THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

Leave a comment

Winding down and up again

Well, that was a sustained period of rain. No serious weather this far inland. I have a friend with water in his front yard from the Chesapeake Bay though. I’m just glad it stopped Sunday afternoon even though it was still cloudy.

Someone built a wall. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sundays are a contrast. Winding down from the weekend of fun and relaxing in the morning and afternoon and winding up for work on Sunday night, like a dragster on a cold start taken to the starting line and launching.

This is a strange week. The last of the parents of our family and inlaws has passed. Our sister inlaws father was the remaining member of that generation. Now we are the elder generations in our families. With all of our kids grown and some having started their own families we are the grandparents and maybe someday if we are lucky enough to live a very long life maybe great grandparents.

Seems like yesterday I was leaving high school and now we are less than 2 years away from our graduating class’s 50th anniversary.

Just out of school, trying to decide what to do with my life. And now I’m only months from retirement.

I look up over my computer monitor and see my wife in a photo on our honeymoon. And I sit here over 4+ decades later and think it seems like yesterday that all of life was in front of us.

I looked at the picture of dancing with my daughter when she was maybe 7 and remembered a few weeks ago I was dancing in the basement with her 4-year-old daughter. And the song “Dance the Night Away” comes to mind. Like overnight I’m decades older.

I’m trying to savor each moment of each day. I’m trying to make the best of what I’m capable of and interacting with those special to me. Because time passes fast.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A dentist appointment coming up. Doctors appointments coming up. I feel like a convict wanting to escape them.
  • I was disappointed to see more wet weather around today and tomorrow. At least it won’t be continuous.
  • Danger Will Robinson. The tail is about to wag the dog again.
  • The prediction game is underway with what changes at the job there will be.

Leave a comment


Sure enough, we lost power yesterday. But I didn’t say that to complain. I’m bringing it up because BG&E’s response was extremely quick and had the problem resolved in a very short timeframe in a driving rain. My thanks to the Linemen/women and technicians working to keep us all lit.

Thanks to these guys my weekend was restored along with my power. Disclaimer – The mess you see on the hill on the right is my neighbor’s. It used to be a beautiful terraced garden with flowers and asazilas.
Photo by Mike Hartley

This allowed us to continue with family plans and have a great day. We decided to head out to EC Diner for a bite to eat. I going to have to try one of their shakes the next time I’m there.

One damp weekend. Photo by Mike Hartley

My son reminded me of how we used to get our haircuts together and then go to the Forest Diner for breakfast on Saturdays. He then said he wanted to do that with his son which made me smile. Of course, the Forest Diner is long gone. And our old barbershop Sal’s went out a good while back. So he will choose new spots near his home and I hope he can find the comfortable places we used to enjoy together.

I love their breakfast. And I struggle each time I leave not to pick a desert to go to. Photo by Mike Hartley

The EC Diner is a good go-to for the family. Good food and that old diner-type feel. Always great service and we walk out very full. I dare you to not find something you like to eat on their extensive menu.

My granddaughter was over for the day on Friday. One of her rituals is picking a few flowers and putting them in water. When the power went out I was just starting to fix some lunch. When the stove went out I put things away grabbed the camera saw this and decided to play a bit with this subject matter.

I’ll have to give her prints of these and tell her what a good designer she is. Photos by Mike Hartley
I’m so glad she is into nature so much. Photo by Mike Hartley
She discovered acorns under our oaks this week and went home with a bag full.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is what you do each day and what you hope to do. The more you align those two, the happier you will be.
  • I’m hoping that the new management isn’t going to introduce a bunch of new hoops to jump through in my last few months.
  • I really have to clean up this mess in my office today.
  • I wish I loved exercise as much as I love food.
  • There is a lot not to look forward to this week. But I’m going to ignore that and move on.

Leave a comment

Good Day

And as the sign says “Welcome to Woodstock Md” and a fine sunny day we had. Time for a few days of rain and wind is on the agenda for the weekend. I hear rain is good sleeping weather. After humping that tall ladder today and cleaning gutters along with some other maintenance chores I’m going to need it.

The sound of a happy 4-year-old enjoying our home and company was a great time today in between those other items. And another good reason for a long nights rest.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Woodstock is a great little town to live in. Pretty quiet for the most part and even though they seem to find new property to develop it’s still wooded and beautiful for the most part. Even though the type of homes, excuse me, mansions they have put in do nothing but drive up my already high property taxes.

We love it despite a few quirks here and there. The views, the privacy, and the lack of traffic make it a peaceful day and night. And most of the people are really nice.

Joe Cool says hang loose. Photo by Mike Hartley

I see our bus for the kids no longer comes into the neighborhood and now stops on Woodstock Road. There is an accident waiting to happen where that hill makes an almost impossible stop in time if the bus is picking up kids at our neighborhood entrance and you come over it from Route 99.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It was fun cooking tonight but my back didn’t care for it.
  • Leaving the world a better place than you found it would be a nice thought if everyone could get on the same page.
  • I think the list of rained-out events this weekend is longer than the ones still going on.
  • I’m going to work on 2 to 3 posts tonight and schedule them for tomorrow and Sunday in case we lose power. What am I talking about in case? We lose power every good storm that comes through. It’s just a matter of how long.

Leave a comment

Red lines

It wasn’t a red-line day for me. More like an idle speed because of the preceding day’s work and the pending all-nighter, I have to pull for the job that pays the bills tonight. I also didn’t have it mentally today with a few things bothering me.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Feeling it

I think I worked too hard outside yesterday picking up from those storms. I spent far more time than normal (about 9 hours) horizontal last night and I was still sore this morning. But there is still the need to make the best use of the day ahead.

I need to get on the ladder soon to correct a gutter issue. I’ll leave it out because tomorrow the estimate on the chimney repair is coming.

Food Thoughts

I love going to Shannon’s Saloon and Restaurant in Ellicott City. Every once in a while I see a booth we sat in with our parents having dinner many years ago. Last night I ran into an old co-worker from the Times Newspapers in the seats next to us.

But we go there for the food and service which are always great. I like the amount and variety of their specials and usually order from them. Some are so popular if you aren’t there early it may be gone.

It’s always been one of our favorites but for some reason last night kind of solidified it as one of my go-to spots. The Cuban Sandwich and Cream of Crab soup were great.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I live close enough to a rail line that I can hear the train whistle in the distance and the faint sound of the train itself in the mornings. I like that.
  • Say the important things to those closest to you.
  • I know we need it but I’m tired of rain.
  • I feel guilty for not snapping a few images today. I’ll have to pick up the camera on my break this evening.

Leave a comment

Calm after the storm

What a good morning after Mother Nature rattling the house all night. The thunder and lightning certainly made the top ten list. The winds were pretty strong also. So today will be spent inspecting the house and cleaning up the yard.

I took advantage of the early hour I was up and got out the door just before sunrise. This shot I captured on my way back after a short cruise.

With all the rain it might take a bit to burn off the morning mist. Photo by Mike Hartley

Despite the overcrowding this county has grown into I still love the view I had the day I moved here almost 4 decades ago. This is just up the street from me.

Along Woodstock Road. Photos by Mike Hartley

It felt great to get out and shoot for a few minutes after a decent night’s rest. Today’s work will tax the body but I hope I have something left in the tank to do some more shooting later.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I judge storms by how long it takes to clean up and how much it costs to repair.
  • Weather is like life. Beautiful and ugly. Inspirational and deadly.
  • Each day is like the beginning of a new race.
  • I believe the sounds of the day will be leaf blowers and chainsaws.

Leave a comment

Head or tails

A busy traffic day for the deer. A group of 6 this morning and another 3 this afternoon including an 8-point and 6-point bucks. It’s the only shooting I did today with the exception of a few shots of my granddaughter.

So I really feel I should go out after the rains and do some night shooting but I’m pretty tired from short sleep nights this week. I think I’ll flip a coin.

Well, it’s tails, And the tail on this BLK ROSE car below wins. I wish I could have captured the paint on this better. I’ll have to figure out angles to capture the various colors they throw off in different lights. But back to head and tails.

Low and lower. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s that day that we usually give a choice. We had our 4-year-old granddaughter today and the day is about choice. What to eat, what to play, where to go, what to drink, what to draw, what fantasy with the doll house, and towards the end of the day “what time will Mommy be home?”

Chrome. Photo by Mike Hartley

And at the end of the day, two worn-out grandparents who will probably crash early on a Friday night.

To the piece of crap that did the bomb threat to Arlington National Cemetery today. May Karma visit you in getting caught and again at trial and especially in prison.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I remembered how to play hopscotch today with my granddaughter.
  • I don’t mind being outside in this weather.
  • Tommy Tuberville, senator of Alabama, should be removed as a threat to national security.
  • At one time in history, people fact-checked themselves.
  • It felt great to spend a few minutes in the hammock today. A real treat.

Leave a comment


Truckin by the Grateful Dead just happened to be the first song I listened to today. I looked at the monitor and the last photos I was editing mid-day yesterday were the following so I thought it was too much of a coincidence not to post them.

From a show at Turf Valley. Photo by Mike Hartley

Don’t worry, it’s supposed to rain the next few days so I won’t be adding to the collection of 4 wheel images. I have to say I’ve enjoyed a few car shows this summer and plan on attending more as I tinker with my own ride.

