THREW Mikes EyEz

Original Writings, Images, Video and Artworks of Mike Hartley

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Another holiday worked

I know one thing I’m going to enjoy when I retire and that is being off for holidays. I’ve missed time with family and friends too long. And today is another one of those days. Well, I’ll make the best of it. At least I’ll be off for the Memorial Day one.

Burial detail at Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Mike Hartley

I guess I shouldn’t complain at all. It’s good to be gainfully employed at my age and still in my field. Something not everyone is as fortunate with.

Enough of that serious stuff. Once I make it through today, the week looks up if my body will cooperate. Tomorrow I have to return to a project that is due early next month. I’d also like to go get some fresh images around the county.

I ran across this past image and my mind has been focused on grilling out since seeing it. I haven’t fired up the grill in a few months now. But I did spy some sausages in the fridge that I think I’ll fire up tomorrow. I’ve really enjoyed cooking and would like to do more of it.

Lets fire this thing up. Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Keep good journalism alive. Support your local papers.
  • Starting my book reading initiative.
  • People who like playing games with me usually lose.
  • My dislike for Mondays just keeps increasing. Another thing I hope to turn around in retirement.

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are we losing sight

I almost trashed this shot because it didn’t turn out like I had hoped. It reminded me of the phrase “couldn’t see the forest for the trees”. And it made me think can we see our country through the trees. I’m tired of seeing and hearing the extremes on both sides. The middle is where things get done. I believe it’s where a majority of this country resides. And I’m hoping the middle takes control later this year.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Never take for granted those moments with those you love.
  • I have very few moments free to photograph tomorrow but I will.
  • Had one of those days that I just didn’t feel right all day. But I still got a smile on my face.
  • I’m wondering where the weekend went.


Sykesville visit

I had a few minutes to grab a few shots as my better half went to one of her favorite stores in town (A La Mode Boutique) that is closing after several years there. I like that town. Has a bit of Ellicott City feel. The trains run through both of them. Lots of small merchants. Nice people.

Photos by Mike Hartley

Had a good snack at Becks together and walked a little of the town. A chilly day for that and when you got out of the sun it seemed to cool 10 degrees instantly. And with that breeze it was a short visit.

Photos by Mike Hartley

A great time today actually. Dinner with some great friends and saw a great Maryland basketball victory. Now I’m back editing some photos and about to make some prints for some people.

It felt good to grab a few frames and maybe that will get me back to working on my craft more. I hope so because there is no time like today to do it. So off I go like this train into the evening.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The best time to drive is when you’re not in a hurry.
  • I just realized its a leap year.
  • Somehow putting in a vacation request sets a good tone for the day.
  • I’m going to try to become more well-read this year. I’m going to try to read some each day outside my normal interest.

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I was grateful I opened my eyes this morning. I was grateful to hold my granddaughter today. I was grateful to see my mother and father inlaw. I was grateful to squeeze my daughter’s hand.

I was grateful to eat at The Canopy again because they are back in terms of quality. I was grateful for my health today. I was grateful to my friends for such a good time last night.

I’m grateful for the garage I’ve used for decades is honest. I’m grateful the other baseball teams are showing their disgust of the Astros cheating. I’m grateful that my better half is still my valentine. I’m grateful for Klondike mini’s because I’m sure I lose weight walking back up the stairs to get a second one.

I’m grateful to have grown up in some wonderful decades and I’m grateful to have survived them. I’m grateful for the wonderful music I grew up with and still enjoy today. I’m grateful for having had the pleasure of working in newspapers for some glorious times and some difficult ones.

I’m grateful to have had reminders throughout my life on how precious life is and how each day should be respected. I’m grateful for the excitement I feel about approaching retirement age. I’ve learned that being grateful in tough times eases those tough times.

I’m grateful that the heat is working this evening because it’s very cold outside. I’m grateful for the years I’ve been given and those I hope to have. I’m grateful for less pain in recent weeks and a brighter outlook on life.

I’m grateful for people who restore and maintain small towns.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m grateful I had a few minutes to tinker with this blog and now have a few minutes to take some new studio images. I’m grateful to know I shouldn’t use up all my grateful’s in one day and leave some for tomorrow to feel good about.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I wonder how many misspellings one would have to put in a post before someone called them on it?
  • The weekend is already getting away from me.
  • There are only haves. From the Have’s perspective.
  • I have reached the point of discomfort with the number of people in this area. I keep hoping it will level off. And those hopes keep getting dashed.
  • Some of the most well-read people are some of the quietest also. They know learning also comes from listening.

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It’s OK

I was thinking about how I’ve tried to look at things in a more positive light in this last decade or so. I’ve found life to be much better with this approach. Oh, I’m far from perfect at it and I started to get upset with myself sometimes when I slipped back into old habits.

Getting sucked into time wasters and in useless worry. Maybe some envy of things that catch your eye or ear. Add a little worry or extra time at the job for nothing. Maybe grit your teeth a bit in traffic. Yeah, that small stuff that seems to just rise to the top of concerns when it shouldn’t even make the top 20.

So here is to a weekend that just leaves me smiling because of the people I’m around, the times we share and the few minutes of creative time I’ll try to squeeze in.

Get ready for a chill. The air tonight has that crisp feel to it. With the mild temps the last few months we haven’t had to worry about ice or snow. And I kind of like it.

Don’t let winter freeze your activities.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Maybe tomorrow would be good practice trying to illustrate cold without any ice or snow to play off of. Always good to challenge oneself. I’ll have to see what I can come up with.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • A toast to a good friend no longer with us this evening. A huddle of friends with some words of respect, but lots of smiles and laughs as we remember.
  • There is a baby sleeping in this house for the first time in a long time. So excuse me, I have to type softly.
  • Only 127 days till Summer.

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Yeah it's hump day

Things are looking up. I’m knocking out some substantial items off the to-do list and it feels good. I let myself get disabled by it for a few days because of the size of it and a few items I didn’t feel like dealing with but now that they are in progress it doesn’t feel insurmountable anymore.

You to can be lunch.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m finding myself more motivated lately. I wish I could transfer some of that time to this effort but life is busy filling each day. And that is OK also because that means I’m living.

It’s going to be a love-filled weekend. Yep, some family/friend time. I also hope to go express some love to a few that have passed. And tomorrow is the start of that with a remembrance of a good friend who left us 6 years ago. In between that and Sunday when I pay my respect to my parents will be celebrations with family and friends.

So let’s get this party started and fill it with accomplishments, laughter, and remembrances.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I do most of my learning when I’m executing something.
  • Joy is like peanut butter. It’s best if its spread around.
  • Looks like old man winter is going to pay us a visit.
  • Pursuing your interest is the fruit of life.

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watch your step out back

Its good to watch where you are going. I see so many with their faces in the smartphone screens. Yeah, there is beauty and interest in those little boxes. But lots of times there is more right in front of you. Like the person walking in the opposite direction. Maybe that first step after you open the door and forget you don’t have a deck or porch. Maybe its nature in the form of a rare bird or beautiful sunset.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I read something the other day about time-wasters. And that phone of mine has become one of them. And I’m miles away from what I see becoming the norm for most. Yet when I think about it that thing is in my hand too much of the time. And why to keep up with work email when I’m off? I’m a news addict so that is another vice I got to work on reducing. So a conscious effort will be made to get those minutes of the day back and use them more constructively.

Technology has brought about an interesting dilemma. People interacting with people but at the same time not interacting physically with people. We better watch what that does to the quality of life. I’m not so sure it’s going to fall on the positive side.

Because it rained just about all day I thought I’d try to brighten the few minutes remaining in it.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Listen and learn – such an easy equation.
  • Work hard, if for nothing else but self-respect.
  • Think often, it saves on aggravating times.
  • The Terps basketball team is testing the strength of my heart.

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idea factory

The light bulb went off this evening that I need to get some fresh ideas and act on them. Plodding along a few minutes a day is fun but I really don’t feel like I’m making a good effort. To do that I need to plan and research and take the time to write, illustrate and photograph more.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’m going to get organized and try to devote a little more time to this effort. I still want the freedom to do things on my own schedule and not have specific days for special topics. But I do want to develop more of a well thought out post more often. Hopefully, a more interesting and colorful site will emerge.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s OK to be late. If you’re on your own schedule.
  • The more I challenge myself the happier I am till I overdue it.
  • A sad anniversary is upon our group of friends this week.
  • The more I let humor in my life the better I feel.

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What do I want to be

Well in my early 60’s it might be a little late to say to myself “what do I want to be” but really its kind of a good question for myself at this stage of life. Actually, it’s a good question to ask yourself throughout life because life and times change drastically.

I’m probably in the last 5-10 years of my newspaper career if I’m lucky. And by that I mean I hope that my job is still there as things change and that I’m healthy enough. Both of which at this point seem in good shape. But life changes fast so its always good to be nimble.

I’m impatiently waiting for spring.
Photo by Mike Hartley

A while back I was thinking I wanted to be in business again for myself. That seems less important now and far less attractive. I want to do those same things I thought I might be able to parlay into a little cash in the future but nope. I want to do those things to make people and myself happy.

I’d like to spend more of my time doing for my family and friends and also in the service of others. Yes money is important and needed to live on. But if I need money I’ll do something else for work. I want my writing, arts and photography to be what I want to do and how I want to do it and when I want to do it. Once its for someone else I lose that control.

And at this stage of my life I like being more in control than others, especially in the things I really enjoy. And to do those professionally I would have to sacrifice control.

What I want is to enjoy time with my better half. I want to be a great grandfather and help my children out. I want to spend more time doing some fun things with my friends. I want to get into good shape again. I want to relax. I want to pursue my arts. And none of these things are really compatible with running a business.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I once worked in an ice cream factory. Very cool job.
  • Turning around a bad attitude is fun. Even better when it’s my own.
  • I love the smell of Sunday dinner.
  • Things are what you make of them.
  • I just realized it’s National Pizza Day. I’ll make up for it and get one for lunch tomorrow.
  • I spoke to both my children this weekend. Feeling recharged.

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Saturday salutations

I accomplished a few things today so I’m feeling pleased sitting here at the end of the day. I know I made a few people happy and what more can you ask of a day. Although I wish I was more productive this weekend. It’s been a good one and I don’t take those for granted but I do regret missing opportunities. Maybe I can make up for it a bit this evening.

Pitchers and catchers reporting this Wednesday.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I can’t believe its almost baseball time again. I hope this off-season doesn’t taint the game too much. One because I still enjoy the game and have a team that is going to contend to cheer for.

I’d like to report a STOLEN BASE.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Cheating doesn’t seem to be taken with the same contempt as it once was. Not sure where it was exchanged for the integrity of the game but it seems to just keep repeating itself through history. It’s very sad. For what is left that we can believe in? Only time and integrity of those who play it and own the teams can restore it.

Base hit time.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’m going to make more of an effort to get to the park and catch a few games this year. Maybe a family outing or a few trips with the boys. I mean I’m right between the Nationals and Orioles parks so I can see the National and American league teams. Why not take advantage of a warm afternoon and play hooky one day.

Just one more hot dog Dad.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Action is better than inaction when it comes to most things.
  • I think I’ll take the action of hitting the sack before midnight this evening.

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Up and down again

There is excitement in the air. Life has been pretty good. The Terps are winning, I’m still employed. Those important to me are healthy. I’m hard at work on my crafts. I’m remembering my love of children again via my granddaughter. I’m almost through my least favorite season of weather.

Putting the bite on the Big10 –
Photo by Mike Hartley

But the call I made yesterday to schedule my checkup for cancer has done its usual magic and unnerved me. You would think after almost a decade of test that I’d get used to it. And in some ways you do. Those first tests after surgery, you really can’t relax till the results are known. And having gotten good and bad news, the process of relaxing about it never really happens.

It’s funny the different reactions I have at times to these. Just talking to the office and finding out what test they want starts the apprehension. I remember after the first cancer surgery that started the stopwatch effect. The finish line was the doctor’s office and the results which were sometimes a 4-6 week gap. I don’t go through that race anymore but I did the first few years.

