THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Feeling okay

Accomplishments feel good. When I look at yesterday’s I feel good. Of course, today was even better. Time was shorter today for personal accomplishments but helping others will certainly be in the DONE checkbox today.

Time to build something special. Photo by Mike Hartley

I got a new computer today. The laptop I’ve been pounding away on the last several years becomes the backup and the new desktop the primary. I switched brands., I had been a longtime Dell user but the company has a plan with HP so I got a better discount going that way.

Finally, a desktop unit (larger screen) will be easy on the eyes and have healthier viewing positions. I’m setting that up now working on this post. I’ll have to get up to speed on Windows 11.

Lots of things I need to get up to speed on. But having some pastels in my hands again while drawing with my granddaughter felt good. I believe I’ll work on that again first thing in the morning.

Prepare to be boarded. Pirates in Annapolis. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Enough people came to their senses and kicked George Santos out of Congress.
  • It could be a difficult season for the Maryland Men’s Basketball team. But I’ll support them every game regardless.
  • Being taken for granted is never an easy pill to swallow.
  • I wonder how much Xmas lights add to my electrical bill? And then again it’s worth it whatever it is.
  • I’m going to try my hand at a hanging tree. I’ll take a photo if it’s not too embarrassing.

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I love Thursdays

Each time I deal with a contractor I learn some very important lessons. By now you would think I know it all but given the range of work, it’s hard to be an expert in everything but I’m getting there. Live and learn as the saying goes.

Working Man Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m not one to do bad online reviews, I communicate directly with the source company and leave it at that. Good companies I’ll spread it through word of mouth. Bad ones I won’t. But if I hear someone recommend a company I’ve had an alternate experience with I’ll chime in to give some balance.

So I’m 0 for 2 on companies I’ve picked for a home project. The last phase is remaining and I guess we will be selecting again.

I’ve got to take my better half to Annapolis soon. I like wandering around that town and there are many good places to eat. One of them is below, Carrols Creek Cafe, the last place I had a meal in this town, with a very old and good friend.

I’ve eaten at Pussers a few times with my daughter on the deck watching Ego Alley. I believe I heard they are closing. Middletons, Obriens, Ms. Shirleys, Chick and Ruths, Buddys, Chart House, and many more. But one I haven’t been that I’m going to try this coming year is Lewnes Steak House. There are a lot of new places we haven’t tried in Annapolis and many other Maryland towns that I’m looking forward to visiting this coming year.

I added a couple of very important photos to my desk. I haven’t put photos on my desk before. I have many on surrounding walls and shelves, but these were special. One from a shot of my Mom holding me at 6 months old, another a month after I turned 9 of my father showing me how to throw a football weeks before he passed away. One of me feeding our first pet kitten when I was 8 and one of my Dad in dress Uniform. They remind me of the happiest time in my childhood, between some very tough times.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is style, in substance.
  • I always wondered if I could be a good drummer.
  • I believe it’s warm enough again to venture outside. Barely.
  • Oh shoot, I just listened to AC/DC For those about to Rock. Looks like it could be one of those nights.
  • The only thing I like about drinking water is that it doesn’t go flat if you leave it out for a while after opening. No, seriously I’m blessed to have water to drink.
  • A night of laughter with your two best friends is a wonderful way to end the day.

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I want to do some fresh shooting but the weather for today and tomorrow is going to be below my tolerance levels so putting up some strings of lights on the porch will be the extent of my outdoor activities. And given the sound of that wind outside that might be put off another few days. I’m keeping my behind inside for the most part.

Thinking of warm thoughts and supplying a warm photo to battle this cold day. From Kent Narrows MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

So the challenge is what can I do indoors in this simple abode. What items of interest can I work with? I know I need to work on lighting, and this looks like the perfect opportunity. I did a few setups early today but haven’t downloaded it yet. I made it through a few chapters on Studio photography. I’m thinking about how I can set up part of the space in the basement as a makeshift studio.

So space management begins again.

Giving Tuesday

I made a point of making a few donations to my favorite charities today and I hope you all think about helping your fellow man/woman out on this day. We are all more fortunate than we think. Today I’m supporting the Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, and The V Foundation, and will do one more later.

Oh, we also gave our plumber a nice tip today.

I missed some local shopping on Small Business Saturday so I have yet to get out and spread that part of the holiday but I will.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Learning is fun. Putting it into practice is living.
  • The smell of PVC cement is nasty.
  • Going to try my hand at refining my signature pasta dish this evening.
  • I may also slowly retire from my career as Mr. Fix It here at the homestead.
  • I have to remind myself that the alternative to this cold weather is hurricanes.

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Moving forward

I’m thinking of the beach and cruising the ocean highway on a warm summer day. As long as I stay inside I think that thought could sustain the slight chill I feel. If I went outside that thought would be a distant memory in seconds.

Of course, the car captured my attention but then I saw the plate. “OCVETTE” which is a nice touch. Photo by Mike Hartley

Time to brace myself for the cold this season. At least 3 months to endure and fume and curse about. I’m going to try to find some inspiration in it though. I was just telling a friend that I don’t have many winter seasonal shots at a couple of my favorite locations.

It’s time to go learn a little about light in the dark of night. Well at least read a little and I found a couple of videos to watch. I’ve got my lights out to practice both portrait and product photography so off I go. If I stumble on anything worthwhile I’ll post it tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • All the organizations I donate to don’t have to remind me over and over tomorrow is Giving Tuesday.
  • November flying by. I hope to appreciate December a bit more than I have this month.
  • Cold and wind are not my friends.
  • Worry takes away creative cycles.
  • Felt good to make an investment in my future today.

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I love holiday lights from the simple to the extravagant. So yesterday’s trip to the Festival of Trees at the Maryland State Fairgrounds was a nice treat. The wonder in children’s eyes, the smiles on the adults. The memories triggered, or the thoughts of how to improve one’s own home with new themes or colors.

Samples from Kennedy Krieger Festival of Trees. Photos by Mike Hartley

It got me in the season spirit already. Watching my grandson look at the displays, his mother and father smile with love. Thinking of their excitement when the trees go up and are decorated in their own homes. The smell of holiday meals and the laughter of family. I can’t wait myself.

New Lights

I haven’t purchased new holiday lights in years. I usually keep it pretty simple with white lights on the front porch area. But I got 4 boxes of new red and white mixed and a long white string for the deck. This is the year to sort the ornaments and donate what we no longer use.

My better half has been talking up an artificial tree. We have one that we use for the basement and we usually get a real tree for the family room. I’m the one partial to real trees. I won’t argue all the advantages of an artificial tree. I will probably give in someday but not this year.

I’ll have to see if I have a few minutes to run the extension cords and get the lights started later today. Whoops, just looked outside and I saw rain. Light work postponed.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The service at Clarks Hardware. Knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly.
  • I have slept only 4-5 hours a day for so long that I automatically wake after that timeframe now. I hope to change that in retirement.
  • I feel lazy today but I can’t afford to be lazy today.
  • Tomorrow I’ll sign my name. It will signify the end of a long partnership.

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I have gone as far as I can go today. I’ve been pushing the body beyond its limits the last few days, maybe weeks and I’m tired. Like this old car, it won’t venture far from its garage tomorrow. Maybe to the gas station (dinner table) and back to its stable (couch).

Running better than most humans this age, shot in Westminster MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Exhausted comes in many forms. I can think of 3 that I’m drained of now. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’m sure some rest can cure all 3 if I could just rest. I’m giving it a fair shot today because I utilized a sick day.

I probably should have used it early in the week to fight the sinus infection but I worked through it and now it’s still hanging around. Just one of many issues that enter very busy days. Holidays aren’t stressful, life is.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m trying very hard not to look at the cold weather in a negative way. It’s much easier when I’m inside.
  • If you look at the number of people that drive around at night or in driving rainstorms or both without their lights on it’s a small example of why this country has the problems it does.
  • The U.S. has some very serious problems to work through. But instead of talking about it all we do is hurl hostilities at each other further dividing the issues. If we don’t stop soon, something more deadly might be hurled.
  • People both inspire me and depress me. I’m trying to look at the first more and ignore the second.

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Mellow Yellow Monday

A very productive day in some ways. In others not so much. Like doing some new shooting. That just wasn’t in the cards today.

My daughters favorite color. Photo by Mike Hartley

But making some final prints on my ocean series took off again. Another edit and I’ll decide what I’m going to frame.

A color that stands out. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow will be a challenge with some nasty weather on the way. But also an opportunity to get some shots to fill out that section of my portfolio.

My Dad had one of these. Blue though. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • 1 night good of sleep doesn’t make up for the previous 6 nights of poor sleep.
  • The true danger is in multiple realities trying to co-exist.
  • If you’re working to work, that doesn’t get you far. If you’re working to learn and get better all the time you will get far.
  • Had someone in a very big hurry tailgating me down the road today. I was going 10 over the speed limit in the slow lane but apparently, that wasn’t acceptable. We came to a light and I thought about introducing myself but instead left them in a cloud of smoke. I think they got the message because I didn’t see anything behind me after that. I call that non-verbal communication.

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Sunday speed

Well, the weekend flew by and I’m figuring today will be no exception to that rule so I’m starting this early in the hope of having time to do something of substance between the chores and working for the man tonight. I’ve written some of my feelings about sports and me. And below that the countdown to retirement. And of course some Random Thoughts.

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

Sports and Me

Sports is losing its appeal to me. Greedy owners, gambling, and some athletes’ attitudes and choices/examples all conspire to make it a less enjoyable experience. Not to mention the very wild interpretation of officiating from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of quality people in sports for the right reasons. Most athletes do some wonderful things for those less fortunate and some set a great example of human beings.

But what had been standards for decades have fallen apart. My example is college sports and conferences. What once were great rivalries and regional sources of pride are all gone. Add that to college athletes moving from school to school year to year is like watching pro teams that change the pieces more than they stay the same.

Gone are the days when college kids committed to a University, developed as players and people, and stayed the 4 years. I think back to the National Championship team of Maryland in 2001-2002. 3 of the starters were seniors, 1 junior and one sophomore rounded out the starting lineup. The first 4 guys off the bench were all seniors or juniors. In other words, EXPERIENCE – 4 players from that team went to the Pro’s.

Now if you see talent they are going pro in the first year or two. A lot of them are busts in that move. And then if you stick in college for a year or two you go to a better opportunity or more visible one at another school.

But let’s move on to something that my perception of has changed greatly. Pro and College Football are modern-day gladiators, leaving pieces of themselves in arenas around the country. Strength Speed and Techniques have changed the dynamic. The game hasn’t changed, the bodies within the field have. The 6-foot 180 lb lineman has been replaced by the 6’5″ 310+ lb behemoth of a man. Most kickers are bigger than most past position players. And fast, so fast that many still stare in awe each week at bursts of speeds by various players.

I hate to say this, but it’s only a matter of time before someone isn’t revived on a nationally televised broadcast. Then there is the brain. As someone who has had several concussions, I worry greatly about my future and the mental effects of them. I understand the love of a game no matter what it is. I also know that they are smart enough to be worried about those effects and some are probably thinking about playing fewer years.

It’s not just greedy owners or players. Fans have also changed. Passion has been replaced by fanaticism. Mix in some booze and gambling and loss of a normal perspective and you have some dangerous situations when you mix two opposing teams.

Worrying about point spreads or the over/under or parlays or whatever gambling terms I’m not familiar with, change the way fans view, act, and react at games. We have already seen several examples of fans being upset at a player who didn’t score enough for their bet. This was true for the local Washington basketball team in this article earlier this year.

Sports also changed from the common man to the elitist perk. Going to any major college or pro sporting event is something the common man has to think about the money involved. But corporations and the well-to-do buy-up seats like I pour gravy over stuffing later this week. And if you find seats in the upper areas they still want the arm, leg, and firstborn to attend.

The NCAA has been a failure. I love the change Major League Baseball made to speed up the game this past year and it has increased my viewing and interest. To me, baseball hasn’t forgotten the fans as much as other sports.

Sports is big business, just like gambling is big business. Now that they have merged it’s all money.

I will always enjoy playing any sport. I will always enjoy watching a sport be it the kids in the local little league, my Maryland Terps basketball team, the Yankees and Orioles going head to head, or maybe a Green Bay Packers game with my son someday.

I just feel bad for the youth because they don’t have my perspective on what I feel is being lost in modern sports. The true meaning of the joy of competition. I bet if people put in more time on their jumper, they would have a lot more fun instead of their faces in a smartphone making bets.


About 3-4 years ago I started a little countdown. I had grown frustrated with the direction in our area and to keep my focus and still have a goal I could look forward to I started counting down the weeks till retirement. Little post-it notes that I would keep a countdown till what I thought would be my retirement date. Week by week I’d tick off a number. It was my little reward at the end of each week for working hard regardless of the circumstances around me.

Well, about 2 1/2 years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to work from home for the remainder of my career. I can’t tell you how that has made the last of my work time much more pleasant. Having to commute to the middle of Washington DC isn’t a good experience. And after doing that drive for over two decades of almost a hundred-mile round trip it was such a load off my personal life that the job was OK again.

I lost track of the number of weeks. That was till a few weeks ago when the company decided that date for me. A bit earlier than I thought but I’m fine with it now. Things are working out and I will be off for the New Year holiday instead of working. And I’ll be off all future holidays if all goes well and every other day for that matter.

But the weeks are down now to a single-digit number. And that is a good feeling indeed.

There are a few people I will miss. Ones I’ve shared many years, trials, and experiences with. Many have retired before me that I have missed a long time. Of course, I will miss the action. If I didn’t enjoy the chaos and pressures of working in the daily publishing business I would have left it decades ago.