Attention to detail is always sweet. Photo by Mike Hartley

Opportunity knocks and I’m going to respond. I have my health, well most of it. I have a few hours over the next few days, the job that pays the bills ended for the week, and now it’s hobby/craft time starting tonight.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes when I think I know someone, I’m sometimes proved wrong.
  • I’m looking forward to the smile and hug of my granddaughter tomorrow morning.
  • Most of us get pretty good at recovering from disappointment over our lifetimes.
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were a tight band.
  • Everyone has a combination. Twist and turn them, push the right sequence of buttons and one of two doors will open. If you have been good to that safe, it will reward you. If you haven’t that’s called Karma.

Leave a comment


Figured I’d supply the sun this morning even though the real one wasn’t up here in the northeast when I started this. Sunshine always gives me inspiration. I hope to spend a lot of time in it today. I’ve got a good plan and all I need to do is execute it.

Unfortunately, I’m laboring last night and tonight. The number of holidays I might have to work yet are down to just 2. So I’ll power through.

I love decorative suns, but nothing touches the real one. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’ll have to be careful with the amount of sun today. I love soaking up some rays during summer. I believe today is one of those days that a snowball is in the cards. Maybe two if I decide to stay there and try to get some pictures.

We all have a chip in the game – I’ve been trying to follow the Howard County school busing fiasco. For a bit, I thought what does it matter to me? My kids graduated long ago and our grandkids don’t reside in this county.

But then I quickly realized all those tax dollars I pay to live here go towards education. And if we are paying more and getting worse service and eliminating county jobs and small businesses to go with some company on the other side of the country then I take serious issue with that.

I don’t think the gravity of this is being addressed. And I don’t think the people that are responsible for this situation should be in office and I’m going to do my best to ascertain the person/people accountable and do my part to vote them out. I don’t care if they are Democrats or Republicans, they failed the kids, they failed the parents and they failed the taxpayers and it sounds like they did their own business community wrong. Sort of like going 0-4 at bat. But we aren’t playing baseball here, are we?

I read the statement from the County Executive and it seems to point in the direction of the BOE but I view this kind of thing as not being able to clear the roads in a snowstorm. He also seems to confirm we are paying a lot more and have been for some time for what appears to be a cluster F. And now that we are into our second week he needs to step in and kick some ass or just take control of the situation. That is what leaders do.

Found this article on Zum apology and explanations. Hey, you take the job/contract you better be able to pull it off. To me, the county should go after some of that money they paid them.

On paper, they say there will be an improvement from week one to this coming week. This article from WTOP says 11 of the 20 routes are restored for this coming week and provides the list of bus routes/schools still out of service. Again they should figure out what percentage of the school year they are having poor service and demand a refund.

I don’t know for a fact but I’m guessing those new drivers for those new “fixed” routes don’t even live here or know the area or routes. Probably haven’t even had a test run. So even if it is restored don’t bet there won’t still be issues.

Where is my bus? Photo by Mike Hartley

This is where a community paper would be good and finding out a lot more about it and maybe increasing the pressure on both the county and company to remedy the situation faster. But we have just turned into a bunch of individual voices. But we can still make our presence felt at voting time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I like being up before sunrise.
  • I should get to bed being I’ve been up all night.
  • Time to detail the ride today.
  • I wish I had the joy of seeing my grandchildren wake up more than when we are on vacation together. But I do a fair job of imagining it every morning along with their parent’s smiles.

Leave a comment

Stretching out

Stretching out today both physically and mentally. Trying a few new techniques in both areas. The physical part wasn’t successful. The mental part was. Time with my better half that wasn’t rushed at any point of the day.

Knocking out some paperwork together in the morning. A few chores in and out for each of us. Then off to a wonderful lunch at LeeLynn’s followed by a walk at Centennial Lake, a short cruise, and prescription pickup. Then home for a relaxed evening which I needed because my body wasn’t in tune with my plans.

We really like this place, always a great meal and service. The Mahi Mahi fish tacos were mine and very good. We also love the Cream of Crab soup so 2 were ordered. A Seasonal Salad for my better half and then we shared a great piece of KeyLime Pie which I wolfed down before taking a shot of it.. Photos by Mike Hartley

I need to be less concerned with the images I’ve taken and more concerned about the ones I haven’t shot yet. So I got up and immediately charged all 3 cameras and I’m looking forward to a lot of shooting this weekend.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wish the best for our southern neighbors in the states.
  • The amazing thing that happens to me when I’m on vacation. When I feel tired I go to sleep.
  • I might have to move my office outside the next two days it’s going to be so nice.
  • Our county government has some splaining to do after the bus fiasco and now kicking the farm museum to the road in 90 days.

Leave a comment


You can start slowly. You can start like a ball of fire. You can start late or on time. You can start today. You can start tomorrow. As long as you start, things will get better.

Yesterday my intention was to get out early. I was up before sunrise and wanted to get out and do some shooting. Finally, I got my behind in gear and out the door at 8 a.m. I was going to a car show down in Fulton but that didn’t start till 10 am so I went cruising and on my way home I cut through Turf Valley.

Aflame. Photo by Mike Hartley

And low and behold a car show in their parking lot. So I spent a few minutes wandering through and grabbing a few images I’ll bore you with from time to time.

The day after that was a blur. Some time with my son’s family and then a long drive home, a few minor chores and I was done. So done in fact I laid down and passed out for the evening without publishing something. Such is life. Now here I am in the middle of the night finishing up a piece I started yesterday thinking about taking a very early morning ride and maybe a few photo ops.

The Bird is the Word. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I love 3 a.m. in the morning. It’s so quiet outside. But only when I take these headphones off.
  • I think I’ll put the ping-pong table back up when I retire.
  • Infants are the most honest people I know. They have no problem telling you how they feel.
  • Time to fire up that engine and put the top down. Later I’ll fire up the grill and put the top on.

1 Comment


When you run into a closed door, just look for another open one.

I like the doorbell on Main St Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Breakfast is my favorite meal.
  • When you see a smile on someone’s face, it doesn’t always mean they are happy.
  • Transition planning from one stage of life to the next is both fun and scary.
  • If you want to know someone, just listen to them and then watch their actions.
  • Any week I get to see both my grandchildren, it’s a winner.

Leave a comment

I want to read

I’m going to grab a book this afternoon and kick back, read, relax, and reflect.

I love reflections in windows. Photo by Mike Hartley

Then again, these kids were having a ball yesterday fishing. Maybe I should find an outdoor activity.

Water levels were pretty low, but spirits were high. Photo by Mike Hartley

Since it’s another great day outside I think I’ll shoot for another hour today. Let me go look at the map and pick a destination.

Leave a comment

Can you dig it?

Green Onions by Booker T and the MG’s is a nice way to start the morning. Followed by many classic rock tunes have my feet and hips moving this fine day. Low 80-degree range with a slight breeze. Where the hell are my car keys, I can hear that convertible top yelling at me to put it down.

What a day to cruise and walk. Photo by Mike Hartley

So a shower and then I was mobile. It’s a discount Tuesday at the gas pump for hightest fuel so I filled that puppy for some cruising today.

And as you can see from the above photo, I wasn’t the only red convertible out tooling around Howard County. Actually, I felt like I needed a walk so I did the town of Ellicott City. Always one of my favorite places to walk the streets. I have a lot of fond memories of waking it with close friends, family and really long ago memories of being in town with our parents.

Engine 21 returning to Ellicott City’s Main Street. Photo by Mike Hartley

It felt good to do a few loops from the top to the bottom of town and back again. I even managed to carry the heavy Nikon without back issues. Life is being good to me today.

Gives me inspiration to get out and exercise some tomorrow.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There are a lot of unhappy people who have nothing to be unhappy about.
  • As I sort through my parent’s things and slowly let go of pieces I wonder what will become of my belongings.
  • I don’t think the frame is as important as what it contains.
  • When you see Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel at the airport, do you find out his destination and go the other way? Worse yet what if you don’t see him till your flight is taxied out to the runway and about to take off?

Leave a comment

Along the tracks

Took a short walk with the camera today after a few errands and a short cruise and captured a few images along the tracks at the Woodstock Road / Old Court Road changeover. I hope to get down there and explore some of the trails along the river soon.

Photos by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow I’ll head to the other end of Woodstock Road and hit the snowball stand with my granddaughter. I can feel the brain freeze already. I eat them too fast.

I’ll shoot for a second post later but I may claim a medical exemption, it just hasn’t been the best of days. But it’s always my goal to overcome any of that stuff and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

It’s good to see Karma at work today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • One of the things I love the most about my home is all the wildlife outside it.
  • Law and order on many levels are about to be tested.
  • Even though it was a short cruise with the top down, it was one that was needed.
  • Get your relaxing time this year. Next year is going to be a little tense.
  • Find that inspiration and ride it.

Leave a comment


I went out for a ride this morning around 4 am. A very peaceful time on the roads, you just have to watch out for the deer which are plentiful this time of year. One was about 10 feet from meeting my car this morning as he sauntered out in front of me. I wasn’t in any hurry and only doing about 35 in a 45 (there was no traffic) on Rt 40 at that hour behind or in front of me.

