few other tasks and the results are visible and also make me feel good. Like my office for instance. I finally cleared my photo workbench. That had become a huge junk pile and catch-all for paperwork.

So today we move on to some difficult tasks that I’ll write about when I get home. Have a great day.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • OK who turned off the HEAT?
  • I’m nervous about my back holding up today.
  • Playoffs are intense. Even after a 162 game regular season.
  • On some things, you don’t need to wait for time to tell

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When you think about it, we all are really alone. We live within each of our own realities. Interpretations of the same thing seen in infinite ways. We live with our own pains and joys. Things that may be insignificant to everyone else holds a special place in your heart or mind.

Alone. That is how I feel sometimes. But I’ve grown to feel more comfortable in that space. It might sound strange to the people around me because I’m usually with people. I’m happily married, I have loving kids who visit and call often. I work in a large company and I’m blessed with many good and great friends.

Alone with your thoughts.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So why would I feel alone? Well, one can feel alone for many reasons and at many stages of life. I felt very alone when my father died when I was nine. When my better half and I have struggled I’ve felt alone. When my mom died I felt alone again. When the children grew up and went to college and moved out after that I felt alone.

When I drive to work I’m alone. When you go in for surgery you are alone. A lot of times now I work alone at the job that pays the bills. When I’m writing I’m usually alone. Most of my professional friends have retired or moved on which leaves me alone.

My Aunt and Uncle’s rowboat in 1969 with me at the helm.
Photo by Shirley Hartley

I’ve felt alone at a concert with tens of thousands of people because I can become lost so much in the music that I feel like I’m the only one there the band is playing for.

I’m alone in my basement working a lot. The random thoughts I have are alone unless I write them down or verbalize them. I’m alone on the roof when I clean gutters. When I drive home early on a Christmas or Thanksgiving holiday from work I’m almost all alone on the highway.

At least I always know there are good people there for me when I’m not alone. That is a great thing to have.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve been very productive today.
  • It was a nice night to drive with the top down.
  • My exercise includes charging my better half’s “Fitbit”
  • So much sports to watch, so little time.
  • I’m going to wake tomorrow by the voice of an infant. Isn’t life grand.

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Goodbye 90’s till next year

What a blessing this summer has been. I’m learning to cherish each one even more but having our first grandchild really made this a special one indeed. I hope I’m blessed with many more seasons and years and more grandchildren.

Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s all happened so fast. From standing in the outfield or hoop court as a teenager to my young senior years as a grandfather. A blink of an eye. I still feel like that same young boy (well a few pounds heavier) in my mind. And I’m kind of thankful to be getting that frame of mind back.

I almost felt the same way about peoples younger siblings and babies back then. Excitement. It’s not that I wasn’t super excited when I had my own family. Still, the greatest days of my life when they were born. But those prime time career days and raising children kind of took the time away to appreciate it all along the way because you were so busy going from one thing to the next or many at the same time.

So now as in my teen years I have the blessing of time to savor. And I’m savoring it.

No more.
Photo by Mike Hartley

No more AC needed after today. And yes I checked the monthly calendar on the Weather Channel and I don’t see a day over 73 degrees this month. I guess I can cover this up till next season. I’m going to miss that sun baking my arms in the convertible.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A complete day is when you get to speak to every family member even though you live apart.
  • Remember today when there is a foot of snow on the ground and then choose which one you want.
  • I see the definition of Perfect is changing also. Someone should come up with the Alternate Dictionary.
  • When we leave democracy to the few we are in danger. When we all partisipate we are much safer.
  • Really, one of these days I’ll do something worthwhile here.

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I can see the end of my work week ahead. Looming like a giant temptress of fun, joy, and excitement. Yeah, I probably can’t avoid cutting the grass for a second week in a row. One of the few benefits of the dry stretch we’re in here in the state of Maryland. And yes I’m going to play a moving man one day this weekend. And yes we are watching our grandchild. And yes I’ll be going to see one of my best friends in physical rehab.

But that leaves a few minutes to try to accomplish something. And that excites me a lot. I’m trying to stop wasting the few minutes here and there that can be put to more constructive use.

Photo by Mike Hartley

And tomorrow I have a few free minutes. Not many but going out and taking the cameras. Sometimes I feel like I’m working harder when I’m not at work. But it’s far more enjoyable.

So get out tomorrow and enjoy what might be the last 90+ degree day of the year. Break a sweat, get a snowball, walk by the stream and get out and experience life.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Baseball postseason got off to an exciting start.
  • I dream a lot less when I sleep during the day than at night.
  • If your eyes are open to opportunities then grab them.
  • I didn’t read that it was World Vegetarian Day till after my dinner of spicy sausage.

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Someone very important to me is getting some replacement parts. Yep new knees. And if anyone deserves them its him. I’ve watched him struggle with pain for years, excuse me decades. It got me thinking about how lucky I am with that aspect of health so far. All they do with me is cut body parts out.

I’ve known a few people with organ transplants. Modern medicine is something isn’t it. But we can’t rely on medicine to correct everything. We have to do our own part. Something I haven’t always acknowledged.

Morning ride along Tridelphia Mill Road.
Photo by Mike Hartley

As they say, never to late to start. Well maybe I’ll hear that someday later but not today. I’ve made diet adjustments but I haven’t been able to sustain any consistent physical activity besides what I get in chores.

So time to get busy with that effort this fall. Think I’ll start tomorrow by going for a long walk and jog. Because I’d like to continue to age. Aging is a good thing. I just hope that I can avoid the pitfalls of looking at it wrong as I do age.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Love makes the day manageable.
  • I was sad to see the U of MD Diamondback newspaper will cease print in the spring.
  • Some people don’t have a clue and are too ignorant to realize they don’t. And they seem to thrive and exalt in their ignorance. My patience for this type is wearing thin.
  • The brutal part of my week is almost behind me.
  • Don’t let others decide what is best for you.

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Grab a seat for fall

Grab your seat for the fall season. It goes by quickly and depending on the winds can be over in a blink of an eye. I think I’ll head west and catch some of the early changes that happen before they get to the low country in central Maryland.

Take your seat for the change of seasons.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think the first fall season that I’m retired I’ll start some time-lapse sequences. Go to the same spots that have some good landscapes and capture the changes. Who knows, maybe I can try that when I’m still working. Unlikely but its a thought.

Feeling restless today, The workweek looms large. Also one of my best friends is getting both knees replaced tomorrow. Going to be moving some in laws this week and I’m going to the dreaded MVA or DMV, whichever it goes by. I could add two dozen other significant chores to that list but that means I’m living I guess.

I can’t believe were into the last day of September already. So that leaves us with 3 months to go in the year. The older I get the more I shake my head at how fast the time goes by. I’m really going to make a big push to finish the year strong here. To get better content and photos.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Boy did I have a bad week of football picks. The good thing is I only lost $10 to my Son.
  • I can smell the tip off for College Basketball.
  • You ever get scared of going to see the doctor? If not you haven’t been really sick.
  • I regret not being involved more in positive change. But I’m going to make good use of the time I have left.
  • One of these days the temp will catch up with the season.