I will miss the news cycle and seeing information and images come in before they are published. I will miss keeping up with technology. I will miss the smell of ink and paper when I go to the plant. I will miss the activity and electricity on election nights. I will miss being part of The Miracle on 15th Street.

Which leads me to a sudden realization. I didn’t start out with this plan. I worked hard for many opportunities and had others come along. I’ve worked in many capacities within my industry and learned many wonderful things. I’ve been blessed working with a lot of very good people along the way. Yeah, some assholes also, but luckily they were far outnumbered by good people. I like to laugh and found a great number of people who also liked humor. You had to have humor in high-stress environments.

And as I enter the final weeks I’m glad I made the decisions along the way I did. Were they always the right ones? I did pass a few management opportunities. Also some other technical ones. Only the ones I did make count and I’m very happy with the work I’ve done along the way.

I’m so glad that the relationships along the way have remained so strong and active. And that is a blessing. I hope others can feel fulfilled in their jobs when they reach the end of them. Especially my own children.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I admire a child’s creativity and freedom of expression.
  • A snowball still tastes great in 50-degree weather. Only 3-4 more weeks before they close for the season. Then I get to Jones for 3 months till they open again and signs of spring arrive to rescue me from the cold.
  • Be something special to your children and grandchildren.
  • Too many of us are just out for ourselves. That is a sad thing to say.
  • Being around children gives me hope. Most young people give me hope. It’s the adults that panic the crap out of me.

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Sometimes when things are humming along smoothly things will all of a sudden, change. Friends, family, jobs, situations, and sometimes locations. Even if the individuals stay the same, they change as we all do.

But sometimes people pass. And that can have a huge change on those remaining. We lost a close friend which will be 10 years ago this coming February. That took us a while to recover from and get to the point where we could laugh well again. Oh, we still got together but when you take a spoke out of a wheel it just doesn’t turn as well as it did before.

This is a shot our departed friend Dan took on his way down to his boat one day the summer before he passed.

Photo by our great friend, Dan McMullen.

Lucky I guess

We moved to Woodstock in the mid-80s and just up the road from our home is The Snowball Stand. This is one of my simple pleasures in life. So good, so convenient and so consistent. I think it’s on its 4th owner but it’s always remained in business. And the great flavors they started with and added to over the years with many other options now that stretch into the fall and winter seasons.

Yep, they sell Xmas trees now also. We got one last year from there. Really nice family working that home and business now. But they all have been wonderful owners. Employing local kids and putting smiles on many faces over the decades.

I sat there yesterday with the top down eating my cherry snowball looking over the fields that are part of the Howard County Conservancy and watching the traffic go by on Route 99 and Woodstock Road. The weather seemed to bring out a lot of motorcycles yesterday and of course a few locals with their Hot Rods. I like sitting there if it isn’t crowded. If it is I’m so close I just go down the road and finish it on my porch.

I feel so relaxed when I take the time out to just go there and wind down for a few minutes. Sometimes my better half will surprise me with one on her way home from shopping. A snowball is a trigger to put life on pause for about 10-15 minutes. Sort of like a smoke break but with ice and sugar. I tend to tune just about everything out and relax and enjoy. And it’s a joy I’ve had for decades.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love grilling up bacon on a weekend morning.
  • There are few things more cute than children sleeping. OK, when they are awake it tops that.
  • The creativity in a child’s mind is really special. They just flow when they are young.
  • Every time I go to the doctor I learn something. On the last trip to the dermatologist, I learned I should be getting checked more often. I guess a decade or two was stretching things.
  • I would really like to be done with this sinus infection.

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Significance of the Day

I wonder if days will lose their significance when I retire. Every once in a while when on vacation I might forget what day it is for a few moments. I wonder if that will be the case when I’m not on someone else’s schedule any longer.

No more punching a clock. Photo by Mike Hartley

In some ways, I hope that isn’t the case. I want to know what day it is for my workout routine (not that I have one now). I’d also like to get out and do a daily shooting around the county. And if I’m posting daily that will be another reminder.

Two of my best friends will be working so that will be a reminder for a little bit till they join me. Speaking of that, we have had a standing meeting, (The Vigil) on Thursdays since I went on the night shift 9 years ago. Now that I’m going to be flexible I can make the occasional Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football or the many basketball games of the Maryland Terpians I used to miss. Or just those spur-of-the-moment happy hours.

Then I remembered, that I’ll always have the doctor’s appointments that fill the calendar of seniors to remind me what day of the week it is.

Significance of Timing

My better half and I are a bit crispy. She said to me this week “We need a vacation” and I can’t argue with her. As I was thumbing through some old photos I hadn’t used I ran across this one at the entrance to Ocean City Maryland.

It got me thinking about going to the shore in the off-season. It’s really quiet then. But it’s her turn to choose and maybe we will head west to Rocky Gap or south to southern Maryland. Wherever it is, it will be good for both of us.

I don’t want to fish, I just want to relax. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I had a pleasure cruise of about 45 minutes today. It was enough to leave me feeling good again.
  • A good start always is best followed by a good second gear.
  • Scratch my back and I’ll stay thank you. No, just kidding, I’ll scratch yours.
  • I never thought about it before but I’ll have that Miata for the rest of my life no matter how old I live to be. It’s just that fun.
  • As you get older you discover traditions change. I don’t like it. Jeez, that sounded old.

Music Thoughts

I ran across an old song I used to like in the 70s and as soon as I heard it I remembered the lyrics meant something to me so I looked them up as the song played. Yep, I liked them then and I like’m now. I believe this was released in 1976 – the same year I began my career in newspapers. Time to continue to make my own story.

Something for Nothing – by the band Rush

Waiting for the winds of change
To sweep the clouds away
Waiting for the rainbow’s end
To cast its gold your way
Countless ways
You pass the days

Waiting for someone to call
And turn your world around
Looking for an answer to
The questions you have found
Looking for
An open door

Oh, you don’t get something for nothing
You don’t get freedom for free
You won’t get wise
With the sleep still in your eyes
No matter what your dreams might be

No, you don’t get something for nothing
You can’t have freedom for free
You won’t get wise
With the sleep still in your eyes
No matter what your dream might be

What you own is your own kingdom
What you do is your own glory
What you love is your own power
What you live is your own story

In your head is the answer
Let it guide you along
Let your heart be the anchor
And the beat of your song

Oh you don’t get something for nothing
You can’t have freedom for free, no

Whoa, you don’t get something for nothing
You can’t have freedom for free

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Travel in state

I love the state of Maryland. To me it’s paradise. 4 true seasons a year, mountains, oceans, and many waterways. Institutions like the Naval Academy in beautiful cities like Annapolis. The nation’s Capital Washington DC is just over the line to the south. The Chesapeake Bay and Appalachian Mountain trails wind through beautiful countryside.

Cadets and Crabs. Photo by Mike Hartley

This coming year I hope to show a lot of it here. There are so many places I have yet to explore. So out the door, I go tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • You don’t need a big desk or office to do great things.
  • All good things make time special.
  • Life is about hoping the good memories outweigh the bad.
  • Some friends reminded me it’s been a long time since we have been fishing together.
  • Not the best of starts for my favorite college men’s basketball team. Hoping for the upset this coming Friday to put us on track again. Go Terps.

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Busy Saturday

Can’t start the day without thanks to our Veterans on Veterans Day. Such commitment and sense of duty by so few to protect so many.

Inspection. Photo by Mike Hartley

It felt good to sleep in a bit this morning. Didn’t crawl out of bed till almost 7:30 am. But we are rocking and rolling today.

I’m attacking the workroom/shop to make it a productive facility again. Organizing, trashing, hanging, and cleaning. Woodworking and engraving are something I’ve been learning slowly but I need a lot of practice. I’ve made a few simple pieces but creating something from a material is pretty fulfilling.

I hope to squeeze in a few photos between some short trips and errands. And tonight I hope to make a ton of progress and finish up my Eastern Shore wall of images and the Arlington Cemetery wall.

I’m paddling along today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you change things up, you learn things.
  • If you’re the last picked for the team, use it to surprise people.
  • The more you know about yourself, the more you will be able to tell more about others.
  • You can learn a lot from communication, or the lack of it.

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I found some old pictures I believe I shot of the tall sailing ships that visited Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 1976. Before Harborplace, the National Aquarium or many other things were even built or repurposed. I don’t have a scanner to get them in the system, so I just snapped with the iPhone.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I can still remember the smell because the McCormick Spice factory was right across from the harbor at the time. A good thing, because that harbor was a mess for years.

I thought it was a fitting time to post those being Harborplace is in the planning again to be redeveloped.

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Friday fun

Trying to focus on production today. Got a decent start this morning with a few more prints made, batteries charging, and lenses cleaned and packed along with some office cleaning. I look out the door and clouds fill the sky. I step out 20 minutes later and rains. No nice sunny day like below.

A picnic lunch in St. Michaels Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

That’s okay because there is no shortage of things to do and opportunities to fill.

Show Your Appreciation

In preparation for Veterans Day tomorrow, here is a link and list from Charity Navigator of great Veterans organizations you can donate to. Don’t miss the 3 tabs at the top. The first list is for Military Families, the second for Military Social Services, and the last for Wounded Troops Services.

I chose an organization this year called Operation Second Chance. Something I wish was around when my father left the service.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Advice is free, decisions are costly.
  • An early winter chill is in the air today.
  • Hard to find happiness if you’re looking in the wrong places.
  • I need to hit the hardware store.
  • I took the snow shovels out of the shed yesterday. It made my back twinge.
  • I wonder when I retire if I’ll start looking at this house differently. Like all the things that need doing?

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This is Sparta, sorry Tuesday

Tuesdays are tough. Tuesdays don’t play. Tuesdays are moving days. Tuesdays you are up to speed. On Tuesdays, you’re implementing plans from those Monday meetings. Tuesday is Election Day. But before that, there is Super Tuesday. I know where I was on Tuesday 9/11.

Ocean City Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tuesday is Taco Tuesday. Tuesdays are for tea. Tuesday is 20 cents of high-test gas at Shell so I fill my tank. By Tuesday I’m tired from 2 long night shifts and little sleep. Tuesdays Gone is a great song by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I believe in the Spring down south there is a day called Fat Tuesday. Maybe have lunch at Ruby Tuesday.

One of the best things about Tuesday is it’s about as far from the next Monday as possible. Unless it’s a Tuesday after a Monday holiday which means you are Tuesday Toast.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think I’ll go get some sleep and do some more random thoughts later because I’m pretty tired.
  • I think I’ll go dream about a warm breakfast.
  • I hope I don’t oversleep on such a nice day.
  • Is it wrong to say goodnight at 7:20 am?


It’s started

The sun is setting earlier and earlier with the change of seasons and with the time change over the weekend, my hours of sunlight are greatly diminished. Even though it rises early, that is when I’m usually going to sleep, so I’m daylight-deprived for a few months. It does get to me every year.

The trees are thin again. Photo by Mike Hartley

I feel like a totally nocturnal creature for the next few months. At least that has an end to it in late December. No more night shift. No more working for someone else. So I will power through the last few weeks of this year and not look back.

Till then though I have to do a few things to keep my spirits up with the lack of sunlight. I’ll see if I can gather a list and get to work on it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I got invited to dinner this week by my granddaughter today.
  • There is a good reason to always be on guard. But don’t live life like that.
  • I got a nice shot of a neighbor’s home this fall and made them a print. I’ll have to drop it off tomorrow.
  • I stand corrected, I thought we were all out of 70+ degree days this year. Looks like we will be blessed with two more this week.
  • I haven’t felt right all day. But that isn’t keeping me from my work.

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Shore report

A day with best friends is always refreshing. I spent about 24 hours with them on Kent Island and had a great time. A fine-cooked meal to finish off Friday with sunset and up early Saturday morning with pancakes and bacon to start the day.

Freighters on the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Mike Hartley

Feeling beyond tired now though. Good thing we get an extra hour of sleep tonight. I’m going to put that to use.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s chapstick season.
  • My back is glad that its home mattress will be back tonight.
  • There is a fine line between full and stuffed.
  • Watching sports is losing its appeal. Now doing them seems a better use of time.
  • Sometimes you try, but people aren’t listening.

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Looking up

Never forget to look up. Both mentally and physically. So easily said and so often forgotten. It’s pretty simple actually but when depressed, in a funk, or in a neck brace, looking up seems impossible.

It’s so easy to stay down and go deeper instead of changing perspective. Been there, done that. Repeatedly if truth be told. But time has taught me methods to work out of bad spots.

Looking up off the boardwalk in Ocean City MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Looking up makes things here on Earth seem small. Like looking out over an ocean does on a clear day. But not all of us live near a large expanse of water or have a view from a mountain. Sometimes our world feels like our office cube or home or car.

Our day-to-day problems seem to make our world very small and focused. Looking up for me lets my mind pause if things are in hyperdrive with problems. My breathing relaxes, and I’m forced to gaze upon blue skies or clouds or stars or birds flying by, the wind blowing leaves on the tree or maybe even raindrops falling on my face.

I remember the first time I rode a motorcycle and it was like a different world out on the roads. Everything was in view. No windows or roof or A-pillar blocking your view. I was so relaxed and alive again at the same time.

All I know now is that looking up both mentally and really looking skyward is helpful. Yes, I still get down, we all do. But you have to find balance at least and then tilt it towards a positive and optimistic lifestyle and outlook. Problems will find us all. So it’s our job to keep that side and outlook that allows one foot ahead of the other with a smile and determination.