Just before dawn this morning along Woodstock Road. Photo by Mike Hartley

So it wasn’t any problem to avoid him but a few seconds difference or speed it would have been very close. I’ve never hit one before. Many close calls. One jumped over the hood of my car once. I guess he knew he had to jump or just run into the side of my car.

A bit warm today but you won’t find me complaining. The news does enough of that. I don’t find it to be a very warm summer so far. June was rather cool and till this week I would say we have been in a normal range for July. Of course, this is some extreme heat for our area so it’s good to take the precautions they are saying to keep on keeping on.

You don’t have to add charcoal today. Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow is even going to be warmer so I think I’ll see if I can get some good shots of the heat and people dealing with it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Life feels good when you have your ducks in a row.
  • Think of yourself as an engine. Keep it maintained and it will run for a long time.
  • Do you ever feel like you don’t matter or count?
  • I think I’ll hit the beach soon for a day of fun and relaxation.
  • I managed to part with a few things for the Purple Heart collection. I’m proud of myself.

Leave a comment

Every once in a while

The unexplained is always around us. Just keep your eyes open and you’re bound to see it. Like this pair headed to the Milkshake Bar on Main Street. Maybe get him a double, he could easily put on a few pounds. Also, get him some flip-flops.

Your guess is as good as mine. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have a ton of shooting to download and edit. And I’m happy as a lark.
  • Worked on my tan again. I’m a well-done father and grandfather.
  • Celebrating a special person tomorrow.
  • I always find myself in better spirits when I know I have a shorter workweek ahead.

Leave a comment

Before the lights go out

I was out for that early morning ride yesterday and swung by Ellicott City around dawn and found some street/store lights still on. I hoped to get out early today but that didn’t happen. Pain sometimes slows my morning plans.

I will get out and do some fresh shooting this afternoon and maybe this evening also. At least that is one of the goals of the day. So is fixing a clogged gutter and power washing some siding and concrete.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I need to do some walking today so I think I’ll hit the train tracks down by the Woodstock Inn and put in a few miles.

I saw someone make a proposal for an underground tunnel for wildlife to cross Marriotsville Road because of the traffic. I suggest removing all the development in Waverly Woods and Turf Valley. The animals and we were just fine before them.

The Howard County Fair is from Aug 6th-13th. I think I’ll go shoot some events this year.

Can’t get enough of those summer peaches at the fair. Photo by Mike Hartley

Leave a comment

What the hell

Rolling with the changes to start the day. As we should each day because change is the only constant in life. Lots of changes at the job for what is hopefully my last year and none of them were on my agenda before now. I’ve survived many changes at the top before so why not now.

I’m hunting also, just for some new images. Photo by Mike Hartley

On the lookout for new opportunities early this morning so I hopped in the Miata and put the top down and cruised because poor weather is on its way and the cover will be going back on before noon today.

I was too tired to stop and do night shooting last evening so a few shots this morning before and at sunrise. I love being up early in the morning well before daylight when I’m not working night shifts.

Woodstock(left), Wallas Park(top right), and EC (bottom right) this morning. Photos by Mike Hartley

I’ll download the shots from the other cameras later because I think I’ll try some foul-weather shooting this afternoon.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Why not have some fun today?
  • I get way too much email but when work is out of the equation it might be manageable again.
  • I’m learning you don’t find time to shoot, you make time to shoot.
  • I’ve learned though that you still have to find time to edit.
  • Life has some hard lessons that you just keep to yourself.

Leave a comment


As I was going through the day getting a few things done I was feeling good. Now at the end of the day, I’m reflecting and I didn’t get done what I had hoped to and feeling poorly. I have a real problem not focusing on the small victories and dwelling on what I didn’t accomplish. At one time in my life, I thought it was a strength that kept me driven. Now I think it’s wrong to punish myself and not appreciate the work along the way.

Conflicted skies over Howard County. Photo by Mike Hartley

Old Friends – I spoke with a very old friend today. One I know well and who knows me very well. A friend who I count as family. We share some very difficult aspects of life and support each other fully. One of those friendships that are so honest, frank, thoughtful, caring, helpful, enlightening, and soothing from the laughter together that it’s one of those special connections in life it’s a blessing to have and cherish.

Weather outlook – I was in the calm eye of the storm yesterday. I could hear all hell breaking out around us in the skies but our plot of land stayed completely dry. I did see some lightning overhead and thunder but no storms.

Now today paints a different picture and that is alright also. We are still very dry in this part of the county so that rain was welcome. Maybe tomorrow will be the day I can pull the cover off and go for a spin.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is such a clean smell in the air after rain. That is until my wet clothes start to ripen.
  • Sometimes I find myself looking down and remembering a pet that used to rub up against me.
  • It’s funny to work in an industry all your life. To watch it evolve and thrive. To watch it dip and rebound. To watch new technology change it and eventually overtake it. And now to see many cease production altogether of what were once proud and important parts of the community is disappointing.
  • In the summer I’m a fan of my fan.


Balloon High Hurdles

My tank is empty. I got 2 hours of sleep this morning, worked hard today, and I’ve got a night shift ahead of me. If my energy level were powering this balloon, we would be limbo-dancing under those lines.

Tough first hurdle leaving the Fairgrounds. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Any day I figure out how to save a few hundred dollars it’s a good day.
  • Any song that starts off with the lyrics “Turn it up” is my kind of song.
  • Bacon, need I say more?

Leave a comment

Windows to the world

Some aspire to the big office buildings with beautiful views or the condo glass tower on the water. That’s not my desire. Not behind these glass structures. They are fun to visit sometimes but live there or work there, no way. I’ve worked in a small town in relatively small buildings for half of my career and in a very large city in big buildings for the other half. Give me the small open spaces.

But as always change happens and that small town I used to work in is now a fair size city in itself. What used to be a very rural area of farms and woods is now endless neighborhoods, malls, office spaces, and infrastructure to support an explosion of growth.

Love the lines. Photo by Mike Hartley

I still live in a rural area of the county but as soon as I go a few miles it’s congested now. I kept thinking we hit a saturation point at various times in my 6 decades here, but we seem bent on filling in every gap possible in Howard County.

Growing up here and raising my family here has been a wonderful experience. It truly is home. I grew up in the southern end of the county and created a family on the northern tip of it. I worked in the center of it for over 2 decades.

I’ve got the same great friends I had as a youth here in the county with me today, except for the unfortunate passing of a few.

My family graduated from the county school system and if you leave me out of the average they did an outstanding job. I worked at the community newspapers for a few decades so I really know this place.

There have been wonderful opportunities for all of us here for work, social life, sports and recreation, education, and many other wonderful things. And I grew up in exactly the timeframe to get the best of it all. From my youth when the county was extremely rural and just starting its expansion and development to today where it is a multicultural mixing bowl of communities, thriving businesses, hospitals, parks, and services.

But as I said it is past its saturation point. Now it created a different environment. And I’m not so sure I’d want to do it all over again here. My experience though has been very positive. The windows here might not be as pretty as the ones at the National Harbor but they work for me.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I hope to illustrate the wonderful things about this area and the state in future posts.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hear thunder, I wonder if the power will stay on long enough to hit publish.
  • Felt good to give my sister a hand today.
  • I look forward to the day when I don’t feel guilty about taking a nap.
  • The hope is for a very productive evening. I mean it is Friday night now.

Leave a comment

My Quarter

I love June, July, and August. I thought I heard the starting gun this morning. Got me inspired to get out and enjoy this warm weather and sunshine. Plus the bonus of a warm summer evening tonight and tomorrow.

My better half has wanted to walk the HoCo Conservancy so maybe we will head over there this weekend.

This county is filled with so many resources. I have no idea why so many who live here complain about it so much. Photo by Mike Hartley


My enjoyment of driving has been dulled in recent years with the increase in traffic volume hence the increased chances of running into people who have no business on the road or are too self-absorbed to give a rat’s ass besides anyone but themselves.

But I still try to get out and enjoy a few hours here and there at non-rush hours time. Yes, rush hour is hours long at the beginning and end of each day.

A really nice time to drive is early morning like 3-5 am. Our highways are beautiful at that time. I think I’ll grab a late-night ride this evening and cruise like this guy

Duck Duck Goose, SWAN. Photo by Mike Hartley


I like the clean feeling after a shower. I like it when I finish washing and drying my car and it’s clean enough to eat off of. I like going to the doctor and getting a clean bill of health. I like the clean-cut feeling of a haircut and beard trim. I feel great when I have a clean office. I don’t know why I don’t do it more often.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The Beatles music never gets old to me.
  • Sometimes hearing a song takes you back to a place in time. The original transport system.
  • Time for some NBA Finals action. No personal favorite, would just like to see close games.
  • Paul and John got it right with the first lines in the song, I am the Walrus, I am he as you are he as you are me
    And we are all together

Leave a comment

Great start

We went to the snowball stand yesterday but trying to watch a 4-year-old at the same time didn’t provide the photo opportunities I had hoped for. I’ll return this week and work on that site.

The Snowball Stand is a great place on a sunny afternoon. Families, couples, workmen, bikers, the occasional hotrod. Like the 32 or maybe 34 Coupe in powder blue that unfortunately made a left instead of a right in front of me so I could only catch the tail as it turned the corner below.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I started off the day painting watercolors with my granddaughter. Well, actually I started before she got here making some photo prints from her visit on Wednesday. I was showing her how to use a conventional camera and its workings.

