THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley


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Wobbly Wednesday

Today is a good test. Powering through despite feeling far less than 100%. So I had to provide myself some incentive. Figured I’d start the day with a nice bacon and cheese sandwich. Well that at least made me feel better while I was eating it. While I was sitting at my desk chowing on that I thought back on how often I’ve worked sick.

You want to talk HOT.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I left one job with over 150 days of sick time accumulated that I lost in moving on. I rarely have used all my sick time over my career. Only twice for cancer surgeries did I come close. A lot of people work sick. Some have no choice. Most don’t in fact. The pressure to perform in a lot of positions is unrelenting. And it seems some of the most pressure is put on the lowest level jobs not to be out sick.

Those who are self-employed I’m sure have a lot of experience working under the weather. I’ve worked through being sick for a number of reason. Some jobs have made it known that you had better be on your death-bed or in an ambulance on your way to the hospital is you even have a thought of calling in sick.

I’ve ordered extra fluids to help me feel better. 
Photo by Mike Hartley

Other jobs I’ve wanted to show my own dedication. Some jobs respect it and realize its a part of life. Some even encourage you to stay home at times instead of infecting the few in the office that haven’t picked up what is going around. You can always find extremes examples of both sides.

Best story I heard is about a company calling someone about a problem while they were in the emergency room and the boss calling knew where he was and called about work anyway.

I once went to work not feeling well in a big snowstorm. I get there and the owner calls from Aruba and wants to know how things are going because he heard of the snow storms. I wanted to pull him through the line but the operator cut me off and said the distance was to great.

Well I’ve wised up in my old age. I’m working today for the job that pays the bills but I’m doing it from home.

I’ve had a very good season to this point as far as avoiding any bugs or colds. (as I knock on the closest piece of wood). So I’ll fight this off quickly and be ready to roll again full speed soon.


Time marches on. In some ways it’s good for the soul. In some ways it’s difficult. Anniversaries of loved ones passing is one of those that are difficult. Each year the memories get more distant. The voices become whispers. The laughter and smile fade except in photos or videos. Today is the 5th anniversary of one of our best friends passing.

We remember him every time we gather. He is honored with a toast often. He is missed. Dan may you be resting comfortably with a beer in hand and grin on your face. We miss you brother.


Random Thoughts of the Day

I’m really working on my posture sitting but its a war keeping it right after years of pretzel poses.

Its time to replace some pictures on my walls with new ones.

Right up there, is an idea I’m trying to catch.

I know why I’m sick, I ate some fresh cooked spinach my better half made me the other day. I put a lot of butter and some Parmesan cheese on it but that healthy gene was still in there and my system didn’t know what to do with it.


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Tranquil Tuesday

I woke to a strange roar this day. And as soon as I peeled back the blanket I knew what was up. The house was cold and that only means one thing. The power was out. Yep, peered over at the clock and it wasn’t tick tocking. Well I guess they don’t do that anymore but you know what I mean, no digital display.

And that roar was neighbors generators. Some of them have installed some nice ones that kick on when the power goes off automatically. Some big ones also. Hell, you know me, I never had one before a few years ago and its a small one but its going to do the job in longer outages. I can handle a few minutes and hours if need be without one. I don’t like power outages at all, but I can handle it.

Not surprising with all the icing overnight. But in a few hours BG&E had it back on. Thank you for your work in crap conditions.

Along Woodstock Road
Photo by Mike Hartley

I do know I have a ton of branches down in my yard and just looking at them all made my back hurt. Such is life, its good to have the health to get outdoors and do some yard work still.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, time to ride off into the sunset of another day. As I look back at this year so far, I find myself making improvements to each day and loving life more. Beats the alternative doesn’t it?


Random Thoughts of the Day

I’m glad my kids have a lot more confidence in themselves than I did in myself as I was growing up.

It will be nice to see the sun again tomorrow for a change of pace.

I think the guy who came up with the term Headache, probably never had one.

Glad to see the Terps (U of MD) basketball teams doing so well.

I’m in love with the children’s book my daughter got me as a gift. Its called Grandpa’s wish list. I can’t wait to read it over and over to her little one when that day comes.

I let myself down today in how little I accomplished. I didn’t make good use of that 3 hour power outage we had.


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Stormy Monday

Had to listen to that Almond Brother Band tune Stormy Monday this morning. Seemed appropriate for the day itself here in Mary-Land. Not so merry on the roads though today. Did some slipping and sliding on the way home this morning. Well most of the trip was fine till I got on the back roads to my home which hadn’t been touched.

And another night of slip sliding away for this evening. Be safe out there you nuts.

Snow at Railroad Museum
Photo by Mike Hartley

Yeah I cheated, this is an older shot of snow in downtown. I should get out this morning early and see if I can get some weather related shots. Hell, I’ll get to the door and see the frozen tundra and will probably high tail it back inside.