We went to a very good longtime friend’s son’s wedding today. As I told my better half when we got home that it reminds me how special being married to her is and also I’d like to be the last couple on the dance floor one day when they do the longest-married contest. In another month we will hit 39 years. I think the winning couple today had 59.

I saw a lot of love and heard a lot of good words spoken. I saw a beautiful bride, groom and a wedding party. The venue was great. Dancing was constant and the joy was great. So a good time was had.

I did a quick look at a few shots I took with the old camera. At the entrance, they had this beautiful mirror with some flowers around it. I got two angles and I couldn’t decide which I liked better. The one with the reflection of the tree at the entrance or the one reflecting the sky.

Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley

Most of our friends have been married for some time. It’s not always easy and actually it can be very difficult. My better half and I certainly have had a few rough times. I think what a shame it would have been for either of us to have taken an exit. I’m far from the perfect husband and my youthful years are littered with bad decisions at times. So she would have been justified.

But we are together and I feel stronger than ever. I’m not sure what got it back on the right track, but I’m thankful. I’m sure it was a good number of things done by both sides. And to keep it healthy that effort will always be there.

Raising children, challenging careers, new friends and family, and just growing older and changing along the way are huge hurdles. There is no set key for success other than to keep working hard at it and keep communicating. Remember the love you started out with. It also takes a good bit of acceptance.

I see people getting married that look like the perfect partners and ones that seem to be complete opposites. I’ve seen the success and failures of both. I’m fortunate to have a great number of friends that have been married several decades. Most of my best friends right along with the number I used early for us.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I see young couples struggling and sometimes not giving it the work or chance and I see opportunities lost. I’m not saying that there are very valid reasons for splits but opportunities for change and progress are the ebb and flow of life.

To all those married individuals, my hope for the best in whatever trials you’re working through. I say that because I feel both my better half and I are very happy now, but we still had trials and days that we don’t communicate well or stresses in our marriage. Everyone will no matter how long you are married. It’s just impossible to have the best days all the time. So put in the work, if you are really in love it’s well worth it. At least that is my belief and reward.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m getting better at doing a post in a very short window some days.
  • Where did this weekend go?
  • I’ve got to go now because the new season of SNL is starting.

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Changing priorities

Changing priorities sound like a big thing but its something we do all day long. Or at least I do. Maybe that is why I’m a bit all over the place but it works for me.

The ability to have set priorities and stick to them and the knowledge and experience to change on a dime when needed. Changing priorities should have good reasons and sound judgment as well as the courage to change.

Today some of my priorities changed. I can go back and second guess. I can lament that maybe I didn’t plan well initially or didn’t give the plan enough effort. But the older I get the less I do of that. I’m finding doing what I’ve chosen isn’t always the most productive. Maybe not sticking to a plan or objective. But most of the time its the right thing to do and usually the most rewarding.

Today I spent the day in love. With my granddaughter and granddog.

There are plans for tomorrow. But I’ll see what else is being run up the flagpole and adjust for the wind.

I wish everyone was awake for sunrises and sunsets.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • For some reason, in my lifetime I thought I’d see Maryland competitive with Penn State on the football field. Good thing I’m only in my 60’s. This might take some time.
  • Be careful of commitments. Make sure they are to the right people and for the right things.
  • And here I sat down 45 minutes ago without a thought in my head about what to post this evening. I almost panicked. And now that I read what I’ve done I can see why.
  • I wish the bitterness was gone. I wish the trust in each other would return. I long for the laughter there used to be. Well, we can always hope tomorrow will be better.

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Thinking Thursday

I didn’t accomplish too much on my to-do list but that is OK. The mind needed to unwind a bit and the body needed some horizontal time. I’m becoming an avid listener to my body and mind. I didn’t use to pay them much attention and abused both.

Now they have my full attention and I’m a better person for it. Not that I don’t stress them out once in a while still, it’s just not the constant stretching both thin.

Visibility = 1 garden length.

I’ve listened to something my better half said recently. I have to work on my patience. And my patience is affected by how tired I am or if I’m feeling poorly. So again another reason to take care of myself.

Well now that I got the days rest, I better take my behind to the treadmill.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • History is cool but this day to day lesson is really interesting.
  • It’s print night, time to drain the existing cartridges and refill them tomorrow. I still enjoy a photographic print more than viewing something on a screen.
  • I wish a second wind is something I could schedule.
  • Daylight is dwindling.
  • My goal for tomorrow is to fill a trashcan of old junk and get rid of it. Well, I do have a lot more goals than that, but that might be the hardest.

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Top-down, wind in the hair

Crank up the siren. We got an all-points bulletin out in good old Hazard County for nice weather. And while it was a short ride in the convertible today it was glorious. I was explaining to my father inlaw about how its the closest thing to the days of riding a motorcycle.

It’s freedom and puts a whole new perspective on driving. It also opens your eyes to all the things you miss in a cage. Sorry I meant the car.

This isn’t going to catch anything anymore than a nostalgic glance.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So the next 4 days look beautiful if you believe the weather report. I’m going to use them to get outside starting tomorrow.

I’m trying to stay positive this evening. Fighting a few things that make it hard to concentrate or just let a positive thought leap forward. I guess its just balance of life taking over. The first part of the day was good.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I learn a lot about what I would and wouldn’t like to be by watching people closely.
  • Listening to older people is a unique skill.
  • Tomorrow night our bed has an extra visitor. My Son’s dog is staying with us. That means my spot is in jeopardy.
  • If you think about telling your loved ones you love them by text, email, phone or in person and do it often, you have your head on straight.

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Slippery when wet

I’ve been writing up a storm but nothing is complete enough today to process. Actually I wrote two long pieces but one I want to put more into and the other was maybe an area that I always think about for a day or two if I want to venture into.

So I was looking through shots the past few weeks and found these puppies. I had no idea where I was going with them beyond writing the post title. I’m overwhelmed with news and work and moving furniture today.

I’m not into the raw but you can bring me, Rockefeller, all night long.
Photo by Mike Hartley

There is nothing like seafood in the summertime. There could be a zillion reasons to move and if you said I can have crabs and Old Bay I’m staying.

Even though I don’t partake in these, they are unique in many ways. And the job they do in scrubbing our waterways is incredible. Something like 50 gallons of water per day filtered.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And if anyone is aware of the date that people are eligible to no longer have to move other people let me know what it is. Just kidding, I’ll always be available for family and friends. Just like they are for me. One of my best friends texted me back after I told him I was starting the move of my inlaws and he offered to help immediately. It might take us a little longer than it did when we were younger. It might hurt more. It will always be fun and sad. Usually because of shared memories of the home being left.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My busy week just got busier.
  • Best wishes to those who use the Bay Bridge. Have patience, its better than falling into the water from those heights.
  • What an interesting news cycle.
  • Sometimes when I hurt I think about the SNL skit as Fernando says ‘It’s better to look good, than to feel good” and I always laugh for a second or two. And laughter is a good way to feel better.