She has already watched the transfer of images from the camera to the computer and editing and printing. But she seemed really excited to push the shutter and see the saved image on the camera.

Kids love to learn. I guess I’m just a big kid because I like it also. One of the things I like about working with her is that she stretches my thinking. For today she got halfway through and said I want to use my hands instead of the brush. I said ok and then she held her hands upside down. Puzzled I asked what she wanted to do and she said paint my hands, Papa. I started to then she said where is the paper.

There was a little extra cleanup today. Photo by Papa

I thought she wanted to finger paint. But she had a plan. I hope her exposure to arts stays with her as she grows. I’m going to show her pastels next week.

This is nice having a holiday off. Well sort of, I do work Sunday night but I’m off on Monday night. Another downside of our schedule. Even if you are lucky enough not to have to work the Monday holiday you still have a broken weekend working on a Sunday night. Such is life.

It’s going to be a good weekend with family and friends and it’s off to a great start. I hope yours is also. But please remember the service and sacrifice of our Military please.

Leave a comment


Living here in Howard County has been a satisfying experience. But if you have been here for the last 6 decades you had better be able to adapt to constant change or you wouldn’t be happy.

Half the time I don’t know which way is up either. Photo by Mike Hartley

I tell you what is going to be satisfying. Hopping in that little Miata and putting a few miles on it with the top down and tunes on all the time thinking about the day soon that I point that puppy EAST and drive till I see the Atlantic Ocean. But the back roads of Rt 99 an Rt 144 will do fine today.

Everyone enjoying today’s weather along Rt. 99. Photo by Mike Hartley

Satisfying is looking back at a body of work in your life and being very proud. Satisfying is knowing your kids had the sense not to repeat my flaws and took whatever was the best of me and then improved on it.

Satisfying is being in love for a very long time. Satisfying is remembering your past but not living in it. Satisfying is surviving 2 different cancers. Satisfying is having lifelong friends.

Along Rt 144, I like it out here, sometimes more animals than people. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sunscreen Use – I’ve abused my skin and have only paid for it with maybe some premature wrinkling but even that is minimal for my age. I’ve never been a big user of sunscreen and might apply it once if I’m at the beach and my better half reminds me before we all head out despite the smell of that lotion everywhere.

I can’t remember ever using it just working outside and I do that very often. But after watching some friends go through some skin cancer issues. I’m now going to start protecting myself against any further damage.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have an old stamp collection. I wonder if it’s worth anything.
  • Photographing each day is fulfilling.
  • Getting close to finishing a horse carving for my granddaughter.
  • When you can take a drive and not have anyone try to crash into you it’s a good day.

Leave a comment


The weekend has flown by once again. And the job that pays the bills is at the door waiting to consume my night. But tomorrow I see many possibilities. I see a cool morning for sleeping in. I see my workroom is free to be a workroom again and some new tools to test out.

I see my camera batteries are fully charged and maybe that will in turn charge my batteries.

Old home on Main Street in Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

Milestones – Hit 25 years at the current publishing job last week. I didn’t plan on working 50 years in this business but it is within reach if my health holds out. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to retire before that but life has its own plans sometimes. I must say some of my most enjoyable years were with the local papers in this county from 76 to 98

I might be off but I believe this might be the 25th season for my John Deere also.

Not all gutters are ugly. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There are a lot more people in LonelyTown than you think.
  • When you can look back and feel like you had a good weekend, it’s sometimes enough to make it to the next one.
  • The best time to be out and about is when nobody is out and about.
  • I see some football players have suspensions for gambling issues. The first of many to come in sports, unfortunately. And some may not be caught. I can’t believe how every league crawled into bed with one or the other sports bet operation. I’m also wondering when the number of sports shows on gambling about sports eclipses the number of shows talking about the games themselves.
  • I don’t think I’ll ever get used to drinking water instead of Coke.

Leave a comment

Pain and Gain

Waking in pain is not the way I intended to start the day. A few hours of sleep while struggling to find a comfortable position. The recliner seemed to work best with the heat on. Unfortunately, when I did get up it was still with me so I turned to modern medicine for help this morning. Not something I often do at all.

Pain is an interesting advisory. It can be overcome in a lot of instances. Exercise and stretching go a long way in avoiding it in the first place. But it’s unavoidable, especially in your senior years. A wrong step, sleeping in the wrong position, doing stressful physical work, and many others can lead to discomfort that over-the-counter doesn’t touch.

The corner of Frederick Road and St Johns Lane. Photo by Mike Hartley

One of the common threads my closest friends have is our ability to power through the pain. The downside is that our bodies have paid a high price with a number of surgical scares and replacement parts installed. But we always move forward. Sometimes it takes us a while to act and get things fixed but we eventually do.

I believe being active will take us all well into our senior years and keep us healthy.

Gaining momentum and confidence lately. I guess focusing more and executing better helps. I’ve got to start to challenge myself more. It’s easy to go into my favorite town of Ellicott City and grab a few shots. But this county holds a lot of beauty in many spots and I hope to share that this year and beyond.

A cloudy morning yesterday in Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

I almost stopped at Wallas Park to catch some of the area youth at the national pastime of baseball but it must have been opening day or something yesterday. The lines to even get into the park at both entrances and I’m guessing nary a parking space to be had so I passed. I’ll hit it up on a weekday when it’s not so crowded. I need to practice my sports photography so when my grandchildren are of age soon, I’m ready again.

I spent more time coaching or helping out when my own children were playing there than I did taking pictures. But I did catch my daughter stepping into one below. She was a pretty good softball player. I’ll have to see if this old guy is slow on the shutter or not. Sports photography is a lot of timing shots. Back then I was shooting with film and no motor drive so it was hit-and-miss (no pun intended). Now I can fire away, I think the D7100 I use is 6 fps.

This has always been a very active sports county. Fields and facilities have always been at a premium. It’s amazing they have kept up with the growth of the county.

Well, I’m not going to get any chores or crafts done sitting here too long so I’ll see you all later today. Enjoy the sun.

Leave a comment

Open Door policy

My door is always open to friends and family. But I grew up in an era where we talked about blowing each other’s doors off. See the photo below for an example.

Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s time to open a few doors of opportunity. So many wonders are provided to us each day. All we have to do is apply ourselves. I got a bit of a start today with some shooting this morning and time this evening doing some woodworking and photo editing.

I hope to spend several hours on Sunday with a mixture of arts. The body is pretty beaten up from the chores in the yard so I’m going to give it a reprieve. A day of rest but also one of some exercise. I need to get out and walk a good bit this week and see if I can keep the weight loss moving in the right direction.

Remember when you were young 
You shone like the sun
Shine on you crazy diamond

Thank you Pink Floyd
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if concrete were that color? Ellicott Mills Drive just before Main St. Photo by Mike Hartley

Only a few precious days of April left to embrace. I have a lot of important things to do yet in the next week before we roll into May. I think I scheduled a day off before the end of the month. I’ll have to go look and see which one so I don’t miss it.

Along Hamilton St. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Sometimes the right time never rolls around.
  • When they said a cold front was rolling through they weren’t kidding.
  • You know it’s really easy to smile. Doesn’t always mean I’m happy though.
  • I wonder if it’s good to leave more spaces between words like musicians leave emptiness between notes?
  • Now that the outside of the car is sparkling it’s time to detail the inside.

Leave a comment

Just a minute

Just had a minute to capture a frame or two on the way back from errands. This is the entrance to the neighborhood across Woodstock Road from us. I might have mentioned someone cut our street sign off the other day. I see some similar vandalism on their street also. Same thing, something that will cut through thick metal. Nobody stood there with a hacksaw and did that.

Photos by Mike Hartley

Recent vandalism. Photo by Mike Hartley

I have to finish a carving project this evening. Actually two of them for my granddaughter. And a few more to start. You could say I’m going to be a real cut-up this weekend. Feels good to get some use out of the Dremel tool.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Life is learning to constantly adjust.
  • I’m about to use a mistake by my fuel oil company to my advantage. If they want me to do their work, I expect to get paid.
  • There is a wonderful abundance of birds again.
  • I’m laughing at the level of pissed-off someone in Palm Beach is.

Leave a comment

Smooth Sunday

We checked out a car show thrown by Mikey and Mel’s Famos Deli this morning after a great breakfast there. I think we will go back and check out lunch someday soon also. Great service and food. I’m not sure if it was just the first show of the season or if the word is spreading but this seems to be getting bigger and bigger each year.

Photos by Mike Hartley

A relaxed afternoon was had. I was thinking about a nap before dinner but that time has passed. After chow, an all-nighter at work again as a new week at the job that pays the bills begins. These weekends are gone in a blink of an eye. I think I’m getting worn down and need a break. I really haven’t taken any time off this year so far. I think one sick day. But that is my normal pattern, I love to take off when the weather is better.

It’s my hope that this smooth start to the Sunday continues through the week ahead. I need to get back to some daily shooting again and no better time than the present. Can’t believe it’s the last week of March. I’ve got to set some milestones to get more accomplished.