That is why I like stepping outside often and looking skyward. During a break in the middle of the night from a stressful overnight shift for the stars and fresh air. Or maybe on my deck for a few minutes between mowing the lawn and cleaning gutters on the lounge chair watching the dogwood leaves blow and feeling the calming summer breeze. Sometimes I just gaze skyward from my kitchen window on a cold day trying to find that view that will turn things around.

Find your view and let your mind relax from that pressure.

Sorry, didn’t mean to start out the day all preachy.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The World used to be a very dangerous place. Today it’s just a matter of how long the fuse is.
  • But till the day everything explodes there will be a smile on my face, a helping hand at the end of my arm, a hug for all family, friends, and strangers, and trying to find or create some beauty and love in the world.
  • Looks like a nice day to pull out the cameras.
  • I love building things with youngsters. They get so excited.

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If nobody is seated for the sunrise did it really rise?

Get me this ticket please. Oh yeah, Ocean City has my standing reservation. Photo by Mike Hartley

If” is a statement I won’t be using as much when retirement day comes. No more “if I had the time” or “if I wasn’t so tired” excuses. No more “if I could just learn that technique” or “if I didn’t have to work I could catch that game or go to dinner.”

No more “if I had time to do a regular workout” or “if I could just do the yardwork when I felt like it” or “if I just didn’t have to go to work after doctors appointments” or “if I could be off on a holiday and celebrate like most people.”

The if in retirement has been removed. A date is set.

Another day filled with possibilities. Ones I hope to take advantage of. I’ve been multitasking all night and morning and after a few hours sleep I’m plugging away again. The chores are completed, awaiting the trick or treaters in a little bit and then work again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Leftover candy is a curse.
  • Trying your best always isn’t rewarded.
  • Be satisfied with what you feel are accomplishments.
  • It’s easier if you see others make mistakes and then not repeat them yourself.

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I feel like the wind isn’t filling the sails or lungs any longer. If there is a wind it’s a headwind. No problem, I learned to paddle at a young age. But that takes a lot of energy and my reserves are low. So I’m looking for a way to catch my breath.

I love Maryland waterways. Photo by Mike Hartley

Getting to work is a good way to correct that I’m guessing. So today we push forward with a few projects. I rested last night so it’s catch-up time with prints from the shore. I’d really like to do some shooting today and maybe even start some sketches.

But then there are the responsibilities. Stuff like moving wood, caulking the front porch, bringing in patio furniture, and a mountain of paperwork to read/act on. Oh and let’s not forget working tonight into tomorrow morning for 11 hours.

I have my health. I have a positive start to the day. I have my family. I have tools to create with. I should get to work because I’m a lucky man.

Life Tip of the Day – Put the smartphone away and hold someone’s hand.

Parents know best.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I could use the comfort of a pet today.
  • There are a ton of decisions to be made in a short amount of time.
  • Feeling focused and scattered at the same time today.
  • I hope we get lots of trick-or-treaters. There is far too much candy I like in that big dish.

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Thinking about someone very special. Thinking of many things that make her so special.

Thinking it’s hard to tell if I shot this picture in December or July.

Thinking Sand and Sun. Shot in Ocean City MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Thinking I’d rather be outside instead of at the doctor’s office today.

Thinking there is going to be peace on earth seems further and further away each day.

Thinking it’s time to take the next health step of a regular workout.

Thinking humans are crazy for having their faces buried in a phone. Shot in Frederick MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Thinking I’d better get my house in order sooner rather than later.

Thinking there has been progress as I look back at recent efforts.

Thinking it’s wise to spend the next 5-6 days outdoors where our temperatures will be above average.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I spent the first part of this post thinking. The rest will be on autopilot.
  • I’ve always worn white sweatsocks with my casual shorts and tee shirts. My better half got me some grey ones. I like it.
  • I still enjoy washing my own car. I always have.
  • Domino’s falling always is entertaining. When it’s people as dominos falling it’s even more entertaining watching 45 squirm.

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Keep going

My perspective and priorities have changed and I’m adjusting quickly. It’s just part of life. Sudden and unexpected things happen. And that is okay. It’s how we react and move on. Thankfully my mental outlook is about as strong as it has been in my lifetime.

And the steady approach is keeping progress happening. Like the line of slow-moving lawnmowers below, I’ll keep plugging away step by step, task by task.

Charge. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m looking forward to the warmer weather after tomorrow morning’s early chill.

Photos at Local Homestead Products.

Sunny Days. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I was listening to a friend with some issues he was struggling with. I smiled but remained quiet and instead of sharing, I was a good listener and supportive. It’s not a contest as to who has the most or worst issues in life to deal with. It’s helping where and when you can. Be it by being there and or with actions. Plus it’s a good reminder that all of us have issues from time to time.
  • I’m finding focusing more intently on an issue, task, project or person yields a much better result. I’ve spread myself too thin at times and I can be more help to those closest to me if I don’t.
  • The incessant barking of the dogs next door is starting to bother me. The house is completely closed up and I can hear each and every bark sitting in my office.
  • I see the first frost advisory of the season. Well at least if I get a bit tired working tonight I can step outside and be wide awake again.


Pretty good

It wasn’t as warm as I liked it but yesterday was a beautiful day outside. So a quick ride in between errands was possible and I took advantage of it. I was doing some back roads and I came upon a site I hadn’t explored before, except from the entrance to park and shoot the barn in the field next to it.

Off Folly Quarter Road is the Shrine of St Anthony and Franciscan Friars grounds. An old friend said he spent time there often reflecting on a number of things in his life. I sat on one of the benches for a bit and it does have a calming quality. I added a prayer for him because he passed away a bit over a year ago.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I don’t do a lot of praying but felt inclined to add one for him. This guy had this infectious laugh that I can still hear. It was so deep and genuine.

I hope my grandchildren remember my laugh. I try to laugh with them a lot when we are together. And I hope others remember my humor. I’ve found a lot of relief in tough times with humor. When I get in a funk I sometimes use comedy clips and some music to snap out of it.

We all could use a little more laughter in life.

I had maybe 30 minutes to snap a few images there on Thursday. I’ll certainly return because it has some nice possibilities. And I’ll use the Nikon instead of the iPhone.

The next few days are supposed to be very windy. I’ll have to work on my motion images.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Some days I feel beyond tired.
  • They got it right on the first three votes. Jim Jordan should never be the Speaker of the House.
  • I really wanted to do a few posts today. But playing with my granddaughter was more important.
  • I remember the parade the preschool next door to our company would put on each year at Halloween. You can’t help but smile at the sight of little ones dressed to the 9s in costumes.
  • It feels too cold for baseball.
  • Tomorrow I will make up for not shooting today.


Transition day

I leave my nocturnal existence behind at 6 a.m. and enter the world of the day walkers. Coming off the night shift and returning to hours most people keep. I might sleep 2-3 hours, get up, and remain up till 11 or 12 Thursday evening. I will wake up early Friday morning to spend the day with my granddaughter. Same for Saturday and Sunday, up early and then an all-nighter on Sunday to return to my nocturnal roots.

Got to get moving early. Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’m off for a few hours of sleep and then cast my line and see what activities I can catch.

The office will reopen around 11 a.m. Leave your name by the top of the stairs.

Oh, to be putting my toes in the sand today. Photo by Mike Hartley

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Finish what you started

A title of a Van Halen song I like but more importantly the message in those simple words is “finish what you started.” It’s time in my life to be a good finisher again. I keep letting myself get knocked off the path.

Ops. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve gotten lazy in the last few years and it’s time to turn that around. Well not lazy with all the work I do but far from as focused on the right things as I should be.

You don’t live life to wipe out. You live by riding them all the way. Photo by Mike Hartley

So here we go on a mission. I’ve made some good progress on some photo projects that I’d like to display and hope to knock out another 25 prints tonight.

I also got a start on my cooking practice tonight and made a Brie Spaghetti. And here it is time already to start work for the job that pays the bills. Well at least for a little while longer.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Last worknight of the week. Life is good.
  • I am starting a prediction list. I want to see if I have any foresight.
  • Birds aren’t colorblind. I think they have an affection for red and white cars.
  • I don’t know who is having more fun. My grandchildren riding on whatever toy or box they want to be pushed or pulled in or me who is doing the pushing and pulling.
  • When you get older each meeting with old friends is a little more special.
  • Even the worst day is special.

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Stacked and racked

Looks like a wrap for the summer season. I was hoping for another warm stretch but I’m just not seeing it. So the lifeguard chairs are all stored and the boats wrapped. I’m reflecting and smiling because I got to enjoy the shore a few times this year.

It’s sad when the lifeguard chairs aren’t on the beach. Photo by Mike Hartley

Who knows, maybe an off-season trip. Those are nice sometimes. You can still enjoy the outside on a sunny day and the beach is always there for walks. The last time I got in the water this year was October 4th. It will be another 8 months till it warms back up. Burr, what a chilling thought.

So what madness can I get into this fine but wet Sunday morning? I could rant about the late Saturday night drive home from watching my grandson. But that would send me back into a state of disbelief that I’d like to forget some drivers I saw who shouldn’t have a license.

I thought as I was sitting here listening to some music that I would pick a favorite tune and send that video to the kids and some background on why it’s important to me and what I find special about it. I’m going to do that weekly till I run out of music to send them which will be never. I would be doing them a disservice if I didn’t show them real music.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thank goodness for headphones. My family would have lost years of sleep if not for them.
  • Ah, the sun returns. What a warm feeling.
  • This is an exercise in exercising my initiative.
  • I haven’t played ping pong in years. I miss it.
  • Feeling like I’m going to accomplish a lot today.

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Surfs not up

But it doesn’t matter. I am and hopefully, it’s a great day ahead. Warmer temps are on the way and sunshine. The surf forecast isn’t that good till next Monday at our shores. Even though I can’t be there this week I hope to find my beach somewhere.

Old and young enjoy surfing. Photo by Mike Hartley

And when I say find my beach I mean a mental sweet spot in life where you’re as relaxed as you are walking on the beach. Yes, that kind of peace.

Cars Turning Heads

I finished editing some of the classic autos I shot in Ocean City last Thursday’s boardwalk parade. Uploaded 137 shots of some colors and styles that just make me smile. Enjoy the Gallary if you like things on 4 wheels.

Outside looking in wishing to be behind the wheel. Photo by Mike Hartley

I learned a lot of things on this shoot. Changing angle, elevation, and location. I also learned I need to bring my damn tripod because holding that brick out for extended periods worked on my back in not such a nice way.

Shooting car shows where everyone is parked isn’t as fun as people driving them on real streets. Or boardwalk in this case. Next year I’ll have more than an hour and a half to shoot. Maybe a day or two.

One mistake I can’t seem to just get over having grown up in the film era. It’s just not in my DNA to fire away at will but that is what I need to do in some spots and far more times than I use it now. I’ve got to find a balance because I feel I miss some shots because I don’t shoot enough.

Tomorrow I pick up the cameras again. Practice Practice Practice.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Tomorrow might be an unexpected very big day.
  • I should have purchased a recliner for the basement years before we got one.
  • My mind is racing tonight. I just hope it’s not towards a headache.
  • I don’t like missing nice days outside. I really don’t like being under the weather as the reason.

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Practice Practice Practice

I’ve been learning a little about shooting cars this summer. Mostly through practice, practice, and practice. Cars are extensions of people. Color, style, size, shape, and the numerous ways to modify and accent them. Capturing those expressions of art is a lot of fun.

Car people are good people from my encounters and my natural love of cars from a very young age has made it a lifelong obsession. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve blurted out “Look at that” startling my wife while I’m pointing at a car going the opposite way or coming from behind in my side mirrors.

Shooting them is a lot of location, angles, and details. Good weather and clear skies also help. So timing is important.

Colar and Chrome. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve hit some local car shows this year but the Ocean City Maryland event this week was off the charts for me. I’m going to return next year and see what action I can capture while they are rolling. Time was very limited and we were leaving on the first day of 4, so I didn’t get in the inlet show or convention center or the many lots that just turn into shows in themselves.

Yes, you can get some good shots at shows but it’s a lot more limited. Cars side by side limit your options. But sometimes you can squeeze a frame down the side that accents things well. Or find a pair together at the end of an aisle.

TWO X TWO TONE. – Or maybe Get A Lick of These Two. Photo by Mike Hartley

But I also learned through being at the beach this week with the Cruisin event that a lot of it is action shots of cars in motion that I haven’t done much of and hope to spend next May and October practicing that at those events.

I wasn’t in a good spot for background in what I shot of the boardwalk parade of cars on Thursday morning. I’ll have to spend a few minutes cropping. Live and learn.

3 and 4 deep along the boardwalk for the Thursday Parade. Photo by Mike Hartley

So next year I’ll go into this with a lot more plans. I know the town well so getting to the right backdrops for the boardwalk parade. Recognizable landmarks or backdrops. Like low-angle shots of cars coming down Baltimore Avenue with the roller coaster in the background. Or Fishers Popcorn on the boardwalk when some of the old trucks roll by.

I’ll focus on detail shots at the various lots and convention center. But I’m really looking forward to capturing some rolling thunder on Coastal Highway in both stills and video. Hopefully, I can follow up on the grandiose plans I’m coming up with.

I promise not to bore you with all the car shooting I’ve done. I’ll put a link when I get this week’s shooting edited and uploaded. Well, I probably won’t be able to not sneak in 1 or 2 here or there on the blog.

Have a great day. I hope to have the time to do another post later today.

Oh yeah, the above car shots were outside Dumsers Diner and Ice Cream restaurant. I usually stop there for a cherry ice cream soda (the old fountain style) before leaving town.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A reminder of what season it is will return today.
  • I’m looking forward to spending some time with a very important person today.
  • It won’t last, but I’m feeling good so far today.
  • Rest is important. If you have the time for it. If not try to make some.

