THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley


1 Comment

Beep Beep

This writing challenge is a little out of my league. Actually entirely out of my scope. Interview a fictional character. I’ve never done a piece of fiction in my life. If you read on you will see I’m kind of tired also.

OK, here it goes.

Me: Good day Mr. Runner, how are you?

RR: Please call me Road. I’m fine and dandy.

Me: So tell me Road, how is your relationship today with Wile E Coyote?

RR: Oh its just like the old days. A bolder here, a truck there, and of course lots of explosions. I’ve got to give it to the old critter, he is a persistent cuss. I mean, how many people do you know that will take that abuse? That is staying power and determination.

Me: Well I guess that is one way to look at it. But some say it’s cruel, sort of like Lucy pulling the football away just before Charlie Brown tries to kick it.

RR: Oh no, it’s all in good fun. You see I own the Acme Supply Company. And we donate all the proceeds to charity. So think of it this way, Wile E Coyote is one of the most charitable characters around.

Me: Ok, if you say so. Now onto your age Mr. Road Runner. Some have speculated that you might be losing a step or two. Do you feel more vulnerable, can you feel Mr. Coyote breathing down your neck?

RR: No not at all. I’m as fast as ever Beep Beep. He can set as many picnic tables as he pleases, and bring out all the shiny knives and forks to chase me with but the only diet he will be getting is my dust.

Me: According to recent comments by Wile E Coyote (Genius) your days are numbered. It is also rumored he has enlisted the help of Guy Fieri and his Camero to track you down and help him with a braised RoadRunner recipe.

RR: That old Chevy isn’t going to catch me and that Genius had better get his behind back to school.

Me: Well Road, I know you only said you had a minute and I’ve probably used two by now so I hope that pile of birdseed was tasty while we chatted, and please be safe on the roadways. Next week a rebuttal from Mr. Coyote, if he is, well enough to get out of the hospital.


Leave a comment

Super Saturday

I had a wonderful start to the day and the rest of it followed through as well. I could do without the cold temps but it comes with this time of the season. But like the boats below I’m waiting for a quick thaw and return to our warmer months.

Snow covered boats along Scott’s Cove. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today’s writing prompt: What is your favorite quote and why. I love quotes and enjoy reading the hell out of them but don’t save too many. I guess my favorite is one that is fairly recent in the scope of history. It’s one that touches my heart and one that no grandfather will ever forget because the request is so genuine.

“Come play with me Papa”My 2-year-old Granddaughter

Another that I’ve often reminded myself to be the later of in life.

“There are two types of people -those who come into a room and say, “Well, here I am!” and those who come in and say, “Ah, there you are.”― Frederick L. Collins

Creativity takes courage. – Henri Matisse

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My dislike for cold weather knows no bounds.
  • There are few joys greater than seeing your children happy and healthy.
  • Sometimes the simplest trinket becomes a special momento.
  • I can’t believe the Packers lost.


Leave a comment

Built a fort

Built a fort with my grandchild today. We learned about making foundations with blocks. And of course play and laughter. So much play that it’s going to be early to bed to recover. The unbridled joy of a child breaths life into me, but only for so long when the body realizes its age.

Dad showed me the proper grip on a football a month before he passed. Photo by Shirley Hartley

An interesting writing prompt today. If you could, what year would you time travel to and why? I would go to 1966 the year the picture above was shot. I would ask my father about all his life and experiences and then I would ask a thousand and one questions and seek his guidance about growing up and life.

I never got a chance to do those things. And I think about those things a lot. How would life have changed? Would I have followed his career in the Navy? Would I have had a lot more confidence? Would I have avoided a lot of mistakes?

Not that I want anything in my life to be different because I’m one of the happiest guys around with the way things are turning out. But getting here was difficult at times. It’s a void in my life that was never filled. So I would like to go back and learn about the man I missed so much and to tell him I love him.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The smell of bacon cooking on a Friday morning with a grandchild on the way to our home is a great start to the day.
  • There is cold and then there is WTF.
  • I have some great friends who remind me often to be thankful for all we have been given and I hope I do the same for them.
  • Thankfully I don’t get headaches often. But when I do it makes me appreciate the suffering that those who do suffer from them.


Leave a comment

Something from nothing

Another opportunity at my doorstep. What should we create today? Inspiration is low because I’m just so tired from the job that pays the bills. I also got lazy with my exercise and my body doesn’t like that. So time to turn it around. Let’s see what today’s writing prompt is.

The beauty and storminess of life. Photo by Mike Hartley.

My favorite photo that I’ve ever taken is a question I’ve never asked myself before. I have a favorite out of a particular shoot or series. Like the one, I have on the wall now of about 300 shots of Arlington Cemetery. I put them up to select a few favorites for larger prints.