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Sweet Sweat

Sweating on the first day of Fall. I love it. And when it’s warm my mind wanders to the beach. And when my mind wanders to the beach I’m lost in bliss. Well, that was the case for about 15 minutes as I laid outside catching some of the summers last rays. I didn’t sleep that well so I thought 15 minutes on the lounge chair would be splurging on laziness.

Plus I needed a few minutes to relax the mind. It’s already racing too fast and that vacation comfort zone is being eroded. Yesterday was like a holeshot in a dragster.

The days are numbered for a warm breeze to fly your kite in.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not a fan of starting off the week knowing the amount of free or unscheduled time is nill. Coming off vacation to a drag race of life is always a jarring experience.

But we will go on because that is a nice struggle. I’m not fighting life-threatening health issues or poverty or loss of loved ones. I’m not hungry, my clothes are acceptable and clean. My family and friends are healthy so life is damn good.

Keeping the proper perspective is important and something I take for granted once in a while. Yes, life is tough at times. We all have lost loved ones and had a family crisis or two or more. We all hit financial issues. Well, most of us normal folks. Responding and reacting to these events and just the daily events we all experience is the key.

Those who are alone its a tough road. You have to be your own coach, cheerleader and star player. Victories aren’t celebrated together and defeats have to be born alone. I felt that when I was much younger. And I haven’t forgotten that feeling. Maybe that is why I have such a strong family and a large group of very good friends.

They are very important to the success and just making it through the day to day life. Find yourself a good support system and it will make life much more enjoyable.

Good thing the dentist called to reschedule my cleaning. Just finished a bucket off.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So let’s get this Monday popping and gear it up for another day on the job that pays the bills.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The hardest part of cleaning up my office is getting started.
  • I’m within four pounds of seeing a number less than 200.
  • Some 16 year olds are wise beyond their years.
  • Boy some of my rock star heros are getting old.
  • Could be a cool ride home this morning with the top down.
  • Stain sticks save my wardrobe.
  • If you want evidence society is breaking down – take a drive.

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By the calendar

Today is the last day of summer according to the calendar. Here in the state of Maryland, it seems to be trying to hang on and this guy is FINE with that news. Fall and spring are nice but that territory between those two I dread.

Lining up for the start of next summer already.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Being we have a stretch of nice weather still I hope to take full advantage of it and get outside. One thing I found very relaxing was just laying in the sun be it on the beach or on my deck lounge chair which is many miles from the beach but the sun was still warming my mood.

One thing that hasn’t been good for the fall colors is the dry weather we have had. If they drop early then some of the seasons color are lost. Let’s hope for the best because that is a nice thing living in this part of the country, the fall foliage.

Well onto some self improvement thoughts. Always good to work on my faults and there is no shortage of them. One of them I discussed with my better half this evening is doing more. Getting out and experiencing life, enjoying events and each others company.

So I’m taking steps in getting organized and planning because I’m not the best spur of the moment type guy in getting out.

I’m also going to try to contribute more of my time to charitable events. I hope to do 2 cancer walks next year. Its time I give back as a survivor and be thankful and maybe help someone else fighting the same thing.

I also mentioned what sleeping properly on vacation this past week did for me and I’m going to try to start getting proper rest even while working. That is going to be a tough one but the benefits are there now for me to see.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Returning to work after vacation sucks. Well it is good to still have a job.
  • Good thing I get out of town before Shutdown DC starts tomorrow. I can see some frustrated commuters trying to make hood ornaments out of protesters.
  • I’m going to start eating a lot more fruit. I’ve already incorporated lots of nuts. Lets see if this helps get under that 200 barrier.
  • I was so pleased with myself that I had the camera out the last 3 days in a row. Going to see if I can keep the streak going.


How much

When you hear the words how much, most people think of the monetary cost. Today when I wrote that title I was thinking of how much I can cram into this day. Not a bad thought being there are so many options and opportunities.

It’s not there yet, but the strength is returning to this town.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Well at the end of the day I can say I crammed a lot into one day. A mixture of work and enjoyment. After playing yard man we took a trip to the Ellicott City Main Street Music Festival for a few hours. We walked to the city and saw all 3 outdoor stages. The bands sounded pretty good and it was so good to see this city alive again. We had a quick bite to eat in town and then went for a cruise till dark.

The temps were hot, the music was cool.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’ll make this an annual event to attend in the future. And I hope it continues to be a great success for the city. If the crowds on the street and in the shops and parking lots were any indication it was.

Packed sidewalks bring a smile to my face.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The day was filled with the sounds of classics to modern.

A bit of something for everyone.
Photo by Mike Hartley
I couldn’t believe this was a Honda Shadow. I used to ride one of these for decades.
Photo by Mike Hartley
Behind the Old Howard County TImes building. I always have some great memories of working in this town.
Photo by Mike Hartley
Next to the Wine Bin. What would you expect? A crowd?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I was very glad to see the youth of the world concerned and making their presence felt by voicing global climate issues/effects. Maybe they can inspire some adults.
  • Weather-wise it was a good week to be off of work.
  • I need to work on my patience.
  • Do you believe the nonsense and all the wasted time with that Storm Area 51 crap? Proof that a dumb ass idea or thought can go way too far.


Feeling it

Some days you just start off with that special feeling. Today was one of those. In truth, the first thing I felt was pain today but regardless of that, the special feeling I was talking about was the creative juice and ideas. Both were flowing this morning. The excitement was flowing through the bloodstream.

When I look at each day as an opportunity I get excited. That is hard for me to do consistently and therefore I do waste some time with the wrong attitude. But today won’t be one of those.

Getting a good start to each day increases the chances of success.
Photo by Mike Hartley

A lot of memories have been resurfacing lately due to the transition my mother and father inlaws are making. The move to a senior living facility from their longtime home. My Mom was in her home for at least 45 years. And I remember the difficulty in the move. I think her parents might have topped that number of years in their home. I can’t and can imagine the thoughts going through their minds. I could see it in their faces in the memory of my Moms many years ago and in their faces today. This is traumatic but at the same time its the right thing at least in my opinion.

And that is a difficult thing to see when you get older. I think everyone in their family is also on the same page and belief, but that doesn’t change the facts. I’ve tried to sit here this afternoon and imagening having to leave my home. I’ve only been in my home for 33 years and right now I don’t think I’ll ever leave it. But I also hope to grow old with my better half and someday may be lucky enough to be faced with the same thing. If that happens I’m going to be very thankful and happy that my children have our best interest at heart.