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Good morning

Time to jump into another day. I wish the forecast was better but that really doesn’t matter. Today we get the company of our granddaughter and we have a few things from the beach for her.

I GOT IT. Photo by Mike Hartley
My TURN. Photo by Mike Hartley

I had better get ready for that young bundle of endless energy and make some plans to keep her entertained. That’s the wrong word, to learn and have fun together would be a better way of putting it. I try to teach and help show her different crafts or games when she is here.

Random Thoughts of the Day – morning edition

  • There are hugs and there are 4-year-old hugs.
  • I think I’ll get a snowball today.
  • I’ve got a lot of photos to edit.
  • Trying to decide if I should make some sausage gravy and biscuits.



We are back from 2 nights in Ocean City Maryland. Beautiful weather and the ocean water was still warm enough to get in. A little metal refresh for my better half and myself. We took a short trip to Assitique Island for the first time to sample the beach there. And went up to walk the town of Bethany Beach Delaware one afternoon. There was good food and comfortable lodging with an oceanfront view and balcony.

Young lady watching the sunrise this morning from the shore. Photo by Mike Hartley

I wish I could have stayed another day because it was Endless Summer Cruisin Week. The smell of race fuel, the roar of a strong V8, beautiful paint jobs, and all the favorite classic and contemporary cars, trucks and what have you fixed up on 4 wheels are there. And boy what a show it is.

I’ve got a ton of car photos I’ll slide in every now and then but I must go down for the weekend next time. There were already a ton of cars there on Wednesday and Thursday. The morning parade of cars going down the 27-block boardwalk, the cruising up and down Ocean Highway or Philadephia Avenue is a wonderful sight.

Heading out for the morning catch. Photo by Mike Hartley

We still did a lot despite me not feeling my best. Getting used to powering through discomfort. I hope the rest of the weekend is better. And to facilitate that I believe a good night’s rest is in order after that late night last night.

I could barely hear after standing next to this one. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m just back from one trip and would like to leave for another one.
  • Thank goodness though that I will see my children this weekend. I was missing them. Being at the beach without them and the grandchildren was strange.
  • Next time I’m at the beach I think I’ll bring a small batch of sand home, put it in a box, and sit it under my desk so I can put my feet in it while I work.
  • RIP – The Enforcer, the Animal, The Maestro of Mayhem, the Robot of Destruction – Mr Dick Butkus.

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Keeping a smile

Was just thinking of the upcoming trip this month to the pumpkin patch with the family. I hope my back holds up to the trip. Regardless I wouldn’t miss it for the world. The smiles the kids get with all the activities and the fresh feeling of the clean fall air.

This year I’m not going to be volunteering to carry the heaviest pumpkins. A couple of medium ones or small ones okay. I’ll let my strong kids deal with those monsters the grandkids like to pick.

No shock absorbers on this ride. Photo by Mike Hartley

The month of October doesn’t bother me. Lots of activities, we are still outdoors a good bit and still have a decent amount of daylight. I’ll still be cutting grass on the weekends, the top can be down on the convertible, and grilling out is still nice.

I ask early forgiveness for my attitude from November through February. As I sit here with the temps in the high 70s in just gym shorts and tennis shoes, my mind drifts to those first chills and then the constant struggle to stay warm.

Which reminds me I have to get that generator fired up and tested. And maybe an extra can for fuel.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you get old, you’re dying to get older.
  • Water has always been the most important resource. We just disrespect it like everything else thinking it’s infinite and immune from our actions.
  • It’s hard to find a line in the sand after a windstorm.
  • I don’t understand why a grown man acting like a petulant child is attractive to so many people.


Hold onto your hat

A little rough weather headed to our great state of Maryland today and tomorrow. In looking at webcams of Ocean City it appears the winds are already starting to rock that city with about half of them not responding and the others shaking in the wind and blowing sheets of rain.

A storm like this will hurt a lot of that beach replenishment they just completed in Delaware and Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

Just a little wet here to start the day and I did the storm prep outside yesterday. I hope the weather doesn’t derail plans to see the children today but it’s possible. I don’t want them traveling in high winds and sheets of rain.

Life is a lot like the weather. You really have no control over what it throws at you and when. You might think you can predict it but it always has a surprise for you.

I’m used to getting up early when my back sends me some pain signals. Lots of times I can get back to sleep. Today at 3 am was a bit early and it was the kind that opened my eyes for the rest of the morning at least.

So making the best use of time I headed into the workroom to do a little work with the Dremel tool and hopefully finish a few projects for the kids.

I’m tempted to get out and do a little foul-weather shooting today. I don’t have a good body of work in that area yet.

I really enjoyed cooking dinner last night. I already picked a meal for early next week. I’m looking forward to spending more time in the kitchen and at the grill as the job that pays the bills is more in the rearview mirror.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Welcome to the first day of fall. I hope it’s not an indication of things to come.
  • No time is going to be lost with this new management in making changes is my first impression.
  • Wishing one of my best friends good luck today on Kent Island.
  • One of those days when you wake and charge everything.
  • I think I’ll take advantage of the hot water we have now and shower just in case we lose power.



I love spending time near or in the water. But that isn’t where the job that pays the bills is so I’ll be putting that enjoyment aside for a bit.

Kent Narrows. Photo by Mike Hartley

I didn’t make my goal of a few solo day trips to the ocean this year. Only one in fact but that is better than the year before. Next summer won’t have work interfering with opportunities to head East to the Shore.

Just a wider angle shot of Kent Narrows from the Bridges Restaurant. Photo by Mike Hartley

The last week of summer is upon us so make good use of it. I hope to catch some rays today. Of course, some of that might be behind a lawn mower.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hear it’s going to be a breezy afternoon. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that smell of the saltwater air made it this far inland?
  • Do you ever get so hungry when you are really tired and you think about the time and energy needed to cook something and just go to bed?
  • I’m on a mission to take a good photo today.
  • 25% of my workweek is complete before most people get out of bed on Monday.

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I wish I was at the shore

A beautiful Saturday morning is upon us in the mid-Atlantic. A little cool for my taste but it will warm up quickly.

The early bird gets the fish. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love being up before sunrise on my days off. It’s a good inspiration to begin anew each morning.

I hope a little sunshine is part of your day. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have grand plans for the day. Some woodwork this morning. Maybe a few chores and then kicking back the rest of the day. Hopefully, I’ll capture some of that later in the photos.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I watched a video of my grandson’s first steps over and over. I can’t wait for the next time I see him and he takes steps to me.
  • Many lessons can be learned by listening well, having your eyes open, and being honest with yourself.
  • I need to be a better finisher. I’ll keep saying this till it takes hold of me. Too many unfinished projects.
  • Find things to be proud of in life. It makes the journey much happier.

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Sound replacement

Pull up a chair and relax a bit, it’s the weekend and we all deserve a break. Then again if you have a two or three-wheel vehicle you should report to Ocean City Maryland if you haven’t already for the mecca of roaring V-Twins.

Yep, it’s BIKE WEEK at the shore.

Some days I miss riding a lot. Photo by Mike Hartley

The sounds of the waves are replaced by the roaring of Harleys and a few other brands. So much so that if you aren’t a biker you will be a bit put off by the thunder of the thousands of bikers in town. Then again it’s quite a show even if you’re not a biker.

I gave up my seat on the bike a good while back. I was tired of all the close calls, some health issues, and limited riding seasons here. I’m no wimp when it comes to weather. I rode a bike year-round for a year. Snow, ice, and all of it. I was so frozen once I couldn’t get my leg down quickly enough when I got home and almost dropped.

And while the seat of my Miata with the top down at the beach is my favorite, when I see the bikes I get a yearning to ride again.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Yesterday I made my granddaughter happy. We made crafts for her Mom for hours.
  • Listen to some comedy and laugh. Go to a club and laugh. Or at least smile and laugh.
  • Life should be the practice of learning to live better and be happier each day. And then make those lives around you better.
  • I found a pair of sunglasses I’ve been looking for.
  • Contemplating life is fun. Living it is much better.

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M Meet

I joined an online group of people who own Miata’s in Maryland. They have regular monthly hookups and trips and I finally got to my first meeting yesterday at the parking lot outside Neo Pizza and Taphouse. What a nice group of people who enjoy the roadster experience and fixing up their rides.

I’m looking forward to meeting more of them and fixing up my own ride. Thought I’d share a few photos I posted to the group today here also.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I love the maps they have provided for scenic routes and landmarks with other tips. I can’t wait to take a few of those this fall when the colors change. And provide you pictures of these cars in their element.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve worked in the same industry for just about 5 decades, and I’ve never been more uncertain about its future than I am now and what my role would be in it. So there is no better time to reinvent myself.
  • This is the LAST Labor Day Holiday I will be working for someone else.
  • There are some serious issues between labor and management in many industries that are coming to a head.
  • Again my salute to all who labor who don’t get the financial rewards or appreciation they deserve. Fire and police, teachers and medical, transportation to sanitation, farmers to senior care, food prep to childcare. To those at the lower end in retail and service industries that get treated like crap. I salute you all.

Top Ten reasons to retire

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Chillin competition

It’s going to be a competition to see who can be Chillin The Most the next several days because it’s going to get HOT HOT HOT. Well, not the southern part of the country hot but plenty hot for the mid-Atlantic region. Actually, it has been a fairly mild summer with only 29 days above 90 degrees in Baltimore.

And yes that is 4×400 on the back. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll be headed out the door to wash the car in a few minutes. A cruise later and maybe some time in the hammock before we start work in about 12 hours.

Speaking of Chillin, there was a loss in the field of that style of music with Jimmy Buffett’s passing. Think I’ll go give a listen again to a tune or two.

Condolences ParrotHeads. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Having a hard time wrapping my mind around working tonight and tomorrow night.
  • I have to get out and visit my parents soon.
  • Starting a new effort in communication this month. I’ll let you know how it works out.
  • No shoes or socks today, just flip-flops.

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Coming into the light

Many a night I am awake all night working, but being on vacation the last few days I’ve been able to flip my sleep to nights. And some more hours per night, and boy does that make a difference in both physical and mental health.

I’ve so enjoyed rising just before sunrise and being able to enjoy the SUN all day instead of having to sleep through half or more of it depending on the season.

Catching the first rays of the day. Photo by MIke Hartley

Nights have always been part of my work schedule to some degree. That is quite disruptive to sleep schedules, not that I’ve ever had one, with the exception of maybe my first few years of life. I guess with the end of full-time work in sight it’s making this last year a little more challenging.

Then again it could be the age thing trying to sneak up on me. Regardless it’s now a struggle at a few or many points in the evening. My eyes get heavy, my body aches, my concentration isn’t what it was and I just get tired.

I have to keep reminding myself, I’m in the home stretch.

I like Ruffles in my Roads. – Give me the back roads of rolling hills and twisty turns all day long. I’m going to let the younger crowd have their way on the big state and interstate highways. A lot less stress and more enjoyment on the back roads.

Homes, neighborhoods, and farms dot the route instead of concrete barriers and super hot asphalt. Cruising speeds are more enjoyable because you’re not surrounded on each side and back.

I’m looking forward to my Sunday morning cruise. Photo by Mike Hartley

I hear the Maryland Miata group is meeting tomorrow morning and if nothing more pressing is going on I’ll swing by and see some fellow 2 seaters.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The first sad day in Margaritaville ever.
  • I’m going to make this a strong 4th quarter.
  • Several forecast days of 90+ degrees after Labor Day should indicate summer is far from over.
  • I’m assuming the role of grillmaster today.

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Little things

I had lunch with a very important friend today. We met many decades ago at work. But it’s one of those relationships that just became very special. I think of her as a sister. We hadn’t been able to catch up in a while so it was very good to bring each other up to speed again on our lives and dreams and all the things we find humorous which is quite a lot. As well as the tests and difficulties we all experience along the way in life. We share a lot.

It was near the end of our long lunch that I saw something I hadn’t seen in her for some time. I saw that spark I used to see at work that would ignite such energy, enthusiasm, and insights within her that just spilled out like a tsunami that would inspire those around her.

We might have walked out of there together embarking on another journey and joint effort to create something special. I know I’m excited and came home and worked on some more ideas. Then again life may overtake us. But I have a feeling this one might move ahead. Time will tell.

Looking at the Spa Creek Drawbridge into Annapolis MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Who knew such a cloudy, overcast, drizzly day would turn out to be such a ray of sunshine? It has kind of inspired me with a few more creative thoughts for my own projects.

Had a great lunch at Carrol’s Creek Cafe today.

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Beat the heat

Going to be a warm one today in the mid-Atlantic and I love it. I’ll work on my tan while doing some yard work. After that, I plan on moving the hammock to the shade and maybe doing some reading. Whatever you need to do to beat the heat by all means do it.

Boating is a popular option to beat the heat. Photo by Mike Hartley

When going out to lunch yesterday I showed my better half a trick to enjoy the convertible on a hot day. There isn’t any rule against running the A/C with the top down. You can still stay comfortable cruising around with that combination up to 90 degrees easily.

I got a feeling after moving that wood pile today that a snowball would be a great way to beat the heat. And that reminds me I have to get the splash pad out for the granddaughter this week.

Shade and food. Photo by Mike Hartley

This is the kind of summer lunch I like above. Belly Busters in Ocean City. I love their rockfish tacos and the steamed crabs and shrimp have been good. And it’s one of the few places around where I’ve gotten conch fritters and they were very good.

We used to stay right across the street from them so we have had most of their menu over several years and always been happy.

To all the Teachers

May your rooms be blessed with ears eager to listen, minds open to learning, supportive parents and administrations, and facilities that will keep you warm and cool when needed.