Snow melting on barn roof.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Plus I’ll be whipped from a long nights work. I’ve been busier than usual on the job that pays the bills. That in turn wears me out mentally more than it used to. Not in so much a bad way. I don’t get negative about it. The energy just seems to be sapped out of me when I get excited about doing some of my own work.

It’s also harder to think creatively for me when I’m worn out. Like today, I didn’t think I could find much interesting to write about and I was right because I was wiped from yesterday. At least I’m blessed not to have to work two jobs to make ends meet. Those days are over, at least I hope so.

I think if I work to get ahead and plan better I wouldn’t run into these situations so here’s to working ahead a few days starting tomorrow.


Random Thoughts of the Day

When so many little things aren’t addressed it’s a big thing.

The more honest I am with myself the better strides I make.

I’m starting to hear stories of tax issues, lower refunds, more people owing money. That’s not going to make the troops happy.

I’m becoming a pistachio nut nut.

Isn’t it nice. Pick something. If you can’t find something, change some things in your life.


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Sunday tribulations

Not the best start to the day. Wasn’t feeling that well physically. My partner at work has called in sick and its supposed to snow and ice overnight which means an ugly morning ride. And were just a few minutes past noon so I wonder what else is in store?

But then my Son called and all was right with the world again. Funny how much hearing my kids voices make me relax and stop sweating the small stuff. And then the bonus of scheduling some time together was had.

Looking inland waiting for me to return.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So here is to looking at warm carefree days this summer. And I hope to have many of them. Last summer I was slack on day trips to the beach. Those are something else. Some of the most relaxing days of the year. Yeah its a fairly long drive for some, but hell, I do 100 miles back and forth to work most days so 300 miles isn’t a stretch at all.

I can imagine my first trip with the top down and warm summer sun coming up over the Bay Bridge as I cross going EAST. The day spent on the beach and cruising to one favorite spot after another. Breakfast at my favorite pancake joint, time in the sand. Hit a local deli for lunch, time in the sand and water. Hit the boardwalk for a late afternoon snack and people watching. Cruise the ocean highway or explore new back roads. Sunset at Fagers Island after a meal. Cruise a bit at night and then head home.

Well that is a ways off but I can dream.


Random Thoughts of the Day

I don’t know why I came downtown in this weather tonight. Won’t happen again.

I take pride in doing this blog each day. Shows I can commit to more than one thing. Now I just have to start exercising each day.

I think I came to the realization that I’m going to be working longer than I had planned. And no I don’t call this work. Not in the traditional sense at least.

This year I’m going to do something special. Besides becoming a grandfather. Of course that is special enough for one year.

Snow is beautiful if you don’t have a 50 mile trip in front of you.

Ice is never beautiful unless it’s in a glass.


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Rocking a Saturday

What a day. Some early morning design ideas, working on carving and some writing. Then out the door early and the feels like temp was 10 degrees so don’t say I’m not dedicated. Got to warm up with some old friends over breakfast and laughs. Then a relaxing afternoon which was needed. Worked on some shots in the home studio. What a good start to a Saturday.

So today is national pizza day. OK I’ll go with my local favorite and the best topping in the world. BACON.


Photo by Mike Hartley

Chopping away at some wood today. Both this guy in the photo, and me. I’m trying to discover the techniques and touch needed for bit 106 on my Dremel tool. Also working on a surprise for a family member.

I’m back to working with wood.

So beautiful is the grain. So wonderful the knots.

So strong the oak. So soft the balsa.

Such depth in sculpture. Such comfort to rest on.

So dusty. So rough.

So smooth. So polished and stained.

So rich in texture. Even in death it gives life.


OK, only another day off and then the madness begins again. Looks like the weather could complicate matters again on Monday and Tuesday. Such is the season. For some reason I’m not going into this coming week like the last with energy and positive spirits. Will see if I can turn that around in the next 24 hours.

I can’t figure out why some work weeks start to stress me out more than others. Probably just the way I’m looking at them. So maybe I should just chill out like the weather.


Random Thoughts of the Day 

The older I get the more I try to think back through the eyes of a child.

I’m overdue for a dump run.

I’m glad I was raised so there are pictures of my parents displayed around my home. I hope my kids do the same someday.

Too laugh is to live. So says me.

Timing in life is as important as timing is to a comic.

Its been a long time since I’ve made long term goals.


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Keepsakes, time for some to go

I was looking through some keepsakes that are important to me. Some old family things that probably don’t mean much to anyone else. We all have them, we all love them. And then I thought about people who lose all those things in floods or storms or fires. How devastating that must be.  Because while homes and cars and property can be replaced, keepsakes can’t be.

I’ve got to sort through my keepsakes because I probably do have a few more than I need, especially from my parents home, and so off I went today. The first few boxes were off-limits, my parents letters to each other during his years in the service. Family pictures going back a century now. I tried to sort through some old pictures in frames and couldn’t think about getting rid of one of them. Then I lifted a box of some old dolls that my mother had kept through the years. I’ve gone through the family and a few have been kept, but there are more that need a new home besides sitting in a large Tupperware type bin.