It’s not even that either of our parents didn’t think it was the right time. Both had been looking into it years before they actually made the jump. And I believe in their hearts that they know that taking care of a home at their age is difficult at best. Just about everything is hired out. They choose to cook and clean for themselves but even time for that daily has passed. There are multiple levels and stairs. Of course, stairlifts have been added and rails and grips in bathrooms, but still the fall risk is high.

Even though they have a great support system made up of children and grandchildren, they still don’t have the support they need in all situations. Luckily so far no medical emergencies that either have had to handle which is the most important thing now. At that age, even in fairly good health, it’s difficult at best and sometimes impossible to help your spouse properly in emergency situations. Here someone is right down the hall 24/7. Knows what action to take, makes the calls and has help on the way immediately.

Celebrate as many sunrises as you can.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But nothing about this is easy. They are leaving their comfort zone. Even though they have watched just about everyone in their neighbor transition away, its still their neighborhood and home.

My children have been gone for years, sometimes I stop and look in and imagine their just in the other room playing. Yeah, the rooms have changed but my images of them remain strong. I’m sure this is the same for our parents.

I’ve been privileged to experience my own mom getting into her senior years and my wife’s parents even exceeding that and it’s wonderful to be able to grow old. Its also filled with difficult decisions. It’s filled with hospital visits and stays. It’s filled with diminished capacities in both physical and mental areas. All very significant challenges.

It’s family members learning to interact together after being apart for years on their own. It’s learning new care and communication techniques. It’s having patience you didn’t know you had from both the parents and children because of the stress associated with growing old at times.

Getting old is something that I’m looking at as a limited number of possibilities left to share and enjoy. Each family gathering is more special to me now. Even each call from my children up to my mother and father inlaw is savored. So in every situation, I try to remember to make it as best possible.

As the seasons change this coming Monday I know I only have so many to appreciate. When in the throes of change and stress, it’s difficult to remember that every moment is to be savored. And each side needs to remember the love they have for each other, remain as calm and willing to listen and compromise when possible. Take into account that understanding and comprehension might not be what it used to. Don’t assume they hear you correctly. Don’t assume they remember. Don’t assume they are just being difficult.

I plan on working hard to make this a smooth and comfortable transition for them. One because they deserve it. They have given so much time and love to their family that it all should come back to them at this important time in their lives. It’s what my parents would expect of me. It’s what I hope my children will do when I’m in my advanced years if I’m lucky enough to get there.

Take the long view. Not just what feels ok today.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I know why so many older people seem so nice. They have discovered the secret that being any other way is a waste of time.
  • What a beautiful stretch of weather.
  • Some old friends gave us a kitchen table today. It looks great and the chairs seem more comfortable so they have increased the pleasures of my many meals there. Many thanks.
  • I was able to make a number of older people smile today just by pushing a baby around in a stroller.
  • You know a lot of lonely people are just looking for someone to say hello or have an nice day, once in a while.

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All kinds of time

All kinds of time were the thoughts I first had when I started vacation late last week. And here we are now and its almost over and I feel a time crunch. How do I get all the things I had in my mind to do over this week?

Well, I can’t but I can try. And that is all we can ask of ourselves. Give it your best shot and then get up the next day and give it your best shot again. And if truth be told I always haven’t given it my best shot but I do better at it than I ever have as time moves along.

I don’t go to the boardwalk like we did when the kids were young.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So it’s out I go this afternoon. To enjoy some sun and maybe go for a ride with the top down and some back roads. And the cameras will be along for the ride. Tomorrow is the grandchild’s day for me. And I’m thinking about having a few crabs on Saturday to mark the coming end of Summer on Monday.

Get your claw on.
Photo by Mike Hartley

With all this joy the last week, I dread getting back to the grind and losing this relaxed feeling. I’m worried about trying to do too much because of all the things I try to fit into a day. I’m worried that I won’t get the time to pursue my hobbies.

The job that pays the bills takes more of a toll on this old guy than it used to. Maybe it’s not the job but me that is losing energy. I don’t know what it is but I’ve got to stay strong in my pursuits. Family, friends, and fun. And of course my hobbies.

Tomorrow I think I’ll concentrate on children’s photography. Saturday is the Ellicott City Main Street Music festival and that might have some good photo opportunities. Sunday I think I’ll visit Arlington National Cemetery and pay my respects and grab a few frames. Let’s see if I can accomplish something for the next few days.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How come kids hate naps so much but have all the time in the world for them and older adults love them can’t seem to squeeze in even a small one?
  • One thing vacation has taught me is that there is a big difference between 3-4 hours of sleep and 6-8 hours of sleep.
  • Not every day can be a great day but parts of it can be if you look and strive for them.
  • Dumsers in Ocean City has the best Cherry Ice Cream sodas there are.

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Skipping hump day

This is not a workweek for me so Hump Day doesn’t enter into the equation. Even though I do have some yard work to catch up on but I also hope to squeeze in some fun. Being on vacation is like the GIANT tease of what retired life could be. And boy do I find myself looking forward to it.

Peddle the days away.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The time to ride a bike, not for the exercise but just relaxation and enjoyment of seeing a new street. The time to spend a few hours a day shooting new images or writing a book. Many things I look forward to doing.

But today is to be lived today. You could spend your whole life looking forward to things you would like to do. So as I’ve said before I’m starting them now just in case. I think I’ll get my behind up early and out the door to do some local shooting.

It was National Cheeseburger day so I did my part and had one. At the time I didn’t even know it. So I must be psychic or something. Time to start eating a bit healthier again. Shedding that last 10 lbs is always the most difficult part. But I’m committed to getting those pounds off. So it’s off to the treadmill after I finish here.

I see this coming Sunday is the Zero Prostate Cancer Run/Walk in Towson MD. I made other commitments that morning but I’m going to put this on my calendar for next year right now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s not that I didn’t have any random thoughts during the last few days. It was due to having too much fun and too little time to provide those observations.
  • Progress is measured by you.
  • If you are ever in Bethany Beach eat at Ropewalk. Oh, you can drink there also.
  • Keeping a normal schedule while I’m on vacation shows me how bad my schedule really is when I’m not.
  • With so many options, its really important to choose the right ones.

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Transition Day

Yeah, it’s back to reality. But boy was it a nice escape. I had the most wonderful dinner with friends last night and some great walks and laughs and well you know, its the beach so it’s just a great time.

Yes, its another sunrise. But being they are all unique, it never gets old to me.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I got a nice bit of exercise. The water is still nice and warm. The sand is still beautiful. Candy Kitchen is still in stock. The people are friendly and the food is great. Oh yeah, there are no CROWDS.

September is a great month to hit the shore. All the benefits of summer without being shoulder to shoulder at the beach or highway.

All Hail
Photo by Mike Hartley

You also run into the more year-round residents who are just the most friendly people around it seems. While it’s true some things close up for the season, there is still a lot open.

I’m just starting to realize I’m going to have to carry these memories through our long and grey winter season. Panic is setting in already at the thought of cold weather. But we still have a month or so of tolerable weather so I won’t start going off about that yet.