I have favorites photos of my wife and children and grandchildren that are my favorites for special reasons close to my heart. I have favorite vacation photos and favorites of the hundreds of shots of friends I have on my office walls.

I have favorites of my family’s pets, favorites of many towns in Maryland, favorites of the sports I’ve taken. Of course, the nature and weather photos are always of my favorites when I think about my best work but then I think about the food and fishing shots that are so colorful and action-oriented. I never favored portraits but I think of a few I could have as favorites. Or maybe some architectural shots I love to shoot and remember.

And soon as I typed the word “remember”, that is what my favorite is. The memory “remembrance” of each photo I shoot envokes. So picking a favorite goes along with picking specific memories. And that is tough to do in life.

So my favorite photo is really the next one I take. And the one after that. Because the excitement is always looking for my next favorite. And every once in a while I pause and say, that could be the one. But then I have another idea or thought and the next image is in my mind to capture.

I will say one more thing about favorites. It’s hard to have a favorite that is just an electronic image. Make a physical print of it and watch how much more special it becomes. I did make a choice a long time ago for the banner image for the header of this site. 8 years ago today in fact. So I put the whole image as my favorite today because it still represents a favorite morning of mine.

I’m going to have to return to this topic of favorite images being I love photography so much. But I’m exhausted and can barely keep my viewfinder open so I’ll return another day and expand on it.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The weather is a good daily reminder of how unpredictable life is.
  • The interesting thing about the rock group The Who is that they all like to play lead.
  • No matter how many people are around you, you’re still alone.


Leave a comment

The Night

In some ways having lived a nocturnal lifestyle for portions of my professional career has enlightened me to a whole other world that remains a mystery to most people. It can be unsettling at first. Darkness does that to most people.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Just like with anything, it takes time for your senses to adjust. Your sight has to change, your margin for error is way down. The sounds and smells of the night are different than the day. I’ve worked both day and night shifts in Washington DC. That is an entirely different place after sunset as most places are.

But really there is no difference between a city and the woods. All kinds of predators are out at night. But besides that negative, there is a world of wonderous activity. The world is restocked overnight. How this mystery of movement happens is a ballet in darkness. But the mystery to me is how does the human mind change when you become nocturnal.

It’s like living in a different reality sometimes. A different mindset when you see people. For instance, tomorrow night when I get together with my 2 best friends for HH they will be ready for dinner. Well, it’s breakfast time for me. But hell, I don’t care, I’ll eat Mexican or pizza or whatever the group wants to have.

I enjoy sunrises and sunsets, they just mean different things to me. Sunrise is bedtime. Yeah, sort of like Dracula. And sunset is something that I’m cooking bacon to every so often. I look across at the traffic lights in the morning and see people just starting their days and mine is coming to a close. Interesting observation. Most of them don’t have a smile on their face, I do.

I don’t know how people do it for decades, it’s a mystery to me. Sometimes it fits a lifestyle. Sometimes it fits life situations where one parent is always home for kids. It’s tough on relationships though.

One observation about the people out at night. The good ones you encounter are really really good giving and caring people. Most of us who work nights really rely on each other because there are so few for support around.

As I usually step out of my basement office each night it’s always a mystery as to what I might see. Will it be a big herd of deer, maybe a fox sitting on my hill scoping out the clearing before the woods, maybe an owl hooting, or just a cool breeze. The night is full of mysteries that I embrace.


Leave a comment

Speeding and Reading along

Now that I’m back to writing each day I must get back to reading more again, both blogs and books. Tough to fit everything in and that means shifting priorities. That’s fine with me, I’ve been devoting too much time to the job that pays the bills anyway.

Like this boat, just cruising along today. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s kind of funny what today’s writing prompt was being I had just picked up a book again that I started recently called “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon.

I’m about halfway through it and I’m sure I’ll pick it up again in the future for inspiration because it makes a good number of points I need to refresh myself on occasionally. I’m asking for more books for birthdays and Xmas. I’m rediscovering the joy of reading.

Not that I haven’t read in the past, it’s just what I read was either news or more technical in nature. Reading about my future endeavors is a lot of fun so far.

I have the next few books lined up behind the current one. “A Photographers Playbook” is next on the agenda and then something fun being March Madness will be approaching. “Tales from the Maryland Terrapins” and there are 2-3 more fun ones behind that one already.

Fitting all these interests into the schedule is hard, but it’s a passion that is really getting stronger each day. For I have two very good reminders of how important life is each day and to utilize every moment you’re healthy to live, enjoy and create.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes it tough to meet every day head on.
  • Like an idiot I just accepted more work at work.
  • Contractors and Politician. Which lie more?
  • I used a pictue of a boat during summer on todays post to try to help me with warm thoughts. It’s not working yet because I’m still chilled.