May you get the support of family and friends when things aren’t going well. May you still see the humor in situations. May you be blessed with the wisdom and skills to help with all the needs kids have that aren’t being met on the outside that filter into your classrooms.

May you feel the admiration that many have for your profession and abilities, this year and throughout your careers.

May you be granted extra patience and love for your own children when you get home, to equal out the stresses of dealing with 20-30 of them all day.

Remember that when you make learning fun, the ones you teach will never forget you. Have a great year to all. Especially my daughters.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Feeling that sense of urgency again.
  • I like finding something amazing each day. Living near nature helps a lot.
  • It’s time to shake up the basement production facility.
  • The nation hasn’t hit an intersection like this in a great many years.

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Not going to worry about yesterday and the uncomfortable thoughts a memorial service gave me. Not going to think about tomorrow and the return to work. I am going to make good use of this day.

Oh, to be on the Eastern Shore of Maryland this fine day. Maybe next week. I’ll have to hope my friend sends me a text today with a photo from Kent Island.

Green Grass and High Tides. A song from a group called The Outlaws. Also a view of the Eastern shore. Photo by Mike Hartley

But first, the yard needs cutting. Hope everyone is having a good morning.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hope I can do something special today. Either for someone else or creating something good.
  • Remember having to say “present” when the teacher called attendance. Ops, may have just dated myself. I have no idea why that popped into my head and provided today’s title.
  • Finally felt like stretching and some morning exercises helped the back after many failed attempts at the same thing the last two weeks.
  • These last two mornings have been unusually cool for August.

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I find if I look at all the things I should be appreciative of each day, the things that didn’t go right or that I didn’t have or didn’t experience don’t mean all that much.

What better place for a morning stretch? Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m trying hard to get my body right. I don’t know why it’s giving me such a hard time lately. It’s a better week than the last one so I’ll take small victories.

My better half has returned from her mini vacation with my daughter and granddaughter. I guess I’ll have to keep the music down tonight.

The weekend will start in about 10 hours. Life is good and after work tonight, I intend on getting to it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • How do you not like a photo of a child smiling?
  • Don’t worry beach, I hear you calling me. I’ll be on my way soon.
  • Walking into a spider web outside is frustrating. Walking into one inside really frost me.
  • I had a hummingbird fly up to a couple of inches away from me while sitting on my porch. Those things really do hum.

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Take the time

I rave about the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but the central and western parts of the state are quite beautiful also. Twisty back roads with cornfields as guardrails dotted occasionally with farms. And the further west you go the elevations start to play a wonderful game of can you top this view.

On my return trip from Westminster. Photo by Mike Hartley

We loved going out to Rocky Gap, Frederick, Hagerstown, and Cumberland. We have done it far less than the coast but that might change. I love the roads out west. Less congestion and once past Frederick, less rude drivers.

Even though I was running an errand it was great getting out but chores called and I responded. Tomorrow is another matter altogether. Another warm sunny day that I plan to pretty much spend outside enjoying myself till it’s time for work.

I’ve got to drop some photos off with an old friend, maybe hit the county fair and have a good lunch out.

I love fresh corn during the summer. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll have the time to grab a lot of images, maybe even get the Dremel tool outside and create some dust.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hope to do things that make me smile all day tomorrow. Well, at least until work starts.
  • My daughter got me a gift card for my favorite sub shop. I’m going to have to fast a little bit before going there for the steak and cheese sub.
  • OK, everyone in Maryland, a big cheer for the linemen/women on the job fixing everyone’s power.
  • I try not to get mad at the job taking so many hours away from all the things I love.

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A different shade of blue

Finally getting back on track here. I blotted out the pain last night and slept a bit. So here is to a productive and happy Friday. Even though the weather is dreary here in central Maryland this morning my spirits are high.

I never knew the joy of a convertible till my purchase of the Miata in 2016. I will never own another hardtop again. I so wish I had discovered it earlier. Then again a lot of years on the motorcycle were probably why I didn’t think about the need for a car with the drop top.

Powder Blue is the name of the color that pops to mind. Photos by Mike Hartley

I think my better half has fallen in love with the convertible aspect also. The top is rarely up when I’m out and about with it. I have road a motorcycle for a lot of years but never without a helmet. This is sort of like that without the hat.

In some ways, it’s still like riding a bike. A small car gets only a little more respect than a bike. And sometimes a blast from the pipes on the bike would be enough of a warning. But in a small car without those young man modifications like superchargers and headers, it’s just a matter of being seen.

Now that ride in the pictures is one that would get some respect with its size and bumpers.

Time to charge the batteries because there might be a few minutes to squeeze in some shooting today. I’m hoping some blue sky’s come out to play sometime today.

The Globe in Berlin Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve never been to The Globe but I know we are going back to this wonderful town on the Eastern Shore.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Everyone should be taught compassion for animals at a young age. It (compassion) transfers to people as we get older.
  • We get to hear from the new VP this coming week. Will be interesting to get his visions.
  • There is a winning moment every day.
  • That was a good Thursday night vigil last evening with my best friends.

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Maybe Monday

Let’s start the week with a splash instead of going into it with trepidation. My 4-year-old granddaughter just reminded me through a few photographs of her at preschool this morning to go forward with both confidence and conviction.

Incoming. Photo by Mike Hartley

I guess it was wildlife day and they were discovering snakes and turtles. She confidently held the both while her classmates seemed to be hesitating to get near. I’m so glad they get exposure to creatures that we should be sharing the earth with. And I’m glad to see her interacting with nature.

These two photos are of each side of the inlet at Ocean City. Photo by Mike Hartley

As a youth, my friends and I spent a lot of time outside. Every day outside and being this was a rather rural county at that age we discovered many snakes, turtles, and other wildlife all the time. Building forts in the woods, walking through streams and creeks, climbing trees and hills. And doing it every season.

Then someone would get a football and a baseball and basketball and we would still be outside all day playing. Just about all of it was a pickup with neighborhood kids with a small part being organized sports.

I know my kids got a lot less of that than I did even though we had woods behind our house. We didn’t have the modern distractions they had. Not that they didn’t get outside, it’s just a different era of play and technology. Just like it will be now for their children.

So I’m moving forward with confidence and conviction today. Glad to see some things carrying on and thinking about how I can do my part to give them some of the older experiences I had.

It’s time to get lost in some music. Lots of it. Music from long ago that revives the young man in me. Like plugging in an EV for a charge, music does that for me.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Thinking I should call my sister today.
  • I miss having my own pet. I’m going to go do some time at the shelters when I retire.
  • Insurance – I’ve realized (too late) that insurance has become like employers. You got to move around if you want the best deal.
  • I get tanned pretty well working outside in the summer. But the best tan I like getting is when I’m not working and soaking up the rays.

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I measure success by lots of small things as I’ve gotten older. I could look at very productive days in the past and think I failed because I didn’t complete some list, for many years. Spent a lot of useless time beating myself up and in turn maybe even doing less.

Today success will be felt in many ways. From my work here to the yardwork and maybe polishing my ride. Talking to my kids and friends, maybe finishing a book.

Seats compliments of one of my best friends. Thanks, buddy. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was looking at another example of success last night. And it got me thinking about sports and what is success in that business. For sports are no longer a game. It’s an event that is measured in bets and wagers on runs, winners, how many errors, and whatever anyone can think of to bet on. Oh, they play games, the fans like me come and cheer.

It’s an event to be seen at or do your selfies at. But for plenty of fans, it’s an out-of-reach event. Tickets, parking, and concessions will gut you quicker than a slaughterhouse. The player salaries and the owner’s wants are making this kind of thing a much more selective choice. I’ll continue to go to the University of Maryland basketball games but pro sports and the cost associated with it has gone beyond what I think is reasonable.

All this focus on the betting aspect makes me wonder what kind of lessons we are teaching our kids. Many still love the game for what it is, a game. And I’m guessing most who play it, play it for the enjoyment of the game and being a professional. To be part of a team, to do something special with and against your peers.

But the money has really altered the experience. Just look at all the arrangements between teams and betting organizations. The list at the top is by the team and the bottom by leagues and all their ties by SportsHandle and their partnership tracker.

Don’t let the above make you think I don’t still enjoy “The Game.” Because I do very much and always will because I’ll remember it as I grew up with it. I mean who sits out a 2-hour and 30-minute rain delay and then stays just about the entire game? A person who loves a good game. Remarkable efforts, drama of natural form, and the crowd getting more and more into each play as it’s 0-0 through 8 innings.

It rained in sheets on a sheet. Photo by Mike Hartley

Unfortunately, my Yankees fell to the O’s again 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth. But in the rain delay before the game started, the Governor of Maryland appeared in the Orioles jersey below.

You can’t be the GOV without taking in the Orioles game once in a while. Photo by Mike Hartley

So today was a success for many reasons. The main one is a family member who really needed a boost and got a big one today. I managed to get some work done in the heat and we had a nice dinner tonight which I’ll extoll the virtues of tomorrow. I lost track of time watching the Yankees/O’s tonight which looks to be a much more favorable result for me than last night.

On the way to the parking garage in downtown Baltimore. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love the thought of pointing the car east this week.
  • Nothing like experimenting. Sometimes you learn a lot.
  • I love warm summer nights.

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Midweek mayhem

A very uncomfortable morning impeded my progress but there are ways to overcome that. So let’s crank up the engine and see what we can come out with today.

I read #1 regret of retirees was starting with a vague financial plan. So I’m doing my best to avoid that one with some effort. I’m a person who likes knowns. I can plan with knowns. Therefore I can also plan for unknowns as best possible at a point in time.

Typical photo crew argument – Which one is going to carry that heavy tripod back to the van? Photo by Mike Hartley

Sports Commentary

Hey hey hey, get your Cotton Candy here. I’ll be getting to the ballpark sometime in the next few series to catch the Baltimore Orioles. That is a special team they are building. Fun exciting baseball with young talent that is meshing together nicely and very quickly. Good manager who they stuck with as they rebuilt.

I’ll have to remember to pick up one of these for the granddaughter. Photo by Mike Hartley

Most preseason predictions had them in 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Here they are in 1st place 101 games into the season. And my team, the Yankees in last place. That is OK, I expect they will make a charge yet. But it’s really nice to see this area excited again living right outside of Baltimore.

Only time will tell if this season turns into something special. This will be the 40th year since they have won a World Series title. There was a special young talent (Cal Ripkin) on that team, but there were a number of veterans also. Pitching seems to be a common thread with these two teams also.

This area would go insane if they won it this year.

Movie Review – Oppenheimer – First of all it’s a good movie to go see. Very well done and a good cast. But the story itself is the driver. For we are still dealing with the ramifications of this event today. And probably for man’s foreseeable future.

The age range in the theater was interesting. There might have been a few people in there that were alive when the atomic bomb was developed and used. There were also young teenagers in there. Actually, all age groups were represented. I thought I saw what might have been a 3 generation set of guys. One elderly grandfather, one guy just a bit younger than me, and what looked like his grown son.

I’m wondering if the young people knew the history and story before this. Maybe they saw the NBC documentary a short while back. I’m finding myself wondering what thoughts people have on this period and events in history.

Man has been developing weapons since the beginning of time. We just got very good at it and now can kill everyone if we so choose. Or if a few people choose which is unfortunately the reality of it all now.

It’s also a good example of science getting ahead of man’s ability to put the Jeannie back in the bottle. We might be looking at something similar today without realizing it. Could artificial intelligence be our next atom bomb?

It also reminded me that things need to be put in perspective because of timeframes. Decisions these scientists made were done when the world was at war. They were smart and knew they were working on a devastating weapon.

The ethical/morality issues along the way are handled interestingly in the film. As was what happens when the wrong people in governments are in charge. Also a good example of how revenge can go wrong and a number of other interesting lessons along the way.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Your editing the moment you look through the lens.
  • There are a few degrees between hot and uncomfortably hot.
  • I didn’t get out and photograph last night as I hoped. But I did get some much-needed rest.
  • Trust can create great things. Lack of trust destroys all.

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After Dark

For the next few evenings, I’m hoping to take advantage of what will be some warm summer nights to do some night shooting around the county. I’m not an expert at shooting in the dark but experience is a good teacher.

Chesapeake Bay after sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

I do have a lot of experience being out and about in the dark though having some pretty weird work schedules. I already know I’m going to try to shoot some of the roadwork going on Rt 29 at night. Then venture into Columbia and maybe Ellicott City to do some night lights. I’ve got a ton of ideas and some time to get to them.

Bridge support. Thank you for bringing us to the Eastern Shore. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll throw a few tripods in the car, fill the tank up, and cruise to various spots. I could also use some exercise so I’ll try to get some walking/hiking in. I’d like to get a few miles in on the treadmill when it’s raining this afternoon.

So here is to a very productive day ahead once I catch up on a little rest.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got to find ways to reduce all the plastic we use.
  • There are some carvings I need to return to and finish.
  • I’ve made the mistake of worrying about something instead of doing something.
  • The cloudy morning matches my clouded mind. Hopefully, a few hours of sleep will clear it up.

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Other way guys

The fish are the other way guys. Right behind you, the Chesapeake Bay.

That grass doesn’t look too deep Fred. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another start to the workweek. Can’t wait till that phrase is in the rearview mirror. But then again I’d better be careful what I wish for with all the changes going on at the job that pays the bills. All I know is that I’m frustrated with the job. And that isn’t a good mindset. I’ll work on snapping out of that later.

But that is a small part of life and there is so much more to be thankful for. Waking up this morning is always a good start, even though it was earlier in the day than I had hoped for.