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Paddling along

Each day is like a ship leaving port and returning. And today is no different. Just ending a bit later than I intended. I was up early for a wonderful event for our family. Its been a great day.

Paddle home.
Photo by my better half.

I’m feeling like a very lucky man. I was almost ready to say “one without a worry” but that wouldn’t be correct. I’m worried about the right things and less about what I can’t control. But my focus is on the good in life and sharing it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The better the spirits I’m in the more I like about life.
  • I sat outside tonight watching the moon dart in out of the clouds. Summer nights are the best.
  • Even if you have a long life, its too short in my opinion.
  • College football season is only a few weeks old and already I’m losing interest. Now basketball season can’t start soon enough though and it will keep my interest through March Madness.
  • All is right with the world when you have found a barber to replace the one you went to for almost 3 decades.


Asking myself to be positive

It always feels good to get a haircut and that is what I decided to start my day with on Thursday. Then some chores while the guy came to do service on my oil furnace.

I felt like I wasted some time yesterday, but I was just brutally tired. And it gets harder to be positive when tired and sore at the same time. So I guess that is my lead argument for missing doing a post yesterday. I know, no excuses.

Good resting spot. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I had the pleasure of taking my inlaws to the doctors. They are the sweetest couple and its a pleasure to help them out. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have them still being my parents have passed. There is no replacement for your parents but having loving inlaws for parents also really helps ease the missing love.

I think that is something I’ll do more of when I retire. My father inlaw did 17 years of driving for Meals on Wheels. I’m sure there are a ton of things I could do like that. It would be nice if we all could look after our elderly more. I remember when my Mom was in assisted and then nursing care. The number of people that got visitors often was very little. Some I believe might not have had any.

That’s a very sad and scary thought. Can you imagine that? But I guess it does happen. And probably more than I can realize. I remember at times taking the time to talk to a resident or two on the way in or out from seeing my own Mom. I always felt good about doing it because it was so often met with a smile or thank you.

I’ll be getting a chance to practice some random kindness again in the near future. I might have to revive an old policy I had with my Mom, always some fresh flowers. Well, almost all the time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I enjoy if I can make people laugh. But if I can make an infant laugh then I feel I’ve done something special.
  • I could spend two days describing how fast a day goes by.
  • I’m convinced bacon is one of the most addictive things on earth.
  • The day they stop making a manual transmission for cars is the day I stop driving. Go ahead, try to take away my clutch and shifter, just try it.

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Today gave me pause for the obvious reasons. There is no more disturbing anniversary in our history than maybe Pearl Harbor. I watched a few shows on the history of the day and the aftermath. I listened to some speeches and I was moved to tears when seeing many family member’s pain.

I’m stuck in thought about those who have passed. I’m pained by all that were affected after the events of that day from the toxic clouds of debris and the environment they had to work in and now have health issues none of us want to face ourselves.

As it moves further away in time it seems the national awareness is fading. Yeah, it gets the news coverage still. The high ranking government officials still visit sites. Our first responders hold services and events marking the memory of many brave people.

But it’s not a point of discussion anymore. It’s not even the focus on how to resolve what was started 18 years ago. Were not addressing the issues that caused this. I’m wondering how many of us even took the time to pause at the designated times to remember?

And if these thoughts weren’t enough to depress me, it’s my mother’s birthday. I sat down several times but would glance over at her pictures and be stopped in my tracks. Lots of memories come back on her birthday.

So this is far from a productive day for me. Some work, some tears, the panic that as the time passes that memories of the lost loved ones fade more. When I was sorting her things after she passed I found one of her favorite scarfs. It smelled like her. I put it in a ziplock back. I open it on her birthday and the day she passed in May and smell and touch it.

Marylander’s lost on 9/11
Photo by Mike Hartley

Then I think about how brave and strong she was to raise my sister and me alone. I think about the bravery of those at the crash sites that day. I think about the bravery of all the men and women we have sent into battle since then.

Life can be so short. Life is so precious. Life is meant to be spent in celebration and acknowledging appreciation that we have been given a special gift.

So another September 11 passes. Tomorrow I’ll try to get back on my game. Plus it will be the first day of some time off from the job that pays the bills and will allow me to get in good spirits again.

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Things change

I guess things changing is a good thing for the most part. Which means constant learning and challenges. Trouble is that leads to stress and if your not an adaptive person and like consistency then days can be tough.

I’m not sure but it seems to be a trait amongst older people that change is harder to accept. I can feel that tolerance to change is less in myself. Or maybe it’s just being able to deal with less of it at the same time?

Maybe it’s hearing the “new plan” for productivity improvement at the job that is a variation on the same theme that you have seen come and go several times over the past decades just with a new title and catchphrases and a bunch of rah-rah cheerleaders describing it’s wonderful possibilities. Yes, that magic wears off after a while.

Maybe it’s your community developing and becoming more choked with people and cars. Maybe it’s just new neighbors with a rooster. Maybe because its the house you bought and raised children isn’t as full as it once was except on occasions.

EC Railroad Museum
Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe you don’t deal well with the change of seasons like I struggle with. Thinking about snow like above sends chills and pain up my spine. Or is it the change of attitude of the nation that has changed where we have difficulty even talking to each other.

Has our trust in each other changed so and can it ever be regained? I have several friends in the middle of job transitions. That change scares the hell out of me. Especially at this time in my life, I would struggle with that change.

And something I need to change but seem to have no luck with is my eating habits. No, I’m far from the worst case, but bad habits over time will take their toll. I’ve got to find another beverage to replace a few of the Cokes I drink per day.

I fear the change in my senior year’s presents, but I’m also looking forward to the change in work status and new opportunities. I hope those years allow me to relax not be on edge as much.

Well, the day is getting ready to change. And it’s to a significant date of 9/11. Yeah, that one. But always my first thought of 9/11 is that it’s my mother’s birthday. I miss her and still struggle to this day with that change in my life.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Please pause a few minutes tomorrow to remember and respect the fallen. Thank you.
  • The frequency of close calls and accidents I see on the highway is drastically increasing. I can’t wait till I don’t have to drive at peak times.
  • It’s nice to miss your better half when your not together. It’s even nicer when they miss you also.
  • I don’t worry about my health because I’ve already had a lifetime of worry about it already.
  • Wow, he never fails to surprise me. He’s said I’m the enemy of the American people because I work for a media organization he doesn’t like. He’s said I’m not patriotic even though I go to visit my parents buried in Arlington National Cemetery often. And now he says that I’m a person of little faith a few days before my granddaughter’s baptism. I’ve never met this man but boy would I like a PERSONAL Introduction to set his ass straight.

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Keeping up is what I feel I’ve been doing. I’m trying my best to balance and enjoy life but I keep hitting the walls. I feel like a NASCAR driver with a loose car trying to run for the lead. Its wearing me out.