I make the appointments because I have to and my wife won’t let them slip. She’s really good about that. Given my own devices, I might let them go because they scare me at times.

After a few years of cancer-free, you get confidence. Well, you get the feeling that maybe life is once again a long term proposition. And if your lucky you just build on that confidence but I’m thinking, you never lose that doubt. For some though it’s not over. Some cancers come back. I got a totally new one for my second go-round about 5-6 years after my first.

That, I think will always stick with me and sets another level of doubt that time probably won’t remove. The medical test are interesting. You have no control over them. Not like you can pull an all-nighter and study harder. A salad before the test isn’t going to make a difference.

I don’t mind blood test, piece of cake. I’m not a fan of the CT scans with the contrast. The blood test I can get results on fairly soon. Scan results wait till the appointment. So it looks like I’ll have to suck it up and get both of these and then go downtown Baltimore for my appointment sometime in March or April. But first I’ll eat at my lucky place, Kirbies on Redwood Street before that final meeting with oncologist/surgeon.

Now that I’m a veteran I’ll calm down and wait for the referrals for the test to come. I’ll schedule those tests and only fret about it the day they are done. Then I’ll relax again but usually about a week before my appointment my mind starts to wander, apprehension grows, concentration and focus are blurred. But on the day of the appointment, a calm usually enters me. One that inside says just go in with the hope for the best on your shoulder and heart. I’ve learned through thinking any other way that too many negative and horrible thoughts can enter into that world of bad news.

I think of the burden doctors carry in having to go to work each day and give out sometimes life-threatening news. Over and over. I’m guessing that is one task that never gets easy for them or their staff.

As usual, I should have started a post like this way in advance instead of throwing it together. There are so many emotions, thoughts and unknowns to deal with that it can be overwhelming. And I’m sure the experiences and the way they are dealt with are as numerous as the number of people that have to deal with these and other serious issues.

I know it might be hard to tell but forgive me if one or two of my post in the next month or two seemed more scatterbrained than usual.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve got to stop this work so I can get to work to prepare for more work.
  • When I have a late-night it usually involves seeing the sunrise.
  • The longer your in love the better it gets.
  • I hear the ice cream calling me but I must resist.
  • Please ask the ice cream to be quiet. I can’t hold out much longer.

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Sunny days will return

But first its time for some rain. Well, that seems to be what is the rage from the forecasters. I got a lot to do and will probably get a few drops on my head in the next few days. At least it’s not a foot or two of snow.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Feeling a bit more upbeat today. Probably because I’m going to be working on some fun things this weekend. I’m off to a good start and not letting anything stand in my way. Inspired thought for someone with a packed schedule of friend and family get-togethers.

So I better make use of every free moment I can and produce. I wish I could keep that mindset all the time but I do get lazy from time to time.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have 666 unread emails in my inbox. The devil is in the details.
  • Any day you can finish with a good thought instead of stress is a winner.
  • I’m already tired of tax season commercials.

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One of my fond memories from the Baltimore Aquarium trip with the family is this sea turtle. I learned the name today was Calypso because I saw a few news clips that she has passed away. These two shots were taken a decade ago on a visit there.

Now there is a lift.
Photo by Mike Hartley
Photo by Mike Hartley

While some might consider these underwater zoo’s, I think they do more to inspire wonder and respect for the wildlife that lives in the sea. I encourage anyone who visits Baltimore to see this site. I think its time for another family visit soon. Now that there are young ones again in the family it will be lots of fun.

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I haven’t been feeling all that well both physically and mentally lately. I’m not sick that I know of, but the body just aches. I guess I was getting used to those series of good days and weeks of just mild back pain. Mentally I got a lot of stuff going on in both my personal and professional lives.

Professionally I’m very unsettled. And that just seems to be growing. But that discussion is for another day. I’ve got to get back on track with things that make me happy. And blogging is one of them. Reading blogs I enjoy, finding things to help me feel better and provide perspective. Taking photographs, writing and creating some carvings. Yep, it’s a good plan for the week ahead.

New perspective in EC
Photo by Mike Hartley

This blog is always a good daily reminder for me to do something for myself and someone else also.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • You ever misplace something and can’t remember where it is? If I can do this less than once a day I feel lucky.
  • I think I’m getting signals to take a break of some kind, soon.
  • Another Maryland victory, another smile on my face.
  • Free car washes the next few days. Just leave it outside.

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Sharing a second

Some days you just can’t pull together a minute or two for a post and today is one of them. Any election event makes my life nuts. Well any news event turns up the volume of work several fold.

Nobody can tell me this young lady doesn’t know where to be at Sunset Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’m going to have to get ahead with material for this month. Well maybe a few months ahead because its just going to get busier. We have the Olympics coming this summer and then the big dance in November.

But in short order we have a ton of primary’s to make our way through and then other add ons like baseball starting up again and being this is the home of the Nationals its going to come with fanfare.

But what really gets my juices going is that its the best two months of basketball ahead that I can think of. Yep the NCAA basketball championships after the conference championships after some nail biting games to get to the right ranking/position for the tournaments.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I think with the wet weather coming the treadmill will be seeing some action.
  • There are just some really tough decisions in life. Like most all of them.
  • I used to think there was catch up days for lost sleep. I know now there isn’t such a thing.
  • A wise man said make it work for you. A wiser man said make it work for all of us.

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Launch day

Welcome to another week. You Super Bowl partakers are going to need to wake in a few hours and get on that road to the job. I wish I was able to watch the game with friends or family but work sometimes takes priority. Well, the bills take priority and that entails work.

The building I started my newspaper career in. The Times Newspapers/Stromberg Publishing
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think things will start to settle down a bit this week. At least that is my hope. One family member out of the hospital. Another one who’s been visiting returning to the West Coast. That doesn’t mean just about every free moment isn’t scheduled already. Well, just about everyone. That doesn’t get me down though. It’s nice to be busy and involved and trying to do more where you choose.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m starting off my Monday by doing a favor for a friend.
  • I can only improve by doing more.
  • I have no interest in watching XFL football.
  • That was a very good Super Bowl tonight. Wish I had time to watch it. Good thing for tape delay.
  • Get outside this Monday. It’s supposed to be a fine day.

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Yep, I reckon so

A great line from an old western film. “Yep, I reckon so”, I like the calmness it’s delivered with. I like the matter of fact nature of it. But it’s not definitive. So what made me think of it was yet another work week is almost in my face again. I don’t get upset about it or dread it. Sort of like here it is.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Sorry about the lack of enthusiasm for work. I’m just tired. I’ll get the fire going once I get started. The same holds true for my crafts. And no better time than now to get started. I’ve got a large project started and I have a deadline for a change so time to get ahead of the clock.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Change is good if it’s not for the sake of it.
  • My dilemma – take, edit, upload or print pictures.
  • I wish I could help a few people I know to relax.
  • There are only so many resources. And yes you can apply that to everything.
  • Halfway through winter, all is good so far.
  • Every time the weatherman says something about 60 degrees outside I can hear the top of my car yelling “put me down.”

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First of all, sorry about the absence yesterday. I really needed to catch up on some rest. The body and mind were running on empty. Today we had an unusual thing for a Friday. A wedding at 5 pm in D.C. It was a wonderful event and the last daughter of our close friends has tied the knot. No this is a shot from another wedding. I just don’t have the energy left to download and edit the shots yet.

Wedding photography. Photo by Mike Hartley

I always enjoy watching the paid photographers and the different angles and shots they try to create. I didn’t shoot a lot tonight. I just enjoyed the event really.

It’s nice and comfortable going to friends’ weddings where you have watch their children be born and raised to become adults and then start families of their own. Speaking of which I wondered if I was going to escape tonight because my better half got a newborn from the brides older sister in her arms tonight and I thought they weren’t going to be separated.

Well, here it is just before midnight again. I think I might try to do more of my post earlier in the day instead of these last-minute rush jobs. But I do want to add one more point. It was kind of a flashback to one of the happiest moments in my life. I was watching the father-daughter dance and the song was somewhat similar to the one my daughter and I danced to or at least the spirit of the song and the intense looks of the father and daughter tonight made my mind wander back to that day I danced with my daughter. And the feeling was wonderful and has warmed my heart for hours and still does sitting here at home hours after I witnessed it.

So here’s to all the happiness children can bring you.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • There is nothing like putting on a sweatsuit after wearing a regular suit.
  • It’s interesting to see how many common experiences there are between strangers.
  • Going to spend the day doing as much as I can tomorrow because there is no sense wasting a weekend.

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Balancing act

With so many things going wrong this week I’m glad I have some good thoughts holding on. Always remember you are in control of your own thoughts. So today I’m going to imagine I’m this guy on the beach walking his dog. That I’m away from the chaos and interactions with people that do me no good.

The way to have morning coffee. Photo by Mike Hartley

And tomorrow I’m going to begin anew again because my work week from the job that pays the bills will be behind me and I can get into my crafts again. The growing gap between enjoying one more and the other less is growing by the week. I still enjoy the type of work I do professionally. I still give it a very good effort. But I live for the time to do crafts and spend with family and friends.

I live for my dreams now and not someone else’s who already accumulated more wealth than they need. Another lesson I should have learned earlier in life. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against them being wealthy. I have nothing against working for wise businessman. I just would rather work for myself again one day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Ah, the weekend, just in time.
  • In 12 hours I’ll be hugging my granddaughter and all will be right with the world.
  • Tomorrow is picture day. Taking, editing, posting, sharing and enjoying.
  • If I concentrate on what I’m able to accomplish and not what I can’t I enjoy life a lot more.

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Back again

I’m kind of proud of myself. I wish I had learned some important lessons at a younger age but better late than never. A day like yesterday might have stuck with me for weeks or months. But I’ve let it go today because there are many more positive things in life to focus on and as I’ve learned there probably are many more negative things coming to deal with.

Don’t knot yourself up. Photo by Mike Hartley

So instead of getting myself in a knot, I’ve turned a corner and I’m back on track within 24 hours. A bit less actually. I regret the time I’ve wasted in the past in anger or worrying about what people who I don’t respect say or do.

So today I’m minimizing the unpleasant parts of the day and maximizing those that I enjoy. Not always an easy task but if that is the focus its something to keep coming back to when it gets out of balance.

The amount of people pausing over the death of Kobe Bryant is impressive. What is more impressive is the conversations about family and friendships and people helping each other strive to become more and better.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Hi, I’m Mike – I’m a packrat. Not a hoarder, just half that.
  • Time to heal, time to feel, time to kneel, time to reel. Yep, the fishing bug is biting again.
  • The favorite part of my car during the summer is the convertible top. In the winter it’s the seat warmers. A heating pad on wheels.
  • Two nights in a row of 6 hours of sleep each. I know my body likes it and my mind is saying yeah, give me a few more.

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I haven’t had disappointment stop me in a while now. But today it’s getting a win over me. I’ll get over it in a little while. I lose my confidence and respect for people when I feel honesty is thrown out the window. It affects me to the core when it impacts me.

Photo by Mike Hartley

It makes me mad. It makes me lose perspective. But I’m getting better in dealing with it probably because I getting more practice at it than I would like. I guess that comes from being a trustful person by nature.

It’s so hard not to slip back into a cynical outlook and turn into a hard-ass in dealing with everyone but I know that isn’t right. But boy is it tempting after days like today.

Looks like I’m going to have to rely on good old Karma again. So tomorrow we raise the mast again and head out to sea. I say that because there is a lot of water on land these days and lots of pirates to deal with.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m a lucky man to have such a supportive better half.
  • Impacts of people aren’t totally apparent all the time.
  • I have to think about eating smart each day to accomplish it. Maybe one day it will be different.

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Highs and lows

I was so happy about the Maryland men’s basketball game and win today, then the news of Kobe Bryant passing along with his daughter stunned me seconds after the game ended. I was with my best friends and it touched all of us deeply. Especially one of my best friends. We have been longtime Laker fans for decades.