I did get busy trying some stone etchings. I’m starting to get a feel for it. And I probably uploaded a few dozen images to the photo site and finished a 5-page list of thoughts, ideas, suggestions, feelings, and realities for someone our parents would want us to look out for.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I really like having meals out with my better half.
  • Warning – anyone with stock in Coke (soft drink) I’m on a mission to reduce my sugar intake so a drastic cutback in this product will certainly affect market price in the future.
  • It’s a busy medical month ahead. Looking for good news at every step.
  • It looks like Winter and I have come to a good understanding of what is expected. No snow and warmer-than-average temperatures.

Leave a comment

No time for computers

With a beautiful day outside like today, I feel guilty spending even a few moments at the keyboard. So I took a ride out to some of my favorite local country roads and didn’t even stop the car to take pictures because it was so beautiful out and I hadn’t cruised comfortably with the top down in months.

But I got to feeling guilty so I held the old camera up a few times and captured a few shots in the northwest part of the county.

Along Rt 99, Rt 144, Woodstock Road, and maybe one on Homewood Road. Photos by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The sun on my skin felt great today. So did the wind in my face.
  • I can’t wait to see the smiling face of my granddaughter tomorrow.
  • Eat well says a wise man. But don’t forget to help those that are hungry.
  • Time to create some sawdust tomorrow.
  • I hope we don’t have to wait too long to get some more days like today’s weather.
  • Some days when I cruise I enjoy the music or remember a bad driver or the fun of the car handling through a sharp corner. Today was a slow cruise to just soak in the beauty and sights of a warm day in February.

Leave a comment

No blue sky today

That walk yesterday felt great. And that wonderful blue sky was a shade I could paint all day with. But today is another day and one that is cloud-filled and steady rains. But my spirits remain high and the forecast doesn’t determine the outcome of the weekend.

Adding a little color to the grey of winter. Photo by Mike Hartley

So the options tonight are foul weather night shots or creations of my own making indoors. Whichever the choice I think I’ll make a late night of it and get some real progress made.

I love the use of stone in this town. Photo by Mike Hartley

Feeling that urgent need to accomplish several things. And it’s not good to ignore feelings. That is why I tell my better half and children and good friends that I love them as often as I can.

And the kick is GOOD. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Squeezing a few extra minutes out of each day.
  • Feels good to have nice things said about your work, leadership, and knowledge. Of course, that was at the job that pays the bills. I got a lot of work to do here but I will impress when my focus shifts full-time here.
  • Keeping an inspirational edge regardless of outside influences is a key to productivity.
  • I got my swagger on today. I hope it carries over to the Maryland Men’s basketball team tonight. Fear the Turtle.

Leave a comment

Different spot

I was going to go down to the Patapsco River by my home but decided to walk Ellicott City instead of the train tracks and woods. I will do that later this week. It was an amazing day for mid-February, sunny and with some high clouds. Sometimes I just pause on the streets of this town and think back to many decades ago.

Like standing across the street looking at what used to be Stromberg Publications (The Times Papers) now Su Casa Furniture and La Palapa restaurant. And as I walk across the street and look back and see Talbott lumber yard and store and now the Phoenix restaurant. The same thing happens to me all up and down the street. Ellicott City never gets old for me even though they call it Old Ellicott City.

And as always it was friendly as ever. You can tell the tourist, they don’t always respond but residents, merchants, and locals always are cheery and will look you in the eye and smile with their greetings. A lot will stop and talk. I’m one of them because I want everyone there to feel welcome. It’s a great little town that keeps changing and evolving. Not always in harmony but it certainly is resilient and a survivor.

Everyone in town seemed to be paired off today but me. As promised yesterday I did get another shot of the Patapsco River. I have some more to share but it’s supposed to rain the next few days so maybe I’ll sprinkle in one or two of those.

Photos by Mike Hartley

I’m back on track shooting every day again now and hope to keep pace with my blogging effort which has been daily for a while. I feel so much better when I get new images.

I forgot to wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day yesterday. My better half and I really don’t make much of it anymore. Buying overpriced candy or flowers seemed a waste so we stopped the exchange many years ago. It was fun when we were young but practical needs seemed to be a better use of our funds.

If you share the love throughout the year. If you give flowers randomly throughout the year. If you cook once in a while throughout the year. And don’t forget to throw in several “I love you’s” throughout each day. Those and other efforts are far more important than a bunch of chocolates and roses on Valentine’s Day once a year.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My performance review is tonight. Will be interesting to see if I’m up for another one next year.
  • Important people are never gone from your life at any time.
  • Walking is the first step. Well, maybe the second and third also.
  • I’m sure I walk by many better photos than I bring back.


Worth a thousand words

That is the old saying, right? A picture is worth a thousand words. And I’ve been using too many words and not enough new pictures so it’s time to start changing that equation. And while I didn’t get anything close to that thousand-word shot today I did get out with the Nikon and did a few minutes between the emissions test for the old Chevy and a trip to the hardware for supplies.

And the more I shoot maybe one day I’ll find that picture worth a thousand words and more.

Daniels Dam. Photo by Mike Hartle

Well, it’s a start and there are even a few hours left in today and tomorrow is another day and opportunity to raise that viewfinder to my eye. Maybe it’s the warm weather or just feeling a little better but it felt good to get outside again today and walk a bit. I think I’ll walk down another stretch of the Patapsco River near my home tomorrow by Woodstock Road.

Above Daniels Dam. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m more of a summer person but in the winter months before foliage appears you get the size of trees and the depth and density of woods much clearer.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you’re not being paid, that is when sports are being played.
  • I feel the need to make each day more special in some way.
  • Guns are a plague of our own making. Shoot with a camera.
  • The goal, more time and effort into my priorities tomorrow.

Leave a comment

Memorable gift

The Bloganuary writing prompt of the day is “What is the most memorable gift you have received?”

My children have been the most memorable gift I’ve received in my life. And it’s a gift that keeps on giving on making memories. I had no idea of the value of this gift beforehand. It felt unusually special from the time it was delivered. It’s given me happiness, pride, laughter, contentment, focus, warmth, love, and purpose from the day they were received.

And now that those gifts are older they are creating new gifts for me again in the form of grandchildren. And those are giving me many wonderful things all over again.

Even the most memorable physical gifts have come from my children. But of course, none of them would have been possible without the first gift of my better half.

The less life becomes about material gifts, the happier you will find yourself.

As I was searching through some old memorabilia of my early days in newspapers I found these tucked in with some other older photos. This top shot is probably 20 years old and it was probably 30 years before that, I first stepped foot in Mr. Yates’s store.

Nickle popsicles, 10-cent ice cream sandwiches. Photo by Mike Hartley

That first job was with the Times Newspapers just a hundred feet up the street for his store. No A/C during the summer drove me to his business repeatedly for ice cream when we would get a break. There was no need for a gym back in those days. Work was a workout in itself.

Mr. Yates behind his counter. Photo by Mike Hartley

Working late nights we would go over and stock up on snacks and dinner items before he would close.

Flowers in front of old Yates Market Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s been gone from our history for about 10 years now but I’ll always remember how good it felt to come back to the plant with a fist full of popsicles from his freezer on a baking summer night.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s good to think ahead if you have the right thoughts.
  • If you help someone and it doesn’t go well, write it off and look for the next person to help that will benefit from it and appreciate it.
  • Pets can’t talk but say thank you many more times than humans.
  • There were leftovers so it was also Taco Monday following a Taco Sunday. I wonder if I’ll be taco’d out by the time Tuesday rolls around?
  • Deja Vu in South America.

Leave a comment

A new day

I thought I’d try something that I was going to do when retirement rolled around but why wait? And that something is to try to document the beauty and people in the county I’ve lived in for going on 6 decades. The area certainly has changed dramatically over that time. Some of its beauty is under developments or office buildings. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t beautiful architecture here. And there still is a lot of natural beauty to be seen. And of course many beautiful people I know and have yet to encounter.

Progress has been swift and difficult. Just like the country, it became a bit divided over the last several years but hopefully, we can move beyond that and continue to make it a better place to live. But even the definition of better will be debated. And that is good if it’s done respectfully.

I wanted to incorporate getting a shot in the county into my daily routine, but that means I’m going to have to get my behind out of my house every day. That could also result in some substantial mileage so I’ll have to keep an eye on that cost but I’ll also get out and walk in an effort to get the body working well again.

Woodstock Maryland The Snowball Stand. Photos by Mike Hartley

Today’s shots come from the Woodstock Snowball Stand. The last day for snowballs. I got a few for the kids and put them in the freezer for this weekend when they come. We also got our Xmas tree from them last weekend. I’m very impressed with the new owners and how they have made it even more special by staying open later, incorporating wintertime drinks, and of course the trees and wreaths. Very nice people and I plan on supporting them for years to come. Full disclosure (I have a snowball addiction).

So day one of shooting is done. It’s supposed to be pretty wet out tomorrow so I guess I’ll get some practice at some rain shooting. At least it’s not the blizzard some are facing. And when it does get down to that 0-degree wind chill this weekend I’ll be shooting from the car window.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Maybe if those fine lines weren’t so thin I wouldn’t step over so many of them.
  • At what point do we stop calling them weather extremes when they are more the norm?
  • Do you ever wonder how many more times you will be able to decorate your Xmas tree?
  • Given the greying of my beard, I wonder how long it would take to grow the Santa look.
  • I got my gift this year in July with the birth of my grandson.
  • Oh yeah, it’s the day Old Man Winter comes out. Well, meet your opposite number.