Leave a comment

Gaining superpowers

Knocking the days out, one after another. That was my goal to start the year, to post each day. Instead of making a huge goal of making my site something special, and then failing badly because the goals were too big and ill-defined. So I first have to get in the habit of making fresh content each day.

Words and Ideas are important. Photo by Mike Hartley

Mid-month and so far so good for the writing but the photography needs to be fresh each day also. And in that vein, I sought to do something new even though I’m stuck inside today and I’ll try to share that later.

But, onto today’s writing prompt:

I’m not too up on all the action heroes anymore and the new superpowers they may have. If I had a superpower I would like to be a nurse, doctor, or medical scientist and heal people. I would like to be a professor or teacher to help educate or a person who responds to disaster/crisis situations or our civil servants. All these people seem to have incredible superpowers that I admire.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My beard trimmer trembled when my Grizzly Adams looking self picked it up today.
  • Interesting contrast, MLK today. Tomorrow the voting rights bill will probably fail in the Senate.
  • It’s fun learning to have fun each day.
  • Has the world (we) missed an opportunity to minimize this Covid VIrus but not getting as many people vaccinated as possible and therefore allowing another more deadly varient to produce and kill?


Leave a comment

Passionate about?

Another blank slate to start the day. What a pleasure it is to have some choices. Well, a few minutes for a few choices at least before work tonight. Maybe a lot more time if I stay away from the TV, and don’t watch football games today.

Pit crew – surgery in progress. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today’s writing prompt is one I hope to have a much better answer for in the near future. Because when I look at myself now I don’t have a cause I’m really passionate about other than my family and maybe my desire to work on my future crafts. When I think of a cause I think of a charity. We make donations to groups we have belief in like the Red Cross, V Foundation, American Cancer Society, Maryland Foodbank, St Jude, Purple Heart, DAV, and some others.

I haven’t been passionate about a cause. And that troubles me a bit. I think as my free time may expand in the future I might find a cause I’m really serious about making a difference in. But in reality, doing a lot of little things for causes you believe in is kind of a passion. Because as they say every little bit makes a difference.

As I think about what I might become more passionate about I think of the environment and wildlife. I enjoy photographing both and after living through massive development in this area I’m tired of it and it’s got to stop. Also environments like our Eastern Shore and the Chesapeake Bay.

I don’t like to see people hungry or homeless and I will probably do more in that regard. I also have a very soft spot for animals so maybe I’ll do something with the Maryland SPCA. There is so much need and so few able to do. I wish I had done more to contribute throughout my life. But they say it’s never too late to catch up. Well, at least that is what I’m hoping for.


I think this needs repeating. A statement from the American Medical Association. on the Supreme Court decision on Covid Vaccinations for large companies being rejected. –


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have no idea why I got away from doing random thoughts for a few days to start the year?
  • I wonder if I didn’t watch the weather report if there would still be snow to shovel later?
  • Pain has a way of reshifting your focus.
  • The sounds of my sons and daughters voices breaths life into me.
  • I’m having serious withdraw from seeing my granddaughter. I think I’ll make her a video today.


Leave a comment

Enjoy the ride

There are only so many days in a lifetime. Don’t waste them away.

Last Sunset. Photo by Mike Hartley

Somedays you get rude reminders of how short life is and how unfair it can be.

So my life lesson is one that encourages you to live each day to the fullest. No, you don’t have to go jump out of a plane each day or ride the rapids. Making good use of every day is maybe saying “I love you” and following that up with an act of kindness. Helping enrich the lives of those around you can do wonders for your own as well.


Leave a comment

Overcoming

Before I get to the day’s writing challenge which I’m having trouble deciding what to write about I wanted to say I’m looking forward to a great day. One of my best friends helped me get life back in perspective last night and we laughed and solved the world’s problems all in one evening.

TUNE FISH ON. Photo by Mike Hartley

An interesting one today: Write about a challenge you faced and overcame.

To be honest, I feel like I’ve been very lucky in life, and that challenges I might express are really minor in scope to what others have and currently face. I had two different cancers and I guess some may consider those challenges. Really you’re along for the ride. Yeah, you make a few decisions along the way, your fight is the recovery and living with it and putting that fear of more aside.

I think of the many lifelong challenges that losing my dad at a young age has had on me for decades. I’ve had a great number of professional challenges but nothing I feel like bragging about today. I could write of the many challenges faced being married over 4 decades we have overcome.

I thought about the challenge of starting a family and what a special time that was. From the moment I saw my first child laying on the my better halfs chest I suddenly realized my entire priorities had changed. All my old ways and priorities becomes secondary. If you take it seriously its an incredible responsiblity helping raise a family, provide for the family, give the family a future better than yours, show love and compasion each and every day.