I also quickly thought of my Son who has also followed the Lakers for many years. I remembered the day we saw the Lakers and Wizards play together. I remember the huge Kobe poster he had on his closet door and bobble-heads and other Kobe pictures. So I touched base with him to make sure we were good.

RIP Kobe and Gianna
Photo by Mike Hartley

The thought of the pain that family and the other victims is now enduring is not a pleasant one. But as I said to my Son, it reminds me to live each day to the fullest. But Kobe not only lived each day he showed how much hard work can pay off each day. He was a lot of things to a lot of people.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Days like today make you think about hugging and telling loved ones you love them.
  • Taking 8 second and 24 second violations to start NBA games was a classy move.
  • Watching the tributes to Kobe, his daughter and 7 others brought many a tear to my eyes.
  • One good measure of a man is the tributes by his friends, family and those he worked with.
  • Watching great and strong men struggle with words is tough.

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Blissful Saturday

Wow, what a fine day. A relaxing one with loved ones is a great way to utilize the time. And now some work on my crafts, maybe a few hours uploading some photos and then a good night’s rest.

Photo by Mike Hartley

But as it edges closer to midnight that chill goes up my spine about another work week starting tomorrow. But I’ll worry about that when I actually start. Till then a good time is going to be had.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Is it wrong to tape Saturday Night Live?
  • Worry isn’t a waste of time when it’s on the right things.
  • If I don’t get to work in my workroom I’ll have to rename the room.
  • There is no such thing as too many blankets this time of year.
  • I received a stack of photos today that had to be 30-40 years old. Talk about facing the reality of my age now.

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Crawl this way

Watching a young child learn to crawl is so exciting. You can see the mind clicking once they finally get over that leg and end up on their hands and knees. That sudden confidence. The rocking back and forth on the hands and knees like they are getting the band together for a march onto the football field. A few misfires forward that lead to a few faceplants, but then success. Several strides forward and a stop to survey the new landscape we just traveled to. That first look back to you with a mix of joy and accomplishment and then worry about the further distance from you.

Photo by Mike Hartley

That is what I remember from my daughter’s first movement on her own. And I remember that look of success and also the uncertainty of moving further away. But as all babies do they continue on to explore which is the beginning of a long process to their own independent life.

I’m a lucky father because now I got to experience it a second time now when I saw my granddaughter crawl the other day. I’m glad I view those things with such joy still.

At times in my life, I’ve been depressed and stressed and in a general state of unrest. Some days I wonder how I made it to this point with the thoughts and actions in life I’ve had. Now I look at those times and think how nieve and how small my world was. And the things that I considered big stuff was really small stuff. But without the wisdom of time and perspective, you don’t know those things. The knowledge that the world is so full of joy and wonderment and satisfaction that those things seem invisible.

That is why its all our jobs to help each other out during the different stages of life. If you see someone in need and think you can help, do it. For instance, I’m going to reach out to someone young who I’ve known for a while and see if I can help with their career.

But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes a well-timed and placed smile or compliment. Maybe a “how are you doing” and taking time to listen. Being there for a friend or family member. Being honest with people who need some honesty. Being compassionate when everyone is just making the best of a bad situation.

There are so many of us in need of help. We all see it every day in our lives. From someone dealing with a tough job. Maybe someone who lost a loved one. Those struggling socially. You know it. Its a list, several hundred miles long. If we do our part we can help shorten that list at least.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When your family and friends are inspired life is enjoyable. It’s like your a predator of fun and laughter.
  • I would love to get on a motorcycle again.
  • Wishing a speedy recovery to a special person.
  • Its good to be one top of both the old and young.
  • Tomorrow is a special day for someone I love and therefore its a special day for me.

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Lurking in each day is an opportunity. How to spend a few minutes here and there that can really turn into something special. I’m learning how to take advantage of those and build on them. Like tonight. I could have come home and hit the rack for some much needed ZZZ’s. But NOOOO, I’m going to stay up and work on the photo site. Maybe one day behind that work another opportunity will be lurking.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Tomorrow lurks a special opportunity. A chance to practice some people photography. Yep from young to old and everything in between. I think I’ll get some video also. And right now I’m going to try a few product shots just to take a break once in a while from editing.

I didn’t feel that spark for a few days there. 10-12 hours work a day can take make that spark difficult to find. I keep searching each week for that energy I remember having. I know its hiding someplace and I will find it.

But its the weekend now and I have some time to shoot and tinker with the crafts. So Life is Very Good for me right now. I hope it is for all of you also.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Wishing someone very close a speedy recovery.
  • We toasted my best friends Lab tonight. He was a special dog.
  • I fixed a few things today. That’s a good feeling.
  • I used to let the fact that I may not be cut out to do some things stop me. Wisdom has tough me not to care about that anymore and to keep trying.
  • I’m worried about the lack of things that tie a community together. Things like a community paper.

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Feeling rather laid back today and peaceful. Maybe that is why I selected the photos below from Arlington National Cemetery. I love visiting in the summer. But its time to make my winter visit. So I guess I’ll bundle up this Sunday and head over.

Arlington National Cemetery
Photo by Mike Hartley

If it’s a nice morning I think I’ll take a long way out and see a few sights and snap a few new images. I think I’ll try to snap a few images every morning this weekend. I’ve got to get moving on some photographic projects around the county I live in.

Air Force Memorial in the background.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Welcome to town Sister In-law. Enjoy the visit.
  • I wonder if the internet ever goes down for any length of time if anyone is going to be capable of doing anything?
  • I’m making a lot of progress but its certainly not as fast as I would like.
  • I know I need to watch less TV. But its a constant battle. Sort of like food. They keep putting stuff in front of me that looks good and I fight to stay away from it.

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What I hope they feel

Now that we have our first grandchild, I want to make their visits to our house, like a visit to the Magic Kingdom. I want them to have such fond memories of it as they grow into adults.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I thought about this as I saw the importance of my own children seeing their grandparents home for the last time. Talking about the rooms or parts of the yard they liked the best. You can see the memories in them.

I can envision one memory there so clearly. It is one that I will always have and take with me. When the children were very young we took them to their grandparents and my better half and I went to look at a kitten that was rescued. We ended up getting it and bringing it back to their home and the look and tears of joy on my daughters face can still bring a tear to my eye today.

I hope to make many happy occasions for many years to come for them. I want to watch them run from the car to the front door someday. I want them to walk in the kitchen and just start looking around like my children do.

As usual my better half is way ahead of me. The toy collection has begun and a toy box was needed already, and she isn’t a year old. And some recent larger toys and a stroller have invaded. I love it. I see something new and I can’t help but smile.

Maybe one day some of these will be part of their collection that they pass down to their kids. Time moves so fast. Seems like just yesterday we brought our own children back from the hospital after being born.

The outdoors were not fit for man or beast today so these artificial ones will have to do. That was some bright sun today. It was quite deceiving. Because that cold was as cutting as that beak.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If only they knew.
  • If only I knew.
  • Does anyone know?
  • Oh no, everyone might know.
  • I do know that time got the best of me again today.
  • I do know my heart is a bit heavy for an important friend tonight.

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Monday liftoff

This is going to be a great week. I’m trying to start thinking more positively and going into a new week with a good attitude is key. Initially, it’s easy to look at this week in a positive light. Birthdays coming up with those close to me. A close relative who lives on the other side of the country coming to visit. The short work week and family plans for the weekend. What is not to like.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Why not think of the great times and work ahead to be done. Why not look at the possibilities. Why not act and do something positive. The negative and tough times will come on their own. Let’s make good use of every good moment we can draw from every week.

So find yourself something good to hang your hat on this week.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Take a moment to send some love or kind words or a phone call to someone who’s under the weather or has a child or pet who’s ill.
  • Wow, I got a note from WordPress that its been 6 years now. Well, at least I’ve used it to get more motivated, more confident, more creative, more inspired, more positive and filled with thoughts about what I can do in the future.
  • I’ve got to get busy saying all the things I’d like to say before I don’t have the time left to say them anymore. And yes kids, that is why I say I love you so often.
  • Remember to learn from history before your doomed to repeat it said a wise man I believe.

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Let it pass

Had a few things start off the year in a less than optimal fashion but I’m learning to let them pass and move on to better and brighter things. Some things and some people aren’t going to change. And that is fine, I just accept it and move on.

Photo by Mike Hartley

By a stroke of luck I have off on a holiday Monday. I hope to make good use of it and capture some new images. I’m doing a favor for a friend in the morning and then some quick rest and a productive rest of the day. The only thing that beats a short holiday workweek is a week of vacation.

And the only thing that I hear beats a week of vacation is retirement. Each day I start a new week I cross off a number on my desk that looks forward to that day of retirement.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Well the team I had a rooting interest in lost this evening so that ends this years football season for me.
  • I’m beginning to think that Snickers commercial is real. I feel much more like myself after eating one.
  • I’m glad I don’t wager anymore. I bet with my heart instead of my head.
  • I’ve got to accomplish more each day.
  • I was almost in too much of a hurry today.


Saturday with my Son

I had the pleasure today of attending the Maryland basketball game with my Son, a wonderful Xmas gift from him. Nothing beats spending time with my kids. Well, spending time with their children and pets also comes in a close second. Family time is so important to me.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Really everything I do now besides work is more important. It didn’t use to be that way but its the reality now. What used to seem so important is now down the scale. Work is what I used to measure my worth by at one time in my life, counts for a much lower percentage than in its heyday. At times in my life, my reality was out of whack in regards to my balance in life and my work. Well, more accurately my work was my life. That is very wrong when it hurts other important things.

Please don’t get me wrong. I work hard and take it very seriously. I’m a lead in my group and constantly strive to improve. I believe I’m a good team member and the only thing that ever puts me in danger of losing a job is my outspoken mouth.

But the passion in my life is back in the right places. Family, friends, helping, hobbies and crafts along with taking the time to appreciate living.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Picking this year’s NCAA basketball tournament is going to be a crapshoot this year.
  • I like it when people are honest with me.
  • I believe a good night’s rest is in order.
  • I have something deep in my heart that I hope works out.

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Taking the Time

If you can help someone or many people have a better life then there is no better gift that you could give yourself than to just do it. I know the days I do something like that, it makes my day feel more complete. It feels like accomplishment even though you have nothing tangible in your hands. Well, sometimes that hug and handshake go a long way.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Taking the time often entails you giving up something most precious to you. Yep, you have to take your time and give it to someone else. Sometimes it tough while you are actually doing it. Sometimes it’s not fun. Sometimes you cross the balance of doing too much by delaying other important things. But that payoff at the end is nice.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Keeping your sense of optimism each day is important.

This is kind of funny because the line above is where I left off writing this post earlier. I was all excited about some pictures I took this afternoon but I believe my oldest digital camera may be on its last legs. I could get the images off if I had a card reader but its download ability seems to have disappeared. I’ve spent some time troubleshooting but without luck so far.

So I’ll reread that line above where I left off earlier to make it to the end of this post because I’ll miss that old camera if this is it – Keeping your sense of optimism each day is important.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Experiences in life aren’t always fair says everyone who ever lived.
  • I thought about taking some snow pictures tomorrow morning but it’s cold outside. Well maybe I’ll go outside, but if I do that cover your ears.
  • I think I’ll go take some steps tonight. Yep, the treadmill comes alive.
  • One good way to make people happy is to listen.

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Come to the Point

I’m getting scared of the accepted carnage on the highways. From the fender bender to the most gruesome collisions. The inmates (drivers) have taken control of the asylum (highways). People have realized there is not enough law enforcement to keep them from doing what they want on the roads. And the priorities of the few are wreaking havoc out there for the many.

Photo by Mike Hartley

This doesn’t even take into account the people that never had the skills to drive in today’s fast-moving pace. Or those whose skills have eroded. It’s magnified by the volume of traffic so the margin for error is reduced.

Then again I guess with the list of things that are wrong in this world that’s small potato’s unless you’re caught in a mess because someone thought they were more important than everyone else.

Well, let’s hope we all kind of relax in the coming year, maybe be in less of a rush and maybe more courteous.