The thoughts don’t flow as freely when I’m stressed. All energy is expended each day and sometimes into reserves. Well, most of the time into reserves. But you can only do that for so long.

Unlock yourself.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And then again, lots of us do it for as long as it’s needed. I might be sacrificing for your children. It may mean taking care of elderly parents. It could be helping total strangers. All doing whatever is needed whenever it’s needed and for as long as it’s needed.

It can be simple stuff. Like I was struggling as to what to do for today’s post. I wrote the title “Trying” and just thought about how difficult it is sometimes to grab a few minutes and try to throw together a good post or any post for that matter.

And again today minutes are short for this effort. But I keep trying to fit it in every day regardless of other factors. I do it because I like it and its a personal commitment to myself.

Trying should always include in doing things for yourself as well as others.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • What a start to MNF. Game 1 was something.
  • I’m inspired to find more time. But these clocks are so limiting.
  • Tomorrow is snowball day. The kind you eat.
  • Commuting takes the life out of me some days.
  • Trying to set myself a new goal. Take at least one new shot around the county I live each day and post it.

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Before you know it

Before you know it, the seasons have changed.
Before you know it, your new grandchild is 6 months old.
Before you know it, its time to start another work week.
Before you know it, you’re in your sixties.
Before you know it, you’re back at the doctors or dentist.
Before you know it, the grass needs cutting again.
Before you know it, the holiday season will be upon you.
Before you know it, you have put on a few extra pounds.
Before you know it, your eyesight or hearing isn’t what it used to be.
Before you know it, you’re putting up a new calendar.
Before you know it, your children are adults with families and careers.
Before you know it, that drive to the hoop isn’t what it used to be.
Before you know it, love and friendship gets stronger.
Before you know it, you missed another opportunity.
Before you know it, another day is setting.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Its nice to be in love.
  • Happy Grandparents day.
  • Are you ready for some football?
  • I’ve got to get back to shooting some new images.
  • My better half is a good cook and I’m very thankful.
  • I used to love playing tennis. Also enjoyed watching it. But times change and I don’t do much of either anymore.

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Today I woke in pain. But I woke up.
Today I cut the yard. But Mother Nature will always win.
Today I had a light lunch. But I was fortunate to have the meal.
Today I remembered to wear a hat. Saving myself a sunburn up top.
Today I’m missing my granddaughter. But I had her for the last two days.
Today the morning was too cool. Good thing its still summer.
Today Maryland had to play a ranked team. Yet still, they won.
Today is the 6th-month mark of the birth of my grandchild. SMILE.
Today I worked hard. Good thing I can find my bed.

Select your direction wisely.
Photo by Mike Hartley

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Got in a little late last night. I had about 20 minutes to put together a post to make the daily deadline I imposed on myself. I sat for a few minutes, picked up one I started in the morning and trashed that. Then I started two different ones and I asked myself what was I doing. Not that any of these finished posts are nuggets of gold, I just don’t want to throw something up for the sake of putting something up. I want it to feel easy and natural.

Find your way.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Yes, most of my posts are hastily gathered and created. That is probably very evident. And that worries me that I’m not giving it my best. I do it as often as I can to build it into the habit of writing and photography as often as I can.

I also want to never look at this as work. Its a hobby I like very much and I will not let a self-imposed schedule muck up that feeling that I’m doing something for myself for the enjoyment of it.

In one way not keeping to my daily goal is very dangerous for me. Once I start sliding on any commitment it usually doesn’t take long to slack more often. So to counter that I’ll try to maybe do a little extra this weekend. It beats worrying and complaining about what I didn’t get done.

There is only so much time. Deciding on how to spend it is always a good thing to review.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s so easy to see the innocence in children, why is it so difficult to see it in adults.
  • Advice for the next few days. – Get outside.
  • I’m going to see if I can beat the roosters that crow behind my house to the punch tomorrow. Always good to get an early start.
  • If you’re more worried about what you can do for people instead of what people owe or can do for you, then you’re living right.

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The eye in the sky

Welcome to hump day. Broadcasting here from the eye in the sky. Not really, this shot was from our visit to Montreal Canada. One of the few times I’ve been out of my home country. Guess I’m not much of a world traveler. I guess I prefer the local sights and the comfort of my own home too much. Of course, the funds to travel are often put on the back burner to facilitate more important issues in life.

The eye in the sky. Or as Tatoo would say Ze Plane Ze Plane, look closely.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Airports are wondrous places to me where most people look at them as they would a bus stop. Hotels are a special treat, meals out and sights never seen before are of great joy and still new to me each time we go someplace because we go so infrequently.

I really should change that because I know my better half would enjoy more experiences other venues have to offer. I’ll have to see if I can surprise myself and her by turning over a new leaf.

Stress was working at me when I remembered BALANCE today. I was opening the blinds to the slider door and looked outside to the deck and saw the lounge chair. So out I went and got an hour of sun and just shut my eyes and relaxed. It was great, something I don’t often take the time to do at all. Yeah, I’m outside a lot but usually, a mower or trimmer or rake or shovel or hose or leaf blower is in my hands. Today I pointed my open palms skyward from the chair.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wish I would write more random thoughts down throughout the day instead of trying to remember them at the end of the day.
  • Every once in awhile Mother Nature shows us what power is.
  • I haven’t been this tired since yesterday.

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What a day

Didn’t sleep all that well which isn’t unusual. But two things inspired the title of this post “what a day.” Well, maybe a few more than two by the time I finish rambling on today.

The first item is something that if you live in the DMV area (DC, Maryland, Virginia) this is absolutely the worst day to be out and about. Because EVERYONE is out and about. Traffic today showed me this area has bypassed max capacity. I wasn’t a mile or two down the road this morning before someone passed me on a double yellow line and then ran a red light. Keep in mind, this is 6 am downtown DC. This afternoon I saw someone blow by a stopped bus with lights on.

backup Photo by Mike Hartley

So the chaos has begun. Well, it never really left, it just gets back to the worse parts of the year in both volume and weather issues. I’m someone who loves being behind the wheel. But this area is testing me. It has some of the most beautiful roads in the country. But they can either be parking lots or Death Race 2k tracks.

Please be careful folks. Remember the object isn’t to be there first but for all of us to get there alive.

The second item was my mother and father inlaw who are well into their senior years and lucky enough to have a lot of good children and grandchildren to help them out and through a transition to senior facilities.

I’m reminded of the caregiver responsibilities that I had with my mother. It was daunting at times and exhausting at others. But I would do it in a minute again with a smile on my face and will give any and all assistance needed for two people who have shown me a great love for many years and eased the loss of my own family.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I need some shrimp jammers from Tony’s pizza on the boardwalk. And of course a slice or two of pizza.
  • The death toll number in these storms shouldn’t be the focus. I’m not saying to exclude it from the news but don’t make it the focus.
  • I can’t imagine the horror those people experienced in the Bahama’s when you look at those images.
  • It’s all that you do with the time.