I needed to grow up quick and I did. Well that is my story and I’m sticking to it. My better half might have a few arguements but overall I stepped up. Could I have been better, always and I even look at today how I can be better. That is always a never ending job from the moment they enter the world. One because your always learning, adjusting, supporting and teaching.

Its a labor of love certainly but also one of sacrifice that you will feel. But its all worth it and then some. It’s been the most rewarding and proudest thing in my life to just be a part of their upbringing and to see them become wonderful people. Time passes so fast you barely have time to appreciate it. It’s easy to lose yourself. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed during it. Take breaks, let people help.

So I would say stepping up to the challege of being a good father isn’t really something that I had to overcome but more of a goal to meet every day of my life. It’s a labor of LOVE.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • We used to have a pool. Sometimes I still look out the window and see my family laying on floats or having sponge ball battles.
  • Reading is a lot of fun, I wish I had more time for it.
  • I could use a good nights rest. But the call of progress will keep me up.
  • Only dreams of my toes in the sand on a warm summer day pull me through cold weekends like this.


Leave a comment

An Ideal Day

What is not to like about the start of a weekend. Mine begins today.

Sunset on the bay behind Ocean City Photo by Mike Hartley

So time to ramp up production personal work and try to make up for a busy week at the job that pays the bills.

From the parking lot at Fagers Island Photo by Mike Hartley

Today’s writing prompt is: What does your ideal day look like?

I don’t think I can fit all the things in my ideal day. So I’ll pick one of my favorites. And as always any ideal day always involves my family and friends.

Driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at sunrise on a warm summer morning with the top down on the way to the ocean. Breakfast at Barn 34 or Happy Jacks. Spend some time taking pictures. Ride bikes around town. Hit the beach, Dumsers cheeseburger, and cherry ice cream soda. To the pool, then a shower, lounge on the huge balcony in a reclining cushioned beach chair with a view of the ocean and bay, read and listen to music.

A seafood festival with the family for dinner. Laugh with the kids and grandkids. Spending time with my better half. Return to the balcony and listen to the sound of the waves hitting the beach. Hear a knock at the door and it’s my best friends and back to the balcony we go and proceed to laugh the night away till the next sunrise.


Leave a comment

Communication

This writing each day feels good. I hope I can keep it going well beyond this monthly challenge. Why, because I like to communicate. And even if it’s a random person who just reads one post or a family member who might keep up with my ramblings, I can be happy with that.

Are you talking to ME? Photo by Mike Hartley

Today’s writing prompt: What emoji(s) do you like to use?

Today’s writing prompt left me a little short for the material needed for a thoughtful post. You see despite working on computers for many years the emoji thing never caught on with me. Yeah, I send my daughter a heart once in a great while on a text but that is about it.

I actually saw a text once to a person much younger and it was all emoji’s and they replied all in emojis. I just don’t get it and probably won’t, not that it might be fun I guess but I’d rather say things with words and pictures. And no I don’t consider an emoji a picture or illustration or graphic. But that is just me. I say have fun with them if you use them.

I think the same might be true of my friends. I think the only emoji I’ve seen them send is one of a beer and a shot glass.

So I decided to spend a few minutes learning some emoji language. Off to Google, I went. Well, first I stand corrected. This looks to be a whole industry. I had no idea there were so many emojis and so many meanings for them. I was thinking about picking up a new language when I retired. Maybe Spanish. But now I’m thinking I might add emoji to the list. Then again, Nah. Text and emails using words can be misinterpreted and I’m guessing emojis can even lead to more confusion.

I think I discovered the real reason I’m not an emoji fan yet. Being older and one of failing eyesight I can’t tell if someone is sending the peace sign or flipping me the bird. So instead of enlarging the screen or getting my magnifying glass out, I’ll stick to words. But please, go about your fun.


3 Comments

To boldly go

If I’m a lucky man and have my health a few more years I’ll be boldly entering retirement, from the job that pays the bills. And I’m looking forward to it because I’m preparing for it. I read a good book a friend got me a while back called “The Joy of Not Working” by Ernie J. Zelinski. It was great and started me on a path of hobbies and plans and dreams of all kinds of things to do and also be aware of. A mindset change from someone else being the boss, to me being the boss.

This guy’s suit screams Craig Sager. Just look at the guy’s reaction walking towards him. It kind of looks like Gov. Hogan from behind. Photo by Mike Hartley

So what does it mean to live boldly? Ask today’s writing challenge. Wow, this could cover a lot of range. Just expressing yourself is bold nowadays and sometimes dangerous. But I’ll take that risk.