Really when I started this I was just really pissed off about someone who tailgated me for a few miles. I’ve got to get me a few of those James Bond weapons installed. I’ll have to make an appointment with Q.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Laughter is really good. When its with friends it’s great.
  • Sometimes in life, you got to be prepared to say “whatever”.
  • If I appear in a tired state this evening, it’s really more like a tired country.
  • Notice when it was warm out this past week I posted snow pictures. Today is a spring photo because it’s cold as %@$#*@(*#&^ outside.
  • And here I thought I had a good amount of free time today.

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Man Alive

Yes, I feel alive today. It’s amazing what a good night’s rest will do for me. And with a weekend ahead my mental spirits are rising fast. I can’t wait to get the camera in my hand and get some fresh work done.

Got a jam-packed weekend so I figure it will be flying by as usual. So I’m going to try to soak up every minute of it I can.

Photo by Mike Hartley

The next few days are pretty stacked with things for others but there are a few hours this weekend that I’ll be doing a few things for me. I’m glad I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about that balance. I feel selfish when I do. Actually I’m enjoying the things I do for others very much. I guess I was wise in choosing whom to help.

I’m so glad I was able to break out of a negative outlook cycle of life. When I look at the mistakes it was related to selfishness. Also not appreciating all the gifts I’ve been given in life. Maybe even not appreciating every opportunity. I try to do better each day now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • It’s better to just do the difficult stuff and get it out of the way than to look at it and wonder about doing it.
  • Even people you should be able to trust can be deceptive.
  • If I can start and finish each day with a smile I’m doing well.
  • I’m in need of some music, and some dinner.

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Rumor is the COLD is on its way. I know some are very happy with this thought. I do not share that sentiment. But it does provide some beauty that I do like to view. It’s one of the things I’ve always liked about Maryland. It has a nice balance of all seasons. They seem to equal out in duration and they all have very unique qualities.

Along Rt 99
Photo by Mike Hartley

I just have issues with being cold so Winter is my least favorite. I don’t like the shorter sunlight. I don’t like the bareness of nature but the snow does show something wonderful. Its a peaceful thing. All I think about is the special kind of quiet it provides. Natures sound room.

Winter also brings out the youth in you. Of course, the emergency room business goes way up also. I think I’ll like it a lot more when I’m retired. At least that way when and where I go will be determined by me.

Along Rt 99
Photo by Mike Hartley

A busy week ahead but with the cold coming, I think I’ll split some wood for some exercise. I know my son can use some for his fireplace. And it’s a nice seasoned pile.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So the rumor has it we have some winter precipitation headed to us on Saturday. Well, bring it on Mother Nature. I got my big winter coat out. We have the prerequisite family SUV with 4 wheel drive. I guess I should fire up the generator and test it before the power goes out sometime this winter.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m glad I’m not an Astros, Redsox or Mets baseball fan.
  • I wonder if the number of corrupt things in this world finally outnumber those that aren’t?
  • That was a good College Football game last night.
  • I’ve got to get back to looking for the humor in situations.
  • The accident that happened next to me yesterday reminded me how dangerous it is out there on the road. Someone just not paying attention.

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Monday Minutes

I chose the title Monday Minutes because that is about all the time I have free on Mondays, just a few minutes. So let’s make the best of it and see what we can come up with today. Sometimes a deadline will inspire greatness.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I saw this image and I thought about hidden beauty. Everyone has a hidden beauty inside them. It can come out in many ways. And sometimes that beauty leads to wonderful things.

My first thought of something beautiful in nature is like a wildflower on a hillside on a Hawaiian Island that is so stunning it stops you. But today I’m thinking of the hidden beauty of the people involved with the care of sick children all the way to elderly and their loved ones and circle of friends. From the nurses and caregiving attendants to the staff and in a lot of cases the family and closest friends who care and try to make life good.

I can’t remember what clip is was I saw recently over the holidays of athletes visiting hospitals and the reactions and joy it brought. And while it seems the beauty is in the act of the stars visiting and bringing those smiles and a few minutes of normalcy in life, I believe its the ones visiting who might have received the best gift of all if they were open to it. And that is seeing how fortunate they are in health and ability, to learn how much joy they can bring others and share that, to realize that its not just the person in the bed or wheelchair or medical tree of tubes that go with their every step that they are helping.

Lots of times its also a brief reward and respite for those loved ones and friends. The joy of just seeing a smile or excitement for those enduring life challenges that they cherish is like medicine for their hearts also. These people are also hero’s who do extraordinary work. They are there throughout the weeks and months and sometimes years of treatments or recoveries. And they are there for sometimes unfortunate endings.

Many of these people might be members of your family, or neighbors who are doing wonderful things. And it doesn’t take extraordinary efforts to make an impact. Just making the time to visit elderly parents on a regular basis improves their lives a lot. Donate some time supporting the caregivers. Just tell them the amazing job they are doing or something to brighten their days.

Some people try to hide it or minimize their work and contributions. That humbleness is a beauty in itself. These people don’t blow their horns. They do this work from a labor of love. Wouldn’t be nice if we could all care for each other even when we aren’t sick.

But I just felt like I need to say thanks to all the people out there doing the hard work each day in and out.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Help yourself and you will be better prepared to help others.
  • Appreciate all you do have before complaining about what you don’t.
  • I sense cold weather coming and I’m not a happy camper.
  • Life is easy if you don’t over complicate it.
  • It feels good to keep your spirits in the positive direction. Even with some pain.

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Stay Challenged

Just pick something to challenge yourself. Both physically and mentally if you can. At least I hope this philosophy will work in my senior years. I’d like to take on and experience a number of things in retirement.

In some ways, I’m looking forward to being more active and challenged in retirement than I’ve been in my professional career. Mainly because I’ll be in charge of direction and challenges to take on. So light that grill and take off.

These are grilling temperatures.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But retirement is a few years off so I got to get busy utilizing the time well now to prepare for it so I can hit the ground running. Like having a portfolio of work ready to go. I’m working steadily on that. About 6,400 images so far. Yeah I know, quality not quantity. But always remember, sometimes it only takes one more image to make a really good series of images.

I’ve promised myself to get out and shoot some this week. And I think I’ll start this evening. Also I think I’ll try to prepare a few special and smart dinners this week.

I did better this past year but far from where I should be in terms of eating right. So I’m going to try to do better again. Because I’d like to live for a long time. Well, let me rephrase that. A lot longer than I have already.

Eat right=live long=prosper.
Photo by Mike Hartley

So I’ve got a couple of pieces of fruit for my lunch tucked away for the beginning of the workweek. Maybe some nuts and I’ll try to stay out of the snack room this week. It just comes down to making smart decisions each day about eating. From what to how much. Its all a matter of choice. I even ate some spinach during dinner. I guess that was a correct choice.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Not a good weekend for the local sports teams here in Maryland.
  • Finding something you think you misplaced is a nice treat.
  • Some things take time and effort over a long period to finally start to look successful.
  • It’s a good thing to maintain long distance friendships. You never know when you might be living close together again.

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Not all people obey the SIGNS. Like the NO DIVING sign below, some take liberties and use them as suggestions. Take the Speed Limit sign for instance. Is there a sign more abused? Well maybe STOP signs come in a close second. Maybe the Yield sign. Then again No Parking signs get abused.

You just passed your Exit signs are fun. Signs like Welcome to Your Town bring a smile to our faces. Especially when we have been away for a while.

We buy your used car flipping sign guys in front of Carmax. Emergency Room signs become very important as you make your way through a strange hospital. Increasing gas price signs along the highways.

Big Numbers on Lotteries signs flash at every store. Signs in your neighbor’s yard for a Home For Sale. Signs supporting the various Candidates for Election. Signs indicating accidents ahead. The many and inventive Yard Sale signs.

Signs its someone’s Birthday with balloons on the mailbox. Builders signs at every corner. Bent Street signs. 2 for $5 Burger signs. Do you Need a Lawyer sign (most of these you won’t see because they have been run over)?

The Left lane must turn Right at the next intersection signs. Even signs where your Dog Can’t Crap. I didn’t know dogs could read. Important signs like Restroom signs. Always look closely.

Oh, I have a tremendous issue with people abusing Handicapped Parking signs. Pray, I don’t see you. Another one you might not want to ignore, the good old RxR Crossing sign.

The Bar sign over your local watering hole that you dream about having in your basement. The sign next to your daily horoscope. The Pancake Breakfast sign in front of the local church.

And remember – Not all signs are on the Level.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So today I’ll spend the rest of my time looking for positive signs. Mainly from people instead of objects.

My apologies for posting a strange picture yesterday without explanation. That machine in front of the old Washington Post building with the entry gate down is a Linotype Machine. It was used decades ago, yeah when I first started in the industry to set type for newspaper pages.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Everyone needs a recharging station.
  • The more humor I read or hear, the better my day is.
  • Do you ever have those days where you think you should get out and do something but the call of the house to stay home and do nothing is so loud it can’t be ignored?
  • Taking Christmas lights down is depressing. But then again having 68-degree weather to do it in is nice.
  • One of my favorite drummers passed recently. Thanks for the great music, Neil Peart. I loved seeing Rush live.

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Freedom to write

We all have the ability to write. One of my best friends is an incredible writer but he would never fantom writing for writing sake. I thought about writing for many decades before I decided to try it. I really should have been working on it all my life.

My 9th grade English teacher would probably roll over in her grave if she heard me say that. I think my parents might like that I try to write. Then again is my writing about nothing really writing? Well, who decides what is nothing and what is life and observations.

These days you don’t have to be a writer for newspaper/magazine or write a book or short stories. Like me, you can write away with abandon. Yeah, the audience is few but that is OK. If it was just my family I’d be a happy man.

Photo by Mike Hartley

And who knows, I might write something good someday. And even if I don’t its helped me. I slow down when I write. I try to think. I try to balance. I don’t always succeed but I keep writing. I hope to write about the many experiences I have yet to have. Today I got tickets to a concert for my better half and me to attend this summer. I hope to write about how special that evening is.

A good book on a nice day on the patio of Whole Foods building. Photo by Mike Hartley

For the past 10 years, I’ve had the idea and half-hearted effort at writing a book to my children. I started and didn’t get very far on a book on living in the nocturnal world for periods of time in my life sprinkled with Night photography.

I always think about writing on how important family and friendships are and can be. And yes those can be painful at times also but the best is so rewarding and right that it outweighs the pain of the few that go sideways.

I write about getting old, about having a changed look at life after cancers. I write about hating cold weather. I have yet to write about how each Sunday makes me nervous because the Packers are playing and that is my Son and my favorite team. And yes we pull for the local Ravens team also but if its a Super Bowl were backing the Pack.

I haven’t written more than a few of the hundreds of wonderful experiences I hope to have as a grandparent. Or for that fact the wonderful experiences of being a parent. And yes I could probably fill a few bookshelves with mistakes I made in that. But they survived me anyway and did very well.

I haven’t written about my life in newspapers. No, it’s not that exciting. But I’ve watched a lot of exciting things. And I’ve had a view that few had until recently.

I don’t know if I’ll ever write about some of the mistakes I’ve made in life. (that would fill a few isles in the library). Sometimes I start to write about a friend who has passed and I feel its too personal to share. But sometimes it feels good just writing it.

I thought about writing about the special group of guys who played ball at Hammond Village. I thought about writing about how awkward I felt growing up.

Each day I sit and either a photo inspires me or a thought races across my mind and my fingers at the keyboard and I blog away that day. So it’s nice having the freedom to write. It’s good therapy for me to be more positive.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Being a Maryland basketball fan takes a lot of medicine to get through some nights.
  • I’m getting much better at not wasting time being mad.
  • My day was a success. I made a child smile repeatedly.
  • If I didn’t work so hard during the week I’d be a lot less tired on my weekends.
  • I wonder if I’ll ever ride a motorcycle again?

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I had an ambitious project that started before the new year. It’s a little larger than I thought but I’m also glad of that. Because the more I work on it the better I feel. The more I work, the more I think about what more I can do with it. And the thought of filling it up with even more content as each day passes.