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Why are we so indifferent

Is it just a matter of taking the time to deal with an issue and then move along to another one? Have we just become too focused on ourselves? Have we lost hope that leaders will lead us in the right way? Are we not moved to do something ourselves? Am I relying on others where I should be doing more?

I’m guilty of it myself. For instance I can’t just sit and watch and not respond to the need from this storm so I’ll take some time to make a donation to the Red Cross tomorrow.

The rest of the week looks brighter.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I have to start working harder to correct some of the ill’s of society. Complain less and think what I can do to contribute.

OK, I’m picking up the cameras tomorrow regardless of what else I have to do. I’ve been very lazy with that over the weekend and its time to turn the tide. I promise, no more flower pictures for a while.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Remember the kids are out and about tomorrow for school.
  • I love me some fruit pizza.
  • Ah, football season is upon us. Time to lose money to my son again. I really try but he is just better picking than I. Maybe this year I’ll be up at the end of the year. Go Pack
  • As you can guess, time got away from me today.
  • You know being out on Labor Day morning, I would say I saw about 1/100th at best the amount of traffic on the road. I guess lots of people take the day off.
  • I got so busy I forgot to say goodbye to August.
  • This is going to be a special month though, so I’m excited.

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Truly a labor day weekend

I did get a few minute’s family time today and it was great. It was the recharge I needed. Phone calls, facetime, and text don’t cut it after a while. So my holiday weekend wasn’t a loss at all. Other than those wonderful 5 hours, it will be spent doing labor so the title of the weekend is pretty accurate.

Flowers are like children. All beautiful and special in their own way.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though holiday weekends are slower and less staffed, it’s sometimes the young in experience staffing the ship so its always a challenge. Me, I’m an old-timer. And one who should be done working holiday weekends. I think I’m going to make that a project this evening and find out how many I’ve worked in the last 5 years in this position. I know its far more than my fair share.

Such is life. But my mind is really focused on that storm and my friends in the area of impact and another mass shooting. The randomness of both events is staggering. The destruction of each is also alarming. We might not be able to do anything about hurricanes except working to change our climate. But this random gun violence is something that could have quick action taken. And if that action saves a few lives isn’t that worth it?

Don’t wait till you are grieving the loss of a loved one. Get in touch with your elected officials and tell them you want action. To hell with the studies, people are dying.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It wasn’t hot today but I sure worked up a sweat grilling out this afternoon.
  • Its good to have my mother in-law out of the hospital.
  • I think I’ve built up a thirst for a large snowball tomorrow.
  • I salute all my working holiday stiffs. Someone has to do it.

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To me, butterflies are like the earth signaling I’m OK. It seems to be very good in my neck of the woods but tv is showing me a lot different in lots of this world.

We spend a lot of time predicting the weather when we all know its unpredictable.

When you get old and you can say you have had a lot of love in your life you have lived a good life.

The gates of Summer will only be open a few more weeks.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Things that bother my back – weeding and using the string trimmer for long periods. Let me stop there because the list is long and each day I get to add something it seems.

Writing in obscurity isn’t bad if you enjoy it. And I enjoy it so I let it flow.

It’s great learning what is unique and special about each person in your life.

Proof that time is the same on the dark side as it is in the light.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Feeling kind of lonely today. Good thing children are coming tomorrow.

Some days I get so excited about being able to follow my pursuits full time and at the same time wonder if I will ever get the chance. I think I better work on working on my pursuits full time and my job that pays the bills full time before I run out of time.

I have to put on a pair of glasses to find the glasses I need to read with.

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What Holiday

Yes, I still get excited about holiday weekends. I make the best of the time I have with them. And yes they piss me off because I’m one of those people who work holidays.

A long pet peeve of mine which is another thing to look forward to in retirement, getting holidays with friends and family and not having to bolt off to work.

But I won’t rain on everyone’s parade. Get the grills going, the friends and family called and on their way. Oh yeah, chill a few cold ones and raise your glasses to another summer in the books. Stick those toes in the sand one more time. Work on that tan and try to relax enough to make it into the last quarter of the year.

I tend to take most of my vacation time during the summer months. Unless my wife’s birthday falls on a weekday I work I usually don’t take any time off till the start of June. I guess that is why my summer always goes so fast. I have a good time and getting out and about on my favorite season.

I already see leaves on my deck and when I mowed the yard today there were a number of them on the lawn. Another month or so and I’ll start getting depressed about taking on another winter season. Fall is nice and certainly beautiful, but that grey season of slush and salt and sinkholes on my favorite roads is a major depression for me.

I might just stay in this winter. I did a pretty good job last year of hibernating. I’m going to see if I can improve on that. I better get an advance notice out to my friends that I’ll be hosting a lot when the temp drops below 40 degrees.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Happiness is making a child smile and laugh.
  • There is peace on a lawnmower.
  • I just heard from one of my best friends in Florida who is hunkering down. As usual, he is helping someone less fortunate to be safer.
  • I think we take for granted how many people are not able to move out of the way of storms. Not everyone is well off or surrounded by friends and family.
  • Sometimes people flashback.
  • I’m in a creative drought. Well, at least it feels like that. I’m so tired all the time now. It could be from the lack of sleep I get.

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Chose that title today for two reasons. The first song I heard today was Bring it on Home by Led Zepplin and it starts off “Baby Baby.” The second reason is that I’m seeing my grandchild today and a baby and I can’t wait to make laugh.

What a beautiful day outside. Kind of put a jump back in my step. Love being able to have the top down on the car. Always feels great getting some sun on the body. And the ride home tonight was chilly but fun.

Selfie Zone
Photo by Mike Hartley

Got a recharge tonight by seeing my best friends. Well most of them. One is marooned down in Florida and I’m about to call him and tell him if he wants to come north he has a place to stay.

I know no place on this earth is safe from mother nature. But you won’t catch me living in tornado alley or in Florida or the gulf coast states. Yeah, I’m aware they can come this far north in Maryland. But the odds are much better here than the gulf states or Carolinas.

So I wish all the people in the path of this storm a safe passage.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is far too much carnage on the highways.
  • I guess its never too late to contemplate eating better.
  • I’m trying to put more compassion in my life. Some people insist on pushing the buttons that try to hide the mission.
  • Let me see, leafs falling, cool nights, sunflowers fading. NO, it can’t be the change of season already. NO NO NO.

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Drawing a blank

Drawing an inspirational blank this evening. Overtired and medicated so the normal stream of thought is impeded. I should just relax and let it flow but the body is in a knot today which is making that difficult. So I went looking for a few images from previous shoots because I didn’t like what I have snapped so far today.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I got busy and worked on some product photography earlier. Some practice and some shots of stuff I’m going to throw up on eBay. I haven’t tried that service yet and got to do a little reading on making a good experience for both myself and the buyer. I’ll let you know how that turns out later.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’ll work this evening on editing some family photos I took a while back and get them out. Maybe do a little planning for tomorrow and prep. Hopefully and early start and some good inspiration. Seeing the sunrise would be a good start.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So go with the flow. Time to get in the swing again and seek joy and relief.