I remember back my first job as an adult at 18 which I stayed at for 21 years. I left that to join two partners to go into business for ourselves. With not enough capital, not enough experience, not enough knowledge, and certainly not enough staff. If it didn’t say newspaper office it would have been a hat store because I never wore so many different ones. I guess that was a rather bold move being I had two young children at home. (Bold in a chance sort of way)

Honestly, my first thought was the bold fight an old friend has put up over the last year fighting cancer. (Bold as in courageous)

I watch one of my best friends leap up the food chain and help build a successful company that handles huge jobs and multimillion $$ contracts and exude the management skills with people that I admire. He could have done things the old fashion way but that isn’t him. He takes the glory off the field for his team. (Bold as in masterful strokes)

When I was younger I had the inclination to drive fast at times. More stupid than bold but things like rock climbing or surfing with sharks or platform diving off a cliff. (Boldness in adventures.)

You have to be really bold to ask a question, especially in front of others. Because without knowledge you can’t live. (Bold is not being afraid as being seen as stupid)

Bold is saying things like “Will you marry me” or “I Do” or “Were going to have a baby”. Bold is saying “I accept the job” or “I quit” or, “I think I deserve a better raise.”

Bold can be just getting out of bed and taking on another day or arming yourself to go to work to defend society or a country. (Salute to the boldness of our servicemen/women and law enforcement and fire)

Living each day is bold if you choose to really live.


2 Comments

And we’re off

Hard to go charging into a new week when the temps outside reduce movement by 50% because you have to dress in layers looking like the Michelin Man. But off we go anyway. Into the frozen tundra.

Woodstock Road. Photo by Mike Hartley

So today’s writing prompt was:

The 5 things I’m grateful for today are:

  • I’m grateful my family and friends are healthy. One has the flu but that will pass.
  • I’m grateful my stomach is full and a warm roof is over my head.
  • I’m grateful to know that riches aren’t measured in monetary wealth but in time with special people surrounding you, loving and enjoying each other.
  • I’m grateful to all the professional people that I’ve enjoyed working with in the past and today. Many have mentored me and I hope I’ve given it back to others along the way.
  • I’m grateful my better half said “I Do” a long time ago.

You know, those are the ones I’m grateful for every day. But today specifically I would answer:

  • I’m grateful for the opportunity to possibly work from home for the next 2 years which I sent the forms for today.
  • I’m grateful for the Jimmy Johns #10 which was very tasty and filled me up.
  • I’m grateful I have a space heater in my office on a night when the temps might dip to single digits.
  • I’m grateful yesterdays back pain subsided earlier today.
  • I’m grateful to have a few free moments to do a post and tinker making some large prints for framing.


Leave a comment

Assume

Oh, the weekends go by so quickly. Can’t wait to get to the days of the permanent weekend.

She just explained life to him. Photo by Mike Hartley

Interesting writing prompt today: What do people incorrectly assume about you?

I thought about what people might wrongly assume I would guess the following.

Maybe that I’m more technically inclined than creatively.

That not returning to the drinking days of my youth is easy just because it’s been so long.

That I’m not very good at relaxing. I just don’t do it that often.

That I’m comfortable being outgoing.

Some might not think I’m very smart. Only completed high school and wasn’t that good then. But I have a lot of common sense and good intuition. And when I apply myself I do fairly well.

In today’s political world there are so many wrong assumptions from both sides that it’s almost like we can’t talk to one another because these false assumptions make each side too angry to sit down and listen. Very sad.


Leave a comment

Inadvertently

I’ve inadvertently found the love of writing.

The Writer Framed. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today’s writing prompt is What do you like most about your writing.

Sometimes you just stumble into something or scratch an old itch that really turns into something. I started blogging several years ago just to show my photos and inadvertently started writing. Sometimes a photo would spur a few thoughts and I just started to do more and more on each post. Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m no writer because the reading I do shows me I’m just a beginner. And that is fine with me even if I finish as one.

I’ve had a thought to start a book for my children about a dozen years ago, and I have a good base of material that I should revisit and complete. I’ve thought about some photography books and I’m going to try my first one next month. I have the draft of a start of a book about being in the nocturnal working world. But I really like blogging because it keeps me in regular practice and seems to bring satisfaction each day I accomplish it.

What I like most about my writing is that as time goes on, I’m inspired to do more of it and get better at it (even though I’m sure some of you might say this is a slow process). I don’t look at it as work or even a deadline or set goals on how much I write each day. I just want to do it, just like I discovered long ago, I just like to take photos.

My hope is that maybe someone will enjoy a piece or a thought that makes them think or just smile at some levity. Or maybe my children or better half will read it and learn something about their dad/husband.

I love that there are so many styles and flavors of writing to choose from. I did some poetry a long time ago and enjoyed it immensely. Again it was beginner stuff mostly humorous, but it proved it hit right because people found it funny.