The first thing I did was go check on a baby bird I almost ran over with the riding mower yesterday. The thing moved just a second before it disappeared under the mower. I slammed on the brake and looked under and I was about an inch before hitting it with the mower deck. I backed up and turned it off.

I managed to get it to the garden because I think it had fallen from the next or tried to fly and failed. It didn’t seem hurt. The wings sometimes extended and it would occasionally hop. I never touched it but managed to put a small dish of water next to it. I saw it change spots a few times. And I saw the parents with another baby helping it to fly later in the day. I’m hoping the same happened for this one because he was gone this morning.

I guess nature took its course one way or another. I’ve almost hit turtles a few times but thankfully have seen them at the last seconds. I had a cottonmouth try to strike the mower once as I was cutting along the woods. Natures retribution. I’ll stop and move frogs and praying mantis when I see them.

We have a place up the street called Friskies that does wildlife rehabilitation. I’ve never had to take an animal there but I hear they do good work.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m meeting with a financial planner because I hear fools and their money are soon parted.
  • A warm breeze is refreshing. A cold breeze incites cursing.
  • Trying not to forget to throw in some good events each day.
  • I just don’t get Mike Pence. It’s obvious he doesn’t want to offend the Maga base but he is going nowhere anyway so what is the purpose of running and not confronting Trump? Even if 45 is denied from running both sides agree on one thing. Pence is gutless.
  • Logic is in the eye of each person. Sometimes there is very little overlap between people.

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This weekend was

As the boat’s name says.

Near Kent Narrows. Photo by Mike Hartley

But as usually happens in life that is balanced with concern for a loved one. A very special one that is going through some tough times. So the concern never leaves my mind. The wishes for comfort and happiness were sent over the waves. The support emails and calls. But only time will make this better.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Do you know what you want to do tomorrow?
  • And then there is what you want to do and what you can do.
  • Of course, there are unplanned interruptions and tasks to do that get in the way of what you want to do.
  • But if you don’t lose sight of what you want to do, other things are just interruptions.

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I raise you one bridge

Almost looks like one sitting on top of another. I just had a second to grab a shot as we were leaving the Owl Bar at Kent Narrows yesterday. I love when I get a few seconds to grab an image or two when out and about.

One of the major bottlenecks getting to the shore many years ago. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m always conscious about not holding up the group or being separated from them for more than a few seconds. Like this shot when they had to hit the restrooms I wandered to the end of the parking area to snap this and was back at the car when they were.

It feels good again to have my cameras in my hand.

I would like to edit and share some more images but the grass needs cutting and we have company coming later today so off I go.

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I spent Friday and Saturday with my two best friends—just us at my friend’s home on Kent Island. Lifelong friends of 4 and 5 decades. I can’t tell you how much we all appreciate that time and fun together. We sat on his front porch and watched the sunset over the bay directly over the Annapolis area from our angle on Friday evening. I’m not sure which I like more.

Any day on the water is a good day. Photo by Mike Hartley

We hit the Owl Bar and then Fishermans Inn at Kent Narrows for a great meal and drinks before the sunset. Lots of boats out this weekend and if you had one and weren’t out on the water shame on you.

I think the sun is thinking about going bowling. Photo by Mike Hartley

We shot some hoops, walked the beach, laughed at old stories and recent screwups, and shared thoughts about retirement and travel. Only one of us has a parent left alive, we discussed them as we always have through life. Of course the updates on our own children and their children now.

We hung a few Craftsman tool cabinets in his garage, fixed a breakfast fit for kings, and enjoyed some beverages throughout the day. It was a little rough on Saturday morning for Kayaking but we will get to that sometime in the future.

I was going to put it politely and say it was a very good time, but it was a F’ing great time. We rarely get to spend time together like that. All our schedules are packed. And while we get together every week for a few minutes usually it’s always wrapped around work and family obligations or our own chores.

So here is to keeping that great feeling rolling throughout the week. And as we all get closer to retirement spending days like that might get a lot more common.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A cool brisk morning in the middle of summer is a nice change of pace.
  • I’ve got a ton of work to fit into the next 24 hours.
  • Felt good to get a chance to do a little shooting this weekend.
  • I love when mother deer stomp the ground when they are protecting their young.
  • There is nothing better finishing off a weekend than a few hours with my children and getting a hug when they leave. It’s kind of like a coat of armor against the trials of the upcoming week for me.

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Friday Funday

I hope to incorporate a ton of shooting this weekend. The job that paid the bills throttled that effort for the early part of the week but I will not be denied now. Scheduled time with family and friends will fill out a great time in the next few days.

How to make your Postal worker happy. Photo by Mike Hartley

This has been a pretty good summer so far but as one of my best friends would say “It’s time to turn it up a notch” so here we go.

There are a lot of celebrations in June and July. The family vacation is during this period. Lots of fun indeed. But this coming month and next a few trips to the beach alone, not with family or friends. Not on anyone’s schedule but my own.

Not in a bulky SUV loaded to the brim. I’ll be traveling with the top down instead of the hardtop roof, the music of my choice on the stereo with a volume more to my liking. A change of clothes in the trunk (glove compartment) of the go-cart (Miata) a beach towel, my cameras, and a few dollars for food and drink.

A little under 3 hours to cruise each way. It was a little much on a motorcycle on some hot days but in a car it’s no problem. I’ll leave before sunrise. Maybe early enough to catch the sunrise at the ocean, but if not to see it coming up as I cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

A quick breakfast at Bad Monkey. I’ve been wanting to hit this stop because I heard it’s good and they have their own bakery. Then spend the morning shooting around town. Hit the beach for a few hours, shower and change, and do some more shooting. Hit the boardwalk for a few things for the family, do a little cruising (sorry it’s an old habit I never broke), head to Fagers Island for a light dinner, and watch the sunset on the bay from the deck or gazebo.

Then point the car back west and home. I’d like to do a few more trips and shoot Assitique Island, Bethany Beach, and Fenwick Island. So let me get planning when all this is going to take place otherwise another summer will get away from me.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Isn’t anticipation great?
  • Work hard with the tools you have. Many have achieved greatness with very little.
  • I’ll drink water, but I’d rather have a Coke.
  • I think see food might be on the menu tonight. If I see food I’m going to eat it. At least a crabcake.

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Two the point

“Two the point” is what I thought of when I saw this shot below of the two roofs. Then again, I’m tired and punchy so it’s probably a bad pun.

At Boordy Vineyards. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another great day is upon us. One filled with new tests and challenges. I guess I was due for some more significant ones. Things had been going smoothly so life exerts its balance and throws a few wrenches. I’m also thinking about a loved one very much today.

Such beauty to just be smashed. Photo by Mike Hartley

I had a chance to grab just a few shots of the Boordy Vineyard while there for a birthday party. A very good place for an outside event and beautiful grounds. I’ll have to return to this area for some more photographs. I was so busy photographing family and children I didn’t get much of the place. I also heard some nice comments about the wine. I’m not a fan of the grape unless it says Nehi on the bottle.

Barrels and barrels of fun. Photo by Mike Hartley

I believe there are a few vineyards in the area of Hydes Maryland.

They had some good musicians there that day. On break, unfortunately. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow I venture out locally and grab some shots in Howard County.

A treasure in Maryland I’ve missed before. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have a 100% chance of being right that it is National something or another, day today.
  • The wheels of justice turn slowly. But turn they do. Or at least that is my hope.
  • I wonder if I can cram 3 days of work into one?
  • Hoping for peace of mind for someone very important.

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Saltwater 75

We were branching out this year and I’ve been watching the construction on Saltwater 75 since they took down the old BJ’s on the Water Restaurant in Ocean City. So I had to try them when they opened this year. And it was a great family experience.

Beautiful photos inside and out like this one on the exterior of the building facing the parking. Photo by Mike Hartley

Don’t let the pictures fool you, it did get crowded, we were there a bit after 4 pm because we had 2 young ones. I wish I had more time than to snap a few on my way in, but with large families, you move with them.

I love bayside restaurants with a view. Photo by Mike Hartley

This is one we will probably be putting on our regular stop list. The food and service was great. The decor and views were also great. The selection and prices should make many happy.

A fair amount of outside dining space also. Photo by Mike Hartley

I started off with one of the best Cesear Salads I’ve had anywhere. The main course was the McFaul Scallops – blackened dayboat scallops over succotash bacon hash and potato puree. Topped with jumbo lump crab and finished with tomato scampi butter. And yes it was great.

The Crew seemed well-trained and good at their task. Therefore a big tip was left. Photo by Mike Hartley

The cocktail and draft list satisfied my son and his better half.

Other hits were the Crabcake, the Salmon Teriyaki, and the 75 Caprese. The old man’s memory makes me forget the rest but everyone left happy.

I’ll have to venture to the upstairs seating on my next visit. Photo by Mike Hartley

My thoughts when I share food reviews. I will not post a review or one based on someone else if it’s a poor experience. I might share positive observations from friends, family that also match mine. Obviously, I also might not share a place in a list of ones I like because I haven’t been there. The number of people out there complaining about bad experiences already takes care of any need in that area so I don’t need to add to it. And sometimes people just don’t have a good day. That can happen in any industry.

And don’t forget the percentage of people who are never satisfied and are just, well you know.

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Floating Tiki bar

Whatever floats your boat can be found at the beach. I know I’ll be pointing my car east to Ocean City again soon. One of these sunny midweek days. Leaving before sunrise and returning well after sunset. Just a day alone in thought and with the cameras. A few hours on the beach after I wear my feet out walking the town. A couple of light meals, an ice cream soda, and then watch the sunset from a bay establishment.

The floating bar. Photo by Mike Hartley

As I was laying out on the deck today feeling the light breeze the only thing missing was the sound of waves and laughter of children. That sun was warm but felt great. It relaxes me and my racing mind slows to a comfortable leisurely pace when out there alone.

I haven’t picked up the camera as intended yet but have been a printing press for the family. I was surprised my daughter took all the photos I had of them. Usually, I overwhelm them with prints. I’m glad it will give them memories.

Riding the breeze into the weekend. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I caught some rays, played with my granddaughter, had a snowball, and was able to help someone. It’s been a great day.
  • Last workday (night) of the week ahead. Life is good because the weekend is here again at 6 am tomorrow.
  • I’m sure there was a very good reason behind some of the madness in my life.
  • My granddaughter found a picture of a rose my mother had taken. I liked the way she admired it intently and asked if she could have it. Of course, I said yes and told her who took it.

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Timing is important. I know because I didn’t get the lightning shot I was hoping for below. I know because I’ve missed many shots because of poor timing over the decades. It takes time to get the timing down.

I’m using the tripod more for that heavy Nikon and zoom which makes it more comfortable. And that will come in handy now that we got some warm summer evenings ahead, I’ll be doing some night shooting.

The weather was ready to rock. From OC looking west. Photo by Mike Hartley

A while back the interface connection on the Nikon to the computer broke. I was bummed because having to send it off to Nikon and the shipping and repair was going to set me back. Then I thought, why not just read the card? The reader device came in today and it works fine and dandy. We are in production again. Not as convenient but workable.

I think it’s funny that time is going to come to an end for another one of my cameras. An old digital Kodak Z812iS which I purchased in 2007. A true workhorse, but when I went to set the date again after charging the battery, I noticed the year stops at 2025. So if I take pictures with it after that it will be as if time had stopped.

I’m trying to get my timing down so I can possibly get 2 posts a day completed.

But first I have to spend some time shooting today. It’s a top priority.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Each time I challenge myself I surprise myself.
  • I’m tapping my energy reserves way too early in the week.
  • There is rest and there are naps.
  • I’ve made a ton of prints from the family vacation. I’d love to bore you all with them but my children are private and I don’t blame them.
  • It’s going to be a hot one today. Oh yeah, I love it. Put the top down and take an hour’s cruise later.

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Knock out the difficult tasks early, and the rest of the day is a cakewalk. The fewer things I move around my to-do list, the better I’m doing. I’m trying to do more things that I’m not sure if they will work or not. But it helps to move my boundaries.

After being off for a while and living a normal schedule, flipping back to a night shift is physically and mentally rough the first night or two. And then it gets really difficult.

This was at the entrance of our condo we stayed at in Ocean City Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley

Making progress breeds more progress. Change things up. Rearrange the office. For instance, I have been in a rut making a number of 4×6 prints. I saw a couple I liked and a couple more and I’ve made many 8x10s in the last 24 hours. My kids are going to need a bigger house with lots of wall space. I’m running out of it here.

We tipped very well this past week while on vacation. Every place we went did a great job and I appreciate that service. I also saw people on very good behavior for one of the most crowded weeks of the year at the ocean.

One thing that again caught my eye was the trash. This town and community take pride in keeping this place as clean as possible but for some unknown reason, some of us are just PIGS. Come on people, don’t litter no matter where you are.

A blog on unique homes in Delmarva gave the following description of what I finally photographed below. –

This home on 78th Street in Ocean City is unique because of the observatory on the roof, added by the owner of the property in the late 1980s. At that time, a 16-foot-long refractor telescope with a 12-inch lens was installed, which was then one of the largest privately owned telescopes in the country. 

As I was walking some bayside streets near our stay I observed an observatory. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Mmmmm – grilled corn.
  • Painting a new picture to progress.
  • Instead of trying to find the path to success, forge your own.
  • Hopefully a less costly solution to a big problem with take place tomorrow.
  • Time for another overnight shift.



Do I miss the vacation breakfast, you bet I do. We began the first day by stopping at a favorite across the bridge called the Easton Diner. Great food, great service, old-time feel. Many booths and tables are available in addition to counter service.

I used to stop at a local place called the Forest Diner on Rt 40 in Ellicott City with my son after we had haircuts together. Whoops, I’m reminiscing, but that’s what us old guys do.