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Good day

I say that (Good Day) in the form of a greeting. And in a sense that I hope everyone has had a good day. Can you image that? If everyone had a good day. Think of the possibilities. How would it change the perspective to have more good stuff than bad happening in your life? How would it change people and open their minds? How would it inspire and motivate everyone towards the next day?

I learn the more I focus on having a good day the more it tends to be one, the mindset of trying to do better and at the same time being satisfied with the position of life. There will always be some bad sprinkled in. Like the last few days with pain, but overall they have been wonderful days. Because I looked beyond that and accomplished much while a bit less than 100%.

Each day is like a wave. Some are good ones, some are weak. But riding them and having the anticipation for the next one is always the way to think.

Cool board man
Photo by Mike Hartley

On a site I follow, their question of the day was –

What’s the first thing you do every single morning after you wake up?

My answer was – I smile for a minute or two because I’m thankful to have another day. or I curse the pain for a minute or two and then smile because I’m thankful to have another day.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Life goes by in the blink of an eye. Enjoy each day like a glass of cold ice tea or lemonade on a hot summer day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m beginning to think Pringles are made with heroin. I can’t think of anything more addictive than that can of pressed potato chips. Well, maybe one other thing.
  • Saying a prayer for someone who has I’m sure said more prayers for others than I could ever say even if I did it 24 hours a day till I pass. For she is deserving of one for her recovery tomorrow.
  • I also am thinking of my daughter and daughter-in-law who return to the classrooms filled with students next week. I’m looking forward to their stories. We should value teachers. Not just because I have two of them, its because the role and job they do in it that is so important. They show caring, they generate excitement in learning, they teach social interaction and set standards. They teach limits and at the same time inspire greatness. Not to mention all the book stuff they teach.
  • OK, I promise no old photos tomorrow. Even if it means shooting on a cloudy and rainy day.

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Power through

A rough evening and Monday morning so I’m hoping things improve. Between work and other personal challenges its tough to find a few minutes to devote to this passion. Some days I find myself using this to get moving and ignore not feeling well and power through some of the trials we all face every day.

It could be a loved one in the hospital. It could be the thought of your children going through difficult phases and not being able to correct it. It could be personal pain or mental stress.

So I admit to slackness and will take the cheap way out for today’s post and utilize the National Dog Day to use a photo of my favorite dog. And that is my Son’s dog.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Its the little things you do that can make you special.
  • Work is a lot less fun when you don’t have fun people to work with.
  • Pain is an attention getter.
  • Holly crap, where did all those people today on the highway come from. Oh that’s right. Schools are starting and vacations are over.

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Cut it

I miss the time I used to have when someone else cut my yard. But then again I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable last tonight going out to a nice dinner with friends if I spent the money on someone else doing my yardwork.

My yard could use some support if you’re not busy.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Plus it’s still fun getting out and making the property look good. I’ve got one of the nicest crops of cut weeds and crabgrass around. Trying to turn that tide on Mother Nature but she has endless resources and has recruited neighbors on either side of me that cultivate weed farms and the woods in the back so only the street in front holds back more invasions.

Sometime the weekend seems dominated by yard work. Guess that comes with some space. But enough about cutting grass and other associated task. Its time to kick off another work week.

Kind of hard to concentrate on another work week though. Had dinner with some friends on Saturday night. One was recently retired and the other had another year to go. I’m envious of this couple. I don’t like getting like this because it makes the drive and work week a struggle. But as I’m in my early 60’s I can’t help but look into the future a little bit and think about the days that are pretty much mine when I see others I know getting to this stage. They look so happy and relieved.

I have some friends who have retired early. I have some friends that will never be able to retire either because of poor planning or love of work. I love to work, just on the things I like so in reality I will probably never retire. And while I haven’t poorly planned I do have a few holes in the retirement years. So there is a possibility I might have to work a bit longer than I would have.

I just want to spend my days watching grandchildren, writing and photographing and carving. So I’m going to start practicing those things more so I can really get into the swing when the day comes.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you have alexa and a friend named Alexei, things can get confusing.
  • Sometimes trying to reach some people isn’t a good use of time.
  • I’m disappointed with myself on not doing any shooting this weekend.
  • OK, who turned off the heat? I want names.

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Random Thoughts

It’s nice to grow old if you have children and grandchildren to fuss over and love as long as the day is old.

Wow, now that was impressive. Almost like the sky opened up for that stroke.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I don’t know which is showing their age more. My lawn tools or me.

No advice is sometimes the best advice to give.

I tried to beat the midnight deadline but I was running late. I shouldn’t have had that dessert tonight.

I’m going to bed because I have nothing more to give today.

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Move-in day

I was watching the news of all the kids moving into college for the new school year and wished in some way I had that opportunity to go off to college. I probably wouldn’t have utilized it well anyway but I wonder what could be different.

Then I was thinking and remembering the day we did that with our own children. The excitement, the tears, the hugs. I think kindergarten and college-going away hugs are some of the most intense there are with your children. For they and you realize at these two points they are off on their own in a different way for the first time.

The time between those two events (kindergarten and college) seems to have gone by in a blur once you find yourself packing up the SUV and driving them off to their college dorm. I still look at the pictures I have of my children on their moves to college and the first day.

Jeez, this was 11 years and a day ago that we were helping move our son into college.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But this coming week is something altogether new for me. In some ways, my heart even hurts more for this. My daughter is a teacher and returns to school this coming week (not that she hasn’t been there a few days already setting up) but this week she has to do something very hard. She has to leave her daughter for the first time and return to work.

I wish I could ease that feeling but it’s not possible. We are going to be helping and watching her ourselves a few days a week but I feel for them both so much. Children really are life.

Life seems to be a series of separations. Growing up ourselves, leaving home for school the first time. Leaving home to go to college. Leaving home and getting your own. Having your own children and having to leave them. Then watching them go off to school for the first time at various levels.

Watching your parents age, maybe watching them move from the family home to senior facilities. Seems like life is a series of separations that are so painful but at the same time looking back so important and successful and needed at the different stages of life.

The ability to live and survive on our own are developed in how we handle these situations. I didn’t have the funds to go off to college or the brains to have someone else pay for it. So I kind of missed the college experience except for 1 year at community college and I didn’t realize that part-time job that turned into a full time one I took to help pay for it was going to be my career.

Be thankful you have the opportunity to experience these separations. There are parents now that wish they could experience watching their children return to school instead of being in a hospital. Be thankful you are there for your children because there are a lot of kids that only share going off to school or college with one parent and sometimes none.

So to my daughter. Always remember you are the flower and the love you give will always return to you and be there for you as it has been for us.