You can encounter a great number of pricks in a day.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s part of my daily routine now to add, edit, label, position. Almost 6,000 images so far and lots more to go. Already starting to organize it a little differently. I see weeks if not months of work ahead. Ain’t it great.

I love that I’m finally organizing all my family and friend’s photos. And I’ve got an area for all the old family slides once I get them transferred.

I feel alive. I’m feeling like opportunities are there if I just step up and follow through on some of my ideas.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m almost giddy about seeing my grandchild in a few hours. Let me charge the camera batteries.
  • Having a day a week where you can gather with your best friends is so important.
  • Taking some things as they come is part of life. But always have your lines.
  • I try to take every image as it belongs in a nice frame. I’ll settle for 1 per week.

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I don’t know why I thought of that as I rolled out of bed today but I went ta-dah as I woke. And I kind of chuckled as I did because ta-dah is a bit pretentious when not used as a joke. I’m not one for grand entrances or grandiose proclamations. But just waking up today felt good. So Ta-Dah.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Waking up each day feels like a victory. So why not celebrate it with a joke and a laugh. And maybe if I’m happy it will rub off on someone else.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Instead of shooting today I’m going to try to learn something new about my camera. Yes, I’m lazy and don’t know every one of the controls. But I’m trying to be less lazy and it is fun. I’m also working on my photo portfolio on Zenfolio. I got about 5,500 images on there so far. Not all public but a large percentage. Still finding stuff stashed away to upload. Like the two photos used today.

Random Thoughts of the day.

  • The pen may be mightier than the sword. But it’s losing to the electronic devices.
  • I wonder what the ratio of friends on Facebook to real friends is?
  • That is one bright moon out there this evening. Guess that and the snow on the ground help brighten up a cold evening.
  • I’m looking forward to working hard this weekend. That way I’ll be too tired to worry about the work week ahead.
  • Today I’m going to do something important. Not sure what it is, but at least that is my hope.

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The first snow smile

Ah, the first snow of 2020 in the area. Well, the term snow is relative. Here it means it snowed anywhere between an inch to a few feet. We get mostly the inch kind in the mid-Atlantic area. I had a few minutes to watch it start and check every once in a while till it covered the grass slowly and then the driveway and street in front of my house. And it brought a youthful smile to my face.

Long gone are the days of “Killer HILL” sledding or neighborhood snowball fights. Or going to the ballfield and doing imitation slides to home plate in the snow. The building of the giant snowman in the front yard vanished decades ago. Laying in the middle of fresh snow making snow angels and listening to the quiet that snow provides are memories.

Getting out in the snow and playing like a child is something that should continue through life. When my kids were growing up we would make a snowman, so I did that as an adult also but I haven’t in a long time. I’ll still make a snowball once in a while and throw it at my better half while we shovel the walk and driveway each year. I haven’t made a snow angel in decades but maybe if we get good snow this year I’ll flop down and make one. I’m trying to remember how to be a youth. Maybe if we get a good snow one day I’ll build a ship next to my lighthouse.

Photos by Mike Hartley – I love the views around my home.

Trust is something that is going around in smaller amounts and continues to decline. It’s a shame and it’s part reality. There always have been bad people on earth that prey on others. Now not only are we more aware of them the number of them goes up. From simple phone scams to robberies.

Trust on so many levels has come into question. And it should. If you don’t have trust what do you have? It has been eroded on so many levels. Maybe that is why the few relationships you have where you have explicit trust are so special.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Happiness is the day I can choose what road to drive and when instead of the trek to the office and back.
  • Each day I learn lessons about myself.
  • Snow is cold and I don’t like cold.
  • Snow is beautiful because it replaces grey.

A verse for today from Ozzy Osborne song Crazy Train

Crazy, but that’s how it goes
Millions of people living as foes
Maybe it’s not too late
To learn how to love and forget how to hate

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Thoughts to Actions

Sometimes I have to start small to get in the routine of doing something good. I was looking at a number of talented people near the end of the year and how they have posted their favorite photo of the month for 2019 or significant projects.

Steps to Where? Photo by Mike Hartley

When I started looking at my photos by month I realized I was using a number of older photos that I had in my library of images taken before I started blogging regularly. I’m not saying that is a bad thing or they don’t count, but I started this to promote shooting more.

Cloudy Morning Photo by Mike Hartley

So tonight I begin again anew. Well those are pretty words aren’t they? More like “about time I got my ass in gear” would be more appropriate. So I’m going to try to grab a few frames this evening and keep shooting every day of my life. I’ve let myself get lazy and not think like a young man where everywhere you look is a good opportunity for an image.

When my mind is right, photography is a joy and ease. When its cluttered with issues and troubles it’s hard to see the opportunities. So here is to keeping the mind free of those stresses.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Mondays are always the roughest day of the week for me. In one way that is good. The rest of the week is cake.
  • My old camera is starting to show its age. Just like its owner.
  • I’ve gotten used to working alone. Even though I consider myself a social person I bet I’d have a few issues working in a populated office.
  • I’m in love with so many people. Life is great.

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Why not today

Why not today. It’s a good a day as any. I’m fired up. Production is in high gear and projects move forward. I got a special one with a due date in early March so that leaves me only two months to follow through with that but a great start was made today.

I’m excited, I’m focused, I’m positive and thinking ahead and acting now. Getting on a positive roll is nice. So many things impact that when you can just get into that mode and sustain it for a few days or weeks if your lucky, it’s a wonderful experience.

I don’t know what got me going today, I’ve been making some progress while I was off for a few days from the job that pays the bills and I guess it got contagious. I’m excited about learning some things to help make my sites look more professional. Well at least attempt to spruce up the amateur I am.

Guns a the ready Capt. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m within a week of having my photo site updated. At that time I’ll start posting some links here to Galleries. I’m starting a Facebook page that I guess I link to this site. I’ve got some learning to do. Speaking of FB, I’ve got to communicate with a few people using some of my photos. I just want credit when they do use them.

In some ways when negative things happen, I’m doing much better at turning them around to positive things. Didn’t always used to be my forte. Sometimes I’d get really mad and make them worse. But I guess I’m getting a little smarter as time goes along.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I miss my better half and its only the first day of the workweek.
  • In some areas of my life the hits just keep coming but people will learn I hit back also.
  • Working on my own work is so much more rewarding that working on someone else’s. Well at least in the feeling department. Maybe not so much in the financial area.
  • Partners who don’t speak aren’t partners.
  • This is my decade.

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The Attic

We rooted some pieces of history from the attic today. Some of the kid’s things we saved from their youth. Brought a lot of ooh’s and ahh’s from each of us with each box or toy we passed down. And then when she opened the clothing box of their favorite things it stopped both of us.

I didn’t even come close to taking everything out. It will still be a while till the grandchildren need bikes or wagons. But I’m so glad we saved some things. Well, actually a lot of things. Just the books and stories alone bring back so many memories of reading to them and the games we would play doing that. My better half reminded me of the storm noises we used to have to make at a certain page in one of the books. She held it up fast so I didn’t catch the title and this old mind memory for that would be stretching things.

I also found a few boxes of my Mom’s items also that I stored after she passed several years ago. I was kind of intrigued by this one piece I believe she got when she traveled to China. From the descriptions, I’ve found online it’s a Classic Blue/White Porcelain Ginger Jar.

Photo by Mike Hartley

It looks nice, is large and is fairly heavy. I can’t read what looks to be a Chinese mark on the bottom of it. Time to enlist more experienced help. I did find one interesting site called Invaluable that had some good info. I’ll look for a local dealer experienced in these wares also and keep searching.

Photo by Mike Hartley

The decorations are down. Well most of them. I still have to take the outdoor lights down and the basement tree and lights. But in the next few days, the home will be back to normal. It’s kind of sad, I enjoy them so.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • My least favorite season is chapstick season.
  • A normal workweek on the horizon. Lord help us.
  • I’m trying but I’m not sleeping well.
  • Terps basketball wins make me feel really good.
  • Is the dynasty over? Could the Pats be OVER? And yes I did pick the Titans.

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Snapping out of it

I had a real setback earlier this week that I’m still trying to snap out of. I’m extremely disappointed about the negative effect it has had on me and my family. I’ve always had trouble letting go of things when I’ve been wronged. I think the phrase that applies is “It sticks in my craw.”

Karma baby, may it bite those who deserve it.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Each day I try to get better with my temper. I consciously make a serious effort. But there are still people and actions taken in this world that really rub me the wrong way.

Luckily we had our granddaughter today and that innocence and joy, the love and trust, the warmth and appreciation was a nice relief from some poor feelings. And the day was finished with a nice visit with my father and mother inlaw.

It didn’t cure me because I’ll be dealing with long term effects of this issue for some time but it helped me refocus. Not forgive, but to not let it dominate my time. Not let it dominate my attitude or dampen my joy of life and each day. Even though it’s not a small thing, I’ll put it in that category when it comes to worrying about it.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Desire does the job.
  • If you add chores to your already busy routine, but you see the payoff, they no longer are chores, they are just routine.
  • Hopefully, I’ll turn the corner tonight and wake up totally motivated on Saturday.
  • My dental hygienist has the softest touch with my teeth. I don’t dread a dental visit when I know I’ll have her cleaning the pearly whites.
  • Sometimes when you feel like you have the most time to do a post, it’s actually the least amount, as I finish another one just before midnight.

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Almost time to start taking the ornaments off the tree. Seems like I just started putting them one. The day I started I got the reminder to make sure the “special ones” are up and displayed. After almost 40 years of marriage together we have a few more ornaments than we can use. Even with the big tree I get and the one in the basement.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Some items like our kid’s first ornaments from births and ones they first made in school or ones from our parents that were part of their trees for decades. A few sets or series of ornaments that are our favorites. That is the special part of every tree. I love seeing everyone’s interpretation and sometimes history on the tree at holiday time. I like making our tree different every year.

I love the smell of a fresh-cut tree. We also have a smaller artificial one in the basement. I hope I’m well enough to go get that live one each December for a long time to come. And even though we might not celebrate every year at our home, it’s going to be decorated well because we both enjoy it. Of course, my better half is the far superior decorator and the place is really nice with the touches and items she brings to each room.

I guess I’m just a little sad the season came and went so fast. But its always like that when you have a good time. So till next year Christmas and New Year.

My how life changes. I just thought of something I have to add to the bucket list. I want the grandkids to bury me on the beach on our family summer vacation. I know its a few summers off but the idea of that just popped in my head this afternoon. See, even during winter, I can have warm summer thoughts that put a smile on my face.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Friendships are getting together, laughing, sharing, helping, remembering and planning. It’s also fun to add some good food and drinks.
  • A short but successful day. Some rest, some fun. And finish strong with some work.
  • It’s hard to smile about a rain-filled 2-day forecast. I guess I could practice some foul weather photography.
  • Why I chose to start my Friday off with the dentist appointment is beyond me. I might want to consider the checkup from the neck-up.

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Day 1

Well, to be honest, I don’t have much new to do today. a working holiday for me so that is pretty consistent with the past. I did get on the treadmill but I started that a few days ago. I did communicate with friends and family about the wishes for the coming year. Mainly listened to theirs.

Being a better listener is something I’m going to try to do better in this coming year. I’m pretty good at it already but I can always get better. For I think I talked more this past year than I normally do so I’ll try to cut back on that which makes time to listen. I get much smarter by listening more and talking less anyway.

My new year hasn’t started out the way I had thought it would in some respects. I got to adjust to some sudden changes. As usual poor communications made it worse. And no they weren’t on my part. But I’ll recover. And I’m looking for positive ways to make the year better despite a setback.

Select your direction wisely. Photo by Mike Hartley

As you get older and nearing retirement age (or past it) and your still working its harder and harder to go back to work after some time off with family and friends. It’s all we want to do now (be able to be retired). Yes we still work hard but it’s not the focus of our lives it once was. And now we look at each other and say how are we going to do more years of this?