Anyway, this is one of our go-to for the morning meal on the way to the beach. Pass up Cracker Barrel and Panara hit the da Diner.

The counter at the Easton Diner. Photo by Mike Hartley

OK, the next one has been a family favorite for years and that is Happy Jacks Pancake House. We had to stop by for breakfast and pay our respects to the staff for the loss of their owner. As always great service and food.

Another favorite but you really got to get there early or be very patient is Barn 34. I love their food. Nice atmosphere also.

But old and faithful and GOOD also is a place that has staying power like Laytons on 16th.

OK, I didn’t get out of town without a doughnut from the Fractured Prune.

This morning I’m back to work. So the nut bar and a bottle of water will take the place of the omelets and pancakes and waffles and bacon and sausage and home fries and fresh fruit. When I retire breakfast is going to be a ritual of good food.

Time for some sleep, been up for over 24 hours. Catch you all later today.

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Remember and wonder

This morning I find myself thinking of what my father would think of my family now. Or what I’ve done in my career. And how I took care of mom and my sister after he was gone. Maybe the friends I have or the home I live in. Maybe his feeling about me not following his footsteps into the Navy.

I wonder a lot about what his perspective would have been to those and many more things in life.

The early years. Photo by Mike Hartley

He passed this day many decades ago. It’s one of those days that gets etched permanently in ones mind as a youth. It’s painful, it’s like a reel of film from that moment to his burial. The images and words and memories associated with that event are easily replayed today as if it were then.

I’m going to spend some time in his old slide cabinets of his time at sea and different stations. There are also some letters and other papers of his. I’m finally going to put that on the agenda to sort through this year and hopefully get some more history and feeling of the man and make sure my family has that as well as the memories of my mom going forward. It’s good to document.

I loved walking to the beach before sunrise. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I miss the sand in my toes already.
  • If I’m not mistaken my mindset has changed a bit.
  • The camera is clicking again.
  • Feels great to get a good start on the day.
  • The storms be coming. Hunker down Marylanders.


Just peachy

Peaches from Wright’s Market. One of our favorite stops on the way home from Ocean City. We also picked up corn, preserves, nuts, dressing, and a few other things that will leap to mind later. It’s loaded with good things.

It was a wonderful drive home from the shore and only minimal backup before the Bay Bridge.

Thank you, farmers. Photo by Mike Hartley


A wonderful week of vacation at the beach with the family was good for my soul, my tan, my spirit, my appreciation, my taste buds, my need to be a fish, and a few photos.

Forgot the lens tissue this morning. Photo by Mike Hartley

But most of all to be a father and grandfather for some dedicated time. To share my good fortune and love. To get beat the first time and of many more to come at miniature golf by my granddaughter.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s difficult to work at an unfamiliar desk.
  • I thought my old John Deere was going to give up the ghost today but it recovered and the property is looking good again.
  • I love being away. I also love being back home.

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Back to work

While on vacation the negative things that affect me during the normal workweek seem to disappear quickly. All of a sudden regular and restful sleeping patterns return. The mind is not filled with the chaos of running from one task to the next. My eating habits improve and I’m able to fit in some regular exercise.

In other words, I’m probably going to be much healthier when I leave the job. But why wait? I can’t change my hours but I can certainly keep the exercise going and try to eat better. As far as easing the chaos of the job that is also somewhat in my control. I have sick time that I never take. Some twisted logic of mine from the old days says you don’t get sick.

That peaceful easy feeling. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s getting very difficult to think about continuing to work for someone else when all I want to do is concentrate and work on what I want to do. And while the sun is setting on this vacation I can’t help but think about my permanent one coming next year.

But tomorrow the return to the regular grind returns but I hope to put a different spin on my remaining days at the job that pays the bills.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Nature is the best color palette.
  • Already planning for the next vacation.
  • I’m finally convinced the U.S. is going further down the rabbit hole before it starts to recover. But at that point, it might be too late.
  • Times change, families change, friends change. It’s nice when they can change well together but that always isn’t the case.

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Beach town

One of my many favorite towns in Maryland is Ocean City. I love it for many reasons. From coming here as a child to playing with my grandchildren on the beach this year. My favorite month is September when the water is still warm but the crowds have cleared out and streets and beaches aren’t packed.

We tend to do a week in the summer with the family but spring and fall are wonderful also. The town used to close up after the summer season pretty much but things are staying open much longer now before and after the summer season.

Always a nice sight pulling into town. Photo by Mike Hartley

I know a ton of people don’t like it. I’m kind of glad those who don’t like it don’t come. I’m into positive waves during the summer, not negative ones. But apparently, a lot more do love it because it’s always packed during the summers and even into the off-season. We have met some wonderful people who are year-round residents.

I love eating down de ocean. The food here is great. So many different styles and of course fresh Maryland blue crabs. Some of my favorite ice cream shops like Dumsers. The things for the kids to do is endless. From shops, the boardwalk, amusement parks, and games.

I love the beach, it calls me all year long. But the pool is also a nice change of pace and being I don’t have one any longer it’s a real treat to swim in one again.

But it’s the dedicated time with family that really counts in my book. Be it playing a game together or a daily walk and meals in addition to the beach and pool time. Seeing the smiles. Hearing the laughter. Watching kids discover or be amazed or just jump for joy when they are playing miniature golf.

It’s a wonderful place in my life and I hope I have many more days with family in the coming years to enjoy it again.

3 generations of my family. I’ve been talking about weight loss a bit recently. I finally saw a picture of myself and I’m no longer looking pregnant. Photo by my Daughter in Law. Thank you.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I never joined Twitter and ever since Musk purchased it I certainly would never consider it now. I’m no fan of Zuckerberg either but I might give this Threads a try just to see what those apps are about. Probably a time waster and if so I’ll quickly jettison it but trying to live and learn as I go.
  • I have a taste for pizza tonight.
  • People who have no interest in the truth are not people I want to be around.

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Not good

This haze and unhealthy air quality are issues today. The smoke from those Canadian wildfires makes its presence known here in Maryland. I did find a government site that tracks air quality by state. My condolences to those with respiratory issues. I’m not in the best shape in that area but I can make due.

Ran a few errands today and was outside for a little bit but my eyes started to itch. The smoke wasn’t as low as the below photo, but it was obscuring distant treelines pretty well. I hope it blows away soon, I’d like to spend some time outside this weekend.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Wearing a smile is a lot easier than the alternatives. A lot more attractive also.
  • I’m pumped because I get to celebrate this coming holiday.
  • I give Quest Labs in Ellicott City my highest rating for ease of use, and great staff that are experts at blood draws. You might think this isn’t so special until you hit someone inexperienced at your doctor’s office and have multiple holes in your arms and hands.
  • After today’s decision by the SCOTUS, we can move forward and make things better than it was or go backward and create more inequities in our country. We can recover from this. The universities themselves could have positive solutions. Then again greed, money, and discrimination might get in the way again.

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I’d like a ruem, please

When I saw this shot I thought of the old Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers and therefore the title of this post. “I’d like a ruem, please.”

Gaylord National National Harbor Resort. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sorry, I’ve been using some older shots the last few days. Just haven’t felt that good and between work and personal obligations time is always short. But I’m starting to feel a little better today and hopefully, that will be the trend the next several days as I get back on the wheel of life.

National Harbor. Photo by Mike Hartley

I see the next 7 days look like rain. I hope it comes slowly because the ground is rock-hard from being so dry. And we all know that weather forecasters can’t rarely predict with much accuracy beyond a day or two so I hope they got this forecast wrong also.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I used to take orders from my job and my better half. Now I take orders from my children and grandchildren.
  • It’s a good day when you say it is.
  • Even though this blog might not show reflect it, I’ve been very productive the last few weeks.
  • My thoughts are consumed by someone very special to me.

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Soaring through the weekend and into the workweek later today. In some ways they are starting to blend for I’m no longer years away from retirement we are measuring in months now if all goes well.

I still give the job and honest days work but my heart and mind are on my hopes and desires in retirement. Time to develop my crafts, time to read, time to play or relax, time to sleep if I choose, time to exercise and improve my mental health, and many other things that just fall by the wayside with the blizzard of work that the job that pays the bills expects.

I started to get out of the high-pressure work about 9 years ago when I went to a position where I wasn’t on-call anymore. Well, for the most part, I still get an occasional call but nothing like past years where I couldn’t be more than a few minutes from my computer. I also cut my hours way back. From the weeks of 60-70 hours to an under 50 average.

I still find work challenging and take pride in it. Otherwise, I’d probably go insane if it were anything else. I have a project or two that keeps me busy in between the other emergencies, issues, and tasks of the night. So I’ll finish strong and then move on to greener pastures. With a touch of grey in the beard.

In Maryland We Are

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think I’ll grill out today.
  • Soon as I publish a post, I start a new one.
  • I love this time of year when the sun is in the sky the longest.
  • As I work this coming Monday holiday I revel in the thought that it’s not going to be my problem in the future.
  • I wonder if my back is up to moving and splitting a cord of wood.

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Shore enough

It’s that time of year to head east to the waters of the Atlantic. I can understand why so many have spots there and eventually move there. It draws me like a magnet and talks to me when I’m not there. The sounds of the waves hitting shore plays like this loop in the back of my head.

My footprints will soon dot this beach. Photo by Mike Hartley

My heart longs to look out over that great body of water.

You need to make a right turn. Photo by Mike Hartley

And what do you associate with the shores of Eastern Maryland? Crabs of course. Well today I had a crabcake from a well known Baltimore establishment (Pappas Restaurant and Sports Bar) in Parkville. My first time there and it was great food and service.

Took my Son who is a first time father there along with his son. So 3 generations at the table. Really good crabcakes and meal. The Santa Fee egg rolls were also very tasty.

I know, I took my camera in but when I saw that platter of food in her hand I picked up my fork and my mind went on autopilot till the plate was clean. I’ll get photos next visit because we will be back.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I find few things as enjoyable as making young children laugh and smile.
  • Try a new perspective. It leads to understanding
  • I’ve been blessed with two special children of my own. They keep getting more special all the time.
  • The less time I can spend on the Beltway in Baltimore or Washington the better.

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Let sleeping dogs lie

We knocked these two out, this weekend. They hung with us for 3 days but Sunday afternoon they crashed hard. We work hard and we play hard. And then we sleep. Well some of us sleep. I’m not so lucky in that regard. Like this morning after 3 hours of sleep and the job calls again. I tell you I won’t miss those calls in the future.

These two finally hit the wall on the last day of the past weekend with the boys.

But it’s been a fairly good day and I’m looking forward to another weekend and a chance to do some shooting each day.

I love bodies of water and our Chesapeake Bay is a beautiful one. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is a lot to be said for silence.
  • Congrats to the Denver Nuggets, NBA Champs. The best team won it all this year.
  • I don’t mind going to a hospital as long as I’m just visiting.
  • Enjoyed the Yankees win tonight.
  • Whoever told me I would know when the time is right. They were right.

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Sunday Coasting

Coasting later today, but a full slate of activities is ahead. A slow start for some of my weekend compadres but that was expected. There is only one other early riser in the team and he made the call but is still taking on coffee.

Cruise Control. Photo by Mike Hartley

We have eaten like kings, laughed like we were in a comedy club, and even managed a little exercise. Today we finish up and return to the reality of work tomorrow. Not often do I treat myself to a weekend like this.

But it’s the type of activity that I hope to incorporate into my summer routine this year. To get out and enjoy the state and the wonderful family and friends at the same time.

In the morning before dawn, we see two freighters trying to disguise themselves in the Chesapeake Bay.

What a beautiful weekend! Photo by Mike Hartley

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Tuesday Teeth

I don’t know why I used that title. It was a small part of my day this morning. A cavity and chipped tooth were repaired by my longtime dentist and neighbor and friend Dr. Bowman. I love their office and most of all, their work. Anyway, I’m good to go again and the original choppers are still intact. I sense a steak in my future.

Today was my nephew’s birthday. He was the first grandchild in my parent’s family. He made me an uncle for the first time. He faced incredible medical challenges as a youth for years and survived and thrived. The loss of his father hurt him badly for years. Michael passed suddenly and unexpectedly last July and I still can’t imagine the pain in my sister’s heart losing her son. I see it once in a while through her tears, but I know that there is so much more pain that she bares deep inside.

Frederick MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

So today is not one of high spirits, but one of reflection. One that reinforces to make the best of each day. To evaluate and concentrate and act on what is important like relationships. I can see it with my closest friends for some time now. Anytime we gather it’s been a special occasion. No not some event, just recognizing that any time together is special each and every time we gather be it for a pizza and a drink or a concert or time laughing and creating more memories.

I feel it with my better half. I guess this is something in your senior years that becomes more acute. Appreciation for each day and all the special relationships.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you end the day excited and in anticipation of tomorrow, you’re living.
  • The PGA and LIV. The death of the professional sport of Golf. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the game even though I’ve only played very little. And I’ll continue to play a bit but I’ll never watch pro golf again. Of course, they are far from the first company to sell their sole to foreign money. It’s not money that is the root of all evil, it’s greed.
  • For most people, being a healthy weight is their own choice.
  • Doesn’t anyone wash their own car anymore?

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Change of thought

Aspirations are a good thing. In my 50s I thought that I wanted to become a professional photographer in my senior years and have that as my second career. Now that I’m a senior by someone’s definition and I still love and have a passion for shooting, but the desire to do it as a business or even worry about the title of professional is irrelevant.

Frederick MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

I shoot because I like it and it makes me happy. I sometimes make other friends and family happy with them. I share them here and will be on my photo site once I get a few thousand more images uploaded and might be able to register with someone who I might not know yet.