I like that I find myself thinking and growing more. I have no idea where I’m going with my writing in the future. All I can say is I’ll keep doing it and keep enjoying it, because as they say it’s the journey, not the destination.


Leave a comment

A Friday laugh

When I looked at my to-do list I laughed a bit this morning. Add the snow shoveling to the list and it’s overflowing. But of course, I want to keep up with this blogging challenge so I go check out the writing prompt and find it’s going to be a fun one. (What makes you laugh?)

I hope when people think of me now and when I’m gone they think of laughter. I love to laugh, I love to make others laugh.

Simple things like this couple having a different idea of directions. Photo by Mike Hartley

Laughter to me is the medicine of life. It sustains me in difficult times and lifts me to great heights when things are going well. It’s one cornerstone to almost all my relationships. I guess I like being around people who know how to laugh.

I remember getting the album “Class Clown” in 1972 when I was 15 of George Carlin. I can remember my mother’s reaction still when she heard “Seven words you can never say on television.” She was in shock but I saw her snickers in between.

So what makes me laugh? Videos of my 2-year-old granddaughter that my daughter sends me. I like the comic pages. A comedy club or just one of my friends. The irony in many work and political situations. Pets, old people, and young children. Being tickled. YouTube videos. Hell, I’ll laugh at just about anything, Highbrow to toilet humor. I love it all.

I guess I just got lucky to grow up in the time of the comedy masters. The likes of Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Lenny Bruce, Red Fox

Physical comedy is great -I loved Saturday night live since its start and in those early days with Chevy Chase and John Belushi it was a riot. Then Steve Martin and Chris Farley and so many more. And I still love it today.

Thinking comedy – Steven Wright, George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Burr

Comedy nuts – Rodney Dangerfield, Sam Kinison, Bernie Mac, Johnathan Winters and Don Rickles.

And of course, I have to give the ladies their due – From groundbreakers like Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller. Too Amy, Tina, Wanda, Rossane.

I love Far Side and Dilbert’s daily calendars. I love live skit comedy. I love all late-night show comedians.

Looking for the laughter in each day really makes living a lot of fun, besides all the serious stuff that takes place.


Leave a comment

Inspires

The timing of today’s writing prompt (Who is someone that inspires you and why) left me with two minds. I was thinking about family and friends that had inspired me. I thought of a few sports stars I’ve followed and then maybe a mentor or two I’ve had on the job. I thought about my parents. But then I got a text about an old work friend who was being given last rights and being moved to hospice. Ironically I had just written him a few hours earlier in the day. This news inspired me to select him because he has inspired me these last months.

Shrine of St Anthony off Homewood Road. I use this photo because he used to go to services here. Photo by Mike Hartley

Today I recognize the courage and faith an old friend displayed fighting brutal cancer these past several months. And I don’t use those two words (faith and courage) lightly. I never heard his faith waver. I never heard a complaint about the horrible things that come along with chemo and advanced cancers. As a good friend said to a few of us today “dying is hard work and he has faced things worse than death. I wish his spirit peace and freedom from pain.”

We worked together over 20 years ago but when I heard of his diagnosis I felt the need to reconnect. I try to reach out to others who have to fight cancer and help support and encourage where I can.

One thing he noted right away which is kind of unique but not uncommon in relationships with people who worked at PPC is that despite decades apart, we all pick up like we were together yesterday. So I tried to write often and now I wish I had written more because he said he enjoyed the notes.

Ahh, the old magic of the local newspaper days. I think the ease of these long-term friendships or connections to each other that are rekindled from time to time like close friends who were separated but never stopped loving each other. I think that was for a few reasons like the size of the company 300-400 people, the unusual amount of years we all worked together, and the passion for the work we did. But the final and special factor is that there just seemed to be a lot of special, caring, fun, and loving people there. And he was certainly one of them.

He’s inspiring me to live each day to the fullest. He’s made me think about doing things both professionally and personally before time runs out. He was a man that exuded life and that is a very good trait to try to emulate to fill voices like his that are taken too soon. A gregarious personality with a baritone laugh. A man of many talents and skills. A man that has me evaluating my own faith.

I used the picture above because he told me he went there to “focus on my soul and my faith.” I think I’ll stop by there on my next trip to Columbia and wish his soul well, thank him for his friendship, and that he be granted peace from this cruel situation.


Leave a comment

Wish

Good day all, another wonderful day to be alive. Therefore our wishing may go on.

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

Today’s writing prompt is:

This is a great question and one to consider more than the surface of it. If you wish you knew how to do it, then what is preventing it?

Today, I was practicing one of my loves and that is listening to music. Knowing how to be a musician, is something I wish I knew how to do.