Of course the new grandchild has been a strong draw to spend time with and we can’t wait for our days together each week. Its that time to share with the people important to you that really is the joy. Yes I know most all of them have to return to work also so it can’t be a holiday week all the time. I also know that what makes it so special now is because they are limited throughout the year. But the balance is way off. We all focus to much on our jobs and not each other.

The long commute seems to be longer and more difficult and more dangerous. The rude people are harder to tolerate as well as for things that go wrong. The desire to be a leader has eroded. And no I’m not in a position of leadership anymore so its not like I’m not doing my job. I’m a natural leader by the work ethic I have anyway.

All I know is that I look with glee each time I get to cross off a week on my countdown chart at the job for the day I can hopefully retire. Of course that was dealt a blow this week already.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • If you can start off a new year with the kiss of the person closest to your heart, then you’re off to a fine start.
  • I love those funny daily desk calendars. Nothing like starting your day with a smile.
  • OK, I’m ready for a snow day from work. But I see none in the forecast.
  • I’m glad twinkling lights on a Xmas tree still make me feel good.

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Happy New Years Eve

Ah, the last day of the calendar year. A fresh start for a lot of people. A huge party for some others. And just another day for some. People celebrating, People working. People staying up late. People going to bed early.

I sit here and smile at a few of my past New Year’s Eve’s. There were some parties when we were younger. I remember being young and dancing with my better half and the strong embrace we shared. I think we will just be embracing on the couch this evening and not out dancing.

Today I was thinking about how fragile life is. The more we live, the more we become weathered, we become more fragile. Both in mind and physical abilities. What was a stumble and fall as a youth where you get up and brush yourself off and return to the game, is a serious medical emergency at times as a senior?

Photo by Mike Hartley

I need to change my thought process on most of the activities I do physically because my objective as always is to stay away from doctors and hospitals and rehab facilities as much as possible. And if I pretend that I’m half my age that won’t happen.

Yesterday on the treadmill I started to turn it up a bit fast for someone who needs more of a steady pace to build up some aerobic stamina. Old me would say power through it but now I listen to the body and think long term. I’d like to be exercising a long time into the future without the heart attack in between.

Redefine. It’s good to redefine some relationships over time. All things change. Sometimes for the better and sometimes the worse. Sometimes back and forth if you stick with it long enough. I’ve been stronger in the past than I realized I could be and I hope to draw on that and my creative resources to make this work.

Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Even if we don’t go out and celebrate it doesn’t mean we don’t worry about those who do. Be safe kids. It’s an amateur night out there this evening.
  • With so many examples of people doing the wrong things, be different and do the right thing.
  • Messages are sent in many different ways and if you’re not looking you could miss some.
  • Be in tune with the people that are important to you. That way you will know when something is right or wrong.
  • Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year.



As is tradition, people quantify by numbers and accomplishments around this time of year. Not just in our personal lives but our professional ones also. I’ve seen a few posts of yearly numbers/blog stats already and I’m sure I’ll see some more. And the other day HR sent along our self-appraisal part of our annual review to fill out. More numbers.

Maybe I don’t worry about numbers because this blog isn’t that impressive, but then again, that isn’t why I’m doing it. I’m doing it to improve. For instance, my goal from the start is to do this daily. After 5 years I hit my top of 331 days posting and 339 total of 365 days this year. I do it to encourage myself to shoot more when I get the opportunity. I do it to force myself to think and then write. I want to get good at both of these and the only way to do that is practice, practice, practice.

How many sunsets do we have left to count?
Photo by Mike Hartley

So some numbers are important in some minor ways to me. But really its all in how you value something. Sometimes I more glad about 1 comment than all the likes. Sometimes if I get a like from an artist whose work I admire I feel successful. So it’s not always the largest number.

Numbers on performance reviews mean little to me anymore. For some time I’ve put too much attention on those numbers. Needless worry most years. Now I don’t worry about an annual review because I know how I do all year long. Just like I always had but I would get all worked up about how someone who rarely works with me rates me. If I’m impressing the peers I respect and am happy with my effort and results, that’s all that matters to me.

No place for numbers here. Photo by Mike Hartley

Really the only important tallies of the year are: does everyone make it through it healthy – Can you quantify how you helped yourself improve – have you helped others. Whoops, I almost skipped the most important tally of them all. Family +1 this year with a new granddaughter.

In an era of statistics and percentages, there is some merit in numbers. So they shouldn’t be ignored. It all depends on what you want to do and how you wish to go about it. If numbers inspire you or others then, by all means, use the hell out of them. And remember if you have risen to the top don’t just manage by numbers, take people into account.

I’m an amateur photographer and a hack amateur writer and I’d rather have fewer followers now than the pressure of being popular and putting out less than stellar work. I used to think that the hours I put in had an effect on stellar work. Yeah maybe sometimes but not all the time and I realized I still might be able to do something good within a few minutes each day.

If my mission was to have X number of followers I’d apply a lot more effort in that area. But I’d rather have better content and let them come naturally. When my work merits it, there will be more.

I’ve never been one for a lot of New Year resolutions. I come by most by accident. For instance, in late April I look down and say to myself that is not a beach shape unless I’m doing a Shamu impression and I lose weight. Unlike the masses who somehow decide the New Year is good for going out in the cold to a gym each day, that you will give up by mid-February.

Ready, set, drink. Photo by Mike Hartley

I started writing yearly goals when I first started blogging. That lasted about 2 years and then I realized I need to break things up into much smaller tasks. I feel like I’ve been more successful and it’s felt more rewarding doing it that way.

Some numbers are easy. The more I post, the more views and likes and comments usually. Some numbers are difficult. The number of photos I wanted to display is far fewer than I hoped. Other numbers are puzzling. I had no idea I could just ramble on for so many words each year. When I first started I was panicked about writing much of anything. I hadn’t looked a yearly stats till today and saw that I had written over 118,000 words this year.

Yes, I realize I could say more with less. And I’m learning slowly how to do that. I know I need to become a better editor and proofreader. So I will end today’s rambling session here.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • The family time this holiday season has been one of the best ever.
  • I gave myself a pass for a week but that time is up. Time to start eating right again.
  • In some ways today was the best of days. And in some ways, it was the worst. I usually don’t have such a contrast on the same day. That’s what happens when work invades vacation time.
  • When fairness isn’t in both people’s interests, things get ugly.
  • My daughter makes a mean batch of cookies. And sometimes life is as simple as that.

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Soup & Sandwich and more

It was a soup and sandwich type day today. Steady persistent rain, all day it seemed. So a grilled cheese and tomato soup were served today by my better half at lunch. That about took me out for the afternoon. It’s easy to relax when you know you don’t have to rush back to work this week.

But tonight we had some long-overdue homemade crabcakes. I was going to eat both of mine but I managed to save one for later on tonight. It’s been a great year and I’ve eaten a good number of crabcakes. I still think the best I had was from Pappas in Parkville.

Broiled crabcakes tonight.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But there were several good ones in Ocean City this year and about a dozen other towns in Maryland. I could eat seafood every day. And Maryland crabs would be at the top of the list.

Tonight I used the main Old Bay recipe but I used some Frenches spicy brown mustard instead of the standard mustard. I also added a touch of Worcestershire sauce. Instead of the 2 teaspoons of Old Bay, I used 2 1/2. Also, a touch of ground mustard and just a little more mayo than called for. And maybe a little less parsley than called for.

Usually, I pan fry them but today I broiled them. I might have to go this route more often. All I know is I can’t wait for the season to begin again and the fresh Maryland crabs to be plentiful.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Not having to step foot outside on a sloppy day is key to a good attitude.
  • Well, I’m only human, I can’t totally ignore that tin of cookies.
  • I’ve got to spend some time this evening writing a few notes and catching up with some friends.
  • I’ll do better Monday because I’m getting outside a good bit. Which reminds me to go charge the camera batteries again.

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I stepped outside in a tee shirt today and I wasn’t cold. Now that is something I didn’t expect to do for a while yet. So I took a short ride with the top down. I must be the adventurous one because I saw a number of other convertibles with the top up still. I did have one biker give me a nod to the drop-top.

The definition of attention. Dogs have it.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But the treat of the day was watching our Son’s dog for a few hours. She is a joy to have. So loving and well behaved. And she knows I’m the ice cream man so the first thing she does when she gets to our house is going to the front of the freezer and alternate sitting and standing till I get her a few small slivers of vanilla ice cream.

How can you look into a dog’s eyes and not feel the love?
Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m so glad to see the love my children have for their pets. In another week or two, I’m going to make a donation to our local animal shelter. I got lucky and won a bet so no better use for it than our 4 legged friends.

I was just playing with her profile today.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • This has been a great year. I’m so thankful for it. Just about all my personal relationships are better.
  • I feel bad eating habits creeping back in.
  • If you buy a convertible its a crime not to use it.
  • I think I’ll start giving each new week the attention I give each new year.
  • I’ve realized to be a photographer it would behoove me to have the camera in my hands each day.

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What day is it?

It’s funny to me how quickly when you break your routine that the day of the week becomes a mystery. Today was one of those days for me. Several times I caught myself thinking it was another day but Friday. I can’t wait for retirement when I’ll start wondering what week or month it is.

Well, my better half and my daughter and granddaughter went shopping and left me to my own devices today. So I made the following sandwich. Yeah, I know its just wrong. But the voices said go ahead and try it. At least I didn’t add any mayo to the bread. Yes, it bacon surrounding ham and bacon cheddar cheese.

So no heart attack so far. I even went out and washed the car after eating this. It’s ready to hit the road tomorrow for a short spin sometime. And with the temp approaching 60 it might inspire me to put the top down.

A mixed emotion day was had. It was about the thought of returning to the normal work weeks after this coming week. The limited amount of minutes or a few hours for a quality visit. The time with family and friends shouldn’t be such a rare treat. And I’m someone who makes it a priority throughout the year and it still seems greatly limited. So I’m going to change that this coming year.

First with my better half. Because she deserves some fun and travel. And also with my children, friends and extended family. I thought about how much I enjoyed taking my mother and father in law to dinner last night and thought we should do that more often. I can think of a million and one things I’d like to do so I better get to it.

Don’t forget to turn your tree lights off before bed.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Lots to do is a wonderful burden to carry.
  • Time to practice with new studio light.
  • What is the proper length of time to leave the decorations up?
  • I think I have a good plan going into the coming year.
  • I think I have the right attitude going into the coming year.
  • I hope I have my health going into the coming year.
  • I know I will accomplish much if these few things hold true.

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I was losing my balance between work, chores and life and what is really important in life. Spending good time with family is wonderful and inspiring. And making time for those friends who are really like family now and throughout the year is critical to my happiness.

Morning sun over Ellicott City. Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m going to get back to eating right after a few days of feasting. Well maybe after Sunday because we have a ton of leftovers and sweets around, but between now and then I’m back on the treadmill and if it’s as nice outside as I think it might be this weekend, there might be some outdoor activities planned.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I’m hoping the best for a best friend who is going under the knife again. At least his second time this year. I’m wishing for him a much better new year. Each day of health is like a special blessing, not to be taken for granted, but grateful and appreciative of it.

I’ve noticed over time that the more I think about what others need or I can do for them that life is that much more special. I wish I had discovered this earlier in life. I always knew it but didn’t act on it as much as I do now.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’m going to throw out all the pens that I have that no longer work before the beginning of the year.
  • It was a beautiful dinner and drive with my mother and father in law today. I’m blessed with another family that feels like my own.
  • I don’t need to join a gym to get in good shape. And I’m proud of that.
  • I feel sad when I see someone sitting in their car outside a 7-11 alone rubbing scratch-off ticket after ticket and not looking happy. Bet you won’t catch state lotteries running that in a commercial for the FUN.
  • My apologies for not having something insightful to say. Obviously I was short on time and just rambled on today. Tomorrow will bring a better effort.

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Happy Holidays

Today was wonderful. I was blessed with the joy of family. I also had a few moments choked up about the family I miss. And I miss them very much around holiday time. Everyone misses someone around this time of year. I even miss my pets that have passed many years ago around this time because I might find ornaments about them or see an old holiday photo or remember them loving the Xmas tree.