Leave a comment

No problem

November is here and we have temps in the upper 60s and low 70s, that’s NO Problem with me. I can adapt.

Take the time to soak in some life. Photo by Mike Hartley

I hear holiday travel prices are very high. No Problem, I’m going to combat that by staying home. Friends and family, come see me if you want.

I wonder if geese see in color? Photo by Mike Hartley

I was dreading this workweek before it started. Now I’m on my last night and it’s No Problem at all.

I noticed the Sunday NFL morning game from London was on subscription channels. Just like the beginning of the Thursday night football season on Amazon. Well No Problem, I watch too many sports anyway, and decreasing that where it’s out of my control is even better.

I might have to try recreating this in pastels. Photo by Mike Hartley

When you visit your cancer doctor and he says No Problem found, there are few sweeter words said.

There are a few moments a year when exercise doesn’t look all that bad. Photo by Mike Hartley

Somedays when I sit to write it’s No Problem at all.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Perception, instinct, feeling. All good things to rely on. Does it sound and smell right? Does it look right? Does it feel right?
  • I don’t know about you but my contacts will be more limited since I’m around an infant and toddler.
  • You know when I’m faster at creating content it gives me more time to create more content.
  • You know when I’m faster at creating content I make a lot more mistakes, but it gives me more time to make more.

Leave a comment

Yabba dabba doo

I feel like Fred Flinstone when he gets off work. For this is the last work night of the week and spirits are high. Sometimes I take for granted how lucky I am and thankfully I catch myself now and then. Are things perfect, far from it but that is life. As long as I’m here to fight another day, life is good.

And I’m excited about the coming weekend because today has gone so well already after a wonderful dinner with my daughter. And tomorrow I’m spending time with close friends. Then a day with the granddaughter and life couldn’t be better.

So what will ring my bell tonight? Photo by Mike Hartley

On the other hand, the back end of the weekend looks very cool. And if you go out at night downright cold. So I think I’ll make good use of that time indoors those days. I have a lot more prints queued up to make larger prints. So let me get to work on that and wish everyone a good night.

A local, brewer, distillery, and winery for every community. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Funny how minds work. They can sometimes drive you crazy.
  • Do you ever feel for someone so much that it hurts?
  • Breakfast, the meal that could be called dinner.
  • I promise to do better here and everywhere tomorrow. Because I’m almost out of time today.

1 Comment

Street parking

I’ve never been one for street parking. It’s like asking for problems. For instance, I could park right in front of my dentist’s office on Main Street in Ellicott City for appointments, but you won’t catch me doing that even on a rainy day. I’ll use the lot behind the old firehouse.

Because after one walk yesterday I see evidence that this is a wise move. Not that this is any surprise. I see people who can’t control a car or are too busy to feel like paying attention to driving every time I get behind the wheel. Why would I think a narrow city street wouldn’t be an issue.

I have no interest in adding someone else’s paint color to my car. Photo by Mike Hartley

In some ways, it’s good people do choose to park on the street still. It protects us a little bit walking the sidewalks. But then again you should be ready to duck a flying side view mirror which can easily be sent skyward.

I can’t see you anymore. Photo by Mike Hartley

In some ways, it’s surprising to see the remnants of cars on the street, but after hearing tires skid and the familiar sound of metal and glass crunching over the years this mind says to use the parking lots.

The road is no place to be making glass mosaics. Photo by Mike Hartley.

But at the end of my observation of this car carnage, I saw a mother and child walking up the street picking up loose trash from the streets of this beautiful town. So people do care, and I hope there are more of us than those who don’t.

Yes, these are from yesterday’s walk, busy night at work so haven’t been out yet today.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Doing good work at the job, bringing in projects, making things as perfect as possilbe just doesn’t seem as important as it once did. Sometimes age is good for perspective.
  • If there is a pill for everything why do people still die from illness?
  • The song “I can see for miles” by The Who is not an appropriate tune for a foggy morning.
  • Food and money have a lot in common. Some people have a lot and some people have none.
  • There is no reason to purchase a stairmaster. Life is a big enough climb on its own.

Leave a comment

Walking OEC

I took a walk this morning in one of my favorite towns. Sort of like a home away from home. Got married in Ellicott City, worked in Ellicott City, started a business in Ellicott City. So I’m familiar with it. From the 60s when we first moved here, till today, I walk those streets a few times a year, or more when it was working there.

I always find something new. When you get to visit a place and experience each season, it reveals a new town quarterly.

Don’t just stay on Main Street. Venture off the beaten path. Photo by Mike Hartley

Another thing is you just have to stop and look around. Front back, side to side, up and down. And low and behold things reveal themselves.

Hey, I’m just trying to have a cigarette here in peace. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes things pop out of areas you wouldn’t think of.

Who. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have a very hard time understanding people who don’t have an appreciation for life. And even less tolerance for them.
  • Some days I feel like I’ve maximized every minute of the day. I either feel great for such and accomplishment or to exshausted to appreciate it.
  • It’s one thing when I cost myself sleep, its an entirely different thing when others interfere.

Leave a comment

The gift of time

Time is a gift I smile about each day. I’ve always appreciated being given another day, more so each day now the older I get. It’s a gift that also comes in many ways. Time to accomplish a goal at the job, time to share a meal with a loved one. Time to play with a grandchild.

Wandered up this street many times. Photo by Mike Hartley

I think a lot about time now because I’m so torn on how much longer to work. It would be an easy call if we were well prepared but like many, we are a little short of what I had hoped for. And the longer I work the more comfortable we will be if we live a long life.

I’ve seen my best friends change and start to do more activities, trips, cultural and fun things. And on all fronts. Wives, friends, children all are getting more time. Not one to be the last out of the pits I’m getting organized and moving.

You know, sometimes it doesn’t have to be that killer trip that makes a year. This will be the first year our family doesn’t take a trip together to Ocean City. So the planning begins with that. Where and when can everyone make it to for some short visits?

There are so many options my head is spinning about it so I’m going to let the others think and talk about it and see where the wind is blowing. I’ll throw suggestions out and I’m very flexible.

But I also hope to really get back to exploring Maryland and the surrounding states. I already have several days and weekend trips to be thrown out for consideration. I want to roam the Chestertown area. I’ve been to Ocean City for at least 40-50 years but I’ve never been down to Assateague Island. That is a must-do. It has been 3+ decades since I’ve been out to Deep Creek MD.

I’ve never been to Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg Maryland. Yep add that to the list of places west of home.

I’d like to visit the 3 art museums in Baltimore. Of course, I have to try out the new Horseshoe casino while we are down there getting cultured. It’s been decades since I’ve been to Sandy Point state park. I made my first trip to Gibson Island last summer and I must go back there.

Maybe a weekend bed and breakfast in St Michael’s and a visit to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. I know we have never been to Smith Island and if we go for no other reason than to get a cake, that alone is good enough.

Also, I’ve heard The National Cryptologic Museum is a good visit. Not the photographic places I normally like but would be interesting to know more about that art. And if I’m in that educational vain I might take in NASA The Goddard Space Flight Center. And while I’m there I might as well continue down the road to the new National Harbor and see how that is developing.

Another neglected site is St Mary’s Maryland. I know that area is beautiful. Also Chesapeake beach for a stay on the water at one of the fine hotels.  As well as the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and National Historical Park in Williamsport Maryland.

The Air and Space Museum in Dulles VA would also be good to spend a day at. Then take a real ride back in time on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.

So it looks like I have a start to a good list of things to do this year. Let me see what interests my better half and what others I can add to it. I just hope we can get a couple in because it’s a very busy year with work and family expanding.

I saw a flurry of activity on a post on the NextDoor site about the amount of trash on Rt 70 and 29. They should add Rt 40 and 99 and 144. All the major arteries that lead to the dump. I’ve lived up in this part of the county now for 36 years and the problem isn’t getting someone out there to clean it up, the problem is how is it getting there in the first place.

And from what I’ve observed it’s a lot of people taking stuff to the dump and not having the load covered or secured. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen stuff dropped or blowing out of a truck bed. Maybe if each of us tries better we can have a bit less trash to pick up.

I think I’ll do my part while wandering the county for photos and pick up stuff as I see it. Every little bit helps.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The free time of the day was short, the list of chores for the day was long. I’m not satisified with either.
  • Some days I don’t start with the confidence that I’ll create a new post here. But I’m glad I overcome that. Helps give me confidence in other things.
  • A piece of advice for young people. If you got questions for older people, don’t wait to ask them.
  • Baseball doesn’t have Cal Ripkin to save it again after another lockout.

Leave a comment

Fields of Dreams

A short morning ride early in the morning after daybreak allowed for a few images before returning to the homestead. I can’t wait till the following fields are full again of activity instead of dormant.

Hold on, spring is coming. Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s so cold and spring seems so far away but if I can hold on another 2-3 weeks I might be able to see the light again. I don’t know the totals but it seems we haven’t gotten all that much snow this season. Dustings to a few inches here and there.