Frederick MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

I learned a long time ago when I started blogging that it’s not the numbers that matter to me. It’s the people like my daughter who said she read a post or two and liked the pictures or random thoughts once in a while. Or maybe someone I never met continuing to follow my ramblings and images week after week. It’s the feeling I get of possibly doing something I’m really pleased with. Be it a photo or thought or piece of artwork.

Frederick MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

The joy is in doing the work and seeing something come together. Getting back from a shoot and the anticipation of something unique. Seeing a carving take shape. Learning how to write. All fun things.

I just wish I had more time to devote to the effort. A few minutes a day here and there is tough but if I didn’t love it I would have become frustrated and stopped long ago. Just like this blog, it’s a shell of what I hope to do in another year from now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder if AI ran across my writings if it would crash the system.
  • There are few better feelings than when an infant grandchild wakes and you get the chance to lift him out of bed and he smiles at me.
  • I had to laugh at this article about (Woke and Chick-fil-A)
  • I don’t know what I would do if they ever wanted me to return to the office to work. Well on second thought, I know what I would do.
  • This has been a glorious weekend, but work beckons and the nocturnal life begins.

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Free me

Music tends to free my spirit. It encourages my body to move. It evokes many different emotions. It inspires and relaxes. It amazes and transfixes one. It causes reflection and memories that make the hair on your neck stand up.

It’s what I turned on this morning when my better half left for breakfast with friends. It’s what I drove to this afternoon on the roads. It’s what will take me into the evening tonight.

In Frederick Maryland. Photo by Mike Hartley
Softening a sidewalk. Photo by Mike Hartley

Got the best little device for my new phone. A wireless remote phone grip that has a handle like my camera grip from Kiwifotos. So I can hold that with one hand and it has a shutter on it so no going for buttons on the phone. Oh yeah, one of the most important features. A wrist strap also. I have a usable camera now.

The new grip.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I didn’t realize the significance at the time when I was growing up, but I lived next door to the Mulligans. I should have seen if they liked to golf.
  • I swear someone has control over the fast-forward button when it comes to weekends and they keep pressing it.
  • This is going to be a very busy week.
  • Grandchildren make you realize how fast time goes by. They grow so quickly in such short periods.

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Why yes it is

What a great day it was. And the next two are going to be wonderful also. Don’t know that for a fact but figured I’d try to keep the streak going.

Just a few images from Chesapeake City from a while back. I think I’ll pay the town another visit this summer and try to get some more shots this summer.

Photos by Mike Hartley

Going UP. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes family visits are rushed. It’s rare to have a full day of time with your grandchildren and visits and meals with both of your own children. One of those very special days just filled with love and laughter and toys and water spraying and many more games.

A day where I’m not sure who is more worn out, the grandparents or the grandchildren. I’m imagining the bedtimes won’t be that far apart. I guess we are at that perfect age for grandparents, still strong enough to care for children all-day, mentally sharp, and helping them learn, play, and love. It’s a wonderful time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Back to reality tomorrow and a long list of chores.
  • There is a method to this madness. I just have to remember where I wrote it down.
  • It’s like the invasion of the ants this year so far. I’m keeping them at bay but the numbers this year seem to exceed anything I’ve seen before.
  • Hugs from children can change a difficult week into a good one.

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Just some random thoughts and photos.

Yes, that is a lone tree below in a field that will yield corn this summer.

Can you see the forest for the trees? Along Rt 99. Photo by Mike Hartley

Can you see the hidden entrance below on this freshly cut field of hay?

I knew this wouldn’t stand out in the shot. Photo by Mike Hartley
A cross on a frame overlooking the field. Photo by Mike Hartley

I found a gift card for Ledo Pizza. I think I know where we are going this weekend sometime. For those of you not from the great state of Maryland Ledo makes square pizzas. As they say, they never cut corners.

Pineapple and Onion above. I’m more of a pre-cooked bacon or sausage toppings. Photo by Mike Hartley

Beware of low-flying drives at Nicks.

I can’t wait to play mini-golf with my grandchildren. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I could eat a snowball every day during the warm months.
  • Every once in a while I forget what pain feels like. But it’s never very long till it reminds me.
  • Not everyone is a morning person. Not everyones morning comes at the same time.
  • It really doesn’t matter what the weather is this weekend, does it? I do have to set up the big umbrella over the grilling area though on Sunday.

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Get your groove on

I’m pretty conservative when it comes to dress. Casual would be a better term one that is basic colors. Gym shorts, (blue, black, grey) but recently I’m stretching out. I got a pair of power blue, a pair of gold, and a pair of coral to add to the collection. Now I know I have a long way to go to match the likes of the gentleman below but I’ll get my groove on from now on.

Now that is a nice set. Shot in OC MD. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m expanding my footwear also. I recently discovered that tennis shoes come in colors other than white. So I got a pair of black with a little red accent. Now don’t get excited, I’m not going to start eating salads and tofu (not that there is anything wrong with that if it suits you). It kind of started when my better half (always trying to improve me) started getting me some nice colorful summer shirts for nice dinners at the beach. And now she has unleashed my color palette. Thanks, honey, I guess after all these decades I can change.

My summer groove is starting to come alive again. Watch out world. The time of year to let my hair down. The time of year my spirits are highest and I build a reserve of memories to get me through the cold months.

Flip and Flop on the morning sands in OC. Photo by Mike Hartley

Stepping outside and listening and watching nature. Taking some time away from the job and getting a balance in life. Rediscovering the important aspects of life. Watching my grandchildren play in the water. Putting my feet in the sand. Many things like that.

I am getting ready for a series of day trips in the next month. Can’t wait to feel that excitement. And with the weight I’ve dropped the likelihood of people trying to roll me back into the water while I’m trying to catch some rays is unlikely.

I missed a shot that I had taken and I think I like it better than the one I used yesterday. I didn’t crop either of them, One I just got closer and zoomed in with the conventional camera while this one I shot on the phone. Sorry, for the semi-repeat. That happens when I don’t take my time editing.

Old Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ve watched and read enough recently to convince me post-processing of images is a very important part of the quality. Step one, I guess I’ll start with some basic tools like Lightroom because I can use that for the phone images also easily. I knew I would probably get into it when I retired because of the time involved but why not start now?

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I find myself drawing inspiration from more and more things lately.
  • I got a power washer. If it doesn’t move it gets cleaned.
  • I’m discovering the earlier I mix music into my week the better it goes.
  • Work is so intense sometimes that I forget to do a lot of things that could balance it out.
  • The Strong may not always survive, but they stand a better-than-average chance of it.


Good Day

I’m always less than enthused when the sun isn’t going to be out. I love natural light. And that was the case this morning, So I went to see what I could capture with the iPhone camera. And yes I took a conventional camera with me also.

Shot with iPhone 13 along Trolly Line #9 Trail. Photo by Mike Hartley

I just read a stat the other day that showed how late to the game I am. The statistic said that over 90% of all photos taken are done with smartphones. To this day 99.9 % of the pictures I’ve taken are with conventional cameras. Well better late than never. I’ll see if I can get used to it. This really isn’t a fair comparison with the old Kodak and the relatively new iPhone. But this has shown me that shooting with the phone will be just fine in a lot of cases.

Shot with Kodak z812 along Trolly line #9 Trail. Yes, that old thing is still in use. Photo by Mike Hartley

One thing is for certain. That 6 oz iPhone 13 is easier to carry than that 3.3 pound Nikon body and lens. I was looking at a couple of grips for the phone so I can hold this right. That is one reason I never took pictures with it before, holding onto the edges of a phone was never comfortable for me. I need a grip, a safety cord, something that can mount to a tripod and has a shutter.

No, I’m not giving up on conventional photography tools. I’m just expanding my options and maybe lightening my load from time to time. Plus it’s another tool I can put to use and it’s a lot less auspicious than that big camera.

And what do you know, it cleared a little this afternoon with some sun. Had to take advantage of it and wash the car. But with that humidity, I can’t see it not raining tonight.

It won’t be long till the sand and surf start calling me. I haven’t stayed in the downtown area of Ocean City in a good while. Not that it hasn’t calmed down since my youthful years, it has but it’s still too congested for me. It is nice to visit though with the boardwalk entertainment and shops and food. If you like people-watching this is the place.

Soon there will be far more than 1 individual on the beach as there is in this shot. Photo by Mike Hartley

I love shooting in the town of Ocean City. Bethany Beach Deleware is a very close second. And as MacArthur said, “I will return.”

When man makes structures like this, Mother Nature just licks her chops. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I can’t remember what age it was when we started to say to each other how good the other looked. But it seems to be part of a standard greeting now that we’re all over 60.
  • It’s always a good morning after the Celtics lose.
  • The day is young, I’m not.
  • The mind says it’s a great day for a workout. The body is saying Whoa Nellie, I can bring some pain to that gain.

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Sun, breeze, kite

Just a few more shots from our short visit to OC a few weeks ago. I wish my attitude was as sunny as the skies but work infringed on my sleep so it hasn’t been the best start to the week.

Outside the Kite Loft in OC. Photos by Mike Hartley

That morning interruption of a few hours cost me time today and I didn’t finish the mowing so I’m behind as the week gets rolling. It’s okay though, many days to regain form and I’m taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I should have a new phone by Thursday.

Boundaries are important. I’ve failed to set some needed ones during phases of my life. But with age comes wisdom.


Had a great meal at Cafe EZ in Ellicott City Sunday afternoon. I hesitate to sing this place’s praises because it’s already getting popular enough. The service and food are great each time we have been there. It’s only open 8-3 each day but it’s great for breakfast or lunch or a mid-day dessert if you feel so inclined.

I also had one of my favorite pizzas this past weekend from Ledo in Normandy. The Hawian is becoming my every other pizza from there because I usually get the pre-cooked bacon on that which is great but I’m trying to live into my grandkid’s lives so I’m making that more of a treat.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Be happy with yourself. That way if nobody else is, that no longer matters.
  • I’m going to have to start using some sunscreen if I’m going to be outside this much.
  • Interesting what you can do when you set your mind to it. A new low on the scale today.
  • The barking dogs late into the night next door isn’t going to last much longer.

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Good Waves

I’m feeling positive about this coming week. Well, at least that is the mindset I hope to go through it with. A plan to eat better again and continue some exercise. Eating better before now was just eating more. Exercise while a staple of my first 40 years of life became few and far between the last few decades.

So it’s been a change of mind for the most part. And some simple things like dropping my soda and snack intakes. Nice steps but I need to do more to get to a weight and more healthy eating style. So the treadmill and I are becoming a daily companions.

Mother Nature likes to stir things up. Photo by Mike Hartley

No time to waste though and finishing up this week strong is a priority. Only a few hours till a full night of work slaps me in the face but no problem. Production will continue. I believe I’ll work on my photo site this evening and upload some more images to it and do some sorting and labeling.

I wonder at what point mass shootings become as commonplace a news item as the weather.

I wonder if I’ll have a few minutes this week to get my camera to the repair shop.

I wonder if I can do something amazing this week.

I wonder if I’m making the right decisions about working.

I wonder how good that Reuben is going to taste tomorrow.


I had 3 things at the beach OCMD, Fenwick Island, and Bethany Beach that I have to rave about. The Crab Imperial at Harpoon Hanna’s was great. The breakfast western crepe at Sunshine Crepe in Bethany Beach was great. The Dumsers Cherry Ice Cream Soda at 123th Street in OC was great again.

It’s a good thing these aren’t local. Photo by my better half.

Sorry, I gobbled up the Crab Imperial before I could take a picture. Even though I’m eating better I’ll continue to sample some tasty and maybe fattening dishes but I’ll just balance it out. Portions here are so large that I’ve been stretching out meals into 2-3 a lot of times in recent years.

I think it’s time for some local food reviews also. So that means I’ll be taking my better half out for a bite this week, between the packed schedule.

But also think of your fellow man who might be hungry. I support the Maryland Food Bank and sometimes World Central Kitchen.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Hard work isn’t a bad thing at all. Some of us make a career out of it.
  • There is a little-known trick for success. It comes in little bits and pieces so slowly that sometimes you might not recognize it.
  • I think Monday is a day for a snowball. Cherry, I believe.
  • I really need to step up my game here.
  • I hope to get a new phone this week.

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The sound

The sound of waves hitting the shore. Purely intoxicating to me.

The sound of children laughing and digging in the sand. Purely intoxicating to me.

The volleyball game behind us with sounds of loud cheers for the spikes. Purely intoxicating to me.

The sound of a whistle from the lifeguard at the teens throwing the football or just being wild. Purely intoxicating to me.

The occasional sound of open headers or a pack of Harleys rolling down Coastal Highway. Purely intoxicating to me.

The bite of Old Bay on the crabs and the sweetness of that Cherry Ice Cream soda from Dumsers. Purely intoxicating to me.

Those moments when the family comes in from the beach, grandchildren on our laps or tucked in beside us with eyes closing quickly and our children trying to catch their breath, while my better half and I wink at each other. Heaven.

Illustration by Mike Hartley

A new frontier is about to be crossed. I’m going to update my phone after 9 years on an iPhone 6. And the new frontier is that I’m going to try to use whatever new model, as a camera in addition to my personal communication device. I’m going to have to turn that company phone over some time and I’d like to start separating my life from their phone. Plus I hear the cameras in these devices are good. We will see.

I think I’ll start to signify what images are taken with what device. Then again, who cares. Well, I kind of do because of some changes in society. Let me explain. Just this weekend I was using my Nikon 7100 with the 18-300 lens. So it’s an imposing brick to carry around and put up in front of my face. It’s obvious your taking pictures. I love animals and I like taking unique pictures of the