Some people just need a bigger yard. And I’m guessing this one is at least 2 acres.
Photo by Mike Hartley

It’s very important to move on and make new memories of each opportunity. It’s also very important to remember those who can no longer celebrate with us. But don’t let the later overshadow the first.

So in that vein, I’m in pretty good spirits now. And I’m ready to enjoy a few days off. Tomorrow I’m going to do some more family photography and I’ll be out and about so that might afford some other opportunities.

I met this 13-month-old beauty today. He is a happy pup.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I think I’ll get up before sunrise and go out and grab a few images for an hour before coming back home to have some breakfast with my better half. Maybe I should pick some breakfast up while I’m out?

Oh, and apologies for that first shot today. I didn’t have my tripod and it was COLD out and you know how I hate cold so I was probably shaking trying to hold that 3 lb, Nikon, still. So tomorrow no laziness, I will have some stable light shots. But I couldn’t pass the chance to record this display I saw on the way home this evening.

I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful day.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Each day is a beauty to celebrate but today has that extra special feel.
  • Today I got hugs not only for the gifts I gave but what I do throughout the year. So it was an extra special day for me.
  • I feel like I’m accomplishing a little more each day. At least its the right direction.
  • My daughter and son-in-law had one of the most beautiful celebrations today. It was a huge effort on their part and I’m very thankful.
  • Sometimes I sit down and feel like I have nothing to write about. Then I get inspired and write about nothing.
  • It’s ok to enjoy old movies that aren’t always politically correct today.

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In the spirit

I was up too early this Christmas Eve. I’ll pay for it tonight and tomorrow. But I do have some time off after that so I can catch up on some rest which is much needed.

The snow-covered roof of the barn on Bethany Lane.
Photo by Mike Hartley

No white Christmas for this area this year. I don’t even see any in the forecast ahead. I’m sure we will get our share later.

On his way.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Another holiday evening at work. It really takes a toll on the holiday spirit but I’ll snap out of it as soon as that quitting bell rings. The ride home should be a very quiet one. Not many people out and about before daybreak on Christmas morning.

All the camera batteries are charged so its time to load up and fill a few memory cards. And no better time than the present to get going.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I know why SUV and pickup truck sales are higher. You need them because streets are becoming more like off road highways.
  • This is one of the few days a year that you can look at the person in the cars next to you and get a smile and a wave.
  • I hope Santa gets me some sleep for Xmas.
  • I hope to be around a long time, but just in case I’m making gifts a little more special each year.

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Let's all get there

I’ve only got about two hundred miles to do in the next two days so while I’ll be out and about I won’t be doing any long journeys. That doesn’t mean I won’t see some madness on the highways, I just hope I’m lucky and smart enough to keep it at a distance.

Be safe please.
Photo by Mike Hartley

I see Baltimore and Washington placed in the top 10 of the rudest cities’ top 50 list, by a recent Business Insider article. And it comes out when people are in cars also. Maybe more so in many ways. Aggressive rude behavior can be multiplied by poor driving skills either of the aggressor or the people caught in their way.

I know each one of us can do a better job on the roads and life. Not just at this time of year but throughout. Save a life, maybe yours or someone else’s.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I have the desire to read a book over the holiday weekend.
  • I think I heard my car threaten me about being washed. Maybe tomorrow.
  • Ah, yet another year to demonstrate my lack of gift wrapping abilities.
  • Pine Orchard must have been giving away Liquor based on the traffic there today.
  • Maybe being #1 in college basketball isn’t that safe a position this year.

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Have you done your best? Have you tried your best? Then relax.

Pressures mount, expectations run wild in your head. Time runs short. Go ahead, relax, you earned it.

Don’t feel you need to top yourself each year. Don’t cut someone off going for that parking space. Relax and take a few deep breaths.

Captain Skully Photo by Mike Hartley

As Christmas ornaments come out from family member that has passed, take a deep breath, smile at their memory. Relax and go sit down and look at a photo of them.

Are you stressed about what greeting to say? Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanuka, Merry Kwanzaa. Relax, just say what comes to you naturally and smile.

Are you uptight about the travel involved? Cramped airline seats, long trips in a car. Waits in lines at the gates and on the interstates. Relax, you will get there and in better spirits.

Are you frustrated that you couldn’t do more for your family and friends? Relax, just showing up and being there is a gift that is most important. Give the gift of time throughout the year. That can top anything you can buy.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Hard not to smile while hanging Christmas ornaments.
  • Does it seem there is less of an emphasis on New Years Day?
  • Most families have real problems. Some never overcome them.

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Summary of a Saturday

A fine Saturday indeed. The first chance my better half and I had time to spend together in a while. I missed it greatly and she indicated the same. We went out and had an early dinner of steak and shrimp. No fine dining, just Texas Roadhouse in Columbia, which is the first time we have been there. Service and food were very good and it was so relaxing to spend some time talking to each other.

Columbia Mall
Photo by Mike Hartley

So we just kept it going with a trip to the Mall. I know, what are we thinking on the busiest shopping day of the year? But it was a piece of cake. I did want to get one thing but they didn’t stock it anymore.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So we just walked, shopped, listened to people singing out by the poinsettia tree, went over and looked at the kids and parents visiting Santa, people watched, managed to walk in the Godiva Chocolate store and walk out empty-handed.

Photo by Mike Hartley

We walked holding hands at times. We stopped and overlooked the kids playing in their playland area in front of JC Penny.

We walked the entire mall, both levels. We got our grandchild something. I mean you can’t go into a children’s store and come out empty-handed. Maybe a chocolate store but never a children’s store if you have grandchildren.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I left my camera in the car on purpose. I didn’t want to take the time to shoot anything and break up our time together. But there were a few moments that I saw and passed on, and then (DUHH) I unlocked the phone I had in my hand and did a couple of old iPhone 5 shots. Yep, 8 megapixels. Of course, that is the same resolution I have on my old Kodak camera. But I’ve never really used the camera function much at all. Like almost never. I’ve had the phone for many years and I bet there aren’t 50 photos on it and most only recently with my Son’s dog or my new Granddaughter.

I’m going to make that one of my resolutions to use that tool a bit more. I’ve got to admit carrying that heavy Nikon around is a chore. No problem when I have some time or can use a tripod but carrying that 3 lb. weight around my neck usually gets to my back.

I’m trying to get an early start on a resolution to do some new shooting each day. I see a lot of people in the blog environment taking a break over the holidays. I’m looking forward to gearing up. I’ve got a few thousand more images to upload to my photo site. I’m hoping to shoot like there’s no tomorrow, I hope to write something inspiring. I hope to pull my video camera out and try my hand at that again. I hope to get my Dremel tool out and create some sawdust. No offense to those taking a break. We all need one. But a few days off during the holiday season is like a feast of time that I can selfishly devote to my pursuits in between the family and gifts and friends and laughs together.

Thanks for a great day today Patti.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Leave the TV off and see how much more you get done. Turn your computer and cell phone off and go out and enjoy life and someone’s company
  • Is it sleeping in when you haven’t really slept well all night?
  • I grew back into a wardrobe I had a while back. I also discovered the need for a belt again, because I almost lost a pair of jeans the other day. I know the kids wear them low but that would not be a cool look for an over 60 dude.
  • No, not another work week on the horizon.

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Crunch Time

I did something today I haven’t done in ages. I got started on my Christmas shopping only 5 days before the big day. I pretty much finished though because I was organized, had a plan and it went flawlessly. In recent years I’ve usually been pretty much done the first week of December maybe with the exception of some stocking stuffers.

Man-eating Sign. Or is that Sign eating Man?
Photo by Mike Hartley

There were 7 stops today. Every one of them went smoothly but the thing I really enjoyed was the courtesy of both the fellow shoppers and the workers in the stores. Everyone was in good spirits. The attitude was upbeat and smiles were all around me today. Something I really wasn’t expecting to see this late in the season and everyone else completing for gifts and parking spaces.

The first thing that caught my attention was the drive to the stores. People were being courteous in the parking lot. You know, people respecting crosswalks, or not blocking intersections to allow people in and out. Every other car merging seamlessly without any unwanted birds being flipped. No horns heard or any harsh words. I even witnessed two people approaching a single space from the opposite direction and each gave a wave for the other person to take the spot.

Along Rt 108 a few years ago.
Photo by Mike Hartley

Holy crap, are we giving respect to everyone now? This is great. I wish I could see this year-round. Maybe I’ll look in the mirror also to see what I can do for the better this coming year.

Oh yeah, I forgot that one special moment that made my day. I was coming into the department store and outside was the Red Kettle for the Salvation Army. I pulled a few ones from my pocket and put them in walking. As I opened the store door and glanced back I saw the guy behind me do the same thing. As I smiled and held the door open for him I noticed two women approaching and they pulled money out and put it in. So I held the door for them. It was nice to see everyone in a group donate. If every person in this world did, there would be a lot less pain.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I like it that our building takes up a collection for the garage, security and cleaning crews for a seasonal gift.
  • I’ve got the camera out again. Finally. Tonight is some home shots for the family album and tomorrow I’ll venture out with my better half and photograph some county holiday light displays.
  • The thought that made me happy today was that my daughter and daughter-in-law are both off till the beginning of the new year. Teachers really deserve the break.
  • Is it dangerous to get water while at Taco Bell? I only thought of that after I did today.

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Can I do it

It’s a question I’ve asked myself for a long time. I think I’ve been afraid to really do what I’ve wanted to do for decades. Professionally speaking that is. I don’t regret my choices professionally, but some days I wonder what it would have been like to pursue my creative dreams. There is a lot of safety in working for a steady paycheck. There was no shortage of excuses on my part though in the past also. I’m working to remove those feelings. Actually asking myself “Can I do it?” is kind of a fun reminder that I say sure, why not.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a moment the other day when came across my pastel set and it gave me that chill of intimidation. I haven’t dabbled in that in decades. But I hope to soon. But it does make me think back to some younger days when everything had to be perfect and if it couldn’t I’d be intimidated by it. Yeah, pretty much everything because very few of us are perfect and I can tell you even by accident I’ll probably never be perfect.

So I’ve taken the safe route most of my life working for mid and large size companies with one exception for a short period which was a wonderful experience. But now towards the last several/few years, I’m excited to give whatever I Can Do a shot. If nothing else I’ll enjoy the learning journey. Yes, I agree I’m getting a late start. I can’t recapture what I never did or attempted. But I’m finding happiness in the effort I can make so far.

Photo by Mike Hartley

So now when I see obstacles. I think of ways around them instead of stopping.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Waking up was a bit painful.
  • Watching the Maryland basketball loss was painful.
  • Not having the lights on the upstairs tree is painful.
  • Having to go out and shop tomorrow is going to be painful.
  • But it’s been a great day today and a better one tomorrow.
  • A grandchild’s smile can make the pain disappear.

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Sometimes when you think you probably haven’t done your best work, there is a pretty good chance you haven’t. But sometimes when you feel that and put something out it gets an unexpected positive response. Of course, there are the times where you are really pleased with some work and it gets a less than enthusiastic response.

Sometimes a single response to a post is enough to make my day. Especially if it was from making a friend or family member feel better. Or if it helped anyone or they enjoyed an image?

Patapsco River Photo by Mike Hartley

Some days I don’t need a positive response to a post. I just feel good that I’m doing something that interest me. So sometimes just doing something feels good. And I try to remember that each day and try.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Some days you wonder what will unite us again.
  • Last workday of this week. That is a nice feeling.
  • For some reason my mind keeps whispering SLEEP into my ear.
  • Something very strange happened today.

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Good morning/evening

Being I have a rather strange schedule where the night is day and day is night, and then in the same week, the opposite is true also. In other words, there are days I get up and start the day at 6-7 am and there are days I’m going to bed at 7 am. Yeah I know, kind of messed up, but such is life when things professionally change drastically.