And the trees are lined up in their lanes waiting for the starting gun. Photo by Mike Hartley

I can’t complain, I’ve only picked up the shovel once this year and that was an easy one to clear. Not deep and light fluffy snow. Hopefully, that streak will remain intact for the rest of the season.

No spring training yet. Here or in Florida. Photo by Mike Hartley.

I was talking to my neighbor and asked when his son returned to the O’s spring training and he reminded me of the MLB lockout in effect. It really disgusts me, lots of rich people arguing about huge sums of money and shooting their future in the foot.

It was a snowy morning in Woodstock. Photo by Mike Hartley

I can’t wait to start getting out in the mornings again when the weather warms up. I plan on doing a ton of walking and exploring this year. I hope everyone has a great Stupor Bowl. Don’t go overboard and get a ride home if you need it.

Instead of worrying about a gift you can’t find because of supply issues or a rise in cost so much, think about making something personal. And by making something it could mean writing a letter with your thoughts and feelings. Make a meal, warm up the car for them, take care of some overdue chores. There are a million things you can do for that someone special.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There are only so many opportunities. Seize them.
  • There is a lot of trouble ahead you might want to get to appreciating the days we live in now.
  • There was a ton of reason for dispair before todays Maryland/Perdue game. But they made a great showing on national TV and redeemed themselves after that mess earlier in the week.

Leave a comment

An hour of smiles

Yesterday was the car show at Mikey and Mel’s in Maple Lawn in southern Howard County. A very nice mixture of cars and owners. Given the list of chores back at home I didn’t spend long, about an hour just up and down each aisle and I’m sure more cars came in after I left so this is a small sampling. I really should have shot more. The sun came out more on my ride back home.

Classics to contemporary were found here. Photo by Mike Hartley

I was glad I took the time to go see some of these works. I love the arts and I see design and art in every car creation. And just like all art, some is better than others but even the attempts are good works because you don’t get great on your first attempt.

A trio of Speedsters. Photo by Mike Hartley

Sometimes it’s maintaining a classic car and body style. Others are massive modifications to classic or current platforms. Both can be stunning to me. I guess that is a bit of the old youthful enthusiasm I had for cars. Big American muscle cars.

The old Chevy phrase on the front panel there says “The Heartbeat of America.” Well, I bet his neighbors at least know when he starts that Heartbeat up. Photo by Mike Hartley

The reinterpretation of original design. The use of color and textures. The brilliance of chrome or width of a tire, the smell of leather or high octane fuel, the sound of a wonderfully tuned exhaust or open headers, it’s all here.

This might have been my favorite of the show. Nice Foose rim choice. Photo by Mike Hartley

The hidden arts of engine building and tuning. The underside of frame suspension and brakes. Yes being able to stop is nice. The vehicle can be a masterpiece on so many levels.

The chrome is even more impressive if it has some get up and go underneath it. Photo by Mike Hartley

This was a nice break and I’ll look for future events like this in our area because this kid needs to get out and about more. Plus the next one I’ll haul one of my best friends there with his Vette. I know I’m going to go check the calendar because I’ve always wanted to attend that Cruising Ocean City event in the fall. Oct 7-10 this year I believe.

The car’s front tires were wider than most rear tires.

I think I’ll post the rest another day, for there are many chores still on the list today. But some of them are fun like grilling out so I won’t complain.

Nice American Grafitti replica. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Why does my mind draw a blank with the statement from my better half “do you need anything at the store” and then remember when I’m unloading the groceries from the car?
  • Another workweek begins. I think I’ll resume my countdown. That is one thing when I moved from the office to the home office that I didn’t continue. I had a few post it notes on my monitor that had a countdown of weeks to work left. Maybe because I didn’t have to make that drive and was reminded how much I hated it when I finally sat down at my station. Now the commute is much better.
  • My thoughts today have been filed with teachers returning to school. Because I’m a parent of teachers after I was a parent myself. I’m going to say a few extra prayers in hopes of a better year for them.

Leave a comment


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

In todays postWishingPitifulRandom Thoughts of the Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

Random Political Thoughts of the Day

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

Leave a comment

Trial and Failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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


Thank you and Condolences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home for a few decades. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

The old Editorial area. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

Light from above. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

Leave a comment

But for how long

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

Bar Open for how long? Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

Leave a comment

A few minutes

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Morning

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

Leave a comment


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

Seasons changing soon. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find it all here. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

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

Welcome center and mural. Photo by Mike Hartley

Wishing everyone a great Labor Day Monday. Be safe.

Get up and GO. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is no such thing as a bad nap.
  • Nothing like good weather to lift the spirits.
  • Having come from a military family I find comments of Losers and Suckers so disturbing and offensive that he should be barred from any military installation and cemetery. If he goes to Arlington I’ll be meeting him to tell him he is the only Loser and Sucker on these grounds.
  • I’m recharged, I saw my children this weekend.
  • To all the teachers. If Tuesday is your first day back I urge you to treat yourself to a relaxing and enjoyable day on Monday.

Leave a comment

Hump day observations

Don’t you miss being part of a huge crowd at a concert with everyone moving in rhythm to the music and singing in unison together?

I miss seeing people smile. But then again I don’t miss all the people with snarls on their faces.

Boardwalk expressions. Photo by Mike Hartley

I miss feeling comfortable around people.

Does music seem more important now?

Memories keep drawing us back to dangerous behavior.

I suggest taking all the empty shopping malls and turn them into schools.

I saw some leaves falling today. I almost screamed NOOOOO. It’s far too early for fall.

Duchess Sandwich Shop

Sweet simple and satisfying. We went to this EC mainstay for a quick snack today being we put off our day trip to the Antinum battlefield. We got two sandwiches, a birch beer, and a chocolate shake. Oh yeah, a bag of chips all for under $15. Took it down to the parking lot B behind the building we started a business many years ago and looked over the river and had lunch with the top down. I sucked down the shake before I had a chance to take a picture of it.

Photos by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I read from WJZ that the Annapolis Capital Gazette is closing its offices. They will continue to publish it says. I wonder what fate awaits me, back to the office, or work from home next year.
  • I’m very sorry to see the Maryland fall sports postponed/canceled this year but I believe it was the right decision for the safety of the kids and community.
  • I’m so tired today.

Leave a comment

Doing OK Today

Never wait to say what is in your heart.

I may be the luckiest man on earth for the wonders I’ve been given.

Get it together, help others get it together, help them help others get it together.

To my better half. I’m sorry I haven’t provided all the joys of life you so richly deserve.

I’m sorry if anyone feels I haven’t been there for them.

Time to relieve the pain.

I was catching up on some reading of events while I was on vacation a few weeks ago and read that Fernand G.M. Tersiguel passed. I can’t say I was a frequent diner but when I did it was a great meal and his smile and staff made it a great evening. Ellicott City will miss him.

Fernand Tersiguel standing outside his establishment. Photo by Mike Hartley

Good thing you guys don’t rely on me for breaking news.

There are few things as satisfying as a cold Coke in a Bottle. Especially after working outside in the 90-degree heat. I don’t know what it is about a bottled Coke but it is different. Maybe just colder, I don’t know but its better. I’ll go to Google it later. I’m sure there is an opinion or an actual reason.

So why don’t I buy it in bottles? I have no answer. I got a bottled 4 pack from my Son as a gift recently and I save them like a vintage wine. It’s almost ceremonial. When I have one, that is what I do for the next 10 minutes. I don’t open it and walk away, I don’t get up and go to my desk with it and sit it next to the warm computer. I kick back on the couch and sit it on the glass table in front of me. I lean forward and take a sip. Of course, that is followed by a belch and I lean back. This act is repeated like that plastic bird that would bend over and dip its beak in water and then bounce back to an upright position. Life’s simple pleasures. Well, back outside to work.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I believe basic practical skills will once again be in great demand.
  • Time for a random donation today.
  • I’m conflicted. I’m beginning to like my hair long again but it’s not too popular with my better half.
  • If at any point in your life you discover how blessed you are no matter your circumstances, and you are able to just feel thankfulness, is the day you are alive and at peace. I don’t mean this in the religious or spiritual sense but just in life.

Leave a comment

Morning drive

Got moving before daybreak which is always nice. Especially when it does not include pain waking me up. And being it’s my favorite season its a pleasure to head out early and put the top down. Had to dry it off first because of the dew early today.

Sunrise in Woodstock. Photo by Mike Hartley

Being a holiday morning few were out and about which was also nice. I love the quiet of mornings except for a little nature here and there.

Over the hills at the Howard County Conservancy. Photo by Mike Hartley

This area is still as beautiful as it once was. It’s just so busy you can’t stop to enjoy much of it except for at odd times. Daybreak and before are really it. How many times can you just stop your car in the street and grab a frame or two? NEVER. Unless you’re nocturnal like me.

Sometimes I have to check which way is up. Photo by Mike Hartley

This virus continues to turn our world upside down. As I saw the sun coming up over Mt Hebron HS I thought would this empty parking lot still be the same in September? This really is a no-win situation. If I were a parent of a young child I’d be very hesitant to send them off to school. On the other hand, if they are not in school how can we go to work? And maybe the worst part is we are still going to be determining these things on the fly and differently in different areas.