  • I’d like to play bass like John Entwistle.
  • I’d like to write songs like Ronnie Van Zant
  • I’d like to play the drums with the maniacal energy of Keith Moon but the technical expertise of Neil Peart.
  • I’d like to be able to do the guttural yell Roger Daltrey does on the song Won’t get fooled again. And at the same time be able to harmonize like CSN.
  • I’d like to play piano like Billy Powell
  • I’d like to play guitar with the grace of Carlos Santana and the occasional windmill of Pete Townsend.
  • You know, maybe if I live a long life I’ll give it a shot.


Leave a comment

Favorite

The writing challenge of the day is back again.

Photo by Mike Hartley

And today’s prompt was What was your favorite toy as a child.

The first thing that popped into my mind was my basketball. I remember feeling secure with the ball in my hand. It was my first therapist. If there was bad weather or snow on the ground I’d use the tiled basement floor as my court. And when it was nice I was outside with it.

It helped me make friends, it gave me confidence and something to look forward to. Thankfully there were a great number of friends who also like to play. And play we did, pretty much year-round.

Actually, I sat for a while thinking about this. I remember very little about my early childhood and play and toys. I know why I blocked some of it out, but it’s been so long I have been unable to recall the good times. I know there were some. But some things made toys not that important.

The most important thing to me as a youngin was the kitten my dad brought home. So a kitty and a basketball were the most important toys to me as a child. They were both good listeners and help me think things out.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Time to hunker down at home for a while. Why chance catching something if I don’t have to. Plus we need to give our healthcare workers a break so there are some of them left after the pandemic to treat us for all the other stuff that was happening before this.
  • I’m learning to laugh more when others are petty. A trait I didn’t always posess.
  • I keep in touch with some people that are very ill. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words.


4 Comments

Comfort Zone

So today’s writing prompt is The last time I left my comfort zone.

I left my comfort zone yesterday when I crawled out of bed. Of course, that is creature comfort and I don’t believe that was the intent of the question.

Oh, I know, I’m well out of my comfort zone because it’s snowing this morning to remind me of my least and most uncomfortable season, Winter is here. Too lame.

I kind of leave my comfort zone each day when I post my blog. Because the quote “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt” keeps popping in my head right before I hit the publish button. Yet I don’t think this meets the criteria of the question.

I left my comfort zone last Friday when I left my home. And I mean comfort in that I know the virus isn’t here at my home. But again, that isn’t the meaning of the question.

Some never have a comfort zone. Photo by Mike Hartley

Let’s see, something big, maybe changing jobs would qualify as leaving the comfort zone? Oops. Only had 3 jobs since I was 18. Been at the last one for almost 25 years. I have moved to different positions throughout my career but the last one was 7-8 years ago. So let me see if I can find something more recent.

Ah, I got it, we had our kitchen remodeled and it’s gone over schedule, and while about 95% complete it’s still not done and we certainly left our comfort zone for about 2 months not having one. Nah, that still doesn’t sound good enough.

OK, I think I got it. I had two different cancers in my 50s. So I’ve been being monitored for about a dozen years now. Thankfully after my last cancer surgery and radiation, I migrated all the way to annual testing. Once a year is great. It’s so infrequent you don’t spend time in thought about it. And after you get a couple of years under your belt your think you might be home-free. But 2021 brought a change that took me out of my comfort zone. A number went up and now I’m back to every 6 months for the next 2 years. Yes, it’s better than quarterly but it’s the last thing I wanted to hear at this time.

In some ways the lack of a comfort zone I have about cancer almost everyone knows about now, with this virus. Am I going to catch it, will I get deathly ill and die in a hospital, or be burdened with life-altering long-term effects from it. I know everyone doesn’t look at the virus, like that, but maybe if more did they would get the vaccines.

I don’t go worrying about cancer every day, or every week or every month. No, I worry about it when I get a new ache or an old ache gets more severe. I worry about it when I hear a friend with pancreatic cancer is struggling. I worry about it when the office calls and says it’s test time and then I worry till I talk to the doctor. I worry that when I look into the eyes of my grandchildren that I’m there for them as they grow up. I worry that something might affect me growing old with my better half. I worry about it when one of my best friends goes under the knife for it. I worry about it when I see someone in a cancer chatroom at the job who is struggling.

I worry about a fight I might not win. So I left my permanent comfort zone over a decade ago when I realized I wasn’t invincible. I was just starting to feel good again last year for the first time in a long time when in September 2021 the increased testing came along and removed my comfort zone again.