A couple of these dolls are very old, so to the antique and appraiser places I will go. A new experience for me. Kind of funny that I’ve held onto them so long. I’m certainly not into dolls. But I know some were my Mom’s and I believe one of the old porcelain ones was her Mothers. I don’t know for sure but that seems like something my Mom would have kept.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Hell they might not be worth much of anything, but my gut tells me differently. They are in very good condition though and old so we will see. This is one of those things that would have gotten chucked out in most homes where a parent is passed. They were in an old broken down chest that smelled of moth balls. Actually that was the chest under it but the smell had gotten into the one sitting on it.

But as usual they were tightly wrapped and placed in this chest with care. I wish I had gone through them with her when she was alive so I could know the story behind them.

But now these dolls will either make a collector happy and I’ll use some of the money towards the animal shelter and towards a new doll for each of my children when the day comes for our grandchildren.

Or I could finally make use of the Ebay account I set up a while back and see what they would do online. One of the porcelain dolls looks like it could be in the hundreds of dollars given some prices on the size and age of the one I looked up. But I think I’ll start local first and see what they say about them. So get ready Howard County Antique stores, here I come.

This will also serve the dual purpose of making my better half happy about more space in the basement. I really need to go through the attic also but we will concentrate on one area at a time.


Random Thoughts of the Day

I got to have and unexpected dinner with my daughter and better half. What a way to finish out a day. Another good meal at Shannon’s.

I’m Jones’ing because there is no Maryland basketball on this weekend.

Today I felt like a very lucky and fortunate person. Nothing specific just good to be alive and healthy.

It was also a nice restful day for the most part. With the exception of one work email that set me off this morning. I had a post started about it and was three paragraphs into it when I said nope, not worth it. So you’re stuck with this crappy post about dolls. How low I sink when at a loss for time.

Figures I’d schedule the coldest morning to go out and do some shooting. I should have had my behind out today.


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The Best Crabcakes

The Best Crabcakes – All of them. No really, I setting out this year (2019) on the hunt for best crabcakes. For I’m blessed to live in the great state of Maryland and if this state gets anything right, its crabs. The tastiest critters and the best spices in the WORLD. OK I might be biased a bit there, but I’d run it up the flagpole against anything, if food orgasms are the measure.

Crabacake
Photo by Mike Hartley

I love those tasty crustaceans, prepared in many ways, but the crabcake is something that’s special. Yeah I like to pick crabs. Yeah I like stuffed shrimp and crab imperial. I love crushed crabcake over rockfish.

Actually in all truth, this is a post I started last year and found in my drafts folder. We will call that background effort to this years event. I did do some extensive research and it paid off handsomely. THEY TASTED GREAT. I learned of some new and serious contenders. I sampled some old favorites. I just got lost in eating them. My apologies. This year I’ll do better.

Really few things will get Marylander’s riled up like arguing about the best crabcake. Hell just look at the confusion the word itself creates. Is it spelled “Crabcake” or “Crab Cake” or Crab-Cake”. Or maybe with the Eastern shore drawl  “CwabcAke”. Or if you’re at a fancy restaurant where eating a crabcake isn’t as comfortable because you’re in cloths you wear once or twice a year. And the waiter says you can get one crabcake if preferred in for the crabcake dinner and it takes all your strength not to get up and slap him silly and say “do I look like someone who eats only one crabcake, do I?”

The Wonderful thing about THE Best Crabcake is that they can be found in so many places. Part of that is personal preferences of the consumer. Some like fried, others broiled. Some like a little moist and some a bit dry. Some get mad at any filler to speak of, some prefer a plumper cake like. Some have to have a HUGE crabcake and others the more traditional size.

Some crabcakes just taste better looking out over the waters of the bay. Some are best with that lump backfin you brought home from the beach to make your “SPECIAL” crabcakes for your better half. Some are best while sitting on wooden tables and benches at some local joint that is a hidden secret. Some of course can be found in your finer dining establishments but are never as fun to eat there because I don’t feel comfortable uttering even in a low voice “this is the best F’ing crabcake in the world” so those places will never get my number one vote.

I’m going to enlist a few friends also in this adventure. I will make note at the time of year and as much positive things I can find to say about them. I’ll also be adding evaluations of Cream of Crab soup which is a long time favorite of mine and anything else they throw in. Please NOTE. these friends are “Professionals” Lifelong Maryland residents and some raised crabbing on the bay at their parents home. The kind of place you walked into that had multiple steamer pots, BIG ones. Multiple cages for caught crabs tied to their docs. They know Crabs. Ah the old days.

For those of you not from the Maryland/Virginia area, Old Bay is a seasoning that we love to put on crabs and other seafood dishes.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’ll provide a review as I eat through the state this year and do a wrap in the end. Don’t hesitate to suggest a spot.


Random Thoughts of the Day 

There are few better feelings, then when the weekend starts. Except all the feelings your having going through the weekend.

A lot of things seem to be missing heart.

Some decisions make sense over time.

Go Terps – back on track after last nights victory.