Sunrise over Mt Hebron HS this morning. Photo by Mike Hartley

Actually I’m the parent of two teachers which has led to having to worry about the situation like I had my own children still of school age because they are with those kids of school age all day long. It’s of course about the safety of children. But we also have to think about the teachers just as much. Not all of them are young. I have no idea how this is going to happen. But instead of discussing if bars, nightclubs or beaches are going to be open, we should be coming up with some possible solutions to kid’s education because if they aren’t in school two bad things happen. Parents might lose jobs. Kids might be left alone. The economy will suffer.

Everyone enjoys the 4th. Photo by Mike Hartley

Well, the dog days of summer are upon us. Isn’t life grand? I’m going to have to schedule some more long weekends this summer. I love being off during the summer months. I can hear that day trip to some Maryland destination calling me.

EC was pretty quiet this morning. A few bike riders and some walkers. Must have been shift change at the police station because 3 of them followed me to the office complex at the top of the hill.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So I hope everyone enjoys their 4th of July and stays safe.

At the corner of Rt 144 and Toll House. Photo by Mike Hartley

Enjoy a beverage but do it in moderation.

I think they missed a spot or two where another sale poster can be added. Photo by Mike Hartley.

Hell, I just looked at the to do list and I’m going to be busy as a bee today so let me get my behind out of this chair.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Leave a comment


What a beautiful Friday and Saturday. Actually got a little more sun than I intended. I should have just used some sunscreen but it was so pleasant I didn’t feel the burn till today. Luckily its nothing serious. But that sun those two days did revive me a bit. A ride in the car with my better half for a few hours did us both good.

We toured the rural part of the county out by Clarksville and Brighton Dam and then drove through Rocky George, Fulton, Ellicott City, and Catonsville. A short window visit with my father and mother inlaw also felt good to do. I’ve always been fairly good at appreciating the small things in life. I think that makes getting through these times easier.

It was good to see everyone keeping a distance and masked up in EC. The only thing that was bunched up was the traffic through town.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I really enjoyed that series on Jordan and the Bulls.
  • I scheduled a few days off in the coming weeks and I’m really looking forward to it.
  • I’ll be glad if the weather forecast is off for the next 6 days because all I see is clouds and rain.
  • A few burgers from the grill today have me grinning.

Leave a comment

Good morning HC

I finally got my behind in gear and got out early today. I should have been out yesterday for the nice sunrise because clouds were the scene this morning. That was OK though, it felt great to be out and warm enough for shorts and not having to put on sweats to start a day.

Morning in Woodstock. Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course, I wasn’t just out and about snapping a few images. I had to get some gas for the mower which is being fired up today. And that leads me to my next comment. I almost never go to the Waverly Shell because they RAPE you on price but I will fill the gas can there because it’s the closest. Well, they weren’t open shortly after 6 am so I had to go to Rt 40 and St Johns Lane where the price per gallon is 30 cents cheaper than Waverly. And that the St Johns station isn’t the cheapest around either. It did cement one thing in the future for me. I’ll never even fill the can there again just out of principal.

The early bird catches the fish. I guess he didn’t like his picture being taken because he had quite a snarl on his face this morning. The pond at the entrance to Waverly off Rt 99.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It used to be you could tell the day of the week by the traffic. Now every morning seems like Sunday morning.

The morning dew having trouble burning off without the sun.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Even though I have over an acre of land, I feel like I need more space between my new neighbors and myself. For the peace and quiet, we once had is shattered by roosters and geese. That’s ok though, I got some rock and roll for them today.

Nothing jumping here. Except for that snake, I saw slither away as I approached the water.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So my mission this summer is this. I’m going to try to get out and shoot a spot in this county every day. I think this will be possible because I just got the news from my employer that I’ll be working from home all summer.

Random Thoughts of the Morning

  • Smile at someone you don’t know. Wave to someone you don’t know. Tell someone to have a nice day that you don’t know.
  • Figures when I get home the sun would finally emerge from the clouds.
  • Like someone recently said – VOTE.
  • It would be good to stop thinking a day ahead and more like months or years. There is more hope that way.

1 Comment

Finding fun in the sun

Well, cabin fever hit today so a quick ride in the convertible with my better half soaking up some rays was a nice treat. I put the old camera in the cab and away we went. We stuck to the back roads and a few neighborhoods we hadn’t traveled through before. And when I say neighborhoods in the west part of the county you are talking about big properties and little human contact chance.

Along Rt 99 in Howard County
Photo by Mike Hartley

Of course, our trip started along Route 99. A good road to lean into a few turns like the one above. By the way, that’s not camera distortion, that’s a curve. This one brought back memories when I had my motorcycle and the enjoyment of the back roads of the county gave me. If it wasn’t the expansive views it’s the sweeping turns that can add to that smile on your face.

It’s been a while since having the top down and I can tell you I thought about what’s going on when I went to pull the handle to retract it. Do I have to be scared of the air I breathe now? Well yes in some situations I guess.

Don’t fence nature in.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Many neighborhoods nestled in between expansive farmland. And by the way, I love the FARMLAND FOREVER Signs I see hanging by their entrances. I hope that never disappears from our county. So much has changed and been lost already I can barely cope with what little we have left.

Not a worry in this pasture today.
Photo by Mike Hartley

That ride changed my mood today for the better and I’m glad we got out of the house. Especially with the rains coming tomorrow. It’s hard to determine when to go out. We have been really good about staying in and having no contact with people and will continue to do so.

Today felt like living.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I also discovered today that given the season it’s impossible not to touch my face. Such is life. I’ll do my best but pollen is pollen and it will do what it does. At least I’ll have a mask to sneeze into. Wait, that’s not a good idea either.

Out here your voice had better carry when you say “hi neighbor”
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m thankful my workweek ended a day early. I had a comp day left so I decided to get that out of the way. Not that I’m in any danger of not working but just needed a mental break. Just trying to get ready for the long haul.

This person had the biggest smile on their face when I blew image up. I’m glad they were enjoying the day also.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And yes I socially distanced in my car as I went by anyone. That is why there are two lanes. That was some ride today. I kind of let the car point itself. When I got people behind me I turned down another road. A slow cruise in the country. A day when driving was a complete and utter joy.

As you can probably tell from these I really never stopped the car to take any of these images. Guess convertibles are good for many things. Well, tomorrow the top stays up and I’m staying indoors to work on my studio setup. Once I get the junk out of the way.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I hope our youth is watching who the brave ones are in this crisis. Not the ones wanting credit every day. The heroes are too busy doing the job. And when this is over support your medical professionals.
  • Feelings expressed even though FaceTime is incomplete when it comes to your close friends and family. But that and the video chats are still the best things around today.
  • I see the Governer designated our county (Howard) as a hot spot today. Yeah, we rock. Whoops, not a good thing.
  • Be safe, tell those you love that you love them. And if you feel like it, tell a stranger.


Saturday stroll

Walked one of my favorite towns with a great friend today. Well, actually I walked Ellicott City before he got there and then we walked Oella. I felt good but put on an extra mile or two that my feet could have lived without. But surprisingly everything else felt great after the hike.

Buzzing along this Day
Photo by Mike Hartley
Sun on the right spot.
Photo by Mike Hartley

There are few things that I love more than summer mornings with temps in the 60’s and 70’s with a nice breeze to make life special.

Blue skies are a nice touch also and add a little red white and blue and we are cooking with juice.

I should thank my better half for allowing me a few hours to photograph and chat with a very old friend. It was a great conversation as it always is and one I hope to make more frequent. It’s good to get out and he is an avid walker. I hope I don’t hold him back to much. Maybe some more practice and I’ll be able to hold a better pace. I think I’ll get out on Sunday morning as well.

I do love old stone buildings. And this town has a few.

Beautiful Buildings in front of Lot B.
Photo by Mike Hartley

This structure above was our first office when we launched our own weekly newspaper. I enjoyed the short commute and being back in Ellicott City where I started my newspaper career. I believe its a legal and title group now that occupies it.

Always a hard-working town.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Ellicott City seems to be an example of what small business strength is all about. The risk of doing business in this town that’s been flooded a few times. The reliance of getting people out of big box stores and down to a neighborhood shop. The hard work and limited space they all deal with.

Classic car rolling through a classic town.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I could sit and watch the classic cars and bikes tool through town. I can walk and be greeted by total strangers and wished a good morning with almost every passing person. I can lean over the bridge and watch the families of ducks. You can see store windows done with style and thought.

View from the sidewalk.
Photo by Mike Hartley

You can peer into spaces between homes and businesses and see wonderful garden treats. You can find many talented artists inside stores and out on the streets.

Some artist getting some practice in.
Photo by Mike Hartley
Working on the view of the street below.
Photo by Mike Hartley

At least I got out this day and worked at a craft I love. Sometimes I feel selfish about taking photos and working on this blog. But in a lot of ways, it makes me very happy and hopefully will continue to give me enjoyment in my senior years. And who knows, maybe others will find things they like.

Shady streets
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Balance out thinking and doing then smile about the accomplishments.
  • I love getting pictures of my granddaughter on days I can’t be with her.
  • It seems the more I photograph and write the less time I have to read.
  • Having conversations about what we can do to improve this country is something all of us should be doing each day. Who knows, there might be a winning idea someplace.
  • My walking partner today was like a treadmill that had the incline set at the moutain level.