But I’ve gained knowledge and inspiration from each time this happens. It’s a good reminder to make the best use of each day. Tell people you love them. Show them by your actions. Talk to people like there is a chance you might not get to again and how you would want to be remembered by them. Get to the things you love in life. Get to the people you love in life. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Remember there are a lot of people who consider a comfort zone a warm place to sleep and a meal. So regardless of health issues that are out of my control, I need to get busy again working and being with the loves of my life so my comfort zone returns.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Snow is beautiful when you don’t have to shovel it.
  • There is a lot of action involved in setting up a good still life photo.
  • I hear its cold outside, more incentive to not leave the keyboard.
  • It’s tough returning to a night shift after a week of living and sleeping like a normal human being.
  • I might add chef to the list of things I’d like to become in retirement.


2 Comments

Road Trip

Good first Sunday of 2022. It signals a return to the job that pays the bills after a week of vacation. A tough night ahead. But until then, onward with my goals and changes in this new year.

Maryland has some great roads. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Today’s writing prompt: What is a road trip you would love to take.

The words “Road Trip” always remind me of the movie Animal House which came out in my youth. So every adventure we used to go, short or long, someone would always call out “Road Trip” and a roar would go up.

Given my love of driving and being closer to retirement than ever, my mind has been wandering towards the thought of a road trip or several in the U.S.

The first thing about a trip I would “LOVE” to take means that there is no job to schedule vacation from and no job to return to after the trip. I’ve always wanted to savor a trip. Work prevents that. In some years work could ruin my entire good vacation vibe in one day.

And when I take a trip with my better half I want it to be a memorable experience before we even leave and for many years afterward. There are a lot of areas I would love to visit in this great country. My wife would love a road trip up the west coast from San Diego up to San Francisco and into the Napa region.

Of course, I’ve always had a desire to see the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. Maybe rent an RV and just drive and see for a month. I’ve also been thinking of two east coast trips also. I thought about going through southern Maryland and over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel to Virginia Beach. Then down to what I think is called the outer banks, Nags Head, Hatteras, and then hug the coast down to Charleston and Savanah which are two towns we would spend some time in. Maybe a stop at NASA in Florida and then down to the Keys. Of course, I’d have to stop and say hello to one of my best friends in FLA.

The other east coast trip involves going north to see New York City, Boston, and then along the coast of Maine. Returning through Vermont and down through the central part of New York and Pennsylvania to back home in Maryland.

Regardless I hope to fill this year with many road trips (shorter in nature) to many places we have yet to explore or want to explore again. I don’t know what of the big trips I can even afford but if I can, we will go and have the trip or trips of our lives.


Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It feels good to get back to my goal of blogging daily.
  • One of the best things about being an ametaur photographer is you are leaving your friends and family many memories that will bring many smiles and rememberances well after I’m gone.
  • I see winter is coming to our area this week. Time to find the extension cord so I can strap that space heater to my behind.
  • I’m reading again and it feels good. Feels even better that it’s books my children got me.
  • The first couple days on the treadmill are also working out well. But that dreaded incline button is waiting for me.


6 Comments

To get me going again

Good morning all, and a Happy New Year.

Time to get paddling. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s always good to have a commitment to something. I started blogging in 2014 and my goal was to do daily posts. Well, I’ve never accomplished that goal but it’s never too late to start trying again. So I saw this WordPress challenge for blogging every day in the month of January. So here we go.

And today’s writing prompt was:

Wow, this prompt makes you think and try to remember way back. One because my teenage self was about 50 years ago. In some ways, those days are very clear and in other ways, they are a total blur. Those were very difficult but also some fun times.

My father died when I was 9. So I started growing up before the time I was a teen, I think I might have been rebelling against it a bit. At 10 yrs old I biked a fairly large paper route for a couple of years, would dog sit, landscape work, odd construction help. When I turned 14, I helped my Mom buy a car. She let me drive it to a night job working a factory kitchen after school. I didn’t have a license till I was 16. I worked most of my entire teens and just before I was 19 I dropped my first year of college (lack of funds) and started my lifelong career in Newspapers.

I worked hard and played harder as a teen. And so did most of my friends. Many mistakes were made but also lots of great memories.

  • I would say if you’re going to work hard to impress someone make sure it’s the right people with the right things.
  • I wold say put that cigarette down and never pick up another one.
  • I would say you are not invincible.
  • I would say to find another way to deal with pain and insecurity than drinking and drugs.
  • I would say don’t put off or give up on your artistic interest.
  • I would say have a lot more confidence in yourself.
  • I would have said don’t be afraid or think it was uncool to succeed.
  • I would say don’t drink and drive you FOOL. No, I never hurt anyone or myself but I drove far too many times when I shouldn’t have.
  • I would say listen more and talk less.
  • I would probably suggest a helmet and roll cage when drag racing and the high-speed runs we made.
  • I would have told me that learning is fun and get to it.
  • I would say aspire to things you think might not be possible, more in life.
  • Life is fun, enjoy it and take better care of yourself because you will live longer than you and others would think.