Thank you Mother Nature.
Photo by Mike Hartley

And adapt professionally I do and have enjoyed for many decades. But these last 5-6 years have been different. I know I’m getting older and nearing the end of my time in newspapers. I’ve seen a huge drop in average age over the last 5 years. Many old coworkers have retired or moved on or been moved out because our business is changing.

Some people adapt well to change. Others not so well. Some things are impossible to overcome when a drastic change in technology takes place. This has also happened to us.

Then there is the comfort or discomfort level of drastic age differences. I work with a young man who is younger than my son. This company has reinvented itself in many ways. Some of it exciting, some not.

But anyway, the thing that I thought about when I made the title of today’s post was when I walk out after working a night shift and I usually say goodnight or goodmorning to the security guard at the front desk. I’m never sure which is appropriate.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • When you have a lot of people to love, getting through the day is easy.
  • Age offers wisdom if you’re open to it.
  • Blink – the year is gone.
  • I wanted to take 100 images today. So far I’m up to two. I better get to work.

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Wealth by day

Wealth is all in your value system. A lot of it isn’t monetary. For instance, I feel wealthy when I have my health. Even today when I’m hurting I feel wealthy in that I can work a job and a half, put in a few minutes here, work on my portfolio project and have a good meal.

We all spend a lot of time in the pursuit of material wealth. Some of it is very well-intended and justified. For instance the betterment of one’s family. Providing opportunities you might not have been able to afford yourself to your children.

We all look at what we make. Some of us even plan for a future, but it’s hard, I know we have lived week to week for most of our lives and continue to do so today. As does most of society I believe.

Photo by Mike Hartley

I feel wealthy again having a young grandchild to hold and feed. One of my favorite things that were never measured in dollars was family time. Wealth is having the ability to be out and about.

Wealth is something you can’t get back at times. I’ve worked too hard at times in my life when spending more time with my children was more important. I try to correct that each day now but its wealth lost.

I think if we concentrated on the real wealth of life we all would be a lot happier. But greed has gotten in the way.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • I’ve been seconds behind two major accidents in the last two days. It reminds me not to be in a hurry.
  • There is nothing like sleep. So I hear.
  • Waking up and knowing its going to hurt getting up isn’t the way to start the day.

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Chains off

Besides doing some photography of my granddaughter and a few quick grabs here and there, I’ve been chained up in my shooting time. I hate that I let myself slip in shooting regularly.

So today I charge both the camera and my batteries to attack this fresh week. I’ll be out and about shopping in between a very busy week at the job that pays the bills.

I love their breakfast.
Photo by Mike Hartley

But working on my photo site has kind of gotten me recharged on getting new images. One because I can go refine some original ideas and shots I’ve taken with better ones. Sometimes I look at a shot and thought about a better angle or taking it during a different season.

I work on it every day now, adding images, editing and learning the tools. Who knows, in a few years it might be a good launch point for my next career.

Will this be the view tomorrow morning?
Photo by Mike Hartley

Till then I’ll keep plodding along putting up images that I’ll takedown in a while with better ones. But one big bonus also is that now I have my family and friend pictures organized also. I can’t wait to share them with the family. I went back a good number of years.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Wind and Cold when combined equal one of my least favorite things.
  • Getting a Xmas tree late (like today) gives you a more limited selection. I usually have one shortly after the first or by the first weekend in December. I still like it a lot though.
  • OK, it feels like Christmas now. I got my lights in the basement up.
  • Wind and Cold and Snow and Ice, thanks for the nice start to the week.

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I’m liking having a candlelit in the office at night. Well, my home office at least. I think it probably would be frowned up at the job that pays the bills. I like the flickering flame. I like the sent (most of the time) it fills the room with. I like them with no cent other than the burning wax.

I always hesitate to start a new candle. And even after burning it for the first time I hesitate to light it again. The homes I’ve lived in have mostly had candles for display. But this guy likes to have them burning.

Sometimes malfunctions create interesting shots.
Photo by Mike Hartley

This day turned out far different than I had planned. Such is life as we age. Schedules get changed. That is why its good to appreciate each visit. Savor it. Ask how someone is doing. Listen to a friend.

I’m sorry I have nothing today. I’ve had such a run of luck with my back that I guess I got careless at some time in the last few days. It’s taking any concentration and threw it out the window. I can’t get comfortable, sitting standing or lying. Such is life. Maybe it’s a temporary setback. I was on one of the best rolls in the last few months.

It’s funny. The spasms and aches today wouldn’t have touched the radar much 6 months ago. Tonight I was questioning doing something about it. Funny how time and changes for the better can change your perspective.

I haven’t even humped the live Christmas tree in the house yet. Something else I didn’t get to this fine rainy Saturday. I wonder how much trees are costing this year. Used to be I didn’t blink an eye at what a Christmas tree would cost. I’d usually get the biggest thing I could fit through the slider door. But now with it just being us and starting to travel some years for Christmas, I’m not sure I’ll go all out like I used to. And who knows, maybe I’ll just get down to one tree eventually.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Energy levels are low, just when I need extra. Bridge to engine room, come in Scotty.
  • Life is short. Wear good pairs of socks.
  • I’ve got about 4K images on my photo site. A few thousand more and I’ll start sharing sections of it. Still on track for the 1st of the year.
  • Once I have them there I’ll have to do a good edit and get rid of some. And then learn the tools of the site available and put them to use.
  • If you can show someone a photograph and it gets them excited about the image or photography, you have shared a gift.
  • I’ve got to call my sister. I haven’t touched base in a while.

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Sometimes fear creeps into my day. Each day I see some horrific incident on the news I worry for my loved ones. Not every incident (you would go crazy) but some really give you pause. But today my fear is visiting my parents grave again. I guess it comes from not being over to visit for several months now. That combined with the holiday season has me very emotional.

Wreaths at Arlington. Photo by Mike Hartley

And that is the fear I get. The fear of struggling emotionally. And not just that morning. It sometimes doesn’t leave me for a few days. The summer and spring visits are kind of easy and more relaxed. I even leave there feeling good like I’ve had a nice talk and catch up session. Even though spring and summer is the time they both passed, but for some reason, the Xmas season brings about that sense of loss in a different and difficult way.

Tomorrow many volunteers will spread hundreds of thousands of wreaths there. I thank those wonderful people. That is one of the organizations that I contribute to every year. Wreaths Across America

So I’ll face my fear on Sunday morning, this week or next. I’ll have a nice visit and talk. I’ll shed some tears. I’ll snap a few photos. I’ll drive out and as I see others visiting loved ones I’ll say a prayer for them.

Sometimes you really miss loved ones who are no longer alive. I hope I’ll always keep them alive in my heart and therefore in my children’s hearts and in their children’s hearts.

I remember so how my mother loved Christmas time. Decorating and cooking and giving gifts were her loves. Helping others was also important to her throughout the year but especially during the holidays. I don’t think I ever saw her walk by a Salvation army pot without putting something in it.

I’m going to continue in her spirit and pick another cause or two this week to donate to. And this coming year I’m going to try to do better in my donation of time also.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • Pain is reminding me it was just on vacation and its family of aches is returning.
  • It’s not really the time of year for ice cream but I went for it anyway.
  • It’s tissue season.

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Holy drafts folder Batman

I just looked at my draft folder and saw 254 posts started and never completed. Yes, some will be completed. I draw on some ideas or finish some thoughts I’ve started but I’m guessing there are some things in that pile that is dying to see the trash can.

But there are a few gems in there also that aren’t ready to see the light of day yet but someday soon. My first thought was a bit of guilt over that mess. But then I thought about just doing something and then doing something more and on and on. That is how I keep going now, opportunity by opportunity. Thought by thought. Image by image. Day by day.

Some days I might start 2-3 posts before I get on a roll. Sometimes I’ll start something and then be editing photos and find something that spurs a thought in a completely different direction. Like today’s post.

Yeah, I know a lot of days aren’t my best work. But I don’t feel like I can stop because losing momentum is deadly. That is why I look forward to days ahead where I can devote more time to pulling something special together more often both here and other areas of art I’m interested in.

Every office needs a character. I’m like that one chair that is out of the norm.
Photo by Mike Hartley

The Farm – I’m torn on how I feel about cube farming. You know, how is your companies space is used. I’ve seen and worked in so many variations of office and production spaces and I’ve liked very few of them.

Most of the time you can’t personalize space at the office as you would really like. And with shared spaces now even putting up a family photo seems strange. I’ve worked in totally open spaces in both production and office settings. In offices, I’m just not into it. Even when private spaces/rooms are provided it just doesn’t do it for me. A simple example and maybe this is an old man effect but when I’m alone and at the keyboard, I’m a wiz. Put someone behind me or in view and my klutz impulses just overtake the normal eye-hand coordination. I don’t know if that is just paranoia or not.

I guess the best offices I’ve had were three different roles in my newspaper career. The first was in an old (1970’s) production job. Engraving and Pressroom areas. The office was on your feet and at the various equipment.

You might be crawling through what looked like a giant jungle gym that was very dangerous when running and only slightly less when not. When the presses stopped and you had 2 minutes to catch your breath and your office chair was a skid of bundled papers that you laid on as a forklift moved them and you to the loading dock area before you got up and did a roll change. The quiet room was the darkroom, with the exception of someone yelling out from another room if it was a halftone or line shot and the exposure time and a pound on the wall when he/she had the enlargement or reduction set so you could load the film and make the exposure, develop and run it out into the light for a quality check. You see this camera was almost 15 feet long. Of course, by quiet I mean it had a few thin walls separating it from the roar of the press. I remember doing a lot of yelling at that job but it wasn’t in anger.

Or that 15-20 second rest you could take while burning plates by laying over the plate burner to take the pressure off your back of being on your feet 15-20 hours a day. And it was a great warm-up in the wintertime because when you work in an old building, it gets COLD.

Those were long hard days. Some of the most physically demanding work I’ve ever done for the longest time durations ever only broken up by a lunch break at the 8 Mile House or the Bloody Bucket or Judges Bench. There only was one office and it was shared by the production manager and foreman. And when you got invited in for a drink or beer after a 30+ hour day it was the most relaxing moment of work because you would go over all the difficulties of cramming 2-3 days of work into one and have a few laughs. That job had no office but it was one of the best because where ever you sat for a minute, be it the floor or a pile of papers or over a roll of paper yet to be printed, it felt good.

The second most enjoyable office was one where I had 4-5 offices at the same time. And by offices I mean a table in a computer room or space in a conference room or a spare desk loaded with old computers in the tech services area and one home cubical at mission control. Basically one at each plant and data center that I would cover as a UNIX admin. It was great, different locations, different people, different feels, different chairs. The travel wasn’t the greatest being it was in and around the DC/MD/VA area but on a nice day, it was great taking a different route in or home.

The next one was one of my shortest stints but it was a huge departure from previous environments. It’s when two partners and I started our own newspapers. All of a sudden my office was mainly outside. Photography, sales calls, events, and circulation landed me in the elements every day of the week. When it was nice weather, you can’t beat it. When it’s not you try to survive. But getting that fresh air. Meeting new people constantly. Getting to know your community was cool.

My last one has always been my favorite. My home office. Comfort, convenience, feeling, temperature control, peak creative space, control of inputs be it people or things. You control the sound inputs and outputs. You’re always on time when you get there and when you leave it, it’s a perfect time. It’s the easiest commute you will ever have. It’s no problem to go to the office late. And while all this is true and much more about the home office I wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in the world for all the good friends I’ve met at the many offices/cubes I’ve had.

Random Thoughts of the Day

  • As I watch a Hawk hunt from the trees and sky behind my house I’m reminded of a shark.
  • I wonder if I put more things on my to-do list if that would increase what I’m able to get done because it seems I finish only half of it every day no matter what.
  • I’m worn out by all the contentious people who seem to get an undue amount of attention.

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

Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Monday madness

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

The Howard County Conservancy Photo by Mike Hartley

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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How many more

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

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

Sanibel Island Fla. Photo by Mike Hartley

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Pressures and Pearl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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Some days you just faceplant

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

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

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

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

Random Thoughts of the Day

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

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What's important

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

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